Despite early warnings, jails and prisons have seen a rapid spread of the virus -- a humanitarian disaster that puts all of our communities, and lives, at risk. The Appeal examines the scale of the crisis, numbers of infected and dead, around the nation.
Kelly Davis May 28, 2020
New York attorneys have launched a campaign to release transgender, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary prisoners during the pandemic.
Both incarcerated brothers are at an increased risk of complications from COVID-19—and one has tested positive.
Chris Gelardi May 27, 2020
Oakland County Jail Ordered To Identify Prisoners Who Should Be Released To Protect Them From COVID-19
A U.S. district court judge said the Michigan jail has demonstrated ‘deliberate indifference’ to the lives of ‘medically vulnerable’ prisoners who are at particular risk of the novel coronavirus.
Dawn R. Wolfe May 21, 2020
Parole Reform Might Have Freed Maryland’s Longest-Serving Incarcerated Woman. Instead, She Was Hospitalized With COVID-19.
Eraina Pretty has served 42 years in prison in connection with a 1978 store robbery. A new law that might have led to her release has been derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For weeks, two houses in Illinois’ Vienna Correctional Center ran on generator power and had intermittent failures, multiple prisoners told The Appeal. The outages made it harder to use the shared bathroom, one of the few places they could wash their hands.
Arkansas Grants Parole To Willie Mae Harris Three Decades After She Was Convicted For Killing Her Husband
Harris, now 72 and blind, was sentenced to life in prison in 1985. Since she first started petitioning for executive clemency in 1998, the state’s parole board recommended her for release five times.
Louisiana Women Incarcerated for Defending Themselves Against Abusive Partners Seek Clemency Amid COVID-19 Pandemic
The state has recommended the release of 10 women at a coronavirus-ravaged prison—but Governor John Bel Edwards still hasn’t signed the paperwork.
The Courier Journal’s Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on Governor Matt Bevin’s commutations sensationalizes crime at the expense of future clemency efforts.
The women are kept in cramped, unsanitary quarters, the suit says, and are not permitted the same job opportunities as men held at the same facility.
Coronavirus infections climb at the state’s only maximum-security facility for women, and those held there fear for their safety.
Lyra Walsh Fuchs May 18, 2020
Freddy Butler, Oliver Macklin, and Charles Goldblum are among the 17 people who received recommendations for commutations of life sentences in 2019, but Governor Tom Wolf has yet to sign off on their releases.
A district court judge who issued a temporary restraining order in the case said jail officials had not ‘imposed even the most basic safety measures recommended by health experts.’
Dawn R. Wolfe May 15, 2020
He Found Freedom After More Than Two Decades In Prison. But He Was Released Into A World Changed by COVID-19.
Euka Wadlington was denied clemency by the Department of Justice under Obama. But then he mounted a legal challenge to sentencing enhancements used in his drug case; in April, a federal judge granted his release. Now he’s adjusting to freedom—and life in the coronavirus era.
Jeremy Hix is serving 70 months in federal prison for a sex offense—a conviction that disqualifies him for a Bureau of Prisons home confinement program, despite a health condition that puts him at risk of the coronavirus.
Joshua Vaughn May 14, 2020
Louisiana’s Longest-Serving Incarcerated Woman Returned To Prison After Being Hospitalized For COVID-19
The family of Gloria Williams, who has served 50 years in prison, is now pressing Governor John Bel Edwards to commute her sentence 10 months after a parole board recommended she be freed.
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.
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.
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.
Ko Bragg May 13, 2020
The governor’s requirements for release are too narrow in light of the threat from COVID-19, they say.
Cleaning Supplies Are So Scarce At This Arizona Prison, Detainees Are Using Shampoo And Menstrual Pads, Lawsuit Says
The plaintiffs want an independent expert to assess whether the facility has implemented social distancing measures, testing procedures, and hygiene practices adequate enough to reasonably protect detainees from contracting COVID-19 while in custody.
Meg O'Connor May 12, 2020
We did it in San Francisco. If we are smart about how we respond to COVID-19 in the criminal legal system, then we can simultaneously tackle two crises.
An Erie County judge said the pregnant 20-year-old would be ‘safer’ in jail from the COVID-19 outbreak.
Victoria Law May 11, 2020
California Governor Gavin Newsom said he’s releasing thousands of prisoners. But that doesn’t necessarily include some of the state’s sickest patients.
‘Our state and local officials have a responsibility to not endanger those who are under correctional control,’ the ACLU of Georgia’s executive director said.
Lauren Gill May 08, 2020
Prisoners Who Test Positive For COVID-19 In Connecticut Are Sent To A Notorious Maximum Security Prison
Faculty members of the Yale School of Public Health, the Yale School of Medicine, and the Yale School of Nursing wrote to the governor that sending patients there is “inhumane and ineffective.”
Criminal justice reform advocates question why the BOP plans to move people around rather than reduce prison populations.
Incarcerated people like John Brookins, who is serving life without the possibility of parole, will have to wait until June or later for a chance at clemency.
Joshua Vaughn May 07, 2020
Andrea Circle Bear was confined within FMC Carswell while suffering from the novel coronavirus. ‘She was serving a 26-month sentence that ended up being a death penalty,’ one maternity specialist said.
Tana Ganeva May 06, 2020
People incarcerated in the Otay Mesa Detention Center decry crowded units and substandard medical care as COVID-19 tears through the facility.
