Prisons and Jails

Counties and States Embrace Fentanyl Test Strips in Battle Against Opioids

Arlington County, Virginia announced that it would begin distributing the strips to addiction-prone people leaving the county jail, the latest in a growing number of government agencies to turn to the tests as a way to prevent overdoses.

South Carolina Brings Back the Firing Squad for Executions

Amid a lethal injection drug shortage, the state has put no inmates to death in a decade. Those on death row must now choose between the electric chair and firing squad if drugs are unavailable.

Local Corrections Costs Rose by $25 Billion in Last 40 Years

But the coronavirus has ushered in creative lower-cost alternative jail programs that could last long after the pandemic, local leaders say.

America’s Rural-Jail-Death Problem

Every day, in small towns and cities across the country, thousands of people are booked into local jails, many for minor crimes. Some never come home.

Illinois Becomes First State to Abolish Cash Bail

Judges will instead use a risk assessment tool to determine a defendant's fitness for release. The change is part of a broader criminal justice reform bill Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed this week.

States Offer Perks to Inmates who Get the Covid-19 Vaccine

North Carolina is the latest state to offer incentives—commissary credits, bonus visits and early release—to motivate inmates to receive vaccination shots.

Prioritizing Prisoners for Vaccines Stirs Controversy

A fifth of all state and federal inmates have been infected with COVID-19.

Would Judges Sentence Fewer People to Prison if Local Governments Had to Pay for Their Prison Stays?

In a case where counties had to bear the cost of incarceration, local prosecutors and judges dismissed more cases. For one researcher, this raised a key question: If local governments had to pay for prison sentences, would incarceration rates decrease?

People Convicted of Crimes as Young Adults May See a Chance at Early Release in D.C.

A veto-proof majority of the D.C. City Council passed a bill to open early release to people convicted of crimes they committed before they were 25, saying they deserve the chance for rehabilitation. Victims’ advocates are skeptical.

In One State, a Racial Equity Task Force Suggests 100 Ways to Change the Criminal Justice System

North Carolina’s task force released a sweeping report calling for changes in policing and the courts.

States Halt Jury Trials Again, Leaving Many Defendants in Jail

The pandemic-related backlog of cases could take years to plow through.

States May See a Lot More Money for Crime Prevention with Biden Plan

President-elect Joe Biden's sweeping criminal justice proposal focuses on prevention and diversion in an attempt to prod states away from locking people up.

Federal Intervention in Police Departments to Return Under Biden

The Biden administration will reinvigorate “pattern and practice” investigations into police departments and correctional facilities, while also looking to more aggressively examine prosecutors.

Covid Cases in One State Prison System Are ‘Off the Charts’

A new report from the University of Texas at Austin says that the state’s correctional system has not taken the adequate steps to reduce Covid cases and deaths among incarcerated people and staff.

About 750,000 People Are in Jail On Any Given Day. Can They Vote?

A new report from the Prison Policy Initiative says that most people in jail are eligible to vote, but ultimately won’t be able to due to barriers to voter registration and lack of access to ballots.

California Will Require Prisons to House Transgender People By Gender Identity

A new law will require California correctional facilities to place transgender people in housing units that align with their gender identity, not their sex assigned at birth.

California Opens a Path to Professional Firefighting for Formerly Incarcerated People

In California, many wildfires are fought by incarcerated people trained to be firefighters. Their criminal records barred them from continuing in the field after release—until now.

Jail Populations Are On the Rise

While many jails acted quickly at the beginning of the pandemic to release people and reduce overcrowding, a new analysis shows those efforts have slowed.

Investigators Found Alabama’s Prisons Are Plagued by Rampant Violence. Is Sentencing Reform the Answer?

The Justice Department says much of the abuse in the state’s prisons stems from overcrowding. Advocates say overcrowding is caused by laws that result in harsh prison sentences that are out of sync with the rest of the country.

Families of Prisoners Sue Over High Cost of Phone Calls

The lawsuit alleges three private companies that provide telecom services in prisons lied to state and local governments about the cost of doing business.