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Archives for : Prisons

US Prison System Resembling Huge Geriatrics Ward

Monday, 03 March 2014 09:53 By Kanya DAlmeidaIPS News | Op-Ed

(Photo<a href=" http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-1102516/stock-photo-prisoner-in-old-cell.html?src=73R53MQu4pMX0E2AGA7hrg-1-30"> via Shutterstock</a>)(Photo via Shutterstock)A nurse helps an old man up from his chair. Holding onto her arms, he steps blindly forward, trusting her to lead him to his spot at the lunch table.

One man breathes through a respirator. Another gropes on the nightstand for his dentures. Yet another calls out to a passing doctor that he cannot remember his own name.

This may sound like a typical day at a home for the elderly but several independent investigations describe such scenes being played out in a much more unlikely place: in prisons across the United States that are now home to thousands of senior citizens.

Due to unhealthy conditions prior to and during prison terms, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) considers inmates over the age of 50 to be “aging”. By this calculation, there are some 246,600 elderly inmates in state and federal joints, a number that is expected to jump to nearly 400,000 by the year 2030, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

A Human Rights Watch report entitled ‘Old Behind Bars’ says the number of prisoners aged 55 and older nearly quadrupled between 1995 and 2010, marking a 218 percent increase in just 15 years.

With over 16 percent of the national prison population falling into the “aging” category, experts say the U.S. prison system is beginning to resemble a gigantic geriatrics ward, at massive economic and humanitarian costs to  society.

Low Risks, High Costs

Jamie Fellner, senior advisor of the U.S. Programme at Human Rights Watch, told IPS that “tough on crime” laws of the 1980s and 1990s resulted in a surge of decades-long sentences for crimes that hitherto carried no more than 10 to 15 years of jail time.

“When you have people serving life sentences, they’re going to die in prison, just like people serving 20-, 30- and 40-year sentences are inevitably going to grow old behind bars,” Fellner said.

Other sources, including a recent report by the Pew Center Charitable Trust, suggest that 1970s-era federal laws such as mandatory minimum provisions, “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” legislation, and heavy parole restrictions have also contributed to the spike in graying inmates.

Whatever the reasons, experts are agreed that the cost of imprisoning anyone over the age of 50 is astronomical. An ACLU report entitled ‘At America’s Expense’ found that, while it cost just 34,135 dollars a year to house the average prisoner, elderly inmates incurred almost double the expenses, reaching 69,000 dollars per prisoner annually.

Taxpayers shell out over 16 billion dollars every year to keep aging prisoners behind bars, an amount that exceeds the annual budget of the Department of Energy and even surpasses the Department of Education’s spending on improving elementary and secondary schools.

CorrectionalHealthcare_Fig_3 final

Such stark figures have pushed advocates to ask two fundamental questions that prison officials and the Justice Department seem reluctant to address: What is the purpose of incarcerating the elderly, and is there an alternative?

According to Laura Whitehorn, a political activist who spent 14 years in prison and now works on a New York-based campaign known as Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP), the extremely low recidivism rate for people over the age of 50 makes a strong case for expediting their release.

For instance, just seven percent of New York state prisoners released at ages 50-64 reoffended, a number that fell to just four percent for inmates over the age of 65. In comparison, the recidivism rate for all age groups hovers at close to 40 percent.

Furthermore, prisoners who have served considerable time could be huge assets to their communities, Whitehorn told IPS.

“The reason the prison advocacy movement is so vibrant now is because most organisations have several to many formerly incarcerated people on their staffs, providing keen ideas for what has to change in order to get us out of the current pit of perpetual punishment and the damage caused by the prison system.

“This is how we came up with the slogan ‘If the Risk is Low, Let Them Go’,” Whitehorn said, adding that, too often, parole boards look at the original sentence rather than a prisoner’s likelihood of reoffending when considering early release.

She recounted the recent case of an 86-year-old man who has served 40 years of a life sentence for a felony committed in the 1970s. Although he suffers from asthma, cancer and a neuromuscular disorder that confines him to a wheelchair, his parole board denied him release last year on the grounds that he was “likely” to reoffend.

Fellner told IPS that she interviewed a prisoner in Mississippi who was so old he had to stick the letters L and R on his shoes to remind him which went on the correct foot. “Do we really consider these people a threat to society?” she asked.

Punitive Philosophy

Fellner says the architecture of prisons was developed for the prototypical “tough young criminal”, resulting in institutions that are not easily navigable by infirm or disabled inmates. This inability is sometimes perceived as an unwillingness to cooperate with guards, earning elderly inmates punishments or longer sentences.

A senior citizen at a Pennsylvania state penitentiary told IPS under condition of anonymity that he was forced to spend a week in solitary confinement for refusing to pass through the metal detector without his cane.

“I’m 69 years old,” he said. “Without my cane I can’t stand. What do they expect me to do? Crawl through on my hands and knees?”

Officials at various institutions across the country are now questioning the necessity of keeping geriatrics locked up. Even Burl Cain, the warden at Louisiana State Penitentiary of Angola, recently told the ACLU it was a “shame” that his staff buried more inmates than they released out the front gates.

Of Louisiana’s 5,300 prisoners, 4,000 are serving life without parole, while 1,200 are over the age of 60.

Still, the decision to release elderly inmates is not up to prison officials alone. According to Fellner, the U.S. incarceration system is governed by a highly punitive philosophy that, coupled with strong lobbying by organisations representing the families of victims, makes it tough to effect substantial changes.

“Personal, professional and institutional party politics all make it very difficult to take steps on behalf of someone who has committed a crime,” she said.

“It’s a risk that few politicians are willing to take. Even President Obama only commuted eight citizens this year – there are 200,000 federal inmates and he could only find eight who were eligible for clemency? Despite some important progress, this work is still very much in the margins.”

 

Read more here – http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/22209-us-prison-system-resembling-huge-geriatrics-ward

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All jails in Chhattisgarh overcrowded #Prisoners

Corridors @ Central Jail (cropped)

Corridors @ Central Jail (cropped) (Photo credit: keedap)

 Last Updated at 20:17 IST
here more than 14,000 inmates have been lodged in various prisons, theState Assembly was informed today. 

As against the capacity of 5,302, there are 14,062 inmates in various central and district jails of Chhattisgarh, Home Minister Ramsewak Paikra said in a written reply to queries of Devji Bhai Patel and Raju Kshatriya (both BJP).

“The State has five central and 10 district jails which have a total prisoner capacity of 5,302. As on January 31, 2014 these jails have 14,062 inmates,” he said.

The five central jails have a total capacity of 4,068 but are housing 10,619 inmates. The district jails are housing 3,443 inmates against their capacity of 1,234.

The Central Jail in Raipur houses 2,832 prisoners against the capacity of 1,190, while Central Jail at Durg has 1,706 inmates as against the capacity of 396. Similarly, Central Jail at Bilaspur houses 2,715 prisoners though it has facility to keep only 1,008.

Central Jail at Jagdalpur houses 1,506 inmates and one at Ambikapur 1,860 against the capacity of 579 and 895, respectively.

