Category: reentry

Nations Jails Struggle With Mentally Ill Prisoners : NPR

By , September 6, 2011 3:31 pm

More Americans receive mental health treatment in prisons and jails than in hospitals or treatment centers. In fact, the three largest inpatient psychiatric facilities in the country are jails: Los Angeles County Jail, Rikers Island Jail in New York City and Cook County Jail in Illinois.

“We have a criminal justice system which has a very clear purpose: You get arrested. We want justice. We try you, and justice hopefully prevails. It was never built to handle people that were very, very ill, at least with mental illness,” Judge Steve Leifman tells Laura Sullivan, guest host of weekends on All Things Considered.

via Nations Jails Struggle With Mentally Ill Prisoners : NPR.

Resisting Gender Violence and the Prison Industrial Complex

By , November 14, 2010 9:03 pm
Timeline of total number of inmates in U.S. pr...
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Victoria Law is a longtime prison activist and the author of the 2009 book, Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women (PM Press). Law’s essay “Sick of the Abuse: Feminist Responses to Sexual Assault, Battering, and Self Defense,” is featured in the new book, entitled The Hidden 1970s: Histories of Radicalism, edited by Dan Berger.

In this interview, Law discusses her new article, which provides a history of radical feminist resistance to the criminalization of women who have defended themselves from gender violence. Furthermore, Law presents a prison abolitionist critique of how the mainstream women’s movement has embraced the US criminal justice system as a solution for combating violence against women.

Previously interviewed by Angola 3 News about the torture of women in US prisons, Law is now on the road with the Community and Resistance Tour.

via Resisting Gender Violence and the Prison Industrial Complex | Dissident Voice.

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Cutting prison budget could be challenging if inmate population keeps growing

By , November 9, 2010 7:09 pm

Faced with a possible $20 billion budget gap, Texas legislative leaders had hoped to discuss closing some state prisons to save money. However, those prisons that for months have had empty bunks are slowly filling back up.

And while officials are split about the reasons, most agree that if the trend continues, it could make decisions about slashing state spending even more difficult when the Legislature convenes in January.

Full prisons cant be closed without releasing convicts, a politically unthinkable solution. That leaves treatment and rehabilitation programs — two areas where Texas has expanded its funding and has been successful in recent years at reducing its prison population — as the likely targets for cuts that by some estimates could reach 15 percent of current spending.

via Cutting prison budget could be challenging if inmate population keeps growing.

Between the Bars

By , November 6, 2010 1:53 pm

Between the Bars is a weblog platform for prisoners, through which the 1% of America which is behind bars can tell their stories. Since prisoners are routinely denied access to the Internet, we enable them to blog by scanning letters. We aim to provide a positive outlet for creativity, a tool to assist in the maintenance of social safety nets, an opportunity to forge connections between prisoners and non-prisoners, and a means to promote non-criminal identities and personal expression. We hope to improve prisoner’s lives, and help to reduce recidivism.

via BetweenTheBars.org : Welcome.

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Criminal justice trends: key legislative changes in sentencing policy, 2001-2010 | Vera Institute of Justice

By , October 31, 2010 8:32 am
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Since 2001, many state legislatures have changed their criminal sentencing policies, increasingly emphasizing approaches that are “smart on crime.” The three main areas of legislative reform involve redefining and reclassifying criminal offenses, strengthening alternatives to incarceration, and reducing prison terms. This report is a reference for legislators, their staff, and other policy makers who may be considering or implementing similar changes in sentencing statutes and policies.

via Criminal justice trends: key legislative changes in sentencing policy, 2001-2010 | Vera Institute of Justice.

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Interactive feature: The continuing fiscal crisis in corrections | Vera Institute of Justice

By , October 30, 2010 10:57 am

This page shows corrections appropriations in 44 states for fiscal years 2010 and 2011. You can view those states’ corrections allocations and recent changes in funding sources, including stimulus monies from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections collected this data for the report The Continuing Fiscal Crisis in Corrections: Setting a New Course. Budget appropriations are shown only for the 44 states that participated in a survey Vera conducted in the summer of 2010.

via Interactive feature: The continuing fiscal crisis in corrections | Vera Institute of Justice.

YouTube – Franklin Zimring: The decline in crime New York City

By , October 30, 2010 10:51 am

YouTube – Franklin Zimring: The decline in crime New York City.

