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Prisons Corruption News Stories
Excerpts of Key Prisons Corruption News Stories in Major Media


Below are highly revealing excerpts of important prisons corruption news stories reported in the media that suggest a major cover-up. Links are provided to the full stories on their major media websites. If any link fails to function, read this webpage. These prisons corruption news stories are listed by date posted to this webpage. You can explore the same articles listed by order of importance or by article date. By choosing to educate ourselves on these important issues and to spread the word, we can and will build a brighter future.

Note: This comprehensive list of prisons corruption news stories is usually updated once a week. Explore our full index to revealing excerpts of key major media news stories on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.


At $75,560, housing a prisoner in California now costs more than a year at Harvard
2017-06-04, Los Angeles Times/Associated Press
Posted: 2018-05-08 00:58:56
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-prison-costs-20170604-htmlstory.html

The cost of imprisoning each of California’s 130,000 inmates is expected to reach a record $75,560 in the next year. That’s enough to cover the annual cost of attending Harvard University and still have plenty left over. Gov. Jerry Brown’s spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 includes a record $11.4 billion for the corrections department while also predicting that there will be 11,500 fewer inmates in four years because voters in November approved earlier releases for many inmates. The price for each inmate has doubled since 2005, even as court orders related to overcrowding have reduced the population by about one-quarter. Salaries and benefits for prison guards and medical providers drove much of the increase. The result is a per-inmate cost that is the nation’s highest — and $2,000 above tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses to attend Harvard. Since 2015, California’s per-inmate costs have surged nearly $10,000, or about 13%. Critics say with fewer inmates, the costs should be falling. New York is ... second in overall costs at about $69,000.

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


Big Money As Private Immigrant Jails Boom
2017-11-21, NPR
Posted: 2018-04-23 03:12:38
https://www.npr.org/2017/11/21/565318778/big-money-as-private-immigrant-jails...

In recent months, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has called for five new detention facilities to be built and operated by private prison corporations across the country. ICE spends more than $2 billion a year on immigrant detention through private jails like [the Joe Corley Detention Facility], owned by GEO Group, the nation's largest private prison company. ICE and the U.S. Marshals Service pay GEO $32 million a year to house, feed and provide medical care for a thousand detainees. Between 2013 and 2014, Douglas Menjivar was one of those ICE detainees. Menjivar says he was raped by gang members in his cell, and when he reported it to the medical staff they mocked him. His lawyer has filed a federal civil rights complaint. Menjivar also says he was forced to work for a dollar a day. The forced labor allegations are part of two class-action lawsuits in federal court. But these are just the latest grievances against the business of immigrant incarceration. Human rights groups ... claim corporations skimp on detainee care in order to maximize profits. In its latest budget request, ICE has asked for more than 51,000 detainee beds - a 25 percent increase over the last year. The two largest private corrections corporations, GEO Group and CoreCivic, each gave $250,000 to Trump's inaugural festivities. The Obama administration [phased] out contracts with private prisons that house immigrants. Since Trump took office, the Bureau of Prisons has restored those contracts.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on prison industry corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.


We asked for Gitmo prison’s book policy in 2013. It arrived this week, censored.
2018-03-28, Miami Herald
Posted: 2018-04-08 19:48:27
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/guantanamo/articl...

The U.S. military took more than four years to process a Freedom of Information Act request for a copy of the Guantánamo guidelines for censoring prison library material - and censored the guidelines when it processed the request. The paperwork the military released appeared to leave out three pages of the prison’s procedure for handling the Quran. The Miami Herald sought the Nov. 27, 2013, document in a Dec. 10, 2013, FOIA request. The U.S. Southern Command apparently released the document, with redactions, on March 21 but didn’t put it in the mail for five more days. It arrived at the Herald newsroom, which is next door to Southcom, on Tuesday. The Guantánamo prison is a Law of War detention site run by the Pentagon; left unclear was the U.S. military’s law enforcement or prosecution function related to the Detainee Library, which circulates books among 26 of the prison’s 41 detainees. Of those 26, only two have been convicted of war crimes. Former CIA captives at the clandestine Camp 7 prison, including those accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks, don’t have privileges at the main library but can draw from a different, secret collection. In May 2016, a U.S. Army officer in charge of detainee diversionary programs told reporters that “negative screening criteria” included military topics, extreme graphic violence, nudity, sexuality and extremism. Many of the prison’s current detainees were held by the CIA for weeks or years before their transfer to U.S. military custody.

