All studies show that inmates who get calls and/or visits from outsiders are far less likely to re-0ffend.
Tom Gores and other owners of these price gouging companies are bad news: all talk and very little action in making needed changes.
Glad to say that I organized a campaign for inmates to boycott the phones in Delaware about 6 years ago, and that DID result in lower rates. PRISONERS IN EVERY STATE SHOULD DO A ONE MONTH BOYCOTT! YOU can organize this. Plan the boycott for about 3 months ahead, allowing time for word to spread. Have 100 post cards printed explaining the boycott and the goal, and through families mail them to inmates telling them to spread the word: NO phone calls during the month of X unless absolutely necessary! 🙂
This comment makes a lot of sense:
“The group’s report recommended abolishing commissions at jails and state prisons, eliminating excessive fees and making low rates the highest contract priority — or better yet making phone calls free so prisoners can maintain closer contact with families, considered one of the best ways to reduce recidivism.”
Excerpts from the Article:
Tom Gores has made himself one of the richest men in Los Angeles buying castaway, often obscure businesses that he overhauls and unloads for big profits.
That formula worked to perfection, for example, when his private equity firm acquired steel distributor PNA Group for an $18-million investment, cleaned house, made related acquisitions and sold the bulked-up company for more than $300 million, not including debt.
But with his latest purchase of a troubled asset, the 55-year-old billionaire has found himself in a harsh spotlight.
The $1.6-billion acquisition of Securus Technologies has put Gores in control of a leading provider of telephone services to inmates— and a poster child for an industry widely condemned as a racket, given rates that can top a dollar a minute.
The Beverly Hills private equity titan has waded into a campaign against mass incarceration and what activists call the “prison industrial complex” — companies that operate or service correctional facilities, profiting off disproportionately poor and minority prisoners and their family members.
The decision to acquire the company in 2017 has raised eyebrows since the Detroit Pistons owner seemed an unlikely buyer. The prior year he drew glowing headlines for leading a campaign to raise at least $10 million amid the water crisis in Flint, Mich. — a majority black community where he grew up that has been devastated by auto-industry consolidation. And he’s been praised for his commitment to Detroit, where he’s funded charities and relocated the Pistons, a shrewd business move after a lengthy exodus to the suburbs led by prior ownership.
Gores is being targeted by activists who are demanding reforms at Securus and have even pressed pension funds to stop investing in his Platinum Equity buyout firm. And although the activists haven’t been able to starve Gores of capital, they are not letting up, threatening to make their campaign more personal by taking it to criminal justice advocates in Detroit and athletes in the NFL and NBA, whose players are known for being outspoken.
Gores, in an interview with The Times, said he knew his firm was courting “headline risk” when it decided to acquire Securus, but he saw the company as a solid business where Platinum could act as a “change agent.” He admits being taken aback by the activists’ campaign.
Platinum says it has begun reforms at the suburban Dallas telecom, replacing top management and reducing already declining phone rates by 14% in the last year to an average of 15 cents per minute, inclusive of all fees. Gores also said that his investment was not predicated on expensive calls, since rates were already coming down given the “public discussion” about them. Rather, he pointed to Securus’ computer tablets that allow inmates to make phone calls, take degree classes, enjoy entertainment and look for a job.
“We saw a lot more things than the rates,” he said. “The technology in this space is behind.”
But impatient critics charge Platinum has not moved fast enough during its nearly two years of ownership, and Securus is still charging outrageously high rates — with a 15-minute call costing more than $10 at hundreds of jails — while profiting off additional fees.
It’s not a new controversy. Inmates, families and advocacy groups have for decades protested the high price of calls, typically paid by family members who open online accounts with Securus and other telecoms.
Facing pressure, the Federal Communications Commission in 2013 capped charges at 21 cents per minute for interstate calls from all types of facilities, though fees for simply adding money to an account can add to the cost. Charges have come down sharply in some state prisons. Securus signed a contract with Illinois that charges inmates less than a penny a minute for U.S. calls.
But there has been less headway at county and city jails where officials often rely on a share of call revenue to help fund their department. This common practice can account for 90% of the cost and is called a commission — but critics dub it a kickback and regressive tax that prison telecoms promote because it provides an incentive to inflate rates.
With annual revenue of nearly $700 million, Securus is the second-largest prison telecom by market share, serving 3,400 correctional facilities and handling some 240 million calls last year. It also charges some of the highest rates, according to a report by the Prison Policy Initiative, which surveyed more than 2,000 local jails in 2018. The data show that 226 of the 250 most expensive jails had contracts with Securus, with three in Arkansas charging $24.82 for a 15-minute call.
“They are selling the equivalent of a luxury product,” said Wanda Bertram of the Prison Policy Initiative, adding that the company is willing to “jack up phone rates” to appease sheriffs who want higher commissions.
The group’s report recommended abolishing commissions at jails and state prisons, eliminating excessive fees and making low rates the highest contract priority — or better yet making phone calls free so prisoners can maintain closer contact with families, considered one of the best ways to reduce recidivism.
University of Baltimore law school professor Daniel Hatcher said that prison telecoms are just another example of private companies that partner with public agencies to extract revenue from the poorest citizens for services that should be funded by taxation.
“The company is making profits, the investment company — Platinum — is making profits and then you have the states and counties that are turning this into a revenue source,” said Hatcher, whose book “The Poverty Industry” highlighted such arrangements.
The companies that operate private prisons have long been controversial and have been thrust into the spotlight for running facilities holding undocumented immigrants caught up in President Trump’s border crackdown. They are the subject of divestment campaigns, but activists say that even vendors providing phone and other services should have no role in the system because they have a financial incentive to promote incarceration.
Bianca Tylek is executive director of Worth Rises, a nonprofit campaigning against Platinum and other private equity firms.(Kwame Owusu-Kesse)
“There is a difference between businesses that have a few ethical, questionable deviations and a business that at the root, at the core, is unethical, where there is not a redeemable piece of the business left when you fix it,” said Bianca Tylek, a Harvard Law School graduate and founder of Worth Rises, a New York nonprofit campaigning against Platinum and other private equity firms. The stated mission of Worth Rises is to “dismantle the prison industrial complex,” but Tylek has lobbied for practical reform including legislation that would either lower the cost of calls or make them free. Her group found a receptive ear with presidential candidate and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who signed legislation that this year made New York the first major city to make jail phone calls free. The city got its costs with Securus down to 3 cents a minute. Worth Rises also is pushing reform bills in the state, Massachusetts, Connecticut and elsewhere.
Diane Lewis, 53, a Connecticut mother whose son served 11 years in state prison, said she struggled to afford calls that cost about $4 for 15 minutes. Sometimes family members ran up $200 monthly bills from Securus. “Talking to my son took priority over every bill in my house. Were there times the lights were off? Yeah. Were there times the gas was off? Yeah, but when he came out he was connected to his family. He knew when there was a new baby, when somebody died. That makes a huge difference,” said Lewis, who makes $49,000 a year working for a program that helps place former inmates in jobs.
