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    A public safety plan from Republicans who control Minnesota’s Senate would make sweeping changes to criminal penalties, increasing them for certain violent crimes and also increasing prison time broadly. One measure would change Minnesota’s system of granting supervised release for most offenders after they serve two-thirds of their sentence in prison to releasing them after three-fourths of their sentence. Top Republicans say the plan is an effort to increase accountability for those who commit offenses and to decrease violent crime. They point out Minnesota incarcerates relatively few people compared to other states (though Minnesota has high rates of probation). The bill also wouldn’t cause a spike in the prison population or cost much money in the short term. It would, however, substantially increase the number of people in Minnesota’s prisons later on — to the point that they could eventually be overloaded. Article continues after advertisement On Tuesday, Paul Schnell, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, said during a hearing of the Senate’s Finance Committee that it’s the Legislature’s prerogative to increase sentences “especially in light of what’s...
    HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s state prisons announced Monday they will not allow in-person visits for the coming month because their staff has been thinned by coronavirus infection. In-person visits will be stopped, at all state correctional institutions, starting on Thursday and lasting until Feb. 28. Free video visits will be expanded and cable TV in inmates’ cells will be free in February. READ MORE: Fund Helps Train Nurse's Aides For FreeActing Corrections Secretary George Little said quarantine requirements have increasingly required voluntary and mandatory overtime he considers unsustainable. The prison system implemented a statewide quarantine in March 2020, and in-person visits began to resume in May 2021. READ MORE: Lawmaker Proposes Constitutional Amendment To Privatize Liquor StoresThe Corrections Department said recreational, educational and programming opportunities won’t be affected by the visitation policy but could be modified at individual prisons. There have been more than 14,000 inmate COVID-19 cases and 155 deaths within the system that now houses about 36,000 prisoners. About 90% of inmates are fully vaccinated. Among state prison staff, barely half are fully vaccinated. MORE NEWS: Part...
    SACRAMENTO — The state prison system has agreed to settle a lawsuit with the family of a man killed within a half-hour of a controversial cell placement. The family of Rodney DeLong Jr. announced the settlement with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in court papers filed earlier this month. It comes just weeks after a judge ruled that several jail guards could not invoke “qualified immunity” from liability related to their jobs. The terms have not yet been made public. In May 2018 DeLong, 28, was stabbed to death by 44-year-old Aryan Brotherhood member Robert Stockton at High Desert State Prison in Susanville, minutes after the two were placed in a cell together. The federal lawsuit, filed last year, alleges that a guard failed to check the prison’s Strategic Offender Management System (SOMS), which said DeLong was listed as an enemy of the Aryan Brotherhood. DeLong had just months on his sentence for a burglary conviction when he was killed. Stockton was serving a life term for murder. In late September, a federal judge ruled that corrections officers...
    (CNN)Black Americans are incarcerated in state prisons at nearly five times the rate of White Americans, according to a new report by The Sentencing Project.The report found that one in 81 Black adults per 100,000 people in the United States is serving time in a state prison, using data and projections from recent years from the US Census, the US Bureau of Justice Statistics and information provided directly from some states."Truly meaningful reforms to the criminal justice system cannot be accomplished without acknowledgement of its racist underpinnings," Ashley Nellis, a senior research analyst for The Sentencing Project, wrote in the report. "Immediate and focused attention on the causes and consequences of racial disparities is required in order to eliminate them."The report released on Wednesday, found "staggering disproportionalities" among the rates of incarceration of Blacks and Latinx people compared to Whites. In 12 states, more than half of the prison population is Black. And Latinx individuals are incarcerated in state prisons at a rate that is 1.3 times the incarceration rate of Whites, according to the report.The Sentencing Project found that...
    Kim Chandler/Andrew Harnik/AP Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.After years of searching for a way to finance a massive prison-building scheme, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has found her cash cow: Federal coronavirus aid. Under legislation signed by Ivey at the end of a special session a little over a week ago, Alabama will spend $400 million in COVID aid—about 20 percent of the state’s $2.1 billion allotment from the American Rescue Plan Act—on a construction plan that advocates fear will lead to more people being locked in a prison system that’s currently being sued by the Justice Department for rampant violence, sexual abuse, excessive force, and poor living conditions. The state justifies dipping into COVID aid by designating the $400 million as estimated “lost revenue”—money the state would have had in its coffers, to spend as it wished, if not for the pandemic. While the use of COVID relief money is governed by a complicated, interim Treasury Department rule, rescue funds used to replace “lost revenue” come with...
                        Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr announced this week that Clarence Dean Alford, a former member of the Board of Regents, has pleaded guilty to racketeering. Alford pleaded guilty before Chief Superior Court Judge Robert F. Mumford. This, according to an emailed press release. “Alford is alleged to have exploited a common industry practice referred to in the financial services sector as ‘factoring.’ Factoring is a financial transaction in which a business may sell its accounts receivable to a third party at a discount. The goal of Alford’s scheme was to obtain approximately $1.7 million by selling fake accounts receivable invoices valued at approximately $2.2 million,” according to the press release. “As part of his scheme, Alford created fake invoices, contracts, and other documents to show that his company was owed money from state agencies. He also forged the signatures of state employees on those contracts and other documents. Alford was, at the time, a member of the State Board of Regents, and he used that position to further his fraud schemes.” Alford resigned from the Board...
