Prisons Corruption News ArticlesExcerpts of Key Prisons Corruption News Articles in Media
In some juvenile court systems around the country, young people regularly appear at hearings in handcuffs, leg irons, or both. But 21 states – five this year alone – have reformed such shackling practices. Skye Gosselin was 12 the first time court officers shackled her. She had been charged with disorderly conduct. At 14, she spent several hours handcuffed to another girl as she awaited her hearing, this time for skipping school. Then she was taken into court with metal bands wrapped around both her wrists and ankles, said the now-16-year-old. "The dehumanizing experience shaped not only how others saw me, but how I saw myself for many years. (It) made me think of myself as a criminal,” [she said]. Children as young as 9 have been shackled, as have children who have been abused by their parents. Up to 100,000 youths are shackled each year. [Reformers] say the automatic use of restraints is not in line with the rehabilitative purpose of juvenile court, limits youths’ ability to participate in their defense, tends to hurt and humiliate them, and, in some cases, traumatizes them. It makes little sense that adult courts typically have to follow guidelines to determine if shackling is really needed, but juvenile courts in many states don’t, says Shakyra Diaz, policy manager for the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio. The US Supreme Court has ruled that routine shackling of adults in court is unconstitutional because it can undermine the presumption of innocence.
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[There is a] perverse form that public investment takes in many poor, minority neighborhoods: "million dollar blocks." Our penchant for incarcerating people has grown so strong that, in many cities, taxpayers frequently spend more than a million dollars locking away residents of a single city block. There are 851 blocks in Chicago where the public has committed more than a million dollars to sentencing residents to state prison. The total tops a million dollars for nonviolent drug offenses alone in 121 of those blocks. Most of Chicago's incarcerated residents come from and return to a small number of places. And in those places, the consequences of incarceration on everyone else — children who are missing their parents, households that are missing their breadwinners, families who must support returning offenders who are now much harder to employ — are concentrated, too. Million-dollar blocks exist too in New York and New Orleans and many big cities. When the spatial concentration of all this money is mapped ... the picture poses a critical question: What would happen if we poured the same resources into these same struggling parts of any city in very different ways? What if we spent $2.2 million dollars not removing residents from the corner of West Madison and Cicero but investing in the people who live there? Evidence suggests that such investments could do more to deter crime than locking people away.
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A report showing that more than half the $100 million the city of Los Angeles spends each year on homelessness goes to police demonstrates that the city is focused on enforcement rather than getting people off the streets. This city is doing almost nothing to advance housing solutions but continues down the expensive and inhumane process of criminalization that only makes the problem worse," said Becky Dennison of Los Angeles Community Action Network. Almost 15,000 people the LAPD arrested in 2013 were homeless, or 14% of those arrested, according to the report from the city administrative office. Labor costs for the arrests were estimated between $46 million and $80 million. Officer Deon Joseph, a longtime skid row senior lead officer ... said he frequently arrests the same people over and over because of the revolving door for mentally ill people and others between the jails and prisons and skid row. "I do not believe prison is the answer for most people struggling with mental issues," Joseph wrote. "Sadly in today's system we have to wait until they commit a violent crime to get them 'help' in a jail cell. The report ... was commissioned by the City Council’s housing committee, which questioned why the homeless population grew 9% between 2011 and 2013 even as the city contributed millions to the homeless authority.
American universities do a fine job of selling themselves as pathways to opportunity and knowledge. But follow the traffic of money and policies through these academic institutions and you'll often wind up at the barbed wire gates of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, the two largest private prison operators in the United States. A series of policies, appointments and investments knit America's universities into the widening net of the criminal justice system and the prison industrial complex. Institutions of higher education have now become a part of what sociologist Victor Rios has called the "youth control complex"—a tightly bundled network of institutions that work insidiously and in harmony to criminalize young people of color. Here are five ways that universities buy into private prison companies. 1. Investing In Private Prisons: The clearest link between havens of higher education and private prisons, are direct investments of a university's endowment in CCA and GEO Group. Columbia University ... owns 230,432 shares of CCA stock worth $8 million. 2. College Applications: At many of American colleges and universities, children and young adults with criminal records need not apply. A Center for Community Alternatives report found that two thirds of colleges collect criminal justice information from their applicants. 5. Funding University Research: Private prisons [bankroll] university research to generate greater profits for their booming industry.
