Articles by Leah Sakala
Prison Policy Initiative Policy Analyst Leah Sakala (full bio)
- Will Massachusetts end its harmful automatic driver’s license suspension policy?
H.3039/S.1812 is currently in the Joint Committee on Transportation, and PPI submitted written testimony to help move it along in the legislature.
Jul 27, 2015
- Letter to the Editor: Cecil County, MD, should cancel jail letter ban plan
"Major correctional associations emphasize that letter writing and family communication are key to meeting correctional safety goals."
Mar 17, 2015
- Ending harmful driver’s license suspensions in Massachusetts
Massachusetts suspends driver’s licenses as punishment for crimes that had nothing to do with cars or road safety. Sound nonsensical? It is.
Mar 17, 2015
- Meeting new board members: Amanda Alexander
Amanda is a Soros Justice Fellow and an attorney in the University of Michigan Law School Child Advocacy Law Clinic. She directs the U of M Law School Prison & Family Justice Project, which serves families divided by incarceration and the foster care system using a combination of direct representation, know-your-rights education, targeted litigation, and advocacy.
Jan 20, 2015
- Support prison phone justice on this Giving Tuesday!
Generous friends have agreed to match any donations to PPI through 2014, making your gift go twice as far.
Dec 2, 2014
- New opportunity to weigh in on FCC prison phone regulation
Join us in telling the FCC to ensure that ALL families can afford to stay in touch with incarcerated loved ones
Nov 21, 2014
- Scholar and writer James Kilgore to remain at Univ. of Illinois
We applaud the University for doing the right thing and retaining a valuable member of the academic community.
Nov 14, 2014
- New FCC prison phone regulation proposal play-by-play
Will the FCC ban commissions, cap all calling rates, and eliminate fees?
Oct 27, 2014
- Victory: Santa Barbara County scraps harmful jail letter ban policy
A year and a half of hard work has brought a big win for local families.
Oct 3, 2014
- New BJS figures show that mass incarceration is getting bigger
New report serves as a sobering reminder that state-level criminal justice policy decisions are continuing to ensure that our nation remains the top incarcerator in the world.
Sep 16, 2014
- CenturyLink and Pay-Tel offer a peek down the rabbit hole of the prison phone industry
Where 96% isn't 96% and clients aren't clients.
Sep 2, 2014
- PPI’s Aleks Kajstura presents at FCC workshop on further regulation of the prison phone industry
Aleks Kajstura gave an invited presentation of our research on two different workshop panels, highlighting the importance of fees and comprehensive reform.
Aug 20, 2014
- Huffington Post: The Father’s Day Profiteers That Put Hallmark to Shame
The Huffington Post just published my new article, The Father's Day Profiteers That Put Hallmark to Shame. Here's how it starts: This Sunday, more than a million families....
Jun 13, 2014
- Legislators listen up, we want fair elections!
Legislators listen up,
we want fair elections!
You can't count constituents
in your house of corrections!
Jun 12, 2014
- Three massive new briefings from the Prison Policy Initiative
316 graphs of state-by-state data on racial disparities and prison growth
May 28, 2014
- Paying the price of mass incarceration
Data show that the U.S’s incarceration tab in 2010 came out to a whopping $82.4 billion. Which is actually a serious underestimate.
May 23, 2014
- Peter Wagner wins American Constitution Society’s David Carliner Public Interest Award
This award "recognizes outstanding public interest lawyers whose work best exemplifies its namesake’s legacy of fearless, uncompromising and creative advocacy on behalf of marginalized people."
May 15, 2014
- New report calls for an end to non-driving-related driver’s license suspensions
Press Release for report Suspending Common Sense in Massachusetts: Driver's license suspensions for drug offenses unrelated to driving
May 14, 2014
- The National Academies scrutinizes mass incarceration
Among the findings is that "the evidence of political inequities in redistricting due to the way the U.S. Census Bureau counts prisoners is 'compelling'"
May 2, 2014
- Massachusetts women need more services, not more jail cells
Bill H.1434 proposes to build a whole new "Women's Pretrial Facility." More jail cells should never be the first response to overcrowding problems.
Apr 25, 2014
- PPI Board Member Heather Thompson chosen as a 2014 Media for a Just Society Award Finalist
Heather's nominated article reveals the many ways that our nation's unprecedented use of incarceration has distorted our political landscape.
Apr 16, 2014
- PPI friend Kelsey Kauffman urges American Pharmacist Association to reject lethal injection
Think Progress covers the push for the APA to recognize that pharmacists have a moral imperative to refuse to participate in the state-sanctioned administration of death.
