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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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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It's Not Mass Incarceration, But Slavery: Speech By Max Parthas

It's Not Mass Incarceration, But Slavery: Speech By Max Parthas

The following is a transcript of a speech delivered by at the Millions For Prisoners Human Rights March, which took place on August 19, 2017 in Washington, D.C.We asked, or the organizers asked the people here today as representatives, to speak a little bit about the 13th amendment.Some of them got up here and told us how none of this is gonna work. Some of them got up here and told us how we were just having a march and when we’re finished with this march, we gotta continue doing the work, like this ain’t important right here, right now, today.Some of them got up here to tell us were...

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Brian Sonenstein
Aug 29
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Muslim Prisoner: 60-Day Punishment For NPR Interview 'Excessive'

Muslim Prisoner: 60-Day Punishment For NPR Interview 'Excessive'

The rules and infractions board at the Ohio State Penitentiary punished Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan with 60 days of phone and email restrictions after he did an interview with NPR. His punishment started on October 5, and it is partly stunning because one of his attorneys was initially informed he would only be punished for one week.In a handwritten letter dated October 6, Hasan called the restrictions “excessive” and noted they will last until December 5.Hasan is a prisoner and spiritual leader on death row for a conviction related to the 1993 riot known as the Lucasville Uprising. Hasan...

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Brian Sonenstein
Oct 11
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VIDEO: “Racism and the Occupy Movement” with Journalist Joanne Griffith and Occupy Detroit’s Lee Gaddies - Shadowproof

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

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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LGBTQ Inmates Speak Out Against Solitary Confinement, Homophobia

LGBTQ Inmates Speak Out Against Solitary Confinement, Homophobia

LGBTQ prison abolition group began publishing letters from inmates in solitary confinement last month in an effort to shed light on the abuse and harassment they suffer.One prisoner recounts, “It’s very easy to be thrown in segregation merely for walking in a way an officer finds too sissylike.” (Blackandpink.org)In a post introducing the series on their website, Black & Pink explained that last summer, their Chicago chapter  to ask for their experiences. They received nearly 40 responses, mostly from the Illinois Department of Correction and Marion federal prison.The group writes:We live...

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Brian Sonenstein
Aug 25
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Chase To Repay Former Prisoners Forced To Use High-Fee Debit Cards

Chase To Repay Former Prisoners Forced To Use High-Fee Debit Cards

JPMorgan Chase has settled a class action lawsuit brought by people released from federal prison, who were charged high and unusual fees on a debit card they were forced to use.According to the complaint [] filed in federal court in September 2015, “A federal releasee who leaves a corrections facility with nothing more than the clothes on his back and a Chase U.S. Debit Card in his hand has no choice but to pay Chase’s fees to access his own money.” One class member recalled leaving prison with $120, but due to the fees imposed by Chase, they were “only able to use about $70 of it.”Chase...

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Brian Sonenstein
Aug 6
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Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center Archives - Shadowproof

Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center Archives - Shadowproof

Formerly incarcerated youth in Cook County, Chicago, were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders at a rate higher than that of the general population, according to new research. The research also found Black former juvenile inmates had lower prevalence rates for psychiatric and substance abuse disorders over time than compared to whites and Hispanics, despite the fact that they constitute a disproportionately larger segment of the incarcerated population.

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Brian Sonenstein
May 20
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Austin Politician Blocked From Visiting Sexual Assault Victim At T. Don Hutto

Austin Politician Blocked From Visiting Sexual Assault Victim At T. Don Hutto

A member of the city council in Austin, Texas, was denied access to a private immigrant detention center, where he attempted to visit a woman who reported sexual assault by a guard.Twenty three year-old Laura Monterrosa from El Salvador is detained at the T. Don Hutto Residential Center in Taylor, where she a guard of sexual harassment and assault in November 2017. She said authorities threatened to deport or transfer her to a facility far from her support network in retaliation for speaking out.Monterrosa  after staff threatened her with punishment for avoiding the dining hall, where she...

