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The Takeaway

Incarceration in America: Rethinking Solitary Confinement

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

All this week we’re talking about incarceration in America. Yesterday we looked at juvenile justice, and whether life-without-parole sentences for teenage murder convicts violates the Eighth Amendment's ban on cruel and unusual punishment. Today, we’re talking about super-maximum-security prisons and the effects of solitary confinement.

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WNYC News

Correction Department Wants to Keep Mentally Ill Out of Jail

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A new Department of Correction steering committee wants to develop a plan to prevent mentally ill persons from landing in jail — and keeping them out of lock-up once they are released.

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It's A Free Country ®

Prisoner Census Data Likely to Shake Up Redistricting Efforts

Monday, July 18, 2011

Newly released Census data makes it possible for New York's prisoners to be counted at their home address rather than their jail cell. But internal divisions in the state redistricting committee and a lingering lawsuit leave the reapportionment process in doubt.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Prison Politics

Thursday, July 14, 2011

David King, state government editor at Gotham Gazette, looks at how Gov. Cuomo negotiated the choice between losing jobs upstate and separating families downstate in picking which under-utilized prisons to close. Plus, where are prisoners being counted when it comes to redistricting?

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It's A Free Country ®

Prison Politics

Thursday, July 14, 2011

On the Brian Lehrer Show today at 10:06. Audio and a recap will be posted by 1pm.

David King, state government editor at Gotham Gazette, looks at how Gov. Cuomo negotiated the choice between losing jobs upstate and separating families downstate in picking which under-utilized prisons to close. Plus, where are prisoners being counted when it comes to redistricting?

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Sex Abuse in New York's Prisons

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Kelly Virella, deputy editor at City Limits Magazine, talks about the City Limits' investigation of staff sexual abuse in New York State prisons for women.

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WNYC News

Prison Towns Worry Closures Could Upend Communities

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to shutter as many as 10 prisons statewide in order to cut costs, but officials in the primarily upstate New York communities that house correctional facilities are concerned about job loss.

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The Takeaway

Louisiana's Angola Prison: Where Rehabilitation Includes a Rodeo

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

They wear black-and-white striped shirts in a Western style, and compete for cash prizes in the "convict poker tournament." But the men participating in Louisiana Staten Prison's annual rodeo are merely volunteering to take part in a 40-year tradition. Prison administration officials say is a healthy part of the prisoners' rehabilitation — offering convicts a chance to see their families, who pack the stadium. Some call the event exploitation. 

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The Takeaway

An Unlikely Inmate Looks Back on Her Time in Prison

Thursday, April 08, 2010

When Piper Kerman graduated from Smith College she veered away from the typical middle class lifestyle and chose, for a time, to go a different way. She fell in with a group of charismatic drug smugglers and ended up traveling to fine resorts around the world to help traffic drug money.

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The Takeaway

Ninth Circuit Court: Convicted Felons Can Still Vote

Thursday, January 07, 2010

A federal court in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle has overturned a Washington state law that said convicted felons had no right to vote. The case turned on questions of racial bias in Washington's justice and penal systems, and could have wide-reaching implications for other laws involving prisoners.  To unpack the decision, we're joined by Dale Ho, assistant counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which has been working on this case for the past 6 years.

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The Takeaway

Census: Where Should We Count Prison Inmates?

Thursday, December 31, 2009

The 2010 census is just around the corner. It's the once-every-decade tally of who lives where in the United States. One of its provisions requires counting prisoners in the place where they are incarcerated, not where they originally lived. Here to tell us why that's a problem is Peter Wagner, executive director of the Prison Policy Initiative. Also joining us is Jim Lehman, a state senator from Dodge County, in Wisconsin. His county has a population of just over 10,000, of which nearly 2,000 are prison inmates.

