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

Sunday, March 1, 2015

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

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NYC’s First Lady Chirlane McCray Discusses the Challenges of Finding Effective Mental Health Services And the Intersection of Mental Health and Criminal Justice

In an op-ed, the First Lady spoke out about how difficult it was to find appropriate mental health services for her daughter and about the need to provide people with mental health services before they end up in the criminal justice system …

http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/138-15/first-lady-chirlane-mccray-the-challenges-finding-effective-mental-health-services-and

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Even As Many Eyes Watch, Brutality At Rikers Island Persists

On Sept. 2, four correction officers pulled an inmate classified as seriously mentally ill into his solitary-confinement cell at Rikers and beat him unconscious.  This occurred during a period when officials had become increasingly focused on …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/22/nyregion/even-as-many-eyes-watch-brutality-at-rikers-island-persists.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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 Rikers Island Jail To Open New Unit For Most Difficult Prisoners

A new unit to house the most problematic inmates at NYC’s Rikers jail will open as the facility continues to carry out a program of reform. The Enhanced Supervision Housing — a 50-bed unit — will see violent inmates granted greater access to …

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/23/new-york-rikers-island-new-unit-difficult-prisoners

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Bratton Says New York Police Officers Must Fight Bias

Discussing the history of race relations and the police, Police Commissioner Bratton said that when officers see “the same young men in the same neighborhoods committing almost all of this city’s violence, it carries a risk of …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/25/nyregion/new-yorks-police-commissioner-says-officers-must-fight-bias.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Cops Say Training After Eric Garner’s Death Is A “Waste Of Time”

About 80% of cops retrained after Eric Garner’s death called the three-day program a “waste of time,” and many fell asleep in their seats, says a high-ranking NYPD official, who added that the $35 million “smart policing” primer is a flop, and …

http://nypost.com/2015/02/22/cops-say-training-after-eric-garners-death-is-a-waste-of-time/

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Juvenile Justice Committee Examines Alternatives To Detention

In a 3-hour session, the City Council Committee on Juvenile Justice heard from community agencies with alternatives to detention for youth who commit minor crimes. Young offenders need not be confined in detention centers but …

http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/government/5598-juvenile-justice-committee-looks-at-alternatives-to-detention

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“Trust Nobody, And Proceed with Caution” 

NY state will soon take an unusual step towards preventing prison rape — prisons will show inmates (both male and female) an orientation video offering advice on how to identify and avoid sexual predators behind bars …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/02/20/trust-nobody-and-proceed-with-caution?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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A Boy Among Men: What Happens When You Throw A Teenager Into An Adult Prison? Guess.  

It is impossible to know how many teenagers sent to adult prisons have been sexually assaulted, in part because so many have been afraid to report.  Corrections officials have pointed out sexual assaults regularly occur …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/02/25/a-boy-among-men?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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Opinion: Raise Age Of Criminal Culpability

In January 2015, Marquis Dixon, an African American, was sentenced in Albany County Court to up to nine years in state prison, plus five years post-release supervision. His crime? Stealing a pair of sneakers when he was 16 …

http://www.timesunion.com/tuplus-opinion/article/Raise-age-of-criminal-culpability-6102819.php 

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Opinion: Bill de Blasio Is Right To Seek More Funds For Fatherhood Academy To Help Dads

Mayor de Blasio is  proposing to double the funding of The Fatherhood Academy to $1.2 million. The Academy, which had been defunded in October, targeted minority group fathers between 18 and 24 who could become better fathers if …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/hamill-blaz-funds-men-parent-ed-program-doubled-article-1.2129804

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Opinion: 1,000 More Cops — The Last Thing We Need

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has proposed criminal-justice reforms while repeating her call to increase the size of the NYPD. There’s a huge contradiction there, and it’s a shame she doesn’t see it …

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/josmar-trujillo-1-000-cops-article-1.2121970

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City Housing Rules Examined

From Bedford-Stuyvesant to the South Bronx, politicians have sold new housing to communities with the expectation that half of the lower-rent units would be set aside for local residents. Now that practice is drawing scrutiny from the feds …

http://www.wsj.com/articles/hud-reviews-new-york-city-affordable-housing-policy-1424399380

