The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of August 10, 2015

Thursday, August 6, 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: Former Inmates Still Running For Their Lives

Says David Rothenberg, The Fortune Society’s founder: “Thousands of inmates are released through the front gates of NYS’s correctional institutions every year.  The state, however, hardly has a plan for these men and women …

http://www.newsday.com/opinion/oped/former-inmates-still-running-for-their-lives-1.10692237

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New York’s Top Cop Thinks Not Enough People Are In Jail

NYPD Commissioner Bratton is apparently worried the city is in danger of going too far when it comes to keeping people out of jail. “There are people in our society, I’m sorry, they’re criminals, bad people. You don’t want to keep them out of jail …

http://www.vice.com/read/is-new-york-city-letting-too-many-scary-dudes-out-of-jail-806

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New York Police Should Revise Body Camera Rules, Report Says

54 NYPD officers wear body cameras while on patrol. Their ranks will swell to a thousand as part of a pilot program overseen by a court-appointed federal monitor. But before that expansion, some policy changes are in order, says a report

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/31/nyregion/inspector-general-proposes-changes-to-new-york-polices-body-camera-program.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

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How New York Ended Up With 1.2 Million Open Arrest Warrants

There are currently 1.2 million arrest warrants open in NYC. Many of the people who have them have no idea that these warrants exist, and many of the warrants themselves date back years, even decades. The vast majority occur when …

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/theslice/new-york-broken-windows-arrest-warrants-begin-again

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National:
Obama Is Reinstating Pell Grants for Prisoners But Will Politics Eventually Trump Cost And Data?

When the Obama Administration reinstates Pell Grants to a number of prisoners seeking college degrees, it will be the first time those behind bars can have access to them since Congress excluded prisoners from the program in 1994 …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/07/30/obama-is-reinstating-pell-grants-for-prisoners?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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National:
Opinion:
Yes, Prisoners Need College Education. But They Need To Get Their GEDs First

Many progressive groups assume that we must prioritize making college education accessible to prisoners if we are to reduce recidivism. But that assumption misses one important fact — you can’t get a college degree if you are illiterate …

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/03/prisoners-college-education-need-geds-first

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National:
Here’s What Presidential Candidates’ Websites Say About Criminal Justice Reform

This isn’t a review of the candidates’ records or a critique of their positions on these issues (although I’ll do some of that). It’s more of an evaluation of how (and if) they address criminal justice on their campaign sites. So here we go …

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2015/08/06/heres-what-presidential-candidates-websites-say-about-criminal-justice-reform/

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National:
Opinion: Make Criminal Justice Reform A Key Issue In 2016  

The state of our justice system is so bad, the political climate for change so good, it would be a desertion of our civic duties to let the 2016 election slip by without electoral promises of far-reaching reform.  Which is why criminal justice must …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mike-shammas/make-criminal-justice-ref_b_7935280.html

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National:
Opinion: With One Decision, Obama And Lynch Could Reshape The Criminal Justice System; The President Needs To Appoint A New, Visionary Bureau Of Prisons Head

AG Lynch will soon choose the Bureau Of Prison’s 9th head since its founding in 1930. The decision matters a lot. The director runs one of the critical bureaucracies of the government, housing 200,000+ prisoners in over 120 facilities …

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/08/03/with-one-decision-obama-could-totally-reform-the-criminal-justice-system/

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National:
Get Out Of Jail Free: U.S. Cities Eye Bail Reform, Other Efforts To Help Poor       

For those able to afford bail, jail might mean a few hours or a night behind bars. But for low-income Americans, an overcrowded system means an average 23 days in jail before they get a court date. In the most extreme cases, people have waited …

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2015/0731/Get-out-of-jail-free-US-cities-eye-bail-reform-other-efforts-to-help-poor

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National:
Bill Would Ban Solitary Confinement In Juvy

Lawmakers want to ban the use of solitary confinement for juveniles held in federal pretrial facilities and detention centers. Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Rand Paul (R-KY), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Mike Lee (R-UT) introduced the …

http://thehill.com/regulation/250359-bill-would-ban-solitary-confinement-in-juvy

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National:
Congress Looks To Prison Reform For Non-Violent Drug Offenders

The Bureau of Prisons says there are three times as many people in prison for drug offenses than for crimes with weapons. Congress is looking at whether the 95,000 non-violent inmates deserve to spend so much time behind bars …

http://www.kfyrtv.com/home/headlines/KFYR-Congress-Looks-to-Prison-Reform-for-Non-Violent-Drug-Offenders-320707971.html

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National:
Despite High Expectations, Sentencing Reform Proposals Still On Ice

Multiple sources from Capitol Hill, the executive branch, and the advocacy community say concrete language on sentencing and criminal justice overhauls is still being hotly debated behind closed doors in both the Senate and the House …

http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/07/31/428125928/despite-high-expectations-sentencing-reform-proposals-still-on-ice

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National:
Why Jails Have More Suicides Than Prisons — A New Report And A Growing Phenomenon

A report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that among the causes of death behind bars, suicide in county jails — a leading cause of death there — is on the rise. One reason for this is that people who enter a jail often face a first-time …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/08/04/why-jails-have-more-suicides-than-prisons?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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National:
Opinion: An Alternative To “Ban The Box”

