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1 September 2014
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Congress Reconsiders Pell Grants for Inmates: Zoukis Book Essential

Congress knee-jerked the U.S. into the Tough on Crime era, Pres. Clinton signed a law prohibiting inmates from access to essential Pell grants for education. Only 1/10th of 1% of all Pell grants went to inmates, and no non-imprisoned student was ever denied a grant because of reduced funding. But the law did go into effect and has stayed law all these years. Sen. Cory Booker and his thinking colleagues may undo that self-defeating policy.

Enter federal inmates Christopher Zoukis’ remarkable Education Behind Bars (Sunbury Press, 2012). This thick book brims with information that inmates need to begin and further their education. It offers compendiums of schools, addresses, and much-needed information. (Full book reviewed here, on blog page for Book Reviews).

Let’s hope we return to sanity. As Mr. Zoukis points out, educating inmates is a win-win: society, prison families, prison officials, colleges, and the inmates themselves.


18 August 2014
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Too-Long Sentecing? Let’s Try Alternatives

Flying in the face on the Prison Industrial Complex is a series of state moves that may help get our citizens home, with help. There are ways to stem the flow into prisons–alternative sentencing and regional programs for addiction– and shorter sentencing once the defendant has been found guilty. Then inside, educational programs can help get these people on their feet with self-knowledge. “Counties can also implement reentry, mental health, and education programs in conjunction with shorter sentences. These programs lower recidivism by allowing those who are incarcerated to access treatment and gain the skills they need to become contributing members of society. The Washington State Institute for Public Policy found a number of programs that demonstrated success under a cost-benefit analysis.”


16 August 2014
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Court Denies Inmate: Exhaust all Remedies, Even Those You Can’t See

The Prison Litigation Reform Act strikes again: Lester Alford wrote again and again about disgusting prison conditions, and finally a court slapped him down, saying that although he had indeed written all the Step 1 and 2 and filings correctly, he missed one–appealing beyond the steps to the top prison administrators. That step is not in the PLRA. Must be in the small print in the New Jersey system? It’s a travesty that a judge would dismiss a legitimate, credible complaint that had made its way so far–and on this sort of nonsense. Shame on the judge, the entire New Jersey system.


16 August 2014
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Nine TB Prison AL Cases

An outbreak of TB in the Alabama prison system should have all of us afraid. These guys are infectious. And they do get released. Currently the System is not accepting new inmates there, but where will the 9 inmates go who have this disease? And how did all of them get it? We should all be concerned!


16 August 2014
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Ariz. Inmate Inundates Courts with Grievances

Long-time inmate Dale Maisano is tired of bad food, and has filed 5800 lawsuits to bring attention to the inferior food provided in prisons across the county. Corizon, the prison-food provider, thinks maybe Maisano shouldn’t be noticed. Should he?


8 August 2014
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Florida Judge DISBARRED over Improper Conduct During Murder Trial

What kind of lawyer becomes a judge, presides of a murder trial, and spends her time texting the prosecutor–her boyfriend? Well, we might say she is the dis-barred kind. Anna Gardiner, now married to the attorney who defended her at trial, partied with the prosecutor and talked trial trash. Finally the co-prosecutor was so fed u that he blew the whistle. Good grief. Of course I’m glad she was caught, this case does make me question the CLE programs in ethics offered everywhere–except maybe Broward County, Florida. Much of what goes on there is so bizarre that this story probably didn’t make front page. I am so, so glad no one I know has to approach the bench there–especially for a serious reason. Seems to me that MURDER is enough of a reason to put the cell phone down and listen to both sides. Maybe now, a few more judges will sit up straight and do what’s right. Hope so.


5 August 2014
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Junk Science Arson Plus Prosecutorial Coverup

It’s bad enough when ‘experts’ chime in on an arson case with blah-blah antiquated opinions. But then to have the prosecutor promise (and deliver) a lighter sentence to a jail house informant–and through another man keep paying the false informer? fantastic? The stuff of movies? Unfortunately, it is the stuff of an execution, probably a botched job from the beginning. Texas Gov. Rick Perry continues to stand by the decision and his impression of the man’s guilt. (Same R Perry who won’t sign the federal PREA against prison rape because he is unsure of the details in it.)


20 July 2014
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New Orleans Jail Amazes Monitors–Again

Fool me once … How can the New Orleans sheriff continue to hold his job? Monitors once again entered OPP local jail and found appalling conditions. Surprise–they were appalling for the last 20 years or so. Now there’s state and federal monitoring, but it’s still a hell-hole. Shouldn’t a grown-up get involved? The sheriff is moving the mentally ill (but says New Orleans can’t afford the new hospital’s charges) and the women (read the accompanying story for gross details).


15 July 2014
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L.A.: GUILTY! Conspiracy and Obstruction by Jail Officials

L.A. jail chief says it’s ‘devastating’ that four of his officers are guilty of hiding witnesses from the feds. Well, yes! How many failures and revelations of wrong-doing will it take to turn the L.A. jails around? Here we have a strange finger-pointing and lack of accountability. Let’s hope that the prison terms speak to the chief’s ear, and he undergoes the necessary city-wide investigations into jail corruption.


15 July 2014
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