February 1, 2013

Solitary Watch – Bloggers Jean Casella and James Ridgeway

State Bar Association Calls on New York to “Profoundly Restrict” Its Use of Solitary Confinement

Written by the New York State Bar Association Civil Rights Committee, the document calls for drastic changes in the practice of all sorts of solitary confinement in both state and city jails.  Full Bar Report:

 The Good Men Project – Michael J. Mooney
 A Son’s Life Sentence

Here is an illustration of a broader definition of victim, in this case an innocent child.  Only two years old at the time his father was sentenced for rape, he tries to pick up the pieces of a father-son relationship 25 years later when DNA proved his father innocent.

 National Post: Full Comment – Christie Blatchford
Ashley Smith still laughed with guards even as her life sputtered toward its end

Blatchford draws a sorry picture of Ashley Smith’s last days in Grand Valley Institution.  “If she wasn’t busy “tying up” (or tightly wrapping a homemade ligature around her neck), or wedging herself between a wall of her isolation cell and her metal bed, she was turning purple, or nearly dying. On Sept. 1, the date of one of the videos, she did this at least nine times.” Blatchford writes. 

 N.Y. Times – Erica Goode and Jack Healy
Focus on Mental Health Laws to Curb Violence Is Unfair, Some Say

There seems to be a growing concern that the struggle in dealing with gun control issues may slip into equating violence with the mentally ill and then passing additional and perhaps repressive legislation.  Most mental health professionals believe the focus misguided (though additional monies for services would be welcomed) since the percentage of violence involving the mentally ill, according to these authors, is around 4% while chances of being a victim of a violent crime are about 11 times higher. 

 National Public Radio (NPR) News (US) – Shankar Vedantam
When Crime Pays: Prison Can Teach Some To Be Better Criminals

Often our mythology around the influence of prison experience on later life suggests that prisoners learn to be better criminals from one another while serving time. An Ohio Professor of Sociology looks at income to see if former inmates earn less.