Nearly a year after its creation, the Atlanta City Jail task force has recommended closing the jail, demolishing the building and replacing it with a Center for Equity that would support Atlantans’ needs. The 26-page report was delivered to Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on June 12, giving suggestions on how the city can change the institution and convert it into a space to serve Atlanta residents, particularly those from communities most affected by the criminal justice system. The report described a center “that will advance racial and economic equity, promote restorative justice, and invest in the well-being of individuals, families, and communities.” The 52-member task force suggested any changes to the 11-story facility that can hold up to 1,300 inmates include addressing ongoing justice reform and the city’s employment and housing concerns.
In comments to Al Jazeera regarding Israel’s use of torture against Palestinian detainees, Qadura Faris, head of the Palestinian Prisoner Society, declared: “The Israeli security wants to leave a mark on the psyche of those it detains: resistance has a price, and it is hefty.” Torture methods used by Israel include stress positions, beatings which result in severe injuries, sleep deprivation, emotional blackmail, threats of torture against family members of the detainees and the transfer of detainees to secret prisons.
Prisoners inside Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, CA are staging a one-day hunger strike and work stoppage to protest widespread institutional neglect and abuse, including unsanitary living conditions, price gouging, poor medical care, forced labor, and lack of access to legal resources. The self-organized protest began as a sit-in within a single housing unit, but organizers have called for a jail wide action on Wednesday, October 30th in response to poor jail conditions and indefinite lockdowns. Conditions inside Santa Rita are at a “crisis point,” according to a statement released by strike organizers today. “Detainees are only provided cleaning supplies once a week…[and] are contracting lice, bed bugs, and flesh-eating staph infections from the MRSA virus,” organizers write, adding that jail staff routinely neglects medical and mental health emergencies.
In April 1968, as a 13-year-old student in rural Vermont, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King cast a dark shadow on my hopes for a more just world. My mother and I knew that a great spiritual leader had been taken violently from the people who vitally needed his witness and strength… My mother’s mother, Dorothy Day, wrote about that day with great sadness,lamenting that a voice for truth and redemption had been brutally crushed. Here at Camden County Jail in Woodbine, Georgia, my cell mate Liz McAlister reminds Clare Grady and me of her husband Phil Berrigan’s insistence on communal encouragement. “To keep each other’s courage up,” said Phil, “is the most apostolic duty of all.”
This week on Act Out! water wars in the west are heating up – and did you know you could go to jail for more than a year for recycling? Next, Iran is on our shit list now more than ever – but why? And who actually deserves that prime spot? Finally, Michelle Saahene joins us to talk about the Starbucks call heard round the world – she was there and as a black woman, she has a few things to say about the layers of racism manifested in that incident and beyond.
By Lavette Mayes and Matthew McLoughlin for Truthout - On any given day, more than 7,000 people are incarcerated at Chicago's Cook County Jail. Stretching over 11 city blocks, Cook County Jail is the largest single-site jail in the United States. Ninety-five percent of the people locked up in Cook County Jail have not been convicted of a crime. They are incarcerated pretrial -- and 62 percent of them are there only because they cannot afford to pay a monetary bond. In Cook County, bond court hearings last a mere 37 seconds on average. In that time, a judge makes bail decisions that reshape the entire course of people's cases, and often, their lives. For many people, the judge's decision includes setting a money bond they must pay before they can be released from jail. The amount of that bond -- and whether their family or friends can pay it -- then determines whether they await their trial in freedom or in a cage. Felony cases in Cook County commonly take more than a year to resolve, and some take several years. Right now, more than 4,000 people are being incarcerated in Cook County because they cannot pay bonds that were set using less than a minute's worth of information. After 24 hours of detention, people's risks of rearrest and failure to appear for court increase.
By Twanda Marshinda Brown for ACLU - “I don’t care if you have one, two, three, four, five, six, or seven kids.” This is what the judge told me when I tried to explain that I was a single mom with seven kids. I could not afford to pay $100 a month toward traffic tickets. The judge threatened me with jail. I was scared. This all started when I got two traffic tickets in March last year in Lexington County, South Carolina. I did something wrong. I drove without a tag light and on a suspended license. I wanted to go to court and make it right. But when I got there, the judge treated me like I was nothing. She sentenced me to pay more than $2400 for both tickets — more than the law allowed, my attorneys told me. I did not have the money to pay that day, so the judge decided that I had to pay $100 each month. I knew I could not afford that. So, I explained that I could pay $50 each month. The judge wasn’t hearing it. She said, “I want my money on the twelfth.” She made clear that if I missed one payment, she would have a warrant out for my arrest. I did everything I could to pay my traffic fines. I made five payments in a row. But then I started missing payments when I could not pay the court and support my family at the same time.
By Pete Williams for NBCNews - Holding defendants in jail because they can't afford to make bail is unconstitutional, the Justice Department said in a court filing late Thursday — the first time the government has taken such a position before a federal appeals court. It's the latest step by the Obama administration in encouraging state courts to move away from imposing fixed cash bail amounts and jailing those who can't pay.
By Felipe De La Hoz for Observer - There have been attempts to force the closure of the Rikers Island jail for years, but Glenn Martin thinks that the failed efforts so far have been missing a key ingredient: “the community’s voice.” That’s why Mr. Martin, the founder of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA) has put together #CLOSErikers, a group formed by 58 community, faith-based, and criminal justice reform organizations, which launched its campaign with a rally on the steps of City Hall yesterday.
By Bill Quigley for Social Justice Advocacy - New Orleans Criminal Court Judge Arthur Hunter, a former police officer, ruled that seven people awaiting trial in jail without adequate legal defense must be released. The law is clear. The US Supreme Court, in their 1963 case Gideon v Wainwright, ruled that everyone who is accused of a crime has a Constitutional right a lawyer at the state’s expense if they cannot afford one. However, Louisiana, in the middle of big budget problems, has been disregarding the constitutional right of thousands of people facing trial in its most recent statewide public defender meltdown
I've never had much experience with jails. I was briefly introduced to a holding cell in Washington D.C.'s Anacostia police station in March of this year after refusing to move from the White House sidewalk while protesting the KXL Pipeline. I stood in there for ten minutes with five other female college students before I was processed and released. However, I now find myself quickly becoming familiarized with the procedures and expectations of Schuyler, Chemung, and Yates County Jails as the We Are Seneca Lake civil disobedience campaign continues into December.Schuyler County does not house women. Schuyler also does not constantly heat the jail, and it often gets cold. It is important to bring in spare clothing for inmates within 24 hours of their incarceration so they can stay warm.