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Prisoner Education Guide

Return from darkness, a road without a path. Lessons on humane and effective punishment from the Nordic Countries

by Pablo Sartorio* 

As a society, our decision to heap shame and contempt upon those who struggle and fail in a system designed to keep them locked up and locked out says far more about ourselves than it does about them.”

― Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Keywords: Incarceration, for profit, rehabilitation, recidivism, open prison

Introduction

As a defense attorney, it is not often I get the chance to represent someone I admire as much as Matthew Ripley. Matthew is one of our heroes in the Armed Forces who is part of a group that is less than 0.5 percent of Americans, volunteered to go overseas multiple times, defended our freedom and our way of life, so we can live comfortably stateside. Like me, Matthew signed that dotted line of a blank check payable to the United States Government up to his life. But unlike him, I have not gone through the traumatic experiences that Matthew has. This article focuses on how I was able to save Matthew’s life with compassion and wholeheartedly believing that nothing was to gain by sending him to prison for the rest of his life. Through that journey, I analyze the prison system in the United States and compare it with the Nordic countries, which incarceration system has become the gold standard across the globe. This experience and research have awaken a call to bring about change through research and investigation.

The United States of America (U.S.) still is a leading nation in the world when it comes to entrepreneurship and technological innovation. We lead the world in opportunities for social mobility, greater social equality, and have gone further than any other society in establishing equality of rights, at least in theory. The U.S. provides a good life for the ordinary person with the promise that if you work hard, you can achieve a piece of the American dream. Anything is possible, and you are only limited by your imagination. In the U.S., the sky is the limit. There is, however, one area where the beacon of freedom has not shined its light through, and that is when it comes to citizens paying their debts to society. This paper discusses a comparison between incarceration in the U.S., with the largest prison population in the world, and the Nordic countries (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Finland), what is the motivation behind such high incarceration numbers in the U.S., the vicious circle between for-profit prisons, bail system, and add-on features of being accused of a criminal offense in the U.S. making the judicial system revolving door with frequent repeated customers. Subsequently, the paper takes a close look at the incarceration in the Nordic countries by contrast, which is leading the world with the lowest level of recidivism. Finally, the paper analyzes where the U.S. has been in terms of policy, the changes that are ahead and the factors that make it unlikely for Nordic countries inspired prison reform to occur in the U.S.

The U.S. is the largest incarcerator worldwide. The U.S. has approximately 5% of the world’s population, yet nearly 25% of the world’s prisoners.[1] There are an estimated 1,574,700 inmates in state and federal prisons, according to 2013 figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The U.S. prison population has quadrupled since 1980 and keeping more than 2 million Americans behind bars costs taxpayers some $80 billion a year.[2] The massive U.S. prison population has started to fall in recent years, with violent crime at historic lows.[3] Despite this, the number of inmates locked up for life is at an all-time high, according to a new report by the Sentencing Project.[4] One in seven prisoners in the U.S. is serving an actual or de-facto life term and they account for nearly a third of all life prisoners around the world.[5] That’s more than 160,000 out of an estimated 536,000 worldwide.[6] A perhaps even more striking data point is the rate at which the U.S. sentences people to life—50 out of 100,000 people in the overall population—is nearly equivalent to the incarceration rates for all crimes in Denmark, Sweden, and Finland combined.[7] The new report from the Sentencing Project adds a category to the way life-sentence statistics are usually reported. In addition to life sentences with parole and without parole, they added the “virtual” life sentence, which refers to “a term of imprisonment that a person is unlikely to survive if carried out in full.”[8] Among those, a whopping 17,000 are serving life for non-violent crimes.

Prison in the U.S. is designed to separate, isolate, and alienate wrongdoers from everyone and everything. They are not allowed to do so much as touch their spouse, parents, nor their children. The system does everything within its power to sever any physical or emotional links they have with anyone in the outside world. The system wants their children to grow up without ever knowing them. The system wants their spouse to forget their faces and start a new life. The system wants them to sit alone, grieving, in a concrete box, unable even to say their last farewell at a parent's funeral.[9] Prison is designed to highlight punishment with the underlying premise that the more wrongdoers suffer, the less they would want to do something that makes them come back.

Beginning the Journey

The explosive growth of the U.S. jail and prison population since the 1970s is the inevitable consequence of more than four decades of “tough-on-crime” policies.[10] Since the mid-1970s, state and federal legislators have passed laws creating draconian sentencing and parole schemes designed to keep ever-increasing numbers of people in prison for decades. These policies include mandatory minimum sentencing, which forces judges to issue severe sentences regardless of individual factors meriting leniency or whether such imposed sentences are fair and proportionate to the offense and the offender’s circumstances, and three-strikes laws, which expand the number of crimes subject to life and life-without-parole sentences. These policies have increased the number of people imprisoned and the lengths of their imprisonments, as well as limited opportunities for release, causing the population of federal and state prisoners to soar.

Law-makers assumed longer sentences were necessary to promote public safety, rather than drawing on empirical evidence to determine how best to protect the public. They have not only increased the length of sentences applicable to crimes, but also the amount of time served by reducing or eliminating parole. The results are well known: The U.S. has the largest reported incarcerated population in the world, and by far the highest rate of imprisonment.[11] Between 1979 and 2009, the number of prisoners in state and federal facilities increased almost 430 percent.[12] In 2012, almost half a million (444,591) men and women entered state and federal prisons with new convictions.[13]

In addition, in 1984, Congress created the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which established federal Sentencing Guidelines that apply in all federal cases and was intended to reduce sentencing disparities. The guidelines, however, set harsh mandatory sentences that lengthened prison times for a range of crimes and eliminated judicial discretion to craft individualized sentences. Although the mandatory nature of the guidelines was found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Booker in 2005, federal judges must continue to use them to guide their sentencing decisions.[14] Moreover, Booker is not retroactive, which means that there are thousands of federal offenders sentenced before 2005 still serving mandatory prison sentences handed out under the mandatory guidelines—even in cases where the sentencing judge objected to the mandatory sentence required at the time. In addition, Booker did not change any mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

Many states have enacted similar laws that set long mandatory sentences for many nonviolent offenses, particularly those involving drugs.[15] A handful of states have even instituted mandatory life without parole sentences for certain drug offenses. For example, in Alabama, a conviction for selling more than 56 grams of heroin results in a mandatory life-without-parole sentence.[16] Similarly, a person convicted of selling two ounces of cocaine in Mississippi must receive life without parole.[17]

Most of the rest of the world is not doing much better. According to recent statistics, more than 10.2 million people around the world are deprived of their liberty,[18] about 3 million of whom are awaiting trial.[19] Data further suggest that the number of prisoners exceeds official prison capacity in at least 114 countries and that prisons in 92 of these countries hold between 100 and 200 percent of their capacity, while 22 hold over double, even triple or nearly quadruple their capacity.[20] The levels of overcrowding in places of deprivation of liberty around the world have been described as endemic,[21] alarming,[22] extreme,[23] chronic[24] and outrageous,[25] and are said to be an indicator of, and contributor to, the global prison crisis.[26] While the overuse of imprisonment is a problem of endemic proportions around the world, the human rights violations associated with this practice are particularly egregious in the context of the U.S. Indeed, the U.S. incarcerates more people—in absolute numbers and per capita—than any nation in the world, including the far more populous China, which rates second, and Russia, which rates third.[27] Two factors primarily determine the number of people in prison: the number of admissions and the length of stay, meaning the amount of time a person spends incarcerated.[28] When these numbers rise, the number of people behind bars increases.

The “land of the free” (how Americans call the U.S.) has become a country of prisons.[29] Although there are several aspects that we could consider to attempt to understand the situation above such as the glaring racial disparity in the US prison population,[30] the unnecessarily harsh penalties imposed against people whose only crime is to cross the border illegally,[31] or minor drug dealers also make up a disproportionate number of incarcerated citizens,[32] we should shine a light to an alternative answer to a question that is both simple and complex… Why?

As a public defender, we do not get to pick our clients, but I strongly believe that the right client happens to land on our hands to get the needed help. After receiving a call from the State’s Attorney urging me to take over one of the cases that a soon-to-retire attorney in my office was handling, I thought about the unusual request but decided to look into it. When I learned that Matthew Ripley was an Airman in trouble, I did not need to know more and took the case over on the spot. It is a sort of “je ne sais quoi” what is to blame for what I sensed and that it has always served me well. I devoted entirely to get to know Matthew, as to be able to fight for someone and speak with conviction one, must know, understand and feel what is like to be that person with no shortcuts.

Matthew Ripley’s Story

Matthew’s parents, Fred and Barbara, were married in 1975 and worked to put themselves through college. When Barbara was graduating from Bradley University (Peoria, IL) in December 1981, they became pregnant. They were ecstatic to bring into the world their son, Matthew Fred Ripley, on August 19, 1982. Since Barbara was a stay at home mom he had her undivided attention. As a 3-year old, Matthew was always very excited when he heard fire trucks coming down the street and at a safe distance Barbara would let him watch the fire trucks go by. Matthew also loved water and when Matthew was in 2nd grade he joined the swim team in Illinois. After the family moved to Texas in 1990, he continued swimming for the LaPorte Dogfish team and the LaPorte High School swim team until the end of his Freshman year in high school. From the Fall of 1990 through the Spring of 1992, Matthew was in a Cub Scout troop in which he enjoyed the outings and the Derby cart races. The Summer between 7th and 8th grade, Matthew joined the Sea Scouts and he spent three (3) years learning how to sail and participated in sailing races. Matthew enjoyed golfing with one of his close friends at their local golf course.

In December of 1995, Matthew was no longer an only child as his sister, Laura, was born. Matthew was kind and tender towards her and he would give her a bottle if needed. As Laura got older, they became much closer because she could join activities like throwing frisbees, swimming at the community pool, blowing bubbles, and trips to the park. After Matthew got his driver's license in 1998, he would take Laura to Sonic where they would have cherry limeades and tater tots. He loved teaching Laura new things like how to roller blade and one of his sister's favorite things was when her big "Bubba", as she liked to call him, would burn her a new CD with all of the newest cool songs. 

Military Service & Life

Since his father, Fred, had been in the U.S. Air Force as an Aircraft Firefighter in the early 1970's, Matthew decided to look into getting police training through the U.S. Air Force, so he would have cross training for either police or fire when he would return to Houston, TX. The family had numerous talks during 2002 about his enlistment. Fred and Barbara were both proud and very apprehensive as any parent would be sending their son to war.

Matthew enlisted in the U.S. Air Force through the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) in June 2002 as part of Security Forces Law Enforcement, but since there were no jobs available under that classification, Matthew began his enlistment through DEP in order to give some time for something to open up. Fred and Barbara were so proud to be at all of his various ceremonies as Matthew completed his training. Matthew attended basic training in January 2003. In June 2003, he was transferred to the 341st Security Forces Squadron (AFSPC) at Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, MT, where he received additional training in nuclear weapons protection and excelled in his advancements. That winter, the family flew to Great Falls where Matthew's grandparents also joined them to celebrate Christmas. The next summer Fred and Barbara drove to Great Falls for the 4th of July celebration. In July 2005, Matthew was accepted for training to become a K-9 Military Working Dog Handler. He became the top graduate of his class and was honored in a ceremony that Fred and Barbara attended at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) in Texas.

He was transferred to the 12th Security Forces Squadron (AETC) at Randolph AFB in San Antonio, TX, and was eventually given a Military Work Dog named Harry, a brown and black German Sheppard. Matthew did two tours with the Air Force. The first one was from January 2008 until July 2008; he went to Kuwait and Iraq with Harry, an explosive, detection and patrol working dog. A normal day for Matthew would begin at midnight, working 12-hour shifts and long hours, which is characteristic of deployment, searching vehicles coming into the compound and performing active patrol around the base. Matthew received two assignments when he was in Kuwait; the Kuwait main base and the Kuwait City International Airport (KCIA). The platoon split between the two and in this instance, Matthew was riding with other airmen in an unmarked car towards the airport. A vehicle pulled up next to them and Matthew’s vehicle began taking fire, “It happened so fast that we didn’t get the chance to return fire, but the driver instead sped up to safety.

Matthew’s favorite dog was Harry. “We spent a lot of time and went through a lot together.”, Matthew remembers with great nostalgia. Going through pre-deployment training in Las Vegas, Harry’s kidney shut down and Matthew had to take him to an emergency clinic. Matthew watched over him as he recovered, and they were able to deploy together to Kuwait. After they returned from Kuwait, Harry was passed to a different handler while Matthew went to Alaska. That handler adopted Harry and spent a great amount of time fishing and just enjoying retirement life. Matthew kept in contact with Harry’s new owner and he learned that Harry had passed. Matthew explained that “all dogs stay at one base for their entire career and they do change handlers during that time”. The ten (10) years that Matthew spent with the canine military police, he had six (6) different dogs. Harry was special because his personality matched Matthew’s. He could be docile when he needed to be but also on alert when the situation required it. They grew up together.

In August 2008, Matthew returned from this assignment and was able to visit his family. At that time, his family noticed some changes in Matthew’s behavior, such as being uncomfortable in large crowds and sensitive to noise levels in large crowds. Matthew never shared with his family the specifics of his deployment or what he may have seen during his deployment. Matthew realized that the deployment life had affected him around 2009, after returning from Kuwait because he experienced being hypervigilant. Matthew was always looking around and being overly self-aware of his surroundings, individuals, and thinking about points of entry/exit. However, he was well aware that in the Armed Forces, any inclination or suspicion of one’s mental health being affected (by either struggling or a medical diagnosis) could negatively affect one’s career by losing a security clearance or simply discharge if there was a thought that one could represent a threat to the mission, other service members, or him/herself. Matthew’s life was being in uniform and he knew better not to do/say anything that would jeopardize being able to do what he loved. The silence was a friend, but also a demon at times.

