Prison

Marc Levy / AP

Over half of Pennsylvania’s state prisoners end up back behind bars within five years of their release, according to official data. But the state is now participating in a study on how to bring that number down.

Kelley McCall / AP

Pennsylvania's statewide prison system remains locked down after dozens of employees at different locations became sick over the past month. Department of Corrections officials believes the staff came into contact with a synthetic cannabinoid.

Jacqueline Larma / AP

The Pennsylvania prison system is putting in place new policies on mail handling, visits and detection of drones after a month in which about 50 staff reported symptoms that may have been caused by exposure to toxic chemicals.

Kathy Willens / AP

Pennsylvania earned a "D" in a study that grades states based on the way they handle criminal cases from the time defendants are arrested to the time they’re found guilty or innocent. "D" was the average grade nationally.

 

Chris Gardner / AP

Pennsylvania's newest prison has been formally dedicated near Philadelphia and officials say they will start transferring inmates there this month.

Lawmakers and other officials gathered Friday to dedicate the State Correctional Institution at Phoenix.

Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Pennsylvania voters chose Republican and Democrat nominees for U.S Senate, 18 seats in the U.S. House,  governor and lieutenant governor, plus half the state Senate and the entire state House.

Sentencing In Bill Cosby's Sex Assault Case Set For September

May 15, 2018
Matt Rourke / AP

Bill Cosby will be sentenced Sept. 24, almost five months to the day after he was convicted of sexual assault, a judge said Tuesday.

Lawyers for the comedian, who turns 81 in July and faces the prospect of the rest of his life in prison, had asked Judge Steven O'Neill to delay sentencing until the end of the year.

Cosby's convictions on three counts of aggravated indecent assault will likely be combined into one charge that carries a standard sentence of five to 10 years in prison.

Prison Guard Dies From Injuries In Alleged Attack By Inmate

Feb 26, 2018
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

A Pennsylvania prison guard who confiscated a towel blocking a view of an inmate's bunk and was attacked died of his injuries Monday, the first state correctional officer to be killed by a prisoner in nearly 40 years, corrections officials said.

Sgt. Mark Baserman, 61, was punched repeatedly and kicked in the head Feb. 15 by inmate Paul Jawon Kendrick, who was serving a life sentence for murder at the state prison in Somerset, the officials said.

7 Guards Charged With Sex Abuse At Pennsylvania Jail

Feb 15, 2018
Marc Levy / AP

Seven prison guards have been charged with sexually abusing inmates in what the Pennsylvania attorney general said Thursday was an effort to stop a "persistent culture of abuse" that has plagued the scandal-ridden lockup for more than a decade.

Current and former guards at Lackawanna County Prison in Scranton abused their positions of power to coerce sex from female inmates, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. The abuse was widely known, he said, broadly hinting at a cover-up.

Marc Levy / AP

Pennsylvania is being sued by five inmates for a blanket policy that keeps all death row prisoners in solitary confinement.

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M. Spencer Green / AP

Attorney-client privilege was designed to protect open communication between an attorney and his or her client. What the accused says is confidential, but what happens when that privilege sends an innocent man to life in prison?

Marc Levy / AP

Issues such as police use of force and mass incarceration have long fueled calls for criminal justice reform. But some have proposed going a step further by abolishing prisons altogether.

 

In his book published last year, Dark Ghettos: Injustice, Dissent, and Reform, Harvard philosophy professor Tommie Shelby addresses poverty and racial marginalization. He argues they will persist unless society tackles the underlying inequities that sustain them.

 

Andrew Harnik / AP

Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded a 2013 memo last month written by his predecessor, Eric Holder. Sessions told prosecutors that not only will they abide by previously set mandatory minimum prison sentences, they would seek the harshest punishments possible.

Matthew Apgar / The Chronicle via AP

The exposure of wrongful convictions began in 1989, and it upended the idea that guilty verdicts were always trustworthy. When there’s a wrongful conviction, what has to happen to get a court to exonerate someone?

On this week’s episode of 90.5 WESA’s Criminal Injustice podcast, University of Pittsburgh law professor and show host David Harris talked to Marissa Boyers Bluestine, legal director for the Pennsylvania Innocence Project.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

When someone is incarcerated, they family members – especially children – can be forgotten, but Elizabeth Mansley works hard to remember them. 

Last year, Mansley, a Mt. Aloysius College associate professor of criminology, and her students launched The Storybook Project.

“The idea actually came from my daughter,” Mansley said.

Katie Blackley / 90.5 WESA

Social justice advocates worry misinformation is preventing formerly incarcerated men and women from casting their ballot.

Can A Computer Algorithm Be Trusted To Help Relieve Philly's Overcrowded Jails?

Sep 2, 2016
Emma Lee / WHYY

 

Of the roughly 7,400 people sitting in Philadelphia's jails right now, more than half of them aren't there because they've been found guilty of a crime.

They've been accused of one and are waiting for trial. Many of them just can't afford to pay bail.

That's what happened to Joshua Glenn.

When he was 16 years old, Glenn was arrested for allegedly shooting another guy in the arm — a crime he says he didn't commit.

In light of John Hinckley Jr.'s release from a psychiatric hospital 35 years after attempting to assassinate President Ronald Reagan, Shots is exploring the use of the not guilty by reason of insanity plea. We're talking with legal and medical professionals about how the plea works, and how it doesn't work. In this fourth of a four-part series, we look at what happens to defendants when a state has no insanity defense.

Jobs for Felons Hub / flickr

The U.S. Department of Education has revamped a higher education program for prisoners, and four schools in the Commonwealth have been selected to participate. Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Villanova, Bloomsburg University and the Lehigh Carbon Community College will create the curriculum to educate prisoners selected for the grants under the new Second Chance Pell Grant pilot.

Pennsylvania Dept. of Corrections

Pennsylvania’s prison system won’t run out of money this month, though it doesn’t technically have spending authority under the state budget.

Nearly half of the state corrections budget was vetoed by Gov. Tom Wolf late last year, in a bid to force lawmakers back into budget negotiations.

That hasn’t happened, and now the treasury has stepped in to approve payments of prison operating expenses, including employee salaries, security and safety costs, health care and inmates’ food.