Prisoners are Fighting California's Wildfires on the Front Lines, But Getting Little in Return
Fortune By Nicole Goodkind
Nov 1, 2019
As multiple deadly wildfires in California, stoked by dry weather and 65 MPH winds, threaten to destroy thousands of homes across the state, 2,150 prison inmates are battling on the front lines to tame the flames.
The prisoners earn between $2.90 and $5.12 per day, plus an additional $1 per hour during active emergency for their potentially life-threatening efforts. The firefighters they work alongside earn an average of $91,000 each year before overtime pay and bonuses.
The Conservation Camp Program, officially established in 1945, is estimated to save California taxpayers about $100 million each year. Prisoners work on hand crews, constructing firebreaks by using tools like chainsaws and picks. During active fires, they work for 24-hour periods followed by 24 hours of rest.
Inmate's secretly recorded film shows the gruesome reality of life in prison
The Washington Post by Deanna Paul
Oct. 7, 2019
With a camera hidden in a hollowed-out Bible, peeking through the “O” of the word “Holy,” and a pair of rigged reading glasses, Scott Whitney secretly filmed the world behind bars, inside one of Florida’s notoriously dangerous prisons.
For four years, the 34-year-old convicted drug trafficker captured daily life on contraband cameras at the Martin Correctional Institution. He smuggled footage dating back to 2017 out of the prison and titled the documentary “Behind Tha Barb Wire.” The video — given to the Miami Herald — allows the public to see with their own eyes the violence, rampant drug use and appalling conditions inside the prison.
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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
Prisons thrive on poverty
Axios: Stef W. Kight
June 8, 2019
By the numbers: In the 8 years leading up to incarceration, about half of people in prison had no income, according to a 2018 study by the Brookings Institution. Less than 10% made $25,000 or more in any one year over the same period.
The states where private prisons are thriving
Axios: Erica Pandey
June 8, 2019
Since the first private prison opened in 1984 in Tennessee, for-profit incarceration has ballooned into a $5 billion industry. In 2017, 121,420 people — about 8% of the U.S. prison population — were housed in private facilities, but the share is much higher in some states.
Why it matters: Private prisons tend to hire fewer guards than state and federal prisons and often are more dangerous.
Profiting from prison
Axios: Stef W. Kight and Dan Primack
June 8, 2019
A handful of American businesses have their fingers in almost every aspect of prison life, raking in billions of dollars every year for products and services — often with little oversight.
The big picture: Taxpayers, incarcerated people and their families spend around $85 billion a year on public and private correction facilities, bail and prison services, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.
BONUS The prison labor you benefit from
Prison labor is behind some products and services Americans use every day — from call centers and Whole Foods goat cheese to farmer's market fruit, Stef writes.
Justice and freedom for Strawberry Hampton
From our partners at MacArthur Justice Center: Strawberry Hampton is a Black transwoman who has survived unspeakable abuse in the Illinois Department of Corrections. She has spoken out about her experiences and as a result, IDOC has retaliated against her by adding time on her sentence. In short, Strawberry will have to serve an additional 9 months behind bars because she is trans women who reported abuse to IDOC officials. We have filed the attached petition requesting that the governor commute her sentence. We have been told that a sign-on letter from a wide, diverse cross-section of people and organizations could help bring Strawberry home.
Jailing Americans for Profit: The Rise of the Prison Industrial Complex
Huffington Post by John W. Whitehead
In an age when freedom is fast becoming the exception rather than the rule, imprisoning Americans in private prisons run by mega-corporations has turned into a cash cow for big business. At one time, the American penal system operated under the idea that dangerous criminals needed to be put under lock and key in order to protect society. Today, as states attempt to save money by outsourcing prisons to private corporations, the flawed yet retributive American “system of justice” is being replaced by an even more flawed and insidious form of mass punishment based upon profit and expediency.
You’ve Served Your Time. Now Here’s Your Bill.
Huffington Post By Chandra Bozelko and Ryan Lo
September 16, 2018
...(T)he economic exploitation of prisoners doesn’t end when they’re released. In 49 states, inmates are charged for the costs of their own incarceration.
The way this works varies. In some states, formerly incarcerated people are sent bills, and in others they are charged fines (sometimes called legal financial obligations, or LFOs). Some states collect the cost of incarcerating someone through windfall statutes, grabbing any inheritances, lottery winnings or proceeds from litigation.
Former Logan inmate sues over alleged sexual assault
State Capitol Bureau By Doug Finke
September 21, 2018
A former inmate at the Logan Correctional Center says she was sexually assaulted by a prison employee and that prison staff knew of the assaults but did nothing to stop them. The allegations are laid out in a federal lawsuit filed Monday in Springfield.
What this is about
Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place for all are free to thrive