Portantino Proposes Alternative to Early Release Prison Reform Efforts

Assemblyman Anthony Portantino

Anthony Portantino: Assemblymember Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) has introduced legislation that shifts the prison reform debate from an early release and sentencing reform emphasis to stopping the revolving door at California’s prisons.

Michael Vick and the Politics of Prison Redemption

Jennifer Graber

Jennifer Graber: While Vick’s effort to turn his life around has won praise from many, it is no surprise that some will remain unconvinced. Since at least the 1820s, Americans have been supremely conflicted about what to do with their lawbreakers. Punish them or redeem them? Or is it a little of both?

Bradley Manning’s Torture Commonplace in U.S. Prisons

Sherwood Ross: Those supporting Manning need to recognize he is an icon for the bizarre, systemic destruction of tens of thousands of other human beings locked away in perpetual silence by their tormentors, often for mere infractions of prison rules, without the review of any judge or jury.

Overcrowding at Center of Landmark Prison Rights Case

carol_strickman

Carol Strickman: The best way to ensure that people successfully reenter society is to provide resources to support them upon release. Prisoners who have maintained family ties and have housing and employment opportunities awaiting them will do better than those who don’t.

Prisonomics 101: How ALEC and the Prison Industry Got Arizona’s SB1070 onto Gov. Jan Brewer’s Desk

jan brewer signing

Seth Hoy: private prison corporations, who stand to make hundreds of millions in profits from the detention of immigrants, not only had a hand in drafting Arizona’s controversial immigration enforcement law, SB1070, but contributed millions to the bill’s cosponsors and continue to push the legislation in other states.

Fast 4 Freedom

curb

Diane Lefer: AB900 was a huge victory for the prison-industrial complex. “People are making a profit out of putting people in cages,” said Geri Silva.

Juveniles Sentenced to Life Without Parole

Juveniles Sentenced to Life Without Parole? Yes, it happens in the United States. Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative discusses children in the justice system

A Modest Proposal for Financing Higher Education in California

juvenile detention

John MacMurray: The brilliantly simple/simply brilliant solution: re-designate our Cal State and University of California campuses as prisons. Since a goodly number of the current student population regards them as such anyway, it should not be too big a stretch.

Blacks Prison and Unemployment

black child

Sherwood Ross: Slumlords charge exorbitant rents. “Convenience” stores charge higher prices. Military recruiters have their pick of jobless youth desperate for work. And the for-profit, private prisons increase their head count (and income) as the judicial system hands off the young drug peddlers caught in the legal web. As the Kaiser Family Foundation reported, African-Americans fill 40 percent of the nation’s prison cells. Yet they make up just 13 percent of the nation’s population.

AB2727 – The Bradford/Bass Re-Entry Employment Opportunity Act: Addressing The Lifelong Challenges of Ex-Offenders (Not A Minute Too Soon)

Speaker Emeritus Karen Bass

Anthony Asadullah Samad: If California is serious at reducing its prison costs, ex-offenders will have to be re-trained and employers will have to be more tolerant of people trying to get their lives back on track. Is that even possible? One thing about American culture, as it relates to any offender, is that despite we profess to being a forgiving society, or want to redeem the best in those who have made mistakes, the truth of the matter is that it always lets the ex-offender know that they are just that, “ex-offenders.”

First Solve Prison Crisis, Then Fix California’s Budget

Gary Gilmore

Dick Price: To get a handle on the damage California’s current approach to incarceration is having on its citizens, consider this: In a recent 23-year period, California erected 23 prisons—one a year, each costing roughly $100 million dollars annually to operate, with both Democratic and Republican governors occupying the statehouse—at the same time that it added just one campus to its vaunted university system, UC Merced.

Education Activists Need Strategy Beyond Marches

School crunch

Randy Shaw: Activists can use mass action to pressure legislators and the Governor to redirect excessive spending on prisons and other wasteful programs to education, but there is no chance this year of getting enough Republicans to win the necessary two-thirds legislative votes.

African-Americans Have Seven Times Greater Chance of Imprisonment

Marc Mauer, the Prison Project

Sherwood Ross: It is far more likely that in the late twentieth century, in contrast to earlier time, patterns of discrimination reflect unconscious biases rather than blatant attempts to oppress African Americans.

