Brian Sonenstein
Brian Sonenstein
Brian Sonenstein is an independent journalist and editor living in Portland, Maine. He is one of the founders of Shadowproof and a co-host of the Beyond Prisons podcast. Brian is a former local criminal justice columnist for Maine’s Portland Phoenix and was an associate publisher for the independent news and activism website Firedoglake. His work has been published in outlets such as Solitary Watch, Prison Legal News, Truthout, and SF Bay View.Source
Portland, ME
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Angola Prisoner Retaliated Against For Speaking To Journalist Sues Prison Officials

Angola Prisoner Retaliated Against For Speaking To Journalist Sues Prison Officials

An incarcerated man at the Angola Prison in Louisiana sued prison officials for throwing him in solitary confinement and denying him due process in retaliation for speaking to a journalist at the local Baton Rouge Advocate.William Kissinger, imprisoned at Angola for over 27 years, should be considered a “model prisoner” by most measures. But after corresponding with a reporter, he was “taken from his cell in the middle of the night” and moved to a different prison, “where his belongings were seized and disposed of.”Kissinger spoke to the reporter between December 2015 and February 2016...

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Brian Sonenstein
Jan 14
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VIDEO: “Racism and the Occupy Movement” with Journalist Joanne Griffith and Occupy Detroit’s Lee Gaddies

VIDEO: “Racism and the Occupy Movement” with Journalist Joanne Griffith and Occupy Detroit’s Lee Gaddies

This past Wednesday, Occupy Supply hosted a webinar on Racism and the Occupy Movement – the latest installment in our online discussion series featuring journalist and editor of “Re-Defining Black Power” Joanne Griffith and Occupy Detroit media coordinator Lee Gaddies.In my opinion this was one of the best presentations we’ve had and we were so fortunate to finally be able to work out the kinks and get a recording of the entire talk. We hope to continue to be able to provide recordings of our Occupy Supply webinars so that these conversations, ideas, and strategies can be shared for the...

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Brian Sonenstein
Mar 23
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Did Advanced Correctional Healthcare Staff Falsify Records After Inmate Death?

Did Advanced Correctional Healthcare Staff Falsify Records After Inmate Death?

In a federal lawsuit filed in April, the relative of a deceased inmate blames his wrongful death on a private inmate healthcare company and a for-profit inmate transportation company.The lawsuit accuses Advanced Correctional Healthcare and Prisoner Transport Services of neglecting and even mocking the serious medical needs of William Weintraub, PhD, as he died a slow and painful death from a perforated ulcer, shackled in the back of a crowded van. The lawsuit also alleges ACH falsified records to make it appear as though Weintraub did not report any pain or distress on the day of his...

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Brian Sonenstein
Aug 19
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ICE Put Immigrant Woman, Who Alleged Sexual Abuse, In Solitary To Make Her Recant Claims

ICE Put Immigrant Woman, Who Alleged Sexual Abuse, In Solitary To Make Her Recant Claims

An incarcerated immigrant woman, who alleged sexual harassment and assault by a corrections officer, said she was thrown in solitary confinement for 60 hours and was told she would not be released until she publicly recanted her accusations.Laura Monterrosa is a 23 year old immigrant from El Salvador at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center, a private prison operated by CoreCivic (formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America).Grassroots Leadership, a Texas-based immigrant rights group advocating on behalf of Monterrosa, said she was isolated between 11:00 PM on Friday, February 9, and...

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Brian Sonenstein
Feb 15
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Pennsylvania Prison Officials Censored Workers World Publication For May Day Coverage

Pennsylvania Prison Officials Censored Workers World Publication For May Day Coverage

The Pennsylvania Department of Correction has rejected multiple issues of Workers World sent to incarcerated subscribers because of passages advocating for global May Day labor strikes and solidarity among oppressed people. The ban affected approximately 100 subscribers to the newspaper in Pennsylvania prisons.Government officials sent four rejection letters to Workers World, which is the official publication of the Workers World Party. The officials notified the publisher that specific issues would be censored for all incarcerated subscribers.The articles at issue generally called for...

