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Federal Judge Creates a Rehabilitation Certificate for Ex-Offender

By Christopher Zoukis Last year, Brooklyn-based federal district court judge John Gleeson wanted to help a woman he had sentenced her 14 years earlier on a federal criminal fraud charge (she had posed as an auto crash victim for an insurance fraud ring that faked accidents). The woman (in her mid-50’s, a naturalized Haitian immigrant

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New York Governor’s Plan for Prison Education Might Make It This Time

By Christopher Zoukis New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is continuing his call for college courses to be offered to inmates in New York prisons. Part of the governor’s ‘Right Priorities’ criminal justice initiatives, the proposal for college classes for inmates resembles a plan Cuomo proposed in 2014, only to abandon six weeks later in

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Ending the criminalization of being pregnant in prison

It reads like a headline from the 19th century: “Shackling of Pregnant Prisoners Could Soon End in New York.” But this headline appeared just two short weeks ago. It remains standard practice in many prisons across the country (in 28 states, to be exact ) for women to be handcuffed while pregnant, during labor, and post-partum. The

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NY State alliance designed to close gaps in prison education system

For anyone imprisoned, the possibility of a transfer can be very disruptive emotionally; after spending years in the same facility you become accustomed to the same faces and routines. But the impact can be far more serious when an individual is in the process of completing an education program when it happens. A student may

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Critics Say New York Prisons Should Educate, Rehabilitate, Even Inspire

By Brian Mann Every year tens of thousand of inmates cycle through state and Federal correctional facilities here in the North Country. Almost all of those men will eventually get out of prison. They’ll go home, back to communities and neighborhoods. This morning, we’re looking at the debate over whether our prisons are doing the

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NY Launches Degree Program at State Prison in Hudson Valley

By Michael Virtanen New York University has enrolled 36 inmates in English classes at Wallkill Correctional Facility in the Hudson Valley. Their first courses are “Literary Analysis and the Politics of Interpretation” and “Critical Perspectives on Justice through Creative Writing.” They take one or the other. Backed by a $500,000 Ford Foundation grant, NYU’s new

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Throw the Book at Them

This past Saturday, 53 inmates at Eastern Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in upstate New York, were awarded college diplomas as part of the Bard Prison Initiative, a program that enables convicted felons to take courses and earn degrees while incarcerated. Among the graduates were newly minted experts in advanced math, literature, and social studies

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New York Settles Suit Over Solitary Confinement Practices

By Christopher Zoukis In a surprise move, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo decided to settle in the solitary confinement practices case of Peoples v. Fischer.  The December 2012 case, brought by New York state inmate Leroy Peoples and litigated by the New York Civil Liberties Union, asserted that New York state prisons’ solitary confinement practices

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Opposition to New York’s College-in-Prison Plan Grows Despite Mountain of Supportive Research

By Christopher Zoukis  Image courtesy cnn.com

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has put into action a plan to greatly expand college in prison offerings in the state of New York.  This plan will result in one prison in each of New York’s prison regions offering college programs to inmates, in which they could earn either an associates or bachelor’s degree.  While many have applauded Governor Cuomo’s efforts, including the labor-backed Working Families Party, which released a statement from their State Director Bill Lipton asserting, “We applaud the Governor’s bold initiative to combat the high rates of recidivism in New York through the power of education,” others have objected, and publicly so.

Opponents of Governor Cuomo’s prison education plan have included the following:

  • U.S. Representative Christopher Collins (R-Clarence) objected, saying that not only does he oppose the prison education proposal, but that he would go so far as to introduce legislation to bar the federal government from being able to finance any college-in-prison programs.  He said the prison education plan was “an insult to law abiding citizens across our state.”  He continued, “Strangely, many of these same politicians think tax dollars should be spent to give convicted criminals a free college degree.”
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Sexual Assault Claim Against Suffolk County, New York Jail Moves Forward

District Judge Ann M. Donnelly recently granted the Plaintiffs’ motion to amend their 42 U.S.C. § 1983 complaint against the Suffolk County, New York jail, as well as the county sheriff and several officers. The complaint, initially brought by a class of female prisoners housed at the jail, alleges a pattern of sexual assault and

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