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2/24/20: Fees, Fines and Ability to Pay. This piece was originally published by The Hill.
In far too many criminal courts across the country, judges impose fees and fines on defendants without consideration for their ability to pay. The result: people struggling financially are saddled with debt that makes it nearly impossible for them to support themselves and their families. The devastating consequences of these practices are gaining national attention. In fact, five of the current Democratic presidential candidates have joined the growing outcry against this approach and are trying to address the problem through their criminal justice policy platforms. Despite promising momentum for change, some government officials hold on, partly under the belief that they need fines and fees to generate revenue. Compared to fines issued with sentences, court fees tend to slip past the public’s attention. The IRS spends one-third of a penny for every dollar that it collects in taxes.
States should also reform how they impose fines. Prison Gerrymandering Project. The way the Census Bureau counts people in prison creates significant problems for democracy and for our nation’s future.
It leads to a dramatic distortion of representation at local and state levels, and creates an inaccurate picture of community populations for research and planning purposes. The Bureau counts incarcerated people as residents of the towns where they are confined, though they are barred from voting in 48 states and return to their homes after being released. The practice also defies most state constitutions and statutes, which explicitly state that incarceration does not change a residence.
The Bureau’s approach to counting incarcerated people dates back to the beginning of the census, when it was important only to count the number of people in each state to ensure equal representation in Congress. Congressional apportionment relied on the comparative populations of the states, not where people were relative to each other within each state. Prison: LWT w/John Oliver. 2/2/19: 1000+ human beings at MDC federal jail in Brooklyn tapping SOS.
Inside the Three Strikes Project: An Inmate’s Letter. Tapestry (ORW) Letter Writing Action. California Dept of Corrections mailing procedures can be found here.
Liyah BirruAylaliya Birru155472 / PP.O Box 1031Marysville, CA 95901 Alternative: bit.ly/DearLiyah Arlene DugmoreArlene Dugmore (X00016) P.O. Box 1508 Chowchilla, CA 93610 Stacey Dyer Stacey Dyer (X05475) P.O. Wendy Fong Wendy Fong (WE7728) P.O. Kanoa Harris (please use “Rae” on the address, but address him as Kanoa) Rae S. Tomiekia Johnson Tomiekia Johnson (WE4176) P.O. Christina Martinez Christina Martinez (WE3166) P.O. Brandy Scott Brandy Scott (WE0141) P.O. Gabriela Solano Gabriela Solano (W82038) P.O. 1/9/18: The Gender Divide– Tracking women's state prison growth. By Wendy SawyerJanuary 9, 2018 The story of women’s prison growth has been obscured by overly broad discussions of the “total” prison population for too long.
This report sheds more light on women in the era of mass incarceration by tracking prison population trends since 1978 for all 50 states. The analysis identifies places where recent reforms appear to have had a disparate effect on women, and offers states recommendations to reverse mass incarceration for women alongside men. Across the country, we find a disturbing gender disparity in recent prison population trends. While recent reforms have reduced the total number of people in state prisons since 2009, almost all of the decrease has been among men. 10/18/08: Disparity in the Discipline of Male & Female Inmates in TX Prisons. 12/17/19: Man sexually abusing underage girls until 1 kills him. 8/19/19: Inside The Prison Where Inmates Set Each Other On Fire and Gangs Have More Power Than Guards.
This story is part of an ongoing investigation into Mississippi’s corrections system.
Sign up for the Locked Down newsletter to receive updates in this series as soon as they publish. LEAKESVILLE, Miss. — Jeffery Wilemon clutched his gut, throbbing in pain as he lay on his bed inside the South Mississippi Correctional Institution in April. But there was no way for him to cry out — not unless he wanted another beating. Hours earlier, inmates had slugged the 54-year-old and declared that he needed to “follow the rules” their gang had set for prison life, he later wrote in a handwritten pleading filed in Itawamba County Circuit Court.
