The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of February 2, 2015

Monday, February 2, 2015

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


State Panel Rips Rikers Staff In Gruesome Death Of Diabetic, Mentally Ill Inmate

The NYS Commission of Correction wants a federal probe into the alleged neglect of Bradley Ballard, who died after being deprived of medicine and showers. It found the treatment of Ballard “so incompetent as to shock the conscience” …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/panel-rips-rikers-staff-death-mentally-ill-inmate-article-1.2090198

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Rikers Officers Who Hogtied And Beat An Inmate In 2012 Are Fired

The NYC correction commissioner fired a captain and five Rikers guards who hogtied an inmate and then, while his hands were cuffed behind him and his ankles shackled, savagely beat him. A judge said she hoped it would send a message …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/22/nyregion/rikers-officers-who-beat-an-inmate-in-2012-are-fired.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Opinion: Reconciling Cops And Civilians Requires Being Good To Each Other

Says NYC police commissioner William Bratton, “There is a divide in America and in NYC. It is racial, but it is also about poverty and failed social systems and unequal access to the American Dream. On one hand are the protesters who …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/william-bratton-reconciling-cops-and-citizens-requires-being-good-to-each-other/2015/01/23/4ccd067e-a283-11e4-903f-9f2faf7cd9fe_story.html?hpid=z2

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Brooklyn Lockup Trims Number Of Prisoners

The NYC Dept. of Correction has quietly begun to move dozens of Brooklyn inmates to remote Rikers to reduce correction officer overtime and other expenses tied to the smaller facility. The policy shift marks an about-face from …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/city-drastically-pares-back-brooklyn-jail-cut-costs-article-1.2094237

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Nassau Defense Firm Asks Judge To Protect Privileged Attorney-Inmate Jail Calls

A judge is considering whether to stop the Nassau DA from getting recordings that could include inmates’ phone calls with their lawyers directly from the jail — a practice a Mineola criminal defense firm claims violates prisoners’ rights …

http://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/nassau-defense-firm-asks-judge-to-protect-privileged-attorney-inmate-jail-calls-1.9835010

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Gun Violence Surges Across City Compared To Last Year

Gun violence across the city has surged these past three weeks compared with the same period last year. Shootings were up 53% with 26 recorded incidents between Jan. 19 and 25. There were just 17 such incidents during the same period …

http://nypost.com/2015/01/27/gun-violence-surges-across-city-compared-to-last-year/

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National:
U.S. Spies On Millions of Cars

The Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists …

http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-spies-on-millions-of-cars-1422314779

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National:
Lawmakers Push To Require A Warrant For GPS Tracking By Police

Lawmakers in both parties are pushing to require that police have a warrant before tracking people’s locations via their cellphones and other GPS devices. “Buying a smartphone shouldn’t be interpreted as giving the government a free pass to …

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/230466-lawmakers-roll-out-gps-privacy-bill

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National:
Sheriffs Want Popular Police-Tracking App Disabled

Sheriffs are campaigning to pressure Google to turn off a feature on its Waze traffic software that warns drivers when police are near. They say the popular mobile app could put officers’ lives in danger …

http://www.star-telegram.com/news/nation-world/national/article8148741.html

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National:
Federal Imprisonment Rate, Taxpayer Costs Soar As States Curtail Expansion, Protect Public Safety

From 1980-2013, the federal imprisonment rate rose 518%, from 11 inmates for every 100,000 U.S. residents to 68. During the same period, annual spending on the federal prison system jumped 595%, from $970 million to over $6.7 billion …

http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/fact-sheets/2015/01/growth-in-federal-prison-system-exceeds-states

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National:
Millions Of Ex-Cons Still Can’t Get Jobs. Here’s How The White House Could Help Fix That

Now is the time for President Obama to act boldly to open up employment opportunities for the large numbers of Americans who have been unfairly locked out of the job market because of a criminal record, reads a report drafted by the …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/storyline/wp/2015/01/22/millions-of-ex-cons-still-cant-get-jobs-heres-how-the-white-house-could-help-fix-that/

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National:
Obama: Treating Drug Use As A Criminal Problem Is “Counterproductive”

President Barack Obama continues to speak out against mass incarceration, the devastating impact of our drug policies on communities of color, and his expectation that marijuana legalization will continue to spread …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tony-newman/obama-says-treating-drug_b_6528174.html

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National:
Parole Chief Leaving, Cites Lack Of Interest From Obama, Holder

The chairman of the U.S. Parole Commission is leaving after six years. He has yet to meet President Obama or have a one-on-one with AG General Holder whose centerpiece initiative has been prison reform. “The department hasn’t been …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/in-the-loop/wp/2015/01/27/parole-chief-leaving-cites-lack-of-interest-from-obama-holder/

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National:
Exonerations Hit Record High In 2014

An unprecedented 125 exonerations were recorded in the U.S. last year, and a majority involved the cooperation of an unlikely ally — law enforcement. Prosecutors and police initiated or cooperated in reversing 67 wrongful …

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/01/27/exonerations-record-high/22358511/

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National:
Sweden’s Remarkable Prison System Has Done What The U.S. Won’t Even Consider

In Nordic countries like Sweden, with far lower incarceration rates than the U.S., prison is about rehabilitation. And it works far more effectively. “Our role isn’t to punish. The punishment is the sentence — they are deprived of their freedom …

http://mic.com/articles/109138/sweden-has-done-for-its-prisoners-what-the-u-s-won-t

