Some links with a little bit of commentary on the side:
- New report on children of incarcerated parents: California Watch has the link. White children now have a 1 in 25 chance of a parent going to prison, black children 1 in 4. This is partly because the number of incarcerated women has skyrocketed 400% since 1986.
- Good news and bad news from Arkansas: The good news is that the Arkansas Legislature is considering reforms to reduce the prison population. In this same article, the bad news is that the West Memphis police chief seems to have formed his policy views by blending together some irate blog comments about how awesome life in prison is since they feed you and let you watch TV, and then deciding we should reinstate the chain gang.
- Jerry Brown proposes sweeping prison changes for California: The proposal would shift low-level offenders to county jails rather than state prison, and shutter the youth prison system (which, note, has already been significantly downsized in recent years). The key to understanding this proposal is that Brown is talking about, for example, the 11,000 prisoners who served less than 30 days in 2009, or the 47,000 who served three months or less (this group would include parole violators and people who’d eaten up a lot of time served in county jail pre-sentencing) — it’s expensive to go through all the steps of transporting and classifying them into state prison for such a short stay, the state winds up duplicating a lot of the intake testing done at the county jail level, and there’s evidence that cycling folks in and out of prison for short stints like this is counterproductive. (E.g., for those with mental illnesses it disrupts any treatment they may have been receiving in the community; for those connected to prison gangs it’s a chance to check back in; etc.) Possible problems with this plan: some counties have more space than others; concerns about how it will be funded. (California’s budget, BTW: not in great shape.)
- Lawyer for man accused of helping Times Square bomber is “shocked” by his conditions of confinement: “I’ve never, ever seen this, even with clients charged with murder.”
- Chicago: Federal court rejects Cook County’s proposed plan for alleviating jail overcrowding.
- Louisiana legislative panel calls for more funding for parole officers.
- New York: Prison suicides are up 23% since the 1990s; advocates say many inmates aren’t receiving needed mental health treatment.
- Virginia to close prison built in 1896, but will retain Thoroughbred and dog training programs.
- An interview with a former Georgia warden. Topics include contraband cell phones and prison education programs. In case you’re interested.