After the beating, gang members escorted him to a different bed, where a gang leader held court, Wilemon wrote in his pleading, which is pending. The leader flashed his knife, saying he could stab him. But on the ground, the reality is starkly different. The state has sharply cut its spending on prisons over the last few years. “A Ticking Time Bomb” 10/14/18: Data shows women more harshly punished in prison than men. During her twenty years in an Illinois prison, Monica Cosby received disciplinary tickets and was sent to solitary confinement more times than she can remember.
And she wasn’t alone. “You’ll get a ticket or get sent to seg [solitary confinement] for having… a piece of candy,” she said. “Or you have a library book that’s overdue — and you’re on your way to the library.” 7/31/18: New Diet Gives Women Inmates ‘Lighter’ Sentence. July 31, 2018 When Margaret Chippendale took over as warden at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women five years ago, she saw something jarring.
“I was running into inmates that I knew when they were at other facilities and they just looked bigger,” Chippendale said. The corrections veteran did some investigating and sure enough found that women inmates were receiving the same amount of calories as men, about 3,200 a day. 10/25/18: The Drama of Pregnant Women In Prison and the Woman On a Mission to Fix It. Erica Gerrity, a Minnesota doula and social entrepreneur, wants to transform the experience of expecting mothers in American prisons.
Ashoka Erica Gerrity is the founder of Ostara Initiative, a new national effort that pairs expecting mothers who are incarcerated with doulas. With deep roots in Minnesota, the effort is expanding now to Alabama and beyond. Ashoka’s Konstanze Frischen caught up with Gerrity to learn more. Q: How many women are incarcerated? Prison Labor: LWT w/ John Oliver. The future of race in America: Michelle Alexander at TEDxColumbus.
When did prisons become acceptable mental healthcare facilities? PDF. Mandatory Minimums -LWT w/John Oliver. 2/19/21: I applauded a 40-yr sentence for a shooter. Not now. The email that landed in my inbox was spare and direct: “Years ago you wrote an article about Brandon Spencer.
A young black man convicted for shooting into a crowd. Mandatory sentencing: 1000's of prisoners released - 11/3/15. Are Mandatory Minimum Sentences an Injustice? - 10/5/14. Mandatory Minimums – Why Prison Sentences Are So High.
2/15/19: It Costs ≈ 50X More to Make a Call From Illinois Jail Than From Illinois State Prison. 2/5/19: Expensive calls life-altering for prisoners, derail justice process. By Wendy Sawyer, February 5, 2019 It’s easy to see how people in state prison, who spend years or decades behind bars, are hurt by the cost of phone calls.
But less obvious is how people in jail, who are usually behind bars for much shorter periods, can be hit even harder by the same cost. The answer has to do with why people are in local jails in the first place. In many cases, it’s solely because they are poor. On a given day, 3 out of 4 people held in jails under local authority have not even been convicted, much less sentenced.
When people can’t get together the funds to get out of jail, exorbitant phone rates only make a difficult time even harder. Even beyond the potential damage to one’s health and personal affairs, pretrial detention also negatively affects case outcomes, and it’s in this way that high phone rates from jails do the most harm to the justice process itself. 9/3/18: The Inmate Calling Technical Corrections Act (submission) FCC Inmate Telephone Service (last updated 9/8/17) Acting on its mandate to ensure that rates for phone calls are just, reasonable and fair for all Americans, the FCC is working to rein in the excessive rates and egregious fees on phone calls paid by some of society's most vulnerable people: families trying to stay in touch with loved ones serving time in jail or prison. In most cases, inmates' telephone calling options are limited to one or more of the following calling types: collect, debit account or pre-paid account. Also, incarcerated persons typically cannot choose their calling provider.
