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Articles by Joe Watson

“Ban the Box” Movement Spreads Nationwide

“Ban the Box” Movement Spreads Nationwide

by Joe Watson

Prisoner advocacy groups are hailing recent successes in “Ban the Box” campaigns to remove questions related to criminal records from employment applications, and say they hope to expand the movement even further as momentum grows to help ex-offenders find jobs.

San ...

New York Judge Unseals Attica Prison Riot Records – Sort of

New York Judge Unseals Attica Prison Riot Records – Sort of

by Joe Watson

A New York state judge has ordered the release of hundreds of pages of documents related to the investigation of the 1971 riot at the Attica Correctional Facility, but not before striking enough information from the ...

Arizona Prison System Plagued by Politics, Privatization and Prisoner Deaths

By the time Jan Brewer replaced Janet Napolitano as Arizona’s governor in 2009, it had been 22 years since the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) built the first prison in the United States designed exclusively for permanent lockdown – a prison that became the prototype for supermax facilities across the ...

Faulty Background Checks Blamed on Digitized Records, Greedy Amateurs

Whoever said that living in the past is a fruitless endeavor never tried to make money off background checks.

Billions of publicly-available records have resulted in a global army of unskilled, wanna-be detectives who make quick bucks by peddling information obtained from public databases related to arrests, criminal convictions and ...

Muslim Prisoners Challenge Ohio’s Denial of Halal Meals; Pork Producers Protest

In 2011, Abdul-Hamead Awkal, II, 52, and Cornelius Causey, 35, both Muslim prisoners, filed separate lawsuits against the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC), arguing that the ODRC’s refusal to provide halal meals infringed on their religious rights.

“The issue of eating halal meals is especially important to me ...

Mom’s E-mail Forces Hawaiian Lawmakers to Tour “Hellhole” Prison

It took one mother of a complaint to get lawmakers in September 2011 to visit a dilapidated prison in Hawaii. Prison officials, however, put on a good show for their guests.

The grumblings about Hawaii’s prison conditions are constant. But it was an e-mail from a mom in California, Diane ...

Mississippi Supreme Court Upholds Outgoing Governor's 214 Messy Pardons

Two months of political gamesmanship and blustery media coverage came to an end on March 8 when the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld more than 200 pardons granted by Haley Barbour in his final days as governor.

The court ruled, 6-3, that the pardons "may not be set aside or voided ...

Report Critical of Maine DOC's Medical Contractors

Report Critical of Maine DOC’s Medical Contractors

by Joe Watson

For nine years, Corizon had a lucrative monopoly on prison healthcare in Maine. But after a November 2011 state agency review cited persistent “deficiencies,” the company appears headed for a bidding war.

After reviewing medical files for at least two ...

Iowa Pays Almost $500,000 to Fired Parole, Prison Supervisors

Non-union membership in the Hawkeye State apparently has its privileges, at least for parole and prison officials in management positions.

Between August 2011 and early 2012, when Iowa’s Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) ruled in their favor, 18 former prison and parole supervisors who claimed they were improperly laid off ...

New York: Provision Requiring Independent Jail Oversight Board Ignored for 23 Years

For more than two decades, the Nassau County Jail in East Meadow, New York has lacked accountability in the form of an oversight board. But that lapse may be coming to an end after prisoner advocates filed a lawsuit seeking court intervention.

Since 1990, the Nassau County Jail has failed ...