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Prison System Corruption Media Articles

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Navigating the Deadly Maze of the Prison Industrial Complex
2024-05-24, ScheerPost
https://scheerpost.com/2024/05/24/navigating-the-deadly-maze-of-the-prison-in...

The greed of the prison industrial complex squeezing slave profits out of imprisoned people through the exploitation of the 13th amendment and the brutal system set up to limit opportunity usually leaves most who walk through the gates hopeless and abandoned. "At the point that I got to prison, I had never went into the liquor store and never pulled a tricker," [said former inmate Dorsey Nunn]. "I never did kill anybody. And I had never thought about killing anybody. We talked about the marriage of, of profit and you talk about the prison industrial complex, which is, essentially the practice of, marrying profit and punishment. One of the ugly realities in California under article one, section six, you still claim as a society to practice slavery, the right to practice slavery on the government level. They call it involuntary servitude. They mentioned it again in the 13th amendment. So people are still laboring without consent. The maximum amount of money that I was paid was 32 cents an hour. The maximum amount of money that I was paid for working a month. It’s $32 a month, so at a certain point and the maximum amount of money that they gave me to start this fresh new life with was $200 gate money, and they’ve been giving that probably since the early seventies, no account for inflation, no account for anything. And they say, start your life over. People are rising up to do away with and challenge the notion of the 13th Amendment and the practice of slavery. Should we actually make a question of maintaining slavery, a question of morals, and do we actually want to actually profit off of slaves?"

Note: Dorsey Nunn wrote a book about his experiences advocating for the rights of former prison inmates titled, "What Kind of Bird Can’t Fly: A Memoir of Resilience and Resurrection." With about 2 million people locked up, U.S. prison labor from all sectors has morphed into a multibillion-dollar empire. For more, read about America's dystopian "pay-to-stay" incarceration system.


Youth detention facilities face increased scrutiny amid a wave of abuse lawsuits
2024-05-17, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2024/05/17/1251963778/youth-detention-juvenile-crime-sexu...

As a teenager almost 20 years ago, Jeffery Christian was sent to a juvenile detention center in southern Illinois. He was abused by multiple staff over the course of several years, starting just a few days into his detention. According to a lawsuit filed last week in the Illinois Court of Claims, his mother reported at least some of the alleged abuse to leadership but no one followed up. He is one of more than 90 people who sued the state last week, saying they were abused by employees when they were in juvenile detention, some as young as 12 years old. It is the latest in a flurry of legal cases around the country claiming similar sexual misconduct by employees of facilities housing children charged with a crime. The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday announced an investigation into Kentucky's youth detention facilities. Since the start of the year, there have been lawsuits filed in at least four states, including the one in Illinois. The men and women in the lawsuits allege very similar abuse. Some say they were raped. Others say they were forced to perform oral sex or were inappropriately touched by employees. Some say they were given rewards, like special snacks or extra recreational time, if they complied; others say they were punished for refusing. According to the Sentencing Project, a research and advocacy group, recurring abuse has been documented in state-funded juvenile detention facilities in 29 states and the District of Columbia.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on prison system corruption and sexual abuse scandals from reliable major media sources.


The “Twinkie defense”: What we know about diet and crime
2024-04-29, Big Think
https://bigthink.com/neuropsych/is-the-twinkie-defense-legitimate/

In the 1979 murder trial of Dan White, his legal team seemed to attempt to blame his heinous actions on junk-food consumption. The press dubbed the tactic, the "Twinkie defense." Various studies have demonstrated that consuming nutritious, whole foods rather than processed, high-fat, high-sugar foods improves mental health, mood, and academic outcomes. All heavily factor into one's likelihood of committing crime. In the 1980s. Under the direction of a nutritionist, food staff secretly altered the diet at a juvenile detention facility in Virginia to reduce the amount of refined sugar fed to inmates. Social scientist and criminologist Dr. Stephen J. Schoenthaler oversaw the trial. He found that prisoners on the better diet had a 45% lower incidence of documented disciplinary actions. This preliminary success led to a dozen trials at other correctional facilities. “In the twelve correctional institutions that we studied, through 1985, we found that there was a 47% reduction in documented offenses, infractions, and other indicators of antisocial behavior,” Schoenthaler said. Is it possible that investing in better prison nutrition would save money overall? Schoenthaler thinks so. “A single preventable infraction that leads to four months of additional jail or prison time might cost us $10,000 or more. If you look at this through the larger lens of prevention and treatment along the entire criminal justice continuum, then the financial savings would be incalculable,” he said.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health and prison system corruption from reliable major media sources.


