The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of July 27, 2015

Tuesday, July 28, 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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Violence At Rikers Island Is Highest In More Than A Decade Despite Thousands Of Fewer Inmates

This has been the bloodiest year behind bars in more than a decade even though thousands fewer inmates are being locked up on Rikers. There were 108 stabbings and slashings, up from the 88 in 2014 and more than double from …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/exclusive-rikers-island-violence-inmates-article-1.2293775

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Opinion: Rikers Is Improving, But Meaningful Reform Takes Time

“After years of neglect and abuse,” says Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte, “we are beginning to turn Rikers around. Meaningful reform takes time — but we know what works.  At the adolescent facility, we changed everything …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/guest-column-rikers-improving-reform-takes-time-article-1.2293960

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Teen Inmates At Rikers Get Cash Allowance For Good Behavior Under Pilot Program To Reduce Jail Violence

The scandal-scarred NYC Correction Dept. has quietly begun paying teen inmates $25 a week as a reward for things like cleaning their cells and good behavior. The program, designed to reduce inmate violence, has some Rikers supervisors …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/exclusive-rikers-teen-inmates-cash-behaving-article-1.2299735

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Opinion: Mayor de Blasio: Tear Down This Jail! (Want To Fix Rikers? Close it.)

The reality is that the only way to transform Rikers is to destroy it; it needs to be permanently closed. The buildings are crumbling. The guard culture of prisoner abuse and the gang culture of violence are ingrained. It’s NY’s Guantánamo Bay …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/07/17/mayor-de-blasio-tear-down-this-jail?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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After Kalief Browder’s Death, U.S. Lawmakers Demand Better Treatment Of Incarcerated Kids

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) is introducing several bills to improve the treatment of incarcerated youth under the age of 21. The effort comes less than two months after the suicide of Kalief Browder. One bill, Kalief’s Law, addresses …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/after-kalief-browders-death-us-lawmakers-demand-better-treatment-of-incarcerated-kids_55aff875e4b08f57d5d381ec

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You Just Got Out Of Prison. Now What?

Carlos and Roby are two ex-convicts with a simple mission — picking up inmates on the day they’re released from prison and guiding them through a changed world. The job started as a simple delivery service …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/19/magazine/you-just-got-out-of-prison-now-what.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

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Opinion: A Ride Home From Prison

This short Op-Doc documentary profiles a former prisoner who guides men released from life sentences in California through their first hours of freedom. Carlos Cervantes, a former prisoner himself and part of a “ride home” program …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/16/opinion/a-ride-home-from-prison.html

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Family Renews Calls For Civil Rights Charges A Year After Garner’s Death

Hundreds of people converged on a lawn in front of the federal courthouse in Brooklyn to demand that federal civil rights charges be filed in the death of Eric Garner, focusing attention on the latest chapter of his family’s year-long push for …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/19/nyregion/family-renews-calls-for-civil-rights-charges-a-year-after-garners-death.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=0

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As Shootings Rise In New York, Police Focus On A Small Number Of Young Men

Their names and faces are distributed to precincts across NYC. Their gang affiliations and Instagram postings are studied by officers. They are repeatedly arrested, or given tickets, including violations for minor offenses like jaywalking …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/22/nyregion/as-shootings-rise-in-new-york-police-focus-on-a-small-number-of-young-men.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=0

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Bratton Calls Up 400 Cops For “Quality Of Life” Crackdown

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton gave his top commanders new marching orders to crack down on the disturbing spike in “quality of life” offenses around the city. Bratton summoned about 400 captains, inspectors and chiefs to …

http://nypost.com/2015/07/22/bratton-calls-up-400-cops-for-quality-of-life-crackdown/

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Public Urination In New York Becomes Test Case For Policing

As city leaders wrestle with how to adapt police tactics to a lower-crime era, the NYPD has suggested it would loosen its approach to public urination, a quintessential quality-of-life crime whose effects have a tendency to linger …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/16/nyregion/public-urination-in-new-york-becomes-test-case-for-policing.html

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Loose Cigarette Arrests In NYC Drop In Year After Eric Garner’s Death

The NYPD has made 33% fewer arrests citywide so far this year for selling untaxed cigarettes, the crime Eric Garner was suspected of during a deadly confrontation on Staten Island last summer. While department officials declined to discuss …

http://www.wsj.com/articles/loose-cigarette-arrests-in-nyc-drop-in-year-after-eric-garners-death-1436992014

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De Blasio Administration Announces Proposal To Make NYC Schools Safer With Fewer STudent Arrests, Suspensions, And Summonses