While adults in the county have been granted expedited release in groups, the juvenile court continues to review cases individually.
Attorneys for prisoners say the policy goes against public health warnings and will ‘promote and facilitate a viral outbreak.’
Lauren Gill May 05, 2020
An appellate court says officials at Federal Correctional Institution, Elkton, must begin identifying prisoners vulnerable to the novel coronavirus.
After a man incarcerated in a New Jersey state prison was hospitalized with COVID-19, he said he was handcuffed for 36 hours. The cuffs got tangled in his IV, causing it to rip out, he said. “It was so painful. You have no idea.”
Tens of thousands of children are in congregate care settings around the country, and some have already started to get sick.
The onset of COVID-19—and the need for social distancing—gave an unexpected boost to efforts against plans for a new prison in Washington.
Victoria Law May 04, 2020
Political concerns are slowing efforts to depopulate prisons in the state, advocates say.
Adam Willems May 01, 2020
The state is sending virus-positive people to Angola prison—but those numbers aren’t reported on the Department of Corrections website.
Prisoners feel like they are ‘sitting ducks,’ said a woman whose boyfriend is incarcerated at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.
Lauren Gill Apr 30, 2020
Shot By Police, Then Convicted In A Murder He Says He Didn’t Commit. Now He’s Facing COVID-19 Behind Bars.
The 2015 shooting left Keith Davis Jr. with respiratory issues. His defense attorney says that as he appeals his case he should be freed from prison.
Brandon Soderberg Apr 29, 2020
Prisons, one graduate writes, should be institutions of learning, not ‘wastelands’ that willfully overlook human potential.
Prisoners say the jail, which has seen more than 800 confirmed cases, is a ‘death trap’ plagued by sanitary issues and a lack of testing. Their testimonies stand at stark odds with the sheriff’s office, which says it is keeping ‘staff and detainees as safe as possible.’
Maya Dukmasova Apr 28, 2020
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.
Cayce French, who is serving life in prison at the Oregon State Correctional Institution, describes how getting clean and participating in rehabilitation programs has transformed his identity.
A woman detained by ICE was sick with COVID-19 for days before being removed from a 50-person jail dorm in York County, Pennsylvania, according to women housed with her.
Medical ethics experts have criticized the state’s prison officials and say masks to protect against COVID-19 should be distributed ‘with no strings attached.’
Lauren Gill Apr 23, 2020
Louisiana’s Longest-Serving Incarcerated Woman, Recommended for Clemency Last July, Hospitalized with COVID-19
Governor John Bel Edwards has yet to commute Gloria Williams’s sentence despite a parole board’s unanimous recommendation that she be freed. Now she is in critical condition at a Baton Rouge hospital.
Coronavirus Is Ready To Explode Inside Fort Dix Federal Prison, Incarcerated People and Their Loved Ones Say
One prisoner says a man collapsed while waiting for a temperature check and was sprayed down with disinfectant as he lay on the floor. BOP denied it.
The Bureau of Prisons could send those without homes to alternative halfway houses far from D.C. or back to prison at the end of the month.
‘I would go to the hospital very often and they wouldn’t do anything for me.’
The state’s law enforcement agencies failed to implement a 2018 data-sharing law. Now officials are struggling to identify high-risk people to release from county jails.
Ethan Corey Apr 22, 2020
‘This is getting worse,’ one woman said. ‘People just want to sleep or fight. They play with our emotions constantly. This place is scary.’
Tana Ganeva Apr 21, 2020
Ramos v. Louisiana is a long-overdue affirmation of the constitutional rights of criminal defendants—and sets the stage for dramatic Supreme Court fights in the years ahead.
Jay Willis Apr 20, 2020
Colorado Supreme Court Fails To Protect State Residents As Coronavirus Grows ‘Exponentially’ In Jails
People behind bars are too often forgotten and treated as expendable. We cannot afford to forget them. Our shared survival and shared humanity demand action.
‘It seems like Black people are still being criminalized and are not free,’ one organizer said.
Criminal justice advocates have called Camp J at the Louisiana State Penitentiary ‘a dungeon.’ Now it’s housing prisoners who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Peter Lucas was jailed overnight at a time when prosecutors across the country are actively working to reduce the number of people behind bars to stem the spread of COVID-19.
Approximately 100 men will be transported to Draper Correctional Facility, which has long been known for its nightmarish conditions.
A man describes his ordeal in medical isolation while awaiting trial.
FCI Ray Brook was slow to respond to the spread of coronavirus among correctional officers. Now the outbreak has reached prisoners.
Governor Mike DeWine, critics say, ‘is risking turning low-level prison sentences into death sentences.’
With programming paused and prison jobs reduced, people inside will not be able to earn good-time credits and are cut off from a means of supporting themselves.
The Pennsylvania Innocence Project was seeking the exoneration of Rudolph Sutton when he died on April 8 from complications related to COVID-19.
Joshua Vaughn Apr 15, 2020
His attorney says the Suffolk County DA’s office tried to send “an innocent man to his death.”
By letting people out now, we can avoid overwhelming our healthcare system with sick prisoners later.
The families and partners of those incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Complex at Oakdale are sharing information and support as COVID-19 hits the prison.
Joshua Manson Apr 14, 2020
Tom Wolf said Friday he will use his reprieve power, a form of clemency, to reduce the state prison population.
