Archive for the ‘prisons and prisoners’ Category

U.S. Sentencing Commission — Guideline Application Frequencies for Fiscal Year 2013

August 4, 2014 Comments off

Guideline Application Frequencies for Fiscal Year 2013
Source: United States Sentencing Commission

The following four comprehensive data tables provide information on guideline application during Fiscal Year 2013. The Commission received information concerning 80,035 cases in which the offender was sentenced in fiscal year 2013, of which 71,004 contained complete guideline information. “Complete guideline information” means that the Commission received the following sentencing documents for each case: the Judgment and Conviction Order, the Statement of Reasons, and the Presentence Report.

The first table, Use of Guidelines and Specific Offense Characteristics – Guidelines Based Analysis Fiscal Year 2013, details the use of each guideline, alternative base offense level, and specific offense characteristic (SOC) for that year. The second table, Chapter Three Adjustments – Guidelines Based Analysis Fiscal Year 2013, provides the number and percentage of Chapter Three adjustments for each guideline. These tables include information on all guideline applications for the 71,004 cases with complete guideline information. In cases with multiple guideline calculations, each guideline calculation is included separately in the analysis.

The next set of tables provides similar information but on an offender-by-offender basis. Use of Guidelines and Specific Offense Characteristics – Offender Based Fiscal Year 2013, provides an analysis of the primary guideline applied by the court in each case, including any alternative base offense level and SOC for that guideline. In case with more than one guideline calculation, the primary guideline is the guideline that resulted in the final offense level that the court applied when determining the sentence. Data relating to the application of guideline provisions that were not the primary guideline in the case are not included. Chapter Three Adjustments – Offender Based Analysis Fiscal Year 2013, provides the number and percentage of the Chapter Three adjustments for the primary guideline applied in each case.

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State Prison Health Care Spending

July 30, 2014 Comments off

State Prison Health Care Spending
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

This report finds that state spending on prisoner health care increased from fiscal 2007 to 2011, but began trending downward from its peak in 2009. Nationwide, prison health care spending totaled $7.7 billion in fiscal 2011, down from a peak of $8.2 billion in fiscal 2009. In a majority of states, correctional health care spending and per-inmate health care spending peaked before fiscal 2011. But a steadily aging prison population is a primary challenge that threatens to drive costs back up. The share of older inmates rose in all but two of the 42 states that submitted prisoner age data. States where older inmates represented a relatively large share of the total prisoner population tended to incur higher per-inmate health care spending.

U.S. Sentencing Commission Authorizes Delayed Retroactive Sentence Reductions for Drug Offenders

July 19, 2014 Comments off

U.S. Sentencing Commission Authorizes Delayed Retroactive Sentence Reductions for Drug Offenders (PDF)
Source: United States Sentencing Commission

On July 18, 2014, the Commission voted unanimously to apply a reduction in the sentencing guideline levels applicable to most federal drug trafficking offenders retroactively. Unless Congress disapproves the amendment, beginning November 1, 2014, eligible offenders can ask courts to reduce their sentences. Offenders whose requests are granted by the courts can be released no earlier than November 1, 2015.

+ Retroactivity Amendment and Synopsis (PDF)
+ Chair’s Remarks on Retroactivity Vote (PDF)
+ Public Comment on Retroactivity
+ Impact Analysis: Retroactive Application of 2014 Drug Guidelines Amendment (PDF)
+ Recidivism Analysis: Offenders Receiving Retroactive Sentence Reductions (PDF)

Entombed: Isolation in the US Federal Prison System

July 17, 2014 Comments off

Entombed: Isolation in the US Federal Prison System
Source: Amnesty International

The USA stands virtually alone in the world in incarcerating thousands of prisoners in longterm or indefinite solitary confinement, defined by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as “the physical and social isolation of individuals who are confined to their cells for 22 to 24 hours a day”. More than 40 US states are believed to operate “super-maximum security” units or prisons, collectively housing at least 25,000 prisoners. This number does not include the many thousands of other prisoners serving shorter periods in punishment or administrative segregation cells – estimated to be approximately 80,000 on any given day.

While US authorities have always been able to segregate prisoners for their own protection or as a penalty for disciplinary offences, super-maximum security facilities differ in that they are designed to isolate prisoners long-term as an administrative control measure. It is a management tool that has been criticized by human rights bodies, and is being increasingly challenged by US penal experts and others, as costly, ineffective and inhumane.

Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System

June 24, 2014 Comments off

Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System
Source: American Civil Liberties Union

In rural Texas, 3,000 men are locked inside a “tent city,” sleeping in bunk beds spaced only a few feet apart. The tents are crawling with insects and the smell of broken, overflowing toilets. This is Willacy County Correctional Center: a physical symbol of everything that is wrong with enriching the private prison industry and criminalizing immigration.

More than 25,000 low-security non-U.S. citizens languish at thirteen private prisons like Willacy under Criminal Alien Requirement (CAR) contracts. For years, these for-profit prisons have been able to operate in the shadows, effectively free from public scrutiny. That ends now.

The New Scarlet Letter? Negotiating the U.S. Labor Market with a Criminal Record

June 13, 2014 Comments off

The New Scarlet Letter? Negotiating the U.S. Labor Market with a Criminal Record
Source: Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

In 2011, nearly 700,000 people were released from either a state or federal prison. These releases added to the roughly six million adults who have served prison time in the past. Many will experience a host of difficulties upon reentering noninstitutional society. Those with minor children (especially incarcerated men) often accumulate substantial back child-support obligations while incarcerated and face the legal requirement to pay down the balance. Many face precarious housing situations and a high risk of homelessness following release. Most have little in the way of assets and receive a very small amount of “gate money” upon release, usually no more than a few hundred dollars. Many will be returned to custody for either parole violations or a new felony offense.

In light of these problems and the sheer number of individuals released from our prisons each year, policymakers at all levels of government are increasingly focused on how to foster and support the successful reentry of former prison inmates. For a myriad of reasons, stable employment is of central importance to the successful reentry of former inmates into noninstitutionalized society.

Max Out: The Rise in Prison Inmates Released Without Supervision

June 9, 2014 Comments off

Max Out: The Rise in Prison Inmates Released Without Supervision
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts

More than 1 in 5 state inmates maxed out their prison terms and were released to their communities without any supervision in 2012, undermining efforts to reduce reoffending rates and improve public safety. In the past few years, at least eight states—Kansas, Kentucky, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and West Virginia—adopted reforms to ensure that authorities can supervise all or most offenders after release from prison.

These policies typically carve out the supervision period from the prison sentence rather than add time for it after release. This allows states to reduce prison spending and reinvest some of the savings in stronger recidivism-reduction programs.

SIGAR — Baghlan Prison: Severe Damage to $11.3 Million Facility Requires Extensive Remedial Action

June 5, 2014 Comments off

Baghlan Prison: Severe Damage to $11.3 Million Facility Requires Extensive Remedial Action (PDF)
Source: Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction

After construction of the Baghlan prison was completed in November 2012, building settlement occurred, which led to serious structural damage including wide cracks to three buildings. As a result, one building was demolished. Two other buildings also have collapsing walls and cracked structural beams and columns and will likely need to be rebuilt. The Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) and its contractor, Omran Holding Group (OHG), an Afghan firm, do not agree on the cause of the building settlement and remain in negotiation regarding OHG’s responsibility for repairing the facilities and assuming the cost of those repairs. Nonetheless, both parties agree that OHG did not fully comply with all contract requirements. For example, OHG failed to construct a required stormwater management system and substituted lower-grade plumbing materials that had been prohibited by INL. OHG also failed to deduct 10 percent from its billed invoices to create a retainage fund as required by the contract. This led to an $807,254 shortfall in funds, which should have been retained for INL’s protection in the event of a contract dispute.

New Analysis and Infographics Show the Dangerous and Costly Effects of Detainee Bed Quotas

May 22, 2014 Comments off

New Analysis and Infographics Show the Dangerous and Costly Effects of Detainee Bed Quotas
Source: Center for American Progress

New CAP analysis and infographics detail the dangerous and costly toll of the congressionally mandated bed quota on our immigration system. Beginning in 2009, Congress directed the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, to detain a set number of immigrants each day in an attempt to force the department to increase deportations. Today, this arbitrary congressional quota requires that DHS maintain enough bed space to jail 34,000 immigrants every day—regardless of DHS’s actual need to detain immigrants and at a cost of more than $2 billion per year.