If the Connecticut bill is signed into law, the state would be the first to make phone calls free for state prisoners, but past efforts have run into bureaucratic opposition because the state receives commission revenue now totaling about $7.5 million a year, said state Rep. Josh Elliott, who is carrying the bill. “That goes toward paying probation and parole officers and services. We are not taxing people for that,” he said.
In California, it costs $1.23 to make a 15-minute phone call from a prison, which puts the state in the middle of the pack. San Francisco this summer moved to become the nation’s second major city to provide free jail calls. There is also a bill in the Legislature that would require county jails to end commissions and lower their rates.
Gores carved out a niche in private equity by buying struggling industrial or information technology businesses at a discount, such as orphaned divisions of Fortune 500 companies not seen as core assets. Sometimes that involved headline risk, such as Platinum’s foray into the newspaper industry a decade ago, when it bought the San Diego Union-Tribune, upgraded the paper’s technology and announced 192 layoffs just days after the sale closed. But Gores had a lower profile back then, before his 2011 acquisition of the Detroit Pistons.
“For a guy who owns the Detroit Pistons and is very philanthropic and supports education, what have you, it’s not a good place to be,” said L.A. investment banker Lloyd Greif, who recently advised a company sold to a Platinum holding. “It’s like Platinum touched the third rail and they’ve been taking electric currents for doing so ever since.”
Gores split from his brother and founded Platinum in 1995. Alec Gores has his own L.A. private equity firm and is worth an estimated $2.2 billion. The larger Platinum, with $13 billion under management and a portfolio of 40 firms, is housed in opulent Beverly Hills offices once the headquarters of talent agency MCA. Gores’ home is a $38-million showpiece in the ultra-exclusive Beverly Park neighborhood in Beverly Hills. A third brother, Sam, founded and runs talent agency Paradigm.
Greif said that Platinum’s acquisition of Securus was a “high-visibility, high-risk” decision given the transformation of prison businesses into the category of a sin industry like tobacco. The circumstances surrounding the deal didn’t help.
The acquisition closed less than a year after President Trump’s appointee to lead the Federal Communications Commission abandoned an Obama-era effort to impose caps on in-state calls, a priority for activists since about 80% of calls are local. Prison telecoms, including Securus, had sued to block the caps and had scored a victory in appeals court.
Then, just months after the deal closed, Platinum attempted to buy the third-largest prison telecom. The merger with ICSolutions was right out of the private equity industry’s playbook, but it infuriated activist groups, which blanketed the FCC docket in opposition, arguing that Securus had a history of flouting regulations and that the deal would lead to even higher rates.
The board went ahead with a $300-million investment despite activists’ opposition, with Platinum partner Mark Barnhill pledging to the board to turn Securus into a “responsible market leader.” Citing securities regulations, Platinum will not discuss fundraising, but before the August meeting it reported in a filing that it had raised $7.17 billion toward its latest fund.
Gores acknowledged that he never expected the Securus deal would lead to a campaign pressuring his firm’s institutional investors — “there’s a lot of hindsight here” — but he refused to accede to demands for an early exit, saying the company will reinvest profits to improve operations. Platinum typically owns its portfolio companies three to five years.
Barnhill told The Times that Platinum agrees rates are too high but reforming the company will be a slow process involving contract-by-contract negotiations as it attempts to wean corrections agencies off commissions. One method is requiring Securus to offer every agency it serves a commission-free contract option. He said Platinum remains open to working with the activists and is attempting to meet Worth Rises’ demands where it can, but he complained that activists really prefer to have the company and industry shut down and dismantled.
Tylek acknowledged the goal is to make companies such as Securus “toxic assets,” but said Platinum still needs to move faster on reforms, which she said have come only under the most extreme pressure. “They continue to promise action, but the longer it takes for our communities to see relief, the more their promises are sounding like marketing,” she said.
Activists plan to next target Apax Partners, a London firm that is raising money and owns electronic-monitoring company Attenti. Instead of freeing prisoners from jail or prison, critics say these companies actually widen the net of incarceration by encouraging monitoring. But Tylek said Worth Rises “will continue to be a thorn in Platinum Equity’s side,” focusing especially in Detroit, where Gores is a prominent local figure.
During the height of the Colin Kaepernick controversy, when the NFL quarterback was drawing massive attention for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality, Gores stood out when he said he would support his players if they wanted to do so themselves.
But the optics of an investment in a prison telecom are worsening as consensus grows that mass incarceration — with an estimated 2.2 million people in U.S. jails and prisons — has contributed to poverty, destroyed families and eaten into government budgets at all levels.
California bans private prisons – including Ice detention centers Bill removes profit motive from incarceration and marks latest clash in state’s battle with Trump over treatment of immigrants
This is great news for the inmates, for California, and for America! See numerous articles – scores of them – on this website about what a disaster private prisons are!
Excerpts from the Article:
The private prison industry is set to be upended after California lawmakers passed a bill on Wednesday banning the facilities from operating in the state. The move will probably also close down four large immigration detention facilities that can hold up to 4,500 people at a time.
The legislation is being hailed as a major victory for criminal justice reform because it removes the profit motive from incarceration. It also marks a dramatic departure from California’s past, when private prisons were relied on to reduce crowding in state-run facilities.
Private prison companies used to view California as one of their fastest-growing markets. As recently as 2016, private prisons locked up approximately 7,000 Californians, about 5% of the state’s total prison population, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. But in recent years, thousands of inmates have been transferred from private prisons back into state-run facilities. As of June, private prisons held 2,222 of California’s total inmate population.The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, must still sign AB32, but last year he signaled support for the ban and said during his inaugural speech in January that the state should “end the outrage of private prisons once and for all”.
Currently, one company, the Geo Group, operates four private prisons in California under contract with the California department of corrections and rehabilitation. The contracts for these four prisons expire in 2023 and cannot be renewed under AB32, except to comply with a federal court order to reduce crowding in state-run facilities.
In addition to signaling a major criminal justice reform, AB32 also has become a flashpoint in California’s fight with the Trump administration over the treatment of immigrants. The bill’s author, the assemblymember Rob Bonta, originally wrote it only to apply to contracts between the state’s prison authority and private, for-profit prison companies. But in June, Bonta amended the bill to apply to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s four major California detention centers.
Bonta’s amendment, say immigrant rights advocates, appears to have caught Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (Ice) and the private prison companies at a moment when their current contracts are expiring. The result is that instead of slowly phasing out immigration detention centers as their existing contracts expire years down the road, most will face closure next year – unless Ice and its private prison contractors find a workaround.
“I think Geo Group is realizing their scheme to circumvent state law is putting them in a place where they could end up being be nailed,” said Hamid Yazdan Panah, an immigration attorney and the regional director for the Northern California Rapid Response & Immigrant Defense Network.