These factors, combined with unrestricted rates, have often resulted in unreasonably high phone bills for inmates' families. New rate caps for calls from prisons and jails. 6/13/17: FCC can’t cap the cost of in-state prison phone calls, court rules. The Federal Communications Commission does not have the authority to cap the cost of prison and jail phone calls within states, an appeals court ruled in a decision today, dealing a massive blow to inmates and their advocates who have spent years litigating caps on the cost of such calls. Over several years, the FCC, under Democratic leadership, moved to cap the cost of calls for inmates.
Activists argued that prisoners were effectively being extorted by private companies charging exorbitant rates — a move that benefited private prisons and the states that got cuts of the revenue. Some of those states joined with companies in appealing the FCC’s rules. The agency first moved to cap rates across state lines, and then, later, within states. 2/24/15: Prison Phone Companies Have Found Yet Another Way to Squeeze Families for Cash. Jordan Mansfield uses a video visitation system to speak with her husband at the DeSoto County jail in Hernando, Mississippi.Stan Carroll/AP/<em>The Commercial Appeal</em> On a chilly Sunday evening in December, a smattering of parents and small children trickled into a graffiti-covered concrete building on the grounds of the DC Jail. It was the last day to visit with prisoners before Christmas Eve, and some of the visitors were wearing Santa hats or bearing presents. The only thing missing was inmates.
10/25/12: Prison video visits threaten to put profit before public safety. Virtual visiting has become the latest craze in prisons, with at least 20 states now having some kind of video conferencing system in place. As most prisoners tend to get housed in facilities at least 100 – and often up to 500 – miles from home, frequent visits are impossible for families; so video calls at least offer the opportunity for some virtual face time. Unfortunately, however, what could be a positive additional means for prisoners and their families to stay in touch is in danger of becoming any thing but a blessing. Some jurisdictions have already begun to eliminate contact visits entirely in favor of their virtual counterpart – and private corporations are already lining up to exploit this latest opportunity to fleece prisoners' families.
A new report (pdf) by the Sentencing Project examined the growth of video calls and what it means for children whose parents are incarcerated. Competition & Collusion in the U.S. Prison Telephone Industry (PDF, Steven J Jackson, 2005) Untitled. Bail: LWT w/ John Oliver. Why fixing the US bail system is tricky. Abolitionist Law Center. NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Prison Policy Initiative. Reframing Justice podcast Ep. 7.
Three Strikes & Justice Advocacy Project - Programs and Centers. Vera Institute of Justice. Sheriff Joe Arpaio - "Tent City" concentration camp. Outdoor Jail, a Vestige of Joe Arpaio’s Tenure, Is Closing. President Trump “has been cracking down on illegal immigrants, and more and more people will be coming into our jails, so we’ll see them crowded again,” he said. Then he offered a suggestion: “I hope Trump will put the tents on the border for all the illegals that are caught there.” In September, while Mr. Arpaio was still sheriff, county supervisors floated the idea of shutting down the tents to help offset some of the $50 million in legal fees for his defense on a yearslong racial profiling case. He refused, offering instead to save money by forgoing raises for his deputies and guards.
Only convicted criminals are currently serving time in the tents, for crimes that do not warrant sentences of more than a year: drug possession, domestic violence, car theft. The jail served two meatless meals a day; inmates referred to the food as slop and were required to eat while watching the Food Channel in the cafeteria, in the only brick-and-mortar building in the complex. 'No One Is Higher Than Me,' Sheriff Arpaio Tells Inmate. Investigating Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Chain Gang. 6/21/19: Ending Private Prisons & Exploitation for Profit - E. Warren. 1/28/19: Members of New Border Security Committee Took $$ from Private Prison PACs. When the longest government shutdown in U.S. history finally ended on Jan. 25, Congress created a House-Senate conference committee to come up with a border security funding deal. President Donald Trump ran for office on the creation of a wall along the U.S.
-Mexico border and shut down the government when Democrats refused to pass legislation with billions of dollars to fund it late last year. The committee has until Feb. 15 to agree on a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS operates Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which captures undocumented immigrants, often leading to their deportation. ICE does not operate its own detention centers and therefore awards lucrative contracts to private prison companies GEO Group and CoreCivic.
