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

Sunday, January 4, 2015

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


Cuomo, Using Pardon Power, Gives Pair A “Second Chance”

Gov. Cuomo has pardoned two men, saying each deserves “a second chance.” One went to Alvaro Khalil Cumberbatch who works with The Fortune Society.  Says Fortune CEO JoAnne Page, “In pardoning Khalil, Gov. Cuomo has …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/01/nyregion/cuomo-using-pardon-power-gives-pair-a-second-chance.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Widespread Problems On Rikers Island Tough To Fix

The problems on Rikers — decades in the making — may take just as long to correct. “There’s no silver bullet,” said Martin Horn, the commissioner of city jails from 2003 to 2009. “I always say running a jail is like growing a garden. If you …

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_REFORMING_RIKERS_ABRIDGED_?SITE=FLPET&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

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Rikers Island Will Remain Under The Jurisdiction Of The Bronx DA

Governor Andrew Cuomo voted a bill that would have given Queens prosecutors jurisdiction over Rikers Island. Sponsors of the bill argued that moving cases to Queens would increase efficiency …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx-da-continue-prosecute-crime-rikers-island-article-1.2060269

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Arrests Plummet 66% With NYPD In Virtual Work Stoppage

It’s not a slowdown — it’s a virtual work stoppage. NYPD tickets and summonses for minor offenses have dropped off by a staggering 94% following the execution of two cops as officers feel betrayed by the mayor and fear for their safety …

http://nypost.com/2014/12/29/arrests-plummet-following-execution-of-two-cops/

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Opinion: Respect For NYPD Squandered In Attacks On Bill de Blasio

Mayor de Blasio isn’t going to say it, but somebody has to: With their acts of passive-aggressive contempt and self-pity, many police, led by their union, are squandering the department’s credibility, defacing its reputation, and shredding …

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/30/opinion/police-respect-squandered-in-attacks-on-de-blasio.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad&_r=1

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Opinion: The NYPD’s Insubordination—And Why The Right Should Oppose It

The virtual work stoppage unfolding in New York City illustrates one of several ways that powerful police unions can threaten public safety as they seek political leverage …

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/12/why-the-right-should-oppose-the-nypds-flagrant-insubordination/384140/

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Moves Begun To Mend New York Police Rift With Mayor

Commissioner Bratton began to lay out a strategy to repair the rift between NYC’s police force and Mayor de Blasio, a split that drew national attention when officers turned their backs on the mayor at a funeral for one of two slain officers …

http://www.wsj.com/articles/moves-begun-to-mend-new-york-police-rift-with-mayor-1419812813

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Speaker And Minority Leader Back Cuomo Call For Criminal Justice Reform

Assembly Speaker Silver and Senate Minority Leader Stewart-Cousins, Albany’s two top legislative Democrats, backed Gov. Cuomo’s call for changes to the state’s criminal justice system which disproportionately imprisons minorities, but rarely …

http://observer.com/2015/01/speaker-and-minority-leader-back-cuomo-call-for-criminal-justice-reform/

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N.Y. Senate Will Hold Hearings On Safety Of NYPD Officers

In the wake of the murders of two NYPD officers, the state Senate is planning a series of hearings focusing on police safety. Meanwhile, Assembly Democrats have been planning their own hearings to push for criminal justice reforms …

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/n-y-senate-plans-hearings-nypd-cops-safety-exclusive-article-1.2059287

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Opinion: U.S. Incarceration Rate Sickening, Disgraceful, And Far Exceeds That Of Every Other Nation

Currently, some 2.2 million people are doing time in our nation’s prisons. That’s a huge 500% increase in four decades. The reason hasn’t been a surge in crime rates, it’s been a change in sentencing policies. The consequences have been …

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/01/02/1353354/-U-S-incarceration-rate-sickening-disgraceful-and-far-exceeds-that-of-every-other-nation

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Charles Koch Wants To Change America’s Criminal Justice System

