Alabama — Since September 2019, the state’s parole board denied 92% of people who sought release from prison, according to a report by ACLU, Smart Justice. In 2018, the report found 4,239 people were released on parole — 2,291 were released in 2019.
Virginia — Two bills designed to prevent corrections officials from strip-searching anyone under 18 and stop the practice of banning visitors who refuse a strip search passed the state Senate unanimously last January, The Virginian-Pilot reports. The legislation comes after a series of stories revealed that corrections officials had strip-searched an 8-year-old girl, several women during their periods and an 83-year-old man, among others.
Colorado — A vote last January has cleared the way for the state to repeal its death penalty, The Intelligencer Feed reports. Colorado is one of four states where the death penalty is currently under an official moratorium issued by a governor.
New York — The Manhattan District Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Program agreed to toss out Rafael Ruiz’s 1987 conviction for sexually assaulting a woman in East Harlem, ABC7NY reports. On April 29, 2009, he walked out of Orleans Correctional Facility. Newly tested DNA evidence did not place him at the crime scene or as the assailant. Ruiz had been eligible for parole since August 28, 1992, but every time he appeared, he refused to admit his guilt to a crime he did not commit.
New Mexico — Private health care provider, Corizon Health is refusing to comply with a court order to release settlements it made with prisoners who sued the company alleging poor care, reports the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Baltimore — Corrections officials plan to convert the Brockbridge Correctional Facility into a “comprehensive prerelease, reentry, and workforce development facility” for both men and women, The Washington Post reports. Corrections leaders say it will offer programs to get people on the right track as they leave prison, with a focus on job training, education and family mediation.
Arizona —The Ninth Circuit refused to reverse a contempt order against the Arizona Department of Corrections for failing to improve its prison healthcare. Corizon Health failed to improve the system’s inadequate staffing, substandard care and indifference to prisoners with severe mental health problems at 10 state-run prisons system, Courthouse News Service reports.
Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine announced last January that the state would delay four executions originally set for this year as the state searches for a solution to problems with its lethal injection execution methods, Scene & Heard reports.
Idaho — State corrections officials announced a $28 million per year contract with CoreCivic to house 1,000-plus prisoners in Colorado due to a shortage of Idaho prison beds, reports the Post Register.
Connecticut — Department of Corrections use of prolonged solitary confinement could inflict psychological torture on inmates, a United Nations human rights expert said in February. “These practices trigger and exacerbate psychological suffering, in particular in inmates who may have experienced previous trauma or have mental health conditions or psychosocial disabilities,” the expert said. “The severe and often irreparable psychological and physical consequences of solitary confinement and social exclusion are well documented and can range from progressively severe forms of anxiety, stress and depression to cognitive impairment and suicidal tendencies.”
Florida — The State Senate on Feb. 26 endorsed a measure granting more discretion to judges when handing down sentences in drug-related convictions, the Washington Examiner reports.
1. USA — Last year, the state of Texas carried out the most executions in the US with nine. Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee followed with three each. Florida had two, and South Dakota and Missouri had one. Pending death warrants for 2020 as of Jan. 17 show that Ohio is leading the nation with nine, followed by Texas with seven, Tennessee with three and Georgia with one, the Death Penalty Information Center reports.
2. USA — Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois, Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, Dreams Of My Father by Barack Obama, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb, Kindred by Octavia Butler, and Mosby’s Medical Dictionary are among thousands of books banned by state and federal prisons in America, The Birmingham Times reports.
3. Washington, DC — Federal courts have cleared the way for more than 2,400 federal prisoners to have their sentences reduced while compassionate releases have been approved for another 124 seriously ill prisoners, the U.S. Justice Department reported last January.
4. Washington, DC—Incarcerated people doing time in a jail are publishing a six-page newsletter, called Inside Scoop, The Washington Post reports. The 81⁄2 by 11 publication usually has from 10 to 16 articles. There are articles about criminal justice reform and jail programs as well as poems and advice columns, including one about finances.