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This Food Truck Is An Engine Of Change

Last year, Jordyn Lexton raised nearly $500,000 to buy a food truck and launch Drive Change, a non-profit that has trained 10 formerly incarcerated young people and helped them find jobs in the food-service industry …

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20150224/PROFESSIONAL_SERVICES/150229960/a-food-truck-thats-an-engine-of-change

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National:
States With Lower Levels Of Prison Privatization Are More Likely To Reform “Three Strikes” Laws

In the mid-’90s, nearly half of U.S. states adopted “three strikes” laws. Many states, however, began to reform these laws in the 2000s. New research indicates that, in states with stronger prison officer unions and a high level of prison privatization …

http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/usappblog/2015/02/19/states-with-lower-levels-of-prison-privatization-are-more-likely-to-reform-three-strikes-laws/

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National:
Opinion: The Bipartisan Push For Criminal Justice Gets A Koch-Funded Boost

Usually bitter adversaries, Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by the conservative Koch brothers, and the Center for American Progress, a liberal group, are together backing a multimillion-dollar campaign to cut prison populations …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2015/02/19/the-bipartisan-push-for-criminal-justice-gets-a-koch-funded-boost/

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National:
GOP And Dems Push For Prison Sentence Reform In Potential Win For Communities of Color

In what could be a boon for communities of color, Democratic and Republican Senators from NJ to Utah are working to overhaul prison sentence guidelines to give judges more control to mete out punishments for nonviolent drug offenders …

http://newsone.com/3092775/gop-and-dems-push-for-prison-sentence-reform-in-potential-win-for-communities-of-color/

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National:
Bob Goodlatte Seemed “Remarkably Open” To Criminal Justice Reform At White House Meeting

The Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee was “remarkably open to many aspects of criminal justice reform” during a White House meeting. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) called the talks with the President “phenomenal” …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/02/24/bob-goodlatte-cory-booker_n_6747676.html

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National:
When Freedom Isn’t Free: The Bail Industry Wants To Be Your Jailer

Bail has been described as an essential lubricant of American justice. But now bail agents are under siege by reformers who argue that the traditional bail system forces poor defendants to choose between paying fees they can’t afford and …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/02/23/buying-time?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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National:
Debtors’ Prisons, Then and Now: Congress Outlawed Them. The Supreme Court Ruled Them Unconstitutional. Yet They Live On.

Robin Sanders was driving home when she saw flashing lights. She knew she hadn’t fixed her muffler and thought she might get a ticket. Instead, she was arrested and taken to jail because she owed a debt — $730 for a medical bill …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/02/24/debtors-prisons-then-and-now-faq?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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National:
Can Holder’s Reforms Last?

With some 2 million people behind bars, the U.S. remains as far as ever from being able to claim victory in the vaunted “war on drugs.” Since taking office six years ago, U.S. AG Eric H. Holder Jr. has made it his mission to change …

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-holder-sentencing-20150223-story.html

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National:
8 Jarring Facts That Every American Needs To Know About Our Prison System

The prison system is indeed in dire need of a fundamental transformation — perhaps even more than you think. Here’s a roundup of eight of the most jarring data points that illustrate how bad things have gotten …

http://mic.com/articles/110920/8-jarring-facts-that-every-american-needs-to-know-about-our-prison-system

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National:
Opinion: John Legend Is Right — Prisons Are Disproportionately Black. The Worst States Are Some Of The Whitest.

