GQ: The Strange and Curious Tale of the Last True Hermit
. "For nearly thirty years, a phantom haunted the woods of Central Maine. Unseen and unknown, he lived in secret, creeping into homes in the dead of night and surviving on what he could steal. To the spooked locals, he became a legend - or maybe a myth. They wondered how he could possibly be real. Until one day last year, the hermit came out of the forest." [more inside]
Simpson is in Lovelock because he was convicted of kidnapping and armed robbery in Nevada in 2008; he's serving a sentence of up to 33 years, with the possibility of parole in 2017. He will turn 67 next month, but the O.J. personage who remains a cultural touchstone is much younger. That one was born 20 years ago this week, on June 17, 1994, a day that spawned a series of events that are as ingrained in Americana as anything that happened at Valley Forge or in Dealey Plaza. Sports Illustrated tackles Orenthal James Simpson.
Twilight in the Box.
"The suicide statistics, the squalor and the recidivism haven’t ended solitary confinement
. Maybe the brain studies will." [Via]
Is it possible to create a prison management game without trivializing or misrepresenting the issue of mass incarceration?
So begins a critique by Paolo Pedercini, developer of "games addressing issues of social and environmental justice," of Introversion Software's upcoming game Prison Architect
, currently in still in development but available as an early access beta. Prison Architect's producer, Mark Morris, and its designer, Chris Delay, respond in a lengthy youtube video
. [more inside]
When CeCe McDonald was incarcerated in a mens' prison after defending herself from a racist, transphobic attack
, she drew support
not only through her misfortune but also through her insightful, valuable commentary on subjects ranging from how men react to having their masculinity questioned by "outside speculators"
and violence against women
to pansexuality on Sex and The City
Now released from prison after 19 months,
, the 25 year old African American transgender activist isn't content just to finally listen to the new Beyonce album
. She appeared on Melissa-Harris Perry
discussing her experience with the prison-industrial complex, and will be the subject of a new documentary
by Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox (previously
). [more inside]
"My friend Nick and I planned another prank. We thought it would be funny to scare a couple of friends while they were hanging out with some girls. We drove over to their house and crept up to the living room window with ski masks pulled down over our faces and realistic-looking water guns in our hands...
Participants in We Are All Criminals
tell stories of crimes they got away with
. via [more inside]
A LIVING DEATH
: Sentenced to die behind bars for what?
For 3,278 people, it was nonviolent offenses like stealing a $159 jacket or serving as a middleman in the sale of $10 of marijuana. An estimated 65% of them are Black. Many of them were struggling with mental illness, drug dependency or financial desperation when they committed their crimes. None of them will ever come home to their parents and children. And taxpayers are spending billions to keep them behind bars.
A LIVING DEATH: Life without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses
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]
Everyone's favorite prison simulator Prison Architect
wins Halloween with an awesome Easter egg
From prison to pro football (~soccer) but hampered by a dark past: how Ilombe Mboyo's rise destroyed the scheme that saved him. Can football help rehabilitate a criminal?
Sentencing reform for drug offences is expected be announced by the US Attorney General. Eric Holder
will announce Monday
that he is mandating the Justice Department modify its policies so that certain non-violent drug offenders will no longer endure “draconian mandatory minimum sentences,” according to excerpts of his remarks to American Bar Association. [more inside]
On Wednesday, William Van Poyck was executed
by the state of Florida for murdering a prison guard during a botched 1987 attempt to free an imprisoned friend. Poyck spent 25 years in solitary confinement on death row, during which time he wrote to his sister about his life in prison. Since 2005 she has published those letters to a blog called Death Row Diary
. 'Poyck used to write about everything from the novels and history books he was reading and shows he watched on PBS to the state of the world and his own philosophy of life – punctuated by news of the deaths of those around him, from illness, suicide, and execution.' Excerpts
. His final letter.
In other positive criminal justice
news, the US Department of Justice has issued long overdue rules
for combating sexual assault of prisoners in federal, state, and local penitentiaries. [more inside]
Raise the crime rate
: an argument for the abolition of prison.