Rather than applying “Ban The Box” to the federal government as Obama suggested, it should be replaced with a better alternative: let ex-offenders earn the right to seal their records and assert on job applications they were never  …

http://www.realclearpolicy.com/blog/2015/08/05/ban_the_box_alternative_1387.html

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National:
How Ferguson Changed America

A year ago, Officer Darren Wilson killed Michael Brown. What has followed has been the greatest national reckoning on racism since the beating of Rodney King. What was different about the death of Michael Brown that sparked such outrage …

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2015/08/the_ferguson_anniversary_michael_brown_s_death_12_months_ago_led_to_america.html

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National:
Joint Statement On Eliminating Bias In The Criminal Justice System

While we believe that the overwhelming percentage of law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges are not racist, explicit bias remains a real factor in our  criminal justice system, and implicit or unconscious  bias affects even those who …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/documents/2190196-american-bar-association?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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National:
The Problem With Defining “Solitary Confinement’

“We do not practice solitary confinement,” Charles Samuels, director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, told Sen. Cory Booker at a recent Senate hearing. “I’m sorry,” Booker cut in, sounding baffled. “Your testimony to me right now is that …

http://www.nationaljournal.com/congress/the-problem-with-defining-solitary-confinement-20150804

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National:
Why Criminal Justice Isn’t Just

Imagine if your doctor approached your complaint of chest pains with a conception of the body from 200 years ago. That’s essentially what police officers and judges do every day when it comes to diagnosing whether a person deserves jail time …

http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Criminal-Justice-Isnt/231985/

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National:
Copwatch Vs. Cops: After Freddie Gray

Copwatch, an organization created to document police activity and possible harassment, has been at the forefront of the activity since its founding in 1990. But, in the wake of Michael Brown’s death, the movement has gained a new urgency …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/02/us/copwatch-vs-cops-after-freddie-gray.html

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National:
States Rethink Restrictions On Food Stamps, Welfare For Drug Felons

A 1996 federal law blocks felons with drug convictions from receiving welfare or food stamps unless states choose to waive the restrictions. For many, that law adds to the hurdles they face reentering society …

http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2015/07/30/states-rethink-restrictions-on-food-stamps-welfare-for-drug-felons

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National:
High-Speed Police Chases Have Killed Thousands Of Innocent Bystanders Including Small Children, Teenage Drivers, And The Elderly

More than 5,000 bystanders and passengers have been killed in police chases since 1979, and tens of thousands more were injured as officers repeatedly pursued drivers at high speeds, often for minor infractions …

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/07/30/police-pursuits-fatal-injuries/30187827/

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National:
Training Officers To Shoot First And He Will Answer Questions Later

When police officers shoot people under questionable circumstances, Dr. Lewinski is often there to defend their actions. Among the most influential voices on the subject, he has testified in nearly 200 cases and has helped justify countless …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/02/us/training-officers-to-shoot-first-and-he-will-answer-questions-later.html

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California:
Voting Rights Restored To Thousands Of Californians

By withdrawing a challenge to the voting rights of the formerly incarcerated, Secretary of State Padilla sends a message that California won’t stand for discrimination in voting and that he’ll fight to protect the right to vote for all …

https://www.aclunc.org/news/voting-rights-restored-thousands-Californians

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California:
Four Prisons In California To Get Community College Programs

Besides the federal Pell grant project, several California community colleges will launch programs at four state prisons. A study funded by the DOJ found that inmates who participated in educational programs were 43% less likely to return …

http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-me-pell-inmate-column-20150805-story.html#page=1

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California:
Solitary Confinement: Punished For Life

Prison administrators say some inmates are so violent they must be kept apart from others. But consigning inmates to solitary for years — or even decades, as California has done — is viewed by a growing number of corrections officials as …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/04/health/solitary-confinement-mental-illness.html

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California:
Suicide Spike Boosts Oversight Of California Women’s Prison

A spike in suicides and attempted suicides has prompted corrections officials to step up oversight at a California women’s prison as inspectors try to pinpoint the cause of the troubling increase. In the last 18 months, four women have …

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/suicide-spike-focuses-oversight-california-womens-prison-32824875

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Tennessee:
Prison Reform Must Cut Population, Maintain Safety

Reforming Tennessee’s prison system is sorely needed. Since 1981, a report by The Vera Institute says, the state’s imprisonment rate has jumped 256% to 438 incarcerated per 100,000 residents. Nearly half of those released are back …

http://www.heraldcourier.com/opinion/prison-reform-must-cut-population-maintain-safety/article_e666694a-373b-11e5-afd3-1be5a2010407.html

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Wisconsin:
Head Of South Madison Farmers’ Market Will Train Formerly Incarcerated Men To Farm

When Robert Pierce decided to  become an organic farmer, everyone told him he would never make it. Now, 30 years later, he is not only the successful owner of Half The 40 Acres Organic Farm, but he will be teaching formerly incarcerated …

http://host.madison.com/news/local/head-of-south-madison-farmers-market-looks-to-train-formerly/article_67534826-36fa-581d-9be1-b2bac9eb13d4.html

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