The Slow Death of a Prison Profiteer: How Activism Brought Securus to the Brink
2024-04-12, ScheerPost
https://scheerpost.com/2024/04/12/the-slow-death-of-a-prison-profiteer-how-ac...

Last week, the nation’s largest prison and jail telecom corporation, Securus, effectively defaulted on more than a billion dollars of debt. After decades of preying on incarcerated people and their loved ones with exploitative call rates and other predatory practices that have driven millions of families into debt, Securus is being crushed under the weight of its own. Securus is one of two corporations that dominate roughly 80 percent of the U.S. prison telecom industry. Both companies are owned by private-equity firms: Securus, by Platinum Equity, and ViaPath (previously Global Tel Link), by American Securities. Together, Securus and ViaPath contract with 43 state prison systems and over 800 county jails. Their dominance of the market allows them to routinely charge incarcerated people and their families egregious rates for rudimentary communications services: A 15-minute phone call can run as high as $8.25; a 25-minute video call up to $15; and basic emails as much as $0.50, or more with attachments. The nature of agreements between these telecom providers and correctional agencies often further incentivizes the financial exploitation of the incarcerated, creating profit-sharing kickback schemes that provide prisons and jails with a portion of sales revenue. The ... tactics that brought Securus down—narrative change, policy campaigns, regulatory efforts, and investor activism—offer a roadmap for tackling exploitative corporate profiteers across the prison industry.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on prison system corruption from reliable major media sources.


Biometrics Giant Accenture Quietly Took Over LA Residents’ Jail Reform Plan
2024-03-12, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2024/03/12/los-angeles-jail-accenture-measure-j/

In November 2020 ... a ballot initiative known as Measure J passed with 57 percent support, amending the LA County charter so that jailing people before trial would be treated as a last resort. In June, LA County signed over the handling of changes to pretrial detention under Measure J to the consulting firm Accenture, a behemoth in the world of biometric databases and predictive policing. Accenture has pushed counterterror and policing strategies around the globe: The company built the world’s biggest biometric identification system in India, which has used similar technologies to surveil protesters and conduct crowd control as part of efforts by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party to investigate the citizenship of Muslim residents. Accenture ballooned into a giant in federal consulting over the course of the “war on terror,” winning hundreds of millions of dollars in lucrative contracts from federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security for projects from a “virtual border” to recruiting and hiring Customs and Border Protection and Border Patrol agents. In 2006, Accenture won a $10 million contract for a DHS biometric ID program, the world’s second biggest, to collect and share biometric data on foreign nationals entering or leaving the U.S. Several LA-based advocates told The Intercept that the contract is yet another development that calls into question the county’s commitment to real criminal justice reform.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the disappearance of privacy from reliable major media sources.


John Kiriakou: Dying by Callous Disregard
2024-02-07, ScheerPost
https://scheerpost.com/2024/02/07/john-kiriakou-dying-by-callous-disregard/

Look at the case of Lucas Bellamy. He had been arrested in Minnesota. Immediately before the arrest, he ate a bag of drugs in an effort to fool police into thinking that he didn’t have any. But he immediately began feeling sick. Jail officers took him to a local hospital, where he was treated. The doctors there told the jailers to return him to the hospital if he became ill again. He began vomiting as soon as he got back to his cell. By evening he was refusing food and crawling around his cell as a guard and nurse stood and watched him. By noon the next day, he was dead on the floor. The case of Brandon Clay Dodson is even worse. Dodson was arrested on a burglary charge and was being held in the local jail in Clayton, Alabama. He told a guard that several other prisoners had been beating him, and he asked to be moved into segregated housing for his own protection. He later told the guards in solitary that he wasn’t feeling well, but they ignored him. And a day after that, the 43-year-old was found dead in his bed. In a 104-page ruling, a federal judge in Louisiana ruled against the administrators of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, [highlighting] just a few of the untold number of medical horrors that prisoners suffer all the time there, including “a man denied medical attention four times during a stroke, leaving him blind and paralyzed; a man denied access to a specialist for four years while his throat cancer advanced; even a blind man denied a cane for 16 years.”