Charles Koch, the billionaire chairman of Koch Industries and leading conservative mega-donor, has set his sights on a new goal — reforming America’s criminal justice system. Koch said his own experiences in courts — including the time  …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/28/charles-koch-criminal-justice_n_6386884.html

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Opinion: Societies Must Plan For Reintegration Of Those Previously Incarcerated

If new prisons are built, they will be overcrowded after a generation because state laws will conform to populating this federally funded “cash cow” that employs entire communities. Building prisons is flawed thinking. It circumvents the real issue …

http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/12/societies_must_plan_for_reinte.html

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Lack of Black Prosecutors Poses Criminal Justice Problem

When grand juries decide not to indict suspects, they rely on information presented by prosecutors. Following controversial grand jury decisions,  some civil rights leaders are pointing out the need for more black prosecutors. Their hiring could …

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Lack-of-black-prosecutors-poses-criminal-justice-5981413.php

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The Year In Drug Policy: Movement At A Crossroads

The 43-year-old war on drugs had never seen such a barrage of opposition as it did in 2014, with successful pot legalization initiatives in several states, an approval of sentencing reform for low-level drug offenders in California, and …

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/12/27/forward-mementumtheyearindrugpolicy.html

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State Prison Populations Down To Lowest Point In A Decade

The number of Americans under supervision of state adult correctional systems has fallen to the lowest level in a decade, while the number of people serving time in federal prison fell for the first time in more than three decades. Data showed that …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/12/31/state-prison-populations-down-to-lowest-point-in-a-decade/

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Maine’s Prison Population Rate Lowest In U.S.

The number of Americans under the supervision of state adult correctional systems has fallen to the lowest level in a decade. In Maine, just 980 adults per 100,000 were under some form of supervision at the end of 2013 …

http://www.pressherald.com/2014/12/31/state-prison-populations-at-lowest-point-in-a-decade-maines-rate-lowest-in-u-s/

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As More Inmates Are Released From Prison, More Parolees Return

Nearly 2,000 murderers and robbers who spent decades locked up and now range from middle-aged to elderly are trying to find their way. Most succeed, but each month a few more fail, returning to the crime that put them in California prison …

http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-ff-pol-lifer-parole-20141228-story.html#page=1

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Alabama Prison Officials Weigh In On A Busy 2014

It’s been a busy year for Alabama’s overcrowded, underfunded, and budget-draining prison system. The U.S. Dept. of Justice kicked off 2014 with a letter to Alabama prison officials that assailed the “toxic sexualized culture” at …

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

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Opinion: Crime, Punishment, And Reform

Can Florida reduce or contain the economic and social costs of its criminal justice system while maintaining or improving public safety? The answer is yes. Yet achieving those goals requires broad-based support from politicians and …

http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20141230/OPINION/312309996

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A Year Of Legal Pot: Colorado’s Cannabis Experiment Puts It Into A Global Spotlight

By becoming the first place in the world to legalize commercial sales of marijuana to anyone over 21, Colorado made the worldwide debate over pot more vibrant than it has ever been. Those in favor of legalization now think of Colorado as …

http://www.denverpost.com/potanniversary/ci_27174837/colorados-cannabis-experiment-puts-it-into-global-spotlight

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Shoddy Examinations Leave Families In Pain — Untrained Medical Examiners Fail Relatives, Imperil Justice

Across North Carolina, medical examiners fail to follow crucial investigative steps, raising questions about the accuracy of thousands of death rulings. The living face the consequences. Killers can go free, and families may never learn why …

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/static/images/graphics/ME_Day1/docs/index.html

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Views Clash On Naming Boston Officers In Drunken Driving Cases

Specialists in the state’s public records law say that the Boston Police Dept. is violating the statute by refusing to release the names of five officers who were caught driving drunk. But Mayor Martin J. Walsh said he has no plans to …

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/12/30/advocates-say-boston-police-should-release-names-officers-arrested-for-drunken-driving/KKwqsaChTm5BnSxLOs0KDP/story.html

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