Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced April 10 the Department of Justice (DOJ) will not renew an Obama-created advisory panel which has been studying ways to improve forensic science for four years. Instead, DOJ says it plans a series of different steps to bring responsibility for policymaking inside the Department of Justice. The National Commission…

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By Christopher Zoukis In the ongoing discussion of prison reform, mass incarceration and reducing recidivism, vocational programs are often overlooked in favor of formal educational courses and other activities and programming. Maybe it is assumed that most incarcerated individuals have access to, and participate in, vocational training and prison jobs. At least that’s what popular…

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Federal Prison Handbook

When Christopher Zoukis first went to prison over 10 years ago, he was completely unprepared. “I had no idea how the system worked, where I was going or what to expect,” says Zoukis, who is still incarcerated at FCI Petersburg in Virginia. Like most of the other 10 million Americans imprisoned across the country, he…

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  The number of inmate suicides in state prisons climbed by more than 30 percent during a one-year period, according to a recent report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Department of Justice. The statistical study, Mortality in State Prisons, 2001-2014, released on Dec. 15, noted that in 2013, 192 state prison…

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By Christopher Zoukis The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections spent 2016 making laudable strides toward helping improve the state of mass incarceration in this country. Corrections Secretary John Wetzel made a statement in December outlining improvements the Department of Corrections (DOC) has made in public, prisoner, and staff safety, improving transparency and fiscal responsibility, providing more…

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By Christopher Zoukis There are myriad issues with the current U.S. system of mass incarceration where more people are imprisoned than any other country in the world, and often in a hugely skewed manner — one which varies widely across states. It’s vital to reduce mass incarceration for the improvement of society, and for the…

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By Christopher Zoukis The Prison Entrepreneurship Project has helped transform more than 1,300 convicted felons into business graduates that have transitioned successfully back into society. The project focuses on male prisoners, and is a comprehensive, holistic program aimed at reducing recidivism, giving second chances to ex-offenders, and helping to ensure successful reintegration into their communities.…

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By Christopher Zoukis The Federal Bureau of Prisons incarcerates over 14,500 sex offenders within its roughly 200 facilities. This equates to approximately eight percent of the federal prison population. Increasingly, those convicted of federal sexual offenses are being housed at Sex Offender Management Program (SOMP) facilities which have a larger sex offender population and offer…

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In what the American Civil Liberties Union hailed as a groundbreaking step, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced with great fanfare in August that it planned to stop using private prisons. The announcement followed the release a week earlier of a report by DOJ’s inspector general finding private prisons generally have higher assault and use…

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By Christopher Zoukis I hope this post finds all of you well. Today I have an administrative note to share concerning the future of the Prison Law Blog. As part of my vision for the future, a future which includes a new entity called Zoukis Prisoner Resources, the Prison Law Blog will be undergoing a…

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By Christopher Zoukis Internet and computer access dominates most people’s lives to a major degree in many countries around the world. More than 45 percent of the world population has an internet connection at home — that’s fast approaching 4 billion people. In the United States, 75 percent of people are connected. Most developed countries…

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By Christopher Zoukis Lower-income, and racial and ethnic minority youth are far more likely to face incarceration or probation because of an inability to pay debts imposed by the justice system, according to a report issued by Philadelphia’s Juvenile Law Center. The legal aid and advocacy group analyzed state laws on the fines, fees, restitution…

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By Christopher Zoukis Already a hot topic in the gaming world, virtual and augmented reality technologies are slowly spilling into other venues such as museum exhibits and educational institutions. But could these technologies someday be used behind bars? In prisons, where education and training resources can be scarce and difficult to administer, could VR be used…

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By Christopher Zoukis Evidence is overwhelming prisoners benefit in myriad ways when they have access to books and education. An increase in education of any kind is connected to reducing recidivism, as reported by the 2013 Rand Corporation Study, and as demonstrated by the outcomes of numerous programs that have been implemented across institutions. Prisoners…

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By Christopher Zoukis Utah has become the latest state push for treatment — not prison — for minor offenses, as part of an effort to offer those who without serious criminal histories and people with substance abuse and mental health issues a chance at turning their lives around. While Utah was already making strides in state…

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By Christopher Zoukis Every year, the American Library Association declares the final week of September “Banned Books Week,” commemorated in many libraries with displays designed to highlight often-overreaching censorship of school and public libraries. This year, however, a far-flung wave of stories in many publications highlighted a different sort of book banning – that enforced…

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By Christopher Zoukis What will happen with the one U.S. Supreme Court vacancy after the death last February of Justice Antonin Scalia will undoubtedly be decided after the results of November’s election. But the high court new term, which began October 3rd, already includes several major cases that could redefine the validity of sentences handed…

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By Christopher Zoukis Picture solitary confinement — a.k.a. “the SHU.” Isolation, loneliness, deprivation. A place where a prisoner might be alone for up to 23 hours per day, in a windowless room, with non-contact visits from behind glass. You might imagine that this form of punishment is used only when absolutely necessary, for the worst offenders…

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The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of CounselBy Brandon Sample and Alissa HullPrison Legal News Publishing, 2016275 pages, $49.95Buy from Prison Legal News  Reviewed By Christopher Zoukis The much anticipated second edition of The Habeas Citebook: Ineffective Assistance of Counsel, by Brandon Sample and Alissa Hull, is the fifth book to be published by Prison Legal…

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