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Brian Sonenstein
May 4
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Separation Of Immigrant Families Was Part Of Deportation Under Obama—Now Trump Is Expanding The Practice

Separation Of Immigrant Families Was Part Of Deportation Under Obama—Now Trump Is Expanding The Practice

Shadowproof is a financially independent news organization. All of our funding comes from small donations made by readers like you.We use your donations to hire freelance writers and cover our operating costs. Monthly membership subscriptions give us the stability we need to make plans while ensuring our organization does not depend on grants or major funders. If you like what you read, support our writers with a donation today.

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Brian Sonenstein
Jun 15
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Corcoran Prisoners Describe Life Under Lockdown

Corcoran Prisoners Describe Life Under Lockdown

Prisoners in 3C Unit at the state prison in Corcoran, California who went on hunger strike in January are speaking out after the warden backed out of negotiations to end a months-long lockdown and violence orchestrated by prison officials.At its peak, 270 people participated in the Corcoran hunger strike, in which prisoners refused food trays for three weeks in January. They suspended their action when Warden Ken Clark agreed to negotiate and pledged to meet two of their six demands by restoring access to packages and the canteen.But prisoners say negotiations have not progressed in the...

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Brian Sonenstein
Feb 13
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Mississippi Private Prison Neglected Problems After Deadly Riot

Mississippi Private Prison Neglected Problems After Deadly Riot

A recently released Department of Justice audit found a Mississippi private prison—which holds over 2,500 immigrant prisoners, most of whom are Mexican nationals—failed to remedy serious problems with staffing and living conditions that led to a deadly riot in 2012.According to the audit [], the Adams County Correctional Center suffered from chronic under-staffing and an immense language barrier, as around three of 367 staff members were considered fluent in Spanish.Inspectors argued the contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons was written to encourage innovation and efficiency in prison...

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Brian Sonenstein
Jan 3
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Justice Department Has No Idea If Their Alternatives To Incarceration Work

Justice Department Has No Idea If Their Alternatives To Incarceration Work

The Justice Department is not evaluating the performance of pretrial diversion programs, residential re-entry centers, and home confinement, according to congressional testimony from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).Under President Barack Obama administration, the Justice Department sought to reduce booming federal prison populations by providing alternatives to incarceration for people with low-level nonviolent offenses.Although federal prison populations and recidivism rates declined slightly in recent years, overcrowding remains a major issue, and there are still far too many...

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Brian Sonenstein
Dec 15
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Report Offers Rare Data On Solitary Confinement In United States

Report Offers Rare Data On Solitary Confinement In United States

A new report provides a rare view of “current comprehensive data on the use of restricted housing,” which is more commonly known as solitary confinement.Released by the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) and Yale Law Schools’ Liman Program, the , “Aiming To Reduce Time-In-Cell,” outlines efforts undertaken by various jurisdictions to curtail the use of isolation and “reform the conditions in which isolated prisoners are held.”The survey was sent to corrections officials at the state and federal level. Forty-eight out of 53 jurisdictions responded with most of the data...

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Brian Sonenstein
Nov 30
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CA Prison Records Show Officials Downplayed Botched Executions, Understated Lethal Injection Costs

CA Prison Records Show Officials Downplayed Botched Executions, Understated Lethal Injection Costs

Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union Of Northern California (ACLU) point to numerous serious concerns about the state’s proposed regulations for single-drug lethal injection in executions. They also point to issues with the legal staff, who write the regulations.Thanks to the efforts of the worldwide anti-death penalty movement, states practicing the death penalty have faced a because major drug manufacturers routinely refuse to supply them. However, instead of slowing the pace of executions, many states have reacted by acquiring illegal or questionable drug supplies or,...

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Brian Sonenstein
May 11
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A Pastor Charged With Murder He Did Not Commit: Alabama Targets Reverend Glasgow In Political Prosecution

A Pastor Charged With Murder He Did Not Commit: Alabama Targets Reverend Glasgow In Political Prosecution

A formerly incarcerated community organizer in Alabama may be executed or imprisoned for life for a murder he’s not accused of committing.Reverend Kenneth Glasgow is the founder of , a faith-based organization that “works with the most disenfranchised members,” which others tend to exclude.According to police, a passenger in a car Glasgow was driving exited the vehicle after it was involved in an accident and shot another driver to death.He was charged under a “complicity law” in Alabama, and prosecutors are trying to convince a grand jury to indict him for violent acts committed by another...

