Week ending March 20, 2016



March 16: Please join us today in remembering Warden Mathew B. Burgher, who died on this date in 1876 from injuries sustained while attempting to stop an escape at the Utah Territorial Prison




Ex-inmate settles suit over prison’s failure to accommodate his disability by Marjorie Cortez, Deseret News

“Sentenced to five years to life for a first-degree felony sex offense in 1996, Richard Ramirez’s parole hinged on successful completion of the Utah State Prison’s sex offender treatment program.”

Utah inmate dies from injuries suffered in prison assault by Jennifer Dobner, The Salt Lake Tribune

“A Utah State Prison inmate has died as a result of injuries sustained in an assault, corrections officials said Tuesday. Jeffrey Ray Vigil, 24, was assaulted by another inmate in a common area of the Draper prison’s Oquirrh I housing unit at about 6 p.m. Monday, the Utah Department of Corrections said in a news release.”


American Indian students deserve better from Utah schools by Vanessa R. Walsh in The Salt Lake Tribune

“Consider these events, each of which happened at the same high school in Utah during the 2013-14 school year.
• Two boys get into a fight because one boy made a homophobic slur directed to the other. The boy puts the other in a headlock. He then breaks free and punches the other three times.
• A boy takes several highlighter markers from a teacher’s desk when the rest of the class was in the lab.
What should happen?”


New Technologies Connect Prisoners with the Outside World by Kit O’Connell, Texas Observer

“Can the tech industry be recruited to help end mass incarceration? On Friday at SXSW Interactive, part of Austin’s nine-day SXSW music, film and technology conference, a panel of app developers and nonprofit founders took on the question, connecting lower recidivism rates with keeping incarcerated people in touch with family and friends.”

Report Underscores Need for Sentencing Reform by Tim Ryan, Courthouse News Service

“Nearly half of the people released from federal prisons in 2005 were rearrested within eight years, a U.S. Sentencing Commission report released last week found. Of those rearrested in that time span, roughly 31 percent were reconvicted and more than 24 percent found their way back into a jail cell, according to the report.”

Opinion: Fixing the criminal justice system means far more than sentencing reform by George F. Will in the New York Post

“Sen. John Cornyn recalls visiting a Texas prison where some inmates taking shop classes could not read tape measures. Cornyn, who was previously a district court judge and Texas Supreme Court justice, knows that prisons are trying to teach literacy and vocations, trying to cope with the mental illnesses of many inmates and trying to take prophylactic measures to prevent drug-related recidivism by persons imprisoned for drug offenses. ‘The criminal justice system,’ he says, ‘has become by default a social services provider.'”

South Dakota bans life-without-parole sentences for youth by NewsCenter1

“South Dakota has banned the practice of sentencing children to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed SB 140 sponsored by Sen. Craig Tieszen, into law on Wednesday. In making this change, South Dakota joins states such as Wyoming, Nevada and West Virginia in implementing less punitive accountability measures for children.”

Former Inmates Finding Work with Help of Dallas Attorney, NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

“A Dallas nonprofit is trying to reduce recidivism in the state by helping former inmates find resources and work out of prison. Unlocking Doors began in 2010 as a way to connect those in prisons with the outside world. With a small staff and public-private funding, they’re currently working with more than 2,000 former Texas inmates.”

Expediting Medicaid Enrollment for Released Offenders Improves Health Access, But Not Recidivism by Tara Haelle, PsychiatryAdvisor.com

“Expediting Medicaid enrollment for Washington state prisoners with severe mental illness increased enrollment and health care utilization but did not influence recidivism, according to research recently published in Psychiatric Services in Advance.”

Kentucky House Approves Sentencing Reform for Low-Level Felonies by WFPL

“The state House of Representatives approved a bill on Friday that would create a new class of criminal punishment called “gross misdemeanor.”


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