USA — Private prison companies GEO and Core- Civic are being sued for forcing detainees in their private prisons to work for free, or, in some cases, $1 per day. Refusal to comply is met with threats of punishment and deprivation of basic necessities. The lawsuits began in 2014 and were filed in federal courts from Washington to Georgia, Mother Jones reports.
Nashville, Tenn. — Lee Hall, 53, was executed December 5, 2019 by electric chair, USA Today reports. Hall was the 138th person put to death in Tennessee since 1916, and the sixth inmate executed since the state resumed capital punishment in August 2018. He is believed to be only the second legally blind death row inmate executed since the U.S. reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
Ohio — Republican Gov. Mike DeWine announced last December a way to sim- plify and expedite the par- don process for rehabilitated one-time offenders who have led model lives for at least a decade following release from prison, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Qualified applicants’ cases will be forwarded to the Ohio Parole Board for expedited pardon recommendations from years to within six months.
Ohio — Republican Gov. Mike DeWine said last February that Ohio “certainly could have no executions” while a search for obtainable, allowable drugs was under- way. State lawmakers are contemplating becoming the 21st state to abolish the death penalty as the costs of having a death penalty that can’t be carried out is a major con- cern, the Dayton Daily News reports. Current state law only allows for lethal injection as an execution method.
Ohio — Formerly incarcerated Harley Blakeman, who graduated from Ohio State University with a business degree, recently started honestjobs.co to help companies connect with other formerly incarcerated people seeking work, The Columbus Dispatch reports.
Louisiana — About 15 % of the state’s prison population consists of people serving life without parole—the highest percentage in the US. Those numbers are the result of sentencing laws enacted decades ago — including mandatory minimums and a 1979 deci- sion from state legislators to abolish parole for all life sentences, The Advocate reports.
Pelican Bay — More than a dozen men tell stories about their incarceration lives and the transformations they made on a new podcast, Unlocked. The first episode gave each member of the production team a chance to introduce him- self as well as interspersed excerpts from one-on-one interviews and panel discussions.
Colorado — State prison officials want to reopen a prison that shut down in 2013 when the prison population dropped and the state moved away from the use of solitary confinement. The new plan is to end a contract with a privately run prison.
New Jersey — Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill last December that allows un- documented immigrants to obtain a driver’s licenses, the National Review re- ports. “Expanding access to driver’s licenses is critical for the safety of New Jerseyans and a step toward building a stronger and fairer New Jersey for all,” the governor said in a statement. “Allowing residents the opportunity to obtain driver’s licenses regardless of their immigration status will decrease the number of uninsured drivers and in- crease safety on our roads.”