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"I can’t take it no more, I’m sorry"

Two years after a mentally ill Florida prisoner, Darren Rainey, was found dead, locked in a scalding-hot shower, the autopsy remains incomplete and no charges have been filed. He had been scheduled to be released the following month from his sentence for cocaine possession. The unit is under increased scrutiny because of the recent death of another prisoner, Damion Foster, during a cell extraction.
posted by anotherpanacea on May 29, 2014 - 49 comments

The eyes of Texas are upon you

The Gold Standard in Executions.
For two years now, Texas has used a single drug, the barbiturate pentobarbital, instead of the three-drug regimen used in neighboring Oklahoma. Prison administrators from other states often travel to Texas to learn how it performs lethal injections and to observe executions. Texas officials have provided guidance and, on at least a few occasions, carried out executions for other states.
posted by four panels on May 12, 2014 - 101 comments

Racial Disparity in Private Prisons

A new study "The Color of Corporate Corrections, Part II: Contractual Exemptions and the Overrepresentation of People of Color in Private Prisons" theorizes an interesting reason that the population of people of color is larger in the private prison system than in the general population. Mother Jones breaks it down in simpler terms.
posted by HuronBob on Feb 17, 2014 - 9 comments

"Nobody on the outside believed how bad it was in there."

A former Serco (previously) employee tells of his experience working as a guard in the Australian refugee detention centers, illustrated by cartoonist Sam Wallman.
posted by Pope Guilty on Feb 7, 2014 - 65 comments

Privatization of Justice: Probation for Profit

"Every year, US courts sentence several hundred thousand misdemeanor offenders to probation overseen by private companies that charge their fees directly to the probationers. Often, the poorest people wind up paying the most in fees over time, in what amounts to a discriminatory penalty. And when they can’t pay, companies can and do secure their arrest."

The Human Rights Watch releases a report on the for-profit probation industry in the US. The Atlantic weighs in.
posted by stinkfoot on Feb 6, 2014 - 23 comments

The ethics of Prison Architect

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]
posted by whir on Jan 31, 2014 - 38 comments

"Why Scandinavian Prisons Are Superior"

On Scandinavian prisons: why they are superior; what Norwegian high-security prisons are like; about a lower security Norwegian prison.
posted by insectosaurus on Nov 3, 2013 - 36 comments

Prison Architect flash mob

Everyone's favorite prison simulator Prison Architect wins Halloween with an awesome Easter egg.
posted by Artw on Oct 31, 2013 - 44 comments

FCC rules on prison telecommunications

Today, a decade after Martha Wright-Reed, now 87, became the lead signatory in a class-action protest petition that asked the Federal Communications Commission to regulate usurious prison telecommunications systems, that body has issued an order to lower prison phone rates immediately, "basing them on actual costs and cap[ping] them at 25 cents per minute while the Commission collects more data." A fifteen-minute call will now cost no more than $3.25, down from figures as high as $20. Martha Wright's grandson, imprisoned for manslaughter in 1994, was paroled in June 2012.
posted by liketitanic on Aug 9, 2013 - 25 comments

Awaken Human Nature and Perceive the Value of Life

For over five years, journalist and TV presenter Ding Yu headed up a  massively popular Chinese TV talk show. Every week, She would sit down with convicted murderers and interview them about their life and crimes, before they were taken out and put to death by either firing squad or lethal injection. The show, "Interviews Before Execution", was taken off the air in March 2012. [more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Jul 24, 2013 - 18 comments

Knitting Behind Bars

Two retired women, Lyn Zwerling and Sheila Rovelstad, have initiated and implemented a program called Knitting Behind Bars at a prison in Maryland. They approached every prison in the area with their idea for a knitting class, and all the prisons refused except the last one, where the prison authorities skeptically agreed to let them try it. And the program has been a success. As the Baltimore Sun reported, "Men literally beg to get in. There's a waiting list.... They want it so much, in fact, that they're willing to be good in order to do it. [Prison warden Margaret] Chippendale has noticed lower rates of violence among the men who knit. "It's a privilege to be in that program," Chippendale says. "It's something that matters and they don't want to do anything to be removed from it." One prisoner, who was serving time for stabbing someone and who was busily knitting a hat, told the reporter, "My mind is on something soft and gentle," he said. "My mind is nowhere near inside these walls." [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Jan 4, 2013 - 70 comments