Note: John Kiriakou is a former CIA counter-terrorism officer and former senior investigator on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In 2015, investigations in Arizona, Florida, Maine, Minnesota, and New York uncovered escalating inmate deaths related to the use of for-profit medical services in prisons. A New York Times article about this was published but it quickly disappeared. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on prison system corruption from reliable major media sources.


Prison Lockdowns Are Becoming More Frequent and More Brutal Across the US
2024-02-06, Truthout
https://truthout.org/articles/prison-lockdowns-are-becoming-more-frequent-and...

At least 33 U.S. state prison systems and the majority of federal medium-, high- and maximum-security prisons have placed general population (“gen pop”) adults under nondisciplinary lockdown at least once (but more often repeatedly or for a prolonged period) from 2016-2023. While most lockdowns are intermittent (lasting from a few days to several weeks), an increasing number of state and federal prisons keep prisoners locked down for most or even all of the year. In addition, many prisons make people suffer through constant lockdown “cycles,” where prisoners get a very brief return to normal “gen pop” status before they are once again subject to several days or weeks of lockdown. Prisoners have no routines or any real rights whatsoever under lockdown. There is no guarantee of exercise, showers are irregular at best, and access to phone, email or visitation are nonexistent. Education, religious activities, rehabilitative programs, psychiatric intervention to crises, access to commissary ... are typically denied or are nearly impossible to get. Meetings with attorneys come to a halt or are hard to obtain. People under lockdown are often not even given basic hygiene materials such as soap or toothpaste. Modern prison lockdowns can ... be traced back to 2016, in a decidedly repressive, politicized reaction to nationwide prison strikes. Entire prisons were and are still punished for the relatively minor actions of a few, including ... something as simple as a shouting match.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on prison system corruption from reliable major media sources.


ICE's Use Of Solitary Confinement “Only Increasing” Under Biden
2024-02-06, The Intercept
https://theintercept.com/2024/02/06/ice-solitary-confinement-detention-immigr...

U.S. immigration authorities locked thousands of people in solitary confinement in 2023. A new report by Harvard University-affiliated researchers ... found the dangerous confinements have not only persisted over the past decade, but also increased in frequency and duration under the Biden administration. The adverse effects of solitary confinement — generally defined as isolation without meaningful human interaction for 22 hours a day or more — are well documented. One of ICE’s directives acknowledges that isolating detainees — who aren’t considered prisoners and aren’t held for punitive reasons under federal law — is “a serious step that requires careful consideration of alternatives.” And yet the new report found the agency recorded more than 14,000 solitary confinement cases from 2018 to 2023. Researchers said the number is likely an undercount due to ICE’s poor recordkeeping. The average length of the recorded confinements was 27 days, researchers found, stretching well beyond the 15-day period that meets the threshold for “inhuman and degrading treatment” defined by the U.N. special rapporteur on torture. The data revealed dozens of examples of facilities holding people in solitary confinement for over a year. Researchers also gathered accounts of the grueling conditions inside isolation cells. Interviewees described cells that were freezing cold; constantly lit, causing sleep deprivation; or had toilets only guards could flush.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on prison system corruption from reliable major media sources.


Internal Prison Files Suggest Epstein ‘Suicide’ Coverup
2024-02-04, ScheerPost
https://scheerpost.com/2024/02/04/internal-prison-files-suggest-epstein-suici...