5. New Jersey —In a move he said was in honor of Martin Luther King’s legacy, Gov. Phil Murphy on Jan. 20 signed a trio of bills into law to further criminal justice reform, NJ.com reports. State officials say one new law could streamline the parole process and reduce the state’s prison population. The other measures change the rules on when authorities can seize valuables and money in the state and allocates taxpayer dollars to fund programs to reduce violence, NJ.com reports.
6.Florida —The state’s Supreme Court issued an advisory opinion Jan. 16 that felons must first pay certain fines and fees before gaining access to the polls, Mother Jones reports. The decision is not legally binding but could influence future rulings by federal judges and put the re-enfranchisement of potentially 1.4 million Floridians at risk.
7. Georgia — Jimmy Fletcher Meders was granted clemency hours before his scheduled execution Jan. 16, in part because jurors wanted him to be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, CNN reports. Four years after his trial, the state added life without parole as a possible punishment.
8. Huntsville, Texas — John Gardner was the first person executed in the U.S. this year, The Texas Tribune reports. Gardner was executed with a lethal dose of pentobarbital at 6:20 p.m. on Jan. 15.
9. Nashville, Tenn.— State Attorney General Herbert Slatery is pursuing execution dates for nine death row inmates, all men, The New York Times report. Four of the nine are Black. Statistics show Blacks make up 17% of the state’s population but about half of its Death Row prisoners. There also is a geographic disparity: since 2001, only eight of the state’s 95 counties have imposed sustained death sentences. Almost half of the men on Death Row are from Shelby County, which includes Memphis and is Tennessee’s largest county but it includes less than 14% of the state population, according to a court filing asking the executions to be put on hold.
10. Vacaville, CA — The Jewish News Weekly of Northern California reports that James A. “Sneaky” White Jr., a Jewish prisoner convicted of murder and imprisoned for nearly four decades, stepped out of prison on Jan. 21. While incarcerated, he began community outreach programs, including a Vietnam veterans’ group while in San Quentin, one of several prisons where he spent time. At Ironwood, he convinced a warden to help him start the college program. At the time there was only one other program like it in the state, at San Quentin; now nearly every prison in California has adopted the format. White also created a culture of charity in prison, convincing fellow inmates and guards to donate to local organizations. Over the years, he helped raise several hundred thousand dollars for everything from seeing-eye dogs for veterans to a local girls’ softball team, all through in-prison fundraisers like walkathons and pizza sales.
11. Kentucky—Less than a month after Governor Andy Beshear signed an executive order restoring the right to vote to roughly 140,000 people with felony convictions who have completed their sentence, state Republicans introduced a bill that would make it hard- er for those people to vote, Truthout reports.
Washington, D.C. — Gallup reports that for the first time in 34 years, a majority of Americans would rather sentence a murderer to life imprisonment with no possibility of parole than the sentence of death. The 60% to 36% difference for life imprisonment marks a shift from the past two decades, when Americans were mostly divided in their views on how to punish murderers.
Arizona — Prison officials must give clear guidelines about what prisoners can read, according to a U.S. District Judge ruling, The Washington Post reports. The guidelines must have a “bright-line” regarding permissible reading material prisoners may possess before February 2020. The order comes from a 2015 lawsuit filed by Prison Legal News, a project of the Human Rights Defense Center, when prison officials didn’t deliver four issues of the monthly journal to its incarcerated subscribers because the content in those issues was deemed “sexually explicit,” according to court documents.
Indiana — Jay Vermillion received $425,000 as part of a settlement because prison officials kept in him in isolation for 23 to 24 hours a day, CNN reports. Under state law, a person can spend a maximum of 30 days in restrictive status housing, also known as solitary confinement or segregation. Then the individual’s status must be reviewed. Vermillion’s lawsuit claimed that prison officials sentenced him to a year of disciplinary segregation, despite the law.
Lucasville, Ohio — The execution of 69-year-old Alva Campbell was called off Nov. 6 after the executioners could not find a vein to insert the IV that delivers lethal drugs. It was only the third time in modern U.S. history that an execution attempt was halted after the process had begun, reports Stock Daily Dish.