Upon returning, Matthew received orders to go to Alaska from January 2009 until 2013 to join the 354th Security Forces Squadron (PACAF). During that time and more specifically, in 2012, Matthew deployed to Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn, accompanied by Brumie (an explosive detection dog). Their work consisted in looking for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and patrolling while conducting anti-terrorism missions. Working these missions was stressful, but Matthew recalls, “The danger was always in the back of my mind often, but I would focus on the mission and try not to think about it because if I allow myself to be distracted, then I would miss the change of behavior in my dog which would happen in response to an explosive and possibly jeopardizes my life or the lives of my team.” Once again, Matthew didn't share with his family his experiences while being deployed. During his overseas tours, due to security reasons, his family never knew where Matthew was. When his family saw him next in May of 2013, for his sister's high school graduation, he was quieter, more reserved and not as demonstrative as before. When the family went out to eat he was constantly looking around him, especially at entry/exit points and Matthew seemed relieved when returning home from an outing.

When he returned back stateside, he eventually was assigned tours with the U.S. Secret Service and his Military Work Dog. The Secret Service would come to the Kennel Master and ask for their best dog/trainer team for Presidential details. Matthew was hand-picked at least twice for being an outstanding Airman and the most qualified for the assignment. His commander at the time was Major (Ret.) Jonathan Roberts. Matthew’s assignments came out of Randolph AFB, for both President Obama and President Bush. Matthew was tasked to accompany President Bush to evaluate the disaster shortly after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Gustav in New Orleans (October 2008). In addition, Matthew was assigned to assist in a commencement address President Bush gave at Texas A&M University, in College Station (December 2008).   Again, Matthew was hand-picked to assist with President Obama’s inauguration in January 2009. Matthew and Harry were assigned with the Secret Service in St. Paul, MN, at Union Square for President Obama's speech on February 26, 2014. On June 13, 2014, in Bismarck, ND, Matthew was assigned to assist Secret Service during President Obama's speech at the Indian Reservation. Major Roberts describes in great detail not only the amount of pressure individuals as Matthew, “Max” for short, undergo as part of their assignment, but also how Matthew performed, his credentials and ranked among his peers.[33] Major Roberts also refers to Phillip as an “all-star Airman” and provides an insight from being in close interactions with him.[34]The actions taken by Max, that landed him in Jail, are not consistent with Max I knew prior to the car accident.[35]

Matthew’s military life was not only characterized by deployments and hardship, but by moments of glory. During Matthew’s 12 years in the Air Force, he was awarded various medals and/or commendations. In some cases, he received one award multiple times, such as the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, which he received three (3) times, the Air Force Good Conduct Medal, which he received two (2) times, and the Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with Gold Border, which he also received two (2) times. Matthew’s performance and character were also showcased during Enlisted Performance Reports from 2003 to 2012. During that period, Matthew was evaluated (rated) by different supervisors and the following words are peppered throughout his career: excellent performer, sets an example for others, promote now, trustworthy, positive guidance to teens in community programs, always looking to excel, solid work ethic, volunteered for any/every task, truly among the best, guest speaker at Randolph high school, highly motivated Airman, unlimited potential, absolutely superior in all areas, surpasses all standards and provides mentorship to younger troops.[36] It is not a surprise, at least to me, that these words more accurately represent who Matthew Ripley is. Officers in the Armed Forces, would rarely write a letter of recommendation for anyone and the fact that Major Roberts took it upon himself to do so even after the recent events shows that Matthew is not only one of those rare cases, but also such an outstanding Airman that he has earned the respect of one of his leaders so much that Major Roberts felt compelled to write a letter which is unheard of when soldiers are in any sort of trouble.

On March 14, 2014, Matthew married Anna Brownstone and life seemed very promising for the two of them. Matthew made the decision to leave the military as active duty and take a job with the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe railroad. Matthew wanted to stay in the military as a reservist. Matthew began training with the railroad on November 17, 2014. During his three (3) weeks of training, Matthew was enjoying learning about his new career and doing very well in training. Matthew was honorably discharged after completing his enlistment on December 3, 2014. Matthew was scheduled to be sworn into the North Dakota Air National Guard Unit in Fargo as a military working dog handler on December 12, 2014. Due to his car accident, he never made that meeting.

The Accident

December 7, 2014, is a date that Matthew nor anyone who knows and loves him will never forget. He was traveling from Minneapolis, MN, to Minot, ND, on I-94, when near Valley City, ND, he hit black ice and lost control of the vehicle rolling it over. Matthew was wearing his seat belt and was not ejected from the vehicle, however, life as he knew it was over. He was airlifted from the accident site given the gravity of the injuries. As a result of this accident, Matthew suffered a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), cervical spinal and T-spine injury, pulmonary contusion, significant left arm injury (hand and thumb fracture with left biceps rupture), as well as the left humerus, sternal, and first rib fractures.[37]

Matthew’s neurologist, Dr. Michael Manchak, recommended he be transferred to an intensive accredited brain injury specialized program for ongoing recovery (specifically the Bethesda Medical Center Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit in St. Paul, Minnesota).[38] Unfortunately, his insurance company, United Health Care, would only approve discharge to a local skilled nursing facility.[39] The family appealed this decision as the patient is young and would definitely benefit from an Acute Rehabilitation Hospital program specializing in TBl, but to no avail.[40] His brain injury was minimally treated by Sanford Medical Rehabilitation Center in Fargo. This center freely admitted that they had no experience in dealing with this kind of brain trauma. Matthew was in a coma at the Sanford Medical Center Fargo’s intensive care unit for sixteen (16) days. His wife, Anna, stayed with Matthew every night in the hospital.[41] A CT scan of the brain revealed generalized loss of gray/white matter interface which is indicative of diffuse axonal injury.[42]

After numerous surgeries and substantial therapy and rehabilitation which included: physical, speech, and occupational therapy for three (3) hours a day, five (5) to six (6) days a week, Matthew was discharged from the hospital.[43] Matthew was to return to the hospital to continue the needed therapeutic care, through the rehab unit. He was noted to need cues for sequencing and including all tasks. On January 16, 2015, Matthew displayed the first signs of depression due to TBI previously diagnosed and anxiety arising out of the uncertainty of his recovery.[44] Matthew also exhibited on this opportunity a moderate impairment characterized by decreased attention, memory, language and executive functions following TBI[45]. He was determined to require intensive inpatient rehabilitation services due to cognitive impairment (including speech) and difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) as well as 24-hour supervision.[46] By April, even Anna was noticing mild word-finding difficulties.[47] During this visit to the hospital, it was also noted that immediate auditory attention, a measure of vigilance and sustained attention were impaired.[48] Impairments were also shown in aspects of frontal lobe function to include information processing speed, working memory and verbal fluency.[49] Matthew was then diagnosed with cognitive disorder secondary to TBI.[50]

During 2015, Matthew’s progress was going fairly well physically, but his emotional state was precarious. In the back of Fred and Barbara’s minds was that the Houston area has VA centers and TIRR Memorial Hermann, which is a national leader in medical rehabilitation and research, where Matthew could be treated for his traumatic brain injuries. Anna could have transferred her job to Texas and when Matthew's treatment was complete, they would have been able to move back to Minot if they chose to do so.

Dr. Manchak’s insight into Matthew’s condition echoes what the facts have shown.   “From his discharge from the local physical medicine and rehabilitation Matthew’s condition has declined and he has been overcome by his cognitive and psychological deficits post TBI including depression, paranoia, and aggression. These are all known sequelae of TBI. Neurologically speaking, he is likely to continue to deteriorate and very likely to worsen without intensive treatment. This would include speech therapy for cognition/communication/dysphagia; physical therapy for remobilization and occupational therapy to gain autonomy in self-care skills, and psychotherapy for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and coping in general. The patient usually will require inpatient hospitalization for nursing to manage medication, pain, skin integrity, nutrition, safety, bowel, and bladder as well as coping and ongoing psychological assessment and treatment, grieving loss of previous lifestyle and job as well as other deficits that may now have developed in the interim of a year without intensive treatment.”[51]

The Aftermath & the Welcome to Serious Trouble

On January 1, 2016, Matthew’s wife, Anna, went to Walmart where she worked to return a key and speak with friends. Upon arriving home and finding that Anna was not there, he began texting her obsessively demanding she come home and accusing her of cheating. Growing increasingly agitated with time and realizing she was not returning, Matthew grew angry and showed up at Walmart to pick her up. On the ride home, Matthew was speeding and swerving while adjusting his gun located on his hip several times. Anna was terrified and did not want to get out of the car once they made it home. Matthew opened the door, pulled her by the wrist, and brought her in. Then, Matthew unholstered his gun and raised it towards Anna. She ran to the master bedroom and Matthew jumped on top of her on the bed. His hand was holding her by the neck as Matthew squeezed while staring into her eyes. With the other hand, he pulled his gun and put it against her head, finger on the trigger. Anna thought the end was near. However, she was able to push the gun away so if it went off, it would miss her head. A struggle ensued, Matthew kept yelling to stop touching his fucking gun, and the gun went off. Luckily, the bullet missed Anna’s head and lodged in the wall behind her. Anna recalled to authorities later that she remembers seeing a light, hearing the gun, and the bullet go right past her head. Anna truly believed that Matthew was going to kill her.

Matthew was taken into custody and charged with Terrorizing, Reckless Endangerment, and Aggravated Assault – Domestic Violence. All three were felonies. Matthew was in serious trouble with family thousands of miles away in Texas.

In the U.S., being in serious trouble is not the only thing that many behind bars have to worry about as incarceration has many features that make it even harder to pay your debt to society, if you have one, and return to society.

Add-ons to the U.S. “Justice” System

I.            For-profit bail industry, the money-making revolving door

In the U.S., corporate opportunists have hijacked public authority and created an unnecessary and largely unaccountable $2 billion bail industry that profits from trapping people both inside and out of jail, often for long after their charges with the courts have been resolved.[52] It may seem paradoxical to learn that bail—a process meant to guarantee freedom and fairness in the criminal justice system for people who have not been convicted of a crime—is being used by corporations in this way.[53]

The U.S. Constitution does not take denial of liberty lightly—people who have not been convicted of a crime generally have the right to go home to maintain jobs, pay their bills, take care of loved ones, and mount a defense while their case continues.[54] Yet on any given day, around 450,000 people remain detained across the country without having been convicted of a crime.[55] However, when a person is arrested, and booked into jail, a court will typically determine whether she/he is eligible for release while the case is in progress, and may set conditions under which the person can go home for the weeks, months or even years it may take for a case to wend its way through the court system.[56]

One increasingly common condition of release is the payment of money bail.[57] When a family cannot afford bail, they typically use a private bail-bond company, which often charges a fee of 10 percent of the bail amount (although the fee can be much higher).[58] Bond companies sometimes require individuals to put up property as collateral and often charge onerous additional fees.[59] The bond is a legal promise to pay the bail in full if the court declares the bond forfeited, which may be triggered for failure to appear.[60] Most bail bond agents are backed by a bail insurance corporation as “surety” which usually gets around 10 percent of the premium they charge, for underwriting.[61] Bail bond agents guarantee they will be responsible for any forfeitures, but they also typically pay another 10 percent into a “Build-Up Fund” that the insurer holds onto as a reserve to make sure that funds will be available.[62] In other words, although the accused are still innocent and it is the government’s burden to prove that they are guilty of the crime they are being accused of committing, the legal system together with the insurance companies crafted a way to make the accused pay for freedom.[63] Between bail agents and their insurance backers, the industry collects between $1.4 billion and $2.4 billion a year.[64] This practice is far from normal. Only the U.S. and the Philippines allow a for-profit bail industry.[65]

With “freedom” comes other obstacles. While there is a criminal investigation on its way to prove that the accused deserve to be behind bars permanently, there are other provisions or conditions, the court may impose upon them. From supervision requiring chemical dependency and/or psychological/psychiatric evaluations or treatment, maintain employment/education, restrictions on travel and associations, abstention from alcohol, curfew, home detention, to name a few, the odds are certainly against the accused. Many of these conditions come with hefty fees of their own.

The important thing to remember is that these people have not been convicted of a crime.[66] In fact, 70 percent of the people in jail have never been convicted of a crime, and most of the people in any county jail are not there because of how detrimental to society their alleged crimes were—it is simply because of how poor they are.[67] The statistics show that 90 percent of people in jail awaiting the resolution of a felony trial in 2009 were there because they could not afford bail.

This story usually does not have a happy ending for the accused or their family. If they fail to fulfill any of the conditions of release imposed upon them, not only the accused will find her/his way back behind bars, worsening her/his legal issue and in deeper economic trouble, but the court may impose a bigger bail to effectively keep the accused in. Detention behind bars for even short periods has been shown to have a long-lasting impact on individuals’ employment, financial, and family stability; increase the risk of re-arrest; and make it far more likely that individuals will be found guilty or pressured into pleading guilty and simply suffering the long-running consequences of convictions in order to be released.[68]

For those who pled guilty while innocent and were permitted to go home, the struggle will continue as they must now carry a criminal record that will be forever “stapled” to every job application they fill out, particularly if convicted of a felony or theft/fraud related-offense. Some will also have to pay the bail bondsman for any missteps during the ordeal. For those whose journey continues on the inside, the future is not any brighter as prisons have become not only a business but an incredibly lucrative one.

