October 14, 2013

Southern Poverty Law Center Awarded $900,000 in New Orleans Jail Suit

About time: the Orleans Parish Jail fiasco drags on, and on, with officials fighting each step toward improvement. But now the Southern Poverty Law Center will recoup a bit of their attorneys' fees, $900,000. The decree that accompanies the order may cost the Parish as high as $20 MILLION. To this outside observer, the amount is a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to the pain, suffering, and deaths that occurred there before the law suits began. Imagine if the sheriff had applied this money to making a safe environment instead of the hell hole?
October 3, 2013

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?
October 1, 2013

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:
September 29, 2013

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.
September 29, 2013

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!
September 29, 2013

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.
September 22, 2013

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."
September 20, 2013

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
September 19, 2013

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
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