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Criminal Justice and Prisons

Doctors Demand Biden End Solitary Confinement In Immigration Prisons

Hundreds of physicians and other health professionals are demanding the Biden administration end the use of solitary confinement in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prisons. The letter comes after reports of multiple suicide attempts by immigrants incarcerated at a privately run ICE facility made national headlines. President Joe Biden pledged on the 2020 campaign trail to end solitary confinement in federal prisons “with very limited exceptions,” and time for change could be running out. Reliance on solitary confinement in ICE jails and prisons — the extremely dangerous and potentially deadly practice of isolating people in tiny cells for weeks, months and even years at time — would likely explode in scope if former President Trump wins the November election and attempts to implement an unprecedented crackdown on undocumented families.

Groups Look To Bail Out Mothers, Caregivers In Pretrial Detention

Yolanda Johnson’s nightmare began in the summer of 2021. As she recalls, a former boyfriend pushed her around, hitting an area on her body where there were previous burns. She threw hot water at him and brandished a knife to get him to back away. “He was much bigger than I was, and I was trying to defend myself,” Johnson said in a recent interview. “I wasn’t really trying to stab him, but I poked him enough to back off of me.” No one called the police, and Johnson left. A few days later, she returned. “When I did come back, I guess the neighbor or somebody must have called and said that I was there, and they came and wrote my name, and took me in,” Johnson said.

US Military Contractor Finally Goes On Trial For Abu Ghraib Torture

A civil trial against CACI Premier Technology, a United States military contractor that allegedly engaged in torture at Abu Ghraib prison, begins today in Alexandria, Virginia. Nearly 16 years ago, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a lawsuit on behalf of four Iraqi torture survivors. CACI repeatedly sought to derail the case through various legal maneuvers. One Iraqi torture survivor was dismissed from the lawsuit, and CACI International successfully had their company removed as a defendant.

Lawsuit: Alabama Is Denying Prisoners Parole To Lease Their Labor

Working in the freezer at Southeastern Meats, a meatpacking facility based in Birmingham, Ala., ​“was the worst job I’ve ever had in my entire life,” Lakiera Walker tells In These Times. Her 12-hour shifts were spent inside a refrigerated building as cold as 30 or 40 degrees, and she had to beg or borrow warm clothes from her friends and family because the employer didn’t provide any. She couldn’t even take solace in the idea that she was saving up money for her future, because the prison where she spent the rest of her waking hours was taking a 40% cut on top of various fees.

The Slow Death Of A Prison Profiteer

Last week, the nation’s largest prison and jail telecom corporation, Securus, effectively defaulted on more than a billion dollars of debt. After decades of preying on incarcerated people and their loved ones with exploitative call rates and other predatory practices that have driven millions of families into debt, Securus is being crushed under the weight of its own. In March, the company’s creditors gave the corporation an eight-month extension to pay up, urging its sale to a new owner to stave off an otherwise imminent bankruptcy.

Genocide Ixil Case

On April 5th, 2024, the oral and public debate against former military officer: Benedicto Lucas García, accused in the Ixil Genocide case and driven by the Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR), was resumed by the High-Risk “A” Court. The Public Ministry stated in its opening arguments that it will prove that during the period from August 16, 1981 to March 23, 1982, Manuel Benedicto Lucas García is responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, forced disappearances, and massacres against at least 844 identified victims for this case, which will be proven through witnesses and experts’ testimonies. It also emphasized that behind these 844 names are entire families who were massacred.

Ola Bini Sentenced To A Year In Prison; Ecuadorian Court Overturns Acquittal

A court in Ecuador has sentenced Swedish software developer and digital rights activist, Ola Bini, to one year in prison for “Attempted Non-Consensual Access to a Computer System”. The ruling by two out of three judges of the Provincial Court of Pichincha overturned the unanimous verdict issued by the Court of First Instance (trial court) in Quito in January 2023, which had declared Bini innocent. The acquittal had come nearly four years after Bini was arrested in April 2019, the same day as his friend, WikiLeaks founder and journalist Julian Assange was seized from the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Incarcerated Organizers Complete Eight Weeks Of Prison Shutdown

On March 30, for the eighth week in a row, a group of activists gathered outside of St. Clair Correctional Facility, near Birmingham, Alabama, to show solidarity with incarcerated organizers, who have been refusing to engage in prison labor since February 6. Organizers want to sustain the shutdown, which entails a full stoppage of all labor inside the prisons that prisoners are forced to do, for at least 90 days. The organizers, led by the Free Alabama Movement, are living under the boot of the most violent state prison system in the United States—a nation know for having the largest prison population in the world and regularly employing torture and archaic methods of execution against its prisoners.