Apr 14, 2014
- New Youth CineMedia video documents Santa Barbara struggle to overturn jail letter ban
Santa Barbara Sheriff Bill Brown's ban on incoming letters in the county jail is breaking critical family communication.
Apr 2, 2014
- Meeting new board members: Ruth Greenwood
Ruth Greenwood, Fellow at the Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, shares her thoughts on her work and why she joined PPI's board.
Apr 1, 2014
- Massachusetts Senate unanimously passes anti-shackling legislation!
The Senate unanimously approved a bill to protect Massachusetts moms from being shackled during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period.
Mar 21, 2014
- Meeting new board members: Michael Leo Owens
Professor Owens teaches in the Political Science department of Emory University, and joined our board in January.
Mar 13, 2014
- Our new briefing reveals “Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie”
Our newest briefing includes the first graphic we’re aware of that aggregates the disparate systems of confinement in this country into one big-picture chart.
Mar 12, 2014
- PPI weighs in on New York Times Room for Debate on video visitation
"[I]f left unregulated, the video communication market could follow the trajectory of the infamously broken prison telephone industry."
Feb 28, 2014
- HuffPo: FCC Bests Prison Telephone Industry Just in Time for Valentine’s Day
Peter and Leah wrote a new Huffington Post piece about the start of the FCC's inter-state prison phone rate regulation on Tuesday.
Feb 13, 2014
- Peter Wagner to deliver Clason Speaker Series lecture at WNEU School of Law
Peter Wagner will discuss the hidden costs of mass incarceration on 2/10.
Feb 6, 2014
- Western Massachusetts criminal justice advocates’ meet and greet is next Tuesday, 2/11!
Mark your calendars and RSVP today!
Feb 6, 2014
- PPI board member Sarah Walker profiled in MN Women’s Press
Sarah advocates tirelessly to improve our criminal justice system, including working on projects to end prison gerrymandering and remove barriers to participation in our democratic process.
Feb 5, 2014
- PPI sparks New York Times column “Phoning From Prison, at Prices Through the Roof”
We asked The New York Times consumer protection columnist the Haggler to investigate the broken prison phone industry. He did!
Feb 3, 2014
- Meeting new PPI board members: Jennifer Sellitti
Jennifer Sellitti, Deputy Public Defender in Essex County, NJ, shares her thoughts on her work and why she joined our board.
Feb 3, 2014
- T-shirts, bumper stickers and buttons, oh my!
Show your support for our work with some PPI gear.
Jan 15, 2014
- Please come to a Western Massachusetts criminal justice advocates’ meet and greet on 2/11!
Lots of local folks are doing great work to end mass incarceration, and we'd like to create a space where we can connect with each other and strengthen our work.
Jan 9, 2014
- New York Times editorial cites PPI research on correctional video communication industry
"…the Prison Policy Initiative, a Massachusetts research group, urged similar rules for video visitation, email, voice mail and other systems."
Jan 7, 2014
- Valley Advocate covers Massachusetts bill to ban shackling of pregnant women
Leah spoke with the Valley Advocate about PPI's testimony in support of S 1171.
Jan 3, 2014
- Prison Policy Initiative receives “halo” from Valley Advocate
Our local paper awarded the Prison Policy Initiative a “halo” this year for our work to improve justice policy.
Dec 31, 2013
- FCC should close video loophole in prison phone regulation
Increasing the number of ways that families can stay in touch is a good thing. But allowing companies to exploit families and undercut the FCC's efforts to bring fairness to this industry is not.
Dec 23, 2013
- 23,000+ SumOfUs members call on FCC to regulate instate prison phone charges
People all over the country want to ensure that ALL families can afford to stay in touch with incarcerated loved ones.
Dec 16, 2013
- It’s time for Massachusetts to stop shackling incarcerated women who are giving birth
We submitted testimony in support of S.1171, a bill that would ban the routine use of physical restraints on incarcerated pregnant women in Massachusetts.
Dec 12, 2013
- Support PPI this Thursday on 12/12, Valley Gives Day!
Your gift will go twice as far, and maybe even further!
Dec 9, 2013
- Meeting PPI board member: Neelum Arya
Neelum Arya, Research Director at the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law, shares her work and why she joined PPI's board.
Nov 21, 2013
- Meeting PPI board member: Heather Ann Thompson
Heather Ann Thompson, professor in the Departments of African American Studies and History at Temple University, shares her work and why she joined PPI's board.
Nov 21, 2013
- WNEU Law Alumni Magazine profiles Peter Wagner
"Peter Wagner ’03 was recently honored with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ 2013 Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award."
