Wednesday, January 30, 2013

NY State Bar Opposes Long-term Solitary

State by state, sanity may overtake former prison policies.  The New York State Bar Association has passed a resolution against the lengthy, and frequently unnecessary, use of prolonged solitary confinement.  The Association believes solitary offends not "just the conscience, but the Constitution."  They write, "solitary confinement, if used at all, should be measured in days, not years, months, or even weeks, ensuring that all prisoners, regardless of their conditions of confinement, have some minimal measure of interactive activity so that their psyche does not begin to deteriorate."                                              

Prison Reform: Texas Businesses Pressure Congressmen

It's been a long time coming.  But "it" is here:  Texas Association of Business is pressuring Texas congress to keep people out of prison, and reduce barriers of employment to the formerly incarcerated.  Tip of the Prison Advocates' Hat to Penny Rayfield, president of OnShore Resources.  She's also a TAB board member and helped create this new agenda.             


Countdown to Publishing Novel for Inmates

Prison Grievances:  when to write, how to write, is at the publisher and set for sell in a week through  Author Terri LeClercq is quite excited!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Prison Suicides 1 Every 11 Days in California

Special Master Matthew Lopes is investigating California prisons at the courts' request.  He wants to see all 33 state prisons but has seen only one--enough to make him argue against Gov. Brown's request to end court supervision of the state prisons.  "The problem of inmate suicides … must be resolved before the remedial phase of the Coleman case can be ended," Lopes wrote, referring to the 2001 lawsuit that led to the appointment of a special master. "The gravity of this problem calls for further intervention. To do any less and to wait any longer risks further loss of lives."  The prison system is responding with a 609-page report.  Yep!  ,0,6228066.story?goback=%2Egde_4402440_member_207320103

Prison Crowding in California: Gov and Overseer Disagree

The state closed 100 crowded beds, and Gov. Jerry Brown now wants the courts out of the prisons, and calls any further improvements to the California system "nitpicking."  Wait a minute, insists those who investigate:  "a court-appointed monitor said in papers filed last week that Mr. Brown’s demand to end oversight is “not only premature, but a needless distraction” that could affect care for mentally ill inmates. The monitor cited dozens of suicides and long periods of isolation instead of treatment.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Inmate Facing 4th death date vs. DNA Testing

His defense lawyers believe they have proven 10 times over that Larry Swearingen was in jail when he supposedly murdered Melissa Trotter.  State prosecutors and the courts have agreed to DNA testing, but--they can't agree on when the testing will be done.  Because he is scheduled to be executed Feb. 27, Swearinger is rather involved in the disagreement.  Specifically, the defense wants the labs to take more time and perform sophisticated tests;  that could change the execution date.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Florida Prisons to Offer Kosher!

Miami-Glade, never a forerunner of prison innovation, has nevertheless announced it would begin serving kosher meals to any Jews who request them.  Officials promise that kosher food will soon extend to women's prisons and other facilities with a large portion of Jewish inhabitants.

Officials also insist the decision had nothing to do with the U.S. Justice Department's lawsuit on behalf on 10 Jewish inmates.                                                  


Saturday, January 19, 2013

350 Prison Manuals? And Inmates Are Supposed to Keep Track?

Is it "frivolous and excessive" to ask for more than 100 free pages to be copied toward an inmate's law suits?  The Utah prison system has decided so.  They point out that much of the requested information can be accessed through interviews, etc.  But at least one committee member questions why at least the prison system manuals aren't kept available in the libraries so inmates can read them there.                                                    

Friday, January 18, 2013

Texas Lawmakers Finally Considering Medical Parole

It's taken a major budget crisis and numerous examples of million-dollar cases, but the Texas Legislature is actually looking at the stringent procedures that keep terminally ill patients within the cells.  Head of the parole system, Rissie Owens, is frequently quoted as saying these prisoners are known to have miraculous recoveries and commit new crimes;  perhaps the legislature can investigate how many do actually pick up their pallets and walk into crime.

Calif. Prison Overcrowding Defies Court Orders

If you were governor of a state that was under federal orders to reduce prison overcrowding, what would you do?  California's Jerry Brown has decided to change the definition of overcrowding.  Yep.  "The state said its 33 prisons on average are at 149.4% of design capacity. Nearly half of the individual prisons are much higher than that: 172% at North Kern State Prison, 187% at the Central California Women’s Facility, and the men’s section of Valley State Prison in Chowchilla is now at almost 352%."  Gov. Brown thinks that the state "has improved living conditions within its prisons to the point it no longer needs to meet court-ordered caps on prison crowding."                     

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Controversy: Inmates Working While Incarcerated

Should inmates work while they're in prison?  Some critics of work programs see them as modern slave factories, where an inmate earns, perhaps, $0.81/hr.  In California, one program that teamed with trades unions taught the inmates a skill, and helped them get employed upon release.  But the State has run out of money, so the program is being discontinued.  The recidivism rate for inmates who succeed in the program is astonishing low;  perhaps critics should re-think their position and urge the states to offer them everywhere.                            

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Washington's New Transition Program

Washington state has opened new programs to help those in isolation units earn their way out.
"At Clallam Bay, the path out of isolation runs through the color-coded tiers of the Intensive Transition Program (ITP), housed since 2006 in a unit originally built for juveniles.
About 30 inmates, all volunteers, agree to a nine-month program stocked with coursework such as "moral recognition therapy" and "self-repair," gradually earning more freedoms."  Some are former gang members;  some are mentally ill.                                                      

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Judge Agrees that Mentally Ill Are Mistreated

U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt decided that Indiana's treatment of mentally ill inmates is not constitutional.  The issue, again:  isolation units.  When human beings are separated from all interaction with other humans, they develop symptoms of insanity.  When inmates were already having mental troubles, the isolation confounds the problem.  And then the inmates are released into society.  The judge stopped short of requiring specific cures to the problem but will be monitoring the system.                           


Friday, January 4, 2013

Journalists Barred from Prisons?

Policy varies from state to state, from Warden to Warden.  Despite the First Amendment, Public Information Officers of prisons can ban the public from knowing what is happening inside prisons, and that can't be all good now, can it?  Jessica Pupovac, investigating prison journalists' access to prisons for her master's thesis, uncovered a wild array of policies and yet, and yet taxpayers spend approximately $74 BILLION on state and federal prison systems annually.  Yet the public can't know how the dollars are spent?                                      

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