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Feds Approve $54 Million for New High Security Prison

The Bureau of Prisons has announced renovations will commence on the Thomson maximum security prison in Illinois. The funding was approved in January in the Omnibus Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2014.

The "state of the art" unoccupied state prison was built in 2001 and purchased by the U.S. from Illinois as a possible place to house Guantanamo inmates when Gitmo closed. Then Congress killed the transfer of Guantanamo inmates to the U.S.

Check out the gleeful response of Illinois senator Richard Durbin:

This is the news we’ve been waiting for. The funding that the Bureau of Prisons reported to Congress today is a significant investment in the economic future of Northern Illinois,” said Durbin.

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Ohio Report on Death Row Suicide: Prison Guard Logs Falsified

Ohio Death Row Inmate Billy Slagle committed suicide on in the early morning hours of August 4, three days before his scheduled execution. An official "after action review report" publicly released yesterday finds the guards did not make their required rounds every 30 minutes as required and that the electronic logs about one guard's rounds that evening were falsified. Videos show the actual time the rounds occurred.

According to the review, DRC officer John McCollister, 30, falsely indicated on the prison's electronic log that Slagle's death row cell was checked consistently in 30-minute intervals, as required by the DRC, during the overnight shift.

The log shows rounds were conducted in the required intervals beginning at 10 p.m. Aug. 3 – when the shift began -- until about 5 a.m. Aug. 4, when Slagle's body was found hanging in the cell. The DRC review states that corrections officer Clay Putnam, 19, conducted the shift's first check on Slagle's cell at 11:20 p.m. and that he completed rounds once every hour beginning just after 2 a.m.

The actual report is available here. It concludes: [More...]

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BOP Issues New Compassionate Release Guidelines


Graphic from Human Rights Watch report

The Bureau of Prisons has issued new compassionate release guidelines. Dated August 12, 2013, they are available on the BOP website here.

The policy addresses release under both 18 U.S.C. 4205(g) and 18 U.S.C. 3582©(1)(A) (pre and post-1987 sentences).

18 U.S.C. 4205(g) was repealed effective November 1, 1987, but remains the controlling law for inmates whose offenses occurred prior to that date. For inmates whose offenses occurred on or after November 1, 1987, the applicable statute is 18 U.S.C. 3582©(1)(A).

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Lynne Stewart Hearing for Compassionate Release

Update 8/9/13: The Judge denied Lynne's request in a 25 page ruling, saying he had no authority to act without a request from BOP. If BOP reconsiders its denial and riles a request, he seems ready to grant it.

Criminal defense lawyer Lynne Stewart, serving a 10 year sentence for a terrorism related offense, is dying of cancer. The Bureau of Prisons denied her request for compassionate release. Today, the federal judge who sentenced her will hear her motion for immediate conditional release.

Her brief in support of her motion, which explains her condition and the grounds for release, is here. The Government says the judge has no authority to order her release because only the Bureau of Prisons can seek court action on a compassionate release request. (To be continued this afternoon.)

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CA Federal Court Threatens Gov. Brown With Contempt

In a strongly worded 71 page opinion, a three judge panel from the Eastern District of California has threatened California Governor Jerry Brown with contempt for failing to come up with a plan to reduce California's prison population. The court has given Brown and the state numerous chances. The Supreme Court denied Brown's appeal and he still refuses to comply.

The April 5 opinion is here. The docket with links to other court orders is here. [More...]

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CO Inmates Serving as Hospice Caregivers

The Denver Post has a moving article about Colorado's inmate Hospice program and inmates serving as caregivers.

In a prison where executioners once administered a poison cocktail to condemned men, nurses now feed morphine into the arms of the dying for their comfort. Men convicted of brutal crimes minister to the physical needs of the ill and elderly, and sometimes find redemption in the role of caretaker.

Our elderly prison population, with its increased medical costs, keeps growing exponentially. [More...]

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Inmate Escapes at TX Walmart, Stabs FL Transporting Officer

Christopher Dorner isn't the only wanted man on the loose. In Grapevine, Texas, an inmate being transported from from Miami to Las Vegas to serve a prison sentence stabbed an officer with a broken pair of eyeglasses and escaped in a Walmart parking lot near Houston. What were they doing at Walmart? The inmate made a big fuss on the plane from Miami to Houston, and the airline wouldn't let him board the next leg of the flight to Vegas, so the Miami cops transporting him decided to rent a car and drive him to Dallas, where they planned to meet another officer and then all would drive the inmate to Vegas. En route to Dallas, the officers stopped at Walmart so one could use the bathroom. The other stayed with the inmate, got stabbed, and the inmate fled. He also managed to free himself of his handcuffs. [More...]

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Jay Bybee's Latest "It's Not Torture" Decision

Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic writes about Bush Administration torture memo author, now federal judge Jay Bybee's latest decision justifying torture.

[Bybee]came to conclude as a matter of law that a man shacked at his wrists and shackled by his ankles to his bed, without a mattress, in a cell lit continuously for seven days, who was forced to eat his food like a dog because of his shackles, did not have a constitutional right to present the evidence of this confinement to a jury.

The opinion is here. It's about an inmate in California placed on a "contraband watch." The sickening policy is described in the opinion as: [More....]

