The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of March 16, 2015

Monday, March 16, 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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Opinion: Rikers Island Is Still Fucked, And It’s Terrifying

To Fortune Society VP Stanley Richards, the “culture of violence” at Rikers “is an entrenched problem that has been building for many years.” It has been the norm since he was an inmate at Rikers himself. “You knew which officers were …

http://www.vice.com/read/rikers-island-is-still-fucked-and-its-terrifying-305

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Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Ponte Announce 14-Point Rikers Anti-Violence Agenda

Mayor Blasio and Correction Commissioner Ponte announced a 14-point plan to combat violence and promote a culture of safety on Rikers, including five main initiatives to target inmate-on-inmate violence. At the heart of the plan are …

http://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/166-15/mayor-de-blasio-commissioner-ponte-14-point-rikers-anti-violence-agenda

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Opinion: Address The Graying Of Prisons

In NY, roughly 17% of the prison population is elderly. By 2030, the aging are expected to account for one third. This large-scale incarceration of the elderly is hugely expensive. But cost is not the only reason to address this crisis …

http://www.timesunion.com/tuplus-opinion/article/Address-the-graying-of-prisons-6115521.php?cmpid=twitter

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Attica’s Prosecutors Show Their Hand And Defend Their Position To Play It Safe

A sergeant at Attica involved in a savage beating of an inmate brought home several batons after the episode, sanded them, and refinished them, prosecutors said. He was one of three guards who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/03/05/attica-s-prosecutors-show-their-hand

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Formerly Incarcerated Woman Remembers Giving Birth While Shackled To A Bed

Mario Caraballo recounted her trip to the hospital from Bedford Hills, NY’s women-only maximum-security prison. She described being pregnant in prison and giving birth while shackled to a bed frame. “They just pick you up and …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/11/incarcerated-woman-birth-shackled_n_6846112.html

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Ferguson Police Tainted By Bias, Justice Department Says

The Justice Department declared that Ferguson, MO, had engaged in so many constitutional violations that they could be corrected only by abandoning its entire approach to policing, retraining its employees, and …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/05/us/us-calls-on-ferguson-to-overhaul-criminal-justice-system.html?_r=0

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Holder Weighs Dismantling The Ferguson Police Dept.

AG General Eric H. Holder Jr. vowed a firm response to what he called “appalling” racial misconduct by law enforcement officials in Ferguson, MO, suggesting he was prepared to seek the dismantling of the police force there if necessary …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/07/us/two-ferguson-police-supervisors-linked-to-racist-emails-resign.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Missouri Supreme Court Takes Over Cases In Ferguson; Judge Resigns

The Missouri Supreme Court will take the “extraordinary action” of reassigning all Ferguson municipal court cases to the circuit court “to help restore public trust and confidence in the Ferguson municipal court …

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/missouri-supreme-court-takes-over-cases-in-ferguson-judge-resigns/article_7442c873-a1a1-581f-b4b4-20f93972d91e.html

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Ferguson Report Puts “Hands Up” To Reality Test

They were four words that became the national rallying cry of a new civil rights movement: “Hands up, don’t shoot.”  Protesters chanted it across the country in solidarity for Michael Brown. But DOJ said it may not have happened that way …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/06/us/in-ferguson-both-sides-see-vindication-in-justice-department-reports.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Ferguson Report’s Racist Details — More Of The Same, But Still Shocking

The DOJ’s report on Ferguson, MO, found many of the same problems identified in more than two dozen police departments since 1997. The report, however, finds Ferguson police responsible for a much broader range of violations than many …

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-ferguson-analysis-20150305-story.html#page=1

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National:
Video Visitation Threatens To Put More Distance Between Inmates And Family

Companies behind the profitable video visitation technology are encouraging jails and prisons to eliminate in-person visits. A recent report found that 74% percent of county jails that added video visitation also ended traditional visitation …

http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/3/9/video-replaces-in-person-visits-at-prisons.html

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National:
Opinion: For-Profit Prisons Are Bad, But the Drug War Is the Problem

Corrections Corporation of America, the largest private-prison corporation in the country, owns or runs 67 prisons nationwide, employs eight lobbyists, and has waged multimillion-dollar efforts to influence laws and politics. Critics point to …

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/09/for-profit-prisons-are-bad-but-the-drug-war-is-the-problem.html

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National:
Opinion: Justice By The Numbers

Fatal run-ins between police and unarmed Africa-Americans have exposed a stunning gap in America’s self-awareness … the government is clueless about how many people are dying at the hands of law enforcement …

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/editorial-justice-numbers-article-1.2144686

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National:
Why Cutting Federal Drug Sentences Is A Big Deal — In Two Charts

The bad news about reducing mass incarceration is most of the prisoners in the U.S. are in state prison, and many are serving sentences for violent crimes. The good news is that reducing the federal prison population is more straightforward …

http://www.vox.com/2015/3/11/8187747/drug-war-prisons

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National:
It’s Not Just The Drug War

The growing unpopularity of the War on Drugs and the bipartisan moves to roll back mass incarceration have led some to believe that the prison-state is about to be cut down to size. Yet a new book makes it clear that the problem is far worse …

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/03/mass-incarceration-war-on-drugs/

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National:
Criminal Justice Reform: Conservatives, Liberals Uniting Over “Universally Held Christian Values”

Respect for the worth and dignity of every human being — a Christian value held in common by liberals and conservatives alike — is helping to unite a broad coalition in favor of criminal justice reforms, such as limits on solitary confinement …

http://www.christianpost.com/news/criminal-justice-reform-conservatives-liberals-uniting-over-universally-held-christian-values-135521/

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National:
Opinion: On The Anniversary Of Selma, A Call To Action