Read more here — http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/all-jails-in-chhattisgarh-overcrowded-minister-114021901214_1.html

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Why is Sweden closing its #Prisons ? #humanrights

 

Sweden’s prison population has dropped so dramatically that the country plans to close four of its prisons. What lessons can the UK learn?

Erwin James

Sunday 1 December 2013

The Guardian

 

—-

Swedish prisons have long had a reputation around the world as being liberal and progressive. So much so that in 2005 even Saddam Hussein requested to be transferred to a Swedish prison to await his trial – a request that was rejected by the Swedish authorities. But are the country’s prisons a soft option?

The head of Sweden’s prison and probation service, Nils Oberg, announced in November that four Swedish prisons are to be closed due to an “out of the ordinary” decline in prisoner numbers.

Although there has been no fall in crime rates, between 2011 and 2012 there was a 6% drop in Sweden’s prisoner population, now a little over 4,500. A similar decrease is expected this year and the next. Oberg admitted to being puzzled by the unexpected dip, but expressed optimism that the reason was to do with how his prisons are run. “We certainly hope that the efforts we invest in rehabilitation and preventing relapse of crime has had an impact,” he said.

“The modern prison service in Sweden is very different from when I joined as a young prison officer in 1978,” says Kenneth Gustafsson, governor of Kumla prison, Sweden’s most secure jail, situated 130 miles west of Stockholm. However, he doesn’t think the system has gone soft.”When I joined, the focus was very much on humanity in prisons. Prisoners were treated well, maybe too well, some might say. But after a number of high-profile escapes in 2004 we had to rebalance and place more emphasis on security.” One of those escapes was made by a man called Tony Olsen, serving life imprisonment for shooting dead two police officers, from a maximum security prison in collusion with a prison guard. The then director general of the prison service was forced to step down.

Despite the hardening of attitudes toward prison security following the escape scandals, the Swedes still managed to maintain a broadly humane approach to sentencing, even of the most serious offenders: jail terms rarely exceed 10 years; those who receive life imprisonment can still apply to the courts after a decade to have the sentence commuted to a fixed term, usually in the region of 18 to 25 years. Sweden was the first country in Europe to introduce the electronic tagging of convicted criminals and continues to strive to minimise short-term prison sentences wherever possible by using community-based measures – proven to be more effective at reducing reoffending.

According to the UK Ministry of Justice, the highest rate of reoffending within a year of release among adults is recorded by those serving 12 months or less. The overall reoffending rate in Sweden stands at between 30 and 40% over three years – around half that in the UK. One likely factor that has kept reoffending down and the rate of incarceration in Sweden below 70 per 100,000 head of population – less than half the figure for England and Wales – is that the age of criminal responsibility is set at 15. In the UK, children aged 10-17 and young people under the age of 21 record the highest reoffending rates: almost three quarters and two thirds respectively – a good proportion of whom go on to populate adult jails. Unlike the UK, where a life sentence can be handed down to a 10-year-old, in Sweden no young person under the age of 21 can be sentenced to life and every effort is made to ensure that as few juvenile offenders as possible end up in prison.

Kumla prison in SwedenKumla prison in Sweden. Photograph: Fredrik Persson/Press Association Images

One strong reason for the drop in prison numbers might be the amount of post-prison support available in Sweden. A confident probation service – a government agency – is tasked not only with supervising those on probation but is also guaranteed to provide treatment programmes for offenders with drug/alcohol or violence issues. The service is assisted by around 4,500 lay supervisors – members of the public who volunteer to befriend and support offenders under supervision. There is no equivalent in the UK.

When I tell Gustafsson that Chris Grayling, Britain’s justice secretary, recently announced that inmates in England and Wales are to be made to wear prison uniforms and have limited access to television, he laughs. “[Politicians] keep their fingers away from us. We are allowed to get on with our jobs without any interference.”

He talks about broader goals and objectives for the Swedish justice department: “This year and next year the priority of our work will be with young offenders and men with convictions of violent behaviour. For many years we have been running programmes to help those addicted to drugs. Now we are also developing programmes to address behaviours such as aggression and violence. These are the important things for our society when these people are released.”

I spoke to a former prisoner who now runs a social enterprise called X-Cons Sweden. Peter Soderlund served almost three years of a four-year sentence for drug and weapons offences before he was released in 1998. He was helped by a newly formed organisation run by former prisoners called Kris, (Criminals Return In Society). For some years he worked to help build Kris until 2008 when, following organisational disputes and conflicts, he left.

“The big difference between Kris and us is that we are happy to allow people who are still taking addiction medications to join us,” he says. Both organisations work with the same goal: helping prisoners successfully reintegrate into society after they have been released. And what is life like for the prisoner in Sweden? “When I was inside I was lucky. In Osteraker prison where I served my sentence the governor was enlightened. We were treated well. But I knew that not all Swedish prisons were like that. I met so many people in there who needed help – after I received help from Kris I knew I wanted to help others. With X-Cons, we meet them at the gate and support them into accommodation and offer a network of support.”

Could it be, though, that the Swedish public is losing its appetite for genuine rehabilitation for prisoners? “In Sweden we believe very much in the concept of rehabilitation, without being naive of course,” says Gustafsson. “There are some people who will not or cannot change. But in my experience the majority of prisoners want to change and we must do what we can to help to facilitate that. It is not always possible to achieve this in one prison sentence.

“Also it is not just prison that can rehabilitate – it is often a combined process involving probation and greater society. We can give education and training, but when they leave prison these people need housing and jobs.”

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/dec/01/why-sweden-closing-prisons

 

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Lessons From European Prisons

Prison 2

Prison 2 (Photo credit: planetschwa)

 

 

 

By THE EDITORIAL BOARD

 

N y t

 

In February, a group of American corrections officials, judges, prosecutors and public defenders spent a week visiting prisons in Germany and the Netherlands.

 

Those countries incarcerate people at about one-tenth the rate of the United States, for far less time, and under conditions geared toward social reintegration rather than punishment alone.

 

new report based on the group’s research suggests that European sentencing and penal practices may provide useful guidance in the growing effort to reform an American prison system buckling under its own weight.

 

 

 

The American and European systems differ in almost every imaginable way, beginning with their underlying rationale for incarceration.

 

Under German law, the primary goal of prison is “to enable prisoners to lead a life of social responsibility free of crime upon release.”

 

Public safety is ensured not simply by separating offenders from society, but by successfully reintegrating them.

 

To this end, inmates are given a remarkable level of control over their lives and their personal privacy. Some wear their own clothes and prepare their own meals. They interact with staff trained not only in prison security, but in educational theory and conflict management.

 

Germany and the Netherlands rely heavily on alternatives to prison — including

 

fines,

 

probation and

 

other community-service programs — and they

 

impose much shorter sentences when there is no alternative to incarceration.

 

While the average state prison term in the United States is about three years, more than 90 percent of Dutch sentences and 75 percent of German sentences are 12 months or less.

