Prison Legal News

Prison Legal News (140)

What are lessons from the prison ruling?

Published: Saturday, May. 28, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 15A
Last Modified: Saturday, May. 28, 2011 - 9:38 am

In its ruling Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court directed that California reduce its prison population by more than 33,000 inmates within two years. If California takes the right steps, it can meet this deadline without sacrificing public safety while concurrently cutting its prison budget.

The first place to look is the treatment of parole violators. In some states, California included, released offenders who break parole rules are regularly punished with a return to prison. Their prison stay is usually brief (3.5 months is average in  California), followed by their release, and soon thereafter, a return to prison, etc.


One of the more disquieting complaints about Gov. Tom Corbett's proposed state budget was on a sign carried by one of the people who came out recently to protest the cuts.

It declared, "Cuts for Schools but Millions for Prisons."

One might have thought the administration somehow favored this equation. We do not.

So why does the proposed corrections budget include a 1 percent increase this year, bringing the DOC's overall budget to $1.9 billion? The simple answer is that the corrections budget is directly proportional to the number of inmates housed in our prisons and the personnel required to operate the Pennsylvania state prison system.

LAWRENCE MESSINA  Associated Press
First Posted: May 16, 2011 - 5:28 pm
Last Updated: May 16, 2011 - 7:40 pm

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Inmates released from the West Virginia prison system are less likely to commit new crimes than those in nearly every other state, but the low recidivism rate alone cannot offset the projected worsening of its overcrowding crisis, lawmakers learned Monday.

Brad Douglas, director of Research and Planning for the state Division of Corrections, pegged West Virginia's recidivism rate at 26.8 percent in 2004. A national study conducted with that year's data ranks that rate the fourth-lowest among states, Douglas said. Just five states had rates lower than 30 percent, and the U.S. average was 43 percent, he told the Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary.

JEFFREY BROWN: A divided Supreme Court today ordered California to release thousands of inmates from its overcrowded prisons.

Ray Suarez has the story.

RAY SUAREZ: The justices ruled five-to-four that the packed living conditions threatened inmates' health and violated constitutional rights against cruel and unusual punishment. California has two years to cut its inmate population from 143,000 to 110,000, still well over capacity for facilities designed to house 80,000.

In a rare move, Justice Anthony Kennedy incorporated black-and-white photographs into his written opinion. The images of crammed sleeping quarters and walkways depicted what he referred to as violent, unsanitary, and chaotic conditions in California prisons.

Published: Sun, May 8, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

This past week the Ohio House of Representatives passed a measure to reduce the size of the state’s prison population and the enormous cost of running America’s sixth largest prison system.

The state currently houses approximately 51,000 offenders with capacity for only 38,389 inmates. Those numbers only scratch the surface in terms of the magnitude of Ohio’s prison problem. One in 25 adults in Ohio is either in prison or under community supervision.

May 17, 2011 03:12 pm EDT
Tom Ramstack


The Supreme Court this week agreed to take on a case that will determine the liability of employees of companies that run state and federal prisons.

 It also could end decades of government contracting to private companies that run prisons.

The case involves a lawsuit by a prison inmate against guards he says abused him and violated his constitutional rights.

Normally, prison guards are protected from liability by their status as government employees.

ARTHUR D. LAUCK/The Advocate
State Sen. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, left, and state Department of Corrections Undersecretary Thomas Bickham told lawmakers Tuesday that inmates are using social networking websites such as Facebook to intimidate peopl

Prison inmates would be banned from using Facebook, MySpace and Twitter through a bill that cleared a Senate committee Tuesday after a hasty rewriting to ease lawmakers’ concerns about the legality of the legislation.

“With these social networking sites, we have absolutely no control. I don’t really want to put the department in charge of who’s friending whom,” said Thomas Bickham, undersecretary of the Louisiana Department of Corrections.

Members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary B approved the legislation but chided prison officials for not doing enough to keep phones with Internet capability out of the hands of inmates.

A Facebook official said preventing the Internet traffic from streaming through the prison walls is the best solution although the social networking giant will delete inmate accounts that are updated by someone on the outside.

By Tom Brown
MIAMI | Thu May 12, 2011 10:57am EDT

(Reuters) - Florida has opened the doors to one of the biggest prison privatization programs in U.S. history, as the cash-strapped state looks to cut the cost of keeping more than 100,000 people behind bars.

The privatization plan, touted by the industry as "an important milestone" for the private prison business, was approved by the Republican-dominated Florida legislature as part of a budget deal hammered out last week.

Private prison operators have already made big inroads in states like Texas and New Mexico. But Florida has the third largest state prison system in the United States, and no other state has sought to privatize so many lock-ups at any one time.



Pennsylvania State lawmakers are considering allowing investigators to use the genetic material from relatives to track suspects in violent crimes who have left DNA evidence at a crime scene but whose genetic fingerprint is not contained in any database _ something that opponents say raises privacy and fairness concerns.

Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, has introduced legislation to allow family searching and expand the crimes for which DNA samples can be collected. Pileggi said the measure would "save a tremendous amount of money in criminal investigation and aid in the arrest of the criminals who tend to be serial perpetrators of crimes," heading off death or serious harm to the innocent.

Saturday, 14 May 2011 23:57

Richland Co. ahead of curve in prison reform

Written by
May 12, 2011
Written by Mark Caudill
News Journal

MANSFIELD -- Richland County officials already have committed to do much of what Senate Bill 10 proposes.

The bill is part of a sweeping sentencing reform proposal. Senate Bill 10 would mean first-time, low-level felony offenders could not be sent to state prison. Instead, they would receive three years of probation.

Richland County's chief probation officer agrees with the spirit of the bill.