This past May on Metafilter, we looked at “Thirty Minutes Behind the Walls”, a wildly popular variety show that was broadcast every Wednesday night in the 1930's and 1940's from the state prison in Huntsville, TX. It featured performances by male and female prisoners. No recordings of the show have ever been found. In the early forties, eight inmates of the Goree State Farm prison unit formed one of the first all-female country and western acts in the country and their performances were broadcast on Thirty Minutes. The Goree All Girl String Band captured the hearts of millions of radio listeners but never cut a record or went on tour and have thus been ignored by music historians. When they were paroled, they nearly all vanished forever. [more inside]
For over a year, we asked people in prison to paint or draw people we felt should be in prison–the CEOs of companies destroying our environment, economy, and society. Here are the results. Click on the images to see the crimes committed by both the companies and the artists.
"Demaryius Thomas has just sent his mother a picture of the most unlikely Super Bowl ticket of all, the one intended for her, and now Katina Smith has a few days to decide whether she's prepared to take it."
How to Love Your Father When He’s in Prison for Child Porn, an essay by Lindsay Popper. SFW. Some may find the content disturbing.
What Caused the Crime Decline? [Brennan Center for Justice]
"What Caused the Crime Decline? examines one of the nation’s least understood recent phenomena – the dramatic decline in crime nationwide over the past two decades – and analyzes various theories for why it occurred, by reviewing more than 40 years of data from all 50 states and the 50 largest cities. It concludes that over-harsh criminal justice policies, particularly increased incarceration, which rose even more dramatically over the same period, were not the main drivers of the crime decline. In fact, the report finds that increased incarceration has been declining in its effectiveness as a crime control tactic for more than 30 years. Its effect on crime rates since 1990 has been limited, and has been non-existent since 2000."A report by Oliver Roeder, Lauren-Brooke Eisen, and Julia Bowling, with a foreword by Joseph E. Stiglitz and an executive summary by Inimai Chettiar Brennan Center for Justice, NYU Law School, 134 pp. [Foreword] [PDF] [Scribd] [more inside]
Smart on Crime
I argue that (blue-collar) crime—theft and assault, in all their varieties—is still a real and major problem; that its economic and social costs are vastly under-appreciated; that its primary victims are disadvantaged minorities and poor people; that the current criminal-justice system wrongs them by under-enforcing the law against those who victimize them (who are, of course, mostly people like them in racial and class terms); that better criminal-justice policy could give us less crime and less incarceration; and that better and more equal law enforcement ought therefore to be as central a progressive political goal as better and more equal education or health care.[more inside]
Richmond City Jail hosts a father-daughter dance, bringing fathers and daughters together beyond the visitors booth (photos). “I just gotta break this cycle I’m in. I’m just tired of it,” Andre Morman says, adding that he can’t wait to see his youngest daughter. “I haven’t been able to pick her up in nine months.” [more inside]
Go to Trial: Crash the Justice System. Michelle Alexander argues that ubiquitous plea bargains have allowed America's politicians and judicial system to short-circuit constitutional due process and ignore the mechanics of mass incarceration. If everyone charged with crimes suddenly exercised his constitutional rights, there would not be enough judges, lawyers or prison cells to deal with the ensuing tsunami of litigation.
Too many laws, too many prisoners - Never in the civilised world have so many been locked up for so little. [previously] (via nc)
1) “But there are other lives to be saved, of people who haven’t done horrible things, who haven’t actually hurt anyone.” 2) "Fix it or lose it."
Arguing Three Strikes. A defense lawyer (and co-founder of Stanford's unique Criminal Defense Clinic), and a tough-on-crime Republican D.A. make for unusual allies in the move to reform California's Three Strikes law. [more inside]
1 in 99.1 American adults are now incarcerated according to a new Pew Center study (pdf). Some interesting numbers from a NYT article on the report: 1 in 36 Hispanic adults are incarcerated, 1 in 15 blacks, 1 in 9 black men aged 20-34, 1 in 355 white women aged 35-39. Some context from the World Prison Population List (pdf).
California Where the Rich do Fine While the Poor are Doing Time "Hell, you got to live with it, there's nothing else to live with except mendacity, is there?" Big Daddy, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
Despite a sharp national decline in crime, American criminal justice has become crueler and less caring than it has been at any other time in our modern history. Why? Former conservative economist Glenn C. Loury on incarceration in America. [via]
Throw Away The Key dot org seeks to lengthen the sentences of criminals on the premise of their mission statement: "Incarceration Works!" From their site: "If you believe a girl should be able to walk down the street in broad daylight without being abducted and murdered by a convicted felon, then it is time for you to get involved."
The Prison Policy Initiative conducts research and advocacy on incarceration policy. Some interesting data include the proliferation of prisons in the US over the last century, disenfranchisement of potential black voters, global incarceration rates and percentage of US population under control of the criminal justice system.
Perp Nation? By the end of 2001, according to a government report, one in every 32 adults in the United States was in jail, on probation or on parole. That works out to 470 out of every 100,000 U.S. residents behind bars, including disproportionate numbers of minorities (scroll down) and over 4.7 million adults on probation or parole. Texas leads the way.