17 September 2013
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Mentally Ill in Olympia Jails Now Get Faster Evaluation

This makes both financial and common sense–those suspected of being mentally ill in Olympia. Washington jails are now evaluated by independent psychiatrists for a county-determined $800 and moved to appropriate facilities if warranted. It would cost jails much more to keep them in lock-up–and Washington State hospital has an average 28-day back-up for evaluations. So why hasn’t everyone added these extra resources that would save taxpayer money? Well, in part–unions. This might take work hospital employees can do–if they ever could get around to it…

15 September 2013
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California Women Prisoners Get “Screwed” in Re-Shuffle

Under Court order, and being slammed by the Supreme Court, California prison officials and governor are scattering inmates around to reduce percentages of overcrowding. And guess where they can send them? The closed a women’s prison and then re-opened it as a men’s prison. Wah-lah! Better statistics for the courts. But what about the women now housed 8 to a 4-person cell? Surely this shell game can’t fool all the people all the time? It’s time for California (and all states, actually) to use Smart Sentencing and Smart Reductions. No they shouldn’t release mass murderers. Got that. But drug users (arrested for possession but not even sale)? Invest some of that $45,000 prison tag per inmates on their job searches and education. Move women prisoners closer to home; let them visit with ankle bracelets. Good grief–we can do better than this!

13 September 2013
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Newly Released Inmates: 1 in 12 Hospitalized

We can all imagine the causes of this new Yale medical school discovery: 1 in 12 inmates released to freedom finds instead the inside of a hospital within 3 months. Perhaps it’s because of poor medical care in prison. But 80% of those released have chronic health conditions. A sad surmise is that this population is reluctant to call 911 when they feel sick, and end up in danger inside a hospital anyway. We need to get these citizens help when they re-enter society:

11 September 2013
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What’s A Night Guard’s Life?

What type of person signs on as a jail guard? Would you? In this week, a California veteran jail guard offers a telling glimpse into the difficult life of a jail guard. Guards don’t get to pick their companions, and they have to maintain a composure most of us wouldn’t have in these circumstances.

10 September 2013
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Are Forensic Experts Biased? Study Says Yes

I work as an expert witness on occasion, and always insist the called not identify which side she’s on in the linguistic debate I’m supposed to referee. I can do that objectively. But what about experts who are hired from the get-go by one side? By, say, the state. In a revealing study, scientists have concluded that forensic ‘experts’ are prejudiced by the side that pays them. Makes sense! But this study has major implications for our court systems.

8 September 2013
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New ‘Junk Science’ Bill May Help Death-Row Inmate

When Texas passed SB 344, they were looking at arson cases that were latter overturned with new science. Now, though, the bill allows death-row inmate Robert Avila an opportunity to have his case reviewed: could a toddler, watching a wrestling show, jump off a table and kill an infant with his feet, as Avila has always maintained? Several forensic scientists now will testify: yes!

6 September 2013
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Nice News from Utah

a new Utah Prisoner Advocates Network is up and running, helping families understand the system and answering questions. Molly Prince, a licensed clinical social worker who works with probationers, parolees, and their families, says, “There is a real need to meet more frequently to network and to help each other know who to contact for different issues. There is no organization that really helps us do that.”

4 September 2013
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North Carolina Lawsuit: Add Cameras to Prevent Abuse

Solitary confinement is tough enough, but when guards drag handcuffed inmates around the corners and beat them, N.C. Legal Services says, enough is enough! They have filed suit to force the corrections department to add cameras throughout the halls after eight solitary confinement inmates reported broken bones, smashed ribs, on-going head injuries. Let’s agree: enough is enough!

3 September 2013
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How Hot are Texas Prisons? Guards Join Lawsuit

Interior of cars in Texas record 114-120 degrees. What is the interior of prison cells without a.c., without air flow, some without windows? Hot enough to cook inmates, apparently–many have died in the last few years, and now Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice has been sued, and is being sued over prisoner deaths. But wait! It is also being sued by its own prison guard union. After all, those folk are stuck in the same conditions until they get in their air conditioned cars and drive home to (I hope) air conditioned rooms.

2 September 2013
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Prison Rape: Fox to Review the Henhouse

After all the years of pressure, Congress finally passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act, and now it’s supposed to be monitored. Guess who was chosen to investigate how the prisons are cooperating with the law? Yep. American Correction Association–the very folk who run many of the prisons. They are also the group that gets to train personnel in the Act. Oh my! What folly!

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