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Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

Filtering by Tag: incarceration

Autism and Sex Offender Laws

Nickie Phillips

AUTISM AND SEX OFFENDER LAWS
SFC Professor’s New Book Details Trouble With Legal System

St. Francis College Professor Emily Horowitz, with co-editor, law professor Larry Dubin, J.D., are fighting to make the legal system more fair for people on the autism spectrum and those with developmental disabilities through the release of their new book, Caught in the Web of the Criminal Justice System: Autism, Developmental Disabilities, and Sex Offenses (Jessica Kingsley Publishers).

The book argues that the legal system needs to radically change the way it handles cases involving defendants with developmental disabilities charged with sex offenses; that they are overly harsh and don’t take into account the defendant’s lack of awareness or inability to comprehend the societal values that these laws police.

In addition to many scholarly approaches to the subject, Caught in the Web includes a first person account from Larry Dubin’s son, Nick and his years long legal struggle to put his life back in order after a sex offense conviction that even the defense team specialists determined was unwarranted and overly punitive.

Arguing for reform in the judicial treatment of people convicted of sex offenses, this book examines how sentencing policies are based on emotion rather than research. Using the lens of harsh sex offense prosecutions of those with developmental disabilities, Caught in the Web claims that hysteria is the underlying driver in our approach to sex offenses.

Professor Dubin was recently featured on NPR discussing issues related to sex offenses and autism spectrum disorders; Prof. Emily Horowitz delivered the keynote at the Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offense Laws annual meeting at Southwestern Law School where she spoke about the disconnect between evidence and sex offense policies, and how even those with disabilities face the consequences of draconian punishments.

Dr. Horowitz is chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at St. Francis College. She is the author of Protecting Our Kids? How Sex Offender Laws Are Failing Us (a Choice American Library Association Book of the Year in 2015) and founder and co-director of the St. Francis Post-Prison program, which was recently featured in Kings County Politics. In recent months, her research on the sex offense registry been cited by publications such as USA Today, The Columbus Dispatch, The Sentinel, Alternet and in testimony to the Ohio Judiciary Committee. Last week, her comments were featured in an article about a major case before the 11th Circuit challenging Alabama’s sex offense laws which are among the harshest in the nation.

With introductions by Alan Gershel, J.D., and Mark Mahoney, J.D., the book is available directly from Jessica Kingsley Publishers (JKP) or from Amazon and other booksellers. JKP is best known for a long established list of publications on the autism spectrum, social work, and arts therapies. In 2016 JKP was named Independent Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher of the Year at the British Book Industry Awards.
— R. Relkin, Director of Media Relations, St. Francis College

Chase Madar on Chelsea Manning - Wikileaks Whistleblower

Nickie Phillips

Chase Madar, author of The Passion of Bradley Manning: The Story Behind the Wikileaks Whistleblower, spoke about Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning and her conviction for leaking nearly half a million classified government documents to Wikileaks. Madar discussed government transparency, the consequences of overclassification of documents, and the necessity for criminal justice reform.

Madar is a civil rights attorney and has written for numerous outlets including The Nation, Mother Jones, Al Jazeera America, and Vice

Hudson Link @ SFC Post-Prison Program Begins Third Year

Nickie Phillips

Beginning its third year and with just two semesters until the first person graduates, the Hudson Link @ SFC Post-Prison Program began the Fall semester with a welcome back gathering of students, faculty and special guest Keston Jones on Monday, September 12.

Formerly incarcerated, Mr. Jones is currently a Ph.D. student at Yeshiva University. He also serves as program director for the Fatherhood Program that works with community organizations and individuals to raise awareness around issues of fatherhood.

In addition to welcoming one new student, current students in the program expressed how the program has been instrumental in shaping their life trajectories including providing support and resources.
Johnny Perez

Johnny Perez

Johnny Perez ‘17 is set to graduate with a degree in Criminal Justice in May. “My upcoming graduation is not only an educational victory, but marks a day in my familial history as the first person in my family to graduate from college and therefore break the cycle of ignorance within it. That would not be possible without St. Francis College,” he said.