Where Have All the Black Men Gone?

black prisoner

Michelle Alexander: They’re missing in churches, missing from their families, missing from college campuses, and absent from work. Black women can’t find a man to marry. Black children don’t know where to find their fathers. Where are those guys?

The New Jim Crow

Michelle-Alexander

Michelle Alexander: The clock has been turned back on racial progress in America, though scarcely anyone seems to notice. All eyes are fixed on people like Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey who have defied the odds and achieved great power, wealth and fame.

When the Budget’s in Doubt, Threaten to Let ‘Em All Out

arnie

he whole world knows that California is as broke as its residents are. Yet, it never ceases to amaze me when it comes to local and state politics how low some politicians will go to get their way. Case in point, California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose new motto should be “when in doubt, threaten to [...]

Troy Anthony Davis – Executing the Innocent

Troy Anthony Davis – Executing the Innocent I’ve posted several pieces on the tragic case of Troy Anthony Davis. I can’t let this story go. The more I study the law, the more I’m convinced there are times when the administration of the law can be far removed from questions of guilt or innocence. A [...]

A Message From Amnesty International – Troy Anthony Davis

Troy Anthony Davis

Troy Anthony Davis faces execution for the murder of Police Officer Mark MacPhail in Georgia, despite a strong claim of innocence. 7 out of 9 witnesses have recanted or contradicted their testimony, no murder weapon was found and no physical evidence links Davis to the crime. This week the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected [...]

Black, Male, Released from Prison, and Unemployed: A Recipe for Social Estrangement

oakland

Young men who are re-entering society from prison can’t find work. Recent studies on prisoner re-entry suggest that, in California, nearly 400 prisoners, A DAY, are being released into the community, with 70% to 90% of them being unemployed because only 20% of the state’s employers are willing to hire persons with convictions (no matter how long ago).

Color of Law: Please Don’t Feed the Prison Monster

justice-maze

At its worst, America’s criminal justice system represents the place where racism, greed and corruption intersect. At its best, it is inherently flawed, unjust, and unreliable, and little better than its worst. The engine that drives this injustice system is known as the prison industrial complex. It is the theater in which the nation’s foremost [...]

Friday Feedback: Putting Rehabilitation Back in Prison

Every Friday the LA Progressive features a comment that was particularly noteworthy. This week we are featuring a comment submitted by Judith Traverso in response to Guy Geltner‘s “From After Guantánamo: The Crisis of U.S. Prisons and Lessons from the Medieval Past.” Judith writes: Thank you, Dr. Geltner, for your very interesting article on prisons [...]

Prison Expansion Pushed Forward While Massive Cuts to Education Proposed

Prison Budget Expands, Education Budget Cut While the Governor and legislature propose massive cuts to education and 2,000 public works projects are on hold, a bill to propel a $12 billion prison construction project was sent to Governor Schwarzeneggar. This bill is designed to fix problems with AB900, the largest prison construction plan in history. [...]

Slavery, American Style, Must Go!

world-balloon

Who says there are no slaves in America? The greatest domestic issue facing President-elect Obama is not the bailout of the bankers and insurers but the task of lifting tens of millions of hard-working American wage-slaves out of dire poverty. These are the folks who hold one – and sometimes two or even three – [...]

Crime and Drugs in the United States

he United States imprisons almost one in one hundred American adults—a higher number and percentage of its population than any other country. This has been especially devastating for minorities— with one in nine black men ages 20 to 34 behind bars.  Many of these people remain in a continual pattern of crime. Are we a [...]

Senator Cox Speaks Of Crime and Government

Crime

In his latest constituent newsletter, California State Senator Dave Cox confuses coincidence with causation by connecting imprisonment with lower crime rates. He also rejects the notion that California imprisons too many, saying: “California’s incarceration rate [is] very ordinary with at least 20 other states reporting more inmates per 100,000 residents.”

Are Progressives Blind to the Prison-Industrial Complex?

Prison

ver the summer, my husband Dick and I attended one of the first meetings of the Downtown Los Angeles Chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America. Amid the high rises and lofts of the rapidly growing middleclass demographic of LA’s Civic Center, a modest sized group of progressive activists gathered on the patio of the [...]

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