If prison is designed to prevent repeat offenses, it’s failing miserably.
Business Insider reports that more than a third of state prisoners were arrested within six months of being released, and that number jumped to 56.7% within the first year, 67.8% within three years and 76.6 % within five years.
Those numbers were even higher for inmates who were 24 years old and younger.
The staggering statistics raise serious questions about the role of prisons and their ability to rehabilitate offenders.
Property offenders were most likely to land in trouble again, with 82.1% committing crimes within five years of being released from prison.
After four years of attacks and controversies, Attorney General appears to be finally settling in during his second term under President Obama.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Holder “has tackled his responsibilities with newfound energy and determination, surprising critics and supporters alike by striking out on a broad, ambitious and unapologetically liberal agenda.”
Here’s what he’s done: shortened prison sentences, pursued mega-banks for fraud and plans to ban federal agents from basing investigations on discriminatory practices.
“I am focusing on issues — really focusing on issues — in these last few weeks that have been near and dear to me for as long as I’ve been a lawyer,” Holder said in an interview. “This whole notion of criminal justice reform, civil rights enforcement — all these are the kinds of things that animated me and that made me want to become a lawyer in the first place.”
A disproportionate number of low-level drug criminals who are behind bars are African Americans sentenced under strict laws from the days of the crack epidemic.
Hoping to correct that disparity, the Justice Department is encouraging defense lawyers to help identify inmates for clemency, the New York Times reports.
Penalties for drug offenses involving crack were often more severe than those with powder cocaine.
So far, Obama has commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates sentenced to harsh sentences because of crack.
“There are more low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who remain in prison, and who would likely have received a substantially lower sentence if convicted of precisely the same offenses today,” Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said. “This is not fair, and it harms our criminal justice system.”
The Justice Department leveled serious allegations against Alabama officials, saying the state failed to protect female prisoners from being sexually assaulted and harassed by correctional staff, Fox 6 WBRC reports.
“Tutwiler has a history of unabated staff-on-prisoner sexual abuse and harassment,” the department wrote in a report to Gov. Robert Bentley. “The women at Tutwiler universally fear for their safety. They live in a sexualized environment with repeated and open sexual behavior, including: abusive sexual contact between staff and prisoners; sexualized activity, including a strip show condoned by staff; profane and unprofessional sexualized language and harassment; and deliberate cross-gender viewing of prisoners showering, urinating, and defecating.”
The governor’s office expressed support for the investigation.
“Governor Bentley has been supportive of Commissioner Thomas’ proactive measures to address the needs and issues in our prison system. The Department of Corrections has been putting recommendations from the NIC report in place since last January. It is important to ensure safety of inmates and staff inside our prisons, and the Governor is supportive of Commissioner Thomas’ efforts to do just that.”
What’s Ex-NY Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik up to since he was released from federal prison after serving about three years?
For one, he’s back to running the Kerik Group, that provides security and countterrorism services internationally.
He’s also pushing for prison reform.
Kerik emailed a press release Sunday stating that he’s pushing for prison reform, and plans to deliver a speech on Jan. 29 at the Arlington Artisphere, 1101 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington VA, to talk about a prison system he says is in dire need of repair.
His press release states:
Too many people are being sent to prison for non-violent offenses. The US has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners. One in 31 Americans are behind bars, on probation or on parole. Our system of justice is too costly to the taxpayers and to family and friends of those being incarcerated. Bernard Kerik has had a bird’s eye view and has come out of prison with specific recommendations.
In 2004, President George W. Bush nominated Kerik to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. A week later, he withdrew his name after admitting he failed to pay payroll taxes for his children’s nanny.
He ended up pleading guilty to income tax charges and lying to the federal government. He was sentenced to four years in prison and ended up serving about three years. He was released from federal custody last Oct. 15.
Last November, Matt Lauer of the Today Show interviewed Kerik about his life behind bars. (See the interview below).
Ex-Congressman Jesse L. Jackson Jr., who had a promising political career, and a famous father, was sentenced Wednesday to 2 1/2 years in prison for stealing more than $750,000 in campaign money, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“I misled the American people, I misled the House of Representatives,” Jackson, 48, said in court. “I was wrong and I do not fault anyone.”
His wife, former Ald. Sandi Jackson, was hit with a 12 month sentence, the paper reported. The judge noted that she spent campaign funds that included $5,000 in furs and parkas “in one day.”