California has done what the federal government refuses to do: stop the incarceration of inmates for private corporate profit. With the passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 32, signed into law on October 11, 2019, California governor Gavin Newsom fulfilled his January 7, 2019, inaugural address promise to fight against overincarceration and overcrowding in California’s prisons and to “end the outrage of private prisons once and for all.”
AB 32 adds section 5003.1, which says that on or after January 1, 2020, the California Department of Corrections shall not add or “renew an existing contract with a private, for-profit prison facility located in or outside of the state” to the California penal code.… Read the rest
Words are a part of language lawyers contort in the game of advocacy. Words are important when legislatures write bills that eventually become laws. Laws can be worded in ways that make all or some of their elements vague, ambiguous, or otherwise murky on intent. Loopholes live in the spaces that shroud legislative intent.… Read the rest
Senator Bernie Sanders recently announced a sweeping plan to allow incarcerated people to vote. According to Business Insider, Sanders said in April that “he supports voting rights for all US citizens, even if they’re ‘terrible people.’” But, is voting really what incarcerated people want? Not likely.
Inmates I associated with during my two-year term in a California prison showed me they saw government as the enemy and believed safety is in numbers and might is right.… Read the rest
A recurring theme of my posts is the vast scope and breadth of prison reform. The issues impact every aspect of human life. Prison is an insane world of forced routine accentuated by culture clashes, boredom, and the loss of personal freedoms. As such, real prison reform issues take time to percolate into a legislative forum that initiates change.… Read the rest
On December 18, 2018, the US Senate passed the First Step Act, a measure previously passed by the House of Representatives. Its passage was the culmination of five years of political arm wrestling that started with the Obama administration and was supported by the Trump administration. On December 21, 2018, Donald Trump signed the First Step Act into law.… Read the rest
Common prison reform necessarily highlights the federal government’s smothering of inmates’ constitutional rights. The age-old patterns of violations of incarcerated persons are examples of legislative bullying designed to protect the security of prison officers and staff at the expense of inmates’ basic rights. Because prison communication to the outside is designed to hide behind the security of guards and staff, the residual effect is but a hazy view into the lives of those held in the clutches of mass incarceration.… Read the rest
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
In a July 28, 2018, Kaiser Health News article, Siraphob Thanthong-Knight reports that “state prisons across the US are failing to treat at least 144,000 inmates who have hepatitis C.” This report reviews a recent survey of state corrections departments and concludes that inmates with hepatitis C, a curable but potentially fatal disease, can’t get the expensive drugs they need to cure it.… Read the rest
The critical prison reform topic of jobs has been a recurring theme of my posts. The topic brings into focus populations of people released from prison each year. In 2016, state and federal prisons released about 626,000 people, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics.… Read the rest
The subject matter for a prison reform blog can come from anywhere, even a piece junk mail. Usually, junk mail letters are instantly recognized as trash. However, some give enough compelling information on the outside to warrant being opened—so you can confirm its irrelevance.
I recently received a piece of enigmatic junk mail from an unknown sender: Department of Consumer Notices.… Read the rest