‘Hogtying’ of Inmates Raises Alarm About Nevada Juvenile Detention Conditions

27 Jul

Photo: hmk/Flickr Creative Commons



A Las Vegas family court judge said this week that he would like to expand an inquiry into another juvenile detention facility after ordering that inmates at a juvenile detention center in Elko, Nevada be cleared out, theLas Vegas Review-Journal reported.

“If a parent did that, it would be child abuse — probably charged criminally,” Judge William Voy told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

“When you treat a kid like an animal, you’re going to get an animal,” Voy said. “There’s other ways of dealing with it, without resorting to something that would otherwise be child abuse if it wasn’t in an institution.”

Staff at the Elko facility reportedly restrained juvenile inmates at the Nevada Youth Training Center by linking handcuffs and ankle shackles. Reports of the technique, known as “hobbling” or “hogtying,” spurred Judge Voy to recall 12 youth from Las Vegas who’d been held at the facility. In 2002 the Department of Justice investigated the Nevada Youth Training Center staff after receiving complaints of detainee abuse, AP reported. Five employees were eventually fired.

It’s not just Elko. More than one in four youth held in juvenile detention told researchers with the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (PDF) that they’d been restrained in some way before in 2010. Those physical restraints include: “handcuffs, wristlets, a security belt, chains, or a restraint chair.”

Via ColorLines

Dodging Decarceration: The Shell Game of ‘Getting Smart’ on Crime

26 Jul




It has taken a long time, far too long, but politicians seem finally to have realized how catastrophically expensive it is for the United States to lock up more people than any other country on the planet. Although most had cared little about how much it would cost their districts when they embraced harsh mandatory minimum sentences, or eliminated the possibility of parole, or further criminalized the public health problems of addiction and mental illness, apparently the economic chickens have now come home to roost.

And, of course, as anyone at all close to the everyday and real workings of our nation’s criminal justice system knows, the costs of mass incarceration are not merely monetary. Yes, it costs billions of dollars to have confined more than 2.4 millionpeople to 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,259 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,283 local jails and 79 Indian Country jails — as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories by 2011. But as important, this level of incarceration has devastated the children, the neighborhoods, the lifetime livelihoods, and even the very health, of the imprisoned themselves.

For these reasons, as well as for reasons of fiscal responsibility, it seems that politicians finally might be ready to implement some real criminal justice reform. Not only have advocacy organizations such as the Families Against Mandatory Minimums long been calling for an overhaul of sentencing law, but so now are heavy-hitter administration officials such as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Not only are major reports now suggesting the merits of decarceration, but so too are articles in the New York Times, as well as in publications as unlikely as Business Insider. Much is now being made of a new bipartisan desire for criminal justice reform.

And, perhaps, this desire is finally being realized. Key states such as California, New York and New Jersey have seen notable reductions in their state prison populations and, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, by year’s end of 2012 there were approximately 6,937,600 people under the supervision of adult correctional systems nationally, a marked decline of about 51,000 offenders in one year. As notably, this had been the fourth year in a row that prison population numbers had gone down.

But before we break out the champagne, or before we begin thinking that we are indeed well on our way to a more humane criminal justice system, there is much that we might scrutinize more carefully. Columnist Andrew Cohen has made this exact point — noting, for example, that some of the most significant prison population decline this nation has seen in recent years has had more to do with a very specific decision of the U.S. Supreme Court than to a broader reform mandate. As Cohen and the Prison Policy Initiative show, a number of states have actually have beenincarcerating more, not fewer, people.

So, it is indeed too early to get excited about an end to mass incarceration. While it is true, as Cohen noted, that “Eleven states decreased incarceration over the period 2000-2011,” when one accounts for the ups and downs of the imprisonment rate overall since 2001 the only “unscientific word” to use for this trend, he points out, “would be ‘flat.'”

