Blind Advocacy of Offender Rehabilitation Programs Hurts All

Highlights Offender recidivism after prison is horrendous. Programs have little to no effect. We need a research initiative similar to cancer. It should be a national priority. What we don’t need is blind advocacy. If you are going to criticize the President, at least be honest with your data. Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Retired […]

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Highlights Offender recidivism after prison is horrendous. Programs have little to no effect. We need a research initiative similar to cancer. It should be a national priority. What we don’t need is blind advocacy. If you are going to criticize the President, at least be honest with your data. Author Leonard Adam Sipes, Jr. Retired […]

The post Blind Advocacy of Offender Rehabilitation Programs Hurts All appeared first on Crime in America.Net.

from https://www.crimeinamerica.net

Anthony Giancola: From Teacher to Cocaine-Crazed Spree Killer

     Anthony (Tony) Giancola, as a student at Boca Ciega High School in Gulfport, Florida just south of St. Petersburg in Pinellas County, showed a lot of promise. He played football, was class president, and had the lead role in the sch…

     Anthony (Tony) Giancola, as a student at Boca Ciega High School in Gulfport, Florida just south of St. Petersburg in Pinellas County, showed a lot of promise. He played football, was class president, and had the lead role in the school play, South Pacific. Although accepted for admission at West Point, he attended the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

     Giancola began his teaching career in 1991 at the Dorothy Thomas Exceptional Center, a K-12 school for at-risk children with special needs. By 2005 he was head of the school. In the summer of 2006, Pinellas School District administrators made Giancola principal at the Van Buren Middle School in Tampa. Although he made $90,000 a year, Giancola had a $100-a-day cocaine habit. In February 2007, the principal purchased cocaine, while in his school office, from an undercover narcotics officer. After the drug transaction, the officer arrested Giancola and searched his car where he found marijuana and two glass pipes containing traces of cocaine. The narcotics arrest ended Giancola's career, and led to a year in jail followed by three years of probation.

     In 2009, Giancola's wife divorced him, and a year later, in St. Petersburg, police arrested him as he sat in his car at three in the morning. He was charged with violating his probation, prowling, and loitering. At this point in his life, Tony Giancola was a mere shadow of his former self, and living on the fringes of society.

     On Friday, June 22, 2012, at 10:45 AM in Lealman, Florida, a Pinellas County town 20 miles west of Tampa, Giancola walked into a group home for the hearing impaired and stabbed 27-year-old Justin Vand who died at the scene. Next, he stabbed Mary Allis, 59, who would die later that day at a local hospital. Giancola, using the same knife, attacked 25-year-old Whitney Gilbert, and Janice Rhoden, 44. These women survived their stab wounds.

     After stabbing four people at the group home, Giancola drove to nearby Pinellas Park, and at the Kenvin's Motel, attacked the man and woman who ran the place with a hammer. The married 57-year-olds were taken to the hospital and treated for their injuries. Mr. Kenvin remains in critical condition.

     At 11:30 on the morning of the Kenvin's Motel rampage, Giancola pulled his Ford sedan up to a house in Penellas Park and asked a group of people sitting on the front porch where he could meet a prostitute. When they told him to get lost, he plowed his car into the porch, injuring three women and a man. A witness at the scene took down the license number to his car.

     As Giancola drove from the hit and run scene, he struck a 13-year-old boy riding a bicycle. Kole Price, who received minor injuries from the collision, was struck again by Giancola who was intentionally trying to run him down. The boy found protection behind a telephone pole.

     Giancola drove to a nearby Egg Plotter restaurant where he called his mother. Shortly after the call, she and his sister put the blood-covered Giancola into their car and drove him to the mother's house. When Giancola climbed into the car he said, "You'll be proud of me, I just killed 10 drug dealers."

     When Giancola and the two women arrived at his mother's house, she called the sheriff's office. But before deputies arrived at the dwelling, he was gone. A short time later the police found Giancola hiding in a clump of brush next to a canal in St. Petersburg.

     In the course of Giancola's crime spree, the former school principal had stabbed four people, killing two of them. He attacked the two motel operators with a hammer, injured four people on the porch, and ran over a boy on a bicycle. The Pinellas County prosecutor charged Tony Giancola with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, and several counts of aggravated assault. If convicted as charged, Giancola faced the death penalty.

     Other than being high on cocaine, investigators don't know why Giancola attacked these eleven people. There was nothing connecting the groups of victims to each other, or to Giancola. Police believed the murders and assaults were spontaneous and random.

