Automatic Transfer; passed in 1992, the law permits minors to be tried as adults.


This process allows a prisoner or a prisoner’s representative to file a petition with the governor, asking for mercy and documenting how the sentence represents a grave injustice from which she should be released.


Gerrymandering is a practice of political corruption that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating geographic boundaries to create partisan, incumbent-protected, and neutral districts. Gerrymandering may be used to achieve desired electoral results for a particular party, or may be used to help or hinder a particular group of constituents, such as a political, racial, linguistic, religious or class group. One example of this occurs when state or city legislative districts are drawn around large prisons, and prisoners (denied the right to vote in all but two states) are counted as legitimate constituents.


A term for prisoner, from the institutional perspective. A resident of an institution that houses a number of occupants, especially a person confined to that institution, such as a prison or a hospital. Deriving from the word “insane,” the term implies mental dysfunctions.


The release of a prisoner whose term has not expired on condition of sustained lawful behavior that is subject to regular monitoring by an officer of the law for a set period of time. Parole violations are a common cause of recidivism.

Political Prisoner

Anyone held in prison or otherwise detained(such as under house arrest) because their ideas, affiliations, and/or actions are viewed as challenging or posing a real or potential threat to the established state.

Prison Industrial Complex

Often referred to as “the PIC,” it refers to industries that do business with correctional facilities, those that benefit from prisoners’ free or low-cost labor, and related interest groups. As described by Angela Davis, “ the U.S. prison system expanded [in the 1980s], so did corporate involvement in construction, provision of goods and services, and use of prison labor. Because of the extent to which prison building and operation began to attract vast amounts of capital - from the construction industry to food and health care provision - in a way that recalled the emergence of the military industrial complex, we began to refer to a ‘prison industrial complex.’” (Are Prisons Obsolete?, Open Media, 2003, p. 12).

Public Defender

A lawyer whose job is to provide legal counsel and representation for criminal defendants who are unable to pay for private legal assistance. Public defenders are employed by the government at the federal and county levels. They may also work for nonprofit entities funded by the government.