Of course this is protected speech! Who do you think is paying for all this prison abuse and the litigation? YOU are, in terms of increased crime and BILLIONS of dollars in costs. CALL me and I’ll be glad to explain why!
Excerpts from the Article:
In June 2012, following a dispute with officials at the Washington State Penitentiary (WSP), prisoner John Thomas Entler filed written complaints in which he said he would file lawsuits and seek criminal charges if his grievances were not addressed. He was then disciplined for those statements under a Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) regulation that bars prisoners from “intimidating or coercing prison staff.”
After Entler objected to what he considered unjustified deductions from his prison trust account and other issues, including the failure of a staff member to make legal copies, he filed several complaints pursuant to DOC grievance procedures. When he received a work assignment that he argued violated his religious beliefs, he again complained and threatened to file suit. Shortly thereafter, prison officials “issued Entler a serious infraction for his July 19 letter to the Religious Programs Manager threatening to sue to protect his religious freedom … [because] Entler’s threat to sue was intimidating and coercive in violation of [DOC] Rule 663.”
Upon being found guilty of infractions by prison staff and disciplined, Entler threatened to contact the governor and the U.S. Department of Justice, and was subjected to additional discipline. He filed a § 1983 civil rights suit in federal district court, but the court dismissed the case, holding he did not have an actionable First Amendment retaliation claim against prison officials.
The Ninth Circuit acknowledged in a October 6, 2017 opinion that running a prison “is an inordinately difficult undertaking,” but upheld Entler’s right to tell prison officials he planned to file suit. “Regardless of the prisoner’s misdeeds – however reprehensible – [p]rison walls do not form a barrier separating prison inmates from the protections of the Constitution,” the Court of Appeals wrote. The most fundamental of constitutional protections that prisoners retain is the First Amendment right to file grievances and pursue civil rights litigation, because “[w]ithout those bedrock constitutional guarantees, inmates would be left with no viable mechanism to remedy prison injustices.”
The Court continued, “In essence, it is illogical to conclude that prison officials may punish a prisoner for threatening to sue when it would be unconstitutional to punish a prisoner for actually suing.”
Entler was thus allowed to proceed on his First Amendment claim related to his threats to take legal action. “With regard to the threat to file a criminal complaint,” the appellate court wrote, “we disagree with the district court’s implicit conclusion that Entler has not alleged an actionable First Amendment retaliation claim.” However, as it was not clearly established at the time that such a threat was constitutionally-protected conduct, the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity on that claim.
Entler was represented by attorney Jared R. Wigginton on appeal; the case remains pending on remand. See: Entler v. Gregoire, 872 F.3d 1031 (9th Cir. 2017), rehearing and rehearing en banc denied.
Note: The courts did not rule that “pay for stay” laws are unconstitutional, the court here ruled that the inmate did not have to pay because prison officials – as they often do – did not do what the law required.
It does seem like bad policy … “charging individuals fines in jail imposes an unnecessary burden on inmates, disproportionally affecting indigent populations along with racial and ethnic minorities, all of whom are disproportionately represented among the prisoner population. Advocates further point out that these policies generate barriers to reentry and encourage a cycle of poverty that is difficult to escape.”
Excerpts from the Article:
Erik Daniel Christianson spent time in the Martin County jail in Minnesota on four occasions between 2013 and 2014. Under state “pay for stay” laws, prisoners are required to pay $25 for each day spent in jail. Accordingly, Christianson accrued a total of $7,625 in jail debt.
Indigent persons are entitled to be absolved from such debts if they request a waiver. Christianson’s attorney, Bradford W. Colbert with Legal Assistance to Minnesota Prisoners at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, sent three letters to Martin County Sheriff Jeffrey Markquart, requesting debt forgiveness for his client. Receiving no answer to the first two letters, Colbert asked for either debt forgiveness or for Markquart to accept summons and service.
After receiving no reply to his third letter, Colbert filed suit on Christianson’s behalf. Markquart moved for summary judgment. Finding no genuine issue of material fact, and that Markquart had violated state law, the federal district court denied his motion.