Two of Ice’s largest immigrant detention centers in California are operated by the Geo Group through complicated contracts that use cities as middlemen. The city of Adelanto signed an agreement in 2011 with ICE to hold up to 1,300 immigrant detainees facing deportation. Adelanto then subcontracted the prison operations to Geo Group. “What Ice does is they locate in these very poor and remote areas,” said Lizbeth Abeln, of the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice. “The private prison comes in and lobbies and promises jobs, and tax money.” According to a report by the California state auditor, this complicated subcontracting model allowed Ice and Adelanto to forgo competitive bidding for the center’s operations subcontract.
A similar process unfolded just north of Bakersfield in McFarland, where in 2015 the city agreed to serve as the middleman for the Geo Group, which operates the 400-bed Mesa Verde detention facility. Geo Group expanded the Adelanto center in 2015 to 1,940 beds, making it the second-largest adult detention center in the country, and with the Trump administration’s crackdown against undocumented immigrants, another 1,000-bed expansion is planned.
But these complicated contracts were outlawed last year. Under the state Dignity Not Detention Act, cities and counties, including Adelanto and McFarland, were barred from signing new agreements with Ice or amending existing contracts to permit expansion. An immigrant detainee reads through paperwork in a general population block at the Adelanto detention facility.
“To expand their detention center, Geo Group and Ice would have to cut their ties with the city of Adelanto,” said Jose Servin, the communications coordinator of the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance. Geo Group asked both cities to break off their Ice contracts and the cities agreed. Ice then provided Geo Group with temporary contracts to operate Adelanto and Mesa Verde. Both agreements expire next March, after AB32 is expected to go into effect. “My understanding is AB32 would prevent new contracts for these facilities,” said Panah. “The fact they’re on a one-year bridge, it won’t allow them to move from the one-year contract to a longer-term contract.”
CoreCivic operates the Otay Mesa detention center in San Diego under a direct contract with Ice and is building a 512-bed expansion to house immigrant detainees, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. But its Ice contract expires in June 2020.
In recent years, contracts with California’s prison authority have amounted to as much as 12% of CoreCivic’s total revenue, more than any other state prison authority in the US, according to SEC filings.
CoreCivic and Geo Group spent $130,000 during the first six months of this year lobbying the legislature and governor against AB32.
On 6 September, AB32 was amended to allow Geo Group, CoreCivic and other for-profit prison companies to continue operating after 2020, but only to help the state comply with a court-ordered prison population cap. Otherwise, the use of private prisons for state inmates is to be fully phased out by 2028.
“We have to worry about all the people who are detained right now,” said Servine. “Where will they end up?”
For every article I post about prison abuse and its insane cost – YOUR tax money wasted – there are at least 5 or 6 more that I have read. No point in posting all of them! This case involved “failure to protect”.
Excerpts from the Article:
On Oct. 23, 2017, Rodrick Roman Castro, an inmate at Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, was questioned about allegations a former cellmate of his had been involved in drug dealing. The next day, the 34-year-old Castro was found dead in his cell, stabbed 92 times in the neck and torso with an ice pick.
Now, the state of California has agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle a federal wrongful death lawsuit that alleges prison officials left Castro unguarded in an unlocked cell despite knowing that he was surrounded by associates of his former cellmate.
“Correctional officers and corrections staff and supervisors … knew that violence occurs when housing cooperating witnesses with suspects and members of different gangs together or housing inmates affiliated with rival gangs together,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed by Long Beach attorney Alexis Galindo on behalf of Castro’s family. The suit, filed in federal court in Sacramento, alleges that when Castro was questioned about a drug-selling conspiracy involving a previous cellmate at Salinas Valley State Prison, officials allowed his current cellmate to witness the interrogation. The next day, the lawsuit says, the cellmate was escorted out of the cell “and within minutes Rodrick Roman Castro was murdered in the cell.”
But Galindo confirmed the amount of the settlement and wrote in the lawsuit that video recordings from inside the prison “show that the suspect inmates had begun planning and orchestrating the attack” shortly after Castro was interviewed by a correctional officer.
“The preparation (included) moving contraband from one area of the unit to another, including an item that appears to resemble the murder weapon, an ice pick found at the scene,” the suit says, adding that guards did not monitor the live video that could have prompted intervention before Castro was killed.
The suit also alleges officials announced Castro’s slaying publicly before notifying his mother, Virginia.
Castro was serving a 10-year, eight-month sentence for attempted second-degree murder and carjacking out of Los Angeles County at the time of his death.
More than a year after Castro’s slaying, San Joaquin County prosecutors filed a murder charge against Jose Almaraz, another inmate at the Tracy prison. That case is pending, Assistant District Attorney Kristine Reed wrote in an email.
America’s Jails Are Pretending the Opioid Crisis Doesn’t Exist Correctional facilities refuse to provide medically assisted treatment for opioid withdrawal and people are dying at alarming rates as a result.
Another article which reminds me of the many times I SAW guards walk right by the cell of someone who clearly was in agony, ignoring his requests to get to the infirmary, and laughing as they strolled on. I really must devote more time to writing my book; it is such a slow process, but I do think it will raise a bit of a ruckus when published.
Excerpts from the Article:
When Matthew Herring was arrested in 2016 for a probation violation and sent to Dutchess County Jail* in upstate New York, he brought his medication with him. Herring, 22, had struggled with an opioid addiction for eight or nine years at that point, and had been in and out of jail since 2011, his mother Patricia Herring said. So he stashed an FDA-approved treatment drug called buprenorphine in his body to soften a painful withdrawal.
When the guards found it, however, he was thrown into solitary confinement for four days, where he suffered from withdrawal, his mother said. “They don’t have any compassion,” Herring said of her son’s treatment by correctional officers. “He’s puking his brains out, they’re laughing.”
Then, 72 days after his release from jail, Matthew died from an overdose. Herring asserts the lack of treatment on the inside played a role. “He was sick and suffering,” she said. “He was never offered medical treatment that he as human being deserved.”
People recently released from incarceration in the United States suffer alarmingly high rates of overdose deaths. A Massachusetts study found overdose deaths went up a staggering 120 percent the two weeks after release compared to the general public.
Opioid withdrawal is extremely painful and in some cases fatal; people have died in jails as a result of extreme dehydration linked to withdrawal, which causes diarrhea and vomiting. Yet only three percent of state and county correctional facilities across the U.S. carry any of the three FDA approved drugs for opioid addiction treatment: methadone, naltrexone and buprenorphine. Often when the drugs are available, it’s left up to law enforcement to decide who has access.
Overdose deaths went up a staggering 120 percent the two weeks after release.
Advocates agree the main roadblock to more states providing medically assisted treatment (MAT) to incarcerated people is stigma associated with drug use. Many correctional employees view the treatments as just another avenue for addiction, or argue it will be traded illicitly on the inside. While the National Sheriff’s Association recently released a guide to using MAT in jails, a 2016 survey of correctional officers in nine states found that officers viewed MAT as a “treatment of last resort” rather than evidence-based medicine.
