News Archive

Seeking law and graduate student interns for Spring Break and Summer

December 13, 2006

The Prison Policy Initiative is looking for law and graduate student interns to spend either the summer break or your Spring Break week helping us create and disseminate cutting-edge research on incarceration policy. Read more.

Vote for "One Nation Under Guard" on Current TV

November 10, 2006

Lucas Krost's 10 minute documentary is one of 6 finalists in the Current TV Seeds of Tolerance Contest. The video can be seen on their cable TV channel and on the web, and viewers can vote for their favorite.

screencap of Alan Eisner in One Nation Under Guard

Journalist Alan Eisner explains in One Nation Under Guard how the Census Bureau's practice of counting Black urban prisoners as residents of white rural prison towns dilutes the votes of urban communities and gives prison town legislators additional political clout.

Current TV is a new media company credited by former Vice President Al Gore in August. The network airs contents created by viewers, and users of the company's website select what the cable channel will air.

Lucas Krost's film, One Nation Under Guard takes on the big business that is incarceration. Krost writes:

US prisons have become big business, housing 25% of all the people in the world behind bars, the largest prison population on the planet. In a frenzy of criminal justice, we have turned our backs on the founding principles of this nation to produce state and federal prisons at an alarming rate -- in the 1990s, opening 1 every 15 days in depressed rural towns and communities. Private correctional companies are entering the industry, appearing on the NY stock exchange, with an eye on the bottom line. Under this prison-industrial complex, we are locking up 1 in 3 young black men in this nation, moving them far from home, and stripping them of the right to vote, the possibility of holding decent jobs and the dignity of supporting themselves and their families. US prisons are holding the strangest of reunions: grandfathers, fathers and sons behind bars. There is no paying of their debt to society, no clean slate.....

The contest runs until midnight on December 1st, so check out the documentary and vote for it.

Links:


NYC Film: Fighting for Life in the Death-Belt - Oct 14

October 3, 2006

movie thumbnailFighting for Life in the Death-Belt, a new documentary film narrated by Ani Difranco, will have its New York City premiere on the October 14th at the Kaufmann Concert Hall at the 92nd Street Y.

The film considers the controversial institution of capital punishment in America through the eyes of Stephen Bright, the nation's leading anti-death penalty lawyer. For twenty years Bright has defended death row inmates deep in the heart of America's "death-belt" -- the Southeastern States where 90% of executions occur.

There he has built the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR), a renowned public interest law firm.The film follows Bright and the SCHR in the final days and hours, as they desperately fight to spare two clients from execution. Although both men stand convicted of horrible crimes, these defense attorneys never waiver in their dedication, and present compelling arguments against the criminal justice system that seeks to end their clients' lives.

The event is a benefit for the Stephen Bright Fellowship at the Southern Center for Human Rights.

For more information, see the page about the event on the Southern Center's website.

United States of Incarceration Cartoon

July 28, 2006

Mark Fiore has a great new animated cartoon up: United States of Incarcation.
(Thank you to Chris Uggen for blogging about the new Fiore animation.)

New book: Indefensible : One Lawyer's Journey into the Inferno of American Justice

June 19, 2006

book cover for indefensibleDavid Feige's great new book, Indefensible : One Lawyer's Journey into the Inferno of American Justice came out two weeks ago. Written by the former trial chief of the Bronx Defenders, Indefensible chronicles one day in the life of a public defender in the South Bronx. It's a fast, exciting and very important book. Read the book and David's blog today.

Most disturbing criminal justice stories of 2005

January 15, 2006

Each January at Prisonsucks.com, we name the most disturbing criminal justice stories of the previous year. We try to highlight stories that are not just depressing, but thought provoking analyses of serious problems that require serious attention in the year ahead. Here's for a better criminal justice system in 2006.

Three Cheers for the Urban Institute's new website

January 10, 2006

The Urban Institute recently unveiled a new website design. It's cool, it's attractive, it's modern, and you know what else? All of the old links to their existing material still work! Yes, it appears they changed underlying content management systems and and needed to change the URLs, but the old URLs still work!

Given that prisonsucks is little but edited links to other research available on the internet, you imagine why we take this issue seriously.

We've been ranting about the importance of preserving links and offering technical solutions for years. Typically, we get ignored, so we are thrilled to see organizations like the Urban Institute treat their web visitors and their website with respect.

So to our colleagues who run websites for other organizations, we point to the Urban Institute's website as a great example that even if your website is absolutely huge, it's entirely possible to put the interests of your visitors above your choice of technology solution. All you have to do is make sure your technology vendor is going to preserve your old URLs.

And to the Urban Institute, we offer our congratulations on the new site. It looks great, and the thousands of users of this site -- and the billions of people who use Google -- can find your carefully prepared documents just as easily as they could before. That's a win for everyone.

Johnny Cash had his demons, but few understood the importance of preserving human dignity like the Man in Black

December 22, 2005

Frames from Walk the Line showing prisonres stomping their feet along with the music. Note that the men aren't allowed to have There is a new movie about Johnny Cash in the theatres now, Walk the Line. The trailer explains the importance of the film better than I can here, so I'll let the trailer and the frames at right of prisoners stomping their feet for Johnny Cash speak for themselves about the film.

This is as good a time as any to revisit our last article about Johnny Cash. When he died in 2003, we replaced the front page of this website with an obituary that highlighted what we then thought were two of his least known and most important songs, Man in Black and San Quentin.

Since then, we've discovered something rarer and even more important: Jacob Green. The song was first performed at a Swedish prison and released on the 1974 LP "Pa Osteraker" (Inside a Swedish Prison). In the U.S., the only place we know of to hear or see this song is in the recording of a 1976 concert at the Tennessee State Prison, A Concert Behind Prison Walls.

From that recording, here are the lyrics to Jacob Green:

I've learned one thing, that when a man is at rock bottom, when there is no place else he can go except up, that the only thing that is really important in the world to him is that somebody, somewhere cares. And with that in mind, I wrote this song about something that really happened to a 16 year old boy in the state of Virginia. It's called Jacob Green.

Jacob Green got busted for possession
next morning early he appeared in court
But he was sent to jail to wait
to be tried at some later date
Next morning early, there came a sad report
At the jail they took away his clothes to shame him
and to make sure Jacob Green had no pride left
They cut of all his hair
Today they found him hanging there
afraid to face the day he killed himself

It happened yesterday, and if you turn your head away
Somewhere in some dirty hole the scene will be rerun
Not only Jacob Green, but many more you've never seen
It could be someone that you love gets done
like Jacob Green got done
It could be someone that you love gets done
like Jacob Green got done

Jacobs father hired a team of lawyers
inspections and long inquiries were held
The sheriff then retired
and the papers said two guards were fired
They put a brand new coat of paint on Jacob's cell
But like a tomb that looks so white and shiny
inside you'll find corruption never seen
And somewhere out there tonight
In a dirty cell without a light
There will be locked up another Jacob Green

It happened yesterday, and if you turn your head away
Somewhere in some dirty hole the scene will be rerun
Not only Jacob Green, but many more you've never seen
It could be someone that you love gets done
like Jacob Green got done
It could be someone that you love gets done
like Jacob Green got done

Incarceration clock updated

October 23, 2005

The incarceration clock and the "Incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment" facts on the home page have been updated with the most current numbers from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

European Court says UK prisoners have right to vote, cites human rights treaty

October 6, 2005

"UK prisoners should get vote, European court rules

"Simon Jeffery
"Thursday October 6, 2005

"Laws setting out who can and cannot take part in elections are to be rewritten after the European court of human rights today ruled in favour of giving British prisoners the right to vote.

"Ruling in the case of a former prisoner against the United Kingdom, the Strasbourg court said the disenfranchisement of 48,000 convicts in British jails violated the European convention on human rights.

"It said that with the exception of the right to liberty, lawfully detained prisoners continued to enjoy all the rights guaranteed in the convention - including political rights and freedom from inhumane and degrading punishment." ....

See the full story on the Guardian website.

Thank you to Rick Lines at the Irish Penal Reform Trust for the heads up about this exciting news.

New Orleans: Prisoners Abandoned to Floodwaters

September 23, 2005

"Officers Deserted a Jail Building, Leaving Inmates Locked in Cells

"(New York, September 22, 2005)--As Hurricane Katrina began pounding New Orleans, the sheriff's department abandoned hundreds of inmates imprisoned in the city's jail, Human Rights Watch said today.

"Inmates in Templeman III, one of several buildings in the Orleans Parish Prison compound, reported that as of Monday, August 29, there were no correctional officers in the building, which held more than 600 inmates. These inmates, including some who were locked in ground-floor cells, were not evacuated until Thursday, September 1, four days after flood waters in the jail had reached chest-level.

"Of all the nightmares during Hurricane Katrina, this must be one of the worst,” said Corinne Carey, researcher from Human Rights Watch. “Prisoners were abandoned in their cells without food or water for days as floodwaters rose toward the ceiling.”

Read the rest from Human Rights Watch

The Man Who Broke a Thousand Chains died 50 years ago today

June 5, 2005

Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of Robert Elliot Burns, known as "The Man Who Broke a Thousand Chains", for his role in ending the brutal chain gang system in the South. A World War I veteran, Burns twice escaped from a Georgia chain gang in the 1920s and brought national and international attention to the brutality of the chain gang system. His life, his book and a 1932 Paul Muni I Am A Fugitive from a Chain Gang film on his life were the inspiration for the initial abolition of the chain gang system.

After the film's release, he was arrested again after speaking out a a screening, but three successive New Jersey Governors refused to extradite him back to Georgia. He died of cancer on June 5, 2005 and is buried in a veteran's cemetery in New Jersey.