The Post-Prison program was recently featured in the Association of American Catholic Colleges publication, ACCU Peace and Justice and was recognized during The White House College Opportunity Day of Action which supports President Barack Obama's commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

Urban Justice Center: 2016 Celebration & Recognition Awards

Nickie Phillips

Join reentry advocate Johnny Perez and others to honor Roy Waterman and Julia Steele at the 2016 Celebration & Recognition Awards.The celebration will take place over Hors D'oeuvres, an open wine bar, comedy by funny man Kenny Woo, and my favorite: Spoken Word. Opening remarks will be made by Juju Chang, Emmy Award-winning co-anchor of ABC News’ “Nightline,” Since the event willbe held on a private rooftop residence in midtown, event location will be shared upon registration.

The Urban Justice Center(UJC) Mental Health Project (MHP) has provided re-entry services for people with mental health concerns who are leaving New York State prisons or New York City jails and returning to the NYC community. Safe Re-entry advocate, Johnny Perez, has been the driving force behind MHP’s re-entry work, and this work has demonstrated to the UJC that many people returning to NYC from institutions of incarceration could benefit from assistance in re-entry.

The proceeds from this fundraiser will be used to research and develop a new project at the UJC: ReAP – the Re-entry Advocacy Project. With Johnny Perez’s direction, this project will provide support for people exiting our institutions of incarceration to obtain benefits and supports necessary to become integrated fully into the NYC community. The UJC hopes to begin ReAP in the fall of 2017.

Julia Steele Allen
Co-Writer, Producer, Performer
Mariposa & the Saint: From Solitary Confinement, A Play Through Letters

* Mariposa & the Saint is a play written entirely through letters between Julia Steele Allen and Sara (Mariposa) Fonseca over the course of three years, while Mariposa was held in isolation at a California women's prison. Partnering with grassroots organizations, Julia has performed the play over 50 times across 9 states, for legislators, judges, wardens corrections officials, faith communities, theater audiences, and students, using the play as an organizing tool to support the growing movement that will end solitary confinement in this country.

Roy Waterman
Director of Engagement for Drive Change and Owner and Head Chef of Caribbean Soul Caterers

* Drive Change is a non profit Social Enterprise that uses the mobile vending industry to train, employ, mentor, and encourage formerly incarcerated young people ages 18-25 years old who are released from adult jails and prison. Drive Change pays them a livable wage as well as a percentage of the food truck sales. Drive Change also provides licensed credentials such as the food handlers license and mobile vending license. The agency's focus is on the social and emotional leaning and on job training.

 

You can register for the Celebration here.

 

I really hope you are able to attend, or at the very least are able to purchase a ticket for someone who is formerly incarcerated, because freedom really is something to be celebrated in this era of Mass Incarceration. Please feel free to share the attached Celebration flier with your networks.  

Notable Criminal Justice Docs at Tribeca Film Festival

Nickie Phillips

When the most powerful lobbyist in Florida discovers that the nanny has sexually abused his daughter, he harnesses his extraordinary political power to pass the toughest sex offender laws in the nation. UNTOUCHABLE chronicles his crusade, and its impact on the lives of several of the 800,000 people forced to live under the kinds of laws he has championed.
— Untouchablefilm.com
 
In 2012, California amended its ‘Three Strikes’ law—one of the harshest criminal sentencing policies in the country. The passage of Prop. 36 marked the first time in U.S. history that citizens voted to shorten sentences of those currently incarcerated. Within days, the reintegration of thousands of ‘lifers’ was underway. The Return examines this unprecedented reform through the eyes of those on the front lines—prisoners suddenly freed, families turned upside down, reentry providers helping navigate complex transitions, and attorneys and judges wrestling with an untested law.
— The Return Project
Do Not Resist is an urgent and powerful exploration of the rapid militarization of the police in the United States. Opening on startling on-the-scene footage in Ferguson, Missouri, the film then broadens its scope to present scenes from across the country—a conference presentation where the value of high-end weapons technologies is presented to potential police buyers, a community that has just received its very own military-grade tank, and a SWAT team arriving at a home to execute a warrant. The cumulative effect of these vignettes paints a startling picture of the direction our local law enforcement is headed.
— Do Not Resist, Deborah Rudolph
Solitary investigates an invisible part of the American justice system: the use of isolation and segregation in US prisons, commonly known as solitary confinement.
— Tribeca Film Institute

Exclusive clip of Solitary at Deadline.

The Confined Arts: Solitary Confinement Edition at SFC

Nickie Phillips

Solitary confinement is torture...and should completely be abolished.
— Confined Arts: Solitary Confinement Edition
The Confined Arts: Solitary Confinement Edition - SFC March 12, 2016

The Confined Arts: Solitary Confinement Edition - SFC March 12, 2016

The Confined Arts: Solitary Confinement Edition - SFC March 12, 2016

Post-Prison: How has higher education helped change my life?

