Supreme Court Weighs How to Define Violent Felonies Triggering ACCA

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 crimes. The 10-year maximum sentence…

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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 suspected. The restrictive housing unit…

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Texas Non-Profit Helps Felons Start Their Own Businesses

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 program graduate. Nearly finished serving…

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Congress Weighs Future of 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 a pilot “Second Chance” program…

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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 of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs…

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Virginia Expands Defendants’ Access to Prosecution Evidence

By Christopher Zoukis After considering for years whether to revise its criminal procedure rules to broaden defendants’ access to information that will be used to prosecute them, the Virginia Supreme Court has decided to expand defendants’ pre-trial access to prosecutors’ evidence. An order issued September 5 by the top state court will require state prosecutors…

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Drugs Suspected for Five Inmate Deaths in Four Days in Arkansas

By Christopher Zoukis Five inmates were found dead in their cells at southeastern Arkansas’ Varner Unit prison during a four-day period in late August, three of them in a single day. The Arkansas Department of Corrections (DOC) announced that, between the morning of Sunday, August 26 and early hours of the next day, inmates Edward…

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Is It Curtains For The First Step Act?

By Christopher Zoukis Back in February, the House of Representatives by a 360-59 margin passed H.R. 5628, the “First Step” Act – an acronym for the “Formerly Incarcerated Re-enter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act.” With bipartisan co-sponsors, Reps. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the bill had cleared the House Judiciary Committee…

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Federal Prison Handbook: Finalist in CIPA 2018 EVVY Awards

We are proud to announce that, “Federal Prison Handbook: The Definitive Guide to Surviving the Federal Bureau of Prisons” has been named a Finalist in the Colorado Independent Publishers Association 2018 EVVY Awards. We are honoured to have made it through as a finalist amongst so many talented authors. We want to thank  the Colorado…

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Secondary DNA Transfer: The Rarely Discussed Phenomenon That Can Place the Innocent (and the Dead) at a Crime Scene They’ve Never Been To

by Christopher Zoukis Originally posted on Criminal Legal News: August 15, 2018 In 1930, the French scientist Edmond Locard published a journal article in which he laid the groundwork for what would become the field of forensic science. Locard said a criminal actor will always leave traces of his or her presence at a crime…

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