Note: A letter titled, "Will I Die At Guantanamo Bay? After 15 Years, I Deserve Justice" was recently published by Newsweek. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the intelligence community.


How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about
2015-04-28, Washington Post
Posted: 2018-04-08 19:44:56
https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/04/28/how-for-profit-pr...

Several industries have become notorious for the millions they spend on influencing legislation. But one has managed to quickly build influence with comparatively little scrutiny: Private prisons. The two largest for-profit prison companies in the United States – GEO and Corrections Corporation of America – and their associates have funneled more than $10 million to candidates since 1989 and have spent nearly $25 million on lobbying efforts. Meanwhile, these private companies have seen their revenue and market share soar. They now rake in a combined $3.3 billion in annual revenue and the private federal prison population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010. A report by the Justice Policy Institute ... identified the private-prison industry’s three-pronged approach to increase profits through political influence: lobbying, direct campaign contributions, and building relationships and networks. Private-prison companies have indirectly supported policies that put more Americans and immigrants behind bars ... by donating to politicians who support them. With the growing influence of the prison lobby, the nation is, in effect, commoditizing human bodies for an industry in militant pursuit of profit. For instance, privatization created the atmosphere that made the “Kids For Cash” scandal possible, in which two Pennsylvania judges received $2.6 million in kickbacks from for-profit juvenile detention centers for sending more kids to the facilities and with unusually long sentences.

Note: The "Cash for Kids" scandal mentioned in the article above resulted in the unlawful incarceration of thousands of kids. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the prison industry.


Heated floors and pillow-top mattresses... in prison
2018-03-08, CNN News
Posted: 2018-03-25 22:53:59
https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/08/us/prison-reform-north-dakota-norway/index.html

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.


'Calls From Home': How one Kentucky radio station connects inmates and families
2018-02-09, Christian Science Monitor
Posted: 2018-02-19 18:29:12
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Society/2018/0209/Calls-From-Home-How-one-Kentu...

Tom Sexton leans forward into a microphone. “Coming up by request,” he says in a softened-for-radio Appalachian drawl, “going out to Sporty Black from his wife, this is Kendrick Lamar with ‘LOVE.’ ” The melodic R&B track then begins to emanate from the heart of this small eastern Kentucky town. Tonight’s shows are targeted for a very specific audience. People like “Sporty Black.” More than 5,000 men are incarcerated in the six federal and state prisons in the broadcasting range of WMMT. Every week, for almost 20 years, the station has produced a show called “Calls From Home” that broadcasts recorded messages from the inmates’ friends and family members. WMMT bills itself as “a 24 hour voice of mountain people,” and as far as the station is concerned, if the inmates can tune in, then they are mountain people too. “They’re here and part of our communities,” says Elizabeth Sanders, WMMT’s co-general manager. “Anything we can do to help make the barriers between them and their families a little bit less, then we’re fulfilling part of our mission as the radio station here,” she adds. The show has become something of a national phenomenon. Every Monday night calls flood in to the station. Some of the calls come with children discussing a report card, a “happy birthday” rendition, or more somber family news. The costs of calling prisons directly ... have been rising for years, reaching in excess of $10 a minute. “Having a toll-free number can help families keep in touch a little bit more,” says Sanders.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


In Brazil, Some Inmates Get Therapy With Hallucinogenic Tea
2015-03-28, New York Times
Posted: 2017-12-04 03:17:28
https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/29/world/americas/a-hallucinogenic-tea-time-f...

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 [2002], 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.”

Note: Read more about emerging research into ayahuasca in Brazil. Articles like this suggest that the healing potentials of mind-altering drugs are gaining mainstream credibility.


