Wednesday, March 13, 2013

State prisoners' right to vote enangered in Maine

Only Maine and Vermont currently permit state prison inmates to vote, and that may now change in Maine.  One legislator has proposed an amendment to Maine’s constitution that would prohibit voting by those state prison inmates who have been “convicted of a crime for which a sentence of imprisonment of more than 10 years may be imposed.”
The first public hearings took place on March 4 and a work session by the Committee for Veterans and Legal Affairs  is scheduled for March 15. Views about the resolution have been published in the Bangor Daily News, the Portland Press Herald, the ACLU of Maine news center, and on Maine's public radio station.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Is Denver Violating the Rights of Deaf Prisoners?

Susan Green of The Colorado Independent recently reported that the U.S. Justice department has opened an investigation into whether Denver jail officials have violated the Americans with Disabilities Act through its failure to provide sign-language interpreters for deaf prisoners.  The investigation was prompted by a lawsuit filed by a profoundly deaf man who claims that he was repeatedly denied an interpreter while in the Denver County Jail, even when undergoing intake, classification and medical interviews. A previous lawsuit, alleging the failure to provide interpreters for three deaf inmates, failure to provide adequate accommodations, and failure to properly train staff to deal with deaf prisoners, resulted in the city agreeing to settle the claim for $695,000.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners

Check out David Fathi's recent blogs, filed from Buenos Aires, where he is attending the Inter-Governmental Expert Meeting on the UN's Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. David is the Director of the ACLU National Prison Project.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Children of prisoners

The Irish Penal Reform Trust, "an independent nongovernmental organisation campaigning for the rights of everyone in the penal system, with prison as a last resort," has just released "Picking up the Pieces": The Rights and Needs of Children and Families Affected by Imprisonment.  It describes the effect of imprisonment on those who "must endure their own sentence, despite not having perpetrated any crime."  Some of the problems discussed are: the impact of separation, barriers to visitation and maintaining the parent-child relationship, stigmatization, mental health issues, and difficulties in reunification.  While the report's recommendations are not applicable to all countries, since it was written in the context of the European Convention on Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the impact of a parent's imprisonment is universal.  Among the more standard suggestions for reform is one that recommends:

The best interests of the child should be a key consideration in proceedings where a parent may be remanded or sentenced to custody.

The report also suggests that impact statements from children of parents about to be sentenced "would be one practical approach which would permit the voice of the child to be heard."

Interesting reading!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Predatory Phone Pricing

Peter Wagner shares "a big victory ... in the movement to end predatory pricing of prison telephone services."  See the details in Movement Victory: FCC Proposes To Regulate Prison Telephone Industry.  Congratulations to those working on this issue!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

New Prison Reform Advocates?

An interesting article in the latest issue of Washington Monthly explains how and why political conservatives have recently taken up the cause of prison reform.  David Dagan and Steven M. Teles point out that "[t]he 2012 Republican platform declares, 'Prisons should do more than punish; they should attempt to rehabilitate and institute proven prisoner reentry systems to reduce recidivism and future victimization.'”  Also, a "rogue’s gallery of conservative crime warriors" now apparently support Newt Gingrich's view that "[t]here is an urgent need to address the astronomical growth in the prison population, with its huge costs in dollars and lost human potential.”  Rehabilitation?  Lost human potential?  Hmmm......    

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Election Results Might Have Been Different

From Peter Wagner:
In anticipation of the recent election, Prison Policy Initiative and Josh Begley produced an intriguing inforgraphic entitled: "Should the states that bar the most people from the poles be allowed to pick the next president?"  Whether or not disenfranchisement changed the ultimate outcome this time around, it certainly had an impact on the popular vote.  As Peter wrote, "the graphic links the obscenely high rates of lifetime disentranchisement in Virginia and Florida with those states' status as "swing" states ...."