"Imagine 12 men in a dorm all in diapers and sitting in their own feces," he says. "It smelled like a combination of what people had for lunch that day and pus from people's open wounds. I've been in a wheelchair now for three years, and the jail is by far the worst place I've ever seen for a disabled person." -- L.A. Weekly on "Wheelchair Hell" in the L.A. County Men's Jail
is an imprint of University of Michigan Press which releases scholarly books under a creative commons license. They've got 19 books published already
and more on the way
. Among those on offer are poet and English professor Kevin Stein's Poetry's Afterlife: Verse in the Digital Age
, anthropologist Bonnie A. Nardi's My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft
, English professor Buzz Alexander's Is William Martinez Not Our Brother?: Twenty Years of the Prison Creative Arts Project
and English professor Elizabeth Carolyn Miller's Framed: The New Woman Criminal in British Culture at the Fin de Siècle
. If you don't want to read a whole book they also have essay collections, such as Civic Engagement in the Wake of Katrina
and Best Technology Writing 2008
, which includes pieces by, among others, Cass Sunstein, Robin Meija and Walter Kirn. [previously, Rock Paper Shotgun scribe Jim Rossignol's This Gaming Life: Travels in Three Cities]
In the wake of Glenn Greenwald's post about the inhumane conditions of Bradley Manning's detention
("For 23 out of 24 hours every day -- for seven straight months and counting -- he sits completely alone in his cell"), Jeralyn at the criminal justice blog Talkleft offers a detailed argument
that both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and relevant case law suggest that "Bradley Manning should not be in maximum security or solitary confinement." As the Justice Department tries to build a case against Julian Assange
based on his contacts with Manning, what do we really know about the 22-year-old queer
intelligence analyst being held at Quantico who says he leaked the Collateral Murder
video and all those diplomatic cables? [more inside]
Bernie Madoff - Free At Last
While incarcerated for 150 years for a $65 Billion dollar Ponzi scheme, Berine Madoff creates his own version of the events that led to his arrest and becomes a local celebrity at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex
. (via metachat
Norway's penal system has gathered some attention recently, as the new Halden prison
just opened. The $217 million facility will house 252 prisoners, some long-term and some short. The new prison is notable for, among other things, use of armoured glass instead of bars on windows, natural lighting
and single-inmate cells with private showers, TVs and access to a gym and a sound studio. There was also an art budget, and Norwegian street artist Dolk
was commisioned to decorate some of the walls. The Norwegian penal system is similar to the other Scandinavian countries', with no death penalty, and a "life" sentence of 21 years. In Norway there are no privately run incarceration facilities, and the opening of the rather plush-seeming Halden prison spurred some discussion, but garnered no big controversy. [more inside]
Even the cheesiest novelist wouldn't dare write this one:
Greece's most notorious criminal, kidnapper Vassilis Paleokostas
, breaks out of a maximum security prison by grabbing onto a rope ladder dangling from an accomplice's hijacked helicopter, as guards open fire and a woman shoots back from the chopper. This happens as he's being transported to a hearing to face charges related to breaking out of jail in 2006 by grabbing onto a rope ladder being dangled from a helicopter hijacked by his brother, bank robber Nikos Paleokostas
, hailed by some poor Greeks as a modern day Robin Hood. There are already half a dozen Facebook fan clubs. Sadly dull video of the departing chopper here
. The pilot, found tied up, and four prison guards have been arrested
"In the US, there are 2,270 prisoners [report
, news release
, with testimonies] who were sentenced as children to life without parole. They will die behind bars. Ed Pilkington asks
five of them - from a 21-year-old to a 70-year-old - how do they cope?" [more inside]
Fiscal Pressures Lead Some States to Free Inmates Early,
says the Washington Post. Across the United States, a financial crisis is brewing in our nation's correctional systems. California, which has the largest prison system in the nation
, (housing 170,000 inmates with a capacity of only 100,000), plans to increase the budget for new prison construction
by 7 to 14 billion dollars
, on top of releasing 22,000 nonviolent prisoners on unsupervised parole. Other states, especially Michigan, face an even more dire situation... [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
Al Odah v. U.S. and Boumediene v. Bush go before SCOTUS Streaming on C-Span today.
The Center for Constitutional Rights (great podcast
) will argue before the Supreme Court today:
Immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision in Rasul, The Center for Constitutional Rights and cooperating counsel filed 11 new habeas petitions in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia on behalf of over 70 detainees. These cases eventually became the consolidated cases of Al Odah v. United Statesand Boumediene v. Bush, the leading cases determining the significance of the Supreme Court’s decision in Rasul, the rights of non-citizens to challenge the legality of their detention in an offshore U.S. military base, and the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
The US Sentencing Commission
has recommended that Federal sentencing guidelines
be reduced for crimes involving crack cocaine -- and is now deliberating making the new guidelines retroactive for prisoners already incarcerated
. [WaPo] If taken into effect, about 3,800 inmates could be released by this time next year. [more inside]
Crime and punishment
- a curiously compelling and quirky collection of historic crime photos, including unusual mugshots, corpses & crime scenes. A few favorite characters: idle and disorderly persons
; "something amazing" about Harry
; a cocky quartet
; an illicit drug trader
who "drives his own motor car and dresses well"; a subject who refused to open his eyes
; charged with conspiring to procure a miscarriage
; and guilty of unlawfully possessing cocaine
This is just one of many marvelous vintage image sets
from a historical consultant from Amsterdam - a mammoth treasure trove!
