2013 February

27 February 2013
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Coerced Confessions Cost Us All

Chicago is focusing on the release of Nicole Harris, who ‘confessed’ to killing her son after being held 27 hours by police. Today she is free, “after serving seven years of a thirty year sentence. Her conviction in the death of her son, Jaquari, was overturned by a federal appeals court last October and earlier this month the 7th Court of Appeals ordered Harris’s release.”

26 February 2013
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TX: Eat Your Eyeballs? But Still Sane Enough for Execution

Andre Thomas is making the news in Texas Tribune. He’s on death row, except he’s blind after gouging out both eyes and hears God telling him things–like to murder his wife and children, and pluck out his eyes. Texas Ct of Criminal Appeals said “Thomas is “clearly ‘crazy’ but he is also ‘sane’ under Texas law,” because a jury had concluded he knew right from wrong at the time of his crime. Yup.

25 February 2013
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HARVARD Magazine Spotlights Prisons

Bruce Western, Harvard Kennedy School Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, is highlighted both on the cover and the inside story on “The Prison Problem.”  “We may have skimped on welfare, but we paid anyway, splurging on police and prisons.  Dollars diverted from education and employment found their way to prison construction.”   Perhaps this unusual coverage will help Harvard graduates better understand causes, conditions, and solutions to mass incarceration.
March/April 2013, The Harvard Magazine, p. 38-43

24 February 2013
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Calif. Cell Walls A-Tumbling?

California voters accepted Prop. 36, which begins unwinding the massive over-incarceration under the draconian 3-Strikes Law.  “Throughout the entire state, around 2,800 people are eligible for sentence reductions, nearly half of which originate in Los Angeles County. Judge Ryan began receiving request even before voters passed the proposition.

23 February 2013
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Illinois Inmates and Hunger Strike

When you read that inmates have gone on a hunger strike, you have to know conditions are really, really intolerable. They know they’ll be punished with solitary. What what has these inmates so upset? “Among other complaints, the hunger strikers at Pontiac (which is the oldest prison in Illinois and the eighth-oldest in the country) […]

19 February 2013
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Rational Approach to Privatization

Writing on Corrections.com blog, Carl ToersBijns (retired prison system manager, etc.) investigates how the state and private industry can work together to create better prisons. It isn’t easy, and it requires a lot of oversight: http://www.corrections.com/news/article/32211-stopping-the-private-prison-pendulum?utm_source=CCNN_ezine&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CCNN_ezine_2013jan30

18 February 2013
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Post Release: where is the help?

A formerly incarcerated woman describes the suicide path of a 16-yr-old girl who bounced into and out of a New York prison. “Get out of prison, go report to parole, go to Credo, (drug and alcohol counseling), go to mental health, get a job, pay your rent, don’t drive till we say you can, pay […]

18 February 2013
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Baylor Offers Business Certificates

A terrific writer at Texas Tribune, Maurice Chammah, describes an innovative in-prison program designed to help develop inmates into entrepreneurs. First they are taught and encouraged: “more than 100 students in the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, an initiative organized by a Houston nonprofit of the same name that teaches business skills to prisoners who will soon […]

17 February 2013
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Closing Prison? Be Careful What You Wish For

So California is closing prisons and shifting inmates–into already crowded prisons. Victoria Law, of Truthout, is doing the new math: “In December 2011, on the heels of the US Supreme Court’s decision that the overcrowding in the California state prison system is unconstitutional, the CDCR proposed converting Valley State to a men’s prison and transferring […]

16 February 2013
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Don’t Snitch! Advice for Those Going In

Bradley Schwartz, once lawyer, then once inmate, is detailing his experiences in a continuing blog, Prisonpath.com. Terrific insider info! One suggestion I’m passing along because it relates to prison conditions and grievances: don’t snitch. But then, how do you write a grievance if someone is doing you wrong? That conundrum is part of the daily […]

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