Life Inside: The Marshall Project
By Keith Martin
"When you’re in prison, outside sights and sounds can become cruel jokes...
Life Inside: Perspectives from those who work and live in the criminal justice system. "
Degradation, Neglect And Roaches: Inside Illinois’ Largest Women’s Prison
WBEZ News by Patrick Smith
January 2, 2020
The staff and inmates at Illinois’ largest women’s prison agree the facility is “falling apart,” “neglected” and “unsanitary.”
The deteriorating physical condition is one of the key findings of a new report from the independent prison watchdog John Howard Association on the Logan Correctional Center in central Illinois.
The newly released monitoring report notes that the Illinois Department of Corrections has eased overcrowding at Logan, which houses the vast majority of the state’s female prisoners, but also warns “there is still much to be improved.” Those needed improvements include more mental health practitioners, a more professional and respectful workforce and the overdue physical repairs.
Many families struggle to pay for phone calls with loved ones in U.S. prisons
NBC News by Lindsey Pipia
Dec 31, 2019
“You have 60 more seconds." "You have 30 more seconds.”
The female voice interrupted each time Maria Marshall talked on the phone with her son in prison.
But the chance to make contact for three or four minutes a day, a few days a week, came with a cost. Marshall spent $120 in just two weeks in July for her son to call her and other relatives and friends.
“My son is just trying to get through it,” Marshall said a few weeks before he was released. NBC News agreed not to publish his name, age or what he was convicted of because he is still in his teens. “He’s afraid. He’s scared. It’s a traumatic experience. Talking to familiar people and his family is making that experience less traumatic.”
A Couple That Crafts Together Stays Together
The Marshall Project by Jenny Jimenez
Dec 19, 2019
Jenny Jimenez and her husband, Jesse, who is incarcerated in Illinois, have found creative ways to show each other love, especially around Christmas. Puzzle filters, nail clippers and Lifetime original movies are involved.
My husband, Jesse, has been back in prison since last January. He was released last Christmas Eve, hours before we were married, but we didn’t get to do much together during the weeks he was out. He had an ankle monitor, and he couldn't even use the upstairs bathroom without it going off because the parole agent hadn’t come by yet to give him movement. He couldn’t get back to work or begin his engineering classes. He would watch me out the window struggling with groceries and cleaning snow off the car and it began to wear on him.
A woman who was part of Oklahoma's mass release of 462 inmates says 'there's more drugs in prison than there is on the streets', and if you can stay clean inside, you can thrive outside
Business Insider by Ashley Collman
Nov 11, 2020
In January 2016, Calista Ortiz lost a son to sudden infant death syndrome and started doing meth.
About a year later, Ortiz — who didn't know she was a few days pregnant at the time — was arrested for drug possession and sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison in Oklahoma.
Separated from her infant daughter shortly after giving birth and facing nearly a decade behind bars, it would be understandable if Ortiz felt defeated. But she focused instead on earning her GED and getting a forklift certification. And now her hard work is paying off.
College Behind Bars
PBS A film by Lynn Novick.
Stream all episodes November 25 at 9/8c.
Explore the transformative power of education through the eyes of a dozen incarcerated men and women trying to earn college degrees – and a chance at new beginnings – from one of the country’s most rigorous prison education programs.
Illinois has 40,922 people in prison. We can reduce that number. Read the full report
If Illinois were to follow these and other reforms in this Smart Justice 50-State Blueprint, by 2025 it could have 24,898 fewer people in its prison system, saving over $1.5 billion that could be invested in schools, services, and other resources that would strengthen communities.
Learn About Facts and Policy
Proposed reforms: Illinois-24,898
Drug offenses-7,819 fewer people in prison
The Need to Support Visits for Incarcerated People and Their Families
The Appeal by Vaidya Gullapalli
Oct 15, 2019
Last week, the Brooklyn Eagle looked at the story of Kaywonda and Javon Banks. They were childhood friends who fell out of touch for years. When they reconnected in 2001, Javon was in prison. He had been arrested as a 16-year-old, convicted of murder, and sentenced to 23 years to life in prison. Kaywonda began visiting him, and in 2017 they were married in a ceremony in prison. They are awaiting a decision on whether he will be released on parole this year. Kaywonda has been visiting Javon for nearly 16 years.
The Eagle’s Phil Frangipane chronicled a visit day for Kaywonda and her son. She tries to visit Javon at least every two weeks. It’s a long and expensive journey, costing at least $75 each time, and one that begins before dawn. They travel to Otisville Prison, a nearly four-hour journey. Each month, Kaywonda, who has three children, spends nearly $500 out of her Parks Department salary on the trips.
But she’s committed to visiting Javon. She told the Eagle: “There’s nothing I feel like I won’t do for him. I want him to feel like he’s always still connected to the outside world. He still has somebody that does love him unconditionally.”
Being a Prisoner is Like Being a Ghost
Marshall Project - Life inside by Fernando Rivas
I still remember that moment six years ago when I became a ward of the state—a federal inmate. Shackled hand and foot, I arrived by bus at the penitentiary and was ordered to send my clothing and other personal effects home in a cardboard box. I had to fill out a form telling my jailers whether I wished to be resuscitated and what to do with my body and whom to notify in the event of my death. It was one of the first shocks of being in prison, the first loss of self.
My wife told me she felt weird receiving and opening the box and seeing my street clothing as if I was already dead, as if I'd been killed in action in some foreign war, blown up by an IED so that nothing remained, not even ashes. Years before, she’d given me a good luck charm to wear on a tiny gold chain around my neck. I'd had to give that up as well. What would protect me from bad things now? From the evil eye? I was allowed to keep my wedding ring as consolation so that if I died I'd still belong somewhere else, even if only in spirit.
In spirit. Not in the flesh. To put it in vulgar terms: From that point on my ass belonged to the BOP.
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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What this is about
Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place for all are free to thrive