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Hunger Strike Against Solitary Confinement

30,000 prisoners in California have launched a hunger strike to protest the conditions under which "segregated" prisoners are being detained.

The Five Core Demands:
1. Eliminate group punishments and administrative abuse.
2. Abolish the debriefing policy and modify active/inactive gang status criteria.
3. Comply with the recommendations of the US Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons (pdf) recommendations and end long-term solitary confinement.
4. Provide adequate and nutritious food.
5. Create and expand constructive programming. [more inside]
posted by anotherpanacea on Jul 10, 2013 - 87 comments

iPods for the pokey: no jailbreaking here

Ho-hum, it's another music download service and MP3 player - but this one's been created with the needs of correctional facilities in mind and is already in use in a dozen states and some federal prisons.
posted by porn in the woods on Jun 28, 2013 - 20 comments

His final words were "Set me free."

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.
posted by zarq on Jun 13, 2013 - 161 comments

Ain't No Prison Like The One I Got

On The Tamms Poetry Committee: "One of the artists' initiatives was "photo requests from solitary." Prisoners on solitary would request photos and professional photographers would then shoot the request and send the photo back. The gallery of prisoners requests is surprising and poignant."
posted by artof.mulata on Jun 2, 2013 - 27 comments

Letter From FCI Loretto

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou (previously) is serving a 30 month sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Loretto, Pennsylvania, and has sent a letter describing his experiences there. [more inside]
posted by benito.strauss on May 30, 2013 - 42 comments

Faced with such high stakes, it's no wonder that so many defendants cave

Bail is Busted - How Jail Really Works
posted by lalochezia on May 21, 2013 - 22 comments

America's 10 Worst Prisons

"'If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.' So goes the old saying. Yet conditions in some American facilities are so obscene that they amount to a form of extrajudicial punishment." Mother Jones is profiling "America's 10 Worst Prisons." Facilities were chosen for the list based on "...three years of research, correspondence with prisoners, and interviews with reform advocates." [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 14, 2013 - 88 comments

"I am always the last person to eat."

David Arenberg on being the only Jewish inmate in a state prison.
posted by reenum on May 1, 2013 - 49 comments

RED: "Well, we ought to file that under Educational too. Oughtn't we?"

Guantánamo prison library for detainees. [tumblr] New York Times reporter Charlie Savage set up a Tumblr dedicated to cataloging some of the books available in the Guantánamo prison library for detainees.
posted by Fizz on Apr 28, 2013 - 37 comments

Teaching philosophy in prison

"Tell you what, Case, if I never meet another psychopath again as long as I live, it'll be far too soon." And I knew that I had lost the stomach for the whole damned business. If I carried on in prison, I would have to do it differently; I would have to admit that it was prison.
posted by Chrysostom on Apr 10, 2013 - 16 comments

Fog Count

In the false American imagination, West Virginia is a joke or else it’s a charity case; but more than anything it is unseen, an invisible architecture of labor and struggle; and incarceration shares this invisibility, hidden at the center of everything; our slipshod remedy for an abiding fear, danger pinned to human bodies and then slotted into bunk beds you can’t see from any highway. [more inside]
posted by latkes on Apr 7, 2013 - 31 comments

The longest sentence ever served in an American prison: 64 years.

William Blake has been held in solitary confinement at Elmira Correctional Facility in New York State for nearly 26 years, after he murdered a Sheriff's Deputy and wounded another in a failed escape attempt back in 1987. Sentenced to 77 years to life, he will be eligible for parole in 2064. But Blake has no chance of ever leaving prison alive, and almost no chance of ever leaving solitary — a fate he considers "a sentence worse than death." (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 16, 2013 - 79 comments

Prison privatization meets college football

Florida Atlantic University announced today that its football team will play in "GEO Group Stadium", named after a for-profit prison company. According to the New York Times, GEO Group Inc. gifted 6 million to the public university as part of a controversial deal to secure the naming rights for its stadium.
posted by airing nerdy laundry on Feb 19, 2013 - 38 comments

If education were free and non-instrumental, what would it look like?

