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A different view of the justice system

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The 'Shock Of Confinement': The Grim Reality Of Suicide In Jail

Yes but...Jail sucides have decreased by about 64 percent in the past thirty years.  This is a little known fact that's never mentioned.


The case of Sandra Bland has raised anger and suspicions nationwide since she was found dead in a jail cell in Hempstead, Texas, two weeks ago. Bland's family and supporters have rejected the medical examiner's finding of suicide, and the criminal district attorney for Waller County, Texas, says he's recruited two outside lawyers to assist in the investigation of her death. The local investigation has been reviewed by the FBI, and local prosecutors have pledged to bring the case to a grand jury next month.
If it turns out Bland did commit suicide, experts in jail mortality say it wouldn't be as surprising as her family believes. The grim reality is that jails have high suicide rates — higher than prisons. Part of the reason, says corrections expert and consultant Steve J. Martin, is what he calls the "shock of confinement." Jails often house people who've never been in serious legal trouble before, and it can have a traumatic effect on them.
"It overtakes your being in the sense that normalcy is gone," Martin says.
Martin has worked in corrections for decades, and he's the court-appointed monitor for New York's reform effort at Rikers Island. He says jail can be especially traumatic for someone who's usually a straight arrow. He imagines what would be running through the mind of his daughter, a high-achieving college student, if she were locked up.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Prosecutors Rally Against Sentencing Reform, Say Build More Prisons

Nervous federal prosecutors attempted to rally opposition Friday to criminal sentencing reform in response to President Barack Obama’s week of issuing commutations and making pro-reform speeches.
The president and a bipartisan alliance in Congress say inflexible penalties for various drug crimes should be reduced or eliminated as a matter of fairness. But the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys says elected officials should make no such change.
Obama, who on Thursday became the first sitting president to visit a federal prison, would threaten public safety if he signs legislation allowing judges greater discretion, they warned.
“The federal criminal justice system is not broken,” Steve Cook, the association's president, said at a lightly attended event in the nation's capital. “What a huge mistake it would be,” he said, to change sentencing laws.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I don't see how politicizing the BOP will help matters. The unique thing about the BOP is that its leaders are promoted from within its ranks and have a thorough knowledge not only of agency operations but of corrections in general. I think that's a major reason the BOP has been at the forefront of corrections innovation during the past 40+ years.
State corrections organizations may appoint directors with little or no knowledge and experience of corrections and of the agencies they'll be in charge of.