Hundreds from across the country gathered to honor the 50th anniversary of the March on Selma. But the activities are more than just a commemoration; they are a fight back against the steady erosion of voting rights that …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tefere-gebre/on-the-anniversary-of-selma-a-call-to-action_b_6808218.html

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Alabama:
Prison Reform Proposal Would Give More Assistance To Parolees

Nestled in Gov. Bentley’s funding proposals is an urgent need to do something about Alabama’s aging, overcrowded prisons. With the state’s corrections system under federal scrutiny, lawmakers are under pressure to find some immediate …

http://www.cullmantimes.com/news/prison-reform-proposal-would-give-more-assistance-to-parolees/article_140ad080-c535-11e4-adb7-8b44a2d61b29.html

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Arizona:
Phoenix Police Seek To Diversify As Hiring Begins

With a disproportionately White, male force, the Arizona police are redoubling efforts to attract more minorities and women.The initiative comes after a string of high-profile cases in the U.S. in which Black, unarmed suspects were killed by …

http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2015/03/09/phoenix-police-seek-diversify-hiring-begins/24633149/

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California:
Formerly Incarcerated People Drive 2,400 Miles To Celebrate 50 Years Since Bloody Sunday In Selma

Bay Area All of Us or None members drove across the country to Selma, AL, to attend the 50th anniversary commemoration of Bloody Sunday. They went to speak out about voting rights for formerly incarcerated people as well as the need for …

http://sfbayview.com/2015/03/formerly-incarcerated-people-drive-2400-miles-to-celebrate-50-years-since-bloody-sunday-in-selma/

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Colorado:
Denver cops failed to record many clashes with body cameras

During a six-month trial run for body cameras in the Denver Police Dept., only one in four use-of-force incidents involving officers was recorded. Cases where  officers punched people or used pepper spray or Tasers weren’t recorded because …

http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_27684562/monitor-denver-cops-failed-record-many-clashes-body

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Florida:
Prison inspectors: Corruption Rampant In Florida System

In a blistering condemnation of Florida’s prisons, several prison inspectors revealed their bosses ordered them to ignore evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing by corrections officers. The cover-ups are so rampant that …

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/special-reports/florida-prisons/article13200422.html

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Florida:
With More Police Wearing Cameras, The Fight Over Footage Has Begun In Florida

As more police equip their officers with body cameras, the question of who gets access to that footage — and at what cost — is becoming an issue. The VP of the ACLU of Florida was told to pay $18,000 for DVD copies of 84 hours of video …

http://www.cjr.org/united_states_project/florida_police_body_cameras.php

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Georgia:
Police Killing of Unarmed Georgia Man Leaves Another Town in Disbelief 

Witnesses to the fatal police shooting of an African-American man gave differing accounts. But they all ended with a similar question: Why was it necessary to shoot Anthony Hill, a 27-year-old Air Force veteran who was naked and unarmed …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/11/us/chamblee-georgia-police-shooting-anthony-hill.html?_r=0

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Illinois:
Prison Reform Commission Announced

Illinois Gov. Rauner has his team in place to reform the state’s prison system. The new commission members —  all lawmakers, educators, and experts with backgrounds in the criminal-justice system — will be giving recommendations …

http://www.corrections.com/news/article/39064-prison-reform-commission-announced

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Oklahoma:
Budget Crunch Fuels Drive For Reform Of Justice System

With Oklahoma’s understaffed prisons filled beyond capacity and a budget shortfall likely to make the problem worse, legislators are motivated to address the politically difficult task of curbing the growing inmate population. Prisons reached …

http://www.muskogeephoenix.com/news/oklahoma_news/budget-crunch-fuels-drive-for-reform-of-justice-system/article_09eb385c-c566-11e4-92ca-8b4603ad7d78.html

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Oregon:
Oregon Groups Say Modest Sentencing Reforms Have Cut Prison Population Growth

A coalition including DAs, sheriffs, and justice reform groups is asking the legislature to triple funding for the Justice Reinvestment grant program. They say it’s money the state will save if it can keep the incarcerated population from …

http://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-groups-say-modest-sentencing-reforms-have-cut-prison-population-growth/

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Oregon:
Why Are Inmates Planting Trees in Tillamook Forest?

Most people have no idea there’s a 200-bed prison work camp in the middle of Oregon’s Tillamook Forest. South Fork Forest Camp is a minimum-security facility that turns a pre-screened group of low-risk inmates into a productive work force …

http://www.portlandmonthlymag.com/travel-and-outdoors/tripster/articles/inmate-tillamook-forest-march-2015

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Texas:
Conservative Support Grows For Criminal Justice Reform

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry has signed on to a groundbreaking criminal justice reform movement aimed at increasing transparency, lowering recidivism rates, and making sure that criminal laws on the books actually …

http://legalinsurrection.com/2015/03/conservative-support-grows-for-criminal-justice-reform/

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Utah:
Advocates Urge Utah Lawmakers To Improve System, Not Just New Prison

Advocates from organizations including the ACLU of Utah and Odyssey House assembled to urge lawmakers to improve Utah’s correctional system rather than continue fighting about where to build the new prison …

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865623810/Advocates-urge-lawmakers-to-improve-system-not-just-new-prison.html

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Utah:
Poll: Majority Of Utahns Support Criminal Justice Reform Proposal

A new poll finds that 74% of voters agree with major reforms: Get mentally ill, drug- and alcohol-addicted criminals into rehabilitation programs, and sentence them to shorter times in prison or secure rehab facilities. Admittedly, a big reason is …

http://utahpolicy.com/index.php/features/today-at-utah-policy/5064-poll-majority-of-utahns-support-criminal-justice-reform-proposal

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