Reading Plato on Death Row (and a follow-up: Capital Punishment and the Specter of Reason)
posted by anotherpanacea on Jan 28, 2013 - 7 comments

The Longest Hunger Strike

The Longest Hunger Strike "It had been more than a year since Coleman had chewed anything. He’s not suicidal; he’s in prison for something he says he didn’t do. Like 2.2 million people incarcerated in prisons and jails in the U.S., his body is not his own. The only way for him to protest his conviction, to exercise his first amendment rights, he says, is to stop eating solid food."
posted by dhruva on Jan 25, 2013 - 35 comments

Whips, whiskey, women, work, weapons, cars and cadence. But no hockey.

Jump steady, Black Betty! Bam-A-Lam!
Yeah, Black Betty! Bam-A-Lam!
Looky yonder Black Betty! Bam-A-Lam!
Whoa Black Betty! Bam-A-Lam!
Yeah, Black Betty! Bam-A-Lam!
She's so rock steady! Bam-A-Lam!
She's always ready! Bam-A-Lam!
Whoa, Black Betty! Bam-A-Lam! [more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Jan 16, 2013 - 52 comments

“Because we could forgive, people can say her name."

Can forgiveness play a role in criminal justice? This week, the magazine tells the compelling and difficult story of the Grosmaire and McBride families, who together sought an alternative approach to justice after Conor McBride shot and killed his girlfriend Ann Grosmaire in 2010.
posted by liketitanic on Jan 6, 2013 - 64 comments

A declining number of U.S. adults in prison or on probation

After decades of increases, the number of adults in the U.S. who are in prison, jail, on parole, or on probation has declined over the last few years. The pdf of the report from the U.S. Department of Justice is here. Comments from Alex Tabarrok at Marginal Revolution, Reason Magazine's Hit & Run blog, and Keith Humphreys.
posted by Area Man on Jan 4, 2013 - 11 comments

"... given a five percent chance to live. Twice he was given last rites."

Salt Walther died Thursday night, Dec. 27., at a residence in Trotwood, OH. The cause of death, as of now, is unknown. On May 30, 1973, he survived a crash that no one thought could be survived. His life was changed forever. (YT: warning: carnage, no fatalities) [more inside]
posted by TrolleyOffTheTracks on Dec 29, 2012 - 18 comments

Maybe somewhere down the line Congress will relieve the people in your position.......

Life Without Parole: Four Inmates' Stories
posted by lalochezia on Dec 13, 2012 - 26 comments

I'm Going Straight

Porridge. A slang term for a prison sentence, "Porridge" is one of the more unusual situation comedies in BBC's history. [more inside]
posted by Bunny Ultramod on Dec 11, 2012 - 22 comments

The Innocent Man

'On April 12, 1987, Michael Morton sat down to write a letter. “Your Honor,” he began, “I’m sure you remember me. I was convicted of murder, in your court, in February of this year.” He wrote each word carefully, sitting cross-legged on the top bunk in his cell at the Wynne prison unit, in Huntsville. “I have been told that you are to decide if I am ever to see my son, Eric, again. I haven’t seen him since the morning that I was convicted. I miss him terribly and I know that he has been asking about me.” Referring to the declarations of innocence he had made during his trial, he continued, “I must reiterate my innocence. I did NOT kill my wife.' [more inside]
posted by mahershalal on Nov 20, 2012 - 35 comments

Short Cuts

When they take my shoelaces and belt, I realise that this is more serious than I had thought. [more inside]
posted by Elementary Penguin on Nov 14, 2012 - 57 comments

“I thought that modern penology has abandoned that rehabilitation thing”

In Sentencing Criminals, Is Norway Too Soft? Or Are We Too Harsh?
It’s not very often the concept of restorative justice gets much play outside scholarly publications or reformist criminal justice circles, so first, some credit for Max Fisher at The Atlantic for giving it an earnest look last week. In seeking to explain Norway’s seemingly measly twenty-one-year sentence for remorseless, mass-murdering white supremacist Anders Breivik—a sentence that is certain to be extended to last the rest of his life—Fisher casts a critical eye on the underlying philosophy that animates that country’s sentencing practices, finding it to be “radically different” from what we’re used to in the United States.
The Effectiveness of Restorative Justice Practices: A Meta-Analysis [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Nov 12, 2012 - 87 comments

