The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of April 20, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 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: A College Education For Prisoners

In a Letter to the Editor, Fortune Society senior VP Stanley Richards talks about being in a cell in  the early 1990s believing that he was destined to sell drugs on the street corner. But he was “encouraged to enroll in …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/13/opinion/a-college-education-for-prisoners.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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New Plan to Shrink Rikers Island Population: Tackle Court Delays

Mayor de Blasio and the state’s chief judge will introduce a plan to gradually reduce the inmate population at Rikers by clearing the backlogs at state courts, a pocket of persistent government dysfunction that has long frustrated improvement efforts …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/14/nyregion/mayor-de-blasios-plan-to-shrink-rikers-population-tackle-court-delays.html?_r=0

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Opinion: When Cops Cry Wolf

Former NYPD police detective Frank Serpico calls it “testi-lying” and he says “it has been a regular practice in police forces across the United States … official testimony is made part of a police after-action report but is a pure lie” …

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/04/north-charleston-shooting-116871.html#.VSvzMBvD_cs

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National:
Tackling America’s Police Abuse Epidemic: Can The Justice Department Keep Up With A National Systemic Problem?

The North Charleston video, which was replayed constantly on TV and video, put sharp new pressure on the federal government to increase its scrutiny of what many experts believe is endemic police abuse across the country, especially in …

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/04/north-charleston-shooting-americas-police-abuse-epidemic-116838.html#.VSv6IRvD_cs

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National:
John Legend Launches Campaign To End Mass Incarceration

John Legend, the Grammy-winning singer, announced the multi-year initiative, “Free America.” He will perform at a correctional facility in Austin where he also will be part of a press conference. “We have a serious problem with incarceration …

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/6b45fa6a95bb4ba6a3b87a1159b8423e/john-legend-launches-campaign-end-mass-incarceration

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National:
The Legal Right to Videotape Police Isn’t Actually All That Clear

Police harassment of civilians recording law enforcement is a frequent occurrence throughout the U.S. Contrary to assertions made in two NY Times articles, the courts have not uniformly recognized that a right to record police actually exists …

http://www.citylab.com/crime/2015/04/the-legal-right-to-videotape-police-isnt-actually-all-that-clear/390285/

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National:
Thousands Dead, Few Prosecuted

Among the thousands of fatal shootings at the hands of police since 2005, only 54 officers have been charged, a Washington Post analysis found. Most were cleared or acquitted in the cases that have been resolved …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2015/04/11/thousands-dead-few-prosecuted/

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National:
Opinion: When Everything Is A Crime

Author George Will writes “there are 4,500 federal criminal statutes and innumerable regulations backed by criminal penalties that include incarceration. Even if none of these were arcane, which many are, their sheer number …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/when-everything-is-a-crime/2015/04/08/1929ab88-dd43-11e4-be40-566e2653afe5_story.html

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National:
What The U.S. Can Learn From Prison Reform Efforts Throughout The World

Efforts to reduce the American prison population that are already underway, including a push for drug-sentencing reform, have had some success. Still, policymakers could learn from progress made in other parts of the world like …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/10/prison-reform-international-examples_n_6995132.html

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National:
USCCB, Catholic Charities Officials Back Legislation On Reform Of Prison Sentencing

The chairman of the Domestic Justice and Human Development Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the president-elect of Catholic Charities USA expressed support for the Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015 …

http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=24641

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California:
FBI Probing Videotaped Beating By San Bernardino Deputies

Ten San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies were placed on paid administrative leave after TV news video showed them beating and kicking a suspect. Sheriff John McMahon said some of the actions on the tape appeared “excessive” …

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-san-bernardino-deputies-kick-man-pursuit-20150409-story.html

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California:
Degrees Of Freedom: Expanding College Opportunities For Currently And Formerly Incarcerated Californians

Giving incarcerated individuals access to a college education can help reduce the economic barriers they face when they return to society, and break the cycle of recidivism, according to a report from …

http://philanthropynewsdigest.org/connections/degrees-of-freedom

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California:
Growing A Better System

Since 2009, Planting Justice, an Oakland, CA, non-profit, has built and maintained urban gardens, transforming yards all over the Bay Area, and employing recently released  incarcerated people full time at a starting rate of  …

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/growing-a-better-system/Content?oid=4247622

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California:
Apple Rescinds Policy Against Hiring Felons For Construction Work

Apple has opened the door for construction workers with recent felonies on their records to help build its new campus. The tech giant has lifted a requirement that people who had been convicted of felonies within the past seven years could not …

http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_27881493/apple-rescinds-policy-hiring-felons

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Indiana:
A Re-Entry Program That Works

What if college students and ex-offenders could live together and help each other find their place in society? Father Jack Hickey and a group of Vanderbilt college students formed that radical idea in 1974 and, for over 40 years …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jean-dewinter/a-re-entry-program-that-works_b_7019256.html

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Michigan:
Jail-To-Jobs Is Focus Of Labor Secretary At Sakthi Plant

Sakthi Automotive Group, an automotive parts maker in southwest Detroit, plans to boost employment from about 160 workers today to 650 by 2020. And quite of few of those hired will be formerly incarcerated prisoners …

http://www.freep.com/story/money/business/columnists/tom-walsh/2015/04/15/labor-secretary-detroit/25827435/

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Nevada:
Nevada Prison Has More Unreported Shootings