Occupy the Prisons

The Bottom One Percent "Federal Prison Industries (FPI), which employs inmates in federal prisons, pays them between $0.23 and $1.15 per hour, with the average federal prisoner making $0.92 per hour. [F]rom this gross pay, the government deducts funds for restitution, to offset the high cost of incarceration, and for other purposes, leaving the average federal-prison employee with a measly $0.18 per hour. [Although state prison inmates'] wages were higher, ranging from $0.23 per hour to $7.00 per hour, their “take-home pay” was only about 20 percent of their wages. It’s safe to say that people making 72 cents an hour who have no other income are in the bottom 1 percent of the U.S. income distribution."
posted by anotherpanacea on Oct 19, 2012 - 50 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

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

Reflections On The Norwegian Massacre

Reflections On The Norwegian Massacre (60 min audio interview) On July 22, 2011, Norway suffered a catastrophe: its main government buildings were bombed, and scores of young people were killed and maimed at a summer youth congress. Nils Christie, a prominent Norwegian sociologist and criminologist, talks with CBC IDEAS about what happened and what it means for his country. [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu on Apr 29, 2012 - 38 comments

Supreme Court Gives Officers Unlimited Strip Search Power

In admitting that they have no expertise in running a corrections system, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that officers have unfettered authority to conduct full strip searches of any arrested individual, even for the most minor of offenses and in situations where officers lack any suspicion of contraband. The ruling comes days after the NY Times ran an analysis suggesting that the current supreme court is the most conservative court in modern history.
posted by GnomeChompsky on Apr 2, 2012 - 78 comments

The Caging of America

The scale and the brutality of our prisons are the moral scandal of American life. Every day, at least fifty thousand men—a full house at Yankee Stadium—wake in solitary confinement, often in “supermax” prisons or prison wings, in which men are locked in small cells, where they see no one, cannot freely read and write, and are allowed out just once a day for an hour’s solo “exercise.” (Lock yourself in your bathroom and then imagine you have to stay there for the next ten years, and you will have some sense of the experience.)
posted by Trurl on Jan 24, 2012 - 102 comments

Rub ’til it bleeds

"The line between intentional and inadvertent exposure can be blurry in a context where inmates do not control their privacy and cells are sometimes defined as public places. What’s more, some experts on prison sex contend that anti-masturbation and anti-porn policies in prisons are counterproductive because they effectively drive inmates to engage in risky sexual behavior. According to this theory, increased access to pornography—which goes hand-in-hand with increased access to one’s doo-dads—might be just what correctional facilities need to stem prison rape. Is it time for a revolution in prisoners’ masturbatory rights?"
posted by Houyhnhnm on Jan 10, 2012 - 45 comments

"I could clear nearly 1 percent of my state’s organ waiting list."

Giving life after death row. Death row inmate Christian Longo continues his crusade to allow prisoners to donate their organs with an op ed in the Times. Post mortem voluntary donation supposedly avoids the same consent issues as some recent domestic and international cases. Journalist Michael Finckel--whose identity was stolen by Longo at one point--describes his own part in how Longo came to this cause (Finkel's encounter with Longo was part of his own redemption story after a fabrication scandal at the New York Times Magazine).
posted by availablelight on Mar 7, 2011 - 31 comments

A Look Back At The Attica Correctional Facility Riots

39 years ago tToday, September 9, 1971, a riot started at Attica Correctional Facility in Attica, New York. Several days later almost 40 people were dead. Talking History has an extensive collection of resources on the riots including Videos and Photos. Elsewhere, Most of the Stories are sad and brutal, though some are Poetic and even Heroic (Attica is also home to Mark David Chapman, who was just denied parole again yesterday)
posted by Blake on Sep 9, 2010 - 11 comments

Tragic birthers

Pennsylvania Outlaws Shackling of Prisoners Giving Birth. Amnesty International has tried to raise awareness of this issue in the past. [more inside]
posted by whimsicalnymph on Aug 30, 2010 - 42 comments

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]
posted by availablelight on May 22, 2010 - 53 comments

Are Pagans in California Prisons Entitled to Religious Freedom?

From The Wild Hunt:
A case coming before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals could end up having major legal ramifications for all religious minorities in the United States. Wiccan chaplain Patrick McCollum has been fighting for years to overturn the State of California’s “five faiths policy”, which limits the hiring of paid chaplains to Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and Native American adherents. While McCollum has suffered setbacks in his quest, with a California federal district court ruling in early 2009 that he had no standing to bring his suit, he recently gained support on appeal from several civil and religious rights groups who argue that his case should be heard.
[more inside]
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey on Feb 1, 2010 - 43 comments

A Profile in Courage

With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world, there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different--and vastly counterproductive. Obviously, the answer is the latter.
Sen. Jim Webb takes on the real third rail in American politics, the entire criminal justice system.
posted by empath on Mar 30, 2009 - 112 comments

