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

Friday, December 26, 2014

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


Gunman May Have Used Garner And Brown Cases To Justify Police Killings, Experts Say

The portrait of Ismaaiyl Brinsley — who authorities say fatally shot two NY police officers — is still being filled out. But the facts that have surfaced, experts say, suggest that, like most people who assault uniformed officers, he was most likely …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/23/nyregion/gunman-may-have-used-garner-and-brown-cases-to-justify-police-killings-experts-say.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad 

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Widening Rift Between de Blasio And The NYC Police Savagely Ripped Open

On the heels of two police deaths, the long-simmering tensions between Mayor de Blasio and the NYC Police Dept. he pledged to reshape have reached an extraordinary nadir. The president of the city’s largest police union blamed him …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/22/nyregion/a-widening-rift-between-de-blasio-and-the-police-is-savagely-ripped-open.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Opinion: Pat Lynch, Who’s The Enemy In Your NYPD Union’s War?

Apparently believing his own angry rhetoric hasn’t done the trick, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Lynch is calling on cops to split New York into their friends and enemies. He is also pointing members toward an unlawful …

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/editorial-enemy-pat-article-1.2050367

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Opinion: The NYC Police Union Has A Long History Of Bullying City Hall

Only hours after two NYC officers were executed, the president of the largest police union rushed to the microphones to blame the killings on Mayor Bill de Blasio and those who demonstrated against excessive force by the police. “There is blood …

http://qz.com/317338/the-nyc-police-union-has-a-long-history-of-bullying-city-hall/

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De Blasio, With Bratton By Side, Seeks Balance After Two Killings

Mayor de Blasio, publicly silent and largely out of view the day after two police officers were killed in Brooklyn, re-emerged straining to demonstrate leadership over a fractured city. He visited the families of the slain officers, spoke to …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/23/nyregion/mayor-bill-de-blasio-nypd-officers-shooting.html

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Cops Arrest Man, Find Guns In His Home After He Allegedly Says Murdered NYPD Officers Should Have Been White

A shotgun and bulletproof vests are part of the find. A witness overheard the suspect saying he wanted to kill police and the two victims — Officers Wenjian Liu, an Asian, and Rafael Ramos, a Latino — should have been white …

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/man-arrested-threatening-kill-cops-police-article-1.2056504

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Controversy Erupts At Public Meeting On New Rikers Island Isolation Units

Hundreds packed into a meeting of the Board of Correction which oversees NYC’s jail system. At issue was the use of solitary confinement on Rikers and whether to build a new, highly restrictive Enhanced Supervision Housing unit …

http://solitarywatch.com/2014/12/22/controversy-erupts-at-public-hearing-on-new-rikers-island-isolation-units/

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U.S. Plans To Sue New York Over Rikers Island Conditions

Federal prosecutors plan to sue NYC over widespread civil rights violations in the handling of adolescent inmates at Rikers Island, making clear their dissatisfaction with the city’s progress in reining in brutality by guards and improving …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/19/nyregion/us-plans-to-sue-new-york-over-rikers-island-conditions.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad&_r=0

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Report: Solitary Confinement Violating Human Rights Of Youth

Minority youth inmates in New York prisons are disproportionately subjected to solitary confinement, which has disastrous effects on their physical and mental health and is a violation of their civil rights, says a new report by …

http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5481-report-solitary-confinement-violating-human-rights-of-youth

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State Committee Urges Cuomo, Legislators To Open Police Files

The state Committee on Open Government cited a “corrosive lack of transparency” in a unanimous vote urging the governor to repeal a 1976 statute that prevents the public from accessing the personnel records of police and correction officers …

http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Report-says-police-files-should-be-open-to-public-5967527.php?t=114de8601e

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Milwaukee Officer Won’t Be Charged In Fatal Shooting Of Black Man

A prosecutor won’t charge a white officer in the April death of a black man, setting the stage for potentially tense protests as the use of deadly force by police remains in the national spotlight. “It’s very hard to charge an officer with homicide if …

http://online.wsj.com/articles/milwaukee-police-officer-not-charged-in-fatal-shooting-1419266384

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Shifting Away From Solitary

More states have passed solitary confinement reforms this year than in the past 16 years. In 2014, one of the most controversial practices in criminal justice, solitary confinement, faced unprecedented challenges. Ten states adopted measures …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2014/12/23/shifting-away-from-solitary?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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Google Reveals Government Attempt To Scrub Alleged Prisoner Abuse

Google released information about the government requests it received to take down its content, revealing attempts in the U.S. to scrub content related to alleged prisoner abuse … one from the Georgia Dept. of Corrections to …

http://www.nationaljournal.com/tech/google-reveals-u-s-government-attempt-to-scrub-alleged-prisoner-abuse-20141222

