Sunday, March 24, 2013

New Home for the Blog

The Prison Grievances blog has moved.  Please visit the new, improved Prison Grievances at And please change your bookmarks.  All of the content from this blog is now at the new blog and this blog will no longer be updated.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Overlooked in jail for TWO YEARS? Really?

So Stephen Slevin got snagged for DWI in New Mexico, thrown into jail, placed in solitary, and forgotten.  For two years.  There was some question about the car he was driving (friend said he could use it?).  But because Slevin Never.Saw. A. Judge in those two years, facts didn't apply.  Today he is out and awarded $15.5 million, which might help with his lung cancer.      

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Coerced Confessions Cost Us All

Chicago is focusing on the release of Nicole Harris, who 'confessed' to killing her son after being held 27 hours by police.  Today she is free, "after serving seven years of a thirty year sentence. Her conviction in the death of her son, Jaquari, was overturned by a federal appeals court last October and earlier this month the 7th Court of Appeals ordered Harris’s release."  Meanwhile, her life, her family's life, and the taxpayers of Illinois have all suffered.  Maybe it's time to stop rewarding police for confessions and instead reward them for mediations, truth, etc.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

TX: Eat Your Eyeballs? But Still Sane Enough for Execution

Andre Thomas is making the news in Texas Tribune.  He's on death row, except he's blind after gouging out both eyes and hears God telling him things--like to murder his wife and children, and pluck out his eyes.  Texas Ct of Criminal Appeals said "Thomas is “clearly ‘crazy’ but he is also ‘sane’ under Texas law,” because a jury had concluded he knew right from wrong at the time of his crime.  Yup.  The answer to mental illness in the 60s was that communities would rush in and help all those kicked out of mental institutions.  "In 1955, there were 500,000 patients in psychiatric hospitals nationwide, said Lynda Frost, director of planning and programs at the University of Texas at Austin’s Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. In 2000, there were 59,000." 

Monday, February 25, 2013

HARVARD Magazine Spotlights Prisons

Bruce Western, Harvard Kennedy School Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, is highlighted both on the cover and the inside story on "The Prison Problem."  "We may have skimped on welfare, but we paid anyway, splurging on police and prisons.  Dollars diverted from education and employment found their way to prison construction."   Perhaps this unusual coverage will help Harvard graduates better understand causes, conditions, and solutions to mass incarceration.     
March/April 2013, The Harvard Magazine, p. 38-43        

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Calif. Cell Walls A-Tumbling?

California voters accepted Prop. 36, which begins unwinding the massive over-incarceration under the draconian 3-Strikes Law.  "Throughout the entire state, around 2,800 people are eligible for sentence reductions, nearly half of which originate in Los Angeles County. Judge Ryan began receiving request even before voters passed the proposition. Inmates filed their own and some used attorneys, but who prepared the request makes no difference to Ryan. 'I’m taking everything, even if it’s in crayon, as long as it has the right information.' ”

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Illinois Inmates and Hunger Strike

When you read that inmates have gone on a hunger strike, you have to know conditions are really, really intolerable.  They know they'll be punished with solitary.  What what has these inmates so upset?  "Among other complaints, the hunger strikers at Pontiac (which is the oldest prison in Illinois and the eighth-oldest in the country) have stated that Plexiglas barriers placed on their cell doors, installed recently supposedly to increase security, are preventing their rooms from being heated. Inmates are protesting as well against a lack of necessities, such as the forms required for them to receive visits, legal-sized envelopes, cleaning supplies and hygiene products. Inmates have claimed that they are charged $5 to use items like nail clippers, and that these utensils are not sterilized between uses, even though some of the prisoners have communicable diseases."

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