Two Women Escape from Tennessee Prison ‘Release Center’

Two women at the end of last week escaped from a Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) facility in Chattanooga. 

“The Tennessee Department of Correction is asking for the public’s help in locating two inmates who walked away from the Chattanooga Release Center Friday night and are now listed as absconders,” according to TDOC. 

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Arizona County Could Release Prisoners over Guard Vaccination Layoffs

An Arizona county is looking into expediting the release of inmates in case its COVID-19 vaccination mandate results in the loss of half of its corrections officers. 

Acting Pima County Administrator Jan Lesher wrote city officials about the issue, saying the Pima County Adult Detention Center faces a potentially significant loss of manpower when the vaccination requirement for employees takes effect on Jan. 1, 2022. 

The County board of supervisors voted in November to require vaccinations of all workers before the end of the year. At that time, any correctional officers who have declined to be vaccinated would “face termination if an accommodation is not possible.” 

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Arizona House Passes Sentencing Reform Bill, But Passage in the Senate Remains Uncertain

The Arizona House of Representatives passed a sentencing reform bill on Monday, but due to a Senate committee chair failing to bring a similar bill up for a vote in the Senate earlier this year, SB 1064, it’s not clear whether it will make it through the Senate. SB 1064 would relax sentencing laws, which are some of the strictest in the nation. According to Arizona Prison & Sentencing Reform, the state has the fourth highest incarceration rate. Inmates are currently required to serve 85% of their sentences, but the bill would reduce that to as little as one third of their sentences. Inmates who complete self-improvement programs such as substance abuse treatment and maintain good behavior while in prison can receive time off their sentences.

The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House, with legislators voting 50-8 in favor. The previous version of the bill, HB 2173, didn’t get very far in the Senate, since Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Warren Petersen (R-Gilbert) declined to hear the legislation in his committee. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Walt Blackman (R-Snowfake), decided to get around Petersen with the new legislation by using a strike-everything amendment. He amended a bill that had already passed out of the Senate, so it can go straight to the Senate floor for a vote. However, it is up to Sen. President Karen Fann (R-Prescott) to bring it up for a vote. There is little time left, since the legislative session will likely end this week, according to the AZ Mirror. 

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Commentary: Letters from a D.C. Jail

This week, five Republican senators sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland regarding his office’s handling of January 6 protesters. The letter revealed the senators are aware that several Capitol defendants charged with mostly nonviolent crimes are being held in solitary confinement conditions in a D.C. jail used exclusively to house Capitol detainees.

Joe Biden’s Justice Department routinely requests—and partisan Beltway federal judges routinely approve—pre-trial detention for Americans arrested for their involvement in the January 6 protest. This includes everyone from an 18-year-old high school senior from Georgia to a 70-year-old Virginia farmer with no criminal record.

It is important to emphasize that the accused have languished for months in prison before their trials even have begun. Judges are keeping defendants behind bars largely based on clips selectively produced by the government from a trove of video footage under protective seal and unavailable to defense lawyers and the public—and for the thoughtcrime of doubting the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election.

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Coronavirus Prison Deaths Up 73 Percent Since Mid-May: Report

Coronavirus-related deaths in prisons and correctional facilities have reportedly increased by nearly 75% since mid-May, according to The New York Times.

Coronavirus-related deaths in prisons increased 73%  since mid-May totaling at least 607, according to the NYT’s database. The highest number of confirmed prison COVID-19 cases have been at Marion Correctional Institution in Ohio (2,439).

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Supreme Court Delays Federal Prison Inmates’ Release in Ohio

The U.S. Supreme Court has granted the federal government’s request to delay the release of medically vulnerable inmates at a federal prison in eastern Ohio where hundreds have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued the brief order Thursday evening — staying an order from a lower court to speed up the inmates’ release — until the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rules in the matter.

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Nashville Chief Public Defender Wants Even More Inmates Released Due to COVID-19

Metro Nashville Chief Public Defender Martesha L. Johnson has formally asked that members of the Davidson County Criminal Court immediately release an additional number of inmates from jail because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

These inmates are housed in the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department and at Core Civic facilities, Johnson said.

“It is perhaps an unprecedented request for relief in Nashville, but has been utilized in jurisdictions across the country,” Johnson said in her motion.

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