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Brian Sonenstein
Jul 12
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Shadowproof Investigates Private Prison Health Care

Shadowproof Investigates Private Prison Health Care

A three-part Shadowproof investigation into the world private jail medical contractors, such as Advanced Correctional Healthcare.An ongoing federal civil rights lawsuit alleges in less than one month at Indiana’s Dearborn County Detention Center, jail staff neglected the obvious and critical medical needs of a 69-year-old inmate, allowing his conditions to deteriorate so severely he would later spend nearly 200 days recovering in hospitals and nursing homes. Advanced Correctional HealthcareThe conduct of jail doctors working on behalf of medical contractor Advanced Correctional Healthcare...

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Brian Sonenstein
Aug 19
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On May 9th, Stand Up for Imprisoned Torture Whistleblower John Kiriakou in Washington, DC - Shadowproof

On May 9th, Stand Up for Imprisoned Torture Whistleblower John Kiriakou in Washington, DC - Shadowproof

On Friday, May 9th in Washington, DC, supporters of imprisoned torture whistleblower John Kiriakou will visit a select group of congressmen and senators to request that they contact the Bureau of Prisons to immediately move John to a halfway house near his family.If you can get to Capitol Hill on Friday, we urge you to attend this important event.The below information is also available as a .—Date: Friday, May 9th, 2014Time: 9:30 AM sharp!Meeting location: Capitol CafePlease be on time as we have a lot of offices to visit that day! John’s wonderful cousin Clifford will be waiting for you...

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Brian Sonenstein
May 5
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Kevin Gosztola Reports From The NATO 3 Trial, February 6 - Shadowproof

Kevin Gosztola Reports From The NATO 3 Trial, February 6 - Shadowproof

Closing arguments begin today.Follow Kevin Gosztola () on Twitter for live updates from the courtroom of the “NATO 3” trial in Chicago.of this trial.Shadowproof is a financially independent news organization. All of our funding comes from small donations made by readers like you.We use your donations to hire freelance writers and cover our operating costs. Monthly membership subscriptions give us the stability we need to make plans while ensuring our organization does not depend on grants or major funders. If you like what you read, support our writers with a donation today.

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Brian Sonenstein
Feb 6
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FDL Activists Calling Progressive Reps. Against the Individual Mandate - Shadowproof

FDL Activists Calling Progressive Reps. Against the Individual Mandate - Shadowproof

At the moment, we have a House bill with a public option and individual mandate, and a Senate bill without a public option but with an individual mandate to purchase health insurance.  As we move toward the conference process in which both bills are merged, the Senate has made clear its expectation that the House will not make any deviations from the Senate bill, and pass it largely as-is.Such an expectation should make certain Members of Congress – 65 of them to be exact – a little bit uncomfortable.  That’s because this summer, FDL captured evidence of 65 progressive Representatives...

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Brian Sonenstein
Dec 30
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James T. Vaughn Correctional Center Archives - Shadowproof

James T. Vaughn Correctional Center Archives - Shadowproof

It has been one year since the uprising at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. While DOC demands are being met, little has changed for prisoners.On episode 10 of Beyond Prisons, we talk about Thomas Gordon, who is incarcerated at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, a state prison in Delaware.Prisoners at Delaware’s James T. Vaughn Correctional Center wrote an open letter to the warden and department of corrections, which includes a list of 22 requests addressing various problems at the facility. The list expands upon demands made in February, when men in the housing unit, Building C,...

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Brian Sonenstein
May 27
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'Don't Be a Drama Queen': Inmate Left To Die From Withdrawal

'Don't Be a Drama Queen': Inmate Left To Die From Withdrawal

Two new federal civil rights lawsuits filed in March shed light on how the privatization of jail medical care may pose a specific threat to inmates with drug dependencies.In Alabama, Whitney Elizabeth Foster sued medical contractor Advanced Correctional Healthcare (ACH) for withholding her prescription methadone, Xanax, and blood pressure medication, causing her to suffer multiple strokes, seizures, and worsening withdrawal, which resulted in irreversible brain damage.In Indiana, the estate of deceased inmate Tammy Perez sued ACH for forcing her to withdraw from a serious heroin addiction...