Joshua Vaughn Apr 10, 2020
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 city’s DA’s office and its public defender association urged judges to adopt video meetings to speed the release of incarcerated people. But emails obtained by The Appeal show that judges took a much more limited approach to decarceration.
'We are still packed in like sardines,' writes Fate Winslow, who's serving a life sentence. 'The prison doesn't supply anything for us.'
People are dying in jails and prisons because elected officials hesitated at the worst possible moment.
Jay Willis Apr 09, 2020
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.
Louisville, Kentucky judges are ordering people with COVID-19 who have allegedly defied quarantine to wear GPS ankle monitors, raising ethical questions about the government's role in a pandemic.
Twenty-eight people were to attend weeks-long drug treatment programs after violating parole. The COVID-19 pandemic nearly trapped them in jail indefinitely.
Public defenders are working with the courts to secure release for people incarcerated in the Florida county, many of whom are jailed for low-level offenses.
Victoria Law Apr 08, 2020
Don’t Look to the DOJ to Keep Federal Prisons and Their Surrounding Communities Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Experts are urging large-scale releases. But the Department of Justice often operates contrary to expertise.
At the Center of the Coronavirus Pandemic, People Inside NYC Jails Describe Fear, Confusion and a Lack of Supplies
'They're not supplying us with masks, they’re not supplying us gloves, they're not supplying us with decent cleaning supplies.'
Despite risks to incarcerated people and the public, Florida is sending prisoners to perform hard labor.
‘It’s Absolute Hell.’ Coronavirus Derails Parole Hearings Across U.S. As Health Risks To Prisoners Grow
In Alabama and elsewhere, canceled hearings and new procedures are complicating the parole process for people hoping to be freed.
Lauren Gill Apr 07, 2020
It took a prisoner’s death ‘just for them to pass out a single extra bar of soap,’ one incarcerated man said.
I am trying my best to take care of myself in the midst of this pandemic, no different from you, no different from any other human being. But it’s impossible to do that at this jail.
Anthony Swain Apr 06, 2020
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.
Joshua Vaughn Apr 05, 2020
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.
Cyrus Ahalt Apr 03, 2020
People Held in New York Prison Say They Face Abuse After Guard In Their Unit Tested Positive For COVID-19
Men in Unit B-2 at the Shawangunk Correctional Facility say staff members have harassed and abused them since they possibly came into contact with an infected officer.
With Prison Visitation Suspended Due To COVID-19, Families Of Incarcerated People Say Phone Calls Should Be Free
Telecommunications companies that serve prisons and jails, like Securus Technologies and Global Tel Link, are offering a limited number of free calls, but families say it’s not enough.
Molly Minta Apr 02, 2020
Prosecutors In This Virginia County Are Letting People Go To Jail for Low-Level Offenses In The Middle of a Pandemic
Public defenders in Fairfax County say their clients are being sent into harm’s way.
With COVID-19 rapidly spreading across the state, there’s heightened concern that the conditions inside Lowell Correctional Institution, coupled with the prison’s sizable elderly and pregnant population, could foster a deadly outbreak.
Alexandra DeLuca Apr 01, 2020
The ruling is a setback for the state's so-called junk science statute.
ICE has adopted no policies aimed at releasing any of the 38,000 people it keeps in county jails and private detention centers across the country.
There are no good reasons for the president to keep vulnerable people behind bars any longer.
Jay Willis Mar 31, 2020
The Office of General Counsel determined that the governor could likely use reprieves to release vulnerable people from prison to control COVID-19’s spread, but the office is advising against it, according to internal emails obtained by The Appeal.
‘It is progressively getting worse, exponentially worse,’ a resident of one halfway house told The Appeal as part of a survey of facilities. ‘Something is going to happen and it’s not going to be good.’
We can’t allow “violent criminal” rhetoric to justify leaving some of the most vulnerable people in dangerous conditions.
James King Mar 30, 2020
People held in Bristol County are ‘extremely agitated and panicking’ due to unsanitary conditions and overcrowding amid the coronavirus outbreak.
‘Continuing to maintain these youths in this hotbed of contagion poses an unconscionable and entirely preventable risk of harm,’ one lawsuit states.
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.
Prisoners are “especially vulnerable to contracting and spreading COVID-19,” Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker wrote in his executive order.
“They are treating it like any epidemic in prison—that is to isolate, treat and then release back to the population.”
State governors and the president have the authority to grant commutations and reprieves to people in prison across the country as COVID-19 spreads.
New York City Jails Have an Alarmingly High Infection Rate, According to an Analysis by the Legal Aid Society
“Based on this analysis, New York City jails have become the epicenter of COVID-19,” a Legal Aid attorney said.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg Mar 26, 2020
“The doctors said they were going to come and do screenings every day, but for the past two days, they’ve just come into the dorm and stood by the front door and yelled, ‘Does anybody have any symptoms?’”
Kim Kelly Mar 25, 2020
“Still no hand sanitizer, no bleach.”
The island’s Communicable Disease Unit is already overflowing with quarantined people.
New research shows that jails contribute to infectious disease deaths in the greater community.
Up to 1,000 people will have their sentences delayed or suspended.
Kira Lerner Mar 23, 2020
When the dust settles on this pandemic, we need to be clear on what was an emergency response and what is a desirable permanent change.
