Action Alert for CA: Sign the petition “California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: Prison reform: Voice for the voiceless”

Crystal B. started this petition to CALIFORNIA Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation: The prison system affects thousands of inmates and their loved ones including myself. There are inmates who are excluded from participating in family visits and some groups, groups that are essential to one’s rehabilitation. Before I tell you what group of men I’m talking about let me say this, never judge before you know someone’s story. Everyone deserves a second chance. The group of men I’m speaking of is those with sexual offences. Not only do they fear…

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TX: What I learned working in a Texas prison: Retribution, not reformation

[baptistnews.com – 3/11/21] I served as a pastor for 33 years and then worked nearly six years as a counselor at the most high-profile maximum-security prison in Texas. There, I ran the mental health department, nestled in the prison infirmary, which serves all the offenders and, in emergencies, staff and correctional staff. Looking back, I can say there is nothing in the Texas criminal justice system or the Texas Department of Criminal Justice that is right, meets the standards of “not cruel or unusual punishment,” nor is fundamentally rooted in…

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Our System Is Not Doing the Thing It Says It Intends to Do: Deliver Justice

[jacobinmag.com – 8/5/20] Carceral solutions to sexual violence won’t deliver justice. We need investments in public services that will actually reduce sexual violence. In the last few years, the #MeToo movement has brought renewed attention to sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and the ways they are used by mostly powerful, wealthy men to maintain social and economic hierarchies. At the same time, the push for decarceration and opposition to policing have exploded into a national movement. For leftist feminists, these two movements raise urgent questions about how to fight sexual violence…

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Attorney General Barr Memo Excludes Release of Registrants

[ACSOL] It’s just come to my attention that Attorney General Barr recently issued a memorandum purporting to address the problem of COVID-19 for federal prisons, by recommending consideration of release from federal prison to home confinement. In the federal system there is a regular program allowing many prisoners to be released near the end of their sentence to “halfway houses”, which are run by private contractors. Many in halfway houses are then released fairly quickly from those settings to home confinement, especially if they have found employment.  While in home confinement, they are supervised…

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Read the Joint Statement from Elected Prosecutors on Covid-19 and Addressing The Rights and Needs of Those In Custody

[fairandjustprosecution.org – 3/2020] COVID-19 has the world on high alert. In recognition that the coronavirus is spreading quickly among high concentrations of people in close proximity, schools are being shut down, conferences rescheduled, international travel is being restricted, and cruise ships –the early incubators of the virus–are being quarantined. Those measures are all sensible, but they also drive home how little attention is being paid to the millions of people in the most overcrowded conditions that are ripe for the spread of this contagious and deadly virus: the people behind…

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Five lessons pandemics can teach us about criminal justice reform

[prisonpolicy.org – 2/6/20] No need to wait for pandemics: The public health case for criminal justice reform We offer five examples of policies that could slow the spread of a viral pandemic in prisons and jails – and would mitigate the everyday impact of incarceration on public health. by Peter Wagner and Emily Widra The United States incarcerates a greater share of its population than any other nation in the world, so it is urgent that policymakers think about how a viral pandemic would impact people in prisons, in jails,…

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Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration

[brennancenter.org – 1/3/20] NYU law professor and author Rachel Barkow offers solutions for tackling America’s criminal justice crisis. The forces that created and perpetuate mass incarceration have been entrenched for decades. In her book, Prisoners of Politics: Breaking the Cycle of Mass Incarceration, New York University law professor Rachel Barkow details solutions for fixing the system’s myriad problems. She talked to the Brennan Center’s Ruth Sangree about some of them. What is the best-case scenario for criminal justice reform in the coming years? It involves reform at the state and federal level. It gives…

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America’s Shadow Criminal Justice System

[newrepublic.com – 5/30/18] How the “supervised release” program pulls tens of thousands of former inmates back into prison without a fair trial By Jacob Schuman In the federal criminal justice system, prison is just the beginning of punishment. After prison comes “supervised release,” a set of obligations and restrictions governing an ex-con’s day-to-day schedule, employment, residence, and relationships. In the best-case scenario, two-thirds of people successfully complete their term of supervised release. Shon Hopwood is an extraordinary example—while serving a decade in prison and three years of supervised release, he…

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Is The “First Step Act” Real Reform?

[themarshallproject.org 5/22/18] The First Step Act, which passed the House of Representatives Tuesday, has been a hot-button topic for Congress. It addresses the dire need for rehabilitative services in the federal prison system, proves there is strong bipartisan support for at least modest criminal justice reform and underscores a strategic debate that has split the Democratic Party. What is the First Step Act? The bill, sponsored by Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat, and Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican, seeks to add educational and vocational training and mental health…

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CA: The Catalyst: Thelton Henderson

[themarshallproject.org 4/23/18] s the judge climbed the watchtower stairs in Pelican Bay prison, he heard muffled gunshots below. When he reached the top, he looked into the prison yard and saw bodies lying in the dirt. One was his law clerk, spreadeagled on the ground in his suit, alongside dozens of inmates. Guards stood over them, guns aimed. “My clerk was thinking he’s gonna die and this is his last day on earth,” Judge Thelton Henderson recalled. What appeared to be the taming of a riot was actually an audacious…

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Gov. Jerry Brown’s prison reforms haven’t lived up to his billing

Nearly 15 months after launching what he called the “boldest move in criminal justice in decades,” Gov. Jerry Brown declared victory over a prison crisis that had appalled federal judges and stumped governors for two decades. … Brown’s realignment solution when he took office in 2011 required creating a new category of criminal — the non-serious, non-violent, non-sex-offender felon. Full Article

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Making Punishment Fit the Crime

Todd R. Clear, dean of Rutgers University–Newark School of Criminal Justice, is one of the country’s leading criminologists. A former president of the American Society of Criminology, he is widely known for his advocacy of evidence-based programs. In his newest book, The Punishment Imperative: The Rise and Failure of Mass Incarceration in America, Clear notes that the U.S. stands out among Western democracies for the “relentless punitive spirit” of its three-decades long mass incarceration policies. Full Article

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IL: Reflections on the Campaign to Stop Jail Construction

When we began our campaign to stop jail construction in Champaign County in early 2012, I thought we were doomed.  The grand plan to spend $20 million on this project seemed like a done deaI. The Sheriff was driving the initiative; the leading lights in the County Board seemed to think jail construction was the only prudent course. Yet, nearly two years later we have a very different scenario. The 2014 budget for Champaign County doesn’t include a single cent for jail construction. In fact, the county has allocated more than…

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Prison Quotas Push Lawmakers To Fill Beds, Derail Reform

After three violent inmates escaped from an Arizona private prison in July 2010, prompting a two-week, multi-state manhunt, state corrections officials demanded improvements and stopped sending new inmates to what they called a “dysfunctional” 3,300-bed facility. Less than a year later, the company that runs the prison, Management & Training Corp., threatened to sue the state. A line in their contract guaranteed that the prison would remain 97 percent full. They argued they had lost nearly $10 million from the reduced inmate population. State officials renegotiated the contract, but ended up…

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