A prison visit with The Pirate Bay's Peter "brokep" Sunde


Julia Reda, a German Pirate Party MEP, was allowed to visit Sunde in a Swedish prison, and came away with a sad and important report on his tenure there, and his views on the future of the Internet and copyright.

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DOJ slams Riker's Island for horrific violence against young inmates

From the age of 16 on, children are integrated into the general population at Riker's Island, where the guards routinely engage in brutal, illegal beatings whose video evidence mysteriously disappears.

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Michigan sheriff issues inmates black-and-white striped uniforms


He's worried that "Orange is the New Black" has made orange prisoner uniforms too cool.

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New Mexico threatens inmate with 90 days' solitary because his family made him a Facebook page

The New Mexico Corrections Department has a policy prohibiting inmates from "accessing the Internet through third parties," which they've interpreted to mean that prisoners whose families maintain Facebook pages for them can be punished with solitary confinement.

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Formerly incarcerated woman on why 'Orange Is The New Black' is mostly inaccurate

Orange is the New Black.


Orange is the New Black.

A confession: I'm not a fan of the TV series "Orange is the New Black." I love some of the actors on the show, but I think it's kind of a romanticized white fantasy that makes cute of an experience that is not cute, as even today's headlines on this very blog reveal. With glee, I read this Washington City Paper analysis of the show by a woman who served time in prison on a drug-related offense. She is very funny, and her critique is informative.

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California prisons sterilized at least 150 female inmates

While most of the sterilizations were agreed to by the women, those same women also report being heavily pressured into the surgeries. For instance, one woman reports that, in 2010, a doctor tried to convince her to have a tubal ligation while she was sedated and strapped to a surgical table for a C-section. What's more, the doctors pushing for and performing sterilizations didn't have approval from the state to do the procedures at all.

And here's the part that really stood out to me: When prison staff pushed back against the doctors in 2005 and questioned the fact that women were being sterilized, it wasn't because the staff was concerned about proper oversight or whether the women were being pushed into making decisions they wouldn't have made except under duress — it was because the staff was upset the women were getting extra medical services they didn't "deserve".

During one meeting in late 2005, a few correctional officers differed with Long’s medical team over adding tubal ligations to a local hospital’s contract, Kelsey, 57, said. The officers viewed the surgeries as nonessential medical care and questioned whether the state should pay.

“They were just fed up,” Kelsey said. “They didn’t think criminals and inmates had a right to the care we were providing them and they let their personal opinions be heard.”

The service was included, however, and Kelsey said the grumbling subsided.

You can read the rest of journalist Corey Johnson's story at The Center for Investigative Reporting and The Desert Sun. There's also a report on the matter recently published by The California State Auditor.

Timberland's new warranty conditions screw the prisoners who must buy them


Timberland -- whose boots are the sole option for many prisoners in US correctional institutions, thanks to sweetheart deals with prison commissaries -- has a new set of kafkaesque warranty conditions for prisoners that makes it effectively impossible to get defective footwear repaired, meaning that prisoners could spend decades without suitable footwear.

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Pornoscanners head to prisons

Normally technology migrates from prisons to schools to airports -- think CCTVs and Pre-Check -- but for the late and unlamented radioactive pornoscanners that the TSA had to give up on, the technology path went the other way -- if you're lucky enough to be incarcerated in the USA (which incarcerates more people than any other nation on Earth), you may be treated to one or more TSA-surplus pornoscans.

Pirated movies shown to prisoners

The Lorain County Correctional Institution shows pirated movies to prisoners, "even as inmates serve time for illegally downloading movies." Richard Humphrey, 22, who was sentenced to the prison for selling pirated copies of movies, said, "How do you expect someone to be rehabilitated when there's authority figures that are running those institutions that are copyright infringing?"

Inside America's illegal "Little Guantánamos"

Prisoners in America's notorious communication management units (called "CMUs" or "Little Guantánamos") are making great strides in their legal action against the US government over the prisons' illegal status, the illegally discriminatory detention of people in CMUs based on their political or religious beliefs, and their inhumane treatment of prisoners.

In this long, excellent piece, Annie P Waldman tells the story of how the CMUs were opened illegally, without the requisite public comment period, and how they've been used as a gulag to punish political and religious prisoners -- more than 70 percent of those imprisoned in CMUs are Muslim -- under inhumane conditions.

Waldman profiles one of the CMU prisoners, Yassin Aref, who has only held his youngest daughter twice since she was five. A Kurdish anti-Saddam Iraqi refugee, he served as an imam after migrating to the USA, and was caught in an FBI terrorism sting in which he agreed to witness a loan involving an paid FBI informant who had told the counterparty (but not Aref) that the money originated with an arms sale. Aref is serving 15 years in the CMU under conditions amounting to

Aref is one of the CMU prisoners who are the named plaintiffs in a surprisingly successful lawsuit against the US government.

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UK Tories ban sending books to prisoners


Writing in Politics.co.uk, Frances Crook (chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform) decries the latest nasty Tory tough-on-crime initiative: denying books from the outside to prisoners, many of whom spend more than sixteen hours per day in their cells. This follows on a ban on homemade birthday cards from prisoners' children, and a ban on underwear and other comfort items from outside (women prisoners are hit very hard by this as they are not supplied with undergarments otherwise and spend months wearing the same underwear and bras).

As Crook points out, banning books, birthday cards and underwear has nothing to do with rehabilitation for criminals, and everything to do with pandering to a vicious public who want to see everyone who is locked up made as miserable as possible.

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Nun faces 30 years in prison for exposing security lapses in nuclear weapons program


Mike from Mother Jones sez, "Josh Harkinson writes about the upcoming sentencing of Megan Rice, an elderly nun and Plowshares activist who broke into the Y-12 enriched uranium facility with two fellow aging activists. The incident, which exposed glaring security flaws and was deeply embarrassing to the feds, could get the trio a maximum 30 years in federal prison. Harkinson writes:"

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Pussy Riot in Putin's gulag: daily forced gynecological exams


When Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova walked out of the Siberian prison camp IK-50, they were defiant. The Pussy Riot members said they wanted acquittal, not amnesty, and an affirmation of the right to protest in Russia. Tolokonnikova gave the press a V-for-victory and shouted "Russia without Putin!"

But afterwards, in a phone interview with the Guardian, Alyokhina described the horrific conditions inside, where women were put to slave labor, and where Tolokonnikova faced daily, punitive forced gynecological exams for three weeks.

Pussy Riot has called on western countries to boycott eh Sochi Games in February.

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Prisoners return to Philippines jail after escaping home to help their families


When Super Typhoon Haiyan ripped the roof off of Leyte Provincial Jail and filled the cells to neck height, 600 prisoners swam to the wall-tops and walked away. Now, nearly half of them have returned, including prisoners facing charges as serious as murder. The men went home and helped their families cope with the damage to their homes and towns, then came back to prison because (in the words of returned prisoner Danilo Tejones) "I want my case to be finished so that I can get free legally."

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Documentary about Richard Stratton - "marijuana millionaire" sentenced to 25 years in maximum-security prison

[Video Link] "A documentary chronicling the life of author Richard Stratton, from his early experiments with marijuana in suburban Massachusetts to his ultimate entry into the world of high volume, international hashish and marijuana trade. His involvement in the drug market, including the shipment of 7 tons of hashish from war-riddled Beirut into New York Harbor, led to his arrest and conviction to 25 years in maximum-security prison. This video, through re-enactments, stock footage, score and interview, tells the unbelievable story."

Here's a recent interview with Stratton.

(Via the World's Best Ever)