There are also cost issues: sheriffs in county jails in New York said it would be hard to provide the drugs without substantial funding, though advocates have countered that the cost of not giving treatment could be higher, due to hospital visits and return jail visits. Nonetheless, the budget cuts across both public and private health care providers for incarcerated people can cut deep.
But plaintiffs who were denied treatment have been mounting successful lawsuits, strengthening the case for the treatments nationwide: an April ruling in Maine and a ruling in Massachusetts last December both held that keeping someone from medication assisted treatment violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. A bipartisan Senate bill introduced by Senators Markey and Murkowski would fund $50 million of grants for MAT in jails and prisons.
Progress is slow. Bills in the NY State Legislature would have made the treatments available to everyone in the state’s prisons and county jails, but the proposal faltered at the end of 2019’s legislative session. Instead, Governor Andrew Cuomo expanded opioid treatment in prisons and jails across the state: with $4 million distributed to counties and $1.2 million to state prisons under the latest state budget. Some programs will also provide Naloxone, an overdose prevention drug, to those returning home.
The reach of those programs is limited: MAT is only available at eight of New York’s 54 state prisons, and only in interventions like parole diversion, pregnant women and people serving short sentences. These pilot programs are seen by advocates as far too gradual for the full-blown epidemic inside the state’s prisons and jails.
In the meantime New York’s county jails can still punish people for bringing the potentially life-saving medication into jail with them. In January, the Ulster County Sheriff’s office announced on its Facebook page the “arrest” of someone already incarcerated after a cell search turned up Suboxone, the brand name for buprenorphine. It was the second such arrest in six months, and Ulster County has seen its opioid death rate go up 345 percent between 2010 and 2018. This is why, a few months after the Sheriff announced that arrest, county executive Pat Ryan announced federal funds would be used to provide MAT, including in Ulster County Jail—a sea change from their approach earlier in the year.
New York’s county sheriffs still have wide latitude to punish people who smuggle the treatments inside. “They operate like fiefdoms,” said Dionna King, New York Policy Manager of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The sheriffs have a lot of autonomy.”
Jails can still punish people for bringing the potentially life-saving medication into jail with them.
One formerly incarcerated person—who wanted only to be identified as “Joseph” for fear of retribution—said that bringing opioid treatment drugs inside an institution is a common precautionary measure. Some heavy opioid users don’t leave the house without tabs of Suboxone stashed in their bodies. “Motherfuckers don’t leave their house unless they have 10 Suboxone stuck in their ass. That’s how it is with us,” he said. “It’s basic medical attention they just deny us.”
“All I’m asking for is general medical care, man,” he said he told the guard. “These people just looked at me like I’m a junkie.” He said he was brought to a hospital for his withdrawal symptoms only through a nurse’s intervention. Earlier this year, Albany County announced it would offer all three MAT drugs in their jail.
In Rhode Island, the only state that offers all three FDA approved drugs to incarcerated people, there has been a similar trend. Dr. Josiah Rich, a Brown University professor of medicine who helped implement the state’s plan, said he had heard plenty of incidents in which people smuggled buprenorphine into the jails. Suboxone, the brand name version of buprenorphine, is distributed on small tabs that can be hidden easily. He had heard cases of people slipping tabs inside crayon wrappers or under a stamp. But after treatment was offered in Rhode Island prisons, overdose deaths reduced 61 percent, and trading drugs in the facilities went down.
Patricia Herring, like many advocates, wants opioid addiction to be treated as a disease, not criminalized, and for more treatment to be made available in the community as well in jails. She said she finds herself wondering why her son was punished for bringing in a substance that wouldn’t have harmed anyone.
“Punishment is not the cure for the disease,” she said. “At all.”
If you know anything about our criminal justice system you know that, second only to the “war on drugs”, the privatization of it is the worst calamity to befall justice in America! See the comments by our friend, Alex Friedmann, associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center.
Excerpts from the Article:
The state of Michigan would be prohibited from housing its inmates in private prisons under a bill filed by state Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor. Irwin told The Center Square that the private prison industry was inherently immoral because their financial incentive doesn’t match with the rehabilitation goal of the criminal justice system.
Irwin said that Michigan’s prison population has declined from a high of about 53,000 to around 38,000, and he is pushing to continue that trend through criminal justice reform.
Irwin pointed to substance abuse of crystal methamphetamine and opiates as fueling incarceration rates, especially among women in rural areas.
“I think that ending the War on Drugs is the biggest thing we could do to continue driving down our prison expenditures and continue to progress toward treating people like human beings and not locking them up for a private, victimless behavior,” Irwin said.
Michigan’s only private prison, North Lake Correctional Facility in Baldwin, won a 10-year federal contract earlier this year to house people who immigrated illegally to the United States.
Alex Friedmann, associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center, told The Center Square that the American private prison industry exists only because public prisons, jails and detention centers “don’t physically have enough space to lock up all the people we want to lock up.”
Friedmann cited a 2016 “In the Public Interest” report that suggested, in general, private prisons have higher recidivism rates than public prisons because of a profit motive. That translates to less experienced employees and a higher staff turnover rate, he said, which means you have less stability compared to public prisons.
Friedmann said that some private prisons avoid effective methods to break addiction such as Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT), the standard of care outside prisons and jails because some of those facilities don’t like to use narcotic medication such as methadone.
Throwing drug addicts in prison won’t help them unless they first address their medical issues, he added.
“I think when people are making these decisions, they’re not really based on sound research,” Volokh said. “If you did try to base it on sound research, it’ll be kind of depressing because you’d say, well, there’s just a lot we don’t know.” Volokh’s article suggested changing private prison contracts to be contingent on results such as recidivism rates, in-prison violence and healthcare outcomes.
The bill follows the Michigan Joint Task Force that’s analyzing cheaper alternatives to incarceration as Wayne County builds a $533 million jail, according to Crain’s Detroit Business, and Macomb County considers building a $371 million jail.
Michigan taxpayers in 2017 paid $478 million on county jails and other corrections costs representing 23 percent of county spending.
What a monster we have created. 3,100 companies that profit from the criminal justice system! READ this article to see the depth of the problem. And THE problem is that all of those profiting are opposing needed changes!
See some of the many ways that privatization is destroying justice.
See some of the preposterous lies from the profiteers!
Virtually none of these fucking companies even existed when I was a prosecutor and defense attorney (’73 to ’83) and the system worked well!
Excerpts from the Article:
A report released by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in February 2019 spotlighted several major private equity firms that invest in and profit from the private prison industry, which the organization says continues to fuel mass incarceration in the U.S.
In addition to private equity firms, many other businesses have invested in the prison market, according to Bianca Tylek, founder of an advocacy group called Worth Rises, which has compiled a list of 3,100 companies that profit from the criminal justice system – some with familiar names like Amazon and General Electric.
“We’ve underestimated the size of the prison-industrial complex,” Tylek admitted. “Every estimate you’ve seen until now is a conservative one.”
The involvement of private equity firms, which manage large investment portfolios, presents a conflict between the financial and social goals of some investors.
