prisons

Creative Commons

The executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections recently wrote a piece about solitary confinement featured in The New York Times.

In September, Colorado ended the practice of long-term solitary confinement, Rick Raemisch wrote, after he assisted the State Department and several United Nations countries in modernizing international standards for the treatment of prisoners, now known as the Nelson Mandela rules.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas has stopped cooperating with an investigation into the taping of attorney-client meetings and phone calls at the pretrial detention facility in Leavenworth, according to the special master looking into the matter.

The decision by the office is likely to heighten suspicions by criminal defense lawyers that the U.S. Attorney’s Office is concealing information about the tapings from them.

Proposals to rebuild part of the prison at Lansing could prompt a new debate over the Kansas death penalty. Plans for the prison include closing the facility that houses the state’s death chamber.

Kansas hasn’t executed anyone since the death penalty was reinstated in the 1990s. At a committee meeting Thursday, Republican Sen. Carolyn McGinn said instead of building a new death chamber, legislators might want to consider eliminating the death penalty.

Wikimedia Commons

The Colorado Department of Corrections is asking the state to add $11 million to this year’s budget to lease a private prison while it attempts to reopen a closed one in Canon City.

As The Denver Post reports, the department of correction’s supplementary budget shows it wants $10.9 million to open a 250-bed private prison because of an unexpected increase in prisoners.

The American Humanist Association on Wednesday sued Kansas prison officials, alleging the Topeka Correctional Facility promotes Christianity in violation of the First Amendment.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Kansas City, claims the prison displays prayers and messages on prison bulletin boards, has erected an eight-foot cross in one of its multi-purpose rooms and often broadcasts movies with Christian themes on inmates’ televisions.

The maximum-security unit at Kansas’ Lansing prison was on lockdown on Friday afternoon following a fight earlier in the day in the prison lunchroom.

A fight between what state officials are describing as “two offender groups” broke out shortly after noon on Friday as inmates lined up for lunch.

A spokesperson for the Kansas Department of Corrections says there were no serious injuries in the altercation, which took guards about 40 minutes to bring under control.

The head of the Kansas Department of Corrections says he sees no connection between last week’s riot at a prison in Norton and disturbances earlier this summer at the state’s El Dorado prison.

But some lawmakers are charging that mismanagement of the state’s prison population is contributing to the unrest.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback announced immediate pay increases for corrections officers during a news conference Thursday afternoon at the state prison in El Dorado. 

Brownback said all officers will receive an immediate 5 percent salary increase, and starting pay will be increased across the corrections system. The hourly pay rate for entry-level corrections officers will climb from $13.95 to $14.66.

At El Dorado, where the staff vacancy rate is 47 percent, the hiring hourly rate will go from $13.95 to $15.75, he said.

Kansas lawmakers had some tough questions Thursday for Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood about staff shortages that recently contributed to several violent incidents at a state prison in El Dorado.

Sen. Laura Kelly, a Topeka Democrat, took Norwood to task for withholding information about inmate unrest at the prison located just north of Wichita.

Staffing shortages at the El Dorado Correctional Facility are creating unsafe working conditions, according to the head of the union that represents state workers.

News Journal

Near the end of the Obama administration, prison reform advocates had grown cautiously optimistic that America’s pattern of incarcerating two million US citizens each year might be coming to an end.

Valarie Smith

A new program for at-risk juvenile offenders in the criminal justice system was launched in 52 western Kansas counties and 29 northeastern counties last week.

As The Garden City Telegram reports, the Kansas Department of Corrections celebrated the launch of the Functional Family Therapy (FFT) program at the Finney County Department of Corrections in Garden City.

KTRK

Christmas was made just a little bit brighter this year for some low-income children, thanks to gifts from an unexpected source.

Some of the worst offenders in Texas prisons worked hard this holiday to crochet stuffed animals for needy kids.

The inmates made for a surprising image: These hardened men in their white prison jumpsuits, many of them muscled and heavily tattooed, bent carefully over their yarn and poking away with their crochet hooks.

Ben Fenwick / Oklahoma Watch

Over the next decade, Oklahoma will need three more prisons if the state doesn’t take action to constrain the prison population, which as The Oklahoman reports, is projected to increase by 25 percent over the next 10 years.

That is more than 7,000 additional prisoners.

New York Times

People in rural areas are now 50 percent more likely to go to prison than people in urban areas, reports The New York Times.

Rural Blog

In rural counties across the U.S., the number of women being incarcerated has significantly increased in recent years, according to The Rural Blog. Four out of five of those inmates are being imprisoned for nonviolent crimes.

David Pike / Valley Morning Star/AP

Private prisons are less safe and secure than Federal prisons, according to a new report by the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General.

Justin Dehn / Texas Tribune

The Texas prison system could slash its operating budget by about $250 million in the next few years, reports The Texas Tribune. The budget cuts come after the Texas Department of Criminal Justice was asked to trim its budget by four percent.

Kate Carlton Greer / KGOU

The State of Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections has leased a new private facility in far western Oklahoma, near Sayre. The state began moving inmates there last Tuesday, reports KGOU.

The new facility will mark the first time the state has utilized a private facility to house inmates, though state employees will run the prison. The facility is owned by Corrections Corporation of America.