The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of September 22, 2014

Friday, September 26, 2014

A wide-ranging collection of news and opinion from the previous week focusing on criminal justice policy, advocacy, and reform.


Attorney General Eric Holder To Resign

Attorney General Eric Holder will be resigning from office once a replacement is found. Drug policy and criminal justice reform advocates expressed disappointment, calling on President Obama to nominate a replacement who …

http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/2014/09/attorney-general-eric-holder-resign

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Senate Committee Approves Second Chance Reauthorization Act

Congress took a significant step toward continuing the work of the Second Chance Act which allows the federal government to provide resources to state and local governments to improve the success rates for people released from prison …

http://csgjusticecenter.org/jc/senate-committee-approves-second-chance-reauthorization-act/?utm_source=CSG+Justice+Center+Primary+List&utm_campaign=5f63fec01f-9_22_14_NRRC_Newsletter9_18_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_db9d88bcfb-5f63fec01f-42379277

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Mayor Criticizes Rikers Prison

Mayor de Blasio called Rikers “profoundly broken” a day after federal prosecutors said they were prepared to file a civil-rights lawsuit over the treatment of adolescents incarcerated there. “It’s a very bad situation,” he said …

http://online.wsj.com/articles/new-york-city-mayor-bill-de-blasio-criticizes-rikers-island-prison-1411486824

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To Fix Rikers, de Blasio Wants Outside Help at Jail Agency

Facing the prospect of a federal lawsuit over corruption at Rikers, Mayor de Blasio said he would seek to change civil service laws to allow his administration to use uniformed officers from outside the Correction Department to …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/24/nyregion/de-blasio-seeks-to-enlist-outside-help-in-fixing-rikers.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Opinion: Bill’s Prison Break

Apparently realizing only industrial-strength cleaner can mop up the stinking and growing mess at Rikers, Mayor de Blasio wants new powers to overhaul the abuse-plagued correctional facility. His call for the authority to …

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/editorial-bill-prison-break-article-1.1950400

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De Blasio Plans Treatment Instead Of Jail For “Low-Level” Lawbreakers

The de Blasio administration plans to reroute thousands of “low-level’’ lawbreakers — such as drug offenders and prostitutes — away from jail and into treatment and counseling. “For some, incarceration could be avoided altogether …

http://nypost.com/2014/09/22/de-blasio-plans-treatment-instead-of-jail-for-low-level-lawbreakers/

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Opinion: A Chance At College For Ex-Offenders

There is a widely overlooked obstacle to higher education that confronts at least 70 million Americans with criminal records. Many colleges ask applicants about criminal convictions before deciding on their suitability as students. But bills …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/opinion/a-chance-at-college-for-ex-offenders.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Prosecutor Warns That Rikers Island Problems May Prompt U.S. Lawsuit

As alarm mounted over conditions at Rikers, the de Blasio adminstration managed to escape scrutiny because the problems were rooted in its predecessor. But, for the first time, the top federal prosecutor in NYC criticized …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/23/nyregion/us-faults-rikers-island-officials-response-to-report-on-violence.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Opinion: The New York Jail Scandal Continues

A Justice Dept. investigation that uncovered a chamber of horrors at Rikers was bad enough in its depiction of corruption and brutality. Now comes the news that the Dept. of Correction had sanitized a 2012 report, eliminating passages that …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/23/opinion/the-new-york-jail-scandal-continues.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Bratton’s Numbers On Use Of Force By NYC Police Raise Questions

When Police Commissioner Bratton appeared  before the NYC Council, he brought 3 charts  showing a two-decade decline in the use of force by officers. But questions soon emerged, including some from a Council  analyst who was fired …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/19/nyregion/brattons-numbers-on-use-of-force-by-new-york-police-raise-questions.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Violent Incidents Spike In NYC Prisons

Violent incidents between inmates and guards are on the rise at city jails like Rikers and the Tombs — even though the prisoner population has dropped. A new report paints a bleak picture of city correctional facilities, with stabbings surging …

http://nypost.com/2014/09/18/violent-incidents-spike-in-nyc-prisons-report/

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Report Found Distorted Data On Jail Fights At Rikers Island

After years of teenage inmates being slashed and stabbed, it appeared the jail for adolescents at Rikers had finally been brought under control. Then came the tip to investigators — violence wasn’t down … the data was wrong …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/nyregion/report-twisted-data-on-fights-in-a-rikers-jail.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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A Watchdog For The Police Is Accepting Complaints

For months now, Mayor de Blasio has peppered his remarks on improving relations between police and community with references to a new office of the inspector general for the NY Police Dept.  This week, that office became a part of the real …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/23/nyregion/inspector-general-for-new-york-police-is-now-available-online.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Police Took New Approach At Flood Wall Street Protest

The hundreds of protesters who flooded the Financial District provided the first test of how Mayor de Blasio and his police force plan to handle unauthorized mass demonstrations. Protesters at the Flood Wall Street event said …

http://online.wsj.com/articles/police-took-new-approach-at-flood-wall-street-protest-1411520046

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“Stop-And-Frisk” Ebbs, But Still Hangs Over Brooklyn Lives

In the housing projects of eastern Brooklyn, some young men no longer clasp hands when greeting each other, fearful their grasp might be mistaken for a drug deal. It’s a subtle yet telling change, lasting effects of years of police stops of …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/20/nyregion/friskings-ebb-but-still-hang-over-brooklyn-lives.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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You’re Old And Finally Out Of Prison: What Happens Now?