II.            Pulling the curtain, the Truth Behind For-Profit Prisons

The merits of for-profit prisons (private prisons) are often discussed with regard to differential costs, liability, level of oversight, staffing, and quality of physical plant construction.[69] The private prison industry is driven by a need created when the number of inmates exceeds the number of state-owned beds.[70] Simply, the public expects to be protected; if no state funds are available for prison construction, a market for private prisons exists, based upon the need for bed space at any given time.[71] Arguments can be made for and against the concept of private prisons.[72] However, as of this date, due to the lack of sufficient public beds, the choice is stark; approximately 2,797 Colorado felons can either be placed in private facilities, in out of state facilities or on the street.[73]  

Private prison operators are exempted from many governmental requirements with regard to purchasing and personnel management.[74] While constructing and activating private correctional facilities can benefit local communities and provide positive economic impact, conversely, accessing and hiring sufficient numbers of employees to staff such institutions can be challenging.[75] 

By January 2000, 28 states had authorized the use of private prisons, and only two states had prohibited their use.[76] This is a growing industry dedicated to making a profit from human merchandise by cutting the cost of food, medical care, services and programs; by understanding prisons with poorly trained, cheap labor; and by leasing prisoners as slave labor for corporate America.[77] Unfortunately, the public operated prisons have also resorted to similar cost-cutting measures as tax revenues diminish and the prison population grows.[78] The result, in both private and publicly operated prisons, is flagrant civil rights violations.[79] These violations flourish, in part, because very few of the justifiable claims are litigated for lack of counsel who must face the severe restrictions placed on litigation by the Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA)[80], enacted in 1996, which drastically limits the remedies for sentenced inmates.[81]

But why anyone would do that? The answer makes sense. The cost-cutting measures, cutting food, medical care, services, and programs, go hand in hand with an environment of chaos, to put it lightly. What officials were trying to protect against were lawsuits that involved serious life-threatening injuries for lack of medical care, including, for instance, a prisoner and a detainee, both of whom suffered a below the knee leg amputation; a lawsuit for a prisoner who was brutalized and left for dead in a prison riot; and a lawsuit against a private prison corporation on behalf of more than 200 prisoners who were also brutalized and injured in a prison riot. All of the lawsuits have had one thing in common—all resulted from prisons and jails cutting costs and attempting to profit from human merchandise.[82]

One example at the county level has been illustrated beautifully by one of the most active crusaders in prison reform in the U.S., Bill Trine. In a piece Mr. Trine wrote for The Warrior, he describes Moises Carranza-Reyes’s journey illegally immigrating from Mexico with his brother in hopes to reunite with family in Chicago and being detained by the U.S. Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) while traveling through Colorado. As result of Moises’s detention, he was transported to the Park County jail located in Fairplay, Colorado.[83]

From being placed in an overcrowded holding cell (made for 18 people, but with 49 occupants), having to sleep on a mattress surrounded by urine, feces, and phlegm, and with an increasing number of cellies to a whopping 61 (over three times its capacity), who were visibly ill with vomiting and diarrhea. This was just the beginning for Moises.

Within days, Moises became so ill and weak that his brother had to assist him, and his requests for medical attention were ignored, as were the requests of other detainees. Within one week of his confinement, he was near death and finally taken to a hospital with pneumonia and in septic shock. He went into cardiac and respiratory arrest. He was resuscitated, but because of the late treatment of his infectious disease, he developed a necrotic right lower lobe of one lung, suffered acute respiratory distress syndrome and acute renal failure. He was hospitalized for three months and his left lower leg was amputated due to gangrene.

So, why were 61 detainees packed into a pod designed for 18? Why were they denied medical attention? Because the county jail had decided to become a profit center for the county by increasing revenues and decreasing costs, and there was a profit to be made in housing ICE detainees until they could be deported. Turning a public facility into a profit center was the brainchild of a newly hired jail captain, Monte Gore. When hired in September 2000, the jail had only twelve inmates and was losing money.[84] Gore began soliciting prisoners from overcrowded counties charging $45 a day and mailing a brochure to other counties, inviting them to “house your prisoners in our ‘Park”[85] He also contracted with the ICE to house illegal immigrants.

Gore’s efforts to increase jail occupancy produced $900,000 in his first year of operation and $1.6 million his second year. He exceeded his projected $1.8 million in 2003, the year Moises lost his leg.[86] To further increase profits, this sparsely populated county of only 14,523 residents approved a $2 million jail expansion to increase occupancy by another 110 beds.[87] To promote jail expansions, Gore announced that there were hidden benefits to the county: “Inmates at the jail have provided over 4,000 hours of free labor within the community. They have helped remodel the Fairplay town hall, worked in the county maintenance department, supplied help for the U.S. Forest Service at the ranger station and worked to maintain trails and repair fences, as well as providing labor for the fire department and senior services.”[88]

Upon completion of the jail’s new addition, which increased capacity to 260 inmates, Park County announced that in charging other counties to hold their prisoners, Park County can pay all expenses and still make $1.5 million in annual profit.[89] Gore proudly boasted that “I don’t think there is another jail in the country that is offsetting costs like we do.”[90] Further, “The County can use that money to build a bridge or give raises to county employees.”[91] The Denver Post staff writer who interviewed Gore states that Gore was so eager to win business from other counties that he offered an inducement that has the ring of a sales gimmick: “Send your inmates to our jail,” he tells them, “and we’ll buy them for free.”[92]

So, Moises lost a leg to satisfy the County’s lust for profits. And what happened to the remaining sick detainees? Two days after Moises was hospitalized ICE arranged to have them transported elsewhere. Many were still sick and without medical care when they were deported. Moises brother was released in order to be with him at the hospital.

The harm to the detainees at the Park County jail is just a microcosm of the harm inflicted on inmates by the private prison industry in the quest for ever-increasing profits, particularly when the profit-induced prison conditions result in full-blown prison riots—riots which too often harm hundreds of innocent-victim inmates.[93]

The question is: are we really safer with longer sentences and harsher punishment? Research finds that more incarceration has, at best, only a small effect on crime because our incarceration rate is already so high.[94] As the prison population gets larger, the additional prisoner is more likely to be a less risky, nonviolent offender, and the value of incarcerating him (or, less likely, her) is low.[95] Other studies have found that sentencing enhancements have only modest effects on crime.[96] A new study finds that each additional year of incarceration increases the likelihood of re-offending by four to seven percentage points after release.[97] The bottom line is that the putative benefits of more incarceration or longer sentences are actual costs.[98] The cost to have been behind bars is not only limited to the “price tag” of maintaining an inmate incarcerated. The annual cost of imprisoning one person averages approximately $30,000 for adults and $110,000 for juveniles.[99] Time as an inmate represents besides losing of one’s freedom, prolonged absences from family leading to strained relationships at home, also trying to rebuild a life with a criminal record label acting as an obstacle to employment, social interactions, mental health issues, licensing restrictions, and many more mountains to climb.

One thing that has proven to be a major psychological and economic problem for those currently serving prison time, is to maintain contact with loved ones by any means possible. Although in this era, written letters are, for the most part, a thing of the past, many incarcerated rely on them as a method of communication. More instantly gratifying is to be able to make a phone call. However, from the high cost of phone calls to the frustration of having such calls cut off mid-conversation without the possibility of redialing, calling those who are left on the outside, suffering their own prison sentences is not usually taken into account when considering the current prison consequence’s “big picture”. In reality, the industry behind this key service is part of the for-profit empire behind for-profit incarceration. Given that in some cases every telephone call cost approximately $15 or more per time, for a prisoner, the choice is to whether keep in contact with loved ones to motivate their life on the inside or put more of a burden on them by being a drain to their financial resources.

In 2013 and then again in 2015, President Barack Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the body that regulates the prison phone industry, moved to alleviate the burden of the impossible choices for prisoners.[100] After activists waged a decades-long campaign to lower prison call rates, the FCC voted to cap the costs varying from 14 to 49 cents per minute and were set to decrease even further to 11 to 22 cents per minute on July 1, 2018.[101] It was a huge victory that would set rates low enough for incarcerated people and their families to speak regularly without facing huge financial burdens.[102] Different facilities maintained different rates, but no incarcerated person, under Obama’s new rules, would be paying more than 49 cents per minute for a call to someone in the same state where their prison was located.[103]

On June 13, 2017, much of that progress was undone when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled against limiting the cost of intrastate prison phone calls, signaling that regulatory efforts to resolve the financial exploitation of prisoners and their families by the FCC have not proven to be very effective in addition to being long-running.[104] Why the reversal? The commissioners who had voted in favor of caps on prison phone rates under Obama are gone, and Ajit Pai, who had voted against the 2013 FCC proposal to cap rates, was designated the commission chairperson by President Donald Trump.[105] As proven after just over his first year in office, one if Trump’s biggest mandates has been to blanket undo Obama’s policies.

There is no doubt the prison system in the U.S. is a money-making machine, which is being kept well-oiled and greased up mainly by those who stand to benefit from it. After decades of bipartisan consensus on criminal justice policy, there are some signs that the federal government thinks that the highly punitive system of mass incarceration seems to have gotten out of hand, and some states are making gestures toward making prisons less crowded. But in order to understand how best to fix these problems, one must look beyond policy tweaks and consider the underlying moral philosophy that explains why a society sends people to prison in the manner that they do. In the U.S., that philosophy is one of inflicting punishment and pain.[106]

In an ideal world, those who break the law and pay their debt to society should be able to reintegrate smoothly with lessons learned and carry on while being productive and law-abiding citizens. However, the world is not ideal in most places, but there are hope and a light at the end of the tunnel in places where we can learn a thing or two about punishment with compassion. 

Compassion as a secret weapon with a little bit of sugar

It was very clear by the evidence at first glance that Matthew’s case was far from a slam dunk, at least for the defense. To make matters worse, the relationship between the State’s Attorneys and the defense bar in the district has been strained for years before my arrival as the new-minted Managing Attorney for the public defender’s office less than a month before. Substantially improving the relationship, while gaining and maintaining trust was key. I remember from a prior life, before becoming an attorney, when I was a corporate account manager with Enterprise Rent-A-Car that we had Blitz days. Blitz days consisted on buying about 40 dozendonuts at the local Tim Hortons and visiting referral sources in an attempt to bring more business. I truly enjoyed those days because I had the chance to just use them to get to know people at a person level and develop relationships. I made myself a Blitz day during the upcoming months. The difference was that this time, I would be the one paying for the donuts out of my own pocket and gambling on people opening up to me.

I visited the jail staff, the State’s Attorney’s Office, the City Attorney, the probation department, and the police. Everyone thought it was strange at first, but at each stop, I had the opportunity to chat about my vision for a better working relationship while asking for the opportunity to earn trust. Shortly thereafter, the efforts began paying off like magic. In the meantime, I spoke with Matthew’s family almost every night.  

It was clear to me that a trial would not deliver the help Matthew needed so I had a bolt of an idea, but equally risky. The plan was for Matthew to plead guilty to all charges without any agreement with the prosecution (often called open plea), which would give us the opportunity to argue at sentencing for a disposition that would have Matthew accepting responsibility, getting help, and not wasting his life behind bars. As expected, I discussed the plan with Matthew and he trusted me with no questions. I did not know whether to be happy or terrified as literally, his life hanged on my abilities to deliver. Although many attorneys focus on the client and the story behind the client, I knew that the best battles were won without firing a single shot. I set my sites on bringing the prosecutor and the judge to the table.

Before I could get both the prosecutor and the judge to care, I needed to do so myself. I spent countless hours learning who Matthew was. During the day with him in jail and at night over the phone with his family. After months of going through Intel, records, and checking that I had everything I needed, I was ready. I met with the State Attorney with my proposal to give Matthew a deferred imposition of sentence on the Reckless Endangerment charge while dismissing the Terrorizing and Aggravated Assault – Domestic Violence charges. A deferred imposition of sentence meant that if Matthew successfully completed his 3-year probation, the Reckless Endangerment charge would disappear from his record like it never happened. An aggressive move, but I was confident that if I could make the prosecutor see what I knew, she would have no choice but to feel the same way about Matthew. After several weeks of discussions and making sure we had an outlined plan to execute, the prosecutor agreed to make the proposal a joint recommendation to the court. Matthew would have to be escorted out of the state and driven directly to a treatment facility specialized in Texas to complete a Polytrauma Transitional Rehabilitation Program.

The morning of Matthew’s sentencing, I was worried about Matthew and his family, but I was positive. After all, the judge was a retired Judge Advocate General (JAG) Colonel from the Air Force and he truly understood what we were dealing with and what needed to be done. The hearing was done rather quickly and just like that, Matthew was to be released to his parents’ custody who had driven with his sister, Laura. We gathered at the jail lobby waiting for him to come out. Seeing Matthew being hugged by his family is a piece of memory that has a special place in my heart.

Although Matthew’s case had a happy ending, I could not help to wonder, what are we doing wring the U.S. when it comes to incarceration. I found my answer while researching the prison system in the Nordic countries where humanity blossoms and their approach to incarceration is an outstanding reflection of their society.

