Proposals to get people out of prison
- Alabama: Chief Justice Sue Cobb Bell continues her crusade for sentencing reforms in Alabama, which has the nation’s most overcrowded prison system.
- Indiana: Governor Mitch Daniels continues his campaign for Pew Foundation recommended reforms that would divert low-level offenders out of prison.
- Kentucky: Legislative proposal would divert low-level drug offenders to probation and addiction treatment rather than prison. 1/4 of Kentucky inmates are in for drug charges. Look for a bill to be introduced next month.
Proposals to keep more people in prison
- California: Competing views on Jerry Brown’s proposal to shift all responsibility for juvenile justice to the county level; some worry counties will respond by trying more juveniles as adults.
- Massachusetts: Deval Patrick wants the parole board to get tougher; but experts say that will exacerbate overcrowding in the prisons. Wendy Kaminer suggests that reducing parole board discretion doesn’t eliminate discretion from the system, it simply transfers it to prosecutors, who are even more unaccountable to the public.
Mental health and county jails
- California: Santa Barbara County sheriff laments that his jail has become a de facto psychiatric hospital, given the lack of community mental health services.
- Kansas: Johnson County’s pilot project to better coordinate the county’s mental health services and criminal justice system. Just under 1/5 of people booked into the county jail have a mental illness.
- Bradley Manning’s lawyer alleges mistreatment at the Quantico military brig, says Manning was placed on suicide watch against the recommendations of a forensic psychiatrist.
- A grim account of alleged abuses in the federal prison system’s “Communications Management Units,” which overwhelmingly hold Muslim inmates.
- In a nonfiction roundup, the New York Times notes Xioada Xiao’s memoir of life in a Chinese prison.
- Britain continues to debate inmate voting — the European Court of Human Rights overturned Britain’s blanket inmate voting ban in 2005, but polls suggest that most in Britain aren’t convinced.