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3 October 2013
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942 Acres of California Prison–but Men in Cages

How can a state cover 942 acres with a prison? California is doing just that, at Corcoran, where the solitary units, SHUs, are being investigated by — everyone including the United Nations. The major question boils down to this: an inmates who are reputed to be gang members so dangerous that they need to be placed in solitary cells indefinitely?


1 October 2013
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Illinois Solves Overcrowding by Moving Maximum-Security into Youth Facilities

Oops. Turns out Illinois may not have invented a terrific solution to overcrowding. According to the Illinois ACLU and the John Howard Society, prison officials have tried to solve one problem by creating a hell hole for youth offenders–now in the same facility as the max guys. Thus a class-action law suit:


29 September 2013
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Juidge Condemns Federal Prosecutors’ Lies, Misconduct

Remember Katrina? The innocent people who were shot for trying to get over the bridge? The trial of the 5 policemen? Turns out, federal prosecutors were so slap-happy to get convictions that they actually posted anonymous tweets, letters, emails about ‘evidence’ against the police officers, who were convicted. But now a judge has reviewed the evidence and says the guilty parties are — the federal prosecutors and their disregard for justice.


29 September 2013
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Private Prison Contracts Require Full Occupancy

Odd how this works: a private company, for profit, takes over a prison for the state. Then the state is required to come up with inmates to fill it, or pay the company for the empty cells anyway. Talk about pressure to fill beds! Arizona has 3 prisons that require 100% occupancy. If you ever wonder why the U.S. has so many prisoners, just remember this!


29 September 2013
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Iowa Prison Guards Protest Cuts: Safety in Balance

Budget cuts of correction officers and nurses has the prison union protesting in front of the Iowa capitol. It also has everyone in the circle pointing to everyone else for the cause of the problems. A bottom line: they have cut so many nurses that the inmates are in danger and know it. So to do the remaining guards. ““Understaffing puts corrections staff at a heightened risk of injury or death, it puts the safety of the public at risk by making escapes more likely, and it puts the inmates’ safety at risk,” Danny Homan, AFSCME president, said outside the Coralville prison.


22 September 2013
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Virginia Inmate Denied Diabetes Medicine, Losing Sight

I am not familiar with the source of this story, but if the allegations are correct, then this class-action lawsuit should explode in a Virginia courtroom. Here’s an example of the alleged mistreatment: According to her mother, Taylor Gilmore “has had Type 1 diabetes since at least the age of 7, but the prison is providing treatment for Type 2 diabetes, which does not work for her condition. As a result, she claims that her feet are turning purple and her vision is declining. If left untreated, her diabetes may render her blind. Along with providing the wrong medication, the prison is barring Gilmer from checking her blood-sugar levels, which is key in managing diabetes.”


20 September 2013
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More and More Citizens Sentenced to Life in Prison

Now that juries are becoming educated about executions, more of them are handing out life sentences. That might make sense in the worst-of-worst homicides, etc., cases. But “use of life sentences has expanded over time to include a wider range of offenses, including property crimes (5,416 prisoners) and drug crimes (2,686), according to the report. In Idaho, prisoners who have not been convicted of homicide comprise more than half the population of lifers, the highest in the country; in Washington, they represent 46 percent.”

We need intelligent discussion of changing our punitive system of incarceration. Perhaps we can begin re-labeling ‘property crimes’ into segments that reflect the violence behind them, etc


19 September 2013
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Alabama Considering Sensible Sentencing Instead of Lawsuits

Don’t look now, but a Southern state is going pro-active! Rather than end up in a major federal lawsuit over prison conditions, Alabama prison officials AND Alabama politicians are looking at Sensible Sentencing. Currently, “an Alabamian who has committed a low-level Class C felony — a minor offense like theft of $500 (or many low-level thefts), using a stolen credit card, passing a forged or altered check or simple drug possession — can spend a decade in prison. And if that person has another low-level conviction on his record, he’ll be sentenced as if he committed a Class B felony, subject to a 20-year sentence. A third felony on his record? The defendant could be behind bars for life as if he had committed a Class A felony such as murder, even if all three felonies were low-level crimes


19 September 2013
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Stupidity Reigns In Utah Parole Practices: Cost $2.9 Million

OK, we know that released inmates have a hard time out there, trying to meet parole conditions. But this new finding is instructive: “offenders who failed to abide by conditions set by a judge or by the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole for community supervision accounted for 67 percent of new prison admissions between 2002 and 2012. According to the audit, the state could save an estimated $2.6 million a year if Utah was able to reduce the number of offenders going to prison by just 10 percent.”


17 September 2013
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Ohio Double Celling = 3 homicides, 113% Assault Increase

File this under the “no kidding, Hawkeye?” The Toledo Correctional Institute has received failing marks across the board by a state panel for its violent, even murderous cells. Double celling: highest staff turn-over in the state, 129% increase in use of force. When will legislatures stop cutting prison budgets? Lack of money, lack of training, lack of leadership create dangerous conditions not just for inmates (though let’s count them first!) but also staff. Perhaps we need a new law: legislators who cut prison budgets have to visit each prison, twice a year, to see the results of their decision.

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