     In September 2013, to avoid death by lethal injection, Anthony Giancola was allowed to plead guilty as charged. The judge sentenced him to several life sentences, terms to run consecutively.

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Death Row’s Jeffrey Ferguson’s One-Drug Send-Off

     A few years ago, anti-capital punishment activists and death house lawyers began making a fuss over the fact that several states had recently executed their condemned prisoners with a single toxic drug, pentobarbital. In the past, e…

     A few years ago, anti-capital punishment activists and death house lawyers began making a fuss over the fact that several states had recently executed their condemned prisoners with a single toxic drug, pentobarbital. In the past, executioners used a three-drug cocktail. Because the other two drugs were manufactured in countries that oppose the death penalty, these chemicals were no long available for this purpose in the U.S. Since the rope, the electric chair, the firing squad and the gas chamber were no longer execution options, states that still believed in capital punishment had no choice but to make do with pentobarbital. This fact enraged anti-capital punishment advocates who considered the one-drug send-off as cruel and unusual punishment. But this was nothing new. Capital punishment opponents object to the death penalty, period. They would complain if rapists and killers were tickled to death.

     In Missouri, when judges and the governor were confronted with the choice of executing a prisoner with pentobarbital or commuting his sentence to life, they chose the deadly dose. This was not good news for Jeffrey Ferguson, a 59-year-old kidnapper, rapist, and murderer who had been living on Missouri's death row for nineteen years.

     At eleven o'clock on the night of February 10, 1989, in St. Charles, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, 34-year-old Jeffrey Ferguson and his friend Kenneth Ousley pulled into a Shell gas station not far from Interstate 70. Across the street at the Mobile station, a 17-year-old employee named Kelli Hall was out front checking the fuel level in one of the station's underground gas tanks. The teenager caught Ferguson's eye.

     Ferguson, with Ousley in his Chevrolet Blazer, pulled into the Mobile station. Ferguson got out of his SUV, approached the girl, and ordered her at gunpoint into the vehicle. The two men, with the girl in the backseat, drove off with the intention of raping and killing her.

     In a remote area a few miles from St. Charles, Ferguson and Ousley tortured, raped, then mrudered Kelli Hall by shooting her in the head with a .32-caliber handgun. They dumped her body in a farmer's field in Maryland Heights, Missouri.

     Two weeks after the senseless, random lust killing, the owner of the St. Louis County farm stumbled across the victim's corpse near a shed. The teenager was naked except for a pair of socks.

     In1993, Kenneth Ousley pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. The judge sentenced him to life with the possibility of parole. Two years later, Ferguson went on trial for kidnapping, rape, and first-degree murder. Taking the stand on his own behalf, the sociopath claimed that he could not have participated in the rape and murder because at the time he was passed out drunk in his truck. This story contradicted the defendant's confession to detectives shortly after his arrest.

     The jury found Ferguson guilty as charged and recommended the death penalty. The judge sentenced him to death in December 1995. (At the time most Americans were wrapped up in the O. J. Simpson double murder case.)

     After he had been in prison for awhile, Ferguson expressed deep remorse for raping and murdering the 17-year-old girl. He also became religious, counseled inmates, and helped start a prison hospice program. All the while his team of attorneys appealed his case to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals and ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court. They lost all of their appeals.

     Shortly after midnight on March 26, 2014, following a burst of last-minute pleas for a stay of execution, the executioner at the state prison in Bonne Terre, Missouri injected Ferguson with the lethal dose of pentobarbital. While several death penalty sob sisters pointed out in horror that Ferguson did not die quickly, the drug eventually did its job.

     St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch, in speaking to reporters following the execution, said that Ferguson's good deeds in prison did not make up for what he had done to that innocent teenager. The prosecutor called Ferguson's crime "unspeakable," a word Ferguson's supporters would use to describe his death.

   

     

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Hanging Offenses

A hundred and sixty years ago there were 200 offenses for which a man, woman or child [in England] could be hanged. One could be hanged for cutting down a tree or for associating with gypsies: but, very strangely, not for associating with politici…

A hundred and sixty years ago there were 200 offenses for which a man, woman or child [in England] could be hanged. One could be hanged for cutting down a tree or for associating with gypsies: but, very strangely, not for associating with politicians.

