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News stories tagged with "prison"

Five Omar Mualimm-ak, speaking at St. Lawrence University earlier this month. Photo: Tzintzun Aguilar
Five Omar Mualimm-ak, speaking at St. Lawrence University earlier this month. Photo: Tzintzun Aguilar

Five Mualimm-ak: A voice out of solitary confinement

Last month, the state of New York made sweeping changes to its use of solitary confinement. The new policy, signed by a federal judge, prohibits anyone under the age of 18, women who are pregnant, and people with severe mental illness, from being locked away in solitary.

Five Mualimm-ak helped write the new protocol. He's a prison reform activist. Mualimm-ak spent five years of his life in solitary confinement, out of 12 years he served inside New York prisons on charges that were later overturned. He was in Canton last week for talks and events at St. Lawrence University, and sat down with Martha Foley.  Go to full article
This inmate drawing on a prison envelope is part of the "Cellblock Visions" exhibit on display at SLU's Brush Art Gallery through mid-April. Photo courtesy Phyllis Kornfeld
This inmate drawing on a prison envelope is part of the "Cellblock Visions" exhibit on display at SLU's Brush Art Gallery through mid-April. Photo courtesy Phyllis Kornfeld

In Canton, "Cellblock Visions" shows off prison inmates' art

There's an alternative art world flourishing in American prisons. "Cellblock Visions," an exhibit at the Brush Art Gallery at St. Lawrence University this spring, features artwork by inmates from county jails to death row. Curator Phyllis Kornfeld, who has taught art courses in the prison system for more than 30 years, will give a lecture on the exhibit in Griffiths Arts Center, room 123, Tuesday at 7pm.

Todd Moe spoke with Kornfeld, who began her career teaching art in prisons in Oklahoma in 1983 (hear that interview by clicking "listen" above, or read the transcription below.) Today, she works at prisons in Massachusetts. She says even after 30 years, she finds the art created behind bars to be "fresh and amazing". Kornfeld says men and women inmates, having no previous training, turn to art for a sense of self-respect, respect for others and a way to find peace.

View pictures from the exhibit below.  Go to full article
Five Omar Mualimmak spent nearly five years in a solitary confinement cell. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/m_at/8566414982/">Matthew Thompson</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Five Omar Mualimmak spent nearly five years in a solitary confinement cell. Photo: Matthew Thompson, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Prison reform advocate will speak in Canton tonight

St. Lawrence University is hosting a series of events this month aimed at opening up a public conversation about the prison system.

Last night was the first: Five Omar Mualimmak spoke to a lecture hall full of students and community members, about his near five years in solitary confinement, on charges that were later overturned. He also talked about his work to reform the system, and the art he created in prison.  Go to full article
Inside the Capitol. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/stgermh/">Holley St. Germain</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Inside the Capitol. Photo: Holley St. Germain, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

No consensus on prison college plan in Assembly

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed plan to fund college education for prison inmates doesn't have a consensus in the state Assembly, Speaker Sheldon Silver said Tuesday.

"It's always good to look at reducing recidivism," said Silver, who said he personally supports the governor's proposal. "Many of our members support this, and there are others who have expressed reservations."

The Speaker says he'll discuss the issue in a closed-door party conference in the coming weeks.  Go to full article
Gov. Cuomo taking questions from reporters, February, 2014. NCPR File Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/governorandrewcuomo/12721921383/">Gov. Cuomo's office</a>, via Flickr
Gov. Cuomo taking questions from reporters, February, 2014. NCPR File Photo: Gov. Cuomo's office, via Flickr

Cuomo's prison college plan sparks bipartisan backlash

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made prison reform a centerpiece of his first term, closing prisons, calling for changes to sentencing laws for sixteen- and seventeen-year olds, and cutting the use of solitary confinement. But his latest proposal, a plan to use taxpayer dollars to fund college education behind bars, has sparked a bipartisan backlash.

Cuomo says the idea will save money over time, but many lawmakers say it's unfair to law-abiding citizens who struggle to send their kids to college.  Go to full article
Brother Yusuf  Abdul-Wasi (R) and Joe Hackett (L) with moderator Russell Banks at an event hosted by John Brown Lives. Photo: Brian Mann
Brother Yusuf Abdul-Wasi (R) and Joe Hackett (L) with moderator Russell Banks at an event hosted by John Brown Lives. Photo: Brian Mann

A prison inmate, a corrections worker, a conversation

This week, our Prison Time Media Project is focusing in-depth on the the world of corrections here in the North Country.

There are more than a dozen state and Federal prisons in our region, from Cape Vincent to the town of Moreau. The industry is a pillar of the economy in many rural towns.

But those prisons are also a place where prison guards, civilian workers and inmates struggle every day to communicate, grappling with huge differences of race and class.

Two men -- a former inmate and a former corrections worker -- are working to bridge that divide by talking about their shared experience behind bars.  Go to full article
Camp Gabriels. Photo: Save Camp Gabriels
Camp Gabriels. Photo: Save Camp Gabriels

Camp Gabriels prison is sold to private buyer from Brooklyn

It appears that the former Camp Gabriels prison has been sold to a private buyer for just over $210,000.

The news was first reported yesterday by the Albany Times-Union. The highest bidder was named as Mohammad Ibrahim from Brooklyn.  Go to full article
George Prendes, outside the apartment he lived in before he went to prison, on 107th Street and Central Park West. Photo: Natasha Haverty
George Prendes, outside the apartment he lived in before he went to prison, on 107th Street and Central Park West. Photo: Natasha Haverty

Fifteen years behind bars under Rockefeller drug laws

Yesterday, the Prison Time Media Project took us 40 years back to the start of the war on drugs, and the controversial sentencing rules created by Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Those new laws sent tens of thousands of men and women to prison on long sentences for low-level drug crimes. George Prendes was one of those people.  Go to full article
Chateaugay Correctional Facility in Franklin County is among four slated for closure. Image: Google Maps
Chateaugay Correctional Facility in Franklin County is among four slated for closure. Image: Google Maps

Prison guard union smarting over closure announcement

Correction officers say they are still in "shock," that late on a July Friday, with very little advance warning, Governor Cuomo's prison agency announced the closure of four prisons within the next year. And they are asking the legislature to rescind the closures.  Go to full article
Lunchtime in the mess hall. Photo: Natasha Haverty
Lunchtime in the mess hall. Photo: Natasha Haverty

Alternatives to Incarceration: into Shock prison

This week as part of our Prison Time Media Project, producer Natasha Haverty is looking at some of the approaches cash-strapped states are taking to try and cut prison their populations.

Yesterday, we began the story of Jeff, a young man from western New York who fell into serious drug addiction and broke into a pharmacy to feed his habit. After spending years cycling through drug courts, unable to stay off drugs, he was sent to prison here in the North Country.

"It's very true to say that I as given a great opportunity at drug court and I failed. I failed at drug court. I failed. I'm going to prison, for years. That's the lowest of the low, that's the lowest I can think of before death."

But unlike many other inmates, Jeff was sent to a shock prison in Moriah, in Essex County, which focuses on life skills training and rehabilitation. Part two of our series takes us to Moriah Shock and finds Jeff at the middle of his prison sentence.  Go to full article

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