Cold Hard Time? Behind No-Bars in the Nordic Countries

Nordic prisons are seen as beacons of humanity and decency in a world of ever-increasing penal populism. In a much-discussed two-part article, John Pratt[107] described the Nordic societies as exhibiting a specifically Nordic penal culture, resulting in what he called Scandinavian or Nordic exceptionalism in the penal area;[108] the exceptional qualities, according to Pratt, being consistently low rates of imprisonment and comparatively humane prison conditions.[109]

For instance, Sweden's prison system boasts impressive numbers. As the Guardian notes in 2014[110], in the past decade, the number of Swedish prisoners has dropped from 5,722 to 4,500 out of a population of 9.5 million. The country has closed a number of prisons, and the recidivism rate is around 40%, which is far less than in the U.S. and most European countries.[111] "It has to do with whether you decide to use prison as your first option or as a last resort, and what you want your probation system to achieve," he told the Guardian. "Some people have to be incarcerated, but it has to be a goal to get them back out into society in better shape than they were when they came in."[112]

It is not that wrongdoing is a stranger in the Nordic countries, instead is that Nordic countries, in general, have an illustrative track record when it comes to minimizing the number of people who enter and re-enter their prisons. There are many factors that contribute to the effectiveness of their prison systems compared to many other countries in the West. They are relatively inclusive societies with widely shared prosperity and a low degree of corrosive racial tension (mainly due to racial homogeneity). But the low rates of return to prisons in particular hints at an alternative model for how to treat prisoners.[113]  

In Norwegian law, a prison sentence is defined as a form of punishment, and thus as a penalty that is supposed to be experienced as an evil by prisoners. But in the Norwegian Correctional Service's policy documents, a prison sentence is also described as much more than that.[114] A prison sentence is supposed to quench society’s thirst for vengeance, minimizing the need for vendettas and vigilantism. The use of prisons is also seen of as a form of communication where the general population is shown what can happen to those who break the law, making crime less attractive.[115]

The goal is specified in the following vision statement: "The goal for all our work is a convict who, when the sentence is served, is:

  • Drug-free or has control over his drug use
  • Has a suitable place to live
  • Can read, write and do basic math
  • Will have a chance on the labor market
  • Can relate to her/his family, friends and society in general
  • Knows how to seek assistance if problems arise after release
  • Can live an independent life"[116]

The end goal of the entire prison and probation apparatus seen as a whole is defined as "a safer society for all".[117]

In an insightful article in the Atlantic, Doran Larson explains how his research on prisons revealed that Nordic countries' rehabilitative ethos produces tangible results for those countries. Even in the high-security prisons, he visited in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland, he observed some remarkable things: Common areas included table tennis, pool tables, steel darts, and aquariums. Prisoner art ornamented walls painted in mild greens and browns and blues. But the most profound difference is that correctional officers fill both rehabilitative and security roles. Each prisoner has a "contact officer" who monitors and helps advance progress toward a return to the world outside — a practice introduced to help officers avoid the damage experienced by performing purely punitive functions.[118]

Even more remarkable than this is the use of "open prisons" in the region. Prisoners at open prisons stay in housing that often resembles college dorms, have access to accessories such as televisions and sound systems and are able to commute to a job and visit families while electronically monitored. Prisoners and staff eat together in the community spaces built throughout the prison. None are expected to wear uniforms.[119] Everyone at the Kerava open prison in Finland applied to be there. They earn about $8 an hour, have cell phones, do their grocery shopping in town and get three days of vacation every couple of months. They pay rent to the prison; they choose to study for a university degree in town instead of working, they get a subsidy for it; they sometimes take supervised camping and fishing trips.[120] Open prisons have been around in Finland since about the 1930s. Back then, they were more like labor colonies. These days, they are the last step of a prison sentence before inmates make the transition back to regular life.[121]

Every cell in the recently-opened high-security Halden Prison in Norway features a television, en-suite bathrooms, unbarred windows and designer furniture. Guards are unarmed and prisoners complete questionnaires asking how their prison experience can be improved. Inmates in Nordic countries access the same social services as the broader population, including free education through to university and free medical treatment.[122]

Open prisons also cost less. Esa Vesterbacka, head of Finland's Criminal Sanctions Agency, says that by eliminating the need for extra security systems and personnel — and by housing people in what are essentially dorms — the cost per prisoner drops almost a third. It isn’t the main reason for having these kinds of prisons, Vesterbacka says, “but, of course, if you can make something cheaper that’s good nowadays.”[123]      

It took three decades for Finland to remake its penal policy bit by bit and by the end of this period of “decarceration," Finland had one of the lowest rates of imprisonment on the continent. What did work was a gradual reintroduction into normal life, the kind that the open prisons offer? About a third of Finnish inmates are housed in open prison, and Finland’s Criminal Sanctions Agency says inmates who go through open prisons are less likely to be arrested again. The reoffending rate drops almost 20 percent.[124]

Again, Doran Larson contends that open prison punishments can be more effective than closed prison punishments in that they do not distract the prisoner from the misdeeds that brought them there, as harsh American prisons often do: “Imagine living on ... knowing every minute of every day, that this is not your home, these people are not your family, your friends, your children, and you are always one misstep from a cell in a closed prison. You have strict curfews. In town, you carry an electronic anklet. Yet nothing here feels unfair or unreasonable. You have, after all, committed a crime serious enough to make a range of other remedies untenable. Nothing you can see or touch or smell or taste and no interaction with staff gives you anything to blame or resent about the system that brought you here.”[125]

One remarkable aspect of being an inmate in the Nordic countries is that most of your rights are reserved. The punishment element of a prison sentence is supposed to consist solely of the deprivation of liberty for a period specified by the courts. In the Norwegian system, no other individual right has been removed by the prison sentence; a prisoner retains the right to vote in general elections and the right to the various welfare provisions offered by the Norwegian welfare state system, including the right to free healthcare, social services, and a secondary education.[126] Safeguarding individual rights almost guarantee that an “offender” can pay their debt to society and integrate successfully without any further obstacles.

The Swedish system has shrunk in both absolute and relative numbers in recent years. Through the increased use of community sanctions, the Swedish prison and probation system has succeeded in decreasing the number of prisoners going through the prison system in a year. Sweden has also pioneered the use of home detention with electronic monitoring as an alternative to prison. This development recently resulted in Sweden permanently closing down several of its prisons.[127]

Nordic prisons tend to be smaller, officer/inmate relations are better and more egalitarian, the quality of prison life is better (the quality of the food provided, the hygienic conditions, the amount of personal space and the quality of visiting arrangements are all superior in the Nordic prisons), prison officers are better trained, and prisoners in the Nordic countries are more likely to be involved in education or vocational training programs that are more often directed at preparing them for life after release.[128]

The Norwegian government recently established a so-called "reintegration guarantee", stating that all prisoners shall upon release, if relevant, be offered employment, further education, a suitable housing accommodation, medical services, addiction treatment services, and debt counseling. The guarantee is political in character and not legal. It represents the intentions of all the various welfare state agencies to cooperate on the common objective that is prisoner rehabilitation and reintegration.[129]

Norway has the largest number of people through its prison system per year of all the Nordic countries, relative to its population. It is, in fact, the only Nordic country that uses its prison system more than its probation system. Sweden has the most modest use of imprisonment of all three Scandinavian countries. The Swedish probation system, however, is so large that the two systems combined make Sweden the most prolific user of state punishment among the Nordic countries in both absolute and relative terms.[130]

At the same time, the Norwegian sentencing level is on average relatively low. A total of 13 425 individuals were imprisoned for shorter or longer periods over the course of 2013. Compared to the other Nordic countries, then, a larger number of people pass through the system quicker. 28 percent of Norwegian prisoners were released within 30 days, 62 percent within 90 days and 89 percent were released within a year. The average time served in prison was only 81 days. At the other end of the spectrum, only 11 individuals were released after serving more than 10 years in prison that year. Given that the Norwegian Correctional Services as a matter of principle does not overbook its institutions, and that single occupancy cells are the norm in high-security prisons, there is at any time a waiting list of convicted people waiting to get into prison to serve their prison sentence. The number of verdicts on the waiting list varies quite a bit but currently consists of around 1100 verdicts awaiting effectuation. People convicted of serious crimes will, of course, have to skip this queue; in most cases, they will go straight from pre-trial imprisonment to serving their sentence.

28 young offenders under the age of 18 were imprisoned over the course of 2013. Norway does not have special legislation for young offenders and the age of criminal responsibility is 15. A recent development is that two special youth prisons – one of which is already operational – will be established to provide these offenders with a prison environment suited to their needs. 65 percent of prisoners were 30 years or older.[131]

The Nordic countries all have in common both that they regularly produce comprehensive and advanced prison statistics and that they make versions of them available to the general public.[132]

Breaking from the past?

The Obama administration recognized the need for prison reform in the U.S. and took an aggressive step to pardon and commute sentences for low-level drug offenders who were sentenced to disproportionally lengthy prison terms as a result of the “war on drugs”. “For our criminal justice system to be effective, it needs to not only be fair; but it also must be perceived as being fair. These older, stringent punishments that are out of line with sentences imposed under today’s laws erode people’s confidence in our criminal justice system. I am confident that this initiative will go far to promote the most fundamental of American ideals - equal justice under law.”[133] The approach went from tough to smart on crime. An unprecedented, wholly independent effort by the nation's bar, recruited and trained nearly 4,000 volunteer lawyers from diverse practice backgrounds and completed screening of the more than 36,000 federal prisoners who requested volunteer assistance.[134] This effort, called The Clemency Project 2014, painstakingly review these cases and revealed that the overwhelming majority of those requests were by applicants who did not meet the criteria put forward by the Department of Justice in April 2014.[135] More work forward needed to be done to cure the harm done by the War on Drugs era. In July 2015, Obama became the first sitting president to visit a federal prison when he traveled to the El Reno Federal Correction Institution in Oklahoma, where he met with six inmates serving time for drug offenses.[136] The meeting made Obama reflect. "These are young people who made mistakes that aren't that different than the mistakes I made and the mistakes that a lot of you guys made."[137] What distinguishes many convicts, he says, is a lack of support and second chances.[138] "The question is not only how do we make sure that we sustain those programs here in the prison," Obama said. "But how do we make sure that those same kinds of institutional supports are there for kids and teenagers before they get into the criminal justice system."

President Obama was set to see this journey through. On April 1, 2016, seven former federal inmates all of whom served years for nonviolent drug charges and had received presidential clemency were visiting the White House to talk about their experiences with senior administration officials. They were surprised by President Obama who joined them for lunch. The day was a highlight for both, the group and President Obama who peppered them with a lot of questions, focusing especially on the barriers they faced or were facing once they got out of prison. For everyone present, it was a memorable day.

During the Obama administration, through January 19, 2017, the Department of Justice made recommendations to the White House on approximately 16,776 petitions received from drug offenders.[139] The author participated in at least one successful commutation of sentence and can attest to the incredible sense of joy that bringing someone back to their family feels like.

However, the Trump administration has not hinted but displayed a much different stand on crime, which is not only an “about face” from the direction of the Obama administration, but quite a regression back to mass incarcerations coupled with the privatization of the corrections system. This “undo” on the Obama-era sentencing policies and declared the start of the War on Drugs II, that started under President Reagan, and all it served to do was put thousands upon thousands of people in prison[140] for non-violent crimes, like possessing or smoking marijuana, was hardly a surprise given Jeff Sessions, the U.S. Attorney’s long record as a zealous prosecutor and who is notorious for his disdain against drug offenders. It just ran so contrary to the growing bipartisan consensus coursing through Washington and many state capitals in recent years — a view that America was guilty of excessive incarceration and that large prison populations were too costly in tax dollars and the toll on families and communities.[141] In an increasingly rare achievement, conservatives and liberals came together on the issue, putting them on the verge of winning reductions in mandatory minimum sentences and creating new programs to help offenders adjust to life after prison.[142] Given the success is shown by similar changes at the state level, bipartisan majorities in the House and the Senate seemed eager to move ahead on the issue last year.[143] Although the U.S. has come a long way from the dark ages since we first outlawed marijuana, unfortunately, Sessions hasn’t.

However, on a memo, the new Attorney General, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, ordered federal prosecutors to "charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” adding that people would need documented approval from their supervisors to flout this policy. In other words: always charge everyone as severely as possible, regardless of the circumstances.[144] The two-page memo, which was publicly released May 12, 2017, laid out a policy of strict enforcement that rolls back the comparatively lenient stance established by one of his predecessors under President Obama, Eric Holder.[145] Sessions made clear he means this shift in policy to be immediate. "Any inconsistent previous policy of the Department of Justice relating to these matters is rescinded, effective today."[146]

One less subtle message Sessions' order demonstrates to all the federal prosecutors is an astonishing distrust in their decisions. Although Sessions had claimed that his decision would effectively “un-handcuffed prosecutors and not micromanaged them from Washington”[147] in reality this seems quite the opposite. Since 2010, federal prosecutors enjoyed more discretion to assess the merits of each case, without any blanket policies as to how to deal with them. Prosecutors were encouraged to conduct individualized assessments of the defendant’s conduct, criminal history, and the circumstances relating to the commission of the offense (including the impact of the crime on victims), the needs of the communities we serve, and federal resources and priorities.”[148] The Holder policies facilitated individualized consideration and tailored outcomes in federal charging decisions.[149] The policies reflected trust in career professionals who make charging decisions and a belief that they can consider all information available to achieve justice.[150] Sessions' policy drives us further away from the exemplary policies of Nordic countries.

