The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of April 13, 2015

Saturday, April 11, 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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Clergy Group Presses de Blasio On Police Reform

One of the city’s most prominent religious leaders is warning Mayor Bill de Blasio that his re-election in 2017 may be in jeopardy if the mayor doesn’t acquiesce to a list of police and criminal justice reforms which contains six demands, including …

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/04/8565604/clergy-group-presses-de-blasio-police-reform

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Study: NYC Health Workers’ Ethics Are Compromised In Jails

NYC jail health workers say their medical ethics are often compromised by the demands of treating patients who are also prisoners, such as when they witness guards’ use of force or are asked to approve stints in solitary confinement …

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2015/04/03/nyregion/ap-us-nyc-jail-health-ethics.html?_r=0

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Before D.C. March, Criminal Justice Reformers Target New York

At a press conference announcing a five-state march to Washington, D.C., supporters of the NY Justice League discussed their efforts to enact new criminal justice reforms at all levels of government.  The head of the state’s NAACP said …

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/city-hall/2015/04/8565536/dc-march-criminal-justice-reformers-target-new-York

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Opinion: Justice Reform Will Rehabilitate Youth

We wholeheartedly agree with … the commentary “Reform Juvenile Justice System For The Good Of Our Youth.” These badly needed changes will help rehabilitate our youth. Some feel these changes are too expensive to implement. However …

http://blog.timesunion.com/opinion/justice-reform-will-rehabilitate-youths/32173/

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Transforming The Formerly Incarcerated Into CEOs

Second chances can work wonders. Testament to this fact is Defy Ventures, a non-profit focused on providing second chances to the formerly incarcerated by equipping them to start and run their own businesses. Participants have …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lindsay-freeman/transforming-the-formerly-incarcerated-into-ceos_b_7012642.html

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Alum Reflects On Life After Prison At Green Haven Reunion

Vassar just hosted the 16th Annual Green Haven Reunion at which keynote speaker Jeffrey Smith addressed dozens of formerly incarcerated people, students, and other community members. He was the first formerly incarcerated person to …

http://miscellanynews.org/2015/04/08/news/alum-reflects-on-life-after-prison-at-green-haven-reunion/

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National:
Opinion: Let Prisoners Take College Courses

What if, a few times a week, massive open online courses, or MOOCs, were streamed on the prison’s internal TV station? Companies like Coursera already record university lectures and stream them online for free. The MOOCs could …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/opinion/sunday/put-schools-back-in-prison.html

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National:
Is It Time To End The War On Crime?

As bloated prisons strain state budgets and mass incarceration tears families apart — particularly in communities of color — the issue of criminal justice reform has gained traction among both liberals and conservatives …

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/is-it-time-to-end-the-war-on-crime/

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National:
11 People Who Used To Be in Jail — But Are Now Changing The World

What if we thought of formerly incarcerated people not as pariahs, but as human beings with the capacity to use their experiences to change the world? Some individuals are doing just that, and defying the odds they face in a society …

http://mic.com/articles/114276/11-formerly-incarcerated-people-who-are-now-changing-the-world

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Alabama:
Prison Reform Gets Help From Major Lobbying Firm  

A complex prison reform bill is getting an assist from a major lobbying firm. The Council of State Governments, which made many of the policy recommendations incorporated in the legislation, has hired Fine Geddie & Associates to help …

http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/news/politics/southunionstreet/2015/04/08/prison-reform-gets-help-major-lobbying-firm/25457701/

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California:
San Francisco Police Officers to Be Dismissed Over Racist Texts

San Francisco’s police chief moved to dismiss seven officers who sent or received texts that spoke of lynching African-Americans and burning crosses. Officials have acknowledged the texts have shaken confidence in the Police …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/04/us/san-francisco-police-officers-to-be-dismissed-over-racist-texts.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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California:
Second Chances — For Electronic Equipment And T
he Ex-Prisoners Who Recycle It

Isidore Electronics Recycling is a small for-profit social enterprise that focuses on employing people who have exited the California prison system and who are really ready to get to work. We employ people in the field of electronics recycling …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kabira-stokes/second-chances_b_7012648.html

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California:
UCSC Professor Details Effects Of Mass Incarceration

For 40 years, UC Santa Cruz psychology professor Craig Haney has documented “the era of mass incarceration” in the U.S. His recent lecture addressed the evolution of the U.S. prison system and its effects on both prisoners and …

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/general-news/20150408/ucsc-professor-details-effects-of-mass-incarceration

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Connecticut:
Activists And Scholars Urge Juvenile Justice Reform

At a forum, New Haven activists and legal experts underscored the importance of granting minors convicted to life sentences without parole ­a second look at their sentences. The event — co-hosted by the Yale Undergraduate Prison Project …

http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2015/04/08/activists-and-scholars-urge-juvenile-justice-reform/

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Georgia:
Savannah Church, Community Programs Help The Formerly Incarcerated Find Jobs

Community members and law enforcement officials came together at a southside church to give a leg up to formerly incarcerated individuals who have fallen on hard times. The event was a precursor to a larger conference set for April 25 at …

http://savannahnow.com/news/2015-04-04/savannah-church-community-programs-help-formerly-incarcerated-find-jobs

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Missouri:
Racist E-Mails By Ferguson Officials Released

The City of Ferguson, MO, has released the racist e-mails circulated by the chief court clerk and two police supervisors. It comes as the city is still navigating the racial tensions that resulted from the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, a black …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/04/us/racist-emails-by-ferguson-officials-released.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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Nebraska:
Fixes For Inmate Sentence Calculations “Just One Step” Toward Reform, Prisons Director Says  

