Forced prison labor put downward pressure on wages at American companies, worsening inequality

In Economic Consequences of the U.S. Convict Labor System, UCLA economist Michael Poyker uses data on prisons and their surrounding areas from 1850 to 1950 to examine the role that free/extremely low-waged forced convict labor had on wages. Read the rest

UK police train machine-learning model using Experian data that stereotypes people based on garden size, first names, and postal codes

The police in Durham, England bought a license to the "Mosiac" dataset from the credit bureau Experian, which includes data on 50,000,000 Britons, in order to train a machine learning system called HART ("Harm Assessment Risk Tool") that tries to predict whether someone will reoffend. Read the rest

John Boehner pledged eternal support for imprisoning marijuana users, now he's in the legal weed business

When John Boehner was Speaker of the House, he described himself as "unalterably opposed" to marijuana legalization, a posture that contributed to the criminalization, imprisonment and ruination of millions of Americans. Read the rest

Lawsuit reveals the deadly, out-of-control free-for-all inside Red State America's for-profit prisons

The Management & Training Corporation operates two federal prisons and 20 more state/local prisons around America; previously, it has been censured by Arizona for its role in deadly prison riots; now, the ACLU and Southern Poverty Law Center are suing the state of Mississippi over the violence, neglect, and rampant human rights abuses at Management & Training's East Mississippi Correctional Facility, near Meridian in Lauderdale County.

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Alabama Sheriff legally appropriated $750K from prison meal budgets to build himself a beach house, locked up his whistleblowing gardener

Etowah, Alabama County Sheriff Todd Entrekin took advantage of a Great-Depression-era rule that lets the sheriff pocket any "excess" from the budget for prisoner meals (provided he makes up any shortfall from his own finances) and used $750,000 that had been allocated to feed prisoners to build himself a luxury beach house. When his gardener tipped off a Birmingham News reporter, the gardener was locked up in the Sheriff's jail on mysterious drug charges. Read the rest

British court rules that the inhumane conditions in American prisons mean UK hacking suspect can't be legally extradited

Lauri Love is a British man on the autism spectrum who also has depression and severe eczema, who was facing extradition to America on charges of hacking US military and private agencies. Read the rest

Inmate, denied health care in an Arizona private prison, chews his own fingers off

An unnamed, paralyzed prisoner in one of Corizon Correctional Healthcare's for-profit prisons in Arizona chewed part of his left hand off because Corizon refused to give him the correct medication for his pain. Read the rest

Seven years after attempting to rip off Ken "Popehat" White, fraudster gets 108-month federal prison sentence

It's been seven years since I started following Ken "Popehat" White's relentless pursuit of a con artist who sent his company a fake invoice. Read the rest

The GOP tax plan means millions in extra profits for private prison corporations

The new GOP tax plan slashes the taxes on real estate investment trusts (REITS) by a quarter, dropping the rate from 39.6% down to 29.6% -- a move that will put tens of millions of dollars in the pockets of investors in America's notorious private prisons. Read the rest

Mass incarceration and disenfranchisement of brown people was the key to GOP control in Alabama, but thanks to criminal justice reform, black people can vote against child-molester Roy Moore

During Roy Moore's judicial bouts -- punctuated by frequent removals from the bench for gross misconduct -- he was part of the mass incarceration wave in America, which has resulted in millions of black people being thrown in prison on flimsy pretenses for long sentences, while whites in similar situations have gone free. Read the rest

Ohio Republicans create winnable electoral districts by siting nonvoting prisons near friendly voters

91% of the prisoners in Ohio are in Republican districts: they aren't allowed to vote, but they are counted in the census, creating winnable districts with tiny voting populations that would otherwise be included with large groups of nearby Democratic voters. Read the rest

Trump's “free market” FCC loves monopolies, especially when they rip off prisoners' families

The American prison system is home to one of the greatest market-failures in the history of telephony (which is saying something): a monopolistic system in which sole-supplier, hedge-fund owned telcoms operators charge as much as $14/minute for prisoners to talk with their lawyers, families and loved ones. Read the rest

Florida Sheriff warns storm victims to expect warrant checks at hurricane shelters

Grady Judd (@PolkCoSheriff, 1-800-226-0344) is the Sheriff of Polk County, FL, in the path of Hurricane Irma; his emergency communications have included repeated warnings to Floridians with outstanding warrants that they will not be welcomed at the state's shelters, and can expect to have their warrant status checked before admission to a shelter, and to be taken to jail if they have warrants outstanding. Read the rest

Donald Trump has ushered in a "golden age of private prisons"

With Donald Trump reversing Obama's ban on the use of private prisons for federal prisoners and vowing to deport 11 million people; and Attorney General Jeff Sessions instructing prosecutors to seek long prison sentences for minor offenses, the investor community could not be more bullish on the private prison sector. Read the rest

Escaping prison with D&D

"Escaping Prison with Dungeons & Dragons" is a moving, 10-minute documentary about prisoners who used tabletop role-playing games to survive their incarceration. Read the rest

SLIM: An open, transparent, hand-computable sentencing algorithm

Machine learning companies are making big bucks selling opaque, secretive sentencing algorithm tools to America's court systems: the vendors of these systems claim that they are too sophisticated to explain, and use that opacity to dismiss critics who say the algorithms oversentence black and poor people. Read the rest

UK prison deploys active anti-drone countermeasures to fight contraband smuggling

A UK weapons company called Drone Defence has sold an anti-drone product to Les Nicolles prison on Guernsey that will use 20 nonspecific "disruptors" to do something to drones that will stop them from overflying the prison and smuggling in contraband. Read the rest

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