During his Oscars speech, singer John Legend dropped this bit of knowledge: “We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850 …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2015/02/23/john-legend-is-right-prisons-are-disproportionately-black-the-worst-states-are-some-of-the-whitest/

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National:
Malcolm X’s Challenge To Mass Incarceration

Malcolm X spent his political life resisting the kind of criminalization of black communities that has catalyzed protests around the country these last six months. He was a critic of a system that has justified the arrest, imprisonment, and …

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2015/2/malcolm-xs-challenge-to-mass-incarceration.html

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National:
A Court Put A 9-Year-Old In Shackles For Stealing Chewing Gum — An Outrage That Happens Every Single Day

The nine-year-old stole a pack of Trident chewing gum worth $1.48. The theft led to a missed court appearance, which led to an arrest and a night spent in a juvenile jail. The next day, the third-grader appeared in court, chained, and shackled …

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/02/courts-shackle-juvenile-children-aba

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Arkansas:
Governor Outlines Prison Reform Plans

Arkansas’ governor outlined an ambitious plan to ease prison overcrowding through expansion of existing facilities, construction of regional re-entry centers, and strengthening of probation and parole systems. A major focus will be …

http://www.arkansas.gov/senate/newsroom/index.php?do:newsDetail=1&news_id=521

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Florida:
Life Sentence: Ex-Felons Denied Constitutional Rights

Commit any felony in Florida and you lose your right to vote for life — unless the governor and the clemency board agree to give that right back to you. The result: More than 1.6 million Floridians — about 9% — cannot vote, hold office, or …

http://www.frostillustrated.com/2015/life-sentence-ex-felons-denied-constitutional-rights/

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Georgia:
Georgia The Latest State To “Ban The Box” In Hiring Practices

Georgia will no longer require job applicants to disclose their criminal histories on employment forms after Gov. Deal signed an executive order aimed at smoothing the reintegration process for former inmates. Nationally, nearly 100 cities …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2015/02/24/georgia-the-latest-state-to-ban-the-box-in-hiring-practices/

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Illinois:
The Disappeared: Chicago Police Detain Americans At Abuse-Laden “Black Site”

The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site …

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/feb/24/chicago-police-detain-americans-black-site

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Nebraska:
Backer Touts Medicaid Expansion Bill As Way To Help Nebraska’s Prison Reform Efforts

A plan to expand Nebraska’s Medicaid program could play a key role in the state’s prison reform efforts. The expansion would make health coverage available for freed inmates, most of whom leave prison without any means of paying for …

http://www.omaha.com/news/legislature/backer-touts-medicaid-expansion-bill-as-way-to-help-nebraska/article_b5b181e9-19b7-5506-99bf-8dd6c2aef740.html

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Ohio:
Cleveland: A City Of Two Tales

The Justice Department says Cleveland is in crisis; the city’s black mayor and police chief say the opposite. Who’s right? It’s unclear which narrative will prevail, not just in fact, but in the hearts and minds of the citizens they serve …

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/02/tamir-rice-cleveland-police-115401.html#.VOy8Yxso75o

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South Carolina:
The Shame Of Solitary Confinement

Solitary — in theory, a punishment for the worst of the worst — has become a routine disciplinary tool, used in ways for which it was never intended. The good news is that this is beginning to change — even, it turns out, in South Carolina …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/19/magazine/the-shame-of-solitary-confinement.html

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Vermont:
Vermont Lawmaker Pitches Criminal-Justice Reform

Vermont needs criminal-justice reform, but it does not need more incarceration, Rep. Mollie Burke contends. The Progressive/Democrat is leading the charge to make changes aimed at decreasing the number of nonviolent offenders who …

http://www.reformer.com/localnews/ci_27569410/bratt-lawmaker-pitches-criminal-justice-reform

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Washington:
Seattle Police Union President To Cops: Get With The Times Or Get Out Of This City

The Seattle Police Officers Guild president has tough words for some members who have been using racially inflammatory rhetoric: “They hired you because they thought you were going to be able to work in a diverse community. If you can’t …

http://www.thestranger.com/blogs/slog/2015/02/18/21739167/seattle-police-union-president-to-cops-get-with-the-times-or-get-out-of-this-city

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Washington, D.C.:
Prison Phone Companies Have Found Yet Another Way To Squeeze Families For Cash

Now the only way families can see their loved ones in jail — many of whom have not yet been convicted of a crime — is to sit in front of a Webcam. More and more jails are replacing face-to-face visits with video, passing the costs on to inmates …

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/01/jail-prison-video-visitation

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