The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of March 23, 2015

Friday, March 20, 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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NYPD Poised To Create Special Unit To Investigate Officer-Involved Shootings

The NYPD is poised to create a new squad dedicated to investigating police officer-involved shooting incidents, similar to a unit formed by Commissioner William Bratton when he headed the LAPD …

http://www.silive.com/news/index.ssf/2015/03/exclusive_nypd_poised_to_creat.html#incart_m-rpt-2

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Governor Cuomo’s Compromise Leaves Too Many Children Behind

Here’s what Gov. Cuomo’s proposal doesn’t address: Teenagers as young as 13 are automatically charged as adults if they are arrested for certain violent felonies. They can face up to life in prison. His bill doesn’t change any of that …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/03/13/how-not-to-raise-the-age?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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Rikers’ Big Problem: It’s Falling Apart. Inmates Can Literally Make Weapons Out Of The Deteriorating Physical Plant

Amidst reports about rising violence on Rikers, one key cause has been paid far too little attention — the deteriorating physical plant and the problems it causes for staff and inmates. Inmates can quite easily hide weapons and drugs in …

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/mark-cranston-rikers-big-problem-falling-article-1.2148770

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Prisons Are Making America’s Drug Problem Worse

Even federal prisons know that their inmates need medication-assisted therapy. So why aren’t they changing? It doesn’t have to be that way. A recent study of opioid-dependent inmates leaving Rikers showed that nearly nine out of 10 inmates …

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/03/federal-bureau-of-prisons-medication-assisted-therapy-115998.html#.VQMWgRvD_cs

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National:
Opinion: “A Conversation With My Black Son”

In a short video, “A Conversation With My Black Son,” parents reveal their struggles with telling the black son that they love that he risks being targeted by the police simply because of the color of his skin …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/17/opinion/a-conversation-with-my-black-son.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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National:
Obama: If Enough States Decriminalize Marijuana, Congress May Change Federal Law

President Obama said that if enough states reform their marijuana laws, Congress may change federal law that continues to make the drug illegal. He’s encouraged that liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans seem to agree that …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/16/obama-marijuana-decriminalization_n_6881374.html

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National:
“Troubling” Use Of Solitary In Federal Prisons

Inmates in the federal prison system who suffer from mental illness are kept in solitary confinement for extensive periods without proper treatment, says the first-ever audit of the Bureau of Prison’s policies. The 250-pg. report details …

http://ht.ly/KoOHM

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National:
Why The U.S. Won’t Let the U.N. Look Inside Its Prisons

After a half-decade and a mandate by the U.N. to investigate solitary confinement practices, U.N. torture rapporteur Juan Mendez had to find a backdoor into an American jail. Today, his findings are released in a report …

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/16/the-u-s-won-t-let-the-u-n-look-at-prisons-to-investigate-solitary-confinement.html

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National:
The Criminal Justice System Makes Black Men Sick, Expert Says

An expert on African-American health said the criminal justice system is a major source of health problems for black men. Overcrowding and poor health care can cause outbreaks of infectious diseases like TB. Prisoners are more likely …

http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2015/03/the_criminal_justice_system_ma.html

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National:
Opinion: We Don’t Need To Keep Criminals In Prison To Punish Them

GPS can show where the re-entrant is all the time, which in turn makes it easy to know whether he’s at work when he’s supposed to be at work and at home when he’s supposed to be at home. The apartment functions as a prison without bars …

http://www.vox.com/2015/3/18/8226957/prison-reform-graduated-reentry

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National:
Opinion: Does Criminal Justice Reform Extend to Law Enforcement?

Criminal justice reform is all the rage. But so far, almost all the energy has focused on corrections. But what about the front end of the system? Will criminal justice reform reach law enforcement?

https://verdict.justia.com/2015/03/17/does-criminal-justice-reform-extend-to-law-enforcement

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National:
Opinion: Bipartisan Moment For Drug Sentencing Reform

A generation ago, if you asked a Republican and a Democrat to debate criminal justice policy, they would have argued about which party was toughest on crime.  Now, they’re arguing the other way — who can be smart. Already this year …

http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/civil-rights/236155-bipartisan-moment-for-drug-sentencing-reform

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National:
Opinion: 9 Facts About Mandatory Minimums And The Smarter Sentencing Act

There was an extraordinary sight on the Senate floor as five members of the chamber, led by Sen. Mike Lee, engaged in a 40-minute conversation about the Smarter Sentencing Act, a bill that would reform mandatory minimum …

http://www.freedomworks.org/content/9-facts-about-mandatory-minimums-and-smarter-sentencing-act

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National:
Four Ways Prosecutors Can Improve Their Decision-Making

Considering crime has declined significantly, with violent crime falling by almost half since its peak in 1991, do prosecutors still need the leverage of mandatory minimums and long sentences for even the least serious felony offenses?