A more nefarious intent occurred months before issuing the sentencing guidance when Sessions began laying the groundwork for it with another memo, which reversed an Obama-era directive phasing out the use of private prisons.[151] The directive, Sessions wrote in February, impaired the Bureau of Prison's ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system.[152] If it was not clear at the time what America's future needs would be, it became so soon thereafter: The U.S. will be spending incredible sums of money, as it did in the past, to lock up nonviolent offenders.[153]

Eric Holder fired back with a blistering statement against the new policy, calling it a reversal from those whose voices have not only been discredited but until now have been relegated to the fringes of this debate.[154] Holder further criticized the move as being “dumb on crime”. Removing the discretion from prosecutors to evaluate every case on its merits and make charging decisions accordingly reveals the lack of faith their new leader has in their judgment and integrity. It is essentially a one size fits all approach to crime. These reversals will be both substantively and financially ruinous, setting the Department back on a track to again spending one-third of its budget on incarcerating people, rather than preventing, detecting, or investigating crime.[155]

Luckily and quite encouraging was a shred of hope from the U.S. Senate to push back on the most recent policies ordered by Attorney General Sessions. Lawmakers in a bipartisan move, strongly criticized Attorney Sessions' new policy as it would mark a return to mass incarceration, especially of minorities.[156] Many agree such measure will effectively accentuate the existing injustice in the criminal justice system.[157] Mandatory minimum sentences disproportionately affect minorities and low-income communities, while doing little for safety and turning mistakes into tragedies.[158] The proposed legislation would allow federal judges to tailor sentences on a case-by-case basis. It would also reduce correctional spending, which accounts for nearly one-third of the Justice Department’s budget.[159]

However, this déjà vu idea is a resurrection from an attempt made by the Obama Administration which was ironically short-circuited by non-other than Sessions himself, then a Senator. During President Barack Obama’s second term, similar sentencing reform legislation was introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers that effectively reduced some of the long mandatory minimum sentences for gun and drug crimes and gave judges more flexibility in drug sentencing and made retroactive the law that reduced the large disparity between sentencing for crack cocaine and powder cocaine.[160]

The bill, introduced in 2015, had support from outside diverse groups including Republican House Speaker Paul D. Ryan.[161] But Sessions, then the longtime Republican senator, became a leading opponent of the bill and successfully worked with other senators to derail it.[162] In an identical move, Sessions claimed that it was the wrong time to cut prison sentences for drug traffickers and other criminals and cited the spike in crime in several cities and his belief that an era of near-historically low crime rates might be coming to an end. Time will tell whether the new attempt will ultimately succeed.

The main cited reason for lengthy sentences and harsher punishment in the U.S. is attributed to safety even though there is no meaningful correlation between the two. Through fearmongering and just plain ignorance, support is rallied to build more walls and resist any change that can put the public in danger. One of the main motivators to maintain the status quo is the enterprise behind the prison system. With more walls and prisons, come more guards, and more jobs, for judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation/parole officers, and the list goes on and on. Without going too far, in California and just recently, At $75,560, housing a prisoner now costs more than a year at Harvard University.[163] That’s enough to cover the annual cost of tuition and still have plenty left over for pizza and beer.[164] Regardless of the motivation to regress to the war on drugs years, it is clear that going back down that path, we are going to put more people (mostly poor and minorities, or both) in prison who do not deserve to be in prison, while enriching the private prison CEOs providing sub-standard care for their inmates, who hire people off the street who are unqualified to be guards, who have an escape rate much higher than regular federal prisons.[165] We should not be creating incentives to house people in prison, instead, we should be creating incentives instead to stop the revolving door into prison.[166] There does not appear to be any motivation to take a chance at the Nordic approach because if it proves to be successful, then everyone benefiting from the incarceration enterprise, would lose.

Defenders of the highly punitive American prison would argue that the Nordic attitude toward prisons, in general, is naive in its assumption that prisoners can be treated like normal humans who can improve. Quite disingenuous and simply non-sense given the interest behind those defending the system. Yet and to the contrary, Nordic countries remain quite safe after allowing people who have committed the most severe crimes to spend time in them, generally for far shorter sentences than in the U.S.[167]

Taking a page from success and the path back to the top

It is clear that no system is perfect, but a substantial change needs to happen in the hearts and minds of the leadership in the U.S. in order to follow the extraordinary example the Nordic countries are giving to the international community. It is not a perfect example and one that certainly presents its own challenges, but it is an outstanding start. Many officials at the state level in the U.S. are beginning to think “what if?” when it comes to ideas from the Nordic countries. For instance, in October 2015, a North Dakota prisons chief, Leann Bertsch and one of her deputies, Karianne Jackson, toured the Halden maximum-security facility dubbed “the world’s most humane prison” in Norway.[168] Both have many years of experience in corrections and approached the visit with great confidence thinking they were doing the right thing when it comes to rehabilitation. That notion soon changed after the tour and reflecting on their experience when with a great sense of pain, Bertsch said to Jackson bursting into tears, “we are hurting people.” The realization was crushing. After all, Bertsch truly believed she was running a good and decent system that provided opportunities for rehabilitation, where there is no abuse.

The truth is that there was a better way. A similar journey was carried out in 2011, courtesy of Donald Specter, executive director of the Prison Law Office, a California public-interest law firm.[169] Specter’s “transformation” was clear and was determined to make a difference. He decided to use some of the legal fees his office had won in its lawsuits against California prisons to bring state corrections chiefs, judges, and lawmakers on similar journeys.[170] By 2015, Bertsch was ready to ship excess prisoners to a private facility in Colorado.[171] In Norway, though, she learned that the farther a prisoner is removed from his home community, the less likely he is to have visitors.[172] So instead of sending prisoners away, Bertsch seized on a suggestion from one of her maintenance employees and leased a ready-made “man camp”—the same portable modular units used to house roughnecks in the Bakken oil fields.[173] The accommodations weren’t nearly as charming as the inmate cottages she and Jackson had toured at Norway’s Bastøy prison, a minimum-security facility located on a picturesque island, but they were a cheap way to ease overcrowding and give the men a dose of self-sufficiency.[174] And just like that, “The Farm” was born. Warden James Sayler and Joey Joyce, his deputy, were quick to embrace the Norway philosophy and immediately began devising ways for inmates to earn more freedom—shopping excursions, day passes home, and even the right to wear civilian clothes on-site.[175]

As a former public defender in North Dakota, one thing I learned through my clients was that even minor offenses can ensure an extended stay at Bismarck’s penitentiary, regardless of your redeeming qualities. There were many clients I had who went through a palpable transformation process and were worthy of a chance, but the system would not allow for one. I left the public defender’s office remembering the first few words I heard from a court administration staff when I proposed a change: “We have always done it this way” and with a sense of defeat, but also a little hope, that one day, change would reach those souls.

An old country lawyer once said to me: “It all begins with you…[176] and it is certainly applicable here. When we as human beings, put the needs of others before ours, something magical occurs. As a society, we must forgo the need to make a profit from the backs of those less fortunate and begin to think about leaving this world in better shape we found it while making a positive impact on the lives of our fellow neighbors, even at a global scale. Many countries have come up with policies that are not only innovative but groundbreaking, and yet simple. For instance, France has become the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, forcing them instead to donate it to charities and food banks.[177] The law follows a grassroots campaign in France by shoppers, anti-poverty campaigners and those opposed to food waste.[178] More recently, Iceland became the first country to introduce and pass legislation requiring employers to prove they are paying men and women equally.[179] The solution is not simply to adopt similar approaches in the U.S., but we should at least take a closer look regarding the Nordic countries’ approaches to incarceration.

When it comes to the United States, the newly elected California Senator Kamala Harris – who served as a prosecutor, district attorney, and state attorney general before winning her seat in Congress – outlined perfectly what needs to happen.[180] “We need a national drug policy that finally treats substance abuse not as a crime to be punished but as a disease to be treated. We need to build on reforms, instead of reviving mandatory minimums or boosting bottom lines for private prisons, and we need to fund – not defund – the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)[181].”[182]

As Johnnie Dent Jr. once said: “Crime and punishment can be summed up in two classifications: there are bad people and there are people who get into bad situations. The lines for liberation and rehabilitation should first begin with the people who get into bad situations.”

This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave. It is solely because of individuals like Matthew that we get to wake up every morning, dress and go to work or about our day safe and without a single care in the world. In reality, the story is common and equally sad and angering to those of us who have worn the uniform. We ask individuals like Matthew, to go into the unknown, we train them to never ask for help and ingrain in them that asking for help is a sign of weakness, ask them to face trauma we did not tell them about, and then when they come back, we turn our backs on them as a society by not providing them with the help they need to get reunited with the way of life as they knew it before they boarded the plane downrange.

It seems unfair for someone who has given us so much to do that. It is unacceptable that we break our promise to the brave men and women in uniform. Understand that the warrior’s ethos that it has ingrained in our souls and the core of our being is relevant today and they always have been. I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade. We will not neglect those who are injured, sick, or in need. As a fellow warrior, I asked for help on Matthew’s behalf and the chance that he should have received from us as a society because we failed him. I reminded the court that after 12 years of honorable service to us all, he deserved a chance. I asked because I knew deep in my heart and mind that the man who wore the uniform in the name of our freedom needed us and we could not turn our backs on him. Sadly, there many like Matthew who would go to sleep behind bars tonight without someone who would fight for them. That must change if we are to remain not only the beacon of freedom but the beacon of humanity.

Personally, and after years of defending those who have no one else, I have reached a similar conclusion than Bertsch and Jackson: we are hurting people. We now know that there is another way and the least we can do is to analyze how much from the Nordic countries, we can implement in the U.S. To this end, I have been inspired to truly investigate and research who can be of help, what implications such changes would bring about, and where changes can be implemented. Although I will not be on the front lines anymore, I strongly believe there is no more powerful weapon than the truth and I plan to find it when it comes to incarceration.

“Punishment should be proportionate to the offense and the individual’s blameworthiness and no greater than necessary,” reads the report. As Fellner puts it, “Fair and prudent punishment is not only a core human rights principle, but a core principle of American justice that has been neglected for far too long…. community well-being is best served by fair laws and just sentences.” I would disagree if I could, but it seems that now more than ever, there are compelling reasons to keep on fighting for the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned.

So I hear, from an old country lawyer in Wyoming.

 

* Trial Attorney. I thank Karina Sartorio and Traci Smith for comments, suggestions, edits, and encouragement. All mistakes are my own.

[1] Williams, Ray, “How the U.S. Is Becoming a Nation of Prisoners” PSYCHOLOGY TODAY, December 15, 2013. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201312/how-the-us-is-becoming-nation-prisoners (Accessed May 21, 2017).

[2] Horsley, Scott, “Obama Visits Federal Prison, A First For A Sitting President” NPR, July 16, 2015. http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/07/16/423612441/obama-visits-federal-prison-a-first-for-a-sitting-president (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[3] Kozlowska, Hanna, “One in three prisoners serving a life term anywhere is in the US” Quartz Media, May 3, 2017. https://qz.com/974658/life-prison-sentences-are-far-more-common-in-the-us-than-anywhere-else/ (Accessed May 21, 2017).

[4] Kozlowska, Hanna, “One in three prisoners serving a life term anywhere is in the US” Quartz Media, May 3, 2017. https://qz.com/974658/life-prison-sentences-are-far-more-common-in-the-us-than-anywhere-else/ (Accessed May 21, 2017).

[5] Kozlowska, Hanna, “One in three prisoners serving a life term anywhere is in the US” Quartz Media, May 3, 2017. https://qz.com/974658/life-prison-sentences-are-far-more-common-in-the-us-than-anywhere-else/ (Accessed May 21, 2017).

[6] Kozlowska, Hanna, “One in three prisoners serving a life term anywhere is in the US” Quartz Media, May 3, 2017. https://qz.com/974658/life-prison-sentences-are-far-more-common-in-the-us-than-anywhere-else/ (Accessed May 21, 2017).

[7] Kozlowska, Hanna, “One in three prisoners serving a life term anywhere is in the US” Quartz Media, May 3, 2017. https://qz.com/974658/life-prison-sentences-are-far-more-common-in-the-us-than-anywhere-else/ (Accessed May 21, 2017).

[8] Kozlowska, Hanna, “One in three prisoners serving a life term anywhere is in the US” Quartz Media, May 3, 2017. https://qz.com/974658/life-prison-sentences-are-far-more-common-in-the-us-than-anywhere-else/ (Accessed May 21, 2017).

[9] Echols, Damien, “Life After Death” Plume Publishing, May 7, 2013.

[10] Overcrowding and Overuse of Imprisonment in the United States, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights May 2015. http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/RuleOfLaw/OverIncarceration/ACLU.pdf (Accessed April 12, 2017).

[11] Overcrowding and Overuse of Imprisonment in the United States, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights May 2015. http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/RuleOfLaw/OverIncarceration/ACLU.pdf (Accessed April 12, 2017). citing Human Rights Watch, World Report 2013, United States chapter, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2013/country-chapters/united-states (Accessed Sept. 10, 2013). China, which reports approximately 1.6 million people in prison, may substantially under- report its incarcerated population (failing to include prisoners in “black jails,” or those who are undergoing “reeducation through labor” and other treatment tantamount to imprisonment). Yet, even if China’s incarcerated population is greater than that of the United States, China’s population is four times that of the US and the US rate of imprisonment would remain substantially higher than China’s.

[12] Overcrowding and Overuse of Imprisonment in the United States, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights May 2015. http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/RuleOfLaw/OverIncarceration/ACLU.pdf (Accessed April 12, 2017). citing E. Ann Carson and Daniela Golinelli, “Prisoners in 2012”, Bureau of Justice Statistics, December 2013, http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p12tar9112.pdf (Accessed April 22, 2014), p.1.

[13] The number does not include 152,780 persons returned to prison that year for parole violations. Carson and Golinelli, “Prisoners in 2012,” http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p12tar9112.pdf, Table 1.

[14] United States v. Booker, 543 U.S. 220 (2005).

[15] E.g., FLA. STAT. § 893.135(c) (2011) (establishing a 25-year mandatory minimum for possession or sale of 28 grams or more of heroin, morphine, or other opiates); LA. REV. STAT. ANN. § (B)(1) (2011) (establishing a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for possession or distribution of certain drugs).

[16] ALA. CODE § 13A-12-231(3)(d) (1995).

[17] MISS. CODE ANN. § 41-29-139(f) (West 2011).


[18] See Human Rights Council, Human rights implications of overincarceration and overcrowding Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, August 10, 2015. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session30/Documents/A_HRC_30_19_ENG.docx (Accessed April 12, 2017). Citing Roy Walmsley, World Prison Population List, 10th edition (London, International Centre for Prison Studies, 2013).

