mass incarceration

The Indiana Women’s Prison has taken hard measures to contain the coronavirus. Many inmates in the prison have spent long periods locked in their cells — which have no toilets, running water or air conditioning — with limited opportunities for relief. 

As temperatures rise over the summer months, advocates and those with loved ones inside certain housing units, known as the cottages, worry about the heat and long periods of confinement. They fear it could cause health problems for the inmates, and say that the treatment amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. 

Paige Pfleger / WOSU

In January, Columbus launched a new career development program for recently incarcerated people. After months of work, and overcoming additional obstacles presented by the pandemic, the first class of participants graduated last week. 

Imagine being stuck in prison for a crime you didn't commit. And as you wait to get out, the pandemic hits. WVXU interviewed two people in that situation who are now free. They talk about their fears, joys and need for patience.

Franklin Medical Center is one of the state prison facilities hit by the coronavirus.
Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Inmates sitting in soiled diapers or beds for hours. Feces in the showers. Urine caked on beds.

These are just some of the conditions reported by inmates at the Franklin Medical Center in Columbus – conditions that were problems well before coronavirus hit the facility.

Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio.
John Minchillo / Associated Press

Following reports of deaths from COVID-19 in a federal prison in Ohio, and as more inmates and staffers test positive for the coronavirus in three state prisons, officials have identified more prisoners who could be released early.

Updated at 9:58 a.m. ET

Federal prisons are wrestling with the rapid spread of the coronavirus at more than two dozen facilities across the country in an outbreak that has already claimed the lives of at least seven inmates and infected almost 200 more, as well as 63 staff.

One of the hardest-hit so far is the Federal Correctional Complex in Oakdale, La., located about a three-hour drive west of New Orleans. It's home to two low-security prisons and a minimum security camp, which all told house some 2,000 inmates.

The ACLU of Ohio is collecting complaints from inmates in Ohio through a new hotline and the organization is already pressing the state to play more of a role overseeing county and municipal jails through the coronavirus outbreak.

Women in prison, when compared with incarcerated men, often receive disproportionately harsh punishments for minor violations of prison rules, according to a report released Wednesday by a federal fact-finding agency.

It's recreation time at a Los Angeles County jail known as the Twin Towers. Nearly a dozen disheveled young men stand docilely as they munch on sandwiches out of brown paper bags.

They're half-naked except for sleeveless, thick, blanket-like restraints wrapped around them like medieval garments.

All are chained and handcuffed to shiny metal tables bolted to the floor.

"It's lunchtime and they're actually [in] programming right now," says a veteran guard, LA County Sheriff's Deputy Myron Trimble.

Advocates of bail reform protest Cuyahoga County Jail conditions in January 2019.
Nick Castele / Ideastream

Columbus recently moved to stop requesting cash bonds for most people charged with non-violent crimes, instead letting them out of jail as they await trial. It’s the latest in a statewide effort to reform cash bail, which tends to keep poor people behind bars.

Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Columbus city leaders celebrated the inaugural class of a new career development program to help recently incarcerated individuals find jobs.

Robert Alexander has been away from home for more than a decade. His days and nights are spent locked up behind walls topped with barbed wire.

"Prison kind of gives you that feeling that you're like on an island," says Alexander, 39, who is studying for a bachelor's degree in biblical studies while serving his third prison sentence.

Clad in an oversized gray sweatshirt under the fluorescent lights inside the visiting room of Wisconsin's oldest state prison, he is more than 70 miles from his last address in Milwaukee.

Billionaire presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has acknowledged that one of his vendors hired a subcontractor that used prison workers to make phone calls for his 2020 campaign.

That prison labor was being used by the Bloomberg campaign was reported Thursday morning by The Intercept. The campaign says it was unaware that inmate workers were making phone calls on its behalf until informed by The Intercept's reporter, and says it immediately cut ties to the vendor.

PIxabay

A new federal report says in 2018, Ohio was the worst state in the nation when it came to incarcerated youths reporting being forced or coerced into sexual activity.

Gov. Mike DeWine, with Dean Christopher Peters of the University of Akron School of Law behind him, announces his expedited pardon process at Ohio State.
Karen Kasler / Ohio Public Radio

Gov. Mike DeWine says he wants to make it easier and quicker for people who have long-ago criminal convictions to be considered for pardons.

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