Caged Humanity: Conditions of Confinement and Death in Custody

Unseen, confinement is where society’s unspent rage takes its toll on human lives. It reduces existence to a room that grows smaller with each degradation.[1] A house of pain[2] and trauma,[3] its concrete walls and steel doors enclose people in jails and prisons,[4] juvenile facilities,[5] solitary,[6] immigration detention[7] and civil commitment.[8] Incarceration intersects punishment,[9] dignity,[10] and end of life.[11] And fear of its horrors are the bludgeon of interrogations, plea bargaining, and retributive justice.[12]

Dehumanization spreads through imprisonment like a virus, eroding human life by indifference to suffering and perpetuation of violence.[13] Indeed, confinement is where sustenance becomes punishment,[14] neglect substitutes for care,[15] and the mind is wasted and destroyed.[16] The Supreme Court underscored the violent nature of incarcerative punishment in Farmer v. Brennan:[17] “Prison conditions may be “restrictive and even harsh,” . . . , but gratuitously allowing the beating or rape of one prisoner by another serves no “legitimate penological objectiv[e],” . . ., any more than it squares with “`evolving standards of decency,’ ” . . . Being violently assaulted in prison is simply not “part of the penalty that criminal offenders pay for their offenses against society.””[18]

Prisoners, stripped of moral autonomy, are denied the benefit of every doubt, the simple dignity of being believed, and the capacity for suffering.[19] Hence, prison is where myths and stereotypes hold sway, fed by social biases and prejudices, demolishing the notion that the punished can also be victims.[20] Punishment, more so than conviction, petrifies the character of inmates, divorcing them from even the possibility of being mistreated.[21] So, in dark corridors where there is no moral restraint, no accountability, no limit to harm, retribution is doled out.[22]

This article compiles recent and notable reports, scholarship and news concerning the devastating spectrum of prison life and mortality.

STATISTICS AND SURVEYS

Arrest-Related Deaths (BJS)
“Provides an executive summary of the Arrest-Related Deaths (ARD) component of the Deaths in Custody Reporting Program (DCRP) technical assessment report. Data from the ARD represent a national accounting of persons who have died during the process of arrest, including homicides by law enforcement personnel and deaths attributed to suicide, intoxication, accidental injury, and natural causes. This executive summary includes a technical review of the ARD programs methodology and an assessment of the programs coverage of all arrest-related deaths in the United States. It also provides key findings from the comparison of the ARD program to Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR) maintained by the FBI. The coverage assessment matched law enforcement homicides captured by the ARD program to those found in the SHR, followed by a capture-recapture analysis to provide information on the scope and characteristics of cases eligible for inclusion in the ARD program that are captured in one or both of these data systems.”

Data Collection: Arrest-Related Deaths (BJS)
“The Arrest-Related Deaths (ARD) component of the Deaths in Custody Reporting Program (DCRP) is a national census of all manners of arrest-related deaths and included all civilian deaths that occurred during, or shortly after, state or local law enforcement personnel engaged in an arrest or restraint process. With the exception of innocent bystanders, hostages, and law enforcement personnel, all juvenile and adult deaths of criminal suspects and noncriminal individuals whose death was attributed to events that occurred during an interaction with state or local law enforcement personnel were reportable to the ARD program.”

Data Collection: Deaths in Custody Reporting Program (BJS)
“Collects inmate death records from each of the nation’s 50 state prison systems and approximately 2,800 local jail jurisdictions. Between 2003 and 2014, BJS also collected data on person who died while in the process of arrest. Death records include information on decedent personal characteristics (age, race or Hispanic origin, and sex), decedent criminal background (legal status, offense type, and time served), and the death itself (date, time, location, and cause of death, as well as information on the autopsy and medical treatment provided for any illness or disease). Data collections covering these populations were developed in annual phases: Annual collection of individual death records from local jail facilities began in 2000, followed by a separate collection for state prison facilities in 2001. Collection of state juvenile correctional agencies began in 2002 but was discontinued in 2006, and collection of arrest-related death records began in 2003. Datasets are produced in an annual format.”

Deaths in Custody Reporting Program (BJS)
“The Deaths in Custody Reporting Program (DCRP) collects data on deaths that occur while inmates are in the custody of local jails or state prisons. Local jail and state prison data are collected directly from jails and state departments of corrections. Arrest-related mortality data were collected separately from data on deaths that occur in prisons or jails. The arrest-related death collection was suspended in 2014. The DCRP provides individual-level data on the number of deaths by year, cause of death, and decedent age, race or Hispanic origin, and sex. These data are also used to produce facility and population mortality rates. The collection of individual-level data allows BJS to perform detailed analyses of comparative death rates across demographic categories and offense types and facility and agency characteristics. BJS began the DCRP in 2000 under the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-297), which required the collection of individual data on deaths in the process of arrest, local jails, and state prisons. BJS continued the program after this legislation expired in 2006 and continues it with the reauthorization of the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2013 (P.L. 113-242).”

Economic Burden of Incarceration in the U.S. (Institute for Advancing Justice Research and Innovation 2016)
“This study estimates the annual economic burden of incarceration in the United States. While prior research has estimated the cost of crime, no study has calculated the cost of incarceration. The $80 billion spent annually on corrections is frequently cited as the cost of incarceration, but this figure considerably underestimates the true cost of incarceration by ignoring important social costs. These include costs to incarcerated persons, families, children, and communities. This study draws on a burgeoning area of scholarship to assign monetary values to twenty-three different costs, which yield an aggregate burden of one trillion dollars. This approaches 6% of gross domestic product and dwarfs the amount spent on corrections. For every dollar in corrections costs, incarceration generates an additional ten dollars in social costs. More than half of the costs are borne by families, children, and community members who have committed no crime. Even if one were to exclude the cost of jail, the aggregate burden of incarceration would still exceed $500 billion annually.”

Gender Divide: Tracking Women’s State Prison Growth (Prison Policy Initiative 2018)
“The story of women’s prison growth has been obscured by overly broad discussions of the “total” prison population for too long. This report sheds more light on women in the era of mass incarceration by tracking prison population trends since 1978 for all 50 states. The analysis identifies places where recent reforms appear to have had a disparate effect on women, and offers states recommendations to reverse mass incarceration for women alongside men. Across the country, we find a disturbing gender disparity in recent prison population trends. While recent reforms have reduced the total number of people in state prisons since 2009, almost all of the decrease has been among men. Looking deeper into the state-specific data, we can identify the states driving the disparity.”

Health and Health Care of U.S. Prisoners: Results of a Nationwide Survey, 99(4) Am J Public Health. 666 (2009)
“The prison population of the United States has quadrupled in the past 25 years, and the country now incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation. Worldwide, imprisonment per 100 000 ranges from 30 in India to 75 in Norway, 119 in China, 148 in the United Kingdom, 628 in Russia, and 750 in the United States. Currently, nearly 2.3 million US inmates (about 1% of US adults) must rely on their jailers for health care. Although prisoners have a constitutional right to health care through the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of “cruel and unusual” punishment, periodic scandals, as well as previous studies, indicate that prisoners’ access to health care and the quality of that care are often deficient. Indeed, citing deplorable conditions in California’s prison system, a federal judge recently removed prison health care from the state’s control. However, there is little nationally representative data on the health and health care of America’s prisoners. Inmates have high rates of chronic medical conditions, especially viral infections. In addition, substance abuse and mental illness are common among inmates. We are not aware of any study analyzing the prevalence of common chronic conditions or of access to medical and psychiatric care among the incarcerated population as a whole. Therefore, we sought to determine the prevalence of select chronic diseases, access to health services, and pre- and post-incarceration psychiatric treatment among the U.S. inmate population.”

Incarceration Trends (Vera Institute of Justice)
“The Incarceration Trends Project aims to inform the public dialogue, advance research, and help guide change by providing easily accessible information on jail and prison populations in every U.S. county. The centerpiece of the project is an interactive data tool, available at trends.vera.org, that can be used for reference and measurement by justice system stakeholders and others looking to understand how their county uses jail and prison incarceration and how it compares to others over time. The tool allows users to explore particular problems within their jurisdiction—such as excessive growth or racial or ethnic disparities, among others.”

Indicators of Mental Health Problems Reported by Prisoners and Jail Inmates, 2011-2012 (BJS 2017)
“About 1 in 7 state and federal prisoners (14%) and 1 in 4 jail inmates (26%) reported experiences that met the threshold for serious psychological distress (SPD) in the 30 days prior to a survey that was conducted between February 2011 and May 2012 (figure 1). Similarly, 37% of prisoners and 44% of jail inmates had been told in the past by a mental health professional that they had a mental disorder. Half of prisoners (50%) and a third of jail inmates (36%) either did not meet the threshold for SPD or had not been told they had a mental health disorder. This report presents two prevalence estimates of mental health problems among state and federal prisoners and local jail inmates: met the threshold for SPD and told by a mental health professional as having a mental disorder. The Kessler6 (K6) nonspecific psychological distress scale was used to assess SPD among prisoners and jail inmates in the 30 days prior to the survey. The estimates are from self-reported data and should not be interpreted as representing a clinical diagnosis of a mental disorder. (See Measurement of mental health indicators text box.) In this report, SPD in the past 30 days prior to the interview is defined as a current mental health problem. In this report having ever been told by a mental health professional as having a mental disorder is defined as having a history of a mental health problem.”

Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017 (Prison Policy Initiative 2017)
“Wait, does the United States have 1.3 million or more than 2 million people in prison? Are most people in state and federal prisons locked up for drug offenses? Frustrating questions like these abound because our systems of confinement are so fragmented and controlled by various entities. There is a lot of interesting and valuable research out there, but varying definitions make it hard — for both people new to criminal justice and for experienced policy wonks — to get the big picture. This report offers some much needed clarity by piecing together this country’s disparate systems of confinement. The American criminal justice system holds more than 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 901 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 76 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories. And we go deeper to provide further detail on why people are locked up in all of those different types of facilities.”

Mortality in Local Jails and State Prisons (BJS)
“Presents national and state-level data on the number of inmate deaths that occurred in local jails and state prisons, the distribution of deaths across jails, and the aggregate count of deaths in federal prisons. The report presents annual counts and 14-year trends between 2000 and 2013 in deaths in custody. It provides mortality rates per 100,000 inmates in custody in jail or prison; details the causes of death, including deaths attributed to homicide, suicide, illness, intoxication, and accidental injury; describes decedents’ characteristics, including age, sex, race or Hispanic origin, legal and hold status, and time served; and specifies the state where the deaths occurred. Data are from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, initiated in 2000 under the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-297).”

Prison Index: Taking the Pulse of the Crime Control Industry (Prison Policy Initiative 2013)
“The Prison Index: Taking the Pulse of the Crime Control Industry is a joint project of the Prison Policy Initiative and Western Prison Project. We developed the Index as a response to twin frustrations. First, through our work we are confronted on an almost daily basis with the difficulties activists and policy makers face in trying to find current and accurate statistics that can inform their work. The Index is intended as a quick reference tool that can provide a broad range of data to inform the debate on criminal justice. Secondly, we see a lack of a widespread analysis in the media of the economic and social costs and benefits of the criminal justice system in the U.S. It is our hope that the information gathered in the Index will aid journalists in their search for background data.”

Prison Rape Elimination Act (Sexual Victimization in Correctional Facilities) (BJS)
“PREA applies to all correctional facilities, including prisons, jails, juvenile facilities, military and Indian country facilities, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facilities. Due to the sensitive nature of violent victimization and potential reluctance to report sexual assault, estimates of the prevalence of such acts do not rely on a single measure. Thus, BJS developed the National Prison Rape Statistics Program (NPRSP), a series designed to collect multiple measures of the incidence and prevalence of sexual assault. No data collection existed that could be used to fully respond to the requirements in PREA. BJS, with the aid of correctional practitioners, researchers, and special interest groups, developed, tested, and revised each collection prior to full national implementation. For these reasons, the data collections have been rolled out consecutively rather than concurrently, and each collection is in a different stage of implementation. NPRSP includes four separate data collection efforts: the Survey of Sexual Victimization(SSV), the National Inmate Survey (NIS), the National Survey of Youth in Custody (NSYC), and the National Former Prisoner Survey (NFPS). Each of these collections is an independent effort and, while not directly comparable, provides various measures of the prevalence and characteristics of sexual assault in correctional facilities. Incidents reported to or observed by correctional or medical officials collected in the SSV administrative records survey may be an underrepresentation of actual incidents. Allegations made anonymously by inmates and youth in the NIS, NSYC, and NFPS may be an overrepresentation of actual incidents, although it is possible this overreporting is offset by some victims who, despite the protocols enacted to assure confidentiality and encourage reporting, remain fearful of retribution or ridicule and fail to report sexual victimization. By using more than one method and measure, the data collections can together provide a deeper understanding of sexual victimization in correctional facilities. For additional information, see the corrections data collections.”

Review of the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Use of Restrictive Housing for Inmates with Mental Illness (OIG 2017)
“The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is responsible for confining offenders in environments that are safe, humane, cost-efficient, and appropriately secure. To do so, the BOP utilizes various forms of Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) to confine certain inmates, including those with mental illness. However, according to recent research and reports, as well as the BOP’s own policy, confinement in RHUs, even for relatively short periods of time, can adversely affect inmates’ mental health and can be particularly harmful for inmates with mental illness. As of June 2016, of the 148,227 sentenced inmates in the BOP’s 122 institutions, 9,749 inmates (7 percent) were housed in its three largest forms of RHU: Special Housing Units (SHU) in 111 institutions; 2 Special Management Units (SMU) at the U.S. Penitentiaries (USP) in Lewisburg and Allenwood, Pennsylvania; and the USP Administrative Maximum Security Facility (ADX) in Florence, Colorado. The Office of the Inspector General conducted this review to examine the BOP’s use of RHUs for inmates with mental illness, including trends in the use of restrictive housing and the screening, treatment, and monitoring of inmates with mental illness who are housed in RHUs. We found significant issues with the adequacy of the BOP’s policies and its implementation efforts in this critical area.”

Suicide and Homicide in State Prisons and Local Jails (BJS 2005)
“Describes historical trends in State prison and local jail inmate mortality rates based on inmate death records submitted by local jails (for 2000-2002) and State prisons (for 2001-2002). The report also compares current prison and jail mortality rates by demographic characteristics, offense types, and facility size and jurisdiction and compares the general population mortality rates with mortality rates in correctional facilities. Comparisons are made to both the raw mortality rates for the general population and those standardized to match the demographic makeup of the inmate populations. This report presents the first findings from the Deaths in Custody Reporting Program, which implements the Death in Custody Reporting Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-297). This new program involves the collection of individual records for every inmate death in the Nations local jails and State prisons. The program also includes the collection of death records from State juvenile correctional authorities (begun in 2002) and State and local law enforcement agencies (begun in 2003).”

Women’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017 (Prison Policy Initiative)
“This report provides a first-of-its-kind detailed view of the 219,000 women incarcerated in the United States, and how they fit into the even larger picture of correctional control. Since 2014, the Prison Policy Initiative has quantified the number of people incarcerated in the United States, and calculated the breakdown of people held by each correctional system by offense in an annual Whole Pie: Mass Incarceration report. This report, done in collaboration with the ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice, finally provides similar data on women incarcerated in the United States. We break the data down to show the various correctional systems that control women, and to examine why women in the various systems of confinement are locked up.

World Prison Population Lists (World Prison Brief)
“The World Prison Brief (WPB) is a unique database that provides free access to information about prison systems throughout the world. Country information is updated on a monthly basis, using data largely derived from governmental or other official sources.” See World Female Imprisonment List (4th ed. 2017); World Pre-trial/Remand Imprisonment List (3rd ed. 2017); World Prison Population List (11th ed. 2015).

REPORTS

Aiming to Reduce Time-In-Cell (ASCA 2016)
“A new report, jointly authored by the Association of State Correctional Administrators(ASCA) and the Arthur Liman Program at Yale Law School, reflects a profound change in the national discussion about the use of what correctional officials call “restrictive housing” and what is popularly known as “solitary confinement.” Just published, Aiming to Reduce Time-In-Cell provides the only current, comprehensive data on the use of restricted housing, in which individuals are held in their cells for 22 hours or more each day, and for 15 continuous days or more at a time. The Report also documents efforts across the country to reduce the number of people in restricted housing and to reform the conditions in which isolated prisoners are held in order to improve safety for prisoners, staff, and communities at large. The 2016 publication follows the 2015 ASCA-Liman Report, Time-In-Cell, which documented the use of restricted housing as of the fall of 2014. As ASCA explained then, “prolonged isolation of individuals in jails and prisons is a grave problem in the United States.” Today, a national consensus has emerged focused on limiting the use of restricted housing, and many new initiatives, as detailed in the report, reflect efforts to make changes at both the state and federal levels.”

Assessment of Enhanced Supervision Housing (ESH) for Young Adults (NYC Board of Corrections 2017)
“While many of the ESH Standards have been implemented and met by the Department, areas for improvement include the policy and practice related to progression through ESH and periodic reviews, medical care access, lock-out time, and steady staffing. Board staff also identified numerous opportunities for improving procedural justice, fairness, and transparency in the Department’s implementation of ESH due process. Finally, the challenges associated with monitoring ESH due to limited data management systems should be reviewed carefully. The assessment studies the first twenty-two months of adult ESH placements (February 2015 – November 2016) and conditions in ESH through December 2016 via data analysis, interviews with staff and people in custody, observations, and policy reviews.”

Banking on Bondage: Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration (ACLU 2011)
“The imprisonment of human beings at record levels is both a moral failure and an economic one — especially at a time when more and more Americans are struggling to make ends meet and when state governments confront enormous fiscal crises. This report finds, however, that mass incarceration provides a gigantic windfall for one special interest group — the private prison industry — even as current incarceration levels harm the country as a whole. While the nation’s unprecedented rate of imprisonment deprives individuals of freedom, wrests loved ones from their families, and drains the resources of governments, communities, and taxpayers, the private prison industry reaps lucrative rewards. As the public good suffers from mass incarceration, private prison companies obtain more and more government dollars, and private prison executives at the leading companies rake in enormous compensation packages, in some cases totaling millions of dollars.”

Breaking Promises: Violations of the Massachusetts Pregnancy Standards & Anti-Shackling Law (Prison Birth Project & Prisoners’ Legal Services of Mass. 2016)
“In 2014, the Massachusetts legislature unanimously passed a groundbreaking bill to promote the health of pregnant women in prison and jail. . . . When Massachusetts enacted this law, it joined a growing number of states and federal agencies that have restricted shackling, reflecting the consensus among courts, medical societies, and human rights experts that restraining pregnant, laboring, and postpartum women needlessly risks the health of women and their fetuses. But the promise to respect the human rights of pregnant women in prison and jail has been broken. Implementation of this law has fallen short.”

Caged In: The Devastating Harms of Solitary Confinement on Prisoners with Physical Disabilities (ACLU 2017)
“This report provides a first-ever national ACLU account of the suffering prisoners with physical disabilities experience in solitary confinement. It spotlights the dangers for blind people, Deaf people, people who are unable to walk without assistance, and people with other physical disabilities who are being held in small cells for 22 hours a day or longer, for days, months, and even years. Solitary confinement is a punishing environment that endangers the well-being of people with physical disabilities and often violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The report’s revelations about the particular harms of solitary on people with physical disabilities shows the urgent need for far better accounting of the problems they face and the development of solutions to those problems.”

Correcting Food Policy in Washington Prisons (Prison Voice Washington 2016)
“This report describes how the unhealthy food served and sold to people incarcerated in state prisons directly violates the state’s Healthy Nutrition Guidelines and will lead to costly healthcare expenditures on preventable diseases, in violation of Executive Order 13-06. It offers recommendations for achieving compliance with EO 13-06 by establishing effective oversight to ensure that the Department of Corrections makes healthy nutrition possible for incarcerated people.”

Designed to Break You: Human Rights Violations on Texas’ Death Row (U. Tex. L. Sch. Human Rts. Clinic 2017)
“This report, prepared by the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law, concludes that current conditions in TDCJ facilities constitute a violation of Texas’s duty to guarantee the rights to health, life, physical integrity, and dignity of detainees, as well as its duty to prevent cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of its inmates. These duties are recognized by human rights instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and other human rights bodies have repeatedly issued opinions decrying the inhumane conditions present at the Polunsky Unit. Particularly, international human rights bodies had considered that the prolonged and mandatory use of solitary confinement is “disproportionate, illegitimate, and unnecessary”.”

Disrupting Mass Incarceration at the Local Level (Oregon Justice Resource Center 2017)
“Public awareness and concern about over-criminalization and over-incarceration has grown significantly in recent years but much of that attention is focused in the wrong places. What happens at the national level tends to be in the spotlight much of the time, despite the fact that most people entering our prisons and jails are sent there by local – not federal – criminal justice systems. The harrowing cellphone videos seen around the world of people being gunned down by police in communities across America have understandably created outrage and anguish. Police brutality, and the ways in which the law is enforced on our streets – and against whom – are desperately important. But behind the minute-by-minute decisions made by cops on patrol are other, more powerful actors who are setting standards and defining what is important and what is not when it comes to how we as a society address what we have defined as crime. It is with that understanding that we have created a new advocacy document called Disrupting Mass Incarceration at the Local Level: A Guide to Mapping Reform.”

Don’t Look Around: A Window into Inhumane Conditions for Youth at NORCOR (Disability Rights Oregon 2017)
“Oregon’s child incarceration rate is one of the worst in the country. Not only do we incarcerate far too many youth, we confine them in unlicensed and unregulated detention centers. There is no state or local agency charged with enforcing safe and humane conditions for youth in juvenile detention facilities. This lack of oversight and accountability has allowed Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility (NORCOR) to neglect the basic mental health and social development needs of kids in custody. Youth detained at NORCOR are often isolated from human contact, prevented from reading, writing, or drawing, and subjected to harsh and purposeless rules such as prohibitions against “looking around” or asking what time it is. They are denied access to adequate education and separated from their families and communities for unnecessarily long periods.”