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America's three largest private prison companies ... spent in the region of $45m over the past 10 years in lobbying state and federal governments. During the same period, these companies saw their profits soar as they scored more government contracts. [Also] during the same period, various pieces of legislation got passed ensuring that immigrant detention, in particular, would remain a lucrative growth market. Thanks to mandatory sentencing laws and the "war on drugs", the prison population has exploded over the past 30 years – to the point where it has become an untenable burden on state budgets. The private prison business [is] reliant on state and federal governments to provide them with their customer base: that is, bodies to fill their cells. The companies maintain that their lobbying efforts have nothing to do with this expansion and insist that it is their policy to "expressly prohibit their lobbyists from working to pass or oppose immigration legislation", such as the Arizona immigration bill SB1070, which provides for the mandatory detention of immigrants who cannot produce papers on request. [Then] where are the private prison firms spending those millions of lobbying dollars? A report compiled by the Justice Policy Institute issued in 2011 and using data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics found that between 2003 and 2010, the [Corrections Corporation of America] contributed a total of $1,552,350 to state election campaigns. Approximately half was to candidates, more than a third was to party committees and around one tenth was spent on ballot measures.
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The Dutch justice ministry has announced it will close eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty. During the 1990s the Netherlands faced a shortage of prison cells, but a decline in crime has since led to overcapacity in the prison system. The country now has capacity for 14,000 prisoners but only 12,000 detainees. Deputy justice minister Nebahat Albayrak announced on Tuesday that eight prisons will be closed. The overcapacity is a result of the declining crime rate, which the ministry's research department expects to continue for some time.
Note: Isn't it interesting that this country, which is one of the very few to have legalized marijuana and prostitution, has a shortage of criminals?
Privately operated government prisons, which mostly detain migrants convicted of immigration offenses, are drastically more unsafe and punitive than other prisons in the federal system, a stinging investigation by the US Department of Justice’s inspector general has found. Inmates at these 14 contract prisons, the only centers in the federal prison system that are privately operated, were nine times more likely to be placed on lockdown than inmates at other federal prisons and were frequently subjected to arbitrary solitary confinement. In two of the three contract prisons investigators routinely visited, new inmates were automatically placed in solitary confinement as a way of combating overcrowding. The review also found that contract prison inmates were more likely to complain about medical care, treatment by prison staff and about the quality of food. These facilities house around 22,000 individuals, mostly deemed “low risk”, at an annual cost of $600m. They are operated by three private companies: Geo Group, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), and Management and Training Corporation (MTC). These facilities were also more dangerous than others in the federal system. For example, the report found that inmate on inmate assaults were 28% higher in contract prisons. “This is the latest in a whole series of reports and investigations that have found very serious issues with Bureau of Prisons shadow systems of private prisons,” said Carl Takei, a staff attorney with the ACLU.
Note: Immediately following this inspector general's investigation, the US Justice Department announced plans to phase out private federal prisons. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing prison system corruption news articles.
Finalizing the settlement of a class-action lawsuit that alleged overuse of solitary confinement, New York will change the way it handles such confinement in its prison system. The 79-page agreement ends a lawsuit filed by New York's ACLU chapter, which accused one of the largest prison systems in the country of using inhumane and torturous methods in dealing with prisoners. New York state will immediately move roughly 1,100 inmates into alternative programs. They will also develop training programs for corrections officers designed to encourage the use of forms of discipline and security other than isolation. Prisoners still held in solitary for more than 180 days will receive additional counseling, social time, and access to telephones. Today's change comes months after California changed how it handles solitary confinement, settling a lawsuit that said the practice of putting people in long-term isolation violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The New York settlement also includes a change in diet, requiring the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision "to replace the Loaf ... with a nutritious, calorie-sufficient, and palatable alternative meal composed of regular food items." Providing an example, the settlement says "a sack lunch consisting of fruit, cheese, cold cuts, sandwich bread, and coleslaw would meet the requirements of this subsection." That would be a step up from the notorious "Loaf," which The New York Times describes as "a foul-tasting brick."
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The Federal Communications Commission ended a grave injustice last fall when it prohibited price-gouging by the private companies that provide interstate telephone service for prison and jail inmates. Thanks to the F.C.C. order, poor families no longer have to choose between paying for basic essentials and speaking to a relative behind bars. Research shows that inmates who keep in touch with their families have a better chance of fitting in back home once released. The commission now needs to be on the lookout for — and crack down on, if necessary — similar abuses involving newer communication technologies like person-to-person video chat, email and voice mail. Before the recent ruling, a 15-minute interstate telephone call from prison could easily cost a family as much as $17. The cost was partly driven by a “commission” — a legalized kickback — that telephone companies paid to state corrections departments. The commissions were calculated as a percentage of telephone revenue, or a fixed upfront fee, or a combination of both. The F.C.C. ruled that rates and fees may not include the “commission” payments that providers pay to prisons. It also set a cap for interstate calls: 25 cents a minute for collect calls and 21 cents a minute for prepaid and debit calls. And it required the companies to base charges on the actual costs of providing service.