But there is in fact much more at stake here than too prematurely celebrating the imminent end of mass incarceration. In fact, a far greater danger is that we completely misunderstand what actually needs to happen if we are really to end today’s carceral crisis. By focusing so much attention on how many people are confined within this nation’s state or federal prisons in a given year — at best watching these figures inch downward at a glacial pace and, more usually, watching them ebb and flow at still unconscionable levels — we have, perhaps, found ourselves unwitting players in a most insidious shell game that might be called “the Decarceration Dodge.”

Without question it is important that we address today’s historically unprecedented and internationally unparalleled levels of imprisonment. Notably, however, state and federal penitentiaries are but one way in which our nation’s overwhelmingly poorest and disproportionately black and brown people are today confined and contained. Our carceral crisis does not stem solely from locking people up in these facilities.

In fact today’s criminal justice disaster does not at all depend upon excessive rates of imprisonment, or even on current probation and parole policies that have abandoned millions of Americans to a permanent state of semi-freedom. It is, at bottom, rooted in the excessive policing and profiling of very particular communities which, in turn, still leads to their excessive and disproportionate confinement and containment in myriad ways that we talk far too little about.

Indeed, even as we celebrate the dip in state and federal prison populations that have resulted from litigation or legislation, disproportionate policing and racial profiling is still resulting in historically unprecedented levels of containment and confinement of our nation’s poorest, most disenfranchised, and least powerful residents — be they the poor people of color in America’s largest cities, the students of color in school districts both urban and rural, the immigrants, or the poor, the addicted, or the mentally ill of any race, gender or ethnicity anywhere.

Those people — the bulk of the 4.4 million Americans stopped by police officers in cities like New York, or the millions profiled by ICE officers in cities from Los Angeles to Chicago — may or may not end up serving time behind bars in a state or federal facility, but they are still confined and contained. And, these too-often routine experiences of being contained in holding centers or jails, or confined to a detention center, even temporarily and without charge, still result in job loss, in terrible feelings of insecurity on the part of children, and in the general sense that they areunwelcome criminals where they live and work.

We need only to see the explosive growth in this nation’s immigration detentioncenters, or visit America’s city and county jails, to see that containment and confinement still remain at crisis levels even as we tout declining prison populations at the state and federal level. And, the latter is often dependent upon the former. Not only have detention centers and jails become dangerously overcrowded as they are forced to contain and confine the many thousands of men and women who are stopped, frisked and profiled each day in America, but jails also have become sites of permanent, not merely pre-trial, confinement in states with declining prison populations. Notably, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California must reduce its state prison population, jurists did not say that the state had to free them. And, overnight, county jails across the region were bursting at the seams.

And, in California, since jail space isn’t always an option for making sure that those no longer allowed to stay in state prison system remain confined, “the centerpiece of the administration’s plan to meet the court-ordered prison population cap” has been “the use of in-state and out-of-state contract beds.”

When politicians feel fiscal pressure to reduce the cost of running their state’s penal institutions, the only unequivocal beneficiaries seem to be the private companies that offer to deliver confinement more cheaply. As State Representative John Kavanagh, chairman of the Arizona House Appropriations Committee once explained it:

The bottom line is that Arizona will continue to use private prisons under strict contract terms and state supervision because they have demonstrated they can do the job well, while saving taxpayers their hard-earned dollars.


In fact, according to Brad Livingston, Executive Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, “Privately run state prisons” have, “saved his department some $7 to $8 per inmate per day because of lower salaries and reduced benefits.” As another observer notes, “For-Profit Prisons” have been the “Big Winners of California’s Overcrowding Crisis.”

Jails and private prisons by no means constitute the only shells under which today’s mass incarceration crisis has been quietly shoved in this game of Decarceration Dodge. Another response to politicians’ calls for their states to stop spending so much money on state or federal prisons, to get “smarter on crime,” has led to for-profit “alternatives” to confinement as well as to the increasing containment of people viatechnology.

As writer James Kilgore has made clear, “On a normal day some 200,000 people wake up with a black plastic box strapped to their leg and the number is growing.” Not only are these high-tech modes of human containment and confinement now seen as a welcome alternative to the expense of locking them up in state or federal prison, but this too has made the business of containing people newly lucrative to some while still devastating to others.