Advocates have called on Governor Tom Wolf and state Department of Corrections officials to release elderly and infirm people from state prisons. But the law is limiting how quickly they can move.
The H1N1 pandemic, the HIV/AIDS crisis, and other outbreaks have taught us that blanket policies of solitary confinement and isolation have led to harmful outcomes.
The state Department of Corrections confirmed two staff cases of COVID-19. No prisoners have been confirmed to have the virus, the department said.
Kira Lerner Mar 20, 2020
Organizers have been collecting signatures as part of a ballot initiative known as State Question 805, which calls for the end of sentencing enhancements for people convicted of nonviolent crimes.
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Seifullah Chapman's Eighth Amendment Rights were violated by federal prison staff who were indifferent to his medical needs.
Conditions at the Newark jail where the strike is taking place were dire even before the threat of COVID-19.
Brendan O'Connor Mar 19, 2020
A man with multiple medical conditions incarcerated on a technical violation urgently needs to be released, his attorney says.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg Mar 18, 2020
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.
Oliver Hinds Mar 17, 2020
Coronavirus Leaves Defense Attorneys Torn Between Visiting Their Jailed Clients And Spreading The Illness
To prevent more people from being infected with COVID-19, defense attorneys are calling for courts to release people.
To Stop Coronavirus, Places Where People Gather are Shutting Down Across California. What About Its Jails?
Activists are calling on the governor, district attorneys, sheriffs, and judges to take action to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg Mar 16, 2020
The individual had no contact with people in custody for at least the past month, according to the DOC.
Advocates worry the widespread confusion may have a chilling effect on eligible voters.
Local jails are notorious amplifiers of infectious diseases. If we don’t move quickly to reduce their population, it may undermine our ability to control the new coronavirus, nationally and locally.
Kelsey Kauffman Mar 13, 2020
I Was a Child When The State Sentenced Me To Die In Prison. But I Found A Path To Redemption In A Community Of Lifers.
I learned later than I should have what you probably already know: that it is strength not weakness to lean on somebody when you feel vulnerable and defeated and let them help you.
The state’s attorney general decided to support resentencing hearings in two high-profile cases, though she had fought appeals in the past.
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.
The public defender and district attorney both directed their staffs to keep individuals who are more vulnerable to the virus out of jail.
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.
A complaint filed in 2013 on behalf of 500 currently and formerly incarcerated youth alleged that they were assaulted and harassed by incarcerated adults and corrections staff in adult prisons and jails across the state.
Lawmakers are recognizing the harms of mass incarceration. But some governors are reluctant to use their clemency power to address them.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg Mar 05, 2020
Ayanna Pressley’s Husband Spent 10 Years in Prison. Now He and Pressley Are Fighting for Re-Entry Reform
The U.S. representative said her husband helped her realize that when one person is incarcerated, many more are affected.
The Appeal and Oregon Justice Resource Center announce “Left Behind,” firsthand accounts of growing-up in prison from individuals sentenced as children.
In Travis County, thousands of people continue to be prosecuted for low-level drug possession charges that reform-minded district attorneys elsewhere have committed to dropping.
Kira Lerner Mar 02, 2020
Prison-based gerrymandering takes political power away from Black and Latinx communities—power that could be used to push for more funding for schools, social services, infrastructure, and other important reforms.
A survey of roughly 1,000 people found that 1 in 5 had been turned down for a diversion program because they couldn’t afford the costs of drug tests and monitoring devices.
Josh Norman was one of the 17 people to die in Mississippi prisons so far this year. His death raises important questions about the state’s failures.
A New York Law Could Reduce Sentences for Domestic Violence Survivors. Why Are Judges Reluctant to Apply It?
The Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act allows judges to consider shorter sentences, as well as non-prison sentences, if abuse factored significantly in the crime.
The Democratic candidate also pledged to expunge prior criminal convictions for marijuana and invest in the communities most affected by the war on drugs.
Joshua Vaughn Feb 23, 2020
Stop-And-Frisk Made Michael Bloomberg A Big Target In The Presidential Debate. His Opponents Still Missed.
Advocates say the narrowing field of Democratic candidates did not seize an opportunity to lay out clear visions on criminal justice reform to contrast the former New York City mayor’s record on policing.
Aaron Morrison Feb 20, 2020
Prisoners avoid admitting they are sick because they don’t want to be put in solitary, so nurses go cell to cell to take their temperatures.
The court found that a law that critics described as a poll tax violates the Constitution.
Kira Lerner Feb 19, 2020
A Department of Corrections official knew the extrajudicial practice was going on but little has been done to correct it.
Victoria Law Feb 18, 2020
An Appeal documentary on life without the possibility of parole—and its impact on loved ones—in the state.
Advocates say junk science was used to convict Jimenez. DA Margaret Moore has not yet decided whether she will drop charges or retry her.
Mistaken identifications have been involved in nearly 70 percent of post-conviction exonerations based on DNA evidence.
Jay Willis Feb 11, 2020
A review of charging dockets in Lebanon County shows Ashley Menser was the only person charged with felony retail theft in 2018 to receive a 7-year maximum sentence.
Joshua Vaughn Feb 10, 2020
A year after Alfonzo Riley returned from prison, he’s helping to vet innocence claims.
Kira Lerner Feb 06, 2020
Elmer Daniels served nearly 40 years in prison before he was exonerated in 2018. He's one of at least three people who could receive $50,000 for every year spent behind bars.
