The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of September 29, 2014

Friday, October 3, 2014

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


Solitary Confinement To End For Youngest At Rikers Island

Although experts have spoken for years about the devastating effects of solitary confinement on the mental health of adolescent prisoners, such seclusion has long been the primary form of punishment at Rikers. But now …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/29/nyregion/solitary-confinement-to-end-for-youngest-at-rikers-island.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Reaffirming Vow, Prosecutor Says Rikers Reform Will Happen “One Way Or Another”

The top federal prosecutor in Manhattan reasserted he expected reforms to be made at Rikers and that he’s prepared to go to court, if necessary, to accomplish them. “If we don’t  think enough is being done, we’ll take the action we need …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/01/nyregion/us-attorney-vows-vigorous-push-for-rikers-island-reforms.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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HRA To Phase Out Mandated Unpaid Work Program For Welfare Recipients

The Human Resources Administration has announced a historic overhaul of its employment plan. Major reforms include the phasing out of the demeaning, unpaid Work Experience Program (WEP) which mandates that …

http://www.cvhaction.org/HRA.Overhaul.Announced

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Rikers Island Inmate Facing Drug Charges Dies After Apparent Seizure

An inmate at Rikers awaiting trial died after suffering what was described as a seizure. Victor Woods, 53, began convulsing at 3:55 AM inside an open housing unit. “He had some kind of fit,” a jail insider said. “It’s on videotape” …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/rikers-island-inmate-dies-seizure-article-1.1960280

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In Sunset Park, Videos Of Confrontations Elevate Mistrust Of Police

For the second time this month, video of a violent confrontation between the police and residents in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, has aroused concerns in the neighborhood about arrest tactics. The latest footage shows a pregnant …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/25/nyregion/police-tactics-criticized-after-arrest-in-brooklyn.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Watchdog Groups Training Citizens To Join Copwatch Movement By Catching Rogue Police In Action

City watchdog groups are recruiting citizens in all five boroughs — and arming some with handheld video cameras — to catch rogue cops in action. “The reality is that the police violate the law … but when we are there with our cameras …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/city-watchdog-groups-training-citizens-film-rogue-cops-article-1.1960031

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Ray Kelly: People Will “Suffer” After Stop-And-Frisk Appeal Dropped

Former Police Commissioner Kelly warned against every officer wearing a body camera and the impact of Mayor de Blasio’s decision to stop appealing a judge’s ruling that called stop-and-frisk unconstitutional. Kelly endorsed …

http://online.wsj.com/articles/ray-kelly-people-will-suffer-after-stop-and-frisk-appeal-dropped-discusses-police-body-cameras-1412106415

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Police Fatally Shoot Man After Deadly Brooklyn Stabbing

A man was shot and killed by a police officer in Brooklyn and another man died after he was stabbed at the same location, officials said, in one of two episodes involving NYC officers who fired their weapons. The deadly shooting came …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/30/nyregion/one-dead-in-pair-of-police-shootings-in-brooklyn.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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City Renewed Contracts With Rikers Health Provider Despite 4 Inmate Deaths

State investigators admonished the medical provider for New York’s jails and prisons on four separate occasions after Rikers Island inmates in its care dies — yet government officials still repeatedly renewed its contract …

http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20140924/east-elmhurst/state-renewed-contracts-with-rikers-health-provider-despite-4-inmate-deaths

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Opinion: New York Plan Misses The Whole Point Of Drug Policy Reform

Three years ago, Seattle police stopped automatically locking up everyone arrested for drugs and began referring them to social workers who provided free apartments and referrals to psychiatrists. Now NYC has announced a similar plan, but …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/23/new-york-city-drug-reform_n_5870872.html

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Holder Backs Suit In New York Faulting Legal Service For Poor

AG Eric Holder, who last year declared a crisis in America’s legal-defense system for the poor, is supporting a class-action lawsuit that accuses Gov. Cuomo and the State of New York of perpetuating a system that violates the rights of …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/25/nyregion/holder-backs-suit-in-new-york-faulting-legal-service-for-poor.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Report Sees Wide Gap In Resources For Indigent Defense

A “vast” gap persists between the need for indigent criminal defense and available resources in counties outside NYC, the state Office of Indigent Legal Services (ILS) reported. The office called the size of the caseloads “unconscionable” …

http://www.newyorklawjournal.com/home/id=1202671269701?kw=Report%20Sees%20Wide%20Gap%20in%20Resources%20for%20Indigent%20Defense&et=editorial&bu=New%20York%20Law%20Journal&cn=20140925&src=EMC-Email&pt=Daily%20News

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In Rare Rebuke For Rikers Officers, Judge Urges Firing of 6 Who Beat Inmate

In past Rikers brutality cases, correction officers have frequently managed to escape serious punishment. But in a highly unusual legal decision, an administrative law judge wrote that six officers had lied about what happened …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/30/nyregion/in-rare-decision-judge-urges-firing-for-6-rikers-island-officers-who-beat-inmate.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Judge Rules Woman Raped By Manhattan Prison Guard Can Collect Damages, Rips State DOC Over Crime