The court held the Minnesota statutes were written with unambiguously mandatory language that require all sheriffs to implement policies and procedures to assess a prisoner’s ability to pay jail debt. Sheriff Markquart had wholly failed to obey the statutory requirements to promulgate required policies and procedures.
The district court entered summary judgment in favor of Christianson on January 18, 2018. Markquart was ordered to create the policies necessary to satisfy state law requirements with respect to jail debt and debt forgiveness within 60 days. The court also ordered Markquart not to try to collect any debts from Christianson until after the policies and procedures had been completed and an affidavit to that effect had been filed with the court.
On March 6, 2018, Martin County officials passed a resolution that terminated the pay-for-stay program at the county jail and stopped “all collection activities against past inmates.”
The case remains pending on Christianson’s motion for attorney fees. See: Christianson v. Markquart, U.S.D.C. (D. Minn.), Case No. 0:16-cv-01034-JRT-KMM.
My good friend, Paul, despite having a moron as his judge ( READ Another IDIOT JUDGE! Andrea L. Rocanelli – yes, that’s the one. – kra ) is off probation! 🙂
Why is this so important? READ Practical Tip: Saddled with a Long period of Probation? Get OUT of the System ASAP! Modify terms/conditions of Probation or Parole! Call me about how to change that!
I shall attend a hearing on Monday which will determine whether another friend from the shelter gets off of probation.
Another IDIOT JUDGE! Andrea L. Rocanelli – yes, that’s the one.
My good friend, Paul, whom I met in prison, just called me to say that the judge has scheduled a hearing for tomorrow to increase his probation. He was due to get off probation the next day, the 21st. I have seen since her involvement in his case that the new judge, Andrea L. Rocanelli, on Superior Court, is a moron. I was at an earlier hearing, where she did not know “which end is up”, and, unfortunately, I did not get a chance to speak.
I told Paul that is bullshit, she cannot legally increase your sentence. The law is crystal clear on this and I learned it while helping so many inmates while I was “down”.
During the call Paul put me on hold to get a message from the A G’s office. They sent a note to the judge informing her that she cannot do it, so now the hearing is off.
Paul is working, has 2 cars, has a home, and wouldn’t molest anyone … he is doing great. This is just more “sex offender hysteria” topped off by IDIOT JUDGE! I mean, Holy Shittlola, the judge has 2 or 3 law clerks at her disposal and should have known this!
Can Improving Prison Food Help Rehabilitate Convicts, So They Don’t Reoffend? 20 Prisons and Organizations Around the World Are Finding Out
I say yes. It just makes sense: better body, better brain, better person. Not always, of course, but I bet studies will show positive results, especially in the diets of those who LEARN while behind bars. Education is the number one factor in reducing recidivism.
Excerpts from the Article:
Prison food is known for being awful and lacking in nutrition. But what if prisoners had access to healthy food? And what if they learned how to grow their own food and developed cooking skills that they could use when they were released? Take a look at what could be possible and see the organizations and prisons around the world that are creating healthier, more sustainable food systems for prisoners.
Worldwide, more than 10 million people are behind bars. The U.S. alone spends up to $182 billion annually on incarceration. Yet according to the National Institute of Justice, nearly 70% of prisoners will be arrested for a new crime within three years of their release from prison, and nearly 80% will be arrested within five years.
Prison food is notoriously bad and lacking in proper nutrition, which can affect prisoners’ physical and mental health and reduce their ability to contribute and reintegrate back into society when they are released.
We all know that a brain needs adequate nutrition in order to function well. And it’s been documented that rates of crime and incarceration are highest in the most nutritionally deprived communities.
Is it possible that many criminals could be, among other problems, suffering from nutritional deficiencies? And if so, I have to wonder what would happen if we provided a nutrient-dense menu to prisoners? Is it possible that rates of cooperation and successful rehabilitation would rise? Is it possible that if we fed prisoners better food, some of them would be more likely to succeed in the real world after they’ve done their time? There’s a growing body of data that says that’s exactly what could happen.
