The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of December 1, 2014

Sunday, December 7, 2014

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


Opinion: A Search For Justice In The Eric Garner Case

The imbalance between Eric Garner’s fate on a Staten Island sidewalk and his supposed infraction — selling loose cigarettes — is grotesque and outrageous. Though his death was ruled a homicide, why jurors didn’t …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/04/opinion/new-inquiry-needed-on-eric-garners-death.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Officer Daniel Pantaleo Told Grand Jury He Meant No Harm To Eric Garner

It was never supposed to be a chokehold, the officer testified. It was a wrestling move. After two months of considering evidence in the fatal choking of Eric Garner, a grand jury was finally hearing from Daniel Pantaleo, the officer accused …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/04/nyregion/officer-told-grand-jury-he-meant-no-harm-to-eric-garner.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Opinion: Grand Jury Should Have Indicted NYPD Cop For Chokehold Death

There should have been an indictment for Officer Daniel Pantaleo. Instead, it looks like the Staten Island grand jury is an agent of the prosecutor or police. And it fuels the notion that there is one system of justice for whites and another for blacks …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/eric-garner-chokehold-death-led-indictment-article-1.2032450

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NYC Public Advocate Wants Special Prosecutor On Police Misconduct

Amid the responses coming after the grand jury’s decision not to charge an officer in the chokehold death of a Staten Island man is a call from the NYC Public Advocate “to create a special prosecutor in all cases involving police misconduct …

http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2014/12/nyc-public-advocate-wants-special-prosecutor-on-police-misconduct/

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de Blasio Administration Launches $130M Plan To Reduce Crime And The Number Of People With Behavioral And Mental Health Issues Behind Bars

This unprecedented, $130M, four-year investment is a key component of the de Blasio administration’s efforts to reduce unnecessary arrests and incarceration, and to direct criminal justice resources to where they will have the greatest …

http://www1.nyc.gov/site/criminaljustice/index.page

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Ex-Cons Returning To New York Prisons For New Felonies Hits All-Time Low

Almost 10% of former inmates get sent back to the big house for crimes committed after they’re released — the lowest recidivism rate since authorities began counting in 1985. At the same time, the overall prison return rate is about …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/returnees-ny-prisons-hits-time-data-article-1.2025646

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More Homeless Get Public Housing In NYC, But Shelter Population On Rise

Hundreds of homeless families in city shelters have moved to New York City public housing this year as part of a renewed effort to tackle the problem, but the number of people in shelters keeps growing. Mayor de Blasio is facing criticism …

http://online.wsj.com/articles/more-homeless-get-public-housing-in-new-york-city-but-shelter-population-on-rise-1416853510

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Opinion: Improvements For Rikers Island

Mayor de Blasio acknowledged he initially underestimated the dysfunction that had allowed violence and corruption to flourish at Rikers, adding he intends to make reforming this troubled system a top priority. But vigilance will be needed to …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/29/opinion/improvements-for-rikers-island.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Councilman Calls For New Traffic Summonses To Reflect Race

The NYPD would have to revamp its traffic summonses so motorists pulled over by cops could be tracked by race under a bill being considered in the City Council. The bill, which was quietly introduced at a council meeting by longtime police critic …

http://nypost.com/2014/11/27/councilman-calls-for-new-traffic-summonses-to-reflect-race/

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Rikers Correction Officer Fed Up With Security Measures Moons Colleagues

Correction Officer Colleen Ellis was caught on surveillance camera flashing her heinie at her co-workers after they asked her to take off her belt before she walked through a metal detector. The latest security measures for staff were put in place …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/exclusive-rikers-officer-fed-security-measures-moon-article-1.2028503

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For-Profit Prison Companies Foster “Treatment Industrial Complex”

As cash-strapped state and local governments shift resources from incarceration to treatment for individuals convicted of low-level drug crimes, for-profit prison companies are following the money and “undermining efforts to treat and …

http://www.frostillustrated.com/2014/profit-prison-companies-foster-treatment-industrial-complex/

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Advocates Identify Ways To Reduce Vermont’s Inmate Population

Vermonters for Criminal Justice Reform wants to trim the state’s inmate population and end the need for Vermont’s contract with Corrections Corp. of America, a for-profit prison operator Vermont paid $61 million to house prisoners in Arizona and …

http://vtdigger.org/2014/12/03/advocates-identify-ways-reduce-vermonts-inmate-population-2/

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UN Criticizes U.S. On Torture, Police Practices, Immigration Detention

The UN Committee Against Torture issued a report castigating the U.S.’s record on lack of accountability for torture, immigration detention, and abusive criminal justice practices such as solitary confinement and excessive use of force by …

https://www.aclu.org/human-rights/un-criticizes-us-torture-police-practices-immigration-detention

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Opinion: The Videos Inside Cops’ Heads

Let’s not kid ourselves about whether tragedies like the killing of Michael Brown can be averted by wider use of dashboard cameras, body cameras, and similar types of video surveillance by police officers. America faces a much deeper problem than …

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/errol-louis-videos-cops-heads-article-1.2025505

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Opinion: Does Ferguson Show That Cops Who Kill Get Off Too Easily?

