January 27, 2012


Jamie Fellner, senior advisor in the US Program at Human Rights Watch, researched and wrote this report. Dr. Patrick Vinck, a research scientist currently with the Harvard School of Public Health and associate faculty member at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative compiled and analyzed the 2009 state prison admissions, population, and sentence length data presented here that was obtained from the National Corrections Reporting Program for 2009 (the exceptions are noted in the text). We are extremely grateful for his contributions to this report, as we have been for his contributions to previous Human Rights Watch reports.

Abigail Marshak, former US Program associate and currently a law student at Georgetown University, provided additional research on prison sentences and time served. Vikram Shah and Elena Vanko, US program associates, and Mitchel Pardes, US Program intern, also provided research assistance on countless issues. Janet Schulze and Jessamyn Tonry, summer interns at HRW, provided additional legal research.

The report was edited by Alison Parker, US program director, and Joe Saunders, deputy program director. Dinah PoKempner provided legal review. Shanta Rau Barriga, researcher/advocate for disability rights, also reviewed the report. Vikram Shah provided editing and production assistance. Anna Lopriore, creative manager, Grace Choi, publications director, and Fitzroy Hepkins, mail manager, ensured the smooth production of the final report.

This report reflects insight and information gleaned from interviews with hundreds of corrections officials, incarcerated persons, medical staff, advocates, academics, consultants, and other prison experts over the course of a year of research. Although there are too many to name individually, each made an important contribution to our work. We are especially grateful to the many incarcerated men and women who were willing to share their experiences with us. We also wish acknowledge with gratitude the following officials for helping arrange Human Rights Watch visits to prisons in their states: Steve Stone and Terry Thornton, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; Alison Morgan, Colorado Department of Corrections; Dr. James Degroot, Georgia Department of Corrections; Dr. Gloria Perry, Mississippi Department of Corrections; Dr. Carl J. Koenigsmann, New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision; Stuart Hudson, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction; Roberta Richman, Rhode Island Department of Corrections; and Rowlanda Caython, Washington Department of Corrections. In addition, Mike Lawlor, Connecticut Office of Policy and Management helped secure visits for us with state corrections medical and planning personnel. As is consistent with our practice when reporting on prison conditions, we use pseudonyms for offenders to protect against the possibility of intimidation or retaliation.

We also want to express our gratitude for the guidance provided to us by Dr. Brie Williams, assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Geriatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, and to thank Dr. Robert Greifinger for organizing the inspirational Leadership Symposium in Correctional Health Care focused on elderly inmates.

We wish to thank Peter B. Lewis for his generous support of the US Program that made this report possible.