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Brian Sonenstein
Feb 26
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After Rebellion, Vaughn Prisoners Issue Demands For Reforms

After Rebellion, Vaughn Prisoners Issue Demands For Reforms

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, launched an uprising that lasted over eighteen hours, in which hostages were taken and one corrections officer was killed.Those demands included better education and rehabilitation programs, more respectful and less abusive staff, and status sheets, which accurately detailed sentences. Prisoners...

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Brian Sonenstein
Mar 28
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Alabama Prisoners On Hunger Strike Demand DOJ End Brutal Treatment

Alabama Prisoners On Hunger Strike Demand DOJ End Brutal Treatment

Four Alabama prisoners began a hunger strike at the Limestone Correctional Facility in protest against corruption, abuse, and a lack of accountability for inhumane conditions in the state prison system.The hunger strike is a response to a call to action from a coalition of prisoner rights groups, including the Free Alabama Movement (FAM) and Unheard Voices O.T.C.J., as well as incarcerated activists Kinetik Justice and Swift Justice.Five prisoners were on hunger strike initially. One prisoner, Kenneth Traywick Jr., began his strike on June 12 and ended it this week when the Alabama...

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Brian Sonenstein
Jun 21
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Criminal Justice Reform Expands Mandatory Minimum Sentences

Criminal Justice Reform Expands Mandatory Minimum Sentences

The Senate Judiciary Committee is set to release its final version of the Sentencing Reform And Corrections Act (SRCA), which no longer reduces federal mandatory minimum sentences for some violent and weapons offenders, and adds new enhanced sentences for drug crimes involving fentanyl.The , introduced by a bipartisan delegation of lawmakers in October 2015, was an effort to acknowledge the harsh and unfair nature of some mandatory minimum sentences while expanding and creating others at the same time.The SRCA largely focused on reducing sentences for certain low level and non-violent drug...

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Brian Sonenstein
May 2
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Help Shadowproof Publish Another Round Of Excellent Reporting

Help Shadowproof Publish Another Round Of Excellent Reporting

Shadowproof will soon publish another exciting round of freelance reporting, but we need your help to pay our writers a decent wage for their work.We’ve been busy curating important reporting for you at Shadowproof over the last few months. Kevin and I have covered Venezuela and California prisons respectively. We also recently published:—On-the-ground movement reporting from Aaron Cynic on the issues activists care most about in the Chicago mayoral race;—A report from Tom Secker, featuring documents showing the U.S. Army gave massive support to the “Long Road Home” miniseries on National...

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Brian Sonenstein
Mar 5
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Chicago Musician Recounts How Community Bond Fund Helped Him

Chicago Musician Recounts How Community Bond Fund Helped Him

You are reading Part 1 of a 2-part series on the Chicago Community Bond Fund’s organizing to abolish cash bond in Illinois.The most effective prisoner solidarity efforts work to address the immediate harm of incarceration while fighting to reduce the number of people in the system at the same time. The Chicago Community Bond Fund (CCBF) is an example of a local organization attempting to do both. is an all-volunteer non-profit organization, which raises money to post bond for pretrial defendants, who cannot afford to get out of jail. Many of these bonds range in the tens of thousands of...

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Brian Sonenstein
Apr 25
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NYC Council Adopts 8 Bills For Jail Transparency, Oversight

NYC Council Adopts 8 Bills For Jail Transparency, Oversight

Last week, the New York City Council sent eight bills to Mayor Bill DeBlasio’s desk aimed at bringing greater transparency to the city’s jails.The wave of legislation was and its passage marks the latest efforts by the city to reign in the brutal culture of violence and impunity that has reigned inside its jails for years. The city’s largest jail, Rikers Island, has been home to many of the troubling allegations, where a combination of medical and mental health service privatization and corrupt leadership within the Department of Correction has created some of the most violent and unstable...

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Brian Sonenstein
Sep 22
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