Survivors Of Sexual Assault In Juvenile Detention Are Speaking Out

The prevalence of sexual violence in the US prison system is so widespread and accepted that it’s often made the butt of jokes in popular culture. Yet the reality is that countless survivors of the prison system carry the scars and traumas of sexual abuse—and for many, the perpetrators of these crimes were the very prison staff charged with their protection. Juvenile victims of the prison system are no exception. In Maryland, several adult survivors of sexual abuse as juveniles in state custody have filed a class action lawsuit demanding justice.

Baltimore’s New $1 Billion Jail Will Be Most Expensive State-Funded Project

Nearly nine years after former Gov. Larry Hogan shuttered the old Baltimore City Detention Center, a new centerpiece facility for the city’s pretrial jail population is poised to rise from its ashes. But it’s going to cost you. The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which has run the city’s jail system for decades, is pushing ahead with ambitious plans for the Baltimore Therapeutic Treatment Center — a sort of hybrid jail, hospital and mental health and substance use treatment facility for people facing criminal charges.

Last Days Of Julian Assange In The United States

Babar Ahmad was extradited from Britain to the United States in 2012 on charges of providing material support to terrorism because of two articles published on his website backing the Taliban government in Afghanistan. He spent eight years fighting the extradition, but when it eventually happened he flew across the Atlantic on an executive jet from RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk. He had no idea what was coming next. “I think it was, like, a 12-seater plane,” Ahmad tells me. “Three sections of four seats. So there’s two big seats facing each other. Big, square, comfortable leather seats.” Outside it was pitch black.

Assange And The Sickness Of US Prisons

Many of us nervously await news from the High Court of England and Wales on the fate of Julian Assange, hoping against hope that he won’t be extradited to the United States.  At the same time, we’re preparing for the worst. Julian has well-documented medical problems, including a small stroke while incarcerated two years ago.  He has consistently received subpar medical care at Belmarsh Prison in the U.K.  If anything, that will worsen once he arrives in the United States. I’ve written recently and extensively about prison medical care in the U.S.  It’s terrible.

Unequal Before The Law

Federal charges ordinarily cover matters of national reach: immigration, voting rights, racketeering. Not in Indian Country. Tribal members frequently find themselves in federal court for all sorts of allegations— not just serious crimes, such as murder, but lesser offenses, like burglary. Once in federal court, they face sentencing guidelines that are stiffer than if they were tried in state court, where non-Native cases are generally heard. Diversion, probation and other mitigation actions, typical of state courts, are also less common, as is a jury that includes their peers, which is to say, other Natives.

US Activist Gets Prison Term In German Campaign To Oust US Nuclear Bombs

Susan Crane, of the Redwood City, California Catholic Worker, has been sentenced to 229 days in prison in Germany for daring to interfere with the U.S. nuclear weapons stationed at Germany’s Büchel Air Force base, southeast of Cologne. Crane participated in six nonviolent go-in actions, confronting the air force system on base which routinely trains to drop the U.S. H-bombs on targets in Russia,[1] most provocatively this winter in operation “Steadfast Defender 24” — which was launched in the midst of NATO’s war in Ukraine.

Assange’s Draconian Prosecution

In the final moments of the hearing on Feb. 21, Ben Watson KC representing the U.K. home secretary, admitted additional charges could be laid against Julian Assange in the U.S. that carry the death penalty, such as aiding and abetting treason. Asked by the judge whether there is anything that can be done to prevent a death penalty being imposed, he replied: “It would be very difficult to offer assurances to prevent the death penalty from being imposed.” (Since Assange is charged with a federal and not a state crime he could get a death sentence no matter if the state he is tried in, in this case Virginia, has a death penalty or not.)
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