Envisioning an Alternative Future for the Corrections Sector Within the U.S. Criminal Justice System (Rand Corp. 2017)

“Challenged by high costs and concerns that the U.S. corrections sector is not achieving its goals, there has been a growing focus on approaches to reform and improve the sector’s performance. Policies initiated during the tough-on-crime era led to aggressive prosecution, lengthier sentences, and an exploding correctional population. In recent years, the corrections sector has been gradually shifting toward efforts to provide treatment, alternatives to incarceration, and enhanced programs to facilitate offender reentry. Although judicial and policy decisions and public attitudes toward crime and sentencing determine the corrections population and the resources available for staffing and reform, the sector has a unique perspective and therefore can provide critical insight regarding what is working, what is not, and how things should be. To contribute to the policy debate on the future of the corrections sector, researchers interviewed a group of prominent correctional practitioners, consultants, and academics. This report outlines their perspectives on the current state of corrections and their vision for the future. These experts were specifically asked how they would redesign the corrections sector to better serve the country’s needs. The findings offer both an assessment of what is and is not working now and potential solutions to better achieve justice policy goals going forward.”

Following the Money of Mass Incarceration (Prison Policy Initiative 2017)
“The cost of imprisonment — including who benefits and who pays — is a major part of the national discussion around criminal justice policy. But prisons and jails are just one piece of the criminal justice system and the amount of media and policy attention that the various players get is not necessarily proportional to their influence. In this first-of-its-kind report, we find that the system of mass incarceration costs the government and families of justice-involved people at least $182 billion every year. In this report: • we provide the significant costs of our globally unprecedented system of mass incarceration and over-criminalization, • we give the relative importance of the various parts, • we highlight some of the under-discussed yet costly parts of the system, and then • we share all of our sources so that journalists and advocates can build upon our work.”

Incarceration’s Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America (Vera Institute of Justice 2015)
“Local jails exist in nearly every town and city in America. Intended to house only people deemed to be a danger to society or a flight risk, jails have become massive warehouses primarily for those too poor to post even low bail or too sick for existing community resources to help. And the burden of jail incarceration doesn’t fall on everyone equally; it disproportionately impacts low-income communities of color. This report—published as part of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Safety and Justice Challenge—examines existing research and data to take a deeper look at our nation’s misuse of local jails and to determine how we arrived at this point. The research and data include characteristics of the people currently being held; the key policies that have contributed to their cycling in and out; and the negative impacts that jail incarceration can have on people, their families, and the communities to which they return. ”

Locked Up and Locked Down: Segregation of Inmates with Mental Illness (AVID Prison Project 2016)
“This report, which has grown out of that collaborative national effort, examines issues related to the segregation of inmates with mental illness in our state prison systems, including the harmful effects of prolonged isolation on that population, the excessive use of force that often precedes or accompanies placement in segregation, and the restricted access to programs and services in segregation. P&As [Protection and Advocacy Agencies] from across the country provided examples of either past or ongoing advocacy, demonstrating the crucial role that P&As have played infighting against the excessive use of segregation of people with mental illness in our nation’s prisons. This advocacy is multi-modal, ranging from routine monitoring, to informal and individual advocacy, to systemic litigation.”

Matter of Time: The Causes and Consequences of Rising Time Served in America’s Prisons (Urban Institute 2017)
“Policymakers on both sides of the aisle now recognize mass incarceration as a costly and dangerous problem. Yet many criminal justice reforms focus only on low-level offenses while the longest prison terms continue to grow even longer. These long terms keep prison populations high and prevent states from meaningfully addressing mass incarceration. The conversation around reform must begin to include people convicted of serious offenses and consider not just how many people go to prison but how long they stay there.”

Mental Disorder and Criminal Justice, SSRN (2017)
“This paper is a chapter that will appear in, “Academy for Justice, A Report on Scholarship and Criminal Justice Reform” (Erik Luna ed., forthcoming 2017). The criminal law treats some people with severe mental disorders doctrinally and practically differently at virtually every stage of the criminal justice process, beginning with potential incompetence to stand trial and ending with the question of competence to be executed, and such people have special needs when they are in the system. This chapter begins by exploring the fundamental mental health information necessary to make informed judgements about how the criminal justice system should respond to this population, including discussion of the causal relation between mental disorder and criminal behavior. The next section addresses the prevalence of mental disorders in jail and prisons and the mental health needs of mentally disabled inmates. The last section addresses criminal mental health law doctrines. Throughout, the chapter considers how changes could promote greater justice and humanity in the law’s treatment of criminal offenders who suffer from mental disorders.”

Mental Health Consequences Following Release from Long-Term Solitary Confinement in California (Center for Constitutional Rights 2017)
“In collaboration with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the Stanford University Human Rights in Trauma Mental Health Lab has released a report titled Mental Health Consequences Following Release from Long-Term Solitary Confinement in California, which examines the mental health consequences of long-term isolation. Based on interviews with individuals at three maximum-security prisons, researchers found that prisoners formerly held in indefinite solitary confinement in California’s Security Housing Units (SHUs) face continuing mental health consequences even after they are released into general population. The interviews revealed a range of continued, and potentially permanent, adverse consequences, including: mood deterioration and depression, intense anxiety, emotional numbing and dysregulation, cognitive impairments, modifications in perception of time, physical health ailments, distressful relational estrangement with family and/or friends, and diminished capacity for socialization.”

More Justice NYC (Independent Commission on NYC Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform 2017)
“The Commission has concluded that shuttering Rikers Island is an essential step toward building a more just New York City. Refurbishing Rikers is not enough. Our current approach to incarceration is broken and must be replaced. Acknowledging this, the Commission recommends permanently ending the use of Rikers Island as a jail facility. The Commission believes that confinement is necessary when individuals are a threat to themselves or others, but that its use should be a last resort. In addition to using jail sparingly, the Commission believes it must be used humanely, with an eye toward preparing people to re-enter society and ending the costly cycle of repeat offending. The reforms outlined in this report would cut New York City’s jail population in half over the next ten years, allowing for the closure of Rikers and its replacement by a smaller system of state of-the-art jails—one for each borough—situated near the courthouses they serve.” See also A More Just New York City.

Out of Sight: The Growth of Jails in Rural America (Vera Institute of Justice 2017)
“America’s 3,283 jails are the “front door” to mass incarceration. But for too long, county jail systems have operated and grown outside of public view. Vera’s Incarceration Trends data tool, launched in 2015, illuminated the growth in local jail populations over the last 40 years. This report and accompanying data visualization explores one of the Incarceration Trends project’s most startling revelations—that the main drivers of mass incarceration are small and rural counties, not major cities. Vera’s research identified two drivers of this trend: an increase in the number of people being held pretrial, and in the number of people being held for other authorities.”

Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform (Vera Institute of Justice 2016)
“Since 1970, there has been a nearly five-fold increase in the number of people in U.S. jails—the approximately 3,000 county or municipality-run detention facilities that primarily hold people arrested but not yet convicted of a crime. Despite recent scrutiny from policymakers and the public, one aspect of this growth has received little attention: the shocking rise in the number of women in jail. Women in jail are the fastest growing correctional population in the country—increasing 14-fold between 1970 and 2014. Yet there is surprisingly little research on why so many more women wind up in jail today. This report examines what research does exist on women in jail in order to begin to reframe the conversation to include them. It offers a portrait of women in jail, explores how jail can deepen the societal disadvantages they face, and provides insight into what drives women’s incarceration and ways to reverse the trend.”

Preventable Tragedies: How to Reduce Mental-Health Related Deaths in Texas Jails (U. Tex. Civ. Rts. Clinic 2016)
“This report documents the stories of ten Texas families who lost their loved ones to sudden and untimely deaths inside small and mid-size Texas county jails. Each story shows that when county jails lack the resources, training or will to provide adequate care, the consequences can be deadly. In July 2015, the untimely death of Sandra Bland in Waller County Jail sparked a discussion about the additional steps that could be taken to prevent jail deaths related to mental illness. The stories in this report shed further light on this important goal. This report also sets forth twelve widely accepted policy recommendations for steps that counties can take to reduce the risk of harm to inmates and staff, and to promote the dignity and recovery of inmates with mental health needs.”

Price of Prisons: Examining State Spending Trends, 2010 – 2015 (Vera Institute of Justice (2017)
“In light of nearly a decade of broad-based criminal justice reform, this report seeks to determine where state prison spending stands today and how it has changed in recent years. In particular, if a goal of recent reforms has been to make deep and lasting cuts to prison spending by reducing the prison population, have states who have witnessed the desired downward shift in prison size also witnessed it in spending? To answer this question, researchers at the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) developed a survey to measure changes in state prison population and expenditures between 2010 and 2015, and conducted follow-up interviews with state prison budget officials to better understand spending and population trends.”

Prison: Evidence of Its Use and Over-Use from Around the World (2017)
“[T]here is nothing inevitable about prison population growth. While there are multiple factors that directly or indirectly promote greater use of incarceration, so too there are wide-ranging moderating influences and indeed downward pressures. These downward pressures include resource constraints, for the simple reason that prisons are expensive. There is growing recognition of imprisonment’s failings as a response to social problems, and growing acceptance that many of these problems can be most effectively tackled outside the realm of criminal justice altogether. And whether overtly or covertly, and whether motivated by economic or other concerns, some states have made clear political choices to curb or reduce the use of imprisonment. In this report we consider why and how, and with what effect, such choices are made, and the factors that prevent, constrain or undermine these choices.”

Prison Health Care Costs and Quality (Pew Research Center 2017)
“This first-of-its-kind report, using data collected from two 50-state surveys administered by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Vera Institute of Justice, along with interviews with more than 75 state officials, updates previous Pew research on spending trends in prison health care. The report also incorporates information on the operational characteristics of states’ prison health care systems; whether and how states monitor the quality of care provided— the critical counterpart to cost when assessing value; and common care continuity strategies for people leaving prison. The aim is to begin to paint a comprehensive picture for policymakers, administrators, and other stakeholders of how states fund and deliver prison health care, how they compare with one another, and some reasons for differences. These stakeholders can use such practical information and insights to help optimize policies and programs in the service of incarcerated individuals, state residents, and taxpayers.”

Report and Recommendations Concerning Attica Correctional Facility’s Residential Mental Health Unit (DRNY 2017)
“Disability Rights New York (DRNY) is the designated federal Protection and Advocacy System for individuals with disabilities in New York State. DRNY has broad authority under federal and state law to monitor conditions and investigate allegations of abuse or neglect occurring in any public or private facility, including state prisons. . . . DRNY finds that DOCCS [Department of Corrections and Community Supervision] and OMH [Office of Mental Health] abused and neglected RMHU [Residential Mental Health Unit] participants, and violated New York Correction Law provisions governing RMHTUs, collectively known as the SHU Exclusion Law. Specifically, DRNY finds DOCCS and OMH violated New York Correction Law §§ 2(21), 401(1), 401(2), and 401(6).” See Press Release.

Review of the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Medical Staffing Challenges, Evaluation and Inspections Report (OIG 2016)
“As of September 2014, the BOP had 3,871 positions in its institutions’ health services units to provide medical care to 171,868 inmates. Of those 3,871 positions, only 3,215 positions (83 percent) were filled. Although BOP policy states that the vacancy rate shall not exceed 10 percent during any 18-month period, we found that only 24 of 97 BOP institutions had a medical staffing rate of 90 percent or higher as of September 2014. Further, 12 BOP institutions were medically staffed at only 71 percent or below, which the BOP’s former Assistant Director for Health Services and Medical Director described as crisis level. Both civilian and uniformed staff hold these 3,215 filled healthcare positions. This includes 2,382 civil service employees and 833 commissioned officers of the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which provides public health services to underserved and vulnerable populations. The Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) conducted this review to assess challenges the BOP faces in hiring medical professionals and its use of PHS officers as one method of addressing those challenges.”

“She Doesn’t Deserve to Be Treated Like This”: Prisons as Sites of Reproductive Injustice (Center for Women Policy Studies 2012)
“This paper explores prisons as sites of reproductive injustice by focusing on barriers to abortion and safe childbirth. After defining the concept of reproductive justice, the paper reviews the limits of the constitutional right to medical care in prison and the racial and class biases that characterize the criminal justice and prison systems. It then examines barriers to abortion care and pregnancy care to show that institutional resistance to abortion is not the result of a commitment to healthy pregnancy and childbirth. Rather, the failure to provide both forms of vital medical care is part of a widespread pattern of institutional neglect.”

Solitary at Southport (CANY 2017)
“Solitary confinement is torture. New York State (NYS) subjects people to solitary confinement and other forms of isolation at rates above the national average and in a racially disparate manner. On any given day, in NYS prisons alone roughly 2,900 people are held in Special Housing Units (SHU) and an additional estimated 1,000 or more people are held in keeplock (KL). In 2015 after limited SHU reforms, the number of people in SHU rose to over 4,100, the highest rate of solitary in the history of NYS prisons, more than a third higher than in the early 2000s and higher than its previous 2012 peak. Even with some reductions in 2016 and 2017, NYS’s rate of isolation – nearly 8% including KL and 5.8% if only SHU – is much higher than the national average of 4.4% and four or more times higher than some states – like Colorado, Washington, and Connecticut – that have less than 1% or 2% of incarcerated people in solitary.

In the SHU or KL, people are held alone in their cells 23-24 hours a day, without any meaningful human contact or out-of-cell programming, with limited or no access to phone calls, and often with limited, restricted, or no visits. The sensory deprivation, lack of normal human interaction, and extreme idleness have long been proven to cause intense suffering, devastating physical, mental, and emotional effects, and the increased likelihood of self-harm. Solitary – “the Box” – can cause deterioration in people’s behavior, while limits on solitary have had neutral or even positive effects on institutional safety. The Mandela Rules –recently adopted by the entire United Nations General Assembly, supported by a US delegation consisting of corrections administrators, and voted for by the US government – prohibit solitary beyond 15 consecutive days. Yet, in New York people are regularly held in solitary for months, years, and even for decades.”

Still Life: America’s Increasing Use of Life and Long-Term Sentences (Sentencing Project 2017)
“The number of people serving life sentences in U.S. prisons is at an all-time high. Nearly 162,000 people are serving a life sentence – one of every nine people in prison. An additional 44,311 individuals are serving “virtual life” sentences of 50 years or more. Incorporating this category of life sentence, the total population serving a life or virtual life sentence reached 206,268 in 2016. This represents 13.9 percent of the prison population, or one of every seven people behind bars. A mix of factors has led to the broad use of life sentences in the United States, placing it in stark contrast to practices in other nations. Every state and the federal government allow prison sentences that are so long that death in prison is presumed. This report provides a comprehensive profile of those living in this deep end of the justice system. Our analysis provides current figures on people serving life with parole (LWP) and life without parole (LWOP) as well as a category of long-term prisoner that has not previously been quantified: those serving “virtual” or de facto life sentences. Even though virtual life sentences can extend beyond the typical lifespan, because the sentences are not legally considered life sentences, traditional counts of life-sentenced prisoners have excluded them until now.”

Systemic Indifference: Dangerous and Substandard Medical Care in Immigration Detention (Human Rights Watch 2017)
“This report examines serious lapses in health care that have led to severe suffering and at times the preventable or premature death of individuals held in immigration detention facilities in the United States. The lapses occur in both publicly and privately run facilities, and have persisted despite some efforts at reform under the Obama administration, indicating that more decisive measures are urgently needed to improve conditions. At time of writing, it was unclear how the Trump administration would address the issue, but its pledge to sharply increase the number of immigrants subject to detention and reports it is also planning to roll back protections for immigrants in detention, raise serious concerns that the problems fueling the unnecessary suffering could grow even worse.”

Toolkit: Reducing the Use of Isolation (CJCA 2015)
“Research has made clear that isolating youths for long periods of time or as a consequence for negative behavior undermines the rehabilitative goals of youth corrections. Agencies and facilities across the country are looking for help to change practices to align with the research and promote positive youth development. Many agencies have made sustainable reforms eliminating and reducing the use of isolation; at least 10 states have banned punitive solitary confinement. However, others see increasing use of isolation and face significant barriers and resistance to changing the practice. . . . At the conclusion of the October 2014 CJCA [Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators] Leadership Institute, members requested that a Toolkit be developed for states to use as a guide to reduce the use of isolation in youth correctional and detention facilities. CJCA presents this toolkit to help its members and the field reduce the use of isolation and ultimately better help youths in juvenile facilities become successful members of the community.”

Use and Impact of Correctional Programming for Inmates on Pre- and Post-Release Outcomes (NIJ 2017)
“This paper reviews the available evidence on the impact of institutional programming on pre- and post-release outcomes for prisoners. Given the wide variety of institutional interventions provided to inmates in state and federal prisons, this paper focuses on programming that: (1) is known to be provided to prisoners, (2) has been evaluated, and (3) addresses the main criminogenic needs, or dynamic risk factors, that existing research has identified. This paper, therefore, examines the empirical evidence on educational programming, employment programming, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), chemical dependency (CD) and sex offender treatment, social support programming, mental health interventions, domestic violence programming, and prisoner re-entry programs. In addition to reviewing the evidence on the effects of these interventions on pre- and post-release outcomes, this paper identifies several broad conclusions that can be drawn about the effectiveness of institutional programming, discusses gaps in the literature, and proposes a number of directions for future research.”

Voices from Clinton: First-Hand Accounts of Brutality, Torture, and Cover-up from People Incarcerated at an Infamously Abusive New York State Prison (Correctional Association of New York 2016)
“New York State prisons are plagued by a pervasive and entrenched culture of staff brutality, violence, abuse, racism, dehumanization, and intimidation, as well as the routine infliction of solitary confinement. As Correctional Association of NY (CA) reports on Clinton, Attica, Greene, Fishkill Correctional Facilities and other prisons have long documented, these abuses and their cover-ups are regular and typical practices in Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) prisons. An underlying culture and environment of abuse – not the acts of a few individual bad actors – drive the dehumanization and brutalization taking place. This culture is undergirded and fueled by racism, staff impunity, a lack of meaningful programs, a history of violent repression (especially at Attica and Clinton), and a reliance on force, punishment, and disempowerment.”

Women in Justice: Gender and the Pathway to Jail in New York City (John Jay College 2017)
“The goal of this report is to foster understanding of the role of gender in the New York City justice system. This report also aims to bridge information gaps—to help those steeped in criminal justice reform to better understand the unique needs of women, and to help those steeped in women’s services to better understand the context of the criminal justice system. In New York City, there has been increased attention to the tragic harms experienced by people in the criminal justice system. Public attention to the violence at Rikers Island, New York City’s central jail—and the only city facility in which women are held—is driving conversations about criminal justice reform. . . . Reducing the number of women held at Rikers will require a multifaceted strategy, but the end result will be a system that is both fairer and more effective, while also reducing recidivism and improving the prospects of justice-involved women. Reforms must be gender-responsive, faithful to the principles of proportionality and parsimony, and engage social services to better serve individuals with criminal justice system histories.”

SCHOLARLY ARTICLES

Abolishing Immigration Prisons, 97 B.U.L. Rev. 245 (2017)
“This Article is the first to argue that immigration imprisonment is inherently indefensible and should be abolished. The United States should instead adopt an alternative moral framework of migrants and migration that is grounded in history and attuned to human fallibility. Doing so will help discourage harmful immigration rhetoric steeped in myths of migrant criminality and will foster better understanding of migrants and their reasons for coming to the United States.”

Cashing in on Convicts: Privatization, Punishment, and the People, SSRN (2017)
“For-profit prisons, jails, and alternative corrections present a disturbing commodification of the criminal justice system. Though part of a modern trend, privatized corrections has well-established roots traceable to slavery, Jim Crow, and current racially-based inequities. This monetizing of the physical incarceration and regulation of human bodies has had deleterious effects on offenders, communities, and the proper functioning of punishment in our society. Criminal justice privatization severs an essential link between the people and criminal punishment. When we remove the imposition of punishment from the people and delegate it to private actors, we sacrifice the core criminal justice values of expressive, restorative retribution, the voice and interests of the community, and systemic transparency and accountability. This Article shows what we lose when we allow private, for-profit entities to take on the traditional community function of imposing and regulating punishment. By banking on bondage, private prisons and jails remove the local community from criminal justice, and perpetuate the extreme inequities within the criminal system.”

Charter Prisons: Private Prisons 2.0 or a Race to the Top?, 5 Suffolk U. L. Rev. Online 9 (2017)
“The flaws of private prisons have been demonstrated in practice and in theory. However, few alternatives to private prisons have been proposed. This Article proposes an alternative: charter prisons, run through public-private partnerships, which will be capable of providing more services to prisoners without increasing the cost to taxpayers.”

Constitutional Law of Incarceration, Reconfigured, SSRN (2017)
“As American incarcerated populations grew starting in the 1970s, so too did court oversight of prisons. In the late 1980s, however, as incarceration continued to boom, federal court oversight shrank. This Article addresses the most central doctrinal limit on oversight of jails and prisons, the Supreme Court’s restrictive reading of the constitutional provisions governing treatment of prisoners—the Cruel and Unusual Punishments Clause and the Due Process Clause, which regulate, respectively, post-conviction imprisonment and pretrial detention. The Court’s interpretation of the Eighth Amendment’s ban of cruel and unusual punishment, in particular, radically undermined prison officials’ accountability for tragedies behind bars—allowing, even encouraging, them to avoid constitutional accountability. And lower courts compounded the error by importing that reading into Due Process doctrine as well. In 2015, in Kingsley v. Hendrickson, a jail use of force case, the Court relied on 1970s precedent, not subsequent caselaw that had placed undue emphasis on the subjective culpability of prison and jail officials as the crucial source of constitutional concern. The Kingsley Court returned to a more appropriate objective analysis. In finding for the plaintiff, the Supreme Court unsettled the law far past Kingsley’s direct factual setting of pretrial detention, expressly inviting post-conviction challenges to restrictive—and incoherent—Eighth Amendment caselaw. The Court rejected not only the defendants’ position, but the logic that underlies 25 years of pro-government outcomes in prisoners’ rights cases. But commentary and developing caselaw since Kingsley has not fully recognized its implications. I [Margo Schlanger] argue that both doctrinal logic and justice dictate that constitutional litigation should center on the experience of incarcerated prisoners, rather than the culpability of their keepers. The takeaway of my analysis is that the Constitution is best read to impose governmental liability for harm caused to prisoners—whether pretrial or post-conviction—by unreasonably dangerous conditions of confinement and unjustified uses of force. In this era of mass incarceration, our jails and prisons should not be shielded from accountability by legal standards that lack both doctrinal and normative warrant.”

