Incarceration in the United States

Items in the News Archive provide an opportunity to explore issues related to incarceration and health of justice-involved individuals in the United States from a media perspective. Please note that the articles listed below are by no means exhaustive. They represent a collection of relatively recent news items staff deemed relevant to the Center and its work. For more in-depth academic resources related to this topic, please select the corresponding category under the Educational Resources tab.

General
Conditions of Confinement
Sentencing
Reform
Alternatives

General

The Riddle of Prison Sentencing
New York Times, December 9 , 2016
“A study released this year by Jason Rydberg, a criminologist at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, examined the impact of the length of incarceration on recidivism rates in Michigan, Missouri, New York and Utah. He found that for those who had committed public order and sex crimes, longer incarceration corresponded to higher recidivism rates. A study in Harris County, Tex., that included violent crime showed similar results.”

Out of Prison, Uncovered 
The Marshall Project, December 6, 2016
“Nationwide, 16 state prison systems have no formal procedure to enroll prisoners in Medicaid as they reenter the community, according to a survey by The Marshall Project. Nine states have only small programs in select facilities or for limited groups of prisoners, like those with disabilities. These 25 states collectively release some 375,000 inmates each year.”

Jails, Prisons Still Trying to Meet Federal Anti-Rape Rules
CorrectionsOne, September 11, 2016
“Since 2012, states have been working to meet the standards set forth by the Prison Rape Elimination Act, or PREA, which was partially inspired by the 1996 death of Rodney Hulin, an undersized 17-year-old inmate who hanged himself in Texas after his requests for help following repeated rapes by adult inmates were denied. Texas sheriff’s offices say separating the two populations has been a challenge because of overcrowding and steep financial costs. ‘It’s a big logistical headache,. Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk said.”

Majority of Older Adults in Jail Have Distressing Health Symptoms
American Geriatrics Society, August 29, 2016
“Of the [study] participants, a significant majority of respondents said they had at least one symptom of physical distress (44 percent), psychological distress (56 percent), extreme loneliness (45 percent), and/or concerns about their personal dignity (54 percent). Furthermore, participants also reported that they faced difficult social challenges, including being homeless and worrying about physical safety.”

National Survey of Prison Healthcare: Selected Findings
Centers for Disease Control, July 28, 2016
“Overall, 45 states participated in NSPHC. In 2011, the percentages of prison admissions occurring in states that tested at least some prisoners for the following conditions during the admissions process were: 76.9% for hepatitis A, 82.0% for hepatitis B, 87.3% for hepatitis C, 100.0% for tuberculosis, 100.0% for mental health conditions and suicide risk, 40.3% for traumatic brain injury, 82.5% for cardiovascular conditions and risk factors using electrocardiogram, 70.0% for elevated lipids, and 99.8% for high blood pressure.” Center Director Dr. Jody Rich commented on the report for the American Heart Association.

7,000 Deaths in Custody
The Atlantic, July 28, 2016
“Between 2005 and 2015, 6,913 people died while in legal custody in Texas. Many died of natural causes while serving long prison sentences. Others ended their own lives. A few died at the hands of another inmate, or, in some cases, police or correctional officers. In a handful of instances, people died from cardiac arrest after quickly ingesting a lethal dose of drugs while being arrested or after getting pulled over by police. Together, these deaths form revealing patterns about Texas-style justice and the state of corrections in an increasingly carceral country.”

Louisiana, the U.S. Incarceration Capital, Prepares for Expanded Medicaid
USA Today, June 28, 2016
“Both women and other formerly incarcerated Louisiana residents describe prison and reentry as psychologically crushing for most people. Without access to health care when they leave prison, it’s often only a matter of time until many prisoners return. The imminent expansion at least gives many hope they can get some help for problems that helped send them to prison in the first place.”

Broken Jail Healthcare System Poses Dangers Behind Bars
CBS, April 5, 2016
“But problems with ACH medical staff extend beyond Kentucky. One nurse in Tennessee was convicted of covering up his failure to take an inmate’s vital signs. The inmate died of a drug and alcohol overdose. Another inmate in Ohio died from a bleeding ulcer where the medical examiner concluded the “need for urgent medical intervention” would have been obvious to anyone. In one Alabama jail, three wrongful death lawsuits are pending — including one for a 19-year-old accused of shoplifting. He was found naked with gangrene in his leg.”

