2012 June

28 June 2012
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PLRA trumps again

A federal judge overstepped his authority by creating review procedures of Illinois supermax prison transfers, the 7th Circuit ruled, finding that the Illinois Department of Corrections can conceive its own system.
Robert Westefer, representing a class of inmates incarcerated in the Closed Maximum Security Unit at the Tamms Correctional Center, challenged the procedures by which the Illinois Department of Corrections assigns inmates to the prison in a 2000 lawsuit.

Westefer claimed that transfer procedures violated prisoners’ due process rights.


28 June 2012
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Texas Prisoners Cost $620 Million More Than They Did in 1990, Thanks to Longer Sentences

Meet the average modern Texas prisoner, released in 2009. He spent 2.8 years behind bars — 32 percent more time than his average prisoner predecessor released in 1990. If he was busted for a violent crime, he spent 5.3 years locked up, a 44 percent increase from his predecessor in 1990. You’ve spent a hell of a lot of tax dollars keeping Mr. Average Prisoner in the clink, according to this Pew Center study on prison tems, which didn’t phrase it quite that way.
Pew crunched the numbers for Texas: $1,783 (average one-month prison stay) x eight months (average increase from 1990 to 2009) = $14,682/prisoner. If you multiply that by the amount of prisoners released in 2009, you get $620.1 million dollars, the amount taxpayers have spent keeping people in prison longer.


28 June 2012
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California Bill Would Lift Media Ban on Access to Prisons

This important story was put out yesterday from Californians United for a Responsible Budget, via San Francisco Bay View. If legislation like this were passed in other states, as well as in California, it would go a long way toward exposing to the public the truth about supermax prisons and solitary confinement units–which are not only torture chambers, but also virtual domestic “black sites.” See our earlier post for more background on the bill.


28 June 2012
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Overcrowding conditions worsening in Blount County Jail

Anyone who is imprisoned knows that conditions will not be like a country club or Buckingham Palace.
But some residents feel their loved ones who have been incarcerated in the Blount County Detention Facility recently should be able to serve their time in a better atmosphere.
The husband of Maryville resident Danielle Hubbard spent some brief time in the facility after being charged with contempt of court. He had to share a small cell with three other inmates and was relegated to sleeping on the floor.


28 June 2012
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First-Ever Senate Hearing On Prison Isolation: Solitary Confinement ‘Makes Our Criminal Justice System Criminal’

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) convened a Senate hearing yesterday to examine the implications of solitary confinement in the American prison system, the first ever hearing to address prison reform as a human rights issue.

A replica of a solitary cell — just 7 feet by 10 feet and bare except for a cot and a toilet — was placed at the front the hearing room during the proceedings as a stark reminder of the prison conditions that face inmates in prolonged isolation.


28 June 2012
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Family Sues TDCJ Over Heat-Related Death

If her father had survived his time in jail, Stephanie Kingrey said, he would have been returning home from his 11-month sentence this week. Kingrey’s father, Larry Gene McCollum, suffered heat stroke last July at the Hutchins State Jail in Dallas and died. This morning, the Texas Civil Rights Project and Austin attorney Jeff Edwards filed a wrongful death lawsuit Tuesday against Texas prison officials on the family’s behalf.


19 June 2012
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Groups Hope HOD Closure Leads To Safer Inmate Conditions

At least two advocacy groups said they hope Tuesday’s announcement that the House of Detention is closing leads to safer and cleaner conditions for those arrested and held in jail in New Orleans.
Opened more than 50 years ago, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana said the House of Detention, better known as the “House of D,” should have been shut down a long time ago.”The HOD should have been shut down years ago. Everyone has known for years that conditions inside the House of Detention are deplorable,” ACLU Executive Director Marjorie Esman said.


19 June 2012
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Dispatch from San Quentin: Inhumane Conditions Persist

Late last year, myself and some other inmates at Solano State Prison were transferred here to San Quentin to do a “mainline” (general population) program in the West Block section of the prison – a housing unit that was previously being used only as a reception and temporary home for processing new inmates — which we were told was ready to accommodate us. Some of us inmates had even volunteered to come here, just to be closer to our families in the Bay Area. Upon arrival, however, we soon discovered that West Block was far from being fit for housing the mainline prison population.

Following is a description of what I saw with my own eyes:


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