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Prisoner rights

Palestinian Lawyers Are Working Harder Than Ever To Support Prisoners

On May 11, CNN obtained footage of what appears to be Palestinian prisoners detained in Israel’s Sde Teiman military base in horrifying conditions, depicting prisoners being “warehoused” in an overcrowded camp and forced to sit blindfolded and handcuffed. While these revelations — which came from three Israeli whistleblowers — are causing an uproar worldwide on social media and prompting “concern” from the U.S. government, the mistreatment of Palestinian detainees held in Israeli-run facilities is hardly anything new. According to the Palestinian prisoner support and human rights association Addameer, there are 9,500 Palestinian political prisoners currently being held in detention — a quickly rising number since the events of Oct. 7.

Lawsuit Succeeds In Lifting Gag Rules At Pittsburgh Jail

In a win for government accountability in Pennsylvania, the Media Freedom and Information Access Clinic at Yale Law School and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press have succeeded in lifting Allegheny County Jail rules that forbid employees from talking to the press or posting information on social media. As part of a settlement reached in the federal First Amendment lawsuit on April 23, the Pittsburgh jail has adopted new policies that affirm employees’ right to speak and to disclose wrongdoing at the jail. The policies also empower jail employees to speak out to the press on matters of public concern.

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.

Solidarity With Mass Prison Strike In Alabama

The Center for Constitutional Rights stands in solidarity with the Free Alabama Movement (FAM) and incarcerated people in Alabama who announced a mass prison strike today. We unequivocally support the organizers’ demands for legislative reforms—including repealing the Habitual Felony Offender Act, abolishing death by incarceration (also known as life without parole), and reversing the near complete abandonment of parole—and their call for an end to the torture and dehumanizing treatment exacted on incarcerated people by the State of Alabama. Our solidarity with Alabama prison organizers dates back to the 1970s with our support for the Atmore-Holman Brothers’ Defense Committee.

Held For 1,000 Days Since Approval For Release From Guantánamo Prison

In the first of a new series of profiles of men held at Guantánamo — specifically, the 16 men (out of the 30 still held) who have long been approved for release by high-level US government review processes — I’m focusing on Uthman Abd Al-Rahim Muhammad Uthman, a 43-year old Yemeni citizen, who, today, has been held for 1,000 days since the US authorities first decided that they no longer wanted to hold him. Uthman arrived at Guantánamo on January 16, 2002, five days after the prison opened, when he was just 21 years old, and, as a result, he has been held for over half his life at Guantánamo. The photo is from his classified military file, released by WikiLeaks in April 2011, and dating from April 2008, meaning that he would have been 27 years old, or younger, when it was taken.

Prison Lockdowns Are Becoming More Frequent And More Brutal

Every morning, Mary Frances Barbee wakes up and experiences a “microsecond of happiness before the terror sets in.” Barbee had a heart attack, transient ischemic attack and then a stroke after her sons were incarcerated. She puts on a brave front when they call. “I wonder what they are going through, will they be able to call today, and how long until they are out of lockdown again,” Barbee, 71, says as she chokes back tears. “Will it be for just three hours after many days or weeks locked inside? They have no exercise. Four, six or 12 days without a shower. It is inhumane treatment on a daily basis.” What Barbee is living through is something that millions of people inside and outside razor wire are also experiencing: The purgatory of endless prison “lockdowns” where prisoners are forced to live in isolation that typically exceeds punitive segregation conditions.

White Man’s Justice Is Black People’s Grief: A Black History Month Truth

“It’s not whether you win or lose that counts, but how you play the game that matters.” That’s what my people are often told. But we are not told that this so-called game is rigged, and it’s rigged against us even before we are born. This “game” is life in the divided states of America. This is especially true in the system of criminal justice, a system that has been rigged against Black people since its  inception. There Is no better example than this country’s morbid use and fascination with the cold-blooded and premeditated imposition of the death penalty against poor people and its disproportionate use on Black people.

Abolition Is A Global Movement; What We Learned From Allies Worldwide

In 1992, formerly incarcerated women created Sisters Inside to advocate for the rights of women and girls behind bars in Queensland, Australia. While other grassroots groups and ad hoc campaigns had formed to work with incarcerated women, Sisters Inside remains the country’s first organization founded and run by formerly incarcerated women. Over the last 31 years, the organization has provided legal and logistical support to currently and formerly incarcerated women and pushed to end policies that cage people, such as imprisoning people for nonpayment of fines. In November, Sisters Inside held its 10th conference, inviting organizers from across Australia and overseas to brainstorm and strategize under the theme “Abolition Feminism Now.”