[19] See Human Rights Council, Human rights implications of overincarceration and overcrowding Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, August 10, 2015. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session30/Documents/A_HRC_30_19_ENG.docx (Accessed April 12, 2017). Citing Roy Walmsley, World Prison Population List, 10th edition (London, International Centre for Prison Studies, 2013). citing Roy Walmsley, World Pre-trial/Remand Imprisonment List, 2nd edition (London, International Centre for Prison Studies, 2014).

[20] See Human Rights Council, Human rights implications of overincarceration and overcrowding Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, August 10, 2015. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session30/Documents/A_HRC_30_19_ENG.docx (Accessed April 12, 2017). Citing Roy Walmsley, World Prison Population List, 10th edition (London, International Centre for Prison Studies, 2013). citing International Centre for Prison Studies, Highest to Lowest-Occupancy level (based on official capacity) (London, 2014).

[21] See Human Rights Council, Human rights implications of overincarceration and overcrowding Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, August 10, 2015. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session30/Documents/A_HRC_30_19_ENG.docx (Accessed April 12, 2017). Citing Roy Walmsley, World Prison Population List, 10th edition (London, International Centre for Prison Studies, 2013). citing CAT/OP/MLI/1, para. 49.

[22] See Human Rights Council, Human rights implications of overincarceration and overcrowding Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, August 10, 2015. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session30/Documents/A_HRC_30_19_ENG.docx (Accessed April 12, 2017). Citing Roy Walmsley, World Prison Population List, 10th edition (London, International Centre for Prison Studies, 2013). citing A/HRC/22/53/Add.2, para. 81; CAT/OP/BRA/1, para. 96.

[23] See Human Rights Council, Human rights implications of overincarceration and overcrowding Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, August 10, 2015. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session30/Documents/A_HRC_30_19_ENG.docx (Accessed April 12, 2017). Citing Roy Walmsley, World Prison Population List, 10th edition (London, International Centre for Prison Studies, 2013). citing CAT/OP/BEN/1, para. 147.

[24] See Human Rights Council, Human rights implications of overincarceration and overcrowding Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, August 10, 2015. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session30/Documents/A_HRC_30_19_ENG.docx (Accessed April 12, 2017). Citing Roy Walmsley, World Prison Population List, 10th edition (London, International Centre for Prison Studies, 2013). citing www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16033&LangID=E.

[25] See Human Rights Council, Human rights implications of overincarceration and overcrowding Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, August 10, 2015. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session30/Documents/A_HRC_30_19_ENG.docx (Accessed April 12, 2017). Citing Roy Walmsley, World Prison Population List, 10th edition (London, International Centre for Prison Studies, 2013). citing Council of Europe document CPT/Inf (2015) 6, para. 57.

[26] See Human Rights Council, Human rights implications of overincarceration and overcrowding Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations, August 10, 2015. http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/RegularSessions/Session30/Documents/A_HRC_30_19_ENG.docx (Accessed April 12, 2017). Citing Roy Walmsley, World Prison Population List, 10th edition (London, International Centre for Prison Studies, 2013). citing A/65/273, para. 1.

[27] Overcrowding and Overuse of Imprisonment in the United States, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)Submission to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights May 2015. Citing American Civil Liberties Union, Mass Incarceration: Problems, available at https://www.aclu.org/files/assets/massincarceration_problems.pdf.

[28] Echols, Damien, “Life After Death” Plume Publishing, May 7, 2013 at 2.

[29] Fellner, Jaimie, senior advisor to the US Program at Human Rights Watch and a co-author of the Human Rights Watch, World Report 2014.

[30] Prison Legal News, “Human Rights Report Reveals Inequities in U.S. Sentencing Practices” Prison Legal News https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2016/aug/3/human-rights-report-reveals-inequities-us-sentencing-practices/ (Accessed April 17, 2017). Black males are incarcerated at a rate of 3,023 per 100,000 as compared to only 478 white males. For black females, the rate is 129 per 100,000 compared to 51 per 100,000 for their white counterparts.

[31] Prison Legal News, “Human Rights Report Reveals Inequities in U.S. Sentencing Practices” Prison Legal News https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2016/aug/3/human-rights-report-reveals-inequities-us-sentencing-practices/ (Accessed April 17, 2017). Black males are incarcerated at a rate of 3,023 per 100,000 as compared to only 478 white males. For black females, the rate is 129 per 100,000 compared to 51 per 100,000 for their white counterparts. Currently, more than 40 percent of federal prosecutions are for immigration violations and account for “30 percent of new admissions to the federal prison system.”

[32] Prison Legal News, “Human Rights Report Reveals Inequities in U.S. Sentencing Practices” Prison Legal News https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2016/aug/3/human-rights-report-reveals-inequities-us-sentencing-practices/ (Accessed April 17, 2017). Black males are incarcerated at a rate of 3,023 per 100,000 as compared to only 478 white males. For black females, the rate is 129 per 100,000 compared to 51 per 100,000 for their white counterparts. Over 50 percent of the federal prison population and 20 percent of the total U.S. prison population consists of drug offenders.

[33] Letter from MAJ (Ret.) Jonathan Roberts, U.S. Air Force, April 2, 2016.

[34] Letter from MAJ (Ret.) Jonathan Roberts, U.S. Air Force, April 2, 2016.

[35] Letter from MAJ (Ret.) Jonathan Roberts, U.S. Air Force, April 2, 2016.

[36] Ripley, Matthew Fred Non-Commission Officer/Enlisted Performance Evaluations from 2003 through 2012.

[37] Sanford Medical Center Fargo – Medical records of Ripley, Phillip Fred, Pag. 8, 10, 11

[38] Letter from Dr. Michael Manchak, April 24, 2016

[39] Letter from Dr. Michael Manchak, April 24, 2016

[40] Letter from Dr. Michael Manchak, April 24, 2016

[41] Sanford Medical Center Fargo – Medical records of Ripley, Phillip Fred, Pag. 24.

[42] Sanford Medical Center Fargo – Medical records of Ripley, Phillip Fred, Pag. 48.

[43] Sanford Medical Center Fargo – Medical records of Ripley, Phillip Fred, Pag. 11..

[44] Sanford Medical Center Fargo – Medical records of Ripley, Phillip Fred, Pag. 27.

[45] Sanford Medical Center Fargo – Medical records of Ripley, Phillip Fred, Pag. 30.

[46] Sanford Medical Center Fargo – Medical records of Ripley, Phillip Fred, Pag. 30.

[47] Sanford Medical Center Fargo – Medical records of Ripley, Phillip Fred, Pag. 48.

[48] Sanford Medical Center Fargo – Medical records of Ripley, Phillip Fred, Pag. 49.

[49] Sanford Medical Center Fargo – Medical records of Ripley, Phillip Fred, Pag. 49.

[50] Sanford Medical Center Fargo – Medical records of Ripley, Phillip Fred, Pag. 50.

[51] Letter from Dr. Michael Manchak, April 24, 2016

[52] Unger, Katie et all. Selling Off Our Freedom Report. Color Of Change and ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice, at 1, May 2017. https://d11gn0ip9m46ig.cloudfront.net/images/059_Bail_Report.pdf (Accessed May 16, 2017).

[53] Unger, Katie et all. Selling Off Our Freedom Report. Color Of Change and ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice, at 1, May 2017. https://d11gn0ip9m46ig.cloudfront.net/images/059_Bail_Report.pdf (Accessed May 16, 2017).

[54] Unger, Katie et all. Selling Off Our Freedom Report. Color Of Change and ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice, at 18, May 2017. https://d11gn0ip9m46ig.cloudfront.net/images/059_Bail_Report.pdf (Accessed May 16, 2017).

[55] Unger, Katie et all. Selling Off Our Freedom Report. Color Of Change and ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice, at 18, May 2017. https://d11gn0ip9m46ig.cloudfront.net/images/059_Bail_Report.pdf (Accessed May 16, 2017).

[56] Harriot, Michael, “The Pretrial Profit System: How Corporations Make Billions Arresting Poor Blacks” The Root, May 11, 2017. http://www.theroot.com/the-pre-trial-profit-system-how-corporations-make-bill-1795137906 (Accessed May19, 2017).

[57] Harriot, Michael, “The Pretrial Profit System: How Corporations Make Billions Arresting Poor Blacks” The Root, May 11, 2017. http://www.theroot.com/the-pre-trial-profit-system-how-corporations-make-bill-1795137906 (Accessed May19, 2017).

[58] Harriot, Michael, “The Pretrial Profit System: How Corporations Make Billions Arresting Poor Blacks” The Root, May 11, 2017. http://www.theroot.com/the-pre-trial-profit-system-how-corporations-make-bill-1795137906 (Accessed May19, 2017).

[59] Harriot, Michael, “The Pretrial Profit System: How Corporations Make Billions Arresting Poor Blacks” The Root, May 11, 2017. http://www.theroot.com/the-pre-trial-profit-system-how-corporations-make-bill-1795137906 (Accessed May19, 2017).

[60] Harriot, Michael, “The Pretrial Profit System: How Corporations Make Billions Arresting Poor Blacks” The Root, May 11, 2017. http://www.theroot.com/the-pre-trial-profit-system-how-corporations-make-bill-1795137906 (Accessed May19, 2017).

[61] Harriot, Michael, “The Pretrial Profit System: How Corporations Make Billions Arresting Poor Blacks” The Root, May 11, 2017. http://www.theroot.com/the-pre-trial-profit-system-how-corporations-make-bill-1795137906 (Accessed May19, 2017).

[62] Harriot, Michael, “The Pretrial Profit System: How Corporations Make Billions Arresting Poor Blacks” The Root, May 11, 2017. http://www.theroot.com/the-pre-trial-profit-system-how-corporations-make-bill-1795137906 (Accessed May19, 2017).

[63] Harriot, Michael, “The Pretrial Profit System: How Corporations Make Billions Arresting Poor Blacks” The Root, May 11, 2017. http://www.theroot.com/the-pre-trial-profit-system-how-corporations-make-bill-1795137906 (Accessed May19, 2017).

[64] Rabuy, Bernadette and Pete Wagner, “Following the Money of Mass Incarceration” Prison Policy Initiative, January 25, 2017. https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/money.html (Accessed February 11, 2017). and O’Hollaren, Kelsey. IBIS World Industry Report “Bail Bond Services in the US,” Rutgers University, November 2016. (Accessed January 6, 2017).

[65] Liptak, Adam. “Illegal Globally, Bail for Profit Remains in U.S.” NY Times, January 29, 2008. http://

www.nytimes.com/2008/01/29/us/29bail.html?_r=1& (Accessed February 11, 2017) and Johnson, Brian R. and Stevens, Ruth S., “The Regulation and Control of Bail Recovery Agents: An Exploratory Study” (2013). Peer Reviewed Publications. 3. http://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/scjpeerpubs/3 (Accessed February 11, 2017).

[66] Harriot, Michael, “The Pretrial Profit System: How Corporations Make Billions Arresting Poor Blacks” The Root, May 11, 2017. http://www.theroot.com/the-pre-trial-profit-system-how-corporations-make-bill-1795137906 (Accessed May19, 2017).

[67] Harriot, Michael, “The Pretrial Profit System: How Corporations Make Billions Arresting Poor Blacks” The Root, May 11, 2017. http://www.theroot.com/the-pre-trial-profit-system-how-corporations-make-bill-1795137906 (Accessed May19, 2017).

[68] Unger, Katie et all. Selling Off Our Freedom Report. Color Of Change and ACLU’s Campaign for Smart Justice, at 1, May 2017. https://d11gn0ip9m46ig.cloudfront.net/images/059_Bail_Report.pdf (Accessed May 16, 2017).

[69] Colorado Department of Corrections, “AFTER ACTION REPORT Inmate Riot: Crowley County Correctional Facility” July 20, 2004. http://www.privateci.org/private_pics/col1004.pdf (Accessed April 17, 2017).

[70] Colorado Department of Corrections, “AFTER ACTION REPORT Inmate Riot: Crowley County Correctional Facility” July 20, 2004. http://www.privateci.org/private_pics/col1004.pdf (Accessed April 17, 2017). at 15.

[71] Colorado Department of Corrections, “AFTER ACTION REPORT Inmate Riot: Crowley County Correctional Facility” July 20, 2004. http://www.privateci.org/private_pics/col1004.pdf (Accessed April 17, 2017). at 15.

[72] Colorado Department of Corrections, “AFTER ACTION REPORT Inmate Riot: Crowley County Correctional Facility” July 20, 2004. http://www.privateci.org/private_pics/col1004.pdf (Accessed April 17, 2017). at 15.

[73] Colorado Department of Corrections, “AFTER ACTION REPORT Inmate Riot: Crowley County Correctional Facility” July 20, 2004. http://www.privateci.org/private_pics/col1004.pdf (Accessed April 17, 2017). at 16.

[74] Colorado Department of Corrections, “AFTER ACTION REPORT Inmate Riot: Crowley County Correctional Facility” July 20, 2004. http://www.privateci.org/private_pics/col1004.pdf (Accessed April 17, 2017). at 16.

[75] Colorado Department of Corrections, “AFTER ACTION REPORT Inmate Riot: Crowley County Correctional Facility” July 20, 2004. http://www.privateci.org/private_pics/col1004.pdf (Accessed April 17, 2017). at 16.

[76] Trine, Bill, “A Broken Criminal Justice System and Prisons for Profit” THE WARRIOR J. GERRY SPENCE TRIAL L.C., Fall 2012, at 9.

[77] Trine, Bill, “A Broken Criminal Justice System and Prisons for Profit” THE WARRIOR J. GERRY SPENCE TRIAL L.C., Fall 2012, at 17.

[78] Trine, Bill, “A Broken Criminal Justice System and Prisons for Profit” THE WARRIOR J. GERRY SPENCE TRIAL L.C., Fall 2012, at 17.

