The Baltimore Transition Center in Baltimore, Maryland, photographed on September 14, 2012, is the oldest continuously operating prison in the United States, dating back to 1811. Adapting older buildings for climate change presents considerable challenges . (Wikimedia Commons / groupuscule)
03 Sep 2015

Report: US Jails And Prisons Ill Equipped For Global Warming

A new study published by the Columbia Law School Sabin Center for Climate Change Law found US jails and prisons grossly unfit for dealing with rising temperatures, which place inmate and staff health at risk. The study urged policy makers and administrators to begin taking steps to prepare for heat waves associated with climate change.

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Photo from Vera Institute of Justice report on alternatives to solitary confinement
02 Sep 2015

California Agrees To Restrict Use of Long-Term Solitary Confinement

California has agreed to restrict the use of long-term solitary confinement in a settlement agreement filed in federal court this week. Restrictions are expected to reduce the number of inmates in isolation, cap the number of continuous years an inmate can spend in solitary confinement to five, and establish measures by which inmates can more easily achieve release back to general population.

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People from from around the world participate in a rally against private prisons held at the 2012 United Methodist General Conference in Tampa, Florida. (Flickr / UMWomen)
01 Sep 2015

Corrections Corporation of America Acquires Re-Entry Facilities As Private Prison Industry Pursues New Business

On Monday, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) announced it acquired four residential re-entry facilities from another private contractor for $13.5 million. According to a company press release, the re-entry facilities each have about 600 beds and were leased by Community Education Centers, Inc. (CEC) to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and the Philadelphia Prison System.

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File: Razor wire outside a prison in Maryland. (Flickr / Fred Dunn)
31 Aug 2015

Tennessee Department of Corrections Struggles To Keep The Lid On Prison Crisis

The Tennessee Department of Corrections is threatening and intimidating corrections officers speaking out against dangerous work conditions, according to a letter [PDF] published on August 27 by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee. The organization asked the DOC to clearly state it will not seek to silence or retaliate against employees for their speech.

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File: Four hospital beds in a row, each with curtains so they can be partitioned for privacy. (Flickr / StudioTempura)
28 Aug 2015

Lawsuit: Rikers Island Officer Unpunished After Raping Transgender Inmate In Corizon Health Clinic

A transgender inmate was raped by a corrections officer in a medical clinic on Rikers Island and the New York City Department of Correction has declined to punish him for the last three years, according a federal civil rights lawsuit filed this week. The inmate, known as “MT,” claims Corrections Officer L. Galan sexually harassed her “openly and repeatedly” for months before raping her in the clinic, where security cameras could not capture the encounter.

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The exterior of the Tulsa County Jail in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Google Streetview)
27 Aug 2015

Two Lawsuits Show The Human Cost Of For-Profit Jailhouse Healthcare

Two ongoing federal lawsuits against for-profit jailhouse medical contractor Armor Correctional Health Services (ACHS) describe lengthy delays and negligent care that put inmate health in jeopardy. Companies like ACHS sign lucrative agreements that promise to deliver medical care to inmates at a lower cost than governments can provide themselves. In court filings, however, the company is alleged to have financial disincentives in its contracts which encourage staff not to give inmates access to emergent and off-site treatments.

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File: A rainbow Pride flag blows in the wind. (Flickr / torbakhopper)
25 Aug 2015

Chicago LGBTQ Inmates Speak Out Against Solitary Confinement, Homophobia

LGBTQ prison abolition group Black & Pink began publishing letters from inmates in solitary confinement last month in an effort to shed light on the abuse and harassment they suffer. Black & Pink explained that last summer, their Chicago chapter contacted to over 100 inmates in isolation to ask for their experiences.

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A glimpse through the entryway of the Santa Rita Jail, photographed on February 15, 2013. (Flickr / Daniel Arauz)
24 Aug 2015

Inmate Claims Epilepsy Went Untreated At Santa Rita Jail

An inmate suffered a Grand Mal seizure after deputies at the Santa Rita jail in Alameda County, California denied his repeated requests for epilepsy medication, according to a federal lawsuit [PDF] filed against the county and various sheriff’s deputies at the end of July.

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File: A stylized image of Bradley Ballard against the backdrop of a prison yard. (Prison Protest / Brian Sonenstein)
21 Aug 2015

New York City Distancing Itself From Corizon Health Services

New York City left private jail medical contractor Corizon Health Services to defend itself against a federal lawsuit brought by the mother of a deceased inmate named Bradley Ballard. Ballard’s death was one of the motivating cases behind the wave of reforms currently aimed at the city’s jail system.

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File: Close-up of a hand hovering above a smartphone in a dark room. (Flickr / Japanexperterna.se)
20 Aug 2015

High-Tech Youth Surveillance, Rikers Island And The Pitfalls Of Jail ‘Reform’

New York City will begin a surveillance pilot program aimed at keeping juvenile defendants accused of committing certain felonies off of Rikers Island. As The New York Times reported on August 14, eligible youth between the ages of sixteen and eighteen will be outfitted with lightweight bracelets tethered electronically to smartphones that are to be carried with them at all times and cannot be turned off.

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