As the Minnesota legislature rolls on toward its May 22 end-of-session deadline, bad bills keep on coming. Here’s a quick list of some of the worst. Call your legislators, conference committee members, and Governor Dayton to just say no to bad environmental legislation, private prisons, and protest penalties. Continue reading
Journalist Shane Bauer worked undercover as a prison guard at a private CCA prison for four months.
Privatization means profits over people, every single time. Shane Bauer worked four months in a private prison, going undercover as a prison guard to report on what actually happens there. “Don’t ever say thank you” was one of the early lessons he learned, and perhaps one of the least damaging. Continue reading
“Poor people convicted today face fiscal servitude to the court,” writes sociologist Alexes Harris in A Pound of Flesh, an important and highly readable book about the U.S. criminal justice system that will be published in June. Her research reveals how a complex system of fees and fines creates “a two-tiered system of punishment: one for those with financial means and one for those who are poor.” Legal financial obligations (LFOs) imposed in criminal cases include fines and restitution, but also fees for everything from court libraries and trial by jury to room and board while imprisoned. Besides the original amounts, interest on unpaid LFOs keeps piling up, sometimes along with annual collection fees on the unpaid balance. Continue reading
Filed under prisons, race
Reverend Ovester Armstrong, Jr. speaks to #StopCCA rally
“They are not building these prisons to stay empty,” Reverend Ovester Armstrong, Jr. told protesters at the Minnesota State Office Building on March 22. “They are building these prisons to fill them up.” Inside, the House Public Safety Committee held hearings on re-opening a private prison in Appleton. The private prison is owned by the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA), the largest prison company in the United States.
“We should help people, not make money off of them,” said Reverend Armstrong. “We should not let someone’s life be held hostage to a dollar bill.” Continue reading
Filed under prisons, race
More than 20,000 immigrant prisoners are serving their sentences at 11 privatized, immigrant-only contract prisons run by three companies: the Geo Group, the Corrections Corp. of America and the Management and Training Corp. Many of these prisoners are convicted only of illegal entry.
Private prisons cost less than federal prisons because they provide less. Immigrant prisoners — who are deported after serving time — don’t receive rehabilitation, education or job training, services considered essential for U.S. citizens held in government-operated prisons.
Even worse, these prisons fail to provide minimally adequate health care to inmates, leading to death for some and misery for many. Basic human rights standards require prisons to provide adequate medical care to inmates, regardless of their legal status.
This article originally published by Al Jazeera America. Continue reading
Want to carry a resolution to your precinct caucus? Or a whole bunch of resolutions? Here’s a list, and some links to more. If you have resolutions to add, put them in the comments. Take one, take a dozen – put them on this form for the DFL (or REALLY get crazy and put them on this form, if you’re a Republican.) Continue reading
Women at T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, Texas began another hunger strike at the end of October. Mostly women seeking refugee status, many have been detained for prolonged periods of time in the private, for-profit center run by Corrections Corporation of America. The hunger strike began with 27 women and has grown since then. Continue reading
In May the state of Washington contracted with the GEO Group, one of the largest for-profit prison companies in the U.S., to move up to 1,000 inmates from the state’s overcrowded prisons to its correctional facility in Michigan, thousands of miles from their homes and families. This makes family visits and connection with the community harder, though studies show that inmates who receive more visits are less likely to re-offend after release. Continue reading
Just a few weeks ago, it looked like this was the year for voting rights for convicted felons in Minnesota. Both Republicans and Democrats backed bills allowing convicted felons to vote after they were released from prison, even if they were still on probation or parole. Now the voting rights bill looks dead. Continue reading
Since 1979, the U.S. prison system has ballooned out of control. We now have the highest rate of incarceration in the world — 716 for every 100,000 residents. Minnesota has followed the trend. Our prison population went from less than 2,500 in 1978 to 10,000 in 2011, according to the Prison Policy Initiative’s analysis of Bureau of Justice statistics. That’s a change from about 50 people per 100,000 to almost 200 per 100,000 — much lower than the national rate, but still higher than the rates of all European countries except Russia and Azerbaijan. Continue reading