Just Another Day on the Calendar? My First Post-Prison Thanksgiving

by Daniel A. Rosen | Like most holidays in prison, Thanksgiving isn’t much to write home about. Just another day on the calendar you want to see pass to bring you closer to your release date – albeit one where you get fed decently. In the free world, the holiday means family, friends, gratitude, and … Continue reading Just Another Day on the Calendar? My First Post-Prison Thanksgiving

Short-Handed? Have I Got a Guy For You.

by Daniel A. Rosen | Everywhere you look, signs say: "Now Hiring" and "Apply Within." News reports air nightly about businesses that can't reopen because they're understaffed. Teenagers and college kids are getting good jobs that they'd normally never be considered for. But if you've got a felony record, that sign out front often says: … Continue reading Short-Handed? Have I Got a Guy For You.

Undue Process: Thoughts on Bill Cosby’s Overturned Conviction

by Daniel A. Rosen | Bill Cosby surely celebrated his new-found independence this 4th of July at his Philadelphia mansion - the same place where he raped dozens of women over the years. Unfortunately, 2.3 million other Americans - about half of them black, and the vast majority of them poor - marked the holiday … Continue reading Undue Process: Thoughts on Bill Cosby’s Overturned Conviction

A Life Sentence For Pot? Not if Beth Curtis Can Help It

by Daniel A. Rosen | 79-year-old Beth Curtis has been nicknamed the "Mother Theresa of Pot Prisoners" for good reason. The self-described "incessant nag" has lobbied for years on behalf of those sentenced to life for marijuana offenses. She founded the website LifeforPot.com in 2009 to advocate for clemency for her brother John and people … Continue reading A Life Sentence For Pot? Not if Beth Curtis Can Help It

Justice Delayed in California Jails

by Daniel A. Rosen | In the most comprehensive accounting to date of California's pretrial detention population, a recent CalMatters investigation found 8,600 inmates who'd been jailed for more than a year, and 1,300 jailed longer than three years without being tried or sentenced. More than a quarter of those 1,300 have actually been incarcerated … Continue reading Justice Delayed in California Jails

Mass Incarceration Is Not Inevitable

by Daniel A. Rosen | Sitting here in my prison cell tonight, I'm wondering: What will it take to end America's addiction to mass incarceration? For decades, too many powerless people were stuffed down the yawning maw of this greedy beast until 2.3 million of our fellow citizens languished in its distended belly. Millions more … Continue reading Mass Incarceration Is Not Inevitable

Financing for New Alabama Prison Construction Scuttled After Backlash

by Daniel A. Rosen | The construction of two massive new prisons in Alabama, to be built privately but leased and operated by the State corrections department, has hit financial roadblocks that may lead to the plan's demise. As of May, 2021, every element of the financing for the two new mega-prisons slated to hold … Continue reading Financing for New Alabama Prison Construction Scuttled After Backlash

Architects Question Whether Building “More Humane” Prisons is Possible

by Daniel A. Rosen | Does more fresh air, sunlight, and space for rehabilitative programs mean a prison or jail is more humane? That's the question many architects are struggling with as expensive new facilities are built around the country. Architecture and design may be able to play a key role in criminal justice reform … Continue reading Architects Question Whether Building “More Humane” Prisons is Possible

The Punishment Economy: Winners and Losers in the Business of Mass Incarceration (May 2021 PLN Cover)

by Daniel A. Rosen | "This is an industry that profits from human suffering."-- David Fathi, Director, ACLU National Prison ProjectStarting with math may be a bad idea, but numbers help tell this story: In Virginia, keeping the average prisoner behind bars costs taxpayers about $30,000 per year; in some states like New York or … Continue reading The Punishment Economy: Winners and Losers in the Business of Mass Incarceration (May 2021 PLN Cover)

Louisiana Law School Counts Deaths Behind Bars Because State Won’t

by Daniel A. Rosen | At jails, prisons, and detention centers across Louisiana, in-custody deaths are not always made public. The state doesn't have a requirement to officially report on deaths behind bars, unlike many other states. As a result of this knowledge gap, the Loyola University law school has undertaken an effort to do … Continue reading Louisiana Law School Counts Deaths Behind Bars Because State Won’t

