Two briefing papers by the Vera Institute of Justice contend that criminal justice policy “is too often swayed by political rhetoric and unfounded assumptions.” According to Vera, assertions that “violent crime increases in a few cities equal a sweeping national problem” are not based on facts.
U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison says 475 vulnerable inmates at the state’s Pack Unit prison should be able to live in units cooled to no more than 88 degrees. Critic says “human beings have been baked inside Texas prisons.”
Gov. Mary Fallin tells a national conference on “Women Unshackled” about efforts to keep mothers from going behind bars, The Oklahoman reports. Fallin cited “a large, growing body of research that shows that prison isn’t the … best option for everyone.”
The state is still investigating, and a lawsuit is one file, over the death of prisoner Terrance Jenkins. Five small, crumpled balls of what looked like notebook paper were found lodged in his throat, blocking his airway.
Despite the new restrictions on the use of solitary confinement for federal inmates ordered by former President Obama, federal lockups still keep some mentally ill inmates in solitary for 22 hours a day, sometimes for years.
Agreement gives the state four years to add resources for inmates and make its facilities more accessible to those with disabilities. The changes include making qualified interpreters available for disciplinary hearings and doctor’s appointments, providing functioning canes to inmates with visual disabilities and removing architectural barriers in prisons for wheelchair users and others with mobility issues.
In a farewell interview before stepping down after 13 years as president of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Jeremy Travis predicts the fear-mongering rhetoric about crime from the current administration won’t slow down reforms at the state and local levels. “The American people are smarter than that,” he says.