Art Behind Bars

If people who have a lot of time on their hands and inner demons to exorcise turn to art as an outlet, the results can be startling, even if they have had no prior art instruction and have to make a paint brush out of their own hair and use coffee as paint, or weave things out of hoarded chip or Ramen bags. Drawing elaborately on handkerchiefs became so common in the mid 20th century it's become known as panos. Welcome to the world of prison art. [more inside]
posted by orange swan on Nov 26, 2008 - 12 comments

The Torture Playlist

Music has been used in American military prisons and on bases to induce sleep deprivation, "prolong capture shock," disorient detainees during interrogations—and also drown out screams. Based on a leaked interrogation log, news reports, and the accounts of soldiers and detainees, here are some of the songs that guards and interrogators chose.
posted by monospace on Feb 26, 2008 - 76 comments

Incredible hulks and prisons at sea

A visual history of floating prisons shows that using ships at prisons did not end with the infamous prison hulks along the Thames. Today, New York (home to the Prison Ship Martyr's Monument commemorating the most deadly part of the Revolutionary War) uses the impressive Bain, anchored off the Bronx, as a prison barge, while the Australians have the sleek-looking Triton as a mobile prison ship patrolling national waters.
posted by blahblahblah on Jan 10, 2008 - 21 comments

A Crack in the War on Drugs

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]
posted by Avenger on Nov 12, 2007 - 29 comments

Putting puppies in prison

"Puppies Behind Bars" gives cute lil pups to hardened prison inmates, who train them to eventually be guide dogs and police bomb sniffers. The puppies teach the convicts as much, if not more. Being responsible 24/7 for a dog can turn the most hardened criminal's life around. "This is my way of doing something to reparate," says one murderer. Some say it's their first taste of unconditional love. "The strongest guy in here's going to get that lump in his throat," says an inmate. The dogs get weekend furloughs to NYC so they can get used to city streets. No convict who trained a puppy has gone back to prison after being paroled.
posted by CunningLinguist on Nov 7, 2007 - 60 comments

Prisons of the World

Prisons of the World | Interesting locations, harsh conditions and little known facts, includes images and video.
posted by deern the headlice on Jun 15, 2007 - 12 comments

International Prison Writing

The current edition of Words Without Borders features a striking array of current and historical writing by prisoners held in such countries as Albania, Syria, Finland, Spain, and Argentina. previously on mefi
posted by Rumple on May 21, 2007 - 5 comments

Now You Can Go Where People Are One

Tuol Sleng: 114 photographs taken by the Khmer Rouge at Pol Pot's secret prison, code-named "S-21" in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. When the Vietnamese invaded in 1979, the S-21 prison staff fled, leaving behind thousands of written records and photographs.
posted by fandango_matt on Dec 24, 2006 - 26 comments

Torture Inc.

Abu Ghraib revisited? Savaged by dogs, Electrocuted With Cattle Prods, Burned By Toxic Chemicals, Does such barbaric abuse inside U.S. jails explain the horrors that were committed in Iraq? [...] It’s terrible to watch some of the videos and realise that you’re not only seeing torture in action but, in the most extreme cases, you are witnessing young men dying. Channel 4-documentary on US prisons. (google video. Disclaimer: nasty stuff)
posted by Bravocharlie on Dec 10, 2006 - 105 comments

Stocks r up!!

Invest in immigrants!!! Business is booming!!!
posted by pwedza on Jul 22, 2006 - 15 comments

CIA Secret Prisons Exposed

CIA Secret Prisons Exposed The disappeared: Are they dead? Are they alive? Ask Congress. Ask the president.
posted by Postroad on May 11, 2006 - 40 comments

Who is 10641?

Who is 10641?
via via
posted by airguitar on Nov 15, 2005 - 77 comments

Lots of lockups

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.
posted by Gyan on Jul 27, 2005 - 42 comments

cruel and unusual

U.S. to Seize State Prison Health System The California Prison Health system kills an inmate a week due to neglect or incompetence, so a federal judge put the entire system into receivership. Thing is, that's not that half of it.
posted by raaka on Jul 1, 2005 - 46 comments

wow

Bob Parson's may have (somewhat) changed his tune when it comes to inhumane treatment of prisoners, but there are still plenty of ways to show your support for the little terrorist resort that could (toture people)
posted by delmoi on Jun 22, 2005 - 23 comments

ADX Florence

During the 1990s, both the federal government and many state governments experimented with a new type of prison dedicated to maximum security prisoners, known as a "supermax." Such prisons are formally known as "Administrative Maximum" (ADX) prisons at the federal level, and the only federal ADX is in Florence, Colorado - ADX Florence. On top of confining inmates to their cells for 23 hours a day, such prisons usually feature soundproofed cells, near-total deprivation of human contact, and a routine policy of solitary confinement.

