Criminal Justice News and VIews

Interesting items related to criminal justice

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Location: Scottsdale, Arizona, United States

I love teaching and sharing knowledge. The Internet is a free passage to an amazing amount of knowledge provided by some of the greatest minds of the day. MIT, Oxford and other universities are now sharing lecture notes with the public and allowing us to dip into the overflowing fonts of wisdom that abound. Yale is but one university that has put actual lectures on the web.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Protective Custody with a Twist

In Today's Crime and Justice News (see for site), I read the following:

CA Prison 'Revolution': Protective Custody Against Gangs
A revolution in protective custody is slowly breaking the stranglehold of gang-imposed rules on California state prison life, reports the Los Angeles Times. Until now, protective custody has been for prison's pariahs — sex offenders, informants, homosexuals — who were locked in their cells most of the day. Gang members and other inmates viewed this as an unmanly and arduous way to do time. But in the last few years, California prisons have given inmates another choice by converting entire yards to protective custody. The result: Thousands of ex- gang members — serving time for murder, robbery and assault — have defected to these so-called sensitive-needs yards (SNYs), seeking a haven from gang life.

As on regular prison yards, SNY inmates live two to a cell and have the same exercise and meal routines. The only difference is that they live with other inmates whose lives, like theirs, would be in danger if they were in the general mix. Demand for SNY space is growing unrelentingly. Since 1998, when the practice of setting aside whole yards for protective custody began, the SNY population has grown from less than 1,000 to more than 13,000 — almost 9% of adult male inmates. Inmates requesting sensitive- needs yards must explain why they need protective custody, and their claims are investigated by prison staff. Though they don't keep statistics or cost estimates by yard, prison officials say fights, stabbings and riots are less common on SNYs, making them safer and less expensive to operate.

If you click on the title of this post, you will be taken to the full article which goes into more detail about how this works and the response from inmates.