June 13, 2013

Calif: 34% Suicides from Segregated Housing; Deaf Require Interpreters

Inmates in solitary confinement are 33% more likely to commit suicide than other inmates. California judge agrees with plaintiffs: "the consistent dearth of SLIs (sign-language interpreters) when psychiatric technicians take their rounds for patients housed in solitary, known as administrative segregation housing units" means those with disabilities cannot communicate with their evaluators. "SLIs are also absent during education and vocational programs at the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility." U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken insisted Tuesday that the state must quickly put the sign-language interpreters (SLIs) in place. She said there is "clear" and "convincing" evidence that the corrections department has not complied with the court-ordered plan and is still in violation of the ADA. Sign language interpreters must be present in the solitary unit when technicians evaluate the mental health status of inmates, according to the ruling.
June 13, 2013

Did She Really Say That? 5th Circuit Judge on Race

Apparently 5th Circuit Judge Edith Jones told Pennsylvania law students that blacks and Hispanics are "more violent." Than what? And why? She may have also said that "a death sentence provides a public service by allowing an inmate to "make peace with God." I myself would prefer that citizens make peace with their God/Allah, whatever, when they are not about to be murdered by the state. They are being sued by all sorts of human rights groups, including the Texas Civil Rights Project.
June 13, 2013

Maximum Security Guard Describes Difficult Job

No one envies the life of a prison guard, especially those who work in the maximum security units. One of these guards has answered Q & A for us--nothing you wouldn't imagine, but still chilling. Especially worrisome is finding the guard's name and address from outside friends
June 13, 2013

One Utah Inmate Disruptive; All Inmates Tear Gassed

Imagine being locked inside a room with no windows, bars, or openings--and having tear gas canisters thrown into the hallways and rooms. Hard to imagine. But inmates at Utah State Prison in Draper don't have to imagine it--they lived through it. After 30 minutes, guards in gas masks released some of the inmates into areas with clean air; allegedly, one guard laughed as inmates screamed with burning eyes and skin. No stretch of the imagination to learn that five plaintiffs are suing, and represented by the Utah ACLU
June 13, 2013

Oregon Federal Public Defender Issues Guide

Good news for those who are investigating federal prison issues: a helpful guide prepared by defenders who research and defend prison issues daily. Says the Guide: they hope to "discuss the current litigation status and suggested practices for that most screwed up of federal sentencing areas, state and federal concurrent and consecutive sentences. For those facing the nightmare of the BOP’s unlawful “death rattle rule” for prisoners who have extraordinary and compelling reasons for second look resentencing, we have some ideas for legal challenges to the BOP’s rules. We have also updated information related to classification issues and habeas corpus procedures.
June 13, 2013

The Altantic: U.S. Prisons “Medieval Places of Cruelty”

Nationally respected The Atlantic is systematically educating U. S. readers about the prison system that their tax dollars support. An new article details lawsuits and details in Florida, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Louisiana. Author Andrew Cohen summaries: "In our zeal to dehumanize criminals we have allowed our prisons to become medieval places of unspeakable cruelty so far beyond constitutional norms that they are barely recognizable."
June 3, 2013

Ad Seg vs. Solitary Confinement–and Suicide

Suicides in administration segregration are 40% higher than other parts of the prison. Although they are confined 23 hours a day, many prisoners find a way to "leave" the cell--permanently. Among other consequences, this makes a guard's job more tense and more unpleasant.
June 2, 2013

Activist Civil Rights Attorney Discusses Grievances

Michael Tigar, famous for representing high-profile plaintiffs in civil and human rights cases, turned his attention recently to prison grievances. He notes how the Prison Litigation Reform Act effectively stopped most inmates from reaching the court to find justice. And he mentioned my graphic novel Prison Grievances: when to write, how to write as an aid for overcoming the terrible odds. Here's hoping the book does indeed help those inmates with serious problems Within the Walls
June 1, 2013

GAO Reports on BOP’s Solitary Confinement

"The U.S. Bureau of Prisons currently holds more than 12,400 individuals in 23-hour-a-day lockdown, making it the largest practitioner of solitary and other forms of isolated confinement in the nation, and most likely the world. Yet the BOP does not know whether its use of “segregated housing” has any impact on prison safety, how it affects the prisoners who endure it, or how much it all costs American taxpayers."
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