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

Sunday, March 8, 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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Ben Carson Says Being Gay Is A Choice, Citing Prison Example

Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon and potential Republican presidential candidate, said “a lot of people go into prison straight and come out gay.” Asked if he thought being gay was “a choice,” he replied, “Absolutely …

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/ben-carson-gay-choice-prison-115744.html

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Ex-Convict Blasts Ben Carson’s Belief About Widespread Homosexuality In Prisons

Fortune Society VP Stanley Richards joined the chorus of critics who blasted potential presidential candidate Ben Carson for claiming prison proves homosexuality is a choice. “Prison does not make people gay,” said Richards …

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ben-carson-wrong-prison-homosexuality-ex-convict-article-1.2137617

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Opinion: The Case For Integrating Formerly Incarcerated Peers Into Society

The growing attention paid to the disproportionate percentage of mentally ill individuals entangled in the criminal justice system is long overdue, says Fortune  Society president and CEO JoAnne Page. “It cries out for remedy …

http://www.coalitionny.org/the_center/recovere-works/February2015112-2.html#TheCase

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NYPD Issues New Stop-And-Frisk Rules That Ban Stops Based On Race

NYC cops were given new instructions on how to conduct stop and frisks, as well as when it should be applied. The updated rules hammer home the point that cops can’t stop-and-frisk people for merely making “furtive movements,” such as …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nypd-issues-new-stop-and-frisk-rules-article-1.2136122

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Opinion: Should Attica Be Shuttered?

A report in the New York Times about Attica has raised new questions about whether the troubled prison, home to the 1971 uprising, should be shut down. The state’s former corrections commissioner has come to the conclusion that …

http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/blogs/vote-up/2015/03/02/should-attica-be-shuttered/24256625/

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Opinion: Abuse At Attica Calls For Federal Scrutiny

The Justice Department, which went to court in December to stop an epidemic of brutality in New York City’s jail system, may need to scrutinize New York State’s prisons as well. That seems fairly obvious from …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/04/opinion/abuse-at-attica-calls-for-federal-scrutiny.html?_r=0

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Murders Up 20% In 2015 In Year-To-Year Comparison, NYPD Says

The murder rate in NYC has spiked an alarming 20% in the first two months of the year, prompting NYPD brass to rethink strategy to curb the deadly trend. But overall, crime has dropped 11% in most major crime categories, including …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/murders-20-2015-year-to-year-comparison-nypd-article-1.2134509

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De Blasio Defends “Training” Dante To Behave Around Cops

Mayor de Blasio defended his controversial comments about how he “trained” his biracial son, Dante, to behave around police. “A young man of color today needs to have that conversation in his family. It’s something that everyone knows …

http://nypost.com/2015/03/03/de-blasio-defends-training-dante-to-behave-around-cops/

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The 17-Year-Old Adults
                                                                                                                                                                           If you’re 17 years old and are arrested for a crime, where you go depends mostly on what state you live in. Nine states automatically classify 17-year-olds as adults. In North Carolina and New York, 16-year-olds always face adults courts …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/03/03/the-17-year-old-adults?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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NYU Launches Prison Education Program Backed By Ford Foundation Grant

New York University has launched an initiative to bring college education to incarcerated individuals at the Wallkill Correctional Facility, a medium-security prison. Backed by a $500,000 grant from the Ford Foundation …

http://www.newswise.com/articles/nyu-launches-prison-education-program-backed-by-ford-foundation-grant

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National:
“Boxed Out: Criminal History Screening and College Application Attrition”

A new report by The Center for Community Alternatives and the Education from the Inside Out Coalition makes clear how the criminal history box on college applications creates barriers to higher ed for otherwise qualified applicants …

http://communityalternatives.org/fb/boxed-out.html

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National:
Durbin Wants To Rein In Prison Use Of Solitary Confinement

Sen. Durbin (D-Ill.) is calling for the Federal Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) to reform how solitary confinement is used to discipline inmates. Though a BOP report found that the number of inmates being held in solitary confinement is declining …

http://thehill.com/regulation/234132-durbin-calls-for-reform-of-solitary-confinement-in-prison

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National:
Opinion: Don’t Let Kids Rot Behind Bars: A Life Sentence For A Teen Is Just Wrong

Ten years ago, our country took an important step to improve our justice system when the  Supreme Court abolished the death penalty for juveniles. It is long past time we extended the logic of that ruling and abolished life without parole sentences for …

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/robert-morgenthau-don-kids-rot-behind-bars-article-1.2132290

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National:
Opinion: How Can Criminal Justice Systems From Police To Probation Address The Medical And Social Care Needs Of Elderly Prisoners?

