The Jail Healthcare Crisis
The New Yorker by Steve Coll
The opioid epidemic and other public health emergencies are being aggravated by failings in the criminal-justice system.
As a child growing up in Pueblo, Colorado, Jeremy Laintz travelled widely with his father, an aeronautics engineer at Lockheed Martin, who sometimes took his four kids along on business trips. Family vacations included tours of aerospace facilities and, on one occasion, a trip to watch a space-shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral. Laintz’s mother managed a bakery, and Laintz, the youngest child in the family, recalled enjoying a warm home life. He played soccer and football, and spent summers hunting and fishing on a ranch that his family owned in North Dakota. As a teen-ager, though, he slipped into trouble—he was arrested first for driving under the influence, and then, in his late teens, for felony car theft. He spent a year in prison, where he learned to weld, and a few more years in halfway houses. Then, in 2003, he moved to Alaska, where he joined a Christian fellowship and took seasonal jobs welding, repairing roofs, and working in a fish-processing plant. He often made good money, and his life seemed back on track.
Six years later, though, when he was thirty, he returned to Colorado and, while working in a warehouse, tore a tendon in his wrist. A doctor prescribed opioids for the pain, and Laintz immediately started abusing them. Then a friend persuaded him to try heroin, and soon he was addicted. He was arrested on a charge of possession and, while out on bond, in early October of 2016, failed to show up for a court-ordered drug test. He was arrested again and booked into the Pueblo County jail.
Illinois Prison Phone Rates Are Lowest Following Grassroots Activism
Truthout by Brian Dolinar
“There were a lot of times my sons tried calling me,” recalled Annette Taylor, who regularly receives calls from her two sons in prison, “but there was no money on the account.” Those were some of the “hardest calls,” she said. “I would worry something was wrong.”
Families of those incarcerated have long complained about the high cost of phone calls from prison. A national campaign pressured the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to intervene in 2015, but the agency’s regulations have since been reversed by the Trump administration.
In Illinois, the price of prison phone calls was just drastically reduced, making it much easier for Taylor and others like her to stay in contact with their loved ones. Just a few years ago, Illinois had the most inflated rates in the country. According to a renegotiated contract, the cost of a call from prison is now just under a penny a minute. Illinois is now the state with the lowest costs in the country.
North Carolina denies transgender inmate's request to transfer to women's prison
ABC Eyewitness News
LILLINGTON, N.C. --
A transgender inmate convicted of insurance fraud is serving time at a men's prison in North Carolina despite repeated requests to transfer to women's housing.
The News and Observer reports 37-year-old Kanautica Zayre-Brown is believed to be the state's only post-operative transgender prisoner. The state recognizes Zayre-Brown as a man and by birth name, which was legally changed.
Imprisoned as a habitual felon in 2017 after completing a surgical transition, Zayre-Brown is serving up to 9 years and 11 months. Zayre-Brown showers and changes in front of other biologically male inmates, despite having breasts and sex-reassignment surgery. Zayre-Brown said being assaulted is a constant fear.
Black and Pink News
From Pages 39-40
"My dearest family,
I love you all very much and only wish I had pictures of each and every one of you, so I could send you each a personal prayer, that you experience all of the love and affection you deserve every day, for the rest of your life! I want to thank all of you who write to share your stories because they inspire me to persevere and teach me resilience, and I feel empathy and love for all of you who suffer from any form of oppression. Remember, as a member of our Black and Pink family: you are valuable; you are loved; and you are not alone!
(This letter is on pages 39-40)
Behind bars: four teens in prison tell their stories
L.A. Youth by Nicholas Williams
When I arrived at Central Juvenile Hall, I was expecting guards, watch towers, basically the setting of the Shawshank Redemption. I was told to wait in a small lobby room, which separated the prison from the outside world. While waiting, I saw a few inmates getting on a bus. They wore handcuffs and carried brown paper bags behind their backs. I wondered what these kids did. I looked at each one, trying to guess his crime. "Maybe he robbed a store, maybe he killed somebody, maybe he was selling drugs." Some people might ask, why would I want to write a story about juveniles in prison? Why would anyone want to read what these criminals have to say? Who cares? It’s easy to judge juvenile criminals as bad kids, but not so easy when you’re looking into the eyes of a teenager who is going to spend life in jail.
I know there are victims of violent crimes whose voices go unheard. But recognize that some people who commit crimes have many reasons behind their actions. It’s a cycle. This is what happens to kids who didn’t have direction or anybody who cared, who had to learn about life the hard way. They were brought up this way so that’s how they’re going to treat others. Sometimes, it’s okay to give a voice to the "villains." They have been victims too.