The film, re-released on DVD on May 12, has renewed interest in his case, and, one would hope, the stupidity of bring back chain gangs in symbolic form.

burns gravesite
Robert E. Burn's gravesite (with red flower, in center) at the Beverly National Cemetery. See larger version

Fiscal conservative blasts prisons in An Expensive Way to Make Bad People Worse

March 30, 2005

book cover When Virginia lifer Jens Soering released his second book, An Expensive Way to Make Bad People Worse: An Essay On Prison Reform from an Insider's Perspective he fired a warning shot across the bow of the prison industrial complex. An Expensive Way to Make Bad People Worse is the best short, readable, fact-drive summation of why prisons don't work, but what makes the book so powerful is that it is written by a conservative Christian addressed to other fiscal conservatives.... Read our review.

Rogue state no longer -- juvenile death penalty declared unconstitutional

March 1, 2005

The Supreme Court today declared the juvenile death penalty to be unconstitutional. See the article on Civilrights.org.

With great pleasure, we've removed our map of counties that execute juveniles from the front page of this site.

First Real Cost of Prisons comic book: Prison Town: Paying the Price

February 10, 2005

comic book coverThe Real Cost of Prisons Project, which does innovative popular education workshops on criminal justice issues, has completed the first of the comic books based on one of their workshops:

Prison Town: Paying the Price by Kevin Pyle and Craig Gilmore tells one story of the way in which the financing and siting of prisons and jails impact the people and economies of rural communities where prisons are built. It tells a parallel story of the damage done to people in urban communities by mass incarceration. Included is a two page "map" of How Prison Are Paid For (and who really pays?) as well as alternatives to the current system. It's available on the web now in PDF and will be out in print in March 2005.

Other comic books being prepared for release later this spring are Prisoners of the War on Drugs and Prisoners of a Hard Life: Women and Children. Organizations can order up to 300 copies of each comic book for use in their own organizing, community education and outreach work for free, merely by explaining how they would use the books. See the instructions on the Real Cost of Prisons comics page.

Most disturbing criminal justice stories of 2004

January 1, 2005

Here are our 8 picks for 2004:

Jails eye a potential cash cow By Mark Peters, Portland Press Herald (Maine) January 18, 2004

Still Seeking a Fair Florida Vote op-ed by President Jimmy Carter, Washington Post, September 27, 2004

Menacing the Legislature by Jill Stewart, San Francisco Chronicle, April 21, 2004 (about the power of the prison guard's union over state policy)

Prison stocks: a secure pick?by Andrew Stein, CNN/Money, April 30, 2004.

Two Empty Bottles with Different Labels: John Kerry on Criminal Justice Issuesby Paul Wright, Counterpunch October 2-3, 2004.

Cheney and Edwards flub debate's domestic AIDS question: It's the prisons, stupid. by Prisonsucks.com, October 6, 2004.

Corrections Corporation of America big Republican Donor by Matt Gouras, Associated Press, October 25, 2004

Despite Drop In Crime, An Increase In Inmates By Fox Butterfield, The New York Times, November 8, 2004.

Happy Halloween, But Fear Your Neighbors!?

October 31, 2004

"I haven't been able to find any evidence that a kid has ever been killed or seriously injured by a contaminated treat received while trick-or-treating," he says. "I can't say that it has never happened, but to say that it happens a lot, that it happens all the time, that it justifies all the worrying and warnings? That's overblown. There's just no evidence."
-Dr. Joel Best quoted in Halloween hand-wringing
Are the stories about trick-or-treat mayhem for real?
by Jill Wolfson in the October 29, 1999 Salon. Be sure to read the second page of the article about "where these horror stories come from".

New documentary on juveniles being tried as adults

October 28, 2004

Leslie Neal has new documentary about the growing problem of juveniles being tried and sentenced as adults. Juvies (2004) reveals the shocking reality of juvenile offenders in America, many of whom are serving draconian sentences for marginal involvement in so called 'gang' crimes. The director, Leslie Neal taught a video production class at Los Angeles Central Juvenile Hall to 12 juveniles who were all being tried as adults. Juvies is the product of that class, made jointly by teacher and students, witnessing heartbreaking stories of children abandoned by families and a system that has disintegrated into a dehumanizing vending machine of injustice.

Cheney and Edwards flub debate's domestic AIDS question: It's the prisons, stupid.

October 6, 2004

At tonight's Vice-Presidential debate, moderator Gwen Ifill asked the candidates to talk about AIDS in the United States, particularly as it affects Black women, and both candidates ignored the question:

IFILL: I will talk to you about health care, Mr. Vice President. You have two minutes. But in particular, I want to talk to you about AIDS, and not about AIDS in China or Africa, but AIDS right here in this country, where black women between the ages of 25 and 44 are 13 times more likely to die of the disease than their [white] counterparts.

What should the government's role be in helping to end the growth of this epidemic?

Dick Cheney talked about the administration's work to get $15billion for AIDS in other countries and said he had "not heard those numbers with respect to African-American women." John Edwards talked about Russia and China and doubling the administration's $15billion for fighting AIDS in other countries. Neither addressed the question, so we will.

The high rate of AIDS infection for Black women has everything to do with the high rate of incarceration of Black men and the refusal of state prison officials to apply the successful infection reduction strategies used by public health officials outside of prisons. Many prisons don't bother to test for HIV, but prisoners are infected at a rate at least 7 times higher than the general population. Without proper prevention, AIDS will only increase behind bars,

While some political leaders may be so short-sighted that they deny prisoners their human right to be protected from communicable diseases, the taxpayers should remind these leaders that the average prisoner completes his sentence and returns home within 3 years.

While he ignored Ifill's question, Dick Cheney did correctly explain what inaction to AIDS looks like:

"In some parts of the world, we've got the entire, sort of, productive generation has been eliminated as a result of AIDS, all except for old folks and kids -- nobody to do the basic work that runs an economy."

That's a textbook definition of genocide. But Cheney was talking about Africa. He wasn't talking about the fact that 13% of Black men in their late twenties are confined in disease factories called prisons and he wasn't putting that together with the fact that Blacks make up 48% of our country's new AIDS cases.

Both candidates were, after all, talking about other countries.

Resources on this under-discussed topic:

  • Prison's hidden cost: Inmates can take home AIDS risk By Margaret Newkirk and David Knox, Sun, Mar. 17, 2002Akron [OH] Beacon Journal. Amazing article that looks at the failure of American prisons to respond to the public health crisis behind bars. Focuses on Ohio, but does a wonderful job with the national and international context. This is an absolute must read. For some followup on Ohio's (ironically Ohio was host of the debate) refusal to make common sense reforms that would aid public health, see the Prison Policy Initiative's efforts to change the state's disciplinary policy.
  • Why jails should allow syringes by Rick Lines.

Two Empty Bottles with Different Labels -- Paul Wright reviews John Kerry on criminal justice issues

October 2, 2004

Prison Legal News editor Paul Wright reviews John Kerry's record on criminal justice issues in Two Empty Bottles with Different Labels in Counterpunch. It's a must-read piece.

Prison Policy Initiative maps are now available as posters

September 24, 2004

Starting today, select Prison Policy Initiative maps are available for purchase as posters from our Cafepress store. We've tested their service and we're happy with the quality and the cost, and we think you will be too. Cafepress.com handles the credit card orders, prints the posters and ships them out to you all in a few days. They back up their products with a money back guarantee as well.


In the coming weeks and months, we'll be making additional maps from the Prison Policy Initiative atlas available through the store.

"The Prison Economy" now online!

July 13, 2004

The Western Prison Project and the Prison Policy Initiative have posted The Prison Economy section of The Prison Index on the web. Check it out and then purchase the entire report.

New Report: Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in Ohio

July 6, 2004

map showing the gain to rural prison counties and the loss to urban counties from how the Census Bureau counts prisoners as if they were residents of the prison town rather than of their actual homes Northampton Massachusetts -- (July 6) The Prison Policy Initiative, an organization that conducts research and advocacy on incarceration policy, today released the first analysis of how Census Bureau's method of counting incarcerated people reduces the population of Ohio's urban areas.

A little known quirk in the Census counts people in prison as if they were residents of the prison town. "This inflates the population of rural prison hosting areas, and shortchanges the urban areas most prisoners come from" said report co-author Rose Heyer. Ohio's prison population more than tripled from 1980 to 2000.

"The report demonstrates that criminal justice policy doesn't just affect people convicted of crimes and the people who personally know them. The Census Bureau's current policies coupled with high incarceration and the frequent decision to build prisons in remote places impact vast numbers of citizens and produce results which fly in the face of democratic principles such as 'one person, one vote.'" said Jana Schroeder, Director of the American Friends Service Committee's Ohio Criminal Justice Program based in Dayton.

Continue reading the press release or try the report.

Racial disparities in incarceration by state

May 30, 2004

Our sponsor, the Prison Policy Initiative has prepared 239 graphs suitable for reuse by activists interested exposing the racial disparities in incarceration in their state. We have 52 graphs showing the incarceration rates for Latinos, Blacks and Whites, and 187 graphs showing racially disproportionate incarceration in all 50 states, D.C, Puerto Rico and the U.S. as a whole.

Nils Christie's new book: A Suitable Amount of Crime

May 14, 2004

Nils Christie is a world renowned criminologist whose previous work, Crime Control as Industry: Towards Gulags, Western Style was one of the key inspirations for this site, has a new book: A Suitable Amount of Crime.