In 1997, Terry Moreland bought the private Victor Valley Medium Community Correctional Facility in Adelanto, California. Moreland gave inmates the option of a program (called “New Start”) that put them on a high-nutrient vegan diet combined with bible study, occupational training, and anger management. Despite the State of California’s prediction that the 500 inmates residing at Victor Valley would probably “burn the place down before they became vegetarians,” a stunning 85% of the inmates agreed to room on the “vegan” side of the complex.
The outcome was extraordinary. While 15% of the inmates who opted out of the program experienced the typical sloppy grub and gang fights that are normal in today’s prisons, the New Start side was exempt from fights, and the prisoners were stunningly cooperative. And the recidivism rate for these inmates during the seven years of the program dropped to 2%.
Then, in 2002, a senior research scientist in the department of physiology, anatomy, and genetics at the University of Oxford, by the name of Bernard Gesch, led a study that shed further light on what might be possible. The study involved 231 young adult male prisoners who received either a multivitamin and a fatty-acid supplement, or a placebo. The testing phase ran for 142 days. During that time, the prisoners who took the supplement had a 35% drop in disciplinary incidents and a 37% decline in violent behavior.
And now, a new law just passed in California on September 18, 2018, that will require plant-based meals to be offered to those who wish to eat vegan or vegetarian diets.
Can you imagine what could happen if prisoners were fed an adequate diet? What if they also grew their own fresh food, learned how to prepare it in healthy, delicious ways, and were released with nutritional knowledge and with job and life skills they could use in the wider world?
Many inmates do not receive proper nutrition, with some facilities rationing meals on less than US$1.20 per day.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that food “not only affects physical and mental health,” but is also key to an inmate’s successful rehabilitation and resettlement upon release. Recognizing this, many organizations and correctional facilities are striving to create a stronger and more sustainable food system among prison populations, which totaled more than 10.35 million globally in 2016, according to the World Prison Brief.
Food sustainability in prisons can help inmates receive more nutritious food, learn about sustainable agricultural practices, and obtain vocational training experiences that can help them integrate back into society.
A 2016 study from Arcadia University notes that prisoners in the United States who participate in farm-based vocational training increase their likelihood of finding employment upon release — and decrease the chance of recidivism by 20%.
20 Global Organizations Working to Improve Food Sustainability in Prisons and Increase Healthy Prison Food
To highlight the favorable effects these efforts have on incarcerated individuals, Food Tank brings you 20 organizations planting the seeds for a future with food sustainability in prisons.
Open the article to see the list of 20 sates, countries, organizations and the prison feeding innovations going on!
In partnership with Salvation Farms, the Vermont Department of Corrections leads as an example to other penitentiaries in the state by offering its inmates hands-on experience with food processing.
Updating its prisons’ sustainable infrastructure and kitchen facilities, the Department not only creates a surplus of food for its inmates through various greenhouses on prison grounds but also serves as the country’s first prison to ban landfilling its food scraps. Instead, the Department establishes significant collaborations between local agencies to reserve all of its food scraps for composting.
The Whole Story
There’s overwhelming evidence that the criminal-justice system is racist. Here’s the proof. – Radley Balko Strikes Again! – kra
There already are excellent, thorough studies which show this, but this is more confirmation. Time and space constraints allow for only a few of the highlights here, but if this is of interest to you open the article and check it out!
Radley Balko does great work.
Excerpts from the Article:
A couple of years ago, Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) gave a powerful speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Scott talked about how he had been repeatedly pulled over by police officers who seemed to be suspicious of a black man driving a nice car. He added that a black senior-level staffer had experienced the same thing and had even downgraded his car in the hope of avoiding the problem. Given that Scott otherwise has pretty conservative politics, there was little objection or protest from the right. No one rose up to say that he was lying about getting pulled over.
