Category: corrections

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.

Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law : NPR

By , October 30, 2010 10:55 am

Last year, two men showed up in Benson, Ariz., a small desert town 60 miles from the Mexico border, offering a deal.

Glenn Nichols, the Benson city manager, remembers the pitch.

“The gentleman that’s the main thrust of this thing has a huge turquoise ring on his finger,” Nichols said. “He’s a great big huge guy and I equated him to a car salesman.”

What he was selling was a prison for women and children who were illegal immigrants.

“They talk [about] how positive this was going to be for the community,” Nichols said, “the amount of money that we would realize from each prisoner on a daily rate.”

But Nichols wasn’t buying. He asked them how would they possibly keep a prison full for years — decades even — with illegal immigrants?

Glenn Nichols, city manager of Benson, Ariz.

Laura Sullivan/NPR

Glenn Nichols, city manager of Benson, Ariz., says two men came to the city last year “talking about building a facility to hold women and children that were illegals.”

“They talked like they didn’t have any doubt they could fill it,” Nichols said.

That’s because prison companies like this one had a plan — a new business model to lock up illegal immigrants. And the plan became Arizona’s immigration law.

via Prison Economics Help Drive Ariz. Immigration Law : NPR.

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.

Collateral Costs of Incarceration on the Economic Mobility

By , September 29, 2010 8:58 am

Incarceration reduces former inmates’ earnings by 40 percent and limits their future economic mobility, according to a new Pew report, Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility. This is a growing challenge now that 1 in every 28 children in America has a parent behind bars, up from 1 in 125 just 25 years ago.

“People who break the law need to be held accountable and pay their debt to society,” said Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States. “At the same time, the collateral costs of locking up 2.3 million people are piling higher and higher. Corrections is the second fastest growing state budget category, and state leaders from both parties are now finding that there are research-based strategies for low-risk offenders that can reduce crime at far less cost than prison.”

via Collateral Costs of Incarceration on the Economic Mobility – Pew Charitable Trusts.

Attorney: Client a ‘poster child’ for broken death penalty system

By , September 23, 2010 7:45 pm
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The only thing sustaining Jim Rocap III in the last few days, he said Tuesday, was the classic Winston Churchill admonition: “If you are going through hell, keep going.”

Rocap, partner at Steptoe & Johnson in D.C. has represented Virginia death row inmate Teresa Lewis since 2004. But this week the final avenues of appeal were closing, one by one. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell refused to grant clemency twice, and late Tuesday the Supreme Court denied Lewis a stay of execution by a 7-2 vote and rejected Rocap’s petition for certiorari. Barring any unforeseen development, she will be executed Thursday night at 9 at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, the first woman put to death in nearly a century by Virginia.

“We are deeply disappointed,” Rocap said in a statement after the Court action was announced. “A good and decent person is about to lose her life because of a system that is badly broken.”

Earlier on Tuesday Rocap sounded optimistic, having filed with the Court a petition offering two seemingly plausible arguments for habeas relief: one, based on Apprendi v. New Jersey claiming a jury, not a judge should have decided if she should be sentenced to death, and the other a Strickland v. Washington claim about the trial lawyer’s failure to rebut aggravating factors raised during her sentencing.

“This was not an innocence case, but it is as good an example as you can find of someone who should not be put to death,” said Rocap. “Teresa is a poster child for why the death penalty process is broken.”

via Attorney: Client a ‘poster child’ for broken death penalty system.

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New Survey Says Public Favorable To Cutting Prison Populations

By , September 15, 2010 11:38 am

A new public opinion survey on crime and sentencing issues gives policymakers some breathing room on moves to reduce prison populations during this time of budget crises in states. Most registered voters believe that about one fifth of inmates could be released and not pose a threat to public safety, said the survey sponsored by the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project.

The survey found vast majorities (nearly 90%) favoring the concept of fewer low-risk and non-violent offenders behind bars to keep more violent offenders imprisoned, and to reinvest any money saved in probation and parole improvements. About 2/3 of Democrats and about half of Republicans ”strongly” favor” such changes, meaning that they have reasonably strong bipartisan backing.

Daniel Franklin of the Benenson Strategy Group, which did the survey with Public Opinion Strategies, said that most Americans see crime policy “through a personal rather than political lens.” At the same time, both Franklin and Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies said that politicians in general still would be wise not to be portrayed as “soft on crime.”

The survey, of 1,200 registered voters across the U.S. taken last March, found that the citizenry may not be so harsh on crime as some political candidates may believe. Only 37 percent, for example, believe that anyone who sells drugs should be sent to prison on a first offense; the number jumps to 43 percent for burglaries in unoccupied homes and for offenses committed by people on probation and parole (63 percent automatic prison for probationers or parolees possessing drugs with the intent to sell, for example.)

via The Crime Report » Archive » New Survey Says Public Favorable To Cutting Prison Populations.

Agents’ Secrets | The News Observer

By , August 17, 2010 7:20 pm

This series, the product of months of reporting, reveals deep trouble at North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation. “Agents’ Secrets” shows an agency in line with prosecutors’ wishes. Agents and analysts ignore or twist the truth and push past the bounds of science.

Agents’ Secrets | The News Observer.

Aging inmates straining prison systems

By , August 17, 2010 11:53 am

Connell, Wash. — Curtis Ballard rides a motorized wheelchair around his prison ward, which happens to be the new assisted living unit — a place of many windows and no visible steel bars — at Washington’s Coyote Ridge Corrections Center.

A stroke left Ballard unable to walk. He’s also had a heart attack and he underwent a procedure to remove skin cancer from his neck. At 77, he’s been in prison since 1993 for murder. He has 14 years left on his sentence.

Ballard is among the national surge in elderly inmates whose medical expenses are straining cash-strapped states and have officials looking for solutions, including early release, some possibly to nursing homes. Ballard says he’s fine where he is.

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“I’d be a burden on my kids,” said the native Texan. “I’d rather be a burden to these people.”

That burden is becoming greater as the American Civil Liberties Union estimates that elderly prisoners — the fastest growing segment of the prison population, largely because of tough sentencing laws — are three times more expensive to incarcerate than younger inmates.

The ACLU estimates that it costs about $72,000 to house an elderly inmate for a year, compared to $24,000 for a younger prisoner.

The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that the number of men and women in state and federal prisons age 55 and older grew 76 percent between 1999 and 2008, the latest year available, from 43,300 to 76,400. The growth of the entire prison population grew only 18 percent in that period.

“We’re reaping the fruits of bad public policy like Three Strikes laws and other mandatory minimum sentencing laws,” said David C. Fathi, director of the ACLU National Prison Project in Washington, D.C. “One in 11 prisoners is serving a life sentence.”

via Aging inmates straining prison systems | detnews.com | The Detroit News.

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