The two largest for-profit prison companies are Nashville-based CoreCivic, formerly Corrections Corporation of America – with almost 14,000 employees and gross revenue of $1.83 billion in 2018 – and The GEO Group, based in Boca Raton, Florida, with 22,000 workers and $2.33 billion in revenue last year. Both are publicly traded corporations and their stock has found its way into retirement, pension and hedge funds.
Either by direct investment in for-profit prison companies or through mutual funds or private equity firms, a large number of public pension funds are invested in the private prison industry. That can make it problematic for people whose assets are tied up in private prison companies but who disagree with their business model, political lobbying and campaign contributions, higher levels of violence, poor medical care for prisoners and other issues.
Three of the largest public pension funds in the U.S. have taken action to cut ties with for-profit prison operators: the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, the New York City Employees’ Retirement System and the New York State Common Retirement Fund. [See: PLN, April 2019, p.60]. The Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and the New Jersey State Investment Council have also voted to divest from the private prison industry.
“Our union members serve tens of thousands of immigrant students in our schools, and we’re committed to taking any and all steps to protect their families from disruption or repression,” said Chicago Teachers’ Union President Jesse Sharkey. “That includes our refusal to support corporations that seek to profit from the national attack on immigrants – the same corporations that continue to profit from the mass incarceration of black people and the harm that continues to visit the families of our black students.”
Nearly 75 percent of immigrant detainees are housed in privately-operated detention facilities, most run by CoreCivic and GEO Group.
The AFT report highlighted seven private equity firms that hold ownership interests in various private prison companies, including Miami-based H.I.G. Capital, LLC, which has around $30 billion in assets under management and indirectly owns Inmate Calling Solutions (ICS), which provides prison and jail phone services. H.I.G. also owns Wellpath, a $1.5 billion prison healthcare provider formed in October 2018 when Correct Care Solutions (CCS) merged with Correctional Medical Group Companies (CMGC). CMGC was originally founded as California Forensic Medical Group, which served numerous county jails in California.
Prior to the Wellpath merger, CCS had been sued more than 140 times between 2005 and 2017. The company also had its contract terminated by Fulton County, Georgia after five prisoners died in less than three months. A video in a Westchester County, New York lawsuit showed CCS staff wheeling a prisoner who had collapsed back to his cell, where he subsequently died from a heart attack.
H.I.G. Capital also owns TKC Holdings, a company that includes Trinity Services Group, which provides prison food services; Keefe Group, which supplies prison commissaries; and ICS.
Trinity took over the contract for food service in Michigan’s state prison system from rival Aramark in 2016, but was terminated two years later. Both companies experienced problems maintaining staffing levels and food quality – there were reports of maggots in meal serving areas as well as misconduct by employees, including smuggling drugs and engaging in sexual relationships with prisoners. [See: PLN, June 2018, p.52; Jan. 2018, p.46; Feb. 2017, p.48].
Since 2017, another private equity firm, BlueMountain Capital Management, has owned prison medical care provider Corizon Health, which serves 180,000 prisoners and generates an estimated $1.4 billion in annual revenue. [See: PLN, March 2019, p.61]. Previously, Corizon was majority owned by Beecken Petty O’Keefe & Company.
According to the ACLU, Corizon has been sued more than 600 times since 2011, settling some cases for millions of dollars – including an $8.3 million settlement in a 2015 wrongful death suit in California. [See: PLN, March 2015, p.54]. The company lost its contract with the Arizona Department of Corrections at the end of 2018 due to serious and sometimes fatal neglect of prisoners in need of medical care. [See: PLN, April 2019, p.56].
Platinum Equity, LLC owns prison telecom company Securus Technologies, which it purchased from ABRY Partners. Securus acquired JPay in 2015, and has contracts at 3,400 facilities serving 1.2 million prisoners, who pay some of the highest phone rates in the nation, particularly at county jails. When the FCC capped intrastate (in-state) prison and jail phone rates in 2016, Securus and other companies fought the order, eventually prevailing in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. The FCC, under new leadership during the Trump administration, refused to defend its intrastate rate caps in the case. [See: PLN, July 2017, p.52].
Securus, like other prison telecoms, engages in “commission” kickback arrangements with prisons and jails; it has been accused of illegally recording prisoner-attorney phone calls, has had its customer data repeatedly hacked, and previously required some jails to eliminate in-person visits when contracting with the company for video calling services.
Other private equity firms that own companies which profit from the criminal justice system include:
• American Securities, LLC owns GTL, which provides phone services to over one million prisoners at 2,300 facilities in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico;
• Apax Partners, LLP owns prisoner and parolee monitoring device firm Attenti;
• Bison Capital Asset Management owns Sentinel Offender Services, a pioneer in developing private probation and prisoner case management services; and
• Endeavor Capital owns Aladdin Bail Bonds, a nationwide chain.
Jeff Zanarini, a managing director at H.I.G. Capital, claims the equity firm’s investment in companies that provide criminal justice services is so small that it plays “no role whatsoever in shaping the nation’s jails and prisons.” If anything, he said, H.I.G. is “focused on improving the health and well-being of prison populations, while providing services that are far superior to the available alternatives (i.e., the provision of such services by state and local governments).” He provided no evidence to back up that claim, nor did he address the abysmal track records of companies like Wellpath/CCS and price-gouging by firms like ICS and Keefe Group.
Bianca Tylek said the Corrections Accountability Project, a project of Worth Rises, found that by acquiring and merging local and regional businesses into huge national companies, private equity firms have a profound impact on the private prison industry.
“Without [private equity] shops, these companies could not have become as big and as exploitative as they are today,” she noted.
The American Federation of Teachers cautioned in its report that public pension funds which invest in companies that provide prison and jail services, directly or through private equity firms, risk unnecessary liability and exposure. Previously, the AFT had appealed to teachers’ pension funds to divest stock holdings in companies that operate prisons and immigration detention centers.
How the Dutch Are Closing Their Prisons – The number of prisoners in the country has halved in a decade and experts say alternative sentencing programs can further decrease the number.
I have been expecting this for months. The Europeans are way ahead of us with “what works” in prisons! While we still warehouse and abuse prisoners, Holland, Norway and Denmark make them – most of them – productive citizens. Read this and see how.
We have known this for years (see other articles on this website), but because powerful forces oppose change – prison guard unions, private prisons, police unions, thousands of corporations making money off of prison services and “programs” [all of which spend millions of dollars each year on lobbying and campaign donations] our idiot lawmakers do not do what we really need. what WORKS! Yes, i’ll remind you again: in America, for every 1 person arrested, 29 benefit financially … and damn few of them are helping anyone, the individual or society!
Excerpts from the Article:
Walking along the corridors of the creative work space that is housed inside the Wolvenplein prison, reminders of the building’s long history are everywhere. The heavy cell doors with tiny break-proof windows now lead to small offices. When tenants sit outside on their lunch break, they look out on the thick brick walls topped with barbed wire. In the kitchenette, instruction posters next to a large sink offer a step-by-step guide to drug-testing urine samples. For 158 years, this was where the central Dutch city of Utrecht sent its prisoners. And then five years ago – along with almost half of the country’s prisons – it shut down.