The thing is, most people of color have a similar story or know someone who does. Yet, there’s a deep skepticism on the right of any assertion that the criminal-justice system is racially biased. In early August, National Review editor and syndicated columnist Rich Lowry wrote a column disputing the notion that our system is racist. Andrew Sullivan wrote something similar in New York magazine. (Interestingly, both Lowry and Sullivan cite criminologist John Pfaff to support their positions. Pfaff has since protested on Twitter that both misinterpreted what he wrote.) And attempting to refute the notion that the system is racist has become a pretty regular beat for conservative crime pundit Heather Mac Donald.
Of particular concern to some on the right is the term “systemic racism,” often wrongly interpreted as an accusation that everyone in the system is racist. In fact, systemic racism means almost the opposite. It means that we have systems and institutions that produce racially disparate outcomes, regardless of the intentions of the people who work within them. When you consider that much of the criminal-justice system was built, honed and firmly established during the Jim Crow era — an era almost everyone, conservatives included, will concede rife with racism — this is pretty intuitive. The modern criminal-justice system helped preserve racial order — it kept black people in their place. For much of the early 20th century, in some parts of the country, that was its primary function. That it might retain some of those proclivities today shouldn’t be all that surprising.
In any case, after more than a decade covering these issues, it’s pretty clear to me that the evidence of racial bias in our criminal-justice system isn’t just convincing — it’s overwhelming. But because there still seems to be some skepticism, I’ve attempted below to catalog the evidence. The list below isn’t remotely comprehensive. And if you know of other studies, please send them to me. I would like to make this post a repository for this issue.
But the problem with trying to dismiss profiling concerns by noting that higher rates at which some minority groups commit certain crimes is that it overlooks the fact that huge percentages of black and Latino people have been pulled over, stopped on the street and generally harassed despite the fact that they have done nothing wrong. Stop and frisk data, for example, consistently show that about 3 percent of these encounters produce any evidence of a crime. So 97 percent-plus of these people are getting punished solely because they belong to a group that statistically commits some crimes at a higher rate. That ought to bother us.
A 2013 Justice Department study found that black and Latino drivers are more likely to be searched once they have been pulled over. About 2 percent of white motorists were searched, vs. 6 percent of black drivers and 7 percent of Latinos.
A 2017 study of 4.5 million traffic stops by the 100 largest police departments in North Carolina found that blacks and Latinos were more likely to be searched than whites (5.4 percent, 4.1 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively), even though searches of white motorists were more likely than the others to turn up contraband (whites: 32 percent, blacks: 29 percent, Latinos: 19 percent).
According to the Justice Department, between 2012 and 2014, black people in Ferguson, Mo., accounted for 85 percent of vehicle stops, 90 percent of citations and 93 percent of arrests, despite comprising 67 percent of the population. Blacks were more than twice as likely as whites to be searched after traffic stops, even though they proved to be 26 percent less likely to be in possession of illegal drugs or weapons. Between 2011 and 2013, blacks also received 95 percent of jaywalking tickets and 94 percent of tickets for “failure to comply.” The Justice Department also found that the racial discrepancy for speeding tickets increased dramatically when researchers looked at tickets based on only an officer’s word vs. tickets based on objective evidence, such as vs. radar. Black people facing similar low-level charges as white people were 68 percent less likely to see those charges dismissed in court. More than 90 percent of the arrest warrants stemming from failure to pay/failure to appear were issued for black people.
A 2013 study by the ACLU found that black people were 3.73 times more likely than white people to be arrested for marijuana possession. And 88 percent of marijuana arrests are for possession. (The disparity is actually lowest in the West and South, and highest in the Northeast and Midwest.) The study found that the racial disparities were also getting larger, not smaller.
In contrast to the assertion that blacks are more likely to be arrested because they’re more likely to use drugs in public, a 2002 study of narcotics search warrants in the San Diego area — that is, warrants to search for drugs in private homes — found that black and Hispanic residents were “significantly over-represented as targets of narcotics search warrants,” even after adjusting for usage rates. The study also found that “searches of White suspects were more successful in recovering the targeted drug than were searches of either Black or Hispanic suspects.”
