Philip Miller was midway through a twenty-year sentence for robbery at Sing Sing Prison in New York, with an almost spotless prison record, when he was caught with a mobile phone in his cell in April 2010. He was charged with two disciplinary violations: “possession of contraband” and also “altering state property,” since he had hidden the cell phone and charger in “a compartment carved out of the windowsill.”
Miller was brought before an internal prison disciplinary hearing and pled guilty to the two charges. But he sought to call various inmates who could attest to his good behavior and to describe what actually had happened. The hearing officer denied him his request, claiming that he, the prison officer, knew all about Miller and it wasn’t necessary to call the witnesses. Miller was found guilty of both charges and sentenced to 60 months—five years—in solitary, with a proviso that 24 months might be suspended if he incurred no further disciplinary charges. Despite the nonviolent nature of his offenses, Miller was shipped off to serve his time at Southport, the all-solitary supermax facility south of Elmira.
December 7, 2011
Huffington Post, John Rudolf
Just a single visit from a family member or a friend can make a big difference in whether or not a prisoner ends up back behind bars after their release, a new study finds.
The study, by researchers with the Minnesota Department of Corrections, determined that prisoners who received at least one personal visit at any time during their incarceration were 13 percent less likely to commit another felony and 25 percent less likely to end up back in prison on a technical parole violation. Read the whole story here.
This morning, retired judge Barry Stuart (served in the Yukon, now is affiliated with the Restorative Justice program at Simon Fraser – (http://www.sfu.ca/crj/) was interviewed on The Current. The topic was Bill C-10. He apparently was the first judge (in the Yukon or maybe Canada as a whole – not sure) to introduce sentencing circles into court proceedings.
You can hear the interview here: http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/ (It’s a very powerful interview. He pulls no punches about how the criminal justice system – especially the courts and prisons – fails everyone – and how what Bill C-10 proposes to do will only make things worse.)