U.S. weighs clemency for thousands of inmates jailed for 10 years

james cole

Deputy Attorney General James Cole

Thousands of nonviolent federal prisoners are expected to take up an offer by the Obama administration to apply for early release. It’s an effort to deal with high costs and overcrowding in prisons, and also a matter of fairness, the government says.

 

 

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The American prison system’s darkest period in history

Recent lawsuits and Justice Department investigations have uncovered grotesque abuses of mentally ill inmates at state and local prisons.

It has been an extraordinary three weeks , and maybe the darkest period in the history of the American penal system. In four states the systemic abuse and neglect of inmates, and especially mentally ill inmates, has been investigated, chronicled and disclosed in grim detail to the world by lawyers, government investigators and one federal judge. The conclusions are inescapable: In our zeal to dehumanize criminals we have allowed our prisons to become medieval places of unspeakable cruelty so far beyond constitutional norms that they are barely recognizable.

 

 

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Inmates post reviews of prisons on Yelp

Prison inmates post reviews to Yelp.

Robert Miller , an attorney, has visited five prisons and 17 jails in his lifetime, but he has reviewed only three of them on Yelp. One he found “average,” with inexperienced and power-hungry officers. Another he faulted for its “kind of very firmly rude staff.” His most recent review, a January critique of Theo Lacy jail in Orange County, Calif., lauds the cleanliness, urban setting and “very nice” deputies.

 

 

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Smartphones Are Thriving in Prisons Despite Being Banned

inmate-smartphone

Cellphones thriving in prisons.

 At a Georgia state prison, a counterfeiter  ticks off the remaining days of his three-year sentence on his Facebook page. He has 91 digital “friends.” Like many of his fellow inmates, he plays the online games FarmVille and Street Wars.

 

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Inmates Successful In Raising Engdangered Frogs

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Oregon Spotted Frog

Kneeling on the edge of a tank the size of a child’s wading pool, Harry Greer thrust his arm into the cool water and scooped up three frogs.  Greer smiled like a proud parent as the tiny green and black spotted frogs squirmed in his hand. He bragged about how he had raised the endangered amphibians from eggs to tadpoles to juvenile frogs only steps from his prison cell.

 

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