Here’s an article on a meditation program at California’s San Quentin prison, where over 3,000 outside volunteers staff 70 self-help programs. Lest you think this is the norm, note that no other California prison has as many programs. Sitting on a prime piece of real estate in Marin County, just north of San Francisco, San Quentin is easy to get to from around the populous and liberal Bay Area. That’s because San Quentin happens to have been established in the 1850s on a piece of land that would one day turn out to be close to an urban center. The many prisons California built in the 1980s and ’90s are in more isolated or rural communities and have had trouble attracting staff doctors, much less volunteers. Just something to think about when contemplating the many consequences of where prisons are typically sited.
I also wanted to highlight that Virginia’s GOP governor, Bob McDonnell, has restored more felons’ voting rights than either of his Democratic predecessors. To be sure, Virginia still has one of the more restrictive felon voting policies in the nation and restoration is not automatic. Nevertheless, Gov. McDonnell has streamlined the process for many:
Linwood Christian, 43, lost his rights after he stole money from the Disabled American Veterans thrift store so he could buy drugs. … He learned that his rights were restored this summer.
“It was a real exciting feeling,” said Christian, who works as a case manager for a nonprofit group in Petersburg that helps HIV/AIDS patients. “All of a sudden, I’m a person to them again.”
In other news this week:
- A new Pew report on how incarceration impacts economic mobility — and commentary from Adam Serwer and Catherine Rampell of the New York Times.
- California: Working out the kinks for a new “re-entry prison” where soon-to-be-released inmates would serve their last 12-18 months; Gov. Schwarzenegger signs new medical parole bill into law.
- Louisiana: Orleans Parish sheriff moves forward with plans for a new jail, over protests that in Louisiana, “supply drives demand” when it comes to prison beds.
- New York: Rensselaer County grand jury indicts prison guard for beating an inmate.