Prisons - FindLaw Blotter
FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

Recently in Prisons Category

Being released from prison can be a struggle. Former inmates can find themselves far from support systems and have a difficult time landing a job, which can increase the rate of recidivism. One factor that contributes to recently released people returning to crime is often overlooked: access to health care.

People convicted of felonies often find their rights restricted upon release -- states may limit anything from gun rights to voting rights. But can they restrict access to government-funded health care systems like Obamacare and Medicaid?

Prison Phone Call Costs Fall Drastically

The Federal Communications Commission decided to cap the cost of prison calls. This is good news for prisoners and their families and bad news for phone companies that make a fortune connecting inmates with the outside world.

Two years ago authorities approved a cap that helped significantly reduce rates by a quarter to a half. But talking to an inmate can still be a serious financial drain. Last week, FCC authorities voted to cap prison phone rates at 11 cents a minute and minimize transaction fees.

It's the largest one-time release of federal prisoners in history. In one weekend from October 30th to November 2nd, the Department of Justice will provide early release to about 6,000 prison inmates.

So who are these inmates, and why are they being released early?

Family Sues for Inmate Death From Acute Withdrawal

What is a life worth? Jailed for thirty days for failure to appear on a careless driving charge, a man died in custody halfway through a sentence that could have been completed with community service or a $772 fine. Now David Stojcevski's family is suing Macomb County, Michigan, the sheriff, jail employees, and Correct Care Solutions, and the private contractor responsible for inmate medical care, blaming their neglect for David's wrongful death last year.

Th county is not commenting on the case publicly but is seeking to dismiss the lawsuit. The Stojcevksi family seeks an unspecified "substantial sum" for the wrongful death, court costs, attorney's fees, and punitive damages. But perhaps most importantly, it is seeking to change policy with this action, "so that this kind of failure ... never happens again."

There are currently fourteen wildfires burning in California, covering a total of almost 250,000 acres. In the fourth year of a historic drought, keeping these fires contained has been a challenge for fire crews statewide.

So who's doing the firefighting? As it so happens, quite a few of California's prison inmates are helping battle the blazes.

Incarceration can be hard for anyone, and for those suffering from mental illness, prison can be a nightmare. As public funding for mental health plummets and prison populations soar, the prospects for mentally ill inmates may only get worse.

While this situation may seem dire, there can be options available for inmates who seek mental health treatment while incarcerated.

How Dangerous Is Jail?

We hear horror stories all the time about jail, from jokes about sexual assault to real cases of inmates dying in jail cells, and most of us are fine assuming the worst things imaginable happen behind bars.

But even people who have been convicted of crimes should not be subjected to additional violence while incarcerated. So how safe or dangerous are our jails and prisons?

Pregnancy can be joyous, expectant, stressful, happy, or scary, or all of the above. Being pregnant in prison can be downright terrifying.

Statistics show that 4 to 7 percent of women entering prison are pregnant and a full 85 percent of incarcerated women are mothers. So what happens if you give birth in jail?

Facetime, Skype, Google Hangout. These services help long distance lovers gaze into each other's eyes. They allow grandmothers to see their grandbabies in other countries. They allow parents to have virtual visitations with their children.

Now, video calls, also known as video visitation, allow family members to visit with inmates from the comfort of their own home. Since last year, over 500 jails and prisons in 43 states and the District of Columbia have implemented a video visitation system. Proponents of the system hail its low cost for prisons, while opponents fear that video visitation may become a substitute for in person visits.

So, is video visitation the future of prison visits?

The Human Rights Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law released a report last week detailing the deaths of 14 inmates in the last eight years due to "[t]he extreme, suffocating heat in Texas prisons." The report, entitled "Reckless Indifference: Deadly Heat in Texas Prisons," concluded "[i]nmates and guards at TDCJ prisons are regularly subjected to extremely high temperatures and humidity levels resulting from Texas summertime conditions and the lack of air conditioning and adequate ventilation in TDCJ facilities."

Do these deaths constitute cruel and unusual punishment? And should jails be required to provide air conditioning for prisoners during extreme heat?