Population aging has emerged as the most challenging demographic trend in the criminal-justice system. Today, 1 in 10 U.S. prisoners are 55 or older. And because population aging and increasingly punitive criminal justice policy-making are …

http://www.penalreform.org/blog/declining-health-advancing-years-prison-call-policy-oriented/

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National:
A Second Chance: Education’s Role In Reversing Mass Incarceration

The American Journal of Men’s Health published “I Want A Second Chance,” a study  exploring the challenges faced by formerly incarcerated men as they seek to redeem themselves in the eyes of their children and society. The findings reveal …

http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/02/a-second-chance-educations-role-in-reversing-mass-incarceration/386168/

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National:
Out Of Trouble, But Criminal Records Keep Men Out Of Work

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, American men with criminal records — especially black men — are having particular trouble finding work. Men with criminal records account for about 34% of all non-working men ages 25 to 54 …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/01/business/out-of-trouble-but-criminal-records-keep-men-out-of-work.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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National:
Opinion: Remove Unfair Barriers To Employment

About 70 million Americans have criminal histories that may prevent them from ever finding a job, even for arrests or minor convictions that occurred in the distant past. Fourteen states and about 100 cities and counties have tried to help by …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/28/opinion/remove-unfair-barriers-to-employment.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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National:
OK, So Who Gets To Go Free?

Everyone wants to reduce America’s prison population. Now comes the hard part.  It has become conventional wisdom that America’s prisons are too full, and prominent elected officials have expressed enthusiastic support for …

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2015/03/prison_reform_releasing_only_nonviolent_offenders_won_t_get_you_very_far.html

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National:
Prez Policing Task Force Calls For a “National Crime And Justice Task Force”

There are 18,000 separate law-enforcement agencies in America and the White House wants to convene a “National Crime and Justice Task Force” to help get them all going in the same direction. But there is a strong history of …

http://sentencing.typepad.com/sentencing_law_and_policy/2015/03/prez-policing-task-force-calls-for-a-national-crime-and-justice-task-force.html

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National:
Policing Task Force Recommends Body Cams, Better Reporting, More Sleep For Officers

A Presidential task force on policing issues released an interim report that suggests that law  enforcement agencies develop policies for handling mass demonstrations, recommending that they “minimize the appearance of a military operation …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/02/policing-task-force-recommendations_n_6785256.html

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National:
How To Cut The Prison Population By 50%

A growing number of criminal justice reform organizations — among them the ACLU — are uniting behind one big goal: to reduce the prison population by 50% within the next 10-15 years. With 2.3 million Americans incarcerated …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/03/04/how-to-cut-the-prison-population-by-50-percent?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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National:
“Strong Returns” Urges Millennials To Support Prison Reform

Prison reform is slowly gaining a foothold within the U.S., and one group is hoping to foster such beliefs within the millennial generation. “Strong Returns” is touring college campuses to teach students and faculty about how the justice system …

http://www.correctionsone.com/corrections/articles/8355027-Strong-Returns-urges-millennials-to-support-prison-reform/

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National:
Fisherman’s High Court Win Spurs Call For Legal Reform

There are more than 3,000 federal criminal laws on the books, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys estimates there are more than 300,000 federal regulations that can trigger criminal sanctions. Many are so-called …

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory/fishermans-high-court-win-spurs-call-legal-reform-29279570

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Alabama:
Opinion: Fix Alabama Prisons Now Or The Federal Courts Will

There can be no more stalling. Alabama has the opportunity to begin fixing its prison problem now, before federal courts do it. There is a plan for cleaning up its mess — the inhumane prison overcrowding and hideous and illegal conditions …

http://www.al.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/fix_alabama_prisons_now_or_the.html

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Alabama:
To Die In An Alabama Cell

In Alabama, imprisonment can be a death sentence. Recently, a number of stories of prisoners who have died in their cells in that state have made national headlines. In November, 18-year-old Sheneque Proctor’s life ended in …

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/29300-to-die-in-an-alabama-cell

