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Consequences of California’s Realignment Initiative

By Christopher Petrella and Alex Friedmann

David Harvey, Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Geography at the City University of New York, writes that “capitalism never resolves its problems; it simply rearranges them geographically.” The same can be said of California’s almost three-year-old Public Safety Realignment initiative – legislation designed to reduce the Golden State’s prison population, in part, by transferring thousands of prisoners from state facilities to county jails.

Sadly, Realignment has merely shifted the very forms of human suffering it was originally intended to relieve. This – the paradox of modern penal reform – adds a crucial dimension to discussions about who, why and how we punish offenders. Clearly, shifting a criminal justice crisis isn’t the same as solving one.

The Realignment Initiative

Since at least 2011, the State of California has been the epicenter of contemporary prison reform in the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics has noted that 70% of the total decrease in state prison populations from 2010 to 2011 was a direct result of California’s Public Safety Realignment initiative.

On May 23, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld an order by a three-judge federal court requiring the state to reduce its prison population to 137.5% of design capacity within two years to alleviate overcrowding that resulted in unconstitutional medical and mental health care. [See: PLN, June 2011, p.1]. California Governor Jerry Brown had called the court’s order “a blunt instrument that does not recognize the imperatives of public safety, nor the challenges of incarcerating criminals, many of whom are deeply disturbed.”

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7 Steps to a Successful Prison Disciplinary Outcome

By Christopher Zoukis

In American prisons, inmates are held to specific codes of conduct.  In the Federal Bureau of Prisons, if prisoners violate these codes of conduct, they are subject to disciplinary proceedings which can result in the loss of telephone, visitation, commissary, and email privileges, loss of good conduct time, confinement to solitary confinement, or even a disciplinary transfer to an institution of higher security.  With enough disciplinary infractions, a prisoner’s quality of life can deteriorate, and in a hurry.

This article contains seven steps to a successful prison disciplinary outcome.  By following these seven steps, which I regularly advise my incarcerated clients through https://www.prisonerresource.com/ of, inmates can give themselves the best chance of a positive outcome when faced with accusations of disciplinary infractions.

Step One: Remain Silent

When issued an incident report, prisoners should remain silent.  Quiet.  There is no mitigation to be had.  Any admissions will just be used as additional incriminating evidence, which will then be reported — correctly or not — as being an admission of guilt.  At this stage in the game, everything becomes an uphill battle since the record will reflect that the inmate admitted to the charges.  By remaining silent, inmates accused of violating prison codes of conduct can greatly improve their chances of successfully defending themselves against allegations of misconduct.

Step Two: Present Documentary Evidence

In the Federal Bureau of Prisons, inmates accused of misconduct have the right to present documentary evidence on their behalf.  They should, and assertively so.  Anything that can be used to challenge the official account of wrongdoing should be presented.  This could consist of security camera recordings, telephone recordings, guard log books, a commissary receipt, property logs, letters, official memorandums, or any other shred of evidence that can cast doubt as to the incident report’s validity.

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