Charles Duff, A Handbook on Hanging, a 2001 reprint of the 1961 classic

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

#MeToo Collides With Kavanaugh And Justice Reform

Highlights Accountability for offenders committing acts of violence against women is necessary. But criminal responsibility is gender neutral. Legally, what you do for one, you do for all. Justice reformers want to dramatically lessen the impact of criminal justice processing by cutting prison and parole and probation populations by 50 percent. How do you demand […]

The post #MeToo Collides With Kavanaugh And Justice Reform appeared first on Crime in America.Net.

Highlights Accountability for offenders committing acts of violence against women is necessary. But criminal responsibility is gender neutral. Legally, what you do for one, you do for all. Justice reformers want to dramatically lessen the impact of criminal justice processing by cutting prison and parole and probation populations by 50 percent. How do you demand […]

The post #MeToo Collides With Kavanaugh And Justice Reform appeared first on Crime in America.Net.

from https://www.crimeinamerica.net

Nitrogen Gas Chambers: Send Them Off Laughing

     [A] new method of execution being proposed…is known as nitrogen asphyxiation, it seals the condemned in an airtight chamber pumped full of nitrogen gas, causing a lack of oxygen….Nitrogen gas has yet to be put to the test as a method of capital punishment–no country currently uses it for state-sanctioned executions. But people do die accidentally of nitrogen asphyxiation, and usually never know what hit them. (It’s even possible that death by nitrogen gas is mildly euphoric. Deep-sea divers exposed to an excess of nitrogen develop a narcosis, colorfully known as “raptures of the deep, ” similar to drunkenness or nitrous oxide inhalation.)…

     In late April 2014, Louisiana Department of Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc suggested to a state legislative committee that Louisiana should look into using nitrogen gas as a new method of execution, since lethal injection has become so contentious. “It’s become almost impossible to execute someone,” LeBlanc complained….

     “Nitrogen is the big thing,” LeBlanc told the legislative committee. “It’s a painless way to go. But more time needs to be spent studying that.” The committee instructed LeBlanc to do some research on the subject and report back. In the meantime, Louisiana has delayed a pending execution….[In May 2014, Ohio delayed four executions due to the controversy over killing death row inmates with the single drug pentobarbital.]

Matt Mangino, “New Execution Method on the Horizon–Nitrogen Gas Asphyxiation,” mattmangino.com, May 26, 2014

     

     [A] new method of execution being proposed…is known as nitrogen asphyxiation, it seals the condemned in an airtight chamber pumped full of nitrogen gas, causing a lack of oxygen….Nitrogen gas has yet to be put to the test as a method of capital punishment--no country currently uses it for state-sanctioned executions. But people do die accidentally of nitrogen asphyxiation, and usually never know what hit them. (It's even possible that death by nitrogen gas is mildly euphoric. Deep-sea divers exposed to an excess of nitrogen develop a narcosis, colorfully known as "raptures of the deep, " similar to drunkenness or nitrous oxide inhalation.)…

     In late April 2014, Louisiana Department of Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc suggested to a state legislative committee that Louisiana should look into using nitrogen gas as a new method of execution, since lethal injection has become so contentious. "It's become almost impossible to execute someone," LeBlanc complained….

     "Nitrogen is the big thing," LeBlanc told the legislative committee. "It's a painless way to go. But more time needs to be spent studying that." The committee instructed LeBlanc to do some research on the subject and report back. In the meantime, Louisiana has delayed a pending execution….[In May 2014, Ohio delayed four executions due to the controversy over killing death row inmates with the single drug pentobarbital.]

Matt Mangino, "New Execution Method on the Horizon--Nitrogen Gas Asphyxiation," mattmangino.com, May 26, 2014

     

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

We Can’t Agree on Basic Facts When Discussing Crime

Observations How to communicate effectively when people can’t agree on basic facts. Media and public relations are best served when we acknowledge that people hold beliefs that we may consider wrong or unsupportable, but insulting or disregarding those opinions causes people to entrench. When they do, they are no longer listening. Respect for the beliefs […]

The post We Can’t Agree on Basic Facts When Discussing Crime appeared first on Crime in America.Net.

