Book News: College for Convicts Available for Pre-Order

Image courtesy

Image courtesy

By Christopher Zoukis

After many hard months of work, I'm proud to announce that my latest book, College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons, is now available for pre-order through my publisher McFarland and Company.  This book presents the arguments for expanding educational offerings to prison inmates in the U.S. and abroad, explores successful prison education programs across the nation and the world, analyzes the current state of education in American prisons, and provides a roadmap to expanding educational offerings to prisoners.  To order your own copy, please click on the following link:

College for Convicts has been a project long in the works.  Researched and penned from a federal prison, the medium security FCI Petersburg, it was not an easy task to fulfill.  Finding a publisher was even more challenging, considering that I lack access to regular email and can't participate in any trade shows or meet-and-greets.  But with the help of my team outside of prison, we've managed to jump through all of these hoops, and are now excited to advocate for enhanced educational opportunities for America's prisoners on a national stage.  We're particularly excited to be advocating for college programs in our nation's prisons.  This book has the power to open our political leaders’ and the American public's eyes and minds to the concept of education being the most cost-effective, proven method of reducing recidivism that the world currently knows.  All profits from the sale of this text go directly to our advocacy efforts.

Please show your support for this project by pre-ordering your own copy of College for Convicts: The Case for Higher Education in American Prisons, which will be released either late this year or early next year.  By doing so, you will be showing the publisher that there is a dedicated and active force behind this book, which will help to raise our marketing budget and help us to advocate more effectively for higher education in America's prisons on a national stage.

Hinds County Inmate Video Visits

Hinds County Supervisors are moving forward with plans to allow video visitation for inmates in county jails.  Global Tel Link, a company that many prison reform advocates disparage, now offers video visitation for inmates and their families.

Video Visitation a Growing Trend, but Concerns Remain

By Prison Legal News

A growing trend toward the use of video visitation at jails across the country is drawing the praise of corrections officials and prisoners’ family members alike, though some advocacy groups worry that video visits could pose an undue financial hardship on those least able to afford it and possibly lead to the elimination of in-person visits.

“I think it’s the way of the future,” said Kane County, Illinois police commander Corey Hunger. “In the next 20 years, I think everyone will have it.”

At some jails, visitors can use video screens to communicate with prisoners in another part of the facility. Other systems allow people to conduct visits via the Internet from a remote location, including their own homes. Prisoners typically use video monitors set up in cell blocks or other designated areas; the visits are monitored and recorded. [See: PLN, July 2013, p.44; Sept. 2012, p.42; Nov. 2011, p.37; Jan. 2010, p.22].

But in Kane County and other jails, the installation of video systems spelled the end of in-person visits. Hunger said not having to screen visitors and escort them through the jail frees up guards to perform other duties. Officials also claim that doing away with face-to-face visits reduces confrontations among prisoners and the risk that visitors will smuggle in contraband.

“[F]rom the standpoint of safety and security, it’s a huge improvement,” stated St. Clair County, Illinois Sheriff Rick Watson. “Every pod has a video monitor and the prisoners don’t have to be moved for visits, which saves on staff time. And if you cut down on movement of prisoners, you cut down on dangerous incidents.”

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Interview With Mike Schnobrich

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

Dianne Frazee-Walker met Mike Schnobrich about six years ago at a political leadership seminar in Colorado Springs, CO. Mr. Schnobrich is the true leader he represents. He has a passion for improving the prison system and is willing to step into whatever leadership position necessary to implement beneficial changes.

It didn’t take long for Mike to become a board member of Full Circle Restorative Justice (FCRJ) Chaffee County, CO. He served on the FCRJ board for two years not only because it gave him an excuse to visit picturesque Salida, CO., but it was another outlet for the changes Mike avidly believes in. He is an advocate for fair treatment of both prison employees and inmates, so it is no surprise Mr. Schnobrich is President of American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 1112 and Senior Officer Specialist of Federal Bureau of Prisons.

When Ms. Walker reconnected with Mr. Schnobrich on social media he informed her of some new information about the prison system. She was all ears as to what Mike had to share and scheduled and interview with him.

As Ms. Walker was driving into the quaint prison town of Florence, CO, she was eager to learn what Mike had to tell her about the latest trends in prison reform. Mr. Schnobrich always has a flood of information to speak about when the conversation is centered on prison reform.

Leave it to Mike to come up with a concept Walker had not anticipated. Mike believes the key to prison reform begins with the correctional staff. The theory makes sense. Prison transformation advocates can have the best intentions for improving the state of the prison system, but it is difficult to have a positive impact on making changes within the inmate population until the staff is dealt with.

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