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Articles by Brian Dolinar

Prioritizing Incarcerated People for Vaccine Quickly Reduced COVID in IL Prisons

New Surge of COVID Is Spreading “Like Wildfire” in Illinois Prisons

Part of the Series: Despair and Disparity: The Uneven Burdens of COVID-19

With COVID-19 raging throughout the United States, there is a growing sense of desperation among people in prison. Pablo Mendoza, who recently got out of prison, said that those inside “are ...

Illinois Prison Phone Rates are Lowest Following Grassroots Activism

by Brian Dolinar, Truthout

“There were a lot of times my sons tried calling me,” recalled Annette Taylor, who regularly receives calls from her two sons in prison, “but there was no money on the account.” Those were some of the “hardest calls,” she said. “I would worry something was ...

Profiting Off Mass Incarceration: Detroit Pistons Owner Buys Private Prison Phone Company

by Brian Dolinar, Truthout

The election of Donald Trump has already given an economic boost to those profiting from mass incarceration. The stock prices of the two biggest private prison builders – CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America) and GEO Group – doubled after Trump took office.

Companies that charge for expensive ...

With General Inch in Charge, We Can Expect Further Militarization of the Prison System

by Brian Dolinar, Truthout

The appointment of retired Army General Mark S. Inch to head the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is a major blow to those working for prison reform under Trump. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on August 1, 2017 that Inch would be taking over the position. ...

Orange Crush: The Rise of Tactical Teams in Prison

by Brian Dolinar, Truthout

Since Ferguson, there has been a public outcry over militarized police who shoot down African Americans on the streets of our cities, but less is known beyond prison walls about guards who regularly brutalize those incarcerated. In Illinois, there is a notorious band of guards called the ...

When Jail is Used as Drug Treatment

By Brian Dolinar, Smile Politely

Some in our community say that those in the local jail are dangerous people that shouldn’t be let out on the streets. Yet the tragic story of Toya Frazier, who recently died in the jail, is the more common case of someone who was no ...

How Privatization Destroyed an Illinois Jail's Award-winning Suicide Prevention Program

Several years ago, while working at our local Books to Prisoners, I met a volunteer who was formerly a mental health counselor in the local jail in Champaign County, Illinois. This was just after there had been three jail suicides within a six-month period in 2004. She recalled a time ...

National Conference for Prison Book Projects Held in Urbana-Champaign

On November 3, 2007, a conference in Urbana-Champaign, Illinois brought together 88 participants from 29 different prison book projects across the country. A similar event of this kind has not taken place since a 2002 conference in Philadelphia.

Participants shared information about issues of fundraising, censorship, and how to work ...