The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of February 9, 2015

Monday, February 9, 2015

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


Study Finds Court Fees Also Punish The Families Of Those Who Owe

A report on the growth of court fees that are charged to often-impoverished offenders is focusing on another group that pays — their families. David Silva, a group facilitator at The Fortune Society, says a lot of his financial burden fell …

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/01/29/382380183/study-finds-court-fees-also-punish-the-families-of-those-who-owe

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Bratton Urges Boost In Penalties For Resisting Arrest

NYPD Commissioner Bratton urged state lawmakers to boost the punishment for resisting arrest from misdemeanor to felony. He said “too many people still resist arrest” because the offense rarely gets prosecuted …

http://nypost.com/2015/02/04/bratton-urges-boost-in-penalties-for-resisting-arrest/

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Bratton Rejects Cuomo Call For Independent Monitors

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton expressed concern over Gov. Andrew
Cuomo’s call to have an independent monitor investigate when unarmed civilians
are killed by police and his proposal to create statewide minimum standards for …

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/02/8561671/bratton-rejects-cuomo-call-independent-monitors

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Opinion: “Broken Windows” Is Immoral, Ineffective, And Out Of Time

Even with the recent work slowdown by officers — cops stopped arresting and ticketing people for minor infractions — Mayor de Blasio continues to defend “broken windows” policing, a serious moral lapse by …

http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinions/5557-broken-windows-immoral-ineffective-a-out-of-time-bratton-de-blasio-gangi

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Opinion: Many Ways For Braton To Fix Broken Windows

The question isn’t whether preserving order is important, but if cops should be the ones to deal with low-end disorder. In NYC, a dozen agencies already issue tickets for breaches of the peace.  No cops. No arrests. Justice, but not criminal justice …

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/rory-lancman-ways-bratton-fix-broken-windows-article-1.2098495

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Opinion: Rooting Out Brutality at Rikers Island

NYC’s correction commissioner did the right thing when he fired a captain and five guards who tied up and savagely beat an inmate at Rikers in the spring of 2012. But the fact that it took nearly three years to dismiss the officers reveals — again …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/31/opinion/rooting-out-brutality-at-rikers-island.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Brooklyn DA Says Review Unit Will Take On Non-Murder Cases

Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson has expanded the work of his office’s Conviction Review Unit to study whether defendants in certain non-murder cases were wrongfully convicted. The Unit has studied 31 murder convictions since it …

http://www.newyorklawjournal.com/home/id=1202716411440?kw=Thompson%20Says%20Review%20Unit%20Will%20Take%20on%20Non-Murder%20Cases&et=editorial&bu=New%20York%20Law%20Journal&cn=20150129&src=EMC-Email&pt=Daily%20News

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NYPD Plans Initiatives To Fight Terrorism, Improve Community Relations

The future of the NYPD will include patrol officers with more time to visit with community members and learn their concerns. It will also include more high-powered weapons for a new unit of specially trained officers focused on …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/30/nyregion/nypd-plans-initiatives-to-fight-terrorism-and-improve-community-relations.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Serious Crimes Plunged In January, NYPD Bigs Say 

While murders were up 18% in January and shootings were up 28%, only around 8,000 major crimes were committed citywide, according to cops’ statistics. That’s the best opening month since 1993 …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/serious-crimes-plunged-january-nypd-bigs-sa-article-1.2101194

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Police Union President Patrick Lynch Gets Hostile Reception During Bronx Precinct Visit

“Nobody’s seen him in the Bronx,” they yelled. The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association chief found a room full of angry cops and posters calling for his replacement. After 10 minutes, nearly three-fourths of the crowd stormed out …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/police-union-chief-hostile-reception-bronx-precinct-article-1.2102705

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Lawyers Who Appeared In Anti-Police Video Are Forced To Resign

Two lawyers from a city-funded group were forced to resign over their appearance in a video advocating the killing of police.  The Bronx Defenders was given a deadline to present disciplinary actions or lose its $20M contract …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/05/nyregion/lawyers-who-appeared-in-anti-police-video-are-forced-to-resign.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Mayor de Blasio Announces The Next Phase Of NYC’s Young Men’s Institute, Opening New Doors For Young Men Of Color

First launched by Mayor Bloomberg in 2011, NYC’s Young Men’s Initiative will launch four  programs aimed at increasing literacy in children, improving graduation rates and workforce readiness, and protecting youth from violent crime …

http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/077-15/mayor-de-blasio-the-next-phase-nyc-s-young-men-s-initiative-opening-new-doors-for

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Felons, Addicts, Immigrants: This Bakery Will Hire Anyone

