September 19, 2013

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."
September 17, 2013

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.
September 17, 2013

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...
September 15, 2013

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!
September 13, 2013

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:
September 11, 2013

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.
September 10, 2013

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.
September 8, 2013

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!
September 6, 2013

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."
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