Trans Woman Sues State of Georgia for Human Rights Abuses

Ashley Diamond

A prisoner in the Georgia prison system, Ashley Diamond is suing the Georgia for refusing her hormonal therapy during the last three years.

From NY Daily News:

Three years without hormone therapy is reversing everything that Ashley Diamond, an incarcerated transgender woman, has fought for.

Her booking photo illustrates the stark transformation Diamond has undergone since 2012, when she started cycling through Georgia’s Department of Corrections and the state began forbidding the hormone therapy she’d been receiving for nearly two decades.

The picture bears no resemblance to the woman she was before she landed behind bars.

“Ashley sees photos like that as proof of her lack of medical care, but it’s a painful reminder,” Chinyere Ezie, an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, told the Daily News.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit Friday on Diamond’s behalf seeking sweeping changes that would restore her medical treatment, improve living conditions and staff training for Diamond and other transgender inmates.

Read more at NY Daily News

Photo: Ashley Diamond

Is ‘Orange’ the New Green?


From the Chicago Reporter:

Most people see a jail and think about crime, tragedy and heartbreak.

Others see dollar signs. That’s because incarceration can be a big money maker.

Consider the drab polyester and cotton scrubs worn by detainees and inmates at Cook County Jail, where about 100,000 people are booked annually. (At County, the men wear tan and the women wear blue, not the more infamous orange.)

In 2012, Ohio-based company Pyramid Enterprise Supplies, a minority-owned business that also provides Smith and Wesson handcuffs and leg locks to the jail, won a two-year,  almost $1.7 million county contract to provide the Cook County Department of Corrections with clothes, undergarments and accessories. Jail executive director Cara Smith said the county activated the first of three renewal options for the contract last fall at an additional cost of about $340,000.

The original contract included more than 50,000 inmate uniforms, totaling about $600,000.

  • The uniforms were manufactured by Gardena, Calif.-based Robinson Textiles—a company whose alleged ties to sweatshop labor in the Dominican Republic ran afoul of San Francisco officials in 2012.Alleged violations included problems with worker health and safety, wages and sexual harassment.
  • When Robinson Textiles shut down in 2014, the Bob Barker Company agreed to fulfill Robinson Textiles’ contract obligations. Those obligations now include supplying Pyramid with uniforms for Cook County inmates.
  • In 2008, the Bob Barker Co., a family-owned business based in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., also was accused of using sweatshop labor. The allegations stem from work at a Bangladesh factory that supplied the company with inmate undergarments. Workers allegedly complained they were beaten for making mistakes or refusing shifts, forced to work strenuous 18-hour shifts or work overtime if they fell short of hard-to-meet production targets.
  • Touted as the nation’s premier detention supplies provider, the company has won other contracts tosupply inmate shoesjuvenile detention uniforms and mattresses. Records show Bob Barker Co. has been awarded at least $13 million in federal prison system contracts since 1995, including agreements with about 100 federal prisons across the country.
  • In 2009, Bob Barker Co., which has nothing to do with the popular TV game show host, founded a nonprofit foundation to help fund programs focused on reducing the number of incarcerated people who return to jail.

Read the entire article on the Chicago Reporter

Photo: Sophia Nahli Allison

Celebrities seek to end mass incarceration with campaign

Dr. Boyce Watkins and Russell Simmons are teaming up to combat mass incarceration.

By gathering a coalition of supporters, the men hope to highlight to seriousness of the prison industrial complex and its affects on people of color.

From Your Black World:

“Rehabilitation and even punishment are acceptable in themselves, but when a nation builds an entire economy around the unjust incarceration of millions of its citizens, that nation is serving as a tool for its own demise.” the statement reads. “Families are destroyed when citizens are given extraordinarily long prison sentences for even the smallest crimes, and the failed War on Drugs has created an entire generation of lost children, who’ve grown up without the support and guidance of two loving parents.”

Mark Ciaravella Sentenced to 28 Years for “Kids for Cash” Scandal

Mark Ciavarella, Jr., a former judge in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, is heading to prison for his involvement in the “Kids for cash” scandal. Ciavarella was charged and convicted of mail fraud, racketeering, tax evasion, and money laundering. Ciavarella received millions of dollars from private prison builder, Robert Mericle, in exchange for giving juveniles harsher and longer sentences. Another judge, Michael Conahan participated in the scandal, but pleaded guilty to charges:

Since 2003, Ciavarella received millions of dollars in bribes for condemning minors to maximum prison sentences. In one case, Ciavarella sentenced a 10-year-old to two years in a detention facility for accidentally bottoming out his mother’s car.

According to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, over 5,000 young men and women were unjustly sentenced to prison and denied their constitutional rights. Many of them have now been released and cleared of their charges.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has overturned some 4,000 convictions issued by him between 2003 and 2008, claiming he violated the constitutional rights of the juveniles – including the right to legal counsel and the right to intelligently enter a plea. Some of the juveniles he sentenced were as young as 10-years old.

Ciavarella was convicted of 12 counts, including racketeering, money laundering, mail fraud and Black Star Journal.

Ciaravella has been sentenced to 28 years in prison. Is the punishment severe enough? How can people who are charged with crimes expect a fair hearing if such corruption exists in the justice system? Should the youth who were sentenced by Ciaravella receive some kind of compensation from the state? Thoughts on this case? Sound off below!!!!

Eric Holder Unveils Major Drug Sentencing Reforms

Attorney General Eric Holder will announce major drug sentencing reforms today.

The Justice Department will avoid charging low-level and nonviolent drug offenders with crimes that carry mandatory minimum sentences, as long as they’re not connected with criminal organizations.

U.S. attorneys across the country will also be afforded with greater prosecutorial discretion.

Cornel West: President Obama Is a Global George Zimmerman

Cornel West has joined his radio cohost Tavis Smiley in blasting the POTUS in the wake of his Trayvon Martin speech last Friday.

Speaking with Democracy Now, West called President Obama “a global George Zimmerman” for his use of deadly drone attacks overseas.

From the Huffington Post:

“We know anybody who tries to rationalize the killing of innocent people is a criminal. George Zimmerman is a criminal. But, President Obama is a global George Zimmerman because he tries to rationalize the killing of innocent children, 221 so far, in the name of self-defense… Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen. So when he comes to talk about the killing of an innocent person, you say, well wait a minute, what kind of moral authority are you bringing?”

Sesame Street Teaches Kids About Incarceration


We talked a lot about the criminal justice system and prison industrial complex, especially as it pertains to black youth. The astronomical number of people who have been incarcerated and the effects their imprisonment has on those individuals, their families, and the communities they leave and sometimes return to is part of that discussion. Yet we often ignore the way that children are impacted by this. Sesame Street has made headlines recently for including incarceration as part of their “Little Children, Big Problems” series:

The long-running PBS children’s education show launched the ‘Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration’ educational program earlier this week.

Organizers say the campaign is aimed at helping kids aged three to eight in the U.S., which has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

A toolkit of resources has been uploaded onto the Sesame Street website including videos, printable brochures, eBooks and apps.

‘The incarceration of a loved one can be very overwhelming for both children and caregivers,’ reads a message on the website. ‘Here are some tools to help you with the changes your child is going through.’

Read more at The Daily Mail.