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
The Newgate Calendar.
"THE deeds of ancient robber outlaws and of highway-men -- what a treasure-house pierced with windows for the imagination!" Read about the lives of notorious criminals of days past, such as Sawyney Beane
, murderer and cannibal; Daniel Dawson
, race-horse poisoner; John Tayler and Thomas Martin
, body snatchers; or the infamous Mary Frith
, also known as Moll Cutpurse
, a cross-dressing, pistol-wearing, tobacco-smoking rogue and the real life inspiration for Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders
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.
Faith based prisons...
Can Gov. Jeb Bush's new drive to introduce God to the inmates make a difference, or was Jesus 'dying for our sins' not enough already? Is Jesus a solution or an excuse?
"Night has fallen. He has died now.
A fly crawls over the still flesh.
Of what use is it to me that this man suffered,
If I am suffering now?" - Jorge Luis Borges
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.
"It has always been as if I carry chaos with me the way others carry typhoid. My purpose in writing is to transcend my existence by illuminating it."
Crime novelist Edward Bunker
, who died last Tuesday at age 71 (LATimes obit)
, became at 17 the youngest inmate at San Quentin
after he stabbed a prison guard at a youth detention facility. It was during his 18 years of incarceration
for robbery, check forgery and other crimes that Bunker learned to write. In 1973, while still in prison, he made his literary debut
with "No Beast So Fierce
", a novel about a paroled thief James Ellroy called "quite simply one of the great crime novels of the past 30 years" and that was made into the movie "Straight Time
" starring Dustin Hoffman. Also a screenwriter ("Runaway Train"), Bunker appeared as an actor in nearly two dozen roles
, most notably as Mr. Blue in "Reservoir Dogs
." (more inside)
Man Pleads Guilty to Raping his own 2 month old Daughter
But wait, that's just the beginning. This guy's daddy heads the state Corrections Department and part of his plea is to reduce the amount of time he's going to spend in jail for this most heinous act.
This guy is facing, if the judge agrees to the plea, only 6 months in jail! The standard sentence for first-degree child rape is seven to 10 years in prison.
He's admitted to molesting a 9 year old in Maine before and has also been convicted of orchestrating an armed robbery.
How in the heck he's going to get ANY leniency is beyond me.
David Garland's disturbing new book addresses the question why there are so many more people in jail in America and Britain than anywhere else... Its broader concern is with "cultures of control," how societies treat deviance and violence and whom they single out for what treatment. Here are some facts about skyrocketing imprisonment... There are approximately two million people in jail in America today, 2,166,260 at last count: more than four times as many people as thirty years ago. It is the largest number in our history... [and] between four and ten times the incarceration rate of any civilized country in the world... Twelve percent of African-American men between twenty and thirty-four are currently behind bars (the highest figure ever recorded by the Justice Department) compared to 1.6 percent of white men of comparable ages. And according to the same source, 28 percent of black men will be sent to jail in their lifetime... It was not until crime rates had already leveled off that incarceration rates began their steady, year-by-year climb. Between 1972 and 1992, while the population of America's prisons grew and grew, the crime rate as a whole continued at the same level, unchanged.
Jerome S. Bruner reviews The Culture of Control: Crime and Social Order in Contemporary Society
for The New York Review of Books
, as does Austin Sarat
in the American Prospect
DNA frees 3 convicts after 17-year incarcerations
--Barry Scheck and The Innocence Project
have struck again. Thus far, they have used DNA to free 128 wrongly convicted people.
Read Frontline's interview
Learn about a sister organization, Northwestern's Center on Wrongful Convictions
, which has freed nine Illinois men who were once sentenced to death
For those sentenced to time in the can, prison can be a rough place
How can we prevent innocent people from being put to death? Or fates worse than death
Christopher Boyce (the Falcon from Falcon and the Snowman
) on spying, prison, breaking out of prison, and the cruelty of denying parole to federal inmates. (LA Times reg.)
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
leads the way.
An All-American Fugitive When Margo Freshwater escaped from prison 32 years ago, she began a happy and law-abiding life, becoming a devoted mother, grandmother and wife. Now she's back behind bars . . . And unless she's given a new trial or is granted clemency . . . she will remain behind bars until she is an old woman . . . Meanwhile, the man who confessed to the killing probably will die a free man.