Washington State Top Court Nixes Life Without Parole for Minors

The trend of states moving to reject life sentences without the possibility of parole for juvenile offenders continued this year when the Washington State Supreme Court ruled the practice unconstitutional on October 18. In State of Washington v. Brian Bassett, the court noted that states were “rapidly abandoning” the practice since youth are “less criminally

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Conditions at Federal Prison in California Draw Various Probes

Federal Correctional Institution Mendota, located near Fresno, California, houses about 800 inmates. Opened in 2012, the medium-security male prison in California with an adjacent minimum-security camp has recently been the focus of numerous investigations into whether conditions there pose serious dangers to the health of inmates and staff. According to published reports, complaints about temperature

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Slicing and Dicing the Prison Commissary Business

The Prison Policy Initiative, a non-profit advocacy group, recently released a study examining how state prison commissaries operate. One observation made in the report is that commissaries often exploit incarcerated persons by shifting the costs of incarceration from the state to inmates and their families. The central problem, according to the report, isn’t the prices

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Food-Related Outbreaks Sicken Prisoners Six Times More Often

Prison food usually makes news only when blamed for hunger strikes or riots or a supplier is found providing rancid or insect-infested food. Yet it also poses an important but little-studied public health issue, recently tackled by a research team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which published a study showing outbreaks

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News Bites

Alabama A March 2, 2014, fight at the Elmore Correctional Facility resulted in eight prisoners being transported to Jackson Hospital, where three were admitted for further treatment. Details on the extent of the prisoners’ injuries and the circumstances of the fight were not released. Argentina Raunchy photos depicting female jail guards and superintendents in various

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Books In The Cooler: A Prisoner's Best Friend

The arrival of the mail is the highlight of the day for many prisoners, who crowd around the officer’s station hoping their name will be called. The arrival of the monthly Bargain Books catalog from mail-order bookseller Edward R. Hamilton of Falls Village, Connecticut, is a special cause of celebration. A Cornucopia of Literary Delights

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Thanksgiving in Prison

Jason Neff sent the following email — via CorrLinks — to friends and family members on Thanksgiving. thought it was worth reprinting.  We contacted Jason who kindly granted permission to share his heartfelt words.

Happy Thanksgiving!

I love you and miss you all. Know that I’m smiling this morning. I am very happy, as strange as that may sound. It is hard to say I’m “thankful” for a 5th Thanksgiving INCARCERATED but I do acknowledge the many blessings over these last years.

Of course I am thankful to be alive, and wow, to have email-access to send (this) message! I slept well in a warm bunk last night. I have one of 5 cells of 125 that have an actual sink with a handle (the others require a constant button push, which provides a 3 second stream of water). I have even pre-ordered an extra tray for the Thanksgiving meal today, the best of the year (in the feds) for only 10 stamps. On and on I could go…

I have learned to accept what I do have and be thankful. I have learned that worldly things do not equate to happiness. While most of America is sold on the NEW, BETTER, FASTER, more, more & more approach, I have, perforce, come to admire a minimalist approach. Though most of my life I have never had to go without, I’ve never really done without, never been deprived of much. In fact nearly everything I could ever was handed to me all my life; probably somewhat to my detriment. And regretfully, I was never thankful or even recognized it. I’ve had time to reflect, to grow, to think, and to learn – for that I am indeed thankful. This experience is humbling and eye opening. I’ve been forced to learn many things. Also to rescind control to my captors and the powers that be, to learn to accept things I cannot control. (I’m told when to stand up as I’m counted like an animal throughout the day, herded through a line for “chow” at specific times, permitted access to a shower room at specific times, etc.)

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Four Letter Words: Learning How to Write from a Federal Prison

By Christopher Zoukis

While walking on my prison’s recreation yard yesterday, a man approached me.  He was a casual acquaintance and had questions about how to seek a publisher for a graphic novel that he’s been working on.  Since I do a lot of writing for prison-related outlets (e.g., and, and used to teach a class on writing here at FCI Petersburg, I have lots of such discussions, even with complete strangers.  While I didn’t know much about publishing graphic novels, I agreed to look into the matter for the man and try to help guide him along in his path as an incarcerated writer.  It reminded me of when I first started writing from my prison cell.

As Americans, we are very used to having information at our fingertips.  Have a question?  Simply power on your laptop and Google it.  It really is that simple.  Don’t have a computer handy?  You could always pick up your cell phone and call someone to point you in the right direction or use your car’s GPS to direct you to your nearest public library.  But what if the library had few books (and almost all of which were trashy fiction)?  What if you didn’t have a car, or a cell phone, or even a computer?  What would you do to find the answer to a fairly simple question like how to publish a novel?

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