My copy arrived today and a review will be coming shortly. Barnes and Noble offers a synopsis: A Suitable Amount of Crime looks at the great variations between countries in what are considered "unwanted acts", how many are constructed as criminal and how many are punished. It explains the differences between eastern and western Europe, between the United States and the rest of the world. The author laments the size of prison populations in countries with large penal sectors, and asks whether the international community has a moral obligation to "shame" states that are punitive in the extreme.

The book is available for $32.95 from amazon and $22.95 from Barnes and Noble.

Nils Christie is also the author of Limits to Pain (1981) available on this site and Beyond Loneliness & Institutions: Communes for Extraordinary People (1989). He will be speaking at the CURE Convention in Washington D.C. on June 7.

Exporting prison torture

May 6, 2004

Abuse Common in U.S. Prisons, Activists Say

By Alan Elsner,Thu May 6, 2004

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Horrific abuses, some similar to those revealed in Iraq, regularly occur in U.S. prisons with little national attention or public outrage, human rights activists said on Thursday.

"We certainly see many of the same kinds of things here in the United States, including sexual assaults and the abuse of prisoners, against both men and women," said Kara Gotsch, public policy coordinator for the national prison project of the American Civil Liberties Union.

"This office has been involved in cases in which prisoners have been raped by guards and humiliated but we don't talk about it much in America and we certainly don't hear the president expressing outrage," she said.

President Bush has said he was disgusted by the abuse of Iraqi prisoners. Yet, there were many cases of abuse in Texas when he served as governor from 1995 to 2000.

For example, in September 1996, guards at the Brazoria County jail in Texas staged a drug raid on inmates that was videotaped for training purposes.

The tape showed several inmates forced to strip and lie on the ground. A police dog attacked several prisoners; the tape clearly showed one being bitten on the leg. Guards prodded prisoners with stun guns and forced them to crawl along the ground. Then they dragged injured inmates face down back to their cells.

In a 1999 opinion, federal Judge William Wayne Justice wrote of the situation in Texas state prisons: "Many inmates credibly testified to the existence of violence, rape and extortion in the prison system and about their own suffering from such abysmal conditions."

Judy Greene of Justice Strategies, a New York City consultancy, said: "When I saw Bush's interview on Arab TV stations, I was thinking, had he ever stepped inside a Texas prison when he was governor?"

PRISON GUARDS INVOLVED

Two of those allegedly involved in the abuse of Iraqis were U.S. prison guards. Spc. Charles Graner, who appears in some of the most lurid photographs, was a guard at Greene County State Correctional Institution, one of Pennsylvania's top security death row prisons. Two years after he arrived at Greene, the prison was at the center of an abuse scandal in which guards routinely beat and humiliated prisoners.

Prison officials have declined to say whether Graner had been disciplined in that case.

Staff Sgt. Ivan "Chip" Frederick was a corrections officer at Buckingham Correctional Center in Virginia. In a statement published by the Richmond Times Dispatch on Thursday, Frederick compared his role at Abu Ghraib in Iraq with his job as a guard in Buckingham, where he said he had "very strict policies and procedures as to how to handle any given situation."

In Iraq, he said, there were no such policies.

Jenni Gainsborough of Penal Reform International said: "I don't think we routinely torture prisoners in the United States but abuse and humiliation regularly occur. They may have been trying to get information out of the Iraqis but some of those photographs look to me as if the U.S. personnel were enjoying inflicting the humiliation."

BRUTALITY DOCUMENTED

In Cook County Jail in Chicago, the elite Special Operations Response Team has been implicated in scores of incidents of racially motivated violence and brutality in recent years.

One of the most dramatic took place on Feb. 4, 1999, when SORT members accompanied by four guard dogs without muzzles ordered 400 prisoners to leave their cells in response to a gang-related stabbing three days earlier.

According to a 50-page report by the sheriff's Internal Affairs Division, the guards ransacked cells, then herded inmates into common areas where they were forced to strip and face the wall with hands behind their head. Anyone who looked away from the wall was struck with a wooden baton.

Some prisoners were forced to lie on the floor, where they were stomped and kicked. One inmate, who did not leave a cell fast enough said he was beaten with fists and batons until he urinated on himself and went into convulsions. At least 49 inmates told investigators they had been beaten. After the beatings, guards prevented inmates from receiving immediate medical care.

Corrections officer Roger Fairley testified in a deposition last year that guards were afraid to come forward to tell of what they had seen in case their colleagues took revenge.

"On many and many occasions I witnessed excessive force, abuse of power, intimidation," he said.

Incarceration and Its Consequences

April 30, 2004

The Western Prison Project and the Prison Policy Initiative have posted the Incarceration and Its Consequences section of The Prison Index on the web. The section looks at the extent of penal control in the U.S., incarceration rates, prisoner demographics, prison conditions, the families of prisoners and disenfranchisement. Check it out and then purchase the entire report.

New Book: Gates of Injustice

April 23, 2004

coverReuters' journalist Alan Elsner's new book about the criminal justice system, Gates of Injustice: The Crisis in America's Prisons is a powerful examination of how our prison system grew out of control. The book combines first hand reporting with a detailed analysis of the larger trends that made the U.S. the world's largest incarcerator without any gain in public safety.

Gates of Injustice is both an introduction to prisons and a detailed indictment of why they don't work. The book contains a number of powerful (and true) facts that we hadn't been aware of.

Near and dear to the hearts of Prison Policy Initiative staff, Elsner discusses in the chapter on rural prisons how prisoners are counted in the census and he calls for changing how the Census counts the incarcerated.

This timely book is a must read for everyone interesting in making the world a better -- and safer -- place.

Author Alan Elsner has a website with his op-ed pieces on prisons. Check that out, then buy the book.

Mass incarceration screws up everything, even the Census

April 16, 2004

percent of each U.S. county's black population that is incarceratedThe above map shows how much of the Black population of every county in the country was created out of thin air by a Census Bureau methodology that counts prisoners as if they were residents of the prison town. Statistics on community size, growth, race, ethnicity, gender and per-capita income are all distorted, charges a new report: Too big to ignore: How counting people in prisons distorted Census 2000.

Printing/copying help needed for Prison Policy Initiative Atlas

April 10, 2004

We'd like to make some large copies of some of the maps in the Prison Policy Initiative Atlas and could use some advice from site readers.

  1. Does anybody know an affordable way to print posters (13x19 or 18x24) in runs of under 100?
  2. I once saw a photocopier that could make 22x17 inch black and white copies from 8 1/2 by 11 originals. Are there any copy shops that have a machine like this that charge a reasonable amount per copy?
  3. Does anyone have access to a color laser printer that can do 11x17 prints for us?

Please let the webmaster (at the address below) know if you have any ideas or can help.

European court of human rights says UK prisoners have right to vote

March 31, 2004

According to the Guardian: "The government will be forced to lift a ban on prisoners voting dating back to 1870 after the European court of human rights ruled yesterday it breached a lifer's human rights.

"The law, brought in not long after transportation to the colonies was abolished and later enshrined in the Representation of the People Act of 1983, denies 70,000 sentenced prisoners the right to vote in parliamentary and local elections."

Source: Prisoners must get right to vote, says court. Thanks to TalkLeft for pointing this out.

Read about crime and incarceration around the world in The Prison Index

February 29, 2004

The Western Prison Project and the Prison Policy Initiative have posted the Global Comparisons -- Crime and incarceration around the world section of The Prison Index on the web. The section compares the frequency of crime and incarceration around the world and then tells the story of Finland's very successful attempt to protect public safety and public morality by lowering its incarceration rate. Check it out and then purchase the entire report.

New book on re-entry

February 27, 2004

Jennifer Gonnerman has a new book: Life on the Outside : The Prison Odyssey of Elaine Bartlett

Life on the Outside is the first major work of journalism on the subject of re-entry: the challenge of leaving prison and re-entering the free world.

This journey will be taken by millions of Americans in the coming years and will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the economics, safety, and soul of our nation.

Life on the Outside chronicles one woman's homecoming.

There is also an interactive website about the book. Check it out.

Most disturbing criminal justice stories of 2003

February 11, 2004

Here are our 8 picks for 2003:

Prison Union Seeks Ouster of the Chief of Corrections By Laura Mansnerus, New York Times, December 31, 2003

"TRENTON, Dec. 30 - The union representing sergeants at New Jersey prisons is asking Gov. James E. McGreevey to dismiss Corrections Commissioner Devon Brown, saying he made racially charged comments in a speech about the inequitable treatment of blacks and Hispanics in the criminal justice system....

"Mr. Brown, who is black, said at the Nov. 8 conference at Rutgers that he was distressed by huge racial disparities in the prison population. 'This state and nation has lost a generation of young African-Americans and Hispanics, both male and female, to the criminal justice juggernaut.'

"The union also expressed dismay over comments drawing parallels to slave-era plantations."

Dip in inmate population worries officials By Miles Jackson, The Daily Journal (NJ)

"Prison inmates mean different things to different communities.

"To some, an inmate is one more dangerous criminal taken off the street.

"To others, a person behind bars represents the failure of society to keep that person on the straight and narrow.

"In Cumberland County, prison inmates translate to dollars and cents."

Dying to Get Out by Geri L. Dreiling, River Front Times (St. Louis, Missouri) October 15, 2003.

"Some inmates tell horror stories about healthcare at the women's prison in Vandalia. Some didn't live to tell their tales."

Hard Time in the Heartland by Ian Urbina, Middle East Report, September 30, 2003.

Great article about the Pentagon's reliance on prisoner labor to equip the war machine.