City leaders, educators, and community stakeholders presented the de Blasio
Administration with recommendations to promote school safety while also
reducing student arrests, suspensions, and summonses. These 10 proposals …

http://www1.nyc.gov/site/sclt/index.page

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Opinion: My Warrant Problem — And Ours

 I am a wanted man.  There are 1.1 million outstanding summons warrants in the naked city. Mine is for coasting on my bicycle to an empty patch of Flatbush Ave. sidewalk to get away from a driver veering between lanes …

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/harry-siegel-warrant-problem-article-1.2293538

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National:
“I Could Have Wound Up In Prison,” Obama Tells Inmates

President Obama acknowledges his mischievous, sometimes marijuana-fueled adolescence in Hawaii might have brought about a very different adulthood had it taken place elsewhere. “That’s what strikes me — there but for the grace of God …

http://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/barack-obama-prison-visit-inmates-oklahoma-120241.html

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National:
Opinion: What President Obama Didn’t Hear Or Smell At El Reno

When President Obama visited the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution, everything was clean, quiet, and empty and the floor was polished to a spotlessly high sheen in preparation for his visit. He did not smell or hear …

https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/what-president-obama-didnt-hear-or-smell-el-reno

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National:
Critics Of Solitary Confinement Are Buoyed As Obama
Embraces Their Cause

President Obama ordered a DOJ review of solitary confinement while Congress and over 12 states consider limits on it. “Do we really think it makes sense to lock so many people alone in tiny cells for 23 hours a day, sometimes for months …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/22/us/politics/critics-of-solitary-confinement-buoyed-as-obama-embraces-cause.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

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National:
Federal Prisons Could Release 1,000 Times More Drug Offenders Than Obama Did New, Retroactive Sentencing Guidelines Begin To Kick In

A lesser-known policy change, enacted in 2014 with far less fanfare, will affect 1,000 times the number of people as Obama’s commutations. Known as “drugs minus two,” the amendment to the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s guidelines …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/07/23/federal-prisons-could-release-1-000-times-more-drug-offenders-than-obama-did?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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National:
GOP Contenders Embrace Criminal Justice Reform

Republican presidential candidates are turning their sights on criminal justice reform, indicating that the issue has broken into the mainstream conservative movement as the party seeks inroads with minority voters …

http://thehill.com/campaign-issues/248069-gop-contenders-embrace-criminal-justice-reform

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National:
Kentucky Senators McConnell, Paul File Prison Accountability Bill

The same day President Barack Obama announced he wanted to reform the criminal justice system, Kentucky’s U.S. Senators filed a bill that aims to add a Congressional oversight to the Bureau of Prisons. The bill would require …

http://www.wkyt.com/home/headlines/Ky-Senators-McConnell-Paul-file-prison-accountability-bill-316113821.html

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National:
Bid To Alter Drug Laws And Allow Some Early Prison Releases Gains Ground In Congress

A bipartisan push to reduce the number of low-level drug offenders in prison is gaining momentum in Congress, but proposals may disappoint advocates hoping to slash the mandatory minimum sentences that are seen as chiefly responsible for …

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-prison-reform-20150720-story.html

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National:
Releasing Drug Offenders Won’t End Mass Incarceration        

Serious prison reform — and shedding the dubious mantle of World’s Leading Incarcerator — will have to look far beyond just non-violent drug offenders. Heavy prison sentences for drug crimes are only one of many reasons why the U.S. …

http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/releasing-drug-offenders-wont-end-mass-incarceration/

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National:
Opinion: Hey Obama, Time To #banthebox

As the President continues to work on reform, it will be critical that he fully embraces “fair chance” hiring — a policy designed to ensure that formerly incarcerated people are not unfairly shut out of employment …

http://www.cnbc.com/2015/07/16/time-to-ban-criminal-record-box-on-job-applications-commentary.html

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National:
Marco Rubio Is Getting Big Money From For-Profit Prison Companies

The second-largest for-profit prison operator in the country, GEO Group, is a top contributor to Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign. Between 2013 and 2014, GEO Group gave Rubio $41,500, more than any other presidential candidate …

http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/marco-rubio-is-getting-big-money-from-for-profit-prison-companies-7770414

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National:
Opinion: Why Colleges Should Admit More Ex-Felons

After 3-1/2 years behind bars for a drug-related felony, Vivian Nixon wanted to rebuild her life. So she applied for college. She answered all the standard questions … and then came to a question asking whether she had a criminal background …

http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/sunday-commentary/20150710-keri-blakinger-why-colleges-should-admit-more-ex-felons.ece

