By James Kilgore for Truthout – Yusef Shakur is a Detroit community organizer who spent several years in Michigan State prisons. “The prison industrial complex has found the right person to feed it,” he told Truthout in response to the election results. Trump is of the same “cloth as Reagan, Bush and Nixon,” Shakur added. “I expect the worst in terms of patterns of repression.” Among those working to end mass incarceration, Shakur’s perspectives are not unique. With Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch, the Obama administration often provided wiggle room for reformers to craft and occasionally pass legislation or win changes in policy.
By Jamiles Lartey for The Guardian – Study of 1.5 million prisoners finds that drug treatment, community service, probation or fines would have served as more effective sentences for many. A quarter of the US prison population, about 364,000 inmates, could have been spared imprisonment without meaningfully threatening public safety or increasing crime, according to a new study. Analyzing offender data on roughly 1.5 million US prisoners, researchers from the Brennan Center for Justice concluded that for one in four, drug treatment, community service, probation or a fine would have been a more effective sentence than incarceration.
By Jared Keller for Pacific Standard Magazine – At this very moment, nearly 450,000 Americans are sitting in county jails not because they’ve been charged with a crime, but because they simply don’t have enough money to post bail. And, according to a new study, America’s money bail system isn’t just unconstitutional—it’s a fundamental engine of injustice in the United States. New data published by Columbia University researchers Arpit Gupta and Christopher Hansman and Ethan Frenchman from the Maryland Office of the Public Defender suggests that the use of money bail by judges to detain suspects ahead of a formal trial may actually be creating more criminals than it punishes.
By Staff of the Equal Justice Initiative. The Equal Justice Initiative plans to build a national memorial to victims of lynching and open a museum that explores African American history from enslavement to mass incarceration. Both the museum and memorial will open in Montgomery, Alabama, in 2017. From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration will be situated within 150 yards of one of the South’s most prominent slave auction sites and the Alabama River dock and rail station where tens of thousands of enslaved black people were trafficked. The museum will contain high-tech exhibits, artifacts, recordings, and films, as well as comprehensive data and information on lynching and racial segregation. The museum will connect the history of racial inequality with contemporary issues of mass incarceration, excessive punishment, and police violence. The Memorial to Peace and Justice will sit on six acres of land in Montgomery and become the nation’s first national memorial to victims of lynching.
By Cedric Lawson for Inequality – In July 2010, Marissa Alexander, a young Black woman from Florida, faced the fight of her life only nine days after giving birth to her youngest daughter. Her estranged husband, Rico Gray, attacked, strangled, and threatened to kill Marissa in her own home. To get rid of Rico, Marissa fired a warning shot into the ceiling. The single shot injured no one. And yet she was subsequently charged with several criminal charges and incarcerated for a victimless crime.
By Staff of The Clemency Report and CAN-DO Foundation – Note from Amy Ralston Povah, President – CAN-DO Foundation: “Thirteen of the original women on the Top 25 are NOW FREE – most due to clemency and a few for the two point reduction – this is progress. We’ve been told there will be “more women” on the next list coming out toward the end of July due to several of us who went to the White House complaining that there were only two women on the last list! We feel this short video helps explain why people end up with 10-LIFE for conspiracy even if they never sold drugs – and puts a face on it.”
By Rebecca Nathanson for VICE. aymond Rodriguez doesn’t remember why his dad was arrested. He doesn’t even remember exactly how old he was when police officers entered the home he shared with his parents and two siblings in the Bronx, threw his dad on the floor, and took him away. Now a 20-year-old criminal justice student at a local community college, he thinks he was about eight years old when that scene took place, but the memories blur together. Following that arrest, Rodriguez’s dad remained incarcerated for the majority of his childhood, in and out of prison numerous times. Rodriguez lived with a foster family for a while when he was younger, but then his mom regained custody of him and his two siblings. Whenever his father got out, he’d find where the family was living and move back in, until the cycle began again. The impact it had on the family was far-reaching and comprehensive, and it continues today.
By Kathy Kelly for Voices for Creative Nonviolence – Along with VCNV companions, I’m part of a 150 mile walk from Chicago to Thomson, IL, a small town in Northwest IL where the U.S. Bureau of Prisons is setting up an Administrative Maximum prison, also known as a Supermax. Prison laborers from U.S. minimum security prisons now labor to turn what once was an Illinois state prison into a federal supermax detention facility with 1900 cells that will confine prisoners for 23 hours of every day.
By Inimai M. Chettiar and Ames Grawert for Brennan Center for Justice – Even though it now looks like Americans will be deprived the drama of a contested Republican convention, the gathering in Cleveland could hold at least one surprise. The Republicans are set to vote on an RNC resolution to reduce mass incarceration. The measure asks for “reforms for nonviolent offenders at the state and federal level” and urges “state legislators and Congress to…provide substance abuse treatment to addicts, emphasize work and education, and implement policies that cut costs while obtaining better outcomes.”
By Kirsten West Savali for The Root – As previously reported by The Root, black inmates who identify as transgender women are sexually assaulted at alarming rates, with approximately 32 percent being raped in jail after being placed in male populations. Additionally, male and female inmates with disabilities and/or psychological issues are also more likely to be sexually violated. According to a 2014 Vera Institute report, “On Life Support: Public Health in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” the prevalence of serious mental illness is two to four times higher in state prisons than in the general public.
By Jamilah King for Mic – We often speak about America’s prison problem in vague, amorphous terms. For instance, the phrase “mass incarceration” has become commonplace, but even it can obscure the true scale of having an estimated 2.3 million people behind bars. But here’s one graph that shows how many people are incarcerated in state prisons, local jails and federal detention facilities, and for what offenses:
By Matthew Shaer for Smithsonian – In the fall of 2009, an unusual package arrived at the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, at Yale University. Inside was a leather-bound journal and two packets of loose-leaf paper, some bearing the stamp of the same Berkshire mill that once produced Herman Melville’s favorite writing stock. Joined together under the title The Life and the Adventures of a Haunted Convict, the documents told the story of an African-American boy named “Rob Reed,” who grew up in Rochester, New York, and had been convicted, in 1833, while still a child, of arson.
By Joe for From the Trenches World Report – Wait, does the United States have 1.4 million or more than 2 million people in prison? And do the 636,000 people released every year include the people getting out of local jails? Frustrating questions like these abound because our systems of federal, state, local, and other types of confinement — and the data collectors that keep track of them — are so fragmented. There is a lot of interesting and valuable research out there, but varying definitions and other incompatibilities make it hard — for both people new to criminal justice and for experienced policy wonks — to get the big picture.
By Melanie Eversley for USA Today – One in 14 children have at least one parent behind bars and children in these situations suffer from low self esteem, poor mental and physical health, and other problems, a national research organization says. Child Trends, an organization based in Bethesda, Md., is releasing its report Parents Behind Bars: What Happens to Their Children? on Tuesday. The group hopes the findings will prod prisons, schools and lawmakers to make changes that will help young people who have incarcerated parents.