Average Prisoner Receives Two Visits While Incarcerated, New Study Finds

Image courtesy theguardian.comBy Christopher Zoukis  

No one needs convincing that prison is probably a lonely place, filled with hostile guards and dangerous inmates.  At least from the Hollywood point of view, the only comfort for most convicts is a letter from home or the occasional visit from family or friends.  Sadly, though, a new study indicates that many prisoners do not even have the solace of visitors from outside, and that the average inmate receives only two visits during their entire length of incarceration.

Prisoner Visitation’s Connection to Recidivism

Consistent with previous research, a recent study published in the journal Crime and Delinquency indicates that Florida prisoners who regularly receive visitors do better during their stay behind bars and upon re-entry into the community than those who don’t receive frequent visits.  “Visitation helps individuals maintain social ties during imprisonment, which, in turn, can improve inmate behavior and reduce recidivism,” the authors of the study wrote.  “Not being visited can result in collateral consequences and inequality in punishment.”

Those Who Receive Few to No Visits

Necessarily implied by the study’s findings is that many prisoners receive no visitors at all.  Those who are older, black, or have been incarcerated numerous time had the fewest visitors.  White, Latino, younger, and newly incarcerated inmates received the most visits.  Economic status and the length of a prisoner’s sentence did not factor into the likelihood of visitors.

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LGBT Month Celebrated in Federal Prison: A Validation for Lives Dismissed

By Christopher Zoukis / Huffington Post At the start of June, pink flyers announcing LGBT Month started appearing around FCI Petersburg, a medium-security federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia, where I am incarcerated. The fliers, along with many colorful postings in

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  Image courtesy www.fathers-4-justice.org-
By Diane Sears
SACRAMENTO, CA (USA) –  30 JUNE 2014 — Mr. Donald Tenn, President of Fathers 4 Justice (USA)/Families 4 Justice (www.fathers4justice.org/) has announced that Fathers 4 Justice (USA) will continue its supportive role of 2014 International Men’s Day by raising awareness for the worldwide observance which will be celebrated in 80 nations on Wednesday, 19 November 2014 under the theme, “Working Together for Men and Boys”. Viewed by many as a one of the key players in the Global Fatherhood Movement, Fathers 4 Justice (USA) under the leadership of Mr. Tenn supports and will be a participant in the National Day of Prayer for Boys and Men on Sunday, 16 November 2014 which is a component of the United States’ observance of 2014 International Men’s Day. 
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A Prison Alliance: Dog Trainers and Veterans

By Dianne Frazee-Walker  Image courtesy www.brothersandrewdallas.org- Springing retrievers and puppies are not the first thing one envisions when thinking about prison.    A Texas women’s prison is reforming inmates and lowering recidivism rates as disabled veterans receive specially trained dogs to

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Female Prisoners in Kansas Make Dentures for Low-Income Patients

By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtesy prisonprofiler.com

The women of Topeka Correctional Facility in Topeka, Kansas are an interesting sort.  While some sweep, mop, wipe down tables, or engage in wholesale janitorial work assignments, a special group of 8 female prisoners make dentures for low-income patients through an innovative partnership between the Kansas Department of Corrections, Kansas Correctional Industries, and the Southeast Kansas Education Center at Greenbush.

Founded by the Delta Dental of Kansas Foundation, in 2007, the dental technician program employs 8 female prisoners at Topeka Correctional Facility, all of which were specially selected by prison administrators for program placement.  These female prisoners make dentures for Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved (KAMU) patients.

The process is complex.  The KAMU clinics make an impression of the patient’s mouth.  This impression is then sent to the female prisoner dental technicians at the Topeka Correctional Facility, who create a wax and plastic teeth mold of the impression.  This temporary mold is then returned to the KAMU clinic to ensure that the fit is perfect.  Once approval is granted, the mold is sent back to the prison, where the female prisoner dental technicians use plastic teeth and hard acrylic to craft the final set of dentures.  These are then delivered back to the KAMU clinic for delivery to the eagerly awaiting patients.

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Friends Outside

By Dianne Frazee-Walker  Image courtesy facebook.com

Friends Outside, located in Modesto California was created in 1955 to bridge the gap between prisoners, ex-prisoners, and their families. Friends Outside has been filling a critical need of the community by offering services and education to people affected by the devastation of incarceration.        

