The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of August 24, 2015

Monday, August 24, 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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How Poetry, Prison And A Holocaust Book Are Changing Ex-Offenders’ Lives

It was a Wed. afternoon at The Fortune Society, a social service organization for ex-offenders, and a group of men and women — all either formerly incarcerated or part of an ATI program — sat together for their bi-weekly writing workshop …

http://forward.com/news/319067/finding-hope-in-fortune/#ixzz3j5PWsEcw

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The Bail Trap

Every year, thousands of innocent people are sent to jail only because they can’t afford to post bail, putting them at risk of losing their jobs, custody of their children — even their lives. Bail hasn’t always been a mechanism for locking people up …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/magazine/the-bail-trap.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

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A Night In Brooklyn Criminal Court

In New York City, a handful of non-profit bail funds are working to keep people who don’t need to be in jail out of Rikers Island, posting bail for them so they can go free while they fight their cases. On a recent night at the Kings County Criminal Court …

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/08/11/magazine/a-night-in-brooklyn-court.html

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Inmate’s Death Follows Reports Of Abuse At A New York State Prison

Corrections officers called for an ambulance, but they mentioned nothing about a physical encounter. Rather, the records showed, they told the ambulance crew that Samuel Harrell probably had an overdose of K2, a synthetic marijuana …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/19/nyregion/fishkill-prison-inmate-died-after-fight-with-officers-records-show.html?nytmobile=0&_r=0

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Haunted In Fishkill: My Memories Of Prison Brutality And The Beat Up Squad

The only truly thing haunting about Fishkill is the Beat Up Squad — what we prisoners call the group of guards who take it upon themselves to inflict informal corporal punishment upon us in the staircases …

http://www.vice.com/read/my-memories-of-the-new-york-prison-where-inmates-say-a-mentally-ill-black-man-was-beaten-to-death-818

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City Suspects Rikers Island Health Care Provider Of Criminality In Death Of Mentally Ill Inmate

The city suspects a controversial Rikers health care provider of having committed “a criminal act” in the gruesome death of a mentally ill inmate. The revelation, contained in documents filed in the civil case over the disturbing 2013 death of …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/city-suspects-rikers-health-care-provider-criminal-act-article-1.2328894

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It’s Unconstitutional To Ban The Homeless From Sleeping Outside, The Federal Government Says

We all need sleep, which is a fact of life but also a legally important point. The DOJ just argued as much in a statement of interest it filed in a relatively obscure case in Boise, Idaho, that could impact how cities regulate and punish homelessness …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonkblog/wp/2015/08/13/its-unconstitutional-to-ban-the-homeless-from-sleeping-outside-the-federal-government-says/

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Chirlane McCray Outlines City’s Plans For Mental Health, Leaves Out Specifics

NYC’s First Lady Chirlane McCray offered a glimpse of her efforts to combat mental illness through community interventions, detailing the de Blasio administration’s $386-million commitment to the issue over the next three years …

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20150818/HEALTH_CARE/150819506/chirlane-mccray-outlines-citys-plans-for-mental-health-leaves-out#utm_medium=email&utm

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Opinion: A Step Toward Ending The School-To-Prison Pipeline

For years, the school-to-prison pipeline has afflicted communities of color in NY. From a young age, students begin to be treated like criminals within the confines of their own schools — from being handcuffed, suspended, and arrested for minor …

http://www.gothamgazette.com/index.php/opinion/5852-a-step-toward-ending-the-school-to-prison-pipeline

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When “Broken Windows” Meets Tinted Windows

The NYPD issued 74,345 tickets for tinted windows in 2014, an average of 204 per day, according to a recent analysis by the Police Reform Organizing Project, an advocacy group that focuses on what it sees as excessive policing …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/08/17/when-broken-windows-meets-tinted-windows?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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Organization Helps Formerly Incarcerated Women Go To College

The College and Community Fellowship is a Morningside Heights-based organization that helps current and formerly incarcerated women turn their lives around by helping them gain access to higher education. Participants work …

https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20150818/central-harlem/organization-helps-formerly-incarcerated-women-gain-access-college

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National:
The Number Of Cops Indicted For Murder Spikes Upward

In the past five months, at least 14 police officers have been charged for on-duty killings — more than five times the normal rate. A judge ruled that two Albuquerque policemen must stand trial for killing a homeless man as he …

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/08/the-shocking-number-of-cops-recently-indicted-for-murder/401732/

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National:
Opinion: President Obama’s Department Of Injustice

Last month, President Obama used his clemency power to reduce the sentences of 46 prisoners locked up on drug charges. But, these last six years, his administration has worked to ensure that tens of thousands of poor languish …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/18/opinion/president-obamas-department-of-injustice.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

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National:
Unlikely Allies: A Bipartisan Push For Sentencing Reform Unites President Obama And The Koch Brothers, But Many Are Still Waiting Behind Bars

 “Clemency for a few — to me, that isn’t just,” said conservative billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, noting that the president has not granted clemency to Angelos despite appeals to do so from a large group of bipartisan lawmakers …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2015/08/15/clemency-the-issue-that-obama-and-the-koch-brothers-actually-agree-on/

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National;
Nationally And Locally, The “Black Lives Matter” Movement Demands Racial Justice

