Summary of “To end mass incarceration, cap all prison sentences at 20 years”

It’s time for a radical idea that could really begin to reverse mass incarceration: capping all prison sentences at no more than 20 years.
A cap on prison sentences wouldn’t on its own end mass incarceration.
How a 20-year sentence cap could work Capping prison sentences at 20 years – an idea that I first heard from Sentencing Project executive director Marc Mauer – is a really consequential policy change that could affect the lives of up to hundreds of thousands of people.
20 years in prison is still a very long time, so people sentenced at the cap would still suffer.
If the US capped all prison sentences at 20 years, it would be forced to recognize a new reality: Just about everyone put in prison will, at one point, be free.
This is far from the only solution to mass incarceration, but it’s a good model to aim for If America were to implement a 20-year cap on prison sentences, it would not end mass incarceration.
The cap wouldn’t address the sentences for the majority of those 2.1 million people, who are in jail or prison for fewer than 20 years for anything from shoplifting to violent crimes.
It leads to more systemic questions: If a prison sentence for murder is now a maximum of 20 years, can we really justify sending someone to prison for burglary or drugs for 10 or even five years? If someone is going to be released from prison eventually, shouldn’t we ensure that person has support both in and out of prison so he can transition back to society safely? If prison isn’t the end-all, be-all for stopping crime, should we not take other approaches more seriously?

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Redemption of MS-13”

There are up to 60,000 active gang members in El Salvador, according to the International Crisis Group, with another 500,000 people in the country connected to the gangs.
Arias’s tale of getting wrapped up in gang life and later finding an exit through the Church, echoes what I’ve heard from nearly every former gang member I’ve interviewed.
There are certain highlights that arise in the stories of every gang member turned Christian: a poor family, a rough childhood, and acceptance into the gang at a young age.
Many gang members, like Arias, speak of joining the gang as if they were searching for a family, of some sort of structure.
As Pastor Arias explains to us, “It’s the only way out of the gang since the gang has only three exits: One is prison, two is a hospital, and three is death. The only way out alive is through God, and the gangs know perfectly that there isn’t another way.”
A frequent complaint heard from former gang members is that there are little to no options for gang members once they are released.
“Being in the States and being Salvadoran, not knowing the language or the culture, it put pressure on me, and I found a way to fit in or to belong or to feel part of by having different types of friends. That’s how I initiated friendship with gangs and gang members and girls that sympathized with gangs.”
Reformed gang members can still be targeted by rival gang factions and on occasion even by members of their own gang who are upset they have left too abruptly or think that they have converted to escape a debt or internal punishment.

The orginal article.

Summary of “South Koreans lock themselves up to escape prison of daily life”

HONGCHEON, South Korea – For most people, prison is a place to escape from.
“This prison gives me a sense of freedom,” said Park Hye-ri, a 28-year-old office worker who paid $90 to spend 24 hours locked up in a mock prison.
Since 2013, the “Prison Inside Me” facility in northeast Hongcheon has hosted more than 2,000 inmates, many of them stressed office workers and students seeking relief from South Korea’s demanding work and academic culture.
Clients get a blue prison uniform, a yoga mat, tea set, a pen and notebook.
Co-founder Noh Ji-Hyang said the mock prison was inspired by her husband, a prosecutor who often put in 100-hour work weeks.
South Koreans worked 2,024 hours on average in 2017, the third longest after Mexico and Costa Rica, in a survey of 36 member countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Noh said some customers are wary of spending 24 or 48 hours in a prison cell, until they try it.
“After a stay in the prison, people say, ‘This is not a prison, the real prison is where we return to,'” she said.

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Summary of “The Eternal Life of the Instant Noodle”

Doritos, instant noodles – the processed food favourites he used to rely on in prison.
He’s the one who declared something that US prisoners have known for ages – in the past few years, instant noodles have come to replace cigarettes as the most traded item in US prisons.
“If you’re in prison and you want or need more food than you can get from the chow line, then you have to buy it yourself. The costs of nutrition have shifted to the prisoners themselves. Instant noodles are a go-to because they’re cheap.”
Now she’s out, she writes about prison life, including why instant noodles are so valuable on the inside.
Coss Marte says things can get violent when instant noodle debts aren’t repaid.
“There are all types of hustling inside the system. People juggle. Juggle means you get, like, a 200% mark-up. If you give someone two ramen noodle soups, you get four [more] ramen noodle soups back within a week.”
In the instant noodle museum in Yokohama, there’s a cardboard cut-out of him.
As long as there are people living in dormitories, or shopping in convenience stores, or concocting meals in prisons – the instant noodle will live on.

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Summary of “Kent Sorenson Was a Tea Party Hero. Then He Lost Everything.”

After his bed was finally vacated and Sorenson was allowed to settle in, he started chatting with a nearby neighbor.
Then it happened: Wall Street, perched above Sorenson one day, spit downward on his rival’s head. Rushing up to face him, Sorenson was flanked by both Dough Boy and the Gangster Disciples’ shot-caller.
One day, he was pulled aside by a prison official: The MCC had been contacted by Grassley’s office, and Sorenson needed to sign a waiver giving the prison permission to discuss his status with a third party.
“Kent Sorenson personally told me he was offered a large sum of money to go to work for the Paul campaign,” Bachmann told reporters outside of her campaign bus, barely three hours after Sorenson’s speech.
Sorenson tells me he said this on the advice of his attorney, Ted Sporer, who felt it was legally defensible because the money had been routed through the audio-visual company to Sorenson’s LLC, not directly to the senator himself.
A few weeks after Kent Jr. passed, without any idea of how the word could have gotten to USP Thomson, Sorenson received a sympathy card in the mail with handwritten notes from dozens of his former inmates.
The effort had been organized by Nicholson-who, Sorenson later learned, lost 21 days of “Good time” from his sentence because he had communicated with a paroled convict.
Kent Sorenson has a more pressing task: salvaging a shred of hope from the wreckage of his life.