The anger following the announcement that a Missouri grand jury chose not to indict a white police officer in the death of an unarmed man was not just set off by that one case. The FBI reported 461 homicides by officers last year, the most in …

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/11/25/does-ferguson-show-that-cops-who-kill-get-off-too-easily?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Poverty, Incarceration, And Criminal Justice Debt

Few realize how the justice system imposes debts on individuals. Worse still, that debt perpetuates mass incarceration. Individuals processed through the system are charged fees at every turn. But there are other, less visible costs as well …

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/12/03/388579/poverty-and-incarceration-in-us/

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Opinion: Mass Imprisonment And Public Health 

When public health authorities talk about an epidemic, they are referring to a disease that can spread rapidly, like the flu. But researchers are finding the term useful in understanding another destructive phenomenon — mass incarceration …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/27/opinion/mass-imprisonment-and-public-health.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Opinion: The Prison Problem

The problems at Florida’s Dept. of Corrections are so enduring, so ingrained in its deeply flawed culture that solutions are beyond the capability of just one leader. Whoever replaces DOC chief Michael Crews should know that …

http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/editorials/article4168975.html

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Arkansas’ Overcrowded Prisons Offer No Easy Fix

Take an exploding prison population, a call for tighter restrictions on parolees, and an unpopular proposal to raise money for a 1,000-bed prison. What do you get? A recipe for a huge headache legislators will face when they return to Arkansas’ …

http://www.couriernews.com/view/full_story/26180477/article-Overcrowded-prisons-offer-no-easy-fix

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Disability Advocates Seek Reform For Inmates’ Mental Health Care, Solitary

A Nebraska group that advocates for the disabled has joined the call for reforms in the use of solitary confinement in state prisons and for better mental health care behind bars. Disability Rights Nebraska released a report calling on the state to …

http://www.omaha.com/news/crime/mental-health-care-solitary-for-nebraska-inmates-need-reform-disability/article_92b6027e-213b-5324-b47c-9e7917c31c4c.html

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 At Angola Prison, Short Timers Learn Trades, Coping Skills From Lifers

It was drug abuse that landed Morrish at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, once known as the bloodiest prison in the U.S. He is among the 104 “short timers” who have been sentenced there as part of a growing “re-entry” court program  …

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2014/11/at_angola_prison_short_timers.html

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Michael Barlow Center Coaches Ex-Offenders On Finding Jobs

Mitchell-Clark sat across the desk from Childs, looked him in the eye, and asked the question most dreaded by anyone trying to get a job after getting out of prison: “Mr. Childs, have you ever been convicted of a crime?” Childs, who was …

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-holiday-giving-st-leonards-ministries-met-20141128-story.html

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Can Recidivism Rates Be Lowered Through Internet Coding?

Eighteen San Quentin inmates are learning to code through a new program offered by a San Francisco–based nonprofit. The Last Mile, which focuses on curbing recidivism, wants to give grads a marketable skill to use as a tool in …

https://nonprofitquarterly.org/policysocial-context/25256-can-recidivism-rates-be-lowered-through-internet-coding.html

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 Ex-CO Describes Prison Experience As “Insane Science Experiment”

A musician from England, Robert Reilly needed a job to support his family in the U.S. So he became a corrections officer. He says he was more accepted by inmates than staff. He felt like he was being paid to participate in some “insane …

http://www.correctionsone.com/corrections/articles/7921240-Ex-CO-describes-prison-experience-as-insane-science-experiment/

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The Poetic Justice Project Explores Incarceration With Commedia Dell’Arte

Humor is a powerful tool against hardship. A well-timed joke can relieve the tension, ease the pain, and transform our feelings.The Poetic Justice Project is a live theater group made up of formerly incarcerated individuals who …

http://www.santamariasun.com/art/12548/the-poetic-justice-project-explores-incarceration-with-commedia-dellarte-/

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