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Out of Control: The Death of Ashley Smith

Out of Control is a 45 minute documentary that was recently broadcast on The Fifth Estate program on Canadian TV. It is the story of "Ashley Smith . . . a troubled 19-year-old [who] choked herself to death with a strip of cloth at Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener, Ontario." The documentary features video shot inside Ashley Smith’s cell. It is a sad and at times disturbing look at the difficulties of dealing with a prisoner with mental illness. [Language and some images are NSFW].
posted by Jasper Friendly Bear on Jan 9, 2010 - 5 comments

Everything you never wanted to know about the American prison-industrial complex

Everything you never wanted to know about the American prison-industrial complex. Part 2: Prison Nation.
posted by Optimus Chyme on Nov 30, 2009 - 92 comments

"Repoman, who is Emilio Estevez's doppelgänger, teaches #34 how to slimjim & hotwire a car."

Roger Avary, Oscar-winning screenwriter for Pulp Fiction and many other films, pled guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter and drunken driving, following a crash that killed a passenger in his car in 2008. This September, he began to serve his sentence of one year in jail (followed by five years of probation). Naturally, he also began tweeting about it. The bleak literary quality of his tweets (in which he refers to himself only as "#34") caught the attention of Mark Millan at the LA Times -- and shortly thereafter, of the authorities. [more inside]
posted by Countess Elena on Nov 28, 2009 - 150 comments

California "City"

California City is the 3rd largest city in California (geographically), home to California's largest open-pit boron mine, a privately-run Federal Prison, and only 8,835 residents. Originally planned as a "large master-planned leisure community" of up to 1 million people, such growth never materialized, and the remains of the undeveloped streets and cul-de-sacs presage images of the current housing crisis, and are a modern, uniquely American version of the Nazca Lines.
posted by joshwa on Nov 25, 2009 - 46 comments

Maziar Bahari

118 Days, 12 Hours, 54 Minutes — On June 21, reporter Maziar Bahari was rousted out of bed and taken to Tehran's notorious Evin prison—accused of being a spy for the CIA, MI6, Mossad…and Newsweek magazine. This is the story of his captivity. CBS 60 Minutes feature. [more inside]
posted by netbros on Nov 23, 2009 - 22 comments

Higher Education Inside.

Wesleyan, a liberal arts college in Middletown, CT, has started a program that allows inmates in a nearby high-security prison to take classes. The students are selected competitively - with only a 16% acceptance rate - and receive the same rigorous education provided to Wesleyan undergrads. Here you can read some of their work. The Bard Prison Initiative [Previously on Metafilter] features a similar program. [more inside]
posted by lunit on Nov 17, 2009 - 42 comments

Back to Stasiland

In 1965, Carl-Wolfgang Holzapfel was arrested by East German border guards and spent nine months in solitary confinement in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen, the notorious prison run by the Stasi [previously]. Starting today, Holzapfel is back behind bars in Berlin-Hohenschönhausen to remind people how they felt before the Wall came down 20 years ago. You can ask him about his campaign and watch him live here. [more inside]
posted by up in the old hotel on Oct 29, 2009 - 7 comments

"He takes a $1.98 tape into Folsom Prison and comes out with an album."

"Hello, I'm Johnny Cash." On January 13, 1968, Johnny Cash played two concerts at Folsom State Prison with June Carter, Carl Perkins, the Statler Brothers, and his band, the Tennessee Three. At Folsom Prison, drawn mainly from the first show, is often ranked as one of the best albums of all time and turned Cash's career around. Reporter Gene Beley covered the concert and recorded some songs from the audience. [more inside]
posted by kirkaracha on Oct 23, 2009 - 22 comments

The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons

Prison food is bad but it is getting better in some places, at least nutritionally. Other places, it is just getting cheaper. Who serves this stuff? Recently, Slate took a look at the Association of Correctional Food Service Affiliates Annual Conference. But there is food beyond 'prison food bad': Nutraloaf. It is so bad it is almost unconstitutionally bad.
posted by wcfields on Oct 20, 2009 - 130 comments

Do you want to die in jail?

They were very resentful about people in prison for horrendous crimes getting better medical care than their families.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker on Oct 17, 2009 - 46 comments

"What have we got to lose?"

We welcome anyone to visit our town! There are no commandos in the streets. There is no fence or gate being built around Hardin. People are free to come and go as they please. APF is not running our town or our police force. [more inside]
posted by mek on Oct 1, 2009 - 128 comments

I mean, really! Who throws a shoe?