Note: Another article further exposes this practice which pads the pockets of the jailers at the expense of inmates. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
A longtime judge has been ordered to spend nearly three decades in prison for his role in a massive juvenile justice bribery scandal that prompted the state's high court to toss thousands of convictions. Former Luzerne County Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. was sentenced ... to 28 years in federal prison for taking $1 million in bribes from the builder of a pair of juvenile detention centers in a case that became known as "kids-for-cash." The Pennsylvania Supreme Court tossed about 4,000 convictions issued by Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008, saying he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles, including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea. Ciavarella, 61, was tried and convicted of racketeering charges earlier this year. Federal prosecutors accused Ciavarella and a second judge, Michael Conahan, of taking more than $2 million in bribes from the builder of the PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers and extorting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the facilities' co-owner. Ciavarella, known for his harsh and autocratic courtroom demeanor, filled the beds of the private lockups with children as young as 10, many of them first-time offenders convicted of petty theft and other minor crimes.
Alternatives to Violence Project is a conflict-resolution workshop for inmates with a history of violent behavior at Sing Sing Correctional Facility. It is a program started by the Quakers in 1975 and still has strong Quaker involvement from meetings around the county. Each month the program conducts workshops at the prison for some of the most violent offenders in the New York State prison system. "Quakers have been involved in prison ministry for a long time because the founders like George Fox were incarcerated for civil disobedience," said Fred Feucht, 65, a Quaker from the Purchase Meeting and an outside coordinator for the project at the prison. Although the program is steeped in the nonviolent beliefs of the Quakers, most of the volunteers are not Quakers and believe that people need to learn conflict-resolution skills to avoid violence. "We grew out of the Quakers but we reached outside for most of our leaders," Mr. Feucht said. "A lot of our inside leaders are Muslims." Inside, leaders are inmates who have completed the ... workshops and now work as volunteers to conduct and administer the program. Volunteers in the project advocate that violence is the basic cause for people being incarcerated. Many remain involved with the program outside prison, and a group of former project facilitators formed a support group called the Landing Strip. With tougher sentencing laws today, repeat violent offenders may never be freed. For many graduates of the program, it is seen as a last chance.
For nearly two decades, the Bureau of Prisons has contracted with a handful of private companies to incarcerate thousands of non-U.S. citizens. Held in a dozen so-called “criminal alien requirement” prisons ... the inmates in private custody are, for the most part, locked up for immigration offenses or drug violations. CAR facilities have ... a track record of abuse and neglect. In August, it seemed that years of pressure [from advocacy organizations] had finally paid off, when the Justice Department announced it would begin phasing out private prisons. Under the DOJ directive, the facilities ... would see their contracts reduced or allowed to expire without renewal and the inmates in their custody transferred. Within hours of the announcement, the stocks of industry heavyweights Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group plummeted more than 35 percent. The momentum was short-lived. On November 9, as it became clear that Donald Trump had defeated Hillary Clinton in the race for the presidency, Fortune declared private prisons “the biggest (stock market) winner in Trump’s victory,” noting a 49 percent surge in CCA stock. In the weeks that followed, Trump would tap Jeff Sessions as his choice for attorney general. Not only could Sessions ... undo the DOJ’s directive, but the plans promoted by Trump and his advisers threaten to drastically increase the number of people held by companies that have repeatedly demonstrated the conflict of profit motive when it comes to depriving people of physical liberty.
Note: Read the complete article above for a detailed account of the substandard conditions at a CCA facility which led to inmate and corrections officer deaths. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing prison system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The salesman stood outside the prison bus, inviting people inside for a brief tour. The price tag for such a vehicle? About $580,000. This bus, along with hundreds of other products and services, are on display this week at the American Correctional Association’s annual winter conference in New Orleans. It has become the largest gathering of corrections personnel in the United States. The trade show ... offers a peek into the sprawling private industry around incarceration. Unlike other conventions, however, this convention is closed to the public, and the customers on the trade show floor are mostly prison wardens, jail officials and directors from state corrections agencies. The exhibitors are there to make their pitch for a slice of the $80 billion incarceration industry in the US. The companies aren't the only ones looking to earn money. In many states, sheriffs and wardens ... look to private companies to help pay the bills. They do this, in many cases, by taking commissions on revenue from goods sold to inmates - everything from phone calls and commissary goods to ... e-cigarettes. “The whole idea of a system that exists for the purpose of keeping people locked up for profit creates all the wrong incentives,” said Marjorie R. Esma, the executive director of the local American Civil Liberties Union in New Orleans. Such incentives, of course, can lead to more people in jail for petty crime. Look no further than Louisiana, which has been dubbed the “prison capital of the world” because of its high incarceration rates.