Jails in New Orleans and Cleveland have had significant population drops, yet conditions of confinement remain poor. Communities harmed by these jails should experiment with new accountability measures to maintain political pressure against jail administrators.
Jonathan Ben-Menachem Feb 05, 2020
A fiery debate outlined what’s at stake in the race to lead the largest prosecutor’s office in the country.
Eliyahu Kamisher Jan 30, 2020
Legislators are considering giving the DEA dangerous authority, harm reduction advocates say.
Woman ‘Brutally’ Beaten in Mississippi Prison Died Because Officials Failed To Give Her Medical Care, Lawsuit Alleges
The father of Nicole Rathmann says his daughter was “not made safe by employees” while incarcerated at the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility. She was one of 16 prisoners to die in state custody in August 2018.
The state Supreme Court erred this month when it failed to invalidate Willie Nash’s sentence as cruel and unusual punishment, his attorneys argue.
Aaron Morrison Jan 23, 2020
State Representative Todd Stephens has introduced a bill to impose a five-year minimum prison sentence for illegally possessing a firearm, but the governor, advocates, and others say it’s the wrong approach.
New San Francisco D.A. Inherits Chance To Hold Police Accountable In Shooting Of Man With Mental Illness
Activists hope Chesa Boudin will press charges, and push for systemic changes to address the criminalization of mental illness.
Arizona’s Incarcerated Firefighters Push for Legislation That Recognizes Their Labor By Reducing Their Sentences
Unlike other states, Arizona offers minimal early release credits for the prisoners it sends to fight its wildfires.
Hannah Critchfield Jan 21, 2020
The bill would disproportionately affect the 140,000 people whose voting rights were recently restored.
It’s the first time since 2014 that someone on Georgia’s death row has been granted clemency.
Braden Goyette Jan 16, 2020
The death of 27-year-old India Cummings in 2016 garnered national media attention and a renewed push by local activists over conditions of confinement in the New York county’s jails. But the deaths haven’t stopped.
The state said Michelle Heale shook the baby to death, but some experts say her conviction was based on debunked science.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg Jan 15, 2020
Stories that uncritically blame child welfare agencies for the deaths of children at the hands of their parents can contribute to increases in child removals—with devastating consequences for families.
Why Keeping People With Sex Offense Convictions Off Social Media Sites Does Little To Make Those Sites Safer
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal purports to take sexual violence seriously, but it aggressively ignores reality in favor of lazy solutions.
The move is made possible by a Texas law that legalized the production of hemp last year.
Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez of Texas told The Appeal about her vision for a complete overhaul of her state’s legal system.
Many liberals support reform in theory. But when unpopular decisions need to be made, it’s back to the 1990s “Tough on Crime” playbook.
After Deadly Week For Mississippi Prisoners, Advocates See Blood ‘On The Hands’ of Lawmakers and Prison Officials
The violence that has left at least five people dead is the result of longstanding issues that have been ignored, justice advocates and prisoners’ family members say.
Lauren Gill Jan 07, 2020
Republicans are leading an effort to get rid of blanket restrictions on where some people with sex-offense records can live. A Democratic governor is blocking them.
Steven Yoder Jan 03, 2020
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.
One man, Paul Houser, is serving 60 years on a drug conviction for purchasing cold medicine and batteries. He’s one of 2,600 people incarcerated as a result of the state’s three strikes laws.
Sensational headlines may score short-term partisan points, but long term they contribute to a toxic culture of Willie Hortonism.
Guards at the Mark Stiles Unit in Beaumont are alleged to have led the victim to a hallway where there were no security cameras.
The suit is the latest of at least three complaints filed against the Portage County Jail this year.
Dawn R. Wolfe Dec 16, 2019
Officers at the Cuyahoga County Jail in Ohio are accused of pepper-spraying and assaulting a man for merely asking about his release date.
Joshua Vaughn Dec 12, 2019
In a federal lawsuit, Hardel Sherrell’s mother accuses the staff at a Minnesota jail of allowing her son to die.
Staff at the troubled Orleans Justice Center are also accused of violating Edward Patterson’s constitutional rights by failing to treat his drug addiction.
Alternative approaches to rehabilitation and healing still face resistance, even though the criminal legal system’s reliance on punishment has done little to move the needle on addressing sexual violence.
Tyler Kingkade Dec 10, 2019
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.
Lauren Gill Dec 09, 2019
The Supreme Court Ruled That Sentences Like Hers Are Unconstitutional. Prosecutors Are Fighting To Keep Her Incarcerated.
Prosecutor Jessica Cooper of Oakland County, Michigan, has aggressively pursued life without the possibility of parole for children, critics say. She recommended the sentence for Barbara Hernández, who at 16 was a ‘slave’ to an abusive boyfriend who drew her into a plan that ended in murder.
Harris’s record as a prosecutor was representative of a politics of the past. The nation has moved on.
In California, a prison program run by people once sentenced to life shows how even the most serious offenders are more than the worst things they’ve done.
The poor healthcare that Bobbie Jean Johnson received during her more than 40 years in prison contributed to her death, family members say.
Roxanna Asgarian Nov 25, 2019
Alameda County Sheriff, Aramark Are Forcing Prisoners Into ‘Involuntary Servitude,’ New Lawsuit Says
Some pretrial prisoners and immigration detainees are forced to work without pay in violation of the 13th Amendment, according to attorneys.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg Nov 21, 2019
What Does Death By Incarceration Look Like In Pennsylvania? These Elderly, Disabled Men Housed In A State Prison.
