Congress Seeks to Create New Independent Federal Prison Oversight Body
Legislation introduced this week follows a string of reports, including in The Appeal, that have revealed widespread sexual abuse and misconduct at Bureau of Prisons facilities.
Washington Prison Mishandled Court Mail, Impeded Access to Justice
Officials delayed the delivery of critical documents for months, leading to the premature dismissal of at least two appeals filed by incarcerated men. The mistakes underscore much deeper challenges for indigent prisoners.
New Jersey Prison Staff Pushing Incarcerated People to Fight, Complaints Allege
The alleged “fight club” is one of many issues people say plague South Woods State Prison’s “Restorative Housing Unit,” a disciplinary wing that advocates call solitary confinement by another name.
Georgia Prison Crisis Worsens Amid Federal Investigations
More than six years into DOJ probes, the conditions inside Georgia prisons have only further deteriorated.
Louisiana Imprisons Children in a Former Death Row Unit. The Kids Say it Haunts Them.
Last year, the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice began transferring children to Angola, the state’s most notorious prison. Since then, kids say they’ve suffered through horrific conditions and routine mistreatment.
Virginia Women’s Prisons Force People to Remove Pads, Tampons During Strip Searches
Women told The Appeal they found the routine practice degrading and dehumanizing. Prisons around the country have long humiliated people for menstruating.
Trans Man Forced to Undergo Genital Exam at New York Prison: Lawsuit
Prison officials allegedly used solitary confinement to get the plaintiff to submit to an invasive examination prohibited under federal law.
Report Details ‘Cruel’ and ‘Unconscionable’ Treatment of Patients in Illinois Prisons
A federal monitor says substandard healthcare persists—with horrific consequences—more than a decade after a lawsuit was supposed to compel changes.
Why Elderly Incarcerated People Struggle to Find Care After Prison
Thousands of elderly people are released from U.S. prisons each year, and advocates say states urgently need to scale up their capacity to provide them with compassionate care.
‘Reborn Into A Strange New World’: A Trans Woman Prepares For Release After 18 Years In Men’s Prison
An incarcerated writer reflects on what her "going home" story will look like when home no longer exists.
‘It’s an Emergency’: Tens of Thousands of Incarcerated People are Sexually Assaulted Each Year
Cynthia Alvarado was raped in jail before she was sentenced to life in prison for a murder she did not commit. Now that her sentence has been overturned, Alvarado is fighting for women like her.
Illinois Advocates Call for Action After Prison Officials Mislead on Contaminated Water
Legionella bacteria was found in five Illinois prisons in March.
Let’s Bring Back ‘Prison Warehousing’
Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, “prison warehousing”—which used to be a derogatory term—would look like an upgrade. At least warehouses care about the value of the goods they store.
‘It’s a Money Grab’: Billions in COVID Relief Going to Fund Police and Prisons
Less than two years after racial justice protests sparked calls to “defund the police,” states and jurisdictions are using pandemic aid to pad already bloated law enforcement budgets.
Illinois Prison Water Contaminated with Bacteria That Causes Legionnaires’ Disease
Corrections officials confirmed finding legionella at five facilities over the past 12 months.
The Pandemic Isn’t Over Inside Prisons—and It Might Never Be
A cycle of hopelessness is taking its toll in prisons across the country, amid continued restrictions on the things that make life more bearable.
How Corporations Turned Prison Tablets Into A Predatory Scheme
After giving tablets to incarcerated people, prison telecoms giants are charging prisoners and their families exorbitant prices on everything from emails to movies.
When It Comes to Reporting Deaths of Incarcerated People, Most States Break the Law
Our team at the University of North Carolina analyzed death-in-custody reporting policies at every state and federal carceral entity. Data collection is a mess—and many states don’t follow the law at all.
M. Forrest Behne, Craig Waleed, Meghan Peterson, and Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein
How Prison Writers Struggle to Be Heard
Sky-high email and phone costs, fear of retaliation by prison staff, and isolation create roadblocks for incarcerated people to share their experience and join a growing national conversation on reforming the criminal legal system.
The Successes and Shortcomings of Larry Krasner’s Trailblazing First Term
Philadelphia’s top prosecutor has made good on promises to reduce incarceration in the city. His re-election bid will be a litmus test for the progressive prosecutor movement he helped start.
California Governor Commutes Sentence of Abuse Survivor, Grants Clemency to Several Others
Advocates have been urging Governor Gavin Newsom to make greater use of his clemency power, especially for older prisoners who are more vulnerable to COVID-19.