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U.S. jails now hold nearly 700,000 inmates on any given day, up from 157,000 in 1970, and the Vera Institute of Justice found that smaller counties now hold 44 percent of the overall total, up from just 28 percent in 1978. Jail populations in mid-sized counties with populations of 250,000 to 1 million residents grew by four times and small-sized counties with 250,000 residents or less grew by nearly seven times, Vera's analysis shows. In that time large county jail populations grew by only about three times. Exactly what's behind that trend is not clear but experts say a range of factors likely contribute, from law enforcement's increased use of summonses and traffic tickets to the closing of state mental hospitals in that time. Unlike state prisons that hold inmates doing lengthy terms, local jails and county lockups are generally used to house pretrial detainees or those who have been sentenced to serve stints of a year or less for relatively minor crimes. Jail use continues to rise though crime rates have declined since peaking in 1991, the analysis shows. Blacks are jailed at nearly four times the rate of whites and the number of women locked up in jails has grown 14-fold since 1970, according to the Vera report. The number of jails with 1,000 beds or more has soared from 21 in 1970 to 145 in 2014, and the average number of days people stay locked up in jail has grown from nine in 1978 to 23 in 2014.
Note: Violent crime rates have dropped to 1/3 of what they were just 20 years ago. See an excellent graph on this. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on prison system corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
When Jack Dawley returned in 2007 to his hometown, Norwalk, Ohio, after eight years in prison and on parole in Wisconsin, he knew getting by would be difficult. For four years, he ... paid down the $1,400 in fines and court fees he owed. But in 2012, he injured his back, lost his job and missed a payment on his court debt. He was arrested and sentenced to jail for 10 days. When he got out, he had 90 days to make a payment. He failed, and went back to jail. A cycle was beginning: jail every 90 days. Although the United States outlawed debtors’ prison two centuries ago, that, in effect, is where Dawley kept going. It is crowded there. [In] Ferguson, MO ... the recent Department of Justice investigation of the police and courts portrays a system designed to jail the poor for their poverty. Across America, courts levy fines and fees ... on misdemeanor offenders, and jail them when they cannot pay. You don’t go to jail for walking your dog without a leash, making an illegal left turn or burning leaves without a permit, but in many states you will go to jail if you can’t pay the resulting fees and fines. We have a two-tier system: The rich pay fines. The poor go to jail. Debtors’ prison is both senseless and illegal. In 1983, the Supreme Court ruled that courts must inquire about a defendant’s ability to pay fines and can jail only those who can pay but won’t. Yet defendants don’t know [that] they can ask for a hearing on their ability to pay, [and] courts routinely fail to suggest a hearing.
More black men are behind bars or under the watch of the criminal justice system than there were enslaved in 1850, according to the author of a book about racial discrimination and criminal justice. Ohio State University law professor and civil rights activist Michelle Alexander..., the author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, [says] there are more African American men in prison and jail, or on probation and parole, than were slaves before the start of the Civil War. More than 846,000 black men were incarcerated in 2008, according to U.S. Bureau of Justice estimates. African Americans make up 13.6 percent of the U.S. population according to census data, but black men reportedly make up 40.2 percent of all prison inmates. The criminal justice system is the newest in a long line of societal structures that have disenfranchised people of color, Alexander argues in her book. Alexander writes that despite today's belief in "colorblindness," our criminal justice system effectively bars African American men from citizenship, treating them as a separate caste: "Denying African Americans citizenship was deemed essential to the formation of the original union. Hundreds of years later, America is still not an egalitarian democracy. The arguments and rationalizations that have been trotted out in support of racial exclusion and discrimination in its various forms have changed and evolved, but the outcome has remained largely the same."