                        To combat staffing shortages and high turnover rates of correctional officers in the state, Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson proposed prison shutdowns in a recent interview. Simpson said that the Florida Department of Corrections should shut down prisons to save money, rather than ask for more resources from the Florida legislature. In the interview with The News Service of Florida, Simpson criticized the state prison system by blaming the staff shortages and high turnover rates on the “lack of vision” by state prison leaders. “We are not just going to write a bigger check because they think they need it. That is not going to happen. They’re going to have to do the right thing. We are not going to waste the taxpayers’ dollars,” Simpson said. When the 2022 legislative session begins in January, the Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch plans on asking state officials for $171 million in order to increase the starting salaries of correctional officers from $33,400 a year to $41,600 a year. The hourly...
    Alabama lawmakers are spearheading an effort to use coronavirus pandemic relief funds to help the state’s beleaguered prison system. State lawmakers opened a special session on Monday to consider a $1.3 billion construction plan that would use federal funds to partially finance building three new prisoners and renovating others, according to The Associated Press, after the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a report last year that found that correction officers in the state used excessive force on prisoners in a number of incidents. The proposal, which has the backing of Gov. Kay IveyKay IveyDozens of Republican governors call for meeting with Biden on border surge President Biden's vaccination plan is constitutional — and necessary Teenage Alabama city councilman who voted against mask mandate tests positive for COVID-19 MORE (R), specifically calls for using $400 million from the funds Alabama received from the American Rescue Plan, which President Biden signed in March, to pay for the construction. Specifically, the plan calls for creating at least three new prisons: one in Elmore County with at least 4,000 beds and enhanced room for medical and mental health necessities, another...
    SACRAMENTO —  Alarmed by more than a year of dysfunction and fraud in California’s unemployment benefits system, state lawmakers have sent the governor a raft of bills aimed at fixing the agency that stumbled in helping those left jobless by the COVID-19 pandemic. Legislation approved by lawmakers on Thursday would require the state Employment Development Department to enact far-reaching changes recommended by a pair of state audits that found the agency was unprepared for the joblessness caused when many of the state’s businesses were shut down during the health crisis. Lawmakers also sent the governor bills that would require the EDD to explain ahead of time why claims for benefits are denied, bar the agency from sending Social Security numbers in the mail and deter fraud by cross-checking unemployment claims against information on state prison inmates. “The EDD’s inability to promptly and efficiently respond to the increased amount of claimants is an issue that has spanned the administration of three governors of both parties,” said Sen. John Laird (D-Santa Cruz). “But it is up to us now to make sure these...
    SAN JOSE — The family of the San Quentin prison guard who died last summer from COVID-19 after a botched transfer of infected inmates from another prison filed a federal civil rights lawsuit Tuesday against state prison officials, blaming them for a “culture of callousness” that led to one of the largest outbreaks in the country and 29 deaths. “I want to hold people accountable and responsible, but mainly get justice for him,” said Patricia Polanco, the widow of 55-year-old Sgt. Gilbert Polanco, who died a year ago. Twenty-eight San Quentin inmates also perished after the May 2020 outbreak. The lawsuit comes six months after a scathing report from the state Office of the Inspector General found that the transfer of 122 inmates from a Chino prison by California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation was “deeply flawed.” Not only were inmates not tested for weeks before the transfer, but they were packed onto five buses and not quarantined once they arrived. The infection raced through the antiquated facility, which still uses open-air prison bars to separate cells. Before the transfer,...
    A former marine has disappeared in the Russian prison system, and the U.S. embassy in Moscow has demanded to be told where he is. Trevor Reed, a 29-year-old Texan, was last known to be in a Moscow prison, and was described by President Vladimir Putin as 'just a drunk and a troublemaker' who 'got himself s***faced and started a fight.'  His attorneys told the family that he had been moved to a prison camp in Mordovia, 400 miles south east of Moscow, they said on Tuesday. But on Wednesday the State Department said they had no idea where he was, and their repeated requests for access to him were being rejected.   Trevor Reed, 29, has been in custody in Russia since August 2019. On Wednesday the State Department said that they had no idea where he was, and were urgently seeking access Reed is seen on July 30, 2020 - standing inside a defendants' cage during a court hearing in Moscow 'It is now 19 days since #TrevorReed was transferred from a Moscow prison & the...