More than 5,400 people in the state are sentenced to life without parole. This month, The Appeal went inside one prison that helps provide end-of-life care for men.
A report from an advocacy group says that deaths in the state’s jails have soared— and that 2019 could set a record for suicides.
Zachary A. Siegel Nov 19, 2019
People held in courthouse cells were shackled for up to 15 hours a day, and some were unable to eat, change menstrual pads, or use the bathroom, advocates say.
The Appeal spoke with the lawmaker about her “entirely new blueprint for a just society.”
Biden believes that the jury is still out on the question of whether marijuana is a gateway to other illicit substances. But the truth is that it is not—and this has long been a matter of settled science.
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.
Under the proposal, localities would be incentivized to significantly decrease prison populations.
Kira Lerner Nov 14, 2019
Two bills, awaiting Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature, would help reduce the punitive impact of the child welfare system on kids and their families, including formerly incarcerated parents.
A claimed victory in Kentucky and wins in Virginia mean hundreds of thousands of people could have their right to vote restored.
Earlier this year, Danville prison removed about 200 books, many of which dealt with race issues. But the new rules don’t go far enough, says one advocate.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg Nov 04, 2019
More than three years after heavy rains and flooding devastated the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women, officials have reached an agreement to build a new facility.
Lauren Gill Oct 29, 2019
State law must change to stop judges from using jail time to force the poor into paying penalties they can’t afford, says one advocacy group.
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."
Aaron Morrison Oct 26, 2019
Prosecutors can help implement policies that are better for families and communities.
A Prisoner Review Board memo released in July requires a minimum of 12 hours of movement with ankle monitors, but some people say they’re still being given far less.
Kira Lerner Oct 18, 2019
Christopher Lay grew up under the influence of a father who was mentally ill. Drawn into a crime at age 19, he’s now seeking a second chance that could help other young adults demand the same.
Sheriff Sid Gautreaux faces two Democratic challengers in the Oct. 12 election.
Teresa Mathew Oct 09, 2019
Tondalao Hall has served 15 years for allegedly ‘failing to protect’ her kids from their father’s violence. A parole board will now decide if that’s enough.
Increasing the city’s jail capacity will lead to higher incarceration rates, advocates say.
As the presidential election approaches, reformers should focus on the Prison Litigation Reform Act, which restricts the ability of incarcerated people to protest their conditions of confinement.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections Agrees to Move ‘Qualifying’ Death Row Prisoners Out of Tomblike Unit
Some death row prisoners will be moved to another unit with access to direct sunlight, fenced-in recreation, and contact visits, department says.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg Sep 28, 2019
This month, nine people received commutations from life sentences, and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman is calling for changes to the commutations process to give more people second chances.
Joshua Vaughn Sep 27, 2019
In April, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that his execution, which experts have said will be bloody and gruesome, does not amount to cruel and unusual punishment. But problems with his case started long before that, his attorneys say.
Young people convicted as adults face a ‘life sentence’ of registry restrictions, attorneys say.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg Sep 19, 2019
Nearly half of all arrests in the state are drug or alcohol related, compared to just 29 percent nationally.
Richard Rivera served more than 38 years in prison after killing an off-duty NYPD officer during a botched armed robbery. He was released in July after being denied parole five times.
Aaron Morrison Sep 16, 2019
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.
A Pittsburgh public radio piece lacked critical reporting about the many problems with jailing children in adult facilities.
The parole board failed to comply with a new law about notifying victims, the board’s director said.
Lauren Gill Sep 12, 2019
The city comptroller, state lawmakers, and advocates call on the state to end its use of fines and fees in the legal system.
Raven Rakia Sep 11, 2019
Thousands Are Serving Life Without Parole Sentences in Pennsylvania. A Board Of Pardons Hearing Might Begin To Change That.
People seeking commutations from life sentences encounter a steep hurdle in the state’s board of pardons. The board will convene on Sept. 13 to review more than 20 cases.
California is one of only six states that allow staff in juvenile facilities to carry pepper spray. But LA’s coming ban is still facing pushback.
Charlotte West Sep 10, 2019
In a rare move, a federal court vacated Anastazia Schmid’s murder conviction, saying she’d received ineffective assistance of counsel and had been mentally unfit to stand trial. But Schmid, who’d spent 18 years in prison, remained locked up for three months more.
Victoria Law Sep 06, 2019
Advocates warn that overuse of ankle monitors and other forms of electronic monitoring produce consequences of their own.
Barred from other shelters, registrants were left with few options as the hurricane approached.
16-year-olds won’t have to reappear in adult criminal court if they’re arrested when youth court isn’t in session.
Lauren Gill Sep 03, 2019
How high or low bond is isn’t a measure of how severe the state considers a crime.
The 2020 presidential candidates recently unveiled national criminal justice agendas that reimagine public safety and punishment.
A lawsuit is challenging Mohave County’s practice of charging certain people for mandatory GPS monitoring before trial.
In 1998, prosecutors failed to tell the defense that a key witness in Toforest Johnson’s capital murder trial would receive thousands of dollars in reward money for her testimony, Johnson’s attorneys say. Now a Birmingham judge must decide whether their argument has merit.
