After struggling with addiction and mental illness, Jayne Fuentes served her time, found a job and got her life back on track. She's been sober and crime-free for three years, but one thing still dogs her: fear of being jailed or forced to do physical labor because she can't afford to pay the government.
It was announced today that starting November 1, 6,000 federal prisoners are to be released from federal prison, an unprecedented move that is the result of changes made by the U.S. Sentencing Commission last year that lowered federal sentencing guidelines for people convicted under draconian drug war-era laws.
On a summer Wednesday inside a prison in Graterford, Pa., convicted felons must make a tough decision. When they purchase ice cream, should they choose strawberry shortcake, chocolate chip cookie dough, birthday cake, banana daiquiri water ice or a combination of the flavors?
Last month I headed to my local cinema to see "The Stanford Prison Experiment," based, of course, on Prof. Phlilp Zimbardo's 1971 psychology investigation of the effects of a simulated carceral setting on average college students.
On Monday, September 17, twenty-eight years - essentially a life sentence ¬- was given to 61-year old disgraced peanut executive Stewart Parnell for his role in a salmonella cover-up linked to nine deaths between 2008 and 2009.
Pope Francis' speech at the Curran-Frumhold Correctional Facility was not explicit in any one message. Throughout, the Pope referenced Jesus' washing of the disciples' feet and taught about service, not serving time, but people in power serving others regardless of their present status.
People released from prison frequently face challenges. To start, people with prison records have a hard time finding a job. If employers won't hire the formerly incarcerated, then the formerly incarcerated can take a different tactic.
Reentry is not just a criminal justice issue: it is an economic and moral imperative. The population of people with prior records represents too great a wave of human potential to leave behind.
It wasn't until I saw the picture of Pope Francis through the window of his plane, preparing to depart, that it sunk in how hard the man had worked during his brief trip to the United States.
Today, more than two million people are behind bars. Few of us stop to consider the human impacts of incarceration or what it means to be separated from a parent, sibling and social settings you've known your entire life.
On Sunday, Pope Francis will visit the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility (CFCF), a jail in Philadelphia. His visit will shine that light in a very dark place -- an overcrowded jail in a major US city.
Pope Francis's visit to a Philadelphia prison this weekend will serve as a reminder of the heavy cost of today's high incarceration levels for families, neighborhoods and states.
In summit discussions with President Xi Jinping of China, President Barack Obama might want to open new lines of communication over human rights by reflecting candidly on America's own failings, following a script something like this:
Scott Lewis spent 19 years in federal prison. He was recently released after an FBI investigation revealed a dirty cop was part of the cocaine trade and framed Lewis and Stefon Morant, for a double murder they didn't commit. Lewis is now an independent real estate broker.
As we remember brothers like Troy Davis, as we think about Kelly Gissendaner who would be executed by the State of Georgia on the 29th of this month, we remember what it means to die a good death, leaving a mark on a world that forces us to face our own idiosyncrasies and short comings.
In the 1980s, I had a string of successful sales and marketing companies and lived in the sub-penthouse of a beachfront hi-rise with a wonderful wife. An idyllic life.