“Redesigning a Prison Town”: Next City

magazine: ...Ionia is a prison town. That is its primary industry. That’s why there’s a shiver that runs through town when word spreads about the possible closure of one of those facilities. Most of the thousands of inmates incarcerated in them come from 130-some miles away in southeast Michigan, where Detroit is the hub. The distance makes for a severe reduction in family visits and programming, which ultimately increases recidivism — that is, it increases crime. But building prisons here is wh … [Read more...]

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Prison Photography: Texas in the ’60s, Italian Theater Performers, More

Clara Vannucci: “Why should I run? Where would I go? Twenty years I’ve lived in prison. Now I have something to live for. Life has meaning.” This was the unexpected and humbling response Vannucci received when she asked a prison inmate of Italy’s notorious Volterra Prison and touring theatre actor why he did not try to escape when he had so many opportunities to do so.In 1998, Armando Punzo established the Compagnia della Fortezza, a theatre troupe comprised of dangerous felons and hardcor … [Read more...]

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“The Inmate Who Exposed Florida Prisons’ Culture of Cruelty”: Completely riveting

Miami Herald profile: Harold Hempstead is a man with two conflicting narratives. One is a criminal past that sent him to prison for life. The other, a courageous pursuit of justice that has shaken the corrupt and crumbling foundation of Florida’s prison system.Hempstead didn’t set out to be a hero and, perhaps to some people, he isn’t a hero at all. But it is likely that no one would have ever known about the death of a mentally ill inmate named Darren Rainey, or about the systemic culture o … [Read more...]

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Our Enemy the State: Link Roundup

"Obama's Economics Team Is Taking on One of America's Most Underrated Economic Problems": Occupational licensing rules, which require government approval (typically by a state government) before a person can practice a given profession, are one of the most under-discussed aspects of the American labor market. A new report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers argues that the way licensing is applied in practice often leads to higher prices, reduced opportunity, and more … [Read more...]

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A Vindication of the Rites of Whores: Rumer Godden’s “Five for Sorrow, Ten for Joy”

When I asked people to recommend books about life in religious communities, this (as well as Godden's In This House of Brede) was one of the most frequent responses. It's a story set among the Dominican Sisters of Bethany, whose charism involves prison ministry--and so many of the sisters are themselves former criminals, what we'd call "ex-offenders" or "returning citizens." These are I think the same nuns you see in Robert Bresson's terrific nun-noir The Angels of Sin. (This is the Bresson for … [Read more...]

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“Whistleblower Prison Guard Paid the Price for Reporting Abuse”

Sts Processus and Martinian, patrons of prison guards (and jailers of Sts Peter and Paul), pray for him--and for all those involved in this story: ...The brutal encounter, focal point of a civil lawsuit settled by the DOC last month, was eerily similar to another cell extraction at Charlotte in 2014, except that it ended in the death of an inmate, Matthew Walker. Last week, a Charlotte County grand jury said there wasn’t enough evidence to bring criminal charges against the officers involved in … [Read more...]

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“Living with an Ankle Bracelet”: The Marshall Project

personal essay:I cannot sleep. There is a device on my leg. It requires that I wake up an hour early so I can plug it into a charger and stand next to the outlet, like a cell phone charging up for the day. Not the day, actually, but 12 hours. After that, the device runs out of juice. Wherever I am, I have to find an outlet to plug myself into. If I don’t, I’m likely to be thrown back onto Rikers Island. The device is my ankle bracelet, which I’ve now been wearing for 63 days. I wear it afra … [Read more...]

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