As Kilgore also points out, the biggest supplier of electronic monitors is “also one of the giants of the private prisons sector, the GEO Group” which, in 2011 alone “pulled in earnings of just over $1.6 billion.” In short, containing people is profitable. In the case of electronic monitoring, the profit comes not just from the states who opt to save some money by purchasing monitors rather than paying for prison beds, but also from those who are tethered themselves. Indeed, those who are contained by an electronic monitor most often must pay the costs of their own confinement. These include so-called “start up” fees as much as $200 and daily fees as high as $49 for an average monthly total of $1470.00. And, make no mistake about it, since basic access to employment and access to family is still severely limited when tethered, these fees only deepen the myriad economic and personal crises faced by the confined in America.

And, thus, what exactly it means today that we are seeing “U.S. Prison Populations Decline,” merits serious consideration and skepticism. There is absolutely no question that we must, in fact, decarcerate. In order to bring our incarceration rate even remotely in step with our crime rate — say even accepting the level of imprisonment we had back in 1970 — would mean reuniting over 1.5 million people with their families and communities. And this would be a substantial addressing of our current carceral crisis. As we embrace various headlines indicating that we are now reducing prison populations, though, we must be very sure that we have not just fallen prey to a sleight of hand — that we have not indeed been “taken” by the insidious shell game that is Decarceration Dodge.

Ultimately we must remember that as long as America tolerates racialized stop and frisk policies as well as the profiling of people of color by either the police or ICE, we ensure unacceptable levels of confinement in America. Even as prison populations may shrink at the state or federal level, too many people will still be languishing in jails and disappearing in detention centers. Too many still will be contained by technology. We must refuse to be swindled in a shell game. We must look out for the Decarceration Dodge.

Via Huffington Post

California inmates win class-action status over race-based treatment

26 Jul

In other words, CA’s prison system has been creating its own prison gangs which it claims are so powerful, by their very policies – and then using places like PB-SHU to house them and using their ‘violence’ claims as justification for this torture.

Ahhhh, you mean CDCR was lying? Tell me it isn’t so: “Both of these policies utilize race in lockdown situations,” he wrote in the 15-page ruling. ( Via Christine Thomas)

“As such, the Court finds any assertion denying the existence of the CDCR’s policy to be insincere at the very least … “


Judge allows class-action lawsuit over race by 125,000 California inmates
Advocate says California inmates are still segregated, lockdowns are still by race
Lawsuit could force changes to prison gang control strategies throughout California
A Federal judge in Sacramento on Wednesday awarded class-action status to California prison inmates who allege that their rights are violated by what they say are widespread instances of race-based punishment.Prison officials acknowledge they respond to outbreaks of violence by ordering sanctions, including sweeping lockdowns, that can last for months. They say every inmate is assigned a race or ethnic code: black, Hispanic, white or other, and at some prisons, inmates live in cells where their race is denoted by color-coded signs.

But officials deny in court filings that lockdowns are punishment that is decided by race. They contend that inmates align themselves with gangs based on race and ethnic group, and that prison officials seek to control violence among those gangs.

U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley’s ruling Wednesday says it is “undisputed” that California has statewide lockdown policies that utilize race, and found “any assertion denying the existence of the [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation's] policy to be insincere at the very least.”

“If wardens did not have the discretion to lock down racial groups after such a race-based incident, they would either have to lock down all inmates in the affected area, or risk further violence by inmates associated with the involved inmates,” associate prisons director Kelly Harrington testified last year. 


Nevertheless, a corrections official said Wednesday the lockdown policy was being revised, the second time in two years. “We want to be as race-neutral as possible,” said spokeswoman Terry Thornton.

The case stems from a 2008 court complaint filed by inmate Robert Mitchell, who protested that because he is African American he was repeatedly subjected to lockdowns at High Desert State Prison that confined him to his cell. Mitchell alleged prison officials said it was state policy that “when there is an incident involving any race, all inmates of that race are locked up.”