Cruel Techniques, Unusual Secrets, 78 Ohio St. L.J. 403 (2017)
“In the recent case of Glossip v. Gross, the Supreme Court denied a death row petitioner’s challenge to Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol. An important part of Justice Alito’s majority opinion highlighted the existence of a relationship between the constitutionality of a punishment and the requirement of a constitutional technique available to administer the punishment. Far from foreclosing future challenges, this principle ironically highlights the failure of the Court to describe the relationship under the Eighth Amendment between three distinct categories of punishment: (1) the type of punishment imposed by the court — i.e., death penalty, life without parole, life with parole, (2) the method of punishment — the tool by which the state administers the punishment, and (3) the technique of punishment — the manner in which the state administers the punishment. Because, as Justice Alito insists, a constitutional method and technique must exist for a constitutionally approved punishment, there is a constitutional relationship between these categories.”

Death Penalty on the Streets: What the Eighth Amendment Can Teach About Regulating Police Use of Force, 80 Mo. L. Rev. 987 (2015)
“This Article offers punishment as another lens through which to view police force. The Supreme Court has consistently rejected arguments that the Eighth Amendment is the appropriate vehicle for dealing with excessive police force claims. However, reconceptualizing the use of deadly force by police officers as punishment provides a new understanding of the gravity of deadly police force and adds necessary substance to the reasonableness analysis. When police force is likened to punishment, the use of fatal force by police officers can be considered the administration of the death penalty on the streets, absent the procedural protections and focus on human dignity given in the criminal justice system through the Eighth Amendment. When considered in the context of punishment, the reasonableness analysis can be transformed to incorporate the value of human dignity and focus on protections against fatal police force that ought to be in place to protect the lives of all individuals.”

Dose–Response of Time Served in Prison on Mortality: New York State, 1989–2003, 103(3) Am J Public Health. 523 (2013)
“Objectives. I [Evelyn J. Patterson] investigated the differential impact of the dose–response of length of stay on postprison mortality among parolees. Methods. Using 1989–2003 New York State parole administrative data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics on state correctional facilities, I employed multinomial logistic regression analyses and formal demographic techniques that used the life table of the populations to deduce changes in life expectancy. Results. Each additional year in prison produced a 15.6% increase in the odds of death for parolees, which translated to a 2-year decline in life expectancy for each year served in prison. The risk was highest upon release from prison and declined over time. The time to recovery, or the lowest risk level, was approximately two thirds of the time served in prison. Conclusions. Incarceration reduces life span. Future research should investigate the pathways to this higher mortality and the possibilities of recovery.”

Executed and Innocent, SSRN (2016)
“The goal of my [Charles Lee Baird] research is to determine if during my own lifetime here in the United States our criminal justice system has executed someone innocent. My research will focus on death penalty cases since 1980 and only those in the United States. I will describe in detail many cases that are questionable and examine very closely if this injustice has indeed been carried out. I will introduce and describe the path in which an innocent defendant could be sentenced to death and executed.”

Foodborne Disease Outbreaks in Correctional Institutions—United States, 1998–2014, 107(7) Am. J. Pub. Health 1150 (2017)
“To present the first update on the epidemiology of U.S. foodborne correctional institution outbreaks in 20 years. . . . Incarcerated persons suffer a disproportionate number of outbreak-associated foodborne illnesses. Better food safety oversight and regulation in correctional food services could decrease outbreaks.”

How Does Incarcerating Young People Affect Their Adult Health Outcomes?, 139 Pediatrics 1 (2016)
“Despite the widespread epidemic of mass incarceration in the US, relatively little literature exists examining the longitudinal relationship between youth incarceration and adult health outcomes. We sought to quantify the association of youth incarceration with subsequent adult health outcomes. . . . Cumulative incarceration duration during adolescence and early adulthood is independently associated with worse physical and mental health later in adulthood. Potential mechanisms merit exploration.”

How States Can Take a Stand Against Prison Profiteers, 85 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 1224 (2017)
“In recent years, state corrections departments have faced pressure to provide better prison conditions, while simultaneously cutting costs. Many critics have touted the emergence of privatized prison services as a cost-effective resolution. However, those services shift the costs on to some of the poorest and most vulnerable consumers, prisoners and their families. This Note explores how private companies providing prison banking services to state correctional facilities use unfair practices to increase profits. The umbrella of prison banking services includes deposits into inmate trust accounts, which allow prisoners to purchase necessities, as well as prepaid debit release cards, which are used to return money to prisoners upon release. This Note describes how certain private companies retain a monopoly on these services, and are awarded contracts based on the amount of commission paid to state correctional facilities. As a result of paying those commissions and having no incentive to cut costs, private companies drive up their prices and charge consumers exorbitant rates to make deposits or to utilize prepaid cards. These practices are disproportionately affecting prisoners’ families who provide their incarcerated loved ones with monetary support, as well as released inmates struggling to get back on their feet post-incarceration. Statistically speaking, both of these groups are more likely to be low-income and least able to manage additional financial strain. This Note proposes state-level legislation to better protect consumers from these abuses and outlines five key provisions that, if adopted, will serve to prevent private companies from increasing their profit margins at the expense of vulnerable consumers.”

Human Rights Law Compliance in Prisons: What Can Australia Learn from the Nordic Approach, 20(1) Australian J. Hum. Rts. 31 (2015)

“The conditions in Australian prisons reveal that Australia is failing to comply with our international human rights law obligations as they apply to prisons. It is enlightening to compare this with the way the Nordic countries — regarded by some criminologists as having an ‘exceptional’ approach to imprisonment — comply with the same international legal obligations. This article argues that Finland provides comprehensive domestic legal protections, having recently updated its Constitution and prison law. Sweden offers some insight into the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) (which Australia has signed, but is yet to ratify) and the Norwegian Ombudsman has a human rights mandate and is effective at having recommendations implemented by the government in a way that comparable monitoring organisations in Australia are not. The article suggests that there are lessons Australia may learn from the Nordic approach for the purposes of improving international human rights law compliance in prisons.”

Incarceration and Population Health in Wealthy Democracies, 54(2) Criminology 360 (2016)
“Everywhere you look, incarceration seems to be doing harm. Research has implicated incarceration not only in worse outcomes for individuals, their families, and their communities but also in growing inequality. Yet incarceration may not always harm society—even if it does harm those who experience it. To consider this possibility, I build an argument demonstrating how the macro-level consequences of incarceration may be distinctively harmful in the United States, focusing on the incarceration–health relationship as one indicator of a broader phenomenon. I then test my hypothesis by using an unbalanced panel data set including 21 developed democracies (N = 414) and a series of ordinary least-squares models predicting three measures of population health as a function of incarceration. Models including only a main effect of incarceration demonstrate an inverse association between changes in incarceration and changes in population health. Models including an incarceration by U.S. interaction, however, indicate that the population health consequences of changes in incarceration are far worse in the United States than elsewhere. Taken together, the results indicate that the United States is exceptional for both its rate of incarceration and its effects of incarceration, although it is unclear what drives this exceptionalism in effects.”

Mass Incarceration, Public Health, and Widening Inequality in the USA, 389 Lancet 1464 (2017)
“In this Series paper, we examine how mass incarceration shapes inequality in health. The USA is the world leader in incarceration, which disproportionately affects black populations. Nearly one in three black men will ever be imprisoned, and nearly half of black women currently have a family member or extended family member who is in prison. However, until recently the public health implications of mass incarceration were unclear. Most research in this area has focused on the health of current and former inmates, with findings suggesting that incarceration could produce some short-term improvements in physical health during imprisonment but has profoundly harmful effects on physical and mental health after release. The emerging literature on the family and community effects of mass incarceration points to negative health impacts on the female partners and children of incarcerated men, and raises concerns that excessive incarceration could harm entire communities and thus might partly underlie health disparities both in the USA and between the USA and other developed countries. Research into interventions, policies, and practices that could mitigate the harms of incarceration and the post-incarceration period is urgently needed, particularly studies using rigorous experimental or quasi-experimental designs.”

Pains of Incarceration: Aging, Rights, and Policy in Federal Penitentiaries, 59:1 Can. J. Corr. 63 (2017)
“The number of aging people in prison has been on the rise in the last few decades. Their heightened needs place burdens on correctional institutions that have not been encountered before. This article presents the results of a study conducted with 197 older prisoners. This study’s findings identify issues raised by chronic pain in older prisoners and the management of this pain in a prison setting. Correctional Service Canada (CSC) does not acknowledge older prisoners as a vulnerable prison group, and correctional policies thus tend not to include age (and its implications) as a variable worthy of consideration. Data from this study raise some under-explored issues about the matter of aging behind bars that are in need of future research. If the findings are confirmed in the future, the CSC might find its policies challenged in court. To prevent that from happening, a systematic reform of the CSC’s policies – in particular, the medical ones – will need to be undertaken, with the goal of making them age-sensitive.”

Principled Strategy for Addressing the Incarceration Crisis: Redefining Excessive Imprisonment as a Human Rights Abuse, 38 Cardozo L. Rev. 1663 (2017)
“In July 2015, Barack Obama become the first sitting United States President to visit a United States prison. The visit was largely symbolic. What is not symbolic is the reason for the visit. Sentencing policy and practice in the United States is fundamentally broken, to the point that it is an intellectual and normative wasteland. This has resulted in the United States becoming the world’s most (gratuitously) punitive country. The imprisonment of over two million Americans is perhaps the most pressing domestic moral issue of our time. Further, the prison system is in a state of crisis due to the unsustainable cost of imprisoning at such high quantities. It was inevitable that the United States sentencing system would reach a crisis point. Criminologists and legal scholars have for several decades noted that mass incarceration is a flawed strategy. Despite this, prison numbers have continued to grow. Academic and intellectual discourse has proven ineffectual in influencing the direction of sentencing policy. The sole reason for the current political and societal focus on prison policy is the practical reality that the United States cannot continue to spend $80 billion on corrections each year. This pragmatic reason provides no basis for confidence that sentencing policy will finally become a fair and efficient practice. Sentencing is not generally considered to involve fundamental human rights considerations. This Article suggests that in order for principled reform to occur, the sentencing system needs to be fundamentally changed. In particular, the framework against which the system is evaluated should assume a human rights orientation. Examined closely, imprisonment infringes cardinal human rights including the right to procreation, family, work, privacy and physical security. Collectively, the denial of these rights is so oppressive that it would be untenable for a democratic government to pass a law denying these rights. The fact that these deprivations occur in a prison, which involves a fundamental violation of the right to liberty, makes them even more morally repugnant. Until sentencing practice and policy is viewed through the prism of human rights discourse, it will likely continue to be influenced and driven solely by populist sentiment, leading to perpetual policy disfigurement. This Article bridges the gap between human rights and sentencing by restructuring the ideological and intellectual platform through which sentencing is evaluated. In doing so, it also advances concrete reforms necessary to improve the sentencing system.”

Prison Crowding and Violent Misconduct, SSRN (2017)
“In recent years justice reform has been a popular bipartisan topic in U.S. politics, with reducing the burgeoning U.S. prison population as one of the primary goals. The first objective of this research is to estimate the causal relationship between prison crowdedness and prison violence that is essential to understanding the impacts of having severely overcrowded prisons as well as efforts to reduce such crowding. I [Jonathan Kurzfeld] exploit exogenous variation in California prison populations, resulting from a Supreme Court mandate to reduce prison crowding, to estimate this relationship. Using both difference-in-difference and instrumental variable identification strategies, I identify a significant positive effect robust to a variety of model specifications. The estimates suggest that reducing prison crowding by 10 percentage points leads to a reduction in the rates of assaults and batteries by 15% or more. These estimates of the relationship between prison crowding and violent misconduct are, to my knowledge, the first in the literature with a justifiable argument for causality.”

Prisoners with Disabilities: Individualization and Integration, SSRN (2017)
“This paper’s goal is to make and justify policy recommendations relating to individualization and integration for prisoners with disabilities. A majority of American prisoners have at least one disability. So how jails and prisons deal with those prisoners’ needs is central to institutional safety and humaneness, and to reentry success or failure. In this essay, I [Margo Schlanger] explain what current law requires of prison and jail officials, focusing on statutory and constitutional law mandating non-discrimination, accommodation, integration, and treatment. Jails and prisons have been very slow to learn the most general lesson of these strictures, which is that officials must individualize their assessment of and response to prisoners with disabilities. I make four recommendations to particularize the point. In addition, I look past current law to additional policies that could serve the goals of improving medical and mental health care for prisoners with disabilities. What is needed are programs that bridge the wall separating inside and outside of prison, with respect to record-keeping, personnel, and finances, which together have the potential to greatly improve care, and the lives and prospects, of prisoners with disabilities. I make five recommendations about how this should be achieved.”

Surviving in the New Mass Carceral Zone, SSRN (2017)
“As regional scholars, statespersons, and critics know all too well, prison populations have in recent years risen sharply across Latin America. The sheer numbers of the incarcerated have more than doubled since the turn of the century; in the aggregate, South and Central American prison populations grew from an estimated 650,000 in 2000 to over 1.3 million by 2014. All 20 Latin American countries now lock away more people than they did little more than fifteen years ago. The new mass carceral zone has much to teach about the present and future of global state penality and carceral (mis)management, and it is to these pressing matters of life and death that, first and foremost, any publicly engaged prison ethnography ought to direct itself.”

Technological Incarceration and the End of the Prison Crisis, SSRN (2017)
“The alternative to prison that we [Mirko Bagaric, Dan Hunter and Gabrielle Wolf] propose involves the fusion of three technological systems. First, offenders would be required to wear electronic ankle bracelets that monitor their location and ensure they do not move outside of the geographical areas to which they would be confined. Second, prisoners would be compelled to wear sensors so that unlawful or suspicious activity could be monitored remotely and by computers. Third, conducted energy devices would be used remotely to immobilize prisoners who attempt to escape their areas of confinement or commit other crimes. The integrated systems described in this Article could lead to the closure of more than ninety-five percent of prisons in the United States. We demonstrate that the technological and surveillance devices can achieve all of the appropriate objectives of imprisonment, including both the imposition of proportionate punishment and also community protection. In our proposal, only offenders who have committed capital offenses or their equivalents, or who attempt to escape from technological custody would remain in conventional bricks-and-mortar prisons. As a result, our proposal would convert prisons from a major societal industry to a curious societal anomaly. If these reforms are implemented, the United States would spend a fraction of the amount currently expended on conventional prisons on a normatively superior mechanism for dealing with society’s criminals.”

NEWS ARTICLES

$1.2 Million City Settlement With Rikers Inmates Who Accused Guard of Rape, NY Times, May 9, 2017
“New York City has agreed to pay about $1.2 million to settle a lawsuit filed by two women who claimed they had been repeatedly raped and sexually abused by the same correction officer at Rikers Island, a Law Department spokesman said. The lawsuit claimed that there was a “pervasive culture of rape and other sexual abuse” at the Rose M. Singer Center, the women’s jail, and it accused the city of giving correction officers a “perceived free hand to retaliate” against women who reported them. The women also settled legal claims separately against the officer, Benny Santiago, for an undisclosed sum, according to the women’s lawyers. The city did not represent Mr. Santiago, who had his own lawyers. The settlements come as violence at Rikers remains a topic of intense public scrutiny: The State Commission of Correction recently ordered a halt to all inmate transfers to Rikers from county jails outside the city, on the ground that the jail complex had become too dangerous. And last month, a federal monitor overseeing changes at the complex reported that guards were continuing to use brutal force against prisoners at an “alarming rate.””

17 States Open Up Prisons and Jails to Local Communities—and National Leaders—to Foster Transparency as Part of National Prison Visiting Week, Vera Institute of Justice News, Nov. 11, 2016
“Mayors, Chamber of Commerce leaders, public school teachers, physicians, prosecutors, faith leaders, and other community members will visit prisons and jails in 17 geographically and politically diverse states, from Nebraska and Michigan, to New Jersey, North Carolina, and Ohio. It’s all part of National Prison Visiting Week, led by the Vera Institute of Justice. The effort aims to increase the understanding of incarceration and conditions of confinement, encourage transparency of facilities, and foster public engagement around criminal justice reform. Prison Visiting Week will take place the week of November 14-18, and involves state prisons, local jails, and federal Bureau of Prison facilities.”

40 Years Awaiting Execution, Slate, Mar. 7, 2017
“In 1979, Arthur Lee Giles, then 19 years old, was sentenced to death in Blount County, Alabama. Nearly 40 years later, he is still waiting to be executed. His glacial march to execution exposes a conundrum at the heart of America’s death penalty. Condemned prisoners often spend decades on death row before being executed—if the execution ever happens at all—a fact that undermines any retributive value capital punishment might provide. Approximately 40 percent of the 2,739 people currently on death row have spent at least 20 years awaiting execution, and 1 in 3 of these prisoners are older than 50. (This is according to data collected by the Fair Punishment Project and sourced from the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and state corrections departments.)”

51 NC Jail Inmates Have Died in Past Five Years After Poor Supervision from Jailers, News & Observer, Aug. 7, 2017
“Emily Call was one of 51 inmates who died in North Carolina’s county jails in the past five years after being left unsupervised for longer than state regulations allow, a News & Observer investigation shows. Jailers failed to make timely checks, left in place sheets or towels that prevented them from seeing suicide attempts, or didn’t fix broken cameras or intercoms that helped them keep in touch with inmates. The deaths of unsupervised inmates came in 38 different jails, in rural and urban areas. Twelve of the jails, including Durham, have been cited for violation of regulations in more than one death.”.

ACLU Files Lawsuit Against State Over Prison Conditions, Lincoln Journal Star, Aug. 17, 2017
“ACLU drew a line in the sand for Nebraska prisons. They’ve crossed it. Crowded prisons and a shortage of corrections officers and mental health workers have created a humanitarian crisis, ACLU of Nebraska officials say. They describe prisoners sleeping in hallways, or double-bunked in cells the size of a parking space, deprived of needed health care or of basic accommodations for deafness or blindness or other disabilities. They report inmates suffering and dying from treatable medical conditions, and injuries and deaths in violence that erupts within the prisons. The organization, working in conjunction with local and national attorneys, made good Wednesday on a long-term promise to force prison improvements by way of the courts, if it couldn’t get them for their clients in any other way.”

ACLU Files Suit Against Wisconsin Officials Over Treatment of Youth In Correctional Facilities, Paper Chase (Jurist), Jan. 25, 2017
“The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wisconsin and Juvenile Law Center [advocate websites] filed a class action lawsuit [complaint, PDF] against four Wisconsin state officials on Tuesday. The complaint alleges [press release] that solitary confinement and inhumane conditions are being unconstitutionally used against incarcerated youths in correctional facilities. The ACLU claims that the staff at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls [official websites] use solitary confinement, mechanical restraints, and pepper spray. These facilities house approximately 200 youths 14 years old or older. The complaint asserts these uses violate the children’s rights to substantive due process and their right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment [LII materials]. The ACLU is seeking a court order to force the facilities to end such practices.”

Adam Hall Tried to Kill Himself in Prison. and Got Six More Years., Village Voice, Apr. 5, 2017
“The state of New York may not let a prisoner kill himself, as Hall has tried to do again and again. But it will certainly bury him alive. According to a veteran former New York State corrections officer, Hall’s story, though heartbreaking, is common. People with serious mental illnesses often accrue small felony charges in prison, extending their sentences bit by bit and ultimately spending most of their lives locked away in solitary confinement.”

Afraid of Jail? Buy an Upgrade, Marshall Project, Mar. 9, 2017
“In what is commonly called “pay-to-stay” or “private jail,” a constellation of small city jails — at least 26 of them in Los Angeles and Orange counties — open their doors to defendants who can afford the option. But what started out as an antidote to overcrowding has evolved into a two-tiered justice system that allows people convicted of serious crimes to buy their way into safer and more comfortable jail stays. An analysis by Marshall Project and the Los Angeles Times of the more than 3,500 people who served time in Southern California’s pay-to-stay programs from 2011 through 2015 found more than 160 participants who had been convicted of serious crimes including assault, robbery, domestic violence, battery, sexual assault, sexual abuse of children and possession of child pornography.”

Aging Alone: Uncovering the Risk of Solitary Confinement for People Over 45, Prison Policy Initiative Blog, May 2, 2017
“Recently released research finds that thousands of older incarcerated people are being forced to live in some form of solitary confinement on any given day. The practice of cutting human beings off from human contact is widely condemned, but this practice is particularly troubling since it means we are subjecting a large number of older adults to living conditions that can cause or exacerbate serious medical conditions. As prisons continue to get grayer, policymakers must understand that denying older incarcerated people access to sunlight, exercise, and interaction with other people and spaces is both inhumane and fiscally irresponsible.”

Alabama Prisons Ruled ‘Horrendously Inadequate,’ Must Improve, NPR, June 27, 2017
“A federal judge is ordering Alabama to improve the way it treats mentally ill prisoners after ruling that the state fails to provide constitutionally adequate mental health care in state lockups. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson of Montgomery says Alabama is putting prisoners’ lives at risk with “horrendously inadequate” care and a lack of services for inmates with psychiatric problems. The ruling comes in a class action lawsuit brought by inmates who argued the conditions violated the U.S. Constitution’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.” This ruling means that prisoners with mental illness may finally get the treatment they have been denied for so long,” says Maria Morris, senior supervising attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, which represents some of prisoners who sued. “The suffering some of these men and women have endured is excruciating and inhumane,” Morris says. “We are pleased Judge Thompson has demanded that the state of Alabama meet its constitutional obligation to provide adequate care.” Potential remedies in a 302-page ruling, Thompson outlines “serious systemic deficiencies” in the delivery of mental health services. He says inmates are subject to serious harm and increased suicide risk in the way the state identifies, treats, houses, and disciplines mentally-ill prisoners.” See Braggs v. Dunn, 257 F. Supp. 3d 1171 (M.D. Ala. 2017).