From Incredible to Inevitable: How the Politics of Criminal Justice Reform May Be Shifting

By , August 4, 2010 5:37 pm

Yesterday, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act into law. Though this new law retains an unjustifiable federal sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine offenses, it is a remarkable criminal justice reform measure. Ten years ago, advocates working to repeal the notorious 100-to-1 sentencing disparity were thought of as naïve. Yet 2010 saw a bipartisan bill aimed at reforming a mandatory minimum actually get through Congress and receive the president’s signature for the first time since the Nixon administration. Yesterday’s passage of the Fair Sentencing Act is one of several recent developments signaling that the political landscape of criminal justice reform truly has shifted — perhaps not seismically, but significantly. The opportunity to cut and reform our bloated, inefficient system is now.

via Vanita Gupta: From Incredible to Inevitable: How the Politics of Criminal Justice Reform May Be Shifting.

Alternatives to Incarceration Can Save Millions for Cash-Strapped States

By , June 22, 2010 6:54 pm

With the highest incarceration rate in the world, in 2008 the U.S. puts one out of every 48 working-age men behind bars and spent $75 billion on corrections, the majority of which was spent on incarceration. To make matters worse, a new study released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) found that the $40 billion jump in state spending on corrections between 1988 and 2008 outpaced nearly every other state budget item, painting a bleak picture of incarceration in the U.S. and the resulting budgetary strain on the states.

As this Dispatch will outline, U.S. incarceration rates have far outpaced the growth in the population because inflexible policies from “truth in sentencing” to mandatory minimum laws have meant non-violent offenses crowd prisons without probation and parole being used to end the budgetary costs of keeping all of them in prison.

Partly due to recognition that filling prisons with non-violent offenders is a waste of human potential and partly because of the current budget crisis, states are beginning to reform their prison and sentencing policies to reduce bloated incarceration rates. Some states are engaging in emergency cuts in prison populations while others are more systematically cutting back or eliminating entirely the mandatory minimum and other rigid sentencing rules that fill prisons in the first place.

States are also directing some of the funds that will be saved from lower incarceration rates to helping ex-felons integrate back into the communities which they will be returning after prison. Such reentry programs recognize that investing in communities can replace the costs of incarceration with jobs and productive activity that actually generate economic development, tax revenues and a safer environment for all residents.

via Alternatives to Incarceration Can Save Millions for Cash-Strapped States | Progressive States Network.

The Racialization of Crime and Punishment

By , March 4, 2010 10:11 am
I'M HUMAN
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The United States, with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, has about one-quarter of its prisoners. As you noted, the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Over 2.4 million persons are in state or federal prisons and jails – a rate of 751 out of every 100,000. Another 5 million are under some sort of correctional supervision such as probation or parole (PEW 2008). The US remains the last of the post-industrial so-called First World nations that still retains the death penalty, and we use it often. Nearly 3,500 inmates await execution in 35 states and at the federal level. It was not until the early 21st century that the US abolished capital punishment for juveniles and those with IQs below 70.

During the past 40 years there has been a dramatic escalation in the US prison population – a ten-fold increase since 1970. Between 1987 and 2007 alone, the prison population nearly tripled. The rate of incarceration for women escalated at an even more dramatic pace. The increased rate of incarceration can be traced almost exclusively to the War on Drugs and the rise of lengthy mandatory minimum prison sentences for drug crimes and other non-violent felonies.

A similarly repressive trend has emerged in the juvenile justice system. The juvenile justice system has shifted sharply from its original stated goals of rehabilitation and therapy, into a “second-class criminal court that provides youth with neither therapy or justice” (Feld 2007). Throughout the 1990s, the federal government and nearly all states enacted a series of legislation that criminalized a host of “gang-related activities.” This lowered the age at which juveniles could be referred to adult court, widened the net of juvenile justice, and made it easier, and even mandatory in some cases, to try juveniles as adults.

Recently scholars, educators and activists have raised concerns about the growing connection between schools and the prison industrial complex. The growing pattern of tracking students out of educational institutions, primarily via “zero tolerance” policies, and tracking them directly and/or indirectly into the juvenile and adult criminal justice systems is variously referred to as the “school to prison pipeline,” the “schoolhouse to jailhouse track,” or as younger and younger students are targeted, the “cradle to prison track” (NAACP 2005; Advancement Project 2006; Children’s Defense Fund 2007). In part, the school to prison pipeline is a consequence of schools which criminalize minor disciplinary infractions via zero tolerance policies, have a police presence at the school, and rely on suspensions and expulsions for minor infractions.

t r u t h o u t | The Racialization of Crime and Punishment.

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