Shorts archives

by Alison Walsh, June 15, 2016

In Ohio this week, Governor John Kasich signed a bill into law that allows judges to choose whether to suspend driver’s licenses for non-driving related drug offenses. Prior to this reform, these suspensions were mandatory.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Bill Seitz, argued that the suspension policy created an unnecessary barrier to employment. The governor of Massachusetts cited similar concerns when he ended automatic license suspensions for drug offenses unrelated to road safety in March.

Several states, including Texas and New York, still enforce this outdated law, but momentum is on the side of reform. In Seitz’s words, “We’re not doing anything radical — we’re kind of catching up to the crowd.” Which state will be next?

Stay tuned for a Prison Policy Initiative report on the remaining states that have yet to repeal this regressive law.


by Meredith Booker, May 26, 2016

When talking about jails and jail growth, it’s really important to emphasize that what’s driving jail growth is the portion of those in jail that are unconvicted.

Peter made a graph for his article Jails matter. But who is listening?, and an animated version for the Detaining the Poor:
How money bail perpetuates an endless cycle of poverty and jail time
report. But that image wasn’t something that could be shared on Twitter. Until now:

Animated image showing the growth of the unconvicted population in jails compared to those convicted

Detailed data sourcing can be found in our Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2016 report.


by Peter Wagner, April 26, 2016

One of our donors asked how to remember the Prison Policy Initiative in her will, and I thought it might help others to share the suggested language here:

I give, devise and bequeath _______________ (insert dollar amount or item of property to be donated) to the Prison Policy Initiative, Inc., EIN 20-3671130 http://www.prisonpolicy.org, or its successor organization, a nonprofit corporation as described in section 501 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code, to be used to fight for a fairer justice system.

Thank you to all of our supporters for all of the generous ways that you make our work possible.


by Bernadette Rabuy, November 11, 2015

John Oliver explains another broken aspect of the criminal justice system, re-entry. Oliver illustrates the various ways that we set formerly incarcerated people up to fail, from restrictions on housing and employment to the rolling back of Pell grants. According to Oliver, because of the resounding and bipartisan support for enacting barriers to re-entry during the tough-on-crime era, we should all feel responsible for the lack of opportunity available to people trying to turn their lives around.


by Peter Wagner, October 30, 2015

image of Sam Durant's Labyrinth installation

Prison Policy Initiative reseach used in Sam Durant's Labyrinth installationFor the month of October, some of our research is hanging in a public art installation about mass incarceration just outside of Philadelphia City Hall. The central element of artist Sam Durant’s installation “Labyrinth”, designed in collaboration with men incarcerated at Graterford State prison, is a large maze made of chain-link fencing.

Within and around the maze are some facts about mass incarceration and the public is invited to leave their comments.

While we often collaborate with artists, that our research was used in this show was a pleasant surprise. We intend our work to be used in new and exciting ways to advance the movement against mass incarceration, and we are thrilled that Sam Durant found a way to do so.

For more on this exhibition, see these two great articles with more pictures of the entire exhibition:

And thanks to Patrick Griffin and Angus Love for sending us these photos of our work in action!

Sam Durant's Labyrinth installationPrison Policy Initiative research used in Sam Durant's Labyrinth installation

 


by Peter Wagner, October 22, 2015

The Federal Communications Commission today approved a new order regulating the prison and jail telephone industry and reducing the cost of calling home from prisons and jails.

You can read the FCC’s press release and summary of the decision and see our October 1 analysis of the FCC’s “fact sheet” that compares the proposed order to the exploitative status quo.

We’ll have a detailed analysis after the full text of the FCC’s order is publicly available, but for now we note only one possible change from our October 1 post: The FCC is proposing to give the industry an additional 3 months to bring their contracts in jails into compliance with the new rules. That means that people with loved ones in state prisons should see the impact in about February, and with those in jails in about May 2016.

Thank you Commissioner Clyburn, Chairman Wheeler, and Commissioner Rosenworcel for taking such strong action to protect the most vulnerable families in this country from this exploitative industry.


by Peter Wagner, September 18, 2015

In case you missed it, Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver took on the problems caused by under-funding of the public defender system that defend people accused of crimes but are too poor to hire their own attorneys. This basic constitutional right is being undermined.

(As usual, for this late night HBO show, there is some strong language):


by Aleks Kajstura, August 14, 2015

Succinct 4-minute news piece by RT America explores the high cost of calls that remains in place while the Federal Communications Commission delays closing its regulatory loopholes:


by Rachel Gandy, July 28, 2015

On Sunday, Last Week Tonight’s John Oliver tackled another pressing criminal justice issue: the troubling practice of mandatory minimums. Oliver’s 15-minute segment reveals that incarcerated people and their families aren’t alone in their fight against mandatory minimums. Even the policymakers who first created these sentences and the judges who have to hand them down think that such harsh penalties are ineffective.

Occasional pardons may bring relief to some, but without a system-wide, retroactive change to sentencing laws, mandatory minimums will continue to do “way more harm than good.”

For related Last Week Tonight clips, see Oliver’s segments on U.S. prisons, police militarization, judicial elections, municipal violations, and bail and private police.


by Peter Wagner, June 8, 2015

Last night, comedian John Oliver did a great segment last night on bail (NSFW):

And on that topic, don’t miss Daniel Kopf’s article from two weeks ago on Priceonomics: America’s Peculiar Bail System. (Dan is a member of our Young Professionals Network. Stay tuned for the results of his research collaborations with us.)

And on Friday, Sally Herships on Marketplace did a great piece on the role, number and challenges of private police in the U.S. (Spoiler: There are more private police in the U.S. than public police, which raises troubling questions about who benefits when most policing isn’t in the public interest. Her story starts 13 minutes in.)


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