Friday, June 16, 2017

Report: America's Prisons are so Polluted they are Endangering Inmates
"According to a new investigation from Earth Island Journal  and Truthout, mass incarceration has led to some of the most egregious examples of environmental injustice. '[M]ass incarceration in the US impacts the health of prisoners, prison-adjacent communities, and local ecosystems from coast to coast,' the authors of the special report said.

Prisons are often located in areas with known environmental hazards. Nearly 600 federal and state prisons are within three miles of a Superfund site on the National Priorities List, and more than  100 of those are just one mile from a site."

View the Report 
 
Police-Reported Hate Crime in Canada, 2015
"In 2015, police reported 1,362 criminal incidents in Canada that were motivated by hate, marking an increase of 5% or 67 more incidents than were reported the previous year. The increase in the total number of incidents was largely attributable to an increase in police-reported hate crimes motivated by hatred of a religion (+40 incidents) or of a race or ethnicity (+30 incidents)."
 
Experts Question whether British Police should Carry more Guns after Deadly Terror Attacks
"Police were at the scene of the deadly terror attack on London Bridge within two minutes of receiving the first call. In eight minutes, armed officers had shot dead all three attackers in the Borough Market area.

Seven people were killed in the weekend terror attack and 48 injured, including a police officer armed only with a baton who tried to fight off an attacker wielding a long hunting knife.

The incident, being described as eight minutes of terror, raises questions about the long-standing practice throughout Great Britain of having only specially armed police units. As lone-wolf terrorists use low-technology tactics to target civilians more frequently, should the U.K. consider providing all police officers with guns?"

Trump's "Travel Ban" is Based on an entirely False Legal Premise 
"Donald Trump fired off several tweets this morning about his executive order barring for at least 90 days all immigration or travel to the United States for six Middle Eastern and African nationalities, stating that he thinks it should actually be much broader. I have previously explained why President Trump’s national security justification for the order is completely devoid of evidence. But another fact that we highlighted in our amicus brief deserves attention here: that the order’s supposed 'security' purpose is based on an entirely false legal premise."
 
What are Inmates Learning in Prison? Not Much
"...A report released Thursday by the advocacy group Families Against Mandatory Minimums provided an inside look at educational opportunities within the federal prison system that inmates say suffers from a glaring lack of trained instructors and a scarcity of classes.

The survey found that nearly all continuing education classes are led by fellow prisoners with little teaching experience. Job skills programs are only available to inmates who are nearing release, and college courses are too expensive for inmates whose incomes rely on the few dollars they earn from prison jobs. Very few respondents said they had access to a computer. In one case, a survey respondent said his prison geology class consisted of watching episodes of the BBC television show Planet Earth."

View the Report
 
Drug Deaths in America are Rising Faster than Ever
"Drug overdose deaths in 2016 most likely exceeded 59,000, the largest annual jump ever recorded in the United States, according to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times.

The death count is the latest consequence of an escalating public health crisis: opioid addiction, now made more deadly by an influx of illicitly manufactured fentanyl and similar drugs. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50.

Although the data is preliminary, the Times’s best estimate is that deaths rose 19 percent over the 52,404 recorded in 2015. And all evidence suggests the problem has continued to worsen in 2017."

The Price of Prisons: Examining State Spending Trends, 2010-2015
"From the early 1970s into the new millennium, the U.S. prison population experienced unprecedented growth, which had a direct influence on state budgets. In recent years, however, lawmakers in nearly every state and from across the political spectrum have enacted new laws to reduce prison populations and spending. This report, which builds upon the information found in Vera’s 2012 publication The Price of Prisons: What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers, found that 13 states were successful in reducing both population and spending. However, no single reason explains a rise or fall in spending; instead, a multitude of factors push and pull expenditures in different directions."

View the Report
 

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Still Life: America's Increasing of Life and Long-Term Sentences
"The number of people serving life sentences in U.S. prisons is at an all-time high. Nearly 162,000 people are serving a life sentence - one of every nine people in prison. An additional 44,311 individuals are serving 'virtual life' sentences of 50 years or more. Incorporating this category of life sentence, the total population serving a life or virtual life sentence reached 206,269 in 2016. 
This represents 13.9 percent of the prison population, or one of every seven people behind bars. A mix of factors has led to the broad use of life sentences in the United States, placing it in stark contrast to practices in other nations.

Every state and the federal government allow prison sentences that are so long that death in prison is presumed. This report provides a comprehensive profile of those living in this deep end of the justice system. Our analysis provides current figures on people serving life with parole (LWP) and life without parole (LWOP) as well as a category of long-term prisoner that has not previously been quantified: those serving 'virtual' or de facto life sentences. Even though virtual life sentences can extend beyond the typical lifespan, because the sentences are not legally considered life sentences, traditional counts of life-sentenced prisoners have excluded them until now."

Death Penalty in 2016: Facts and Figures
"At least 1,032 people were executed in 23 countries in 2016. In 2015 Amnesty International recorded 1,634 executions in 25 countries worldwide - a historical spike unmatched since 1989.

Most executions took place in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan – in that order.

China remained the world’s top executioner – but the true extent of the use of the death penalty in China is unknown as this data is considered a state secret; the global figure of at least 1,032 excludes the thousands of executions believed to have been carried out in China.

Excluding China, 87% of all executions took place in just four countries – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan.

For the first time since 2006, the USA was not one of the five biggest executioners, falling to seventh behind Egypt. The 20 executions in the USA was the lowest in the country since 1991."

View the Report