Last year, the Dutch government decided to close four more prisons. Some of the now-empty buildings are being sold off, while others offer temporary shelter for refugees. The former Bijlmerbajes prison complex in Amsterdam even housed a Syrian refugee-run pop-up restaurant before it was demolished last year.
A view of the death chamber from the witness room at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility shows an electric chair and gurney August 29, 2001 in Lucasville, Ohio. The state of Ohio is one of the few states that still uses the electric chair, and it gives death row inmates a choice between death by the electric chair or by lethal injection. John W. Byrd, who will be executed on September 12, 2001, has stated that he will choose the electric chair.
A drop in the country’s crime rate in part explains why the Netherlands’ prisons are emptying. A 2016 government study on capacity also noted that a focus on sentencing, with both an increase in shorter sentences and examining how crimes impact society, have helped reduce the prison population, says Wiebe Alkema, spokesperson at the Ministry of Justice and Security.
The Netherlands now has just 61 prisoners per 100,000 people in the general population, ranking among the lowest in Europe. In comparison, the United States has more than 10 times that figure (655 per 100,000), the highest in the world, according to data from the World Prison Brief, an online database hosted by the Institute for Criminal Policy Research at the University of London. The Dutch justice department predicts that by 2023, the total prison population will drop to just 9,810 people.
“Compared to the U.S., Dutch judges are much less likely to give a prison sentence. More often they give a financial penalty or community service,” says Hilde Wermink, assistant professor of criminology at Leiden University. “They decide on a case-by-case basis to assess whether a prison sentence is appropriate or in fact harmful.”
Dutch criminology researchers for years have pointed to the effectiveness of alternative sentencing. In 2013, Wermink and colleagues concluded that prison is not an effective way to reduce crime, and a study from last year showed that longer prison sentences in particular are not leading to lower crime rates. Both community service and electronic monitoring yield better results. Although the latter is sometimes seen as a softer punishment, Wermink and colleagues found it actually decreases re-offending rates. A 2015 study compared detainees in Belgium with sentences of between six months and three years, and found that the subjects who completed their sentence at home wearing detectable ankle bracelets were less likely to reoffend than peers who had completed their sentence behind bars.
“We do already know that prison has a negative effect on employability. Often it also destabilizes family situations. And the ‘prison as a school of crime’ theory could have an influence, especially when prison re-affirms someone’s criminal identity.”
For those who do end up in prison, innovative intervention programs are aimed at breaking the re-offending cycle. In the town of Krimpen aan den IJssel, near Rotterdam, the non-profit organization Gevangenenzorg Nederland (Prison Care Netherlands) runs a program that invites future employers into prison to meet inmates. In preparation for release, inmates participating in the organization’s Compagnie (Company) project are allowed to work outside prison, often doing more-meaningful work than the repetitive labor programs inside. They return to cook and do household chores together with other inmates and take part in evening activities before cell doors lock for the night.
Of the 68 inmates who have joined the Compagnie project to date, 43 have successfully moved on and are in stable housing and employment. Hanna Geuze, project coordinator at the Compagnie, credits the humane treatment of inmates as a crucial factor to its success. Participants, called “companions,” must apply for a place on the ward. Once the program team is convinced of an inmate’s sincerity to change and take responsibility for their actions, they are coupled with a volunteer mentor who visits them every two weeks.
“The fact that someone comes in to simply be with you and ask how you are doing is transformative,” Geuze says. “It is a more gentle preparation for life outside.”
At the Compagnie, contact with the outside world is encouraged. Inmates are allowed to Skype home to read bedtime stories to their children and in some way stay connected to family life. Wardens call inmates by their first name rather than surname. To come to terms with their past, inmates attend therapeutic sessions in which crime victims come in to share the impact the offense had on their lives.
Following a successful pilot, the next phase of the project will see open and closed wards mixed for the first time, meaning inmates who already qualify for working outside will live alongside those who are still fully inside. “That requires a lot of trust and responsibility on the part of the participants, but we think it will ultimately aid the transition,” Geuze says. She acknowledges that the relative freedom on the Compagnie ward is too much for some. “Even though our success rates are significantly higher than on conventional wards, we know that some people will drop out,” Geuze says. “To really make an impact and change behavior, we need to work with inmates for a minimum of six months, but ideally much longer.”
And that, ironically, is where the problem lies, says Peter van der Laan, a professor and senior researcher at the Dutch Study Centre for Crime and Law Enforcement. Van der Laan says the average prison time in the Netherlands is much too short to be able to run meaningful reintegration projects. Fifty-five percent of all custodial sentences in the Netherlands are for less than one month, and three-quarters of all sentences are shorter than three months. In practice, this means that pre-trial custody often outlasts the eventual sentence.
“The Dutch judicial approach to prison is that the taking away of freedom itself is the punishment,” van der Laan says. “Therefore, once inside a prisoner should be treated humanely, and his treatment should not be a form of punishment, too.” Yet the first stages of imprisonment can be traumatic, he says, with prisoners facing significant risk of suffering mental health issues.
“When we lock people away for very short periods, they have less or no opportunity to join employment or education programs,” he says. “But there is lots of ‘detention damage’ — even a few weeks can be enough to lose a job, home and social relations.”
Instead, van der Laan says judges should aim to reduce the number of short sentences. “The first consideration is: Is there a direct danger to the general public if this person is not imprisoned? In the vast majority of cases, this is not the case,” he says, noting that many cases involve nonviolent crimes. “If the risk of direct danger is low, they should suspend pre-trial detention where possible.”
To change the public perception of “soft punishment” of criminals, it is crucial that governments and the judiciary explain their approach, van der Laan says. Retribution can be a legitimate punishment, he says, but policymakers must be pragmatic and economical.
“Why do we punish in the first place?” he asks. “If the goal is to reduce crime, we know that prison often does not deliver that. And if delinquents suffer from addiction problems or mental illness, pre-custodial sentencing certainly does not help with that. In these cases, electronic detention combined with mandatory therapy might be much more effective in reducing the chances of reoffending.”
Do you think tRump has a plan here? Do you think this will end well? Of course not. Because tRump has NO clue what he is doing in any area of government, prices are about to rise again for everyone, including those already exploited by outrageously high prices, inmates and their families. That’s right, commissary goods will be even more expensive!
Excerpts from the Article:
Expect a direct hit on many U.S. consumers from President Donald Trump’s latest round of tariffs on Chinese imports. He had no intention of pulling back on import taxes set to kick in Sunday. “They’re on. They’re on,” the president told reporters Friday before departing for a weekend stay at Camp David.
Americans were largely spared from higher prices in his previous rounds of trade penalties. No longer. The 15% tariffs on $112 billion in Chinese imports will apply to items ranging from smartwatches and TVs to shoes, diapers, sporting goods and meat and dairy products.
