June 18, 2013

Private Prisons, No Oversight, Create Shocking Treatment

As states continue to hand over expensive prisons to for-profit companies, it is the prisoners who suffer and the stockholders who gain. That needs to change. But money talks. Currently, the East Mississippi Correctional Facility proves the point. But last week, it was the New Orleans jails. In Mississippi, mentally ill are locked behind steel doors and left--alone for days and weeks. A class-action lawsuit contends the inmates have resorted to burning mattresses just to get an official to enter and care for a sick or injured inmate.
June 17, 2013

How Hard Is It To Remain Clean, Remain Outside the Walls?

A 25-year sentence for drugs is a nightmare, but leaving the prison and returning to The Life might be even worse. So Seth Ferranti, a federal inmate, has entered a 500-hour program to face his demons before he faces society--and the program is harder than anyone could imagine. One huge obstacle is the amount of booze and drugs within the prison that continue to beckon. Really? Apparently it's not even surprising enough for the drugs to be the point of his blog:
June 16, 2013

Graphic Novel for Inmates Receives Glowing Review

Ken Herman, political commentator for Austin's Statesman, was surprised to read the opening blurb by Sister Helen, saying she would "take the book into the cells with her." But then, he hadn't read many graphic novels dedicated to helping inmates learn the intricacies of grievance writing. His concern is that the Texas Dept. of Criminal Justice has refused to allow the book into its law libraries--even for free. But the purpose of the column seems to be to encourage the prison general libraries to carry it. Cross your fingers! Vote is this week.
June 14, 2013

New Infographic Reveals Societal Cost of Elderly Inmates

Between 2007-2010, the number of state and federal prisoners 65 years and older grew by a staggering 94 times that of the overlap prison population (which also ballooned). A great new infographic highlights the causes and consequences. The impact? Money. Loss of life and health. Society pays for long-term care and finally burial expenses for the elderly in prison. The cause? Those 3-strike laws that increase a second and third arrest into major felonies so the perpretrator is condemned for life.
June 14, 2013

‘Barbaric’ and ‘Inhumane’ Prison Conditions in Mississippi

T the Southern Poverty Law Center has filed a class-action lawsuit against the East Mississippi Correctional Facility and its private operators, Management and Training Corporation. MTC says it's new to the facility and working on corrections. (Yet again.) This might make a horror movie: "The lawsuit describes a facility where prisoners are often locked in filthy cells and ignored even when they are suffering from serious medical issues. Many cells lack light and working toilets, forcing prisoners to use trays or plastic bags that are tossed through slots in their cell doors. Rats often climb over prisoners’ beds. Some prisoners even capture the rats, put them on makeshift leashes and sell them as pets to other prisoners."
June 13, 2013

Calif: 34% Suicides from Segregated Housing; Deaf Require Interpreters

Inmates in solitary confinement are 33% more likely to commit suicide than other inmates. California judge agrees with plaintiffs: "the consistent dearth of SLIs (sign-language interpreters) when psychiatric technicians take their rounds for patients housed in solitary, known as administrative segregation housing units" means those with disabilities cannot communicate with their evaluators. "SLIs are also absent during education and vocational programs at the Substance Abuse Treatment Facility." U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken insisted Tuesday that the state must quickly put the sign-language interpreters (SLIs) in place. She said there is "clear" and "convincing" evidence that the corrections department has not complied with the court-ordered plan and is still in violation of the ADA. Sign language interpreters must be present in the solitary unit when technicians evaluate the mental health status of inmates, according to the ruling.
June 13, 2013

Did She Really Say That? 5th Circuit Judge on Race

Apparently 5th Circuit Judge Edith Jones told Pennsylvania law students that blacks and Hispanics are "more violent." Than what? And why? She may have also said that "a death sentence provides a public service by allowing an inmate to "make peace with God." I myself would prefer that citizens make peace with their God/Allah, whatever, when they are not about to be murdered by the state. They are being sued by all sorts of human rights groups, including the Texas Civil Rights Project.
June 13, 2013

Maximum Security Guard Describes Difficult Job

No one envies the life of a prison guard, especially those who work in the maximum security units. One of these guards has answered Q & A for us--nothing you wouldn't imagine, but still chilling. Especially worrisome is finding the guard's name and address from outside friends
June 13, 2013

One Utah Inmate Disruptive; All Inmates Tear Gassed

Imagine being locked inside a room with no windows, bars, or openings--and having tear gas canisters thrown into the hallways and rooms. Hard to imagine. But inmates at Utah State Prison in Draper don't have to imagine it--they lived through it. After 30 minutes, guards in gas masks released some of the inmates into areas with clean air; allegedly, one guard laughed as inmates screamed with burning eyes and skin. No stretch of the imagination to learn that five plaintiffs are suing, and represented by the Utah ACLU
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