For the last 30 years, Greyston Bakery, in Yonkers, N.Y., has made it a policy to hire anyone who comes in the door, without asking questions or even looking at a resume. As a result, Greyston has a staff of former addicts, felons, and …

http://grist.org/food/felons-addicts-immigrants-this-bakery-will-hire-anyone/

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National:
Opinion: Too many American Lives Are Thrown Away In Solitary Confinement

“I’m losing my sanity,” one prisoner wrote. “You could not tell day from night,” another reported. Inmates told of paranoia, hallucinations, bizarre sleep habits, self-mutilation, and constant screaming. These aren’t accounts from …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/too-many-american-lives-are-thrown-away-in-solitary-confinement/2015/02/04/7bff7112-acb9-11e4-9c91-e9d2f9fde644_story.html

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National:
Paul, Leahy Revive Mandatory Sentencing Reform Bill

Senators Rand Paul and Patrick Leahy revived legislation designed to limit the use of mandatory minimum sentencing laws. The bill — the Justice Safety Valve Act — gives federal judges the authority to give sentences lower than the mandatory …

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/231775-rand-paul-revives-mandatory-sentencing-reform-bill

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National:
States See Drop In Juvenile Prison Populations As Reforms Take Hold

A falling crime rate and new reforms to the way juveniles are treated by the criminal justice system have dramatically cut the number of young people in state prisons, according to a new report that highlights the success of some of those reforms …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2015/01/29/states-see-marked-drop-in-juvenile-prison-populations-as-reforms-take-hold/

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National:
For Profit Prisons Offers Investors Moral, Financial Challenges

As regulatory risk has been reduced and performance expectations have risen, for-profit prisons have seen their stock rise in price while some voice objections. For-profit prisons are incented to keep prisoners in prison longer …

http://www.valuewalk.com/2015/02/for-profit-prisons-investors/

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National:
Opinion: How Conservatives Are Getting Right On Crime

Crime has long been a conservative issue. In the ’70s and ’80s, conservatives clear solutions: more guards, more bars, and more prison beds. Now conservatives are spearheading another kind of criminal justice reform. Today it isn’t about …

http://thefederalist.com/2015/02/03/how-conservatives-are-getting-right-on-crime/

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National:
On These 5 Things, Republicans Actually Might Work With Dems To Do Something Worthwhile

In the past, bills aimed at overhauling the criminal-justice system have stagnated on Capitol Hill. But the bipartisan players who are now coming together to push for change means that there are some reforms that could realistically gain traction …

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/5-areas-where-we-could-see-real-bipartisan-reform-criminal-justice

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National:
Koch Brother Teams Up With Liberals On Criminal Justice
Reform

Days after word emerged that the billionaire Koch brothers will spend a $1B to elect conservatives in the 2016 elections, Charles Koch sent an adviser to DC to urge Republicans to work with Democrats on a key issue — criminal-justice reform …

http://time.com/3686797/charles-koch-criminal-justice/

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National:
Inside The Prison System’s Illicit Digital World

Prisons are supposed to be technological dead zones. Under the surface, though, America’s correctional institutions are buzzing with illicit tech activity. Some inmates use contraband cell phones to send selfies and texts to loved ones. Others use …

http://fusion.net/story/41931/inside-the-prison-systems-illicit-digital-world/

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Alabama:
Prison Reform Group Looks For Solutions

A prison reform group suggested creating a new felony class for the least serious crimes as one of the solutions for Alabama’s chronically overcrowded prisons.  Drug possession, fraudulent use of a credit card, nonviolent …

http://www.gadsdentimes.com/article/20150129/WIRE/150129727?Title=Prison-reform-group-looks-for-solutions

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Alabama:
Sheriff Mike Hale: State Prison Reform Proposals “Let Criminals Off Cheap”

“I’m not for letting criminals off cheap by devaluing our victims,” said Jefferson County (AL) Sheriff Mike Hale. He is not happy about the proposals for state prison reform. “Seems to me that finding enough prison space ought not be a problem …

http://www.abc3340.com/story/27989446/sheriff-mike-hale-state-prison-reform-proposals-let-criminals-off-cheap

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California:
Federal Judge Orders California To Stop Isolation Housing Of Disabled Inmates

A federal judge in Oakland has ordered California to stop the “regular” practice of putting disabled inmates into segregation units because it lacks room elsewhere in its prisons. Inmates in these units complained they spent most of their time …

http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-ff-federal-judge-orders-california-to-stop-isolation-housing-of-disabled-inmates-20150203-story.html

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Connecticut:
Malloy Proposes “Second-Chance” Measures To Reform CT Criminal Justice

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, declaring America has gotten away from being a “second-chance society,” has proposed major changes in the criminal justice system that would treat drug possession as a misdemeanor and eliminate mandatory …

http://www.nhregister.com/government-and-politics/20150203/malloy-proposes-second-chance-measures-to-reform-connecticut-criminal-justice

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Florida:
Florida Senators Are Meeting To Discuss Prison Reform

Florida senators are looking at a bill that would punish guards who abuse inmates as well as other staff who contribute to prisoner mistreatment. With over 340 recorded deaths, 2014 marked the deadliest year on record for Florida’s …

http://www.news4jax.com/news/governor-scott-planning-prison-reform/31044006

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Florida:
Opinion: Prison Abuses And Crumbling Infrastructure: Hard Time Or Bad Management?

