Several years ago, a court in Mississippi ordered the state’s Department of Corrections to review its use of solitary confinement, also known as isolation or segregation. The department’s commissioner and a group of high ranking corrections officials created a detailed profile of the type of prisoners they believed should be held in solitary.
Sharletta Evans met Raymond Johnson in a Colorado prison. She held his hands—the hands of her son’s killer.
Seventeen years ago, one of those fingers had snaked around a trigger and squeezed it, ending the life of her three-year-old son. The meeting allowed Evans to find closure after a long and difficult grieving process.
How much trouble would you guess a small business owner could get in for depositing perfectly legal cash revenue in his bank account? If you said “none at all—that’s a ridiculous question,” you’re wrong. He might actually be a federal felon.
Two years ago, Sholom Rubashkin stood in a federal district court in Iowa as a judge told him he would spend the next 27 years in prison. With a sentence like that, it would be reasonable to guess that Mr. Rubashkin was, perhaps, a second-time violent offender, a man with no moral compass who had committed some unspeakable act.