More than 450 Oklahoma inmates released in largest single-day commutation in U.S. history
CBS News by Victoria Albert
Nov. 4, 2019
More than 450 inmates in Oklahoma were released Monday, a representative from the Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt's office told CBS News, marking the largest single-day commutation in U.S. history. Video and photos from outside the state's prisons show former inmates tearfully reuniting with their loved ones upon release.
Patrina Hunt, who served almost half of a 10-year sentence for drug possession and theft, was among one of those inmates. The 22-year-old cried in her daughter's arms after her release.
"I'm very blessed to let this happen and for this to happen for me and my family, and I'm just so glad to see my family," Hunt told CBS News' Omar Villafranca.
View / read more
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 Unitarian Universalist Prison Ministry of Illinois is in solidarity with the 25,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) and the 7,000 members of Service Employees International Union Local 73, and public-support staff in their contract negotiations with the new Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago School Board.
We echo their just demands for:
At its heart, this strike is a struggle for racial and economic justice. 90% of CPS students are black and brown; over 75% are classified by CPS as “economically disadvantaged”. This strike is a refusal to allow business as usual. We must not continue to pour more and more money into the criminalization, punishment, and imprisonment of black and brown communities while divesting from schools that serve black and brown students. On October 23rd the mayor released a proposed 2020 City Budget showing a $120 million increase for Chicago Police Department and a $100,000 decrease for the Department of Family and Support Services. As so many before us have said - that ain’t right.
We affirm the vision of the 2015 Unitarian Universalist General Assembly who passed the Black Lives Matter Action of Immediate Witness (2015) which calls on us to support racial justice organizing to support intersectional campaigns, and to act up against the school-to-prison pipeline. We do this by being in solidarity with the CTU’s significant Black leadership, and with teachers and other public-support staff who care for the youth of this city and who know best what they need to thrive. We invite UU congregations in Chicago and beyond to join us in publicly supporting the demands of CTU & SEIU.
Towards a future with the schools Chicago youth deserve!
Steering Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Prison Ministry of Illinois
What's Really in the First Step Act?
The Marshall Project by Justin George
Hailed by supporters as a pivotal moment in the movement to create a more fair justice system, endorsed by an unlikely alliance that includes President Donald Trump and the American Civil Liberties Union, the First Step Act is a bundle of compromises. As it makes its way through Congress it faces resistance from some Republicans who regard it as a menace to public safety and from some Democrats who view it as more cosmetic than consequential.
What would the bill actually do? The Marshall Project took a close look.
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.
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.
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.
What this is about
Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place for all are free to thrive