Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Got Change for a Call? Or $25?

It's about stealing from the poor again;  telephone companies are charging so much for inmate phone calls that even the FCC is noticing.  No, really.  And the New Yourk Times is reporting the outrage.  I suppose a $17 phone call that lasts under 15 minutes depletes a commissary account pretty fast.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Moral Responsibilites

As a society, we have a moral obligation to safeguard the members of our society by maintaining a system that separates the worst among us so that other citizens are not injured;  we also have a moral obligation not to injure those separated, not to reduce them to non-humans.  How we balance these obligations defines us as a society, as a nation.  When international human rights groups point to our prison system as 'barbaric,' we need to examine our laws, our oversight of the system.  And we have to act on what we learn.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Majority of jail prisoners awaiting trial; wait coerces pleas

  The Pretrial Justice Institute has just released new statistics on the people we are keeping in our tax-funded jails;  61% are sitting there, waiting for a day in court.  And while they sit, they grow tired and discouraged.  So they are more likely to accept guilty pleas and spent unnecessary time in our jails and tax-funded prisons.  See the original report at

and a discussion of it at

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Pinal County Jail makes list of 10 worst immigrant detention centers

Detained immigrants have even fewer rights then U.S. inmates in jails and prisons.  Detension centers are supposed to non-punitive administrative holding centers for individuals undergoing immigration proceedings.  The reality, though, is harsher than that.  Much harsher.  Detention Watch Netwrk just released a report citing 10 facilites with "sexual assault, substandard medical care, lack of due process and abysmal living conditions."  Not surprisingly, Arizona's Pinal County jail is one of the 10.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Inmate With a Handicap? Lotsa Luck!

   California has yet another problem, this one a lawsuit filed by Berkeley's Disability Rights Advocates, on behalf of inmates in the Santa Rita units.  What if you require a wheelchair, but the bathroom stalls are too narrow for one?  What if you need help standing, but showers have to grab bars?  Apparently, you urinate on yourself at times, and hope a sympathetic guard will help you shower.

Funding Books for Prison Libraries

The campaign to fund the graphic novel Prison Grievances into prison libraries is almost over.  We've collected over $7000 and will be able to send books into more than 1500 prisons.  If you can help in these last two days, go for it!  And many thanks to all who have already given or sent positive wishes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gangs Rule Idaho Private Prison?

   You know you're in trouble when the inmates file in court to get protection from the prison gangs.  Seems the gangs run the prison.  But CCA hasn't noticed, according to an article in CBS Top Stories.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Contributions to graphic novel top $6000

As you know, I'm collecting money to send copies of my graphic novel into prison libraries,  It's the toughest work I've ever done (raising funds), but it's for a great cause.  I'm sure you've given, so thank you!

If you haven't or know someone who might, here's the link again:

Friday, November 9, 2012

What's Deliberate Indifference?

We are about to find out.  In a Texas case just filed today, an Air Force veteran jailed for criminal mischief, died after repeated smashing his head into the jail's walls.  Allegedly, jailers watched and did nothing. 
   According to the complaint, Appell was put in a padded cell but not restrained. That, according to his mother, allowed him to paced the cell and strike his head against the door viewing window allegedly whiled the jailers watched.
 "Everybody in the jail, from what Mrs. Appell told me, could hear him hitting his head against the wall," said Michelle Smith co-counsel with the Texas Civil Rights Project.
  The lawsuit alleges that the death was slow and the decision not to stop him was deliberate.
   "So they let him bash his head for over 24 hours," said Shirley Appell.
  The case is based on violating the ADA and Rehabilitation Act as well as failing to provide protection under the 14th Amendment.

Read more:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Overcrowded federal prisons create their own problems

We all know that humans smashed into a finite space have more difficuloties than those with lots of breathing room.  Now consider being crowded behind cell bars and unable to get out at will.  WHile prison is supposed to be punishmnet, this recent overcrowding has proven to be much more.  Read the full story at

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Can Felons Vote?

State law decides if felons can vote.  According to Solitary Watch and Mother Jones magazine, more than 2 million voters found themselves having to check with the Secretary of State in their own state to see if they were eligible to vote.  In Texas, once someone is "off paper," then he or she can cast a ballot.  In Florida, the governor declared that any felon is blocked from voting;  that overturned the decision of the last two Florida governors.  Given the high number of formerly incarcerated, and the high number of US couch potatoes, seem to me each state needs to reconsider any barriers to anyone voting.
According to The Sentencing Project, 1 in 40 adults are disenfranchised.  In 11 states, felons can never again vote.  and 1 in 13 African Americans of voting age are disenfranchised (4 times the rate on non-African Americans).

Monday, November 5, 2012

Colo. Solitary Confinement Prison Empty

Maybe we're all just nuts?

Opened over objections  Colorado State Penitentiary II was built without a vote of the people, a requirement for Colorado projects that increase state debt, and in spite of a warning from the state treasurer that the voters should decide.

The prison was built despite a 2005 Colorado Department of Corrections report from its own staff confirming that Colorado held three times as many people in solitary confinement as the average state prison system.

It finally opened in 2010, over renewed objections that Colorado didn't need it. The corrections department, in turn, won the fight to open it with a misleading claim that most states actually held more prisoners in what the department calls "administrative segregation."

Now it's empty.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Low-level felons still marching into Calif. state prisons

Despite new policies, innumerable studies, and the concerns of over-taxed Californians, state judges continue to send low-level felons into the state prisons instead of county facilities.  Everyone loses!

"A panel of three federal judges presiding over inmate lawsuits against California has given the state until Jan. 7 to produce a new prison reduction plan. California must reduce crowding to 137.5% of what its 33 prisons were designed to hold. The cap translates into 112,032 inmates in prisons built to hold 81,000.

The population caps were ordered after California failed for years to improve what judges ruled were unconstitutionally cruel conditions in its aging prisons, with medical care so bad that an inmate a week died needlessly." 

As usual, everyone is pointing fingers at everyone else.  See the whole story  from the L.A. Times:

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