Skip navigation

Articles by Jayson Hawkins

Texas Prisons Close Amid Pandemic

TDCJ said the latter two were expected to be temporary ...

Report: Massachusetts Prisons Continue to Fail on Mental Health Care

Investigators cited hundreds of instances of MDOC employees failing to prevent suicide or other self-harm among prisoners who had been designated for ...

Audits Reveals Problems With Privatized Food Service at Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County Jail

by Jayson Hawkins

Two audits released July 20, 2020 revealed a series of shortcomings by a food service contractor tasked with providing meals to juvenile detainees and in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County.

Florida-based contractor Trinity Services Group was paid $3.5 million to provide three meals a day to prisoners at the ...

Greedo Still Influencing From Texas Prison

New Details Emerge on Senseless Death in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin Jail

Magic as Rehabilitation

For many, the answer is to distract themselves with dominoes and television. Others turn ...

Georgia Prisoners Lacked Food, Water, Leading to Melee

Innovative Vermont Prison Superintendent’s Demotion for Sexist Language Proves Controversial

by Jayson Hawkins

Former Vermont prison Superintendent Ed Adams has found himself the subject of repeated media scrutiny over the last few years, and his story is illustrative of the problems that surround prison reform, public records availability, and bridging the often jarring disconnect between societal norms and prison reality.

Adams worked as a guard for well over a decade before rising to become senior superintendent of Vermont’s only female prison in 2013. A few years later, he took over administration of the Southern State Correctional Facility, the state’s second largest prison. In 2016, he earned Department of Corrections manager of the year honors, and all the way through April 2018, his performance evaluations showed an overall assessment of “outstanding,” the highest grade given.

But Adams had been dogged by allegations of sexual harassment while running the women’s prison, and at the Southern State facility he was repeatedly accused of “creating a hostile work environment” through his reported use of sexist language, inappropriate sexual comments, and threats of retaliation toward prison staff, Vermont Digger reported in March 2020.

In September 2018, he was placed on administrative leave, and three months later, he accepted a demotion to probation officer at ...

The Role of Prosecutors in Mass Incarceration

Prosecutors are by far the most obscure variable in the criminal justice equation. They enjoy enormous discretion in their decision making, and much of what they do occurs in private meetings. Past efforts to study and quantify the role of prosecutors in the justice process have shed only limited light on how they make decisions, but a recent study published by the Southern California Law Review offers important insight into the decisions prosecutors routinely make and how those decisions could have an outsized impact on incarceration rates.

The study was carried out by Shima Baradaran Baughman at the University of Utah College of Law and Megan S. Wright at Pennsylvania State University. Five-hundred ...

Privatized Food Service Problems at Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County Jail

Much of the audit’s 34 pages focused on flawed record-keeping and Trinity either over charging for meals or failing to reimburse the county for commissions as stipulated in the contract. The county was overcharged at the Shuman Center, for example, by $8,413, including more than $6,000 for food donated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At the jail, the county was overbilled more than $1,600.

There also is a discrepancy concerning meals from a program called Trinity Take-Out, which allows prisoners to order specialty items like cheeseburgers and chicken sandwiches at prices ranging from $12 to $20. Trinity’s contract with the county provides ...