NZ’s Newest Prison Permits Inmates to Use Cell Phones, Computers, and Tablets

By Christopher Zoukis Excerpt from original article published in The Huffington Post on May 27, 2015. In an era where American prison administrators are losing the battle against illicit cell phone usage in our nation’s prisons and lawmakers are creating draconian criminal statues to punish offenders, New Zealand’s newest prison, the…

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The Uphill Battle to Make Prison Safer for Trans Women

I am a huge supporter of the struggles of trans gender people in prison, especially after a recent incident with a prisoner in Virginia.  That’s why I was so happy to contribute this article in Vice:  http://www.vice.com/read/the-uphill-battle-to-make-prison-safer-for-trans-women If you have a chance to read it we highly recommend it.

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Utah DOC Ends “English Only” Visitation Requirement

By Christopher Zoukis As of August 1, 2013, Utah state prisoners are able to talk to their visitors in languages other than English, reversing a longstanding policy. The change puts an end to the nation’s only state prison system rule that forbids foreign languages during visits, according to Chesa Boudin,…

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Prisoner Organ Transplants, Donations Create Controversy

By Prison Legal News Prison officials in several states are mulling over two sides of the same coin with respect to organ transplants for prisoners: first, the eligibility and cost of such medical procedures, and second, whether prisoners should be allowed to donate their organs. Prisoners in Need of Organ…

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Prisoners Unlikely to Benefit from New, Highly Effective Hepatitis C Treatment

By Greg Dober

Hepatitis C (HCV) is a blood-borne virus that is typically spread through intravenous drug use (i.e., sharing needles), tattooing with non-sterile needles, and sharing razors, toothbrushes, nail clippers or other hygiene items that may be exposed to blood. It is often a chronic disease and, if left untreated, can lead to severe liver damage.

Recent good news in the battle against HCV, in the form of two new drugs that are highly effective in eliminating the virus, is tempered by the fact that the companies that produce the drugs have priced them at $60,000 to $80,000 per 12-week course of treatment. This high cost prices the medications beyond the reach of most prison and jail systems – which is especially troubling considering that a substantial number of prisoners are infected with HCV.

The new drugs, approved by the FDA in late 2013, are simeprevir, branded as Olysio and manufactured by Janssen Therapeutics (a Johnson & Johnson company), and sofosbuvir, branded as Sovaldi and manufactured by Gilead Sciences. Based on clinical trials, Sovaldi has an 84-96% cure rate while Olysio has an 80-85% cure rate. Both drugs are used in combination with other HCV anti-viral medications, peginterferon alfa and/or ribavirin, and their cure rates vary depending on HCV genotype – specific variations of the virus.

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The Case for Treating Drug Addicts in Prison

By Dianne Frazee-Walker Kevin McCauley is a medical doctor and recovering alcoholic/drug addict. He has spent the last ten-years studying addiction and the theories behind the causes of addiction. He imaginatively uses the backdrop of some of Utah’s most beautiful state park scenery to illustrate his analogy of how the…

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Mental Illness and Prisoners

By Stephanie Mencimer / motherjones.com

Passed in 1994, California’s “three strikes” law is the nation’s harshest sentencing law. Designed to imprison for life anyone who commits three violent crimes, the law has inadvertently resulted in the incarceration of a lot relatively harmless people, for a long time and at great public expense. Crimes that have earned people life sentences: Stealing a dollar in loose change from a car, breaking into a soup kitchen to steal food, stealing a jack from the open window of a tow truck, and even stealing two pairs of children’s shoes from Ross Dress for Less. The law is one reason that California’s prison system is dangerously, and unconstitutionally, overcrowded. More than 4,000 people in the prison system are serving life sentences for non-violent crimes.

In 2012, with corrections costs consuming ever more of the state budget, the voters in the state had had enough, and they approved a reform measure that would spring many of these low-level offenders from a lifetime of costly confinement. By August of last year, more than 1,000 inmates had their life sentences changed and were released; recidivisim rates for this group has also been extremely low. But further progress in the reform effort is being stymied by one thorny problem: Nearly half of the inmates serving time in California prisons suffer from a serious mental illness such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. So far, judges have been reluctant to let these folks out of their life sentences.

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The Ultimate Restitution

By: Jon & Michael Flinner

Prisoners are fated to spend their days in earthly purgatory, exiled from society by their own actions in most cases. It can be said that the population behind the walls and fences of the nation’s correctional facilities represent significant destructive forces, and through individual “deeds”, lives and property have been destroyed and or lost.

At the same time in the greater world, there’s an existential crisis looming for more than 100,000 Americans. These people live on “borrowed time”, clinging to life in the face of unspeakable pain and horror, simply waiting for the gift of a life-saving organ transplant.

The government has an absolute duty to protect its citizenry. After all, that’s the rationale for the imprisonment of so many, well…that and the concept of repayment of societal debt, rehabilitation, restitution, and punishment for transgression. The word “penitentiary” says it all — a place to learn penitence. Right?

Why then if the government protects its citizens and the objective of imprisonment is to shape positive outcomes in the prisoner, that with a population exceeding 2.3 million incarcerated, that those in the free world awaiting organ and tissue transplants are deprived willing donors?

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