By Christopher Zoukis There’s a storm brewing in the prison-industrial complex. It’s been simmering for decades, but a lawsuit was recently launched by inmates and families in Virginia against Global Tel*Link (GTL) sees it set to boil over, as inmates and their families have grown tired of paying the price for the wages of a
By Christopher Zoukis Excerpt from original article published in The Huffington Post on May 27, 2015. In an era where American prison administrators are losing the battle against illicit cell phone usage in our nation’s prisons and lawmakers are creating draconian criminal statues to punish offenders, New Zealand’s newest prison, the high-security Auckland South Corrections Facility
By Christopher Zoukis On October 21, 2014, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed into law the Revictimization Relief Act (HB 2533/SB 508), which enabled victims of crime to petition a judge to censor Pennsylvania state prisoners, if the prisoner’s words cause or will theoretically cause “mental anguish” to a crime victim, regardless of who committed the
By Randy Radic Christopher Zoukis We at Prison Education News are concerned regarding several recent events at FCI Petersburg, the medium-security federal prison in Petersburg, Virginia where PrisonEducation.com founder Christopher Zoukis is incarcerated. Due to the importance of this matter, we’ve decided to go public and share what has transpired in the past two months.
Sangye Rinchen and Christopher Zoukis By Randy Radic We at the Prison Law Blog are on high alert following a series of retaliatory incident reports against Christopher Zoukis, PLB founder, by FCI Petersburg staff. Due to the significant amount of inquiries received, we’ve decided to present the facts of the evolving situation. First Incident Report
Image courtesy independent.co.uk By Nigel Morris A blanket ban on books being sent to prisoners in England and Wales was declared unlawful on Friday in the High Court. The challenge to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling’s controversial policy was brought by Barbara Gordon-Jones, an inmate with a degree and a doctorate in English literature. Restrictions on
Over the past month, Federal Bureau of Prison officials at the Federal Correctional Institution Petersburg have issued incarcerated author Christopher Zoukis a series of incident reports in a seeming attempt to censor his critique of the prison system. All of these disciplinary actions came on the heels of the release of his latest book –
On April 24, 2013, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals held that a former pretrial detainee at the Edgar County Jail (ECJ) in Illinois stated a claim concerning unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the facility. The appellate court also affirmed the dismissal of a claim alleging deliberate indifference to the detainee’s medical needs.
Over a period of two-and-a-half years, Richard D. Budd served three stints at ECJ as a pretrial detainee. He initially spent 45 days at the jail following a 2009 arrest. During that time he was confined with eight other detainees in an area of the facility intended for three; he had to sleep on the floor alongside broken windows and damaged toilets.
After another arrest two years later, Budd was placed in a section of the ECJ where overcrowded conditions again forced him and other prisoners to sleep on the floor amid water from a shower leak. The cells had broken windows, exposed wiring, extensive rust, sinks without running water, toilets covered in mold and spider webs, and a broken heating system. ECJ staff did not provide prisoners with cleaning supplies.
Four months later, Budd was again arrested and had to sleep on the floor in an ECJ cellblock. The cell’s vents were blocked, the heating and air conditioning systems did not work, and detainees were denied recreation. While living in these conditions, something scratched or bit Budd’s leg, resulting in an infection and swelling. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment after contacting the Sheriff.
There is a plague in the prisoners’ rights community that will destroy us all, from the inside out, if we don’t find a cure. Slowly it creeps into our minds, then our interactions and advocacy, and finally our organizational policies. It’s like institutional racism, just of a different breed. This is the disease of selectivity, of triaging the freedom of various groups of prisoners, and it is very prevalent.
As I sit to write this, I’m coming off an intense few days. Someone I trust and respect shared their thoughts concerning prisoners — more specifically, prisoners convicted of violent and sex related offenses. In her mind, there was perhaps no punishment strong enough or complete enough to adequately fulfill retribution for these sorts; to say nothing about the social stigmatization of having contact with these sorts. While I was saddened to hear this, I was heartened that she isn’t a prisoners’ rights warrior, but more of someone who works in this field due to circumstances — a reliable and dedicated helper, but not a true believer. In any prisoners’ rights organization, there are bound to be a few of these non-true believers who are incredibly hard workers but do not share our zeal for reform. She is one of them.
While my personal interactions concerning this were unfortunate — after all, I am a true believer in the power of education and rehabilitation to reform even the most damaged of characters — what is alarming is that there are actual organizations in the national spotlight that do the exact same thing. In fact, there are several name brand prisoners’ rights organizations which plainly refuse to advocate for all prisoners, and instead focus on very targeted groups. While this is their prerogative, it’s more harmful than many believe.