Prison Author Under Fire: Federal Bureau of Prisons Retaliates Against Christopher Zoukis

Image courtesy blogs.longwood.edu- Over the past month Federal Bureau of Prison officials at the Federal Correctional Institution Petersburg have issued incarcerated author Christopher Zoukis a series of incident reports in a seeming attempt to censor his critique of the prison

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Solitary Confinement and the Mentally Ill

Dianne Frazee-Walker

After a major set-back the Colorado prison system is back on track.  Image courtesy www.upress.umn.edu

Before the death of Colorado Corrections director, Tom Clements, the Colorado DOC was working on reentry programs for mentally ill inmates released from solitary confinement.

Ironically, in March 2012, Evan Ebel, an inmate released directly from solitary confinement to the streets shot Mr. Clements in cold blood when he answered the door at his Colorado Springs home. Ebel was later tracked down by authorities in Texas and was fatally wounded in a police shoot out.

Sadly, Mr. Ebel targeted the wrong person upon whom to take out his anger against the correctional system because Clements was a strong advocate for changing solitary confinement policies.

Mr. Clements was a compassionate man who recognized the need for addressing the mental health issues of inmates who spent time in solitary confinement prior to release back into society. He was also dissatisfied with the number of inmates that were held in administrative segregation (aka ad seg) in Colorado Correctional facilities.

Just months shy of the one year anniversary of Clements’ death and the interruption of the progress the Colorado Correctional Department was making to solitary confinement policies, Kellie Wasko, the department’s executive director announced that “it was time to pick it back up and move on.”   

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Tom Clements Death: Prison Officials Acknowledge Chief’s Death Tied To Solitary Confinement Policies

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Tom Clements, Chief Executive Director of Colorado Corrections was known by his friends, family, and affiliates as a compassionate man, dedicated to changing how Colorado Corrections deals with violent inmates locked away into solitary confinement for of lengthy periods of time.  Photo courtesy thedenverchannel.com

Clements had strong aspiration to do what it takes to build safe communities in Colorado. He was a visionary who foresaw how creating programs for inmates who are released from solitary confinement to society is connected to lowering recidivism rates, resulting in crime free neighborhoods.

Clements was a former director of operations for Missouri’s twenty-one adult correctional institutions and overall management of 30,500 incarcerated offenders since 2007. He served in statewide leadership roles within the adult probation and parole system and in Missouri’s adult correctional institutions system until he was hired by Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper in 2010 as Chief Executive Director of Colorado Corrections.  

When Governor Hickenlooper made the decision to hire Clements he announced, “Tom Clements has built a distinguished career working his up through the ranks in the Missouri corrections system.”

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California Is Facing More Woes in Prisons

Dianne Frazee-Walker

California’s prison system is one of the largest in the country. At the beginning of 2013 the state housed 199,000 inmates. The California prison population is facing a major crisis. The prison population is 50% over what the prison system is safely equipped to hold. Some California prisons are at 180% over capacity. A goal of reducing the overflow to137.5% was requested by federal courts in January with a 6-month deadline.

Presently, California prisons continue to be in a dismal predicament.  Image courtesy sfbayview.com

For the last two-years Governor Jerry Brown has been rejecting the United States Supreme Court’s orders to release low risk inmates to lower the prison population. His reasoning for not reaching federal regulations is his concern for public safety.

The consequences of Brown’s unwillingness to conform are compounding the prison overpopulation problem.

The California prison overcrowding dilemma is causing a multitude of other issues.

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