Nickie Phillips

Guest Contributer: Johnny Perez

The question of how higher education has changed my life is a question of not only cause and effect, but one of light versus darkness. I see ignorance as a state of darkness and education the illuminating light that so often eliminates it. My relationship with higher education has been an example of this battle; however, to truly appreciate the cure one must first understand the disease.

The worse part of living in a state of ignorance is not knowing about it. That was the situation I found myself in for many years, oblivious of the fact that I did not know that I did not know! As a result, I applied criminal solutions to my problems, reacted aggressively when confronted by others, and often gave up on myself when challenged beyond my comfort zone. Eventually, at the tender age of twenty-one, my self-defeating behaviors restricted me to a concrete cell for the following fifteen years.

I would like to say that receiving such an unbearable sentence served as a catalyst for change in my life, but I cannot. Like any pattern of behavior that takes shape over the course of many years, I continued to break the law despite the contradictory evidence against it around me. It’s important to understand that at the time I did not see my behavior in a negative light. This was mainly because I always shifted responsibility of my actions to others. As a result, I felt justified in my actions and that only served to perpetuate my behavior.

It wasn’t until I tried to do the right thing for the wrong reason that I received the right results. I signed up for the prison’s college program with the idea of spinning a positive light on all the negative behavior I was involved in. Instantly, I knew that I was in a different arena, but instead of quitting like my past indicated, the thought of leaving prison early motivated me enough to continue in the program. Before going to college I was not interested in education. School was were the squares and smart white people went to become lawyers and doctors. I never completed the tenth grade and my General Equivalency Diploma was the result of paying someone ten packs of unfiltered Marlboro Reds to pass the exam for me.

In prison, having reading material is the armor that protects you from the second-by-second attack on your soul that constant repetition can sometimes be. College gave me more protection from monotony that I could have ever hoped for. Within the first semester I traveled the world from inside my cell. I travelled alongside Martin Luther King Jr.; cried with Holocaust survivors; argued the philosophy of laissez-faire with Adam Smith, and even visited the Leaning Tower of Pisa. I also learned the meaning of new words and terms like multi-generational poverty, culture of violence, and synapse. Before college, I thought serendipity was a dancer at a gentlemen’s club, and a dichotomy was a type of surgery.

After some time, the funniest thing happened…I began to pull my pants up! I started to see opportunities where before I only saw challenges; stepping stones where before only obstacles were in sight; and college where before I only saw prison. I guess you can say that my paradigm shifted. The more I learned, the more I realized that I needed to learn more. The more I began to know, the more I came to the conclusion that I did not know anything at all. More importantly I began to see my behavior through the lens of responsible people, and slowly I became uncomfortable with some of the irresponsible behavior that I once felt so at home with. I could no longer use the N-word because I was conscious of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. I refused to continue smoking marijuana because I now knew the effects on the brain, and above all else, I felt compelled to break the cycle of ignorance and poverty within my family by being the first to complete a college education!

It has been elleven months now since the sound of steel gates slamming shut has filled my ears every night before I fell asleep. Today, I am a non-attorney mental health advocate at a well-known law firm. I’m responsible for connecting clients, who are reentering society from prison or hospitals, with services like medical treatment, housing, and yes, education. Sometimes, when I visit them prior to their release, they stare down at the handcuffs restricting the movement of their wrists and say, “You have no idea what it is to be in this hell hole.” I usually don’t self-disclose my past to clients, but the hopelessness in their eyes, the frustration painted on their faces, and the smell of their fear motivates me to tell them my story. As I share my past experiences with them I can see their eyes begin to widen with hope, their shoulders raise in confidence, and their smiles shine with joy as they come to realize that I am a living example of the past not dictating the future. An example that nothing is impossible.

So when I’m asked by anyone, how has higher education helped change my life? I can sincerely say that it has changed my life by changing who I am. I could not be a better father, employee, son, volunteer, advocate, or student, if I had not become a better person first. And as a result of higher education changing my life, it has also changed the life of the people who I come I contact with.

Mr. Perez will moderate the panel "'In my neighborhood'…First-hand Stories of Police Interactions" at SFC on September 29, 2015.

Johnny Perez is a non-attorney mental health advocate for the Urban Justice Center’s Mental Health Project, a law firm providing pro-bono legal representation to underserved populations affected by social justice issues.