Alabama Prison’s Unrelenting Descent into Violence, NY Times, Mar. 28, 2017
“In October, the Justice Department announced an investigation into all of the male prisons in Alabama, an extraordinarily broad inquiry, focusing on reports of rampant violence and sexual abuse at the hands of both inmates and staff members. The prisons here are operating at around 172 percent of capacity. This is actually a significant improvement after sentencing reforms, but it has been offset by a sharp plunge in the number of corrections officers.”

Asking for a Different Kind of Death, Takepart, Oct. 19, 2016
“With less than a month until his execution date, 74-year-old Thomas Arthur is struggling to convince the courts that there are better ways to kill him. The state of Alabama, where Arthur has been on death row for more than three decades, is planning to execute him Nov. 3 using a lethal injection procedure he argues would inadequately sedate him and induce a heart attack. To challenge its use, which has gone awry in the past, Arthur and other death row inmates have been asked by courts to propose practical alternative execution methods—a requirement that medical experts on Tuesday argued poses an impossible burden. The strange request for inmates to prove that there are better ways to execute them stems from a Supreme Court ruling last year in Glossip v. Gross. The case examined whether or not midazolam, a muscle relaxant and sedative that has been tied to botched executions in four states, sedates people to the point that they are unable to feel the intensely painful administration of the next two execution drugs. The court’s ruling, which found the use of midazolam was not cruel and unusual, effectively requires inmates and their lawyers to prove there are other options—a task that often means calling on the testimony of medical experts.”

Breaking the Cycle of Incarceration by Keeping Mothers and Children Together, Stateline (Pew Research Center), Sept. 13, 2017
“In most places, an incarcerated woman who gives birth almost immediately hands over her newborn to a social worker, who places the child with a relative or with foster parents. Petitt said she was told she would have an hour to hold her newborn. Just a few states offer alternatives that allow mother and child to stay together longer. At least eight states have so-called prison nurseries where nonviolent female offenders live with their children for a few months to several years. But in Oklahoma City, pregnant women who are facing imprisonment for nonviolent offenses can avoid doing time and stay with their children by participating in a program known as ReMerge. The program, which is also open to mothers who have already lost custody of their children, includes two years of intensive therapy, parenting classes and job training. Women who graduate have their charges dropped. Similar pretrial diversion programs for expecting women and mothers are scattered across the country, many formed at the city or county level. It’s difficult to determine exactly how many there are. But the idea behind them is clear: Diverting women from prison and keeping families together can save money and help break the intergenerational cycle of incarceration. Researchers say separating children from their mothers causes significant distress, and that children are more likely to end up in prison if they have parents there. And with the number of incarcerated women — and the cost of imprisoning them — on the rise in some states, the programs are drawing new attention.”

California: Condemned Prisoners Smuggle Drugs to Commit Suicide, Prison Legal News, May 5, 2017
“As the 31 states that practice capital punishment struggle to find the chemicals necessary to execute condemned prisoners, in at least one state the prisoners themselves are successfully bringing in large quantities of drugs, which they sometimes use to commit suicide – to cheat the metaphorical hangman’s noose. This is both ironic and troubling.”

California Jail Hunger Strikers: “We’re Seeking Humanity”, In Justice Today, Oct. 20, 2017
“Sheri Costa’s life in Alameda County, California has always been touched by incarceration. Her father was in and out of prison her whole life, her ex-husband wound up in prison, and her brothers in law have been locked up. “It’s been a personal experience for me,” 56-year-old Costa tells In Justice Today. “It’s just been the norm in our family, which is sad to say.” In 2015, her nephew Mario Martinez died in Alameda County’s Santa Rita Jail two days before his 30th birthday. Martinez collapsed and died of acute asthmatic respiratory insufficiency while in jail fighting charges of attempted murder and possession of stolen property, according to SFGate. Costa and her family alleged that Martinez was neglected by medical providers in the prison, who worked for Corizon Healthcare, a private corrections healthcare provider that has faced lawsuits across the country for substandard care of people in custody.”

City Agrees to Pay Rikers Inmates It Forced Back into Solitary Confinement, NY Times, Dec. 12, 2017
“For years, it was a rule in New York City’s jail system: If an inmate at Rikers Island who had been serving a stretch in solitary confinement before release returned to the jail, the person would be forced back into solitary no matter how much time had passed. The city dropped the rule, called the old time policy, in 2015, in response to a lawsuit, but by then hundreds of people had served long stints in solitary confinement at the notorious jail complex. On Monday, a federal magistrate judge in Brooklyn gave preliminary approval to a class-action settlement in which the city agreed to pay a total of $5 million to 470 people who were put in solitary confinement under the policy between Nov. 23, 2012, and Sept. 16, 2015. The lawsuit that prompted the settlement, Roy Parker et al. v. the City of New York, alleged that the practice was inhumane and violated pretrial detainees’ due process rights. Judge Cheryl L. Pollak, in her order, said the settlement was “fair and reasonable.” Her decision gives the plaintiffs’ lawyers, Alexander A. Reinert and Eric Hecker, the green light to begin notifying clients to file claims or objections. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, each eligible plaintiff will receive $175 for each day in solitary, and those who were under 18 or had been found to have a serious mental illness will receive $200 per day.”

Civil Trial Ordered of Texas Prisons, Leaders in Heat Death, ABC News, Feb. 14, 2017
“A federal judge has ordered a civil trial of the Texas prison system and its leadership in a civil rights lawsuit arising from the heat-related death of an inmate, saying state prison officials refused to provide air conditioning that could have also kept 21 other inmates alive. Larry Gene McCollum, a 58-year-old Waco-area taxi driver, was among 22 inmates who have died front the heat in Texas prisons since 1998, including 10 during a 2011 heat wave alone, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison of Houston wrote.”

Closing Rikers Island Is a Moral Imperative, NY Times, Mar. 31, 2017
“The time has come to close Rikers Island. New York City’s sprawling main jail, located on an island in the East River, is a stain on our great city’s reputation. It leaves its mark on everyone it touches: the correction officers working back-to-back shifts under dangerous conditions, the inmates waiting for their day in court in an inhumane and violent environment, the family members forced to travel long distances to see their loved ones and the taxpayers who spend billions of dollars to keep the whole dysfunctional apparatus running. These problems will not be fixed with a fresh coat of paint, new trainings or even a major facilities overhaul. They run far too deep.”

‘Cooking Them to Death”: The Lethal Toll of Hot Prisons, Marshall Project, Oct. 11, 2017
“Most Americans have felt the effects of an increasingly hotter planet. In recent decades, changes in climate have brought higher average temperatures and longer heat waves. But few are as vulnerable to weather trends as incarcerated people, a point underscored in August when thousands were evacuated from Texas prisons ahead of Hurricane Harvey. While some state prison systems — plus federal prisons and military detention facilities, including Guantanamo Bay — keep temperatures within a livable range, many do not, according to a 2015 Columbia Law School report. Prisoners often live without air-conditioning in areas where temperatures exceed 100 degrees for days at a time and the heat index, which records how hot it feels with humidity, has hit 150 degrees.”

Corrections Officials Warn Arkansas Leaders About Psychological Trauma from Unprecedented Execution Schedule, DPIC News, Mar. 31, 2017
“As Arkansas moves toward attempting to conduct an unprecedented eight executions in eleven days, former corrections officials from across the country are warning Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson of the psychological toll the compressed execution schedule could take on prison personnel. Dr. Allen Ault (pictured), former warden and corrections commissioner in Georgia who oversaw five executions in that state, said “[t]he rapid schedule will put an extraordinary burden on the men and women required by the state to carry out this most solemn act, and it will increase the risk of mistakes in the execution chamber — which could haunt them for the rest of their lives.” Dr. Ault joined 22 other former corrections officers in sending a letter to Governor Hutchinson, urging him to “reconsider the pace of the planned executions to protect the professionals who will carry them out and to ensure that the procedures are legal and humane.” They caution, “[a]s former corrections officials and administrators—some of whom have directly overseen executions—we believe that performing so many executions in so little time will impose extraordinary and unnecessary stress and trauma on the staff responsible [for] carrying out the executions.””

Cost of Incarceration in the U.S. More Than $1 Trillion, The Source (Wash. U. St. Louis), Sept. 7, 2016
“The cost of incarceration in the United States exceeds $1 trillion, or six percent of gross domestic product, and dwarfs the amount spent on corrections alone, finds a new study from Washington University in St. Louis. “The $80 billion spent annually on corrections is frequently cited as the cost of incarceration, but this figure considerably underestimates the true cost by ignoring important social costs,” said Carrie Pettus-Davis, assistant professor at the Brown School and an expert on incarceration. A new study, “The Economic Burden of Incarceration in the U.S.,” led by doctoral student Michael McLaughlin, with assistance from Pettus-Davis, draws on a burgeoning area of scholarship to assign monetary values to include costs to incarcerated persons, families, children and communities, which yield an aggregate burden of $1.2 trillion dollars.”

Daily Abuse of Women at Rikers, N.Y.L.J., Aug. 17, 2017
“Daily, guards sexually abuse women at New York City’s Rikers Island jails. Even if, as recommended by the Lippman Commission, those jails are torn down and replaced, that will take at least 10 years. Reforms are needed now. Only women are housed in Rikers Island’s Rose M. Singer Center jail. Yet, men guard them. This practice is condemned by a clear consensus of corrections experts. One leading expert (Tim Ryan), who recently submitted a report in a lawsuit brought by two women who said they were repeatedly raped by an RMSC guard, explained that, for years, nationally accepted corrections practices have prohibited female inmates from being supervised by male guards—unless female guards accompany them. That rule is also mandated by New York law and the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (PREA). RMSC thus operates in a recklessly dangerous—and illegal—manner. Not surprisingly, staff-on-inmate sexual abuse at RMSC is astoundingly high; according to a 2013 DOJ study, 5.9 percent of inmates annually reported being sexually abused by guards; three times the national average. With 6,600 women housed at RMSC each year, that is more than one act of sexual abuse every day.”

Damaging New Secure Housing Unit Poses Problems on Rikers Island, Pacific Standard, July 26, 2017

“On Rikers Island, in a cell block for the jail’s most violent inmates, young men sit for hours, feet shackled to “restraint desks.” The school-like desks, outfitted with chains and locks, are located in specialized cell blocks called Enhanced Supervision Housing units. In the most secure levels, inmates who have committed violent infractions—caused injury to another inmate or guard, or attempted to stab or slash someone in jail—can leave their cells for a minimum of seven hours every day, but must be locked to the desks for much of that time. Officials said they created the units as a more humane alternative to solitary confinement and that the units helped make Rikers the nation’s first jail to stop isolating young inmates. But a new report from the New York City Board of Correction suggests they may have traded one problematic practice for another.”

Dead Bodies and Billions in Tax Dollars, Philly.com, Aug. 17, 2017
“Critics argue that all of the problems that made privately run prisons a poor investment are still present: the facilities are sometimes understaffed and unsafe — three inmates have died at a GEO-run detention center in California since March — and the companies are about as transparent as a cinder block, aided by the knowledge that few Americans will shed any tears if a bunch of prisoners claim they’re being mistreated.”

Death by the Devil’s Chair, Washington Post, Aug. 25, 2017
“Restraint chairs, which typically allow jail personnel to fasten an inmate to a chair at the wrists, ankles, thighs, arms and sometimes head, are a tool. They can be used to protect an inmate from hurting himself or other inmates. But they also render inmates completely helpless, which means their use requires a well-trained and conscientious staff. Anything short of that, and the chair becomes an opportunity for sadistic guards to abuse an unruly (or in many cases, a mentally ill) inmate, or for lazy or absent-minded guards to strap one in and then neglect him, as appears to have happened here.”

Death by Mismanagement?, Marshall Project, Mar. 6, 2017
“It is unusual for any inmate’s medical case against prison doctors and staff to get to a jury because of the broad immunity rules that govern claims of abuse and neglect. The law is structured to protect prison officials and private operators except in extraordinary instances of “deliberate indifference” toward prisoners. The fact that Alma Glisson’s case is still alive is particularly unusual because there was no “smoking gun” moment of “deliberate indifference” in Glisson’s care. It was instead a series of missed opportunities and poor communication and an unwillingness to adopt recommended management procedures that did in Glisson. As the 7th Circuit put it: “A jury could find that Corizon’s decision not to enact centralized treatment protocols for chronically ill inmates led directly” to Glisson’s death.” See Glisson v. Indiana Dept. of Corrections, 849 F.3d 372 (2017).

Death on a Prison Bus: Extradition Companies’ Safety Improvements Lag, NY Times, Mar. 23, 2017
“More than 20 prisoners were shackled and packed tightly on a privately operated bus as it zigzagged from Wisconsin to Georgia this month. The men and women were being extradited to faraway jurisdictions where they had open arrest warrants or pending criminal cases, and some had been traveling for more than 10 days as the bus picked up and dropped off prisoners. Bathroom stops were infrequent, several prisoners said, so the passengers urinated in bottles and defecated on the floor. The heat failed, and they huddled together for warmth as temperatures dropped to freezing. The conditions were so deplorable that at one point, they all scribbled down their contact information on a fast-food wrapper, hoping to reconnect later to sue the owner of the bus, Prisoner Transportation Services, the nation’s largest for-profit extradition company. But shortly after Kevin Eli added his name to the list, near Columbus, Ga., he was dead.”

Death Penalty in America Exacts Double Punishment, Nat’l L.J., Apr. 3, 2017
“Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer has long campaigned to get the high court to declare America’s death penalty unconstitutional. Recently, he offered another powerful argument for ending capital punishment. Dissenting from the court’s refusal to stop a Texas execution, Breyer highlighted a cruel irony of America’s death penalty system: those condemned to death are almost as likely to die of old age or natural causes as to be executed.”

Department of Correction Slammed for Egregious Failures to Follow Mandates to Curb Sexual Abuse and Brutality in City Jails, In the News (LAS), Oct. 10, 2017
“New York City’s actual progress in curbing violence in the City jails was found to be dismal despite its publicly stated intention to make safer jails, according to two separate oversight findings released today. The New York City Board of Correction passed a resolution finding DOC in violation of standards to prevent sexual abuse and harassment of vulnerable people incarcerated in the jails. Separately, the independent federal monitor overseeing implementation of the court order in Nunez v City of New York, requiring the City to end abuse by correctional officers, released an alarming report finding an “ingrained propensity of Staff to immediately default to force to manage any level of inmate threat or resistance” but an “absence of timely accountability for such misconduct.” The Monitor found that Department of Correction staff too often “engender, nurture and encourage confrontation,” “relish confrontation,” and “[c]onfrontation avoidance appears to be anathema to many supervisors and line Staff.” The Monitor warned: “The misuses of force that regularly occur in the Department simply cannot continue to go on unabated.””

Despite Scrutiny, Rikers Island’s ‘Culture of Violence’ Persists, Report Says, NPR, Nov. 30, 2017
“The New York jail complex Rikers Island maintains a “culture of violence” among both inmates and staff, despite efforts to improve conditions at the storied correctional facility, according to a recent government report. The court-mandated report said staff on the island “relish confrontation” with inmates, rather than avoid it. It described incidents such as a senior corrections officer using pepper spray on an inmate who was in restraints, and other incidents of unnecessarily kicking and stomping inmates. Filed by an independent monitoring group, the report has fueled calls to shut down the jail complex because of its level of violence.” See Fourth Nunez Monitoring Report (S.D.N.Y. 2017)

Did Federal Prison Use Chains, Solitary to Punish Inmate for Not Accepting Violent Cellmate?, Prison Law Blog, Dec. 15, 2016
“Prison guards told Richardson he’d be moving into a new cell, with a new cellmate, who went by the nickname “The Prophet” and was best known for two things: insane-sounding rants and assaulting his cellmates — he was thought to have attacked more than 20 other inmates. Richardson refused to accept the dangerous new cellmate. Guards then put him into solitary confinement, in “four-point” restraints (in which arms and legs are shackled to a bed frame), or painful chains tightened across the inmate’s chest and connected to handcuffs and shackles. Richardson claims he was left in restraints for all but a few hours for 28 straight days, contrary to BOP policy, as punishment for refusing the new cellmate. With help from the nonprofit Pennsylvania Institutional Law Project, Richardson filed a federal lawsuit alleging the acting director of the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), a regional BOP director, and the warden and other officers at Lewisburg had violated his Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights by a setup promoting violent conflicts between inmates and failing to take adequate countermeasures, noting the Lewisburg SMU had recorded 272 incidents of inmate-on-inmate violence in less than four years. He also sought to represent all current and future Lewisburg SMU inmates in a class action.”

Doing ‘Hard Time’ in the Nation’s Jails, Crime Report, Jan. 9, 2018
“During three separate visits to Cowley County Jail in November 2014, October 2015, and November 2016, we were told that jail time is “hard time” in comparison to incarceration in a state prison. It hardly seemed possible. But county jails have less bureaucratic oversight, smaller numbers of offenders and closer supervision of them, fewer programs, and less connection to the outside through contact visitations.”

Dying Young in Prison, Crime Report, Mar. 31, 2017
“In North Carolina, there is also a push to change the law. In Texas, some legislators and advocates want to move the criminal age of responsibility to 18. Texas is one of seven states that still treat 17-year-olds as adults. On the other end of the reform spectrum is Connecticut. Connecticut enacted the kind of legislation being considered this year in New York and it was so effective there is now a push to move the age of criminal responsibility from 18 to 21. That campaign is being driven both by the success of their 2010 legislation and by findings in developmental brain science that shows young people’s brains are still developing well past their teens. A recently released report by the Justice Policy Institute, “Raising the Age: Shifting to a Safer and More Effective Juvenile Justice System,” said the change is urgently needed: When young people are in the adult justice system, they and their communities are less safe than they could be. In places that have not yet raised the age, a generation of youth will continue to face challenges transitioning to adulthood because of their exposure to the adult justice system.”

Effects of Mass Incarceration on Conditions of Confinement in Michigan’s Prisons, Michigan B.J., Sept. 2017, at 20
“The long flow and recent ebb of Michigan’s prison population is relatively well known: during the three decades spanning 1976–2006, the number of individuals locked up in our state’s prison system grew from fewer than 12,000 to more than 51,000. From 2007 until present, the prison population declined, dipping below 42,000 for the first time since 1995. Throughout those four decades, however, the conditions of confinement in our prisons continued to deteriorate across the board. People were crowded into smaller quarters. Maintaining or developing ties to families and communities became more difficult. Shortages in programming required for release on parole kept people in prison longer than required by sentencing judges. Adequate food, medication, and personal hygiene products became more difficult to obtain. In these and other ways, the conditions of confinement for those locked up in Michigan’s prisons have become increasingly harsh and punitive throughout the era of mass incarceration.”

Ending ‘Death Culture’ for Prison Workers, Crime Report, Aug. 21, 2017
“Mental and physical health problems among corrections officers span the spectrum from mild depression to suicide and high blood pressure to heart attacks because dealing with inmates is intense work that can require exceptional people skills. Moreover, such demands as mandatory overtime cause additional stress on officers and their families. Yet no one in the field of corrections seems to know the extent of the problems, nor does much rigorous research data exist.”

Everyone Should Go to Jail, Say, Once Every Ten Years, Los Angeles Times, June 30, 2017
“To a nation of jailers: A notable demand that is made upon the citizens of the United States of America is that of jury duty. Although many despise, hate and avoid it, there is a general sense that the task is necessary. We believe a society is only just if everyone shares in the apportionment of guilt. To this demand of jury duty, I [Jesse Ball] would like to add another, and in the same spirit. I propose that all citizens of the United States of America should serve a brief sentence of incarceration in our maximum-security penitentiaries. This service, which would occur for each person once in a decade, would help ensure that the quality of life within our prisons is sufficient for the keeping of human beings.”

Experts Identified at Least 10 Tulsa Jail Deaths Since 2006 as Possibly Preventable, The Frontier, Feb. 20, 2017
“An analysis by The Frontier of records from the state jail inspector, the state medical examiner’s office and other sources shows that since 2006, at least 30 people have died in Tulsa’s jail or shortly after being transported to hospitals from the jail. Experts and medical records state that outcomes for at least 10 of those people could have changed with proper medical and mental health care. The number could be higher, as several inmate deaths resulted in claims or lawsuits quickly settled by the jail’s medical provider before detailed records were produced.”

Ex-Rikers Island Guard Is Found Guilty in Inmate’s Death, N.Y. Times, Dec. 15, 2016
“A former correction officer on Rikers Island was convicted on Thursday of violating the civil rights of a seriously ill inmate who died after the officer kicked him repeatedly in the head while other officers pinned him face down on the floor. . . . The case illuminated longstanding problems at Rikers — the culture of violence and a code of silence among correction officers and staff. The government showed, for example, that officers had filed false reports about the altercation and lied to investigators.”

Families Say Texas Prisoners Faced Horrid Conditions Following Hurricane, Democracy Now!, Sept. 7, 2017
“In Texas, family members of prisoners in the flood-ravaged city of Beaumont say their loved ones were left for days in flooded cells with inadequate food, water and medical care after prison officials failed to evacuate them ahead of Hurricane Harvey. According to at least seven relatives of prisoners at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Complex, some cells filled with water calf-deep, temperatures spiked to nearly 100 degrees as air conditioners failed, and prisoners wrapped towels over their noses to avoid the stench of sewage from backed-up toilets.”

Family of Mentally Ill Inmate Who Died in Jail Pushing for Changes Following His Death, WRIC News, Jan. 18, 2017
“The family of a mentally ill inmate who died in [Portsmouth, Va] jail is pushing for changes at the General Assembly. It was an emotional day for the family of Jamycheal Mitchell. The family shed tears during a news conference with lawmakers Wednesday. “My son died in a jail by himself. Nobody knows what his last words were. Did he say anything? We don’t know nothing,” said Mitchell’s mother, Sonia Adams.”