Other plaintiffs have since joined the litigation, and are now represented by the Prison Law Office and the Bingham McCutcheon law firm.

Nunley denied California’s motion to dismiss the case in February. The class he certified Wednesday consists of about 125,000 male inmates in the California prison system.

California’s controversial race-based prison practices are unique among states. The U.S. Justice Department intervened in the case in October, telling the court California’s racial lockdowns were inconsistent with federal practices, ineffective, and based on “generalized fears of racial violence.”

After a 2004 U.S. Supreme Court battle over the state’s long-standing practice of segregating inmates upon arrival, California agreed to end the practice. Instead, inmates now are asked whether they will accept housing with those of other races.

In 2012, the state rewrote its lockdown policies, while a California appeals court ordered a halt to the race-based policies at one prison, maximum-security Pelican Bay, after a three-year lockdown triggered by a riot between northern and southern Mexican gangs. Inmates at Pelican Bay were being denied family visits, issued housing and work assignments and assigned yard times — all based on their race.

Rebekah Evenson of the Prison Law Office contends that the changes have been on paper alone, that inmates remain segregated even when they indicate they will accept mixed-race housing, and that lockdowns are still applied by race.

“There is a deep-seated mentality that has to change. Our case challenges the most harsh implications of that culture,” she said. “But unless there is a fundamental culture shift, these ugly practices are going to continue.”

Via LA Times

US to allow 46K prisoners to apply for earlier release from prison

18 Jul

46,265 prisoners will be eligible to apply to have their sentences reduced.

photo credit: Tony Avelar/Christian Science Monitor


Today, the US Sentencing Commission voted to make the latest reductions in federal sentencing guidelines, which it approved in April, apply to people currently serving sentences in federal prison for drug crimes.

46,265 prisoners will be eligible to apply to have their sentences reduced. The average reduction will be about 25 months. Prisoners will begin to be released on November 1, 2015.

Read more about the way that the guidelines were changed, and how they work, here.




No answers 2 years later in Florida inmate’s death; guards paid $700,000 to do nothing

10 Jul

Nearly two years after Miami man Frank Smith died in a clash with guards at Union Correctional, the investigation continues with no end in sight.


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Frank Smith, who died in a clash with guards at Union Correctional Institution.</p>
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Frank Smith, who died in a clash with guards at Union Correctional Institution.


Nearly two years after a state prison inmate died under suspicious circumstances, the Department of Corrections has offered no reasons for his death and 10 employees suspended over the incident are still on leave and drawing full pay.

Frank Smith of Miami was 44 when he died on Sept. 4, 2012, after a violent altercation with officers as he was being moved from a prison hospital to his cell at Union Correctional Institution in Raiford.

The Department of Corrections placed 10 staff members, including an assistant warden, on paid leave, a routine step when employees are suspected of wrongdoing. So far, taxpayers have paid nearly $700,000 in salaries to them for not working.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement took control of the case 21 months ago and FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey said the investigation continues. He said the delay could be because of the time needed to complete toxicology reports.

“There’s no time line that I can give you” on when the investigation will end, Bailey said.

The Alachua County Medical Examiner has declined to release details of Smith’s autopsy, citing the investigation. Gainesville-area State Attorney Bill Cervone said Wednesday that nothing has been presented to his office for possible prosecution.

Darren Rainey, a mentally ill inmate at Dade Correctional Institution in Miami, was scalded to death in a prison shower in 2012. Another inmate, Randall Jordan-Aparo, 27, died in his cell at Franklin Correctional Institution in 2010 after he was repeatedly gassed by guards as he begged for treatment for a worsening medical condition, the Miami Herald reported.

In that case, four investigators with the Department of Corrections filed a federal whistle-blower lawsuit, claiming that inmates are beaten and tortured and that prison supervisors fabricated official reports to cover up Jordan-Aparo’s death, the Herald reported.