For the first time since Trump launched his trade war, American households faced price increases. Many U.S. companies said they would be forced to pass on to customers the higher prices they had to pay on Chinese imports. Despite the looming pocketbook pain for Americans, Trump tried to frame the tariffs as putting the United States “in an incredible negotiating position” with Beijing. “It’s only going to get worse for China.”
For more than a year, the world’s two largest economies have been locked in a high-stakes duel marked by Trump’s escalating penalties on Chinese goods and Beijing’s retaliatory tariffs.
The two sides have held periodic talks that seem to have met little progress despite glimmers of potential breakthroughs. All the while, they have imposed tariffs on billions of each other’s products in a rift over what analysts say is Beijing’s predatory tactics in its drive to become the supreme high-tech superpower.
American consumers so far had been spared the worst of it: The Trump administration had left most everyday household items off its tariff list (valued at $250 billion in Chinese products so far) and instead targeted industrial goods.
Under the new tariff schedule, 69% of the consumer goods Americans buy from China were facing his import taxes, compared with 29% now.
Higher tariffs also were set to kick in for another batch of Chinese products — $160 billion worth — on Dec. 15. By then, roughly 99% of made-in-China consumer goods imported to the United States will be taxed, according to calculations by Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Overall, Trump’s trade war will have raised the average tariff on Chinese imports from 3.1% in 2017, before the hostilities began, to 24.3%. “The bottom line is that, for the first time, Trump’s trade war is likely to directly raise prices for a lot of household budget items like clothing, shoes, toys, and consumer electronics,” Bown wrote in an report.
Trump famously declared that trade wars are “easy to win.” But for months, he falsely claimed that China itself paid the tariffs and that they left Americans unscathed. In fact, U.S. importers pay the tariffs. They must make a high-risk decision: absorb the higher costs themselves and accept lower profits or pass on their higher costs to their customers and risk losing business.
The higher costs U.S. importers faced could be offset somewhat by the declining value of China’s currency, which has the effect of making China’s products somewhat less expensive in the United States.
Still, the prices of certain goods will cost Americans more. Trump tacitly acknowledged this a few weeks ago by announcing a delay in his higher tariffs on $160 billion in imports until Dec. 15 — to keep them from squeezing holiday shoppers.
Even before the December tariffs, though, 52% of shoes and 87% of textiles and clothing imported from China were to be hit by Trump’s tariffs, according to Peterson’s Bown. And not even counting the increase — from 10% to 15% — that Trump announced for his new tariffs a week ago, J.P. Morgan had estimated that his import taxes would cost the average household roughly $1,000 a year.
“The story that holiday goods (were) given a reprieve is fake news,” said Stephen Lamar of the American Apparel and Footwear Association. Overall, the 15% September and December tariffs will force Americans to pay an extra $4 billion a year for shoes and boots, according to a footwear trade group.
Retailers, engaged for a battle for survival with Amazon and other e-commerce rivals, braced for the worst. Macy’s raised an alarm when it reported earnings in August. In May, Trump had raised separate tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods from 10% to 25%. In response, Macy’s tried to raise prices of some items on the hit list — luggage, housewares, furniture. But according to CEO Jeff Gennette, customers just said no.
Some retailers were trying to force their suppliers to eat the higher costs so they would not have to raise prices for shoppers. Target confirmed to The Associated Press that it warned suppliers that it would not accept cost increases arising from the China tariffs. Some small retailers were even more vulnerable.
“Any cost increase puts us in a tough place,” said Jennifer Lee, whose family owns the Footprint shoe store in San Francisco. “It makes it tough for business owners because we will have to take a hit on our margins, but it will also be difficult for us to pass it on to our shoppers.”
Albert Chow, who owns Great Wall Hardware in San Francisco, said he’s already raised prices on some Chinese-made products because an earlier round of tariffs led his suppliers to raise prices 10% to 20%.
“I will try to keep the prices down for as long as I can,” Chow said. “But at some point, when the tariffs are just too much, we have to eventually raise the prices, and then it goes down to the end user — the customer.”
What’s frustrating for retailers is that consumers might otherwise be in an exuberant mood this holiday season. For most Americans, their jobs are safe and their wages are rising. Unemployment is near a half-century low.
Yet the economy itself looks increasingly fragile. Growth is slowing as the global economy weakens. And Trump’s mercurial approach to trade policy — imposing, delaying, reimposing import taxes via tweet — makes it nearly impossible for companies to decide on suppliers, factory sites and new markets. So they delay investments, further straining the economy.
As a former prosecutor, to me there is nothing worse than a bad one! Too often prosecutors fail to see that their job is to be FAIR, not just to get convictions. Note that this behavior gives hundreds of inmates good grounds to attack their convictions, and many guilty ones may go free.
Every prosecutor involved should be disbarred, nothing less.
Excerpts from the Article:
A federal judge in a scathing order this week held the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas in contempt of court for its pattern of misrepresentations, obfuscation and lack of cooperation during an investigation into a growing scandal. A ruling by U.S. District Court of Kansas Judge Julie Robinson late Tuesday capped a three-year probe that examined the extent to which federal prosecutors in Kansas had accessed recordings of confidential phone calls and meetings between defense attorneys and their clients at a private prison in Leavenworth.
Conversations between clients and their attorneys are confidential in nearly all aspects. Robinson found that federal prosecutors in Kansas determined on their own that they could access recordings of these discussions, tainting several criminal cases along the way.
At least three criminal defendants in Kansas have had their sentences vacated or their indictments dismissed as a result of the scandal. More than a hundred others have filed petitions for similar relief. “The Government’s wholesale strategy to delay, diffuse, and deflect succeeded in denying the individual litigants their day in court for almost three years,” Robinson wrote as part of a 188-page ruling.
Robinson ordered the U.S. Attorney’s Office to pay attorneys fees and the costs associated with delays caused in the case by the conduct of various federal prosecutors. That amount is yet to be determined.
“The court’s order speaks for itself and clearly so,” said federal public defender Melody Brannon.
Robinson’s order is the latest black eye for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas, which had been tainted by claims of prosecutorial misconduct and internal dysfunction. “They were appalling, reprehensible,” said Carlos Moran, a Kentucky criminal defense attorney who had his conversations with a client in Kansas reviewed by prosecutors. “I can see that in the Soviet Union during the Cold War and things like that but I never expected that in a federal court.”
The U.S. Attorney scandal came to light in 2016 during the prosecution of inmates suspected of trafficking drugs within the walls of a private prison in Leavenworth operated by Corrections Corporation of America, now CoreCivic. A federal grand jury in Kansas indicted six suspects in May 2016.
During a hearing the following month, Erin Tomasic, an assistant U.S. attorney on the case, disclosed that she had possession of surveillance video from within the prison, including video from inside rooms where attorneys can meet with their clients. That admission caught the ear of federal public defenders, who claimed that video from inside attorney visitation rooms would intrude into confidential communications with their clients.
Soon after, several defense attorneys throughout Kansas began to suspect that their discussions with clients were in the possession of federal prosecutors. Robinson held a hearing and appointed a special master as an outside investigator to review the possibility and extent that defendants had their rights infringed.