According to figures from the National Registry of Exonerations (NER) black people are about five times more likely to go to prison for drug possession than white people. According to exoneration data, black people are also 12 times more likely to be wrongly convicted of drug crimes.
When Harris County, Tex., saw a flaw in how drug testing was conducted at its crime lab, officials went back and exonerated dozens of people who had been wrongly convicted for possession — most pleaded guilty, despite their innocence. This is because prosecutors often promise harsher sentences or more charges for defendants who take a case to trial. Black people comprise 20 percent of the Harris County population but made up 62 percent of the wrongful drug convictions.
Not included in these wrongful conviction figures are cases in which police and narcotics task forces conducted mass arrests of entire black or Latino neighborhoods or towns. Hundreds of people were persuaded to plead guilty to drug charges. By the NER’s estimate, there have been more than 1,800 such “group exonerations” in 15 cities since 1989. Almost all those exonerated were black or Latino.
An analysis of drug war data by the Vera Institute of Justice published this year found that “the risk of incarceration in the federal system for someone who uses drugs monthly and is black is more than seven times that of his or her white counterpart.”
A 2017 report of civil asset forfeiture seizures in Chicago showed that the vast majority of such actions were in poor, predominantly black neighborhoods. The average value of the property seized was $4,553; the median value was $1,049.
There are no comprehensive national data on the rate at which prosecutors strike black jurors, but there have been quite a few regional studies.
A study of criminal cases from 1983 and 1993 found that prosecutors in Philadelphia removed 52 percent of potential black jurors vs. only 23 percent of nonblack jurors.
While white people make up less than half of the country’s murder victims, a 2003 study by Amnesty International found that about 80 percent of the people on death row in the United States killed a white person.
A 2012 study of Harris County, Tex., cases found that people who killed white victims were 2.5 times more likely to be sentenced to the death penalty than other killers.
In Delaware, according to a 2012 study, “black defendants who kill white victims are seven times as likely to receive the death penalty as are black defendants who kill black victims. … Moreover, black defendants who kill white victims are more than three times as likely to be sentenced to death as are white defendants who kill white victims.”
A 2000 study of federal cases found that federal prosecutors were about 50 percent more likely to offer a plea bargain to white murder suspects than black suspects that allowed them to avoid the death penalty.
Depending on which study you look at, somewhere between 80 and 95 percent of criminal cases are resolved with a plea bargain before ever getting to trial. While most legal observers agree that plea bargaining is widely abused and does little to serve the interests of justice, most also believe believe that if every defendant were to insist on a trial, the system would come grinding to a halt. The bias here comes in when we look at who gets plea bargains, what kinds of deals they’re offered and how many, though innocent, feel pressured to accept.
A 2015 study by the Women Donors Network found that in three-fifths of the states where prosecutors are elected, there isn’t a single black prosecutor. Overall, the study found that in the United States, 95 percent of elected prosecutors are white, and nearly 80 percent are white men. In nine death penalty states (Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington and Wyoming), all of the elected district attorneys were white in 2015.
A 2017 study of about 48,000 criminal cases in Wisconsin showed that white defendants were 25 percent more likely than black defendants to have their most serious charge dismissed in a plea bargain. Among defendants facing misdemeanor charges that could carry a sentence of incarceration, whites were 75 percent more likely to have those charges dropped, dismissed or reduced to a charge that did not include such a punishment.
Data from the Massachusetts Sentencing Commission released in 2016 found that black people in the state are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than white people. Hispanic people were about five times more likely.
In 2016, the New York Times reported a working paper (i.e., not peer-reviewed) by Harvard’s Roland G. Fryer Jr. found that though there was evidence of racial bias in how and when police generally use force, there was no evidence of bias when it came to police shootings. Fryer later criticized the way his study had been reported, and critics (including me) pointed out several limitations to his study.
