1. Kentucky — ( AP) State officials are promoting a Prison-to-Work- Pipeline program aimed at connecting incarcerated people with employment as they step out of prisons and jails, reported the Associated P ress Nov. 7. D emocratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s administration is working with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce to further the project. “The goal is for reentering inmates to have a job offer and ready to start work the day they walk out of the gate,” said Kerry Harvey, the state’s public safety secretary. Employers will be able to conduct virtual interviews with people who are still incarcerated. Prospective hires will be assisted with resume and interview preparations. The governor touted the anti-crime aspect of the program, saying that helping formerly incarcerated people find employment will reduce the likelihood that they will commit new crimes.
2. New York — ( New York Times) Lawyers representing people incarcerated at Rikers Island have asked the judge monitoring the troubled jail system to impose a receivership, reported the New York Times Nov. 14. Problems leading to this news included 18 deaths among the jail population in 2022, an increasing rate of stabbings and slashings, and increasing use of force by correctional officers. The article reported that many of the problems at the facilities are the product of “persistent staff absenteeism.” In September 2021, nearly 2,000 of the facilities’ 8,000 staff were calling in sick every day. A union contract provides that corrections officers at Rikers have unlimited sick leave. “Last week, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn charged three officers with lying about being sick while continuing to collect their salaries,” wrote the Times. Staffing shortfalls have meant that people held at Rikers are not having their basic needs met, reported the Times.
3. Alabama — ( AP) A former state correctional officer and gubernatorial candidate has called for federal intervention in Alabama’s prison system, reported the AP Nov. 5. Stacy George described Alabama’s prisons as a “third world country with a concrete floor.” Incarcerated residents of the state’s prison system went on a work stoppage in September to protest conditions in the facilities. “The U.S. Department of Justice has an ongoing lawsuit against Alabama over prisons it says are ‘riddled with prisoner-on-prisoner and guard-on-prisoner violence,’” AP wrote. The state is having problems hiring and retaining facility staff. The Department of Corrections reported that staff levels fell from 2,177 on Oct. 31, 2021 to 1,879 on June 30, 2022.
4. Nevada — ( AP) The former head of Nevada’s prison system is claiming that he was pressured to lie about a bomb maker’s escape from a Nevada facility before being forced to resign, AP reported on Nov. 4. Yvanna Cancela, Chief-of-Staff to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, responded to the former state prisons director Charles Daniels’s claim by accusing him of attempting “a political shakedown for more than $1 million taxpayer dollars.” The story begins with the September 23 escape of a convicted bomb maker, which Daniels claims he did not learn about until four days later on September 27. Daniels alleged in a press conference that the governor’s office pressured him to lie about the timeline of the escape, and then threatened to fire him. Daniels resigned on September 30. An Oct. 28 letter from Daniel’s attorney to state officials sought a settlement of seven years’ salary for Daniels, a total of $1.05 million. The letter said that otherwise, Daniels would file racial and age discrimination claims against the state. Las Vegas police arrested the escaped bomb maker on Sept. 28. AP reports, “Daniels’ departure renewed a spotlight on trouble including violence and chronic understaffing at Nevada’s seven prisons, nine conservation camps and two transitional housing centers.”
5. Louisiana — ( AP) A federal judge has ruled that officials of the state’s David Wade Correctional Center were “deliberately indifferent” while housing mentally ill prisoners in inhumane conditions that violate both the Americans with Disabilities Act and Eighth Amendment protections against cruel punishment, reported the AP Nov. 3. U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote’s ruling said the prison used solitary confinement as “a depository” for mentally ill incarcerated people which only makes their condition worse. “We strongly disagree with the ruling,” said Ken Pastorick, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Corrections. Non-profit organization Disability Rights Louisiana advocated for the incarcerated in the case. The group’s lead attorney, Melanie Bray, praised the judge’s ruling. “When people with mental illness are sent to the state prison as punishment for a crime, the state has an obligation to provide baseline mental health care,” Bray said in a press release.