Trump Turned the Justice System Into a Black Box. Biden Could Fix It
The Bureau of Justice Statistics has suffered from years of poor funding and political interference by the Trump administration. Fixing it could be one of the most important tasks on Biden’s criminal justice reform agenda.
Man Recommended For Prison Release Dies Waiting For Pennsylvania Governor’s Sign-Off
The Board of Pardons unanimously recommended Bruce Norris for a commutation in December, but Tom Wolf had yet to approve it.
Why The Biden Administration’s Choice To Lead The Bureau of Prisons Matters
The attorney general could pick a new head of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. That person should have public health experience, formerly incarcerated activists say.
People in Prisons and Jails Should Get COVID-19 Vaccines As Early as Possible
The coronavirus has ripped through our prison and jail populations, infecting and killing hundreds of thousands of people most vulnerable to COVID-19.
Shifting Incarceration Costs to Counties Could Mean Fewer People in Prisons and Jails, Study Suggests
A new study suggests that if counties—rather than states—bear the cost of incarceration, they may be less likely to incarcerate people.
Pennsylvania’s prisons have the second-highest number of people in the country serving life without the possibility of parole. Nine people who were released after being sentenced to die behind bars share their stories.
Families Urge Cuomo to Release Loved Ones from Prison During COVID-19 Pandemic
In addition to the releases he has already ordered, the New York governor can grant commutations to free more incarcerated people to protect them from the disease. He has issued only three since the pandemic began.
Andrew Cuomo Promised Criminal Justice Reforms, But New York Is Still Waiting
The governor has rolled back bail reform, not released enough prisoners during the pandemic, and failed to rein in police abuses, advocates and prisoners say.
Michigan Lifers Are Organizing Their Families to Vote
The Adolescent Redemption Project, a new group organized by Michigan prisoners sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, is advocating for progressive prosecutors.
Prison Labor Is on the Frontlines of the COVID-19 Pandemic
States like California, New York, and Arizona have relied on prisoners to continue working, with little pay and in precarious conditions, during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Pervasive Violence of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department
Several recent killings have put the spotlight on the largest sheriff’s department in the U.S., but many of the LASD’s abuses go unseen, advocates say.
Prisons Are the Public Health Crisis Connecticut Won’t Acknowledge
According to people incarcerated and their loved ones, state officials are ignoring the spread of COVID-19 at New Haven Correctional Center.
Impunity for Law Enforcement Must End. That Includes Officers in Jails and Prisons.
Qualified immunity is just one obstacle of many that incarcerated people face when seeking to hold correctional officers accountable for misconduct.
New York City’s Public Housing Rules Could Force Many Released Prisoners Into Homelessness
As thousands of people are freed from local jails, a group of nonprofits and activist organizations says the city's housing authority must revamp its policies that banish the formerly incarcerated.
How Prison Abolitionists Are Meeting The Moment
The COVID-19 pandemic and nationwide protests over police brutality are strengthening the case against mass incarceration, advocates argue.
As Use of Solitary Confinement Surges, Advocates Call for Releasing Prisoners
Legal, medical, and religious groups warn in a new report that the widespread use of solitary confinement in response to COVID-19 risks spreading the disease further and undoing a decade of progress.
After 17 Years, Bureau Of Prisons Set To Resume Federal Executions
A civil rights advocate calls the scheduled executions of four men ‘appalling’ and a return to a ‘biased, arbitrary, and error-prone’ system.
Governors’ Coronavirus Decisions Put People of Color In Harm’s Way
As the country reopens, we can’t quickly forget these failures of government, which have disproportionately harmed Black, Latinx, and Native people.
For Children, A Parent In Prison During The Pandemic Heightens Anxiety
“My dad, he’s part of the vulnerable population. If I think about it, it becomes really, really, really scary. So to be completely honest, I’m trying not to think about it.”
Less Than Half a Percent of Pennsylvania Prisoners Have Been Granted Emergency Release During the Pandemic
Advocates had hoped Governor Tom Wolf would use his executive reprieve power to release thousands of people from prisons in the face of COVID-19.
Still in Solitary
Five years after statewide hunger strikes and a landmark settlement, men incarcerated in a California prison say they’re still isolated for up to 22 hours a day.
Isolation, Death, And Grief at a New York Women’s Prison
Coronavirus infections climb at the state’s only maximum-security facility for women, and those held there fear for their safety.