State Seeks to Bend the Rules to Allow Medicaid Coverage for Inmates
Crain’s, March 31, 2016
“This has not been the first call to allow Medicaid dollars to flow to inmates, and it won’t be the last. Since scrutiny of health care at Rikers Island came to the fore, health officials have been discussing ways in which waivers could be used to pay for other services, as well. ‘A key funding opportunity could involve Medicaid waivers to reimburse provision of chronic care inside jails and prisons that was initiated in a community setting,’ wrote Homer Venters, chief medical officer and assistant vice president of the Division of Correctional Health Services for New York City Health and Hospitals, in a report published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Changes Weighed to Federal Program for Ailing, Aging Inmates
Associated Press, March 10, 2016
“The issue is important, since prison officials have described prisoners 50 and older as their fastest-growing demographic, up by 25 percent from 2009 to 2013. Yet even though studies show that the elderly are far less likely to re-offend after release, prison officials have struggled to define who should be considered. The result: inmates have sometimes died behind bars even after they’ve been found to meet the criteria for release.”

Trouble Behind Bars: When Jail Deaths Go Unnoticed
Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, October 5, 2015
“The causes of more than 40 percent of all Kentucky jail deaths during the past 6½ years are listed ambiguously in department records as “natural, “unknown” or “autopsy pending,” although some of those cases appear to have involved lapses by the jail staff, misconduct or indifference.”

Inmates Help Other Prisoners Face Death in Hospice Program
Associated Press, October 6, 2015
“[Scott] Abram, 48, is a Stephen Minister, a type of lay counselor common in churches around the country but rarer inside prison walls. He is one of 15 male and female inmates trained in the program at Franklin Medical Center, a small prison just south of downtown Columbus that houses some of the state’s sickest inmates, many of whom die there.'”

The Literal Cost of Solitary Confinement
New Republic, September  16, 2015
“Prison officials in at least six state systems have the authority to impose fines in addition to solitary for a single rule violation. Wyoming charges up to $50, Georgia up to $100, Oregon as much as to $200. Fees in the states of New York, Kansas, and South Dakota range between $5 and $20.”

Report Details Economic Hardships for Inmate Families
New York Times, September 15, 2015
A survey of families that have a member in jail or prison has found that nearly two-thirds struggle to meet their basic needs, including 50 percent that are unable to afford sufficient food and adequate housing. The report found that costs associated with incarceration, like traveling for prison visits, had pushed more than one-third of the families into debt.”

What Care Do Prisons Owe Transgender Inmates?
The Marshall Project, August 10, 2015
“Earlier this month, in a strongly worded ruling, District Court Judge Jon Tigar ordered the state of California to ‘provide [Michelle-Lael] Norsworthy sex-reassignment surgery as promptly as possible.’ By not having done so already, the judge said that prison officials were ‘deliberately indifferent to her serious medical need.'”

State Medicaid Eligibility Policies for Individuals Moving Into and Out of Incarceration
Kaiser Family Foundation, August 4, 2015
“Building on an earlier brief that provides an overview of health coverage and care for individuals involved with the criminal justice system, this brief highlights how state eligibility policies for incarcerated individuals differ, based on a review of state statutes, regulations, Medicaid eligibility manuals and other Medicaid agency guidance publicly available online and Medicaid managed care contracts.”

Report: Inmate Deaths on the Rise
The Crime Report, August 4, 2015
The number of inmates who died in state prisons and local jails increased for third year in a row in 2013, according to a report from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). The total number of inmate deaths, 4,446, was the highest number since BJS began tracking the number in 2007″

New Report Reveals Enormous Hidden Price of Jails
The Vera Institute of Justice, May 21, 2015
“While the U.S. Department of Justice estimated that local communities spent $22.2 billion on jails in 2011, that figure fails to take into account significant costs such as employee benefits and inmate medical care that may not be included in jail budgets. For example, in addition to the $1.1 billion spent by the City of New York Department of Corrections in 2014, other agencies spent $1.3 billion on jail employee benefits, health care and education programs for incarcerated people, and administration, bringing the total cost to $2.4 billion—more than double the official jail budget.”

Forcing Black Men Out of Society
The New York Times, April 25, 2015
“An analysis in The Times — “1.5 Million Missing Black Men” — showed that more than one in every six black men in the 24-to-54 age group has disappeared from civic life, mainly because they died young or are locked away in prison. This means that there are only 83 black men living outside of jail for every 100 black women — in striking contrast to the white population, where men and women are about equal in numbers.”