Observations How to communicate effectively when people can’t agree on basic facts. Media and public relations are best served when we acknowledge that people hold beliefs that we may consider wrong or unsupportable, but insulting or disregarding those opinions causes people to entrench. When they do, they are no longer listening. Respect for the beliefs […]

The post We Can’t Agree on Basic Facts When Discussing Crime appeared first on Crime in America.Net.

from https://www.crimeinamerica.net

‘Don’t Mistake Punishment for Justice’

A journalist whose brother was sent to prison for murder recounts the long-term impact on his family and community in “My Brother Moochie.” In a conversation with TCR about his book, Issac Bailey explains how the experience informed his own perspective about race and incarceration in the American South.

my brother moochieWhen Issac J. Bailey was nine, he watched his brother taken away in handcuffs for the crime of murder. Now a veteran journalist, Bailey explored the mixed feelings of guilt and shame experienced by his family in My Brother Moochie, a very personal account of the long-term impact of incarceration in the racially polarized climate of the American South.

In a conversation with The Crime Report, Bailey, a 2014 Nieman Fellow at Harvard and a veteran reporter at the Sun News in Myrtle Beach, S.C. whose work has been published in Vice, Politico, and the Washington Post, discusses what it was like to grow up with a brother he saw as a “hero” behind bars for a heinous crime, what the experience revealed about the distrust between black communities and police in America, and why he subtitled his book, “Regaining Dignity in the Face of Crime, Poverty and Racism in the American South.”

The Crime Report: You talk about the pressure black people face in America, and not wanting to validate stereotypes when you or someone you care about in the black community commits a crime or does something that’s reprehensible. That sounds like a difficult thing to constantly have to deal with

Issac Bailey: It’s a huge piece of it, and what it does, is it constantly shames you.  I’ve been a journalist for the past 20 years, and have actually written for white, conservative audiences. What made it even more difficult is when I’m trying to humanize characters who do awful things, one pushback that I get is this idea that black people are more violent, and therefore we should be in prison more, etc.  Some of them have brought up my own families’ problems, and that stings.  So that’s been one of the reasons why it has been so difficult to try to shake some of this black shame.

TCR: Your brother Moochie faced decades of prison time, can you talk about his experience in jail, things he and other inmates face in jail, how he stayed mentally healthy, and how he coped?

Bailey: One of the things that stood out to me first, when initially during his sentence we were still young and still visiting every weekend and the holidays, he mentioned having to stuff things under his doors just to keep the rats out of his cell. He actually talked about how he would do anything necessary not to get raped, but at the same time he wouldn’t carry a shank because he said it would be too tempting to use it. He said there were constant physical threats daily.

For him, though, the mental part was even more difficult, especially when he had to spend seven years in solitary. He became a new person in prison; he actually came to see himself as a kind of African warrior. Stuff like that helped him to serve those decades in prison. Also, lots of reading and meditation helped him to try to hold on to some of his sanity.

TCR: Can you elaborate on his time in solitary?

Bailey: Once he became a Rasta he grew his dreadlocks out. In 1995 or so, the prison adopted a new grooming policy, where each inmate needed a short haircut, and he actually said no to that. He held out for seven years, but then once he cut it he got out of solitary.

TCR: Your mother is another huge character in your book, she seemed like the main force keeping your family together through tough times, and she grew up under tough circumstances as well. Where do you think she got her inspiration from?

Bailey: I do think she’s naturally tough, and even though she only had a fifth-grade education and didn’t get her GED until she was 65, she was the smartest person in the family. But her faith is her foundation for everything.

TCR: You talk about southern Christianity, and it seems to take this dual nature in your book. Martin Luther King Jr. was a Christian, but there are white supremacists who also say they’re Christian advancing racist ideologies. How do you currently view Christianity in light of your experience and the current social and political climate?

Bailey: My views on Christianity have really changed and been challenged over the last couple of decades. What I’m finding too often, especially when it comes to race, is that there are so many white Christians who would pray for your soul, but don’t want to fight for racial justice. In 2016, many of them whom I knew and went to church with for about 17 years or so, constantly made excuses for (President) Trump’s bigotry and still are.

That makes me wonder is it really a good faith to have? I’m still struggling with that. I have seen this faith strengthen my mom through really tough times, so I can definitely see the good in it, but on the other hand, I’m seeing it used for bigotry, and that has been a massive disappointment.

TCR: You say in the book that “punishing crime is a necessary evil but building stronger communities and families require no longer mistaking punishment for justice.” Would you elaborate?

Bailey: Too many of us think justice means actually locking somebody away for doing something awful. But if we don’t actually fight to end all the sort of ripple effects of it, then all that we’re doing is actually sort of making more problems. When someone does something wrong, they must face some sort of real consequence, but if you don’t account for the effects on vulnerable families, then I think you are seeding the ground for more awful things to happen later.

