Give me your most depressing links about US prisons!
May 13, 2013 7:13 AM   Subscribe

I'm writing an essay/blog post about the portrayal of prison and prisoners in games. Part of this involves explaining to the reader that the US prison system is pretty nightmarish. Can you suggest links that support/underline this?

I'm looking for articles and data on:
  • Prison rape
  • Disproportionate sentencing
  • The prison-industrial complex
  • Specifically, the use of prison labor
  • The use of pressure on arrestees to get them to plead guilty
  • Anything else, really, that shows the corrupt and unpleasant state of the US prison system
posted by Zarkonnen to Law & Government (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
School to prison pipeline
posted by mareli at 7:20 AM on May 13, 2013

Best answer: The folks on QI are legitimately floored by US Prison statistics.
posted by Think_Long at 7:30 AM on May 13, 2013

Best answer: They're not the only ones.

Re: the prison-industrial complex.
posted by pompomtom at 7:32 AM on May 13, 2013

I don't know if it is worth it to you to get an account with an archives upgrade on the SA forums, but I spent about a week or so glued to the now-archived prison thread. The primary contributor was a user named HidingFromGoro, but a lot of others contributed stories of their firsthand experience as well.

There is a current thread here that provides a bunch of links to things that might interest you, but I believe it requires an account and I'm not familiar with the direction that it took, either.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 7:36 AM on May 13, 2013

Ted Conover's partcipatory journalism book Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing has a background chapter or two on the prison system as a whole. It also has a decent section on prison rape that is a lot more nuanced than I have seen in other places. All in all it is a pretty fantastic book.
posted by mmascolino at 7:43 AM on May 13, 2013

Best answer: Pressure on arrestees? Check out what happened to Jovan Mosely. He spent spent five years in a holding cell awaiting trial after being coerced into confessing to a peripheral role in a murder.

Laura Caldwell wrote a book about Mosely and is also involved in The Innocence Project. Every one of those defendants has a horror story-- having been wrongly sentenced to death-- but with different details.
posted by BibiRose at 7:49 AM on May 13, 2013

Best answer: The ACLU's Prisoners' Rights subsite will have a slew of stories for you -- see also prison conditions, restriction of prisoners' rights, criminal law reform, and solitary confinement.
There's also the Human Rights Watch subsite for Prison and Detention Conditions.
And Prison Legal News has many stories about general prison conditions (most, but not all, are U.S.-specific).
All of these sites outline conditions that are certainly nightmarish in a wide variety of ways. Here is a specific example.

For information related to disproportionate sentencing, look no further than The Sentencing Project (and specifically, their subsite on racial disparity in sentencing).
Also, I recently wrote a 15-page dissertation-style research paper on felony disenfranchisement and the research process was easily the most horrifyingly depressing source of edification I've ever received in my frivolous, privileged life -- for millions of American prisoners, life doesn't stop being a nightmare of restrictions and denied rights for YEARS after you get out, if ever.
posted by divined by radio at 7:51 AM on May 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

I can wholeheartedly recommend this Citizen Radio field piece on solitary confinement in US prisons.
posted by Kitteh at 7:55 AM on May 13, 2013

Best answer: This is a self-link, but this is a blog post I wrote about a friend of mine who works in a prison as a Physician Assistant, providing medical care for prisoners. It specifically addresses her experiences dealing with rape.
posted by not that girl at 8:49 AM on May 13, 2013

I wish I could give you more info, The Federal Prison in Springfield is pretty highly ranked when it comes to famous cases & inmates, of which many died there. It is well know that they used prison labor in the past,but I believe they do not anymore. From friends of mine, who went into Criminal Justice,I have heard that they are more than willing to work with studies on the American prison system. Maybe it'll help, maybe not.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 9:22 AM on May 13, 2013

Old, but still quite interesting is Accomplices to the Crime, which the movie Brubaker was based on.
posted by chiefthe at 9:50 AM on May 13, 2013

The New Orleans Times-Picayune published a very good eight part series called Louisiana INCarcerated, which is worth a read. Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the US (and thus the world) and the articles help explain the incentives that made it that way and the human costs of the system.
posted by unsub at 9:54 AM on May 13, 2013

Best answer: Just Detention
The Prison Law Office has a lot of information on California prisons.
Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights.
Solitary Watch
Critical Resistance

I have more, if those aren't sufficiently depressing....

And seconding Human Rights Watch and Sentencing Project in particular.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:22 AM on May 13, 2013

Seconding mmascolino's recommendation of Ted Conover's fantastic Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing.
posted by wolfnote at 12:03 PM on May 13, 2013

Response by poster: Thank you for all your links! I feel, er, so much better now.
posted by Zarkonnen at 2:43 AM on May 14, 2013

And today's FPP from Mother Jones, in case you needed yet more depressing links.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:20 AM on May 14, 2013

« Older If no one tells you that you're fired, are you...   |   What should I do on my Mondays off in NYC? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.