USA – The misapplication of forensic science contributed to 45% of wrongful convictions in the United States proven through DNA evidence, The Innocence Project reports. False or misleading forensic evidence was a contributing factor in 24% of all wrongful convictions nationally, according to the National Registry of Exonerations.
USA – Private prisons in the United States incarcerated 121,718 people in 2017, representing 8.2% of the total state and federal prison population, The Sentencing Project reports. Since 2000, the number of people housed in private prisons has increased 39%. However, the private prison population reached its peak in 2012 with 137,220 people. Decreasing use of private prisons make these latest overall population numbers the lowest since 2006 when the population was 113,791.
USA – The number of people serving life sentences in U.S. prisons is at an all-time high, The Sentencing Project reports. Nearly 162,000 people are serving life sentences – one of every nine people in prison. An additional 44,311 individuals are serving sentences of 50 years or more, otherwise known as virtual life sentences.
Washington – Tarra Simmons, of Bremerton, who in 2017 won a Supreme Court fight to sit for the state bar exam, despite her prior criminal conviction, plans to announce her candidacy for the state House, Northwest News Network reports. Simmons is seeking to become the first formerly incarcerated person elected to the Washington Legislature, at least in modern times.
Raleigh, North Carolina — The ACLU Statewide Campaign for Smart Justice is moving to end putting incarcerated pregnant women in solitary confinement—some before convicted of any crimes, reports WNCN CBS17.com. Records that show in 2018, there were a total of 256 pregnant women behind bars at the North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women in Raleigh.
Alabama — Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law a measure requiring anyone convicted of sex crimes with children younger than 13 to be chemically castrated as a condition of parole, NBC affiliate KUAM reports.
New York — New legislation has been introduced to give people still serving time inside the state’s prison system the right to vote in all elections, CBS New York reports. Only two states, Maine and Vermont, allow prisoners to vote. New York is one of over 20 states that restores voting rights only after the completion of a prison sentence.
USA — The Office for Victims of Crime has released awards totaling more than $2.3 billion to state victim assistance and compensation programs, funding thousands of local victim assistance programs across the country and providing millions in compensation to victims of crime.
Florida — Sunshine State News reports ongoing problems in the state’s prison system. Lawmakers heard statistics showing high rates of violence, contraband being smuggled into state prisons, and high turnover rates among correctional officers.
Olympia, Washington — After a nonviolent food strike by prisoners at Clallam Bay Corrections Center, prison officials transferred three dozen of the men to other facilities, The Seattle Times reports. Five of the men who were transferred are suing, claiming that after transfer to the prison in Walla Walla, they and 10 others were put in solitary confinement for no reason.
Tallahassee, Florida — Courthouse News Service reports that state officials cannot deny the right to vote to people convicted of a felony because he or she cannot pay restitution or fines, a federal judge ruled. The ruling, however, only applies to the 17 plaintiffs in the case and suggests the state set up a process for people convicted of a felony to prove their inability to pay.
Santa Fe County, New Mexico — Two inmates are accusing the New Mexico Department of Corrections of negligence and violations of their constitutional rights in a lawsuit, alleging they were subjected to unsanitary and degrading strip searches at a state prison south of Roswell, reports CorrectionsOne.com.
New York — Courthouse News Service reports a continuing clash between state lawmakers over the use of solitary confinement. A new bill that sets limits on the use of solitary confinement has wide support in the Democratic-led Legislature but was never brought to the floor for a vote because Gov. Andrew Cuomo had indicated he would veto it, citing retrofitting costs of $1 billion.
Oklahoma — (KFOR) After a historic vote by the state parole board, 527 incarcerated men and women were recommended for commutation of their sentence. Scheduled for release are 469 prisoners, which would be the largest single-day commutation in U.S. history.
Washington, DC — U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John Cornyn (R-TX) announced the reintroduction of the National Criminal Justice Commission Act, bipartisan legislation that would task a National Criminal Justice Commission to assess the entire system and propose reforms to address the most pressing issues facing the nation’s criminal justice system.