After More Than 25 Years Behind Bars, He’s At High Risk For Coronavirus. Now He’s Going Home
John Wesley Parratt Jr. was scheduled to appear before the parole board in July. After the novel coronavirus arrived in San Quentin State Prison, he feared for his health.
The Other Infectious Disease Ravaging America’s Jails And Prisons
Hepatitis C has ripped through prisons and jails, despite more effective treatments for the disease. It is a comorbidity to COVID-19, and the pandemic threatens to cut already weak state funding for prisons to treat those with the disease.
Mississippi Has Tested Fewer Than 1% of State Prisoners and Staff For COVID-19
Governor Tate Reeves has touted the state’s testing efforts as ‘aggressive,’ but testing rates in the state’s prisons, where the coronavirus has already claimed at least one life, remain low.
Advocates Push New York Governor for More Releases From Jails and Prisons
The governor’s requirements for release are too narrow in light of the threat from COVID-19, they say.
Pregnant Woman in Pennsylvania Jail Denied Release
An Erie County judge said the pregnant 20-year-old would be ‘safer’ in jail from the COVID-19 outbreak.
A Vermont Judge Had Plans to Slow the Spread of COVID-19 in Prisons. Lawmakers Scrapped Them.
Political concerns are slowing efforts to depopulate prisons in the state, advocates say.
College Programs In Prison Show The Value Of Educating Every American
Prisons, one graduate writes, should be institutions of learning, not ‘wastelands’ that willfully overlook human potential.
As the Coronavirus Spreads, Prisoners Are Rising Up For Their Health
Faced with inaction on the part of state and corrections officials, incarcerated people in jails, prisons, and detention centers are protesting their treatment during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Formerly Incarcerated Americans Were Excluded From Federal COVID-19 Relief
The Small Business Administration has created barriers for people re-entering the workforce after serving time in prison.
‘That Man Can’t Breathe’
A sheriff’s deputy in Louisiana is caught on video choking a man after he says he asked for COVID-19 treatment.
‘The Situation Here Is Dire’: How An Upstate New York Prison Failed to Contain a COVID-19 Outbreak
FCI Ray Brook was slow to respond to the spread of coronavirus among correctional officers. Now the outbreak has reached prisoners.
Man With Innocence Claim Is First to Die of COVID-19 in Pennsylvania Prisons
The Pennsylvania Innocence Project was seeking the exoneration of Rudolph Sutton when he died on April 8 from complications related to COVID-19.
Pennsylvania Governor Could Release Hundreds of Prisoners As COVID-19 Spreads
Tom Wolf said Friday he will use his reprieve power, a form of clemency, to reduce the state prison population.
Every Public Official With The Power To Decarcerate Must Exercise That Power Now
Doing so will save countless lives, and in the process, they may show us by example how to begin, finally, to dismantle mass incarceration for good.
The COVID-19 Prison Disaster Is No Longer Hypothetical
People are dying in jails and prisons because elected officials hesitated at the worst possible moment.
Amid COVID-19 Panic, Pennsylvania Republicans Warn Governor Against Taking Executive Action to Release Prisoners
They tell Tom Wolf that taking any unilateral actions to reduce the state’s prison population would endanger public safety.
Prisoners in Illinois Describe Dire Conditions Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
It took a prisoner’s death ‘just for them to pass out a single extra bar of soap,’ one incarcerated man said.
New York Retreats on Bail Reform Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
The state, which accounts for roughly one-third of all positive COVID-19 cases in the country, is facing a rapid spread of the disease in its jail and prison systems.
Pennsylvania Lawmakers To Introduce Prisoner Furlough Bill During COVID-19 Pandemic
The emergency program seeks to release a select group of prisoners but does not go far enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in prisons, experts and Democratic lawmakers say.
The Pandemic Exposes The Shared Fates Of The Jailed And The Jailer
Incarcerated people, corrections officers, and their families and communities are bound together by the threat of a deadly and fast-moving disease. The sooner we recognize this, and take decisive action, the more lives we will save.
Closing California Courts Won’t Prevent A COVID-19 Crisis in Jails
Los Angeles County judges must move quickly to release a broad group of people in custody.
The Voices Warning Trump About COVID-19 In Prisons Are Growing Louder. Will He Listen?
There are no good reasons for the president to keep vulnerable people behind bars any longer.
A Public Health Doctor And Head Of Corrections Agree: We Must Immediately Release People From Jails And Prisons
Decisive action by governors and the President now can save lives -- of incarcerated people, correctional and medical personnel, and nearby community members. Business as usual will not.