New Analysis: U.S. Prison Population Trends
The Sentencing Project, April 8, 2015
“ A new analysis by The Sentencing Project reveals broad variation in nationwide incarceration trends. While the number of people in prison in the United States has stabilized in recent years, incarceration trends among the states have varied significantly. Two-thirds of states (34) have experienced at least a modest decline since 1999, while one-third (16) have had continued rises in their prison populations. Print-friendly version and full data available here.”

How Incarceration Infects a Community
The Atlantic, March 6, 2015
“Disease-based models help researchers understand how prison-admission rates are linked to the health of a neighborhood.”

How bail punishes the poor for their poverty
The Washington Post, February 13, 2015
“Most of the controversy over crime and punishment in the United States has focused on how many people are in prison. You don’t hear as much about jails, and yet for most Americans the local jail is where they’re likely to experience the justice system. Far more Americans go to jail in a given year than to prison, although most of them have not been convicted of any crime. Then there are those with mental illnesses who simply don’t have other options. And increasingly, jail has become a de facto punishment for poverty, as the poor are forced to remain there in lieu of bail while awaiting trial.”


Conditions of Confinement

This is How Medical Negligence Can Kill Immigrants Held at ICE Detention Centers
Vice, February 25, 2016
“But [the new] report argues that these reforms aren’t strong enough to prevent unnecessary deaths. Even though ICE’s own reviews identified violations of medical protocols as contributing factors in these deaths, ICE detention facility inspections conducted before and after the deaths often did not even acknowledge those egregious medical mistakes. According to the report, ICE inspectors gave passing grades to all but one of the eight facilities before and after the deaths.”

What Dying Looks Like in America’s Prisons
The Atlantic, February 16, 2016
“But a larger issue, one difficult to measure, exists: ‘Prison healthcare staff may believe that prisoners deserve their suffering.’ In other words, pain is punishment. Staff members tend to default on the side of pain over more medication when prescribing narcotics to hospice patients. In church parlance and even in broader society, the belief that pain makes us better people is commonplace. In prison, suffering is part of the centuries-old plan.”

No Place for Old Men
Texas Observer, February 15, 2016
“Both demographic factors and get-tough sentencing have transformed what were once mere penal institutions into hospitals, assisted living centers and nursing homes, too. The University of Texas Medical Branch operates a freestanding hospital in Galveston for TDCJ, which also contracts with UTMB and the Texas Tech medical school to send prisoners to 146 community hospitals. Texas prisons now boast of ‘respiratory isolation rooms,’ ‘brace and limb services’ and hospice facilities in which 90 Texas inmates were eased into eternity last year. More than 300 inmates in Texas prisons use wheelchairs, Dr. Murray says.”

State Prisons Turn to Telemedicine to Improve Health and Save Money
Stateline, January 21, 2016
“Most states have turned to telemedicine to some extent for treating prisoners — often in remote areas, where many prisons are located — because it allows doctors to examine them from a safe distance. It enables corrections officers keep potentially dangerous inmates behind bars for treatment rather than bearing the cost and security risk of transporting them to hospitals. And because more doctors are willing to participate, it makes health care more available for inmates.”

‘This Man Will Almost Certainly Die’
The Nation, January 28, 2016
Repeated federal audits and reports have found these facilities to be in crisis. Prison medical care is notoriously bad, but for years, immigrant- and prisoner-rights advocates have sounded the alarm about these sites in particular, describing them as separate and unequal, segregated on the basis of citizenship.”

Obama Bans Solitary Confinement of Juveniles in Federal Prisons
New York Times, January 25, 2015
“Mr. Obama said federal prisons would no longer use solitary confinement for juveniles or for inmates serving time for low-level infractions. He said the change, along with expanded mental health treatment, would affect as many as 10,000 inmates in the federal system, about a tenth of those being held in solitary confinement in the United States, including in state prisons.”

With Sons in Solitary, Mothers Fight for Their Freedom–And Their Lives
Solitary Watch, January 6, 2016
“She…asked [her son] to document his treatment, including the medications and dosages he was being given, how many hours of sleep he got each night, and, on a scale of one to ten, how he was feeling. With these records, she realized that his medication had been cut in half, causing him to feel suicidal every month. She pressed the prison and medical staff. In November 2015, his dosage was restored. She also made sure that her son understood the importance of staying on his medications.”

New York State Agrees to Overhaul Solitary Confinement in Prisons
New York Times, December 16, 2015
“The five-year, $62 million agreement, announced on Wednesday, is the result of a lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union over the treatment of inmates in solitary confinement in the prisons. For 23 hours a day, 4,000 inmates are locked in concrete 6-by-10-foot cells, sometimes for years, with little if any human contact, no access to rehabilitative programs and a diet that can be restricted to a foul-tasting brick of bread and potatoes known at the prisons as ‘the loaf.'”