When the Light Goes: An Elegy for Larry McMurtry

by Daniel A. Rosen | Other inmates have poked fun at me for my reading choices, but I don't pay them much mind; Larry McMurtry helped keep me sane during these years behind bars. Thankfully, I've found almost everything he's written on the shelves of the libraries where I've been locked up.I've read a lot … Continue reading When the Light Goes: An Elegy for Larry McMurtry

Illinois First State to Abolish Cash Bail

by Daniel A. Rosen | Illinois has become the first state in the country to completely eliminate the use of cash bail. The bill signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker in February of 2021 was the result of a years-long effort by over 100 reform organizations, legislators, and the House Legislative Black Caucus to end a … Continue reading Illinois First State to Abolish Cash Bail

Birds of a Feather: That One Time I Was a Racist in Prison

by Daniel A. Rosen | One day last summer, I was walking down the deserted school hallway late on a Friday afternoon. Near the gate at the end sat two fifty-something-year-old Black inmates who worked maintenance in the building; both lived in my cellblock, and we were friendly. They were just shooting the breeze, taking … Continue reading Birds of a Feather: That One Time I Was a Racist in Prison

Massachusetts Medical Parole Avoids In-Custody Deaths From Covid

by Daniel A. Rosen | Joseph Messere, a 68-year-old prisoner in Massachusetts, was just days away from death last December when his attorney got a phone call from state officials. The Parole Board and state corrections agency told David Apfel "we really want your client released as soon as possible." It was a remarkable change … Continue reading Massachusetts Medical Parole Avoids In-Custody Deaths From Covid

Virginia Settles Two Lawsuits Over Misuse of Solitary Confinement

by Daniel A. Rosen | The Commonwealth of Virginia recently settled two outstanding lawsuits alleging the abuse of solitary confinement. Taken together, the payouts cost the state's taxpayers over a quarter million dollars. In a year when Virginia's General Assembly made progress on other justice issues - abolishing the death penalty, legalizing marijuana, and restoring … Continue reading Virginia Settles Two Lawsuits Over Misuse of Solitary Confinement

The 3 R’s: Reentry, Recidivism, and Reality

by Daniel A. Rosen | The PBS Newshour's excellent series "Searching for Justice" aired a piece recently about how difficult it can be for returning citizens to secure valid photo identification ("How Obtaining ID Can Complicate the Road From Prison," February 16, 2021). As one longtime inmate and recent parolee said of the state bureaucracy, … Continue reading The 3 R’s: Reentry, Recidivism, and Reality

Alabama Jails and Inmates Facing COVID-Related Challenges

by Daniel A. Rosen | Like local jails and prisons across the country, Alabama's carceral system is being sorely tested by COVID-19 - and inmates are paying the price. For weeks, Dylan Garrard fell asleep on a thin foam mat on the floor of his jail cell, next to a toilet. The two bunks in … Continue reading Alabama Jails and Inmates Facing COVID-Related Challenges

Hundreds of Virginia Inmates Await Parole Consideration Under New Law

by Daniel A. Rosen | In 1995, during a tough-on-crime era across the country, Virginia abolished parole entirely, along with several other states. But it wasn't until 2000 that jurors sentencing defendants were told of that change. As a result, jurors may have recommended more prison time, incorrectly believing offenders would only serve a fraction … Continue reading Hundreds of Virginia Inmates Await Parole Consideration Under New Law

ICE Holding Cuban Detainee for 11 Years and Counting Following Florida Prison Release

by Daniel A. Rosen | Heriberto Delvalle's story sounds like a Kafka novel, but it's sadly true. After serving his 15-year sentence for attempted murder in a Florida state prison, he was detained by federal immigration officials, and remains there to this day - almost 12 years later. The 70-year-old Cuban man has now spent … Continue reading ICE Holding Cuban Detainee for 11 Years and Counting Following Florida Prison Release