More unreported shootings are coming come to light after the disclosure that a guard shot a handcuffed inmate to death at a Nevada prison where guns were fired more than 200 times in a recent five-year period …

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/apnewsbreak-nevada-prison-unreported-shootings-30337492

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Oklahoma:
Oklahoma Man Eric Harris Fatally Shot By Deputy Who Meant To Fire Taser

Oklahoma prosecutors are reviewing the shooting of an unarmed black man by a sheriff’s deputy who says he was unintentionally struck with a gun instead of Tasered during the fatal takedown. A video caught on a bodycam shows …

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/oklahoma-man-eric-harris-fatally-shot-police-accident-instead-tased-n340116

UPDATE: http://www.tulsaworld.com/homepage1/updated-district-attorney-steve-kunzweiler-charges-reserve-deputy-with-second/article_883e0747-46e9-595d-9c4f-e1cb4fdabbf4.html

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Nebraska:
ACLU Says Proposed Fixes For Prison Overcrowding Fall Short

A civil rights organization that has threatened to sue Nebraska for its chronic prison overcrowding said that proposed reforms being considered by the State Legislature don’t do enough to alleviate the “crisis.” An analysis of prison-reform proposals …

http://www.omaha.com/news/metro/aclu-proposed-fixes-for-prison-overcrowding-fall-short/article_7875dd85-e076-5855-9924-dd700e2585e0.html

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North Carolina:
UNC Law, Prison Reformers: Stop Solitary Confinement In NC Now

Law school officials and prison reform advocates gathered to call for an end to solitary confinement — a practice denoted as “torture” by the UN — in U.S. and NC prisons. Prison officials say it’s used for various reasons … although …

http://www.indyweek.com/news/archives/2015/04/13/unc-law-prison-reformers-stop-solitary-confinement-in-nc-now

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South Carolina:
Why Was Walter Scott Running? 50,000 Parents, Mostly Black Fathers, Can Guess

In South Carolina, at least one in eight people in jail are there on contempt-of-court charges related to late or unpaid child-support orders. The best available data suggest that a majority of these jailed parents are black fathers …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/04/10/why-was-walter-scott-running?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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South Carolina:
Opinion: Think Walter Scott’s death Is “Another Ferguson”? Cops Don’t

“This one is different,” says a former Baltimore police officer and an associate professor at John Jay College. “Walter Scott,” he says, “was killed when he was no threat to the officer when the first shot was fired and even less of a threat when …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/think-walter-scotts-death-is-another-ferguson-cops-dont/2015/04/10/2f989444-dfa8-11e4-a500-1c5bb1d8ff6a_story.html

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South Carolina:
Opinion:
Walter Scott Is Not on Trial

“For me, there is only one issue in the Walter Scott case — he is dead, and that cannot be undone. Not only was he killed, but he was killed in a most dishonorable way — shot in the back as he fled. For me, there is only one question …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/13/opinion/charles-blow-walter-scott-is-not-on-trial.html?smid=nytcore-ipad-share&smprod=nytcore-ipad

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South Carolina:
Racial Disparity In Charlotte Traffic Stops Grows, Study Finds

One traffic stop outside of Charleston has intensified the country’s debate on racial justice. A new study of 1.3 million stops made over 12 years by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police illustrates the wariness between officers and black drivers …

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/crime/article18289739.html

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South Carolina:
Federal Prosecutor Tries A Radical Tactic In The Drug War: Not Throwing People In Prison

South Carolina’s top federal prosecutor is testing out a novel approach to dealing with drug-related crime, one that aims to clean up the streets by looking beyond mass arrests and incarceration. The pilot program, known as …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/27/south-carolina-drug-war_n_4809299.html

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Virginia:
Virginia Tops Nation In Sending Students To Cops, Courts: Where Does Your State Rank?

Kayleb Moon-Robinson was 11 when charges — criminal charges — began piling up at school. Diagnosed as autistic, Kayleb was being scolded for misbehavior one day and kicked a trash can. A police officer witnessed the tantrum and …

http://www.publicintegrity.org/2015/04/10/17089/virginia-tops-nation-sending-students-cops-courts-where-does-your-state-rank

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Virginia:
Fairfax Jail Inmate In Taser Death Was Shackled

A mentally ill woman who died after a stun gun was used on her at the Fairfax County jail was restrained with handcuffs behind her back, leg shackles, and a mask when a sheriff’s deputy shocked her four times, incident reports show …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/fairfax-jail-inmate-who-died-was-fully-restrained-when-tasered-four-times/2015/04/11/ede0957c-decd-11e4-be40-566e2653afe5_story.html

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Washington:
Higher-Education Help For Juvenile Offenders A Solid Community Investment

Studies covering how many formerly incarcerated teens and young adults go on to post-secondary ed are hard to find, said Lee Thornhill of Gateways for Incarcerated Youth which provides “behind bars” college classes, and transition support for …

http://union-bulletin.com/news/2015/apr/11/higher-education-help-juvenile-offenders-solid-com/

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Canada:
Canadian Supreme Court Quashes Mandatory Minimum Sentences For Gun Crimes

The Supreme Court of Canada struck down  a law requiring mandatory minimum sentences for crimes involving prohibited guns. The ruling said the sentences could ensnare people with “little or no moral fault” and who pose “little or no danger …

http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/supreme-court-quashes-mandatory-minimum-sentences-for-gun-crimes-1.3031847

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