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/03/16/the-gatekeepers?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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Alabama:
SPLC Lawyer Says Alabama Prisons “Way Off The Charts”

Alabama’s prison system is operating at 200% capacity, over 80% higher than the second-highest level of overcrowding in the Southeast. “There’s no other place in the U.S. where prisons are running at these levels. We’re way off the charts …

http://www.oanow.com/news/auburn/article_f881db78-cc5b-11e4-be14-4b56e971e5b8.html

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Alabama:
Committee OKs Bill To Steer Some Offenders Away From Prison, Increase Probation Supervision

Low-level property and drug offenders would be steered away from prison and those on probation would get more supervision under a prison overhaul bill that won approval in an Alabama Senate committee. “There’s an awareness that …

http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/e669b06d73bd4c63bc35e23b386ecbe5/AL–Prison-Reform

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Florida:
Florida Senate Puts Money Into Prison Oversight

The Florida Senate put money behind its pledge to reform the state’s troubled prison system, voting to spend $6.9 million on system changes and create an independent oversight commission that would have the power to investigate …

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/state/florida/article15307541.html

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Georgia:
Georgia House Passes Prison Reform Plan As Progress Continues

The Georgia House passed a bill supporting a program that will start a 4-year-long criminal justice reform plan. Initiatives such as education opportunity programs for inmates, new sentencing options for judges, and new courts have contributed to …

http://valdostatoday.com/2015/03/georgia-house-passes-prison-reform-plan-as-progress-continues/

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Illinois:
Far Fewer Tickets In Illinois Where Munis Get Little Of The Revenue

What happens when municipalities have no financial incentive to write tickets? They don’t write many. Consider Madison County, IL, where speeding and other traffic infractions are state violations. Municipalities get very little revenue …

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/far-fewer-tickets-in-illinois-where-munis-get-little-of/article_dc664d22-f350-5ea4-b3cf-60a6c041d7a1.html

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Minnesota:
Why Can’t Ex-Cons Vote? They Did The Time, Why Can’t They Pull The Lever?

A bill is currently working its way through the Minnesota statehouse that would restore the right to vote to some 47,000 Americans, all of whom have been convicted on felony charges and are currently on probation or parole …

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

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Missouri:
Opinion: The Problem Is Bigger Than Ferguson

The situation in Ferguson, MO, took a tragic turn when two police officers were shot during a demonstration. But police shouldn’t use the shootings as an excuse to clamp down on peaceful demonstrations. That would only inflame tensions and …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/13/opinion/the-problem-is-bigger-than-ferguson.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Missouri:
Justice Official Asks: “What Kind Of Police Department Do Ferguson Residents Want?”

A team of Justice Department civil rights lawyers is planning to travel to Ferguson, MO, in the coming weeks to meet with residents and help decide whether to reform the police department or disband it and replace it with a regional force …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/justice-dept-lawyers-to-flood-ferguson-in-next-step-of-reform-effort/2015/03/16/9ea1aa26-cbf1-11e4-a2a7-9517a3a70506_story.html

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Missouri:
Missouri Lawmaker Wants Certain Geriatric Offenders Out Of Prison

Republican state Rep. Mike Lair has a rare view of prison. He lives a block and a half from the Chillicothe Correctional Center, one of two lockups for women in Missouri, and has met a few older offenders he thinks shouldn’t be in there …

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/missouri-lawmaker-wants-certain-geriatric-offenders-out-of-prison/article_f2867157-d1eb-599b-ae3c-0965fa3b7635.html

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Oklahoma:
Oklahoma House Passes Bills To Give Judges More Discretion In Sentencing

The Oklahoma House approved a key piece of justice reform legislation that would give judges the authority to hand down shorter sentences for some crimes that now require mandatory minimum prison time …

http://newsok.com/oklahoma-house-passes-bills-to-give-judges-more-discretion-in-sentencing/article/5400499

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Pennsylvania:
SP2 Program Teaches Ex-Offenders Entrepreneurial Skills

The Penn Restorative Entrepreneurship Program is designed to help formerly incarcerated people become socially responsible entrepreneurs. “Research shows that they and business entrepreneurs have much more in common than …

http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/current/2015-03-19/features/sp2-program-teaches-ex-offenders-entrepreneurial-skills

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Texas:
Texas Is Doing Something Genuinely Progressive And The World Didn’t End

School discipline reforms in Texas have helped reduce the number of students charged with crimes for misbehaving in school by as much as 80% in just one year. “Things like chewing gum in class, falling asleep in class, and talking too loudly …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/14/texas-school-discipline-tickets_n_6867162.html

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Utah:
Legislature Passes Criminal Justice Reform Bill On Last Day Of Session

With Utah’s prison population at an all-time high, Rep. Eric Hutchings calls the passing of his Criminal Justice Reform Bill “honestly one of the most monumental things we’ve done,” after the House passed House Bill 348 by a vote of 67 to 2 …

http://www.good4utah.com/story/d/story/legislature-passes-criminal-justice-reform-bill-on/12887/5TJxb6EEAUGVmidwN4gong

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Vermont:
Prison, Parents Pains

On any given day, 1,700 Vermont children have an incarcerated parent.  Research shows a close connection between parental incarceration and a troubled childhood. In addition to the stigma of having a parent in jail, these children face …

http://www.stowetoday.com/stowe_reporter/news/state_news/prison-parents-pains/article_f5a3457e-c830-11e4-8f18-6bbd37f5e7d8.html

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