By Dianne Frazee-Walker 25-year-old Kyle has lived in Salida, Colorado most of life. He has also been involved with the court system for almost half of his life. His first brush with the law occurred at age 14 for just being a kid. Riding a dirt bike was the gateway to his path of being…

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The term “gadfly” was used by Plato in the Apology to describe Socrates’s relationship of to the Athenian political scene, which he compared to a slow and dimwitted horse.  Essentially, Socrates was a goad, a poignant reminder of right and wrong.  So a gadfly is someone who upsets the existing state of affairs by asking…

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By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Scott Holman discovered he had a passion he didn’t know he had when he accepted the offer of teaching the extended studies program with Adam’s State University. Holman accepted a rare opportunity to help prisoners earn college degrees through a unique correspondence program. ASU is located in Alamosa, Colorado where Holman graduated with a BA in English in 1996.

It is unusual to qualify for teaching upper division literature courses without a PHD. Holman came into program with a MA in Literature he earned at Colorado State University. Even without a PHD Holman’s resume was not too shabby, with 20th Century American Fiction, Ethic Minority Literature, American Literature One and Two, and Intro to Literature already under his belt. Candidates with PHDs didn’t have time, so Holman jumped at the opportunity. He doesn’t regret a minute of his experience teaching literature for the extended studies program because it has opened many doors not only for his resume, but for his incarcerated students as well.

Holman is currently teaching English 365-Ethnic and Minority Literature through the extended studies program. He believes teaching to prisoners is an honor because it is a privilege for students to participate. Through the extended studies program inmates can go as far as earning a BA, which significantly increases their chances of getting a job when they are released.

Holman regards his incarcerated students as being exceptional because they have the time to focus their energy on the works of literature. Analyses of literalities are extremely defined and time in prison gives them time to look at them in depth.  

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By Randall Radic / BlogCritics.org

During the past several years, America’s ever-burgeoning prison population and the devastating problem of recidivism has become a topic of much public discussion. With billions, many billions, being spent every year to incarcerate America’s 2.3 million prisoners and jail detainees, the American people have begun to call for reforms to our go-to policy of locking criminals up and throwing away the key. It has become clear that while we can try to incapacitate away our problems, that the cost is simply not worth the benefit. With this concept in many policy makers’ and reform advocates’ minds, the discussion has shifted from a punitive one to one which highlights rehabilitation, reformation, and reintegration.

Today I sit down with Christopher Zoukis, co-author with me of the Directory of Federal Prisons: PrisonLawBlog.com’s Federal Bureau of Prisons Facility Directory, to discuss this latest project, why it matters, and how a simple directory of official information can help rehabilitate, reform, and reintegrate American prisoners.

To start, who are you and why should we care?

My name is Christopher Zoukis. I am the author of Education Behind Bars: A Win-Win Strategy for Maximum Security (Sunbury Press, 2012), the Directory of Federal Prisons: PrisonLawBlog.com’s Federal Bureau of Prisons Facility Directory (Middle Street Publishing, 2014), and the forthcoming College for Convicts (McFarland & Company, 2015). I’m also a regular contributing writer at Prison Legal News — the world’s premier prison law monthly — and the founder of prisoneducation.com and prisonlawblog.com.

Simply stated, you should care because I haven’t only talked the talk, I have walked the walk. I have worked hard and earned the respect of those in prisoners’ rights and prison law fields, who have accepted my work for publication. And I have done all of this from federal prison. Who better to ask how to fix America’s prison system then someone who is currently incarcerated and who studies and writes about America’s broken system of criminal justice?

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By Randy Radic

Christopher Zoukis, a 27-year-old federal prisoner, is the
author of Education Behind Bars: A Win-Win
Strategy for Maximum Security
(Sunbury Press, 2012), a contributing writer
for Prison Legal News, and a regular
commentator on prison matters in the penal press.  He has navigated the troublesome waters of
incarceration for the past 8 years, in both federal and state prisons and at
the medium and low security levels. 
Today I sit down with Mr. Zoukis to discuss the complex issue of
determining how much money family members and friends of the incarcerated
should send to those in prison.

Randy Radic: In
my duties as the senior editor at Middle Street Publishing and the chief editor
of the Prison Law Blog, I often receive inquiries from family members and
friends of the incarcerated concerning how much money is appropriate to send to
those in prison.  I find this question
hard to answer since it is so subjective. 
What are your thoughts on how much money is appropriate to send
incarcerated friends and family members?

Christopher Zoukis:
Subjective is most certainly the word here. 
The first two questions those outside of prison should ask are: What
prison system is their loved one or friend incarcerated within and what is the
allowable monthly or weekly spending limit at the prison (if any)?  This should be the starting point of any
determination on how much money is appropriate to send to an incarcerated loved
one or friend.

My experience is with the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the
North Carolina Department of Corrections. 
As such, I can provide specific information for these two prison
systems.  In the Federal Bureau of
Prisons, federal prisoners can spend $320 per month ($370 in November and
December) on commissary items.  This
doesn’t include over-the-counter medications, copy cards, or postage
stamps.  In the North Carolina Department
of Corrections, prisoners can spend up to $40 per week in the institutional
commissary.

With these numbers in mind, anything up to $320 per month
for federal prisoners and $160 per month for prisoners in the North Carolina
Department of Corrections would allow them to live very comfortably.  This would easily place them in the top one
percent of those incarcerated within the respective prison systems.

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