Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

Posts Tagged ‘eric holder

Well, Today’s the Day…

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… the DOJ’s deadline, imposed by Congress in 2003, for adopting national standards for eliminating prison rape. Unfortunately, the DOJ will miss the deadline. Pressured by what The Hill calls the “prison industry” — although, of course, the “prison industry” is ostensibly not an industry but a sector of our democratic system of government — Attorney General Eric Holder is delaying the promulgation of any regulations. In the words of Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va):

The longer you delay, the more people will be raped in prison. It’s unconscionable that [DoJ] officials are blocking it now. I don’t know what Holder’s problem is.

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Written by sara

June 23, 2010 at 6:06 am

Federal Prisons More Crowded, Less Funded; DOJ Lagging on Prison Rape Standards; and More

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Although I said I wouldn’t be blogging this week, there have been a few must-read news items in the past few days for those interested in prison/jail issues:

  • The Crunch in Federal Prisons“: The Crime Report notes that federal prisons are now at 34% above capacity, but Congress isn’t keeping up with the growth by allocating more funding. The federal prison system now holds over 200,000 inmates, i.e., more than California. Slightly over half of federal prisoners are doing time for drug-related crimes, and most of them are subject to tough mandatory minimum sentences.
  • U.S. Likely to Miss Deadline on Prison Rape Rules“: Attorney General Eric Holder is likely to miss an upcoming deadline to promulgate regulations requiring jails and prisons to adopt best practices for preventing prison rape. Holder says local wardens worry the required changes would be too costly.
  • Delaware House passes bill to count incarcerated people at home“: The Delaware House unanimously passed legislation to count incarcerated people at their home addresses for redistricting purposes. The bill now goes to the Senate. If it passes there, Delaware will be the second state — after Maryland — to eliminate prison-based gerrymandering.

Last Day to Submit Comments to Eric Holder re: Prison Rape Elimination Standards

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The Department of Justice has solicited public comment on whether it should adopt the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission’s proposed standards, and today is the final day to submit comments. (See my earlier blog post here.) If you haven’t already, take five minutes to sign the Just Detention International petition at Change.org or submit your own comment via Regulations.gov at this link.

Written by sara

May 10, 2010 at 11:12 am

Is Ending Prison Rape “Too Expensive”?

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Over at the Washington City Paper website, The Sexist blog has a great post up quoting at length from many of the public comments submitted to the Department of Justice regarding the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission’s proposed standards. The commenters range from state corrections department officials, who argue that the standards are too expensive to implement, to victims of prison sexual abuse, who describe their experiences in sobering and heartbreaking detail. Remember that if you haven’t yet submitted your views about prison rape to Attorney General Eric Holder, you still have time — the public comment period on the proposed standards is open until May 10. You can sign your name to Just Detention International‘s comments at this online petition, or visit my earlier post for instructions on submitting your own comment via the federal government’s Regulations.gov website.

Here’s an excerpt from the story of Frank Mendoza:
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Help End Prison Rape, Preserve Due Process: Two Opportunities for Public Comment on Federal Prison Regulations

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If you have an extra five minutes today, here are two easy ways for you to share your opinion with the federal government and make your thoughts part of the public record. You can be sure that corrections officials and lobby groups will be seeking to influence the government on both these issues, so it’s important that ordinary citizens make their voices heard as well.

(1) Write to the DOJ urging adoption of the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission Standards

As I’ve noted before, the Department of Justice is currently accepting public comments on whether it should adopt the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission standards. The public comment period ends soon (May 10), so take a few minutes today to submit your comment, if you haven’t already. The proposed standards are based on best practices from prison systems that have made concrete progress in reducing sexual abuse behind bars — so their adoption nationwide could make a real difference in combating what’s become a true human rights crisis in this country. If you feel that you need more information about the scope of the problem, check out the details and links at the Just Detention International website. Then, there are a number of easy ways to submit your comment into the public record:

  • Visit www.regulations.gov, search for “Docket No. OAG-131” as your keyword, then click “Submit a Comment.” You’ll be taken to a form where you can enter your comment as text or upload an attachment.
  • Sign this petition at Change.org, which will submit a form letter to Eric Holder on your behalf.
  • If you prefer snail mail, sample letters and addresses are available from Prison Fellowship.

(2) Write to the Bureau of Prisons about its so-called “Communications Management Units

As reported here by Politico, the Obama Administration is reviving a set of rules first proposed but later abandoned by the Bush Administration to keep terrorism-related federal prisoners in special, isolated facilities, with very extreme restrictions on their outside communications. These so-called “Communications Management Units” are actually already in use, and in a recently filed lawsuit, prisoners allege they’ve been transferred there with no notice or due process, and without any clear standards as to who qualifies for this treatment. By belatedly publishing a set of rules for the CMUs, the administration may be hoping to forestall that lawsuit’s claim that the use of CMUs was never subject to public notice and comment, as is generally required of new federal regulations. (I blogged about the lawsuit here).

Note that by definition these rules would affect not the so-called “worst of the worst” terrorism-related prisoners (who would likely be sent to the federal supermax in Colorado, if not whatever substitute for Guantanamo the administration comes up with) but rather, as Politico puts it, “prisoners who are perceived by the government or as a result of their crimes to be more likely to try to associate with terrorist networks” (my emphasis: note all the implicit “ifs”). Prisoners currently in the CMUs claim they’ve been singled out for their religious or political beliefs, or in retaliation for filing grievances against the prison system — not for legitimate safety reasons — and that they weren’t given any opportunity to view or challenge the evidence allegedly supporting their isolation.

  • If you choose to write to Eric Holder about this general issue, the Center for Constitutional Rights has some suggested language. You can also send a form letter through their website by clicking here.
  • If you want to comment specifically on the new federal regulations, you have until June 7. To submit your comment, go to www.regulations.gov and search for “BOP Docket No. 1148-P” as your keyword, then click “Submit a Comment.” Then upload your comment as text or an attachment. The Brennan Center for Justice makes some points about the proposed regs that you may want to incorporate into your comment.

The Law Enforcement Case for Criminal Justice Reform

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It’s time to face facts about our current approach to incarceration. It’s not sustainable. It’s not affordable. And we’ve seen that it isn’t always as effective as we think in reducing crime and keeping Americans safe.

Over the last few decades, state spending on corrections has risen faster than nearly any other budget item. Yet our best research suggests that there are other, more effective ways to invest taxpayer dollars and ensure public safety.

At a cost of $60 billion a year, our prisons and jails do very little to prepare prisoners to get jobs and “go straight” after they’re released. Former offenders are often barred from housing, shunned by potential employers, and surrounded by other ex-offenders in their neighborhoods. This is a recipe for high recidivism. And it’s the reason that two-thirds of those released are rearrested within three years.

It’s time for a new approach.

Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking to the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), February 12, 2010. (h/t: Sentencing Law & Policy)

Written by sara

February 12, 2010 at 3:47 pm

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