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New Orleans announced plans to relocate 600 inmates from its troubled city jail this week, sending them to prisons far from the city. For those inmates still awaiting trial or appealing their convictions, this means far from their legal counsel, not to mention family and support systems.

While the Constitution guarantees criminal defendants the right to an attorney, does that mean your attorney has to be close by?

FCC Price Cap on Inmate Phone Calls Stalled, Talk Still Not Cheap

Inmates and their families have to pay to communicate, and some say the costs are so high and outrageous that they constitute a tax on the poor. Last year, in October, the Federal Communications Commission capped the costs of calling inmates, but the International Business Times reports that there are setbacks.

The setbacks reveal a lot about what was wrong with the jail and prison communication system to begin with. Mignon Clyburn, an FCC commissioner who led the charge for reform, has called the prison phone industry the "most egregious case of market failure" she has seen in her career. Here's why.

Most prisons outlaw cell phones. And yet that doesn't seem to stop many prisoners from obtaining cell phones and even keep up with their Facebook and Twitter accounts from inside. (Maybe all those prison guards should stop smuggling cell phones to inmates. Or prisons could hire more phone-sniffing dogs like the one at Riker's Island.)

And here's a new worry, from "Alabama's most violent prison" -- inmates are using cell phones to organize and livestream protests and prison riots.

It seems like every day we're hearing news of criminal defendants, some of them on death row awaiting execution, being exonerated by DNA evidence or otherwise having their convictions overturned. Often, they have spent decades in jail, all for crimes they did not commit. Beyond the moral and legal obligations to have a criminal justice system that doesn't incarcerate innocent people, there are financial reasons to make sure only guilty parties are convicted and go to jail.

A recent study found that serious mistakes in California's criminal justice system cost the state (and taxpayers) over $282 million between 1989 and 2012. This total included trials, incarceration expenses, appeals, and compensation for those wrongfully imprisoned in cases where the state failed to prosecute the right person or obtained flawed or unsustainable convictions. These are mistakes that must be avoided at all costs.

Are Prisons Liable for Inmate Attacks?

It's understood that prison is and should be unpleasant. Still, that doesn't mean prisoners have no protections. The protections are more limited than for a free person, of course.

Still, in the case of an inmate attack, under some circumstances, there are claims that even the imprisoned can make. Let's take a look at vicarious liability for institutions of incarceration.

After news broke last week that U.S. Marshals arrested a Houston man over $5,700 in unpaid student debt, about 7.6 million people behind on their own loans started to sweat. Threatening calls and letters, garnished wages, and now federal agents showing up at your door?

While most of us were blown away by Paul Aker's arrest, the Marshals Service insists it was business as usual, and that it wasn't their first attempt to get Aker to appear in federal court. So are the feds coming for you next?

FBI Busts GA Prison Guards for Crime Inside

If you ever wondered what goes on in prisons, an FBI bust last week will provide insight. Nearly 50 Georgia Department of Corrections guards were arrested after a 2-year FBI undercover operation revealed "staggering corruption," reports CNN.

Prison guards provided inmates with cell phones and sold drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. The cell phones allowed inmates to commit crimes on the inside, including identity theft and other frauds. Plus, as if that was not enough, among those busted were two officers from an elite special Cobra unit designed to target drug dealing in prison.

Preparing for Jail Visits and Helping Incarcerated Relatives

This is not exactly the kind of family gathering you ever hoped to attend, but it is happening. You have to go to the county jail to visit a family member and you are wondering what will happen and how to handle it.

Jail regulations will vary from state to state and county to county -- and federal prison is yet another story -- so you must check the local rules as well as inquire with the jail. But here are some tips to minimize the anguish of this difficult family visit.

In an op-ed published in The Washington Post, President Barack Obama announced that he would prohibit solitary confinement for juveniles being held in federal prisons. The president pointed to the devastating and lasting psychological consequences of solitary confinement, as well as the need to give offenders a second chance as reasons for the ban.

The measure comes one day after the Supreme Court expanded the prohibition on mandatory life sentences without parole for juvenile offenders and amidst larger efforts from both parties in Congress to reform the criminal justice system as a whole, and sentencing and prisons in particular.

We already know the rights of those arrested and charged with a crime are limited. DUI suspects must submit to blood and breath tests. And the police can collect DNA samples from anyone they arrest. But what about jails forcing women inmates to submit to pregnancy tests?

This somewhat unusual practice was allegedly commonplace in Alameda County jails for several years, until the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the county over the practice. While the county has agreed to discontinue mandatory testing, whether it's legal in other jurisdictions remains to be seen.