The bed quota restricts Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s, or ICE’s, ability to make individualized custody determinations, such as release on bond or placement in less restrictive and less costly alternatives to detention, which take into account the particular vulnerabilities of immigrants, particularly those from the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, or LGBT, community.

An estimated 70 percent of immigrants in detention facilities fall into the mandatory detention category; this means that 30 percent of the 34,000 immigrants detained each day would be eligible for release if not for the quota. Removing the quota would save taxpayers at least $600 million per year and prevent tens of thousands of people from unnecessary imprisonment.

Using Trauma-Informed Practices to Enhance Safety and Security in Women’s Correctional Facilities

May 7, 2014 Comments off

Using Trauma-Informed Practices to Enhance Safety and Security in Women’s Correctional Facilities
Source: National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women

One of the most common experiences shared by women in correctional facilities is a history of trauma, which for many can be extensive. Research from multiple disciplines has shown that the effects of trauma can be significant and long lasting. We now know that trauma often plays a role in the onset of women’s criminal behavior, is often linked to substance abuse and mental health challenges, and that trauma may explain some of the behaviors women offenders display while incarcerated. This document provides a brief overview of trauma and its effects on women offenders, and specifically defines trauma-informed practices for women’s correctional facilities. It also provides key actions that facility administrators, managers, and staff can take to better align their operational practices with the research on trauma and to create a more trauma-informed facility culture.

Ten Economic Facts about Crime and Incarceration in the United States

May 6, 2014 Comments off

Ten Economic Facts about Crime and Incarceration in the United States
Source: Brookings Institution

This Hamilton Project policy memo provides ten economic facts highlighting recent trends in crime and incarceration in the United States. Specifically, it explores the characteristics of criminal offenders and victims; the historically unprecedented level of incarceration in the United States; and evidence on both the fiscal and social implications of current policy on taxpayers and those imprisoned.

Best Practices in the Use of Restraints with Pregnant Women and Girls Under Correctional Custody

April 30, 2014 Comments off

Best Practices in the Use of Restraints with Pregnant Women and Girls Under Correctional Custody (PDF)
Source: Bureau of Justice Assistance

The National Task Force on the Use of Restraints with Pregnant Women under Correctional Custody, initially convened by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2011, created this best practices statement to articulate a set of principles to guide agencies and jurisdictions in the development of local policy and practice. These best practices are relevant across a variety of settings including criminal justice, juvenile justice, psychiatric and forensic hospitals, law enforcement transport, and others. This document refers and applies to both women (age 18 years and older) and girls (younger than age 18) who are pregnant, laboring and delivering, or in the post-partum period.

This statement is not a proscribed policy. Rather, it should serve as a starting point for individual organizations to use in developing effective internal policies, procedures, and practices that maximize safety and minimize risk for pregnant women and girls, their fetuses/newborns, and correctional and medical staff.

Recidivism Of Prisoners Released In 30 States In 2005: Patterns From 2005 To 2010

April 28, 2014 Comments off

Recidivism Of Prisoners Released In 30 States In 2005: Patterns From 2005 To 2010
Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Examines the 5-year post-release offending patterns of persons released from state prisons in 2005 by offender characteristics, prior criminal history, and commitment offense. It provides estimates on the number and types of crimes former inmates commit both prior to their imprisonment and after release. The report includes different measures of recidivism, including a new arrest, court adjudication, conviction, and incarceration for either a new sentence or a technical violation. It also documents the extent to which the released prisoners committed crimes in states other than the one that released them. Data are from the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ Recidivism Study of State Prisoners Released in 2005, which tracked a sample of former inmates from 30 states for five years following release in 2005. The findings are based on prisoner records obtained from the state departments of corrections through the National Corrections Reporting Program (NCRP) and criminal history records obtained through requests to the FBI’s Interstate Identification Index (III) and state repositories via the International Justice and Public Safety Network (Nlets).


