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New York City Doesn’t Care About Young People

NYC city council held a hearing yesterday featuring department of corrections commissioner and fabled “reformer” Joseph Ponte. It was cathartic to see some city council members confronting Ponte over the DOC’s utter failure to protect young prisoners on Rikers Island. In discussing the case of Kaleif Browder (a 16 year old boy who was wrongfully imprisoned and spent nearly 800 days in solitary confinement) city councilman Daniel Dromm (D) told Ponte that officials [Continue reading]

Vermont Inmates Protest Out-of-State Incarceration at Arizona Private Prison

Twenty-eight prisoners from Vermont are being held out-of-state at the for-profit Florence Correctional Center in Arizona. At around noon on August 22nd, 13 of those 28 inmates began protesting. The prisoners ‘coordinated resistance’ and refused to return to their cells because they were frustrated by their increased isolation and the restrictions imposed on them by Corrections Corp. of America. While details of what transpired are unclear, [Continue reading]

New Report Shows Juvenile, Mentally Ill Abuses Continue Under NYCDOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte

The Bronx Defenders recently put out a report on the use of solitary confinement at Rikers Island amid a growing number of reports of violence, abuse and mismanagement at the facility. The study, titled Voices from the Box (PDF), surveyed 59 inmates between July 2013 and August 2014 and it confirms the horrifying and widespread use of solitary confinement against adolescent and mentally ill inmates. Researchers found that half of Rikers prisoners in solitary were between the ages of 16 [Continue reading]

Damage Control Threatens Change at Rikers Island

On September 29th, the New York Times reported that the New York City Department of Corrections was eliminating solitary confinement for 16 and 17-year-old inmates at Rikers. The department claimed it would be the “first round of changes” and “solitary confinement [would] be replaced by ‘alternative options, intermediate consequences for misbehavior and steps designed to pre-empt incidents from occurring.'” New York City Department of Corrections Commissioner [Continue reading]

CCA is on Both Sides of the Arizona Attorney General Race

I knew Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) had a strong presence in Arizona, but until last night’s Attorney General debate, I didn’t know the extent to which it was involved in this year’s election: The candidates also sparred over [Republican Mark] Brnovich’s lobbying on behalf of private prisons. [Democrat Felicia] Rotellini cited his efforts to kill legislation that would ban companies from bringing violent criminals into Arizona from other states. “Mr. [Continue reading]

California’s Prop 47: Important, But Imperfect

California’s voters will soon vote on Proposition 47 (aka The Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act of 2014), which would reform sentences for low-level, nonviolent offenders and divert millions of dollars from prisons to education, mental health and victim services. I’m happy to see 62% of likely voters plan to support Prop 47 because it is badly-needed reform. California incarcerates more people than almost any other state in the nation, and Governor Brown’s [Continue reading]

Real Reform Won’t Come to Rikers Without the Department of Justice

If there was ever any doubt as to whether the DOJ needed to intervene in the clusterfuck on Rikers Island, this story should lay it to rest. The New York Times reports that officials at Rikers (some of whom have since been promoted) underreported violence against juvenile inmates for months and withheld key information about what happened and who was involved from US Attorney Preet Bahrara. It’s a complex and heartbreaking story that, as the Times writes, “underscores the [Continue reading]

Why Does Corizon Still Have a Contract for Rikers Island?

Two new lawsuits, filed by the relatives of deceased Rikers inmates, point to more atrocious conduct by employees of Corizon Health Services, Inc. Yet, despite their growing rap sheet, few have spoken out to demand the DOC end its contract with the troubled for-profit health care contractor. Rikers has come under increased scrutiny since July, when the New York Times covered the violent conditions facing mentally ill inmates who are routinely brutalized by guards and neglected by [Continue reading]

Ohio Prison Inspection Committee Makes Preliminary Recommendations to Aramark

Ohio is taking baby steps towards improving food service in prisons served by Aramark. The state’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC) has published preliminary recommendations for Aramark. Some of them are punitive and include measures that go beyond what other contractors might expect. But others point to Aramark’s failure to do the most basic tasks required in food service. Several of CIIC executive Joanna Saul’s recommendations should be routine at any [Continue reading]

Mentally Ill School Shooter TJ Lane Escapes Violent, Overcrowded Ohio Prison

#TJLane I've been asked whether he is a danger. Answer is no one ever wants to return to prison for a life sentence. Plus, case facts speak. — Ian Friedman (@IanNFriedman) September 12, 2014 UPDATE: Lane has been captured. What’s next? — In April, Ohio’s Correctional Institution Inspection Committee (CIIC) inspected the Allen Oakwood Correctional Center. They found the facility overcrowded and over capacity, but still gave it ‘high marks.’ The committee [Continue reading]
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