“Want to End Mass Incarceration? Stop Blindly Reelecting Your Local Prosecutor”

Something about that headline is very very Voxy, but this article is a good intro if you haven't been following this aspect of the situation: ...A prosecutor is also often the only public official standing between a defendant and prison time. More than 90 percent of criminal convictions are resolved through a plea agreement, meaning only prosecutors and defendants — not judges and juries — have almost all the say in a great majority of cases that result in incarceration or some other pun … [Read more...]

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“At Least Two States Let Prisons Charge the Families of Dead Ex-Prisoners for Their Food and Health Care”: Dara Lind

at Vox:Nearly every state lets prisons and jails charge inmates for their own incarceration — room, board, clothing, and doctor's visits — in a phenomenon called "pay-to-stay."We don't know exactly how many prisons and jails take advantage of "pay to stay." The latest survey, done in 2005, found that 90 percent of jails surveyed charged inmates fees of one kind of another. In an era of tight budgets, the practice is probably even more widespread today. ...In many of the statutes the B … [Read more...]

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“‘Force is the Best Medicine’: How America Overdosed on Drug Courts”

by Maia Szalavitz:...If doctors were to deviate this far from the standard of care in treating patients, they would face malpractice judgments and, in extreme cases, criminal prosecution. But drug court judges face no such accountability, even though they generally acknowledge that addiction is a disease and make final decisions on which treatments are permitted. “A judge’s decisions cannot be mucked about with unless they’re illegal or a total abuse of discretion,” says Peggy Hora, a retired … [Read more...]

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Lullabies from Prison and Other Links

Let's start with this."Bringing Mothers in Prison Closer to Their Children, Through Music": Mothers in prison rarely get to see their children, let alone touch them or sing them a lullaby. But female inmates in New York City are getting a little help with the singing, thanks to Carnegie Hall. For the last few years, Carnegie has sponsored the Lullaby Project, which pairs professional musicians with women in jails, homeless shelters and city hospitals, to help them write lullabies for their … [Read more...]

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When Inmates Write the History of Their Own Prison: Slate

reports: Recently, a group of women currently incarcerated at the 142-year-old institution (now called the Indiana Women’s Prison) began to pore over documents from the prison’s first 10 years. They had set out on an ambitious project: to write a history of the institution’s founding decade, one that tells quite a different story from the official narrative. What happens when inmates write a history of their own prison? In this case, the perspective that the group brought to the project took wha … [Read more...]

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A Criminal Justice System: Link Round-Up

Depending on how you've calibrated your expectations, some of these might be construed as hopeful!Others not so much.1. "Fourteen Years After Decriminalizing All Drugs, Here's What Portugal Looks Like":In 2001, the Portuguese government did something that the United States would find entirely alien. After many years of waging a fierce war on drugs, it decided to flip its strategy entirely: It decriminalized them all. If someone is found in the possession of less than a 10-day supply … [Read more...]

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Company That Sells Video Visiting for Prisoners Pushes Jails to Eliminate Face-to-Face Visits

surprise surprise! While Securus is feeling the heat in its phone business, it is moving into new sectors to secure profits. The most lucrative investment appears to be video visiting, a new technological frontier where the company already has a foothold. Video visits from home can be of much benefit to families, especially for those whose loved ones are incarcerated in remote locations, where so many prisons lie. However, as with phones, Securus' main focus is not providing access, but … [Read more...]

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