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In 2017, officials at the Stewart immigration detention center in Georgia placed Shoaib Ahmed, a 24-year-old immigrant from Bangladesh, in solitary confinement for encouraging fellow workers to stop working. His punishment was solitary confinement for 10 days. Stewart is operated by the largest prison corporation in the US, CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America), under a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice). A growing number of detained immigrants ... are subjected to forced labor. In April, we filed a lawsuit ... against CoreCivic, alleging that the prison corporation violates human trafficking laws and employs a deprivation scheme to force immigrants detained at Stewart to work for sub-minimum wages, and then threatens to punish them for refusing to work through solitary confinement or loss of access to necessities. A lawsuit against Geo Group, another prison corporation, is moving forward for using similar practices. CoreCivic’s abuse and exploitation ... constitute a contemporary form of slavery as we detailed in a submission to the UN special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants. None of this bothered a group of 18 Republican lawmakers ... who sent a letter to Jeff Sessions, Ice, and the Department of Labor asking them to help ... Geo Group defend itself against the lawsuits. These legislators’ support for the prison corporations perhaps should not come as a surprise. Private prison companies contributed $1.6m during the 2016 federal election cycle.
Note: The federal class action lawsuit described in the article above was filed against CoreCivic by Project South jointly with the Southern Poverty Law Center, attorney Andrew Free, and the law firm Burns Charest LLP. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on prison industry corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Norway's prison system is designed with three core values in mind: normality, humanity and rehabilitation. The point of incarceration in Norway, they say, is to make inmates "better neighbors" once they are released - and they take that mission very seriously. In the US, prison is generally seen as punishment for crimes committed. But Norway might change that. In 2015, prison directors and lawmakers from North Dakota traveled to see Norway's prisons for themselves. The trip was part of a program that takes state officials to visit the country, which has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world. When the leaders returned, North Dakota slowly began making changes to its prison system. The move has been controversial with some prison staff. The changes called for different dynamics between inmates and corrections officers, causing one of them to leave over what he believed was a fundamental shift in their training. North Dakota's prison directors say the benefit in the long run - reducing the state's recidivism rate - is worth giving this new approach a chance. If the goal is to make them better neighbors, North Dakota inmate Jonathan McKinney says it's working. He spent more than two years in and out of solitary confinement during part of his 17-year sentence for murder and other serious charges. Because of Norway's influence, prison officials allowed him to transfer to medium security when he showed good behavior - a move that he would not have been able to make as easily before.
Note: Watch an incredible nine-minute video on the mind-boggling success of Norway's prison system.
Dozens of adults and children, all clad in white, stood in a line. A holy man handed each a cup of ayahuasca, a muddy-looking hallucinogenic brew. Among those imbibing from the holy man’s decanter were prison inmates, convicted of crimes such as murder, kidnapping and rape. “I’m finally realizing I was on the wrong path in this life,” said Celmiro de Almeida, 36, who is serving a sentence for homicide. “Each experience helps me communicate with my victim to beg for forgiveness,” said Mr. de Almeida. The provision of a hallucinogen to inmates ... reflects a continuing quest for ways to ease pressure on Brazil’s prison system. The country’s inmate population has doubled since the start of the century ... straining underfunded prisons rife with human rights violations. Around , Acuda, a pioneering prisoners’ rights group in Porto Velho, began offering inmates therapy sessions in yoga, meditation and Reiki. Two years ago, the volunteer therapists at Acuda had a new idea: Why not give the inmates ayahuasca as well? Acuda had trouble finding a place where the inmates could drink ayahuasca, but they were finally accepted by an offshoot here of Santo Daime, a Brazilian religion founded in the 1930s. “Many people in Brazil believe that inmates must suffer,” said Euza Beloti, 40, a psychologist with Acuda. “This thinking bolsters a system where prisoners return to society more violent than when they entered prison.” At Acuda, she said, “we simply see inmates as human beings with the capacity to change.”
The Federal Aviation Agency has declared a no-fly zone over Ferguson, Missouri as tensions between police and protesters continued after last weekend’s police shooting of Michael Brown. The FAA issued a temporary flight restriction on Tuesday, prohibiting aircraft—including news helicopters—from entering the area. The agency listed the reason as “to provide a safe environment for law enforcement activities.” The extraordinary move comes days after the shooting of Michael Brown. The 18-year-old was shot multiple times and killed by police Aug. 9. Witnesses to the shooting said Brown had his hands up and was surrendering to police. Law enforcement officials, meanwhile, said the shooting occurred after a physical confrontation with Brown and a friend. The shooting and ensuing controversy has led to protests, looting and a strong police response in the St. Louis-area community.
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