When an Algorithm Helps Send You to Prison
2017-10-26, New York Times
Posted: 2017-11-06 17:03:10
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/26/opinion/algorithm-compas-sentencing-bias.html

Eric Loomis pleaded guilty to attempting to flee an officer, and no contest to operating a vehicle without the owner’s consent. Neither of his crimes mandates prison time. At Mr. Loomis’s sentencing, the judge cited, among other factors, Mr. Loomis’s high risk of recidivism as predicted by a computer program called COMPAS, a risk assessment algorithm used by the state of Wisconsin. The judge denied probation and prescribed an 11-year sentence. No one knows exactly how COMPAS works; its manufacturer refuses to disclose the proprietary algorithm. We only know the final risk assessment score it spits out, which judges may consider at sentencing. Mr. Loomis challenged the use of an algorithm as a violation of his due process rights. The United States Supreme Court declined to hear his case, meaning a majority of justices effectively condoned the algorithm’s use. Shifting the sentencing responsibility [from judges] to a computer does not necessarily eliminate bias; it delegates and often compounds it. Algorithms like COMPAS simply mimic the data with which we train them. An algorithm that accurately reflects our world also necessarily reflects our biases. A ProPublica study found that COMPAS predicts black defendants will have higher risks of recidivism than they actually do, while white defendants are predicted to have lower rates than they actually do.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on judicial system corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.


At $75,560, housing a prisoner in California now costs more than a year at Harvard
2017-06-04, Los Angeles Times/Associated Press
Posted: 2017-06-11 21:08:08
http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-prison-costs-20170604-htmlstory.html

The cost of imprisoning each of California’s 130,000 inmates is expected to reach a record $75,560 in the next year. That’s enough to cover the annual cost of attending Harvard University and still have plenty left over. The price for each inmate has doubled since 2005, even as court orders related to overcrowding have reduced the population by about one-quarter. Salaries and benefits for prison guards and medical providers drove much of the increase. The result is a per-inmate cost that is the nation’s highest. Since 2015, California’s per-inmate costs have surged nearly $10,000, or about 13%. New York is a distant second in overall costs at about $69,000. Critics say with fewer inmates, the costs should be falling. “Now that we’re incarcerating less, we haven’t ramped the system back down,” said Chris Hoene, executive director of the ... California Budget & Policy Center. California was sued over prison overcrowding, and to comply with a federal court-imposed population cap, the Brown administration now keeps most lower-level offenders in county jails instead of state prisons. Additionally, voters in 2014 reduced penalties for drug and property crimes and last fall approved the earlier releases.

Note: Could it be that the privatization of prisons is driving up prison costs? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing prison system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.


Prisoners give back, train puppies to guide blind, deaf
2016-09-05, The Detroit News (Detroit's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2017-04-30 23:12:19
http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/macomb-county/2016/09/05/prisoner...

Nico is one of 11 puppies in the Leader Dogs for the Blind Prison Puppies program, trained by 23 inmates at the Macomb Correctional Facility in New Haven. At the ... all-male prison, it’s common to see inmates toting puppies on leashes through the grounds, eating in the Chow Hall with a lab or golden retriever by their side and passing time with a four-legged cellmate, who takes up a share of the 8-foot-by-11-foot space. “He’s with us 24/7,” said [Mario] Carines, who’s raising Nico with teammate James Fuson. “The puppy is a blessing,” he said, explaining that since the dogs arrived last summer, the morale of both the inmates and staff has improved. “Seeing animals around when the program first began, guys couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t seen a dog in 22 years,” he said. Prison Puppies started in 2002. Leader Dog coordinators noticed a difference in the success rate. Up to 60 percent of puppies raised in prisons become leader dogs, assisting the blind or deaf; the graduation rate of puppies outside prisons is about 45 percent. “Many of our dogs raised in correctional facilities go on to ... have long-term successful working careers as guide dogs,” said [program coordinator] Melissa Spooner. Prison Puppies is a “win-win-win,” Spooner said, since it benefits the recipient, Leader Dog and 108 inmates in the voluntary year-long program. In fact, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found only 17 percent of inmates in Prison Puppies return to prison after being released. The national recidivism rate is about 50 percent.

Note: Watch an inspiring short video of this inspiring program.


Ex-LA County Sheriff Lee Baca convicted in jail corruption case
2017-03-15, CBS News/Associated Press
Posted: 2017-03-20 13:07:20
http://www.cbsnews.com/news/ex-la-county-sheriff-lee-baca-found-guilty-in-jai...