Federal Appeals Court Rules Cruel Punishment Claims Can Proceed Against Prison, Paper Chase (Jurist), Apr. 15, 2017
“The Third Circuit Court of Appeals [official website] on Friday ruled [opinion] that the family of a man who committed suicide while in solitary confinement can argue that he faced cruel and unusual punishment, even if they don’t argue that the treatment lead to his suicide.”

Federal Jail in Brooklyn Faces a String of Sexual Assault Cases, NY Times Mag., Aug. 1, 2017
“The Metropolitan Detention Center has relatively few female inmates. Yet it accounts for a disproportionate number of sexual assault cases involving them.”

Federal Report Criticizes Harsh Treatment of Mentally Ill Inmates, Paper Chase (Jurist), July 15, 2017
“The Office of the Inspector General for the US Department of Justice [official websites] issued a report [PDF] on Friday criticizing the Bureau of Prison‘s (BOP) [official website] treatment of inmates with mental illnesses. The report singles out [NPR report] a prison in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, having a pending lawsuit against it, alleging that the institution mistreated prisoners and denied adequate mental health services.”

Food for Thought: Prison Food Is a Public Health Problem, Prison Policy Initiative Blog, Mar. 3, 2017
“This past fall, a new report from Prison Voice Washington detailed the decline in food quality served in the state’s correctional facilities. While incarcerated people often voice complaints about (very real) quality-of-life issues related to food service, there is a broader public health concern here: the long-term health consequences of forcing incarcerated people to consume unhealthy food.”

Forced to Endure Extreme Heat, Prisoners are Casualties of Texas’ Climate Denial, Documents Show, Prison Legal News, July 28, 2017
“The medical risk of heat stroke increases significantly when the temperature rises to more than 90 degrees, and can lead to other causes of death like heart attacks. This is especially true for people with medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and other cardiovascular issues, as well as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The risk rises further still for people on medications that inhibit their ability to shed heat or sweat, or certain psychiatric medications. There aren’t yet full statistics on how many prison deaths have involved heat as a significant contributing factor, but the number is likely to be much higher than deaths directly attributable to hyperthermia.”

Gaps and Remedies in Prison Medical Care, Jailhouse Lawyer’s Manual Blog, Feb. 23, 2017
“Advocates have also been petitioning the Attorney General to hold the healthcare providers responsible through the Attorney General’s broad investigative powers. Most of the providers of healthcare in U.S. prisons in are private healthcare providers. These providers still must provide a constitutionally adequate level of service. In a recent case, the New York State Attorney General’s Office investigated a private jail health services company responsible for providing medical services to Nassau County Correctional Center. The case ended in settlement after the provider was found to have failed to perform or egregiously underperformed many of its contractual obligations, placing inmates’ health in jeopardy. The settlement provided that the medical provider would not bid to provide services to Nassau County for three years, pay $350,000 to the Attorney General, and appointed an independent monitor to ensure that the provider met contractual obligations for the remainder of the contract. Yet, this process is also a slow process for incarcerated individuals with urgent needs, as it usually involves a pattern of failures by the healthcare provider that can span years or even decades.”

Getting the Mentally Ill Out of Jails, Stateline, Apr. 7, 2017
“A dearth of beds at state psychiatric hospitals in many parts of the country and shortages of mental health resources mean that mentally ill people who commit minor crimes often end up languishing in jails, which are poorly equipped to handle their illnesses. It’s a difficult problem that, without intervention, creates a grim cyclical pattern: Untreated mentally ill people get carted off to jail, where their illnesses go unaddressed, which increases the odds that they will commit crimes after their release. But cities, counties and states across the U.S. are attempting to break that pattern, using law enforcement and criminal justice tools to direct those with mental illness toward treatment services that could help them control behaviors that got them into trouble.”

Hidden Bearers of Mass Incarceration: Women, Brennan Center for Justice Blog, July 17, 2017
“Women make up a small but growing portion of the national prison population. Given our central roles in families and communities, incarcerating women creates profound ripple effects throughout society. This week, Fallin and Harris will join other leaders in Washington, D.C., at a large event to discuss this too-often overlooked crisis, along with its consequences and solutions. Policymakers nationwide should listen up. We know that mass incarceration is a racial justice issue — and an economic one, too. But it’s long past time to acknowledge the threat prison poses to women and families. Since 1980, the number of women in prison has grown by 730 percent, twice the rate of total prison population (363 percent). And the problem is getting worse. While the prison population has decreased by 3 percent since 2012, the number of female prisoners has actually risen by around the same amount. Today, there are 1.2 million women behind bars, or on probation or parole.”

How America’s Most Famous Federal Prison Faced a Dirty Secret, Marshall Project, Dec. 5, 2016

“Some of the men at the facility known for housing the nation’s most dangerous criminals and terrorists ended the cycle of despair by committing suicide. Others tried, but failed, to take their own lives and then were punished for their attempts. Some simply mutilated themselves, cutting off parts of their body, or lived for months in their own waste. For years, and despite the consistent pleas of advocates, prison officials at ADX-Florence, including medical officials, showed little regard for the constitutional rights of these prisoners. The way the men were treated violated both federal law and Bureau of Prison policy.”

How Blacks and Whites Die Differently in Prison, Marshall Project, Dec. 15, 2016
“New data released Thursday from the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows a stark difference in how white and black inmates are dying in the nation’s prisons and jails. Deaths of all prisoners rose slightly from 2013 to 2014, the latest year for which the bureau has compiled data. Of the 4,980 people who died in custody of federal and state prison systems and about 2,900 local jails nationwide, most were non-Hispanic whites.”

How Long Should Louisiana Keep Old, Ill Criminals in Prison?, Times-Picayune, Mar. 22, 2017
“Many of Louisiana’s older, long-term prisoners might no longer pose a threat to society, judging from national studies of recidivism. And for prisoners with serious illnesses, the costs of treatment can be daunting. Taxpayers are responsible for prison medical care, but some of that money could be used elsewhere, such as for higher education and mental health care for children, if ill prisoners were released. The governor’s task force on reducing the prison population recommended last week that Louisiana expand parole opportunities to prisoners with long sentences, including lifers. It suggested that lifers be eligible for parole after serving 30 years in prison and reaching age 50, unless they were convicted of first-degree murder. People serving long but less-than-life sentences should be eligible for parole after 20 years in prison and reaching age 45, even if they committed violent or sex crimes, according to the task force.”

How Much Do Incarcerated People Earn in Each State?, Prison Policy Initiative Blog, Apr. 10, 2017
“How much do incarcerated people earn? In 2003’s The Prison Index, we included wages reported by an obscure publication in 2001. Those numbers remain among the most searched-for and cited statistics we have published, although they are now almost twenty years old. Prison wages come up again and again in the context of prison conditions and policies, and were even at the center of the nationwide prison strike last fall. And no wonder: wages allow incarcerated people to purchase personal items not provided by the prison, pay ever-increasing fees, and bridge the gap after release. So, we set out to find the most up-to-date information available for each state.”

How Poor Health Care Turned Walter Jordan’s Prison Sentence into a Death Sentence, ACLU News, Jan. 11, 2018
“Walter Jordan tried to tell the world he was dying in prison in Arizona when he mailed a handwritten message, titled “Notice of Impending Death,” to the federal court in Phoenix. Nine days later, he was dead. According to Dr. Todd Wilcox, a physician who reviewed Jordan’s case, the 67-year-old might have survived if he had received competent treatment by the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC) and its private, for-profit health care contractor, Corizon Health. Jordan died of an invasive squamous cell skin cancer that ate through his skull and invaded his brain. Dr. Wilcox identified multiple deficiencies in Jordan’s care, concluding that his death was “unfortunate and horrific” and that he had suffered “excruciating needless pain” in the final months of his life.”

How to Count the Hidden Prisoners, Marshall Project, July 18, 2017
“Now, a new study by the Urban Institute is trying something different. The nonprofit counted how long people currently in prison — many of whom still have long sentences to serve — have been there. Examining data from 43 states and Washington, D.C., the organization’s Justice Policy Center found that the average number of years in prison for the incarcerated has grown considerably in recent decades.”

‘I Can’t Breathe’: Video Shows Deputies Pepper-Spraying Man in a Restraint Chair, Washington Post, Feb. 15, 2017
“The moment Charles Wade realized he was about to be strapped into a restraint chair, he later recalled, he was filled with terror. He was about to be booked in October inside the Montgomery County Jail in Dayton, Ohio, the same place a woman named Amber Swink had been pepper-sprayed inside a seven-point harness the year before. Shocking video of Swink struggling to breathe and then passing out in an isolation cell covered in orange spray — treatment she would later call “torture” — had recently gone viral, and Wade said he had watched it online. Now, in circumstances that felt eerily similar, Wade was about to be strapped inside his own restraint chair inside the same jail while video cameras rolled.” See Charles Wade Case.

I Did It Norway: Some American Prisons Are Singing a European Tune, Marshall Project, Oct. 31, 2017
“In August, when the solar eclipse passed over South Boise Women’s Correctional Center in Idaho, the officers held lunch early, handed out protective sunglasses, and invited the women outside to watch the sky. At the Cheshire Correctional Institution in Connecticut, a few prisoners and officers recently played cards together; the warden seemed a little stunned when describing the scene. John Wetzel, who runs the prison system in Pennsylvania, has noticed a shift in tone at annual gatherings of his peers. “We talk more now about the humanity of inmates, and the impact of harsh environments on both staff and inmates,” he said. He doesn’t want to overstate the point; most U.S. prisons are still focused on security, reflecting a broader culture of punishment. (Wetzel himself has been criticized for not doing more to reduce his agency’s use of solitary confinement.) But when he considers these small moments around the country, he cites a surprising influence: Europe.”‘

Idaho Inmate Says He Had to Swallow Razor Blade to Get Proper Medical Care in Prison, Idaho Statesman, Dec. 26, 2017
“A man whose leg got so infected that it required amputation is suing Idaho’s prison health care contractor, Corizon Health, for alleged failure to provide medical care. Gary L. Merchant, 65, says in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that it wasn’t until he swallowed a razor blade that the prison’s medical staff took him to the hospital, where he was treated for a flesh-eating infection in his leg.”

I’m Paralyzed from the Collarbone Down, and My Time in Prison Revealed a System That Robs Prisoners of Their Rights and Dignity, ACLU News, Jan. 25, 2017
“I [Dean Westwood] have a spinal cord injury in my neck, which rendered me paralyzed from the collarbone down. When I was sentenced to prison, my physical disability should have been taken into account by the corrections officers and staff. But it wasn’t. Instead I was deprived basic care and necessary services, which put my health at risk and caused me great harm.”

I Paid for a Fancy Jail. The Alternative Was Terrifying., Marshall Project, Apr. 20, 2017
“On Christmas Eve 2009, Luicci Nader, an 18-year-old from a wealthy family in Newport Beach, Calif., crashed his Ferrari, killing a cousin who was riding with him and seriously injuring two passengers in a tow truck. Prosecutors alleged that he was speeding, and in 2012, he pleaded guilty to felony vehicular manslaughter. He was sentenced to a year in jail, of which he served six months. Rather than placing him in the notoriously violent Orange County Jail, the court agreed to allow Nader to serve his time in one of Southern California’s “pay-to-stay” city jails, where — for a price — defendants can upgrade their jail experience. Nader’s family paid more than $18,000 for him to do his time in a jail in the nearby city of Seal Beach.”

Imprisoning the Mentally Ill: America’s ‘Shameful Tragedy’, Crime Report, Oct. 10, 2017
“According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, more than two million people are arrested and booked into jails each year. A 2010 survey by the Treatment Advocacy Center found that people with mental illness are nine times more likely to be incarcerated than hospitalized, and 18 times more likely to find a bed in the criminal justice system than at any state and civil hospital.”

In Jail, Pads and Tampons as Bargaining Chips, NY Times, Apr. 20, 2017
“It might seem strange that a place where female suspects are held would not have something as basic as a sanitary pad. Ms. Oldfield-Parker’s story reflects the way menstruation can be treated in New York’s jails: as an inconvenience, almost a surprise, to be met, at times, with an improvised response. Simple supplies like pads and tampons can become bargaining chips, used to maintain control by correction officers, or traded among incarcerated women, according to former inmates and advocates on the issue.”

In Natural Disasters, Are Inmates Expendable?, Crime Report, Oct. 4, 2017
“Are prisons built to withstand the kinds of natural disasters that experts say will become more frequent and more intense as a result of climate change? The short answer, according to prisoner advocates, is no. When Hurricanes Harvey and Irma struck the southern United States this fall, prisons built years ago, in zones vulnerable to flooding, were directly in their path. Thousands of prisoners in Texas and Florida, which together house more than a quarter of a million inmates—approximately 16% of the U.S. prison population—had to be evacuated to more secure facilities. But others were stranded, including the 1,812 male inmates of the federal low-security facility in Beaumont, Tx. Although authorities had decided the inmates in Beaumont had “sufficient food and water supply” to survive the flooding, later reports told a different story—of prisoners suffering from deteriorating conditions. When Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico in late September, 13 prisoners at the federal prison in Guaynabo escaped during the evacuation of more than 1,300 inmates who had been trapped without food and power. As in the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico historically constructed its prisons along coasts and near high-risk flood areas across the island. The evacuations highlighted a worrying fact: correctional institutions rarely consider disaster-proofing in architectural plans for prisons in areas susceptible to natural disasters.”

In Prison, Women Are 9 Times More Likely to Be HIV-Positive, The Nation, Nov. 24, 2017
“The one place where women’s HIV prevalence reaches and sometimes exceeds that of men is in our jails and prisons. Though the percentage of women in state and federal prisons with HIV has been on the decline for nearly two decades, the rates still far outpace the national averages: According to the most recent numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, which collects data from inmates in state and federal correctional facilities, 1.3 percent of female inmates are HIV-positive. If that doesn’t sound high, consider that the HIV infection rate for the general female population is only 0.14 percent. That means that women in state and federal correctional facilities are over nine times more likely to be HIV-infected than women on the outside.”

In Rape Case at Rikers: Did Guards Turn a Blind Eye?, NY Times, Sept. 21, 2017
“On Thursday, Ms. Clark announced a grand jury had indicted Ms. James on 136 counts, including aggravated sexual abuse, forcible touching, assault and intimidating a witness. Ms. James pleaded not guilty before Justice George Villegas in State Supreme Court in the Bronx. Bail was set at $50,000. The case has raised grave questions about the guards at the Singer center, the city’s main jail for female detainees and convicts. Both victims have notified the city they intend to sue. They claim in court papers that several guards not only turned a blind eye to Ms. James’s assaults, but in some cases helped her, giving her access to the victims and providing her with materials used in the attacks.”

In the Fight to Close Rikers, Don’t Forget Deaf and Disabled People, Truthout, Apr. 6, 2017
“While many have finally conceded that the criminal legal system has devastating intergenerational effects on certain marginalized communities — communities of color, low-income and no-income communities, and LGBTQ communities, just to name a few — far too little attention is paid to the injustices visited upon disabled and deaf communities, or to the link between these marginalized communities and the disabled identity. With very few exceptions, the research and advocacy that does focus on disability in carceral settings focuses almost exclusively on mental health disparities. Consequently, other disabled people — including people with mental illness who have other disabilities — are being funneled into and tortured at Rikers Island and jails and prisons across the nation with practically no public awareness, scrutiny or outcry.”

Incarcerated Black Women Face Immeasurable Human and Civil Rights Violations, Newsone, Feb. 2, 2017
“The incarceration rate for Black women is more than twice that of White women—a racial disparity that has remained even as the overall rate of incarceration has declined. Incarcerated women face a host of human and civil rights concerns, including labor exploitation, sexual victimization, overmedication, and assault on reproductive rights. Now, a project examining the impact of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which ended slavery and involuntary servitude—except “as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted”—has been long overdue.”

Incarceration Shortens Life Expectancy, Prison Policy Initiative Blog, June 26, 2017
“New research expands the notions of collateral consequences beyond post-release barriers and discrimination. Two studies show that incarceration shortens life expectancy, at both the national and individual levels. Nationally, there are so many people living behind bars that the average life expectancy for the total U.S. population has taken a hit.”

Inmate Died After Being Locked in a Scalding Shower for Two Hours. His Guards Won’t Be Charged., Washington Post, Mar. 20, 2017
“Rainey’s death prompted a sweeping investigation by the Miami Herald, which reported that Dade corrections officers had rigged the shower to punish inmates who misbehaved. The paper also reported that Dade guards would douse inmates with chemicals, starve them and force them to fight. A New Yorker story called Rainey’s treatment “torture.” But a two-year probe of the incident by law enforcement officials has uncovered no evidence of wrongdoing. On Friday, more than four years after Rainey died, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle released a 101-page report calling Rainey’s death an accident and clearing the four guards involved.” See Investigative Report Regarding the In-Custody Death of Darren Rainey (Miami-Dade State Attorney 2017)

Inmates Say They Paid a Bloody Price for a Guard’s Injury, Marshall Project, Nov. 15, 2016
“The allegations of brutality against inmates at Mid-State are the latest involving New York prisons. “Excessive use of force in prisons, we believe, has reached crisis proportions in New York State,” Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, said as he announced charges in September against five officers accused of beating an inmate at Downstate Correctional Facility in 2013. His office also investigated the death of an inmate at Fishkill Correctional Facility last year after a violent clash with officers, although no charges resulted. In March 2015, three officers at Attica Correctional Facility pleaded guilty to charges of official misconduct after their unprovoked beating of an inmate who had many bones broken.”

Inside the Hole: What Happens to the Mind in Isolation?, NPR, Apr. 3, 2017
“Imagine a concrete room, not much bigger than a parking space. No window. You’re in there 23 hours a day, 7 days a week; you don’t know when you’ll get out of this room. A month? A year? A decade? Our minds don’t do well with that kind of solitude and uncertainty. Keramet Reiter, a criminology professor at UC Irvine, has spent more than a decade researching solitary confinement. In her new book, “23/7: Pelican Bay Prison and the Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement,” she writes about the lives of people who end up in solitary units, some for years.”

Internet of Incarceration: How AI Could Put an End to Prisons as We Know Them, ABC (Australia), Aug. 14, 2017
“Dan Hunter is a prison guard’s worst nightmare. But he’s not a hardened crim. As dean of Swinburne University’s Law School, he’s working to have most wardens replaced by a system of advanced artificial intelligence connected to a network of high-tech sensors. Called the Technological Incarceration Project, the idea is to make not so much an internet of things as an internet of incarceration. Professor Hunter’s team is researching an advanced form of home detention, using artificial intelligence, machine-learning algorithms and lightweight electronic sensors to monitor convicted offenders on a 24-hour basis.”

Jury Awards Millions in Case of Man Left to Die of Broken Neck in Oklahoma Jail, NY Times, Mar. 22, 2017
“A federal jury awarded $10.25 million this week to the family of an Army veteran who spent his final days immobilized in an Oklahoma jail as guards and medical providers doubted his claims that his neck was broken. The man, Elliott Williams, had in fact broken his neck five days before his death, and video of his final 51 hours in October 2011 shows him unable to reach food or water that guards had placed nearby on the cell floor in the Tulsa County Jail. In the video, his naked body remains almost totally motionless from when the guards dragged him into the cell on a blanket until paramedics tried and failed to revive him. The jury ruled on Monday that his civil rights had been violated.”

Justice Department Backs Lawsuit Challenging Solitary Confinement of Children, NYCLU News, Jan. 3, 2017
“The NYCLU and LSCNY filed a lawsuit in September against the Justice Center, where children locked up in solitary are sexually harassed by adults, held in disgusting conditions, denied education and even pushed to contemplating suicide. Children are routinely sent to solitary for “offenses” such as speaking loudly, wearing the wrong shoes or uniforms or for other typical teenage behavior. The NYCLU and LSCNY requested an expedited order in district court last month that, if granted, would require the Justice Center to remove children from solitary. The Justice Department’s statement of interest in a lawsuit where the United States is not a party indicates the significant consequences that could arise from the decision in the NYCLU’s case.”

Justice Department Reinstates Policy Allowing Private Prisons to House Federal Inmates, ABA J., Feb. 23, 2017
“Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday withdrew a memo issued last year that had ordered the phase-out of privately operated federal prisons. Sessions issued a new memo that questioned the wisdom of the phase-out and said the Bureau of Prisons should “return to its previous approach.” The Associated Press, Reuters and the Huffington Post have stories.”

Lawsuits Challenge the Cruelty of Decades in Solitary Confinement on Death Row, Solitary Watch, Oct. 10, 2017
In a dissenting opinion written earlier this year, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer wrote that “If extended solitary confinement alone raises serious constitutional questions, then 20 years of solitary confinement, all the while under threat of execution, must raise similar questions, and to a rare degree, and with particular intensity.” Yet in a majority of U.S. states where the death penalty is still in effect, it is standard practice to hold condemned men and women in extreme isolation for years or decades. In the past six months, men held on Death Row in two southern states have filed class-action lawsuits, challenging what they say is the torturous policy which demands that all persons sentenced to death be held in solitary confinement until their execution — or until their eventual death by suicide, non-state homicide, or natural causes. The first lawsuit, filed on March 29th on behalf of three men on Death Row at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, appears to have pressured the state to make modest policy changes in the way it treats condemned persons. The second suit was filed on July 19th on behalf of nine men on Death Row in Florida, where conditions remain unchanged.”

Let’s Go to Prison!, Marshall Project, Dec. 14, 2016
“Through a series of field trips to 29 facilities in 17 states, Vera welcomed a diverse array of community members — from bankers to prosecutors to real estate agents to teachers, doctors, and clergy — into Incarceration Nation. The goal was to promote the value of transparency: to demonstrate that if corrections officials allowed people in, the sky wouldn’t fall. In the process, the organizers hoped, both staff and visitors would engage in a “re-imagining” of the very purpose of a prison: Is it punishment? Incapacitation? Deterrence? Rehabilitation?”