Across the country, the elderly prison population is skyrocketing. Between 1995 and 2010, the number of incarcerated people older than 55 has quadrupled. In New York State, as of January 2013, over 9,200 people (or nearly 25%) of its …

http://gothamist.com/2014/09/18/elderly_ex_prisoners_nyc.php

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America’s Enormous Prison Population Got Even Bigger

The U.S. Attorney General has been making headlines talking about the need for “smarter” sentencing and fewer people behind bars.But most of those who are incarcerated are doing time under state laws, and that point was driven home by …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/18/americas-enormous-prison-population-got-even-bigger_n_5844590.html?utm_hp_ref=crime

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DEA Chief Struggles To Explain Position On Drug Sentencing Reform

The top official at the DEA struggled to explain her position on drug sentencing reforms that are backed by her bosses in the Obama administration during a House hearing. Michele Leonhart pivoted several times when asked whether …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/18/michele-leonhart-dea-sentencing_n_5844546.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

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Federal Prison Population Drops

The federal prison population is projected to fall by more than 12,000 inmates over the next two years, as policies that reduce sentences for nonviolent offenders spur the first such drop since 1980. The projected decline comes on top of …

http://online.wsj.com/articles/federal-prison-population-drops-1411469837

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To Solve Prison Crowding, Norway Goes Dutch 

Norwegian prisons are the most luxurious in the world. The country’s newest high-security facility features cells with windows, private bathrooms, and flatscreen TVs. This year Norway plans to invest as much as $690 million to upgrade ….

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-09-18/norway-exports-inmates-to-netherlands-to-solve-prison-crowding

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Innocent Man Wrongly Jailed For 23 Years Dies Days Before Lawsuit

Jailed for more than two decades for a crime he did not commit, William Lopez’s brief taste of freedom came to a sudden, tragic end when he died just days before his $124-million lawsuit for false imprisonment was set to start …

http://nypost.com/2014/09/22/exonerated-man-who-served-23-years-in-prison-suddenly-dies/

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Advocates Want Prisoners In VT

A criminal justice reform group is working to bring out-of-state prisoners home in the next three years by reducing the prison population by 10% each year. It wants to eliminate the state’s reliance on private, out-of-state prison contractors by …

 http://www.vnews.com/news/13670016-95/advocates-want-prisoners-in-vt

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Prison Reform

The gruesome death of Darren Rainey — a mentally ill Florida inmate who was allegedly scalded to death in a hot shower at the hands of prison guards — has led to sweeping changes in state prisons. Thirty-two prison guards were fired for …

http://www.flanews.com/?p=23048

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North Carolina Prison Imposes 9-Month Lockdown On 600 Inmates

Approximately 600 prisoners have been under intermittent lockdown since late December at North Carolina’s Scotland Correctional Institution. Prisoners have responded to the heavy-handed measures by …

 http://www.mintpressnews.com/north-carolina-prison-imposes-9-month-lockdown-600-inmates/196732/

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Faith Group Pushes Candidates For Corrections Reform

Advocates for prison reform pushed Fox Valley (WI) representatives and candidates to support rehabilitation efforts at a forum. “We rank first in the country for incarcerated African Americans and Native Americans, and it’s wrong …”

http://www.postcrescent.com/story/news/local/2014/09/23/faith-group-pushes-candidates-corrections-reform/16132933/

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Opinion: Black People Had The Power To Fix The Problems In Ferguson Before The Brown Shooting. They Failed.

We’ve forgotten the lessons of the Civil Rights movement. Many images that came out of Ferguson, MO looked like scenes from Birmingham, AL in the 1960s: the gun-wielding police, the sign-carrying protesters, and the chants demanding …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/09/18/black-people-had-the-power-to-fix-the-problems-in-ferguson-before-the-brown-shooting-they-failed/?hpid=z2

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Opinion: The Truth About False Confessions

When the strongest piece of evidence against a suspect is a confession, then judges, prosecutors, and police should take care. According to the Innocence Project, 30% of all DNA exonerations involve false confessions …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jessica-s-henry/the-truth-about-false-con_b_5857094.html?utm_hp_ref=crime&ir=Crime

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Opinion: The Importance Of Taping Interrogations

Confessions are among the most compelling pieces of evidence in a criminal trial. Even without any physical evidence tying a defendant to a crime, a few simple words can be enough for a conviction. Words like “Something just took over me …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/19/opinion/the-importance-of-taping-interrogations.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Opinion: A Chance To Go From Hard Lives To Healing

Like too many in his neighborhood, Shaka spent his early youth “living like I was becoming a statistic.” At 16, he landed in juvenile hall after a robbery. He still hangs in that neighborhood — but now wears a stethoscope around his neck …

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/18/a-chance-to-go-from-hard-lives-to-healing/?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Kids With Incarcerated Dads More Likely To Be Held Back A Grade

While proud classmates bring parents to school for Career Day, kids with imprisoned dads incur a double whammy: They are significantly more likely to be held back to repeat a grade, a study finds. “Children’s adjustment problems are …

http://phys.org/news/2014-09-kids-incarcerated-dads-held-grade.html

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Behind A Woman’s Prison Walls

Solitary confinement is routinely used as punishment — especially hard for the mentally ill. Piper Kerman’s best-selling memoir, “Orange Is The New Black,” called attention to conditions in the U.S. women’s prisons. “Unfortunately …

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/971343-behind-a-womens-prison-walls/ 

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Opinion: Incarcerating Disturbed Youth Is A Flawed Response 

When I heard the news an abused transgender teenager had been incarcerated in an adult women’s prison, I believed that Connecticut – a state known for its past juvenile justice reforms — would quickly correct the situation. But …

http://ctmirror.org/incarcerating-disturbed-youth-is-a-flawed-response/

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