A woman who was repeatedly raped and impregnated in a NYC prison by a correction officer — who once grinned at a camera that captured the sex assault — is eligible to collect damages, a judge ruled, slamming the state’s …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/exclusive-judge-rules-woman-raped-prison-guard-damages-article-1.1957601

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Opinion: Two Battles, One War: The Struggle To End HIV/AIDS And Poverty

Despite the fact that research continues to march towards a cure, HIV continues to spread. Why? Why are there new infections when we can prevent transmission of the virus? By taking a holistic view of each of its clients, The Fortune Society …

http://talkpoverty.org/2014/09/23/end-hiv-aids-and-poverty/

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First Lady Chirlane McCray’s Top Aide Is Dating A Convicted Killer And Drug Dealer

Rachel Noerdlinger, the chief of staff to NYC’s First Lady, has been romantically linked to Hassaun McFarlan since 2010. McFarlan, at age 15, pleaded guilty to manslaughter for shooting and killing a man. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/chirlane-mccray-top-aide-dating-convicted-killer-drug-dealer-article-1.1953336

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Ex-Cons Staff Vendy Winner Facilitated By Fortune Society

A unique food truck was serving up maple-themed lunches on Northern Boulevard in Long Island City. The Snowday Food Truck, which had won the Vendy Award as Rookie of the Year,  is facilitated by Fortune Society, the  organization that …

http://www.timesledger.com/stories/2014/39/criminalvendy_tl_2014_09_26_q.html

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Fallout Continues In Ferguson

In the aftermath of the shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown, several issues plague the community of Ferguson, MO, including a memorial for the teen being set on fire. Some Ferguson police now wear body cameras. However …

http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2014/sep/25/fallout-continues-ferguson/

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Opinion: Incarceration Or Redemption?

Today, over 2 million Americans are in jail or in prison. We’ve got 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of its prisoners. More black men are under the control of the criminal justice system in the U.S. today than were enslaved before the Civil War …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jim-burklo/incarceration-or-redempti_b_5870608.html?utm_hp_ref=prison

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Opinion: Nursing Homes Behind Bars

Thanks to harsh sentencing laws, aging inmates make up the largest, fastest-growing segment of the U.S. prison population. From 1995-2010, the number of inmates over 55 nearly quadrupled. Letting them out early makes sense for two …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/29/opinion/nursing-homes-behind-bars.html?_r=0

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Opinion: Time To Listen To The Experts On Legalizing Drugs

How many knowledgeable people does it take to suggest a policy change before society adopts their advice? Buried in the week’s news about ISIS and NFL player violence came a hardly noticed item about legalizing drugs. Maybe it’s time …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/diane-dimond/time-to-listen-to-the-exp_b_5899846.html?utm_hp_ref=crime&ir=Crime

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Bill Clinton’s Claim That 100,000 Cops Sent The Crime Rate “Way Down”

During Clinton’s presidency, his having the federal government pay for 100,000 more police was one of his signature talking points. There’s no doubt the crime rate went down dramatically … but does one thing have to do with the other …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2014/09/26/bill-clintons-claim-that-100000-cops-sent-the-crime-rate-way-down/

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Which States Reduced Their Prison Rates Last Year — In One Map

While federal and state governments have been trying to shrink their prison populations, recent data suggests there’s a lot more work to do. On one hand, the number of inmates in federal prisons is starting to decline. On the other hand …

http://www.vox.com/2014/9/30/6427711/people-in-prison-state-incarceration-rate-2013

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Opinion: Why White People’s Awareness Of Racism Isn’t Enough

According to a recent survey, 51% of white Americans agree that black people and other racial minorities are treated unfairly in the criminal justice system. That’s up from 42% in 2013. If one of the consequences of the last year of …

http://www.thenation.com/blog/181746/why-white-peoples-awareness-racism-isnt-enough?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

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Opinion: Prosecutors Can Play Role In Ending Mass Incarceration

The common perception of federal prosecutors is that they are akin to Eliot Ness — tough-minded law enforcers dedicated to fighting crime wherever it lurks. But there is a quiet revolution underway in how federal prosecutors see their job …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurenbrooke-eisen/prosecutors-can-play-role_b_5908010.html

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The Terrifying Police Shootings Of Unarmed Black Men

One of the burdens of being a black male is carrying the heavy weight of other people’s suspicions. One minute you’re going about your life, the next you could be pleading for it, if you’re lucky. John Crawford III was talking on his cell phone in …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2014/09/29/the-terrifying-police-shootings-of-unarmed-black-men/?hpid=z2

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Opinion: Beware Of Law-And-Order Liberalism

