Monthly Archives: September 2013

CA: Solitary confinement case set to expand

From the article: “A federal judge Thursday said she is likely to allow a lawsuit alleging that solitary confinement conditions at Pelican Bay State Prison amount to psychological torture, to be expanded from the cases of 10 prisoners to include about 1,100 inmates now held in indefinite isolation.”

According to the article, there are 500 men who have been held in solitary confinement (defined in the article as 22.5 hour per day lockdown) for more than a decade.  Unbelievable.

Read more from the article here.

The reality is that not all solitary confinement is created equally.  Speaking from my state, some segregation units are relatively humane, with inmates who have access to adequate food, lighting, recreation opportunities, reading material, and who report few concerns.  Other segregation units (I am thinking of one in particular) are the not-so-good scenario, with inmates who are in a sensory-deprived environment, where they can only get books if they pay off a porter, recreation is limited, etc.

What makes the difference?  Well, I can tell you.  The first issue is overcrowding.  Segregation is a microcosm of prison and just as on the compound, overcrowding taxes staff resources and makes staff go into “survival mode,” where they do even less than they might have otherwise done for a population that they could handle.  This results in a negative spiral, as inmates’ issues are not addressed, so they become frustrated, so they act out, so staff react negatively, etc.

The second issue is the time that inmates are kept in segregation, which is not always (sometimes not even frequently) within the control of staff, particularly if inmates are waiting for a disciplinary transfer.  They could be back there for months, or even a year.  This results in a huge amount of frustration (understandably, in my opinion).  Staff feel helpless.  Again, a negative spiral.

The third issue is in fact the type of inmate that you’re housing, although in my opinion this is less of an issue than the above two.  The inmate is in the most secure environment, so security classification seems less of an issue.  However, it is certainly the higher security inmates who engage in the most disruption (breaking off sprinkler heads, flooding the range, creating a disturbance, etc).

So, is it always psychological torture?  I would say no when you are talking about a short term stay in an under-capacity unit with a manageable population.  But a definitive yes to the overcrowded, under-resourced segs where inmates just sit with nothing to do for months.  The only question is, what do you do with the inmates who have legitimately misbehaved in order to place themselves in the unit?

h/t Vera Institute

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

OH: Director views inmate suicides as failures; new steps being taken

From the article: “Prisons officials are taking new steps to prevent suicides: using “safe cells,” disposable paper uniforms, soft food and paper eating utensils for inmates on suicide watch; spot-checking video to make sure corrections officers are making rounds; training employees to be watchful for signs that inmates might be suicidal; and reviewing mental-health assessments done when inmates enter the system. But [Director] Mohr cautioned that no amount of vigilance, precautions and staff attention will stop all inmates who are determined to take their own lives.”

Read more here.

h/t Vera Institute

Tagged , , , , ,

CO: DOC Chief: Parole Supervision Needs Improvement

From the article: “The head of Colorado’s correctional system told lawmakers Friday his department needs to improve the monitoring of parolees, and that officials are considering using cellphones instead of electronic bracelets to do so.”

According to the article, the prison system is thinking about giving cellphones to parolees, which would track their whereabouts via GPS.  POs could call the parolees to ensure that the cellphone was on them and could require the parolees to take pictures of themselves or surroundings to verify location.

Interesting.

Read more here.

Tagged , , ,

IA: Union: System in crisis, prison understaffed

From the article: “Dozens of union members picketed Friday outside the Iowa Medical and Classification Center, protesting what they say are dangerously low staffing levels and calling for the resignation of the state’s corrections director.”

Read more here.

Tagged , , ,

Highlighting the plight of pregnant women and babies in Nigerian prisons

Lawyers Alert

– Angela Uwandu,  ASF France Head of Office
Women and children in the Nigerian prisons across the country are plagued with several concerns. These issues range from minors serving time or awaiting trial alongside adult detainees in the same prison facility, pregnant women serving time in prisons, to the more disturbing reality of nursing mothers incarcerated alongside their babies in the prisons. Most recently in early August 2013, two female detainees who are awaiting trial in Kirikiri prisons for capital offences had their babies in prisons. These inmates are being represented in court by Avocats Sans Frontières France (Lawyers without Borders France).
Yet in another case being handled by Avocats sans Frontières France in Katsina state, a female detainee has been on death row alongside her infant child for two years. It is noteworthy that she was sentenced to death for an offence she was alleged to have committed as a…

View original post 819 more words

Matt Gurney: Why prisons will be 21st-century asylums for years to come

National Post | Full Comment

Ahead of a Human Rights Commission case launched against it, the Ontario government settled this week with Christina Jahn. Jahn, a 43-year-old woman, was incarcerated in a provincial jail between 2011 and 2012 after being arrested for shoplifting, disturbing the peace and resisting arrest. Suffering from serious mental illness, Jahn was essentially dumped in a segregation unit and largely ignored. Her lawyer acknowledges that she is difficult to deal with and manage, due to her erratic behaviour, but contended that long-term segregation is not an acceptable response to a person grappling with mental illnesses. Ontario, rather than defending itself, has granted the point by settling. Jahn will receive an undisclosed cash settlement, but the province has also committed to roll out an aggressive new series of policies and procedures for dealing with mentally ill prisoners.

This is a welcome step. The state of mental health care in Canada’s correctional systems…

View original post 627 more words

Privatising Queenland’s Prisons

sekendchanceblog

Hidden deep in the lush, rural and rugged bush land of the Lockyer Valley resides an enigma of an estate. A fortress encumbered with the responsibility of correcting society’s unfortunates. Housing various types of men from various types of backgrounds, some are drug addicts, while others are violent offenders, there are those guilty of fraud and organised crime, and even murder. They are all there to be punished for crimes committed against the state, to hopefully learn from their mistakes.

gatton prison

Please click here to watch channel 9 news report

Welcome to Southern Queensland Correctional Centre, the $400 million super prison located in Gatton. The SQCC is just one of Queensland’s privately run prisons, within these razor sharp walls you will discover a mixture of hardened crims and many re-offenders serving lengthy sentences. The prison currently consists of 300 cells, with hopes to one day expand enough to house up to…

View original post 612 more words

925