Federal prison a racial issue for poor county, By Jeffrey Collins, Associated Press in The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)

TV's Whodunit Effect by Carlene Hempel, The Boston Globe Magazine, February 9, 2003.

"Police dramas are having an unexpected impact in the real world: The public thinks every crime can be solved, and solved now - just like on television."

November inspection slated for ex-Castle weapons site By Stacey Wiebe, Merced Sun-Star (CA), August 27, 2003.

"Air Force officials announced Tuesday night that a site inspection of the region above Castle Air Force Base's former weapons storage area will take place in November, in light of the possibility that radioactive waste remains buried in the storage facility.

"The former weapons storage area lies buried beneath a portion of the United States Penitentiary, Atwater, which houses more than 1,500 inmates."

A Nation Behind Bars Editorial, Washington Post, April 13, 2003.

"IMAGINE THAT the United States locked up the populations of Wyoming, Vermont and North Dakota and then threw in the nation of Iceland for good measure. The result would be an inmate population of approximately the same size as the one currently behind bars in the United States. Last year, for the first time in American history, the states and the federal government -- in jails and in prisons around the country -- had more than 2 million people behind bars, according to Justice Department statistics. Those locked up included 1.3 percent of all males in this country, 4.8 percent of all black males -- and a shocking 11.8 percent of black men between the ages of 20 and 34. The dramatic rise in the prison population has created a nation of prisoners within American society. While hidden from the view, and even the consciousness, of most Americans, the existence of this nation forces those on the outside to ask, in turn, what kind of nation they want to live in.

"There is no magic 'right' number of people to have in prison; that will properly vary with crime rates and popular attitudes toward criminals. But there is something breathtaking about the current figure. The U.S. rate of incarceration is the highest in the world; according to data from the British Home Office, the only countries with rates close to it are the Cayman Islands and Russia. It is nearly seven times the rate in Canada and more than four time the rate in the United Kingdom, which leads Europe. It also represents an enormous rise by the standards of even recent American history. According to criminologist Alfred Blumstein, the rate of imprisonment stayed stable between the 1920s and the 1970s. Since the 1970s, however, it has increased several times over.

"The logic of tougher sentencing regimes and extended prison terms for drug offenders has long since become circular. When crime persists in the face of tougher sentences, many policymakers conclude that the sentences need to be tougher still. The cycle has proven enormously difficult to break, in large measure because popular sentiment makes the tough-on-crime posture politically irresistible. But keeping an ever-growing number of people locked up has huge costs: the financial costs associated with maintaining a nation of inmates, the human costs in the wrecked lives of those who could have been rehabilitated under different policies, the costs to society when people are finally released after years of prison socialization. There are also moral costs -- hard to define yet real nonetheless. For the incarceration rate reflects on some level the rate at which a society gives up on its members. And 2 million is a huge number to give up on."

LCD Projector needed

February 5, 2004

Do you have an old LCD projector you can contribute to our sponsor, the Prison Policy Initiative? Assistant Director Peter Wagner does a lot of speaking on crime and corrections policy as well as for the Prisoners of the Census project, but frequently the venue does not have a projector available. Given that our work is becoming more and more graph and map-based, we need a way to display and discuss our work.

If you can contribute an old one, or if you can help us buy a new one, please contact us via the address at the bottom of the page.

(For folks that would like to make a much smaller contribution to support our work, we've created a list of books you can buy us from our Amazon.com wishlist. But a projector would really help move our work forward a ton.)

New articles: Viruses of Mass Destruction & Doors of No Return

January 14, 2004

We've scanned in two articles by the brilliant Jon E. Yount:

  • Public Safety, VMD and Prisoners comparing the huge government expenditures to fight non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq with the miniscule funding given to fight the Viruses of Mass Destruction spreading through America's prisons.
  • Doors of No Return about President Bush's July 2003 to Senegal's Goree Island and its infamous "door of no return" for millions of Africans shipped to America as economy-enhancing slaves. Yount discusses the record U.S. incarceration rate, the rural location where prisons are frequently built, and Bush's comments at Goree Island that slavery was "one of the greatest crimes of history".

Read about trends in the Crime Control Industry

December 30, 2003

The Western Prison Project and the Prison Policy Initiative have posted the Trends in Crime Control Overview section of The Prison Index on the web. Check it out and then purchase the entire report.

The overview takes a brief look at trends within various parts of the crime control industry. It's a fair assumption that barring outside action, what happens tomorrow will resemble what happened yesterday. But with so many factors at play in the crime control industry, we should look at what influences the health of the industry in order to assess likely industry scenarios in the future.

Each section provides a short summary of the numerical trends, and then lists some factors that will determine what happens in the next two to five years. Many of these factors are directly or indirectly political, and therefore ripe for being influenced by advocacy efforts.

Discussed in this portion of The Prison Index are:

Put prisonsucks on your desktop or your website

December 19, 2003

You can keep track of updates to all of the Prison Policy Initiative websites right on your desktop using an RSS newsreader like NetNewsWire (Mac) or FeedDemon (PC). RSS Newsreaders can be used to monitor updates to the thousands of websites that produce these feeds. Download the program, and enter any or all of the feeds listed on our feeds page.

You can also include the 5 newest links added to the research and factsheet databases on your existing webpages using the javascript provided on our feeds page.

RSS Module Bug squashed

December 12, 2003

There was a bug where the RSS feed was not validating because I needed to encode the & symbol. There are occasional other problems, such an Amnesty International URL that uses a backslash that I can't seem to encode, but all reasonably frequent URL possibilities should now work in the RSS feed. If you know how to best deal with the backslashes let me know. (The hivelogix url cleaner changed the backslash to a double backslash but I still got an error at feedvalidator.org)

I still can't have the database mark whether I have emailed out a link before, but this matter less now as the new mailing list software can more readily handle more frequent mailings. I'd like to address this in the future, but for now I'm considering this project done. If I don't address this last issue in the next few weeks, I'll repackage the zip file to include all my recent changes.

Search results now balancing tags

December 12, 2003

Balancing the <ul> tags so that search.cgi results would validate was easy. In search.cgi, change

$link_results .= qq|</ul><p>$title_linked</p><ul>\n|;
$link_results .= $link_output{$setoflinks};

to

$link_results .= qq|<p>$title_linked</p><ul>\n|;
$link_results .= qq|$link_output{$setoflinks}</ul>|;

I also had to change some STRONG tags in the script to lowercase as well as make some run of the mill XHTML changes in the templates, but the search results now validate.

Javascript feeds work!

December 12, 2003

I just added an encode_js sub to do the necessary regex and then had to individually send the important variables to it and it works. The javascript output is now more reliable and won't break when I have an apostrophe in the output.

I did a similar thing to get the & symbols to encode elsewhere in the output, as that was breaking the XHTML validation.

Changes to categories

December 9, 2003

I've changed the category listing from being table based to an ordered list. In the css, the list items float with a fixed width, so it looks like a table, but it picks the number of columns that would fit on the screen. During January I'll go through the last of the bugs mentioned on the site and try and prepare a new release. There are a number of issues to clean up in the code so it will validate, and I need to figure out how to encode apostrophes for the javascript feed and & symbols in URLs.

Put incarceration clock on your website

December 8, 2003

Due to popular request, we're making the prisonsucks.com incarceration clock available for you to include on your own website. We wrote some simple 3 step instructions on how to do it.

Real Cost of Prisons website

November 22, 2003

The Real Cost of Prisons Project has created a new website to promote their popular education workshops and materials which explore both the immediate and long-term costs of incarceration on the individual, her/his family, community and the nation. The goals of the Real Cost of Prisons Project are to strengthen and deepen the organizing capacity of grassroots prison/justice activists and to broaden the public's understanding of the economic and social consequences of mass incarceration.

See the website and contact the organizers to bring their workshops to your community.

Felon Disenfranchisement, Prison Racial Disparities and Prison Proliferation

November 21, 2003

The Nation has an excellent article on Felon Disenfranchisement by Rebecca Perl: The Last Disenfranchised Class. AmericanRadioWorks also has a similar piece on their website complete with a realaudio feed, transcripts and links to other resources.

Paul Street has an article on ZNet entitled Starve the Racist Prison Beast that summarizes a lot of important research, including his own ground-breaking work on the demographics of Illinois' prisoners.

Prisonersofthecensus.org has a great map showing the growth of prisons in the last century: Prison Proliferation 1900-1995

Read The Prison Index excerpts online

October 22, 2003

The Western Prison Project and the Prison Policy Initiative have posted the "Crime and Punishment in the U.S." section of The Prison Index on the web. Check it out and then purchase the entire report.

New Exposé of Private Medical Services

October 20, 2003

Geri Dreiling has published an exposé of the nation's largest "provider" of "medical" services to prisoners: Correctional Medical Services. Dying to get out was the October 15 cover story in the Riverfront Times and has been added to our index of articles about the HMO from hell: Correctional Medical Services.

Justice Policy Institute links fixed

October 15, 2003

The links to the reports from the Justice Policy Institute on the research page have been fixed again. JPI keeps on moving their documents around, making it hard to keep up. But I believe everything works now. Let me know if we missed any.

Prisoner-staff racial disparities caused by where prisons are built

October 2, 2003

Alternet has posted an article co-written by this site's editor: 32 Years After Attica: More Blacks in Prison But Not As Guards.

The article contains the first-ever national prison-by-prison analysis of the racial disparity between staff and prisoners. The recent trend towards constructing prisons in White rural areas has frustrated a key outcome of the Attica prison rebellion: a recognized national need to hire more Black and Latino staff.