Prison Unveils New Health Unit for Inmates
Argus Observer, October 28, 2015
“The Health Promotion Unit is a 20-bed housing unit located next to the infirmary for inmates with ‘measurable and identifiable health risks,’ according to a press release about the unit. An inmate placed in this unit will participate in a specific program where he will take classes and come up with a health plan that includes diet and exercise.”

Prisoners Have Skin in the Game, Too
Modern Healthcare, August 28, 2015
At least 38 states are charging prison inmates co-payments for healthcare services, according to a recent study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. Those fees typically are $20 or less…But in Texas, state prison inmates who request a medical visit can be charged $100. In Utah state prison, inmates can be charged up to $2,000 for a hospitalization.”

Prison Officials Join Movement to Curb Solitary Confinement
New York Times, September 2, 2015
The statement from the Association of State Correctional Administrators, whose members are largely responsible for the growth in solitary confinement in recent decades, is its most forceful to date on the practice.”

Florida State Prisons Health Service Provider Retools Amid a Struggle
The Gainesville Sun, July 6, 2015
“The first round of reviews found a variety of problems, from improper paperwork to mistreatment of infection. The contract requires Corizon to maintain an industry standard for the way medical staff at the Lake Butler Reception and Medical Center — DOC’s only prison hospital — treats an inmate’s infection, but it failed during a review performed in August 2014, according to one audit.”

The ‘Appalling’ Treatment of Deaf Prisoners Nationwide
The Crime Report, June 23, 2015
“Some deaf men and women have actually been disciplined for not obeying verbal orders. Their health and safety has been endangered because of the lack of an effective way to communicate emergency and other orders. Moreover, their ability to get medical care, participate in prison-sponsored classes, and communicate with loved ones has been minimal, seriously damaging the prospects for successful release and re-entry.”

Baltimore Jail Complex Again Faces Lawsuit Over Health Care
The Baltimore Sun, June 3, 2015
“Those who study heath in prisons and jails say Baltimore is not alone in struggling to provide medical, substance abuse and mental health services. Other big systems have been accused recently by advocates for detainees of failing to provide constitutionally guaranteed care, including a 10-facility jail complex on Rikers Island run by the New York City Department of Correction and the Illinois prison system, where Wexford Health Sources Inc. provides medical care.”

Why Are Prisoners Dying in County Jail?
Bloomberg News, June 2, 2015″The deaths shine a light on the industry Corizon leads, which staffs jail and prison medical facilities in 27 states and is responsible for as many as 345,000 inmates. The prisoners, many of whom arrive with existing health problems and a history of inadequate care, are also more vulnerable than people with freedom to circulate.”

Angola Inmates Claim in Lawsuit They Don’t Get Sufficient Medical Care
The Times-Picayune, May 20, 2015
“In a class-action lawsuit flied Wednesday (May 20) in Baton Rouge federal court, 12 prisoners allege they are not provided medically necessary treatments, including surgeries, medication and medical devices, and that evaluation, treatment and access to specialty care is routinely delayed.”

Solitary Confinement: Common Misconceptions and Emerging Safe Alternatives
Vera Institute of Justice, May 12, 2015
“Evidence mounts that the [use of solitary confinement] produces many unwanted and harmful outcomes—for the mental and physical health of those placed in isolation, for the public safety of the communities to which most will return, and for the corrections budgets of jurisdictions that rely on it for facility safety.”


Sentencing


Reform

Utah Police Cite Medicaid Expansion as Crime Prevention Tool
The Salt Lake Tribune, May 19, 2015
“Police Chief John King on Tuesday called for the Utah Legislature to accept federal funds to extend health insurance for thousands more state residents to prevent future crime, as well as save money.”


Alternatives
The Social Worker in the Patrol Car
The Crime Report, April 6, 2015
“Cops and civilians are teaming up in pilot programs aimed at changing how the justice system deals with the mentally ill—with impressive results so far.”