Put it in writing and do something about it — that’s the message from Black Lives Matter, a movement spurred by the death of Trayvon Martin. Following recent high-profile cases of police brutality against blacks, the cause continues to …

http://lasvegasweekly.com/as-we-see-it/2015/aug/19/nationally-and-locally-black-lives-matter-movement/

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National:
Opinion: Get Smart About Felons: Why It Makes Sense For Inmates To Qualify For Pell Grants, Too

Recognizing that a prison sentence should not condemn a person to being locked out of the job market, the Obama Administration is pushing to end a 21-year-old ban on federal college aid for prisoners.   The Education Department plans …

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/editorial-smart-felons-article-1.2326541

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National:
Narcan: It Saves Lives. Does It Enable Addicts? For Frustrated Police, It’s A Quick Fix But No Solution

Narcan is credited with reversing more than 10,000 overdoses from 1996 to 2010. But, while recovering addicts praise the drug’s effectiveness, there are concerns that drug abusers are viewing it as a safety net …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/08/14/narcan-it-saves-lives-does-it-enable-addicts?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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National:
Can A Federal Prisoner Be Too Old To Jail?

When you’re locked in federal prison, how old do you have to be to count as “aging”? That’s the question 2 federal agencies are grappling over, and the answer they pick will determine how the government spends more than $800M for …

http://www.nationaljournal.com/domesticpolicy/can-a-federal-prisoner-be-too-old-to-jail-20150817

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National:
20 Inmates Show The Heartbreaking Cost Of Growing Old Behind Bars

They’re the most expensive prisoners to care for and the least likely to commit a crime again, yet geriatric inmates are now the fastest-growing age group in U.S. prisons. Since 1996, photographer Ron Levine has been taking photos of …

http://narrative.ly/stories/20-inmates-show-the-heartbreaking-reality-of-growing-old-behind-bars/

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National:
NSA Spying Relies On AT&T’s “Extreme Willingness To Help”

The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company — the telecom giant AT&T …

https://www.propublica.org/article/nsa-spying-relies-on-atts-extreme-willingness-to-help

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California:
30% Of California’s Forest Firefighters Are Prisoners

Between 30% and 40% of California’s forest firefighters are prison inmates. The state has become a tinderbox from a four-year drought, and roughly 4,000 low-level felons are on the front lines of the state’s active fires. Here’s what’s going on …

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2015/08/40-percent-californias-fires-are-fought-prison-inmates

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Illinois:
This Jail’s Urban Farming Project Benefits Inmates, Local Charities

The next time flowers are delivered to your door in Chicago, the bouquet just might be made up of blooms nurtured by an inmate at Cook County Jail. Chicago-based startup Flowers for Dreams announced the start of a partnership with …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/cook-county-jail-flower-garden_55c917cbe4b0f73b20ba69c4

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Maryland:
The Short, Hard Life Of Freddie Gray

Freddie Gray’s death inspired riots in Baltimore because it was all too familiar to all too many people. But his short life was punctuated by a series of difficult encounters with the criminal justice system even more common …

http://www.buzzfeed.com/nicolasmedinamora/what-freddie-grays-life-says-about-baltimores-justice-system#.uy9NgDO51

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Maryland:
Opinion: Fewer Prisoners, Less Crime

The number of inmates in Maryland’s prisons has dropped 10% since 2006 and crime has fallen at the same time. Yet the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services has seen an inflation-adjusted budget increase of 35% …

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/editorial/bs-ed-justice-reinvestment-initiative-20150815-story.html

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Mississippi:
Locked In Solitary At 14: Adult Jails Isolate Youths Despite Risk

The prisoner is 16 years old. He was kept in solitary not for behavioral reasons or as punishment but because he is being tried as an adult. Under Mississippi law, that means he must be held in an adult jail. And federal law requires that …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/us/citing-safety-adult-jails-put-youths-in-solitary-despite-risks.html?_r=0

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Missouri:
Interim Ferguson Police Chief Suspended Three Times From Previous Job

Andre Anderson, the interim police chief in Ferguson, MO, has some troubling blemishes on his record, including an order of protection filed against him and three suspensions from his job with the Glendale, AZ, police department …

http://www.vocativ.com/news/220070/interim-ferguson-police-chief-anderson-suspensions/

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Ohio:
Opinion: State Prisons Chief Calls For Softened Hearts

Ohio’s prisons chief is calling for compassion toward wrongdoers as he pushes to reduce the state’s inmate population. Too often an “us vs. them” mentality gets in the way of instituting programs to prevent people from going to prison …

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/08/14/state-prisons-chief-calls-for-softened-hearts.html

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Tennessee:
Inmates Say They Worked For Free For Jail Officials

Former inmates at a privately run Nashville jail say they worked without pay building bean-bag “cornhole” games, plaques shaped like footballs, and birdhouses so that officials could sell them through their personal business at a flea market …

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/373d0e181a1540489c14eaffa5547aa3/inmates-say-they-worked-free-jail-officials

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West Virginia:
With Clemency From Obama, Drug Offender Embraces Second Chance

“Dear Rudolph,” the letter began, “I wanted to personally inform you that I have granted your application for commutation.” It was signed “Barack Obama.” Rudolph Norris’s 22 years behind bars was over with the stroke of the president’s pen …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/15/us/with-clemency-from-obama-drug-offender-embraces-second-chance.html

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