    A scathing report on alleged problems within the New Jersey prison system prompted Tuesday's resignation of the state Corrections Commissioner, officials said.  Gov. Phil Murphy, at a press briefing, said he was very disturbed by the report, which focused on assaults by prison guards at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in Union Township, Hunderdon County. Hicks was a 14-year employee of the state Department of Corrections who was appointed to the top prison job early last year. State legislators have been pushing for improvements within the state prison system, and even considered impeaching Hicks.  Democratic Assemblywomen Gabriela Mosquera (D-Camden, Gloucester), Lisa Swain (D-Bergen, Passaic) and Angela McKnight (D-Hudson) issued a joint statement on Tuesday: “Yesterday’s report was a truly disturbing look into the many failings of a system that allowed the women in its care to be assaulted and degraded by guards," the state Assemblywomen said, adding that they welcomed Hicks' resignation. "This incriminating investigation highlighted significant issues in the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility that were ignored by those in a position of power to prevent and combat these problems,"...
    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio prison system is piloting the use of body worn cameras for guards and parole officers in an effort to both reduce assaults on staff and improve staff accountability, the agency director said. The state is seeking proposals from four companies for cameras at Chillicothe Correctional Institution in southern Ohio and the supermax Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, The Columbus Dispatch reported. READ MORE: Penguins President Of Hockey Operations Brian Burke Marches, Participates In Pride Events In Pittsburgh The prison system will try out the camera systems for 45 days before making a selection. The annual cost would be about $17 million. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction already deploys about 6,500 cameras in its facilities. The cameras should stop criminal assaults on staff, said prisons director Annette Chambers-Smith. READ MORE: PFAS, Known As Forever Chemicals Detected In 1/3 Of Pa. Water Tests “As well as, there is accountability for us,” she told the paper. “Body cameras are a two-way street.” The state prison system has about 6,300 corrections officers and about 43,000 inmates. MORE...
    Democrats who toured the Anamosa State Penitentiary April 23 raised several concerns regarding dangers in a subsequent news conference. "Over and over we were shown areas of the prison where the inmates vastly outnumber the staff," Senate Minority Leader Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, said, according to the Des Moines Register. Three Democratic leaders sent a letter April 20 to U.S. Department of Labor secretary and the U.S. Department of Justice attorney general calling for an independent investigation into the deadly attacks at the penitentiary that occurred March 23 and “increasing violence within Iowa’s correctional facilities,” according to a news release from U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne’s office. Axne, representing Iowa’s 3 rd district, Iowa House Minority Leader Rep. Todd Prichard, D-Charles City, and Iowa Senate Minority Leader Sen. Zach Wahls, D-Coralville, said in the letter that they believe “this incident was completely preventable.” “To date, the Governor and DOC [Iowa Department of Corrections] have failed to address gross understaffing, overcapacity facilities, hazardous prison conditions, and other warning signs,” they wrote. “These factors ultimately led to the tragic deaths...
    It was 1981 and then-Gov. Jerry Brown had a problem. California’s 12 prisons were bulging at the seams with more than 28,000 inmates, thanks largely to tougher sentencing laws he signed, and he was told to expect another 20,000 more inmates within a few years. The state hadn’t built a new prison in two decades, stretching back to when Brown’s father, Pat Brown, was governor. The Department of Corrections, as the prison system was then called, wanted Brown to launch a major prison construction program to handle its rapidly growing inmate load. The young governor, nearing the end of his second and final term, was reluctant to ask voters for billions of dollars in bond money to build new prisons. His state architect, Sim Van der Ryn, had even refused to endorse plans for new prisons, reflecting opposition by those on Brown’s left flank. Finally, after months of negotiations and debate within his administration, Brown took a minimalist approach, asking the Legislature to place a $495 million prison bond issueon the 1982 ballot, enough to build space for about 10,000 more inmates,...
    NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Violent crime is on the rise in New York City, and now some say a broken parole system is to blame. After two men recently out on parole were re-arrested last week for two different unprovoked attacks, city officials pointed to the state’s parole process. READ MORE: Community Activists Reveal Plan To Create A Safe Summer In NYC As Gun Violence Continues Rising “The parole system in New York State does not work,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Pushing people out of prison, not to give them second chances, but to put them in homeless facilities,” NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said. CBS2’s Ali Bauman spoke with parolee Hilton Webb about the problems in the re-entry process from prison and how that affects the whole city. “The whole deal was you break the law, you go to jail, you do your time, and then you come back out and everything’s right. It’s not. I’m still paying,” Webb said. He was released from Attica Correctional Facility in 2017 after serving 27 years in the maximum security prison for...
    A precipitous decline of coronavirus cases in state prisons has transformed California’s correctional system from a cautionary tale of mass incarceration in the time of a plague to something more unexpected: an intensely monitored field study that could help scientists develop strategies to defeat the pandemic outside prison walls. Highly effective vaccines distributed in the prisons combined with the lack of reinfections among inmates and staff previously diagnosed with COVID-19 appear to have quelled the explosive viral outbreaks that have rocked state prisons during the past year. Active cases have dipped so low that some researchers are theorizing that California’s state prison populations, which suffered spectacularly high coronavirus infection rates through January and were among the first targets for ongoing mass vaccination campaigns, are manifesting collective resistance to the virus. “I think what you’re seeing is herd immunity,” said Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UC San Francisco. At the height of the winter surge, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reported 10,617 new infections among prisoners over a two-week period in mid-December. In January alone,...
    LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Department of Corrections has been incorrectly reporting COVID-19 cases in facilities because of data entry errors, state officials in Nevada said. The prison system and the Department of Health and Human Services released a joint statement on Friday that said errors were found in data posted to the state coronavirus dashboard, which tracks cases and deaths in state facilities. Records obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal said the errors caused cumulative case counts among prisoners and staff to drop by 268 since last week. “Incorrect identification of facilities resulted in duplicate entries, coding issues and the inclusion of negative COVID-19 test results which were then posted to the dashboard as confirmed positive cases,” the health department said. Department spokesperson Shannon Litz said it discovered the errors last week when the data was reviewed with the Department of Corrections. She believes the errors were all made “recently,” but some date back weeks. The number of COVID-19 cases at the Florence McClure Women's Correctional Center in North Las Vegas dropped from 142 cases to 74 this week...
    New York : When COVID-19 in New York jails they do not stop punishing their inmates with force and the Health authorities are ‘locked up’ by the low availability of the vaccine, more than 200 organizations that fight for the rights of the prison population and ‘La Migra’ detention centers urge to promote an urgent justice route that includes an immunization plan, and a series of reforms for probation and ending practices such as solitary confinement. More of 5,500 New Yorkers incarcerated state prisons have tested positive for coronavirus, which means that nearly 16% of New Yorkers behind bars have been infected, say spokespersons for the ‘Center for Communities Alternatives’ (CCA). “At least 32 of those deprived of liberty have died. Actually there are outbreaks of the virus in the correctional facilities of at least 14 penitentiary centers ”, highlighted the CCA leader, Marvin mayfield in a virtual conference held this Thursday where state assemblymen and senators they shared details of their visits to some of these prisons. “We saw up close the cruelty, the inhumanity of the system,...
    In total, the terrorist’s detention mobilizes five cells. LThe detention of Salah Abdeslam costs 433,000 euros per year to the French state, according to figures from the French Ministry of Justice relayed Sunday evening by RTL Info. Arrested in Molenbeek, the djihdist, the last survivor of the commandos of the Paris attacks in 2015, is currently detained in Fleury-Mérogis prison, near Paris. Placed in isolation, Salah Abdeslam is subject to a drastic security system. Some 397,000 euros are devoted to the remuneration of the eight agents who take turns to supervise it. The prison administration also spends 35,500 euros per year, or 97 euros per day, on food, linen and heating in Salah Abdeslam’s cell. The installation of a video surveillance system cost the administration 16,000 euros. A device for jamming telephone waves was also deployed near its main cell, for an amount of 189,500 euros. In total, the terrorist’s detention mobilizes five cells. This information was communicated by the French Ministry of Justice in response to a written question from a deputy, and originally published by the...
    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Gov. Kay Ivey agreed on Monday to lease two mammoth prisons as a partial solution to the state’s troubled correction system, over the objections of some legislators and advocates who warn that her $3 billion plan won’t resolve chronic violence and severe understaffing woes. The governor signed two 30-year lease agreements with separate entities of CoreCivic, one of the nation’s largest private prison companies. The prisons will be built in Tallassee and near Atmore. The governor’s office is negotiating with another company to build a prison in Bibb County. While President Joe Biden has ordered the federal system to eliminate the use of private prisons, these facilities will only be built and owned by private companies. They’ll be operated by the state Department of Corrections and staffed by state workers. Together, the two prisons being built by CoreCivic will house 7,000 inmates. Ivey called the new prisons “the cornerstone” of improving the state’s troubled system, replacing aging prisons that are costly to maintain. Once all three prisons are built, they could properly house...
    Another inmate housed at a Connecticut Department of Corrections facility has died of COVID-19, the agency said, bringing the total number of virus fatalities behind bars in the state to 13 this year.  The 69-year-old inmate died on Tuesday, Dec. 22 after he had been treated in an external hospital for seven days.  According to the Department of Correction, he was serving a 12-year sentence for first-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a child, and was not eligible for parole until April.  Due to medical privacy laws, the names of inmates who have succumbed to the disease have not been released.  Currently, according to data published by the agency and last updated on Wednesday, Dec. 23, 250 symptomatic inmates are spread across the state's 11 facilities. Among prison staff, 296 employees are currently recovering from the virus.  Since the pandemic began, 2,853 prisoners have tested positive for COVID-19, 2,369 of whom have recovered. With 528 positive cases, Osborn Correctional Institute in Somers has the highest number of inmates who have contracted the virus.  In an attempt to mitigate...
    By GARY D. ROBERTSON, Associated Press RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A judge agreed on Friday to name a third-party expert to scrutinize the COVID-19 response within North Carolina's prison system, which along with the rest of the state is experiencing a surge in cases and hospitalizations. Ruling again in ongoing litigation about health and safety within prisons during the pandemic, Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier said he's worried about the pressure the coronavirus is now placing upon correctional institutions. A key task of the special master he picked — Thomas Maher of Duke University — will be to review a home-confinement program, which could mean more inmates at higher risk for COVID-19 complications will serve their terms in safer settings. Rozier's upcoming written order also will direct the Department of Public Safety to have all correctional workers who come in contact with prisoners be tested every two weeks. The prison system temporarily closed three units over the past two weeks to handle staffing challenges, brought on in part by the upward swing in positive cases and the medical care prisoners...