Letter to the Editor or Op Ed Submission – Our Nation needs Treatment – 9/20/18
Our nation is plagued by several unsolved major systemic problems. Some are in the spotlight, like the War on Drugs and mass incarceration. But two recent front page stories, about the slayings of Molly Tibbett and the rape and murder of Celia Barquin Arozamena, the female golfer slain in broad daylight, remind me of the huge problem we do not talk about: America’s neglect of our mentally ill.
We need federal and state governments to step up and acknowledge this huge plague, and DO something about it. The primary purpose of government is to protect its citizens, yet people are dying every day due to government inaction. There are dozens of articles on my website full of facts about this problem. Some are: depending which study you read (nobody knows the actual number), between 35% and 55% of all violent crimes – rapes and murders – are committed by people with one or more diagnosed mental illness. Mental Health “treatment” in our prisons is a total joke, virtually nonexistent. At least 45%, and perhaps 60% of all inmates have one or more mental illness. And … our neglect of the mentally ill is costing us more than $444 Billion annually! That is an astonishing amount of money, but far worse are the societal and personal costs: the pain and suffering, the anguish, the loss.
Many addicts have mental illness, most often depression, by far the most widespread undiagnosed mental health illness in America. Many politicians and others finally now see that they need treatment, not prison, yet we lack the resources they need. We must call upon everyone involved – social workers, police, prison officials, victims, prosecutors and public defenders – to “raise a ruckus” and get governments’ attention on this issue. We need proper training for police and for prison workers, effective non-custodial treatment programs, aftercare, and more. Until they do “raise a ruckus”, more people will die from the inaction, just as surely as people are dying in the streets every day due to our failed “war on drugs”.
Ken Abraham, Deputy Attorney General 1974-1979, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
I get lots of letters published, and ghost write for others. THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO REACH THOUSANDS OF READERS! The keys to getting your Letter published are:
1. Keep it to 250 words or fewer.
2. Do not make it about “poor little old me”. Describe the problem as one which not only affects the individual, but is a senseless or ineffective measure, policy, or law which also harms communities and society. For example, with reentry, the obstacles make it unnecessarily difficult for the individual, but also harm society by making it hard to become productive, spending money and paying taxes in the community, and they cause increased recidivism = increased crime.
3. Speak from your heart.
4. Google any facts you are not sure about.
5. Do not name-call.
Do what works: Write that Letter!
Letter to Editor – sign name, town, state, and your phone number (they often call to verify that you sent it), and “Member of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE” if you like – shows you are part of a large group.
Send the email to yourself, and put on the “bcc” bar the email addresses for Letters to the Editor for the top ten newspapers in your state and several national ones – The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, U S A Today (google the Letter to Editor email addresses). Any questions, CALL me at 302-423-4067!
GOOGLE THE EMAIL ADDRESSES FOR “LETTERS TO THE EDITOR” FOR THE TOP TEN NEWSPAPERS IN YOUR STATE AND SAVE THAT INFORMATION FOR REPEATED USE – Some papers will print a letter from you every 2 weeks, some every 30 days, some every 90 days. They have varying policies. But if you really want to make a difference shoot them a new letter once a month! I send one out every 2 weeks.
Need a Letter on some criminal justice issue and not a great letter writer? NO EXCUSE! Email me a rough draft and call me and I’ll polish it up! email@example.com .
ANY QUESTIONS, CALL ME AT 302-423-4067.
New Florida prison policy to stop contraband: ‘Inmates will not be placed in’ their home county – Another WRONG Move! – kra
Ridiculous. The motive is profit, pure and simple, The guards will continue to be the overwhelmingly major source of contraband, while this policy makes life more miserable for inmates and their loved ones.
All studies show that inmates with frequent in person visits commit fewer crimes when released!
Excerpts from the Article:
A new policy to stop contraband from getting into Florida prisons has inmates and their families upset. And some experts even question whether it will do more harm than good. 7’s Brian Entin investigates. There’s no denying it — there is a major contraband problem inside Florida prisons.
Weapons, drugs, cellphones.
