Ronald Reagan Reduced California’s Incarceration Rate by 34%, and Other News
I’m working on some other projects and haven’t had the chance to post in the past couple days, but there is a lot of interesting reading around the Web (think of it as an advance Friday Roundup):
- Doug Berman notes a Third Circuit opinion on due process for classifying prisoners as sex offenders.
- The Brennan Center’s new report about states imposing “user fees” on criminal defendants — such as charging for the services of a public defender. In some jurisdictions, you can get arrested again, and incarcerated, if you don’t pay up. The Brennan Center documents how such fees mount barriers to reentry and argues they’ve recreated the institution of the debtor’s prison. (USA Today coverage here.)
- “Alternative Sentencing Gaining Acceptance” — Miller-McCune reports on the resurgence of non-prison sanctions for low-level and nonviolent offenses, such as diversion programs, drug courts, intensive probation supervision, etc.
- A San Quentin inmate on prison riots: He blames overcrowding as the root cause, not racial tensions. Also from KALW, a reminder that Gov. Ronald Reagan reduced California’s incarceration rate by 34%.
- “California’s Bloated Prison System Threatens Public Safety” — Jeanne Woodford, former warden of San Quentin, has this op-ed in the Sacramento Bee arguing that California’s “massive, inefficient prison system” actually harms public safety, and advocating more money to counties to fund community corrections as an alternative to state prison. As Woodford notes, California sends thousands of offenders and parole violators to state prison for less than three months. She writes: “The cost of transportation, classification, and medical and psychiatric exams for these offenders could have been better spent by local jurisdictions to increase probation compliance and decrease victimization.”
- “It’s Time for Oregon to Get Smart on Crime” — Some interesting commentary on Oregon’s 1990s/2000s prison boom, arguing that it’s time to change course. The author makes use of the strategy recommended a few weeks ago by the Informant: when advocating prison reform, talk a lot about the example of Texas, which no one would mistake for a “soft-on-crime” state.
- Local news coverage on the ongoing dispute over South Carolina’s policy of segregating HIV-positive prisoners; quotes views of a prison spokesperson, Gov. Mark Sanford, the ACLU’s Margaret Winter, and the director of a non-profit who works with HIV patients in the South Carolina prisons.
- Local news coverage previewing this past Saturday’s “No More Victims Walk,” a collaboration between the Tennessee Department of Corrections and a victims’ rights organization. Plans were for a 3-mile walk in the community, led by the organization’s founder, Tennessee’s first lady Andrea Conte, while within the prisons, inmates were to have their own walks and charity fundraisers. Judging by Conte’s website, organizing charity walks seems to be a go-to community activity of hers.