Internal US Bureau of Prison (BOP) documents obtained by The Grayzone under Freedom of Information laws raise extremely serious questions about whether Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged first suicide attempt on July 23, 2019 in fact happened, and suggest the Bureau distorted evidence to attribute his death to suicide before his autopsy had even been completed. Officially, Epstein was found to have died in his cell at New York City’s Metropolitan Correctional Center on August 10, 2019, with a medical examiner ruling at the time that he had taken his own life by hanging. The ruling was aggressively contested by Epstein’s associates and widely disbelieved. Epstein’s legal team publicly declared available evidence on his death was “far more consistent” with murder. On August 9 ... regular checks on [Epstein] ceased. Three CCTV cameras nearby apparently malfunctioned. Two on-duty guards fabricated records to hide how they allegedly flouted their legal duties to surf the internet. And the next day, the prison’s most infamous inmate was dead. In the immediate wake of Epstein’s death ... BOP suicide prevention coordinator Robert Nagle visited the Metropolitan Correctional Center to initiate a “psychological reconstruction” of Epstein’s last moments. His resultant report recorded that a video of the “significant incident” was confiscated by the FBI before his review began. He was also prohibited from conducting formal interviews with prison staff.

Note: Many questions remain unanswered regarding Epstein's death. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Jeffrey Epstein and prison system corruption from reliable major media sources.


Prisoners in the US are part of a hidden workforce linked to hundreds of popular food brands
2024-01-29, Yahoo News/Associated Press
https://news.yahoo.com/prisoners-us-part-hidden-workforce-125458768.html

Unmarked trucks packed with prison-raised cattle roll out of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, where men are sentenced to hard labor and forced to work, for pennies an hour or sometimes nothing at all. They are among America’s most vulnerable laborers. If they refuse to work, some can jeopardize their chances of parole or face punishment like being sent to solitary confinement. The goods ... prisoners produce wind up in the supply chains of a dizzying array of products found in most American kitchens, from Frosted Flakes cereal and Ball Park hot dogs to Gold Medal flour, Coca-Cola and Riceland rice. They are on the shelves of virtually every supermarket in the country, including Kroger, Target, Aldi and Whole Foods. It’s completely legal. Enshrined in the Constitution by the 13th Amendment, slavery and involuntary servitude are banned – except as punishment for a crime. With about 2 million people locked up, U.S. prison labor from all sectors has morphed into a multibillion-dollar empire. Almost all of the country’s state and federal adult prisons have some sort of work program, employing around 800,000 people. Altogether, labor tied specifically to goods and services produced through state prison industries brought in more than $2 billion in 2021. “Slavery has not been abolished,” said Curtis Davis, who spent more than 25 years at [Louisiana's Angola] penitentiary. “It is still operating in present tense,” he said. “Nothing has changed.”

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in prisons and in the food system from reliable major media sources.


Behind the Curtain: Finding Counternarratives About Death Row
2024-01-21, ScheerPost
https://scheerpost.com/2024/01/21/behind-the-curtain-finding-counternarrative...

After poking and prodding [Doyle] Hamm with needles for almost 3 hours, prison officials gave up as Mr. Hamm lay strapped to a gurney in a pool of blood. They called off the execution because they were unsuccessful in gaining IV access to administer the lethal injection. This was a risk Mr. Hamm’s attorney had predicted given Hamm’s advanced cancer and long history of IV drug use. At the time, ADOC Commissioner Jeff Dunn did not provide details to reporters about what happened. “I wouldn’t characterize what we had tonight as a problem,” Dunn said. Hamm’s attorney later released photos and examination notes showing that prison employees had punctured Hamm’s bladder and an artery causing him to urinate blood. The state ... privately agreed to never try to execute Doyle Hamm again. Counternarratives about death row can be found in the 2023 book titled Ghosts Over the Boiler: Voices from Alabama’s Death Row. The book is a collection of writings previously published by Project Hope to Abolish the Death Penalty, or PHADP, the nation’s only nonprofit formed on and operated from death row. The organization ... has a goal to educate the public about capital punishment and the features of inequality that define it, while advocating for an end to the death penalty. All of the featured writers have been convicted of murder, although based on the rate of death row exonerations, some are likely wrongly convicted.

Note: The current system often puts innocent people to death. Over half of all wrongful convictions are the result of government misconduct. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on prison system corruption from reliable major media sources.


New York has paid record $322m to people wrongly incarcerated since 1989
2024-01-17, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2024/jan/17/new-york-payouts-wrongul-inca...