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California, which has a declining prison population, could save more than $1 billion by closing eight lockups, the Legislative Analyst’s Office said in a report Thursday. The report said the number of inmates, parolees and juvenile wards is a “major cost driver in spending on the state’s correctional system.” The state budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year includes $13.4 billion for operations. There are about 97,700 adults in the state prison system and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation also handles about 56,500 adult parolees. However, the adult prison population has been declining because of the early release of some prisoners and other actions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, the report said. The 35 state prisons now hold 21% fewer inmates than they did at the end of February, before the pandemic took hold. ALSO READ: California Closing Deuel Vocational Institute In Tracy; 1st of 2 State Prisons To Be Shuttered Meanwhile, the prison and parole populations probably will flatten out in coming years thanks to changes in sentencing and parole laws, the report said. The...
    SACRAMENTO  — California, which has a declining prison population, could save more than $1 billion by closing eight lockups, the Legislative Analyst’s Office said in a report Thursday. The report said the number of inmates, parolees and juvenile wards is a “major cost driver in spending on the state’s correctional system.” The state budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year includes $13.4 billion for operations. There are about 97,700 adults in the state prison system and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation also handles about 56,500 adult parolees. However, the adult prison population has been declining because of the early release of some prisoners and other actions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, the report said. The 35 state prisons now hold 21% fewer inmates than they did at the end of February, before the pandemic took hold. Meanwhile, the prison and parole populations probably will flatten out in coming years thanks to changes in sentencing and parole laws, the report said. The 2020-21 budget already includes a plan to close two state prisons. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that three other...
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP/CBS13) — California, which has a declining prison population, could save more than $1 billion by closing eight lockups, the Legislative Analyst’s Office said in a report Thursday. The report said the number of inmates, parolees and juvenile wards is a “major cost driver in spending on the state’s correctional system.” The state budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year includes $13.4 billion for operations. There are about 97,700 adults in the state prison system and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation also handles about 56,500 adult parolees. However, the adult prison population has been declining because of the early release of some prisoners and other actions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, the report said. The 35 state prisons now hold 21% fewer inmates than they did at the end of February, before the pandemic took hold. Meanwhile, the prison and parole populations probably will flatten out in coming years thanks to changes in sentencing and parole laws, the report said. The 2020-21 budget already includes a plan to close two state prisons. Back in September, the Department of...
    SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California, which has a declining prison population, could save more than $1 billion by closing eight lockups, the Legislative Analyst's Office said in a report Thursday. The report said the number of inmates, parolees and juvenile wards is a “major cost driver in spending on the state’s correctional system." The state budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year includes $13.4 billion for operations. There are about 97,700 adults in the state prison system and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation also handles about 56,500 adult parolees. However, the adult prison population has been declining because of the early release of some prisoners and other actions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, the report said. The 35 state prisons now hold 21% fewer inmates than they did at the end of February, before the pandemic took hold. Meanwhile, the prison and parole populations probably will flatten out in coming years thanks to changes in sentencing and parole laws, the report said. The 2020-21 budget already includes a plan to close two state prisons. The Legislative Analyst’s Office estimated that...
    NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — A new report shows that more jail and prison staff and inmates in Texas have been infected and killed by COVID-19 than those of any other state’s criminal justice system. According to the report by the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, at least 231 inmates and staff members have died of COVID-19 in Texas prisons and jails. The study also found that Texas inmates and staff tested positive for the coronavirus virus that causes COVID-19 at a 490% higher rate than the state’s general population. Also, nine Texas inmates approved for parole died in prison before their release. Federal prison facilities and Immigration and Customs Enforcement facilities were excluded from the analysis, the LBJ School said in a statement. “COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on prisons and jails across the country, and especially in Texas,” said Michele Deitch, the study’s lead author and a criminal justice policy expert at the LBJ School. He added that the data show “the urgency of taking steps to reduce the risks of...
    ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia doctor may continue his whistleblower lawsuit against the state’s prison health care system, its director and the warden at the hospital prison where he worked, a federal judge has ruled. The state officials and agencies had asked U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee to rule without trial that Dr. Timothy Young didn’t have a case. He ruled instead that Young’s right to free speech protected his secret disclosures to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about conditions at Augusta State Medical Prison and that his suit is a valid whistleblower lawsuit, the newspaper reported Thursday. Young “raised numerous concerns specifically related to inmates’ constitutional rights to healthcare and employees’ state law rights to a safe work environment,” the judge wrote. No date has been set for trial in the case against warden Ted Philbin, Georgia Correctional HealthCare and its statewide medical director, Dr. Billy Nichols. Philbin and Nichols had argued that the First Amendment didn’t protect the disclosures. The system’s lawyer had argued that failure to claim violation of any specific law, rule or regulation meant Young wasn’t protected...