"After six years of humiliation, of indignity, of killing and violations of sanctity, and desecration of houses of worship, the killer comes, boasting, bragging about victory and democracy. He came to say goodbye to his victims and wanted flowers in response.

"Put simply, that was my flower to the occupier, and to all who are in league with him, whether by spreading lies or taking action, before the occupation or after."

Muntadhar al Zaidi, the journalist sentenced to three years of prison for assaulting a foreign leader after throwing his shoes at President Bush, has been released from prison after serving only nine months. [more inside]
posted by orville sash on Sep 15, 2009 - 53 comments

"Lockerbie: Megrahi Was Framed"

"Lockerbie: Megrahi Was Framed" [more inside]
posted by Joe Beese on Sep 5, 2009 - 37 comments

Ask Me Anything

I was shot in the head two years ago. I was in prison for six years. I live in a Taliban hub. I need to be an amputee. I'm four. I'm six. I'm eight. I have a micropenis. I've had sex both with and without a foreskin. My sister and I are in love. I'm in love with my mother. I married and had a daughter with my first cousin. I love my dog. I have killed someone while driving drunk. I have superpowers from chemotherapy. I was in a cult for seven years. I own a woman. I used to be asexual (I am still asexual). I was in porn (and I'm still in porn). I took a boy's virginity. I am killing myself in a few months. [more inside]
posted by WCityMike on Aug 30, 2009 - 125 comments

"Anybody Can Kill Anybody"

Lynette 'Squeaky' Fromme, former member of the Manson Family and would-be assassin of President Gerald Ford, is being released from prison after 34 years behind bars. But did she really try to assassinate Ford in the first place?
posted by Lutoslawski on Aug 6, 2009 - 80 comments

We are such stuff: As dreams are made on

"Theatre," says Professor Lorraine Moller, Artistic Director of Rehabilitation Through the Arts at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, in her foreword to Laurence Tocci's The Proscenium Cage [pdf], "may well be one of the few antidotes to the de-humanizing climate of prisons." The use of theater in prisons has many forms: from projects designed to let prisoners tell their own stories as shown in the Austrian film "Gangster Girls" (trailer in German), to the elaborate, high-concept costume dramas of Italy's Compagnia della Fortezza. Some base their work on Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed, others on Moreno's Psychodrama, but many programs use a more direct approach: put on classic plays, and let the play do the illuminating. That's the approach of Shakespeare Behind Bars, the troupe at Luther Luckett Correctional Complex in LaGrange, Kentucky. Watch the entirety of Shakespeare Behind Bars, a compelling 2005 documentary that follows the troupe for a season as they produce a production of The Tempest. [more inside]
posted by ocherdraco on Aug 4, 2009 - 8 comments

Go Raiders.

Last Words from Death Row Inmates [more inside]
posted by Ljubljana on Jul 7, 2009 - 79 comments

Tools made in German Prisons

Escape and other tools made by inmates in German prisons, from the photographer Marc Steinmetz. My favorite is the functional battery-powered shotgun, although the hand-made toaster is a testament to the love of a decent breakfast. via.
posted by Rumple on Jun 27, 2009 - 21 comments

Free at last!

The tragic story of Timothy Cole who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for a rape he didn't commit, and died because of inadequate health care in prison. He was recently posthumously exonerated based on confessions of the guilty man and DNA evidence.
posted by djduckie on Jun 26, 2009 - 26 comments

America's only "Native Martial Art"?

"For a long time it has been a kind of martial arts Loch Ness monster: an American fighting form with supposedly sinister origins that many have heard of but few have seen or experienced. No one, it seemed, had any concrete proof that it existed, or at least none they were willing to share. Until (2:36) recently." Longer (5:19) ver here [more inside]
posted by P.o.B. on Jun 25, 2009 - 68 comments

National Prison Rape Commission releases its final report

A Prison Nightmare. On June 23, 2009, the National Prison Rape Commission released its final Report and proposed Standards to prevent, detect, respond to and monitor sexual abuse of incarcerated or detained individuals throughout the United States. More prisoners reported abuse by staff than abuse by other prisoners.
posted by Non Prosequitur on Jun 25, 2009 - 132 comments

The Practice of Photography in Sites of Incarceration

Pinhole Photography by Incarcerated Girls at Remann Hall, Washington State. Prison Baseball. Guantanamo: Directory of Photographic and Visual Resources. Painted photographs of forgotten incarcerated Russian youth. 19th century prison ships. Pete Brook's Prison Photography blog links to lots of great stuff.
posted by mediareport on Jun 4, 2009 - 8 comments

Varg is free!