A long par five, right past death row

If ever there were a question about the ballooning scale of America's prison system, the Louisiana State Penitentiary provides an answer. It has its own golf course.
posted by Chrysostom on Nov 7, 2012 - 25 comments

Newsnight meets Conrad Black

Do you feel that it's been too long since you watched an interview in which the guest, told by the host that he is a criminal, replies, "You're a priggish, gullible, British fool"? Then, behold, Conrad Black's interview with BBC Newsnight. [more inside]
posted by Dasein on Oct 22, 2012 - 44 comments

Solitary Confinement

Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside America's Prisons. "We throw thousands of men in the hole for the books they read, the company they keep, the beliefs they hold. Here's why." An article on solitary confinement (previously) by Shane Bauer, one of the three American hikers who were detained in Iran in 2009 (previously).
posted by homunculus on Oct 18, 2012 - 52 comments

The other death sentence

I am 75, so we share a camaraderie of sorts as we compare notes on our aches and pains and medication regimens. They know I understand what it's like to be getting old and facing illness and death. They also know I have no idea what it's like to deal with these things behind bars. Their letters tell of lives filled with daily indignities—trying to heave an aging body into the top bunk, struggling to move fast enough to get a food tray filled or get a book at the library, fighting off younger troublemakers. But worst of all is the pervasive nothingness and isolation. photos.
posted by latkes on Oct 10, 2012 - 77 comments

"they were never meant to be smoked in the first place."

Cigarettes: The Most Stable International Currency. In China, expensive cigarettes (not to be confused with counterfeits of popular brands) are sometimes used as bribes. Cash can be difficult to handle, or outright illegal, in some places. Since a smoking ban (and subsequent black-market trade in cigarettes) in US prisons, canned mackerel (previously on MetaFilter) has become the exchange medium of choice. [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Oct 2, 2012 - 34 comments

Prison Rape: Obama’s Program to Stop It

"The Justice Department estimates that more than 209,400 people are sexually abused in US detention every year… A great deal has been learned about this over the past few years. The [Prison Rape Elimination Act] legislation, which charged the [Bureau of Justice Statistics] with undertaking annual statistical analyses of the problem that have proved indispensable, also created a body called the Review Panel on Prison Rape.… A commission charged with issuing recommendations didn’t do so until six years after the bill’s passage; then Attorney General Eric Holder missed by nearly two years the statutory deadline for promulgating them. But the standards that Holder’s Department of Justice finally did issue are very strong."
posted by the mad poster! on Sep 25, 2012 - 51 comments

Annotated Filmography of Charlie Chaplin

Director and/or star of many of the greatest films ever made including The Great Dictator (2:05:16) [Globe scene and the eternally goosebump providing Final speech], The Immigrant (20:01), The Gold Rush (1:11:49), City Lights (1:22:40), Modern Times (1:27:01), and Monsieur Verdoux (1:59:03), Charlie Chaplin's movies have entered the public domain in most countries. Below the fold is an annotated list of all 82 of his official short and feature films in chronological order, as well as several more, with links to where you can watch them; it's not like you had work to do right? [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Sep 17, 2012 - 35 comments

Artists of Angola

'At Angola Prison in Louisiana, model inmates or "trustees" are encouraged to participate in "hobby craft" as a part of their rehabilitation. Hobby craft is an arts program that involves painting, wood & leather working, taxidermy, furniture building, and many other disciplines.In many cases, they are given special workshops, tools and even private studios to work in.The goods are sold to the public at the prison’s annual rodeo and art fair. The money raised is then split mainly between inmates' families and prison administration, with the inmates themselves receiving only a small amount to buy more materials for the next fair. A sad irony is that this rehabilitation will rarely benefit the prisoners in the outside world because 90% of them have life sentences, and will end up being laid to rest at "The Farm."' A photographic essay.
posted by I love to count on Jun 20, 2012 - 34 comments

Escape From Alcatraz

Fifty years ago today Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin escaped from Alcatraz and were never seen again. U.S. Marshal Michael Dyke is still on the case and thinks at least two of the men successfully escaped. [more inside]
posted by kirkaracha on Jun 11, 2012 - 18 comments

The Great Taliban Jailbreak

"It took years to lock them up. Hundreds of enemy fighters captured during some of the fiercest combat of the war. But then, one night last spring, as American troops surged into Taliban territory, all of those prisoners, all of that progress, disappeared. Prof. Luke Mogelson ventures down the rabbit hole to find them."
posted by vidur on May 30, 2012 - 30 comments

OMG Bunnies.

