Category Archives: Blog

America’s prison population is shrinking. But will it last?

Blog post on a recent BJS report that indicates that America’s prison population has been falling in recent years.  70 percent of the state level decrease is due to California, which has reduced intake through legislation.

Read more here.

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Blog: Was Israel Keyes the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of Modern Times?

Slate blogpost on Israel Keyes, the serial killer that recently committed suicide in an Alaskan prison.  From the blogpost: “Keyes is a horror-movie villain come to life: akiller who haunts remote areas in search of random prey, and who kills for no reason other than the fun of it. An Alaska Dispatch story last week noted that an expert on serial killing called Keyes “among the top three organizers, thinkers and planners he’d studied.” Indeed, aspiring stranglers would do well to study Keyes’ methods. He killed far away from home, in different police jurisdictions. He had no personal connection to his victims, and acted from no evident motives. During his trips, he would turn off his cell phone and pay with cash in order to avoid leaving a trail. He stashed “murder kits” around the country. (The one found in Alaska included a shovel and Drano, to accelerate the decomposition of a dead body.) He spaced out most of his murders, and left the scenes of the crimes soon after he was finished—after killing Samantha Koenig, he hid her body in a shed and took off on a two-week cruise.”

Read more here.

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Russia: In the Penal Colony

From the article: “All anyone can be sure of is that near the city of Chelyabinsk, by the southern Urals, something horrible is going on. Photographs circulating on the Web show dozens of tiny figures, all wearing black coats and black hats with ear flaps, gathered on the roof of a yellow brick building.  They are holding handmade banners. “The administration extracts $. They beat and humiliate us,” says one. “The administration extracts $,” says a smaller one, hung on a different wall, clearly to maximize the chances that someone will see the men’s message. “There are 1,500 of us,” say two of the banners. The banners appear to have been made from white bed sheets, several of them sewn together for the longer messages.”

According to interviewed relatives, the inmates are protesting placement in solitary confinement, beatings, and sexual abuse.  One person stated that inmates are killing themselves due to conditions, even writing on the banners in their own blood.

The latter seems a bit sensationalist, but there’s no doubt that something is going on – extortion at the very least, judging by the banners.  Read the blog post here.

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Overhaul the Juvenile Justice System: Accountability without Criminalization

From the Juvenile Justice Blog: “A new federally commissioned report led by University of Virginia law professor Richard Bonnie lays out a blueprint to reform the nation’s juvenile justice system to better hold youth offenders accountable, prevent recidivism and ensure adolescent offenders are treated fairly.”

Check out the blog post here.


Companionship or Death: The Torture of Solitary Confinement

Great article on Huffington Post re solitary confinement.

From the article: “On any given day in the United States, 80,000 prisoners are held in some form of isolation or solitary confinement. Rather than being a method for holding the worst prisoners, solitary confinement is often the punishment for infractions of prison rules, such as fighting, gang membership or obtaining contraband. Many of the mentally healthy who are placed in isolation develop psychological problems as a result. Inmates engage in self-mutilation, sit catatonic in their own waste, and demonstrate cognitive dysfunction, paranoia and depression. According to testimony presented in June by Dr. Craig Haney, a leading expert on solitary confinement, at the first ever Congressional hearing on solitary confinement, for many prisoners, “solitary confinement precipitates a descent into madness.” As Sen. Dick Durbin, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, which held the hearing, shared in his opening statement to that hearing, 50 percent of prison suicides occur in solitary confinement.”


Lessons from Death Row Inmates: Reform the Juvenile Justice System

“What happens before a murder? In looking for ways to reduce the number of death penalty cases, David R. Dowrealized that a surprising number of death row inmates had similar biographies.  In discussing the need for comprehensive intervention for economically disadvantaged and otherwise troubled kids, Dow explains,

“For every $15,000 that we spend intervening in the lives of economically and otherwise disadvantaged kids in those earlier chapters, we save $80,000 in crime-related costs down the road.  Even if you don’t agree that there’s a moral imperative that we do it, it just makes economic sense.”

Check out the blog with a link to his TEDtalk:

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Corrections reform: a viable option for budget savings

From The Vera Institute:

“The State Budget Crisis Task Force, co-chaired by former New York Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch and former Federal Reserve Board Chair Paul Volcker, recently released a report that identifies the leading structural problems that undermine the long-term fiscal sustainability of the states. These issues include the rising cost of Medicaid, the prospect of less revenue from the federal government, as well as one that Vera’s Cost-Benefit Analysis Unit and Center on Sentencing and Corrections also examined in our Price of Prisons study: the cost of underfunded retirement benefits.”

Read more:

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Federal Prisons Busting at the Seams: Sentencing Commission Should Prioritize Growing Prison Population

“The U.S. Sentencing Commission is in the process of determining the issues that it will prioritize 2013. The commission embarks on this process every year and invites the public to suggest what it thinks the commission should concentrate its efforts on for the upcoming year.”

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Prison pups: Dog training program changed his life, says inmate

“Eddie Hill has to give away his dog again. He’s absently petting the head of his panting chocolate lab, Meatball, who’s not much older than a puppy. Over the past two months, Hill taught Meatball how to sit, roll over, high five, heel and–Hill’s favorite–how to pretend to get shot and then slowly crash to the floor in a trick called “bang.” The two have spent every moment together, with Meatball even sleeping in Hill’s shared 7 by 10 foot cell with him every night.”

Read more:

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Florida prison vendor agrees to hefty fine in Pa. case

“The company awaiting final approval from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration to privatize health care services for most Florida prison inmates has agreed to pay a $1.85 million fine in Philadelphia for skirting minority contracting requirements. The vendor, Prison Health Services, now known as Corizon Health, is accused of falsifying official documents and federal prosecutors are looking for evidence of mail and wire fraud.”

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