Skip navigation

Articles by Keith Sanders

How Jails Became a Breeding Ground for the Coronavirus

Suicides in New York SHUs Surge to Epidemic Levels

Ten days later, Ben committed suicide.

Suicide rates inside New York’s state prison system have grown at an alarming pace since Ben took his life. According to a May 2020 report by the #HALTsolitary Campaign, which analyzed data obtained from the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) through public records requests, 75 people died by suicide in New York prisons from January 2015 to April 2020. There were 18 suicides in 2019 alone, which the report cites as 88% higher than the national average for all U.S. prisons.

#HALTsolitary Campaign’s findings also reveal distressing increases in suicide rates at New York’s solitary confinement units, or Special Housing Units (SHUs) in the state prison system’s jargon.

From January 2015 to April 2019, suicide attempts in SHUs ...

GEO Group and CoreCivic Lose Critical Financial Support

But they also stand out for another reason: Like other corporations accused of prioritizing profits over people, both firms have been plagued by allegations of controversial business practices. Critics claim that the public-private partnerships through which the companies take over prison operations actually serve to line the pockets of politicians in exchange for regulatory concessions that curb oversight and protect the industry’s financial bottom line – all at the expense of the prisoners they are charged to oversee.

That, however, may soon be coming to an end.

Criminal justice activists have long sought, without success, to dismantle the private prison industry. Their efforts have been thwarted, in large measure, by an apathetic public with little appetite for addressing issues related to mass incarceration in America. But with the 2018 immigration crisis, that began to change. Images of children being separated from their families and the abysmal conditions inside ...