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Senate Hearing This AM on Solitary Confinement

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, will hold a hearing this morning on solitary confinement. It begins at 10 am ET. BOP Director Charles Samuels will be speaking. I wonder if his medical director and co-defendant, Newton Kendig, will be with him. Sen. Richard Durbin is chairing the hearing. There will be a webast at the Senate's website.

The lawsuits are trickling in now. (More here. I hope the side arguing against solitary confinement gets the most media attention.

The biggest horror story I've read yet is that of John Jay Powers, in the suit filed yesterday:

Mr. Powers was convicted of bank robbery in 1990. At that time, he had no history or symptoms of serious mental illness. While in custody, he witnessed three inmates murder another inmate, stabbing him 13 times. He was transferred to protective custody, twice testified against the murderers, and suffered repeated threats against his life by other inmates. Around this time, he began to suffer from PTSD. He briefly escaped from prison and was transferred to ADX in 2001, where he spent nearly 10 years in an isolation unit and became mentally deranged.
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Class Action Suit Against Supermax : Treatment Not Fit for Dogs

A class action has been filed against the Bureau of Prisons and several top officials by 11 mentally ill inmates, on behalf of all mentally ill inmates, alleging horrific mistreatment at Supermax Prison in Florence, Colorado. The case is Bacote, et al v. Federal Bureau of Prisons. A website has been set up with information about the case, SuperMaxLawsuit.com. According to the 108 page complaint which alleges deliberate mistreatment:

Some prisoners mutilate their own bodies with razors, shards of glass, sharpened chicken bones, writing utensils and whatever other objects they can obtain. Others swallow razor blades, nail clippers, broken glass and other dangerous objects. Many engage in fits of screaming and ranting for hours on end. Others carry on delusional conversations with the voices they hear in their heads, oblivious to reality and the danger that such behavior might pose to themselves and to anyone who interacts with them.

Still others spread feces and other waste throughout their cells, throw it at the correctional staff and otherwise create health hazards at ADX. Suicide attempts are common; many have been successful."

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Kerobokan Prison: The Mercy Campaign

Please visit The Mercy Campaign.

Today's news in Indonesia and Australia focuses on the abysmal conditions described in a book "The Kerobokan Hotel." The book describes Kerobokan Prison as a hellhole.

Since the book was written, programs have been launched at the prison aimed at rehabilitation and bettering conditions. While those programs are worthy of praise and continued support, with more than 1,000 inmates in a space built for 300 (now down to 900 after some agreed after the riots to move to prisons closer to their homes in Java), it's nowhere near enough -- particularly when the corruption of guards, who dole out better treatment for those who pay, remains and non-violent drug offenders are on death row. [More...]

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Change: No Forced Evacuations At Kerobokan Prison

After negotiating with rioting inmates and consulting other inmates, authorities in Bali have announced there will be no forced evacuation of prisoners at Kerobokan Prison.

Some Indonesian inmates do want to leave because the prison is too far from their homes. Authorities have agreed to transfer these inmates to prisons closer to home. 17 of the inmates, all male, who left yesterday were resettled at Tabanan.

Schapelle Corby, the Bali 9 and two other Australian inmates want to stay at Kerobokan. While Scott Rush left yesterday, as I noted here, he was quickly returned, as were a dozen or so other foreign inmates who had left. So they will not be moved....for now. [More...]

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Kerobokan Prison Evacuating All 1,000 Inmates

Update: The evacuation of the foreign prisoners has been delayed as police negotiate with the ringleaders of the riot. Why? Sounds like they can't get past the Indonesian prisoners to get the others out -- or that some of the foreign prisoners have already been taken hostage.

The riots Tuesday night at Kerobokan prison in Bali continued into Wednesday, as prisoners retook control. There has been no electricity and major parts of the prison are burned out.

More than 400 military troops are now gathered outside the prison. At 2 pm local time (11 pm MT, ) they had planned to go in and remove all 1,015 inmates.

Then they decided to first remove the foreign and female inmates, either by bus or air. There are 125 female inmates and about 50-60 foreign inmates. Authorities believe the foreign prisoners may be targeted by the other inmates and used as hostages. [More...]

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Prisoners Riot, Take Control of Bali's Kerobokan Prison

Authorities say Schapelle Corby and the other Australians serving drug sentences in Kerobakan Prison are safe, following a night of riots by prisoners that resulted in multiple fires and guards abandoning the prison.

The riot broke out about 11pm on Tuesday, with prisoners trashing cells and throwing stones at the guards who were forced to retreat to the street outside the overcrowded jail which houses more than 1000 male and female inmates.

Some prisoners were then able to gain access to the registration wing of the jail, within metres of the entrance to the facility, where they set offices and furniture alight.

Police stormed the prison this morning and took back control. Three prisoners were hospitalized after being shot with rubber bullets by police. Photos are here. [More...]

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OK Woman Sentenced to 12 years for $31 Marijuana to Get Early Parole Hearing

Good news for Patricia Spottedcrow of Oklahama, whose travails I described here. The Oklahoma Board of Pardons and Paroles has agreed to early consideration of her parole, possibly in April.

Patricia pleaded guilty and received a 12 year sentence for selling $20 of marijuana to a police informant at the home she shared with her mother and possession of marijuana in the presence of a child. The severity of her sentence caused her case to receive national media attention. Spottedcrow, age 25, has four children, no prior convictions, was broke and had recently lost her home. cently lost her home. The two children present in the home, one of whom was a 10 month old infant, did not witness the transaction according to Patricia. [More...]

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