If you saw this article prior to October 2, please look at it again as Alternet made some serious editing mistakes, transposing "Black" and "White."

Mailing list updates

October 2, 2003

This is more for my own reference, but I've switched the mailing list from the built in script to pairlist (mailman). I cut the unsubscribe line in admin.pl: (To unsubscribe from this mailing list, just visit: $build_email_url?action=unsubscribe&email=<%Contact Email%>) and made the mailing list the only subscriber. The permissions on email.db where also changed to read-only.

This should give us better verification of new subscriptions and better bounce handling.

search.cgi balancing tags

September 28, 2003

I made some progress on fixing search.cgi so it would balance tags. Adding a close li tag was obvious. Getting it to wrap the li in ul tags is harder. I note that the category results are already working. I was able to hack together something that works, although with an extra close ul tag up front. I need to figure out how i did this in nph-build and whereever it is that the categorie results are built. But at least the results look ok even if it won't validate.

Cleaning up the category listing for css use

September 21, 2003

I made some changes to site_html_templates.pl in the last routine that prints out the category headers as part of my efforts to make the transition to a more css friendly site. I took out the p tags that wrapped the table, but added p tags (open and close) to each cell. I also removed the two nonbreaking spaces on each line. Works much better now.

Avoid category headings from incorrectly displaying as links

September 21, 2003

I changed my style sheets, and found a bug in the tree mod in nph-build.cgi. Where it says $links .= qq~\n</ul><p><strong><a
name="$cat">$title</a></strong><ul>~; it should be instead $links .= qq~\n</ul><p><strong><a
name="$cat"></a>$title</strong><ul>~; (ie. Don't put any text inside the dummy ^lt;a name> tag.)

Everything tastes better with charts

September 20, 2003

Or something like that. If you'd like to see the disparities discussed in "Incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment" on the home page, check out the version with charts.

Mail flags -- less is more.

September 12, 2003

The May 20, 2003 experiment was a success. -f user\@domain.com is enough of a modification necessary to get sendmail to bounce email back to the right address.

Add.cgi not extensible

September 12, 2003

The way I have this now, it's hard to change the variables used because I hard coded the variables I used into sub site_html_add_form in site_html.pl. Why I did this, I'm not sure. I'll see if I can't roll back to the original code from Gossamer-Threads as I believe there it automatically generates the add.cgi form from the links.def information. This might also be the true source fo the problems I wrote about on April 6, 2002 and on December 22, 2001.

Update: Arg. The add.cgi (and the error, email, etc.) stuff is all hard coded in site_html.pl. You have to make the changes there manually. Ouch. Changes also need to be made manually to the add.html files....

The Man in Black is gone

September 12, 2003

The Man in Black, country music star Johnny Cash, died today at age 71. Although Johnny only spent one day in jail himself, he consistently identified with the downtrodden, eagerly performing a number of free concerts for prisoners. Two of these concerts became popular albums Live at San Quentin and Live at Folsom Prison.

We'll miss you Johnny. Please read our longer obituary including the lyrics to "Man in Black" and "San Quentin".

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin' in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he's a victim of the times.

--Johnny Cash, "Man in Black" 1971

San Quentin, may you rot and burn in hell.
May your walls fall and may I live to tell.
May all the world forget you ever stood.
And the whole world will regret you did no good.

--Johnny Cash, "San Quentin" 1969

Felon disenfranchisement victory in Washington State

July 28, 2003

On July 25, the 9th Circuit reversed a lower court in Farrakhan v Washington which had held that the disproportionate disenfranchisement of minorities via prisoner disenfranchisement was not a violation of the Voting Rights Act. The lower court said that even if minorities were disproportionately imprisoned, that did not prove that disenfranchising prisoners was racial discrimination. The 9th Circuit held that the Voting Rights Act requires a broader "totality of the circumstances" analysis.

The 9th Circuit sent the case back to the lower court with the instruction that a:

Section 2 [of the Voting Rights Act] "totality of the circumstances" inquiry requires courts to consider how a challenged voting practice interacts with external factors such as "social and historical conditions" to result in denial of the right to vote on account of race or color. Because a Section 2 analysis clearly requires that we consider factors external to the challenged voting mechanism itself, we hold that evidence of discrimination within the criminal justice system can be relevant to a Section 2 analysis. In light of the district courtis having improperly disregarded this evidence, combined with its assessment that Plaintiffs' evidence of discrimination in Washingtonis criminal justice system was "compelling," we reverse and remand for further proceedings. (Internal citations omitted)

Read the opinion: FARRAKHAN v. STATE OF WASHINGTON

Turned Out:
Sexual Assault Behind Bars

July 17, 2003

New documentary: Turned Out: Sexual Assault Behind Bars

Of the over two million Americans in jail today, one out of five inmates will be sexually assaulted during their incarceration. Most of those who will be "turned out," or sodomized, and turned into sexual slaves, will be nonviolent drug offenders who have doubled the prison population over the last decade. This video is a shocking but insightful expose of the taboo subject of homosexual rape and homosexual relations in prison. It features frank and often graphic interviews with inmates at correctional facilities throughout the U.S., in which they explain the sexual hierarchy of "iboys" or "sissies," who play the female role to more powerful inmates known as "men," with the latter often developing relationships with several "boys" and thus developing "families," which provide sex, companionship and protection for more vulnerable inmates. Prisoners also discuss the underground economy, the sociology of power and lust, and the sexual exploitation of inmates by prison guards, while interviews with a prison warden and family members of inmates reveal the general awareness of sexual assault within our prison system and the culture of silence which enables its perpetuation.

It's expensive ($295 to buy, $95 to rent), but we don't know of anything that comes even close to this on this topic.

Prisoners of the Census website

July 6, 2003

Check out the new website about the impact of the Census Bureau's practice of counting urban prisoners as if they were residents of rural prison towns. The website has articles, an extensive bibliography and powerful maps showing how the our society and our very democracy are being skewed by this unintentional statistical quirk.

PrisonersoftheCensus.org

How the U.S. compares to other nations on the use of incarceration

July 6, 2003

On June 20, Marc Mauer, Assistant Director of the Sentencing Project, presented testimony [PDF] on Comparative International Rates of Incarceration to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The analysis documents that the U.S. incarcerates its citizens at a rate 5-8 times that of other industrialized nations, with dramatic racial disparities as well. In analyzing the causes of these developments, he finds that differences in crime rates explain only a portion of the gap in incarceration, and that changes in sentencing policy over the past thirty years account for most of the disparity.

Instead of Prisons available online

May 22, 2003

Instead of Prisons: A Handbook for Prison Abolitionists is now available on this website. This book summarizes the research on prisons as of the 1976 writing and discusses the strategy of abolition. For example, how do we pick reforms to fight for now that make our long term goal of abolition easier to obtain?

Thanks to everyone who helped with the digitization process!

Just the flags necessary?

May 20, 2003

I'm experimenting now to see whether just the

-f user\@domain.com
discussed below is enough.

The Prison Index published!

March 28, 2003

The Prison Index
Available now for purchase from the Prison Policy Initiative and the Western Prison Project:

The Prison Index: Taking the Pulse of the Crime Control Industry is the first index of statistics about our nation's criminal justice system ever published. Containing 611 facts and 17 graphs and charts, this 48-page volume presents, in black-and-white, the state of crime control in America.

Factsheets based on The Prison Index:
  • Felon Disenfranchisement: Jim Crow Redux [PDF]
  • Why does prison building continue as crime drops? [PDF]

  • Limits to Pain available online

    February 12, 2003

    We can't speak highly enough of Nils Christie's Crime Control as Industry (review, buy from Amazon.com). Christie's first book, Limits to Pain (1981), which argues that the criminal justice system is in fact a pain delivery system, with the size of the system controlled not by the number of committed acts labeled as crimes but by the amount of pain that a society is willing to impose on its citizens, is now available on the internet. Limits to Pain is powerful in its own right, and very helpful in studying the most recent book. We suggest you read the on-line version of Limits to Pain today.

    Locked up, then counted out

    January 18, 2003

    Prison Policy Initiative Assistant Director Peter Wagner has an article entitled "Locked up, then counted out: Prisoners and the census" in the new Fortune News magazine published by the Fortune Society:

    Imagine that in some parts of the country, the local economy depends on the maintenance of a large population of working-age Blacks. Regional politicians stake their careers on keeping the number of young Blacks high, but extend the electoral franchise to no more than a handful. In one studied county, the 2,395 Blacks made up a sizable portion of the 43,424 total population, but the number of Blacks allowed to vote is just 72. Read more.

    Illinois Governor empties death row

    January 12, 2003

    On Jan 11, 2003, outgoing Illinois Governor Ryan reduced the death sentences of all 167 prisoners to life or other sentences. The day prior, he freed four death row prisoners who were innocent.

    "The facts that I have seen in reviewing each and every one of these cases raised questions not only about the innocence of people on death row, but about the fairness of the death penalty system as a whole," --Gov. Ryan

    "Our capital system is haunted by the demon of error: error in determining guilt and error in determining who among the guilty deserves to die."--Gov. Ryan

    "The Legislature couldn't reform it, lawmakers won't repeal it, and I won't stand for it U I must act. Because our three-year study has found only more questions about the fairness of the sentencing, because of the spectacular failure to reform the system, because we have seen justice delayed for countless death row inmates with potentially meritorious claims, because the Illinois death penalty system is arbitrary and capricious U and therefore immoral." --Gov. Ryan

    According to the New York Times:
    " Governors have broad, virtually unchecked constitutional powers for pardons and clemency, and Mr. Ryan is at least the fourth to empty death row as he departs office, though the scale of his action overshadows the 22 men Gov. Lee Cruce of Oklahoma spared in 1915, the 15 death sentences Gov. Winthrop L Rockefeller of Arkansas commuted in 1970 and the five clemency petitions Gov. Toney Anaya of New Mexico granted in 1986."