Illinois Leads Nation In Overcrowded Prisons
Illinois Policy by Bryant-Jackson Green
Illinois prisons held 150 percent of their maximum capacity in 2014, the highest rate of crowding of any prison system in the country, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
If anyone requires proof that Illinois needs criminal-justice reform, here’s a new statistic: Illinois’ prisons were the nation’s most overcrowded in 2014.
Illinois prisons held 16,183 more people than they were meant to hold, according to a September 2015 study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, or BJS. That means Illinois’ prisons stood at over 150 percent of their intended capacity, a higher rate of overcrowding than any other prison system in the U.S.
Many people view inmates from a very limited perspective, looking at only a single point in their lives. My origami sculpture represents that I am more than a singular point in time. I am so much more that just that one piece. It is a representation of how each piece of my life is intricately woven and interconnected to the others, all interdependent on each other, forming a complex, multidimensional whole.
This sculpture is composed on 60 pieces of folded paper. The composition of this sculpture has symmetry. As a representation of myself, each piece of paper is interconnected to form a dynamic whole that gets its strength using nothing more than its individual pieces to hold it together. Each piece has its own power, each slightly different from the other, but all necessary for the balance and equilibrium of the whole.
The paper colors were chosen to represent the different aspects of my life some very bright and flowery, some contrasting, others complementary. The black piece represents the tragic circumstances that brought me to prison.
It is my hope that this sculpture will help to remind others to acknowledge the full complexity of all the pieces that shape our lives. EVERYONE has a complex life story. None of us should be judged solely by the piece that is the worst thing we’ve done. We are so much more than that.
A little about this origami technique: my paper sculpture was made by assembling folded paper modules into an integrated, 3-dimensional form, a technique that’s known as modular origami. This sculpture is based on a paper crystal design created in 1989 by David Mitchell.
Biography: I am a 61 year-old woman, incarcerated since 1999 for a triple murder. I’m serving a natural life sentence without the possibility of parole. I’m a first-time offender with no criminal history in my background.
As I tried to represent with my artwork, I’ve had a complex and convoluted journey leading to my incarceration. I was diagnosed with major depression and a serious adverse side effect of the prescribed antidepressant played a major role in my crime.
I started doing origami in prison as a creative outlet. I’ve become an origami enthusiast and have shared the joy of origami with other inmates by facilitating many origami activities.
J.B. Pritzker wants criminal justice reform. Here's how it could work.
Herald & Review by Edith Brady-Lunny
SPRINGFIELD — During his campaign for governor, J.B. Pritzker said he heard countless stories of how Illinois' broken criminal justice system has created hardships and heartbreak for those caught in a cycle of detention, poverty and dead ends without opportunity.
As he prepares to take over the reins of the governor's office, Pritzker is moving forward with plans for the Office of Criminal Justice Reform and Economic Opportunity, an agency that will coordinate new and existing efforts to address what's wrong, and strengthen what's right, with the way Illinois handles criminal justice.
The office will focus "on making sure the services people need are being delivered and preventing people from entering the system in the first place," said Pritzker's press secretary, Jordan Abudayyeh.
19 Actual Statistics About America's Prison System
Mic.com by Laura Dimon
The U.S. imprisons a larger percentage of its black population than South Africa did at the height of apartheid. There is a reason for it — but not a good one.
Michelle Alexander is a civil rights lawyer, advocate, legal scholar and author of the highly acclaimed 2010 book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The book is an impressive work of nonfiction in which Alexander disproves common misconceptions about criminal justice in the United States and paints an appalling picture of where the system stands today.
Alexander builds a compelling case through her thorough research: "We have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it." She swiftly awakens her readers to the harsh reality that they may not have realized they were living in. Public intellectual Cornel West wrote in the book's foreword that it is a "grand wake-up call in the midst of a long slumber of indifference to the poor and vulnerable."
The predicament of mass incarceration is, in Alexander's words, "a human rights nightmare." Sadly, she is not exaggerating — the facts are startling. And our politicians are dropping the ball. Below is a mere snapshot.
Prison inmate describes conditions during 23-Day lockdown.
Channel 3000 News by Jamie Perez
February 7, 2019
"Although they told you guys we were getting hot meals, it took at least a week before we got a hot meal," Dontrell LeFlore said. "That was only Monday through Friday. We were asking them, 'What's up with the weekend?' And they were like, 'Well, no hot meals on the weekend.' It was hard to get this information out because we couldn't call home. We were scared to write because they open up our mail before it goes out. Now speaking out, I'm putting myself at risk. Being cut off from the world like that, that has never happened. In my 19 years in prison, I have never spent that much time without access to a phone or a visit."
What this is about
Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place for all are free to thrive