DOJ Inspector General Outlines Challenges for Federal Prisons

By Christopher Zoukis As has been done annually since 1998, in October, the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general released a list of what he sees as the leading management and performance challenges confronting the agency in the year ahead. One of the eight areas identified by Inspector General Michael…

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Despite DOJ Ban, Private Prison Contracts in Georgia Are Renewed

By Christopher Zoukis This past August was a very rough month for privately-owned and operated prisons, at the hands of the Department of Justice. First, on Aug. 11, the DOJ inspector general’s office issued an 86-page report unfavorably comparing the performance of private prisons – looking over a four-year span…

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What Will Trump Team Do On DOJ Private Prison Ban?

By Christopher Zoukis 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…

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DOJ Investigates Possible Prisoners’ Rights Violations in Alabama

By Christopher Zoukis The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has launched a statewide probe on whether conditions in Alabama’s 14 prisons for men violate the rights of inmates. The investigation is under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act, which allows action against jails or…

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New Supreme Court Term Includes Major Cases Affecting Inmates

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…

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Executions in U.S. This Year Have Reached Multi-Decade Low

By Christopher Zoukis This year to date, nationwide executions are on a pace to reach their lowest level in 25 years. Capital punishments have been carried out only 15 times in 2016, and only twice since the start of May. If that rate persists through the remainder of this year, the…

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Massachusetts Prisoners Involved in Reform Efforts Transferred, Held in Solitary

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By Chris Zoukis Three Massachusetts state prisoners have been placed in segregation in apparent retaliation for their prison reform activism. Timothy Muise, Shawn Fisher and Steven James, all incarcerated at the medium-security prison MCI Shirley, were taken from their cells late at night on March 23, 2016 and transferred to…

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Last Act in Office – Maryland Governor Commutes Four Death Row Prisoners

By Christopher Zoukis In a highly controversial decision, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) commutes the sentences of four death-row prisoners to spend the rest of their lives in prison without the possibility of parole. An opponent of the death penalty, O’Malley has been fighting to abolish the death penalty for…

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Pfizer Deals Blow to Lethal Injections

By Christopher Zoukis Pfizer, Inc., the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical manufacturer, recently announced new restrictions on the distribution of drugs used to execute prisoners. The May 13, 2016 announcement detailed “distribution restrictions” that the company is placing on certain drugs used in lethal injection protocols, including pancuronium bromide, potassium chloride, propofol,…

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