Prison Legal News

Prison Legal News (140)

Wednesday, 04 May 2011 16:54

Cruel and usual: US solitary confinement

Written by

 James Ridgeway and Jean Casella Last Modified: 19 Mar 2011 09:51

The spectre of Bradley Manning lying naked and alone in a tiny cell at the Quantico Marine Base, less than 50 miles from Washington, DC, conjures up images of an American Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib, where isolation and deprivation have been raised to the level of torture.

In fact, the accused Wikileaker, now in his tenth month of solitary confinement, is far from alone in his plight. Every day in the US, tens of thousands of prisoners languish in "the hole".

Wednesday, 04 May 2011 14:30

Jail inmate census data challenged

Written by

March 17, 2011, 02:40 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal staff

The U.S. Census Bureau released data last week indicating the nation’s population has climbed to nearly 310 million but a nonprofit agency based in Massachusetts is challenging the way the bureau counts jail and prison inmates to end what it calls a distortion of the democratic process.

The bureau counts the incarcerated where they are confined and credits that number to the county in which they were counted regardless of where the inmate might actually reside. Because some San Francisco inmates are housed in San Mateo County, this county received credit for people who do not live here. That policy, however, leads to prison-based gerrymandering and should be stopped, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People agrees.

    Jason Pepper, a former meth addict and drug dealer from the heartland, says he got lucky when he was finally arrested. A sympathetic judge gave him a fraction of the prison time he could have received and, more importantly, sent him to a place where he got extensive drug treatment.

    Then his luck ran out, when appeals courts said his sentence was too lenient. Even though all acknowledged that he had turned his life around, he was sent back to prison.

    01:00 AM EDT on Wednesday, March 23, 2011
    By Tracy BretonJournal Staff Writer


    PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND — Calling the state’s prisoner-reward system antiquated and in need of a major overhaul, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin has proposed legislation that would prohibit those convicted of the most egregious violent crimes from accruing any “good-time” job or educational credits while incarcerated.

    Prisoners convicted of murder, kidnapping a minor, sexual assault, child molestation, child pornography and first-degree child abuse would not have the opportunity to shave any time off their jail terms for good behavior, working a prison job or participating in educational, substance-abuse or anger-management programs, though those currently serving for those offenses would be able to keep what they’ve earned up to the date the law gets enacted.

    Posted: Monday, March 28, 2011 1:22 pm | Updated: 1:26 pm, Mon Mar 28, 2011.  
    Community News Service, UM School of Journalism The Bozeman Daily Chronicle

    DEER LODGE — Warden Mike Mahoney rests his arm on the steel door as if it were his backyard fence and he was talking to a neighbor about a ball game. Through a narrow, bulletproof window, Mahoney's "neighbor" explains why he stabbed a man in the throat with a pen two months ago at chow.

    The inmate tries to convince the warden that it was self defense so he won't be transferred from the Montana State Prison to a federal Super Max facility full of much worse men.

    In level tones, Mahoney tells the convict that he has two choices, each with different consequences. The first is to continue his violent ways and end up at a federal prison. The second is to behave and stay in Montana.

    Prisons are their own universes. As much as any other, they are governed by choices and consequences.

    Prisoners consider unionizing

    In Canada, crime pays.  Just not very much.

    That's why there's a movement from inside and outside of the prison walls to give Canada's federal inmates a raise.

    Prisoners can get paid between $5.25 and $6.90 a day if they follow their correctional plans. Each of Canada's approximately 13,000 federal inmates gets one of these road maps to rehabilitation, which can include work programs, training and even conflict- management sessions.

    by Kenneth J. Cooper
    Special to the NNPA from
    Originally posted 3/30/2011

    Inmates in prisons and jails, even minor offenders, are finding they not only have to do the time, but they have to pay—for booking, rent, routine medical care, and even electronic monitoring once they are released. Most states have long authorized penal officials to charge those and other fees, but the current budget crunch on state and local governments is making more adopt the controversial practice.

    Few legal obstacles stand in the way of requiring inmates to “pay to stay,” though a federal court has found fees imposed on suspects jailed while awaiting trial in Ohio violated their due process rights and the highest court in Massachusetts ruled last year that state laws do not permit a county sheriff to charge for rent, health care, and GED exams.

    Monday, 02 May 2011 19:59

    Illinois governor to abolish death penalty

    Written by

    Eleven year moratorium on death penalty will officially transition into abolition after expected bill-signing today

    Illinois-Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has said he supports capital punishment if it's fairly applied, but one of his Republican predecessors felt so uneasy about the state's power to mete out the ultimate punishment that he placed a moratorium on executions that has lasted for the past 11 years.

    On Wednesday, Quinn plans to abolish Illinois' death penalty at a signing ceremony in his capital offices, according to two sponsors of the legislation, State Rep. Karen Yarbrough and state Sen. Kwame Raoul, who said they were invited to witness the event.

    "It's going to happen," Raoul said.

    Quinn's signature would make Illinois the 16th state without capital punishment when it takes effect July 1. But a decision to sign has not come easily.

    Posted Mar 8, 2011 6:20 PM CDT
    By Martha Neil

    When John Edward Dawson told his lawyer in a state court burglary and drug case that he was also being represented by a federal defender, she thought he was delusional and requested a psychiatric evaluation.

    But it was, in fact, true that someone pretending to be a federal defender had been talking with Dawson about his case and purporting to represent him, the Wisconsin Law Journal reports. That someone was a detective with the Monroe County sheriff's department, in Tennessee.

    by Charles Davis · February 10, 2011


    Randy Steidl was a poster child for the death penalty, the kind of man supporters of state executions could point to as a criminal – convicted in 1987 of murdering a newlywed couple in Illinois and burning down their home with their bodies in it – who clearly deserved the ultimate punishment.

    In the years following his conviction, Steidl's guilt was repeatedly reaffirmed by Illinois judges, with even the state Supreme Court upholding his death sentence. No one could say he didn't receive a fair chance at justice, that he had not been given amble opportunity to make his case in court.