The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of January 19, 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015


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


Raise New York Criminal Age To 18, No Teens In Adult Jail

Gov. Cuomo will submit legislation incorporating recommendations made by a juvenile justice panel, including raising the age of criminal responsibility in NY from 16 to 18, shifting nonviolent offenses for those under 18 to family court, and …

http://www.newsday.com/news/region-state/panel-raise-ny-criminal-age-to-18-no-teens-in-adult-jail-1.9822887

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Study: More NYC Defendants Sent To Treatment Instead Of Prison After Harsh Drug Laws Reformed

More NYC residents arrested on felony drug charges are being sent to treatment instead of prison since harsh state drug laws were reformed in 2009, but still only 1 in 5 eligible defendants is actually enrolled in a program …

http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/6b0e0a5cf49a457f8305e3b2d9d34b42/NY–Rockefeller-Drug-Law-Reform

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Opinion: Failures In Screening Rikers Jail Guards

New York’s notoriously corrupt and violent Rikers jail got that way after city officials let the correction officers’ union run the complex as it saw fit. The result was a system in which guards could beat up inmates for minor offenses, like …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/17/opinion/failures-in-screening-rikers-jail-guards.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Data Show New York Police Are Resuming Their Work

Police activity in NYC remained at a lower level than during the same period in past years, but continued its rise since enforcement came to a near standstill, the result of a citywide slowdown tied to the killings of two officers in December …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/20/nyregion/after-police-slowdown-arrests-and-summonses-continue-to-rise-in-new-york.html?rref=nyregion&module=Ribbon&version=context%C2%AEion=Header&action=click&contentCollection=New%20York&pgtype=article&_r=0

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National:
Obama Calls For Criminal Justice Reform In State Of The Union

President Barack Obama used part of his State on the Union address to call for bipartisan criminal justice reform. He referenced the protests over the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York, and said …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/20/obama-criminal-justice-reform_n_6471630.html

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National:
With Prisons Overflowing, Republicans And Democrats Come Together For Change

Republicans and Democrats indicated at the start of the legislative term that 2015 is the year for criminal justice reform. One of the few issues they seem to agree on is the need to reduce our prison population, now over 2.3 million inmates …

http://nationswell.com/criminal-justice-reform-democrat-republican-support/

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National:
Obama Orders Review Of Police Militarization

President Obama took steps to curb a federal program that arms local police with surplus military equipment. The move is a part of a broader effort to rebuild trust between law enforcers and local communities in the wake of the shooting death …

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/229816-obama-orders-review-of-police-militarization#.VLuBB5yLw0I.twitter

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National:
AG Holder Ends Incentive For Law Enforcement To Seize Property

AG Eric Holder has issued an order establishing a new policy prohibiting federal agencies from accepting civil asset forfeiture assets seized by state and local law enforcement agencies unless the owner is convicted of a crime …

http://www.drugpolicy.org/news/2015/01/attorney-general-holder-ends-incentive-law-enforcement-seize-property

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National:
Five Corporations You’ve Never Heard Of Are Making Millions From Mass Incarceration

Likely the most well-known prison profiteers are the Corrections Corp. of America and The GEO Group. They pulled in $3.3 billion last year running  private prisons and immigration detention centers. Here are five more companies …

http://truth-out.org/news/item/28501-five-corporations-you-ve-never-heard-of-making-millions-from-mass-incarceration

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National:
Restore Pell Grants For Prisoners

The Dept. of Education has clarified the eligibility rules for Federal Pell Grant funding.  Although Congress barred Pell Grants in 1994 for those confined in “Federal or State Penal institutions,” according to the clarification …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/spearit/restore-pell-grants-for-p_b_6488342.html

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National:
In Ferguson, Push For Criminal Justice Reform Draws Comparisons To ’60s Fight For Civil Rights

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, a Texas Democrat sees similarities between the civil rights movement led by Dr. King in the 1960s and the criminal justice debate by a new generation of activists that has ignited demonstrations across the country …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/19/us/in-ferguson-push-for-criminal-justice-reform-draws-comparisons-to-60s-fight-for-civil-rights.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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National:
U.S. Officials To Lead Police-Shootings Forum

Top U.S. justice officials joined local community members for a daylong discussion aimed at addressing the controversial issues that have arisen from recent police shootings in Cleveland and other cities. The meeting will bring …

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/01/21/u-s–officials-to-lead-police-shootings-forum.html

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National:
Groups Call For Additional Reform On Prison Phone Rates

A coalition of civil rights, faith, labor, media justice, and others from around the country wrote in support of reforms to lower predatory prison phone rates. The letter urges the FCC to eliminate site commission payments, which can …

http://www.civilrights.org/archives/2015/1503-fcc-letter.html

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Alabama:
Opinion: Now Is The Time For Comprehensive Reform Of Alabama’s Criminal Justice System

The state of overcrowding in our prisons and the operation of the criminal justice system that feeds them has finally gripped the attention of people in Alabama. While public discourse is good, the talk has revealed a dire need for …

http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/01/now_is_the_time_for_comprehens.html

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Alabama:
Prison Reform: Cautious Optimism From Lawmakers

Gov. Robert Bentley and legislative leaders said that efforts to address the massive overcrowding in state prisons will be at the top of their agenda.  The in-house inmate population reached 186% of built capacity in September …

http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/news/local/alabama/2015/01/17/prison-reform-cautious-optimism-lawmakers/21943481/