Long and Pricey Road to Freedom for New York’s Aging Prisoners, CUNY-J School, Dec. 28, 2016
“Early release programs, such as commutation, pardon and parole, tend to shy away from people serving decades in prison for violent crimes because of the lingering tough-on-crime era. The sentencing policies and healthcare costs continue to have lasting consequences for inmates, their relatives and taxpayers. [A pardon removes a conviction, commutation of a sentence makes someone eligible for parole at an earlier date or grants immediate release.] Hayes is one of the more than 10,000 elderly inmates – defined as those over 50 – in New York’s prison system. Even though statistics show that recidivism rates plummet as offenders age, New York’s aging prison population has grown from 2,002 in 1990 to 10,140, according to records obtained from the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. The entire prison population is 51,744.”

Mass Incarceration: Prisoners of Time, Crime Report, July 13, 2017
“Despite the enactment of justice reforms in many states, the nation’s prison and jail population has dropped only slightly in recent years. Well over two million people remain behind bars, and there has been little dent in the “mass incarceration” that that has been criticized by many on both the left and the right. A new report from the Urban Institute tells much of the reason why: Prisoners sentenced to long terms under laws passed in previous decades still are locked up, and there is little hope for many of them to get out soon.”

Medical Staff Told Not to Pronounce Inmates Dead at Tulsa Jail, Former Head Nurse Testifies, Tulsa World, Mar. 9, 2017
“The former head nurse in the Tulsa Jail’s medical unit told jurors Wednesday that her staff was not allowed to pronounce inmates dead because it would bring “bad publicity.” Tammy Harrington, who was director of nurses when Elliott Williams died at the jail in 2011, testified that staff members were instructed to perform CPR on unresponsive inmates until first-responders arrived and took over. Donald Smolen, an attorney representing Williams’ estate in a federal civil rights lawsuit, asked Harrington why the administration felt it was important not to pronounce inmates dead at the jail. A primary reason, she said, was that the area where the person died would be considered a crime scene and wouldn’t be available until it was no longer needed in the subsequent investigation. She also said jail officials didn’t want the “bad publicity” from an inmate’s death at the facility.”

Mental Health Crisis Facing Women in Prison, Marshall Project, June 22, 2017
“More than two-thirds of incarcerated women in America reported having a history of mental health problems — a far higher percentage than their male counterparts, according to a study released Thursday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Although the prevalence of mental health disorders among people in prisons and jails is a well-known problem, the dramatic gender disparity exposed in the new report has been less discussed. The survey, conducted from February 2011 to March 2012, asked more than 100,000 men and women in hundreds of U.S. jails and prisons whether they had ever been diagnosed by a mental health professional with a psychological disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety. The survey also posed questions about inmates’ mood and emotions in the previous 30 days. Thirty-nine percent of those surveyed said they had been diagnosed with a mental health condition. About 19 percent experienced an episode of serious psychological distress in the month before being surveyed. ”

Meet the Former Lawyer and Inmate Fighting for America’s Incarcerated Women, N.Y. Times, Jan. 27, 2016

“So, in 2009, when she was sentenced to 24 months in a federal prison for illegally misusing funds as a real estate lawyer, the advocate thought she knew what to expect behind bars. “I didn’t think there was much anybody could tell me about how broken and in need of fixing the system is until I walked into that prison as an incarcerated woman,” [Andrea] James told Women in the World ahead of Tina Brown Live Media’s American Justice Summit on January 29, where she will take the stage on a panel to discuss how America’s “culture of punishment” can change. “With all of my personal and professional experience, I was still so stunned when I saw the warehousing of these women and the pain of separation,” she said.”

Mississippi Corrections Officers Plead Guilty to Inmate Assault and Cover-Up, Justice News (DOJ), Feb. 2, 2017
“The Justice Department announced that Mississippi corrections officer, Lawardrick Marsher, pleaded guilty today in federal court to beating an inmate in Mississippi’s Parchman prison. A second officer, Robert Sturdivant, pleaded guilty to helping conceal the beating of the inmate. According to his guilty plea, Marsher, 29, used excessive force in punching and kicking the victim, identified as K.H., who suffered a broken orbital bone, permanent vision loss and severe blood loss. The assault occurred on March 9, 2014. Marsher also admitted to submitting a false report and lying to the FBI. Sturdivant, 47, Marsher’s supervisor, admitted that he also punched and kicked K.H. and urged fellow officers to submit false statements to their department and to lie to the FBI.”

More Prisoners Die of Old Age Behind Bars, Kaiser Health News, Dec. 15, 2016
“As the number of older prisoners soars, more inmates are dying in prison of diseases that afflict the elderly, new data from the Department of Justice show. A total of 3,483 inmates died in state prisons and 444 in federal prisons in 2014, the highest numbers on record since the bureau started counting in 2001, according to data issued Thursday by the department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. In addition, 1,053 inmates died in local jails, where suicide is on the rise.”

More Prisons Are Phasing Out the ‘Box’, The Atlantic, Dec. 1, 2016
“Tens of thousands of inmates in the United States still spend months and even years in solitary confinement, despite mounting evidence that the practice has little impact on the long-term safety of prisons but detrimental and irreversible effects on the health of the person subjected to the punishment. The latest study to quantify the widespread use of confinement was released Wednesday, and comes from Yale Law School and the Association of State Correctional Administrators. In the study, titled “Aiming to Reduce Time-In-Cell,” the authors analyzed survey responses about its use from 48 jurisdictions—the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 45 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands—which house about 96 percent of state and federal prisoners. The responses corresponded to its use during the fall of 2015.”

Most Women in Prison Are Victims of Domestic Violence. That’s Nothing New, Time Mag., Oct. 2, 2017
“While the mass incarceration of men has dominated the discussion of policing and prisons over the past few years—and rightly so—there’s been a recent shift in thinking about incarcerated women, and not a moment too soon. According to a report by the Vera Institute, women’s incarceration has increased a startling 14-fold since 1970. Like their male counterparts, these women are also overwhelmingly women of color. Despite the shocking increase in their numbers, however, the specific issues and needs of female prisoners have largely gone ignored. In particular, as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month begins in the U.S., it’s worth noting that the vast majority of women in prison are single mothers who have been victims of domestic and/or sexual violence. These concerns have rarely been part of prison-reform discussions, and yet this fact is typical of the history of women’s incarceration in our country.”

Movement to End Juvenile Solitary Confinement Gains Ground, But Hundreds of Kids Remain in Isolation, Solitary Watch, Jan. 5, 2017
“Normal brain development is at stake when kids are placed in solitary confinement. In the words of Craig Haney, a professor at UC Santa Cruz who has studied the impact of youth solitary for over thirty years, the “frightening, traumatizing and stressful” experience of solitary confinement “can interfere with and damage these essential developmental processes, and the damage may be irreparable.” According to an informational toolkit prepared by the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators (CJCA) in partnership with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), youth solitary confinement can cause “serious mental health trauma, re-traumatization, depression, anxiety, psychosis, suicide, self- harm, and violence [while] negatively [impacting] education, rehabilitation, physical health, family involvement and social development.””

My Daughter Died After Spending Four Days in Jail, Marshall Project, Nov. 17, 2016
“This article was published in collaboration with Vice. When I [Stephanie Moyer] learned my 18-year-old daughter had been arrested for heroin possession, it was a nightmare. But, I thought at the time, there might be a silver lining. Maybe she will get help. Instead, her four days in jail became a death sentence.”

New Documentary’s Rare Access Inside Solitary, Marshall Project, Feb. 2, 2017
“For her highly-anticipated new documentary, “Solitary: Inside Red Onion State Prison,” Kristi Jacobson obtained incredible access to a Virginia “supermax” facility, designed to house the state’s most dangerous offenders. Nearly every inmate there is housed in a solitary cell for 23 hours a day. Premiering on HBO on Monday, the movie was initially inspired by an article on solitary confinement in the New Yorker called “Hellhole,” which describes in vivid detail what happens to the mind when it is deprived of human contact. After reading it, Jacobson began researching supermax facilities around the country and discovered a reform program in Virginia that’s intended to prepare inmates in solitary confinement for their return to a general prison population and, eventually, society.”

North Dakota’s Norway Experiment, Mother Jones, July/Aug. 2017
“Scandinavian prisons tend to elicit eye rolls from law-and-order types weaned on the punitive American model. Yet a growing number of state corrections officials are coming to the realization that our approach is ineffective, costly, and cruel. Fred Patrick, director of the Center on Sentencing and Corrections at the Vera Institute of Justice, cites the nation’s staggering recidivism rate—77 percent of inmates released from state prisons are rearrested within five years. “Once you realize that this system isn’t working well,” he says, “it’s fairly easy to pivot to: ‘How do we do something different?'””

NY’s Longest-Serving Inmate Rates Best, Worst Prisons After 54 Years, Syracuse.com, Jan. 30, 2017
“The state prison in Napanoch was a playground. The one in Comstock was the most likely place to get knifed. They were ranked the best and worst prisons in New York state by a guy who should know. Jim Moore has been in prison longer than anyone in the state — 54 years.”

NYC Releases Jail Inmates in Cold Without Coats, Crime Report, Dec. 22, 2016
“New York City routinely releases people from jail without winter coats, even in freezing weather, the New York Daily News reports. “This is ridiculous. I’m human, you know?” said William Hodge, 32, as he shivered in a thin long-sleeved shirt outside Bronx Supreme Court. Hodge said he had been wearing a jacket, winter hat and scarf when he was arrested on Dec. 15 for an alleged assault. Because the city does not allow inmates to wear their own clothes to most court appearances, Hodge was wearing a tan Department of Correction shirt when a judge ordered him released.”

Oklahoma Horror Story, Marshall Project, Jan. 23, 2017
“The final six days in the life of 37-year-old Army veteran Elliott Earl Williams read like a table of contents in some ghoulish law enforcement manual about how not to treat a mentally ill person in jail. Or maybe a horror movie would be a better metaphor, since his final hours inside the David L. Moss Detention Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, were recorded on surveillance tape, portions of which will be shown next month to jurors in a federal courtroom there. The panel of citizens will decide in a civil rights trial beginning Feb. 21 whether Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office executives strayed from their constitutional obligations to Williams in October 2011 and how much, if anything, the county should pay for those fatal transgressions. More than that, the panel will hear about Williams’ avoidable death within the context of a seemingly ceaseless stream of similar stories about abuse and neglect inside the Tulsa County jail. At least 20 people have died inside that facility since 2010, many in grim circumstances.”

On Rikers Island, a Move Toward Reform Causes Trouble, City & State New York, Aug. 1, 2017
“The report released Monday focused on the lives of young adults in these units, which opened first to older inmates in 2015, and a year later, to inmates under 22. It found that inmates often weren’t told how long they’d have to live in the specialized housing units. Some stayed for as little as two days; others, several months. The units are broken into levels, the most secure of which use desk restraints. The board found that many young adults were not given a hearing to determine whether they needed to live in such a restricted environment.”

Onondaga County Legislature Unanimously Votes to Ban Youth Solitary Confinement, Daily Orange, Sept. 19, 2017
“In a victory for local social justice groups and community activists, the Onondaga County Legislature voted earlier this month to ban youth solitary confinement in all county detention centers and jails. These groups, including the Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse, have fought to end youth solitary confinement for years. Craig French, an interim director of ACTS, said the county legislature’s decision gives young people a chance to grow socially and educationally. “The youth themselves will be really able to be reconnected with families and communities,” French said. ACTS sought to end solitary confinement of 16- and 17-year-olds in county detention facilities. When negotiations were fruitless, the Onondaga County Justice Center and Sheriff’s Office were hit with a lawsuit from the Legal Services of Central New York and the New York Civil Liberties Union. The lawsuit was settled in June and solitary confinement of youths was stopped in the same month. The settlement also calls for education of youths and an incentive program that encourages positive behavior, according to a press release from the NYCLU.”

Oregon Jail Inmate Died After Seeking Help 19 Times, Crime Report, May 9, 2017
“For more than five hours, a Yamhill County, Or., Jail inmate writhed in pain on his mattress, clutched his side, walked 19 times to the door to press an intercom button for help and urinated blood in the toilet inside his cell, but no one came to help Jed Hawk Myers before he died, The Oregonian reports. Myers had been moved to a medical cell on May 27, 2015, after he was assaulted by two other inmates in his general population cell. He appeared disoriented with what looked like a dislocated shoulder and complained of pain to his side, jail guards noticed.”

Our Long, Troubling History of Sterilizing the Incarcerated, Marshall Project, July 26, 2017
“A Tennessee judge is offering reduced jail time to men and women who appear before him in court. And all they have to do to earn that break is “volunteer” to be put on a contraceptive or sterilized. In May, Judge Sam Benningfield signed an order to allow individuals held in the White County jail to receive 30 days off their time if they undergo a birth control procedure. County officials say that 32 women have received birth control implants so far and 38 men are waiting to have vasectomies performed. Under no circumstances should the courts use their power to shape the reproductive decisions of individuals. But sadly, for over a century, attitudes about individuals convicted of crimes have made incarcerated men and women targets of such efforts.”

Outsourcing the Constitution, NY Times, Mar. 1, 2017
“So the Trump administration is putting the welcome mat back out for private prisons, just as candidate Donald Trump said he would do, reversing the Obama administration’s policy of phasing them out for federal prisoners. It’s no wonder that shares in some of the nation’s biggest for-profit prison companies soared by double digits the day after the presidential election, making them among the biggest winners in the immediate postelection rally. A decision on Feb. 21 by the federal appeals court in Chicago came just in time to remind us that privatization is a really bad idea. The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed a federal district judge’s dismissal and sent back for trial a case with the most appalling facts, brought by a dead prisoner’s mother against the company to which the Indiana Department of Corrections had outsourced its inmates’ medical care.”

Politics, Ambition, and the Hard Work of Making the Closure of Rikers Island a Reality, Think Justice Blog (Vera Institute of Justice), July 13, 2017
“Last month, Mayor de Blasio released “Smaller, Safer, Fairer: A Roadmap to Closing Rikers Island,” a report that laid out several concrete steps on the path to closure of the ten jails on the Island. In the preface to the report, the mayor acknowledged that the recommendations within are not a “quick fix.” Nobody is under the impression that closing Rikers Island will be an easy task. At the April 2nd press conference for the Lippman Commission’s report, released on the heels of the mayor’s announcement that it is the official city policy to close the jail complex, Glenn Martin of JustLeadershipUSA reminded us: “The challenge now is to make this a reality—we will not take our foot off the gas.” Exactly how to make closing Rikers Island a reality has been a topic of intense discussion in the past three months. How low must we drop our average daily jail population—currently at 9,400—so that people currently held at Rikers Island can be moved to borough-based jails? For the existing jails in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn—all facilities built decades ago and now well beyond their shelf life—how quickly can we renovate or rebuild them? In Queens and Staten Island, should we build new jails and where should they be sited? The questions range from challenges squarely in the camp of criminal justice reform to those that touch upon land use and “fair share” policies to evenly distribute the burdens and benefits associated with building new city facilities across communities.”

Pregnant Inmates Say a Federal Jail Is No Place for Them, and Some Judges Agree, N.Y. Times, Mar. 14, 2017
“The treatment of women, pregnant and otherwise, at the Metropolitan Detention Center has alarmed a number of judges. One federal judge has apologized to a woman who had been pregnant while at the jail, saying her treatment was a source of shame for him. Another federal judge expressed reluctance about sending women to the jail because what she had heard about the conditions there made it sound more like “a prison in Turkey or some third-world country” than a federal prison in the United States. The National Association of Women Judges, which sent a delegation to the jail, said the conditions in the women’s wing were “unconscionable” and violated United Nations rules pertaining to treatment of prisoners.”

Pretense, Prison and the Free World, Crime Report, Oct. 16, 2017
“But in fact, it is well understood that the quality of social support that is available to a prisoner upon release impacts their likelihood of returning to the penitentiary. For instance, the recidivism rate for ex-offenders who stayed in homeless shelters post-release was increased by 17% in one large-scale study. The reality is that trying to find employment with no place to sleep is a daunting feat.”

Prison Food Is Making U.S. Inmates Disproportionately Sick, Atlantic, Dec. 27, 2017
“This won’t surprise anyone: The food served in correctional institutions is generally not very good. Even though most Americans have never tasted a meal dished up in a correctional kitchen, occasional secondhand glimpses tend to reinforce a common belief that “prison food” is scant, joyless, and unsavory—if not even worse. In August, the Detroit Free Press reported that a prison kitchen worker was fired for refusing to serve rotten potatoes. You can find nightmarish stories about maggots in national outlets like U.S.A. Today. Meanwhile, The Marshall Project’s more thorough, pictorial anatomy of daily correctional fare across the country found that most offerings barely fill a cafeteria tray—let alone a hungry belly. Reports like these reinforce the sense that criminal justice has a gastronomic dimension, that unrelentingly horrid food is a standard feature of the punishment prisoners receive behind bars. But new evidence suggests that the situation is worse than previously thought, and not just because prison food isn’t winning any James Beard awards. It’s also making inmates sick. According to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), correctional inmates are 6.4 times more likely to suffer from a food-related illness than the general population. The report—which looked at confirmed outbreaks across the country between 1998 and 2014, and is the first update to the data in 20 years—underscores the fact that prison food is more than just a punch line, a flash point, or a gross-out gag on Orange Is the New Black. It’s a hidden public-health crisis.”

Prison-Health Paradox, Atlantic, Apr. 7, 2017
“Mass incarceration overall hurts the health of Americans, leading to worse outcomes for the families and communities of men in prison. The inmates themselves are at a very large risk of self-harm and violence immediately after their release. But a recent review of the impacts of incarceration on health published Thursday in The Lancet hints at a surprising upshot: Getting out of jail can be miserable, but going to jail can temporarily protect health—at least for some men. For children and communities, the impacts of a parent’s incarceration are unequivocally bad, write study authors Christopher Wildeman of Cornell University and Emily Wang of Yale. Kids whose fathers go to jail are at increased risk of depression, anxiety, learning disabilities, and obesity, and they are more likely to do drugs later in life. Because criminal records dampen job opportunities, according to some studies people who live in neighborhoods with high levels of incarceration are more likely to experience asthma from dilapidated housing. These consequences are especially severe for children of color: Because black men are jailed disproportionately, a black child born in 1990 had a one-in-four chance of having their father imprisoned, Wildeman and Wong write.”

Prison Story: When ‘Extraction Squad’ Comes for You, Crime Report, Nov. 15, 2017
“Imagine how it feels to know at some point your cell door was going to be popped open and you would be forced to fight another prisoner sometimes two, usually with weapons, in a gladiator style fight for your life, while the guards sit in gun booths, watching and wagering money on which prisoner would win. Having to live each and every day on the edge of chaos and insanity, forcing you to work out as if your life depended on it. Because at some point it definitely will.”

Prisoner’s Death, 3,000 Miles from Home, Crime Report, Jan. 25, 2017
“Frank Pauline Jr. died a sudden, violent death more than 3,000 miles from home. It was April 2015, and the Hawaii resident was walking laps around the recreation yard of the Southern New Mexico Correctional Facility when an assailant sneaked up behind him with a rock wrapped in a green shirt. . . . But none of the media coverage of Pauline’s death went on to tell the story behind the story: What was Pauline doing in a New Mexico prison in the first place? It turned out that Pauline had been sent to New Mexico under a little-known arrangement called the “interstate corrections compact,” which allows prisoner transfers across state lines — typically arranged as prisoner exchanges. Much of the details surrounding the corrections compacts — how often and under what circumstances transfers are made — are shrouded in secrecy. But, through a public records request, Honolulu Civil Beat has learned that the Hawaii Department of Public Safety currently has 58 prisoners housed on the mainland under the corrections compacts — in addition to about 1,400 prisoners housed at a for-profit prison in Arizona under a separate contract with CoreCivic, formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America.”

Prisons and the Deluge, Marshall Project, Oct. 20, 2017
“In a natural disaster, few people are as powerless to help themselves as people locked away in prison. They are completely at the mercy of guards and administrators, who have to balance the safety of the inmates against the public safety risk of freeing dangerous people. In less than a month, three different prison systems were struck when devastating hurricanes made landfall in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico this summer. Although officials from corrections departments in all three areas say things went smoothly, accounts from inmates and their families suggest otherwise, with reports of flooding, at least one mass escape, food and water shortages, unhygienic conditions, and a lack of reliable communication.”

Private Prisons Are Costly – and Unconstitutional, Arizona Republic, Jan. 7, 2017
“[O]ur government sponsors incarceration-for-profit. Our prisons are part of the criminal justice system, an incredibly expensive part. Beginning in 1980, two things happened that dramatically altered the character of our criminal justice system. First, the United States went “off the rails” with respect to the number of people we put in prison. The U.S. inmate population exploded from about 500,000 in 1980 to 2.3 million today. The U.S. today has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. We put as many people in prison as China and Russia combined. Second, around 1980 our federal and state governments began handing off some of their responsibilities for running prisons to private for-profit prison corporations. In doing so, our governments injected serious financial bias into our criminal justice system. CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA) and GEO Group control most of this “market,” or the human inventory in profit-producing prison cells. The private prison industry is now the fourth-largest prison system in the United States, and CCA alone is the fifth largest. This mass incarceration is terribly burdensome to taxpayers and drains resources that could be used for education, mental health services and alternatives to incarceration. Eleven states now spend more on corrections than higher education.”

Problem with Prisons in America, Economist, Dec. 14, 2017
“No Country imprisons a larger share of its people than America. Its incarceration rate—693 of every 100,000—is nearly five times Britain’s, six times Canada’s and 15 times Japan’s. And that rate masks huge variations: Washington, DC, Louisiana and Georgia each lock up more than one in every 100 residents. Why? “Blind Injustice” tries to answer that complex question from an unusual perspective. The author, Mark Godsey, used to be a federal prosecutor in New York. He went on to co-found the Ohio Innocence Project, which works to free the wrongly convicted. His book is about how his career change also changed his outlook, by showing up “problems in the system that I, as a prosecutor, should have seen, but about which I had simply been in denial”. And it is about the police and prosecutors who uphold that system—the “normal, regular people…who would help an old man cross the road, or who would shovel the snow from a sick neighbour’s driveway, [but who] go back to their offices and commit acts of heartbreaking, callous injustice…because they are operating under a bureaucratic fog of denial.” Each of Mr Godsey’s six central chapters centres on a different systemic flaw: denial, ambition, bias, memory, intuition and tunnel vision.”