How Fla. prison system became so dysfunctional
Miami Herald, February 28, 2015
“The two DVDs were only minutes long but they depicted deplorable conditions in the state’s prison system: uninhabitable dorms, inmate-on-staff assaults and roofs that were so porous that prison staff rigged sheets of cardboard to serve as makeshift gutters. It was a vivid example of chronic underfunding and understaffing at the Florida Department of Corrections, and then-Secretary Michael Crews wanted to show them to legislators last year in his effort to make the case for more money. But the graphic pictures didn’t fit the jobs message of Gov. Rick Scott, who came into office vowing to cut $1 billion from prisons. The governor’s office ordered Crews not to show them. He made copies and distributed them to the chairmen of legislative committees anyway and, while no one agreed to show them publicly, Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, encouraged his budget committee to take a look.”

Judge approves settlement in Arizona prison health care suit
Associated Press, February 28, 2015
“A judge has approved the settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 33,000 inmates in Arizona over the quality of health care in state prisons.  State officials agreed in October to increase health care staffing, offer cancer screenings to certain prisoners, follow requirements in treating patients with chronic diseases, and provide more out-of-cell time to prisoners kept in isolated cells.”

WA: Bill to allow prisoners to access Medicaid, saving on health care budget
State of Reform, January 28, 2015
“Inmates in Washington state may have access to Medicaid coverage while incarcerated if Senate Bill 5593 passes this legislative session. The Bill seeks to determine prisoner Medicaid eligibility upon booking and gives correctional facilities the authority to enroll prisoners in health care coverage on their behalf while seeking inmate treatment at local hospitals. The measure could cut millions from county and state prisoner health care budgets.”

Crisis intervention training expanded to deputies at adult detention center
Washington Post, January 25, 2015
“Nearly three years after the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office established a Crisis Intervention Team aimed at promoting positive and safe encounters between law enforcement officers and people experiencing a mental health crisis, the program has trained scores of deputies who police Loudoun’s neighborhoods.”

Prison health provider fined for deficient care
The Gainesville Sun, January 28, 2015
“A health care provider that serves state prisons across Florida received a $22,500 fine after the state prisons bureau found that the firm has not yet met its end of a $229 million contract.”

Nursing Homes Behind Bars
The New York Times, September 28, 2014
“After declining for three years in a row, the nation’s stubbornly huge prison population has crept back up again. About 1,574,700 people were in prison at the end of 2013, up 4,300 from 2012.”

States Expanding Medicaid Under the Affordable Care Act Expect 18% Enrollment Growth in Fiscal Year 2015, With Federal Funds Picking Up Most of the Cost
Kaiser Family Foundation, October 14, 2014
“States expect the number of people enrolled in Medicaid will increase an average of 13.2 percent across the country in state fiscal year 2015 (which runs through June in most states), showing the early effects of the first full year of Affordable Care Act implementation, according to the 14th annual 50-State Medicaid budget survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured (KCMU).”

Care questioned in 15 NY jail deaths
Associated Press, October 22, 2014
“These are the deaths in New York City’s Rikers Island jail that don’t make headlines — prisoners with diseases, disorders and addictions who succumb to heart attacks, infections and other causes officially filed away as “medical.” But hundreds of documents obtained by The Associated Press through public records requests raise serious questions about the quality and timeliness of the medical care many of these inmates received, with the treatment, or lack of it, cited as a factor in at least 15 deaths over the past five years.”

By 2030, American Prisons Will Be Filled With Grandmas and Grandpas
The Nation, October 27, 2014
“More than thirty years ago, Mohaman G. Koti shot a police officer during a parking ticket dispute in which no one was killed. He is now in his late 80s and suffers from asthma and a neuromuscular disorder. He doesn’t hear so well, either. Yet Koti, a well-known peacemaker behind prison walls, was denied parole every two years beginning in 2005 because New York State still considered him a risk to public safety. The state did this despite the fact that it costs, on average, twice as much to lock up a stooped grandfather with digestive problems as it does to hold a healthy young man—and can sometimes cost as much as five times more.”

Examining State Prison Health Care Spending: Cost Drivers And Policy Approaches
Health Affairs, November 4, 2014
“Health care and corrections have emerged as fiscal pressure points for states in recent years as rapid spending growth in each area has competed for finite revenue. Not surprisingly, health care spending for prison inmates—the intersection of these two spheres—also has risen swiftly.”

California Voters Helped Kick Off the Prison Boom. They Just Took a Huge Step Toward Ending It.
Mother Jones, November 5, 2014
“Voters in the birthplace of mass incarceration just gave it a major blow. With California’s passage of Proposition 47, which reclassifies nonviolent crimes previously considered felonies—think simple drug possession or petty theft—as misdemeanors, some 40,000 fewer people will be convicted of felonies each year. Thousands of prisoners could be set free. People with certain kinds of felonies on their records can now apply to have them removed.”

