Forced laborers sue Mississippi debtors' prison


If you're poor in Jackson, MS and you get a fine that you can't pay, the City of Jackson will sentence you to a "pay or stay" forced labor farm where you will work off your debts at $58/day literally shoveling shit; the alternative is to sit in an overcrowded, jail notorious for its violent guards and filthy conditions and pay down your fines at $25/day. Read the rest

Kentucky county clerk jailed until she does her job, or quits it

Kim Davis listens to a customer following her office's refusal to issue marriage licenses.
A court has issued a harsh (if eminently Republican) response to the problem posed by Kim Davis.

Drone drug delivery at prison spurs yard fight


A drone dropped a package of marijuana, heroin, and tobacco into the recreation yard at Ohio's Mansfield Correctional Institution igniting a big brawl over the contraband. Just wait until drone drug delivery is free with Amazon Prime! Read the rest

How did an Ohio inmate get prison administrators' usernames and passwords?

Lebanon prison, Ohio

Lebanon prison, Ohio

Ohio authorities are investigating how a prisoner obtained a list of the usernames and passwords for prison administrators.

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Finance industry profiteers exploit prisoners' families

Companies like Jpay lobby hard to be the exclusive conduit for remittances from prisoners' families to the inmates, taking a huge rake off the top of funds sent to pay for essentials like warm clothes, medical care and food. Read the rest

Amnesty for Pussy Riot, Greenpeace 30

When Putin and the Kremlin throw a charm offensive to distract people from the popular uprising in the Ukraine and the institutionalized homophobia in Russia, it's good news for dissidents and former billionaires. Russia's Stalin-loving strongman has extended amnesty to Pussy Riot, the Greenpeace 30, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky (formerly Russia's richest man, who fell into Putin's bad books and onto hard times). Read the rest

Prisoner squeezes through visitation partition in daring escape BBC News on a remarkable jailbreak: "CCTV footage captures Derrick Estell fleeing from the prison in Garland County before making off for the car park." He outran his pursuers and is still at large. Read the rest

Prison visiting room photo backdrops

The image above left is a photo backdrop in the visiting room at Woodbourne Correctional Facility in New York. It's one of many unusual paintings found in prison visiting rooms around the United States. Their function is to make family photos more pleasant. Alyse Emdur photographed these scenes and compiled images sent by inmates into a book, titled Prison Landscapes. Above right, James Bowlin holds a fake trout bass at the US Penitentiary in Marion Illinois. BLDBLOG posted an interview with Emdur.

Fantastical scenes are actually much less common—from what I gather from my correspondence, realism is like gold in prison. That’s the form of artistic expression that’s most appreciated and most respected, so that’s often the goal for the backdrop painter.
"Captive America: An Interview with Alyse Emdur" (BLDBLOG)

Prison Landscapes (Amazon) Read the rest

Convict "sneaks back into jail"

Matthew Matagrano, 36, a former inmate, was charged saturday with impersonating a New York Department of Correction investigator. The convicted sex offender inveigled his way into Manhattan Detention Center and other lockups, according to officials, and handed out cigarettes. He also allegedly stole a radio. [Indy] Read the rest

Prison ID photos from 1915-1940

In 1975, photographer/filmmaker Bruce Jackson, who has spent decades documenting prison life, was visiting Arkansas' Cummins Unit, a state prison farm. While there, he stumbled upon a drawer filled with old prison ID photos snapped between 1915 and 1940. Jackson recontextualized these as a unique form of portraiture in his book "Pictures from a Drawer." Accidental Mysteries posted a collection of these striking images. Read the rest