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Brian Sonenstein
May 12
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Prone position Archives - Shadowproof

Prone position Archives - Shadowproof

Michael Marshall, a fifty year-old homeless black man in Denver, Colorado, who was jailed for trespassing, died while officers restrained him. His death has received a substantial amount of attention. Sadly, there is not much that is unique about Marshall’s case. A survey of news reports from the last three

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Brian Sonenstein
May 25
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Live: Senate Judiciary Confirmation Hearing for DEA Nominee Leonhart - Shadowproof

Live: Senate Judiciary Confirmation Hearing for DEA Nominee Leonhart - Shadowproof

Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee is hosting a confirmation hearing for Michele Leonhart for head of the DEA. Watch live here.A rabidly anti-pot drug warrior — who temporarily served as DEA Head under Bush — Leonhart has defied Attorney General Eric Holder’s edicts to end raids on medical marijuana dispensaries and believes that the growing violence on the Mexican border is indicative of the Drug War’s success there.Watch the hearing to the right – and here’s some more info on Leonhart for your pleasure.Don’t get your hopes up – while Leonhart should be defeated, she’s likely to sail...

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Brian Sonenstein
Nov 17
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Prison Reform Archives - Shadowproof

Prison Reform Archives - Shadowproof

Even a few days in solitary confinement may increase a person’s risk of death after they are released from prison, new research suggests.Every state in the United States of America has reported prison staffing shortages since 2017, according to research by Shadowproof.Reverend Kenneth Glasgow, a formerly incarcerated organizer in Alabama, may be executed or imprisoned for life for a murder he’s not accused of committing.Brian and Kim speak with Akeem Browder, founder of the campaign to Shut Down Rikers Island and the Kalief Browder Foundation.PBS FRONTLINE’s “Last Days Of Solitary”...

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Brian Sonenstein
May 24
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Call Mayor Bloomberg: Stop Eviction of Occupy Sandy & Other Community Groups! - Shadowproof

Call Mayor Bloomberg: Stop Eviction of Occupy Sandy & Other Community Groups! - Shadowproof

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg over the weekend.As some Superstorm Sandy survivors enter December in their 4th week without heat and electricity, volunteers have worked tirelessly alongside them to clean up the damage and provide food, water, supplies, clothing and human services to the hardest-hit neighborhoods. Unless we act, this important grassroots aid effort could be dismantled as Mayor Bloomberg has ordered police to “clear all outdoor sites,” .This disaster has already been colossally mismanaged, and in some cases survivors’ only access to help continues to be community groups like...

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Brian Sonenstein
Dec 3
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PHOTOS: Sizing up the BP oil slick - Shadowproof

PHOTOS: Sizing up the BP oil slick - Shadowproof

After an attempt to cap the leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico , officials are scrambling to come up with another solution to stop the hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil that flood our coastal waters each day.But whether it’s a product of mounting public pressure or an actually valid plan, BP’s latest solution is guaranteed to raise some eyebrows.Using a method known as BP plans to clog the pipe with large quantities of plastic and rubber trash items, such as tires and golf balls. Has this ever been done before? Yes, in fact, , oil companies have plugged leaks using the "junk shot"...

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Brian Sonenstein
May 10
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New Wave Of Deportations Has Focus On The Family

New Wave Of Deportations Has Focus On The Family

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) started 2016 by storming homes in the early morning hours to detain immigrant families for deportation. DHS claims the action was an explicit effort to deter families from illegally crossing the southern border of the United States, while immigration rights groups contend the government is sending people back to “life-threatening conditions in their home countries.”News reports indicate were detained during the raids, and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson  the agency had detained 121...

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Brian Sonenstein
Jan 7
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Barack Obama Archives - Shadowproof

Barack Obama Archives - Shadowproof

CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein about a bill she introduced, which would prohibit the federal government from separating immigrant children from their families during arrests at ports of entry or within 100 miles of the border of the United States. As he asked his question, Tapper broughtTrump Justice Department seized communication records of New York Times reporter and other journalists, marking a continuation of Obama’s war on leaks.President Donald Trump’s fervent Islamophobia, which will likely surge again now that the Supreme Court has blessed the travel...

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Brian Sonenstein
May 22
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