By Andrea Brody Earlier this month an editorial was published in the New York Times from an unusual source. The writer was John J. Lennon, an inmate at Attica Correctional Facility in New York, who’s currently serving a 28 years to life sentence for drug dealing and a murder he committed in 2001. He is one…

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Arizona: The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office announced on May 28, 2014, that it would not seek criminal charges against state prison guard Jesse Dorantes for the death of his K9 service dog, Ike, who was left in an unattended vehicle in the summer heat for seven hours. The DA’s office cited a 2007 case in…

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By Justin L. Donohue  Image courtesy I wanted to let you know that I really appreciate these messages (Prison News Service). I have learned so much since I started reading them. I also wanted you to know that as of last Friday, I am one of 12 inmates that were able to graduate mid-year…

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A 2013 study found that the grievance system utilized by the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) appears to have become an important tool to defuse prisoner complaints, supporting the belief that the failure of BOP officials to adequately respond to grievances contributes to higher levels of violence in federal prisons.

The research study determined that another benefit of the BOP’s grievance system is deflecting or reducing potential litigation. Indeed, many federal court decisions have been decided in the BOP’s favor based upon prisoners’ failure to exhaust administrative remedies as required by the Prison Litigation Reform Act.

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Several hundred District of Columbia prisoners incarcerated since 1985 won a victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals on September 12, 2014 when that court reinstated their class-action lawsuit against the government.  The suit contests application of changes to parole guidelines in 2000 that had the effect of adding six to 18 years to some…

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By Christopher Zoukis

One of the few highlights in the life of an inmate in the Federal Bureau of Prisons is the once-per-week privilege of going to commissary, which is the prison equivalent of the local supermarket.  Since packages from family and friends are not allowed in the BOP, the commissary is an inmate’s only opportunity to get the amenities that can make serving their time more bearable.

Who Can Shop at the Commissary?

Commissary is a privilege granted to inmates at all general population institutions in the Federal Bureau of Prisons.  In general, all inmates that have money in their trust fund account (and who have nor already spent more than $320.00 that month) will be able to shop at commissary.

There are three exceptions to this rule:

  • Inmates that are serving a period on commissary restriction due to a disciplinary infraction;

  • Inmates that have refused to participate in the Inmate Financial Responsibility Program; and

  • Inmates that are housed outside general population (for example, the Special Housing Unit).

Inmates that fall into these categories are limited to purchasing from a very restricted list, spending a maximum of $25.00 per month, not the regular $320.00 per month.

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