1. Texas — The Death Penalty Information Center re- ports that Texas has scheduled 13 executions between August and December, which is more than the rest of the U.S. combined. Two of the men have strong claims of innocence; two, authorities know did not kill anyone, and eight that show serious mental health problems.
2. USA — The Death Penalty Information Center re- ports that there have been 1,506 executions in the U.S. since 1976. The race of per- sons executed: 55.8% Black, 34.1% White, 8.5% Hispanic and 1.6% other. The race of the victims of those executed: 76% White; 15% Black, 7% Hispanic, 2% other. As of April 1, 2019, there were 2,673 people on Death Row in the U.S.: 42% Black, 42% White, 13% Hispanic, 3% other.
3. Missouri — Russell Bucklew was executed on Oct. 1 by lethal injection for killing a man in 1996.
4. Tennessee — The state’s attorney general has petitioned the state Supreme Court to set execution dates for nine Death Row prisoners, The Associated Press reports. The state has executed five people since it restored executions over a year ago. There were three people executed in the state last year.
5. Juneau, Alaska — A federal judge has signed a settlement agreement between the state’s correction department and two Muslim prisoners. Prison officials agreed to change the department’s policies to accommodate Muslim prisoners during the holy month of Ramadan and to perform Friday religious services and hold study groups, The Associated Press reports. The department also agreed to pay $102,500 in damages, costs and attorneys’ fees.
6. Michigan — A bill was introduced to prohibit the state from housing its prison- ers in private prisons. In an interview with The Center Square, state Sen. Jeff Irwin said, “The private prison industry was inherently im- moral because their financial incentive doesn’t match with the rehabilitation goal of the criminal justice system.” Ir- win also said that since the state has instituted criminal justice reform, the prison population has declined from a high of about 53,000 to around 38,000, and he intends to continue pushing the trend.
7. Madison, Wisconsin — There are 23 counties in the state that charge inmates for room and board for the time they are incarcerated, The Associated Press reports. At least 40 other states also mandate incarcerated people to pay daily room and board fees.
8. Nevada — Slightly more than 12% of the state’s prisoners were in solitary confinement from January 2016 through September 2017, the Las Vegas Sun reports. The Vera Institute of Justice reports that the state’s use of solitary confinement is more than double the national average.
USA — A new report Can’t Pay Can’t Vote by the Civil Rights Clinic at Georgetown Law shows that 30 states still keep people from voting by use of what can be called a poll tax. Eight states include explicit payment requirements within their election laws, two states retain permanent disenfranchisement laws and require payment of legal debts for clemency eligibility, and 20 states require completion of parole and or probation for voting rights restoration and payment of legal debt is included as a condition of one’s parole or probation.
NYC— Mark Denny was awarded $9.75 million by city officials for the 30 years he spent in prison for a rape and robbery that he did not commit, the New York Post reports. Court papers showed that “The NYPD’s fabricated and/or coercive evidence, which was presented to the prosecution prior to trial through false written and oral reports and to the jury through their false testimony at trial, was the sole basis of Mr. Denny’s conviction.”
St. Paul, Minn. — Prison officials sent a record number of more than 8,000 people to solitary confinement in 2018, according to WCCO/CBS. Last June, corrections officials implemented new regulations that increase the maximum time allowed in solitary from 90 days to a year.
Oakland, Calif. — Civil rights lawyer, Anne Butterfield Weills, known for ending the use of indefinite solitary confinement in California prisons, has been banned for life from communicating with prisoners amid allegations that she talked to incarcerated clients with contraband cell phones, The Mercury News reports. Weills alleged in a lawsuit, filed last March, that the ban is retaliation against her for joining a 2009 federal lawsuit against the state’s use of segregated housing units in the state’s prisons.
Chicago, Ill. — Cook County jail detainees are playing round-robin chess against detainees around the world, including England and Russia, CBS Chicago reports. The program began in 2012 as a way to help people develop critical thinking skills, patience and other qualities needed to navigate life behind bars and move inmates in the right direction when they get out of jail, officials say.