When he is not advocating on behalf of New York’s most vulnerable populations, Mr. Perez works to change the status quo of unjust policies and practices as a member of pro-social groups including the Jails Action Coalition, the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC), and the New York Reentry Education Network. Johnny is also a member of the Bar Association’s Correction and Reentry Committee.

Help Support Mike's Defense Fund

Nickie Phillips

Guest Post, Karen Iris Tucker

Thanks to Crimcast for giving me a forum to voice my concerns about my friend, Michael Smith-Baker. Mike is known to many of us as an amazing personal trainer, drill sergeant of a class instructor, and all-around amazing human.

Mike is currently being held at Manhattan Detention Complex for a crime I believe he did not commit and to which he has pled Not Guilty. It seems he has been pulled into a mess that can involve as much as 35 years behind bars if he is convicted. The charges are non-violent and the purported evidence is circumstantial, which makes the amount of time he could serve outrageous.

Mike, like many people who end up wrongly serving time, is having financial difficulty obtaining a good lawyer. Mike's family has recently found an excellent lawyer for Mike and has started a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for pre-trial costs, which are very expensive--$20,000. It is vital for him to retain a lawyer who can help him get these charges dismissed or greatly reduced. We have very little time in which to make this happen.

Please contribute if you can—and/or contact me if you’d like to share a message with Mike. Please also share this message via email and/or social media with anyone you think would be interested.

Every Sunday after I trained with Mike, he would hug me and say, “I love you. Have a great week.” I can truly say that Mike has added a lot of light in my life. I feel grateful to know him.

Karen Iris Tucker (KT) Writer - Reporter

Changes in the UK law to contain sex offenders

Terry Thomas

 
 

There are noticeable difference between the way the USA and the UK try to protect the public from sex offenders who are living in the community. Both countries have a sex offender register but thereafter there is a departure in the way the register is used and how each try to contain the offender in the interests of public protection.

 
image.jpg

In the USA the register is publicly available to anyone who wants to consult it including availability on the internet. This ‘universal’ approach of ‘community notification’ is in contrast to the more ‘selective’ approach of the UK where only certain people are allowed to know information about a person’s sexual convictions and their registration status.

The USA has blanket residency restrictions with geographic zones that sex offenders are not allowed to live in. The UK has targeted restrictions on a person’s lifestyle and where they might want to live using individualised preventive civil orders. Another example of the ‘universal’ and ‘selective’ approaches taken by the respective countries.

But is the UK slowly moving towards a wider interpretation of the conditions the state can impose on a sex offender in the interests of public protection?

A recent case heard in the UK Court of Appeal [Richards, R (on the application of) v Teesside Magistrates' Court & Another [2015] EWCA Civ 7] involved a registered sex offender being ‘contained’ by a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) – one of the preventive civil orders introduced by the Sexual Offences Act 2003. These Orders are applied for by the police on certain qualifying individuals and they allow the courts to impose various negative restrictions on a person’s behaviour.

The appeal in this case was against the court’s decision to require the sex offender to wear an electronic tag to monitor his movements. He argued that (a) there was nothing in the law on SOPO’s that said anything about electronic tags being worn unlike all other legal references to tags which were in the statute book, and (b) the requirement to wear a tag was a ‘positive’ when all other restrictions by SOPO’s were ‘negative’ as the law suggested they should be.

The case was lost and the presiding judges ruled that:

The only restrictions to what may be placed in a SOPO are … that it must be ‘necessary’ to impose the prohibition in order to protect the public or particular members of the public from serious sexual harm from the defendant …[and] Parliament did not restrict or limit the prohibitions which may be included in a SOPO. Given the myriad ways in which such harm may be caused, the absence of a list of permitted prohibitions is understandable (para.29)

But SOPOs themselves are about to disappear. The Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 Part 9 replaces them with Sexual Risk Orders and Sexual Harm Prevention Orders. Exactly when these new Orders will become active is as yet still unknown. What we do know is that they are going to be even more widely drawn than the existing SOPO (see e.g. ‘New Home Office Rules give police sweeping powers to curb sex offenders’ The Independent 9 October 2013). If we thought the SOPO was vague wait till we see what comes next.

Terry Thomas is Emeritus Professor of Criminal Justice Studies, Leeds Beckett University UK – for a longer account of the changes in the UK law about to take place see Thomas T and Thompson D (2014) New Civil Orders to contain Sexually Harmful Behaviour in the Community British Journal of Community Justice 12 (3): 19-33.