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The Takeaway

Detainees: Coming Soon to a Prison Near You?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The federal government needs a place to move the detainees from Guantánamo Bay if they hope to close the detention camp, as President Obama has promised. Moving terrorism suspects onto U.S. soil is a controversial move opposed by many – especially Republicans. But there are also those who support the idea and believe it could be beneficial in a time of high unemployment. One of the places the government is considering is Thomson Correctional Center, in the small town of Thomson, Ill. We speak to Tony Arnold from Chicago Public Radio, along with Illinois state Rep. Mike Boland, a Democrat whose district covers Thomson.

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The Takeaway

Rioting Erupts in California Prison

Monday, August 10, 2009

Inmates staged a violent riot at a California state men's prison in Chino, near Los Angeles Saturday night. By the end of the 11-hour incident a dormitory was burned to the ground, 250 prisoners were injured and 55 were hospitalized. Racial tensions between black and Latino inmates appeared to have played a role in the incident and California prisons are now on lock down across the state. Solomon Moore is covering the story for The New York Times.

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The Takeaway

Jailed Protestors: Abuse in Iranian Prisons

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

In the protests over Iran's disputed presidential election results, hundreds of demonstrators were arrested and sent to Iranian prisons. Now there are accounts alleging that guards abused some imprisoned protestors. Outrage is growing as detainees detail abuse to their relatives, or when bruised and battered bodies are returned to families. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad issued a letter urging the head of the judiciary to show “Islamic mercy” to the detainees, and on Monday Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, personally intervened and closed an especially notorious detention center. For more, we turn to Robert Worth, Beirut bureau chief for our partners The New York Times.

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The Takeaway

Debtors' Prison: It lives in the 21st Century

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Today we’re kicking off our series, “The Color of Money,” in an effort to examine how the economic downturn is affecting minorities. We’re starting the conversation with a look at modern day debtors’ prison—a 19th century relic that is alive and well in parts of 21st century America. While imprisonment for debt was officially abolished in the 1800s, for Edwina Nowlin, it is a harsh reality. Her teenage son was kept in prison until she could come up with the funds to pay the court-ordered $104/month fee. When she couldn't pay, she was sent to jail for 30 days. It took a lawsuit by the ACLU of Michigan to get her out.

With unemployment rates higher among African Americans and Hispanics, and the median income about $20,000 lower than it is for whites, these groups run a greater risk of falling into debt and bearing the consequences. Joining us to talk about these penalties and the rise of debtors' prisons is Stephen Bright. He’s the president and senior counsel of the Southern Center for Human Rights. He also teaches at Yale and Georgetown Law School .

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The Takeaway

Are we torturing U.S. prisoners?

Monday, March 23, 2009

The United States holds at least 25,000 prisoners in long-term solitary confinement prisons across the country. They're called "Supermax" prisons, where prisoners are confined without human contact for at least 23 hours every day. Should these isolation cells be considered torture?

The Takeaway is joined by Dr. Atul Gawande, a surgeon and author of a piece in this week's New Yorker called "Annals of Human Rights". Dr. Gawande writes that we know how monkeys respond when scientists have placed them under solitary confinement: the monkeys become severely disturbed and withdrawn. It's, of course, not ethical to do similar experiments on adult human beings, but Dr. Gawande argues that is exactly what we are doing to tens of thousands of prisoners in Supermax prisons in the United States.

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The Takeaway

A shooting in Oakland sparks new debate over parole

Monday, March 23, 2009

California’s parole system has long been criticized for returning parolees to overcrowded prisons for minor offenses. Reform has been in the works for years. This weekend, though, a parolee shot and killed three police officers in Oakland, and mortally wounded a fourth. Todd Clear, Professor of Criminal Justice at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, is concerned that people will take away the wrong message about parole reform from this horrible crime. He joins us now to discuss the issue.

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The Takeaway

Judges rule California must close prisons

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A panel of three federal judges has ruled that California is not providing its prison population with adequate health care and ordered the state to reduce its prison population by up to a third. The state says it will appeal. Anti-prison advocates Rose Braz, Campaign Director of Critical Resistance, and Marc Mauer, Executive Director of The Sentencing Project, join The Takeaway with a look at this case and how the economic crisis could impact criminal justice around the country.

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