Ban on Former Inmates in Public Housing Is Eased

from the New York Times

By 

Published: November 14, 2013

 

The New York City Housing Authority will ease its ban on recently released prisoners and allow some of them to live in public housing as part of a pilot program set to start next month.

Public housing nationwide has been off-limits to many people with criminal records and, in New York, residents can be barred for up to six years depending on the nature of their offenses. But two years ago the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development began urging public housing agencies to relax admission policies in an effort to help people released from prison reunite with their families.

Full Article HERE

Virginia’s Justice System: Expensive, Ineffective and Unfair

With the 8th highest jail incarceration rate in the U.S., 1 of every 214 adult Virginians is behind bars in county jails across the state; African-American youth over-represented in the juvenile justice system; and the Commonwealth’s overreliance on incarceration – largely as a result of arresting Virginians for drug offenses – Virginia has an over-burdened correctional system unable to consistently provide services or safety.

Virginia’s Justice System: Expensive, Ineffective and Unfairpoints to reforms that, if implemented, would result in relief for Virginians directly impacted by the justice system and taxpayers alike.

The policy brief — the first in a series of publications being released by Justice Policy Institute as a group of justice advocates and concerned stakeholders have been meeting in the Commonwealth to discuss pushing for reforms — is an overview of the Commonwealth’s adult and youth justice system, which identifies areas of progress – like the recent effort to re-enfranchise formerly incarcerated residents with voting rights and other civil rights – and also identifies solutions to revise ineffective policies and practices of the past that remain in place.

You can download the report HERE

For more information about JPI visit www.justicepolicy.org

This Is How Private Prison Companies Make Millions Even When Crime Rates Fall

We are living in boom times for the private prison industry. The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation’s largest owner of private prisons, has seen its revenue climb by more than 500 percent in the last two decades. And CCA wants to get much, much bigger: Last year, the company made an offer to 48 governors to buy and operate their state-funded prisons. But what made CCA’s pitch to those governors so audacious and shocking was that it included a so-called occupancy requirement, a clause demanding the state keep those newly privatized prisons at least 90 percent full at all times, regardless of whether crime was rising or falling.

Occupancy requirements, as it turns out, are common practice within the private prison industry. A new report by In the Public Interest, an anti-privatization group, reviewed 62 contracts for private prisons operating around the country at the local and state level. In the Public Interest found that 41 of those contracts included occupancy requirements mandating that local or state government keep those facilities between 80 and 100 percent full. In other words, whether crime is rising or falling, the state must keep those beds full. (The report was funded by grants from the Open Society Institute and Public Welfare, according to a spokesman.)

Read More: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/09/private-prisons-occupancy-quota-cca-crime

Political Prisoners

Quote

“There is a distinct and qualitative difference between one breaking a law for one’s own individual self-interest and violating it indirectly through that particular law. The former might be called criminal (though in many ways he is a victim), but the latter, as a reformist or revolutionary, is interested in universal social change. Captured, he or she is a political prisoner.

The political prisoner’s words or deed have in one form or another embodied political protests against the established order and have consequently brought him into acute conflict with the state. In light of the political content of his act, the “crime” (which may or may not have been committed) assumes a minor importance. In this country, however, where the special category of political prisoners is not officially acknowledged, the political prisoner inevitably stands trial for a specific criminal offense, not for a political act. Often the so-called crime does not even have a nominal existence. As in the 1914 murder frame-up of the IWW [Industrial Workers of the World] organizer, Joe Hill, it is blatant fabrication, a mere excuse for silencing a militant crusader against oppression. In all instances, however, the political prisoner has violated the unwritten law which prohibits disturbances and upheavals in the status quo of exploitation and racism. This unwritten law has been contested by actually and explicitly breaking a law or by utilizing constitutionally protected channels to educate, agitate, and organize masses to resist.

[…]

Even in all of Martin Luther King’s numerous arrests, he was not so much charged with the nominal crimes of trespassing, and disturbance of the peace, as with being an enemy of the southern society, an inveterate foe of racism. When Robert Williams was accused of kidnapping, this charge never managed to conceal his real offense—the advocacy of black people’s incontestable right to bear arms in their own defense.

The offense of the political prisoner is political boldness, the persistent challenging—legally or extra-legally—of fundamental social wrongs fostered and reinforced by the state.”

—  Angela Y. Davis, Political Prisoners, Prisons, and Black Liberation (1971)