Whether it is drugs or violence, we have tried our best to police, arrest, and incarcerate our way out of almost every problem. As a result, the U.S. is already the most incarcerated nation on earth and has very lit­tle to show for it …

http://citypaper.net/article.php?Beware-of-law-and-order-liberalism-21237

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Californians Plan To Vote Overwhelmingly For Criminal Justice Reform And Reducing Prison Sentences

The people of California are planning to vote overwhelmingly to change how several minor offenses are treated. The measure is meant to help address prison overcrowding and reduce the massive amount of money the state spends on …

http://elections.firedoglake.com/2014/09/24/californians-plan-to-vote-overwhelmingly-for-criminal-justice-reform/

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Netflix Founder And CEO Reed Hastings Expanding Political Muscle

Netflix founder/CEO Reed Hastings is wading into politics again. Long a supporter of school reforms, he has put $247,000 toward Prop 47, a measure that would continue recent efforts at criminal justice reform by rolling back penalties for …

http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_26623721/netflix-founder-and-ceo-reed-hastings-expanding-political

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California To Allow Families To Seek Gun Seizures From Those Posing Danger

California will become the first state to allow family members to ask a judge to temporarily seize guns from someone who is suspected of posing an immediate danger. Under the legislation, family members or law-enforcement officers can …

http://online.wsj.com/articles/california-to-allow-families-to-seek-gun-seizures-from-those-posing-danger-1412111765

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Prison Sentences Down 16% Under New Guidelines That Took Effect A Year Ago

Sentencing guidelines that took effect a year ago are reducing the rate of people being sent to Alabama prisons. From Oct. 2013 to June 2014, there was a 16% drop in sentences to state prisons. Judges issued 5,253 prison sentences vs. …

http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2014/09/prison_sentences_down_16_perce.html

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Alabama State Senator: Strengthen Alternative Sentencing, Fight Drug Epidemic To Reduce Prison Overcrowding

State Sen. Cam Ward, the chairman of the Prison Reform Task Force, said Alabama needs to strengthen its alternative sentencing and fight a “drug epidemic” to reduce prison overcrowding. He made the remarks following …

http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2014/09/alabama_state_senator_strength.html

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Research Will Shed Light On Alabama’s Prison Problem

Alabama will soon have a clearer picture of what’s wrong with its criminal justice system. It was one of a handful of states chosen earlier this year by the non-profit Council of State Governments Justice Center for a program that will provide a …

http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/news/2014/09/29/research-will-light-alabamas-prison-problem/16455187/

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Opinion: What Could Prison Reform Look Like? Burn Churches, Then Behave, Take Classes And Get Out Early

Addressing Alabama’s prison overcrowding will take forgiveness. It will take accepting the fact that three former college students who burned down rural churches may not be in prison as long as we thought. It will take admitting that …

http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/09/releasing_church_burners.html

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Opinion: Prison System Needs Reform In Treatment Of Mentally Ill Inmates

It’s hard to overstate the travesty that occurred in March when a North Carolina inmate with mental illness died of thirst. Only worse is the fact that, after an investigation, the state hasn’t released its findings and many questions remain …

http://www.journalnow.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-prison-system-needs-reform-in-treatment-of-mentally-ill/article_13c6f176-47ef-11e4-8836-001a4bcf6878.html

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Gruesome Killing Likely To Hurt Corrections Reform Efforts In Oklahoma

A gruesome killing at a processing plant has cast a spotlight, yet again, on Oklahoma’s correctional system. The focus: Why was the person accused of the crime even out on the street? Alton Nolen, who is accused of beheading …

http://newsok.com/gruesome-killing-likely-to-hurt-corrections-reform-efforts-in-oklahoma/article/5347103

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Does The U.S. Prison System Expose Transgender Prisoners To Rape? 

After she was arrested on charges of unarmed burglary, a transgender prisoner told guards that she was afraid to be tossed in with the general population, but her cries were ignored, and she was subsequently raped by …

http://www.vice.com/read/when-will-the-us-prison-system-protect-transgender-prisoners-from-rape-101

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Prison Watchdogs Report Nine Stabbings In Past Two Weeks

After an extremely violent week in Orleans Parish Prison, angry relatives of an inmate who was stabbed went to prison offices in a search for the truth. Prison reform advocates say change is slow in coming and a rash of recent stabbings is …

http://www.bayoubuzz.com/louisiana-news/new-orleans-news/item/749732-prison-watchdogs-report-9-stabbings-in-past-2-weeks

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As Another Young Boy Commits Suicide In An Adult Prison, We Must Rethink The Prosecution Of Children As Adults

Zachary Proper, age 15, committed suicide in a Pennsylvania adult prison. There has been little coverage of his death, suggesting a disturbing complacency about suicide by youth who would rather take their lives than endure decades in jail …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marsha-levick/as-another-young-boy-comm_b_5862590.html?utm_hp_ref=crime&ir=Crime

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The Big Business Of Selling Apps To Prison Inmates

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, with about 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world’s prisoners.  For some businessmen, that represents a big money-making opportunity. Few can attest to that better than …

http://www.cnbc.com/id/102042489

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