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.
Corin Faife Aug 21, 2019
Assemblymember Jim Cooper is pushing to roll back changes that have successfully reduced incarceration.
In the wake of the Dayton shooting, Gov. Mike DeWine proposed creating more space in psychiatric hospitals by removing some people who are court-ordered to be there.
The same culture exists across the country, experts say—with devastating effects.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg Aug 12, 2019
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.
Black Lives Matter and other advocates have pushed county officials to abandon the $2.2 billion project with McCarthy Builders.
Lauren Gill Aug 08, 2019
In Cook County, Illinois, 99 percent of defendants deemed ‘high risk’ for pretrial violence don’t reoffend.
Richard Kinder thought he would die in an Alabama prison until the Supreme Court ruled mandatory juvenile life without parole unconstitutional. But last year, despite a judge concluding there was “uncontradicted evidence” that Kinder had worked to rehabilitate himself, the state parole board refused him release.
Gloria Williams was in her 20s when she was sent to prison for her part in a robbery that turned deadly. After serving nearly five decades, including one decade in solitary confinement, Williams now has a chance at freedom.
A new report shows that a progressive approach, like the one advanced by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, can help decrease jail populations—and crime.
Kira Lerner Aug 05, 2019
In 2016, Madison Jensen died from opiate withdrawal at the Duchesne County jail. New court filings allege that jail staff, including its nurse, ignored her rapidly deteriorating health.
Lauren Gill Aug 01, 2019
The carceral system fails to heal victims and perpetuates trauma by caging human beings. It‘s time to try something else.
Stefanie Mundhenk Jul 18, 2019
Since the state’s public safety realignment in 2011, sheriffs have used criminal legal reform as a scapegoat for their failure to maintain safe jails—and recent reporting has given county officials a free pass to make that excuse.
Jonathan Ben-Menachem Jul 16, 2019
Four transgender women say clinicians and staff deny them gender-affirming care and see their identity as in conflict with sex offender treatment.
Sessi Kuwabara Blanchard Jul 15, 2019
Outlets ran over 200 articles covering the vandalism. The outsize attention will likely damage young lives.
Adam H. Johnson Jul 11, 2019
Advocates say Anthony Aceves’s death conforms with long-standing issues in the second-largest jail system in California.
Raven Rakia Jul 10, 2019
A company in Cleveland County exemplifies how for-profit legal services affect poor and vulnerable individuals.
Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler’s office, which partners with immigration enforcement, faces jail deaths and a discrimination claim from a Legal Aid attorney.
Lauren Gill Jun 18, 2019
Though little is known about how Layleen Polanco died, advocates say her story highlights New York City’s flawed approach to criminal justice.
Raven Rakia Jun 12, 2019
Right now, only the whitest states—Maine and Vermont—allow prisoners to vote. Washington, D.C., could change that.
As the Hampton Roads Regional Jail proposes spending $7 million for 113 new guards, advocates renew calls for officials to improve conditions—and an Appeal analysis suggests that the jail could save millions by incarcerating fewer people with mental illness.
Many jurisdictions across the country use video instead of holding bail hearings in person, a practice that often leads to dire consequences.
Court challenges and a sweeping reform bill are offering hope to men trapped in isolation for decades.
Joshua Manson Jun 03, 2019
Since 2017, LaToni Daniel has been incarcerated pretrial in a capital murder case. During that time, Daniel became pregnant, and she just delivered a baby boy. But as she brings in new life, she also faces the death penalty.
Lauren Gill May 31, 2019
Aylaliya Birru has served over four years in a California prison for assaulting her husband, who she said was physically abusive. A pardon from Governor Gavin Newsom is her last hope to stay in the U.S.
Aaron Morrison May 29, 2019
A new court order allows the family’s lawsuit to proceed, and may lead to holding jail staff accountable.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg May 28, 2019
Despite accounting for less than 12 percent of the state’s adult population, roughly 40 percent of all bail bonds were issued in cases involving a Black defendant.
Joshua Vaughn May 22, 2019
The DeKalb County Jail, now at the center of protests, has a long history of problems and a legacy of housing people for unpaid fines.
Raven Rakia May 21, 2019
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.
At least two people have killed themselves in jail after waiting for more than a week to be appointed a lawyer.
Mario Koran May 20, 2019
A civil rights lawsuit claims officers pepper sprayed him, stripped him naked, and then surrounded him and beat him to death.
Kira Lerner May 17, 2019
A number of people spent multiple days at the Atlanta City Detention Center for low-level offenses, including for driving while using a cell phone and for walking in the roadway.
Aaron Morrison May 16, 2019
A newly amended class-action lawsuit accuses the Cuyahoga County jail of neglect and mistreatment.
Raven Rakia May 14, 2019
The bail bonds industry was caught overcharging 50,000 families $6 million over 14 years, according to SPLC.
Bryce Covert May 08, 2019
A new lawsuit, filed against the Virginia Department of Corrections, says prisoners are kept in isolation for frivolous reasons and prevented from rejoining the general population.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg May 06, 2019
‘Worst policy imaginable’ punishes, rather than treats, patients who earn less than a dollar an hour, advocates say.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg May 03, 2019
Sierra Castle alleges she faced discrimination and harassment after being placed in a men’s holding cell in the Cobb County, Georgia, jail.