Changes to automate the state’s system for calculating sentences of Nebraska prison inmates should be in place by early October. The upgrades — to prevent miscalculations like those which led to the early release of over 200 inmates …

http://journalstar.com/news/state-and-regional/statehouse/fixes-for-inmate-sentence-calculations-just-one-step-toward-reform/article_6e1204b7-1a62-5ca4-8026-ba84f441264e.html

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New Jersey:
Civil Disobedience On Prison Reform? Mike Tyson And Others Come To Jersey City To Urge Action

Saying that special interests and profit-making corporations that provide services to jails are getting in the way of prison reform, a former NY Times reporter said it may be time for protest — perhaps even civil disobedience …

http://hudsonreporter.com/view/full_story/26560017/article-Civil-disobedience-on-prison-reform—-Mike-Tyson-and-others-come-to-Jersey-City-to-urge-action-?instance=latest_story

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New Jersey:
Prison Reform Group Calls On Bridgeton City Leaders To Stop Imprisoning Over Low-Level Crimes

They came with a message for city officials — stop locking up your residents over petty crimes and reduce your incarceration rate. Decarcerate The Garden State — a NJ-based group that advocates for reducing incarceration rates in U.S. prisons …

http://www.nj.com/cumberland/index.ssf/2015/04/prison_reform_group_calls_out_bridgeton_city_leade.html

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North Carolina:
Words Matter: The Importance Of Humanizing Criminal Justice Vocabulary

We received more than 200 responses to our callout asking the best way to refer to people behind bars. Of the options we offered, 38% preferred “incarcerated person,” 23% liked “prisoner” and nearly 10% supported use of the word …

http://www.socialjusticesolutions.org/2015/04/07/words-matter-importance-humanizing-criminal-justice-vocabulary/

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Ohio:
Christian Prisoner Reform Group Eyes Dayton’s Bluff Location

Freedom Works, a Christian non-profit that does post-prison programming, is looking to add housing and programming for 24 men in a building in Dayton’s Bluff. The building is a former convent from the adjacent Sacred Heart Church …

http://www.lillienews.com/articles/2015/04/05/christian-prisoner-reform-group-eyes-dayton%E2%80%99s-bluff-location#.VSLSqRvD_cs

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Oregon:
Solitary Confinement Of Oregon Inmates With Most Severe Mental Illnesses Must Stop, Advocacy Group Says

Prisoners in the Oregon State Penitentiary unit reserved for inmates with the most severe mental illnesses spend months, sometimes years, in small cells with no natural light or outdoor access and rarely get to speak with others, according to …

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2015/04/solitary_confinement_of_oregon.html

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South Carolina:
South Carolina Officer Is Charged With Murder Of Walter Scott

A white police officer in North Charleston, S.C., was charged with murder after a video surfaced showing him shooting in the back and killing an apparently unarmed black man while the man ran away. The officer said he had …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/08/us/south-carolina-officer-is-charged-with-murder-in-black-mans-death.html?_r=1

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South Carolina:
Man Who Recorded Walter Scott Shooting Says His Life Has Changed Forever

If not for a chilling cellphone video, the shooting of Walter Scott in North Charleston, SC, might have been written off as a justified police shooting. But the man who filmed the scene was initially hesitant to come forward, worried about …

http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-videographer-south-carolina-20150408-story.html

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South Carolina:
The Courage Of Bystanders Who Press “Record”

After the killings of Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, many police departments and  reformists have agreed on the necessity of police-worn cameras. But the most powerful cameras aren’t those on officers. They’re those wielded by bystanders …

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/04/the-courage-of-bystanders-who-press-record/389979/

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South Carolina:
It Could Have Been Prevented: North Charleston Man Says He Filed Excessive Force Complaint On Michael Slager Long Before Killing Of Walter Scott

Officer Michael Slager, the South Carolina cop facing a murder rap for shooting an unarmed black man in the back, was the subject of an excessive force complaint two years ago — but appears to have been let off easy. In that 2013 case …

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/michael-slager-man-filed-previous-conduct-complaint-article-1.2178669

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Virginia;
States Looking To Change The Fate Of Ex-Convicts By Giving Them Clean Slate On Job Applications

In a movement that could have an enormous impact on the Black community, Virginia has joined more than a dozen states that have banned questions regarding criminal history from applications for state government jobs …

https://atlantablackstar.com/2015/04/06/states-looking-to-change-the-fate-of-ex-convicts-by-giving-them-clean-slate-on-job-applications/

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Washington:
Modern-Day Debtors Prison Target Of Bill In Wash. Legislature

Paying off court fees and fines is a major hurdle for someone getting out of prison in Washington state. Some say these Legal Financial Obligations create a sort of debtor’s prison and make it difficult for former inmates to …

http://www.kplu.org/post/modern-day-debtors-prison-target-bill-wash-legislature

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Washington:
What Do You Do With The Worst Of The Worst?

Washington state has a pathbreaking new idea for how to handle prisoners in solitary confinement — don’t give up on them. The program has resulted in an almost 50% drop in the number of people the state keeps in isolation …

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2015/04/solitary_confinement_in_washington_state_a_surprising_and_effective_reform.html

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Washington, D.C.:
The Processing And Treatment Of Mentally Ill Persons In The Criminal Justice System

Mentally ill offenders possess a unique set of circumstances and needs. However, all too often, they cycle through the criminal justice system without appropriate care to address their mental health. This report  provides a national landscape on …

http://www.urban.org/publications/2000173.html

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