January, 2009

Prison Reform Requires Leaders Who Listen

As a long-term prisoner, I read extensively in an effort to prepare for the challenges that will follow my release. Primarily, I read nonfiction literature to advance my education. Besides books, I read news magazines to understand how our society has been evolving during the 21-plus years that I’ve been locked in various prisons. One […]

Prison Reforms Ought to Include Checklists

I enjoyed reading an article editors from Time magazine wrote in the issue that celebrated Barack Obama as Person of the Year for 2008. When asked how future voters could judge his performance in years to come, the President-elect offered a simple checklist that voters might consider. When leaders consider prison reforms that will lower […]

Fourth Quarter Report, 2008

The fourth quarter of 2008 has come to an end, and I feel pleased with the progress my wife Carole and I have made. I now have more than 21 years of imprisonment behind me. Regardless of what happens legislatively or administratively, I do not expect that I will pass more than three additional holiday […]

My Values and Goals for 2009

I write my goals for 2009 early on this first day of the New Year. It is just after 4:00 a.m., and I sit alone at a table in a quiet room of Taft’s federal prison camp. I may be well into my 21st year of imprisonment, but I have much for which I can […]

Legislators Should Make Changes to a Biased System of So-Called Justice that Favors the Super-Wealthy Elite.

On Tuesday, 6 January 2009, Pallavi Gogoi reported on the Bernard Madoff scandal for USA Today. The reporter identified Alan Goldstein, a 76-year-old investor whom Madoff had swindled for $4.2 million. Those funds represented all of Mr. Goldstein’s retirement savings. “He had to cash in his life insurance to make his mortgage,” the article reported. […]

Enron Chief’s Resentencing Further Illustrates Injustices Between the Rich and the Ordinary

It is just after 5 a.m. on 7 January 2009, and I just heard NPR broadcast the news. Although a jury convicted Jeff Skilling of presiding over a massive fraud that bilked billions in losses from ordinary Americans, and the appeals court affirmed Skilling’s conviction, NPR reported that the swindler will receive a new sentence. […]

The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging Book Report

Date read: January 6, 2009 Book title: The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging Book author: Arianna Huffington Book publisher: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks (2008) Nonfiction/230 pages The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging was the first book I read in 2009. ¬†Why I read The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging: As a long-term […]

Presidential Pardon Brought Justice to Kemba Smith

On Wednesday, 17 December 2008, the USA Today published an article in its forum section by Kemba Smith entitled The Wisdom of Pardons. Kemba Smith had been a federal prisoner who was serving a 24-year sentence for her role in a drug conspiracy. During the final days of Clinton’s Presidency, Kemba Smith walked out of […]

Prison Reforms Should Reward Those Who Reach Goals

Editors from Time magazine met with President-elect Obama in early December. Among numerous other questions, the editors asked Mr. Obama how voters in the 2010 mid-term elections would know whether his administration was succeeding. I really liked his answer. He set benchmarks, or clearly-defined goals, and the President-elect invited voters to hold him accountable. When […]

Response to Reader of Inside: Life Behind Bars in America

Chip is a reader of my book Inside: Life Behind Bars in America and he wrote me a supportive message. He asked me to provide an update on the characters I wrote about in the book. The truth is, I am now confined in the federal prison camp at Taft, California. The colorful characters I […]

Can Tina’s Fiance Serve his Ten-Year Sentence in a Camp?

I recently received a question from Tina. Her fiance was just sentenced to serve a ten-year prison term. Tina wanted to know whether it was possible for her fiance to serve that sentence in a prison camp. The short answer is yes, it’s possible. In my article Security Level Classifications, I described the criteria that […]

Prisoners Can Earn University Degrees

Christine sent me a question asking whether prisoners could earn university degrees while they served sentences inside federal prison. The answer is yes. I provide details about education in my article Opportunities for Higher Learning and College Degrees. During the course of my imprisonment, I found the pursuit of higher education to be extremely fulfilling. […]

Should Prisoners Request Specific Prison Camp Placements?

Eric wrote me asking whether it was beneficial to request the court to recommend a specific prison where the defendant could serve his sentence. He wanted to know whether the Bureau of Prisons would honor such requests. If the BOP did honor judicial recommendations, Eric wanted to know whether any Federal Prison Camps were worth […]

Prison Reforms Are Good For America

The recent comment from a reader identified as ssteacherme in response to my Forbes.com article expresses the cynicism I’ve come to expect from those who adamantly support America’s prison system. In the end, the writer asserted that “Those who spin their prison punishment into success empires cloak themselves in hero’s clothing made from the fabric […]

Prison Reforms Should Bring Transparency to the Prison System

In a recent Newsweek magazine, an author published an article that offered President-elect Obama some advice. The author suggested that our new President should look much deeper for information on American life. Presidents error, the author said, when they rely primarily on policy wonks and insiders. Instead of relying on the experts alone, the author […]