July 8, 2016 |
HARRISBURG - The question for convicted murderer Arthur Johnson seemed simple: Could he explain what his days are like, from the moment he wakes to the time he drifts off to sleep, in the 7-by-12-foot prison cell where he has spent nearly 37 years in solitary confinement? His response was an unstoppable, eight-minute soliloquy about despair and mistrust and lessons learned on the street, the words spilling from his mouth in a crush of thoughts as he tried to convince a federal judge on Wednesday that nearly four decades is enough time for any one person to spend alone.
July 7, 2016 |
FRACKVILLE, Pa. - On a warm morning last week, couples were hugged up on comfy sofa chairs and buying snacks and soft drinks from vending machines. Happiness was everywhere, despite the setting: the visiting room at one of Pennsylvania's maximum-security prisons, the State Correctional Institute - Frackville. Just feet from the couples, in a side room, a rail-thin man in an orange jumpsuit sat behind a thick window, his eyes obscured by a dated pair of prescription sunglasses. He was seated, hemmed between the window and a floor-to-ceiling chain-link fence behind him. A camera was trained on him, mounted high on a cinder-block wall behind the fence.
June 9, 2016 |
TUESDAY, AL CAPONE was not the most celebrated name in Eastern State Penitentiary. It was Joey Warchal. About a week ago, I told you how Joey, a precocious 13-year-old from Somerton, discovered what he called an "historically inaccurate" radio in the cell of Capone, likely the prison's most famous inmate, during a school tour. The Chicago gangster was incarcerated in 1929 and 1930, but Joey, who is an antiques collector specializing in radios and record players, noticed the floor-model wooden radio in the plush cell was manufactured in 1942.
May 21, 2016
By Bob Casey A bipartisan movement has emerged to make our criminal justice system fairer and more effective. The broad consensus is that our system should be better structured to deter crimes without giving up on everyone who commits them, and should better balance resources to hold violent criminals fully accountable without imposing unnecessarily harsh sentences on nonviolent offenders. In short, our system should be deeply grounded in America's belief in fairness, public safety, and redemption.
May 19, 2016 |
WERNERSVILLE, Pa. - When Henry Hamm, a 61-year-old Lancaster man who has schizophrenia, finished serving time for writing a bad check, he was sent to a new program designed to help offenders with serious mental illnesses rejoin the outside world. He joined Pathways Transitional Wellness Center, which connects mentally ill parolees to social and medical services, housing, and jobs before they try to make it on their own. Three months later, he's a fan of the nine-month-old Department of Corrections program, which is housed in a boxy, utilitarian building on the grounds of Wernersville State Hospital, about nine miles southwest of Reading.
May 10, 2016 |
The story's end is usually upbeat: A lifer proves he was wrongly convicted and savors freedom. Edward E. Stewart, 36, knows that story. He lived it. He served 10 years of a life term before he was acquitted at a new trial of a 2006 murder in a speakeasy he ran out of the basement of his Fern Rock house. On Dec. 3, a Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury cleared him in 1 hour and 38 minutes - two hours less than it took the first jury to convict. He walked out of the Criminal Justice Center without a dime, still wearing his prison-issue blue pants and T-shirt.
May 7, 2016 |
The manhunt for an escaped prison inmate in Barnegat Township, N.J., was scaled back Thursday afternoon after state investigators determined that he was no longer in the area. Schools in the Pinelands community were placed on lockdown Wednesday, and residents were urged to lock their homes and cars, after Arthur Buckel, 38, was seen at a CVS store in the Ocean County town. Buckel escaped from Bayside State Prison's satellite unit at Ancora Psychiatric Hospital in Winslow, Camden County, between 4 and 6 a.m. Tuesday.
April 27, 2016 |
An ex-Philadelphia prison inmate testified Tuesday that Rudolph Churchill admitted raping and killing two North Philadelphia women in 1989 and bemoaned the fact that he would have gotten away with it but for DNA. Richard Simmons, 44, described an April 2014 conversation he said he had with Churchill in a day room in the city's Curran-Fromhold Correctional Center. Simmons was awaiting trial on a charge of bringing marijuana into prison; Churchill had just been charged with raping and strangling 19-year-old Ruby Ellis and Cheryl Hanible, 33. "He said he wouldn't have got caught if he didn't give his DNA," Simmons told the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury in the fifth day of testimony in the rape-murder trial of Churchill, 54, of Paulsboro, Gloucester County.