Orange is the New Black and New Perspectives on the Women in Prison Genre, Call for Papers

Nickie Phillips

Call for Papers

Friday 5 June 2015

Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, Scotland

Keynote Speaker: Professor Diane Negra (University College Dublin)

We would like to invite proposals for papers for a one-day conference framed around discussions of the Netflix original series Orange is the New Black (2013-). The series has received a great deal of critical media attention, particularly surrounding its representation of sexualities and women of colour. The series is the most recent in a sequence of TV programmes and feature films exploring women’s incarceration in a popular format. Considered as part of the ‘women in prison’ genre, the show upholds certain stereotypes while simultaneously using the genre framework to explore new territory. This conference aims to open up scholarly debates surrounding OITNB and to further contextualise it alongside other representations of women in prison from a multidisciplinary range of perspectives. We also welcome contributions from creative practitioners on their engagement with the ‘women in prison’ genre.

Contributors are invited to address OITNB in relation to issues around the representation of women’s experience with imprisonment in any geographical location, in both historical and contemporary contexts. Some of the questions this conference wishes to address are: what defines the ‘women in prison’ genre and how has it changed historically? What effects does it have on specific groups of (incarcerated) women and public audiences? How do new modes of circulation impact on audience reception of the ‘women in prison’ genre?

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

·         OITNB and genre

·         OITNB and questions of adaptation

·         Comparative analyses with other ‘women in prison’ series or feature films

·         Gender, class, ethnicity, sexuality and age in OITNB

·         OITNB and questions of ‘the gaze’

·         OITNB in relation to ‘real world’ criminal justice settings

300 word abstracts should be sent to:

OITNBConference@gmail.com by midnight on 16 January 2015.

For further inquiries please contact the conference organisers:

Dr Sarah Artt and Dr Anne Schwan

Rehabilitation and Good Eats: London's The Clink Restaurant

Nickie Phillips

By Staci Strobl

bef9f1d8e41b68cca9651a9a80803c0c

I like to eat and I support the ideal of the rehabilitation of offenders.  So what could be more perfect that The Clink Restaurant at Brixton Prison in South London?  I immediately made a reservation (in this case, well in advance because the prison must do its security checks on guests) for my husband and I to enjoy high-class dining, complements of inmates training as chefs, sous-chefs, and waiters.  I'll be perfectly honest: the concept is so grand that I was going to love it even if the food was bad.  But it most certainly was not.  Seared tuna on a bed of sesame oil and greens, Hake and mackerel fried medallions and thrice-fried chips, apple crumble, and fair-trade coffee.  Simply delicious.

The Clink is the third such restaurant opened in the United Kingdom in recent years.  The brainchild of Chef Alberto Crisci, and founder of the The Clink Charities, the prisoners work a 40-hour week, training towards the national certifications they need to enter the restaurant and hotel industries upon release.  Thereafter, they receive additional mentoring not only in securing job placement, but also with social and psychological issues that may trigger re-offending.

Anyone who has been keeping up with the rehabilitation literature knows that no one program fits all, but that in general, job training programs are the most likely to succeed with the biggest proportion of offenders.  And, according to the statistics provided by The Clink, and verified by an independent examiner, since its founding in 2009, the recidivism rates after one year of release are between 12.5% and 14%.  Compare this to the national average of 49% and it appears the program is a winner.  Granted, these inmates are selected for the program because they have the potential for success (and in that sense may not be typical of most U.K. prisoners), nonetheless, the success rates are quite suggestive that the program makes a real difference in prisoners' lives.

Could the model be imported to the U.S.?  Given the cultural emphasis on consumerism and work-- as in, there is something wrong with you if you can't consume because you don't have a job-- it would seem that the program would resonate for American prisoners as well, providing them an avenue for returning to mainstream society in a dignified way.  Unfortunately, the political buy-in from the public for such a program would certainly be harder to come by.  In the U.K., though there are strains and pockets of retributivism, they aren't as deeply engrained as they are in the U.S.  The British couple sitting next to us at The Clink speculated that at least half of Britons have a compassionate stance toward prisoner-integration programs, more so in an urban environment like London.  Alas, I am not sure half of the American population would be inclined to support such an intensive program which may provide better job training than that  to which the law-abiding citizen has access.