A.C.L.U. in $50 Million Push to Reduce Jail Sentences
The New York Times, November 6, 2014
“With a $50 million foundation grant, the largest in its history, the American Civil Liberties Union plans to mount an eight-year political campaign across the country to make a change of criminal justice policies a key issue in local, state and national elections.”

Gingrich: Overhaul Michigan’s criminal justice system
Detroit Free Press, November 15, 2014
“Like most conservatives, I always look at expensive government programs with a key question foremost in mind: Are taxpayers getting their money’s worth from the program? When it comes to our criminal justice system, the answer is a resounding no. We are not getting the public safety that our billions should be providing us. In state after state, we have overused imprisonment, even for low-risk offenders. Incarceration has become the norm despite clear evidence that many nonviolent offenders can be held accountable and supervised more effectively through alternatives such as drug courts and job reporting centers. These sanctions are more effective, less costly and less destructive to families. It is time for Michigan to take note.”

Managed Medicaid Braces for Influx of Ex-Inmates
Managed Care, November 2014
“Most people don’t lose sleep worrying about health care services provided to inmates in jails or prisons, but maybe they should. Lack of proper coverage is a major cause of recidivism, experts say, but this year the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allows inmates to sign up for Medicaid. This comes with challenges, and health insurance plans involved in managed Medicaid gird themselves to handle an influx of beneficiaries who have historically had little or nothing to do with the health system.”

From Broken Homes to a Broken System
The Washington Post, November 28, 2014
“She sits alone in a cinder-block cell, an Oglala Lakota teenager with a long braid and tattoos. For five months she has been locked up on this remote prairie reservation for drinking and disorderly conduct.

When she behaves, she can watch television. Mostly, though, she passes the time with two books — a Bible and “The Hunger Games” — and her journal, in which she records the monotony of her long days. The journal, with an eagle on the cover, also holds the names of nearly a dozen friends and relatives who have died — some from drugs, violence or suicide.”

Why Texas is closing prisons in favour of rehab
BBC, December 1, 2014
“The US is known for its tough criminal justice system, with an incarceration rate far larger than any comparable country. So why is it that Republicans in Texas are actively seeking to close prisons, asks Danny Kruger, a former speechwriter for David Cameron.”

The Criminalization of Students
Pacific Standard, December 5, 2014
“Every young person should be safe,” Bill Clinton declared to the students of Webster Groves High School in St. Louis during his 1996 re-election campaign. “I want us to be safe and secure…. I know, too, that unless we can purge ourselves of crime and violence and drugs and gangs, your future will never be what it ought to be. So I ask you to stand up as you have here for the concept of zero tolerance in schools….”

The Cost of Juvenile Incarceration
Pacific Standard, December 11, 2014
“In 2008, five years into a long and expensive conflict, economists Joseph Stiglitz and Laura Bilmes surprised even the Iraq War’s critics with their estimation of its true cost. The calculations in their book The Three Trillion Dollar War factored in not only the typical expenditures for manpower and machinery, but more abstract aspects as well, such as the opportunity costs of the war, and the future spending that would be necessary for the care of wounded veterans and bereaved families.”

Physicians with spotty records hired to treat Ga. inmates
Associated Press, December 14, 2014
“Several physicians who have been cited for misconduct by medical boards in Georgia and other states are now working in Georgia state prisons.”

Op-ed: Utah prison movers miss opportunity for real change
The Salt Lake Tribune, December 29, 2014
“Sadly, as the Prison Relocation Commission seeks a location for what should be a smaller prison with better programming and greater access to substance abuse and mental health treatment to reduce recidivism, communities are not shouting, “Improve the system,” but rather, “Not in my backyard.””

Are More Criminal Justice Reforms on the Horizon in 2015?
Brennan Center for Justice, December 29, 2014
“2014 was a year, as many are, of modest steps forward and a few steps back in criminal justice reform. But the national focus on flaws in our criminal justice system could lead to stronger reforms in 2015.”

If crime is falling, why aren’t prisons shrinking?
The Boston Globe, January 15, 2015
“The prison population in Massachusetts has tripled in size since 1980. That’s faster than the state economy has grown and even faster than the rise in obesity. Massachusetts is hardly alone in this. Prison populations have mushroomed all across the United States, occasionally reaching rates far higher than anything seen here. But while many states are now experimenting with approaches that ease criminal penalties, Massachusetts has taken few steps in this direction.”