ACLU -- Criminal Justice News
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LINCOLN - Today it was announced that the Nebraska Department of Corrections was selected by the Vera Institute of Justice as one of five corrections departments to participate in the Safe Alternatives to Segregation (SAS) initiative aimed at reducing the use of solitary confinement and other forms of segregated prisoner housing. The state corrections departments in Nebraska, Oregon, and North Carolina, and local departments in New York City and Middlesex County, New Jersey were chosen after a competitive bidding process. For more information, including a quote from Scott Frakes, director, Nebraska Department of Corrections, please visit:
Statement from ACLU of Nebraska Executive Director Danielle Conrad
We commend the State of Nebraska for securing this important grant. The Vera Institute has an impressive track record for fostering meaningful reform efforts. Nebraska remains an outlier in the country with nearly 15% of prisoners in some type of restricted housing or solitary confinement. Nebraska needs all hands on deck to end these practices and make smart, effective investments in our criminal justice system rather than using litigation as our only option to cure constitutional violations, restore dignity, and ensure access to mental health treatment to improve public safety.
ABOUT: The ACLU of Nebraska and its diverse membership works in courts, the legislature and our communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and laws of the United States and Nebraska guarantee everyone in this state.
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WASHINGTON – According to media reports, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has canceled its contract with the Management and Training Corporation for the Willacy County Correctional Center in Raymondville City, Texas. This cancellation comes after a major uprising on February 20th in which almost 2,000 people incarcerated at Willacy took control of the prison, apparently in protest of inadequate medical services.
“The Bureau of Prisons’ decision to shut down the Willacy private prison is a welcome but long overdue move,” said Carl Takei, an attorney at the ACLU's National Prison Project. “We hope the Bureau will sustain this momentum by ending the use of private prisons entirely. Additionally, Congress must pass sentencing reform legislation and take steps to address our country’s mass incarceration epidemic.”
Nicknamed “Ritmo,” the Gitmo of Raymondville by local advocates, the Willacy prison was first built in 2006 as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility. After numerous complaints of abuse, ICE cancelled its contract with Willacy in 2011, but the Bureau of Prisons quickly converted Willacy into a “Criminal Alien Requirement” prison – one of thirteen such private prisons around the country.
The American Civil Liberties Union profiled this network of private prisons in its June 2014 report, “Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System.” The report found that people incarcerated in these private prisons were subjected to shocking mistreatment and abusive conditions, with inadequate oversight by the Bureau of Prisons. Following the recent uprising, the ACLU called for an independent investigation into the causes and circumstances of the protest.