    Prisonsucks.com Top 5 Most Disturbing Criminal Justice Stories of 2002

    January 3, 2003

    Next year weIll be giving out 10 awards. To nominate a story, send a the full text and a link to where story can be viewed.

    5. Coffee, Tea, or Should We Feel Your Pregnant WifeIs Breasts Before Throwing You in a Cell at the Airport and Then Lying About Why We Put You There? by Nicholas Monahan, LewRockwell.com December 21, 2002

    4. RUBBISH!: Portland's top brass said it was OK to swipe your garbage--so we grabbed theirs. by Chris Lydgate and Nick Budnick, Williamette Week. December 24, 2002

    3. "We wanted our children to be professionals. We wanted our children to be lawyers and doctors and school teachers. We wanted for all children what all people want for their children": the mothers and sisters of the central park 5 speak out as the manhattan da asks the judge to throw out their convictions
    Democracy Now!, December 6, 2002.

    2. Hundreds of Muslim Immigrants Rounded Up in Calif. By Jill Serjeant, Reuters Dec 19, 2002;

    1. Weapons of mass distraction By Wagner James Au, Salon. October 4, 2002

    What does UNICOR not want the world to know?

    January 1, 2003

    This website gets regular traffic from the Bureau of Prisons, so maybe someone can drop us an email and explain why the entire UNICOR website is not in google. The omission is not an accident or google's fault, as the UNICOR website's robots.txt file excludes all of the search engine spiders.

    Tips will be kept confidential on request.

    (UNICOR is the Federal Prison Industries Corporation that "employs" 23,000 prisoners in the Bureau of Prisons making various products for which the largest buyer is the Department of Defense.)

    Disenfranchisement thesis posted

    December 8, 2002

    We just completed scanning and converting a ground breaking thesis on disefranchisement written by Jon Yount, a prisoner in Pennsylvania. The March 1998 piece, Felon Disenfranchisement: Pennsylvania's Sinister Face of Vote Dilution discusses disenfranchisement, racial disparities, the Voting Rights Act and the census-based dilution of minority and urban voting strength. After this thesis, Jon Yount drafted the complaint that led to striking down Pennsylvania's unconstitutional 5 year waiting period for ex-felon voting registration.

    Bouncing addresses fixed?

    November 20, 2002

    Ok, I'm not sure exactly which parts of this are necessary, but here is what I did to fix the problem of bounces.

    In mailer.pm:
    1. In the var declaration change the line to read:

    use vars qw($VERSION $error $CRLF @ISA @EXPORT $replyto);  

    2. Add this line right after the Mailer::Version line:
    $Mailer::replyto = 'me@mysite.com'; #added this.


    3. On the line before each instance (2) of X-Mailer, add:
    print $s "Reply-To: $replyto $CRLF"; #added this

    4. Now here is the tricky one, and it might be all you need:
    Change each instance (2) of:
    -oeq -t ";

    to
    -oeq -t -f user\@domain.com";

    where user@domain.com is the address where bounces should go.

    You can not, apparently, set these additional flags in links.cfg as they just get stripped out. My goals are to either fix the regrex or do it with a variable, and in any case find out if I need all these changes. But this is big progress! As far as I know, it fully works now.

    Supreme Court of Canada rules inmates can vote

    November 4, 2002

    By KIRK MAKIN
    Globe and Mail Update Thursday, October 31, 2002

    The Supreme Court of Canada has granted convicts in penitentiaries the right to vote.

    In a 5-4 decision on Thursday, the court said a federal law that punishes prisoners for their misconduct in society is wrongheaded and more likely to undermine their respect for democracy than to enhance it.

    "The legitimacy of the law and the obligation to obey the law flow directly from the right of every citizen to vote," Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote for the majority. "The idea that certain classes of people are not morally fit or morally worthy to vote and to participate in the law-making process is ancient and obsolete."

    The ruling was a victory for Richard Sauve, convicted of first-degree murder almost 25 years ago in the shooting of a biker in Port Hope, Ont. Mr. Sauve was joined by several other inmates and inmate committees in his constitutional challenge.

    Punishment must serve a valid criminal-law purpose and must not be arbitrary, the majority said. Yet, the government failed to produced "any credible theory" to justify using such an essential right as a method of punishment, they said.

    In reasons that bristled with indignation, Chief Justice McLachlin said vague philosophical musings do not begin to form a valid basis for denying citizens their right to vote.

    "The government cannot use lofty objectives to shield legislation from Charter scrutiny. As to a legitimate penal purpose, neither the record nor common sense supports the claim that disenfranchisement deters crime or rehabilitates criminals."

    She referred to the government's rationale as "a novel theory" that would permit elected representatives to exclude citizens who have a right to equal participation in a democracy.

    "To deny prisoners the right to vote is to lose an important means of teaching them democratic values and social responsibility," the majority said. "This history of democracy is the history of progressive enfranchisement. The universal franchise has become, at this point in time, an essential part of democracy."

    The Court's ruling in Sauvé v. Canada

    Prison Legal News

    October 30, 2002

    The article "Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in New York" in the October 2002 issue of Prison Legal News was an edited version of a report by the Prison Policy Initiative. The full report is available on that site: http://www.prisonpolicy.org/importing.

    New Book: Invisible Punishment

    October 20, 2002

    coverInvisible Punishment: The Collateral Consequences of Mass Imprisonment, edited by Marc Mauer and Meda Chesney-Lind, just published by The New Press, reveals how the two million imprisoned Americans and their families are being punished by factors well beyond incarceration. Leading scholars and advocates explore the far-reaching consequences of thirty years of "get tough" policies on prisoners, ex-felons, and families and communities. The contributions in Invisible Punishment define the boundaries of a new field of inquiry concerning the impact of American criminal justice policies.

    Shared templates bug

    October 15, 2002

    This is an obscure bug affecting very few installations. If you have multiple installations a site, and you set it up to share the templates, the search_error.html template needs to use a variable to represent which page to go to go back and browse the full list. It's currently hardcoded. That link is somewhat necessary as my users think they are using google and searching the links, regardless of what the instructions say. I'll either fix this in the next update, or just tell folks to use the navigation options above....

    Minor bugs

    October 13, 2002

    The apostrophe bug still remains in the javascript output (described below). The mass mailing template in admin_html.pl has some hard-coded text that should be replaced with variables for better mass-installation....

    Factsheets on prisoners and the census

    October 2, 2002

    Our sponsor, the Prison Policy Initiative, today released two new factsheets on prisoners and the census.

    Detaining for Dollars Federal aid follows inner-city prisoners to rural town coffers, [PDF] and Diluting democracy: Census quirk fuels prison expansion, [PDF] are now avaialble. Feel free to download, make copies, and distribute.

    Broken links suck

    September 22, 2002

    This website has 400+ links on the research page alone. The whole idea of a "world wide web" or just this website's research database is that the pages we link to don't move. When website designers move something, our link breaks and everybody loses.

    Running a website should not be like that carnival scam (Wack-A-Mole) where you are supposed to hit these mechanical groundhogs that pop up from random holes with a big mallet. The problem is that the groundhogs pop up faster than you can move the oversized mallet. The web is just to big to work if every site designer expects OTHER sites to compensate for their lazyness. The more sites fill with broken links, the less value the web has for anyone.

    Here's how you can help.
    1. If you find a broken link on this site, please email us. If we knew about it, it wouldn't be broken. It's that simple. We can't fix other people's sites, but we can fix our own links. We keep a backup copy of all the reports we link to, so we can post our backup copy if necessary. It's simply cheaper for us to pay for the bandwidth in these cases then be perpetually tracking down where a report has been moved to. If a report gets moved once, we're hosting it here. Less critical links content may just get deleted.
    2. If you run a website, or know anybody who does, check out some of the links in our Website Design And Internet Activism page for theoretical and technical articles on avoiding linkrot.

    While we're complaining, we should point out that some people get it right. Generally, if somebody does something correct, you'll never know. But kudos should go to the Drug Policy Alliance which merged two organizations (Drug Policy Foundation and the Lindesmith Foundation) and their websites without breaking external links to individual pages. Apparently, they thought their information was important enough to preserve the links. We hope that other organizations take their own writings as seriously and follow suit.

    Sending newsletter links only once

    September 19, 2002

    Is more complicated than I thought. The necessary modifications to the database and sorting routines are easy, figuring out how to tell the database that a link has been sent is more complicated, at least to me. Read below for how far I got and my plea for assistance. Twenty bucks to the first person who figures it out. As always if you have a better way to solve the problem than I suggest, that would be great.

    Gossamer Threads Support Forum.

    Incarceration comparisons factsheet

    August 31, 2002

    The comparision of incarceration rates on the top of prisonsucks.com has been turned into a factsheet suitable for redistribution to the public. Incarceration is not an equal opportunity punishment is a one page PDf file. Download, make copies, and distribute in your community today. (Sept 4 update: The link works now.)