Record Number of Prison Deaths in England and Wales: Report, Paper Chase (Jurist), Jan. 26, 2017
“The UK Ministry of Justice [official website] released figures [text, PDF] Thursday demonstrating a record number of suicides and other deaths in prisons in England and Wales in 2016. Many experts and politicians [Guardian report] have attributed the findings to overcrowding and a cut in funding and staffing.”

Rethinking Rikers, NY Times, Dec. 16, 2017
“New York City is trying to radically overhaul the Rikers Island. Chicago’s Cook County Jail could serve as a model. Take a look inside both jails in 360 video.”

Rikers Deemed Too Dangerous for Transferred Inmates, NY Times, May 5, 2017
“The jail complex on Rikers Island has failed to comply with minimum safety standards and has become so dangerous, according to a New York State oversight agency, that it can no longer be permitted to accept inmate transfers from outside New York City. In a letter sent to city officials last week, the agency, the State Commission of Correction, ordered a halt to all inmate transfers from county jails outside the five boroughs. Such transfers typically involve special categories of inmates, like former correction officers or gang leaders, who face an increased risk of violence at jails in their home counties.”

Rikers Guard Facing Jail Time for Severely Beating Naked Inmate, NY Post, Mar. 20, 2017
“A Rikers Island ​jail guard ​could be facing decades behind bars himself for ambushing an inmate as he showered​ ​–​ ​allegedly cuffing and severely beating the naked man because he​ had been disrespectful. In the exchange, caught entirely on security camera, Corrections Officer Rodiny Calypso repeatedly punched and elbowed the cuffed man in ​the ​Feb. 2014​ incident​, according to Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim.”

Secret Missouri Investigations of Inmate Deaths, Crime Report, Dec. 8, 2017
“At a time when the Missouri Department of Corrections has been under fire for issues ranging from its parole board toying with inmates to paying out millions of dollars in damages to female corrections officers who alleged they were harassed by co-workers, the Post-Dispatch took a look at how death in the prison system is investigated. Not only is the agency responsible for the care and treatment of some of the state’s most mentally troubled residents, the corrections department often polices itself by handling inmate deaths internally. The release of information is tightly controlled. No video. Even the warden’s name can be blacked out of documents. About 100 people die in prison each year, mainly of natural causes. The paper observes that the investigations of prison deaths can also be frustrating for families. Many such investigations are inconclusive.”

Seventh Circuit OKs Claims Over Prison Starvation, Courthouse News, Feb. 23, 2017
“The en banc Seventh Circuit ruled 6-4 that an Indiana prison health care provider may be liable for allowing an inmate who relied on a feeding tube to die of starvation in just 37 days. An Eighth Amendment case against a medical provider is rare without any allegation of deliberate indifference against an individual doctor or nurse, but the Seventh Circuit ruled Wednesday that a corporation might be liable for deliberate indifference even if its individual agents are not. Nicholas Glisson, 50, died of starvation and renal failure after spending just 37 days in an Indiana state prison. His mother sued the prison health care provider, Correctional Medical Services, also called Corizon, for deliberate indifference to her son’s medical needs.”

Solitary Confinement Gets Another Sharp Rebuke from a Supreme Court Justice, Solitary Watch, Mar. 20, 2017
“Late in the night of Tuesday, March 7, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer issued one of the Supreme Court’s starkest opinions yet that solitary confinement may violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Depending upon the future makeup of the Supreme Court and the cases it accepts for review, it also presents the possibility that the Court could find all or some uses of solitary confinement unconstitutional. Breyer’s comments were made in dissent from the Court’s refusal to issue a stay of execution for Rolando Ruiz, convicted in 1995 of carrying out a murder for hire in Texas. In Ruiz v. Texas, the plaintiff’s attorneys had argued that his execution should be delayed because of a number of technical flaws in earlier court proceedings and because he was subject to “lengthy incarceration in traumatic conditions” that they argued constituted cruel and unusual punishment. These conditions included “permanent solitary confinement” lasting twenty years. After a delay of several hours while the court considered—and turned down—his appeal, Ruiz was put to death at the Texas State Penitentiary at Huntsville at 11 pm on March 7.”

State Prison Suicides Climbed 30 Percent in One Year, Huffington Post, Feb. 15, 2017
“The number of inmate suicides in state prisons climbed by more than 30 percent during a one-year period, according to a recent report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Department of Justice. The statistical study, “Mortality in State Prisons, 2001-2014,” released Dec. 15, noted that in 2013, 192 state prison inmates died from suicide, while the total for 2014 rose to 249. Suicide deaths accounted for 7 percent of the 3,483 state prisoners who died in 2014, and reached their highest level since 2001, when BJS began keeping mortality data for state prison inmates. The jump in state prison suicides between 2013 and 2014 followed a 6 percent decline between 2012 and 2013. The data were drawn from the BJS Deaths in Custody Reporting Program.”

Steep Cost of Medical Co-Pays in Prison Puts Health at Risk, Prison Policy Initiative Blog, Apr. 19, 2017
“If your doctor charged a $500 co-pay for every visit, how bad would your health have to get before you made an appointment? You would be right to think such a high cost exploitative, and your neighbors would be right to fear that it would discourage you from getting the care you need for preventable problems. That’s not just a hypothetical story; it’s the hidden reality of prison life, adjusted for the wage differential between incarcerated people and people on the outside. In most states, people incarcerated in prisons and jails pay medical co-pays for physician visits, medications, dental treatment, and other health services. These fees are meant to partially reimburse the states and counties for the high cost of medical care for the populations they serve, which are among the most at-risk for both chronic and infectious diseases. Fees are also meant to deter people from unnecessary doctor’s visits. Unfortunately, high fees may be doing more harm than good: deterring sick people from getting the care they really do need.”

Suicidal in Solitary, Solitary Watch, Apr. 5, 2017
Solitary Watch’s James Ridgeway and Katie Rose Quandt have a new story out today in the Village Voice, about a young man with multiple psychological disabilities whose time in New York’s State prisons has included isolation, brutality–and a new six-year sentence for a suicide attempt.

Suicides Rise Among Georgia Inmates; Is Solitary Confinement to Blame?, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dec. 8, 2017
“The number of Georgia inmates killing themselves has increased this year, surpassing the national average and leading some to question whether the rise is linked to the state’s increased use of solitary confinement in its prison system. Thirteen state prisoners killed themselves through Nov. 9; one was on Death Row and two were being held in strict isolation, according to documents compiled by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. An additional prisoner being held in an isolation unit was found hanging in his cell, but since he died in the hospital days later — and not in the prison itself — corrections officials did not include his death in the total they provided to The AJC. In 2016, by comparison, nine inmates committed suicide for the entire year.”

Surprise Trip to Prison, NY Times, Mar. 28, 2017
“Campbell Robertson had nearly finished his reporting on St. Clair Correctional Facility in Springville, Ala., before he took a single step inside the prison — a place that had, in recent years, been one of the most violent in a state system known for its violence, as described in an article published today. Until then, he had built a picture of the maximum-security facility from court papers full of gruesome allegations and from conversations with former prisoners, current inmates — who spoke to him on contraband phones — and former officers. This was a switch from his regular process, in which Mr. Robertson sees the subject he’s writing about fairly early. Reporting first and then visiting the prison is not, he says, “the usual order of things.” Mr. Robertson had been doubtful that St. Clair would allow a visit — prisons tightly control access to grounds and inmates in a multitude of ways. But after an interview with the state corrections commissioner, he was surprised when an official told him to come by the prison and look around.”

Tennessee Jail Blamed for Seizure-Induced Brain Damage, Courthouse News, Mar. 28, 2017
“A Tennessee woman claims she suffered dozens of brain-damaging seizures in jail because she was denied anti-seizure medication and guards used a stun gun on her after accusing her of faking it. Tammy Brawner says in a lawsuit filed Friday in Knoxville federal court that she was in a car accident about 20 years ago that caused a head injury. Her doctor told her she needs to take anti-seizure medication every day.”

“This Person Never Counted Anyway”, Slate, June 16, 2017
“Almost 1,000 people perish in jail annually, yet prosecutors are doing little if anything to hold the people who run them accountable. According to Dave Shapiro, an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, criminal wrongdoing behind jail walls is difficult to prove. There is generally no video footage and nobody spreading the message on social media, which is why jail deaths receive far less attention than egregious police arrests and shootings. And even if there’s reason to believe an inmate’s death was caused by a correctional officer, prosecutors are reluctant to charge law enforcement officials with potential crimes committed while they’re on the job. At any given moment in the United States, approximately 630,000 people are detained in more than 3,000 jails. Seventy percent of detainees haven’t been convicted of a crime, and many are too poor to pay the high bail amounts usually set by prosecutors. Of all pretrial detainees, nearly 70 percent are locked up for drug, property, or public order offenses. Like King, detainees are disproportionately people of color; black people are overrepresented in the jail populations of all 50 states, Hispanics are overrepresented in 31, and American Indians are overrepresented in 17. What’s more, an estimated 64 percent of all jail detainees suffer from mental illness. They are some of the most vulnerable people in the custody of the state, yet there is no reliable way to track how many die of neglect or violence. (The leading causes of death behind bars, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, are illness and suicide, but there are no official statistics on the circumstances that underlie those deaths.)”

This Prison Is by Far the Deadliest in Florida, Miami Herald, Jan. 19, 2017
“Three years after Dade Correctional Institution was thrust into the national spotlight for the death of an inmate locked in a boiling shower in its mental health unit, deaths at the prison have soared to unprecedented heights. In 2016, 13 inmates died at Dade Correctional, including four from hanging. That’s twice as many deaths as any other state prison, with the exception of Charlotte Correctional (7) and prison hospitals and compounds catering to the sick or elderly. Three of those who apparently killed themselves were 30 or younger, two of them men with mental illnesses. Another inmate was killed by his cellmate and seven died of various medical ailments, ranging from heart disease to lymphoma. They are among 366 prisoners who died in Florida state prisons in 2016 — the highest number in the history of the Florida Department of Corrections. Most of those deaths remain under investigation.”

Three-Door Jail and the Future of Incarceration, Crime Report, Dec. 4, 2017
“In the “Three-Door Jail,” detention, magistrate, probation and mental health professionals are under one roof. Detainees arriving are processed and evaluated, then channeled into one of the appropriate “three doors.” Most leave in 24 hours.”

Transgender Inmate Seeks Rare Transfer to Female Prison, State Journal-Register, Jan. 6, 2018
“A 26-year-old transgender woman serving a 10-year sentence in Illinois for burglary is seeking a rarely granted transfer to a female prison where she says she’ll be less vulnerable to the kinds of sexual assault, taunting and beatings she’s been subjected to in male prisons. Deon “Strawberry” Hampton describes in a lawsuit filed last year asking for the transfer how guards and fellow inmates would regularly single her out for brutal treatment at the high-security prison in southern Illinois, Menard Correctional Center, and earlier at Pinckneyville Correctional Center. A U.S. magistrate judge began a first-of-its-kind evidentiary hearing in Hampton’s case Friday in Benton, southeast of St. Louis, to help the court decide whether to order the transfer. The hearing, which will last several days, is focused on Hampton’s gender identity and on whether she could pose a risk to female inmates if moved.”

Trump Administration Reduces Support for Prisoner Halfway Houses, Reuters, Oct. 13, 2017
“The administration of President Donald Trump has been quietly cutting support for halfway houses for federal prisoners, severing contracts with as many as 16 facilities in recent months, prompting concern that some inmates are being forced to stay behind bars longer than necessary.”

Trump Wants to Bring Back Torture. For Thousands of Americans, It Never Went Away., Solitary Watch, Feb. 10, 2017
“In the last several years, however, an expanding group of advocates, joined by growing numbers of ordinary Americans, have risen up to resist the widespread use of solitary in U.S. prisons and jails. And under the pressure of both activism and irrefutable evidence, some state and local prison systems have begun to reduce their dependence on the practice. In January 2016, they were joined by President Obama, who ordered incremental reforms to the use of solitary in federal prisons. The federal-level changes can easily be reversed by Trump and his new Attorney General, Jeff Sessions. But there is nothing to stop state prisons and local jails—where the vast majority of the 2.2 million incarcerated Americans are held—from continuing and expanding their reforms. They still, however, have a long, long way to go: A recent report suggests that the number of people in solitary in prisons (not counting jails) has declined from a high of 81,000 in 2005 to about 70,000 today. These numbers will fall significantly only if advocates and citizens maintain—and increase—the pressure for change.”

Two-Year Prison Sentence Affirmed for Convict with Leukemia, Indiana Lawyer, Mar. 20, 2017
“A divided 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the two-year sentence handed down to an older man being treated for leukemia, though the dissenting appellate judge had serious questions about the Bureau of Prisons’ ability to meet the man’s medical needs.” See United States v. Rothbard, 851 F.3d 699 (2017).

Unsuited for Jail: Suit Shows the Need for Alternate Offender Housing, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dec. 21, 2016
“In recent weeks, members of the Allegheny County Jail Oversight Board have expressed discomfort with the number of pregnant women incarcerated there. Now, a federal lawsuit alleges that pregnant inmates have been placed in solitary confinement for minor infractions of jail rules. County officials were alerted a couple of weeks ago to complaints about the use of solitary confinement for pregnant inmates, and jail officials took steps to minimize the practice before the suit was filed. Still, the suit underscores the need to find alternative placements for nonviolent offenders and pregnant inmates whenever possible. Incarceration should be reserved for those most deserving of it and who are physically able to do the time. In the suit, filed with the aid of civil rights advocates, five women allege they were placed in solitary confinement for as long as 22 days while pregnant. They claim their infractions were as minor as having too many pairs of shoes, and one of their attorneys, Bret Grote, said the women were not even in the jail for crimes of violence.”

Victory: Judge Issues Order to Stop Use of Solitary Confinement on Children in Jail, ACLU Blog, Feb. 23, 2017
“A U.S. District Court Judge today ordered the Justice Center jail in Syracuse, New York to immediately stop putting children in isolation for 23 hours a day. Judge David Hurd granted a preliminary injunction in a lawsuit filed by the New York Civil Liberties Union and Legal Services of Central New York to stop the Justice Center from subjecting 16- and 17-year-old children to solitary confinement, and that any new form of punishment used by the jail while the case proceeds must include meaningful social interaction with others and cannot harm the psychological health of children. This is a landmark case involving juveniles in an adult jail because the court found that the use of solitary confinement for children violates or is substantially likely to violate the Eighth Amendment protection against cruel and unusual punishment.”

We Can’t “End Mass Incarceration” If We Erase the Experiences of Criminalized Women, Truthout, June 13, 2017
“On March 31, Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed that by 2027, New York City would at last close the jail complex on Rikers Island. In both his public announcement and in subsequent interviews, Mayor de Blasio clearly situated the dismantling of the Rikers facility as the crux of the city’s efforts towards criminal legal reform, going as far as to say that “making this important change” will “end the era of mass incarceration.” Though Rikers is undoubtedly a site of immense abuse, to locate the city’s punitive malpractice exclusively within its most exceptional jail is a narrow and incomplete path towards reform that obscures the full continuum of harm wrought by the city’s criminal legal system. The legal and political architecture of mass incarceration is not manifested exclusively in carceral facilities, nor are its victims solely those who are detained. By centering criminal legal reform exclusively around the closure of Rikers Island, Mayor de Blasio has posited a largely male experience as the paradigm of criminal legal involvement in New York City. In doing so, he has erased the experiences of women and girls who suffer so much more from the less visible dysfunctions of the city’s criminal legal system, particularly at the policing and prosecutorial levels.”

We Wanted to Find Troubled Jails, So We Counted the Bodies, Huffington Post, Dec. 15, 2016
“In any given year, the vast majority of the thousands of jails in the United States do not report a single death. That makes sense. Jails are supposed to be controlled environments. You can’t get in a car accident behind bars. You shouldn’t be able to overdose on drugs or attempt suicide without a staff member noticing. If you have a health problem, jails should provide medical care. But each year, about 1,000 Americans die in jail anyway. Many die without the public knowing why, or whether their deaths could have been prevented. Although the federal government collects data on jail deaths, it only publishes that data years later, and in aggregate, making it impossible to identify facilities that have particularly high death rates.”

When Inmates Sue, Are They on a Level Playing Field?, Crime Report, Oct. 24, 2017
“The neatly landscaped grounds of the David Wade Corrections Center near Homer, La., contain ornamental gardens and even a koi pond. In a state which has been notorious for its high rate of incarceration, and for allegations of systematic prisoner abuse, the warden and staff at David Wade, a facility that holds over 1,200 inmates, say they are committed to rehabilitation. Although many prisoners are serving sentences of decades to life, they can participate in vocational education classes and faith-based workshops. David Wade Correctional Center. A mental health department with five qualified professionals provides comprehensive evaluation, individual counseling, psychiatric consultation, and group therapy. But a Shreveport Times investigation, prodded by the escape of an inmate last summer, found the prison’s placid outward appearance hides a rate of prisoner lawsuits “significantly higher” than for other similarly sized institutions in the state. More than 200 lawsuits have been filed by inmates at the sprawling prison since it opened in 1980—with more than half filed in the past five years, including 53 alleging “civil rights violations.” Multiple suits cited specific problems about conditions in the facility’s extended disciplinary lockdown units, including a lack of mental health services, unnecessary use of chemical agents, overcrowding by double-bunking inmates and roach infestations.”

Who Pays for Jail Rape?, Marshall Project, July 17, 2017
“A federal appeals court issued a ruling earlier this month in a Texas case that helps explain why so many prison or jail inmates are sexually assaulted by their guards and why so little is done about it. It’s not just lax training and oversight within facilities. It’s not just poor recruitment practices. It’s also layer upon layer of nearly insurmountable legal standards crafted over time by judges and legislators to protect corrections officers, their supervisors, and, ultimately, local budgets.”

Why All Americans Should Go to Prison, Ozy, Dec. 12, 2016
“We believe every American should be required to visit a prison. After all, some two million of their fellow citizens are incarcerated — that’s almost 1 percent of the population. For the most part, those on the outside ignore this significant minority: Inmates don’t much figure into discussions about policy, which is one reason it took decades for politicians to start dismantling mass-incarceration policies that had long ago been deemed expensive and ineffective. Isn’t it weird that the first sitting president to visit a federal prison was … Barack Obama, in the last year of his second term? While there, he was surprised to discover that three fully grown men were housed in a minuscule 9 x 12 cell.”

Why Doesn’t the Hippocratic Oath Apply to the Nation’s Prisons?, Crime Report, Apr. 25, 2017
“The Hippocratic Oath has long embodied all that is good in the medical profession. Those who swear by it vow to act “for the benefit of the sick” and to prevent “harm and injustice” from befalling their patients. But in the correctional system, the Oath is often undermined or, at best, ignored. The Washington Department of Corrections (WDOC) is an unfortunate example. Medical professionals within the WDOC acknowledge in depositions that its medical staff are required to use “a different standard to evaluate patients than is used [ ] in the community,” and some medical personnel in WDOC concede there is nothing “science-based or humane” about the policies that govern their decision-making. These claims are currently the subject of a lawsuit, in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, brought against WDOC by the non-profit Columbia Legal Services (CLS) on behalf of prisoners throughout the State of Washington. [See, Daniel Haldane, et al. v. G. Stephen Hammond, M.D., et al., No. 2:15-cv-01810-RAJ].”

Why Jails Have More Suicides than Prisons, Marshall Project, Aug. 4, 2015
“A report released today by the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that among the causes of death behind bars, suicide in county jails — a leading cause of death in such facilities — is on the rise. These statistics, collected between 2000 and 2013, come in the wake of Sandra Bland’s death at the Waller County jail in east Texas, which received national attention and is currently being investigated by the FBI and a panel of lawyers for evidence of wrongdoing.”

Why Many Deaf Prisoners Can’t Call Home, Marshall Project, Sept. 19, 2017
“Calling home from prison is cumbersome and expensive. For deaf people behind bars, it’s even tougher, sometimes impossible. The technology provided to deaf people in most U.S. prisons is a teletypewriter, a machine developed in the 1960s that requires users to type their messages. The system is rife with problems. Most deaf households have switched to some kind of videophone, which allows users to speak in sign language. But prisons across the country still use the outmoded system, known as TTY or TDD (telecommunications device for the deaf), leaving many deaf inmates cut off from loved ones.”

Why We Should Care About Inhumane Prison Conditions, Daily Maverick, Dec. 6, 2017
“On 5 December 2016, the Western Cape High Court declared conditions in Pollsmoor Remand Detention Facility (Pollsmoor Remand) to be in breach of the government’s constitutional obligations to detain inmates in conditions consistent with human dignity. For decades, Pollsmoor Remand, a facility for awaiting trial detainees, has been operating at more than twice its approved capacity. In a landmark ruling, the court ordered the South African government to reduce overcrowding in Pollsmoor Remand from roughly 4,080 detainees (250%) to, at most, 2,430 detainees (150%) within six months, and to produce a plan to address and prevent overcrowding and other inhumane conditions in the facility. . . . Inmates, like the rest of us, have the right to be treated with dignity, to be safe and secure, to be housed in sanitary conditions, and to receive food and exercise. These rights are enshrined in our Constitution. These alone are sufficient reasons for us to demand improved conditions in prisons or, as the government optimistically refers to them, “correctional centres”. However, most likely due to the high rates of violent crime that we experience in South Africa, including rape, there is a pervasive lack of sympathy for the people we put behind bars. But what if we consider it from a different, more self-interested perspective: how do inhumane conditions in prisons affect us?”