As a criminologist, I hope for a quality social science study of The Clink in order to glean out more clearly what works and how much it works.  I would do it myself, if I could ever find the time with my ten other projects in the fire.  But if anyone reading this needs a dissertation topic, it's up for grabs.

Sex in Prison: Myths and Realities

Nickie Phillips

Prison_Life_by_sultan_f

Crimcast welcomes Tammy L. Castle, co-editor along with Catherine D. Marcum of Sex in Prison: Myths and Realities (2014), to discuss issues surrounding sexual behavior, sexuality, and policies regarding sex in prison. Dr. Castle’s book brings together work from experts covering a variety of topics such as sexual assault, health issues, challenges facing LGBT inmates, and the implications of incarcerating millions of people in institutions that prohibit sexual intimacy.

How did you become interested in the topic of sex in prison?

I began writing about sexual behavior in prison while working as a research assistant for a professor in my graduate program. He had recently finished interviews with inmates about the topic, and I worked with him on several manuscripts that were published using that data. I also contributed a chapter to his book, which explored the contemporary practice of and policies related to sexual behavior in prison. The research at that time was dated, in part due to the stigma associated with researching such a topic both inside and outside the academy. It was because of my prior research in this area that Dr. Marcum contacted me to contribute a chapter and serve as co-editor of the book.

Your book reports that collecting accurate statistics on the extent of rape and sexual assault of men and women in prison is extremely difficult. Catherine Marcum, in her chapter “Examining Prison Sex Culture,” reports that sexual assault rates vary from 1 to 41 percent. How can we make sense of such a disparity?

The first issue to consider is the difficulty of collecting this type of data in prison/jail. Although the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) signed in 2003 requires the Bureau of Justice Statistics to report sexual assault rates, they can only report incidents that come to the attention of prison/jail staff. As noted in the book, inmates are hesitant to report for a variety of reasons including the stigma of being assaulted, fear of retribution by other inmates or staff (if a staff member was the perpetrator), and the desire to avoid the negative consequences of reporting (e.g. removal from general population).

Also, the number of sexual assaults reported varies from facility to facility. In some institutions, sexual coercion through manipulation is much more common. The institutions vary in what behavior gets defined as a sexual assault.

Your book addresses an overlooked area of research, that of consensual sex in prison. Kristine Levan points out that, aside from the obvious power imbalance between guards and inmates, some researchers have found that most sexual activity that occurs in prison is consensual. Why do you think that the myth persists among the general public that nearly all prison sex is coercive?

Photo: Jelle Vancoppenolle

Prisons are closed institutions—secure and often located in rural areas—and it is difficult for the general public to find information on the realities of prison life. For that reason, most of what they know comes from the media. The depictions of prison sex in the media are almost always sensational, whether it is being romanticized (as in the TV show ‘Orange is the New Black’) or portrayed only as a violent act (e.g. gang rape). The commonly held myth that prison rape occurs frequently, and is a natural consequence of living in prison, is found in most films that depict prison life.

Given that many members of the public are opposed to any perceived “amenities” or activities that prisoners might find pleasurable, why might a policy of conjugal visitation be worthwhile for both the inmates and society-at-large?

It is difficult to influence public opinion on attitudes toward inmates and amenities. Even with sexual assault, the public is often less than sympathetic to a “deserving” population. However, conjugal visitation in several states represents one component of a larger program aimed at family preservation. In other countries, specifically in Latin America, family preservation programs are more much common and accepted. Surveys on inmate amenities find stronger support for family visitation programs among the general public, who view the family members as “undeserving” of the negative impact of incarceration on the family unit.

These programs have been found to impact adjustment both during and after incarceration. Studies have shown that increased visitation results in fewer infractions while in prison, and provides participants with incentives to behave. Maintaining the connection with family also lowers recidivism rates and produces a “normalizing effect” on the inmates. Finally, states with conjugal visitation programs report lower rates of sexual assault. Some prison staff argue that programs such as these lower tension and hostility in the institutions overall.

What are the most overlooked health issues with regard to sex in prison?

As Potter and Rosky discussed in their chapter on health issues, disease transmission among inmates is the most pressing health concern. Some inmates enter prison with bacterial STDs or HIV, and then spread it via sexual contact. However because most correctional health data is not published it is difficult to estimate the rates of transmission. Most prison sex policies are prohibitive rather than preventative, although correctional facilities can decide whether to support harm reduction measures in an effort to reduce transmission.

Tell us about your current research and let us know if we can expect future work from you in this area.