Former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca was convicted Wednesday of obstructing an FBI investigation into corrupt and violent guards who took bribes to smuggle contraband into the jails he ran and savagely beat inmates. The trial ... cast a dark shadow over a distinguished 50-year law enforcement career that abruptly ended with his resignation in 2014 as the corruption investigation spread from rank-and-file deputies to his inner circle. Baca appeared to have escaped the fate of more than a dozen underlings indicted by federal prosecutors until a year ago, when he pleaded guilty to a single count of making false statements to federal authorities about what role he played in efforts to thwart the FBI. A deal with prosecutors called for a sentence no greater than six months. When a judge rejected that as too lenient, Baca withdrew his guilty plea and prosecutors hit him with two additional charges of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The federal probe began in 2011 when Baca’s jail guards discovered an inmate with a contraband cellphone was acting as an FBI mole to record jail beatings and report what he witnessed. Word quickly reached Baca, who convened a group to derail the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lizabeth Rhodes said during closing arguments that corruption in the nation’s largest jail system “started from the top and went all the way down.” Baca’s subordinates hid the FBI informant from federal agents [and] tried to intimidate his FBI handler by threatening to arrest her.

Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the prison system.


Groups begin bailing out strangers to free poor from jail
2017-01-30, Seattle Times (One of Seattle, WA's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2017-02-06 08:16:21
http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/groups-begin-bailing-out-strangers-t...

Activists who say too many poor people are unfairly languishing in U.S. jails because they can’t afford to post cash bail are increasingly deploying a new tactic: Bailing out strangers. Community groups are collecting donations from individuals, churches, cities and other organizations in more than a dozen cities, including New York, Chicago, Seattle and Nashville, to bail out indigent prisoners. They’ve freed several thousand people in the last few years, and the number is growing. The overwhelming majority of defendants still show up for court. Once free, the defendants are better able to fight their case, often leading to charges being dropped or reduced. “Many, many people are having their lives ruined pre-trial because they can’t afford to get out of jail,” said Max Suchan, who co-founded the Chicago Community Bond Fund, which had bailed out 50 people as of December. The bail funds are a step toward a larger goal for some legal reform activists: abolishing the cash bail system. Advocates say it creates two unequal tiers of justice: one for people who can afford bail and one for people who can’t. In Chicago the anti-cash bail movement has a seemingly unlikely ally in Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. He argues the cash system should be abolished and replaced with more thorough background checks; if a person is considered dangerous, they stay in jail and if they’re not, they go free, with access to services such as drug-addiction counseling if needed.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


For Female Inmates In New York City, Prison Is A Crowded, Windowless Room
2017-01-16, NPR
Posted: 2017-01-30 00:38:26
http://www.npr.org/2017/01/16/505315466/for-female-inmates-in-new-york-city-p...

More than a hundred female federal inmates, sentenced to long-term prison, have instead been held for years in two windowless rooms in a detention center in Brooklyn. Conditions for the women have been found to violate international standards for the treatment of prisoners. The problem ... started in [Danbury], Connecticut, in what was the only federal prison for women in the Northeast. The prison population across the country increased nearly 10-fold over the last 40 years, and men's prisons were overflowing. In December 2012, the Bureau of Prisons decided to move the women out of the Danbury prison and move men in. The women were sent to the Metropolitan Detention Center, a jail in Brooklyn, until a new prison could be built. The move was supposed to last 18 months. But nearly three years later, many are still stuck at MDC. A report released by the National Association of Women Judges finds conditions for the women at MDC violate both the American Bar Association's standards and the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners. The judges said the women had no access to the outdoors and inmates complained of being unable to get appropriate medical care. At least one inmate was visibly pregnant. David Patton, executive director of the Federal Defenders of New York, [a] public defenders' service [says,] "There have been maggots in the food, urine-stained mattresses, dryers that vent into the sleeping area, a lack of fresh air and recreation."

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


Dutch justice? Falling crime rates and prison closures
2016-10-17, DutchNews.nl
Posted: 2017-01-08 22:26:14
http://www.dutchnews.nl/features/2016/10/falling-crime-rates-and-prison-closu...

