Conditions at Pelican Bay’s Segregated Housing Units are tortuous, according to men interviewed for KQED by reporter Michael Montgomery. More than 1,000 SHU prisoners at Pelican Bay spend 22 ½ hours a day in a windowless 8-by-10 foot cell in the bunker-like facility, report states. Each day, prisoners are given 90 minutes of exercise time in a small yard that has 25-foot walls and a view of the sky. Civil rights groups say long-term isolation amounts to torture, while prison officials say SHU units are necessary and conditions are … [Read more...] about Pelican Bay Segregated Housing Units Reported as ‘Torturous’
On the same week a federal judge refused to end oversight of state prisons mental health services, an unscientific survey asked 100 San Quentin men about prison suicides. The survey discovered 80 percent of the men knew someone who committed suicide while incarcerated. The survey found that 35 percent of prisoners believed suicide was due to feeling hopeless—unhappiness followed at 34 percent. Twenty-four percent said despondency would cause a suicide, while a parole denial garnered 18 percent. Other reasons cited were health issues, … [Read more...] about Survey Asked 100 San Quentin Prisoners About Their Reaction and Effect of Prison Suicides
‘LONGER SENTENCES CREATE AN AGING PRISON POPULATION’ At the end of 2012, several problems continued to plague American prisons, which Human Rights Watch and The PEW Charitable Trust have documented. The poor, the elderly, children, immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities are significantly impacted by U.S. prison policy, according to Human Rights Watch, 2013, Events of 2012 (www.hrw.org.) Educational disparities also affect who is imprisoned in the U.S., according to Collateral Cost: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility, by the … [Read more...] about Documented Problems Haunt American’s Prison System
A new study offers recommendations for reducing prison populations without jeopardizing public safety. “Research shows that the most cost-effective ways to increase public safety, reduce prison populations, and save money are to invest in proven community-based programs that positively impact youth,” according to the report by the Justice Policy Institute. “Evidence-based programs for youth have shown to produce up to $13 in benefits for one dollar spent in terms of improved public safety,” according to the report titled, Behind the … [Read more...] about Study Addresses Reducing Prison Overcrowding and Public Safety
Police departments nationwide are teaming up with mental health professionals to identify people experiencing breakdowns, according to a new report. The strategy is an attempt to de-escalate confrontations with mentally ill people that can result in unprepared police officers using deadly force, or “suicide by cop.” “The police are no more capable of calming a mentally ill child than an undertaker is of delivering a baby,” said the mother of an emotionally troubled son who was killed by the police, in a report on extrajudicial killings of … [Read more...] about States Adopting New Strategies to Help Mentally Troubled During Police Contact
Laws criminalizing marijuana possession have been softening across the nation, and the data on the consequences are starting to come in. In 2010, then-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation downgrading simple marijuana possession from a criminal offense to an infraction. The law resulted in arrests for marijuana possession dropping 86 percent, from 54,000 in 2010 to 7,800 in 2011, the Criminal Justice Statistics Center reported. OTHER DRUGS Arrests for other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, and un-prescribed pills, … [Read more...] about Liberal Pot Statutes Draw Attention
Eleven inmates and two free persons have been ordained as Buddhist lay practitioners in San Quentin. The San Quentin Buddhadharma Sangha conducted the ordination ceremony, which also included vows for the newly minted adherents to become Bodhisattvas. A Bodhisattva is one who aspires for supreme enlightenment and to follow the way of the Buddha for themselves and all beings. Zen Priest “Seido” Lee deBarros blessed the main altar, which held two icons: One showed Buddha sitting; the other depicted Manjushri holding an upright sword, … [Read more...] about Buddhist Practitioners Ordained in S.Q.
While Michael Santos was waiting to be sentenced to a 45-year term for dealing drugs, he picked up a copy of Treasury of Philosophy and started learning about Socrates. He then realized the limitations of his knowledge and began taking steps in turning his life around. Santos decided to serve his prison term with dignity and honor. He recalls telling the judge, “I have to find a way to reconcile with society.” Santos, 48, has been in community confinement since August. Nevertheless, he’s still federal prisoner No. 16377004. While … [Read more...] about Finding Redemption in Knowledge Behind Bars