Chicago, Ill. — A new report by Reclaim Chicago, The People’s Lobby, and Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice shows during Kim Foxx’s second year in office, the number of sentences of incarceration decreased by 19%, reports of violent crime decreased by 8%, and that incarceration generally made communities less safe. The report recommends raising the thresh- old for felony retail theft charges to $1,000, increased use of resolving felony convictions that do not lead to incarceration by connecting people to mental health and substance abuse programs and improved training of prosecutors to use discretion in seeking alternative prosecutions and reasonable plea deals.
Mississippi — A lawsuit claims that the opportunity to win seats in the state’s legisla- ture are weakened for Black candidates by arbitrary voting rules, such as lifetime voting bans for a number of felonies that are mostly applied to Blacks, such as limber larceny and writing bad checks, according to the Starkville Daily News.
Tennessee — Death Row inmate, Stephen West, told prison officials that he wants to be executed by electric chair, News Channel 5, Nashville reports. West was convicted in 1986 for kid- napping and killing a woman and her teen daughter. He was sentenced to death the following year.
Hartford, Conn. — Corrections officials say they will begin testing prisoners for the Hepatitis C virus to avoid a lawsuit, the Harford Courant reports. State lawmakers estimate the cost for treatment at up to $158 million, depending on how many of the 13,000 prisoners have the virus.
Phoenix, Ariz.— The state’s incarcerated population has asked a federal judge to take over all healthcare operations in the state’s prisons, The Associated Press reports. Attorneys representing 34,000 prisoners claim that the state has not made improvements that were promised nearly five years ago in a previous settlement
Huntsville, Texas — Billy Jack Crutsinger, 64, was executed by lethal injection on Sept 4 for the 2003 killing of two women in their Fort Worth home. Crutsinger was the fifth person executed in Texas this year and the 14th executed in the US this year.
1. USA — After a nearly two decade lapse, United States Attorney General William P. Barr is clearing the way for the federal government to re- sume capital punishment for five death row prisoners. Federal executions follow protocols that replace a three-drug procedure with a single drug, pentobarbital.
2. USA — The national death row population went down for the 17th straight year in 2017, while the period from sentence to execution increased to 20 years, three months, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. The number of individuals sentenced to death fell by 94 to 2,703, which would be lower if included were the more than 900 condemned prisoners in Colorado, Oregon, Pennsylvania and California (moratoriums on executions). The 23 executions in 2017 were half the number in 2010. Only eight of the 32 states with capital punishment conducted executions in 2017. There were 34 new death sentences imposed in 2017 with 23 executions, 21 died of natural causes, two died by suicide and one died in a traffic accident.
3. USA — Justice Department officials announced that 3,100 inmates are being released from federal prisons across the country because of a change in how their good-behavior time is calculated, The Washington Post reports. In addition, $75 million was redirected for a new system to assess prisoners’ risk of reoffending as well as a program that would bring earlier releases.
4. Lansing, Michigan — Sharee Miller, 47, went to court to assert her First Amendment right to report prison abuse, the Detroit Free Press reports. Miller says she saw a prisoner “stripped naked and painfully hogtied for hours and another, also left naked, deprived of food and water until she foamed at the mouth and went into cardiac arrest,” according to a 2015 lawsuit. Miller complained, first to officials at Women’s Huron Valley Correctional Facility, where she is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, and then to prison watchdogs on the outside. The Michigan Department of Corrections responded in 2014 by firing Miller from her job as a prisoner observation aide, a job that requires her to watch troubled prisoners 24 hours a day and keep detail recorded notes, every 15 minutes, of what they observe. Miller sought $200,000 in punitive damages, plus more than $2,500 in lost wages. She also wanted U.S. District Judge Sean Cox to prohibit prison officials from punish- ing prison observation aides who report abuse and to order them to give her back her for- mer job. The trial was set, but under a settlement, observation aides will be allowed to report mistreatment to a government oversight agency or state-designated protection and advocacy organization. Miller will be reinstated to her position, compensated for her lost wages, and have her record cleared of having been terminated for violating prison rules.