The closure of five prisons in as many years against the background of a falling crime rate, is the kind of news many governments would give their eye teeth for. The impact could have been even more dramatic if the government had adopted the recommendations of a prison service report published in July, which concluded that eight jails and three youth detention centres will be surplus to requirements by the year 2021. The official figures indicate that recorded crime has been falling for around a decade. Between 2014 and 2015, the most recent year for which statistics are available, recorded crime was down by nearly 5%, according to national statistics office CBS. In total, recorded crime has shrunk by 25% over the past eight years. Crime figures [have] been falling in nearly all western nations this century, but the decline in the Dutch prison population has been spectacular. In 2006 the Netherlands had the second highest number of inmates in Europe with 125 prisoners per 100,000 population. Only the UK, with 145, had a larger share. But by last year the Dutch were down to Scandinavian levels, with 69 out of every 100,000 citizens behind bars. The government says prison closures are inevitable because it costs too much to keep empty cells open. Official forecasts predict that the downward trend in crime will continue, though how far the fall reflects an actual drop in criminal behaviour remains a hotly contested issue.

Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


This small Indiana county sends more people to prison than San Francisco and Durham, N.C., combined. Why?
2016-09-02, New York Times
Posted: 2017-01-02 20:04:54
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/02/upshot/new-geography-of-prisons.html?_r=0

A bipartisan campaign to reduce mass incarceration has led to enormous declines in new inmates from big cities, cutting America’s prison population for the first time since the 1970s. But large parts of rural and suburban America ... have gone the opposite direction. Prison admissions in counties with fewer than 100,000 people have risen even as crime has fallen. Just a decade ago, people in rural, suburban and urban areas were all about equally likely to go to prison. But now people in small counties are about 50 percent more likely to go to prison than people in populous counties. The stark disparities in how counties punish crime show the limits of recent state and federal changes to reduce the number of inmates. Far from Washington and state capitals, county prosecutors and judges continue to wield great power over who goes to prison and for how long. And many of them have no interest in reducing the prison population. The divide does not appear to be driven by changes in crime, which fell in rural and urban areas at roughly equal rates. Cities have adopted a more lenient approach to drug offenses in particular, diverting many low-level drug offenders to probation or treatment rather than to jail. Those choices have started to reverse - if only modestly - longstanding racial disparities in American prisons, where blacks and Hispanics are incarcerated at drastically higher rates than whites. But rural, mostly white and politically conservative counties have continued to send more drug offenders to prison.

Note: The war on drugs has been called a "trillion-dollar failure," and spending on jails outpaced spending on schools by three times over the last 30 years. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about judicial system corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.


Inside the Deadly Mississippi Riot That Pushed the Justice Department to Rein in Private Prisons
2016-12-17, The Intercept
Posted: 2016-12-25 16:23:09
https://theintercept.com/2016/12/17/inside-the-deadly-mississippi-riot-that-p...

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.


Releasing confidence: prison entrepreneurship programs offer path
2015-12-20, San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco's leading newspaper)
Posted: 2016-12-12 04:15:42
http://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Releasing-confidence-prison-entre...

Nearly 50 Bay Area executives and professionals packed into a gymnasium last week at the state prison in Solano County and lined up, toe to toe, with a row of convicted criminals. For most entrepreneurs, it was a ... a place they had never been. But it was all too familiar for Kenyatta Leal, [who] left San Quentin in 2013 after 19 years behind bars. He was among the first to graduate from the Last Mile Program - a prison initiative [run by Defy Ventures, which is] intended to turn offenders into entrepreneurs. In one exercise, inmates and volunteers were given a prompt and told to step forward or backward depending on whether it applied to them. “I have been incarcerated,” read Brian Moll, Defy Ventures’ executive director for the Bay Area. Every inmate stepped forward. So did a handful of entrepreneurs. One by one, the professionals fell back - all but Leal, who stood alone in his beige suit. “No. No way,” said Oakland native Leonard Halfin, 46, who has been incarcerated for 25 years on a second-degree-murder charge. “I can’t believe that. I would have never thought he was one of us.” This, said Defy founder and chief executive Catherine Hoke, is the most important takeaway: It allows felons to realize that they have potential. Hoke’s hope is that participating in programs like Defy’s will help inmates formulate plans and sharpen professional skills that can help them become successful.

Note: Watch a great, short video on this impressive program. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.


I was a CIA Whistleblower. Now I'm a Black Inmate. Here's How I See American Racism
2016-09-13, The Intercept
Posted: 2016-11-14 18:31:40
https://theintercept.com/2016/09/13/i-was-a-cia-whistleblower-now-im-a-black-...

