Three inmates whose life sentences were commuted in Washington state separately went on to commit crimes after their release. The incidents should have prodded officials to tackle the structural justice reforms that would prevent them from recurring, writes an inmate in one of the state’s correctional institutions.
Americans’ fascination with the justice system has made shows like “Orange is the New Black” popular. But two new podcasts provide a powerful platform for the voices of those who’ve actually experienced life behind bars.
On an average day in an average year, around 1,700 people are released from federal penitentiaries and state prisons. The odds of successfully reintegrating into civilian life are stacked against most of them, says a California researcher.
The percentage of U.S. residents in jail dropped 3.4 percent from midyear 2012 to midyear 2016, says the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. County and city jails held 740,700 inmates at midyear 2016, far below the peak of 785,500 in 2008.
In some of the state’s most dangerous prisons, officers have been skipping a crucial part of their job for years by failing to perform their required 30-minute security checks. The negligence may have contributed to the deaths of at least eight inmates. Some blame staffing shortages.
Prisoner rights advocates say the safety of inmates in areas threatened by climate change is dangerously low on the priorities of disaster planners. Exhibit A, they argue, are the thousands of prisoners in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico who were among the victims of this fall’s devastating hurricanes.
For the third time this year, drones have been used in attempts to smuggle contraband into a Michigan prison. Three men are charged in an Aug. 17 drone incursion loaded with three cells phones, razors and marijuana.
In an average year, about 100 inmates attempt suicide in the Canadian province. But 160 tried suicide in just the first six months this year, calling into the question reforms meant to take a more humane approach to inmate care.
Does shrinking the size of prison populations save taxpayers money? Not always, says a study released May 23 by the Vera Institute of Justice. The study found that 25 states increased their spending on prisons even though the nation’s overall prison population has declined.