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Articles Tagged with prisoners rights

An inmate at the Donovan Correctional Center in California died on Friday, July 10. Details as to how and why the inmate passed have not yet been released. An investigation into the death is currently underway. One of the responsibilities of the Office of the Inspector General is to ensure that there is fair management, oversight, and transparency with regards to practices and procedures with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

Who is Incarcerated in California State Prisons?

According to data released by the Public Policy Institute of California, there have been approximately 115,000 inmates serving time in California’s prisons since 2017. Out of all of the state-owned prisons, 37% are over capacity. African Americans represent a majority of the prison population in California. The information released by the PPIC indicates that 28.5% of the population is made up of African-American males. Imprisonment of African Americans is 10 times that of their white counterparts. This is also the case when it comes to the female population. In the female prison system, 25.9% of the female inmates are African American. This means that African-American women are imprisoned at a rate five times higher than white women.

Over 81% of the inmates who are imprisoned in the California correctional system were born in the United States, while 13% were born in a foreign country. The diverse population has at least one thing in common, which is that they are aging. During the period from 2000 to 2017, the number of prisoners who were aged 50 or older skyrocketed to 19% of the population. While this time period showed an increase in the aging population, it also reported a decrease in younger inmates aged 25 and below. When looking at all of this information combined, the average age of a male in California state prisons is 40, while the average age for women is just below that at 38.

There are many prisoners who will be released after they serve about half of their four-year sentences, but a greater number of inmates will be serving time far beyond this amount of time. While the types of crimes that cause an inmate to be imprisoned are diverse, the most common offenses that brought people to be incarcerated in California state prisons in 2017 included:

  • Assault
  • Weapons offenses
  • Robbery

All of these offenses are considered serious violent crimes by the state.

Do You Need a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney?

If you have been arrested for a crime in California, you may be facing some amount of jail time. Spending time behind bars is not only difficult, but having this blemish on your record can negatively affect your life and the opportunities available to you after your release. It is important to fight your charges, and the California criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of David M. Boertje have the experience you need to help you reduce potential jail time or even eliminate it altogether. Continue reading

The holidays can be stressful for your loved ones sitting behind bars. This is a time when they feel like they have been forgotten because they cannot physically be with you and other family members. Cheer them up with a criminal jail visit. With these strategies, you can make your jail visitations go smoothly for all parties involved.

Take Time to Plan the Visit

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department’s website has plenty of information regarding visitation, how to book the reservations, the types of visits available, required identification needed for the visit, and visiting hours.

A new proposed bill in the state of California, A.B. 2466 now sits on Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for his approval. The bill would redefine who is entitled to register to vote, with the intent of restoring voting rights for the many ex-offenders within the state.

Today, racial minorities remain disproportionately excluded from voting as a result of the documented bias in drug law enforcement and sentencing. The “war on drugs” and subsequent decades of mass incarceration have blocked millions of people out of the electoral process. In California prisons, three out of every four men are either African American, Latino, or Asian American. African Americans, who comprise less than 7% of California’s voting-age population, currently represent 28% of those who cannot vote because of felon disenfranchisement.

Voting rights in the rest of the country depends on the state law. For example, two states, Maine and Vermont, allows felons to vote while behind bars. Fourteen states restore voting rights after a prisoner has been released from prison.

Arrested for stealing $5.05 worth of candy and soda, a 24-year-old man from Portsmouth, Virginia, Jamycheal Mitchell, has allegedly been starved to death by prison guards. Mitchell has been repeatedly diagnosed with psychotic and delusional disorders, has allegedly been left to starve in squalid prison conditions. His aunt, Roxanne Adams, has filed a lawsuit against the prison.

It is reported that his medical records show that he died of a “heart condition “accompanying wasting syndrome of unknown etiology.” The lawsuit alleges that “jail staff had allegedly denied him many meals, cut off the water to his cell and left him naked with no bedding or shoes as he smeared feces on the window of his urine-covered cell.” He had lost 40 pounds in his time in Hampton Roads Regional Jail, and was “nearly cachetic.” The lawsuit also alleges that inmates pleaded with guards to help Mitchell, to no avail.    

The 112 page complaint identifies 39 defendants, including the Hampton Roads Regional Jail, the state Department of Behavioral Health & Developmental Services and the private prison health care firm, NaphCare. Adams is demanding a jury trial and $60 million in damages for wrongful death. The prison is not commenting on the suit.

Ammon and Ryan Bundy have filed for an administrative hearing over what they claim are ‘deplorable and unconstitutional’ conditions. According to the document filed by their attorneys, the Bundys argue that their first amendment rights are being violated because they are not free to assemble nor practice their mormon religion by engaging in religious activities or wear religious garments. They further allege that they are “being denied access to materials and resources reasonably required to defend their respective cases.” Perhaps more surprisingly, the Bundys are also alleging a violation of the second amendment rights because guns are not allowed in jails for prisoners. According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, they are considering suing the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office to get possession of their weapons.

Rights of Prisoners

It is obvious that prisoners have fewer rights and freedoms while incarcerated. Some rights, however, are still guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. The eighth amendment prohibits conditions for prisoners that would be considered “cruel and unusual” punishment, although that term was not clearly defined at the time of the Constitution’s signing. Generally, any type of treatment that would reasonably be considered inhumane and in violation of basic human dignity would violate constitutional law.

Prisoners are also supposed to enjoy certain first amendment protections, such as the freedom of religion. However, they do not have the same level of rights as free citizens. Rights such as ‘protesting’ or ‘assembling’ may be restricted under Rational Basis Review. This just means that there is a “valid, rational connection” between the prison regulation and the legitimate government interest put forward to justify it. Such regulations are not considered unconstitutional as long as the regulations apply to all inmates in a neutral fashion.

Lastly, all inmates at the state and federal level have the right to:

  • Be free from sexual harassment and assault;
  • Be free from racial segregation (unless deemed necessary for the safety of prisoners); and
  • Receive adequate medical care.  

Unfortunately many of these freedoms are violated regularly. Continue reading

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