    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is suing the state, alleging prison officials have not taken adequate precautions to protect inmates from COVID-19. The ACLU-MN filed a petition Thursday asking a court to force the state to keep people in custody safe. The Department of Corrections did not immediately comment on the lawsuit. Data posted on the DOC’s website show 937 inmates in the prison system have tested positive for the virus, with 270 cases still active. Two inmate deaths have been linked to COVID-19. There have been 237 correctional staff in the prison system who have tested positive for COVID-19, and 164 of them have returned to work, according to the database. (© Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
    This should be a no-brainer: The rape of an unconscious woman is a violent crime. But under current California law, such an assault is categorized as nonviolent. So is trafficking a child for sex. Or firing a gun into a house if no one is hit. It matters because under previous ballot propositions approved by voters, state prison inmates who have been convicted of felonies categorized as violent are not eligible for early release and parole. Proposition 20 on the Nov. 3 ballot would tweak Propositions 47 and 57, passed in 2014 and 2016, respectively, and correct what 20’s law enforcement and prosecutor backers consider flaws. Supporters claim that too many potentially violent criminals are being set free. Opponents, including Gov. Gavin Newsom and his predecessor, Jerry Brown, contend that Proposition 20 represents a step backward in forward-looking criminal justice reform. “Prop. 20 wants to basically eliminate all hope in the prison,” says Brown, the architect and chief backer of Proposition 57, which reduced sentences for many crimes. The former governor has donated $1 million of his $15-million leftover political stash to the No on 20 campaign....
    Gov. J.B. Pritzker released a set of principles Tuesday for changing Illinois’ criminal justice system. The governor has released 7 guiding principles, including ending cash bail, reducing prison sentences, and increasing police accountability and training. The governor’s office said the principles build on the agenda outlines by Pritzker and Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton in January as an event announcing the administration’s Justice, Equity and Opportunity initiative. “We’re building toward an Illinois that works for everyone, and criminal justice reform is a key element of that holistic approach,” said Pritzker. Khadine Bennett, director of Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs with the ACLU applauded the proposals. “It is really important that policing reform and criminal justice reform happen together because if you think about the prison pipeline system starts when people interact with law enforcement,” he said. Jon Sandage, the McLean County Sheriff, said the governor isn’t thinking about the entire state. “I think they need to realize that downstate Illinois is not Cook County, and we don’t have the same problems that Cook County does,” Sandage...
    The battle for Missouri’s lucrative prison health care program has commenced in earnest. Gov. Mike Parson is looking to settle on a four-year deal with an option of four one-year renewals that could be worth upwards of $1 billion to some private vendor, according to media reports. Eager applicants have now started to line up local lobbying firms to make their sales pitches. Among the companies known to have thrown their hats into the ring are Virginia-based Centurion, which has similar operations in 17 states, and is a subsidiary of Clayton-based Centene Corp. and Pennsylvania-based Wexford Health Sources, which has a history of having provided health services in Illinois. Also in the running is incumbent Corizon Health, which has held the contract to provide services at the Missouri Department of Corrections for the last two-plus decades. Regarded as the country’s largest for-profit correctional health care provider, Corizon earned more than $147 million for its work in Missouri in 2019. Corizon has known ties to lobbyists Richard McIntosh and David McCracken. The possible change in direction...
    By GARY D. ROBERTSON, Associated Press RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina judge refused on Friday to place more controls upon the state prison system after inmate advocates argued it wasn't doing what he previously ordered to protect the incarcerated against COVID-19. Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier wrote there wasn't enough evidence to issue additional enforcement orders upon the Department of Public Safety and its leaders. Rozier has been presiding over a lawsuit about health and safety within state prisons during the pandemic. The judge already ordered in June the mass testing of all prisoners. He also said at the time the state should expand the factors that would allow offenders at risk for the virus to be released sooner. Lawyers for prisoners told Rozier last month that prison officials have failed to adequately address sanitary conditions and that the criteria for the release of prisoners hadn't been expanded enough. They also made allegations that some prisoners were facing retaliation by prison officials for speaking about poor conditions. A state attorney representing the department said in a hearing that...
    The battle for Missouri’s lucrative prison health care program is under way. Gov. Mike Parson is looking to settle on a four-year deal with an option of four additional one-year renewals that could be worth $1 billion to the private vendor awarded the contract. Applicants are lining up local lobbying firms to make their sales pitches. Among the companies known to have made bids are Virginia-based Centurion, which has similar operations in 17 states and is a subsidiary of Clayton-based Centene Corp., and Pennsylvania-based Wexford Health Sources, which has a history of having provided health services in Illinois. Also in the running is incumbent Corizon Health, which has held the contract to provide services at the Missouri Department of Corrections for the last two-plus decades. Regarded as the country’s largest for-profit correctional health care provider, Corizon earned more than $147 million for its work in Missouri in 2019. The possible change in direction for the state could have been triggered by a still pending lawsuit filed by nurses who work in the prison system last...
