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Articles by Joe Watson

Report: More Should be Done to Preserve Rights of Incarcerated Parents

A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office has recommended that federal and state agencies do more to address the needs of families of incarcerated parents and their children, beginning with reporting requirements to better identify the children whose parents are incarcerated, and better communication between child-welfare agencies and ...

Arizona DOC Faces Lawsuit Over Inadequate Medical Care

There are cuts to health care and there are health care cuts. At least one Arizona prisoner has personal knowledge of the unfortunate difference.

Prisoners and their advocates have accused the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC) of being so obsessed with reducing costs that prison officials routinely deny medical care ...

GAO Report on Drug Courts Criticized by Drug Policy Alliance

The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the nation’s “leading organization promoting alternatives to current drug policy,” often has to wade through murky data to expose the ineffectiveness of the nation’s drug court system. But a recent federal study touting drug court successes only required the DPA to perform some ...

Google Provides Law Enforcement and Courts with User Information, Censors Content

Tech giant Google congratulated itself in October 2011 for refusing two “takedown” requests from U.S. law enforcement agencies that claimed videos of police brutality posted on YouTube were defamatory. Google owns YouTube, the Internet’s most popular video-sharing site.

A “local law enforcement agency,” which Google did not identify ...

Arizona DOC Makes Visitors Pay for Prison Maintenance, Repairs

Two lawsuits have challenged the Arizona Department of Corrections’ newly-adopted policies of imposing a background check fee on prison visitors and deducting a fee from deposits made into prisoners’ accounts.

On July 20, 2011, Arizona began charging visitors what prison officials termed a “background check fee” of $25, requiring the ...

Ohio Facility is Recycling Trash, Saving Money Thanks to Prisoners’ Slave Labor

Recycling was a foreign concept to Randy Cantebury, a training officer at the medium-security Marion Correctional Institute (MCI) in Marion, Ohio.

In early 2011, MCI prisoners told Cantebury, who runs the facility’s gardening and aquatic programs, that they wanted to start a recycling program. But he had no idea ...

ACLU of Arizona Surveys Taser Use in Statewide Report

No one can claim that the ACLU of Arizona lacks ambition.

After poring over a decade’s worth of investigations, lawsuits and public records, the ACLU of Arizona is attempting to persuade law enforcement officials in the Grand Canyon State to address their use of Tasers, as detailed in a ...

Murderer Registry Becomes Law in Illinois

For ex-prisoners hoping for a fresh start upon their release, the slope is becoming increasingly slippery.

A bill signed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on July 21, 2011 has established the state’s first registry for convicted murderers. Also known as “Andrea’s Law,” the legislation requires offenders convicted of ...

Report Says Reentry Agencies Should Hire Former Prisoners

When released prisoners meet throngs of otherwise upstanding, Ivy League WASPs offering transitional assistance, it’s like getting a tune-up from a mechanic with clean fingernails. It simply doesn’t inspire much confidence in the work being done.

Thus, a recent collaborative report led by the Prisoner Reentry Institute at ...

Drug Courts Need an Intervention, Reports Say

Drug courts in the U.S. are increasingly like the people they purportedly aim to help – indulging their pathological tendencies with enabling self-talk that ignores the harsh reality of their failings. So argues the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) in its March 2011 report, Drug Courts are Not the ...