prison system

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

More than 30 people sit uncomfortably on hard, wooden benches under the watchful eyes of Judge Tim Henderson. It’s late morning in Henderson’s courtroom at the Oklahoma County courthouse. Some people have been waiting for hours.

Most of these people are on probation, and they’re anxiously waiting for their chance to make a deal. Judge Henderson says these people broke their plea agreements.

COMING TO TERMS

Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections has stopped hiring for the rest of the budget year to prepare for potential funding cuts.

Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh decided to freeze hiring after the state Legislature voted down a series of tax increases known as the Step Up Oklahoma plan, Monday.

New York City is one step closer, as part of a larger plan, to shutting the doors on the Rikers Island jail complex. On Wednesday, city officials announced an agreement to start a public review process of proposed sites for smaller jails in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens.

"This agreement marks a huge step forward on our path to closing Rikers Island," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "In partnership with the City Council, we can now move ahead with creating a borough-based jail system that's smaller, safer and fairer."

Flickr / Wesley Fryer

The Oklahoma House approved legislation on Tuesday that reduces sentences for property crimes like larceny and forgery.

Republican Terry O’Donnell of Catoosa authored the bill. He says it will lower the state's overall incarceration rate and the number of women in prison — many of which are convicted for non-violent crimes like writing bad checks.

O'Donnell's office says prison admissions for property crimes grew by almost 30 percent recent years. The average sentence for those convictions has also increased over time.

The New Jersey Department of Corrections has lifted a ban on a book that links racial discrimination and mass incarceration after the ACLU called the prohibition unconstitutional and demanded the department reverse its position.

Inmates at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton and Southern State Correctional Facility in Delmont were barred from reading Michelle Alexander's 2010 book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The ACLU New Jersey chapter made the discovery as a result of a public records request.

Just past 10 p.m. on a summer night, attorney Cheryl Wattley is standing near a quiet street in West Dallas, reconstructing an old crime.

It's a moonless night. One street light and one porch light from a nearby house illumine the scene, nearly identical conditions to the night 30 years ago, when a young man was left to die on the street not too far from here.

Wattley points toward a man standing under the street light, a private investigator named Daryl Parker, as he positions himself in the alley 40 feet away.

"Can you identify him?" she asks.

Inside A Judge's Rehab: Unpaid Work At An Oklahoma Coca-Cola Plant

Dec 4, 2017
Shane Bevel / Reveal

Retired Oklahoma Judge Thomas Landrith is hailed as a hero of criminal justice reform.

He started the first rural drug court in the nation and has reaped awards for sending defendants to treatment rather than prison. Most judges in the state model their drug courts after his.

But Landrith also is involved in a more sinister byproduct of criminal justice reform.

The New York jail complex Rikers Island maintains a "culture of violence" among both inmates and staff, despite efforts to improve conditions at the storied correctional facility, according to a recent government report.

The court-mandated report said staff on the island "relish confrontation" with inmates, rather than avoid it. It described incidents such as a senior corrections officer using pepper spray on an inmate who was in restraints, and other incidents of unnecessarily kicking and stomping inmates.

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Glenna Gordon/Courtesy of The New York Times

If you've followed the War on Terror at all, you're almost certainly familiar with the US detention facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba — a US prison that exists outside the realm of the US justice system.

Now, it turns out, there's a secret US detention system in the War on Drugs, too — and this one is aboard US Coast Guard cutters sailing in the Pacific Ocean.

The Trump administration wants to expand its network of immigrant jails. In recent months, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has called for five new detention facilities to be built and operated by private prison corporations across the country. Critics are alarmed at the rising fortunes of an industry that had fallen out of favor with the previous administration.

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