The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of November 10, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

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


Push To Bring Ex-Convicts And Families Together Lags

More than a year after NYC started a program designed to reunite up to 150 former prisoners with their families in public housing, only seven people have successfully completed the process. Says Fortune Society CEO JoAnne Page

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/10/nyregion/push-to-bring-ex-convicts-and-families-together-lags.html?partner=socialflow&smid=tw-nytmetro

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Why Are There Up To 120,000 Innocent People In U.S. Prisons?

According to the Innocence Project, between 2.3% and 5% of all U.S. prisoners — as many as 120,000 — are innocent. The fact that they get caught up in the system is unconscionable, says JoAnne Page, CEO of the Fortune Society. “We are …

https://news.vice.com/article/why-are-there-up-to-120000-innocent-people-in-us-prisons

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ACLU In $50 Million Push To Reduce Jail Sentences

With a $50-million foundation grant, the largest in its history, the ACLU plans to mount a political campaign across the country to make a change of criminal justice policies a key issue in local, state and national elections. The goal is to slash an …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/07/us/aclu-in-dollar50-million-push-to-reduce-jail-sentences.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Concerns In Criminal Justice System As NYC Eases Marijuana Policy

Mayor de Blasio, who took office promising to reform the NYPD and repair relations with black and Latino communities, unveiled his plan to change the way the police enforce the law on marijuana possession. The news marked the most significant …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/11/nyregion/concerns-in-criminal-justice-system-as-new-york-city-eases-marijuana-policy.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Opinion: Don’t Arrest Smokers — Tax Them

The NYPD went back to the future with the announcement that cops will finally honor a 37-year-old law and stop arresting people for possession of less than about an ounce of pot. That’s an overdue step toward ending a pointless prohibition of …

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/harry-siegel-new-york-pot-flashback-article-1.2006117

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Head Of Correction Officers Union Wants Proof Undercover Investigator Sneaked Drugs Into Rikers Island 

The president of the Correction Officers Benevolent Association demanded proof that an undercover investigator sneaked booze, pot and heroin into Rikers Island. Last week it was revealed that the investigator, posing as a guard, managed to …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/jail-union-big-proof-rikers-fail-article-1.2006378

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Hundreds Of Inmates Freed From California Jails After Voters Pass Prop. 47

A ballot measure passed by voters last week has already freed hundreds of inmates from  California jails after their felony charges were reduced to misdemeanors. Sheriffs immediately began implementing Proposition 47, which …

http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/11/10/hundreds-of-inmates-freed-from-california-jails-after-voters-pass-prop-47-felony-misdemeanor-petition-judge-prison/

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Opinion: Prop. 47 Is A First Step In Revising Stance On Crime

In adopting Proposition 47  by a huge margin, Californians made a statement about the tough-on-crime policies of the last generation that increased prison costs and populations many times over while too often accelerating …

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-proposition-47-20141110-story.html

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California Congregations Celebrate Passage Of Proposition 47

“The passage of Proposition 47 by California voters provides a hopeful sign that we can reverse the trend of mass incarceration that is plaguing our nation,” according to PICO California, a statewide network of 19 local community organizations …

http://www.blackvoicenews.com/regional/california/49922-california-congregations-celebrate-passage-of-proposition-47.html

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How California’s Prison Reform Law Will Fight Overincarceration Of Women

Prop 47, the new law that 58% of California voters approved, could be a godsend for impoverished and addicted women. It will reclassify as misdemeanors six crimes including shoplifting, writing bad checks, and drug possession that had …

http://www.thenation.com/blog/190441/how-californias-prison-reform-law-will-fight-overincarceration-women

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The Dark-Horse Policy Reform That Has Both Obama And Some GOPers Optimistic

With Democrats holding the White House and Republicans controlling Congress, the odds are slim of any major legislation becoming law these next two years. But there’s one issue that may have enough cross-party appeal — justice reform …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/10/criminal-justice-reform_n_6133454.html

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Violent U.S. Crime Drops Again, Reaches 1970s Level: FBI

U.S. violent crimes fell 4.4% in 2013 to their lowest number since the 1970s, continuing a decades-long downturn, the FBI said. A criminologist at Northeastern University, said there was a variety of factors behind the decline, including …

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/10/us-usa-crime-fbi-idUSKCN0IU1UM20141110

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Mentally Ill Are Not Helped By Incarceration

Society doesn’t throw people with cancer in prison because of their illness and expect them to get better, yet if people with mental illness show antisocial behavior, they’re locked away with no meaningful treatment. “Mental illness is treatable …

http://www.jconline.com/story/news/2014/11/09/mentally-helped-incarceration/18775139/

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How The Criminal Justice System Fails The Deaf Community

