TOXIC TREATMENT: THE ABUSE OF TEAR GAS WEAPONS IN CALIFORNIA JUVENILE DETENTION
ACLU Southern California
May 22, 2019
Pepper spray, formally known as aerosolized oleoresin capsicum or "OC spray," is so toxic and dangerous that it is classified and regulated under state law as a form of tear gas. It can cause not only intense pain, but also blistering of the skin, respiratory arrest, and even an increased risk of strokes and heart attacks; its psychological and emotional impacts are uncertain.
And yet, it is alarmingly overused in California's juvenile detention facilities against youth as young as 12 and those in psychiatric crises.
This ACLU Foundations of California report, the result of reviewing 10,465 documents, is the first to detail the use of these toxic chemical agents in state and county juvenile detention facilities. It finds that state and county officials used toxic chemical agents more than 5,000 times between January 2015 and March 2018 against children and youth in juvenile facilities in 25 counties and in state facilities overseen by the Division of Juvenile Justice.
Behind Bars for 66 Years
The Marshall Project by Joseph Neff
May 23, 2019
ASHEBORO, N.C. — John Phillips has been behind bars since April 8, 1952, when he was arrested on sexual-assault charges. He was 18 years old and only in the ninth grade, and he was sent to be evaluated at the state mental hospital for black people. The report classified Phillips as a “moron” and said he had the mind of a child aged 7 years and 7 months. His lawyer entered a guilty plea. The judge sentenced him to life.
After 66 years in prison, Phillips is the state’s longest-serving inmate, a stooped and garrulous 85-year-old man whom inmates nicknamed Peanut and who gets around with the help of a worn wooden cane. Decades ago he lost his desire to live outside of razor-wire fences.
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.
I Can Be Free Again': How Music Brings Healing at Sing Sing
I've seen firsthand how music can restore what's missing in prison: a respect for humanity.
Pacific Standard by John J. Lennon
October 24, 2018
In Concert at Sing SingThe Sing Sing cellblocks are piles of brick and slabs of metal and steel and concrete, built on a hill of prime real estate overlooking the Hudson River. At four open tiers high, with two sides of 88 cells that stretch the length of two football fields, Cellblock A is the largest in the world, per the Sing Sing Prison Museum. Pipes snake along the wall hissing heat; cell radios tuned to Hot 97, New York City's hip-hop station, bump Nicki Minaj rapping about her privates being wetter than puddles; Bloods yell out roll calls ("Whoopti!" to responses of "Can't stop! Never stop!"), while the rest of us wait impatiently, screaming out cell numbers for corrections officers to open.
Last Days of Solitary - Frontline April 18, 2017
Inside one state’s ambitious attempt to decrease its use of solitary — and what happens when prisoners who have spent considerable time in isolation try to integrate back into society.
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Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place for all are free to thrive