24 May 2014
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Solitary Confinement Inmate Delivers Own Baby; Sues for Its Wrongful Death etc

Say you get arrested for drugs. Say you are pregnant. Now–say you go into labor and see the ‘nurse’ — twice, even, but are put in the Cage for complaining too much. Now what? Well, you give birth in the cell, alone, and your child is born with a cord around her neck. All of a sudden, a guard appears and helps you both to the hospital, where the baby is declared dead. Now what? You learn that the nurse’s license had expired… etc. So you sue. Won’t bring your daughter back, no. But maybe, perhaps, the prison will be on notice that its health policies are wrong. Perhaps there will be some justice, here. Perhaps.

16 May 2014
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What if We Investigate Prosecutors?

New York legislature has 2 bills to consider that would establish a unit that looks into alleged misdeeds by prosecutors. Wow, what a thought! If they open the unit, wonder how many cases will go forward? Wonder how many will hit a headline? Wonder how many other states would be courageous enough to find their own answers. And finally, I wonder if they’ll have the money and personnel to go back and look at cases where the inmates insist the prosecutors framed (etc) them? That might take all the money in the world, eh? But perhaps a few solid cases and convictions later, the abuse will end. Perhaps.

10 May 2014
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How To Lower Prison Populations? Help Neighborhoods, of Course!

Yet another report, yet another years-long study into Mass Incarceration. This one recommends starting back at the home front: help communities hardest hit with financial and family losses, and boost them up so they don’t all wind up a part of the larger problem. Since that makes sense, probably no one will listen–but now you have! “Resources should go into community programs that keep people out of jail and prison, including public housing, substance abuse treatment, and mental health programs. Those programs, in the long run, will be more important than programs offered inside prisons and jails.” James Kilgore, responding to the report from the highly-regarded National Research Council (an arm of the National Academy of Sciences).

7 May 2014
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Case from Dishonest NYC Detective Again Overturned–too late for one inmate

The retired detective isn’t speaking to the press now. But he did plenty of times in his career. And he apparently sent innumerable innocent citizens to prison! “Mr. Scarcella, whose investigative work was blamed last year for a wrongful conviction that kept a man in prison for 23 years, was accused of fabricating confessions, coercing witnesses and failing to turn in exculpatory evidence. The most damning pattern in the detective’s cases — uncovered last year by The New York Times — was the use of Teresa Gomez, a crack addict who was a witness in six separate murder cases.”

The newest revelation comes rather late: three brothers, convicted on murder, are declared innocent–one died in prison, one got parole in 2007, and one is finally being released. There are still 57 Scarcella cases being investigated. Imagine?

5 May 2014
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ACLU Reminder: Prisoner Do Have Rights for Medical/Dental

The standard is impossibly high; inmates’ ‘facts’ are rarely accepted. But still! Still, prisoners in the US do have rights, and the ACLU enumerated them in 2012. Although some case law may have changed them here and there, nevertheless, this is a good primer

2 May 2014
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California Prison Overcrowding Creates Health Problems, Deaths

Hey! Wake up, California! Your need to imprison everyone has reached epidemic proportions, and now the consequences have epic proportions as well. Of course. Smashing 3-tier bunks side by side in jails and prisons creates a germ factory. Germs fly between those stacked bunks, and inmates get sick. Some were already sick. They get sicker and die. Release the low-level offenders. Release the very old and ill. Stop mass incarceration and these senseless deaths.

28 April 2014
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Mentally Ill Housed In Prisons– Who Cares?

It cannot be news: “At their maximum census in 1955, the state mental hospitals held 558,922 patients. Today, they hold approximately 35,000 patients, and states are continuing to close beds to reduce that number. In 2012, there were estimated to be 356,268 inmates with severe mental illness in prisons and jails. There were also approximately 35,000 patients with severe mental in state psychiatric hospitals. This means that there are ten times the number of persons with serious mental illness in prisons and jails than in state psychiatric hospitals.”

Yet it continues. Does anyone out there notice? Care? Can anyone out there speak up and get heard?

23 April 2014
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How Inmates Perceive Punishment Is Related to Behavior and Improvement

A college professor and a policy analyzer have discovered major differences between actual punishment and how the inmates perceive punishment. They investigated numerous factors, broke them down into graph form for us, and made suggestions to prison staff about improving the prison environment by understanding the inmates’ perceptions. These findings should be shared with all prison staffs. The consequences could make a positive difference in staff lives and safety.

10 April 2014
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Mentally Ill? Why, It’s Off to Prison, Of Course!

Since the Reagan administration, states have closed homes for the mentally ill, saying churches and private groups would step up and care for the mentally ill. Well, we know now, for a fact, that they haven’t stepped up. Indeed, looks like they are retreating into their sanctified churches and safe homes. They leave the mentally ill to the criminal justice system instead. How can a society allow the mentally ill to get arrested (for epilepsy, Tourette’s Syndrome, anger issues, etc.) and placed in prisons, where they face criminals and people who harm rather than help them?

5 April 2014
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Washington Inmate Dies of Flesh-Eating Bacteria; Medical Staff Allowed to Stay

I don’t know about you, but if the medics who oversaw my medical visits–14 times within one month–didn’t realize my very flesh was being eaten, I’d change doctors. Then again, I’m in the Free World and can. Inmates can’t. That’s why this Washington case is so, so sad: after months of pain and a string of medical visits, Ricardo Mejia was taken to a free-world hospital, where he died an unnecessary death . The lawsuit said, “While in state custody, Ricardo Mejia’s medical providers ignored obvious signs of infection and serious illness and he literally rotted to death under their care through negligence and deliberate indifference.” Even that negligence didn’t allow the court to find any one person actually guilty of neglect. What does it take?

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