Imagine being accused of a crime — maybe one you didn’t commit. The police use a different language; there’s no way for you to contact your family or an attorney. Our justice system fails deaf Americans every step of the way …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lydia-l-callis/post_8582_b_6127898.html?utm_hp_ref=crime&ir=Crime

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Study Examines Prison Volunteers’ Characteristics, Outlooks

As prison populations and costs swell, volunteers are becoming increasingly important for providing programming and rehabilitation to inmates. But little uniformity exists in how prisons recruit and train them. With this in mind …

http://phys.org/news/2014-11-prison-volunteers-characteristics-outlooks.html

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Group Calls For Overhaul Of Florida Prison System

Florida’s prison system needs a massive overhaul to stem the tide of corruption, mismanagement, and inmate abuse that has plagued it for decades, a report says. The state’s inability and unwillingness to address these failings is dangerous to …

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article3916342.html

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Chief Quits As Mississippi Prisons Face Inquiry

Mississippi’s longtime corrections commissioner resigned amid a federal
investigation into the state’s prison system, which has been plagued by squalid
conditions and violence by guards and inmates. He submitted a letter of …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/06/us/chief-quits-as-mississippi-prisons-face-inquiry.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Opinion: Ban-The-Box A Good Step

We were encouraged to hear the mayor and City Council president of Jackson (MS) announced a push to eliminate “the box.” The details are still being worked out, but the initiative will start with the city itself, which asks applicants about …

http://www.jacksonfreepress.com/news/2014/nov/12/ban-box-good-step/

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Ex-Mayor Voted, And Now He’s On House Arrest

Former Charlotte (NC) Mayor Patrick D. Cannon, convicted of federal wire fraud in a bribery sting, will be on house arrest until he reports to federal prison after illegally voting in the midterm election. Cannon’s  explanation for voting was …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/07/us/convicted-ex-mayor-of-charlotte-is-placed-on-house-arrest-after-illegally-voting.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Detroit Led U.S. In Murder, Crime Rates, FBI Says

Crime fell in Detroit last year, but not enough to prevent it from being the most dangerous big city in the nation, according to FBI crime statistics. Detroit was tops in both murder rates and violent crime rates among cities with …

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/local/wayne-county/2014/11/10/detroit-led-us-murder-crime-rates-fbi-says/18793923/

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Kentucky’s Prison Expenses Boom As Inmate Populations Surge

Kentucky’s imprisonment rate has skyrocketed in the last 35 years. In that time, the number of sentenced prisoners in state custody has climbed 391% — from 94 prisoners per 100,000 residents in 1978 to 462 prisoners …

http://wfpl.org/post/kentuckys-prison-expenses-boom-inmate-populations-surge

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Justice Reform Holds SD Prison Population Steady

A new report states that South Dakota’s prison population held steady in 2014, and that more people completed parole or probation without serious violations. The report concluded that it’s too early to rate the law’s full impact, but  …

http://www.correctionsone.com/prison-reform/articles/7811750-Justice-reform-holds-SD-prison-population-steady/

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New Mexico Lawmakers Seek To Reform Criminal Justice System

New Mexico lawmakers want to take money away from prisons and give it to education. A bipartisan group met to hammer out plans that could mean big changes to the criminal justice system. Lawmakers say they could save millions …

http://krqe.com/2014/11/12/lawmakers-seek-to-reform-criminal-justice-system/

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Georgia Governor Announces Program To Help Inmates Get High School Diploma

Gov. Nathan Deal issued an announcement that the Georgia Dept. of Corrections has partnered with the Mountain Education Center Charter School to provide online, self-paced high school courses at Arrendale State Prison. The goal is to …

http://www.peachpundit.com/2014/11/12/gov-deal-announces-program-help-inmates-get-high-school-diploma/

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Lawmakers Unveil Utah Prison System Reform Proposals 

Utah’s criminal and juvenile justice commission unveiled recommendations to cut costs and the inmate population in Utah’s prisons, including a proposal to make first-time drug possession a misdemeanor. The 18 proposals are expected to …

http://www.standard.net/News/2014/11/12/Utah-leaders-unveil-prison-system-reform-proposals.html

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She Brews Coffee House Creates Jobs For Recently Incarcerated Women, Keeps Them Out Of Prison

The U.S. Dept. of Justice estimates two-thirds of released prisoners will end up back behind bars within three years of release. Because of that alarming rate of recidivism, a Claremore nonprofit is trying to help formerly incarcerated women  …

http://www.kjrh.com/news/local-news/claremore/she-brews-coffee-house-creates-jobs-for-recently-incarcerated-women-keeps-them-out-of-prison

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Opinion: Family Time On Prison Buses

The U.S. prison system puzzled the German photog Jacobia Dahm. Every week she read about punishments outweighing crimes and prisoners revealed innocent decades after convictions. But how do you photograph that? …

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/11/07/family-time-on-prison-buses/?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=second-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=1

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