A video visit does not replace an in-person visit, in any universe.
From Truth Out/By Maya Schenwar
As the word “reform” swirls around current conversations about the criminal legal system, many proposed ideas involve new technologies. The techier, the assumption goes, the better! Data-driven “predictive policing” is branded as a route to figuring out where crime is going to happen. (In reality, such tactics involve using previous arrest data to increasingly target neighborhoods of color.) “Risk assessment tools” are sold as key to determining who can safely be paroled – but depending on how they’re used, they may deepen the racist disparities they supposedly counter. Electronic monitoring is advertised as a path toward reducing incarceration, but monitors are actually enlarging the bounds of who is caught inside the carceral system.
All the while, these technological “solutions” are padding the pockets of private companies – at the expense of people of color and the poor.
Video visitation is one such shiny-yet-insidious technology, which has rapidly spread over the past couple of years: More than 500 jails and prisons around the country are now experimenting with it. On the one hand, for people incarcerated far away from their loved ones, video visits could be a welcome channel of communication, allowing them to “meet” face-to-face without requiring long, expensive journeys. The “visits” also offer young children, the elderly and people with disabilities – who might be less able to travel – the opportunity for some face time.
Still, a video visit is no real substitute for an in-person visit, in any universe. However, as a recent report by Prison Policy Initiative documents, the introduction of video visitation often forcibly replaces in-person visits, in order to maximize profits for the private companies that provide the technology. Family and friends, most of whom don’t have much money, are then compelled to pay for the (heftily priced) video calls if they want to see their loved ones’ faces. Add to this the fact that many poor families don’t have access to the equipment necessary to receive a video call – and so, for some, video visitation simply spells the end of visits. Read more…
A death-row jail cell in Huntsville, Tex. The design of such quarters has raised questions.
From The New York Times
SAN FRANCISCO — Faced with lawsuits and a growing mountain of damning research, New York City officials decided last month to ban solitary confinement for prison inmates 21 and younger. Just a few weeks earlier, the American Institute of Architects rejected a petition to censure members who design solitary-confinement cells and death chambers.
“It’s just not something we want to determine as a collective,” Helene Combs Dreiling, the institute’s former president, told me. She said she put together a special panel that reviewed the plea. “Members with deeply embedded beliefs will avoid designing those building types and leave it to their colleagues,” Ms. Dreiling elaborated. “Architects self-select, depending on where they feel they can contribute best.”
What are the ethical boundaries for architecture? Architecture is one of the learned professions, like medicine or law. It requires a license, giving architects a monopoly over their practices, in return for a minimal promise that buildings won’t fall down. Raphael Sperry, the Bay Area architect who spearheaded the petition to the institute, thinks the public deserves more in return for that monopoly. Read more…
From The Marshall Project
Why they’re disappearing, which states still use them, and what really happens during those overnight visits.
Although conjugal, or “extended,” visits play a huge role in prison lore, in reality, very few inmates have access to them. Twenty years ago, 17 states offered these programs. Today, just four do: California, Connecticut, New York, and Washington. No federal prison offers extended, private visitation.
Last April, New Mexico became the latest state to cancel conjugal visits for prisoners after a local television station revealed that a convicted killer, Michael Guzman, had fathered four children with several different wives while in prison. Mississippi had made a similar decision in January 2014. Read more…
UPDATE: The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) medical contacted the Shoatz family on the morning of February 12th and informed them of the course and schedule of the treatments that Maroon is going to be receiving for his prostate cancer. The treatment is set to begin this week. The quick response by PADOC is due to the overwhelming number of phone calls they received from YOU.
THANK YOU to all who answered the call and advocated for Maroon. At this time we are asking supporters to hold off on further phone calls and letters. Maroon’s family and legal counsel will be in communication with him to ensure that he begins receiving the treatment without any further delay.
We cannot thank everybody enough. Hold off for now on further advocacy, but remain vigilant in the event that further action is required in the future
From Free Russell Maroon Shoats
Action Alert –Prison Officials Denying Russell Maroon Shoatz Treatment for Prostate Cancer – Call Prison Today
Political prisoner and former Black Panther Russell Maroon Shoatz #AF3855 was informed that he had prostate cancer on December 9, 2014. Prison medical staff has not provided any treatment to date. Cancer does not wait for the prison bureaucracy. Maroon’s health, his life, and his rights are being violated every moment he is denied necessary cancer treatment.
Call SCI Graterford and PADOC Secretary Wetzel today and demand that Maroon be provided immediate, necessary medical care for his prostate cancer.
SCI Graterford Superintendent Michael Wenerowicz: 610-489-4151
SCI Graterford Chief Health Care Administrator Joseph Korszniak: 610-489-4151
PADOC Secretary John Wetzel: 717-728-4109
Please be firm and respectful when talking to prison staff.
Talking Points: Read more…