Varg is free! But, will all the glitter girls go for black metal? [more inside]
posted by geos on May 25, 2009 - 30 comments

Playing to a captive audience

In last night's Sony Radio Awards - the UK's radio equivalent of the Oscars - Electric Radio Brixton won four prizes, including 2 gold awards. The kicker? It is broadcast for and by inmates in Brixton Prison 24 hours a day, part of an ambitious project by the Prison Radio Association. Some background here. [more inside]
posted by MuffinMan on May 12, 2009 - 25 comments

"The best I can do is to live a good life and maintain decent standards of behaviour towards others."

Erwin James: the real me. Erwin James has written about prison for the Guardian for a number of years, from the point of view of an insider: when his column began, he was serving a sentence for two murders. He completed his sentence a few years ago, but continued to write under that name, a pseudonym. Here, he talks about the crimes that he was originally imprisoned for, his time in the French Foreign Legion, how he became a writer during his time in prison, and gives his real name for the first time.
posted by chorltonmeateater on Apr 23, 2009 - 19 comments

The Changing Racial Dynamics of the War on Drugs

The Changing Racial Dynamics of the War on Drugs. The Sentencing Project has just released a report (pdf) finding that, for the first time in 20 years, the number of Black Americans in state prison for drug offenses has fallen. Between 1999 and 2005, the number of White drug offenders in state prisons rose about 43 percent, while the number of Black offenders declined by 22 percent. One cause may be a rise in the use of drug courts, which are locally administered programs that divert offenders into treatment rather than incarceration. The Sentencing Project has a recent report (pdf) on this issue as well.
posted by lunit on Apr 16, 2009 - 32 comments

The latest craze in adult dating.

Conjugal Harmony : "Normally you wouldn't think an arsonist would be good at sex. Boy was I ever wrong!" [slightly NSFW]
posted by desjardins on Apr 10, 2009 - 44 comments

Hellhole

"The United States holds tens of thousands of inmates in long-term solitary confinement. Is this torture?"
posted by Joe Beese on Mar 24, 2009 - 91 comments

Death Row Diaries

Watercolors of people on death row. Part I, Part II.
posted by sveskemus on Mar 14, 2009 - 19 comments

Reforming the Lorton Reformatory

“There is nothing like this in the United States," said Leone. "We’ve looked." The Workhouse Arts Center near Occoquan, VA opened in September 2008 on the grounds of a former prison that was founded by President Theodore Roosevelt as a rehabilitation facility for Washington, DC criminals. Its extensive agrarian projects were intended to put them in touch with nature, but by 1917 security tightened and suffragettes protesting before the White House endured harsh treatment there. The city continued sending inmates to the overcrowded facility until Congress ordered the prison to be shuttered. For years it stood empty, but now the historic buildings are being transformed into studios for local artists (previously).
posted by woodway on Mar 11, 2009 - 11 comments

1 in 31.

A new report by the Pew Center of the States finds that 1 in 31 U.S. Adults is currently under Community Supervision. (Full report pdf). Georgia currently tops the charts, with 1 in 13 adults under correctional control. [more inside]
posted by lunit on Mar 3, 2009 - 84 comments

All the world's their stage

Twelve Angry Lebanese - inmates from Lebanon's infamous Roumieh Prison are putting on an adaptation of Twelve Angry Men - to stunning reviews. [more inside]
posted by ruelle on Mar 1, 2009 - 7 comments

Hollywood are you listening?

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.
posted by CunningLinguist on Feb 23, 2009 - 50 comments

Reform School Boys and Girls

John Pfaff. Five Myths about Prison Growth.
posted by wittgenstein on Feb 21, 2009 - 36 comments

Supermax Nation

Awakening on a mattress atop a wooden slab, the bare walls of your 7' x 12' cell come into focus, illuminated by the constant glare of an overhead light. Through the narrow window in the back of your cell, you can peer out into the prison yard. In the window in the reinforced steel door, you can catch an occasional glimpse of a prison guard as they bring your meals, usually the only interruption of the silence and isolation that pervade your living conditions. Those walls are the boundaries of your world for 23 hours a day in the Departmental Disciplinary Unit-- the supermax prison maintained in Walpole, Massachusetts, one of dozens of such institutions currently operated in the United States, in spite of growing outcry based on human rights violations. [more inside]
posted by Law Talkin' Guy on Feb 15, 2009 - 94 comments