TCR: You talk about attending Moochie’s first parole hearing. It sounded very cold; you were speaking to people through a TV for example. What was that like?

Bailey: It just felt really belittling. Especially because you have no real control or no real say in it, even though they let you speak. You get the sense that they’ve made up their minds long before you walk into that room. Also, what makes it such a tough thing is that you actually know going in that most people are turned down. You try to balance having some hope and trying to be realistic at the same time. You’re trying to convince yourself that you can actually say something during that hearing that will actually make a difference, even though you know that’s not true.

TCR: What do you think they’re really looking for in those parole hearings?

Bailey: That’s a great question, I got the sense that what they want to be able to say later on is that you apologized and showed real remorse. If you do that and if something bad happens later on, they can at least say that you said the right words. But really, they look at your record beforehand and decide then.

TCR: I’m guessing those years he spent in solitary did not help his chances.

Bailey: Yes, during that time he couldn’t take any classes or do any sort of training etc., which they also use to evaluate your progress inside.

TCR: Switching gears here, how do you think the media in general covers race today? Do you think it could be improved?

Bailey: I think we have a lot of problems with the coverage, with mainstream media in general. When I got into the business, I was told not to write about certain kinds of people because the audience would not be able to relate to them. So they were talking about families like mine essentially. Many journalists today actually don’t have a rounded view of race or crime. On the other side, some journalists are so sympathetic they write in misleading ways, and sometimes they write people into these caricatures that always need to be protected. We need more rounded coverage of the criminal justice system itself so we can actually deal with the truth as it is.

TCR: You talk about police brutality and young black men getting shot in the U.S. While abuse has likely decreased since previous decades, I assume you would agree there’s still major problems with police brutality and institutional racism?

Issac Bailey

Issac J. Bailey

Bailey: Yes, even right now, I meet young black dudes who tell me they’ve been beaten by cops or harassed etc., and they actually still don’t report it because they don’t trust the system enough that these cops will be held accountable. I think it’s still being under-counted. Many black dudes just take it in stride and don’t tell anyone about it, even now.

TCR: In the book, one of your younger brothers says, “Real men go to prison.” I found that pretty shocking.

Bailey: Yeah, they had gotten so deep into this prison and street mindset, they really believed you cannot actually be a real man until you have gone to prison and survived it. For them, any man who hasn’t gone to prison can’t be a really strong man. They don’t think that way any more, fortunately.

TCR: You write that former President Barack Obama was making some good steps towards criminal justice reform. Can you expand on that?

Bailey: I would say he got the ball rolling again, in addition to his record number of commutations which were also huge. But the biggest thing was the Department of Justice’s strong oversight of police departments. If you can get more accountability there, than you can try to reestablish trust, at least between the cops and those affected neighborhoods. For me that was a major move. Given time, that would have benefited everybody. That’s why Trump’s move to pull back from that is one of my major disappointments in this era.

TCR: What do you think of neighborhood policing strategies that try to build more trust between police and the communities they serve?

 Bailey: I think it’s good in theory at least, where you are actually trying to establish bonds between the cops and the residents. I actually think that breaks down, once you see a cop who does something wrong and not get punished for it. That kind of law enforcement is seen as a Trojan horse where they’re more out to get you than help you. As long as that distrust is there between the cops and the residents, it’s going to be difficult for these programs to really take hold. If accountability is not there, then these attitudes and distrust will fester.

TCR: Have you seen any accountability when a cop kills a black man unjustifiably?

Bailey: At least from what I’ve seen, most often no. It is rare for officers to face any criminal charges at all, and when they do, juries will find them not guilty anyway. In 2015 or so, there was a drug unit who broke into a guy’s house, shot him nine times, paralyzed him for life, and then lied about the details of it, saying they knocked first. At the end of it, none of the cops faced any charges or any kind of discipline. Once you have those kinds of situations, I can’t stress enough how much distrust that generates.

TCR: Are there any organizations or people you like to follow in terms of criminal justice reform?

Bailey: I’m actually focused on something that doesn’t feel like criminal justice reform but it really is. My wife founded a nonprofit called Freedom Readers, where she’s just trying to improve literacy in really tough neighborhoods. She’s been able to bring in all sorts of volunteers in terms of educators like teachers, cops, and business men and women, all kinds of folks. What she’s been able to do is let outsiders see a more rounded view of these kids and their neighborhoods. That will go a long way in making it easier to have deeper conversations as to why criminal justice reform is so important.

