Prisons, Programs & Problems

Today’s post is all about prisons, starting with and article about Hawai`i’s $1 billion plan for prison building and renovation, followed by a map that shows the # of incarcerated humans in every state and then articles about programs and problem with states implementing PREA (Prison Rape Elimination Act).

Hawai‘i needs fewer prisoners, not more prisons
Lorenn Walker and Bob Merce, Honolulu Star Advertiser, January 7, 2015

“On Nov. 9, the Star-Advertiser quoted Gov.-elect David Ige as saying:

“We need to make an investment in our prison system. I do think it is an opportunity for public-private partnership. We have a private partner on the mainland that we ship prisoners to; if we can find a partner who is willing to make an investment in Hawaii and the state has lots of land, it would allow us to build a modern facility, it would help reduce the cost. There is a way to fashion a win-win that would allow us to move forward” (“The governor-elect wants to modernize tax collections and encourage ‘small ag’,” Star-Advertiser, On Politics).”

The U.S. has more jails than colleges. Here’s a map of where those prisoners live.
Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post, January 6, 2015

San Quentin’s prison university gives inmates freedom to learn
Greta Kaul, SFGate, Dec. 27, 2014

“Education does that for all of us. If you can provide it inside, you have an opportunity of a better person coming back out.”

…. In 1968, a study found that 75 percent of the prison systems it surveyed in the U.S. offered college courses.

“Now, up to 42 percent of U.S. prisons offer post-secondary education, but for many inmates, correspondence courses, for which funding can be scarce, are the only option, according to a report by the Institute for Higher Education Policy.


“Prison doesn’t define the person. Prison is a circumstance of bad decisions that a person has made,” Mims said. There “are a number of people in prison who are ready to come out here and be productive, law abiding, taxpaying citizens.”


“At the end of 2012, 1 in 35 adults in the U.S. was incarcerated, on probation or parole, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

“When you oppose education inside, you’re opposing guys and women (having) the opportunity to learn, the opportunity to grow, the opportunity to expand their knowledge in a way that can change their way of thinking and behavior,” Mims said. “Education does that for all of us. If you can provide it inside, you have an opportunity of a better person coming back out.”

Prison University Project
To see a YouTube video of the project and its students:

Long-ignored Problem: Prison Rape
Published on Jan 4, 2015

“When Congress passed a law in 2003 aimed at ending sexual assault in prisons, jails and juvenile detention centers, survivors were hopeful. Now, some advocates worry that a proposal to halt the law’s financial penalties will severely damage it. (Jan. 5)”

There is so much to be done. We need all hands on deck to convince legislators that what we are doing now is expensive, ineffective, and destroys families and communities.

Jurisdictions all around the US are reducing their prison populations and developing more community-based programs that data show are less expensive and more effective in helping folks get their lives on track.




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