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Opinion: The Steep Cost Of America’s High Incarceration Rate

About one of every 100 U.S. adults is in prison. That’s 5-10 times higher than in Western Europe. An overreliance on incarceration is exacting excessive costs on individuals and communities, as well as on the national economy …

http://www.wsj.com/articles/robert-rubin-and-nicholas-turner-the-steep-cost-of-americas-high-incarceration-rate-1419543410

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Why Police Spying On Americans Is Everyone’s Problem

Many working on police reform issues have identified the growing militarization of police tactics and equipment as a problem for over two decades. What is less observable but equally dangerous to American civil liberties is the increasing …

http://www.defenseone.com/ideas/2014/12/why-police-spying-americans-everyones-problem/101598/

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Legislators Could See Prison Bill By January: Here Are Some Options Under Consideration

Expanded use of house arrest? Driver’s licenses for ex-cons? More resources for overworked parole officers? All are among the reform measures that an Alabama prison task force is considering for a bill that could be drafted by …

http://www.al.com/news/mobile/index.ssf/2014/12/legislators_could_see_prison_b.html

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“Black Lives Matter” Rallies Unite Bay Area Public Defenders

Public defenders staged courthouse demonstrations across the Bay Area to urge reform in the criminal justice system’s treatment of people of color. Wearing a T-shirt reading “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” SF Public Defender Adachi called for …

http://richmondconfidential.org/2014/12/18/black-lives-matter-rallies-unite-bay-area-public-defenders/

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Drug Sentencing Reform Stirs Interest — And Controversy

Massachusetts over the years has relaxed mandatory sentences for drug crimes that once packed its prisons with thousands of nonviolent offenders. But opponents of drug sentencing laws are pushing for complete repeal, arguing that …

http://www.newburyportnews.com/news/local_news/drug-sentencing-reform-stirs-interest—-and-controversy/article_b4815d60-9060-57e9-8c63-1e9390d5ea57.html

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From Pot To Prison Reform, What Did And Didn’t Happen In Lame Duck Session

Michigan lawmakers passed a flurry of legislation before adjourning for the year. Among the bills on their way to Gov. Rick Snyder’s desk are those that would make it easier for non-violent criminals to get their records expunged, and another that …

http://patch.com/michigan/rochester/pot-prison-reform-what-did-and-didnt-happen-lame-duck-session

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Opinion: Worthy Recommendations For Reform

The legislative committee that spent months investigating the Nebraska prison system has the right idea. To change the culture of the troubled department, it’s best to start with a clean sweep of the staffers who were chiefly responsible for …

http://journalstar.com/news/opinion/editorial/editorial-worthy-recommendations-for-reform/article_7d0cd2bd-f434-56dd-820a-61b16b175d2a.html

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Sheriff Dart: It’s Time To Stop Packing The Jail

Cook County (Illinois) sheriff Tom Dart is responsible for overseeing nearly 10,000 inmates deemed unfit to go free by prosecutors and judges. But Dart has made headlines for saying repeatedly that too many people are locked up …

http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2014/12/22/sheriff-dart-its-time-to-stop-packing-the-jail

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Opinion: Prison Is Not Always The Solution

In the 1990s, Illinois prisons were run by the gangs. That is no longer the case, I’m told, but if you squeeze 49,000 inmates into space for 32,000, as the state does, there’s a lot more opportunity for the bad guys to teach the new guys …

http://www.news-gazette.com/opinion/columns/2014-12-21/prison-not-always-solution.html

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Dallas-Area Chiefs Join Legislative Push For Police Body Cameras

North Texas police have slowly been putting body cameras on their officers in recent years. Now, with a national clamor for the gadgets after grand juries declined to indict officers who killed unarmed black men, authorities here want to …

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20141217-dallas-area-chiefs-join-legislative-push-for-police-body-cameras.ece

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Transitional Housing In North Richmond Helps Previously Incarcerated Women

It took $250,000 and help from multiple agencies, but two women trying to overcome their criminal pasts are moving into a transitional home in N. Richmond, CA — and taking steps to getting their lives on track. “People like us don’t …

http://www.contracostatimes.com/richmond/ci_27163285/transitional-housing-north-richmond-helps-previously-incarcerated-women

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Charlottesville Man Receives Right To Vote, Registers Immediately At Governor’s Media Conference

Changes to the voting application, including a shorter form for those formerly incarcerated for more serious offenses — from 13 pages to one — and removing additional barriers to restoration, mean that more Virginians will see their rights …

http://augustafreepress.com/charlottesville-man-receives-right-vote-registers-immediately-governors-media-conference/

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