Tag Archives: legislation

CA: Reducing prison crowding is up to Legislature, Brown says

From the article: “Laywers for Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday argued that he should not be held in contempt for failing to comply with federal court orders to reduce prison crowding, saying it is now up to the Legislature to act.”

Read more here.

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Gov. Rick Scott speeding up Florida inmate execution process

From the article: “Gov. Rick Scott has accelerated the pace of signing death warrants in Florida by lining up three executions over the next few weeks, the most in such a brief period of time in more than two decades.”

Read more here.

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Maryland Repeals Death Penalty

From the article: “Maryland officially became the sixth state in six years to repeal the death penalty Thursday. Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the repeal bill, checking off a major legislative priority in what he called, “the most productive legislative session in modern memory.”

Read more here.

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Republicans fail to amend W.Va. prison bill

From the article: “The final bill that the House will vote on Friday is expected to save less money than Tomblin’s original bill. That bill, largely unchanged, passed the Senate unanimously in March. Tomblin’s original bill would have released non-violent offenders six months early into supervised programs. That provision was changed to make the early release at a judge’s discretion. The provision would no longer apply to prisoners already in the system.”

Read more here.
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Lawmakers decry Iowa mental health prison closure

From the article: “The lawmakers who sent the letter expressed concern that prisoners with mental health needs don’t acclimate well to change and by mixing them with the general inmate population it could stimulate behaviors that create an unsafe the working environment for corrections staff.”

There are always tough calls in budget season and it seems as though mental health services generally takes a huge cut.

A spokesman in the Governor’s office is quoted as saying that the new plan:

“more effectively utilizes the department’s resources” and inmates with mental health needs “will receive similar, if not greater, mental health care under this new plan.”

In Ohio, it seems as though there’s a new mental health grand reorganization plan every couple of years, with each one promising greater efficiency and services, but when you step back, it looks like less and less.  I think the problem is that the mentally ill inmate population often don’t know how to advocate for themselves – medical care is an easy, generally identifiable and fixable problem, but mental health care is unseen.  Inmates with mental health issues can remain untreated as long as they are docile, quietly decompensating, and the more disruptive mentally ill are treated as high security risks and locked down.  I hope someone’s watching to see whether the state really does offer “similar, if not greater” mental health care.
Read more here.
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Utah House says ‘no’ to privatization of prison

From the article: “Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, proposed the amendment striking language from the bid that authorized the Prison Relocation and Development Authority (PRADA) to seek proposals from private contractors for programming, operation or both at a new prison.”

Read more here.

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Oklahoma prison officials seek increase in funding

From the article: “Oklahoma’s overcrowded prison system needs $6.3 million before the next fiscal year or it will start refusing to accept inmates from county jails and face a legal showdown, the head of the state’s prison system warned lawmakers Thursday.”

Read more here.

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Iowa revises pregnant inmate restraint policy

From the article: “The Department of Corrections’ old policy allowed restraints to be used until inmates were admitted to a hospital for delivery. They were shackled as soon as 24 hours after giving birth.  The new policy prohibits inmates who have been pregnant for at least 22 weeks from being restrained unless they pose an immediate risk. Prisoners will remain unrestrained after giving birth until they are released from the hospital.”

Read more here.

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KS: Brownback starts merger of Juvenile Justice Authority, Kansas Department of Corrections

From the article: “Gov. Sam Brownback announced Monday that he intends to merge Kansas’ juvenile justice agency with the adult Department of Corrections system, arguing that two critical legislative audits show the need to abandon ‘a failed social services approach” to handling young offenders.'”

So…this seems like a really bad idea.  Juvenile offenders do not need a corrections-based approach – they need intensive programming.  Juveniles are more apt to lower impulse control and lesser ability to evaluate consequences.  In the world of prisons, this tends to mean that juveniles are more likely to engage in assaultive behavior; exactly the type of behavior that will get them locked down in segregation and increase their likelihood to recidivate.

In Ohio, the juvenile justice system is separate from the adult system.  It has been far from perfect – in fact, it is just now coming out from under a several years long consent decree involving strict monitoring by a federal court.  However, the system that we have now is far better than the system that we would otherwise have under a disciplinary model.  Every youth receives close supervision from “youth specialists” (the title changed from “corrections officer” to better show the paradigm shift) and is required to be engaged in meaningful programs, such as cognitive-based therapy, for a large chunk of the day.  This is in direct contrast to our adult system, in which there is a high inmate-to-officer ratio in most prisons and a high level of inmate idleness.

The answer is not to give up on youth by placing them in a more restrictive environment, which is what seems likely here.  It is a short-sighted move with longterm negative effects.

Read more of the article on Kansas here.
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