This book culminates several years I spent working on the topic, and given the access to data provided by the PREA, I do feel that there is more work to be done by scholars who wish to explore this taboo subject. My other research interests include comparative justice and media, including my recent article Achieving Justice through the International Criminal Court in Northern Uganda: Is Indigneous/Restorative Justice a Better Approach? that examines the dimensions of justice and role of the International Criminal Court in Northern Uganda.

Tammy L. Castle

Tammy L. Castle is an Associate Professor in the Department of Justice Studies at James Madison University. She has published broadly in the areas of sexual violence and prisons, although her current research focuses on hate propaganda. For further information or discussion about the book, please contact her at: castletl@jmu.edu.

Pull of Gravity Screening, NYC

Nickie Phillips

Pull of Gravity-Documentary Trailer from Jon Kaufman on Vimeo.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office – Eastern District of New York, the U.S. Department of Probation – Eastern District of New York, The Center for Court Innovation and St. Francis College are pleased to bring a screening of the documentary film PULL OF GRAVITY to Brooklyn, NY on May 5th. The film will be followed by a panel discussion with the film’s director and others involved in reintegration.

Monday May 5. 2014 St. Francis College 180 Remsen Street Brooklyn, NY 11201

Go here to RSVP and for more information.

Paintings from the Inside: Art by Offenders

Nickie Phillips

dinner  

These five remarkable paintings greet visitors of Leeds Metropolitan University School of Social, Psychological and Communication Sciences. The paintings are part of the Koestler Trust exhibitions that feature artworks by offenders, secure patients, and detainees.

Koestler Trust is described as "the UK's best-known prison arts charity" and operates as "…a charity which celebrates the best achievements of people who have made grave mistakes in life…."

The Trust operates on donations and income from the sales of the artworks, with 50% profits going to the artist and 25% of all sales going to victim support.

Koestler offers annual awards that cover a variety of artforms including, writing, painting, performance, and crafts with a selection of the entries featured at the annual UK exhibition held in London. For more information on the exhibitions, go here.

To support Koestler Trust, go here. You may purchase art here.

 

scream mask headinsand cell

 

Bastoy Prison in Norway: A Humane Example of Incarceration

Nickie Phillips

Ana Luisa Crivorot, Guest Blogger

bastoy-prison-island

Imagine being on a beautiful island, in a bungalow where you have your own room with a laptop and television. You can sunbathe, jog, ride your bike, or take care of the farm animals. If you so wish, you may attend class, visit a well-stocked library, or earn any degree you desire. It sounds pretty idyllic, doesn’t it? To many it may actually sound like the perfect vacation. This all can be found in Bastoy an island in Norway. But Bastoy is not a college campus or a vacation resort, it is actually a prison.

Norwegian prisons are very humane and follow a high standard of living. Inmates have their own rooms, and have multiple opportunities to work, learn, or simply relax. Their accommodations are much nicer than most New York City apartments and their living standard infinitely times better than that of an average citizen in some developing nations. Your instinct may be that this all sounds too nice for someone serving a prison sentence, after all, this doesn’t sound too punishing does it? Even Anders Breivik, who massacred 77 individuals, mostly youths, in the summer of 2011, is eligible to move there after a portion of his sentence is completed. But, he must show repentance and a desire to rehabilitate himself in order to have that option. At the current moment Brevik has a three room suite in prison, equipped with his own small gym.

The official policy of the corrections system in Norway is that the only punishment to inmates should be the loss of liberty. Their day-to-day lives are supposed to be as close to the outside as possible and human rights are also a priority. Norway’s maximum prison sentence is twenty-one years, so it is understandable why preventing recidivism is a priority. Norway has one of the lowest recidivism rates in the world, 20%, comparable only to a few other Scandinavian countries. Bastoy’s recidivism rate is even lower, at 16%. Its residents include murderers and rapists, but prison officials insist that they are being taught responsibility and to care for themselves and others. Norway’s incredible recidivism rate should be enough to convince many of the merits of such a system.

This is the second of two Crimcast blog posts exploring prisons in Norway.  See also Valeriy Kipelov's post on Norway's approach to prisons and punishment here.

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Ana Luisa Crivorot is currently pursuing a Master's in International Crime Justice at John Jay College in New York City. She graduated from New York University with a double major in Psychology and Politics and hopes to pursue a career in Law Enforcement. Ana is originally from Brazil and is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish.