6/30/15

Update on Ashlee Martinson Wisconsin

You might remember Ashlee. We talked about her in March. She is the teenage horror blogger who murdered her parents. She stabbed and shot her mother and step-father and then locked her three sisters in the basement. She had been arguing with her step father over her much older boyfriend. After the crime she fled to Indiana to be with him.

She was charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide and three counts of false imprisonment. This month, she entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Part of the case building against her entails the lurid description of her crime that she blogged about under the name VampChick. The next step is for her to undergo psychiatric counselling before she returns to court for a hearing on the 28th of September 2015.

How California’s Prison Reform Law Will Fight Overincarceration of Women

How California’s Prison Reform Law Will Fight Overincarceration of Women
Dani McClain

When major strides are made in criminal justice reform—as just happened in California with the passage of Proposition 47, a law that will reduce penalties for nonviolent, low-level crimes—we tend to assume that those who will directly benefit are men of color, particularly black men. After all, if current incarceration trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to do time in prison. Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, has stunned audiences nationwide by reporting that more black men are in prison or jail, or on probation or parole today than were enslaved in 1850.

But while statistics like these are devastating, it’s also true that the number of women behind bars has spiked in recent decades. In the past thirty years, women have entered US prisons at nearly double the rate of men. The population of people housed in women’s jails and prisons has grown by more than 800 percent.

Prop 47, the new law that 58 percent of California voters approved last week, could be a godsend for impoverished and addicted California women and girls. It will reclassify as misdemeanors six crimes including shoplifting, writing bad checks and drug possession that had been prosecuted as felonies. Offenses involving more than $950 are exempt from relief, as is anyone with a violent crime or sex offense on his or her record. The crimes affected by the change disproportionately fuel the incarceration of women. According to the recent report “Bias Behind Bars” from the California Women’s Foundation:

Women in the state are three times more likely to be in prison for forgery or fraud. California women are twice as likely to be incarcerated for petty theft. Nationally, women are 63 percent more likely than men to be in prison or jail for simple drug possession.

In recent years, California women were found to be between 18 and 35 percent more likely than men to be in prison for receiving stolen property. “These are all things that black and poor women are going to prison for at very high rates,” says Dream Hampton, a writer, filmmaker and activist who fought to pass Prop 47. “I knew that if this passed, that this was a change that would deeply affect women, particularly black and poor women. We can’t talk about mass incarceration at this point without talking about women. It’s a real shame that it continues to be framed in this single-gendered way.”

Hampton is a partner with the Revolve Agency, which integrates cultural strategies into policy campaigns. She got celebrities including Jay Z and John Legend to urge “yes” votes. She also led a social media campaign using the hashtag #SchoolsNotPrisons to ramp up awareness of the initiative online and to frame it as a law that would not only challenge mass incarceration but also save money—more than $1 billion over five years, according to Drug Policy Alliance—and redirect those savings toward interventions that could keep people from landing in front of a judge in the first place.

By eliminating the need for between 10,000 and 30,000 jail beds, funds will instead be directed toward mental health services, drug treatment and dropout prevention. According to the Los Angeles Times, “A quarter of the savings would be sent to the Department of Education, and 10% would go to a state victim compensation fund. The majority of the money would go to a state jail commission to disperse grants for mental health, substance abuse and diversion programs.”

Because Prop 47 applies retroactively, sentences and charges are already being adjusted. The new law will also address the specific barriers to community re-entry that women who have served time behind bars face, including finding suitable housing for themselves and their children, and stable work. A felony drug conviction can be a red flag on a public housing application, and women are overrepresented in fields such as retail, childcare and eldercare for which a criminal record can immediately disqualify a job applicant. The same strict scrutiny is less often applied to more male-dominated fields such as construction and manufacturing, according to the report.

Lenore Anderson, who directs Californians for Safety and Justice and chaired the campaign to pass Prop 47, said the reclassification of “nonviolent, nonserious crimes” from felonies to misdemeanors will open up new opportunities and access for Californians.

“Some of the barriers that people face will no longer be faced,” she said.

6/25/15

Why Prison Reform Is Good for All of Us

David Chura
Teacher, Author, "I Don't Wish Nobody to Have a Life Like Mine: Tales of Kids in Adult Lockup"

Suggest that the way to end recidivism is to reform the prison system, and you might be accused of caring more about criminals than the crimes they commit.