"Usavich" (Season One video) is a series of 90-second CGI cartoons made for MTV Japan about two Russian rabbits. It begins in a Soviet-era prison where Kirenenko*, a mob boss sentenced to death is sharing a cell with Putin (yes, that's his name), a common worker imprisoned on a trumped-up charge and counting the days until his release. And then it gets weird. (contains extreme cartoon violence, scatological gags, Russian stereotypes, transvestite chickens and shoe fetishes) [more inside]
posted by oneswellfoop on May 28, 2012 - 10 comments

Louisiana Inc. arcerated

"Louisiana is the world's prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana's incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran's, seven times China's and 10 times Germany's. The hidden engine behind the state's well-oiled prison machine is cold, hard cash." Louisiana Incarcerated is a tour de force eight-part series on the Louisiana prison system. [more inside]
posted by painquale on May 26, 2012 - 48 comments

we don't think that treating them hard will make them a better man

Inside Halden, the most humane prison in the world. Pictures.
posted by fearfulsymmetry on May 19, 2012 - 71 comments

Governments Can Stop Prison Rape

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]
posted by Cash4Lead on May 18, 2012 - 31 comments

"Being in a cage for such an extended period of time, it has its downfalls."

Forty years in solitary: two men mark sombre anniversary in Louisiana prison [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Apr 30, 2012 - 25 comments

Juvenile Detention in America

Uncompromising Photos Expose Juvenile Detention in America
posted by spiderskull on Apr 11, 2012 - 58 comments

Dreaming in French

On Angela Davis.
posted by latkes on Mar 25, 2012 - 10 comments

"His fist will eat your face for lunch."

Prison Dancer is a new 12-episode web musical inspired by the famous dancing prisoner videos of the Philippines.
posted by xowie on Mar 7, 2012 - 1 comment

Dewey Bozella

Dewey Bozella landed a hard right cross on his opponent's jaw at the final bell, and the 52-year-old boxer raised his arms in victory. After 26 years behind bars for a murder he didn't commit, Bozella triumphantly realized a dream deferred in his first and only professional fight. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Mar 5, 2012 - 7 comments

Prison animation

Animated shorts made by California prisoners in the early 90s. [more inside]
posted by latkes on Feb 29, 2012 - 6 comments

Dark Chapter of Arkansas Prison History

There was a time when we were one of the worst, if not THE worst prison systems in the country. How we got there was simple. It was money. “When I first drove up to the gate in the summer of 1971, my dog was with me in the car. I drove up to a little shack with a guard. The guard was wearing a pistol and I realized he was a prisoner. The only people I saw carrying guns were convicts.” - Photographer Bruce Jackson
posted by thisisdrew on Feb 16, 2012 - 14 comments

Nobody is that bad of a person

A tragic fire in Honduras has claimed the lives of hundreds of inmates as a "hellish scene" unfolded as hundreds of inmates were caught up in a prison fire in Comayagua. [more inside]
posted by RolandOfEld on Feb 15, 2012 - 12 comments

Raise the Crime Rate

Raise the crime rate: an argument for the abolition of prison.
posted by latkes on Feb 10, 2012 - 62 comments

Don't Phone Home From America's Prisons

Inmates and their families pay much higher rates for phone calls than average consumers. Most of this is due to kickbacks received by the prison system from providers. This has led to a marked increase in the use of contraband cell phones. Government recently commissioned the GAO to explore lower cost alternatives.
posted by reenum on Feb 9, 2012 - 36 comments

Pig Stickers

Someone in the Vermont prison system has been hiding a pig in the decals that inmates make for the state’s police cars. After only a few years, the cops just caught on. [YouTube].
posted by LeLiLo on Feb 3, 2012 - 62 comments

Prison Chess

Photographs of the Prison Chess series were taken in 2008 and 2009 in a maximum security facility of the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Jan 27, 2012 - 18 comments

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