New York has paid out the most of any state in the US to people wrongly incarcerated, according to a new study. High Rise Financial ... analyzed data from the National Registry of Exonerations, a database on exonerated people in each state. New York state has paid out a total of $322m to those wrongfully incarcerated. The state has awarded 237 claims for wrongful imprisonment out of 326 exonerated people. Such payouts cost New York taxpayers $15.97 per person, also the largest per-capita payment out of any state, the study found. Texas, Connecticut, Maryland and Michigan were the other states in the top five that paid out the most to exonerated people. Texas paid out the second highest amount, awarding a total of $155m to 128 people out of 450 people exonerated. The most recent study comes as the amount of exoneration has steadily increased in recent years, according to Maurice Chammah, a journalist with the Marshall Project. Chammah added that getting compensation for a wrong conviction can be tough in some states. In Texas, where lawmakers have paid out large sums to exonerees, legislators have also placed “really harsh limits on accessing that money”. “You sometimes need to be declared actually innocent by a court in a way that is like a very high and difficult barrier to meet,” Chammah said. Overall, Chammah noted that such figures could prompt legislators to pass bills that could limit wrongful incarceration in the first place.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in the courts and in the prison system from reliable major media sources.


There is little scrutiny of 'natural' deaths behind bars
2024-01-02, NPR
https://www.npr.org/2024/01/02/1219667393/there-is-little-scrutiny-of-natural...

Kesha Jackson was preparing for her husband, John, to be home in a few weeks. But then Jackson got a concerning call from other inmates. Her husband, in the special housing unit, was going in and out of consciousness. He died soon after. And as she waited for some explanation, Jackson was surprised to learn what prison officials pronounced as the manner of death: "natural." By deeming the death natural, prison authorities were not required to conduct an autopsy for Jackson's death. It's how they characterize at least three-quarters of all federal prison deaths since 2009. "When his medical records came home after he passed away, I saw that it was MRSA," Jackson said. "Saying that it's a natural death can sometimes be misleading because I believe that having the proper medical treatment could have possibly saved his life," Jackson said. The CDC says natural deaths happen either solely or almost entirely because of disease or old age. Yet 70% of the inmates who died in federal prison the last 13 years were under the age of 65. NPR found that potential issues such as medical neglect, poor prison conditions and a lack of health care resources were left unexplained once a "natural" death designation ended hopes of an investigation. Meanwhile, family members were left with little information about their loved one's death. Homer Venters, a federal court monitor of jail and prison health care, calls deaths like Jackson's "jail attributable."

Note: Private companies like Corizon are often responsible for inmate medical care. In 2015, investigations in Arizona, Florida, Maine, Minnesota, and New York uncovered escalating inmate deaths related to Corizon's for-profit medical services. A New York Times article about this was published but it quickly disappeared. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on prison system corruption from reliable major media sources.


Federal Bureau Of Prisons Faces Many Challenges In 2024
2023-12-29, Forbes
https://www.forbes.com/sites/walterpavlo/2023/12/29/federal-bureau-of-prisons...

With 2023 drawing to a close, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) completed its first full year under the leadership of Director Colette Peters. The BOP has huge responsibilities in the care and feeding of over 150,000 prisoners in its care and over 36,000 staff. It has an $8.7 billion annual budget and houses some of the most infamous criminals in the United States. It also houses nearly 50,000 inmates who are low and minimum security prisoners, many of whom are eligible for earlier release due to the First Step Act, a 2018 law that can decrease a sentence term by up to a year. The BOP’s facilities are, for lack of a better term, falling apart. As of May 2022, the BOP’s estimated cost for needed, major repairs was approaching $2 billion. However, an Office of Inspector General audit found that the BOP’s budget requests have been far below its own estimates of resource needs: for example, BOP sought less than $200 million for its infrastructure needs from Congress in FY 2022, and Congress appropriated $59 million. One of the reasons cited for the BOP not receiving more funding was its lack of a strategic plan on how to effectively spend funds it may be given. The BOP will see more push for congressional oversight. Senator Chuck Grassley recently pushed to make the director of the Bureau of Prisons a Senate-confirmed position, adding that he has "... inquired about reports of rife abuse in the past and continue to push for transparency in the federal prison system."

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on prison system corruption from reliable major media sources.


Boom, bang! Tales from a cell below the ‘crazy unit’ of a US prison
2023-12-20, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/dec/20/inside-new-jersey-state-priso...

