On Friday, January 27, ACLU of Ohio senior policy director Mike Brickner spoke to participants at a symposium on criminal justice reform, which was held at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Brickner touched on a familiar but too often ignored problem: Ohio’s growing prison population.
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.
When we think of the term “use of force,” we usually think of police officers applying force in cases of imminent danger posed to themselves or the public. Force also applies to the work of corrections officers and security staff when interacting in situations in which prisoners pose risks to others in the prison environment.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
This ACLU of Ohio Op/Ed originally appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on 9/30/2013
On Sept. 11, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction revealed that prison inmate James Blackburn committed suicide while in prison. Blackburn’s death followed the more high-profile suicides of Ariel Castro and Billy Slagle weeks before and marked the eighth suicide in Ohio prisons in 2013.
By Nick Worner
Let’s start by acknowledging what nearly everyone already knows. Ariel Castro was convicted of heinous crimes for which he deserved to be punished. With that in mind, his suicide just one month into his sentence does not fill the public with a great deal of grief.
By Nick Worner
In his August 12 speech to the American Bar Association, United States Attorney General Eric Holder did not mince words on the problem of mass incarceration, calling it both a moral and economic failure.
More importantly, he proposed some important changes to reduce the U.S.