After Prison, more punishment
Washington Post by Tracy Jan
Sept 3, 2019
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — He had spent 17 of his 46 years behind bars, locked in a pattern of addiction and crime that led to 16 prison terms. Now, Meko Lincoln pushed a cart of cleaning supplies at the reentry house to which he had been paroled in December, determined to provide for his grandchildren in a way he failed to do as a father. “Keep on movin’, don’t stop,” Lincoln sang, grooving to the British R&B group Soul II Soul on his headphones as he emptied trash cans and scrubbed toilets at Amos House. He passed a bulletin board plastered with hiring notices — a line cook, a warehouse worker, a landscaper — all good jobs for someone with a felony record, but not enough for him.
Lincoln, who is training to be a drug and alcohol counselor, wants those lost years to count for something more.
“I lived it,” he said. “I understand it. My past is not a liability. It’s an asset. I can help another person save their life.”
Yet because regulations in Rhode Island and most other states exclude people with criminal backgrounds from many jobs, Lincoln’s record, which includes sentences for robbery and assault, may well be held against him.
Across the country, more than 10,000 regulations restrict people with criminal records from obtaining occupational licenses, according to a database developed by the American Bar Association. The restrictions are defended as a way to protect the public. But Lincoln and others point out that the rules are often arbitrary and ambiguous.
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REPORT PRAISES HIGH SCHOOL IN JAIL BUT FAILS TO ASK WHY KIDS ARE LOCKED UP AT ALL
The Apeal by Adam H Johnson
September 13, 2019
A Pittsburgh public radio piece lacked critical reporting about the many problems with jailing children in adult facilities.
The public’s perception of crime is often significantly out of alignment with the reality. This is caused, in part, by frequently sensationalist, decontextualized media coverage. Media Frame seeks to critique journalism on issues of policing and prisons, challenge the standard media formulas for crime coverage, and push media to radically rethink how they inform the public on matters of public safety.
Justice for All: What life is like inside a maximum security prison.
Sept 5, 2019
NBC News’ series taking an eye-opening look at the nation’s criminal justice system, Lester Holt spent two nights at Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola, the largest maximum security prison in the U.S., to explore the mass incarceration crisis.
Progressive DAs are shaking up the criminal justice system. Pro-police groups aren't happy.
NBC News by Allan Smith
Aug 19, 2020
Progressive, reform-minded prosecutors have taken the reins in top local prosecutor roles across the country that have allowed them to begin to change the criminal justice system from the inside out.
These left-leaning Democratic district attorneys have sought reforms to the bail system, curbed enforcement of lower-level marijuana offenses, increased the use of diversion programs over jail time and pledged to end mass incarceration. They have also tried changing the culture in their offices, adjusting their prosecutorial priorities to upend a system they believe has contributed to the rise in prison populations.
And they've vowed to hold police accountable for alleged wrongdoing. Their platforms have been met with stiff opposition from some, particularly law enforcement organizations, advocacy groups and state and federal politicians and other prosecutors who have accused the reformers of being anti-police and who believe the changes will make citizens less safe.
Last week, Attorney General William Barr — who decades ago helped write a report arguing for more incarceration — told a Fraternal Order of Police conference in New Orleans that "the emergence in some of our large cities of district attorneys that style themselves as 'social justice' reformers, who spend their time undercutting the police, letting criminals off the hook and refusing to enforce the law," is "demoralizing to law enforcement and dangerous to public safety."
Advocates for Aging Prisoners Look to Force a Debate on Parole
City Limits by Roshan Abraham
August 20, 2019
When Sammy Cabassa stepped onto the sidewalk again after 34 years in prison, he found it dizzying. The then 60-year-old was granted parole – after his 4th parole hearing in 5 years – in 2017. When he walked back into the city he left as a young man, the bright lights were hard to adjust to, after years of spending almost all of his time in dimly lit facilities. ...
Decades outside of society can have stark consequences for those who eventually gain freedom: Incarcerated elders lag behind in terms of health, finances and support networks. Despite this, reforms that could get parole-eligible elders a hearing before New York state’s parole board – a step toward having more people leave prison before they’re physically frail and giving them more time to acclimate to society – have been shelved repeatedly, even this year during a legislative session packed with criminal justice reforms.
Grateful for the signing the Children's Best Interest Act, and to Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton for her support. IF this is fully implemented, with resources for family-based treatment and training for all stakeholders, it could be one a huge factor in reducing incarceration in Illinois.
