Florida Voters Restore Ex-Felons’ Voting Rights

Florida Voters

By Christopher Zoukis In the November mid-term election, Florida voters approved Amendment 4, the Voting Restoration Amendment, a ballot measure amending the state’s constitution to eliminate a provision that permanently removed the voting rights for well over a million state residents who have been convicted of felonies. The new amendment…

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Boston Mobster Slain Within Hours of Entering New Prison

Whitey Bulger killed in prison beating

By Christopher Zoukis Notorious Boston gang chief James “Whitey” Bulger was found murdered in his cell at the federal high-security prison in Hazelton, West Virginia on October 30, the morning after being arrived there from a Bureau of Prisons transfer center in Oklahoma City. Bulger was the chief organized crime…

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Bureau of Prisons Cuts Back on Halfway Houses and Services

halfway houses

By Christopher Zoukis Federal inmates expecting to be transferred from a penitentiary to a halfway house — what the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) calls a “residential re-entry center” — are being informed shortages of spaces mean they’ll face delays in their transfer, and consequently more time in prison. BOP can…

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DOJ IG’s Report: BOP Fails to Meet Needs of Female Inmates

female inmates

By Christopher Zoukis A report issued September 18 by the Inspector General (IG) of the Department of Justice (DOJ) identifies shortcomings in how the leaders of DOJ’s Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and the correctional facilities it runs fail to meet the needs of its female inmates. Women are about 7%…

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Supreme Court Weighs How to Define Violent Felonies Triggering ACCA

ACCA changes for career criminals

By Christopher Zoukis Congress passed the Armed Career Criminal Act (ACCA) in 1984, aiming to bring longer sentences to violent career criminals. Under ACCA, federal defendants facing firearms possession charges can get much longer sentences if they have previously been convicted of three or more violent felonies or serious drug…

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Nebraska High Security Prison Chaotic After Error Causes Cell Doors to Open

Cell Doors open at Tecumseh State Correctional Institute in Nebraska

By Christopher Zoukis Shortly before 10:00 a.m. on September 7, 16 single-occupancy cells in a restrictive housing section of Nebraska’s top-security prison, the Tecumseh State Correctional Institute, unexpectedly opened. The cause of this irregularity was not certain, but a computer error in the system which controls the cellblock doors was…

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Texas Non-Profit Helps Felons Start Their Own Businesses

Inmate reform

By Christopher Zoukis The Prison Entrepreneur Program (PEP), a Texas-based non-profit formed in 2004, assists inmates convicted of felonies to prepare for life after prison by developing skills and character, finding post-release employment, and eventually making a success with their own businesses. The group’s current CEO Bryan Kelley is a…

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Congress Weighs Future of Second Chance Pell Grants

Second Chance Pell Grants

By Christopher Zoukis In 1994, as part of the Clinton-era tough on crime “Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act,” Congress stripped from the Higher Education Act of 1956 (HEA) prisoners’ eligibility for federal Pell grants for lower-income students. But in July 2015, the Obama Department of Education (DOE) created…

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Michigan Helps Inmates Re-enter Society with Ban the Box Movement

Michigan Helps Inmates Re-enter Society with Ban the Box Movement

By Christopher Zoukis On September 7, Michigan announced it will stop requiring applicants for most occupational and construction code licenses to check a box on the application form disclosing whether they have ever been convicted of a felony. Governor Rick Snyder (R) announced the policy change by the state’s Department…

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