Dispatches

“Let Them Eat Dog Food”: Nutrition and Health Behind Bars

by Daniel A. Rosen | Meghan McCain, the Republican Party's resident Marie Antoinette, casually said this on "The View" recently: "He's a criminal - he should eat dog food!" She was talking about Jake Angeli, the so-called "Q-Anon Shaman" who hails from her home state of Arizona, and was arrested after leading the siege of … Continue reading “Let Them Eat Dog Food”: Nutrition and Health Behind Bars

What Early Vaccinations Mean to Prison Inmates

by Daniel A. Rosen | Recent news reports have informed those of us incarcerated in Virginia that the COVID-19 vaccine is coming soon - we'll be part of Group 1B sometime in January, apparently. According to those same reports, some Virginians are angry that inmates would be put in line ahead of the general public. … Continue reading What Early Vaccinations Mean to Prison Inmates

The Prison Music Project Brings Inmates’ Stories to Life in Song

by Daniel A. Rosen | Folsom Prison was once the setting for an iconic musical performance, when Johnny Cash first played live there in 1968. Now, Folsom inmates are performing their own songs, and telling their stories with help from the Prison Music Project. The "Long Time Gone" album was released in the summer of … Continue reading The Prison Music Project Brings Inmates’ Stories to Life in Song

Medical Copays Suspended in Several States Due to COVID-19

by Daniel A. Rosen | In most states, inmates pay an average of $2 to $8 copays for medical appointments, lab tests, and medication. But as prisons across the country have become COVID hotspots, some corrections departments are waiving the fees to encourage inmates to seek treatment for virus symptoms. Most states say they charge … Continue reading Medical Copays Suspended in Several States Due to COVID-19

Missouri Inmate Pled for Release Before Dying of COVID

by Daniel A. Rosen | Waylon Young Bird, a 52-year-old federal prisoner with serious kidney disease, wrote over a dozen letters to the judge that sentenced him asking for compassionate release. He died of COVID-19 in early November of 2020, a week after his last plea was written. "I'm afraid I may be infected by … Continue reading Missouri Inmate Pled for Release Before Dying of COVID

First Ex-Offender Elected to Washington State Legislature

by Daniel A. Rosen | On election day in November, 2020 Washington attorney and former inmate Tara Simmons became the first person convicted of a felony elected to the state's legislature. Prior to the election, she said she was running to help give people "a first chance so they won't need a second chance later … Continue reading First Ex-Offender Elected to Washington State Legislature

The Allure of Kosher Meals in NY Prisons

by Daniel A. Rosen | According to a recent story in Tablet, as many as seven percent of inmates in New York's prison system are identifying as Jewish, primarily so they can receive kosher meals. If that's accurate, there are twice as many Jews as Nation of Islam members locked up in New York. This … Continue reading The Allure of Kosher Meals in NY Prisons

Federal Judge Dismisses Arizona Woman’s Wrongful Conviction Suit

by Daniel A. Rosen | Ex-death-row inmate Debra Milke's civil suit against Arizona authorities claiming wrongful conviction was dismissed by a federal judge because she repeatedly destroyed documents relevant to her case. Judge Roslyn Silver harshly criticized Milke in her ruling, saying the destroyed records would have addressed the main issue at the heart of … Continue reading Federal Judge Dismisses Arizona Woman’s Wrongful Conviction Suit

New Mexico Lawyer Fights to End Solitary Confinement

by Daniel A. Rosen | An attorney with a small private practice in Albuquerque has blazed an unconventional path to reformng the use of solitary confinement in New Mexico. According to a recent profile in Rolling Stone magazine, Matthew Coyte has successfully sued local corrections departments over abuses of the practice, and he's won millions … Continue reading New Mexico Lawyer Fights to End Solitary Confinement

On the Election of Joe Biden: Impressions of a Former Senate Intern

by Daniel A. Rosen | I don't know if I'm the only one of Joe Biden's former interns serving time in prison, but I'm sure it's not a long list. During my junior year of college at UCLA, I took off school for a quarter to intern in Joe Biden's Senate office in Washington, D.C. … Continue reading On the Election of Joe Biden: Impressions of a Former Senate Intern

Florida Jail Administrators Fired After Woman Gives Birth in Cell

by Daniel A. Rosen | A jail inmate in Broward County gave birth in her cell recently, with staff ignoring her pleas for help until just prior to delivery. Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony fired two top administrators at the jail just 24 hours after learning of the incident. It's the second time in two years … Continue reading Florida Jail Administrators Fired After Woman Gives Birth in Cell

Nevada Stops Taking Inmates’ Money for Restitution

by Daniel A. Rosen | Nevada state officials recently suspended a Department of Corrections policy that used a victims' bill of rights to take up to 80 percent of funds sent to inmates by family members. Marsy's Law was approved by Nevada voters in 2018 as an amendment to the state constitution. It's a nationwide … Continue reading Nevada Stops Taking Inmates’ Money for Restitution

