In U.S. prisons, women are disciplined at a higher rate than men

Even women in prison can’t escape the sexist stereotype of the “difficult woman.” Read the rest

How a prisoner's amazing drawings of golf courses set him free

“Creating golf holes with pencils is how I pass the time. Maybe one day I'll get to play the game I've only imagined.”

A man who was serving 39 years to life in prison decided to started drawing golf courses. His art was really cool. One thing led to another, and his drawings made their way to Golf Digest, which then wrote about him, realized his conviction sounded dubious, investigated, and guess what.

Valentino Dixon is now free. Read the rest

Canadian border authorities hold citizen without charge for eight months

Look, we’re not all maple syrup lollipops and free healthcare up here. According to the CBC, a naturalized Canadian citizen was held against his will, without charge, for 10 months while immigration officials attempted to verify his identity.

47-year old Nigerian-born Olajide Ogunye moved to Canada with his family in the 1990s and, in 1996, he became a Canadian Citizen. But that didn’t matter to the Canadian Border Services Agency. During a sweep of his neighborhood (which, I have to admit, I had no idea that the CBSA did), Ogunye was told to produce evidence of his citizenship. So he did: His Ontario Health card and Canadian Citizenship card.

But here’s the thing: despite his producing two pieces of government identification – the gold standard for get-out-of-my-face-I’m-a-citizen, the CBSA refused to believe that Ogunye was who he claimed to be. So, without charge, they took him into custody so that he could be properly identified.

From the CBC:

According to Ogunye's statement of claim, the officers ran his fingerprints, which they said matched the identity of a man named Oluwafemi Kayode Johnson, a failed refugee claimant who had been deported from Canada to Nigeria in the 1990s.

Ogunye says he was told the CBSA believed he was actually Johnson, who had returned to Canada illegally and assumed Ogunye's identity. Those fingerprints, according to court documents, were never produced by the CBSA to Ogunye.

This shit went on for EIGHT MONTHS. Despite having not committed any crime, Ogunye was remanded to two different mixed medium/maximum security prisons. Read the rest

Zany sheriff does kooky fake ad for county slammer

What to do with all that civil asset forfeiture? Why not erect a fake hotel sign outside the county jail and make a fake ad starring you? That's what Sherriff Rick Staly thought would be fun. Read the rest

Powerful film on how Bronx Freedom Fund rescues those who can't afford bail

Bail is intended to compel defendants show up for court, but for poor citizens who can't make bail, it can lead to pre-trial jail terms that can ruin their lives. The Bail Project profiles Ramel, who was bailed out by the nonprofit Bronx Freedom Fund. Read the rest

A guide to prisons for white collar criminals

When rich people are somehow forced to go to prison, they stay in minimum-security federal prison camps (FPCs). Perks include air conditioning, "superior" medical care, regular Internet access, step aerobics classes, ceramics, crocheting, knitting, practice rooms for musicians, basketball, volleyball, softball, soccer, and an "on-site sweat lodge that's used for Native American religious ceremonies." This 2012 Town and Country article has photos of these places, which look like pretty nice college dorms.

[via] Read the rest

Sobering look at how the poor are denied American justice

American penitentiaries, in idealized Quaker imaginings, were to be a place for reflective penitence followed by forgiveness. That's not how it worked out, especially for the poor. And the problem goes far beyond prison reform: Read the rest

Starving pensioners in Japan responsible for shoplifting crime-wave

Japan's recently expanded prisons are already at 70% occupancy, an incarceration epidemic blamed on hungry pensioners who account for 35% of the nation's shoplifting, with a high rate of re-offending. Read the rest

Woman faces mandatory six years in prison for "painless" kick to deputy's shin

Tina Hunt, a 49-year-old grandmother received a felony conviction for aggravated battery of a peace officer when she kicked a sheriff's deputy in the shin during a struggle in a lockup. At her trial, the deputy testified that the kick was not painful and left no mark. Nevertheless, because Hunt has two prior convictions for violent crimes decades ago, she faces a mandatory minimum of six years in prison.

From Chicago Tribune

A Temple University assistant professor in criminal justice who spent nearly a decade working at the Leighton Criminal Court Building as a law clerk called the case an example of inequities in criminal sentencing law.

"She may very well should have been convicted, but what you see in the sentencing is there's no way to reform," Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve said in a telephone interview. "It's a punitive system. The sins of the past will follow you forever."

Image: Shutterstock Read the rest

Give me blood, cash, or jail time, Alabama judge orders defendants

What's worse than courts demanding that poor people pay extortionate fines to the state for minor offense? Asking them to literally pay with their own blood. Read the rest

Mentally ill man jailed over $5 worth of snacks dies in cell after waiting months for mental health care

Man, the first few paragraphs of this Washington Post story about a mentally ill man who died in a jail while waiting for medical care are so devastating. Read the rest

San Francisco Sheriff's Deputy ring accused of pit-fighting inmates

San Francisco sheriff's deputy Scott Neu is accused of leading a ring of corrupt jail guards who coerced prisoners into gladiatorial combat with threats of rape and violence. Read the rest