Sludge has found that more than half of the 17 politicians who will determine appropriations for ICE have accepted campaign contributions from the PACs of one or both of these private prison giants. 10/11/16: Society's Parasite –A Look Inside The Treatment Industrial Complex or "TIC" 7/18/16: Rough Passage: Reporters Find Abuse, Neglect and Death Aboard Private Prison Vans. “It’s like the airport shuttle from hell.” 6/20/12: The US's Growing For-Profit Detention Industry. The growth of the private detention industry has long been a subject of scrutiny.
6/13/19: S.1827: Ending Tax Breaks for Private Prisons Act.
Corrections Corporation America. HomeWAV Web Access Visitation for Correctional Facilities. Securus Technologies. RAND —Prison Reform. Prison Reform & Alternatives to Imprisonment —UNODC. Letcher Governance Project —Letcher, KY. Anti-Recidivism Coalition. Prop. 36 Recidivism Report. Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 30 States in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010.
The Ride Home Program. You Just Got Out of Prison. Now What? 7/16/15. The Prison Doors Open & You’re Released. You Have No Money Or Transportation. Now What? 6/21/15. On the day David Hudgens was released from jail for the last time, staff dropped him off at a Metro stop in suburban Northern Virginia. He didn’t have a Metro card. He didn’t have money. He had nowhere to stay. But he had to get from the Metro stop to a shelter. So he found a bus driver standing outside on his break, and confided in him that he had just been released from jail. “Of course I had burned all my bridges,” said Hudgens. That bus driver gave him a ride, but could take him only as far as the next bus where he would have to transfer. From the shelter, it was a few miles’ walk to everywhere he needed to go — the probation office, Social Security office, places where he could apply for jobs. Sarah Interviews Father Gregory Boyle —Homeboy Industries 11/9/17.
Getting out of prison terms. Release from Prison — A High Risk of Death for Former Inmates NEJM/2007. Prisoner Reentry Programs by State. Alabama *** Please go to our new Alabama Reentry programs page here. *** The Foundry Ministries – The Foundry helps ex-felons re-enter society by helping people find jobs, housing and support. They have programs that range up to six months. The Love Lady Center – A very powerful organization for women who are released from prison. Alabama Department of Corrections – Alabama is one of the few states with an exceptional pre-release program.
Shepherd’s Fold – Helps ex-offenders with jobs, finances and spiritual needs. Alabama Christian Veterans Center of America – Help for veterans only. Life Source – Help with drug and alcohol addiction. Winners INC. – Help for women re-entering society. Aid To Inmate Mothers – An organization that specializes in helping mothers behind bars and with ex-offender reentry. Fountain House – Housing and reentry services for women. Renascence – This is a very nice “halfway house” that provides an excellent reentry program for ex-offenders. Alaska Arizona. 1/9/18: Connection Between Mass Incarceration & Environmental Justice. 4/19/17: Opposition to Prison= Environmental Fight in Appalachia. Abu Ghraib supplementary documents 10/8/04. The military's mission at Abu Ghraib was inadequately planned almost from conception.
It was subordinated to political and intelligence goals and bogged down at every level by inadequate resources and hostile conditions, according to classified documents reviewed and now posted by the Center for Public Integrity. The documents, the first installment of background materials from Army Major General Anthony Taguba’s investigation into abuses of military detainees in Iraq, were provided to the Center by Rolling Stone contributor Osha Gray Davidson.
The Center plans to post the second installment of the documents later this month. The Reinvigoration of the Clemency Authority.
Michelle Alexander. 11/29/17: Love would be at high risk of killing himself in US, court told. Lauri Love, the British student accused of hacking into US government websites, would be at high risk of killing himself if extradited to the US, the high court has heard. You Are Not Alone: Send a Letter of Support to a Writer At Risk. Is High Steroid Use Among Cops Causing their Violent Actions? - Taylor Hooton.