Why Coronavirus in Jails Should Concern All of Us
New research shows that jails contribute to infectious disease deaths in the greater community.
A Tweet Raises Questions About Immigrant Safety During Coronavirus Pandemic
As COVID-19 spreads, ICE detained a Central American immigrant in a hospital, causing confusion and raising concerns.
What Sheriffs Can Do To Slow the Coronavirus Outbreak
Sheriffs wield enormous power, and they can direct it in ways that will help contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect incarcerated people.
This Tool Can Track Changes to Incarcerated Populations Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic
At a time when it’s vital to reduce jail and prison populations to prevent outbreaks, this data can help advocates identify areas where that is or is not happening.
Prosecutors Across U.S. Call for Action to Mitigate Spread of Coronavirus in Jails and Prisons
In a joint statement, they emphasized the need to reduce the number of people currently incarcerated in order to contain the deadly COVID-19 virus.
New York Department of Corrections Investigator Dies From COVID-19
The individual had no contact with people in custody for at least the past month, according to the DOC.
Pressure Builds on New York Governor To Address Coronavirus Impact on Prisoners
Andrew Cuomo, who recently announced the state would employ prisoners to make hand sanitizer, must prepare for the particular vulnerabilities of the state’s prison population to COVID-19, advocates say.
Indiana Advocates Call on Governor to Release Elderly And Infirm Prisoners As Coronavirus Spreads
More than 100 people signed an open letter to Eric Holcomb requesting that he begin releasing people most likely to be seriously harmed or killed by the coronavirus.
Louisiana Continues to Imprison People Past Their Release Dates
A Department of Corrections official knew the extrajudicial practice was going on but little has been done to correct it.
The Appeal Podcast: Substandard Healthcare in American Prisons
With Taylor Elizabeth Eldridge, a Type Investigations Ida B. Wells Fellow and Appeal contributor.
How Dubious Science Helped Put A New Jersey Woman In Prison For Killing A Baby In Her Care
The state said Michelle Heale shook the baby to death, but some experts say her conviction was based on debunked science.
Inspired By Her Own Experiences, Baltimore Woman Publishes Magazine Giving Voice To The Incarcerated
Tia Hamilton’s State v. Us focuses closely on the criminal legal system, especially as it applies to people of color, who are statistically overrepresented in the carceral system.
The Appeal Podcast: The Regressive Pseudoscience of Our ‘War on Opioid Addiction’
With Appeal contributor Zachary Siegel, a journalism fellow at Northeastern University Law School’s Health in Justice Action Lab, and Lev Facher of STAT News.
‘It’s Just Heartbreaking’: Families Search for Answers as Death Rate Rises in Mississippi Prisons
Prison deaths in Mississippi have climbed nearly 40 percent in recent years, from 62 in fiscal year 2014 to a high of 85 in fiscal year 2018.
Sense of ‘hopelessness’ rises among Alabama prisoners as new rules, leadership changes, limit opportunities for parole
After a two-month moratorium, the state parole board reconvened last week, granting parole to 10 out of 87 people.
Presidential Candidate Pete Buttigieg Releases Criminal Justice Reform Plan
The South Bend, Indiana, mayor says his plan—which includes cutting the incarcerated population by half—will "rebalance" a system that is "unfair and racist in many ways."
New Orleans Advocates Oppose Jail Expansion Plan Ahead of Public Hearing
Increasing the city’s jail capacity will lead to higher incarceration rates, advocates say.
In Third Debate, Democratic Presidential Candidates Condemn Mass Incarceration Without Naming Its Main Driver
Candidates offered reforms for people accused of low-level, nonviolent offenses, but more than half of U.S. prisoners have committed a violent crime.
Hundreds of Alabama Prisoners See Opportunity For Freedom Delayed After Parole Hearings Canceled
The parole board failed to comply with a new law about notifying victims, the board’s director said.
Alabama’s Prisons Are the Most Crowded—If You Look at the Right Data
The Bureau of Justice Statistics relies in part on states to self-report prison capacity numbers, which can result in a misleading snapshot of overcrowding in the U.S.
Sensationalist Tale of an Elderly Killer Feeds False Narrative
The New York Times’s coverage of the one-off case of a 77-year-old man omits key facts about how older adults are treated by our punitive legal system.
New York Prisons Offer ‘Tough Love’ Boot Camp Programs. But Prisoners Say They’re ‘Torture’ And ‘Hell.’
Prisoners can shave time off their sentences by participating in shock incarceration programs. More than a dozen former shock prisoners say that comes at a steep cost.