The Audacity of Dope

With its $41 billion deficit spiraling out of control and federal judges ordering its prisoners released to relieve overcrowding, can legal marijuana save California?
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on Feb 12, 2009 - 82 comments

Deadly Symbiosis

Deadly Symbiosis: Rethinking race and imprisonment in twenty-first-century America.
posted by lunit on Jan 29, 2009 - 16 comments

From Gitmo to the Rock

Alcatraz's American history began as the first US fort on the West coast, where it served as "an icon of US military power". Before it held these guys, it held these guys. This guy thinks The Rock would be a good place for these guys.
posted by JVA on Jan 26, 2009 - 35 comments

"Those who desire to peruse works that tell about Heaven only, are urged to drop this book and run."

GUILTY! This word, so replete with sadness and sorrow, fell on my ear on that blackest of all black Fridays, October 14, 1887. And so begins John N. Reynolds' The Twin Hells: A Thrilling Narrative of Life in the Kansas and Missouri Penitentiaries, a very detailed and eventful memoir originally published in 1890, archived online in its entirety (including illustrations). [more inside]
posted by amyms on Dec 14, 2008 - 11 comments

Make your own pruno and may God have mercy on your soul

How to make prison wine out of oranges, sugar and ketchup. [more inside]
posted by sveskemus on Dec 11, 2008 - 31 comments

Trapped: Mental Illness in America's Prisons.

Trapped: Mental Illness in America's Prisons by Jenn Ackerman. [more inside]
posted by chunking express on Dec 7, 2008 - 17 comments

Behind bars

Prison is boring. There is no other way to describe it. Sometimes it's scary, but mostly just annoying and boring.
posted by Huplescat on Dec 6, 2008 - 40 comments

The Old Ball and Chain

"The best man was Kirk "Spanky" Smyth, who had recently been caught passing through the metal detectors with Buck knives in his rectum. Today he was loaded on smack and rubbing his face red." A Los Angeles Times series examines a woman's quarter-century of marrige to a man behind bars. Part Two. Part Three.
posted by Bookhouse on Dec 4, 2008 - 23 comments

A House Built on Hope

In 1972, Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox were convicted of murdering a prison guard in Louisiana's notorious maximum-security prison, Angola. The warden sentenced them to solitary confinement, where they remained for the next 36 years. Until March 2008, the men had spent at least 23 hours per day in cells that measured only 6 x 9 feet. Woodfox's conviction was recently overturned, evidently through a federal habeus proceeding, and he is awaiting a new trial. NPR did an outstanding job of tracking down people involved and telling a riveting story: Part I, Part II, Part III. No doubt that much of the attention brought to the case is due to the efforts of Jackie Sumell and her Herman's House project. [more inside]
posted by ajr on Nov 9, 2008 - 8 comments

Right to Vote.

As we approach Nov. 4, I'm reminded that an estimated 5.3 million Americans are prohibited from voting because of a felony conviction. The ACLU breaks it down by state.
posted by lunit on Oct 8, 2008 - 145 comments

Mackerel Economics in Prison Leads to Appreciation for Oily Fillets - Wall Street Journal

As dollar flounders, inmates stack mackerel
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Oct 2, 2008 - 70 comments

"I spent 16 years in prison for a crime I didn't commit."

Remember Jeffrey Deskovic? (If not, spend a minute browsing the links on the previous thread first). He just wrote an interesting position piece on what can be done to make sure that what happens to him doesn't happen to others.
posted by allkindsoftime on Sep 16, 2008 - 13 comments

Life without parole: Child prisoners in the US

"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]
posted by flibbertigibbet on Aug 10, 2008 - 57 comments

Locked up and blue

Men in Women-in-Prison [Films]
"This dynamic — of eroticized male exclusion from, and investment in, female relationships — was the defining feature of a handful of women-in-prison films from the 1970s. In these movies, female sisterhood, generally in the face of oppression, is itself fetishized — feminism is turned into a kind of masochistic male wet dream. How this unlikely cathexis occurred, and how it functioned, is the subject of this essay." [more inside]
posted by carsonb on Aug 7, 2008 - 23 comments

Richard Jenson

Getting Off The Mat - After losing 15 years of his life to drug addiction and prison, Richard Jensen was reborn as a 36-year-old college wrestler.
posted by thisisdrew on Aug 4, 2008 - 15 comments

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