 

Upon release, European inmates do not face the punitive consequences that American ex-prisoners do —

 

from voting bans to

 

restrictions on employment,

 

housing and

 

public assistance, all of which increase the likelihood of re-offending.

 

Direct comparisons between countries are hard to make, and some European practices would not be workable with violent prisoners.

 

The report, issued by the Prison Law Office, a nonprofit group based in California, and the Vera Institute of Justice, recognizes this reality but emphasizes that many of the principles are applicable especially to lower-level, nonviolent offenders.

 

Several state prison systems are heading in this direction. Georgia has increased its investment in specialized drug and mental-health courts. Colorado, Maine and Mississippi are among those reforming solitary-confinement practices. As states continue to rethink outdated assumptions, they would be wise to pay close attention to European counterparts.

 

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India’s prisons overcrowded, Chhattisgarh jails have 252 % occupancy

HYDERABAD, TNN : Indian jails are over-crowded. While the available capacity is 3, 43,169, the total inmate populationis much higher at 3, 85,135. That would make the occupancy rate 112.2 per cent.

While there is not a single prisoner in the Union territory of Lakshadweep island prison which has an inmate capacity of 16, the situation was reverse in Chhattisgarh sate, according to prison statistics available with the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

In Chhattisgarh state, while the available capacity of the prisons is 5,850, there is a total of 14,780 prisoners stuff in the jails. This only means the occupancy rate is as high as 252.6 per cent. There are also other states where the jails were overcrowded in the year 2012, going by the figures with the NCRB.

Though the capacity of jails in Delhi is 6,250, the total number of prisoners in them was 12,113, which is 193.8 per cent occupancy. In Uttar Pradesh jails, there were 80,311 prisoners in accommodation meant for only 47,518 prisoners. The occupancy was 169 per cent. In Punjab, 23,219 prisoners occupied space meant for only 17,410 and the occupancy rate is calculated at 133.4 per cent.

Several other prisons too were overcrowded. These included Meghalaya (131.3%), Madhya Pradesh (127.7%), Arunachal Pradesh (126.8%), Jharkhand (124.5 %), Goa (119.5%), Rajasthan (116.6%), Sikkim (114 %), Himachal Pradesh (105.5%), Kerala (104.4%), Assam (103.7%), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (101.5 per cent), West Bengal (100.7%) and Karnataka (100.3%).

Women prisoners too had to adjust with the overcrowding problem in Uttarakhand (153.6%), Chhattisgarh (150.3%), Delhi (135%), Goa (112%), Jharkhand (106.9%) and Uttar Pradesh (102.8%).

Though the NCRB did not specify the reasons for overcrowding of prisons, the reasons could be several. It is learnt that many languish in prisons without getting bail in the court. There are also many instances where though the court does grant bail, the prisoner finds it difficult to get sureties on his behalf. Since the sureties would be responsible if the accused jumps bail, they back out of standing surety for their friends or even family members. There can also be cases where the court will let off the prisoner with a fine but the accused may not even have the money to pay it and come out of jail.

Overcrowding in prisons leads to infectious diseases spreading in the jail. It is the responsibility of the government to provide space as per international norms for prisoners.

DOWNLOAD FULL REPORT HERE —NCRB-CHAPTER-2-Prison Overcrowding

  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/india-justice-deliverance-down-in-chhattisgarh-rti-reveals-wtfnews/" target="_blank"> #India -Justice deliverance down in Chhattisgarh, RTI reveals #WTfnews

 

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#India – How to deal with Maosim, put poor behind bars #Chhattsigarh #WTFnews

Face to Face: Vrinda Grover

The conviction rate in Dantewada and Jagdalpur is one and three per cent. The entire objective appears to be to keep them in jail
Souzeina Mushtaq Delhi

The brutal assault on tribal school teacher Soni Sori by policemen led by an officer in Chhattisgarh, involving stones inserted in her private parts, had shocked the nation. Her continued imprisonment, after being branded a Maoist, on “false charges and fabricated evidence”, has been widely criticized by civil society and human rights groups in Indiaand abroad. Eminent lawyer Vrinda Grover, who is representing the case of Soni Sori and her nephew, Lingaram Kodopi, recently met them when they were brought to the court in Dantewada, and also in Jagdalpur jail, Chhattisgarh. Excerpts from an interview with Hardnews:

You met Soni Sori and her nephew, Lingaram Kodopi, in jail. What is the status of their cases?

I had gone to Chhattisgarh, particularly to Jagdalpur and Dantewada, to argue on behalf of Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi. Soni Sori was facing six cases; she has been acquitted in four of them, in one case she has got bail. This particular case is the last one, and is still going on. Lingaram Kodopi was facing two criminal cases. He has been acquitted in one, the other is pending.

It is important to underline that in all these cases, the chargesheets filed had serious criminal charges against both of them, such as attacks on an MLA’s house or burning of trucks or being part of a larger Naxal crowd that has attacked some place. The sections invoked in those chargesheets were of a very serious nature, including the Arms Act, the Explosive Substances Act, and serious sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). However, in all of the cases, they have been acquitted. The attempt was to project them as dangerous, dreaded Naxal leaders, and they were not given bail in any of them. Since there was no evidence against them, the court had no option but to acquit them.

However, they have been in custody since 2011. So, two years are over. In this particular case, the allegations were that a contractor, BK Lala, on behalf of Essar company, was paying off the Naxals not to disrupt their work. And that Soni and Lingaram were the conduits and they had come to take the money and pass it on to the Naxals.

Ironically, in this case, the seizure memo says that Lala was in possession of Rs 15 lakh; but he is out on bail. The Essar manager, who is alleged to have benefitted from this, is also out on bail. The only two people in jail are Lingaram Kodopi and Soni Sori, who stood to gain nothing in this entire so-called transaction. I am not even for a minute saying that the transaction is true; the whole case is totally fabricated and false.

Soni’s father, who came to meet her in the Dantewada court, was on crutches.  His right foot was severely swollen and he had tied a little rag around it. The foot was in a very bad shape. I am not sure, if, medically, his foot can be retrieved anymore. He received this injury because Naxals shot him, as he refused to become a Naxal informer. So that is the real story of this family which is playing itself out, and which actually illustrates the story of the adivasis in Chhattisgarh who are today facing multiple assaults by the State.

How do you call these cases false and fabricated?

Take this case as an example. Framing the charge is the first stage of a criminal trial. The two people who stood to gain from this so-called financial transaction are out on bail. They do not care if the case trials drag on. In fact, it is in their interest to delay and drag the case. The evidence, if at all, is against them. There is no evidence against Soni and Linga. So they are interested in delaying and protracting the issue before the court. The judge herself told me that, for the last one-and-a-half years, Lala and his counsel did not argue. Even this time, his counsel did not argue. He did not turn up. He put in some
medical application.

This incident happened in September 2011. By October-November, the chargesheet should have been filed. From 2011 to 2013, why have the charges not been framed? What is the explanation for this? Why is nobody in the entire legal system worried or concerned that two people are in jail for no fault of theirs?

