Written by: Kaukab Jhumra Smith 


Nine years since it was first petitioned to do so by families of people behind bars, the Federal Communications Commission appears closer to imposing a limit on the soaring rates some prisoners have to pay to make interstate telephone calls. It won’t say when it will take action, however.

Published in Inmate Telephone News

The federal government is doing the right thing in adopting new and stronger standards to address the problem of sexual abuse in jails, prisons and juvenile facilities.

Published in Prison Legal News

By Liz Goodwin | The Lookout – Fri, May 18, 2012

What if it cost $17 to make a 15-minute phone call in the U.S.? How often would you call home?

That's the dilemma facing many inmates who must rely on the prison phone service and pay sky-high rates.

A bipartisan group of prison reformers is calling on the Federal Communications Commission to stop phone companies from charging inmates what they call unreasonable and predatory rates to make phone calls.

Published in Inmate Telephone News

By M. Alex Johnson of msnbc.com and Bill Lambdin of WNYT-TV in Albany, N.Y.

Inmates at Greene Correctional Institution in Coxsackie, N.Y., staff a state Department of Motor Vehicles call center
Inmates at Greene Correctional Institution in Coxsackie, N.Y., staff a state Department of Motor Vehicles call center .WNYT-T
NEW YORK - When you call a company or government agency for help, there's a good chance the person on the other end of the line is a prison inmate.

The federal government calls it "the best-kept secret in outsourcing" — providing inmates to staff call centers and other services in both the private and public sectors.

Published in Current Events

Researchers have demonstrated a vulnerability in the computer systems used to control facilities at federal prisons that could allow an outsider to remotely take them over, doing everything from opening and overloading cell door mechanisms to shutting down internal communications systems. Tiffany Rad, Teague Newman, and John Strauchs, who presented their research on October 26 at the Hacker Halted information security conference in Miami, worked in Newman's basement to develop the attacks that could take control of prisons' industrial control systems and programmable logic controllers. They spent less than $2,500 and had no previous experience in dealing with those technologies.

Published in Current Events


Antwain Black was facing a few more years in Leavenworth for dealing crack. But on Tuesday, he returned home to Illinois, a free man.

Black, 36, was among the first of potentially thousands of inmates who are being released early from federal prison because of an easing of the harsh penalties for crack that were enacted in the 1980s, when the drug was a terrifying new phenomenon in America's cities.

"I did more than enough time," Black said outside his family's Springfield, Ill., home, where family and friends had gathered to celebrate over dinner. "I feel like I can win this time. I'm a better man today than I was then."

Published in Prisoner Support
Cowansville Federal Prison In Quebec Canada

A razorwire fence outside of a Canadian prison Peter Blashil/Postmedia News Files

Kathryn Blaze Carlson Sep 24, 2011 – 9:00 AM ET | Last Updated: Sep 26, 2011 12:24 PM ET

The Conservative government is in the midst of a procurement blitz to ramp up expansions at federal prisons across the country, just as it moves to pass a sweeping tough-on-crime bill that will inevitably send more people to prison and for longer.

Construction firms submitted bids for at least seven major building or renovation projects this month alone, worth at least $32-million and adding a known 576 beds to federal prisons in Ontario, Manitoba, Quebec, and Alberta over the next two years.

The price tag is modest and includes projects for which the cost was vaguely estimated or not listed at all. The most expensive project, at $12-million, is to restore four 100-cell blocks at the Cowansville Institution in Quebec.

Published in Current Events


Prison guards walking the parimeter of FCI Terre Haute

 Bureau of Prisons offices patrol the outside of a Federal Penitentiary at Terre Haute, Indiana. File/Mark Cowan/UPI
Published: July 1, 2011 at 9:00 AM

WASHINGTON, July 1 (UPI) -- A decision by the U.S. Sentencing Commission would let 12,000 prisoners serving time for crack cocaine out of prison up to 37 months sooner, officials said.

The commission Thursday voted to amend federal sentencing guidelines in the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 to make federal sentencing of inmates convicted on crack cocaine charges fall in line with that of inmates sentenced for regular cocaine violations.

Most of those in prison for crack cocaine offenses are black while those imprisoned for regular cocaine offenses are mostly white. Crack cocaine is sold more cheaply than regular coke.
Published in Prison Legal News

July 5, 2011 - 1:39pm

By Jory Heckman
Federal News Radio

The Department of Defense, by law, is required to buy American-made goods. What has drawn recent controversy, however, is DOD's contracting agreement with federal prisons to produce military uniforms, camouflage, training gear and combat footwear.

Reps. Larry Kissell (D-NC) and Walter Jones (R-NC) say they want to put an end to this line of production with their proposed bill, the DOD Textile and Apparel Procurement Fairness Act. If passed, the legislation would help promote businesses with law abiding employees by terminating what they call an unfair contracting advantage the Federal Prison Industries has with the Department of Defense.

Published in Current Events

MARTHA WAGGONER  Associated Press
First Posted: June 21, 2011 - 1:51 pm

RALEIGH, N.C. — Lawyers for two deaf detainees at a federal prison in North Carolina have filed a lawsuit saying the men have been denied access to interpreters since they arrived at the prison in 2008.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Raleigh on behalf of Robert Boyd and Thomas Heyer, who are being detained at the Butner Federal Prison until a hearing is conducted on whether they can be released. Both were convicted of charges involving child pornography and have served their sentences.

Published in Prison Legal News
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