“They killed that damn kid,” prison investigator Aubrey Land told Gov. Rick Scott’s chief inspector general, Melinda Miguel, in March, according to the Herald.

Land and investigators David Clark, Doug Glisson and John Ulm said in their suit that they faced “false and unwarranted” internal affairs complaints and sued after Miguel’s office denied them whistle-blower status.

Scott repeatedly cites the drop in the crime rate as a reason why he deserves to win re-election. On a public safety tour this week, he won endorsements from police chiefs and sheriffs across the state.

Scott has said nothing about the inmate deaths since a few days after Smith’s death became public in October 2012. At that time, he said: “I think all of us want to make sure that anybody that’s in one of our prisons is treated with respect and they’re safe.”

Soon after the state confirmed Smith’s death, prison officials replaced Union Warden Barry Reddish without explanation.

Union Correctional Institution employees placed on paid leave included assistant warden Nan Jeffcoat; Lt. Joseph Allen; Sgt. Darryl Phillips; and officers Joshua Bostic, David Brooks, Jermaine Corley, Robert Hill, Clinton Hodges, Derrick Searcy and Kenneth Warren.

Jeffcoat has been on paid leave since Oct. 8, 2012. The others have been on paid leave since Oct. 5, 2012.

All received form letters notifying them that they were being placed on paid leave “pending investigation of charges which could result in your dismissal.”

Most of the employees could not be reached for comment.

“I can’t talk about this,” Warren said Wednesday, denying that his suspension is related to Smith’s death.

“It ain’t because of that,” he said.

At the time it confirmed Smith’s death, the prison system opened investigations into possible excessive use of force on five other Union inmates: Christopher Arnold, Ronnie Daniels, Willie Knight, Rudolph Rowe and Leslie Smith.

Smith, a career criminal with a lengthy rap sheet, was nearing the end of a 16-year term for carjacking and assault convictions. The prison system said his visitation privileges were suspended for six months in 2009 for lewd exhibition of body parts and for a year in 2011 for possession of narcotics.

The prison system lists Smith as 5-8 and 129 pounds. His ghostly mug shot can still be seen, staring blankly ahead on the Department of Corrections web site. His status: “Deceased.”


Contact Steve Bousquet at bousquet@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263.

Help Bring w0rmer Home and Reunite his Family #Freeanons

30 Jun

Written By Don Carpenter and Sue Crabtree





We are Treading in murky waters these days.
As our Anonymous comrades are being slowly released from prison, we are learning that each case has it’s own complications and restrictions.
It is no secret that the United States and the Department of Justice is more vindictive toward hackers and anyone associated with Anonymous as opposed to the United Kingdom, but no matter what the case, each one has it’s issues.

We’ve heard from Jake Davis (topiary) and Ryan Akroyd speak about their restrictions. Chris Weathehead court sanctioned restrictions, but those are set to expire soon.

Court Sanctions/Restrictions on Freed anons and Hackers are a clear indication that goevernments (specifically the United States) is attempting to silence activists.

As some of these absurd restrictions are lifted, we see our comrades and other activists stepping up and speaking out stronger than ever.

The Case of Higinio Ochoa (aka Higz/W0rmer) has a new set of absurd court sanctioned restrictions that are being placed on him since he did his time, and “repayed his debt to society released as a free man.”

It is these restrictions we are trying to address with a fundrasing event. Ultimately it is how we all are going to react that we can only hope to change the future of activism, and how all forms of activism are addressed within the legal system.