    The last thing California needs is a return to the tough-on-crime days of the 1990s that largely failed to lower crime rates and resulted in massive prison overcrowding and skyrocketing costs to taxpayers . It’s doubly so in the midst of a pandemic that is wreaking havoc with the state’s budget and highlighting the deadly dangers of packing inmates in tight living quarters. California voters should reject Proposition 20. They should recognize the ballot measure as the latest effort by police and prison guard unions to roll back the success of Assembly Bill 109 (2011) and propositions 47 (2014)  and 57 (2016), which ensured that the criminal justice system’s resources were more wisely used. In 2009, California taxpayers spent 11% of the state budget, or about $8 billion, to house nearly 160,000 inmates in 33 state prisons designed to hold 80,000 inmates. The situation was so horrific that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the overcrowding violated the U.S. Constitution and ordered the state to reduce its prison population by 33,000 prisoners within two years. California now spends about 7.4% of...
    Amid an overall statewide decline in the average number of coronavirus infections in recent weeks, several prisons have reported massive spikes in infections as testing has expanded. At Folsom State Prison, the number of COVID-19 cases has more than doubled over the past 14 days after 77% of inmates were tested for the virus. According to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, the facility northeast of Sacramento currently has the largest outbreak in the state’s prison system, with 224 inmates actively infected. A total of 233 inmates have tested positive for the virus — 226 in roughly the past two weeks. Five prisoners have recovered, and four were released while ill. No deaths among the roughly 2,457 inmates have been reported. In addition, at least 15 prison employees have tested positive for the virus. Several other prisons have seen large spikes in cases over the past two weeks, including the California Men’s Colony near San Luis Obispo, which has reported 234 cases — 119 in the past 14 days. That institution, which houses roughly 3,394 inmates, has 219...
    HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The Pennsylvania prison system is rolling out modified video visiting procedures designed to make it simpler to schedule the online meetings between inmates and their families and others. The Corrections Department plans to let people who are already on inmate visiting lists start scheduling future virtual visits as of Wednesday. Video visitation has been done since March, but this will make it possible to set up the free online visits without necessarily involving prison system staff directly. To ease the transition, there will be no virtual visits on Aug. 31, the day before the new system goes live on Sept. 1. Virtual visits under the new system must be scheduled at least three days ahead of time, and no more than two months in advance. Six visitors, all approved beforehand by the Corrections Department and all already on the inmate's visiting list, can participate in each call. The prison system does not expect to resume in-person visits until the risk of infection from the coronavirus has diminished. Officials say the virtual visits are expected to continue...
    HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – The Pennsylvania prison system is rolling out modified video visiting procedures designed to make it simpler to schedule the online meetings between inmates and their families and others. The Corrections Department plans to let people who are already on inmate visiting lists start scheduling future virtual visits as of Wednesday. Video visitation has been done since March, but this will make it possible to set up the free online visits without necessarily involving prison system staff directly. To ease the transition, there will be no virtual visits on Aug. 31, the day before the new system goes live on Sept. 1. Virtual visits under the new system must be scheduled at least three days ahead of time, and no more than two months in advance. Six visitors, all approved beforehand by the Corrections Department and all already on the inmate’s visiting list, can participate in each call. The prison system does not expect to resume in-person visits until the risk of infection from the coronavirus has diminished. Officials say the virtual visits are expected to continue...
    SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — As a COVID-19 outbreak has raged within the California prison system, the population of inmates has fallen below 100,000 for the first time since 1990 as officials accelerated an early release program to ease the spread of the virus. Prison officials said as of Friday there were 99,929 incarcerated inmates as several thousand have been given an early parole. Gov. Gavin Newsom and state prison officials said their goal was to have at least 8,000 inmates released under the plan by the end of August. They were taking the action in an attempt to bring a COVID-19 outbreak within the system under control. As of Friday, 19 inmates have died of COVID-19 each at San Quentin and Chino over the course of the outbrek. Of those who have died at San Quentin, 10 have been death row inmates. There have been 1,033 new coronavirus cases reported in the state’s prisons over the last two weeks, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Currently, Avenal State Prison has the largest number of active cases...
    CHICAGO — The state will transform its juvenile justice system so imprisoned children can be closer to home and get the investment they need to build better lives, officials announced Friday. The state’s newly unveiled four-year plan is focused on replacing a few large detention centers for kids with a larger number of smaller ones that will be spread throughout the state, allowing children to be closer to their families while incarcerated. Illinois allows children as young as 10 to be incarcerated, and many are kept too far from their families for regular visits. The state will also invest in “wraparound support and intervention services” for young people and increase financial support for victim services in communities hit hard by violence, according to a state press release. Officials, including Gov. JB Pritzker and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, praised the plan during a Friday press conference, saying it can better serve young people and communities by preventing children from committing crimes in the future and helping them pursue education and jobs. “We know that evidence shows that warehousing children in these...
