Posts Tagged ‘department of justice’
On Wednesday I noted how you can submit your feedback to the Department of Justice on the proposed prison rape elimination standards. Another option is to sign on to the letter that will be submitted by the Campaign for Youth Justice. Here are the details — note the deadline to sign onto the letter is
5 PM TODAY (UPDATE: deadline has been extended to 10 AM SUNDAY):
In response to the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) proposed regulations on the implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), the Campaign for Youth Justice is circulating a sign-on letter calling on DOJ to ban the placement of youth (under 18) in adult jails and prisons. Their goal is to obtain at least 500 national, state and local organizations and individuals in all 50 states. As the DOJ comments are due at close of business on Monday, April 4, we are asking for signatories by
Friday, April 1, at 5 PMSunday, April 3, at 10 AM. If you or your organization would like to sign onto the attached letter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This coming Monday, April 4, is the deadline for submitting public comment to the Department of Justice about its proposed regulations aimed at reducing prison rape and sexual abuse. Just Detention International has compiled a handy how-to that walks you through the process. You can choose to take literally 2 minutes to click through and submit JDI’s form letter in your name, or take a little longer to write your own message. If you’re looking for additional fodder for your letter, visit the Prison Fellowship site which takes AG Eric Holder to task for weakening the standards. This article, from the New York Review of Books, will give you additional background on the issue and the proposed standards.
I’ve been lax posting here lately, but not because there hasn’t been prison legal news. Miscellaneous other projects require my attention at least for the next few days — all apologies, but also, that’s what you get when you rely on a prison blog that’s an on-the-side project — but for now, here are a few links to keep you busy:
- The Supreme Court decided Ortiz v. Jordan (decision and other docs here), ruling in favor of Michelle Ortiz, who was molested by a prison guard and then sent to solitary when she spoke up about it.
- The Justice Department has finally gotten around to releasing proposed rules pursuant to the Prison Rape Elimination Act. In the words of AG Eric Holder: “Sexual abuse is a crime, not punishment for a crime.” When the rules are opened to public comment at regulations.gov, I’ll post a how-to for those interested in entering their thoughts into the public record. As noted by the hard-working folks at Just Detention International, by the DOJ’s figures some 600 inmates are sexually abused every day.
Also: admittedly I actually have approximately “negative infinity” interest, as a 5-year-old might say, in watching the State of the Union or any other political speech — I just don’t really care about “politics” per se, or “positioning” or “rhetoric” or whatever you want to call it, and it’s not like the State of the Union has practical policy significance; so fine, lump me in with the Great Uninformed — so I have no idea what Obama may or may not have said last night, but I did like this tweet.
After a Nassau County inmate with a history of mental illness committed suicide last week — the county’s fourth inmate suicide in 12 months — a state legislator and inmate advocates are calling for a federal investigation:
“Given the fact that the feds have had involvement in the facility, it makes sense for them to take a look at what is or is not going on that might be helpful,” said Assemb. Jeffrion Aubry (D-East Elmhurst), chairman of the Assembly’s committee on correction.
The U.S. Justice Department had closely monitored the jail both for overcrowding and, more recently, after finding gross civil rights violations stemming from the 1999 beating death of an inmate and problems with [Nassau University Medical Center]’s inmate medical care.
The DOJ’s earlier monitoring efforts in Nassau County were concluded in 2005.
Meanwhile, the ACLU of Ohio is seeking information about procedures at the Summit County Jail after an apparent inmate suicide:
[Michael Carl] O’Neill, 51, was taken off life support Tuesday, about two days after he jumped from a second-story ledge from a visitation area inside the jail. The Akron man was being held over the weekend on public-drunkeness-related charges and was assigned to a cot in the open area.
On Friday, the American Civil Liberties Union wrote Alexander expressing concern of potential overcrowding issues. The group is seeking the department’s policies on inmate housing and any mental health evaluation given to O’Neill.
”Housing inmates in a large common area typically used for other purposes raises red flags over potential safety flaws and indicates that the jail may be dangerously overcrowded,” ACLU of Ohio Legal Director James Hardiman said Friday.
As I’ve noted before, the War on Crime and the War on Terror have a lot of overlap. So, for students of mass incarceration, I wanted to highlight some particularly relevant snippets from the past few days’ coverage of the Ghailani verdict.
(1) Supermax, solitary confinement, and the politics of terror trials. Guantanamo military prosecutor Morris Davis has published this op-ed defending the verdict as just. Although his argument focuses mainly on procedural issues having to do with the trial itself, he also addresses Ghailani’s likely punishment:
Mr. Ghailani may well serve his sentence at the “supermax” federal prison in Florence, Colo., where others convicted in the embassy bombings are confined. If so, he will spend more time in solitary and enjoy fewer privileges than those under the most restrictive measures at Guantánamo.
Of course, this is the same supermax that proponents of keeping Guantanamo open (most of whom aren’t exactly prison experts) have claimed is incapable of holding terror detainees. At least one prisoner has been held there in solitary confinement for decades, conditions that many psychologists don’t hesitate to call torture.
The private prison company GEO Group will face a lawsuit over conditions at Mississippi’s Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility, with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the ACLU, and Mississippi lawyer Robert McDuff representing the plaintiffs. Walnut Grove was already under investigation by the federal Department of Justice. The Clarion-Ledger reports:
Some prison staff exploit youth by selling drugs inside the facility and engaging in sexual relationships with youth in their care, the suit alleges. Many youth have suffered physical injuries, some permanent as a result of dangerously deficient security policies. …
In 2007, Dennis Earl Holmes died after a lawsuit claimed he was denied adequate medical care. He suffered from treatable diabetes, according to a lawsuit his family filed on Oct. 29 in federal court. …
Michael McIntosh of Hazlehurst alleges that because of the abuse his 21-year-old son suffered in the Walnut Grove prison, “he will live with permanent brain damage for the rest of his life.”
More information, including the full complaint, available here from SPLC.
FairWarning has this report on an ongoing DOJ investigation:
A government-owned company that runs electronics recycling plants at federal prisons from New Jersey to California is coming under intensified scrutiny for repeatedly exposing prison employees and inmate laborers to excessive levels of lead and other toxic metals.
The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General is expected within days to release its report on a years-long investigation of the recycling operations — including accusations that prison officials ignored basic workplace safety precautions.
Separately, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons has quietly paid about $1 million to settle a grievance over hazardous duty pay for employees of an Elkton, Ohio, prison with one of the recycling plants. On one occasion, an air test at the eastern Ohio institution found cadmium levels 450 times higher than federal safety limits.
And a union for employees at the federal lockup in the central California community of Atwater also is demanding retroactive hazardous duty pay. Barring a settlement, that case is scheduled for arbitration in December.
On another front, lawyers preparing health claims for employees of the prison at Marianna, Fla., last week sued the Bureau of Prisons, claiming it has illegally withheld records about the recycling operation there, including by blaming a loss of documents on Hurricane Ivan.