The maximum punishment under the sections that they are being accused under in the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act is two years. In this case, they will get acquitted because there is no legal evidence against them. However, they have already served a punishment. What kind of legal system allows this? Why is the court allowing these kinds of delays to happen?  Why does the court allow these adjournments?

Why do you think this is happening all the time? Surely, Soni Sori’s case is not the only one…

This is a much bigger story. Perhaps the case of Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi reachedDelhibecause they happened to be here and know some people. But this is a story of a large number of vulnerable, poor adivasis inSouth Chhattisgarhtoday. To my mind, it is part of a State project, and it is extremely horrific that a democratic State deliberately allows this kind of State project in the name of controlling some Naxalite activity, which is an armed group, and is throwing a challenge to certain policies, particularly economic policies, land acquisitions, mining activities. The State wants to send a chilling message to the entire community that anybody who protests, anybody who dissents from the policy that the Centre and the State government have decided — which is only meant to profit certain private and other business houses — those people will be put away. This is what is happening. The most frightening part of the story is that this is actually playing out in front of the judiciary. The courts are seeing these cases before them. A court can make out that there is no evidence because the entire case is false and fabricated. Yet, the police and the prosecution continue to file such cases.  And courts are not discharging them, not granting them bail.

The entire chargesheet before the trial court in Dantewada does not have one single piece of evidence to show that either Linga or Soni have anything to do with Naxals. It is a perfect case for discharge. It is a story that has been concocted. The story was made up because they wanted to project Linga and Soni as dangerous Naxal leaders. Like all the other cases have collapsed so will this. Clearly, what the police, the prosecution, and the State are determined to do is to punish them through the legal process by incarcerating them.

I also want to point out that, invariably, the adivasis, who are jailed in all these so-called Naxal cases, are not even produced before the court because they are given ‘administrative excuses’ that vehicles or security guards are not available. Since they are branded in so-called ‘Naxal cases’, therefore, a larger contingent of CRPF, and so on, needs to accompany them. It is another matter that these cases collapse like a house of cards each time. I am told that Soni had to argue, request and plead with the jail superintendent of Jagdalpur to allow her and Linga to be taken to the Dantewada court. She had told them that her lawyer had come all the way fromDelhi. The jail superintendent made special efforts, contacted the police, and saw that Soni and Linga were produced before the court.

What is the condition of the adivasis in the area?

There are Naxals operating in some parts ofSouth Chhattisgarhand the State is not able to pick up most of the Naxal leadership. What they are doing is picking up large numbers of adivasis during search operations. They are nabbed, and thrown into jails; all kinds of totally fabricated cases are made against them.

In this particular case, for instance, they have also invoked other serious sections like waging war against the State, sedition, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Chhattisgarh Public Safety Act — all these are meant to over-awe the mind of the court when the judge considers a bail application or has to decide if this is an appropriate stage of discharge. The very fact that these are very serious sections would obviously have an impact on the court — although it should not. And the court should be able to see the deliberate, devious plan that the State is playing in order to keep these ordinary, very poor, marginalized, vulnerable people in jail.

Most adivasis in Jagdalpur and Dantewada do not have private lawyers. They cannot afford them. Legal Aid lawyers represent them. We all know and it is an established fact across the country that Legal Aid lawyers do not provide effective legal representation. For many of them, their families do not come to visit them because the jails and the courts are too far. They are also insecure. For instance, if someone from the village comes to meet them, they are abused, called names, picked up by the police, further harassed. They are told: ‘You are also Naxal informers; therefore, you have come to meet him.’ All this is happening very far away from the capital. Jagdalpur and Dantewada are faraway places. Nobody is going to see what is happening in these courts, what is the condition of adivasis in jail — why are they being incarcerated in jail for so many years?

I have been informed that the conviction rate in Dantewada and Jagdalpur is one and three per cent, respectively. So, the entire objective appears to be to keep them in jail for three to four years. Trials drag on for very long and eventually everybody knows that they will get acquitted. But who is going to compensate these people for their loss of liberty, for the agony that they are suffering, for the trauma that the family suffers, for the impact that their incarceration is having on the family? There is absolutely no accountability for this.

Why do the courts keep them inside prisons?

I think the answer lies in what the lady prosecutor said in a very brief argument in the court. Her argument was that all the offences were made out against the accused. Second, these were grave crimes. Third, it was a Naxal-affected area. As far as I see it, the first one is her legal opinion. The second one is a statement of fact. The third one is not a statement that can be made in a court of law. A statement saying this is a Naxal-affected area is a very underhand attempt to over-awe the judiciary. The judiciary of Chhattisgarh should not allow this State project of completely crushing the adivasis. It places a very huge responsibility on the judiciary.

Have the jail conditions improved?

When I met both of them, they looked much weaker. In Indian prisons, it is high time that we raise the issue of what kind of diet is given to the prisoners. To give a person, day in and day out, only one dal and one vegetable, it is obviously going to affect their health. However, it is not the fault of the jail. The diet that is permitted by law for undertrials and convicted prisoners is in itself a poor diet. That is what the law of this land is. I am saying the law is wrong. The jail manual is wrong. You have to have a better diet for people who are in your custody. Let us not allow the State to escape its responsibility by saying that these are poor people and at least they are getting two meals a day. These are hardworking people and they have multiple sources of nutrition when they are living on their own in their villages. They understand the vegetables and nutrition way better, which the jail manual completely loses out on. Therefore, everybody’s health condition is going to deteriorate inside the jail.

Has any action been taken against Ankit Garg, the police officer who has been accused in the alleged sexual torture of Soni Sori?

Yes. The President of India has awarded him a gallantry award for the sexual torture of Soni Sori. That is a statement of fact. The petition saying that torture had taken place has been pending in the Supreme Court for two years. The apex court has not thought of it as a matter that needs to be taken up urgently. Soni has said repeatedly that, under the directions of Ankit Garg, she was stripped, tortured in custody, and the torture was of a sexualized nature. It is perhaps the most heinous offence that can be committed against a woman. At a time, post-December 16, 2012, when the whole country spoke out about violence against women, it is extremely regrettable that the highest court has still not decided this matter. Ankit Garg’s President’s Gallantry Award should have been snatched away, at least while the matter is pending.

The issue was repeatedly highlighted by women’s rights groups; the National Commission for Women (NCW) conducted a jail visit. They went to Jagdalpur jail to see the condition of women prisoners. They met Soni Sori and others. But over maybe two years, the NCW report, despite repeated reminders, requests, meetings by women rights groups, has not been made public. They had talked to Soni, and Soni had told them about the kind of torture she had faced in Raipur. She and other prisoners would be stripped and searched; she narrated the humiliation they had to suffer. But NCW has till date not made its report public.

Is it true that women prisoners have organized themselves in jail?

Well, they have not organized themselves. They are seeking their rights as prisoners and undertrials. For instance, the food that they were being served earlier often had worms and other insects. So they went on a hunger strike and demanded that they be given a separate kitchen where they can cook their food. After they went on a hunger strike, the jail superintendent agreed to their demands.