    INS bails-out stagnating prison industry

    August 14, 2002

    The Village Voice just posted an excellent article Detainees Equal Dollars: The Rise in Immigrant Incarcerations drives a prison boom. The reporting is powerful and there is some great analysis in it. Here's two quotes:

    It was a shaky spring for the correctional workers of Hastings, Nebraska (pop. 24,064), as the stagnation in the nation's prison population and the increasingly high costs of incarceration jostled the sleepy town, some two hours' drive from Lincoln. On April 9, the 84 employees of the Hastings Correctional Center were told that the 186-bed facility would be closing at the end of June. State funds were scraping bottom, and the $2.5 million annual price tag for the prison was too big a burden to carry. "We really didn't know what we would do," says Jim Morgan, who had been working at HCC for 15 years and lives to this day in the house where he was born. "There aren't a lot of job opportunities out here, and most of us have homes and kids and couldn't even think about moving somewhere else." For two months, the workers scrambled, filling out applications at nearby meatpacking and cardboard-container plants and anticipating long hours in the unemployment office. Then salvation came from, of all places, the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Days after HCC closed as a state prison in June, it reopened as an INS detention center. "It's a win-win," says Morgan. The INS is desperate for more beds for its ever expanding detainee population. And the state of Nebraska, collecting $65 per detainee per day from the INS, rakes in more than $1 million a year over and above the cost of running the place.


    Longtime anti-prison activists see some scary writing on the wall. "The lesson of the drug war was that it didn't make sense to lock people up for everythingoit wasn't necessarily good for them or for society," says Kevin Pranis, an organizer with Not With Our Money, the national network resisting prison profiteering. "But a policy argument didn't get through to anyone as long as you had prison capacity and pressure to keep it filled. Immigrant activists have to start organizing not just around the injustice of detention, but also to reduce capacity." Otherwise, as one incarceration boom trails off, another will be in line to take its place.

    On the related subject of the fiscal crisis and state's declining ability to pay for corrections, we should draw your attention to a report that has been in our database since February: Cutting Correctly: New Prison Policies for Times of Fiscal Crisis by Judith Greene and Vincent Schiraldi of the Justice Policy Institute. The report argues that the financial crunch facing the states since 9/11 creates a need to cut the corrections budgets that have been spiralling upwards. And most importantly, the report makes specific suggestions for cuts to be made that will not just enhance fiscal security, but public safety as well.

    The Facts About Crime

    August 14, 2002

    The Prison Policy Initiative and the Arizona Area American Friends Service Committee today released a new one page -- 17 footnotes -- factsheet.

    In PDF format for ready re-distribution, the factsheet informs the reader that:

  • Crime has been going down, not up;
  • Incarceration does not reduce the crime rate and
  • The very expensive process of locking up 2 million people has become one of Americais largest industries.

    The Facts about Crime [PDF]

  • There is a prisoner phone scam but it's not #90

    July 25, 2002

    For years an email has been going around the net warning people about a scam where someone calls you up, says they are from the phone company doing a line test, and they ask you to press #90. Then -- says the email -- this person takes over your phone line and runs up a huge bill at your expense. This email is a hoax. This can't happen on a residential line. Because the email asks people to forward it, and well-meaning people do so, the email spreads like a virus.

    But there is a new version of this hoax that refers to the scam as originating from prisoners! After bouncing around on a prison issues mailing list, a well-meaning friend of this site sent it to us to try and protect us from this "scam". Here is our response:

    The message you sent me is an urban myth and does not affect residential phone customers. See http://urbanlegends.miningco.com/library/weekly/aa021898.htm

    It especially sucks that this urban myth is getting a "new life" by including the fear of prisoner scams. Almost everywhere, prisoners can only call collect, so most people are safe since they would never accept a a collect call from a prisoner they didn't know. Furthermore, this scam could not originate in a Mass prison or from a prison in many states, where the phone system is designed to prevent 3 way calling. These systems are so extreme it disconnects a prisoner if his mom gets a beep from call waiting. These "security" features are a package deal with the phone companies that provide electronic phone tracking and recording for the prisons. In exchange, the phone company charges the recipients of prisoner collect calls a surcharge and sometimes a higher rate. The prison and the phone company split this extra profit of $5 or more per call.

    Taxing the families of prisoners -- the poorest families in the state -- to pay for the high cost of over-incarceration is the real scam.

    Chronological list feature added

    July 25, 2002

    We now have a chronological list of links that are too old to be on the whats new list. The list of changes are too numerous to list here, but the main trick was in the build stats routine, to just create another array of all links by date where new = no. We'll repackage the links mods to share this change and all the minor bug fixes soon....

    We're almost done fixing the newsletter so we only email out new links once (automatically). Once that's done, we'll release the new package of mods.

    How the prison system makes minority communities pay

    July 15, 2002

    The cover article of July/August, 2002 issue of "The Crisis" Magazine, (NAACP national publication) is on how rising incarceration is spilling over
    into critical arenas of black political (electoral) and economic power, i.e. affecting the lives of African-Americans not under criminal justice control. Key issues focused on are felony disenfranchisement, impact of census prisoner-counting practices on redistricting and federal funding, etc. as well as the relationship between those phenomena and post-reconstruction initiatives designed to take away from the newly enfranchised what had just been granted...

    The article discusses the Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout report about the census counting urban prisoners as rural residents from our parent organization the Prison Policy Initiative.

    An internet version of the article is not yet available but you can order a hard copy from Crisis Magazine.

    Search generates wrong links for categories

    July 7, 2002

    If you do a search and either a category itself gives a hit, or a category contains a link with a hit, the category URL is incorrect. The fix is in search.cgi. In sub main in the search.cgi change

      $category_results .= qq|<li>$linked_title\n|;
    to
    $category_results .= qq|<li><a href="$sectionhtml#$category">$cat_clean</a>\n|;


    Replace the sub build_linked_title procedure in search.cgi with the following:


    sub build_linked_title {
    # --------------------------------------------------------
    # A little different then the one found in nph-build.cgi as it also
    # links up the last field as well.

    my ($input) = shift;

    my ($dir, $output, $path, $last, $precleandir);
    foreach $dir ((split m!/!, $input)) {
    $path .= "/$dir";
    $precleandir = $dir;
    $dir = &build_clean ($dir);
    $output .= qq|<a href="$sectionhtml#$precleandir">$dir</a>:|;
    }
    chop ($output);
    return $output;
    }

    Factsheets being indexed too....

    July 6, 2002

    As of today, Prisonsucks.com now indexes factsheets. If it's a high quality piece suitable for printing out, copying and distributing, we'll try and include it. You can submit new factsheets here into our online system....

    Federal death penalty declared unconstitutional

    July 1, 2002

    "A judge declared the federal death penalty unconstitutional Monday, saying too many innocent people have been sentenced to death.

    "U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff issued a 28-page ruling reaffirming his earlier opinion that the death penalty act violated the due process rights of defendants" reported CNN.

    The decision is subject to appeal, and at the moment affects only the case that was before Judge Rakoff. If affirmed, it could apply to the federal (but not state) death penalty in some or all of the country.

    Read Opinion and order re: U.S. v. Quinones,  supplement: prior opinion dated 4/25/02. Both are highly readable for non lawyers, and the opinion and order does a great job refuting the argument that the federal death penalty was created with knowledge that executing the innocent was an allowable risk. The Judge's opinion shows the contrary, that Congress thought executing the innocent to be very unlikely.

    Supreme Court strikes down judge-ordered death sentences

    June 24, 2002

    The Supreme Court today invalidated the death sentence of Timothy Ring because although the jury voted for life, the judge sentenced him to death. Between 180 and 800 death sentences will be invalidated by this decision.

    Justice O'Connor wrote a dissent where she argues in part that she opposed reversing Ring's death sentence because it would also reverse many other death sentences. To paraphrase the late Justice Brennan: What does O'Connor fear -- too much justice?

    Executions of mentally retarded declared unconstitutional!

    June 20, 2002

    On June 20th, the Supreme Court declared that execution of the mentally retarded violated the 8th Amendment.

    Reporter to Gandi on Gandi's first trip to England: Mr. Gandi, what do you think of Western Civilization?
    Gandi: I think it would be a good idea.

    With this decision, the Supreme Court has recognized that civilized nations do not executed the mentally retarded.

    The Court's opinion in Atkins v. Virginia

    7Up to pull prison rape commercial

    May 25, 2002

    A campaign led by Stop Prisoner Rape and endorsed by our sponsor the Prison Policy Initiative has succeeded in getting 7Up to stop airing a national television commercial that makes light of rape in prison.

    "Nearly 100 organizations spoke out to say that prisoner rape is a horrific human rights abuse that must be taken seriously,i said Stop Priosner Rape Executive Director Lara Stemple, iand weire happy 7UP has listened."

    Misc fixes and enhancements

    May 17, 2002

    Bug Fix: Updated and new image bugs squashed.
    Bug Fix: Category columns now divided more evenly.

    Enhancement: Added the ability to filter the research page by keyword. I think the description I wrote it clear enough, as it's not a search of the contents, just of the link names. I'll have to watch the logs and see if people understand....

    Remaining bugs:
    Special characters in fields are breaking the RSS and Javascript output. Need to figure this out.
    Bounced emails from the newsletter are not coming back. Either there is something I set up wrong, something is wrong at my host, or its a result of the script running as "nobody". There was some discussion of this at the gossamer threads forums, but nothing definitive that I could find. Any ideas?

    I'm no longer concerned about sorting the categories in non-alphabetical order, so the next public release of the mods will be after I figure these last bugs out. Let me know if you can help.....

    Other still dreamed-for enhancements:
    Get the what's new to produce a chronological history of what was added, and
    To fix the newsletter sort order. Even better, I'd love to ensure that links are only sent to the newsletter once, therefore making the sort order irrelevant.

    DrugWarFacts.org website summarizes research

    May 14, 2002


    DrugWarFacts.org from Common Sense for Drug Policy is a frequently updated list of facts and research (with references) to many different aspects of the war on drugs. You can also download the whole website in one handy 120 page booklet. It's a great resource.