Nov 8, 2013
- Massachusetts Department of Corrections moves forward with dog sniff plan
As soon as we learned of the Massachusetts Department of Corrections's plan to use dogs to screen people entering prisons starting this week, we wrote them another letter.
Nov 7, 2013
- Mass. court to decide when sentencing enhancement zone reform takes effect
Leah reports back from a hearing on the zone law before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
Oct 8, 2013
- Heather Thompson exposes mass incarceration’s long-standing impact on U.S. democracy
"...locking up unprecedented numbers of citizens over the last forty years has itself made the prison system highly resistant to reform through the democratic process."
Oct 7, 2013
- Brief cites PPI’s research on “sentencing enhancement zones” in Mass.
While the harmful older zone law has been scaled back, questions still remain in the courts.
Sep 24, 2013
- PPI’s work featured in “42 Amazing Maps”
Our map showing which countries allowed the execution of juveniles as recently as 2002 was just featured in a great new Vlogbrothers video.
Sep 23, 2013
- A prison phone industry giant said what??
The Huffington Post just published the first article we’ve seen on the prison phone regulation that includes a public interview with the CEO of Securus.
Sep 10, 2013
- Juvenile-In-Justice blog features the Prison Policy Initiative
Check out the interview with us about our work to expose how mass incarceration harms families, communities, and our nation.
Sep 10, 2013
- New PPI video: Why jails shouldn’t ban letters from home
A harmful new trend is sweeping through local jails as a growing number of sheriffs are banning letters from home.
Sep 9, 2013
- Prison Legal News covers historic FCC workshop on the prison phone industry
The article includes a nice summary of Peter's invited presentation on a panel about the true costs of providing prison phone service.
Aug 29, 2013
- Step one to reduce recidivism in Santa Barbara County: stop banning letters from home
Ending the letter ban would help keep Santa Barbara's community safe and families intact.
Aug 28, 2013
- When is a customer not a customer? (In prison.)
A New York Times Magazine article exposes how the broken prison commissary industry leaves the people footing the bill out of the equation.
Aug 20, 2013
- FCC takes historic stand to control the predatory prison and jail phone industry
the FCC is finally stepping up to the plate to protect families from having to choose between staying in touch and paying the bills.
Aug 9, 2013
- The good old days of the exploitative prison phone industry?
2002 footage shows how much the industry has changed in 10 years.
Aug 9, 2013
- Santa Clara County, CA sheriff scraps plan to ban letters from home
Successful community organizing led Sheriff John Hirokawa to cancel plans to limit correspondence to postcard only.
Aug 9, 2013
- Nation’s leading Criminal Defense association recognizes Peter Wagner as a “Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform”
New album with photos from NACDL's award ceremony where Peter was honored.
Aug 8, 2013
- Peter Wagner Awarded Champion of State Criminal Justice Reform Award by Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar
Peter is being recognized for his tireless decades-long work to expose the how the U.S. criminal justice system negatively impacts all people.
Jul 25, 2013
- New York prison system tells FCC meaningful prison phone regulation is possible
New York has found that "there are significant benefits that can be attributed to lower calling rates."
Jul 10, 2013
- PPI will expose hefty fees and commissions at FCC workshop on prison phone service
The workshop is from 9am-5pm EST Wednesday July 10th, and the FCC needs to hear from you. Find out how to participate.
Jul 9, 2013
- New video: The high cost of calls home from the Hampden County Jail
Our new video shines some light on the dark underbelly of the telecommunications industry.
Jul 9, 2013
- Oregon passes legislation to rein in racial disparities in criminal law; which state will be next?
Evaluating legislation before it is passed is the best way to avoid harmful racial disparities down the line.
Jul 9, 2013
- FCC has questions on prison phone service fees, we have answers
The FCC wants to know about the many fees prison phone companies charge. While the companies aren't talking, we've got answers.
Jul 8, 2013
- Were your headphones made in prison?
A new Forbes piece explores the international market for products made in prison, citing to our publication "The Prison Index."
Jun 29, 2013
- PPI’s “Unlocking Prison Phone Data” Hackathon project on NCTV
Peter Wagner and Jake Mitchell talk about their software to make prison phone justice documents on the FCC website accessible to the larger movement.
Jun 28, 2013
- National Institute of Corrections homepage features Prison Policy Initiative report
Prison Policy Initiative's newest phone report is on the NIC homepage.
Jun 24, 2013
- The Death Penalty: 60 Years After the Rosenbergs’ Execution
At sundown 60 years ago today, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were wrongfully executed by the U.S. Government. What have we learned since?