Among state prisoners released in 30 states in 2005—

  • About two-thirds (67.8%) of released prisoners were arrested for a new crime within 3 years, and three-quarters (76.6%) were arrested within 5 years.
  • Within 5 years of release, 82.1% of property offenders were arrested for a new crime, compared to 76.9% of drug offenders, 73.6% of public order offenders, and 71.3% of violent offenders.
  • More than a third (36.8%) of all prisoners who were arrested within 5 years of release were arrested within the first 6 months after release, with more than half (56.7%) arrested by the end of the first year.
  • Two in five (42.3%) released prisoners were either not arrested or arrested once in the 5 years after their release.
  • A sixth (16.1%) of released prisoners were responsible for almost half (48.4%) of the nearly 1.2 million arrests that occurred in the 5-year follow-up period.
  • An estimated 10.9% of released prisoners were arrested in a state other than the one that released them during the 5-year follow-up period
  • Within 5 years of release, 84.1% of inmates who were age 24 or younger at release were arrested, compared to 78.6% of inmates ages 25 to 39 and 69.2% of those age 40 or older.

Guidelines for the Successful Transition of People with Behavioral Health Disorders from Jail and Prison

April 28, 2014 Comments off

Guidelines for the Successful Transition of People with Behavioral Health Disorders from Jail and Prison (PDF)
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Despite the significant number of individuals with behavioral disorders in the criminal justice system, 2010 marked the first time in nearly 40 years that the number of state prisoners in the United States declined. To achieve better outcomes, policymakers and researchers agree that a shift away from a reliance on incarceration to an emphasis on expanding capacity to supervise and treat individuals in the community is necessary. This shift has focused attention on the importance of cross-system approaches to providing effective criminal justice and behavioral health treatment interventions with the dual goals of reducing recidivism and promoting recovery. A critical component of cross-system work occurs at the transition from jail or prison to the community. Reentry into the community is a vulnerable time, marked by difficulties adjusting, increased drug use and a 12-fold increased risk of death in the first two weeks after release. Effective transition planning and implementation can minimize the risk of these hazards, enhance public safety by increasing the possibility that individuals will participate in and complete supervision and treatment requirements, and improve individual outcomes.

The Inmate Education Facilitator’s Guide: Prison Rape Elimination Act — What You Need to Know

April 24, 2014 Comments off

The Inmate Education Facilitator’s Guide: Prison Rape Elimination Act — What You Need to Know (PDF)
Source: Bureau of Justice Assistance

This guide is a supplement to the video, PREA: What You Need to Know. Its purpose is to help corrections officials conduct educational screenings of the video for inmates in their custody.

The core goal of PREA: What You Need to Know is to teach inmates about their right to be free from sexual abuse and sexual harassment. The video gives an overview of corrections policies to prevent and respond to this abuse, covering how inmates can safely report abuse, the types of victim services available to inmates following an incident of sexual abuse, and what it means for a facility to have a “zero-tolerance” policy.

CRS — The Bureau of Prisons (BOP): Operations and Budget

April 22, 2014 Comments off

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP): Operations and Budget (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) was established in 1930 to house federal inmates, professionalize the prison service, and ensure consistent and centralized administration of the federal prison system. The BOP is the largest correctional agency in the country, in terms of the number of prisoners under its jurisdiction. The BOP must confine any offender convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment in a federal court.

The Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness in Prisons and Jails

April 14, 2014 Comments off

The Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness in Prisons and Jails
Source: Treatment Advocacy Center
From Executive Summary:

Prisons and jails have become America’s “new asylums”: The number of individuals with serious mental illness in prisons and jails now exceeds the number in state psychiatric hospitals tenfold. Most of the mentally ill individuals in prisons and jails would have been treated in state psychiatric hospitals in the years before the deinstitutionalization movement led to closing the hospitals, a trend that continues even today.

The treatment of mentally ill individuals in prisons and jails is critical, especially since such individuals are vulnerable and often abused while incarcerated. Untreated, their psychiatric illness often gets worse, and they leave prison or jail sicker than when they entered. Individuals in prison and jails have a right to receive medical care, and this right pertains to serious mental illness just as it pertains to tuberculosis, diabetes, or hypertension. This right to treatment has been affirmed by the US Supreme Court.

“The Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness in Prisons and Jails” is the first national survey of such treatment practices. It focuses on the problem of treating seriously mentally ill inmates who refuse treatment, usually because they lack awareness of their own illness and do not think they are sick. What are the treatment practices for these individuals in prisons and jails in each state? What are the consequences if such individuals are not treated?