Raven Rakia Apr 30, 2019
A wave of hunger strikes hit Alabama prisons as DOJ released a report calling the facilities “unconstitutional.”
Raven Rakia Apr 25, 2019
Antonio May, a 32 year-old father of three, died in the Fulton County Jail in September after deputies pepper-sprayed and shot him with a Taser.
Women with mental illness are left in isolation and filth, and often placed in solitary confinement, according to a suit against the Fulton County sheriff.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg Apr 19, 2019
Adrianna Thurman said she was informed by jail staff after her release that she had ‘slipped through the cracks.’
Activists say the sheriff is trying to add jail beds under the guise of mental health treatment.
Raven Rakia Apr 15, 2019
The legislation is part of a wave of bills across the country meant to criminalize mistakes in the name of voter fraud.
Kira Lerner Apr 12, 2019
Cook County has a new contract for juvenile ankle monitors that critics say are an invasion of privacy.
Kira Lerner Apr 08, 2019
Richard Cannon was making gains after being released from prison. Then one arrest changed the course of his life.
Raven Rakia Apr 05, 2019
Low-income women are fueling bail industry profits—and getting harmed in the process.
Joshua Page Apr 04, 2019
Patrick Murphy didn’t even learn about the murder until later that day. A controversial law allows him to be executed anyway.
Katie Rose Quandt Mar 28, 2019
Attorneys and advocates call for change in Madison County after the deaths of three Black people at its jail and because of what they allege is a system of roadblocks targeting Black residents.
Aaron Morrison Mar 27, 2019
Lawmakers are redefining certain crimes in order to carve out broad exceptions to who can regain the right to vote.
Kira Lerner Mar 20, 2019
In the deep blue home of Beto O’Rourke, attorneys and advocates are questioning the county’s multi-million-dollar contract to detain migrants and refugees.
The Bureau of Prisons’ South Central regional director utilized incarcerated people from a Texas prison to work on a landscaping project at his church.
A judge excluded a confession that exonerated defendants in one trial related to a Delaware prison uprising, but a pair of defendants were nonetheless acquitted, promising further problems for prosecutors.
Ella Fassler Mar 05, 2019
There are more than 2,700 people on electronic monitoring in Cook County, Illinois, alone.
Kira Lerner Feb 28, 2019
Family members are frantic after 330 prisoners are transferred to Pennsylvania.
Raven Rakia Feb 27, 2019
A lawsuit challenging cash bail in St. Louis could help close a notorious jail.
Kira Lerner Feb 19, 2019
William J. Richards was cleared in the death of his wife. But he says he was the victim of medical neglect while he was behind bars, which led to a cancer diagnosis becoming terminal. Now he's suing.
Corcoran state prison has a history of abuse that includes forcing prisoners into ‘gladiator fights.’
Raven Rakia Feb 15, 2019
Advocates say Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern is an odd fit for the Bay Area, but mounting a challenge has proved daunting.
Kyle C. Barry Feb 14, 2019
Defense attorneys say they were unaware of the practice and are unclear on how they can expunge the data of nonconvicted clients.
Colorado-based attorney and bail activist Elisabeth Epps was just released after serving a short jail stint related to a 2015 encounter with Aurora Police. The experience gave her a new understanding of the experiences of the people she has bailed out.
The company recently lost its contract with Arizona after allegations of serious—and sometimes fatal—medical neglect that have echoes across the country.
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg Feb 08, 2019
Lawmakers are debating whether to let people with felony convictions vote—but there could be a catch.
Kira Lerner Feb 07, 2019
The technology also allows authorities to mine call databases and cross-reference the voices of individuals prisoners have spoken with.
The state uses solitary at one of the highest rates in the nation.
Kira Lerner Jan 29, 2019
One commissioner wants the state Department of Corrections to show proof that his county isn’t just using prisoners as ‘slaves.’
Elizabeth Weill-Greenberg Jan 28, 2019
As Kamala Harris begins her presidential run, her move to block gender affirming surgery for an incarcerated transgender woman deserves scrutiny, especially as new cases highlighting the struggle for the rights of imprisoned trans women emerge.
Federal defenders say the shutdown is hurting poor people stuck in jail.
Kira Lerner Jan 24, 2019
Los Angeles County’s jail system incarcerates tens of thousands of people at a multi-billion dollar cost. The communities most impacted by mass incarceration have had enough.
As they wait for permission to cross into the U.S., migrants, including children and infants, sleep on concrete and under plastic tarps, exposing them to cold, wind, rain, and illness.
Debbie Nathan Jan 17, 2019
The miniseries depicting a New York prison escape fails to show what happened to the men left behind.
Katie Rose Quandt Jan 10, 2019
Prosecutors denounce bail reform efforts when people miss court dates, but ‘failure to appear’ rates obscure the fact that many who miss court aren’t on the run.
Prisoners in the state’s Regional Medical Units allege that they are being denied access to essential programs and services like law libraries.
Keri Blakinger Jan 08, 2019
Reports detail suicides and care for one woman that was ‘so grossly incompetent and inadequate as to shock the conscience.’
Raina Lipsitz Jan 07, 2019
The Boyd County Detention Center has been consumed in chaos, even as the DOJ investigates it. Now, the community is pinning hopes for reform on a new jailer.
Zachary A. Siegel Jan 02, 2019
But more than 1,100 others are still serving sentences that voters decided were too harsh.
Kira Lerner Dec 19, 2018