- OK, so, here’s the case of the week. Fulton County, Ga. (which includes most of Atlanta plus some of its suburbs), has inmates sleeping on the floor because its jail is so overcrowded. In settling a 2004 federal lawsuit over these conditions, the county agreed to fix this. Specifically, the county said it would purchase a jail from the City of Atlanta to use. Only now, the county says it doesn’t have the money to go through with the purchase. Federal judge Marvin Shoob’s response:
“We’re running a jail like a Third World country,” Shoob said. “I don’t care where they get the money.”
Shoob told Ware to inform the Fulton county commissioners to move ahead with the sale. If there is resistance, Shoob said, “I’ll let them know I’ll send them to the federal penitentiary. I really mean it.”
- Feds reach agreement with Erie County (that’s Buffalo), N.Y., to implement sweeping changes to the county jail. This resolves a lawsuit brought by the DOJ Civil Rights Division, which the county fought tooth and nail. In fact, the County Executive is still calling the lawsuit “frivolous” which is odd considering the county settled.
- Nashville woman wins lawsuit against sheriff’s department that kept her shackled during childbirth. The jury has awarded $200,000 in damages, although Nashville’s lawyers have vowed to appeal to the Sixth Circuit. The woman was in custody for minor traffic charges that were later dropped. The Crime Report recently offered a roundup of shackling practices nationwide; Colorlines covered the case back in May.
- Speaking of shackling, the ACLU has filed suit over ICE shackling immigration detainees in court.
- Ads informing ex-prisoners of voting rights were unconstitutionally rejected by the Pittsburgh Port Authority.
- The prison hunger strike at Pelican Bay has triggered some limited reforms. But on a media tour of the supermax, a CDCR spokesman continued to say that he doesn’t think the conditions are torturous.
- Should inmates be allowed to use Facebook? California says no, Doug Berman says maybe.
- Could California close a women’s prison in the near future?
- A ballot initiative to reform California’s three strikes law is in the works.
Around the U.S. and World
- Less than a month old, Arkansas sentencing reforms are already triggering backlash… mainly from legislators who were outvoted the first time around. Meanwhile, Arkansas judges are interested in Hawaii’s HOPE model for probation.
- After an inmate on suicide watch commits suicide, calls for federal oversight of Orleans Parish Prison.
- Illinois prison is prone to flooding, mold, mildew, and spider bites.
- Maryland prisons create niche market for clear-case electronics.
- New York prisoner does not have the right to daily matzoh.
- Prison chaplains are a common casualty of state budget cuts.
- Some prisoners can vote in Tennessee.
- At over 5,000, Texas has the most prisoners in ad-seg of any state.
- Recidivism rates are lower for ex-offenders given the right to vote.
- Conservative states are closing prisons.
- Egypt to install pay phones in prison.
- Harsh conditions in Israeli prisons.