The ACLU of Ohio has been fighting “prisons for profit” for years. The trend to privatize prisons as a method to reduce costs has been ineffective, and only contributes to the surging rates of mass incarceration, with Ohio prisons at 130% of capacity.
Sentenced to ten years, out in two. Outrageous!
The myth that prisoners serve small fractions of sentences is one of the most destructive falsehoods driving the tragedy of mass incarceration. In Ohio and elsewhere, the use of parole and probation has shrunk to levels that can only be described as harmful to us all.
Mr. Kenyatta is a prisoner rights activist and businessman who was released from prison 13 years ago. He spent time in solitary confinement at both of Ohio’s maximum-security prisons and was part of the ACLU lawsuit, Austin v Wilkinson, which drastically changed prisoner classification in Ohio to ensure more humane living conditions.
This post is part of the joint report between Disability Rights Ohio and the ACLU of Ohio – “Shining a Light on Solitary Confinement: Why Ohio Needs Reform.” Take action to reform solitary confinement in Ohio.
Justin committed a crime. He was found guilty of aggravated murder and robbery, along with two others.
By Dan Rogan
On Monday, November 9th, 2015 the ACLU of Ohio held a press conference to launch its newest and powerful report, In Jail & In Debt: Ohio’s Pay-to-Stay Fees.
Senior Policy Director Mike Brickner spoke briefly to the media about what these fees are and their negative and lasting impact.
Often, when we as a society talk about reforming our criminal justice system, it’s about finding jobs for individuals released from prison or diverting them to treatment in the first place. Rarely do we focus on the conditions of incarceration and its impact on people once they’re released.
By Lisa Wurm
The Ohio General Assembly has now passed the state budget, and the first quarter of the two-year legislative session is over. As always, the ACLU of Ohio has been very active at the Statehouse in what was a very busy first six months.
If you go without food for just eight hours, your body will decrease its use of energy, the heart will pump slower, you will produce less heat, and hunger pains build.
Earlier this year, the ACLU of Ohio watched in dismay as people in Ohio’s super-maximum security prison in Youngstown went on a hunger strike.
It was a chilly October last year when my colleague and I visited the super-maximum security (super-max) Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown. Before entering, I thought there was nothing more restrictive than the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, aka Lucasville prison. I could not have been more wrong.
You are locked inside a room the size of your bathroom for 23 hours a day and let outside for one hour, but only when it’s warm and only in a cage the size of a walk-in closet. Your meals are eaten inside this room, and there is limited reading and television access.
It doesn’t matter whether you call it local control, disciplinary control, administrative segregation, or restrictive housing, it’s extreme isolation. Putting people in solitary confinement is something the U.S. Supreme Court has deemed “physical and mental torture.”
Since 2012, Ohio has operated a tiered system in which prisoners are given a level ranging from 5b down to 1.
Putting people in isolation is devastating and makes recovery next to impossible. If you didn’t have a mental illness going into isolation, it’s likely you will have one coming out.
Research shows that prolonged solitary causes a persistent and heightened state of anxiety, nervousness, headaches, insomnia, nightmares, and confused thought processes.
By Shakyra Diaz
Imagine that your child is hundreds of miles away and having to ignore their phone calls because you can’t afford to pay the bill. Imagine not being able to wish your father or mother a happy birthday. Imagine not being able to give your condolences following the death of a cousin.
By Kim Schuette
It doesn’t take too much imagination to see the heads slowly wagging back and forth at the local coffee shop when they learn the news. I can even see the eye rolls, too.
No, not from surprise or disbelief, but from the senselessness of it all.
Our country’s public health is at risk. No, it’s not from Ebola or this year’s virulent strain of the flu.
It’s from mass incarceration.
A new report, “On Life Support: Public Health in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” issued by the Vera Institute of Justice, focuses on the alarming impacts of imprisonment on individual and community health.
Ever since smoke rose from the Sistine Chapel heralding Pope Francis as leader of the Roman Catholic Church, he has made headlines for addressing controversial social issues. So, it was no surprise when he recently discussed mass incarceration, he did it with the gusto politicians have never been unable to muster.
By Shakyra Diaz
The United States is the world’s largest jailer. With only 5 percent of the population, it has 25 percent of the world’s prison population.
In 1926, following a mandate from Congress, the National Prisoners Statistics Program began collecting demographic data voluntarily provided by states about people detained in jails, state, federal, and private prisons in the United States.
Ohio’s death penalty has had a long and sordid history. Just look at the past decade:
» Four botched executions.
» Ten people granted clemency by the governor.
» Fifty-six recommendations from an Ohio Supreme Court taskforce of experts to revamp our broken system.
By Shakyra Diaz
“The United States will never be able to prosecute or incarcerate its way to being a safer nation,” said last week U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, at a conference held by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.
At this point, we do not know. But we do know that it’s a gamble the State of Ohio is willing to take, as officials recently released the revised execution schedule for the next two years.
In April, we urged Governor John Kasich to pause executions through the end of 2015 so that courts and experts could take the time needed to ensure that lethal injections do not amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
By Steve David
With school starting back up, there is one set of report cards already coming out. The state of Ohio should think twice before signing off on the grades that Aramark Correctional Services is bringing home.
A recent report found that Aramark failed to meet contract compliance scores at seven of the twenty-six state prison facilities where it is currently providing food service.
By Tim Cable
Well, since it happened at a private prison, it’s hard to know – privately-run prisons lack the transparency required at state-run facilities. During the incident and the days following the uprising, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the for-profit company that runs the prison, kept its lips sealed.
For about a year, food service in Ohio has been handled by a private company, Aramark Correctional Services. While privatization of public services is not ordinarily a civil liberties issue, it is when the switch affects peoples’ rights. Such is the case now.
Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: a private company comes in to Ohio prisons promising it can achieve huge cost savings by taking over for the wasteful government. Legislators sign on, and after the private company takes over, everything begins to fall apart.
By Shakyra Diaz
Right here in Ohio, a company is making millions in taxpayer dollars by keeping people in prison. The longer people stays in prison, the more money they are worth.
Prisons for profit are a multi-billion-dollar industry that depends on, and profits from, our national addiction to incarceration.
By Shakyra Diaz
Children in Ohio’s youth prisons will finally be free from extreme isolation and seclusion. After youths suffered collectively through thousands of hours of being locked in isolation, the Ohio Department of Youth Services has now agreed to “dramatically reduce the conditions under which seclusion is allowed and the duration of seclusion.” Children suffering from mental health disorders were some of the most affected by this practice of seclusion.
By Shakyra Diaz
The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) is well on its way to ensuring that all who are eligible for Medicaid leave prison with a Medicaid card in hand. According to ODRC, 90% of the over 50,000 people incarcerated in state prisons are eligible for Medicaid.
By Nick Worner
On April 3, 2014, the ACLU of Ohio toured the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF), a high security prison located in southern Ohio better known by the moniker “Lucasville.”
Below are some reflections on our visit to SOCF, from three of the staff members who visited the facility.
When people go to prison, it’s often their loved ones who end up shouldering the financial burden.
Prison jobs can help inmates purchase the bare essentials, but it falls to families to transfer money into commissary accounts if they want to stay in touch with their loved one on a regular basis.