State elected officials, including Gov. Rick Scott, appear to be awakening to the fiasco that is the Florida Dept. of Corrections. Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman Greg Evers made an unannounced visit to a prison and found …

http://opinionzone.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2015/02/04/prison-abuses-and-crumbling-infrastructure-hard-time-or-bad-management/

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Florida:
My Journey With Securus: Prison Phone Monopoly Punishes Loved Ones 

Each week, I add my hard-earned money to Securus, a monopoly of a prison phone company only because my love for an incarcerated person weighs more than my outrage over its sky-high costs. In three weeks, I funneled $344.75 into …

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/28872-my-journey-with-securus-prison-phone-monopoly-punishes-loved-ones

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Illinois:
Gov. Rauner Says Illinois Should Hire More Prison Guards, Reform Parole System

Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to hire more prison guards, reform the parole system, and invest in a program that keeps non-violent offenders out of prison. He wants to continue to invest in a program known as Adult Redeploy that helps fund …

http://www.dailyjournal.net/view/story/1ff4ce537e964873888b1d04be5eb665/IL–State-of-the-State-Prisons/

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Kansas:
Bill On Marijuana Sentencing Reform Could Reach Kansas House Soon

Kansas state lawmakers may move forward with softening penalties for those in possession of marijuana. The bill would drop first- and second-time pot possession offenses below the felony level and save the state $800,000 a year …

http://www.kake.com/home/headlines/Bill-on-marijuana-sentencing-reform-could-reach-Kansas-House-next-week-290551311.html

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Mississippi:
Mississippi Sheriff Wants Inmates To Pay For Non-Emergency Treatment

Jackson County supervisors have approved a resolution authorizing Sheriff Mike Ezell to establish a program to charge inmates for access to a registered nurse for non-emergency medical attention. He wants to charge a fee of $10 per visit …

http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/02/03/mississippi-inmates-charged-for-non-emergency-treatment/22788353/

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Missouri:
Ferguson, MO Police Begin Testing New “Less-Lethal” Attachment For Guns 

About a month after a white officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, MO, the city’s assistant police chief took to Google and searched under the words “less lethal.” What he found was an odd-looking device docked onto a …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ferguson-mo-police-department-is-first-in-us-to-test-less-lethal-gun-attachment/2015/02/03/c6772af8-abb7-11e4-ad71-7b9eba0f87d6_story.html

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Ohio:
Cleveland Police Officers Begin Using Body Cameras On City’s East Side

Cleveland police officers began wearing body cameras during their patrols of the city’s East Side after four hours of training  on the cameras’ functions and policy governing their use. The city bought 1,500 cameras at a cost of $2.4 million …

http://www.cleveland.com/cityhall/index.ssf/2015/02/cleveland_police_officers_begi.html#incart_river

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Pennsylvania:
Prison And Bail Reform, Overhaul In Sentencing Laws Coming To PA?

Offenders who repeat the same crimes should serve more time, says Lancaster County DA Craig Stedman. On the other hand, offenders who behave for decades before re-offending should get breaks. Those potential changes are being …

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/prison-and-bail-reform-overhaul-in-sentencing-laws-coming-to/article_b0461b92-ac7d-11e4-be33-fb7824544fe9.html

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Utah:
Utah Considers Major Criminal Justice Reform, Reduced Drug Offense Charges

With the intent to ensure prison beds are reserved for serious, violent offenders while breaking the cycle of recidivism by focusing on treatment for substance abusers and mental health issues, a report contains 18 recommendations …

http://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2015/02/03/kss-utah-considers-major-criminal-justice-reform-reduced-drug-offense-charges/#.VNJshhso7cs

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Vermont:
Governor Proposes Cuts In Prison Education Program

A proposal by Gov. Peter Shumlin would cut $1.7 million from the Community High School of Vermont’s budget by closing a number of the field offices that support the high school completion program offered within the Department of Corrections …

http://vtdigger.org/2015/01/28/governor-proposes-cuts-prison-education-program/

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