Penal System
Illustration by Rachel Beatty

COVID-19 behind bars

Prisons | Pandemic restrictions lead to extreme isolation for inmates who can’t access visitors, ministries, and education
by Emily Belz
Posted 11/18/20, 04:08 pm

In recounting the last few months in prison, Jamel Blackwell didn’t start with the story about how he almost died from COVID-19. Instead he talked about the New Jersey Department of Corrections shutting down visits, Bible studies, and education for inmates in mid-March. 

“I couldn’t see any of my Christian brothers on the other units,” he said. So he and several Christians segregated together in his unit started their own Bible study twice a week to study the Gospels, which he said was “relieving … during this stressful pandemic.”

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Associated Press/Photo by Rich Pedroncelli (file)

California bails on bail reform

Compassion | Voters' rejection of criminal justice changes highlights divisions in the movement
by Charissa Koh
Posted 11/18/20, 01:13 pm

In May 2017, police arrested 63-year-old Kenneth Humphrey for allegedly stealing $5 and a bottle of cologne from his elderly neighbor. Humphrey had a history of robbery convictions, and the judge set his bail at $600,000—far more than the retiree could pay.

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Chuck Robinson/AP

Capital punishment resumes

Human Race | Supreme Court allows first execution by the federal government in 17 years
by The Editors
Posted 7/16/20, 04:45 pm

Executed

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