Friday Links, and a Programming Note
So the blog has been a little quiet lately and will likely continue to be quiet through the fall, as unlike previous terms, I have almost no time for extracurricular pursuits this academic quarter. But I’ll try to keep checking in from time to time. Meanwhile lots of stuff is happening:
- Strikes and big changes in California: In California, there’s a renewed hunger strike in the prison system and the implementation of “realignment,” Gov. Jerry Brown’s policy to shift responsibility for low-level criminal offenders down to the county level. Luckily “realignment” is a unique enough term that you can type “california realignment” into Google News and get all the latest coverage.
- Incidentally, here’s a needlessly inflammatory Mother Jones post whose headline announces that realignment has downgraded “participating in a lynching” to a “nonserious” crime. As a commenter there notes, “lynching” is statutorily defined in California “as an aggressive group removing a person from police custody.” It previously carried 2 to 4 years of prison time, so that’s why it now falls into the category of crimes shifted down to the county level. In any event, it is rarely charged by prosecutors.
- Prison-based gerrymandering in New York: The Prison Policy Initiative is litigating a case in New York over the issue of prison-based gerrymandering. Entitled Little v. LATFOR, the case went to hearing earlier this week. You can read more about it here. At issue is a challenge to New York’s new law “requiring that incarcerated persons be counted as residents of their home communities” for Census purposes, rather than counted in the counties where they are imprisoned, which inflates the political clout of constituents who live in those counties. Recently, Prison Policy Initiative’s Leah Sakala explained how this practice relates to the “three-fifths clause” that inflated slaveowners’ political clout.
- Women shackled while giving birth: Colorlines reports on the growing movement to stop prisons from shackling pregnant women while they are giving birth. Yes, this is actually a practice that happens. One might think a movement would not be required to prevent law enforcement officers from doing something that is not only degrading to the mother but also dangerous to the baby, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology.
- Incarcerating kids doesn’t work: So shows the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s new report, No Place for Kids, which you can download here. The report aggregates a range of data to show: “Youth prisons do not reduce future offending, they waste taxpayer dollars, and they frequently expose youth to dangerous and abusive conditions. The report also shows that many states have substantially reduced their juvenile correctional facility populations in recent years, and it finds that these states have seen no resulting increase in juvenile crime or violence.”