The text is from here, which isn't really related but got me searching for ADX-Florence, and lead me to the HRW site that inspired me to share.
posted by taumeson on Apr 13, 2005 - 35 comments

Torture Inc.

Torture Inc. Americas Brutal Prisons Savaged by dogs, Electrocuted With Cattle Prods, Burned By Toxic Chemicals, Does such barbaric abuse inside U.S. jails explain the horrors that were committed in Iraq? Warning: tiny, NSFW, embedded Windows Media file.
posted by Doug on Apr 4, 2005 - 40 comments

Cruel and Unusual - The End Of The Eighth Amendment

Cruel and Unusual - The End Of The Eighth Amendment
It might seem at first that the rules for the treatment of Iraqi prisoners were founded on standards of political legitimacy suited to war or emergencies; based on what Carl Schmitt called the urgency of the ''exception,'' they were meant to remain secret as necessary ''war measures'' and to be exempt from traditional legal ideals and the courts associated with them. But the ominous discretionary powers used to justify this conduct are entirely familiar to those who follow the everyday treatment of prisoners in the United States—not only their treatment by prison guards but their treatment by the courts in sentencing, corrections, and prisoners' rights. The torture memoranda, as unprecedented as they appear in presenting ''legal doctrines . . . that could render specific conduct, otherwise criminal, not unlawful,'' refer to U.S. prison cases in the last 30 years that have turned on the legal meaning of the Eighth Amendment’s language prohibiting ''cruel and unusual punishment.'' What is the history of this phrase? How has it been interpreted? And how has its content been so eviscerated?
posted by y2karl on Nov 8, 2004 - 25 comments

Correctional Evolution

New Behaviour Correction - The North American penal systems are outdated. If we look to the UK, evidence of specific punishment points to a new method of behavior correction. The current NA system seems incredibly unspecific when we punish a host of crimes by sending people to the same cage.
posted by lightweight on Sep 3, 2004 - 11 comments

Save The Children calls on release of Iraqi children from jails.

Save The Children calls on release of Iraqi children from jails. This apparently in response to recent media reports on the abuse of children in Iraqi prisons. And it's not just Save the Children who is concerned, but UNICEF, Amnesty International, and the Red Cross. Infact, Congress has called for a special briefing tomorrow from the Pentagon on "confidential reports" from the Red Cross on prison conditions in Iraq. The Pentagon is closing the briefing to the public, however, and apparently thinks that even Congress shouldn't know the details of how we treat prisoners.
"It's something of a stretch of policy and procedures to give them to the Congress," Rumsfeld spokesman Larry Di Rita said.
posted by insomnia_lj on Jul 8, 2004 - 18 comments

Secret world of US jails

Secret world of US jails The United States government, in conjunction with key allies, is running an 'invisible' network of prisons and detention centres into which thousands of suspects have disappeared without trace since the 'war on terror' began. In the past three years, thousands of alleged militants have been transferred around the world by American, Arab and Far Eastern security services, often in secret operations that by-pass extradition laws. The astonishing traffic has seen many, including British citizens, sent from the West to countries where they can be tortured to extract information. Anything learnt is passed on to the US and, in some cases, reaches British intelligence.
posted by Postroad on Jun 14, 2004 - 34 comments

The Scandal's Growing Stain

The Scandal's Growing Stain Time Magazine: "Abuses by U.S. soldiers in Iraq shock the world and roil the Bush Administration. the inside story of what went wrong—and who's to blame"
posted by Postroad on May 9, 2004 - 18 comments

Innocent: Don't pass go, but you still owe.

Blunkett charges miscarriage of justice victims ‘food and lodgings’ We locked you up in jail for 25 years and you were innocent all along? That’ll be £80,000 please.
posted by thomcatspike on Mar 17, 2004 - 38 comments

Epicurian efforts in jail.

Prison time requires culinary creativity.
posted by machaus on Aug 5, 2003 - 13 comments

DoJ finds

Department of Justice finds "significant problems" in the detainment of aliens after Sept. 11. Among the findings in the report by Glenn Fine, DoJ Inspector General: The FBI failed to distinguish between aliens arrested on suspicion of terrorist activities and those with no connection to terrorism. Some detainees did not receive notice of why they were being detained for more than a month. Many detainees were held for weeks and months without the FBI taking any action on their cases. Detainees were frequently subject to harsh conditions of confinement and many were not allowed adequate legal consultation. (Full report available here - link via Tom Tomorrow.)
posted by UKnowForKids on Jun 5, 2003 - 16 comments

School budget

An imaginative solution to California's school budget crisis.
posted by semmi on Jan 24, 2003 - 24 comments

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