I was moved on to unit 1EE on the south compound inside New Jersey State Prison a year ago. On the floor just above me is 2EE, which is known as “the crazy unit”. This unit is where incarcerated men throughout the state are sent when they experience mental health difficulties. Men are stripped down and given “turtle suits”, thin vests that barely keep them covered. There are no pillows, blankets or sheets. In the United States, roughly 40% of people in state prisons and local jails have a history of mental illness, but less than half of those folks receive treatment. Individuals with signs of mental health issues can face additional risks and discipline while inside, including prison misconduct charges, longer solitary confinement periods and barriers to accessing medication. As a juvenile, a kid might try to get out of being locked up by saying they were going to kill themselves, so they could get sent to a psych unit where they might be treated better. They don’t realize that it will put them on the special needs list forever. As an adult, at least in New Jersey State Prison, a person can get labeled special needs for complaining that they can’t sleep. A special needs designation means that you’ll be at the mercy of the mental health department. It can land you in a bad spot. The side-effects of medication they might give you could be crippling. Some guys get hooked on the drugs and never wake up again.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on prison system corruption from reliable major media sources.


Billion-dollar prisons: why the US is pouring money into new construction
2023-10-28, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/oct/28/states-spending-money-build-p...

At a time when the US has narrowly skirted a recession, and people around the country are still struggling with the cost of living, a curious number of states have found billions of dollars for one thing: building prisons and jails. In September, Alabama announced that a new prison, currently under construction, would have a final cost of $1.082bn. The same month Indiana broke ground on a $1.2bn prison. Nebraska is spending $350m on a new prison, while some in Georgia are lobbying for $1.69bn for construction of a jail in Fulton county. The willingness to spend vast amounts of money on locking people up, particularly in states like Alabama, which has one of the highest poverty rates in the country, is staggering. It’s also wrong-headed, experts say. “Any money spent on caging human beings is not money well spent, period,” said Carmen Gutierrez ... at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “We have decades of research showing that incarceration does not improve public safety, and that it in fact harms individuals who themselves are incarcerated. It also harms their families and it harms the communities that they come from. So the damage outweighs any potential benefit.” The US has an incarceration rate of 664 people in every 100,000 ... far higher than other founding Nato countries. In Alabama, Georgia and other southern states about one in every 100 people is incarcerated in prisons, jails, immigration detention and juvenile justice facilities.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on prison system corruption from reliable major media sources.


Innocent Lives in the Balance: The Real Risk of Executing the Innocent
2023-10-10, ScheerPost
https://scheerpost.com/2023/10/10/innocent-lives-in-the-balance-the-real-risk...

Since 1973, at least 194 people have been freed from death row after evidence of innocence revealed that they had been wrongfully convicted. That’s almost one person exonerated for every ten who’ve been executed. Wrongful convictions rob innocent people of decades of their lives, waste tax dollars, and re-traumatize the victim’s family, while the people responsible remain unaccountable. Contrary to popular belief, the appeals process is not designed to catch cases of innocence. It is simply to determine whether the original trial was conducted properly. Most exonerations came only because of the extraordinary efforts of people working outside the system – pro bono lawyers, family members, even students. Wrongfully convicted people have spent up to 33 years on death row ... before the truth came to light. Any effort to streamline the death penalty process or cut appeals will only increase the risk that an innocent person is executed. Frank Lee Smith was sentenced to death in Florida on the testimony of a single witness. Four years later, the same witness saw a photo of a different man and realized she had made a mistake. DNA tests later confirmed that Smith was innocent, but it was too late. He had died in prison. Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in Texas in 2004 for setting fire to his home, killing his three children. Experts now say that the arson theories used in the investigation are scientifically invalid. Willingham may very well have been executed for an accidental fire.

Note: Read more about the innocent people sentenced to death in the US. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on judicial system corruption from reliable major media sources.


Faced with a violent killing, a family chooses forgiveness over prison
2023-06-26, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jun/26/restorative-justice-murder-ch...