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California:
Better Education Options Urged for California Prisoners

A new report is pushing for access to more effective college opportunities for prisoners and formerly incarcerated people in California. In the late 1970s, all of California’s state prisons had in-person college programs. Today, just one …

https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2015/03/05/better-education-options-urged-california-prisoners

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California:
California’s 3-Strike Prison Reform Is Working

California’s 3-strikes law used to mean that all third-time felons had to spend at least 25 years behind bars — pretty harsh considering that the third strike could be the result of stealing a $2.50 pair of socks. But last year, voters decided to …

http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/02/released-3-strike-convicts-stay-out-prison

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California:
Opinion: Movement To Restore Youth Begins By Ending Punitive Incarceration Model

A policy brief, written by the Children’s Defense Fund-California, is calling for the state of California to take aggressive measures “to forever end the outdated, harmful, boot-camp model of juvenile justice and fulfill the original mandate of …

http://jjie.org/movement-to-restore-youth-begins-by-ending-punitive-incarceration-model/

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Florida:
Opinion: Restore Voting Rights For Felons

Only two states, Florida and Kentucky, continue to withhold voting rights for felons even after the individuals have served a sentence and completed a period of parole or probation. This practice has a tremendously negative effect on …

http://www.pnj.com/story/opinion/2015/02/27/restore-voting-rights-felons/24136425/?from=global&sessionKey=&autologin=

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Illinois:
Opinion: Dems and Republicans Can Reduce Illinois Prison Population

The Illinois Department of Corrections holds almost 49,000 people in a system designed for 32,000. The prison system costs taxpayers $1.3 billion a year. Not only is the prison system overcrowded and expensive, but it is also an ineffective tool for …

http://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/7/71/410961/dems-republicans-together-can-reduce-illinois-prison-population

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Massachusetts:
Opinion: Shoveling A Path Out Of Prison

In Boston this winter, inmates have been shoveling out fire hydrants and streets in the face of historic snow. Clearly, Massachusetts needs the help. But Boston would be better served to employ newly released inmates desperate for cash …

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/03/shoveling-a-path-out-of-prison/386483/

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Missouri:
Ferguson, MO, Police Routinely Violated Blacks’ Rights, Federal Inquiry Finds

A DOJ investigation has concluded that the police in Ferguson, MO, have persistently and repeatedly violated the constitutional rights of African Americans, jailing them for minor offenses far more often than whites, using traffic stops to …

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-ferguson-justice-case-20150303-story.html#page=1

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Missouri:
Darren Wilson Is Cleared of Rights Violations in Ferguson
Shooting

The DOJ has cleared a Ferguson, MO, police officer of civil rights violations in the shooting of a black teenager whose death set off racially charged and sometimes violent protests last year. The decision ends a lengthy investigation …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/05/us/darren-wilson-is-cleared-of-rights-violations-in-ferguson-shooting.html?emc=edit_na_20150304&nlid=14129495&_r=0

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Nebraska & Iowa:
Nebraska, Iowa Say Prisoner Risk Assessments Can Help Reduce Repeat Crimes

When state prison officials allowed a weekend furlough for a former gang member convicted of a felony gun crime, a scientifically devised risk assessment that is given to all prisoners helped drive that decision …

http://www.omaha.com/news/crime/nebraska-iowa-say-prisoner-risk-assessments-can-help-reduce-repeat/article_144ff300-a4ed-5104-b70b-0dad7f55730c.html

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New Jersey:
N.J. Panel Reviews Reform Strategies To Ease Inmates’ Life After Prison

In a sign of the growing momentum behind efforts to reform New Jersey’s criminal justice system, some of the state’s top law enforcement officials met to discuss ways to help ex-convicts transition from prison to productive lives …

http://www.northjersey.com/news/n-j-panel-reviews-reform-strategies-to-ease-inmates-life-after-prison-1.1280287

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Ohio:
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson Apologizes To Family Of Tamir Rice For “Insensitive” Response To Wrongful Death Lawsuit (video)

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson issued an apology to the family of Tamir Rice, stating that city lawyers used insensitive language in answering a lawsuit filed after the 12-year-old was shot and killed last November by a Cleveland police officer …

http://www.cleveland.com/cityhall/index.ssf/2015/03/cleveland_mayor_frank_jackson_50.html#incart_2box

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