New York Times Op-ed Gives Overview of Dealing with Mass Incarceration

The Sentencing Project‘s Marc Mauer, along with Georgetown Law professor David Cole, wrote an op-ed last week in the New York Times, offering a holistic perspective on criminal justice reform, addressing issues of mass incarceration, drug courts, sentence lengths, and recidivism, among others.

Click here for the full article.

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Vera Institute of Justice publishes report on misconceptions of solitary confinement

“Whatever the label, the experience for the person is the same —confinement in an isolated cell (alone or with a cellmate) for an average of 23 hours a day with limited human interaction, little constructive activity, and in an environment that ensures maximum control over the individual.”

Click here for the report, summary of the report, and the Washington DOC’s grid for solitary confinement, and click here to go straight to the pdf of the report.

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New Jersey Senator Cory Booker calls for criminal justice reform

On April 23rd, 2015, in an an op-ed published on CNN.com, New Jersey Senator (D) Cory Booker called for large-scale reform of America’s criminal justice system:

“As we reform our criminal justice system at the national level, we will alter the cycles of poverty and recidivism that plague too many American communities … Instead of putting resources toward juvenile detention centers, we can put resources toward afterschool programs that have proved to help keep kids out of the juvenile justice system and in school.”

Click here to read the full article.

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Unveils Plan to Cut Rikers Island Population

 

bill-de-blasio

“As of late March, over 400 people had been locked up for more than two years without being convicted of a crime … As part of Mr. de Blasio’s proposal, all cases involving defendants who have been incarcerated for over a year — currently more than 1,500 people — are to be put on the court calendar within 45 days.”

Read the full NYTimes article, by Michael Schwirtz and Michael Winerip, here.

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Op-ed written from inside Attica Correctional Facility argues for free college courses

AtticaAPphoto

 

“What if, a few times a week, massive open online courses, or MOOCs, were streamed on the prison’s internal station, channel 3? … The MOOCs, which are free for the rest of the world, could help American prisoners become more educated and connected.”

Read the full NYTimes article, by John J. Lennon, here.

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Norway’s maximum security prison built for minimizing recidivism

Halden(photo courtesy of archdaily.com)

“Tom was adamant that overcoming his substance-­abuse problem was his responsibility alone. But he conceded that the environment at Halden, and the availability of therapists, made it easier. Compared with other prisons, “it’s quiet,” he said. “No fighting, no drugs, no problem,” he added. “You’re safe.””

Click here for the full New York Times article, by Jessica Benko.

 

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Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants calls for the abolition of mandatory minimum sentences for drug sentences

Gants

The title says it all. In an impassioned keynote speech at the second annual MassINC Criminal Justice Reform Coalition Summit, Chief Justice Gants asserted, “doing so makes fiscal sense, justice sense, policy sense and common sense, and ultimately, good sense will prevail”, to loud applause from the audience. Not everyone, however was in agreement with Chief Justice Gants. Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley argued in favor of mandatory minimums, rebuking the notion that drug offenses are non-violent crimes, and asserting that the vast majority of inmates in Massachusetts are incarcerated for violent crimes, leading to an increased public perception of safety.

Though he spoke before District Attorney Conley, Chief Justice Gants anticipated an opposition, saying “When some district attorneys say they fear judicial leniency, they really are saying that they do not want to relinquish to judges the power to impose sentences that minimum mandatory sentences give to prosecutors,”. After the event, Bristol County District Attorney Tom Quinn affirmed, saying “‘I don’t feel comfortable, being in the criminal justice system a number of years, ceding that power back to the judiciary,’ Mandatory minimum sentences, he added, help establish consistent sentencing.”

 

For the full SouthCoastToday article with Tom Quinn’s quote, click here. The other two quotes in this blog post come from this Masslive article.

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Closed after riots, an immigration detention facility in Willacy, Texas is now up for bid

Willacy County Prison Riot

“On March 9, the private company is due to bid for contracts to run a new immigrant facility in Leflore County, Miss., as well as four existing immigration facilities throughout Texas. MTC will compete for these contracts with two bigger private prison operators, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and The GEO Group, Inc.”

Click here for the full Marshall Project article, by Maurice Chammah.

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Indiana House of Representatives passes $80 million criminal justice bill: $60 million to go towards treatment programs

Greg Steuerwald

Pictured above: Rep. Greg Steuerwald of Avon, Indiana (Co-author of the bill)

“Rep. Jud McMillin, R-Brookville, co-author of the bill, said during a discussion before Monday’s vote … ‘This is a way to make sure we’re keeping people out of jail and keeping families together.'”

The bill, geared towards addressing non-violent crimes, especially non-violent drug crimes, without the use of incarceration, passed unanimously. The bill will now be assigned to a committee in the Indiana Senate.

Click here for the full IndyStar article.

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In Record Setting Winter, Suffolk County Prisoners Help Shovel

prisoner-shovel

“…teams of inmates in bright orange outfits have been deployed across Boston, Beacon Hill, Revere, and Roxbury to clear crosswalks, fire hydrants, and handicap ramps…

Click here for the full boston.com article, by Eric Levenson.

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