[79] Trine, Bill, “A Broken Criminal Justice System and Prisons for Profit” THE WARRIOR J. GERRY SPENCE TRIAL L.C., Fall 2012, at 17.

[80] 42 U.S.C. § 1997

[81] Trine, Bill, “A Broken Criminal Justice System and Prisons for Profit” THE WARRIOR J. GERRY SPENCE TRIAL L.C., Fall 2012, at 9.

[82] Trine, Bill, “A Broken Criminal Justice System and Prisons for Profit” THE WARRIOR J. GERRY SPENCE TRIAL L.C., Fall 2012, at 9.

[83] Fairplay is a small, somewhat isolated community located in the mountains of south central Colorado. Park County has a population of less than 20,000.

[84] Trine, Bill, “A Broken Criminal Justice System and Prisons for Profit” THE WARRIOR J. GERRY SPENCE TRIAL L.C., Fall 2012, at 9. Citing Summit Daily News “Park County to Expand its Money-Making Jail,” Linda Balough, November 21, 2003.

[85] Trine, Bill, “A Broken Criminal Justice System and Prisons for Profit” THE WARRIOR J. GERRY SPENCE TRIAL L.C., Fall 2012, at 9. citing The Craig Daily Press, by Robert Gebhart, July 23, 2004.

[86] Trine, Bill, “A Broken Criminal Justice System and Prisons for Profit” THE WARRIOR J. GERRY SPENCE TRIAL L.C., Fall 2012, at 9. citing Summit Daily News “Park County Jail Hits Record Income,” Linda Balough.

[87] Trine, Bill, “A Broken Criminal Justice System and Prisons for Profit” THE WARRIOR J. GERRY SPENCE TRIAL L.C., Fall 2012, at 9. citing Summit Daily News “Park County Jail Hits Record Income,” Linda Balough.

[88] Trine, Bill, “A Broken Criminal Justice System and Prisons for Profit” THE WARRIOR J. GERRY SPENCE TRIAL L.C., Fall 2012, at 9. citing Summit Daily News “Park County Jail Hits Record Income,” Linda Balough.

[89] Trine, Bill, “A Broken Criminal Justice System and Prisons for Profit” THE WARRIOR J. GERRY SPENCE TRIAL L.C., Fall 2012, at 9. Citing the Denver Post “Officials Aim to Lock in Profits from Jail,” Kirk Mitchell, Feb. 2005.

[90] Trine, Bill, “A Broken Criminal Justice System and Prisons for Profit” THE WARRIOR J. GERRY SPENCE TRIAL L.C., Fall 2012, at 9. Citing the Denver Post “Officials Aim to Lock in Profits from Jail,” Kirk Mitchell, Feb. 2005.

[91] Trine, Bill, “A Broken Criminal Justice System and Prisons for Profit” THE WARRIOR J. GERRY SPENCE TRIAL L.C., Fall 2012, at 9. Citing the Denver Post “Officials Aim to Lock in Profits from Jail,” Kirk Mitchell, Feb. 2005.

[92] Trine, Bill, “A Broken Criminal Justice System and Prisons for Profit” THE WARRIOR J. GERRY SPENCE TRIAL L.C., Fall 2012, at 9. Citing the Denver Post “Officials Aim to Lock in Profits from Jail,” Kirk Mitchell, Feb. 2005.

[93] Trine, Bill, “A Broken Criminal Justice System and Prisons for Profit” THE WARRIOR J. GERRY SPENCE TRIAL L.C., Fall 2012, at 9. Citing the Denver Post “Officials Aim to Lock in Profits from Jail,” Kirk Mitchell, Feb. 2005.

[94] Furman, Jason and Holtz-Eakin, Douglas, “Why Mass Incarceration Doesn’t Pay” NY Times, April 21, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/21/opinion/why-mass-incarceration-doesnt-pay.html (Accessed April 12, 2017).

[95] Furman, Jason and Holtz-Eakin, Douglas, “Why Mass Incarceration Doesn’t Pay” NY Times, April 21, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/21/opinion/why-mass-incarceration-doesnt-pay.html (Accessed April 12, 2017).

[96] Furman, Jason and Holtz-Eakin, Douglas, “Why Mass Incarceration Doesn’t Pay” NY Times, April 21, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/21/opinion/why-mass-incarceration-doesnt-pay.html (Accessed April 12, 2017).

[97] Furman, Jason and Holtz-Eakin, Douglas, “Why Mass Incarceration Doesn’t Pay” NY Times, April 21, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/21/opinion/why-mass-incarceration-doesnt-pay.html (Accessed April 12, 2017).

[98] Furman, Jason and Holtz-Eakin, Douglas, “Why Mass Incarceration Doesn’t Pay” NY Times, April 21, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/21/opinion/why-mass-incarceration-doesnt-pay.html (Accessed April 12, 2017).

[99] Furman, Jason and Holtz-Eakin, Douglas, “Why Mass Incarceration Doesn’t Pay” NY Times, April 21, 2016. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/21/opinion/why-mass-incarceration-doesnt-pay.html (Accessed April 12, 2017).

[100] Law, Victoria. “$15 for 15 minutes: How Courts Are Letting Prison Phone Companies Gouge Incarcerated People” The Intercept, June 16, 2017. https://theintercept.com/2017/06/16/fcc-prison-phone-call-rates-court-deregulate-trump/ (Accessed June 17, 2017).

[101] Law, Victoria. “$15 for 15 minutes: How Courts Are Letting Prison Phone Companies Gouge Incarcerated People” The Intercept, June 16, 2017. https://theintercept.com/2017/06/16/fcc-prison-phone-call-rates-court-deregulate-trump/ (Accessed June 17, 2017).

[102] Law, Victoria. “$15 for 15 minutes: How Courts Are Letting Prison Phone Companies Gouge Incarcerated People” The Intercept, June 16, 2017. https://theintercept.com/2017/06/16/fcc-prison-phone-call-rates-court-deregulate-trump/ (Accessed June 17, 2017).

[103] Law, Victoria. “$15 for 15 minutes: How Courts Are Letting Prison Phone Companies Gouge Incarcerated People” The Intercept, June 16, 2017. https://theintercept.com/2017/06/16/fcc-prison-phone-call-rates-court-deregulate-trump/ (Accessed June 17, 2017).

[104] Law, Victoria. “$15 for 15 minutes: How Courts Are Letting Prison Phone Companies Gouge Incarcerated People” The Intercept, June 16, 2017. https://theintercept.com/2017/06/16/fcc-prison-phone-call-rates-court-deregulate-trump/ (Accessed June 17, 2017).

[105] Law, Victoria. “$15 for 15 minutes: How Courts Are Letting Prison Phone Companies Gouge Incarcerated People” The Intercept, June 16, 2017. https://theintercept.com/2017/06/16/fcc-prison-phone-call-rates-court-deregulate-trump/ (Accessed June 17, 2017).

[106] Aleem, Zeeshan, “Sweeden’s Remarkable Prison System Has Done What the U.S. Won’t Even Consider” Mic, January 27, 2015. https://mic.com/articles/109138/sweden-has-done-for-its-prisoners-what-the-u-s-won-t#.ezdeRaiJ2 (Accessed April 21, 2016.

[107] Pratt, J (2008a): "Scandinavian Exceptionalism in an Era of Penal Excess: Part I: The Nature and Roots of Scandinavian Exceptionalism". The British journal of criminology 48 (2), 119-137. Pratt, J (2008b): "Scandinavian Exceptionalism in an Era of Penal Excess: Part II: Does Scandinavian Exceptionalism Have a Future? ". The British journal of criminology 48 (3), 275-292.

[108] Ugelvik, Thomas. "Prisons as Welfare Institutions? Punishment and the Nordic Model." (2016). Scandinavia as a geographical area consists of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Danes, Norwegians and Swedes have a common cultural heritage and can understand each other's' languages reasonably well. The Nordic Countries also include Iceland and Finland. Although the languages are part of the same linguistic family, most Scandinavians cannot understand Icelandic. Finnish is part of a completely different family of languages, and is, as the proverb goes, as Greek to Scandinavians, even though Greek is actually a closer relative.

[109] Ugelvik, Thomas. "Prisons as Welfare Institutions? Punishment and the Nordic Model." (2016). at 9.

[110] Interview with Nils Öberg, director-general of Sweden's prison and probation service.

[111] Aleem, Zeeshan, “Sweeden’s Remarkable Prison System Has Done What the U.S. Won’t Even Consider” Mic, January 27, 2015. https://mic.com/articles/109138/sweden-has-done-for-its-prisoners-what-the-u-s-won-t#.ezdeRaiJ2 (Accessed April 21, 2016.

[112] Aleem, Zeeshan, “Sweeden’s Remarkable Prison System Has Done What the U.S. Won’t Even Consider” Mic, January 27, 2015. https://mic.com/articles/109138/sweden-has-done-for-its-prisoners-what-the-u-s-won-t#.ezdeRaiJ2 (Accessed April 21, 2016.

[113] Aleem, Zeeshan, “Sweeden’s Remarkable Prison System Has Done What the U.S. Won’t Even Consider” Mic, January 27, 2015. https://mic.com/articles/109138/sweden-has-done-for-its-prisoners-what-the-u-s-won-t#.ezdeRaiJ2 (Accessed April 21, 2016.

[114] Ugelvik, T (2013): "Seeing Like a Welfare State: Immigration Control, Statecraft, and a Prison with Double Vision". M Bosworth and K F Aas (eds): Borders of Punishment. Oxford University Press.

[115] Ugelvik, Thomas. "Prisons as Welfare Institutions? Punishment and the Nordic Model." (2016). at 8.

[116] MoJ (2008): Straff Som Virker – Mindre Kriminalitet – Tryggere Samfunn. St. meld. nr. 37 (2007-2008). Oslo: Ministry of Justice and the Police.

[117] Ugelvik, Thomas. "Prisons as Welfare Institutions? Punishment and the Nordic Model." (2016). at 8.

[118] Ugelvik, Thomas. "Prisons as Welfare Institutions? Punishment and the Nordic Model." (2016). at 8.

[119] Ugelvik, Thomas. "Prisons as Welfare Institutions? Punishment and the Nordic Model." (2016). at 8.

[120] Bichell, Rae Ellen, “In Finland's 'open prisons,' inmates have the keys” Public Radio International (PRI), April 15, 2015. https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-04-15/finlands-open-prisons-inmates-have-keys (Accessed April 21, 2017).

[121] Bichell, Rae Ellen, “In Finland's 'open prisons,' inmates have the keys” Public Radio International (PRI), April 15, 2015. https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-04-15/finlands-open-prisons-inmates-have-keys (Accessed April 21, 2017).

[122] Creagh, Sunanda, “Nordic prisons less crowded, less punitive, better staffed” The Conversation US, Inc., March 18, 2013. https://theconversation.com/nordic-prisons-less-crowded-less-punitive-better-staffed-12885 (Accessed April 21, 2017).

[123] Bichell, Rae Ellen, “In Finland's 'open prisons,' inmates have the keys” Public Radio International (PRI), April 15, 2015. https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-04-15/finlands-open-prisons-inmates-have-keys (Accessed April 21, 2017).

[124] Bichell, Rae Ellen, “In Finland's 'open prisons,' inmates have the keys” Public Radio International (PRI), April 15, 2015. https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-04-15/finlands-open-prisons-inmates-have-keys (Accessed April 21, 2017).

[125] Aleem, Zeeshan, “Sweeden’s Remarkable Prison System Has Done What the U.S. Won’t Even Consider” Mic, January 27, 2015. https://mic.com/articles/109138/sweden-has-done-for-its-prisoners-what-the-u-s-won-t#.ezdeRaiJ2 (Accessed April 21, 2016.

[126] Pratt, J (2008a): "Scandinavian Exceptionalism in an Era of Penal Excess: Part I: The Nature and Roots of Scandinavian Exceptionalism". The British journal of criminology 48 (2), 119-137. Pratt, J (2008b): "Scandinavian Exceptionalism in an Era of Penal Excess: Part II: Does Scandinavian Exceptionalism Have a Future? ". The British journal of criminology 48 (3), 275-292. at 9.

[127] Pratt, J (2008a): "Scandinavian Exceptionalism in an Era of Penal Excess: Part I: The Nature and Roots of Scandinavian Exceptionalism". The British journal of criminology 48 (2), 119-137. Pratt, J (2008b): "Scandinavian Exceptionalism in an Era of Penal Excess: Part II: Does Scandinavian Exceptionalism Have a Future? ". The British journal of criminology 48 (3), 275-292. at 13.

[128] Pratt, J (2008a): "Scandinavian Exceptionalism in an Era of Penal Excess: Part I: The Nature and Roots of Scandinavian Exceptionalism". The British journal of criminology 48 (2), 119-137. Pratt, J (2008b): "Scandinavian Exceptionalism in an Era of Penal Excess: Part II: Does Scandinavian Exceptionalism Have a Future? ". The British journal of criminology 48 (3), 275-292. at 11.

[129] Pratt, J (2008a): "Scandinavian Exceptionalism in an Era of Penal Excess: Part I: The Nature and Roots of Scandinavian Exceptionalism". The British journal of criminology 48 (2), 119-137. Pratt, J (2008b): "Scandinavian Exceptionalism in an Era of Penal Excess: Part II: Does Scandinavian Exceptionalism Have a Future? ". The British journal of criminology 48 (3), 275-292. at 18.

[130] Pratt, J (2008a): "Scandinavian Exceptionalism in an Era of Penal Excess: Part I: The Nature and Roots of Scandinavian Exceptionalism". The British journal of criminology 48 (2), 119-137. Pratt, J (2008b): "Scandinavian Exceptionalism in an Era of Penal Excess: Part II: Does Scandinavian Exceptionalism Have a Future? ". The British journal of criminology 48 (3), 275-292. at 14.

