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Conditions at Federal Prison in California Draw Various Probes

Federal Correctional Institution Mendota, located near Fresno, California, houses about 800 inmates. Opened in 2012, the medium-security male prison in California with an adjacent minimum-security camp has recently been the focus of numerous investigations into whether conditions there pose serious dangers to the health of inmates and staff. Complaints about temperature levels due to a

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Texas Non-Profit Helps Felons Start Their Own Businesses

The Prison Entrepreneur Program (PEP), a Texas-based non-profit formed in 2004, assists inmates convicted of felonies to prepare for life after prison by developing skills and character, finding post-release employment, and eventually making a success with their own businesses. The group’s current CEO Bryan Kelley is a program graduate. Nearly finished serving a 20-year sentence

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Slicing and Dicing the Prison Commissary Business

The Prison Policy Initiative, a non-profit advocacy group, recently released a study examining how state prison commissaries operate. One observation made in the report: commissaries often exploit incarcerated persons, by shifting the costs of incarceration from the state to inmates and their families. The central problem, according to the report, isn’t the prices commissaries charge,

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Private Prison Populations Grew Five Times Faster than Prisons Overall

The Sentencing Project, a non-profit advocacy group, recently released a short study on privately-owned prisons in the U.S.  One of the most striking facts documented by the study, Capitalizing on Mass Incarceration: U.S. Growth in Private Prisons, was that in the first sixteen years of this century, the number of inmates held by private prison

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House Easily Clears First Step Prison Reform Act, but Will Senate?

Four days after the White House prison reform summit (See “White House Summit Pushes for Action on the “First Step” Act” on christopherzoukis.com for more information), and 10 days after clearing the House Judiciary Committee on a 25-5 vote, the “First Step” Act (H.R. 5628) easily passed the House of Representative on a 360-59 vote.

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House Committee Takes “First Step” on Prison Reform

The House Judiciary Committee on May 9 approved, by a 25-5 margin, the Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person Act (H.R. 5682), known for short as the “First Step” Act. Sponsored by Reps. Doug Collins (R-GA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), the measure is a pared-down revision of the Prison Reform and Corrections Act

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Texas Could Shape Trump’s Proposals to Reform Federal Prisons

Second in size behind Alaska, and trailing just California and New York in population, the state of Texas may turn out to be the biggest of all when it comes to influencing how the Trump administration shapes its proposals and strategy on criminal justice reform. A few years ago, it looked like the time might

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Prison Reform and Redemption Act: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Introduction On July 24, 2017, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) introduced a bill in the House of Representatives titled the “Prison Reform and Redemption Act” (PRRA).1 The bill is co-sponsored by nine members of the 115th Congress, four of whom are fellow Republicans. According to the text of the proposed legislation, its purpose is “To provide for

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DOJ Will Build New Prison in Southeastern Kentucky

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has now decided to build a new prison in southeastern Kentucky, according to a senior congressman from the state, even though the agency had earlier opposed the project. On March 31, Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), a former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, announced Attorney General Jeff Sessions had informed

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