The case of Higinio Ochoa has several issues. First of all and most saddening is that this activist, both on the streets with OWS and on the keyboard, is a strong individual who is able to inspire no matter where he is. He’s been an inspiration to all who have had the opportunity to communicate with him. His sense of hope for the future and the need for change is found in each email I receive from him. He’s just the kind of activist that the U.S. government would love to silence. This is where we run in to new problems that we’ve yet to come across and are doing our best to resolve for Higz and his family. I hope you take the time to read this because if you believe in the power of the voice, this can easily happen to you if you are arrested:

W0rmer has done his time in prison and we won’t get into the details of being torn from his family and placed In a Federal prison some 1363 miles away from them. This can’t possibly be the closest the BOP can place an inmate from one’s family. Now that it is time for him to be released, we have a new set of problems and hurdles that this man must address. The first issue is getting him home from his more than one and half years in prison. The Bureau Of Prisons toss you a bus ticket and says “Good Luck”. Sad if you ask us that a man who cares so much about others is forced to take a two day bus trip, alone, to check in at a halfway house in Austin, TX

Now comes the interesting part; Hig will be placed on parole and forced to have his internet use monitored at all times.

It seems that the BOP doesn’t have the ability to monitor Hig in his hometown, where he resides with his family, and so his application to be released to home has been denied. Hig was advised that he would need to live at a halfway house in Austin, TX BUT the problem as we understand it is this:

In order for him to be accepted by the halfway house, he must be a resident of Austin, TX. If he has no residence there, he is considered homeless in Austin and the halfway house has the option of not accepting him. So much for the whole reunification process! This is a huge issue for us. We don’t have an exact date of release for Hig but if he doesn’t have a home in Austin, it won’t matter because the BOP has the option of holding him in prison for an additional 5 months. Hig says that he should be released in August and that is the plan but an exact date is not known at the time of this writing.


Please don’t ask if it wouldn’t be easier for him to just stay in prison for 5 more months because first, prison sucks and second, the problem will still be there. Even if he were kept in prison for 5 more months, there is still nowhere for him to go once he is released. The BOP has already denied him the right of returning to his home town as there is no way for him to be monitored there so we are right back to the problem we find ourselves in.

Hig can’t get to the halfway house without a residence in Austin, TX and he can’t even get released from prison without an address in Austin, TX which is the closest the feds can get him to his family and is 3 hours away from them each way. There are no options for Hig other than to get him residence in Austin if we intend to get this man home. There are no options to bring this family back together but to get them to Austin. This, in my opinion is equivalent to the “Carrot and stick approach”. They have something you want but the ability to reach the ultimate goal is nearly unreachable. As activists, we must stop this cycle and work to get our Anons home.

We must support them as we are able and remind them that their efforts and their beliefs are appreciated. We, again in our opinion, have a duty to bring our Anons home and reunite them with their families so they may return to lives that are filled with love and support. This is our duty to our comrades.

We do this because we want to and not because we are forced to. We do this out of love and respect. The BOP is offering Hig early release. If he is not able to meet their demands, the dreams of returning home to his beautiful wife and small son are squashed. Imagine how hard that must be to a prisoner who has already been isolated from his family for more than a year and a half already. I’m not here for lack of anything better to do. Sadly, these arrests keep Sue and the folks  at Freeanons very busy.

We are  here because this man has inspired many of us to be here. This man has been so appreciative of the support and it is our duty to see this through and get him home.

We ask that you accept this job with us as a show of support for Hig and also as a show of support for his wife who has taken on the role of ‘single parent’ long enough. Thank you to everyone here. This is not a luxury move. This is the only way to get our comrade home.

$687 of the $6000 goal to reunite Hig and his family have been met thus far. If anyone can help donate a dollar maybe $2 between all of friends and social networks, This family will be together once more. Let’s not keep another comrade alone in the dark behind bars for 5 more months.


Via Mobile Broadcast News

Joshua Klaver was 10 years old when he died

30 Jun


Joshua Klaver was 10 years old when he died after years of abuse at the hands of his father, Santa Clara County, California Sheriff Deputy KW Klaver.  He died by Hanging in a barn on his father’s property in San Martin, California. He lived many years before his death in mental and emotional anguish, the fear and confusion of the unwillingness for anyone to help him took a painful toll on him and as painful as it was for him, it was also excruciating  to watch it happen as the Sheriff Department and the Family Court System left us unaided.

Continue reading  here:  http://justice4joshua.com/what-happened/


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