5. Philadelphia — District Attorney Larry Krasner, who took office in 2018 and vowed that he would “never” seek the death penalty, is asking the state’s highest court to make the death penalty un- constitutional because it is racially biased, is arbitrary, and discriminates against the poor, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports. “The most jaw-dropping statistic is that out of 155 Philadelphia death sentences, 72 percent of them have been overturned,” Krasner said after reviewing every case in which a Philadelphia defendant was sentenced to death over a 40-year period ending in December 2017.
6. New York City— In a letter to Department of Correction Commissioner Cynthia Brann, the Legal Aid Society asked that prisoners in city jails be protected against heat waves, HuffPost reports. “Most crucially, we ask that the city move all individuals confined to their cells to air-conditioned units,” the letter said. “This includes individuals held in Enhanced Supervision Housing, who are typically locked into un- air-conditioned cells for a minimum of 14 hours, and up to 23 hours. When people are not in air-conditioned areas, the city must provide free access to cool showers and ice to all persons confined in non-air-conditioned units.”
7. Arizona —Attorney General Mark Brnovich wrote a letter to Gov. Doug Ducey in support of rein- stating capital punishment, KVOA reports. “I’m worried about the lack of transparency that Arizona has shown in the past with regard to where it was getting the drugs, what drugs it was using and the qualifications of the people who would be administering the drugs,” said Emily Skinner, Assistant Director of the Arizona Capital Representation Project, a nonprofit that works with death row inmates to improve their defense.” More than 100 people are on the state’s death row — 14 have exhausted their appeals.
8. Pennsylvania — Prison- ers held in solitary confinement at a state prison are reportedly on hunger strike to protest health and living conditions and to bring an end to long-term isolation.
Alabama — In response to a call to action from a coalition of prisoners, including the Free Alabama Movement and Unheard Voices OTCJ, Kinetik Justice and Swift Justice, four prisoners went on a hunger strike at the Limestone Correctional Facility in protest against corruption, abuse, and the lack of accountability for the inhumane conditions in the state’s prisons, Truthout reports.
Pennsylvania — As part of the Clean Slate law passed last year, state officials began seal- ing 30 million records that did not result in convictions, summary offenses and low-level misdemeanors committed by people who have not had any other charges within 10 years, The Philadelphia Inquirer report.
California — Detainees at the Yuba County Jail have gone on a hunger strike for the third time in 10 months, the Sacramento Bee reports. The immigration detainees are demanding newer facilities, better medical care and they are complaining that they should not be treated as criminals, like other inmates in the jail.
California — San Francisco-based Parole Agent Super- visor, Martin Figueroa helps former incarcerated people re-enter society through Peer Re-Entry Navigator Network, KPIX reports. PRNN provides life skills such as money management, job placement and addiction recovery support. Figueroa says he’s served about 700 people with a 95 per- cent success rate for keeping people from returning to jail.
Kansas — Over the past 15 years, prison officials have banned about 7,000 books, including A Clockwork Orange, Invisible Man, Twelve Years a Slave as well as issues of Bloomberg Businessweek, Us Weekly and Elle, KCUR reports.
Arizona — Because Choke- hold: Policing Black Men criticizes the U.S. criminal justice system corrections officials considered it “unauthorized content,” National Public Radio reports. However, in the face complaints and lawsuits, prison officials reversed the ban.
Georgia — Marion Wilson Jr. was executed on June 20 by lethal injection. Wilson was the 1,500th person to be executed in the United States since the return of the death penalty in 1976 according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
Kentucky —A proposed amendment on crime victims’ rights was voided by the state’s Supreme Court last June The Associated Press reports. The court ruled that the General Assembly is required to submit the full text of a proposed constitutional amendment to the electorate for a vote.
Florida — There have been more exonerations of death row inmates than any other state in the country – “in fact, there’s been one exoneration of a death row prisoner for every three Florida executions over the past four decades,” Florida Phoenix reports. Clifford Williams Jr., was sentenced to death and spent 42 years behind bars for a crime prosecutors now say he didn’t commit. His nephew was also exonerated. After his re- lease, the 76-year-old Williams earned a new ranking: He is the 29th person to be exonerated from Florida’s death row since the 1970s.