2023, A Year Of Progress: Expanding Voting Rights Across The Country

This year, thanks to the tireless efforts of dedicated advocates and organizations, we’re witnessing a remarkable shift in the political landscape when it comes to expanding and protecting the right to vote for justice-impacted people. Advocacy Based on Lived Experience (ABLE) – an organization dedicated to working to engage people in the democratic process – held several community events across Kentucky, allowing attendees and lawmakers to hold discussions on pertinent issues in their communities, regardless of their political affiliation. Participants frequently discussed state legislation that would restore the right to vote to over 160,000 Kentuckians who are disenfranchised due to their history with the criminal legal system.

The 13th Amendment Legalizes Slavery; Many States Have Their Own Version

The 13th Amendment of the US Constitution makes an exception to the abolition of slavery in order to permit the use of “involuntary servitude” as punishment for a crime. The modern system of mass incarceration depends on this exception to justify paying millions of incarcerated people subminimum wages that many advocates say is virtually indistinguishable from forms of slavery. Various US states also have their own constitutional “exception clauses” that mirror the language of the 13th Amendment, providing an additional layer of legal justification for the exploitation of prisoners.

Derek Chauvin And The State Of US Prisons

I’ve written a lot about the corrupt, inefficient and failing Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP.)  Most recently, the mainstream media have lauded the BOP’s new director, Colette Peters, who was brought in to “clean the place up.” Peters is a former successful director of the Oregon Department of Corrections. The idea was that, rather than promote somebody from within the BOP to lead it, which has been done time and time again and which has failed time and time again, maybe a fresh face from outside could bring a new perspective and could turn the BOP around. That hasn’t happened.  If anything, Peters has been ignored by her subordinates and, in many cases, circumvented. 

Be Their Voices Presser: ‘No More Jail Deaths!’

St. Paul, MN — Five years after losing her son Hardel Sherrell to medical malpractice and improper care while in a Minnesota jail, Del Shea Perry leads another protest against in-custody deaths. At least 15 people have died this year while inside Minnesota jails and at least 65 since 2018, according to Be Their Voices, Perry’s non-profit. A press conference titled No More Jail Deaths! organized by Be Their Voices took place on Oct. 4 at noon central in front of the Minnesota Department of Corrections building in St. Paul. In a media release about the press conference, Perry says: “The Hardel Sherell Act was passed in 2021 to give the MN Department of Corrections greater oversight of county jails, especially over medical care.

Illinois Just Ended Cash Bail; Here’s How Organizers Made It Happen

Illinois is poised to eliminate the use of cash bail in the state’s carceral system following the passage of the Pretrial Fairness Act by the state legislature on January 13. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, who has said he favors ending cash bail, is expected to sign the bill into law. The policy of conditional pretrial detention — holding accused people in jail until their trial, unless they can afford to pay bail — is currently practiced in all 50 states, although New Jersey did drastically reduce the use of cash bail. It’s a practice that necessarily penalizes poor people and disproportionately affects Black and Brown people, already overrepresented in U.S. jails and prisons.

Stella Assange Speaks Out On Julian Assange’s Prison Conditions

Prison is always a political tool, and in the case of whistleblowers like Julian Assange, the use of incarceration to suppress, discourage, and silence dissent is self-evident. Since being imprisoned, Assange has married and even started a family—but has been kept apart from his wife and children. In the second part of a two-part conversation, Stella Assange and Chris Hedges discuss the conditions of Julian’s incarceration, and how it offers a glimpse into the overall brutality of the prison system.

Leonard Peltier Turns 79; Here’s How You Can Help

Tuesday, September 12th is Leonard Peltier’s 79th birthday. Peltier is the longest serving Indigenous political prisoner in the history of the United States, having served nearly 50 years in federal prison. Please join us in demanding clemency for Leonard Peltier. “The Leonard Peltier Ad Hoc Committee is thrilled to announce the release of this new video about the life of Leonard Peltier, created by a group of his friends and supporters. This video is being released free of charge to all of Mr. Peltier's supporters.” In addition, a separate collaboration between Amnesty International and NDN Collective organized a 4-stop caravan pick-up for Leonard Peltier supporters in Rapid City, Minneapolis, Chicago and Pittsburgh.
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