It's happened to me. Often when I write or give a talk about my work with minors in adult prison, I describe the deplorable conditions in which inmates live, and advocate for reform of those conditions. Inevitably someone comments (and not always politely) that I'm "soft on crime," that I don't care about victims. But this is how I see it.

Given our present prison system with its emphasis on punishment and retribution, everybody suffers. Inmates, correctional officers, victims, the average citizen and taxpayer.

Prisons are violent, toxic places. They are often overcrowded and smelly with the soup of open toilets, the effluence of crammed together bodies under stress with little or no physical or personal space. The noise is deafening. TVs blare (in English and Spanish); metal gates clang; the overused PA system squawks, and inmates and correctional staff shout over it all trying to be heard.

There's no trust in a prison, no safety, just the constant threat of violence, intimidation, the need to never let your guard down, to "give as good as you get." If an inmate wants to survive in prison that's the way he or she must act. If they can't, they find themselves in protective custody which translates as months of numbing isolation in solitary confinement.

When you look at these conditions honestly, without the filter of righteousness --"that's what they get for breaking the law" -- how could you not see that the present system (the very thing people insist will deter crime) only breeds anger and resentment, hostility and hopelessness in offenders, and finally leads to more crime?

And more crime means that victims are not only not served by the system but are further threatened by it, and that their suffering reverberates into their families and communities. More crime means that other citizens become victims until nobody feels safe, and the whole cycle starts all over again. A simple statistic: Kids handled in the adult system are 34 percent more likely to re-offend and their behavior to more quickly escalate into violence than those young people who remain in the juvenile system.

But there are other "victims" of the prison system and its harsh, dangerous, and degrading environment. Correctional officers operate under the same conditions as those locked up, many times for up to 16 hours a day as they choose or are pressed into working overtime. That point came home to me at the end of one school year. As temperatures soared, the heat in the hallways and cell blocks of the older buildings of the prison where I taught (luckily with an air conditioner supplied by the school program) was insufferable. Huge floor fans only moved the suffocating air around, offering no relief, and only adding to the noise. That's when it first hit me that the COs I interacted with every day were as trapped in the same punishing conditions as the young offenders I worked with.

But it goes beyond the everyday level of physical discomfort for COs. The need to be hyper-vigilant, the defensive stance engendered by the institutionalized hostility of the prison power structure -- "us" and "them"; the keepers and the kept -- takes its toll not only on COs, but also on their families. Studies have shown that 31 percent of correctional officers meet "the criteria for full PTSD" (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder); that the average life expectancy is 58 years old, and that correctional officers have a 39 percent higher suicide rate than any other occupation.

Even those of us who are not personally caught in the web of incarceration are affected by the prison system. Our tax money is spent building and maintaining these institutions and supporting what goes on inside them. In many states these funds are diverted from basic, essential services such as education. For example California spends on average $47,421 per inmate a year while the average spent per student a year is only $11,420. (A telling tweet is going around Twitter that sums it up for many states, "The people of CA are tired of Cadillac prisons & jalopy schools.")

So when I find myself labeled as "soft on crime" I have an old jail comeback: "Don't take my kindness for softness." Restructuring a broken prison system so that it protects and respects all citizens while holding offenders accountable is not "soft" but commonsense. We need to create prison conditions, both physical and psychological, that encourage cooperation on all sides and that supports change as opposed to conflict and calcification of negative behavior. Programs must be developed that challenge offenders to change their counterproductive behavior. Training in real employable occupations is essential. And support services must be established that help ex-offenders meet the demands of "going straight."

Of course, the economic watchdogs will howl. But the human costs -- to inmates, correctional officers, victims and society in general -- are too high to be ignored. Reforming is better than warehousing people in prison for years, leaving them to await the next dead-end. You can call it soft. I call it the only way.

Terri-Lynne McClintic Canada

My next book will be about Terri-Lynne McClintic, a Canadian version of Judith Neelley or Janeen Snyder. She, in conjunction with her boyfriend, Michael Thomas Rafferty kidnapped, raped and murdered a tiny little girl.  Terri-Lynne McClintic pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. She was sentenced to life in prison in 2010.

These cases with young impressionable girls who murdered alongside much older, violent men are concerning enough but what interests me about Terri-Lynne's case is her own violent and troubling childhood.

Small, sweet Tori Stafford was only eight years old when the murderous pair abducted, sexually assaulted and killed her in 2009. “I savagely murdered that little girl,” said McClintic during her trial and she shocked the entire courtroom with her admission of guilt. Testimony abounded showing her devious ways throughout her life, including microwaving her own dog until it screamed in pain. She has very obviously been a troubled child long before she committed this horrific crime and I wonder why no one noticed and stopped her earlier.

Teri-Lynne was the child of a stripper and hooker who handed her over to her best friend, Carol McClintic, another stripper/hooker. The pair traveled around Canada with Teri attending school after school and always bullied for being a strippers kid. Children's Aid became a staple in her life at age 7 and yet she still was able to grow up to be a killer. Official records show she became a drug abuser at the age of eight. Terri-Lynne was raped and continuously molested from the ages of 5-10.

From the ages of 8 - 18 she spent life in foster homes, detention centers and jail. Always violent, getting in fight after fight after violent, deadly fight. In youth detention she was perpetually in trouble. She wrote long, lurid diary entries threatening those who had wronged her, ranting endlessly about “slaughtering” and “ripping out each bone.” She signed those entries “murderouz bitchez,” a sign-off she used for herself and her friend.

This girl had no chance from the moment she was born. Would things have gotten much better for her if she had not met and fell into Rafferty's sick desires? I'm not sure. She may never have sought out an innocent victim but she may have. I think a more pertinent question may be, would she have committed this crime and her others had Children's Aid done their job and saved her from the life she was born into.


6/20/15

Jodi Arias - Arizona


We now have the lovely and controversial Jodi Arias as a contributing member of our little true crime home online. She asks that people send in questions to ask her and she will answer weekly. Pretty cool, huh?

6/18/15

Book Give Away

There is only one day left for the give away. Make sure you get your entries in today!

6/12/15

A Member of our Family Needs Help

I like to think of us all as a big family here at Woman Condemned, my readers, the prisoners and moi. Some of you have donated to the prisoner funds and to the blog upkeep along the years. Yesterday a reader reached out to me for help.

Charlotte is a fan of my books and a true crime enthusiast. She is also a daughter, friend and lastly, a  beaten and abused wife. Like many in her shoes, Charlotte endured the abuse for years before leaving, only to move on to a relatives home where she is now emotionally abused and berated. Leaving everything she had in the marital home in order to escape on the spur, she now has nothing and is stuck in an equally abusive situation.

She needs help to get on her feet and live a life that any woman deserves. Even a $5 donation can help. Please consider donating to this woman's cause and helping her start a life without pain.




6/11/15

Free Autographed Copy of my New Book!! Shirely Turner, Doctor, Stalker, Murderer

Would you like to win an autographed copy of my new book Shirley Turner- Doctor, Stalker, Murderer plus some cool Woman Condemned goodies? Enter below! a Rafflecopter giveaway

6/8/15

Female Inmate Turns Comic Book Hero

Eileen Huber and Cohorts
I'm very pleased to say Eileen Huber is on her way to making one of her dreams a reality. I was lucky enough to make the acquaintance of Silver Phoenix Comics Publisher Charles D. Moisant when I was a guest at the Dark History Convention last September. He decided we should work together and I wholeheartedly agreed and immediately thought of Eileen.

Eileen was involved in the 1991 mall killings in California. Afraid of the violent man she was with and abused herself, she went along on a robbing and killing spree with her older boyfriend. She was basically a child when she committed her crimes and has grown up in prison. She works daily to make amends for her wrongs and change the world just a tiny bit in whatever way she can. She has long dreamed of helping teen girls in group homes and reformatories. She hopes to deter them from living the life she did.
Charles behind my BF & I

After a few conferences with Charles we finally got the ball rolling and Eileen is busily planning out her script and storyboard as we speak.

I'm really proud I could help make this happen for her and I know that its really going to make a difference for some young girl who sees Eileen's story.

Once we have the story planned and written we will need sponsors to get them published and distributed to juvenile facilities across the country. How exciting!


6/3/15

Pam Moss on Kelly Gissendaner

Pam Moss is serving life without parole for the gory murder of her business partner, Doug Coker. She owed him almost $100,000 and when he came to collect it she killed him with a claw hammer and kept part of his skull in a jar in the kitchen.

I received a letter from Pam in March when the execution of Kelly Gissendaner seemed imminent. It gives insight to Kelly's arrival at the prison from the other inmates point of view. Click on it to read it.


Matthew Perkins Triple Murder

The man who committed these murders recruited my daughter into the Army. We had quite a bit of contact with him at the time. Can you ima...