Alex Fields had not spoken to his nephew in four years. Not since the killing. But when his nephew Donald Fields Jr finally appeared over Zoom from the county jail, Alex Fields was consumed by the moment. Don Jr was charged with the murder of his father, Donald Fields Sr, in 2016. Today was the first step in a long journey that would see a tragedy transformed into a pioneering case of compassion in America's punitive criminal justice system. It marked the first time that restorative justice – the act of resolving crimes through community reconciliation and accountability over traditional punishment – had been used in a homicide case in the state of North Carolina. And probably the first case of its kind in the US. The DA's office forged a new plea deal, which offered Don Jr the opportunity to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter, which could see him sentenced to "time served". The family worked on a new repair agreement, which was 13 points long and had conditions facilitating Don Jr's release. There is increasing evidence that use of restorative justice lowers rates of recidivism. Those who are victims of violence are far more likely to become perpetrators of violent acts later on. "Just as we cannot incarcerate our way out of violence, we cannot reform our way out of mass incarceration without taking on the question of violence," [Danielle Sered] writes. "The context in which violence happens matters, as do the identities and experiences of those involved.”

Note: Danielle Sered is the founder of a Brooklyn-based restorative justice organization Common Justice, which is the first alternative-to-incarceration and victim-service program in the United States that focuses on violent felonies in the adult courts. For further reading, explore her book, Until We Reckon: Violence, Mass Incarceration, and a Road to Repair.


‘The forever prisoner’: Abu Zubaydah’s drawings expose the US’s depraved torture policy
2023-05-11, The Guardian (One of the UK's Leading Newspapers)
https://www.theguardian.com/law/2023/may/11/abu-zubaydah-drawings-guantanamo-...

A detainee held in the US prison camp at Guantánamo Bay who was used as a human guinea pig in the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program has produced the most comprehensive and detailed account yet seen of the brutal techniques to which he was subjected. Abu Zubaydah has created a series of 40 drawings that chronicle the torture he endured in a number of CIA dark sites between 2002 and 2006 and at Guantánamo Bay. In the absence of a full official accounting of the torture program, which the CIA and the FBI have labored for years to keep secret, the images give a unique and searing insight into a grisly period in US history. The drawings, which Zubaydah has annotated with his own words, depict gruesome acts of violence, sexual and religious humiliation, and prolonged psychological terror committed against him and other detainees. Zubaydah’s sketches provide a unique visual record of the US government’s use of torture in the wake of 9/11. Videotapes of Zubaydah being tortured were filmed by the CIA but then destroyed in violation of a court order, while a 6,700-page torture report by the Senate intelligence committee remains secret almost a decade after it was completed. Though the full Senate report has never been made public, its conclusion is known: that the abuse of Zubaydah and other detainees failed to elicit any new intelligence. In other words, torture does not work. The US initially claimed [Zubaydah] was a top al-Qaida operative but was forced to concede he was not even a member of the terror group.

Note: Read the "10 Craziest Things in the Senate Report on Torture." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption from reliable major media sources.


When a prison sentence becomes a death sentence
2023-04-27, NPR
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2023/04/27/1172320844/when-a-prison...

At least 6,182 people died in state and federal prisons in 2020, a 46% jump from the previous year, according to data recently released by researchers from the UCLA Law Behind Bars Data Project. "During the pandemic, a lot of prison sentences became death sentences," says Wanda Bertram, a spokesperson for the Prison Policy Initiative. A Senate report last year found the U.S. Department of Justice failed to identify more than 900 deaths in prisons and local jails in fiscal year 2021. The report said the DOJ's poor data collection and reporting undermined transparency and congressional oversight of deaths in custody. A major reason the U.S. trails other developed countries in life expectancy is because it has more people behind bars and keeps them there far longer, says Chris Wildeman, a Duke University sociology professor who has researched the link between criminal justice and life expectancy. "It's a health strain on the population," Wildeman says. "The worse the prison conditions, the more likely it is incarceration can be tied to excess mortality." Over a 40-year span starting in the 1980s, the number of people in the nation's prisons and jails more than quadrupled, fueled by tough-on-crime policies and the war on drugs. The federal government can't definitively say how many people have died in prisons and jails since the covid-19 pandemic began, researchers say. "Without data, we are operating in the dark," says Andrea Armstrong, a professor ... who has testified before Congress on the issue.

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