Now there is a separate kitchen where they cook their own food. However, they still have complaints. The quality of the raw material, whether it is dal or flour, is bad; there are often worms and insects in it. Clearly, it is the responsibility of the jail authorities and the State to ensure that proper quality food is given to them.

How do Soni and Lingaram see their future?

When I met Linga, he asked me if he would be rearrested again after his release. Such is the future he is staring at. Here is an educated young man from the adivasi community who, if allowed, and if not persecuted and tortured by the police, can provide true leadership to the adivasi community. He has equipped himself to be a young voice from his community. But the State has targeted him.

It is the case with Soni as well. I do not understand why theIndianStateis afraid of such people who can bring about a positive change in their communities, in democratic ways, without taking up arms.

Pic: Joe Athialy

From the print issue of Hardnews

 

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2.3 Million Americans Rot in Prison — Meet the Corporations Exploiting Them for Profit #mustread

  Civil Liberties

The prison industry is more lucrative than you think.
October 2, 2013  |

The following article first appeared in the Nation.

“Global Tel* Link. You have a collect call from: ‘Tim.’ An inmate in Shelby County Correctional Facility…. If you wish to accept and pay for this call, dial zero now.”

I don’t know how many times I heard the same robotic voice speak these words since last fall. I was researching the story of Timothy McKinney, a Memphis man facing his third death-penalty trial for the killing of an off-duty police officer in 1997. Tim would call from Shelby County Jail, to answer my questions and to do what anyone facing trial would want to do: air concerns about his case, vent. Sometimes he would call multiple times a week. Because the phone calls were limited to fifteen minutes at a time, a couple of times he hung up and called right back, so we could keep talking.

The calls were expensive, more than a dollar per minute, depending on the time of day. In order to accept one, I had to set up a prepaid account with Global Tel* Link, or GTL, “The Next Generation of Correctional Technology.” If Tim called and my account was out of money, the automated voice would prompt me to replenish it via credit card, while he waited on the other line. “By accepting an inmate call, you acknowledge and agree that your conversation may be monitored and recorded,” the company advises.

I dealt with Global Tel* Link for only a few months. But for Tim’s relatives, this had been their reality for years. GTL makes more than $500 million a year exploiting families like his, who face the choice between paying exorbitant phone rates to keep in touch with incarcerated loved ones—up to $1.13 per minute—or simply giving up on regular phone calls. Like many other telecommunications companies that enjoy profitable monopolies on prison and jail contracts across the country, GTL wins its contracts by offering a kickback—or “commission”—to the prison or jail systems it serves. As an exhaustive 2011 study in Prison Legal News explained, the kickback is “based on a percentage of the gross revenue generated by prisoners’ phone calls…. [The] commissions dwarf all other considerations and are a controlling factor when awarding prison phone contracts.”

The higher a kickback, in other words, the more likely a company is to win the contract. These high kickbacks translate into higher phone rates for family members—usually the very people who can least afford it. Like the vast majority of those who pass through the massive jail and court complex known as 201 Poplar in downtown Memphis, Tim’s family was not wealthy. When it came time for his trial last spring, his mother would be in court every day, only to leave straight for her night job, cleaning office buildings.

Global Tel* Link is one of five companies profiled in a new video series called “Prison Profiteers,” a collaboration between Beyond Bars—a Brave New Films project—the ACLU, and The Nation. (Visit thenation.com/prison-profiteers to view all the videos in this series) With 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States, prisons are big business; the goal of the series is to expose the myriad ways people enrich themselves off crime and punishment. Defenders of for-profit prison services pitch them as superior, efficient, money-saving options for cash-strapped states and localities that can ill-afford the costs of mass incarceration. (And indeed, historically, state-run services have often proven abysmal in themselves.) But not only do such privatized services often end up more expensive in reality, they can incur huge unseen costs to inmates and their families.
Watch the first video in the Prison Profiteers series from Beyond Bars, on telecommunications company Global Tel* Link, and check back here each Tuesday for new videos.

Worse still are the implications on a larger scale: when corporations seek to profit from prisons, it creates a powerful financial incentive, not just to push for policies that fuel mass incarceration but to cut corners in the services they’ve been hired to provide. Society shows little concern for prisoners who might receive substandard food, phone service or healthcare behind bars, after all. In the prison equation, the real consumer is the state, whose own financial priorities often run counter to the needs of prisoners and their families.

The cost for families is not just financial. The Global Tel* Link video features 9-year-old Kenny Davis at his home in Nashville, Tennessee. Kenny’s father is housed in a private prison four hours from where they live. “Phone calls are a problem,” Kenny’s mother says, “because they cost too much.” So Kenny rarely talks to his father. Ideally, he says, he would talk to him once a week.

Some 2.7 million children have parents who are incarcerated. Preventing them from having regular contact with their moms and dads isn’t just bad for these kids. All the evidence shows that prisoners who maintain close family ties fare better upon release. Making it harder for prisoners to stay connected with their families is not only needlessly punitive and cruel, it is unwise from a public safety standpoint.

But, for all their rhetoric to the contrary, prison profiteers are not as concerned with public safety as they are with the bottom line.

“They Have No Protocol for Treating Anybody With Hepatitis C”

The human cost of prison profiteering is especially pronounced and disturbing in the video about Corizon, the largest prison healthcare company in the country. In it, we meet a Tucson woman named Eleanor Grant, who receives a phone call from her partner, Thomas, incarcerated since 1994. Thomas suffers from an enlarged prostate, among other problems, and the prison medical staff will not give him the medication he needs to cope. “I’m in constant pain,” he tells Eleanor, sounding like a frail old man. Pain registers in her eyes, too, as she listens. “I can’t even sit now,” he says. “They just ignore it.”

Medical neglect runs rampant in prisons across the country, a largely invisible problem that has few in positions of power scrambling for a meaningful solution. The problem is not unique to states that have outsourced their prison healthcare: In California, the crisis of overcrowding in state facilities, merged with catastrophically inadequate state-provided care, was the basis for a 2011 Supreme Court decision ordering the state to release tens of thousands of prisoners. In September, the state paid $585,000 to a man who lost an eye while locked up on a parole violation in 2008. He had repeatedly requested medication for his glaucoma, but was ignored. Eventually, his cornea burst.

But in those states that have turned to private companies to provide medical care to prisoners, stories of neglect and abuse also abound. In 2005, The New York Times published a shocking investigation into Prison Health Services, a company responsible for two prisoner deaths in separate jails in upstate New York within two months of one another. In both cases, the inmates had been repeatedly denied medication and accused of faking their distress. The Times also told the story of 46-year-old Diane Nelson, who died of a heart attack in a Florida jail. “Stop the theatrics,” a Prison Health nurse snapped at her as she collapsed. “That same nurse, in a deposition, also admitted that she had joked to the jail staff, ‘We save money because we skip the ambulance and bring them right to the morgue.’”

