“Inside-Out” is a “right-side up” approach to prison education

Some years ago an inmate at SCI Gratford Prison Pennsylvania conceived of an entirely new approach to prison education, designed not only to enlighten its participants intellectually, but socially as well. Through its implementation it’s succeeded in providing prisoners with

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The Numbers: Who’s in American Prisons, and for What Crimes?

By Christopher Zoukis   Image courtesy aclu.org

American prisons are currently experiencing a shortage of space and an abundance of prisoners; in a word, overcrowding.  The United States incarcerates 25 percent of the world’s prisoners despite accounting for only 5 percent of the world’s population.  The Federal Bureau of Prisons alone is experiencing overcrowding at a rate of 40 percent in its facilities, with projections indicating this rate will continue to increase.  With this overcrowding, prisoner unrest, violence, and misconduct increase.  The system is broken, and the phrases “Prison Nation” and “Incarceration Nation” continue to become more apt every year.  Something must be done, but first, the extent of the problem must be understood.  Triage is required.

While much of this overcrowding is due to our country’s policies concerning crime control (i.e., incarceration as a solution of the first resort), a significant cause of this problem is due to recidivism — the instance of prisoners or probationers returning to criminal activities and being sanctioned for doing so.  While many understand and agree that the initial instance of crime can be reduced through stronger social and educational programs for children, we find ourselves faced with a problem of returns on our current efforts.  We must stem the blood flow of recidivism now so that the system can be patched up well enough for us to focus on future generations of children, some of whom are destined to turn to crime without reform to the services currently being provided to them.

And with this, I present the following statistics in the hopes that the extent of our broken criminal justice system problem can be realized, and solutions of the same magnitude can be envisioned:


The Current State of American Corrections

  • ·         In 2009, the U.S. prisoner population totaled 1,617,417 inmates.
  • ·         In 2010, there were 500 prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents.
  • ·         The South incarcerates the most prisoners, followed by the West, Midwest, and Northeast.
  • ·         Black males are incarcerated 6.7 times the rate of white males.
  • ·         Black men and women are significantly more likely to be incarcerated than all other races.
  • ·         Males are over 10 times more likely to be incarcerated than females.
  • ·         Federal prisons are currently operating systemwide at 140 percent of capacity.
  • ·         In 2010, 53 percent of released male prisoners recidivated.


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Broken On All Sides


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A Year of Massachusetts Criminal Justice

By Jean Trounstine

The good, the bad, and the very very ugly. These are some things that stood out for me in 2013, and with them, I wish you all a Happy New Year.

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1. Wonderful news for every prisoner who managed to get out of prison, stay out, stay clean, promote a worthy cause, get a job, heal/end negative relationships, and/or make a healthy start: bravo.

2. Thankfully Massachusetts has finally improved on a federal law. We struck down life without parole for juveniles: The ruling goes farther than the Supreme Court decision in 2012 that struck down automatic sentences of life without parole for juveniles per The Boston Globe.

3. Massachusetts raised the age of juveniles — finally — from 17 to 18. As of July, 2013, 37 other states had already raised the age so juveniles would not be tried as adults. But in Massachusetts, a child of 14 who kills can stil be tried as an adult. (What say you, progressives?)

4. Annie Dookhan went to jail for her part in the state drug lab scandal but how many assistant district attorneys did not? And why is there still such silence about this? Apparently, the moola — $8.5 million already spent to deal with this and Legislature setting aside an additional $8.6 mil — and putting innocent people behind bars and releasing people who may or may not be ready is all gonna fall on her shoulders.

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