Women Inmates: Why the Male Model Doesn’t Work
The New York Times By Melanie Deziel
As the number of women inmates soars, so does the need for policies and programs that meet their needs.
Over the past three decades, the number of women serving time in American prisons has increased more than eightfold.
Today, some 15,000 are held in federal custody and an additional 100,000 are behind bars in local jails. That sustained growth has researchers, former inmates and prison reform advocates calling for women’s facilities that do more than replicate a system designed for men.
“These are invisible women,” says Dr. Stephanie Covington, a psychologist and co-director of the Center For Gender and Justice, an advocacy group based in La Jolla, Calif. “Every piece of the experience of being in the criminal justice system differs between men and women.”
At the most basic level, women often must make do with jumpsuits that are made from men’s designs rather than being cut for female bodies. And standard personal-care items often don’t account for different skin tones or hair types.
It’s not just vanity: What drives some prisoners to mix their own makeup or tailor their uniforms is the need to maintain their dignity in a situation that does little to protect it.
Prisoners Unlearn The Toxic Masculinity That Led To Their Incarceration
Huffington Post by Anna Lucente Sterling
July 31, 2019
In prisons across California, inmates are unlearning toxic masculinity. It might be the answer to the state’s recidivism problem.
It’s been 10 years since George Luna was behind bars, but he still goes back to correctional facilities on a regular basis. He has spent most of his life cycling in and out of the justice system in Northern California. Now, he says he’s out for good and he’s looking to help other inmates do the same.
The former inmate is a facilitator of a prison rehabilitation program that teaches men about gender roles and how ingrained ideas of masculinity have contributed to their violent crimes. GRIP, or Guiding Rage into Power, started at San Quentin State Prison in 2013 and has expanded to five state prisons across California.
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A CHICAGO JAIL MIGHT BE THE LARGEST MENTAL HEALTH CARE PROVIDER IN THE U.S.
Pacific Standard by Arvind Dilawar
June 10, 2019
After Illinois cut funding for mental-health services, Cook County Jail now handles a large portion of the state's patients. A new book tells their story.
"Mental ward / is where I landed," begins a poem by Marshun, an inmate at Cook County Jail in Chicago. The poem describes Marshun's struggle with bipolar disorder, as well as his appreciation for flowers and photography. He was diagnosed before first entering Cook County Jail, where he's been an inmate on and off since he was 20 years old, but it was only during his most recent stint at 33 that he entered the Mental Health Transition Center, a program that provides inmates with mental-health services. "If I had come to this program when I was 20," Marshun says, "I wouldn't have come back to jail."
Marshun's story is just one of many that photographer Lili Kobielski captures in her recent book, I Refuse for the Devil to Take My Soul, a revealing collection of portraits and interviews from inside Cook County Jail. The facility is not only one of the largest jails in the United States, but it may also be the nation's largest mental health care provider.
Many inmates receive mental-health treatment at Cook County Jail simply because it is the provider of last resort. Beginning in 2009, the state government of Illinois crippled its health-care system, slashing nearly $114 million in funding from mental-health services and depriving 80,000 residents of access to mental-health care through budget impasses. As a result, two state-operated facilities and six city clinics closed, two-thirds of non-profit agencies in Illinois reduced or eliminated programs, and a third of Chicago's mental-health organizations lowered the number of patients they served.
The Prison Industrial Complex: Mapping Private Sector Players
First published last year, this one-of-a-kind report exposes the corporations that profit off our nation’s carceral crisis and the marginalized communities it’s ravaged. It serves as the largest lens into the prison industrial complex ever published, and this year, we added more than 800 corporations to bring the report total to over 3,900 corporations across 12 sectors and their investors.
Before we developed this report, many of these corporations flew under the radar, often intentionally masking their involvement in the prison industrial complex to avoid headline risk. With this annual publication, we are committed to continuously exposing the multi-billion-dollar industry built off the vulnerable communities—disproportionately black, brown, and cash poor—targeted by the criminal legal system.
There are thousands of publicly traded, private equity-owned, and privately held companies that commodify the suffering of those in the system and their loved ones. With this report, we hope to not only convey the enormity of the prison industrial complex, but to also empower allies with the information necessary to challenge it. The data at the heart of the report provides critical information about these corporations, and we encourage advocates, litigators, journalists, investors, artists, and the public to explore the data, share it with others, and join us in the movement against the commercialization of the criminal legal system.
Read the report
What this is about
Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place for all are free to thrive