Washington, DC — Thousands of sick, dying, and elderly federal prisoners who are eligible for early release will now have access to free legal representation in court through the newly established Compassionate Release Clearinghouse. The clearinghouse, a collaborative pro bono effort between FAMM, the Washing- ton Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL), is designed to match qualified prisoners with legal counsel should they need to fight a compassionate release denial or unanswered request in court.
Nevada — Gov. Steve Sisolak signed into law a bill which would ban the use of private prisons for services, such as housing and custody. Nevada now joins Iowa, New York, and Illinois in establish- ing this type of prohibition, The Laughlin Nevada Times reports.
New York — The state has been leading the way with respect to the private prison industry, having taken three actions against private prisons, Forbes contributor, Morgan Simon reports. First, prohibit private prisons from operating within the state; divesting state pension funds from the largest private prison companies, GEO Group and CoreCivic, and passing a bill that would prohibit NY State-chartered banks from “investing in and providing financing to private prisons.”
Utah — The state’s prison population growth rate is among the highest in the nation, despite recent criminal justice reform efforts aimed at diverting both adults and juveniles to alternative programs, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. In the past 18 months, the prison population has grown by 362 inmates, bringing the total count to 6,766 people. Accord- ing to prison officials, the state only has 199 beds available within the prison system.
1. Vermont—The ACLU of Vermont and the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School filed a class action lawsuit challenging the state’s refusal to treat hundreds of inmates with Hepatitis C, Vermont Business Magazine reports. The law- suit claims that the inmates are systematically denied medication that would cure their chronic Hepatitis C, which they claim violates the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment as well as the Americans with Dis- abilities Act. The inmates are asking the court to end prison officials’ policy of categorically denying effective, efficient and medically appropriate treatment.
2. Michigan, Jackson— Hakim Crampton was charged with homicide in Milwaukee in 1991 on an- other person’s false confession. Crampton spent 15 years in prison before he was granted parole, after working to prove his innocence, WLNS reports. More than 10 years later, he’s collaborated with schools across Michigan and built a curriculum called SLAM that helps kids stay engaged with their work through poetry and lyrics.
3. Illinois—In late January, prison staff removed dozens of books from the Danville prison library Illinois Pub- lic Media reports. The titles include “Visiting Day,” a children’s book about visiting a parent in prison by author, Jacqueline Wood- son; two titles written by Black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., a book by philosopher Cornel West, “Up From Slavery” by Booker T. Washington, and “Map- ping Your Future: A Guide to Successful Reentry 2017- 2018” written by the college in prison program’s reentry team. A majority of the books removed from the program’s library are about race.
4. Michigan —A federal judge ruled that the state’s sex offender registry is unconstitutional — the registry lets the public see local offenders in their area, CNN reports. The judge gave officials until September to bring the registry to constitutional levels.
5. Arizona—Prisoners are billed for medical procedures that should be billed to the state, KJZZ reports. The charges show up on credit reports, which add to returning citizens’ challenges.
6. New York— Prison officials cite a drop in crime as well as incarceration rates for the closure of two prisons, the Daily News reports. The Lincoln Correctional Facility, located at the northern edge of Central Park is scheduled to close before September. The Livingston Correctional Facility in upstate New York is also scheduled to be closed, prison officials say.
7. Oklahoma—Mother Jones reports that last year, Oklahoma beat out Louisiana for the label the “world’s prison capital” by incarcerating a higher proportion of its residents than any other state or country. Lawmakers and concerned Oklahomans seek to reform the state’s criminal justice system. Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt campaigned on a promise to reduce the prison population, however, the state’s prison population is expected grow by 14% over the next decade, according to an analysis by FWD.us, an immigration and criminal justice reform advocacy group co-founded by Face- book CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
8. Oregon—A judge last May ordered the state to house a transgender female inmate in a cell separate from male inmates and to protect her from harassment, Oregon Live reports. The decision is believed to be a first in the state at a men’s prison.