In a 2003 piece for Harper’s, Wil S. Hylton profiled Correctional Medical Services, the company that in 2011 merged with Prison Health Services to create Corizon. Hylton’s piece exposed staggering levels of malpractice at CMS, which he described as “not merely the nation’s largest provider of prison medicine,” but “also the nation’s cheapest provider, a perfect convergence of big business and low budgets.”

At the center of Hylton’s report was the company’s alarming protocol when it came to Hepatitis C, a virus that destroys the liver, and which is particuarly prevalent among prisoners. “As a matter of formal company policy, CMS discourages treatment for hepatitis,” he wrote, citing an internal memo from a medical director explicitly ordering doctors to deny treatment as a general rule. Hylton spoke to nurses who expressed shame at their own complicity in the system. “It was absolutely appalling, to the point that I can’t even tell you,” one woman told him. “You knew that as long as you worked there, you did not challenge any of it. But your disgust builds as the horrible cases build…. As far as I’m concerned, if you’re sick and you get into one of these places, you might as well be signing your death certificate.”

Ten years after Hylton’s expose, CMS is now Corizon, and the same policy exists. The Prison Profiteers video on Corizon features Frankie Barton, another Tucson woman, whose son is sick with Hepatitis C. “My son’s being told they have no protocol for treating anybody with Hepatitis C,” she says.

The result could be deadly. Last year alone, no fewer than seven sick prisoners died at Metro Corrections, a jail in Louisville, Kentucky, while on Corizon’s watch. The company made headlines when six employees quit their jobs, according to local press, “amid an investigation by the jail that found that the workers ‘may’ have contributed” to two of the deaths. This summer, it was announced that the contract between Corizon and the city would not be renewed.

In 2009, CMS CEO Rich Hallworth boasted a salary of nearly a million dollars, according to Forbes. Today, his company, Corizon, makes nearly $1.5 billion a year ostensibly treating inmates in some twenty-nine states.

Privatizing Incarceration

No phenomenon is more emblematic of prison profiteering than the rise of private prisons. By now it is perhaps the most familiar and troubling trend for many progressives, and with good reason: the financial incentives involved are obvious and egregious. “It’s like the hotel industry,” says Alex Friedmann, an editor at Prison Legal News, who himself was once incarcerated at a private prison. “The hotel industry wants to keep their beds full as much as possible, because it means more revenue. Same thing for the private prison companies.” Two separate videos look at the two major private prison companies, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the country’s largest operator of private prisons, and GEO Group. Both companies made headlines in September upon the release of a report by In the Public Interest that scrutinized the “occupancy requirements” commonly found in private prison contracts. Last year, CCA sent letters to forty-eight governors, offering to take their prison systems off state hands in exchange for a guarantee that their states would keep their facilities up to ninety percent full—regardless of crime rates.

In addition to its lobbying for harsh sentencing—in particular when it comes to immigration enforcement, which funnels a growing number of people into its facilities—CCA and Geo Group have become notorious for providing substandard and sometimes harrowing living conditions to their prisoners.

“It was disgusting,” says former ACLU attorney Will Harrell, about one GEO Group facility he inspected in Coke County, Texas. “There was an infestation of insects everywhere you looked, including the kitchen. Insects in the food. It was horrible.” Another interview subject, Donald Weeks, who spent ten months locked up at GEO-run East Mississippi Correctional Facility, described intolerable sewage problems. “The stench was so bad in there, I couldn’t eat anymore.”

At the heart of the problem is an utter lack of transparency. Facilities run by private prison corporations are not subjected to the same oversight as state and federal prisons. As Alex Friedmann has pointed out, “the private prison industry operates in secrecy while being funded almost entirely with public taxpayer money.” In September Bloomberg reported that “the federal government provided almost 43 percent of [CCA’s] $1.76 billion of revenue in 2012, according to its annual report.”

Private prisons have inspired activism across the country. In May, activists descended upon Nashville to protest CCA’s shareholder’s meeting and thirtieth anniversary celebration. To coincide with the demonstration, Friedman released a list he compiled of deaths in CCA custody, “the most vivid testament to the fact that thirty years of imprisoning people for money is nothing to celebrate.” In addition to a long list of prisoners, it included prison staff—as well as three babies who were born to mothers in CCA custody.

The protests came months after a coalition of thirty-five organizations called on Texas Representative Sheila Jackson Lee to reintroduce the Private Prison Information Act, legislation first introduced in 2005, which would require CCA and Geo Group—indeed, anyone with a federal prison contract—to “make the same information available to the public that Federal prisons and correctional facilities are required to make available.”

Fight the Prison Profiteers

Years of activism against prison profiteering has paid off. In August the FCC took a major step in the right direction by announcing a rate cap on long-distance calls made by inmates. It was a hard-fought victory, albeit a limited one. For Kenny Davis who lives in the same state where his father is incarcerated, high phone rates remain a barrier to keeping in touch.

Want to learn more about the wide range of exploitative practices that come from mass incarceration? Start by visiting the Prison Profiteers action page. From the companies mentioned above to relatively recent innovations such as privatized bail bonds, to such age-old practices as civil asset forfeiture, the videos covering some of the worst ways people and politicians have found to prey upon the misery of others. As Brave New Foundation’s Jesse Lava explains, “The Prison Profiteers series illustrates how greed has become a major driver of mass incarceration—and how the system is more vast than most citizens imagine.”

More valuable still, it is a public education campaign that invites us to do something about it. “For-profit companies are making billions by exploiting our mass incarceration crisis,” said Vanita Gupta, director of the ACLU’s Center for Justice. “Over the next six weeks, we’ll be attacking their bottom lines. These companies need to know we’re watching.”

 

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America’s Business of Mass Incarceration #prisons

Posted on Jul 28, 2013
Illustration by Mr. Fish

By Chris Hedges

Debbie Bourne, 45, was at her apartment in the Liberty Village housing projects in Plainfield, N.J., on the afternoon of April 30 when police banged on the door and pushed their way inside. The officers ordered her, her daughter, 14, and her son, 22, who suffers from autism, to sit down and not move and then began ransacking the home. Bourne’s husband, from whom she was estranged and who was in the process of moving out, was the target of the police, who suspected him of dealing cocaine. As it turned out, the raid would cast a deep shadow over the lives of three innocents—Bourne and her children.

* * *
The murder of a teenage boy by an armed vigilante, George Zimmerman, is only one crime set within a legal and penal system that has criminalized poverty. Poor people, especially those of color, are worth nothing to corporations and private contractors if they are on the street. In jails and prisons, however, they each can generate corporate revenues of $30,000 to $40,000 a year. This use of the bodies of the poor to make money for corporations fuels the system of neoslavery that defines our prison system.

Chris Hedges will be among those fasting Wednesday in solidarity with the California prison hunger strike. For information about how to become involved in this week’s protest, click here.

