Week ending Aug. 9, 2015

CHRONIC HOMELESSNESS

Program seeks to expunge criminal records of Utah’s chronically homeless by Marjorie Cortez, KSL.com

“On its face, expunging the criminal records of formerly homeless people to help them obtain housing and jobs seemed simple enough. But getting there turned out to be a complicated process, said Amy Powers, staff attorney for the nonprofit law office Utah Legal Services. It conducted a pilot program to determine the costs and challenges of wiping clean the criminal records of former chronically homeless people, to remove what can be crippling obstacles to become self-sufficient.”

UTAH STATE PRISON

2 fired, action taken against 3 others at Utah State Prison in connection with inmate’s death by Mark Green, Fox13

“The Utah Department of Corrections announced Thursday two employees have been terminated, a third has been demoted, a fourth is suspended and a fifth will be working in a new capacity after multiple investigations into the death of an inmate who died in April after not receiving scheduled dialysis treatments.”

Hunger strike at Utah State Prison ends by Ben Lockhart, Deseret News

“Six days after 42 inmates initiated a hunger strike at the Utah State Prison, all of them are accepting meals again.”

Utah prison officials say hunger strike all but ended by Erin Alberty, The Salt Lake Tribune

“Utah State Prison inmates have ended a six-day hunger strike, corrections officials say. On Wednesday, only two of 42 striking inmates said they will continue to refuse meals to protest prison conditions. At breakfast on Wednesday, 31 of the 42 inmates protesting conditions in the Uinta 2 unit accepted meals, prison spokeswoman Brooke Adams wrote in a press statement. By lunch, 40 of the 42 were accepting meals.”

Some inmates lose television, spending privileges as prison hunger strike reaches 5th day by Ben Lockhart, Deseret News

“Forty-two inmates participating in a hunger strike at the Utah State Prison saw some of their privileges taken away Tuesday in a show of discipline by prison staff.”

ACLU supports inmates’ hunger strike, says extreme isolation needs to change by Pat Reavy, Deseret News

“The Utah Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says a hunger strike by 42 Utah State Prison inmates is more about improving living conditions than relocating gang leaders.”

Hunger strike continues in Utah prison, seeking better conditions for violent inmates by James Queally and Christine Mai-Duc, The Los Angeles Times

“Dozens of inmates at a Utah state prison entered the fourth day of a hunger strike Monday, hoping to force corrections officials to improve conditions for maximum-security inmates who, civil rights activists say, face extremely restrictive living conditions.”

Utah prison hunger strike continues, but officials say some inmates are eating by Erin Alberty, The Salt Lake Tribune

“Several Utah State Prison inmates who are on a hunger strike have been eating food they purchased themselves from the prison commissary, prison officials said in an update Monday. The number of participants in the hunger strike held steady at 42, prison officials said. But not all of the inmates have gone completely without food since the strike began Friday morning, purportedly in protest of living conditions in the prison.”

Utah prison officers on alert for drones following apparent July sighting by The Salt Lake Tribune

“Utah State Prison officers are on heightened alert for drone activity after an apparent sighting over the Draper facility last month. On the morning of July 15, a prison employee reported seeing what appeared to be a drone flying over a prison recreations yard, prison spokesperson Brooke Adams said Tuesday in a press release.”

PRISON RELOCATION

Commission to pick new Utah prison site Aug. 11 by Matt Canham, The Salt Lake Tribune

“The favored site for a new Utah State Prison may well be known Tuesday. The Prison Relocation Commission’s leaders have called a meeting that day, believing they have the information needed to pick one of the four sites under consideration. Their recommendation will then go to the Legislature and Gov. Gary Herbert for a final decision.”

OPINION

Address prison issues, but not because of hunger strike, The Salt Lake Tribune

“What do we do with people convicted of serious crimes? We put them in prison, of course. And what happens after they’ve been there for a good long time? We let them out, of course.  Accepting that reality — the vast majority of even serious offenders eventually leave prison — is at the heart of modern thinking on incarceration. And that is why a bunch of hunger-striking prisoners at the Utah State Prison can’t be dismissed simply as an untrustworthy bunch who should be left to rot.”

Letter: Final Decision

It makes sense to relocate the prison away from Draper, Drew Clark, Deseret News

“Utah’s economy is growing rapidly, and so is its population. These facts influence the emerging common-sense viewpoint that it’s time to relocate the state prison from its current home here.”

STORIES OF INTEREST

Obenshain says Virginia’s crime and recidivism rates have dropped since parole abolition by Warren Fiske, Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Republicans are denouncing Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s efforts to study whether Virginia’s no parole policies, in effect since 1995, should be eased. Among the most vocal critics is state Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, who ran unsuccessfully for attorney general in 2013. Here’s what he said during a July 21 radio interview on WRVA in Richmond.”

Helping Prisoners Build a Better Life: DOE Launches Pilot for Second Chance Pell Grants by Angela Glover Blackwell, The Huffington Post

“The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) took a vital step last week to help the over one million people in U.S. prisons build better lives for themselves and their families. The Second Chance Pell Pilot program, which continues the ongoing efforts of the Obama Administration to reform prison policies and reduce recidivism, will test new models allowing incarcerated Americans to receive Pell Grants to support post-secondary education.”

OPINION: Mandatory minimums aren’t justice by Kevin Ring, director of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, The Detroit News

“Defenders of America’s criminal sentencing laws have relied on just two arguments for the last 20 years: Lengthy mandatory minimum sentences have caused crime to fall and have helped prosecutors persuade guilty defendants to cooperate against others.”

California to drop appeal of court ruling allowing felons to vote by Sharon Bernstein, Reuters, The Fiscal Times

“California will drop its challenge to a court ruling allowing thousands of newly released felons to vote, an official said on Tuesday, the latest example of the success of a criminal justice reform movement that is gaining steam among Democrats as well as some Republicans.”

Prison hunger strikes in the U.S. are few, and rarely successful by Christine Mai-Duc, Los Angeles Times

“For inmates in Utah State Prison’s highest-security units, life is lived almost exclusively within their cell walls.”

Task force appointed by governor released recommendations for prison sentencing, recidivism by The Associated Press, Daily Journal (Tennessee)

“A task force appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam to look at prison sentencing guidelines and recidivism has made its final recommendations.”

DA calls for sentencing reform after death of Memphis officer by WMC Action News 5 (Tennessee)

“In the wake of Memphis Police Officer Sean Bolton’s death by a suspect who was let out of prison early, a Tennessee district attorney is calling for tougher sentencing laws.”

 

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