[131] Pratt, J (2008a): "Scandinavian Exceptionalism in an Era of Penal Excess: Part I: The Nature and Roots of Scandinavian Exceptionalism". The British journal of criminology 48 (2), 119-137. Pratt, J (2008b): "Scandinavian Exceptionalism in an Era of Penal Excess: Part II: Does Scandinavian Exceptionalism Have a Future? ". The British journal of criminology 48 (3), 275-292. at 14.

[132] Ugelvik, Thomas. "Prisons as Welfare Institutions? Punishment and the Nordic Model." (2016). at 4

[133] Cole, James M., Former Deputy Attorney General (April 23, 2014) Press Conference Announcing the Clemency Initiative, Washington, D.C

[134] National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Clemency Project 2014 is now closed. NACDL. https://www.nacdl.org/cp2014/ (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[135] National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Clemency Project 2014 is now closed. NACDL. https://www.nacdl.org/cp2014/ (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[136] Stump, Scott, “'I didn't know my dad': Obama gets personal in prison chat with inmates” Today, September 21, 2015. http://www.today.com/news/take-exclusive-look-president-obamas-visit-federal-prison-t45186 (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[137] Horsley, Scott, “Obama Visits Federal Prison, A First For A Sitting President” NPR, July 16, 2015. http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/07/16/423612441/obama-visits-federal-prison-a-first-for-a-sitting-president (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[138] Horsley, Scott, “Obama Visits Federal Prison, A First For A Sitting President” NPR, July 16, 2015. http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/07/16/423612441/obama-visits-federal-prison-a-first-for-a-sitting-president (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[139] Clemency Initiative, US Department of Justice, February 2, 2017. https://www.justice.gov/pardon/clemency-initiative (Accessed April 28, 2017).

[140] In those days, having a small amount of marijuana on you could land you in prison for 10 or 20 years. If you sold drugs, then you could be facing life in prison, even if there was no violence committed. Both, as a first-time offender.

[141] Hulse, Carl, “Unity Was Emerging on Sentencing. Then Came Jeff Sessions” NY Times, May 14, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/14/us/politics/jeff-sessions-criminal-sentencing.html?_r=1 (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[142] Hulse, Carl, “Unity Was Emerging on Sentencing. Then Came Jeff Sessions” NY Times, May 14, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/14/us/politics/jeff-sessions-criminal-sentencing.html?_r=1 (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[143] Hulse, Carl, “Unity Was Emerging on Sentencing. Then Came Jeff Sessions” NY Times, May 14, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/14/us/politics/jeff-sessions-criminal-sentencing.html?_r=1 (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[144] Dwyer, Colin, “Sessions Tells Prosecutors to Seek 'Most Serious' Charges, Stricter Sentences” NPR, May 12, 2017. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/12/528086525/sessions-tells-prosecutors-to-seek-most-serious-charges-stricter-sentences?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20170512 (Accessed May 12, 2017).

[145] Dwyer, Colin, “Sessions Tells Prosecutors to Seek 'Most Serious' Charges, Stricter Sentences” NPR, May 12, 2017. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/12/528086525/sessions-tells-prosecutors-to-seek-most-serious-charges-stricter-sentences?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20170512 (Accessed May 12, 2017).

[146] Dwyer, Colin, “Sessions Tells Prosecutors to Seek 'Most Serious' Charges, Stricter Sentences” NPR, May 12, 2017. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/05/12/528086525/sessions-tells-prosecutors-to-seek-most-serious-charges-stricter-sentences?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20170512 (Accessed May 12, 2017).

[147] Heaphy, Timothy J., “Jeff Sessions to federal prosecutors: I don’t trust you” The Washington Post, May 19, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jeff-sessions-to-federal-prosecutors-i-dont-trust-you/2017/05/19/ed50c448-3bf4-11e7-8854-21f359183e8c_story.html?utm_term=.3679fe9aa722 (Accessed May 23, 2017).

[148] Heaphy, Timothy J., “Jeff Sessions to federal prosecutors: I don’t trust you” The Washington Post, May 19, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jeff-sessions-to-federal-prosecutors-i-dont-trust-you/2017/05/19/ed50c448-3bf4-11e7-8854-21f359183e8c_story.html?utm_term=.3679fe9aa722 (Accessed May 23, 2017).

[149] Heaphy, Timothy J., “Jeff Sessions to federal prosecutors: I don’t trust you” The Washington Post, May 19, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jeff-sessions-to-federal-prosecutors-i-dont-trust-you/2017/05/19/ed50c448-3bf4-11e7-8854-21f359183e8c_story.html?utm_term=.3679fe9aa722 (Accessed May 23, 2017).

[150] Heaphy, Timothy J., “Jeff Sessions to federal prosecutors: I don’t trust you” The Washington Post, May 19, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jeff-sessions-to-federal-prosecutors-i-dont-trust-you/2017/05/19/ed50c448-3bf4-11e7-8854-21f359183e8c_story.html?utm_term=.3679fe9aa722 (Accessed May 23, 2017).

[151] Stuart, Tessa, “Kamala Harris Hits Jeff Sessions for 'Dark Ages' Drug Sentencing” Rolling Stone, May 18, 2017. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/kamala-harris-hits-jeff-sessions-for-dark-ages-drug-sentencing-w483014 (Accessed May 21, 2017).

[152] Stuart, Tessa, “Kamala Harris Hits Jeff Sessions for 'Dark Ages' Drug Sentencing” Rolling Stone, May 18, 2017. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/kamala-harris-hits-jeff-sessions-for-dark-ages-drug-sentencing-w483014 (Accessed May 21, 2017).

[153] Stuart, Tessa, “Kamala Harris Hits Jeff Sessions for 'Dark Ages' Drug Sentencing” Rolling Stone, May 18, 2017. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/kamala-harris-hits-jeff-sessions-for-dark-ages-drug-sentencing-w483014 (Accessed May 21, 2017).

[154] Schwartz, Rafi, “Eric Holder Issues a Blistering Condemnation of Jeff Sessions' New Embrace of the War on Drugs” Fusion, May 12, 2017. http://fusion.kinja.com/eric-holder-issues-a-blistering-condemnation-of-jeff-se-1795165577 (Accessed May 12, 207).

[155] Schwartz, Rafi, “Eric Holder Issues a Blistering Condemnation of Jeff Sessions' New Embrace of the War on Drugs” Fusion, May 12, 2017. http://fusion.kinja.com/eric-holder-issues-a-blistering-condemnation-of-jeff-se-1795165577 (Accessed May 12, 207).

[156] Horwitz, Sari, “Bipartisan group of senators push back on Sessions’s order to pursue most severe penalties” The Washington Post, May 17, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/bipartisan-group-of-senators-push-back-on-sessionss-order-to-pursue-most-severe-penalties/2017/05/17/753b946c-3b25-11e7-8854-21f359183e8c_story.html?utm_term=.b97af69f708d (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[157] Horwitz, Sari, “Bipartisan group of senators push back on Sessions’s order to pursue most severe penalties” The Washington Post, May 17, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/bipartisan-group-of-senators-push-back-on-sessionss-order-to-pursue-most-severe-penalties/2017/05/17/753b946c-3b25-11e7-8854-21f359183e8c_story.html?utm_term=.b97af69f708d (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[158] Horwitz, Sari, “Bipartisan group of senators push back on Sessions’s order to pursue most severe penalties” The Washington Post, May 17, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/bipartisan-group-of-senators-push-back-on-sessionss-order-to-pursue-most-severe-penalties/2017/05/17/753b946c-3b25-11e7-8854-21f359183e8c_story.html?utm_term=.b97af69f708d (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[159] Horwitz, Sari, “Bipartisan group of senators push back on Sessions’s order to pursue most severe penalties” The Washington Post, May 17, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/bipartisan-group-of-senators-push-back-on-sessionss-order-to-pursue-most-severe-penalties/2017/05/17/753b946c-3b25-11e7-8854-21f359183e8c_story.html?utm_term=.b97af69f708d (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[160] Horwitz, Sari, “Bipartisan group of senators push back on Sessions’s order to pursue most severe penalties” The Washington Post, May 17, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/bipartisan-group-of-senators-push-back-on-sessionss-order-to-pursue-most-severe-penalties/2017/05/17/753b946c-3b25-11e7-8854-21f359183e8c_story.html?utm_term=.b97af69f708d (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[161] Horwitz, Sari, “Bipartisan group of senators push back on Sessions’s order to pursue most severe penalties” The Washington Post, May 17, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/bipartisan-group-of-senators-push-back-on-sessionss-order-to-pursue-most-severe-penalties/2017/05/17/753b946c-3b25-11e7-8854-21f359183e8c_story.html?utm_term=.b97af69f708d (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[162] Horwitz, Sari, “Bipartisan group of senators push back on Sessions’s order to pursue most severe penalties” The Washington Post, May 17, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/bipartisan-group-of-senators-push-back-on-sessionss-order-to-pursue-most-severe-penalties/2017/05/17/753b946c-3b25-11e7-8854-21f359183e8c_story.html?utm_term=.b97af69f708d (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[163] Associated Press. “At $75,560, housing a prisoner in California now costs more than a year at Harvard” Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2017. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-prison-costs-20170604-htmlstory.html (Accessed June 8, 2017).

[164] Associated Press. “At $75,560, housing a prisoner in California now costs more than a year at Harvard” Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2017. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-prison-costs-20170604-htmlstory.html (Accessed June 8, 2017).

[165] Bentley, Gary. “Jeff Sessions’ War On Drugs Is A Huge Win For Private Prisons” The Ring of Fire Broadcasting, May 20, 2017. https://trofire.com/2017/05/20/jeff-sessions-war-drugs-huge-win-private-prisons/ (Accessed May 20, 2017).

[166] Stuart, Tessa, “Kamala Harris Hits Jeff Sessions for 'Dark Ages' Drug Sentencing” Rolling Stone, May 18, 2017. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/kamala-harris-hits-jeff-sessions-for-dark-ages-drug-sentencing-w483014 (Accessed May 21, 2017).

[167] Aleem, Zeeshan, “Sweeden’s Remarkable Prison System Has Done What the U.S. Won’t Even Consider” Mic, January 27, 2015. https://mic.com/articles/109138/sweden-has-done-for-its-prisoners-what-the-u-s-won-t#.ezdeRaiJ2 (Accessed April 21, 2016.

[168] Slater, Dashka, “North Dakota’s Norway Experiment” Mother Jones, July/August 2017 Issue. https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2017/07/north-dakota-norway-prisons-experiment/ (Accessed September 4, 2018).

[169] Slater, Dashka, “North Dakota’s Norway Experiment” Mother Jones, July/August 2017 Issue. https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2017/07/north-dakota-norway-prisons-experiment/ (Accessed September 4, 2018).

[170] Slater, Dashka, “North Dakota’s Norway Experiment” Mother Jones, July/August 2017 Issue. https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2017/07/north-dakota-norway-prisons-experiment/ (Accessed September 4, 2018).

[171] Slater, Dashka, “North Dakota’s Norway Experiment” Mother Jones, July/August 2017 Issue. https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2017/07/north-dakota-norway-prisons-experiment/ (Accessed September 4, 2018).

[172] Slater, Dashka, “North Dakota’s Norway Experiment” Mother Jones, July/August 2017 Issue. https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2017/07/north-dakota-norway-prisons-experiment/ (Accessed September 4, 2018).

[173] Slater, Dashka, “North Dakota’s Norway Experiment” Mother Jones, July/August 2017 Issue. https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2017/07/north-dakota-norway-prisons-experiment/ (Accessed September 4, 2018).

[174] Slater, Dashka, “North Dakota’s Norway Experiment” Mother Jones, July/August 2017 Issue. https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2017/07/north-dakota-norway-prisons-experiment/ (Accessed September 4, 2018).

[175] Slater, Dashka, “North Dakota’s Norway Experiment” Mother Jones, July/August 2017 Issue. https://www.motherjones.com/crime-justice/2017/07/north-dakota-norway-prisons-experiment/ (Accessed September 4, 2018).

[176] Spence, Gerry. Trial Lawyers College (July 2015).

[177] Chrisafis, Angelique, “French law forbids food waste by supermarkets” The Guardian, February 4, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/04/french-law-forbids-food-waste-by-supermarkets (Accessed May 21, 2017).

[178] Chrisafis, Angelique, “French law forbids food waste by supermarkets” The Guardian, February 4, 2016. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/feb/04/french-law-forbids-food-waste-by-supermarkets (Accessed May 21, 2017).

[179] Alderman, Liz, “Equal Pay for Men and Women? Iceland Wants Employers to Prove It” NY Times, March 28, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/28/business/economy/iceland-women-equal-pay.html (Accessed May 21, 2017).

[180] Stuart, Tessa, “Kamala Harris Hits Jeff Sessions for 'Dark Ages' Drug Sentencing” Rolling Stone, May 18, 2017. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/kamala-harris-hits-jeff-sessions-for-dark-ages-drug-sentencing-w483014 (Accessed May 21, 2017).

[181] A letter addressed to the newly appointed Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Mick Mulvaney titled “Retain the Office of National Drug Control Policy,” was written by over 70 medical and drug policy organizations, such as Addiction Policy Forum, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Smart Approaches to Marijuana and the Major County Sheriffs of America forcefully opposing the move to do away with the ONDCP altogether.

[182] Stuart, Tessa, “Kamala Harris Hits Jeff Sessions for 'Dark Ages' Drug Sentencing” Rolling Stone, May 18, 2017. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/kamala-harris-hits-jeff-sessions-for-dark-ages-drug-sentencing-w483014 (Accessed May 21, 2017).

 

This article was originally published in the Fall 2018 edition of The Warrior. Reprinted with permission from the author.


 

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