Prisoners often work inside jails and prisons for nothing or at most earn a dollar an hour. The court system has been gutted to deny the poor adequate legal representation. Draconian drug laws send nonviolent offenders to jail for staggering periods of time. Our prisons routinely use solitary confinement, forms of humiliation and physical abuse to keep prisoners broken and compliant, methods that international human rights organizations have long defined as torture. Individuals and corporations that profit from prisons in the United States perpetuate a form of neoslavery. The ongoing hunger strike by inmates in the California prison system is a slave revolt, one that we must encourage and support. The fate of the poor under our corporate state will, if we remain indifferent and passive, become our own fate. This is why on Wednesday I will join prison rights activists, including Cornel West and Michael Moore, in a one-day fast in solidarity with the hunger strike in the California prison system.

 

In poor communities where there are few jobs, little or no vocational training, a dearth of educational opportunities and a lack of support structures there are, by design, high rates of recidivism—the engine of the prison-industrial complex. There are tens of millions of poor people for whom this country is nothing more than a vast, extended penal colony. Gun possession is largely criminalized for poor people of color while vigilante thugs, nearly always white, swagger through communities with loaded weapons. There will never be serious gun control in the United States. Most white people know what their race has done to black people for centuries. They know that those trapped today in urban ghettos, what Malcolm X called our internal colonies, endure neglect, poverty, violence and deprivation. Most whites are terrified that African-Americans will one day attempt to defend themselves or seek vengeance. Scratch the surface of survivalist groups and you uncover frightened white supremacists.

The failure on the part of the white liberal class to decry the exploding mass incarceration of the poor, and especially of African-Americans, means that as our empire deteriorates more and more whites will end up in prison alongside those we have condemned because of our indifference. And the mounting abuse of the poor is fueling an inchoate rage that will eventually lead to civil unrest.

“Again I say that each and every Negro, during the last 300 years, possesses from that heritage a greater burden of hate for America than they themselves know,” Richard Wrightwrote. “Perhaps it is well that Negroes try to be as unintellectual as possible, for if they ever started really thinking about what happened to them they’d go wild. And perhaps that is the secret of whites who want to believe that Negroes have no memory; for if they thought that Negroes remembered they would start out to shoot them all in sheer self-defense.”

The United States has spent $300 billion since 1980 to expand its prison system. We imprison 2.2 million people, 25 percent of the world’s prison population. For every 100,000 adults in this country there are 742 behind bars. Five million are on parole. Only 30 to 40 percent are white.

The intrusion of corporations and private contractors into the prison system is a legacy of the Clinton administration. President Bill Clinton’s omnibus crime bill provided $30 billion to expand the prison system, including $10 billion to build prisons. The bill expanded from two to 58 the number of federal crimes for which the death penalty can be administered. It eliminated a ban on the execution of the mentally impaired. The bill gave us the “three-strikes” laws that mandate life sentences for anyone convicted of three “violent” felonies. It set up the tracking of sex offenders. It allowed the courts to try children as young as 13 as adults. It created special courts to deport noncitizens alleged to be “engaged in terrorist activity” and authorized the use of secret evidence. The prison population under Clinton swelled from 1.4 million to 2 million.

Incarceration has become a very lucrative business for an array of private contractors, most of whom send lobbyists to Washington to make sure the laws and legislation continue to funnel a steady supply of poor people into the prison complex. These private contractors, taking public money, build the prisons, provide food service, hire guards and run and administer detention facilities. It is imperative to their profits that there be a steady supply of new bodies.

* * *
Bourne has worked for 13 years as a locker room assistant in the Plainfield school system. She works five hours a day. She does not have medical benefits. She struggles to take care of a daughter in fragile health and a disabled son.

 

(Page 2)

Bourne and her children sat terrified that April afternoon in their apartment. After about 10 minutes four more police officers arrived with her husband. His clothes were torn and disheveled. His face was swollen and bruised. He was handcuffed. “He looked like he been beat up,” she said.

“They were telling him, tell us where you have the stuff at, the drugs at,” Bourne said when we met at a prison support group I help run at the Second Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, N.J. “Tell us where you have the stuff at ’cause if you don’t we are going to handcuff her and the kids. And you be a man, you know, you know be a man and tell so we … don’t have to handcuff her and the kids. And he told them they [she and the children] have nothing to do with this, and there’s nothing in the house.”

The police took her husband to the kitchen. “They were hittin’ him in the kitchen,” she said, “punchin’ him, like in the stomach. Like by his ribs. He was saying they don’t have nothin’ to do with it, you know, they don’t.”

She could hear the officers repeating: “Where are the drugs?” They beat him for about 10 minutes, she said. The police then went into the living room and handcuffed Bourne and her son and daughter. They took her husband out of the apartment. Three officers remained until a K-9 dog unit arrived. The police removed the handcuffs and took Bourne and her children into the kitchen. A dog was guided around the living room and then coaxed up the stairs to the bedrooms, where it stayed for five minutes before being brought back down. The police remained in the bedrooms about 30 minutes.

 

Bourne heard banging sounds. She heard one of the officers say: “We found drugs in a black boot.” Her husband’s boots had been in a plastic bag with his clothes in preparation for his moving out of the apartment.

Although not under arrest, Bourne was taken to the police station, where she filled out forms and was fingerprinted. No charge was filed against her at the time. Two hours later the police drove her home. It would be weeks before Bourne learned—in an indirect way—that she, too, would face the possibility of jail time because of the raid.

When Bourne returned home that spring night, “It looked like a tornado had went through my bedroom. Everything was piled on top of each other. The TV was broken. It had been pushed over on the floor. I had my cellular phone charging in the socket—the charger was ripped out the socket. There were nails holes [made by the police] in the wall. You could see little dots, probably about six, seven, 10. The computer was pushed over on the ground. The cable was pull out the TV. The blinds was removed. The shades were removed from the windows. The containers that I have clothes in was all thrown on the bed. The dresser drawers were sitting high on top the bed.”

“I felt violated,” she said. “Very violated. I felt that if [they] wanted him so bad, why destroy my stuff?”

In cleaning up she found that her wedding and engagement rings, kept on the top of her dresser in a small box from Macy’s, had disappeared. She soon found that other items were missing.

“They took video games that I bought for my kids that was packaged inside a closet in a shoe box,” Bourne said. “They took a remote control that go with one of the game systems. I had collectible like coins that I bought way back. That was gone.”

She had seen police leaving the apartment with a yellow plastic container that had a new Acer computer she had bought for her cousin. “I had told them, ‘Where are you going with that computer?’ ” she said. The police immediately returned it.

Her husband is in Union County Jail in Elizabeth. He is charged with possession of drugs in public housing and possession of drugs in a school zone. When Bourne spoke to him by phone he told her the police had taken $900 he had in his pocket and that he had $2,000 in the apartment closet. When she checked the closet the money was not there. The police report in Bourne’s possession claims the officers confiscated $134 from the apartment and $734 from her husband. There was no mention of the other missing items, including her rings.

When Bourne was in court for her husband’s arraignment in early July she was stunned to hear the prosecutor tell the court that cocaine was also found by the police in a pocket of her jeans.

She told me she was not wearing jeans at the time. She said she does not take or sell drugs. And she pointed out that the police report, which she showed to me, never mentioned finding drugs on her person. After being charged she met with a public defender who told her that she should urge her husband to confess that the cocaine was his. If he does not, Bourne could face six years in jail.