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National:
Fact Sheet: Enhancing The Fairness And Effectiveness Of the Criminal Justice System

Across the political spectrum, there is a growing consensus to make reforms to the juvenile and criminal justice systems to ensure laws are enforced more fairly and efficiently.  Unwarranted disparities and unduly harsh sentences undermine …

https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/07/14/fact-sheet-enhancing-fairness-and-effectiveness-criminal-justice-system

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National:
Opinion: John Legend: Mass Incarceration Is Destroying America

“Here in America, we pay lip-service to the idea addiction is a disease; we certainly don’t treat it like one in our prisons. That’s a terrible mistake,” says singer John Legend. “No one grows up wanting to be a drug addict any more than …

http://time.com/3965245/john-legend-mass-incarceration/

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National:
Doing Time: A History Of U.S. Prisons

Close to 7 million Americans are under adult correctional supervision. How did the U.S. develop a criminal justice system that relies so heavily on incarceration? Explore the history of American correctional system in this slideshow …

http://news.discovery.com/history/us-history/doing-time-a-history-of-us-prisons-150721.htm

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California:
Planting Justice: Best Non-Profit That Does It All

Not only does the non-profit called Planting Justice practice and teach sustainable farming models, but it employs formerly incarcerated people at an actual living wage to do grassroots fundraising that helps to fund its programs that provide …

http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/best-nonprofit-that-does-it-all/BestOf?oid=4422582

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Colorado:
Whole Foods, Expensive Cheese, And The Dilemma Of Cheap Prison Labor 

On the heels of a public apology by Whole Foods over allegations that the store overcharges customers, the grocery chain is now receiving a fresh round of criticism for its use of cheap prison labor to produce some of those goods …

https://news.vice.com/article/whole-foods-expensive-cheese-and-the-dilemma-of-cheap-prison-labor

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Indiana:
We Talked To One Of The 46 Inmates Barack Obama Ordered Released From Prison  

When President Obama commuted the sentences of 46 drug offenders, among them was Patrick Roberts, a 65-year-old African-American who was serving a life sentence for a drug distribution conspiracy.  This is what he told us …

http://www.vice.com/read/we-talked-to-one-of-the-46-prisoners-who-caught-a-break-from-president-obama-last-week-721

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Missouri:
Study Points To Race And Gender Disparity In Missouri Executions

Missouri’s application of the death penalty is arbitrary and so unfairly administered it could be unconstitutional, says a study by University of NC professor Frank Baumgartner. “It’s proof that black lives don’t matter as much as …

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/study-points-to-race-and-gender-disparity-in-missouri-executions/article_eaa2e812-c51a-5b5f-aa7b-d53bf35ded5f.html

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Missouri;
Ferguson, MO, Hires A Black Officer As Interim Police Chief

Ferguson, MO, announced — almost a year after the police shooting death of Michael Brown — it has chosen a black officer from Arizona as its interim police chief. City officials have named Andre Anderson, 50, a commander with the …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/07/22/ferguson-mo-hires-a-black-officer-as-interim-police-chief/

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Texas:
Sandra Bland Drove To Texas To Start A New Job, So How Did She End Up Dead In Jail?

Police claim that the Illinois woman became combative after she was pulled over for a traffic stop. They arrested her, and two days later she was found dead in her jail cell. Bland’s family and friends suspect foul play …

http://www.theroot.com/articles/news/2015/07/sandra_bland_drove_to_texas_to_start_a_new_job_so_how_did_she_end_up_dead.html

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Texas:
Assessing The Legality Of
Sandra Bland’s Arrest

A dashboard camera video confirms accounts of a physical confrontation between Sandra Bland and a state trooper. Bland, an African-American woman from Chicago, was arrested during a traffic stop and died …

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/07/20/us/sandra-bland-arrest-death-videos-maps.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=photo-spot-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=2

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International:
UN Remains Barred From Visiting US Prisons Amid Abuse Charges

The UN hasn’t been as lucky as President Obama was. UN officials, armed with mandates from the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, have been barred from U.S. prisons routinely accused of being steeped in a culture of violence …

http://www.mintpressnews.com/un-remains-barred-from-visiting-us-prisons-amid-abuse-charges/207883/

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International:
CEO Of The World’s First MOOC Provides Hope To Former Prisoners Through Education

Mike Feerick leads the first ever massive open online course or MOOC. In 2007, he founded Ireland-based ALISON which has thrived on serving underserved education marketplaces, like the formerly incarcerated. He believes …

http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterhigh/2015/07/21/ceo-of-the-worlds-first-mooc-provides-hope-to-former-prisoners-through-education/

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