    DrugWarFacts.org

    New Album from Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra

    May 11, 2002

    cover
    The socially conscious Antibalas Afrobeat Ochestra has a new album out: Talkatif. On their website, Antibalas (which means anti-bullet) include a list of links they recommend, including this site!
    Antibalas write: "As the prisons (aka slave ships that don't move) grow in size and number, we must become the abolitionists of our time" and describe prisonsucks.com as containing "UP-To-DATE facts on the prison industry, useful for all concerned people and activists." Thanks Antibalas and congratulations on the new album!

    UK prison drama - Bad Girls

    May 8, 2002

    The website of the hit UK prison drama Bad Girls has posted a link to this site; and we're glad to discover the show. Most interesting is that the show has teamed up with Payback and the The Centre for Crime and Justice Studies to produce fact sheets to coincide with each episode for viewers that want to find out more about the reality of life in a women's prison.

    Enronesque scandal meets the crime control industry...

    May 1, 2002

    Check this article from the Wall Street Journal:
    Charity Lends a Hand to Prisons With Murky Off-the-Books Deals
    "As scrutiny of complex accounting grows in the wake of the Enron collapse, Provident -- a prison-owning foundation run by a group of lawyers and financial pros -- offers the unusual twist of a nonprofit playing the off-the-books game."

    Read: Charity Lends a Hand to Prisons With Murky Off-the-Books Deals

    Urban Prisoners Boost Rural Clout in State Legislature

    April 22, 2002

    Today the Prison Policy Initiative released a reporting showing how urban prisoners are counted as rural residents for purposes of state legislative redistricting in violation of the NY and Federal Constitutions.

    Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in New York

    Does "7 Up" support prisoner rape?

    April 19, 2002

    Stop Prisoner Rape has just added an urgent action appeal for signatures denouncing a new commercial by 7 Up that trivializes prisoner rape to sell soft drinks.

    Stop Prisoner Rape

    Corporate-Sponsored Crime Laws

    April 15, 2002

    Over the past two decades, America's prison population doubled, then doubled again, before finally leveling off at about two million inmates. One result: a 50-billion-dollar corrections industry. That's bigger than tobacco. The crackdown on crime has enriched corporations that build prisons or sell products to them, prison guard unions, and police departments that use budget-fattening incentives to pursue drug criminals. In this special report, American RadioWorks correspondent John Biewen explores how some groups with vested interests work to influence public policyo helping to keep more people locked up longer.

    Prison Industry a Revenue-Generating Opportunity

    Turning the Key: California's Prison Guards

    April 11, 2002

    The nation's swelling inmate population has turned imprisonment into a $50 billion-a-year industry. Those who've prospered along the way include corporations, prison guard unions, and police agencies. American RadioWorks correspondent John Biewen examines how some of those with vested interests help to shape who gets locked up and for how long.

    Like any big industry, corrections is a major employer. The majority of prison workers are guards. In California, the guards' union has become one of the most powerful and politically agressive interest groups in the state. The union gives new meaning to the job of keeping inmates behind bars.

    Read/listen: Turning the Key: California's Prison Guards

    Newsletter introductory text fix

    April 6, 2002

    The introductory text does not belong in nph-email.cgi, rather it goes in admin_html.pl in the sub html_mail_update. Right after the TEXTAREA tag, put the introductory text you want. If that doesn't work, I'll try the more elegant solution discussed in the link below.

    Gossamer Threads Forum

    Add.cgi fixed

    April 6, 2002

    Add.cgi now works for categories. Until the next release, you can fix this yourself by editing site_html_template.pl. In sub site_html_add_form add Category => $category, before %globals

    Note the comma after $category. This command was in the original Gossamer Threads code, so why I took it out, I don't know. Also note that some of the other fields (ie format) are hardcoded into the text, the email message doesn't contain all of the entered data, and some of the referrer information is missing from the email. But for our purposes it works. If you develop a more elegant solution, let me know and we'll combine it with our code.

    Counting urban prisoners as rural residents skews democratic decision making on crime policy

    March 12, 2002

    Newhouse News Service just wrote a great article about an upcoming report from our sponsor, the Prison Policy Initiative. The article is about the effect of counting urban prisoners as rural residents for the purposes of distributing state legislative power.

    "'Allowing white, rural districts to claim urban black prisoners as residents for purposes of representation resembles the old three-fifths clause (of the Constitution) that allowed the South extra representation for its slaves -- extra representation that kept the North from abolishing slavery long before the Civil War,' said Peter Wagner, who has researched the issue as a law student at Western New England College in Springfield, Mass., and as a founder of the Prison Policy Initiative. The initiative analyzes prison issues and advocates reforms."

    "Wagner contends that just as important as the shift of power out of New York's urban districts is the shift upstate toward policies that perpetuate prisons and large inmate populations."

    Read the whole article for more....

    Minority Prison Inmates Skew Local Populations as States Redistrict

    Prison author Jack Henry Abbott is dead.

    February 14, 2002

    According to the New York State Department of Correction, Jack Henry Abbott committed suicide on February 10, 2002.
    Abbott spent all but 8 years of his life in prison. He wrote In The Belly of the Beast: Letters from Prison and My Return. Abbott was 58.

    An obituary by Randall Williams on PrisonAct-List

    New and updated image bugs

    February 7, 2002

    Currently the UPDATED images are absolute links to my server right in the code, and the new ones are relative links. This has drawbacks for portability and while it works for my main output, the new image links are broken in the search and probably other cgi-generated pages. The next revision will probably create a global variable for the absolute path to the image directory. This variable will be placed in the page generation code and in the templates for the search feature.

    Newsletter not handling wrong addresses?

    February 7, 2002

    For some reason I don't get the bounced emails sent to bogus email addresses. It also appears to ignore the introductory message hard coded into the code. (Does it always ignore the introductory text? Not sure.) Feb 12 update: The introductory code is printing to the screen, but not the email message, so I must have the code in the wrong spot.

    Apostrophes break javascript module output

    February 4, 2002

    My javascript export of new links isn't working all of a sudden. Turns out I have a headine with an apostrophe in it, and the apostrophe is used by javascript to signify the end of a field.

    Apparently I need to create a clean subroutine to strip out apostrophes before generating the javascript. (Alternatively, can I escape a character in javascript like you would in perl?) As always, if you can get to this before me, please send the code.

    Sort categories through non-english mod?

    January 5, 2002

    It might be possible to sort the categories through the use of the non english mod, which apparently creates a second field for the printable version of the category name. I wasn't able to find the mod in a quick (1 minute) search, but this might be the best way to go, although since I am not creating directories for each category, this might be more trouble than its worth.... Thoughts?

    [Feb 1: I found the non-english mod. I think integrating this into the tree mod might be difficult and I might be better of doing it from scratch with that as a model.]

    Somewhere I broke add.cgi

    December 22, 2001

    Something in these mods breaks add.cgi from displaying the category field properly. I suspect I mis-modified something related to the autobuilding of cgi forms. Looking at the code, it appears I added fields manually to the html and it can be done automatically. At one point is was also mishandling incorrectly entered fields, but that has not been tested in a while. This is not a key feature for me, but I'd like to get it working so that other non-admins can help build the database. If you figure it out, let me know.

    A broken add.cgi in action

    Research links database software available

    December 18, 2001

    The links database is running a modified version of Links 2.0 from Gossamer Threads. We combined several existing mods and then had to make some additional changes. If our modifications would be useful to you in managing your own site, you can download them from our software page.

    RSS Module Bug

    December 17, 2001

    The RSS mod I made does not encode special characters out of fields. Not sure exactly how to do that. Any ideas? It needs to display and our link properly when it comes out the other end. It appears that most readers will accept files with fancy database URLs, though.... (Is that because funky characters are ok in 0.92 which the readers but not my version of IE support? My file is pretending to be a 0.91....

    CGI Assistance needed for Prison XML aggregator

    December 16, 2001

    The Prison Policy Initiative is looking to build an XML aggregator to combine and redistribute headlines from from prison reform websites. (There are only a few sites besides PrisonSucks.com producing in the XML format, and the PPI is encouraging other organizations to produce news in this format.)

    The biggest thing holding this project back from proceeding at internet speed is lack of programming help. So help if you can. Write to the Prison Policy Initiative. Prison organizations who desire to participate should also click the link below to learn more.

    Read how this could work

    Put links to new research on your website!

    December 14, 2001

    You can now keep your website automatically up-to-date with the 5 newest reports from our database. We have the links available in XML/RSS format as well as a simpler javascript version that you can just paste into your page. Please let us know if you install a research feed or if you have any problems.

    http://www.prisonsucks.com/feeds.shtml

    International Research Editors Needed

    December 12, 2001

    We cannot effectively index prison research for countries other than the U.S. If you would like to edit a page to list the research relevant to prisons in your country, send us an email. While you need to be familar with the research agencies in your country, you do not need HMTL or programming skills as you can edit the page through your browser.

    PrisonSucks now a part of the Prison Policy Initiative

    December 8, 2001

    The Prison Policy Initiative produces accurate, timely and accessible statistics and reports for use by activists, journalists and policy makers on prison and responses to crime. Our work starts with the idea that the racial, gender and economic disparities between the prison population and the larger society represent the grounds for a
    democratic catastrophe. We are working to develop a conception of prison reform based not merely in opposing a rising rate of incarceration, but in the need to evolve to a better way of addressing social problems than warehousing our citizens in cages.

    Prison Policy Initiative