Our fresh takes on policing this week

News and opinion from various outlets across the country culled by Policing the USA

We know you're busy, and we want to provide you with a news and opinion filled way to start your week — our fresh takes. We'll publish them every Monday morning.

Prison guards hit double by shutdown

The government shutdown over an unpaid border wall is now the longest in U.S. history (hitting 24 days today), and it's punishing those tasked not just with guarding our  borders, but with patrolling our prisons. 

Nearly 40,000 federal prison guards, considered essential employees, have been forced to face the dangers that come with their profession without pay since the start of the shutdown. And that lack of funding is prompting some guards to call in sick — taking the time they would normally use to patrol the prison yard to work elsewhere. Remaining guards are pulling double duty (up to 16 hours a day) in what was already an understaffed profession. 

Guards walk a corridor at San Quentin State Prison in San Quentin, Calif.

According to a USA TODAY report published in February, officer shortages in 2018 forced other staff members within the Bureau of Prisons (such as cooks, secretaries and teachers) to fill in as guards — often equipped with nothing more than keys and a radio.  

There are nearly 180,000 federal prisoners in the U.S. 

DNA frees man after 37 years

The evidence that put Eric Prudholm in one of the country's toughest prisons for life, Louisiana's Angola penitentiary, was pretty flimsy. 

In 1981, he was accused of raping of woman who was sleeping in a hotel room and whose initial description didn't match that of Prudholm. Despite the shaky description (and no other evidence), Prudholm, at the age of 21, was given a life sentence. 

But on Jan. 10, after a five-year fight to test DNA evidence guided by the Innocence Project, Prudholm was released under a plea agreement that precludes the innocent man from being able to sue the state for wrongful incarceration.    

Police beat men in Manhattan, commissioner defends their actions

New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill says the beating of two men by cops in Manhattan is not just about those cops. He defended the officers' actions stating that the incident, involving men who appear to be unarmed, is about keeping all police officers and the citizens of New York safe. 

The two men were taken to a hospital and treated after being struck with a baton and punched. One of the two men was pinned down by both plainclothes and uniformed officers, struck with batons, punched and kicked multiple times. The incident was caught on video and posted to social media and the officers are currently being investigated to determine if excessive force was used. 

According to police, the incident started when the men were asked to move from an entrance to the New York City subway. 

Want more? Check out the Policing the USA site for information on police, policing and the justice system across the country. 

Want to talk about police, race and the justice system in America? Reach out to Policing the USA editor Eileen Rivers on Twitter @msdc14 or via email at erivers@usatoday.com

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Our fresh takes on policing this week