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Alabama:
Alabama Prison Commissioner Kim Thomas Resigns; Air Force Colonel Taking Over System

There’s a change at the top in Alabama’s troubled prison system. Department of Corrections Commissioner Kim Thomas resigned and Air Force Col. Jefferson S. Dunn will take over when he retires from the Air Force in March …

http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2015/01/alabama_prison_commissioner_ki.html

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California:
Hundreds March For Freedom At “Cages Kill” Rally In Santa Cruz

At least six people have died in the Santa Cruz County jail since August 2012.  Which is why hundreds came together to protest the deaths, to highlight the broader context of overcrowding and lack of healthcare inside CA prisons, and …

https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2015/01/26/18767550.php

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California:
New Report: Former Prisoners Often Don’t Know They Can Vote

California permits former prisoners to vote once they have completed their sentence or parole, but many formerly don’t know their rights, a new report has found. This is particularly important for African American and Latino …

http://www.blackvoicenews.com/regional/california/50077-new-report-former-prisoners-often-dont-know-they-can-vote.html

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California:
Campaign Demands More Funding For Reentry Programs

Supporters of the “50% For Jobs Not Jails” campaign rallied at the Alameda County Administration Building to urge the Board of Supervisors to increase funding for reentry programs and services for people coming out of incarceration …

http://peoplesworld.org/campaign-demands-more-funding-for-reentry-programs/

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Florida:
Scott Recommends Prison Budget Without Money For Investigations Into Inmate Deaths

After years of slashing funds for Florida’s prisons, Gov. Rick Scott released a proposed  budget that would inject $51.2M in new spending but fails to provide new resources to investigate inmate deaths – which reached a record …

http://miamiherald.typepad.com/nakedpolitics/2015/01/scotts-recommend-prison-budget-without-money-for-investigations-into-inmate-deaths.html

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Indiana:
Correctional Facility Will Allow Magazine To Be Distributed

A prisoners’ rights magazine banned by a Central Indiana correctional facility will now be allowed inside. GEO Group — New Castle Correctional Facility’s private operator — has agreed to distribute Prison Legal News after the publisher sued …

http://indianapublicmedia.org/news/correctional-facility-magazine-distributed-77303/

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Maryland:
The Politics Of Mercy

When Robert Ehrlich Jr. was governor of Maryland, he made clemency a priority, granting clemency more than 200 times. Should he run for president, he plans to hold up that record. “If you have this extraordinary power and fail to use it …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/01/23/the-politics-of-mercy?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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Missouri:
After Ferguson, Police Consider “Tactical Retreat” Instead Of Force In Certain Cases

Like many officers involved in deadly force encounters, Darren Wilson said his training took over when he shot Michael Brown in Ferguson. But what he had been trained differently? One possibility — simple but repugnant to some officers — is …

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/after-ferguson-police-consider-tactical-retreat-instead-of-force-in/article_7fa34fed-9770-5860-ad10-4358b4523b76.html

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Nebraska:
Nebraska Lawmakers Outline Steps For 2015 Prison Reform

Lawmakers who investigated Nebraska’s prison system will seek an expansion of mental and behavioral health services and sentencing reform to address overcrowding. Members of a special prisons committee vowed to …

http://www.theindependent.com/news/state/nebraska-lawmakers-outline-steps-for-prison-reform/article_d584af86-4171-54bb-8c1a-f9b1947fe758.html

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Nebraska:
Opinion: A Sensible First Budget

The budget presented by Neb. Gov. Pete Ricketts leaves $22.4 million in uncommitted funding that could be directed to prison reform. The question is whether that will be enough, considering the possibility that new prison space …

http://journalstar.com/news/opinion/editorial/editorial-a-sensible-first-budget/article_98cfac19-452c-52ff-bd38-e8c077566852.html

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New Hampshire:
65 Inmates Apply For Earned Time

Corrections commissioner Bill Wrenn has already certified 65 prisoners as having completed the work required to earn sentence reductions, some as large as 13 months. But those model inmates still have to win approval from …

http://patch.com/new-hampshire/concord-nh/65-inmates-apply-earned-time

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New Jersey:
Newark Police Unions Say Civilian Review Board Plans Would Violate Law

Police labor leaders cried foul over Mayor Baraka’s plan to form a civilian complaint review board to investigate allegations of misconduct against officers. The president of Newark’s Fraternal Order of Police said it would alter …

http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2015/01/newark_police_unions_say_civilian_review_board_pla.html

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Ohio:
Forcing Change: A Decade Of Civil Rights Lawsuits Against Cleveland Police Preceded U.S. Justice Department Investigation
 

For a decade before the U.S. Justice Dept. told Cleveland Mayor Jackson his police too often use excessive force, people made similar allegations in over 60 lawsuits that cost at least $8 million to resolve. Citizens accused officers of …

http://www.cleveland.com/forcing-change/index.ssf/2015/01/forcing_change_a_decade_of_civ.html#incart_river

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Texas:
See No Evil: A New Report Details Abuse Of Blind, Deaf, And Disables Inmates In A Texas Prison

In a letter from his cell at the Estelle Unit in Huntsville, TX, Floyd Blackburn wrote: “One sergeant stuck his hand through the bars of my cell and hit me on the head and said, ‘What are you going to do blind man? I will beat your blind ass’” …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/01/27/see-no-evil?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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