The orginal article.

Summary of “‘You start getting bitter’: what I learned from 43 years in prison”

John Massey sits in a cafe called the Breakout, opposite Pentonville prison in north London.
In May this year, Massey was released; after nearly 43 years in jail, he was the UK’s longest serving prisoner.
From a childhood in care, Massey moved to an approved school, then to a borstal, because he’d started stealing, and finally prison.
In Spain, Massey lived as a free man for nearly two years.
Is Massey as anti-authoritarian as the prison authorities say? “I’m not anti-authority. I’m not an anarchist. I believe in the rule of law, otherwise there would be complete chaos. I’m anti-hypocrisy.” What does he mean? “Well, I said to one prison governor, ‘What if a member of your family had just been in a road accident and was in intensive care, and your boss says,”Hold on, I can’t spare you”?’ And he said, ‘I’d say, bollocks, I’m leaving.
Massey looks healthier than when we first met him a few years ago.
For a moment, it looked to me as if Massey might get arrested for trying to break into Pentonville prison.
Still, Massey says prison is not as violent as when he was first locked up.

The orginal article.

Summary of “One man’s mission to bring better ramen to the incarcerated”

Over the past three years, Freeman has been developing a low-sodium ramen that will soon be sold at correctional institution commissaries across the country.
Ramen has become such a staple for the incarcerated that it has usurped tobacco as a de facto currency.
Michael Gibson-Light, a Ph.D student at the University of Arizona, conducted a study on the prominence of ramen in correctional facilities, spending 18 months inside an unnamed state prison during which he interviewed dozens of inmates and employees.
Several inmates at the Jackson Correctional Institution in Wisconsin wrote to Freeman earlier this year chronicling their issues with commissary ramen after they saw on social media that his product would be on the market soon.
“Their noodles are high in sodium which cause the high blood pressure and cholesterol, which I have since I been eating these high-sodium ramen noodles,” one man wrote.
The ramen comes in four flavors: seafood gumbo, chicken taco, chicken fajita, and lamb stew, which Freeman said he developed for Muslims.
In his Victorville kitchen, Freeman prepared a bowl of his ramen for me to try.
Freeman has received comments on his social media criticizing him for taking advantage of mass incarceration to make profits, but he argued that he sees his ramen as a solution and not part of the problem.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The unique way the Dutch treat mentally ill prisoners”

About 124 men and 36 women live here, separate from the general prison population.
In countries like the UK and US, prisoners with mental health conditions often end up in the general prison population.
I’m visiting Zwolle prison to understand what effect this segmentation has – and to what extent it helps those who are mentally unwell.
My main focus is on how it affects women, following my in-depth piece last week looking at women with mental health issues in prisons.
Although the Netherlands has seen dramatically declining prison populations year on year, with 19 prisons recently closed, van Koningsveld explains that this is largely because of electronic ankle bracelets and an increase in community sentencing.
For psychiatric patients, particularly women, prison populations are actually increasing.
Still, one weak point that the Dutch system shares with prisons elsewhere is that it was developed largely with men in mind.
In Zwolle, Verbruggen says that isn’t the case – at least not when they enter prison.

The orginal article.

Summary of “‘I have no thought of escaping’: inside the Brazilian prisons with no guards”

At an Apac jail, there are no guards or weapons, and inmates literally hold the keys.
A visit to the Apac men’s and women’s prisons in Ita├║na subverts all expectations about the penal system in Brazil, where overcrowding, squalor and gang rivalry regularly cause deadly riots.
In contrast with mainstream prisons, Apac inmates are addressed by name rather than number.
Another reason inmates uphold the strict routine of work and study required by Apac – under which no one is permitted to stay in their cells unless they are sick or being punished – is that an escape attempt would return them to the mainstream system, which all inmates have experienced before.
Apac prisons, coordinated and supported by the Italian AVSI Foundation, impose a limit of 200 inmates to prevent overcrowding.
Founded in 1972 by evangelical Christians to provide a humanising alternative to mainstream prisons, the system has now reached 49 jails in Brazil, and has branches in Costa Rica, Chile and Ecuador.
In mainstream prisons, tens of thousands are detained, sometimes for years, before their cases even go to trial.
Across town, in the open section of at the Apac women’s prison, inmate Aguimara Campos, 30, explains her role as president of the eight-member council of sincerity and solidarity, which organises some aspects of prison life and is a bridge with the administration.

The orginal article.

Summary of “A Billionaire and a Nurse Shouldn’t Pay the Same Fine for Speeding”

Plus, scaled fines might encourage more equitable prosecution.
Serious crimes, where prison is on the table, also carry fines.
Progressive fines might even help address America’s addiction to incarceration.
No one really thinks fines are an adequate substitute for prison.
That’s because a fine high enough to punish wealthy people would devastate a poor person.
After Germany moved toward income-based fines, the use of short-term prison sentences declined, even for crimes like larceny and assault.
America’s limited experience with day fines suggests that making fines more progressive will work.
Amid a flourishing national movement to reform our criminal justice system and tackle income inequality, the progressive fine is an idea whose time may finally have come.

The orginal article.