Jun 19, 2013
- Mass. Legislature should pass Innocence Commission bill
We just submitted a letter in support of Bill H. 1638, “An Act to establish the Massachusetts innocence commission.”
Jun 18, 2013
- PPI letter to the Editor: Don’t limit incarcerated people to postcards
Our letter explains why the Harrison County, Mississippi Sheriff's Department should cancel plans to implement dramatic mail restrictions.
Jun 13, 2013
- Securus agrees that it’s ripping customers off via outrageous prison phone fees
But will they take their own advice and stop charging customers to get their own money back?
Jun 11, 2013
- Massachusetts residents say NO to prison visitor dog sniffing policy
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security claim that “the department has received no public feedback about the plan” to begin using dog sniff searches to screen prison visitors is, at best, incorrect
May 23, 2013
- Please Deposit All of Your Money: Kickbacks, Rates, and Hidden Fees in the Jail Phone Industry
The newest Prison Policy Initiative report exposes the prison phone industry's hidden fees, which saddle the families of incarcerated people with staggeringly high phone bills.
May 8, 2013
- Prison Policy Initiative on North Country Public Radio
North Country Public Radio's Brian Mann talks with Peter Wagner about an encouraging trend towards declining prison populations.
Apr 17, 2013
- Letter to MA Dept. of Corrections: Families shouldn’t be screened by dogs
The Massachusetts Department of Corrections plans to begin using drug sniffing dogs to screen families and friends who come to visit loved ones in prison. We submitted a....
Mar 25, 2013
- Sign-on letter to Census Bureau: it’s time to end prison gerrymandering
Can your organization sign on to a letter calling on the Census Bureau to complete the research necessary to end prison gerrymandering in 2020? The next census isn't for....
Jan 28, 2013
- Prisons rob incarcerated people by gouging phone call prices
Peter Wagner talks about the FCC taking action to rein in prison phone rates on RT America, January 4, 2013.
Jan 4, 2013
- RT News covers predatory prison phone industry
On November 20, 2012 Prison Policy Initiative Research Associate Drew Kukorowski appeared on RT News to talk about the outrageous charges of the prison and jail phone industry.
Nov 21, 2012
- Movement victory: FCC proposes to regulate prison phone rates
At a Nov. 15th phone justice rally in Washington D.C., we, along with our partners at SumOfUs, delivered signatures from 36,690 people across the country calling on the FCC to rein in predatory prison phone rates. And it looks like the FCC will act soon -- Commissioner Mignon Clyburn announced that the FCC Chairman has circulated a prison phone regulatory proposal that the commission will now vote on.
Nov 15, 2012
- New graphic shows that states with harshest disenfranchisement laws will likely pick the next president
We worked with Josh Begley to create an info graphic showing that the states that bar the most people from the polls are likely to be the same states that cast the deciding vote for president on November 6, 2012
Oct 30, 2012
- New York Times editorial cites our prison phone industry report
The New York Times cited "The Price to Call Home: State-Sanctioned Monopolization in the Prison Phone Industry" in an editorial calling on the Federal Communications Commission to cap prison calling rates.
Sep 24, 2012
- New PPI report “The Price To Call Home: State-Sanctioned Monopolization In The Prison Phone Industry”
A new Prison Policy Initiative report reveals that the monopolistic prison phone industry’s high calling rates are jeopardizing public safety and taxing poor communities. The report calls on the FCC to set price caps that would allow incarcerated people to increase their chances of success upon release by staying connected to their families.
Sep 11, 2012
- Supply-side murder control?
Peter Wagner has a new guest post on the Prison Law Blog, Supply-side murder control?, about the gun lobby's support for laws like "Stand Your Ground" and the connection between handgun production and handgun homicides.
Apr 12, 2012
- Vote for PPI in GOOD Maker social change contest!
Please vote for the Prison Policy Initiative in a social change contest to win $2500 from GOOD Maker! We want to launch a fact sheet series to give criminal justice....
Apr 5, 2012
- FOX news GOP debate question mentions PPI data
At the 1/16 GOP primary debate Juan Williams cited PPI's data in a question he asked about the issue of racial disparities in drug-related arrests and convictions:
Jan 17, 2012
- Census Bureau Contributes to Prison-based Gerrymandering
This article was published in the December 2011 issue of Race, Poverty and the Environment, Vol. 18 No. 2. When Brooklyn native Ramon Velasquez was sentenced to prison....
Dec 1, 2011
- PPI submits testimony in support of smart change to Mass. school zone law
PPI supports a common-sense revision to the short-sighted Massachusetts school zone drug penalty law. This change would allow the law to more effectively protect children....
Sep 23, 2011