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Mass Incarceration

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.

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.

Participatory Defense Hubs Shift The Power Dynamics In The Carceral System

When Monica Allison’s son was facing charges and awaiting trial incarcerated on Philadelphia’s State Road, she had no idea what to do. She didn’t know what to expect from the legal process — what the steps were and in what order or what she could expect from her son’s defense attorney, to name a few questions. “Being new to the system and trying to navigate it on your own — that’s the reason for the hub,” Allison says. She’s referring to Philly’s Haddington Participatory Defense Hub, one of over 40 hubs across the country that work with folks facing charges and incarceration, as well as their families.

This Is Why Coming Home From Prison Is So Difficult For So Many

The US has one of the highest prisoner recidivism rates in the world: over 70% of incarcerated people who are released from prison in the US will be rearrested within five years of their release date. That is not an accident. Our system of mass incarceration sets people up to fail as they leave the prison system and try to reintegrate into society. That is why organizations like Hope for Prisoners in Nevada are working to provide returning citizens with the resources and support they need to rebuild their lives and maintain their freedom. In this episode of Rattling the Bars, Mansa Musa speaks with Jon Ponder, founder and CEO of Hope for Prisoners.

DC’s 2024 Crime Bill Is More War On The Black Working Class

The "Secure DC” Omnibus bill  is the latest attempt by DC’s local government to impose law and order, while ignoring the root issues that lead to street-level crime and advancing the war against the Black working class. After passing unanimously by the DC Council's Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, the new crime bill was voted on and unanimously passed on February 6, 2024, by the full council. Pan-African Community Action (PACA) contends that Black people in the U.S are a domestic colony, an internal colony that is enforced by a massive police presence meant to control and keep us exploited for our labor and other human resources.

How Target Funded A ‘Tough On Crime’ Prosecutor’s Office

Target Corp. pioneered the Community Prosecution Program in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office (HCAO) more than two decades ago during the era of mass incarceration. As part of a broad anti-crime campaign that employed new advanced technology and reshaped the criminal justice system in Minneapolis, the program had particularly devastating effects on Black residents. In 2004, a public-private partnership consisting of Target, the Downtown Council, Hennepin County, and the City of Minneapolis launched a sweeping surveillance collaborative in downtown Minneapolis called the SafeZone, as illustrated throughout Unicorn Riot’s years-long investigative series.

50 Years Of Mass Incarceration Has Devastated American Society

Fifty years ago, the United States embarked on a path of mass incarceration that has led to a staggering increase in the prison population. Today, almost 2 million individuals—disproportionately Black Americans—are incarcerated in our nation’s prisons and jails. The prison population has grown 500% since 1973, the year America began to sharply increase its prison population. “The social, moral, and fiscal costs associated with the large-scale, decades-long investment in mass imprisonment,” The Sentencing Project notes, “cannot be justified by any evidence of its effectiveness. Misguided changes in sentencing law and policy—not crime—account for the majority of the increase in correctional supervision.”

Latest Stats Show US’ Continued Love Affair With Mass Incarceration

Preliminary data released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) revealed a notable increase in the number of individuals held in local jails nationwide. As of midyear 2022, the incarcerated population stood at 663,100, marking a 4 percent surge compared to the previous year’s 636,100. The surge is part of a more significant trend that has seen jail admissions rise by 6.6 percent from July 2021 to June 2022, totaling 7.3 million entries. However, the figure is still 37 percent lower than ten years prior, when admissions peaked at 11.6 million. According to the new data, of the incarcerated population in mid-2022, 14 percent were female, representing an increase over the previous year.

Maryland’s Parole System ‘Conditions People For Despair’

Thomas “Tahaka” Gaither was out on parole when then-Gov. Glendening of Maryland revoked parole for all persons convicted of a life sentence. Since the late 1990s, Gaither has remained incarcerated—despite once having been deemed fit for release. His story is not unusual for those who’ve experienced Maryland’s parole system. Since 2015, barely half of 523 parole-eligible prisoners serving life sentences have had their cases reviewed, and just 76 have been released. A new study from the Justice Policy Institute, Safe at Home: Improving Maryland’s Parole Release Decision-Making, identifies the problems with the system and attempts to map solutions.

Fighting Criminalization With Housing First

Housing is one of our best tools for ending mass incarceration. It does more than put a roof over people’s heads; housing gives people the space and stability necessary to receive care, escape crises, and improve their quality of life. For this reason, giving people housing can help interrupt a major pathway to prison created by the criminalization of mental illness, substance use disorder, and homelessness. For this briefing, we examined over 50 studies and reports, covering decades of research on housing, health, and incarceration, to pull together the best evidence that ending housing insecurity is foundational to reducing jail and prison populations.

Cleveland: A Message To The Community, ‘No New Jail!’

Cleveland, Ohio - The Cuyahoga County Jail Coalition was warmly received by participants and onlookers at Cleveland’s Labor Day parade Sept. 4, as it promoted its efforts to stop construction of a new county jail. With principal and interest to bondholders combined, a new jail could cost county taxpayers over $2 billion, making it the most expensive project in Cuyahoga County’s history. The Coalition banner, shown in the photo, called on county residents to “say no to 40 years of debt.” Every year in Cleveland, the 11th Congressional District Caucus holds its parade on Labor Day. For over a decade this Black community tradition has been joined by Greater Cleveland’s labor movement, which had at one time held a separate parade the same day.

Taking The School-To-Prison Pipeline Fight To State Legislatures

The system of mass incarceration extends into the public education system. Known as the school-to-prison pipeline, policies that criminalize youth and their families, from the presence of police in schools to discriminatory and punitive practices that push youth to drop out, disproportionately affect communities of color. Kentucky State Rep. Keturah Herron joins Rattling the Bars to discuss the school-to-prison pipeline and how it can be tackled through state legislatures. Keturah Herron (D) represents District 42 in the Kentucky House of Representatives.

US Sentencing Commission Could Reduce Prison Time For Thousands

On April 27, 2023, the United States Sentencing Commission submitted to Congress amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines that would recommend lower sentences for certain defendants. If these changes are applied retroactively, some 18,775 people in federal prison could become eligible for a sentencing reduction—including 3,288 individuals who could be eligible for immediate release. Mary Price of Families Against Mandatory Minimums joins Rattling the Bars to discuss the proposed amendments and what they could mean for thousands of prisoners and their families.

Training Formerly Incarcerated Leaders To Fight Mass Incarceration

Over 1.9 million people are incarcerated in the US today, and even greater 5.5 million people are subjected to the wide-ranging system of mass punishment from parole, probation, and beyond. One organization, JustLeadershipUSA, seeks to tackle the prison system by building leaders among formerly incarcerated people, and fighting for change from the local level up. JustLeadershipUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins joins Rattling the Bars to explain the work of her organization and how it seeks to bring about to change. DeAnna Hoskins has been at the helm of JLUSA as the President and CEO of JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA) since 2018.

Chris Hedges: Sammy Goes To School

Newark, NJ - We know the story. The absent father who leaves when his son is five-years-old and moves back to Puerto Rico. The single mother, rarely at home because she works long hours to keep her three children fed and pay the rent. The poverty. The crime. The instability. Later, the stepfather who drinks, uses drugs and beats his stepchildren. The child acting up. Dropping out of school. Joining a gang. The robberies. The one that went wrong and left a man dead. Prison. The students I teach in prison have variations of the same story. They are funneled into the maw of the prison-industrial-complex, the largest in the world, and spat out decades later, even more lost and traumatized, to wander the streets like ghosts until most, unequipped to survive on the outside and without support, find themselves back in the old familiar cages.
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