TCR: Finally, how is Moochie doing?

Bailey: He’s been out for almost four years now. And he is getting better day by day, even though there are tougher days than others, which I can trace back to his time in solitary honestly. At least for us, we have a pretty large family, so he’s been able to call on each one of us at various times in order to help and guide him. I think that has been very helpful, but he still has more adjusting to do.

Dane Stallone is a TCR news intern. He welcomes comments from readers.

from https://thecrimereport.org

The Mark Young Marijuana Sentencing Case

     In the state of Indiana, a person convicted of armed robbery will serve about six years in prison; someone convicted of rape will serve about eight; and a convicted murderer can expect to spend twenty-five years behind bars. These figures are actually higher than the nation average: eleven years and four months in prison is the typical punishment for an American found guilty of murder….

     [In 1990, 38-year-old Mark Young] was arrested at his Indianapolis home for brokering the sale of seven hundred pounds of marijuana grown on a farm in nearby Morgan County. Young was tried and convicted under federal law. He had never before been charged with drug trafficking. He had no history of violent crime. Young’s sole role in the illegal transaction had been that of a middleman–he never distributed the drugs; he simply introduced two people hoping to sell a large amount of marijuana to three people wishing to buy it. The offense occurred a year and a half before his arrest. No confiscated marijuana, money, or physical evidence of any kind linked Young to the crime. He was convicted solely on the testimony of co-conspirators who were now cooperating with the government. On February 8, 1992, Mark Young was sentenced by federal judge Sarah Evans Barker to life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

Eric Schlosser, Reefer Madness, 2003

     In the state of Indiana, a person convicted of armed robbery will serve about six years in prison; someone convicted of rape will serve about eight; and a convicted murderer can expect to spend twenty-five years behind bars. These figures are actually higher than the nation average: eleven years and four months in prison is the typical punishment for an American found guilty of murder….

     [In 1990, 38-year-old Mark Young] was arrested at his Indianapolis home for brokering the sale of seven hundred pounds of marijuana grown on a farm in nearby Morgan County. Young was tried and convicted under federal law. He had never before been charged with drug trafficking. He had no history of violent crime. Young's sole role in the illegal transaction had been that of a middleman--he never distributed the drugs; he simply introduced two people hoping to sell a large amount of marijuana to three people wishing to buy it. The offense occurred a year and a half before his arrest. No confiscated marijuana, money, or physical evidence of any kind linked Young to the crime. He was convicted solely on the testimony of co-conspirators who were now cooperating with the government. On February 8, 1992, Mark Young was sentenced by federal judge Sarah Evans Barker to life imprisonment without possibility of parole.

Eric Schlosser, Reefer Madness, 2003

from http://jimfishertruecrime.blogspot.com/

Prison Reformer Larry Meachum Dies at 79

Meachum oversaw prison systems in Oklahoma, Massachusetts and Connecticut and directed federal corrections programs in the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs in the 1990s. He won a Supreme Court case on prisoners’ rights.

Larry Meachum, a prison reformer who as a habitual runaway as a youth might well have wound up in jails instead of running them, died last month in Florida, the New York Times reports. He was 79. Meachum oversaw the prison systems in Oklahoma, Massachusetts and Connecticut and directed federal corrections programs in the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs in the 1990s. At the time, the criminal justice system was struggling to cope with record crime rates, mandatory sentences and so-called broken windows neighborhood policing, all of which led to a rising number of arrests and mass incarceration.

While he was later criticized for coddling inmates, Meachum started one of the first prison boot camps — a version of shock therapy that he later disavowed — and his name was on a prisoners’ rights lawsuit, Meachum v. Fano, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled 6-3 in 1976 that Meachum had not violated an inmate’s right to due process when, as a Massachusetts warden, he transferred the man to a more inhospitable prison without a hearing. During his career, he worked to improve drug treatment and other medical services for inmates, curb gang violence, reduce recidivism by offering education and occupational training, provide facilities for recreation to reduce idle time, and start supervised release programs. Mike Lawlor, Connecticut under secretary for criminal justice policy and planning, described Meachum as a man who surrounded himself with “people who understood the concept of redemption and who appreciated the basic humanity of prisoners.” At DOJ, Meachum developed and oversaw drug abuse testing and treatment and post-prison programs for inmates. He retired in 2003.

from https://thecrimereport.org