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Alabama:
SPLC Goes To Trial Today To Curtail Use Of Pepper Spray On Children In Birmingham, Ala., Public Schools

When K.B. was a 10th-grader in a Birmingham high, she was walking to class in tears after a boy made inappropriate comments. After being told to “calm down” by a police officer, she was doused in the face with pepper spray and handcuffed …

http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/splc-goes-to-trial-today-to-curtail-use-of-pepper-spray-on-children-in-birmingham-

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Florida:
New Florida Prison Boss Doubles Down On Reforms

In a moment of candor, Florida’s new prisons chief told a Senate committee that private contractors have provided inadequate medical care to Florida’s inmates while crumbling infrastructure and years of staffing cuts have fostered …

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/special-reports/florida-prisons/article7805955.html

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Florida:
Mayor Calls For End To Mugshots Used In Target Training

North Miami Beach Mayor George Vallejo called the practice of using mugshots for target training “offensive and unacceptable” after the city’s police department was roundly criticized for using mugshots of African American men for sniper training …

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/north-miami/article7620416.html

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Maryland:
Report Tells Stories Of People Given Parole-Eligible Life Sentences Yet Denied Release

A new report, “Still Blocking the Exit,” tells the stories of many given parole-eligible life sentences who have been denied release despite being recommended for it. The report was presented at a press conference in Annapolis, where …

http://aclu-md.org/press_room/207

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Massachusetts:
Bill Aims To Reform Sentencing, Add Jobs

Two lawmakers have introduced legislation to reduce the number of people imprisoned by the state and save taxpayers millions a year by overhauling sentencing laws and expanding job training. The bill, dubbed “Jobs not Jails” by …

http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/01/20/bill-aims-reduce-prison-population-and-divert-savings-jobs-programs/vaZajyGAaiYYO1x0of3ubK/story.html

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Mississippi:
Bills Would Feed Inmates Deer, MREs

Mississippi inmates may soon be chowing on venison, if a bill becomes law. But if another measure passes this year, many prison inmates would be living in tents, put to work to pay child support, and eating military rations …

http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/01/21/inmates-let-eat-deer-mres/22114985/

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Nebraska:
Nebraska Prison Reform Proposed

If Nebraska will take a few steps, it could reduce its prison population and avoid spending hundreds of millions to build a new prison. Better use of probation, increased supervision of inmates released from prison, and improvements in …

http://wnax.com/news/180081-nebraska-prison-reform-proposed/

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Nebraska:
Price Of Inaction On Prison Reform: $261M

A state senator has introduced a bill to spend more than $261 million to add prison space. But, he insists, he doesn’t want to spend the money. And he doesn’t want to build a new prison. Sen. Colby Coash says he introduced the measure as …

http://nebraskaradionetwork.com/2015/01/16/price-of-inaction-on-prison-reform-261m/

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Nebraska:
Opinion: Study Offers Starting Point On Prison Reform

There is no single answer for overhauling Nebraska’s prison system. But there are many steps that can improve how the state punishes and rehabilitates criminals. Nebraska must act because it is coping with prisons so crowded that …

http://www.omaha.com/opinion/world-herald-editorial-study-offers-starting-point-on-prison-reform/article_2011b87e-8cef-5513-8ad1-9c2da747fba4.html

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Oklahoma:
Reducing Prison Population Should Be A Key Priority For Gov. Fallin, State Legislature
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          eremonies, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin pledged to prioritize health, education, and criminal justice reform, adding that the state’s main objective should be reducing its rising prison population. Nonviolent offenders are filling Oklahoma’s prisons to the brim …

http://www.enidnews.com/opinion/reducing-prison-population-should-be-a-key-priority-for-fallin/article_4376ba4e-9d00-11e4-acbc-17dd4c5f48d8.html

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Utah:
Texas Experts Say Prison Reform Best Way To Control Costs

A pair of experts on prison reform from Texas made the case for making sweeping changes in Utah’s criminal justice system at the same time a new site is being sought for the Utah State Prison. They said that’s the best way to control …

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865619703/Texas-experts-say-prison-reform-best-way-to-control-costs.html

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Utah:
State Lawmaker Says Current System Is Setting Offenders Up To Fail Upon Release

Utah is in line for a major makeover of the corrections system. Not just a new home for the state prison, but a change in philosophy, thinking in terms of rehabilitation as opposed to incarceration. “We’re close to doing something really …

http://www.good4utah.com/story/d/story/state-lawmaker-says-current-system-is-setting-offe/12972/00uqoPknOUWjXco5r1cEUQ

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Utah:
Opinion: For A Safer Society, Send Fewer To Prison

As law enforcement officials sworn to protect the public, we hope the first time we arrest someone will be the last. Unfortunately, we know that too often we will see these people back in the system. Nearly half of all people leaving prison in Utah …

http://www.sltrib.com/opinion/2059382-155/op-ed-for-a-safer-society-send

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Wisconsin:
No New Conviction, But Sent Back To Prison

More than half of the 8,000 people sent to Wisconsin’s prisons in 2013 were locked up without a trial — and they weren’t found guilty of new crimes. Some were punished for violating probation by doing things such as using a cellphone …

http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/watchdogreports/no-new-conviction-but-sent-back-to-prison-b99420782z1-288939871.html

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