Witnesses to Double Execution in Arkansas Say Inmates May Have Suffered Botched, Painful Death, Democracy Now, Apr. 25, 2017
“We speak with The Guardian’s chief reporter Ed Pilkington about the shocking double execution Arkansas carried out Monday night, marking the first time in nearly 17 years that any state has killed two people on the same day. At 7:20 p.m. local time, 52-year-old Jack Harold Jones was pronounced dead in the death chamber at the Cummins Unit state prison. Infirmary workers had spent more than 45 minutes unsuccessfully trying to put a central line into his neck. According to a court filing, during Jones’s execution, he was “moving his lips and gulping for air,” which suggests he continued to be conscious during the lethal injection. Lawyers for the second man, Marcel Williams, filed a last-minute appeal for a stay of execution following Jones’s killing, arguing Williams could also experience a botched, painful death. A district court judge initially granted a temporary stay of Williams’s execution but then allowed the execution to go forward. Williams was pronounced dead at 10:33 p.m. The executions came after legal challenges reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which rejected a stay for Williams. The only justice to dissent in this ruling was Justice Sonia Sotomayor.”

“Witness to Human Torture”: On Both Sides of the Prison Walls, Social Workers Confront Solitary Confinement, Solitary Watch, Nov. 3, 2017
“The Code of Ethics does not specifically address the use of solitary confinement, and the NASW has not released an official stance on the issue. Reamer said “the duties are clear” when it comes to “abuses that occur within solitary confinement or segregation…whether it’s physical abuse, where staff assaults an inmate, emotional abuse, neglect, failure to address an inmate’s needs. In my opinion, they have a fundamental duty to address those issues, based on prevailing and widely embraced ethical standards in social work.” “Our general stance is that solitary confinement, or use of restrictive housing, is in place in most correctional facilities, but…they should be constantly working on reforming it and developing safe alternatives,” said Mel Wilson, Director of the NASW Department of Social Justice and Human Rights. “We have not taken a position on solitary confinement being tantamount or equivalent to torture. That is not a position we’ve taken, but we do recognize that solitary confinement can be extremely harmful if there aren’t reforms.””

Women in Rikers: Why Gender Matters When We Talk About Reform, City & State NY, May 15, 2017
“With the welcome news that the jail complex on Rikers Island is now headed for eventual closure, there is an opportunity to think more deeply about the people who end up there. The number of women in the American justice system increased by more than 700 percent from 1980 to 2014 – yet women lack visibility. On any given day 600 women are jailed at Rikers Island, yet they are absent from the larger narrative about incarceration. eFrom an inherently biased bail process to uniforms designed to fit men’s larger frames, the system fails to consider that when it comes to incarceration, gender matters.”

RESOURCES

Association of State Correctional Administrators(ASCA)
” Our association is the most exclusive correctional association in the world. ASCA Members are the leaders of each U.S. State corrections agency, including, Los Angeles County, the District of Columbia, New York City, Philadelphia, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and any United States territory, possession, and/or commonwealth. Our members lead over 400,000 correctional professionals and approximately 8 million inmates, probationers, and parolees. Our goal is to increase public safety by utilizing correctional best practices, accountability, and providing opportunities for people to change.”

Database of Texas Deaths in Police Custody Now Public, Houston Chronicle, Dec. 7, 2016
“An index of the more than 5,000 people who’ve died in police custody in Texas is readily accessible for the first time this week. The state attorney general’s office this week launched the Custodial Death Report database, which includes the report that a police agency files when someone dies in custody. Previously, public records requests had to be filed formally with the office for the information to be released.”

Denver Jail Abuse (Colorado Public Radio 2014-2016)

Collection of ongoing reporting about jail conditions, investigations and efforts at reform in the Denver Jail System.

Just Another Week in Hell, Marshall Project, Apr. 28, 2017
“At Marshall Project, we regularly check in with newspapers around the country, collecting stories and links for Opening Statement, our daily email, and for The Record, our “searchable encyclopedia for criminal justice journalism.” This week we couldn’t help but be taken aback by the litany of horrors in county jails and juvenile detention centers, most of them inflicted on the mentally ill and minors. The dehumanizing conditions in many lockups has received considerable coverage. Last year, HuffPost cataloged a year’s worth of deaths in the nation’s jails, including suicides. But the accounts published this week — a collection of stories condensed into just five days — reveal stunning misconduct by keepers and contempt for the kept. The following roundup focuses only on local lockups. (If we included state prisons, this week’s coverage would include a story in St. Louis, in which a mentally ill inmate hanged himself while one guard surfed Twitter, Amazon, Facebook and LinkedIn, and another guard streamed the movie “Blue Streak” on Netflix, and a story in Sacramento, Calif., in which officers pepper-sprayed a mentally ill inmate and strapped him, naked, to a gurney for 72 hours.).”

Latest News on Prison Health Care (Kaiser Health News)
“Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nonprofit news service committed to in-depth coverage of health care policy and politics. And we report on how the health care system — hospitals, doctors, nurses, insurers, governments, consumers — works.”

Marshall Project
“The Marshall Project is a nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization that seeks to create and sustain a sense of national urgency about the U.S. criminal justice system. We achieve this through award-winning journalism, partnerships with other news outlets and public forums. In all of our work we strive to educate and enlarge the audience of people who care about the state of criminal justice.”

National PREA Resource Center (PRC)
“Impact Justice was awarded a cooperative agreement with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to implement the National PREA Resource Center (PRC). The PRC’s aim is to provide assistance to those responsible for state and local adult prisons and jails, juvenile facilities, community corrections, lockups, tribal organizations, and inmates and their families in their efforts to eliminate sexual abuse in confinement. The PRC serves as a central repository for the best research in the field on trends, prevention, and response strategies, and best practices in corrections. Technical assistance and resources are available through the PRC’s coordinated efforts with its federal partners, and the PRC will take the lead in helping the corrections field to implement the Department of Justice’s national PREA standards.”

Nigel Poor Tells Stories from Inside Prison, NY Times, Oct. 25, 2017
“You co-host a podcast, “Ear Hustle,” with Earlonne Woods, who is incarcerated, about life inside San Quentin State Prison. But you’re also a visual artist and professor of photography.”

Prison Legal News
“Prison Legal News, a project of the Human Rights Defense Center, is an independent 72-page monthly magazine that provides cutting edge review and analysis of prisoners’ rights, court rulings and news concerning criminal justice-related issues. PLN has a national (U.S.) focus on both state and federal prison issues, with some international coverage. PLN provides information that enables prisoners and other concerned individuals and organizations to gain a better understanding of a broad range of criminal justice topics, including issues related to the protection and enforcement of prisoners’ rights. Some of the areas we cover include prison labor, the private prison industry, medical and mental health care for prisoners, misconduct and abuse by prison and jail staff, settlements and verdicts in lawsuits against detention facilities, juvenile justice, the death penalty, the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA), prison censorship, HIV and hep C, solitary confinement, and racial and socio-economic disparities in our criminal justice system. Plus much more!”

Prison Policy Initiative
“The non-profit, non-partisan Prison Policy Initiative produces cutting edge research to expose the broader harm of mass criminalization, and then sparks advocacy campaigns to create a more just society.”

Prisoners in the U.S.: Research on Inmate Population Trends, Demographics (Journalist’s Resource Harvard Kennedy School)
“Journalists who cover criminal justice follow prison trends and new research on topics such as racial disparities in sentencing, inmate health and programs aimed at reducing recidivism. But really, journalists on many beats write at least occasionally about some facet of the correctional system. County government reporters, for example, write about the funding and operation of county jails. Education reporters write about campus crime and the unique challenges of serving students whose parents are incarcerated. To help with this work, Journalist’s Resource has pulled together government reports and academic papers that help paint a picture of the men, women and children in custody nationwide. While this collection focuses on inmate demographics and prison population trends, we have included a few research articles that look specifically at transgender inmates. For those who are interested, Journalist’s Resource has also written about research on solitary confinement, why men commit more crime than women, how the economy affects ex-cons’ odds of returning to jail and inmates’ relationships with prison staff.”

Solitary Watch
“Solitary Watch is a nonprofit national watchdog group that investigates, documents, and disseminates information on the widespread use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails. Our mission is to provide the public—as well as practicing attorneys, legal scholars, law enforcement and corrections officers, policymakers, educators, advocates, people in prison and their families—with the first centralized source of unfolding news, original reporting, firsthand accounts, and background research on solitary confinement in the United States. Our hope is that such information will catalyze discussion, debate, and change on a vital domestic human rights issue.”

Special Investigation: Dying in Private Prisons (The Nation)
“The Department of Justice has announced plans to end its use of all private prison operators, following The Nation’s investigation, in partnership with The Investigative Fund, that uncovered dozens of questionable deaths at the privately run facilities in which the Bureau of Prisons houses noncitizen inmates. Reporter Seth Freed Wessler obtained tens of thousands of pages of medical reports through an open records lawsuit and, working with a panel of medical doctors, found more than two dozen deaths involving substandard care. Further reporting revealed that the agency understood the danger yet repeatedly renewed contracts.”

[1] See Ken Strutin, Prison Affected People: Punished to the Margins of Life, LLRX, Dec. 30, 2016 (“The incarcerative experience embraces many scenarios that affect well-being, daily living, and dignity: accessibility, mobility, independence and self-care (ADA/Rehabilitation Act); adult and juvenile classifications and aging in (elderly entering prison, young people aging into elderhood); death-in-custody (homicide, suicide, illness, accident, neglect, mistreatment); disabilities (sensory, cognitive); double-bunking and overcrowding; gender identity and sexual orientation (LGBT); infectious diseases as well as chronic and acute medical conditions; mental health (problems, disorders, illness); sexual abuse and rape (PREA); and solitary confinement.”).

[2] See Ken Strutin, Pain, Punishment and the Path Forward, N.Y.L.J., July 19, 2016, at 5 (“Pain is the unwanted companion of every inmate. It is at the heart of retribution and the meaning behind punishment. But there must be limits to the grotesqueries of penal confinement. Education about the reality and effects of pain can cast a light on the unseen and unquantified suffering of imprisonment. . . . Prison is not a place of gentle misunderstandings, it is the encirclement of hurt. And so pain in its embodiments serves as society’s gendarmerie inside the penitentiary.” Id. (footnote omitted)). See also Ken Strutin, Pain Science and the Administration of Justice, LLRX, June 30, 2016.

[3] See Mika’il DeVeaux, The Trauma of the Incarceration Experience, 48 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 257 (2013).

[4] See Chris Barker, Doing ‘Hard Time’ in the Nation’s Jails, Crime Report, Jan. 9, 2018 (“During three separate visits to Cowley County Jail in November 2014, October 2015, and November 2016, we were told that jail time is “hard time” in comparison to incarceration in a state prison. It hardly seemed possible. But county jails have less bureaucratic oversight, smaller numbers of offenders and closer supervision of them, fewer programs, and less connection to the outside through contact visitations.”).

[5] See, e.g., Elizabeth S. Barnert et al., How Does Incarcerating Young People Affect Their Adult Health Outcomes?, 139 Pediatrics 1 (2016) (“Cumulative incarceration duration during adolescence and early adulthood is independently associated with worse physical and mental health later in adulthood. Potential mechanisms merit exploration.”).

[6] See Judith Resnik et al., Aiming to Reduce Time-in-Cell: Reports from Correctional Systems on the Numbers of Prisoners in Restricted Housing and on the Potential of Policy Changes to Bring About Reforms (2016); Anna Flagg et al., Who’s in Solitary Confinement?, Marshall Project, Nov. 30, 2016; Solitary at Southport (Correctional Association of NY 2017) (“Solitary confinement is torture.” Id. at 2). See generally Ken Strutin, Solitary Confinement: Out of Sight, Out of Mind, LLRX, Dec. 17, 2015; Ken Strutin, Solitary Confinement: ‘A Darkness That Can Be Felt’, N.Y.L.J., Nov. 17, 2015, at 5 (“Solitary confinement is where the fabric of justice has worn through. It is the place where everybody hurts and nobody heals. And when the toll of punishment’s punishment is seen in human and scientific terms, reform becomes a constitutional imperative.” (footnote omitted)).

[7] See, e.g., Systemic Indifference: Dangerous and Substandard Medical Care in Immigration Detention (Human Rights Watch 2017) (“Medical care in the U.S. immigration detention system, and the poor system of oversight that allows substandard care, has long been the target of criticism by investigative journalists and human rights advocates. This is the third report Human Rights Watch has released on medical care in immigration detention since 2007, and one among many reports by civil and human rights organizations on conditions in such facilities nationwide.”); Nomaan Merchant, Advocates Want #MeToo Debate to Include Immigrant Detention, US News & World Report, Jan. 8, 2018 (“”Our immigrant prison system thrives on secrecy,” said Christina Fialho, co-executive director of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement, or CIVIC. “If more people knew what was truly happening behind locked doors, I think there would be an outcry against the immigrant detention system.” Fialho’s organization sent a complaint to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in April that listed 27 allegations of sexual abuse in immigration detention over the last three years. The complaint also says that another 1,016 people reported sexual abuse in detention to the Department of Homeland Security between May 2014 and July 2016. Fialho said many more cases go uncounted because victims are afraid to come forward or, when they do, their cases aren’t fully investigated.”).

[8] See Peter Wagner and Bernadette Rabuy, Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2017 (Prison Policy Initiative 2017) (“This report offers some much needed clarity by piecing together this country’s disparate systems of confinement. The American criminal justice system holds more than 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 901 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 76 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories. And we go deeper to provide further detail on why people are locked up in all of those different types of facilities.”).

[9] See Ken Strutin, Realignment of Incarcerative Punishment: Sentencing Reform and the Conditions of Confinement, 38 Wm. Mitchell L. Rev. 1313 (2012) (“The prison model of punishment is overdue for deconstruction or at least a major overhaul. Indeed, the process of sentencing offenders is out of line with the Constitution because it fails to recognize the role of prison conditions as an element of punishment.” Id. at 1313-1314 (footnotes omitted)).

[10] See Brown v. Plata, 131 S. Ct. 1910 (2011) (“Prisoners retain the essence of human dignity inherent in all persons. Respect for that dignity animates the Eighth Amendment prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. . . . A prison that deprives prisoners of basic sustenance, including adequate medical care, is incompatible with the concept of human dignity and has no place in civilized society.” Id. at 1928). Cf. Laura L. Rovner, ‘Everything Is at Stake if Norway Is Sentenced. In that Case, We Have Failed’: Solitary Confinement and the ‘Hard’ Cases in the United States and Norway, SSRN (2017) (describing Norway’s prisons and punishments in which “compassion” is made real and “dignity” a community value).

[11] Ken Strutin, Death in Custody: The End of Carceral Confinement, N.Y.L.J., Sept. 15, 2015, at 5 (“Everyone dies a little in prison and too many finish their lives there. This is the unpronounced sentence of “death in custody.” Still, the end of incarceration should precede the end of life; it is one of the most important “end of life” decisions a society makes. And within the mind of the sentencer and the experience of the incarcerated lay the keys to harmonizing justice with dignity. By the numbers, more than two million human beings occupy America’s jails and prisons. In a recently published survey, half of incarcerated persons reported suffering from some chronic medical condition and a smaller percentage as being afflicted with infectious diseases. In-custody deaths have been numbered in the thousands. And life-shortening illnesses and conditions, such as cancer and heart disease, along with suicide, are among the chief contributors.” Id. (footnotes omitted)).

[12] See generally Ken Strutin, Truth, Justice and the American Style Plea Bargain, 77 Alb. L. Rev. 825 (2013-14) (“Regardless of the myriad individual reasons and pressures that might induce anyone, again innocent or guilty, to plead, the most salient systemic reason is fear of wrongful conviction and harsh punishment. Id. at 872 (footnote omitted).”).

[13] See Ken Strutin, Unfit for Incarceration: Taking Stock of Punishment’s Inhumanity, N.Y.L.J., Nov. 22, 2016, at 5 (“The signature institution of any country is prison. And as the chief minister of punishment, it is tasked with grinding down individuality, vulnerability and infirmity. Without explanation, sentencing laws speak only to a term of years, never to the incarcerative experience or to the human toll. So, the mistreatments endured in confinement begin with sentencing when it fails to ask who is fit for incarceration?” Id.); Craig Haney and Philip Zimbardo, The Past and Future of U.S. Prison Policy: Twenty-Five Years After the Stanford Prison Experiment, 53 Am. Psychologist 709, 718-21 (1998) (describing the destructive pathology of confinement).

[14] See Joe Fassler and Claire Brown, Prison Food Is Making U.S. Inmates Disproportionately Sick, Atlantic, Dec. 27, 2017; Mariel A. Marlow, Foodborne Disease Outbreaks in Correctional Institutions—United States, 1998–2014, 107(7) Am. J. Pub. Health 1150 (2017) (“Incarcerated persons suffer a disproportionate number of outbreak-associated foodborne illnesses. Better food safety oversight and regulation in correctional food services could decrease outbreaks.”). See also Eliza Barclay, Food as Punishment: Giving U.S. Inmates ‘The Loaf’ Persists, NPR, Jan. 2, 2014.

[15] See Systemic Indifference: Dangerous and Substandard Medical Care in Immigration Detention (Human Rights Watch 2017). See also David Fathi, How Poor Health Care Turned Walter Jordan’s Prison Sentence into a Death Sentence, ACLU News, Jan. 11, 2018; Audrey Dutton, Idaho Inmate Says He Had to Swallow Razor Blade to Get Proper Medical Care in Prison, Idaho Statesman, Dec. 26, 2017.

[16] See, e.g., Andrew Cohen, How America’s Most Famous Federal Prison Faced a Dirty Secret, Marshall Project, Dec. 5, 2016 (“For many years the most famous federal prison in America, the “Supermax” facility in Florence, Colorado, held a dirty secret: even though it was not permitted by law to house mentally ill prisoners, many of the men locked down in “administrative segregation” there were, in fact, severely mentally ill. Most of those prisoners were misdiagnosed when they arrived and then were mistreated or simply not treated at all for their medical conditions. As their health worsened they committed disciplinary infractions, which in turn put them into more restrictive conditions of confinement, which exacerbated their mental illness.”).

[17] 511 U.S. 825 (1994) (“A prison official’s “deliberate indifference” to a substantial risk of serious harm to an inmate violates the Eighth Amendment. (citations omitted). This case requires us to define the term “deliberate indifference,” as we do by requiring a showing that the official was subjectively aware of the risk.” Id. at 828-829).

[18] Id. at 833-834 (citations omitted).

[19] Much victimization of the incarcerated goes undisclosed and uninvestigated out of fear of reprisal, cognitive and language impairments, ignorance of legal remedies, and assimilation into a culture of violence. See, e.g., Hannah Brenner et al., Bars to Justice: The Impact of Rape Myths on Women in Prison, 17 Geo. J. Gender & L. 521 (2016) (“This article . . . addresses a major gap in understanding the reporting of sexual victimization in prison and the confluence of factors that contribute to the ineffectiveness of internal laws and policies.” Id. at 525 (footnote omitted)); Alan Feuer, Trial Begins in Brooklyn of Jail Guard Accused of Raping Female Inmate, NY Times, Jan. 8, 2018 (“In the last few months, the #MeToo movement has broken down walls of traditional male bastions in Hollywood, the news media and Washington. Now, a criminal trial in Brooklyn is poised to expose a world where activists have not yet gone — the one behind bars. This week, a former lieutenant at the Metropolitan Detention Center, the federal jail in Brooklyn, will go on trial, accused of using his position of authority to repeatedly rape a female inmate in his charge. . . . The M.D.C. holds about 1,800 inmates, only about 3 percent of whom are women. In 2016, a federal judge expressed reluctance about sending women there because, as she put it at the time, its conditions made it sound like it was in “some third-world country.””).

[20] See, e.g., Editorial, Stain of Racism in New York’s Prisons, N.Y. Times, Dec. 6, 2016, at A26 (“New Yorkers are grimly familiar with state prison horror stories featuring guards who beat and torture inmates, knowing that their union will shield them from punishment and that district attorneys in towns dominated by prisons will look the other way. But wanton brutality is only one aspect of a prison system in which there is little respect for the rule of law or human rights. A powerful investigation by The Times this week reveals a depth of racial bias against minority inmates in New York state prisons that should be the subject of a federal investigation, if the state government, led by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, cannot move quickly to address these problems.”); Anthony Papa, Letter to the Editor: Violence in Prison, N.Y. Times, Nov. 21, 2016, at A22 (“I can attest to the violence that occurs in prison. The violence that occurred when I was there [Sing Sing] came from both prison guards and prisoners. This is the way life in prison is. It’s a horrible place that breeds a pervasive predatory environment that includes both prisoners and prison guards. I learned to adapt to my situation, but adaptation came at a cost. I became desensitized to the violence that I witnessed around me. One thing you learn on the inside is how easily the ugliness of prison life seeps into your skin, souring the lives of everyone there, including prisoners, civilians and guards.”).

[21] Brenner, 17 Geo. J. Gender & L. at 540 (“Prisoners face a societal brand of deviance that carries with it assumptions about their behavior because they committed a crime for which they are serving time. These assumptions are powerful enough to bar them from attaining the characteristics of “ideal victimhood.””).

[22] See Carimah Townes, “This Person Never Counted Anyway”, Slate, June 16, 2017 (“Almost 1,000 people perish in jail annually, yet prosecutors are doing little if anything to hold the people who run them accountable. According to Dave Shapiro, an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern’s Pritzker School of Law, criminal wrongdoing behind jail walls is difficult to prove.”); Ken Armstrong, Just Another Week in Hell, Marshall Project, Apr. 28, 2017 (“The dehumanizing conditions in many lockups has received considerable coverage. Last year, HuffPost cataloged a year’s worth of deaths in the nation’s jails, including suicides. But the accounts published this week — a collection of stories condensed into just five days — reveal stunning misconduct by keepers and contempt for the kept.”); Julie K. Brown, This Prison Is by Far the Deadliest in Florida, Miami Herald, Jan. 19, 2017 (“Florida’s prisons have long been considered among the most brutal in the nation. The elimination of parole dramatically increased the inmate population, especially swelling the ranks of older prisoners. The abuse of inmates, particularly those who suffer from mental illnesses, has been a part of the prison system’s culture for decades.”); Voices from Clinton: First-Hand Accounts of Brutality, Torture, and Cover-up from People Incarcerated at an Infamously Abusive New York State Prison (Correctional Association of New York 2016).

Posted in: Civil Liberties, Criminal Law, Legal Research, United States Law
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