2012 September

28 September 2012
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Mice, roaches in prison cells may be unconstitutional

(Reuters) – A prominent federal judge said on Thursday that the infestation of a prison cell with mice and cockroaches may violate the U.S. constitutional protection against cruel and unusual punishment, even if the inmate is not physically harmed.
Writing for a panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, Circuit Judge Richard Posner nonetheless


27 September 2012
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Even Amnesty Condemns SHUs

SHUs Have to Go

This week Amnesty International issued a stark, damaging assessment of California’s isolation units. It concluded that California “must make substantial changes” and reduce the number inside SHUs and the amount of time any prisoner remains in isolation.


26 September 2012
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The Other Death Sentence: Aging and Dying in America’s Prisons

New America Media, James Ridgeway, Sept. 26, 2012 SHIRLEY. Mass.–William “Lefty” Gilday was 82 and suffering from dementia and Parkinson’s when officials at Massachusetts’ Shirley Prison placed him in an isolation cell — a “medical bubble” — for throwing an empty milk carton at a guard. He spent the last months of his life alone, separated […]


25 September 2012
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Better Hepatitis Treatment Costly for Prisons

Tattooing is ubiquitous behind bars, despite — or perhaps because of — the fact that it is banned.

“It’s just unbelievable how creative they can be,” said Michele Deitch, a prisons expert at the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs. “They can jerry-rig pens to become needles. They use the dyes in paper products.”


18 September 2012
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Prison Violence Spikes in Tennessee

The nonprofit advocacy group Human Rights Defense Center has released data that shows an uptick in incidents of violence in Tennessee’s prisons over the last three years, according to documents obtained by Pith.WSMV broke the newsof this trend last night in a story featuring Alex Friedmann, a longtime prisoners’ rights advocate and private prison critic, who on behalf of the HRDC provided data that reveals a steady 18.3 percent increase in violent incidents per 1,000 prisoners between 2010 and the first six m


15 September 2012
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CAR “separate, unequal and wholly inhumane”

The unnecessary prosecution of nonviolent illegal immigrants is sending ever larger numbers to poorly managed private prisons, a coalition of advocacy groups said in a report released Thursday, calling on Congress to reject the appropriation of $25,865,000 for 1,000 new private prison beds.

The coalition, which includes Justice Strategies, the ACLU of Texas, Grassroots Leaders


12 September 2012
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Illinois System and Critics Agree

The ACLU lawsuit alleges that violence among inmates is a frequent problem, as is abuse by the staff. It does not provide any examples or statistics to support that, and Schwartz said he didn’t have any figures available.

However, the John Howard Association reports that staff members have told them they will turn their back on misconduct by other staffers to avoid being a possible witness. And they claim they might face retaliation if they report misconduct.

Watchdog groups criticize the depart


11 September 2012
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Texas: 878 Ag Seg released into public

Solitary confinement has been referred to by many names, including “special housing units,” “lockdown” and “the hole.” In Texas, it’s called “administrative segregation,” and prison administrators reserve it for inmates considered particularly dangerous, including those affiliated with a prison gang.

While solitary confinement in prisons is rising as a national issue because of concerns about its psychological effect on individual inmates, Texas lawmakers are worried in particular that inmates are released with no transition between solitary confinement and the free world.


10 September 2012
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Closing of Illinois Supermax

Tamms Correctional Center on 200 Supermax Road, near the southern tip of Southern Illinois, may be as far from the hustling and bustling city of Chicago, with its constant city throb of noise, as you can get. And it’s likely that no one can feel the difference as much as its inmates.

The only supermax facility in Illinois, meaning it is the only prison built to keep the majority of its prisoners in isolation, Tamms prison was consigned for closure by the state’s governor in July.

But the battle between former prisoners, the families of those hurt by conditions at Tamms, anti-torture advocates, the union determined to keep its jobs and the state legislature strug


10 September 2012
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Chief Deputy Agrees: Deplorable Conditions

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Family members of several Jefferson County Jail inmates protested outside the downtown facility today, saying the food and conditions are atrocious.

Five people held signs outside the Mel Bailey Criminal Justice Center and talked to news reporters and photographers, who outnumbered the protesters. Bridget Gober of Gardendale said her 18-year-old daughter has been jailed on drug charges since July 27, and has been in the same jail uniform since she was incarcerated. A judge has denied her bond and drug court, according to her mother.

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