The state-appointed attorney, with whom Bourne spent less than 15 minutes, told her to stay out of trouble. She has never been arrested at any time in her life. She said the encounter with the lawyer left her feeling “degraded.”

“I have two kids,” she said. “I’m 45. Why would I be trying to go to jail? That’s not me, that’s not how I was brought up. My daughter is sick. My son has a disability. I’m the only one that take care of both of them.”

If she goes to jail it will be catastrophic for her children. But this is not a new story. It happens to families every day in our gulag state. Bourne is one human being among hundreds of thousands routinely sacrificed for corporate greed. Her tragedy is of no concern to private contractors or supine judges and elected officials. They do not work for her. They do not work for us. They are corporate employees. And they know something Bourne is just discovering: Incarceration in America is a business.

 

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Indian prisoner’s body arrives 21 days after his death in Pakistan jail

By Our Correspondent / Express Tribune : July 29, 2013

MUMBAI / KARACHI: The remains of Indian prisoner Dadubhai Makwana, who
had died in Karachi jail on July 4, were flown to Mumbai last
Thursday, almost 21 days after his death, Times of India reported.

A special ambulance dispatched by the Gujarat fisheries department
transported the body to his native village for the last rites.

Dadubhai, a 41-year-old fisherman from Ghatwad village near Kodinar,
was arrested by the Pakistani Coast Guard as he had unwittingly
trespassed into their territory during a fishing trip last year.

“Since then we have been trying to secure his freedom even as we
helped his family with a subsistence allowance of Rs150 per day.
However, we learnt that Dadubhai died in Karachi prison on July 4,
allegedly of a heart attack,” said Gujarat fisheries official J K
Rathod.

Rathod and his assistant KK Masani took possession of the corpse at
Sahar police station before beginning the 17-hour journey to his home.

“Dadubhai’s wife and four children back home in Kodinar are doubly
distressed by his sudden death as well as the delay in repatriating
his remains,” they said.

India-Pakistan peace activist Jatin Desai lamented the delay and said
the governments of India and Pakistan should expedite the procedure.
“Earlier, the body of Indian fisherman Ramjibhai Vala took 45 days to
be returned while that of Pakistani fisherman Nawaz Ali was sent home
after 25 days,” he said.

14 Pakistani fishermen to reach Wagah border today

Fishermen Cooperative Society (FCS) officials will receive 14
Pakistani fishermen released by Indian authorities. These all are
crews of two small boats-Al-Kabootar and Al-Madina – which were caught
by Indian coastal forces on January 7, 2013 while they were on their
routine trip to open sea for a fish catch. They were put in jails over
the common charges of violating the maritime territory.

FCS Manager Welfare Ghulam Rasool Shaikh, who deals with the matters
related to detained fishermen, said that they had received a letter
from Ministry of Interior and Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi
that 14 fishermen and eight other Pakistani citizens were being
released. The freed fishermen will cross the Wahga border on July 30,
2013, where FCS officials will receive them.

The fishermen being released include Yar Mohammed son of Soomar
Mallah, Qasim Mallah son of Laung Mallah, Ramzan son of Laung Mallah,
Hashim son of Laung Mallah, Soomar son of Laung Mallah, Abdul son of
Laung Mallah, Qadir Bakhsh son of Ibrahim Mallah, Akbar son of Hussain
mallah, Ghulam Qadir son of Pir Bakhsh, Allah Bachayo son of Hamza
Mallah, Qasim son of Hamza Mallah, Ishaq son of Hamza Mallah, Niaz son
of Malhar Mallah and Mashooq son of Yar Mohammed Mallah. They belong
to scattered villages of Ladyoon, Thatta district.

According to FCS officials, Indian Counseling identified 59 Pakistani
fishermen out of total 140 to be released before Edul Fitr a few days
ago. Later, they decided to release only 14 fishermen.
FCS Chairman Abdul Saeed Khan said they were negotiating with the
Federal Interior Ministry, Pakistan High Commission in India and Sindh
Home Ministry to see the release of all the Pakistani fishermen from
Indian jails before Eidul Fitr.

He said that they had asked Pakistan to to verify the list of 115
fishermen by talking to their (fishermen’s) parents in Karachi, Thatta
and Badin districts, which they provided.
“We are still waiting to receive any good news regarding the release
of fishermen on the auspicious occasion of Eidul Fitr,” he said.

The Pakistan government has released 1100 Indian fishermen during the
period from January 2012 to May 2013, while India has released only 94
Pakistani fishermen during the period.

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Indian Supreme Court- Why Pakistanis in jail if sentence over ?

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Tuesday expressed its anguish at mentally challenged and deaf-mute foreign nationals, mostly Pakistanis, who continued to languish in Indian jails long after completing their sentence and asked why the issue could “not be taken up at the highest level”.

Voicing deep concern over mentally unsound Pakistani nationals languishing in Indian jails even after completion of their sentences, the Supreme Court today asked the government why they should not be repatriated, saying such detention “pains us”. A bench headed by Justice R.M.Lodha said such matters should be taken up on priority basis and at the highest level when the top authorities of the two nations meet.

The bench was referring to 21 prisoners, 16 of whom are mentally unsound and five are deaf and dumb and are languishing in jail despite serving out their sentences.

“Should not such matters be taken up at the highest level when the heads of the state meet ?,” the bench asked while indirectly referring to the recent visit of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari to India.

The court asked the Centre to find out in three weeks what can be done for sending back these prisoners to their country and posted the matter for further hearing on May 2.

“There is no doubt that the best of facilities are being provided to such prisoners in detention centre but the problem is why they are not being repatriated. What is the impediment? Such detention pains us,” the bench said.

“Top most priority has to be given to these cases. They are mentally unsound and deaf and dumb. They have served out their sentences. They have been kept in jail because of some problem but that cannot be an indefinite exercise,” the bench said.

The Centre contended that these people cannot be sent back without their identification being proved.

The bench then said, “How would you be able to do so even after six months or one year. Problem would continue. You must tell us what should be done.”

The court was hearing a PIL filed by J&K Panthers Party leader Prof. Bhim Singh seeking its direction to the Centre for repatriation of Pakistani prisoners lodged in various jails across the country even after completion of their sentences.

Mr. Singh submitted that photographs of these prisoners should be given by the Centre to the Pakistani government so that these could be published in newspapers there to prove their identification as they are mentally unsound.

The court, however, said that there is no problem in directing the Centre to give these photographs but it cannot compel Pakistani government to publish those pictures.

“The Centre cannot compel the Pakistan High Commission. Only some suggestions can be given. The lead has to be taken up by the Pakistan High Commission,” the bench said.

It further said that the prisoners cannot be sent without verifying their identification which could prove to be the worst situation for them.

As additional solicitor general PP Malhota sought more time so that he could sit with the petitioner, senior counsel Bhim Singh, the court adjourned the hearing till May 2.

IANS, PTI

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