The Department of Corrections says sometimes it’s friends and gang members sneaking the contraband in. Other times, it’s the corrections officers.
With guns drawn, Miami-Dade Police stopped this corrections officer, suspected of bringing drugs behind bars. Officer on bodycam: “We got a call for emergency assistance from corrections with this tag number.”
But family members of inmates say it’s not the officers getting punished for the contraband problem. It’s them.
Brian Entin: “What do you think of this new policy?”
Denise Rock, Florida Cares Foundation: “I think it’s unfair to visitors and families and prisoners. I think it’s unfair to the public in general.”
Florida Department of Corrections policy that families say will keep them from their loved ones.
It says: “To reduce familiarity with staff and contraband issues” … “inmates will not be placed in a facility which is located in the inmate’s home county.”
Department leaders believe by keeping inmates away from their home counties, there is less likelihood they’ll know the corrections officers in the prisons, and that will cut down on contraband.
But Denise Rock with prison non-profit Florida Cares says the new policy will only make the situation worse. Denise Rock: “I think it’s important to have regular contact with your family because love heals things. Love is what does the trick. Love is what is going to get them to commit to doing the right thing.”
Miriam Cloutier says her son is proof of that. He was convicted of aggravated battery 18 years ago. She visits him almost every weekend in a prison near her home in Delray Beach. And with her support, he has earned an associate degree behind bars. Brian Entin: “If you weren’t able to visit, do you think he would have been able to do all this?” Miriam Cloutier: “If I didn’t visit and I didn’t support him, no. I would think he would feel lost. He would give up hope. ‘Why do good if I have no support out there?’”
Almost 90 percent of inmates will eventually be released back into society, which is why experts say contact with family and friends is vital.
Denise Rock: “They need to come out knowing they have support. They need to come out having connections. The studies show that the people that are released with $50 and a bus ticket to the county where they committed their crime are re-arrested at a higher rate.”
From now on, inmates will not be in their home county.
Significant for California inmates with indeterminate sentences. Those laws remain awful for several reasons, chief among them is because the law allows prison officials to determine one’s release date. REMEMBER: for every 1 person arrested 29 people benefit financially. It is job preservation to keep people locked up longer than necessary!
Excerpts from the Article:
California state prisoner Roy Butler, serving an indeterminate prison term for second-degree murder, sought habeas corpus relief on December 12, 2012, contesting the California Parole Board’s process of calculating the length of his sentence. Butler and the state agreed to a settlement “requiring the [Parole] Board to calculate the ‘base terms’ of an inmate serving an indeterminate sentence for use at the inmate’s initial parole hearing.” [See: PLN, Jan. 2014, p.32].
Prior to 1977, the imposition of a statutory sentence between a minimum and maximum period of imprisonment vested absolute control over the amount of time actually served to the Parole Board, leading to often widely disparate sentences. Although such sentences were largely eliminated after that date, Butler argued that recent statutory changes required a modification of the 2013 settlement. The Court of Appeal rejected his argument and he sought review of that adverse decision.
According to the California Supreme Court, “The  settlement agreement was premised on the idea that ‘base terms’ played some role – defined by statute – in determining release dates for those sentenced to indeterminate terms. Given this premise, the elimination of ‘base term’ calculations from any such role is a sufficiently material change that it not only justifies – but in this case, requires – modification of the settlement by the Court of Appeal.”
“Base term calculations,” the Court continued, “no longer play a role in the public safety assessments undertaken by the Board to determine the release dates for inmates sentenced to indeterminate terms…. And, at least to some extent, these inmates are protected against disproportionate punishment through other means, such as provisions ending indeterminate sentences when individuals have served the statutory minimum term and have been found suitable for release.”
The Court noted that “the release date for indeterminately sentenced adult inmates – like Butler – is now guided by the date when an inmate has served the statutory minimum term and is found suitable for parole based on statutory public-safety-related criteria, subject to limited exception. These changes to California’s criminal justice system do not diminish the societal interest in avoiding arbitrary parole determinations. They do, however, dictate that base terms no longer directly control the release date for prisoners subject to indeterminate sentences.”
