Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The prison-industrial complex in Hawaii

Hawaii has long shipped its prisoners overseas to privately owned mainland facilities. This is particularly problematic for members of Hawaii's native islander population, who often live under crushing poverty and cannot afford to visit loved ones behind bars.

Taking steps to further implement this problematic policy, Hawaii has signed a multi-million dollar contract with the Corrections Corporation of America to house inmates in Arizona. Prison scholars and activists should be on the lookout for other states, based on financial hardship, to similarly outsource incarceration.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Going to prison for healthcare

A North Carolina man robbed a bank for $1 in order to be arrested and sentenced to prison. His rationale? He felt it was the only way he could secure medical treatment for a variety of health issues. This is a fascinating and heartbreaking demonstration of the complex role the prison plays in the broader circuitries of civil society.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Jimmy Carter on the Global Drug War

Check out this New York Times editorial by former President Jimmy Carter, in which he calls for a radical transformation in the way America deals with drugs.

The latest in the Protess case

The legal and academic drama continues surrounding David Protess, former director of the Medill Innocence Project at Northwestern University. The work of Protess and his journalism students was instrumental in several exonerations in Illinois, including several death penalty cases. These exonerations, in turn, helped motivate then-Illinois Governor George Ryan to empty that state's death row in 2003. Whereas Protess's accusers claim they are defending the integrity of the academy and legal system, the now-retired journalism professor insists he is the victim of a politically-motivated witch hunt.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Yes Magazine - Beyond Prisons issue

The current issue of Yes Magazine is available online and its focus is "Beyond Prisons." It contains articles on restorative justice, re-entry, arts, and many other interesting items. Find it here: http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/beyond-prisons

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Protest and the signifiers of criminality

For my money, one of the best blogs chronicling the so-called Arab Spring is 3Arabawy. This brief entry documents activists' response Egyptian officials' attempts to brand protestors as "criminals" and "thugs." Cairo's military government, of course, is not the first regime to re-cast grassroots activists as criminal threats in need of policing.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Blackwater takes suburbia?

Just spotted this story in my local paper. A once-affluent neighborhood currently sustaining a sharp increase in crime has hired its own military-style security firm to patrol the streets in Hummers. The write-up is a borderline puff piece, ignoring the wide-ranging implications of militarizing suburbia.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Prison in Venezuela

This is a positively fascinating article from yesterday's New York Times. It profiles a prison in Porlamar, Venezuela where inmates, by many measures, run the show. In one respect, the facility is a den of hedonism that promotes precisely the kinds of practices that led these men and women (who have plutonic and romantic contact with each other) to be incarcerated in the first place. On the other hand, the facility is significantly safer and more tranquil than others in the Latin American country. It would be interesting to see some recidivism figures.