    PINE BLUFF, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas Department of Corrections official has been confirmed as the prison system's new leader. The department said Tuesday that Solomon Graves had been confirmed by the Board of Corrections as the Department of Corrections' next secretary. Gov. Asa Hutchinson last week appointed Graves to the post. Graves replaces Wendy Kelley, who announced last month that she was retiring. He begins the new role Saturday. Graves takes over the state prison and parole system as the state struggles with a coronavirus outbreak among its inmates. Graves has served as Kelley's chief of staff for the past year and before that was the public information officer for the Division of Correction. From 2007 to 2016, he was board administrator for the Parole Board. Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Tags: Arkansas
    BALTIMORE — Maryland’s prison system has received over 2 million pieces of personal protective equipment since the COVID-19 pandemic began, but advocates for workers and offenders say they’re hardly enough. A union representative for government workers says workers and inmates go through so much PPE in buildings where social distancing is virtually impossible. The state prison system says more 1,100 COVID-19 cases have been confirmed inside the prisons, with prisoners receiving a majority of the cases. Eight prisoners and one correctional officer have died. The Baltimore Sun reported nearly 1,300 new overall cases in the state on Saturday, but also a record number of daily completed tests. Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.
    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday named the Department of Corrections chief of staff and former state prison system spokesman to head the department. Hutchinson named Solomon Graves as the next secretary of the Department of Corrections, and his recommendation will go before the state Board of Corrections next week. Graves would replace Wendy Kelley, who announced last month that she was retiring. Graves would take over the state prison and parole system as the state struggles with a coronavirus outbreak among its inmates. Nearly 3,800 inmates have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19, and 25 have died of the illness since the pandemic began. Graves has served as Kelley's chief of staff for the past year and before that was the public information officer for the Division of Correction. From 2007 to 2016, he was board administrator for the Parole Board. Graves was the prison system's spokesman when Arkansas resumed executions in 2017 with a plan to put eight inmates to death before its supply of a lethal injection drug expired. The state...
    An estimated 8,000 inmates could be eligible for release by the end of August, in addition to the state’s reduction of about 10,000 inmates since Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in March, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) said. The CDCR says its previous “pandemic emergency decompression efforts” have reduced inmate populations system-wide by approximately 10,000 people already, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission within its facilities. “These actions are taken to provide for the health and safety of the incarcerated population and staff,” CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz said in a news release. “We aim to implement these decompression measures in a way that aligns both public health and public safety.” According to the CDCR, of the state’s approximate 115,000 inmates, roughly 2,400 prisoners have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least 31 prisoners have died from COVID-19 related illnesses – accounting for roughly 2 percent and 0.026 percent, respectively, of the inmate population. The state prison system has more than 17,000 inmates considered medically high risk, according to...
    SACRAMENTO —  As many as 8,000 California prisoners could be released ahead of schedule in an unprecedented attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19 inside state prisons, with more than half of the releases expected by the end of the month. The announcement on Friday by top advisers to Gov. Gavin Newsom offered stark evidence of the dire health conditions at several California prisons. On Monday, the top medical officer for the state prison system was removed from his position following criticism of inmate transfers that are believed to have led to a much larger coronavirus problem in prisons than existed this spring. Officials at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said as many as 8,000 prisoners could be eligible for early release by the end of August. But those convicted of violent felonies and sex crimes would be ineligible for release. Only those with a year or less left to serve would be considered eligible. “These actions are taken to provide for the health and safety of the incarcerated population and staff,” CDCR Secretary Ralph Diaz said...
    PHOTO VIA FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONSFlorida’s prison system recorded 443 new coronavirus cases and an inmate death over the holiday weekend, according to figures released Monday by the state Department of Corrections. An additional 354 inmates and 89 correctional workers have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus. In total, the state has logged 2,443 inmate cases and 622 employee cases, officials confirmed Monday. Twenty-five inmates have died of complications related to COVID-19, including one inmate who died over the weekend. All but 12 of the 2,443 inmate cases are concentrated in 19 prisons in various parts of the state. Polk Correctional Institution and Graceville Correctional Facility, a prison operated by The Geo Group, reported COVID-19 outbreaks over the weekend. Polk jumped from one confirmed inmate case on Friday to 131 inmate cases on Monday, and Graceville went from six inmate cases to 74 cases over the weekend, according to figures provided by correctional officials. As the disease continues to spread in prisons, officials have offered voluntary COVID-19 testing to all inmates...
    LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The head of Arkansas' prison system said Monday she's retiring at the end of July following an outbreak of coronavirus that has infected more than 2,300 inmates. Arkansas Department of Corrections Secretary Wendy Kelley announced her retirement at a state Board of Corrections meetings. Kelley served as the director of the Department of Correction from January 2015 until July 2019, when Gov. Asa Hutchinson named her secretary of the reorganized the department. “It has been my honor to serve this department because of you," she wrote in an email to the department's staff Monday. “I have been so blessed to work with you all!" Kelley is leaving the department after an outbreak of coronavirus at prison facilities, primarily the Cummins Unit. Kelley warned at a news conference in April that if the virus got into one of the state's facilities “it will be disastrous.” Kelley also oversaw the state's prison system when Arkansas resumed executions in 2017 with a plan to put eight inmates to death before its supply of a lethal injection drug expired....
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