To address these questions, an extensive survey of professionals in state and county corrections systems was undertaken. Sheriffs, jail administrators, and others who were interviewed for the survey expressed compassion for inmates with mental illness and frustration with the mental health system that is failing them. There were several other points of consensus among those interviewed:

  • Not only are the numbers of mentally ill in prisons and jails continuing to climb, the severity of inmates’ illnesses is on the rise as well.
  • Many inmates with mental illness need intensive treatment, and officials in the prisons and jails feel compelled to provide the hospital-level care these inmates need.
  • The root cause of the problem is the continuing closure of state psychiatric hospitals and the failure of mental health officials to provide appropriate aftercare for the released patients.

Solitary Confinement and Risk of Self-Harm Among Jail Inmates

March 27, 2014 Comments off

Solitary Confinement and Risk of Self-Harm Among Jail Inmates (PDF)
Source: American Journal of Public Health

We sought to better understand acts of self-harm among inmates in correctional institutions.

We analyzed data from medical records on 244 699 incarcerations in the New York City jail system from January 1, 2010, through January 31, 2013.

In 1303 (0.05%) of these incarcerations, 2182 acts of self-harm were committed, (103 potentially fatal and 7 fatal). Although only 7.3% of admissions included any solitary confinement, 53.3% of acts of self-harm and 45.0% of acts of potentially fatal self-harm occurred within this group. After we controlled for gender, age, race/ethnicity, serious mental illness, and length of stay, we found self-harm to be associated significantly with being in solitary confinement at least once, serious mental illness, being aged 18 years or younger, and being Latino or White, regardless of gender.

These self-harm predictors are consistent with our clinical impressions as jail health service managers. Because of this concern, the New York City jail system has modified its practices to direct inmates with mental illness who violate jail rules to more clinical settings and eliminate solitary confinement for those with serious mental illness.

Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents: A Synthesis of Research and Input From the Listening Session Held by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the White House Domestic Policy Council and Office of Public Engagement

March 21, 2014 Comments off

Mentoring Children of Incarcerated Parents: A Synthesis of Research and Input From the Listening Session Held by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the White House Domestic Policy Council and Office of Public Engagement (PDF)
Source: Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Parents may be incarcerated in correctional facilities at either the local or state level and the length of incarceration varies by type of facility. Jails are locally-operated correctional facilities and sentences to jail (typically for misdemeanors) are usually one year or shorter, whereas prisons (state or federal) are typically further away and generally involve sentences (typically for felonies) that are longer than one year. The number of youth who have an incarcerated parent has grown considerably over the past two decades. It is estimated that 1.7 million youth in the United States have at least one parent currently in prison and that millions more have a parent in jail. As a group, these youth fare worse than other youth on a range of immediate and longer-term outcomes that relate to mental and physical health as well as educational achievement. Evidence suggests that, in combination with other sources of risk and adversity, the incarceration of a parent can increase the likelihood that youth become involved in antisocial and delinquent behavior. Yet, it is clear that parental incarceration affects families in different ways and that experiences before, during, and after incarceration contribute to youths’outcomes. Furthermore, as many youth faced with the incarceration of a parent do well, a parent’s incarceration is clearly not an insurmountable barrier to a young person realizing his or her full potential.

The broader research literature supports mentoring programs as a promising form of support for youth with incarcerated parents. Findings indicate that participation in a mentoring program can benefit a young person in several different areas, including emotional well-being, social relationships, avoiding problem behavior, and academic achievement.

CRS — Offender Reentry: Correctional Statistics, Reintegration into the Community, and Recidivism

March 13, 2014 Comments off

Offender Reentry: Correctional Statistics, Reintegration into the Community, and Recidivism (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of Iowa Law Library)

The prison population in the United States has been growing steadily for more than 30 years. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that since 1990 an average of 590,400 inmates have been released annually from state and federal prisons and almost 5 million ex-offenders are under some form of community-based supervision. Offender reentry can include all the activities and programming conducted to prepare ex-convicts to return safely to the community and to live as law-abiding citizens. Some ex-offenders, however, eventually end up back in prison. The most recent national-level recidivism study is 10 years old; this study showed that two-thirds of exoffenders released in 1994 came back into contact with the criminal justice system within three years of their release. Compared with the average American, ex-offenders are less educated, less likely to be gainfully employed, and more likely to have a history of mental illness or substance abuse—all of which have been shown to be risk factors for recidivism.


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