As I write this post, a seventeen-day prison strike is going on in this country. The coordinated actions started on August 21, 2018, and will end on September 9, 2018. The strike brings to the forefront prison reform issues that I, and countless other supporters of change, have been bringing to the attention of the general public and public servants about the pernicious grind of mass incarceration.… Read the rest
Blogs come alive through social media. What I post to my Twitter account transcends my laptop to reach people and organizations working for prison reform. There’s a family with like concerns out there, and they supply impactful tweets and substantive information. When I check out my followers on Twitter, I see the enormous investment that others are putting into myriad prison reform issues.… Read the rest
Have you ever considered what rules control California’s 120,000 inmates’ daily lives? Is there a book that specifies what conduct is or is not permitted? Meet the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s (CDCR’s) Department Operations Manual— the DOM. The 849-page DOM provides an extensive overview of the institutional infrastructure of the CDCR.… Read the rest
In prison, books are friends. They’re virtual tickets out of the prison yard and into worlds of escape. Science tells us that reading benefits our brain function and emotions.
Prison administrators should understand science-based findings that reading is good for people. In her article “8 Science-Backed Reasons to Read a (Real) Book,” Abigail Wise gives four reasons that are particularly relevant to inmate readers:
- It [reading] increases intelligence
- It can boost your brain power
- Reading can make you more empathic
- Reading can help you relax
In my blog, Prison Is a Good Place to Catch Up on Your Reading, I argue that the boredom inherent in doing time and the resultant numbing of the mind caused by the never-changing, predictable daily routine of life has an antidote in the reading of books.… Read the rest
Skin Deep: Looking Beyond the Tattoos is a book you absorb through your eyes and into your heart. This 176-page coffee table book is a thoughtful catalog of stunning photographs of formerly incarcerated people and their self-disclosures about their tattoos. Twenty-seven people are presented in two striking visuals: heavily tattooed and digitally retouched without their prison ink.… Read the rest
Inmates have their own justice system; I learned this on the inside. Every prison yard has its own code of conduct, and the code is controlled entirely by inmates. Of course, prison administrators operate under state or federal codes designed to contain an overflow of omnipresent hostility. Under such circumstances, forceful confinement creates a precarious environment.… Read the rest
You spend years, even decades, in prison, knowing you’re innocent. Your conviction locks up your life and smothers your senses and ambitions. The quality of your life is limited—but you’re innocent!
We’ve all seen reports about inmates’ being released from prison after exhaustive appeals and serving long stretches in confinement. Most are DNA exonerations, based on science, that rip through veils of falsehoods with verifiable evidence.… Read the rest
Being a prison reform blogger is frustrating. The frustration lies in not being able to take readers into a prison environment with mere words. Most people can visualize a baseball stadium, the inside of a movie theater, or a crowded airport; they’ve experienced those environments. Those exposures create a mental database of impressions retrievable by a written or verbal cue.… Read the rest
We live in exasperating times. With a let’s-make-a-deal president in charge, what’s ensued is a frightening roller coaster ride of deceit, corruption, and incompetency. There’s a long list of substantial failures, including health care reform, the deregulation of Wall Street and environmental controls, hateful immigration ploys, the alienation of world allies—need I go on?… Read the rest
Legal jargon associated with former president Obama’s final humane acts toward federal prisoners is an interesting study. Let’s look at the lexicon and meanings of legal words in the context of possible prisoners’ benefits.
On January 17, 2017, then president Obama gave 273 federal inmates a second chance. Neil Eggleston, counsel to the former president, announced commutations and pardons, stating, “With today’s 209 grants of commutation, the President has now commuted the sentences of 1,385 individuals—the most grants of commutation issued by any President in this nation’s history.”