The Murder of Mercy: Attacking Virginia’s Parole Board

by Daniel A. Rosen | A young black man named Vincent Lamont Martin killed a white police officer named Michael Patrick Connors in November of 1979. Martin served 37 years in prison as a result. He was supposed to walk out of the Nottoway Correctional Center on May 11, after being granted parole on Good … Continue reading The Murder of Mercy: Attacking Virginia’s Parole Board

Uncaging the Panthers: A Tribute to Chadwick Boseman

by Daniel A. Rosen | As a white guy in prison, it's tricky to talk about racial issues, but I'm going to proceed anyway. There was a Friday afternoon a couple years ago, a little wave of excitement and anticipation rippled through my prison dorm. Word had come from the rec workers, who were always … Continue reading Uncaging the Panthers: A Tribute to Chadwick Boseman

Overtime Payouts in CA Prison System Approach $500 Million in 2019

by Daniel A. Rosen | The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation paid out almost half a billion dollars in overtime in 2019, nearly twice what it paid in regular salaries. Responding to a public records request from CalMatters, CDCR provided salary data on regular and overtime pay for the last two years. Uniformed correctional … Continue reading Overtime Payouts in CA Prison System Approach $500 Million in 2019

Tear Down These Walls: A Justice Reform Agenda for the Biden Administration

by Daniel A. Rosen | "This moment calls for structural change and transformative change." -Patrice Cullors, BLM Co-founder | As the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and systemic racism came to a head in 2020, the Trump Administration had an opportunity in an election year to provide real leadership and demonstrate that people's lives mattered. They … Continue reading Tear Down These Walls: A Justice Reform Agenda for the Biden Administration

St. Louis Corrections Officer Has History of Taser Abuse

by Daniel A. Rosen | A captain with the St. Louis County Justice Center is under investigation for potentially inappropriate use of a Taser in several recent cases. In May, a Taser was employed to subdue a woman in crisis with a history of mental illness. In June, the same captain used a Taser to … Continue reading St. Louis Corrections Officer Has History of Taser Abuse

Teen Spends 17 Months In Mississippi Jail Without Indictment

by Daniel A. Rosen | A sixteen-year-old in Mississippi has spent almost a year and a half in an adult jail without being indicted. And his case is by no means unique; thousands more in the state are caught in the same circumstance. There are no laws in Mississippi limiting the amount of time defendants … Continue reading Teen Spends 17 Months In Mississippi Jail Without Indictment

COVID-19 Update from Greensville Correctional Center, Virginia

by Daniel A. Rosen | I'm here at Virginia's largest facility, the Greensville Correctional Center in southern VA. This place holds up to 3000 inmates, and I've heard it's the largest state prison on the East Coast. On August 7th, we went on lockdown for the second time in four months. There were just too … Continue reading COVID-19 Update from Greensville Correctional Center, Virginia

ICE Detainees Pepper Sprayed Over Hunger Strike

by Daniel A. Rosen | Migrants in ICE custody in New Mexico were attacked with pepper spray in May to end a days-long hunger strike. The detainees, housed at a private facility run by CoreCivic in Torrance County, were protesting the food quality and lack of protection from COVID-19. "Suddenly they just started gassing us. … Continue reading ICE Detainees Pepper Sprayed Over Hunger Strike

Pepper Spraying Mentally Ill Jail Inmates Conformed to Rules, Says Maine DOC

by Daniel A. Rosen | Two pepper spray incidents in early 2019 at Maine's Cumberland County Jail raised questions of propriety and led to a review by the State Department of Corrections. In each case, the Maine DOC concluded that jail staff followed "expected practices" when subduing the inmates with chemical irritants. Both inmates were … Continue reading Pepper Spraying Mentally Ill Jail Inmates Conformed to Rules, Says Maine DOC

Virginia’s Special Legislative Session Must Address Real Justice Reform

by Daniel A. Rosen | On August 18, Virginia's State Assembly will hold a special legislative session that's likely to be historic. Originally scheduled to take up budget issues related to the coronavirus pandemic, it now will focus on a range of other public safety issues, given the recent social unrest following George Floyd's murder. … Continue reading Virginia’s Special Legislative Session Must Address Real Justice Reform

Public Safety Can’t Be Purchased With Police and Prisons

by Daniel A. Rosen | When I watched the video of George Floyd's murder from my prison cell, my first instinct was sheer outrage, like people of conscience everywhere. My second thought: If cameras were as prevalent in prison as on the street, the public might see many more men of color who can't breathe, … Continue reading Public Safety Can’t Be Purchased With Police and Prisons