History of Friends Outside

Like many human service organizations the initiation of Friends Outside was the result of an individual reaching out because of a necessity, and compassionate people stepping into action.  

In 1955, Sheriff Mel Hawley had a conversation that marked the beginning of a 59 year expedition to improve the lives of prisoners, parolees, and their families.

An inmate of the Santa Clara County Jail voiced his distress to the Sheriff about not having contact with his family since his incarceration and wondered if his family even knew where he was.

Sheriff Hawley immediately responded to the distraught inmate by asking his sister if she knew anyone who would be willing to help the man. The friend who volunteered to attend to the inmate’s concerns was appropriately named Rosemary Goodenough. The sheriff’s sister and the good enough Quaker Samaritan, Ms. Goodenough had to visit the inmate’s family because they could not afford a telephone. When the charitable women arrived at the family’s residence they were dismayed by the poverty level of the inmate’s family. They quickly responded by gathering up emergency food and clothing from church sources and referred the family to public assistance.

Ms. Goodenough’s good deed did not end there.

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Amnesty International’s Write for Rights 2013 a Success

By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtes arlnow.com

Another year has passed and another successful Write for Rights campaign has been fulfilled by our friends at Amnesty International.  And quite a campaign it has proven to be.

Write for Rights, a project organized by Amnesty International, is an annual campaign based on the concept that when massive amounts of attention are focused on real-word problems that real-world solutions will be realized.  In effect, Write for Rights is a worldwide letter writing campaign focused on demanding the release of — and improved conditions of confinement for — political prisoners and other prisoners of conscience.

The success of Write for Rights is simple, even if its orchestration is anything but that.  Prison administrators and politicians can ignore a single letter, email, text message, or phone call.  These can be easily swept under the rug and hid from the light of day.  But can they ignore 10, 50, 100 letters, or how about two million?  Obviously, as the number grows larger, the harder it becomes to ignore the demands and public scrutiny.  And in 2013, 1.9 million communications were made to prison officials worldwide as part of Amnesty International’s Write for Rights 2012.

Write for Rights 2013 was even more successful, with 2.3 million communications sent from hundreds of thousands of project supporters worldwide.  In fact, the campaign

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Open Books’ Prison Book Project: Reforming Prisoners One Book at a Time

By Christopher Zoukis   Image courtesy www.nbbd.com

Even in the darkest of nights the moon gives off a faint glow.  The same is true of the world of American corrections, even in Florida’s private prison paradise.  This light — and the hope it brings — comes from an unlikely source with an unusual mission: Open Books’ Prison Book Project.

The Prison Book Project is a volunteer books-to-prisoners operation.  Founded in the year 2000, when it used to be based in the now closed Subterranean Books (Pensacola, Florida), it is presently hosted at Pensacola’s Open Books.

Open Books, a nonprofit bookstore located at 1040 N. Guillemard Street in Pensacola, Florida is open every day from 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM.  Its volunteer operators can be found selling discounted books to the public.  But on Wednesdays, the real transformational magic is breathed into being.

Every Wednesday, the Prison Book Project volunteers take over and get to work.  They open stacks of mail from prisoners across the state of Florida.  While they can handle around 40 requests each week (due to mailing expenses), they receive around 70 requests a week from prisoners seeking books, an outlet to something greater than their prison cells.  The backlog of hundreds of requests shows the value, importance, and respect prisoners have for this project.

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A Cold Hand for Old Cases

By Dianne Frazee-Walker  Image courtesy kpho.com

Maricopa County Sherriff Arpaio has a new approach up his sleeve for solving cold cases.  

Who could be better to help solve cold cases than an inmate? After all, they have plenty of time on their hands and plenty of available card playing buddies.

Silent Witness is a resourceful program that uses playing cards to publicize cold cases. The cards reveal pictures and details about 52 local unsolved cases.

Phoenix Police and the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office are joining forces with Silent Witness handing out 3,000 of these decks to Maricopa County inmates in hopes that some of the prisoners will have helpful information that will help solve some of these cold cases. 

One good hand in the right inmate’s hands could be a lucky draw for a grieving family.

The program is graciously funded by an anonymous individual who was fortunate enough to have their case solved by a Silent Witness card that was dealt to the right hand.

Silent Witness, Sgt. Darren Burch pronounces how each card has significant importance.  

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