I do my best to resist the thought that prison is a reflection of our society, but the comparisons are unavoidable. From the moment I crossed the threshold from freedom to incarceration because I was charged with, and a jury convicted me of, leaking classified information to a New York Times reporter, I needed no reminder that I was no longer an individual. Prison, with its “one size fits all” structure, is not set up to recognize a person’s worth; the emphasis is removal and categorization. Inmates are not people; we are our offenses. Considering the charges and conviction that brought me here, I’m not exactly sure to which category I belong. No matter. There is an overriding category to which I do belong, and it is this prison reality that I sadly “compare unto the world”: I’m not just an inmate, I’m a black inmate. Here, I am my skin color. Whenever, in my stubborn idealism, I refuse to acknowledge being racially categorized and question the submission to it, the other prisoners invariably respond, “Man, this is prison.” What I see in prison is sad, but what I’m seeing from prison is worse. During my time in the CIA it became clear, in the organization’s words and actions toward me, that they saw me not as an American who wanted to serve his country but as “a big black guy.” There is a black America, there is a white America, there are many Americas. The greatness and promise of this country lies in equality reinforced by our differences. When I am free, I don’t want to feel that I’m merely going from one prison to another.

Note: The above was written by Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent targeted for prosecution as part of the Obama Administration's "crack down on the press and whistle-blowers." Author James Risen tried to help Sterling expose CIA racism, and later wrote an unrelated book exposing some questionable government practices. Sterling was then sent to prison for what Risen wrote. Risen's latest book exposes major government corruption related to the war on terror.


Prison Ministry Program Gives Prisoners a Chance to Be Dad Again for a Day
2015-12-11, ABC News
Posted: 2016-11-14 18:09:31
http://abcnews.go.com/US/prison-ministry-program-prisoners-chance-dad-day/sto...

Until recently, 8-year-old Arkinya Graham had never met her father. While they have grown close talking over the phone for the past six months, her father Johnny "Trey" Williams is serving 23 years in a Michigan prison for second-degree murder. ABC News' "Nightline" was given access to go behind prison walls ... as Arkinya met her dad for the first time. Their special visit is part of a prison ministry program called "One Day with God" that is designed to help children reconcile with their parents behind bars. The two-day program is part family reunion, part intervention. On the first day, the dads get a seminar on the importance of fatherhood. On the second day, they get to ... spend a rare day doing various activities with their kids. "Children are the silent victims," said One Day with God founder Scottie Barnes. "[There is an] importance of these boys and girls having relationships with their mothers and fathers who are incarcerated across America." Barnes says her own father ... spent most of her childhood behind bars. "I never had a hug. I never even been told 'I love you' by my dad," Barnes said. "The little children ... want to be loved. They want to be somebody proud of them." Children of incarcerated parents are six times more likely to end up incarcerated themselves. One Day with God is working to end the cycle of reincarceration. At a time when family programs are being cut in prison systems, this program is operating in seven states, [and] expanding to five other prisons in Michigan alone.

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I spent 28 years on death row
2016-10-21, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
Posted: 2016-11-07 18:35:36
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/oct/21/28-years-on-death-row

I was 29 and mowing the lawn at my mother’s house in Birmingham, Alabama, on a hot day in July 1985 when I looked up and saw two police officers. I asked the detective 50 times why I was being arrested. Eventually, he told me I was being arrested for a robbery. I told him, “You have the wrong man.” He said, “I don’t care whether you did it or not. You will be convicted.” At the station, it became clear I’d been at work when the robbery occurred. The detective verified this with my supervisor, but then told me they were going to charge me with two counts of first-degree murder from two other robberies. When I met my appointed lawyer, I told him I was innocent. He said, “All of y’all always say you didn’t do something.” I might have seen him three times in the two years I waited for trial. The only evidence linking me to the crime was the testimony of a ballistics expert who said the bullets from the murder weapon could be a match to my mother’s gun. They found me guilty. [In] 1986 I went to death row. Eventually, [in] 2015, the State of Alabama dropped all charges. I was released that same day. When you’ve been locked up for nearly 30 years, nothing is the same. It was like walking out on to another planet at the age of 58. Every night, I go outside and look up at the stars and moon, because for years I could not see either. Now, I am determined to go wherever I am asked to help end the death penalty. I am so thankful that I get to travel with Lifelines and [the Equal Justice Initiative], and share my story.

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