In conclusion, the Supreme Court wrote in its April 2, 2018 ruling, “the [Parole] Board is not constitutionally required to continue calculating base terms as required in the settlement order. Accordingly, we reverse the Court of Appeal.” See: In re Butler, 4 Cal. 5th 728, 413 P.3d 1178 (Cal. 2018).
This is how bad it is. Prison “law libraries” are a total joke, do more harm than good. READ Prison “law libraries”: They are a disaster! DISASTER
Praying for my friends at PLN. They do a tremendous job. With the ever increasing litigation due to prison abuse, and more attention finally being paid to the rampant abuses in our prisons, prison officials are desperate to protect their lying abusing asses! READ Culture of Cover Up – Prison Abuse
The reasoning of the 11th Circuit in this case is real bullshit. Courts often defer to prison officials’ claims of “security interest” because 1) they are clueless about the serious daily abuses, or 2) they don’t want to tackle the problem. It is an “easy out” to avoid discussions about our out of control prison. I sure hope the U S Supreme Court takes this case. And if PLN does not win, it is another example of how royally fucked up our criminal justice system is!
The courts reason that prison officials know best about security, and they are the ones charges with “the orderly administration of our prisons”. This assumes that they care about “the orderly administration of our prisons”, which is dead wrong. They care only about protecting their asses regarding all of the abuse!
Excerpts from the Article:
Prison Legal News, a long-running and indispensable legal resource for inmates across the country, filed a petition to the Supreme Court Friday asking it to review the Florida Department of Corrections’ total ban on the magazine. Florida prisons have impounded every issue of Prison Legal News since 2009. In May the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the policy, overturning a lower court’s decision in favor of the magazine. The 11th Circuit found that the Florida’s DOC’s justification for the ban—advertisements for several services not allowed in the prisons, such as pen pals and three-way calling—was legitimately related to security.
Prison Legal News argues that the ban is a solution in search of a problem, that it violates the First Amendment rights of inmates as well as those of the publication, and that it paves the way for broad censorship in other prison systems, all while never demonstrating any actual rise in security threats during the many years the magazine was distributed among Florida inmates.
The magazine has a notable voice in its corner: former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement, who has argued more than 90 cases before the Supreme Court and is a co-counsel on the petition.
In that petition, Prison Legal News calls the 11th Circuit decision “an outlier ruling upholding an outlier policy.” As it notes, Florida is alone in its position. Although the publication has battled censorship in 29 states, making it perhaps the most frequently banned magazine in the country, neither the federal prison system or any other state prison systems bans the magazine in its entirety.
The petition continues:
By ratcheting up the deference owed to prison officials and ratcheting down the quantum of evidence those officials must supply to justify wholesale censorship of core free speech rights, the Eleventh Circuit’s decision is grossly out of step with this Court’s precedents. And it is flatly inconsistent with the rulings of other circuits that have faithfully applied this Court’s decisions to reject censorship of the “core protected speech” that Prison Legal News offers in its magazines.
Although the censorship of PLN has been limited to Florida, the threat to First Amendment rights if the decision is left standing certainly does not end there. The Eleventh Circuit’s decision provides both an invitation and a roadmap to silence PLN and any other publication that seeks to inform prisoners of their rights or to expose unlawful conduct by prison officials. There is little doubt that the ruling below will prompt other prison systems to follow Florida’s lead. Rather than let that trend blossom into further censorship, this Court should step in now to vindicate the First Amendment.
The petition notes that the ban blocks inmates from reading about civil rights abuses and new legal developments in the very prisons they’re housed in. Such bans are not unusual on an issue-by-issue basis. Reason Magazine, for instance, frequently has issues impounded by prison censors, including in Florida, for presenting threats “to the security, good order, or discipline of the correctional system.”
Numerous First Amendment groups are expected to file amicus briefs in support of Prison Legal News.