June 13, 2013

Oregon Federal Public Defender Issues Guide

Good news for those who are investigating federal prison issues: a helpful guide prepared by defenders who research and defend prison issues daily. Says the Guide: they hope to "discuss the current litigation status and suggested practices for that most screwed up of federal sentencing areas, state and federal concurrent and consecutive sentences. For those facing the nightmare of the BOP’s unlawful “death rattle rule” for prisoners who have extraordinary and compelling reasons for second look resentencing, we have some ideas for legal challenges to the BOP’s rules. We have also updated information related to classification issues and habeas corpus procedures.
June 13, 2013

The Altantic: U.S. Prisons “Medieval Places of Cruelty”

Nationally respected The Atlantic is systematically educating U. S. readers about the prison system that their tax dollars support. An new article details lawsuits and details in Florida, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Louisiana. Author Andrew Cohen summaries: "In our zeal to dehumanize criminals we have allowed our prisons to become medieval places of unspeakable cruelty so far beyond constitutional norms that they are barely recognizable."
June 3, 2013

Ad Seg vs. Solitary Confinement–and Suicide

Suicides in administration segregration are 40% higher than other parts of the prison. Although they are confined 23 hours a day, many prisoners find a way to "leave" the cell--permanently. Among other consequences, this makes a guard's job more tense and more unpleasant.
June 2, 2013

Activist Civil Rights Attorney Discusses Grievances

Michael Tigar, famous for representing high-profile plaintiffs in civil and human rights cases, turned his attention recently to prison grievances. He notes how the Prison Litigation Reform Act effectively stopped most inmates from reaching the court to find justice. And he mentioned my graphic novel Prison Grievances: when to write, how to write as an aid for overcoming the terrible odds. Here's hoping the book does indeed help those inmates with serious problems Within the Walls
June 1, 2013

GAO Reports on BOP’s Solitary Confinement

"The U.S. Bureau of Prisons currently holds more than 12,400 individuals in 23-hour-a-day lockdown, making it the largest practitioner of solitary and other forms of isolated confinement in the nation, and most likely the world. Yet the BOP does not know whether its use of “segregated housing” has any impact on prison safety, how it affects the prisoners who endure it, or how much it all costs American taxpayers."
May 25, 2013

Why Do Prison Authorities Ban Huckleberry Finn?

In 1884, Samuel Clemens published the most important American novel ever written--Huckleberry Finn. Yet in 2013, prison officials refuse to allow it inside the libraries. It's won every major writing award; writings by "Samuel Clemens" have been read by children and adults since the middle of the 1880's. So... what? The book was published two decades after the Emancipation Proclamation and the end of the Civil War. Twain took on the problem of Jim Crow laws, designed to limit the power of blacks in the South. Which states routinely ban this marvelous book? Yep. One prison official actually said it would never appear in his prison because it uses the word "nigger." Well, I'm sure that word never echoes in the unit's hallways and would be an amazing new vocabulary word there, right? Or might it just be that seeing the word, and recognizing the first-ever bi-racial friendship described in magnificent literature, is somehow still a threat?
May 22, 2013

Affordable Care Act could cover 1/2 fed/state re-entering populatoins

Under the Affordable Care Act (upheld by the Supreme Court), more than 1/2 of the federal and state inmaets who leave the systems (est. 730,000 next year) will be eligible for Medicaid or federal substitites to help buy health insurance from state health insurance exchanges.
May 21, 2013

Calif. Gov Defies Fed Court, thinks all is well

California Gov. Jerry Brown is taking his version of prison overcrowding and inadequate health care (all has been repaired) to the Supreme Court rather than comply with the Dec. 2012 federal court mandate. Well, that's sure one way to fix a problem. California has released--or moved to state jails--many inmates. They need to reduce prisons by 10,000 more to reach the federal standard. And health care? "Fixed."
May 21, 2013

Deaf in Florida Prisons Tormented, Abused

Tomoka Correctional Institution [sic] in Florida has guards who allegedly taunt the deaf, abuse them, and ridicule them. Probably this treatment is not what the jurors had in mind during sentencing, but according to the head of a nonprofit advocating for human rights. She is suing on behalf of 21 deaf prisoners, including one who reported the abuse but has not been seen opr heard of since.
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