Special Master David Cohen said that in his years of practice he had never been involved in a case with such broad accusations of prosecutorial misconduct.
“The government decided to engage in a minimal superficial attempt at preservation of materials with full knowledge that information could be lost.”
During the investigation, she said, the federal government allowed a hardrive to be wiped that held evidence of what attorney-client video had been viewed by prosecutors. Additionally, she said, the government ignored a court order to place a hold on all evidence related to the investigation.
Even those attorneys who had privatized their phone numbers would have some of their calls recorded, because CCA employees regularly failed to properly privatize numbers.
Study: Delaware among worst states for recently released prison inmates – With Quotes from Me and My Friends – kra
Ian Gronau of The Delaware State News did a good job in this report. You should open the links given for some of the studies cited. Some comments by D O C officials, as usual, simply are not true.
D O C says they have “Treatment Programs”, but the fact is, as the participants know full well, that those programs are virtually totally ineffective.
And Lori Alberts’ comment is right on the money: “The environment inside must change from punishment and warehousing to not just education/vocation but teaching of life skills and behavior too,” said Ms. Alberts. “You can no more cure a criminal in prison then you can a drunk in a tavern. The environment inside has to change.”
“Ken Abraham, the founder of Citizens for Criminal Justice, says the deck remains stacked against inmates returning to the public. “I counsel those in reentry every day, and the most glaring problems are: a lack of effective and affordable treatment programs for addicts, the more than 200 obstacles to reentry— many of which are totally unnecessary — the lack of public understanding that when we help those in reentry we help our communities and the lack of will in the legislature to make easily enacted, sweeping changes in the law needed to ease this problem. So many obstacles could easily be removed. Like, why can’t they get a barber’s or beautician’s license because of a record? There should be no barrier at all.”
As it currently is, one must apply, and then can easily be denied solely because of one’s record.”
Bottom line: There is a loooooooooooooong way to go to fix these problems.
Excerpts from the Article:
Delaware is among the worst states for recently released inmates, according to a recent study by the PrisonEd Foundation — a Utah-based inmate advocacy group. In the study, released in late July, Delaware was noted as second only to Alaska in terms of being the least “friendly” to former inmates.
However, five states (Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Oregon and Texas) weren’t considered in the ranking due to their insufficient data reporting.
The states were ranked based on four primary data points; the number of reentry programs, number of current and ex-inmates, background check restrictions and re-incarceration percentages. The study claims that Delaware has a 3-year recidivism rate of 64.90 percent, 8 percent of the state’s population being either a current or former inmate and a total of five reentry programs.
This is a far cry from California, which took the top spot with a 3-year recidivism rate of 44.60 percent, an 8.5 percent of the population either currently or formerly incarcerated and 13 different reentry programs. The number of current and ex-inmates tabulated represents the percentage based on a report published in 2017 that examined 60 years of demographic data.
Reentry programs counted include, but are not limited to, halfway houses, job help and addiction recovery programs. To review the full study, visit prisonedfoundation.org/post/the-10-best-and-worst-states-for-recently-released-inmates.
Joanna Champney, the agency’s chief of planning, research and reentry, said recidivism rates can be misleading markers because of how their calculated. “Ranking states partially by recidivism rates is extremely problematic,” she said. “There is no national definition of recidivism. Some states utilize rearrest, some utilize return to prison and some utilize return to prison as a sentenced inmate.
“The Delaware Statistical Analysis Center actually did a great job illustrating why it’s not advisable to compare states’ recidivism rates in their 2018 report. “They point out that if you were to use Virginia’s definition of recidivism, Delaware’s rate would be 18.6 percent. Using Vermont’s, we would be at 50.4 percent. Using Maryland’s, we’d be at 34.9 percent. Those nuances are usually ignored in many of these reports attempting to compare apples to oranges.”
The agency’s recidivism can be found at sac.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/64/2018/12/Recidivism2018_Final.pdf.
Ms. Champney also disputed the study’s count of the state’s reentry programs.
“Fortunately, Delaware has many more than just five prisoner reentry programs!” she said. “DOC partners with many different organizations, some of which we fund, some of which we cooperate with via MOUs (memorandum of understanding). “Our service providers range from substance use treatment providers to mental health providers to case management organizations to housing providers. They are a vital extension of part of our mission; to promote rehabilitation. Our new director of reentry is also leading a case management collaboration committee that is mapping out the various case management resources available to people leaving prison.”
“We’ve implemented a number of new programs inside the prisons and in the community corrections centers that prepare people for release,” she said. “Job training and decision-making (cognitive restructuring) skills are two areas of focus. Two recent Federal grants are allowing us to implement cognitive behavioral therapy programming in our community corrections centers and at a probation office, and a state budget allocation allowed us to hire a contractor to run cognitive behavioral therapy groups in the maximum security prisons.
“Pre-release workshops are a part of this initiative, where job search, housing, and other topics are covered. We also have financial subsidies available through a federal grant for probationers who are complying with the terms of their probation but who need help with stabilization. The probation officer can apply for up to 1 month’s rent on the probationer’s behalf.”
Among local inmate advocacies, the enthusiasm is weaker. Lori Alberts, the chairman of Link of Love, said while she appreciates Gov. John Carney and Ms. DeMatteis’s push toward reentry services, she thinks the prison “environment” remains a toxic place. Link of Love is a support group for inmates’ families.
“The environment inside must change from punishment and warehousing to not just education/vocation but teaching of life skills and behavior too,” said Ms. Alberts. “You can no more cure a criminal in prison then you can a drunk in a tavern. The environment inside has to change.”
Ken Abraham, the founder of Citizens for Criminal Justice, says the deck remains stacked against inmates returning to the public. “I counsel those in reentry every day, and the most glaring problems are: a lack of effective and affordable treatment programs for addicts, the more than 200 obstacles to reentry— many of which are totally unnecessary — the lack of public understanding that when we help those in reentry we help our communities and the lack of will in the legislature to make easily enacted, sweeping changes in the law needed to ease this problem. So many obstacles could easily be removed. Like, why can’t they get a barber’s or beautician’s license because of a record? There should be no barrier at all.
As it currently is, one must apply, and then can easily be denied solely because of one’s record.”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Delaware believes the study reflects Delaware’s “fundamentally broken” criminal justice system. “Ending the cycle of mass incarceration will require the state to invest in and expand reentry programs, overhaul unnecessarily harsh probation policies and practices that drive prison readmissions and break down barriers to good jobs and affordable housing,” said the ACLU’s Smart Justice Campaign Manager Erica Marshall.
“Our criminal justice system has become a revolving door. And the burdens of the broken system fall particularly harshly on people of color and the poor. If we are serious about breaking the cycle, we must scale up our investment in ensuring the success of returning citizens. The campaign for Smart Justice is prioritizing probation reform and will continue to fight for individuals impacted by the system by advocating for legislative and executive action this year and into the 2020 legislative session.”
The Whole Story: