The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of October 26, 2015

Monday, October 26, 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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No Touching Rule At Rikers Will “Dehumanize” Inmates, Advocates Warn

Barry Campbell, assistant to the CEO of The Fortune Society, testified that “90% of people who come out of Rikers are angry.” Recalling his own time there, he remembered that men who were not allowed physical contact during visits …

http://gothamist.com/2015/10/19/rikers_rules_touching.php

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Glenn Martin: Leading With Conviction To End Mass Incarceration

A recent story about White House visitation policies for ex-cons left one reader commenting “The best way to avoid the ‘stigma’ of being a felon is to choose not to commit a crime.”  This is the mindset of most Americans, says Glenn Martin

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/nbcblk/leading-conviction-end-mass-incarceration-n437656

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Judge Approves New Rules That Aim To Cut Violence At Rikers Island

 A federal judge formally approved a landmark settlement of a lawsuit over conditions at New York City’s Rikers Island jail that calls for a monitor, 7,800 cameras in the facility, and an array of reforms to try to cut down on violence …

http://www.newsday.com/news/new-york/judge-approves-new-rules-aimed-at-cutting-violence-at-riker-s-island-1.10994495

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Violence In City Jails Spike As Number Of Inmates Drop And Millions Are Poured Into Troubled System

Violence in city jails has spiked dramatically over the past year — even as the number of inmates dropped to historic lows and the city poured millions into the troubled system, a new report found. Among the more disturbing findings …

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/violence-city-jails-spiked-new-report-article-1.2401009

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Comptroller’s Report To Criticize de Blasio Administration On Reform At Rikers

In a sign of growing frustration with the pace of change at Rikers, NYC’s comptroller was expected to release a report chiding the administration of Mayor de Blasio for failing to show “any real results or improvements” despite pumping …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/16/nyregion/comptrollers-report-to-criticize-de-blasio-administration-on-reform-at-rikers.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

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NYC Jail Guards Are Fighting to Keep Their Records Secret; Amid Abuse Charges, Union Acts To “Protect Our Officers”

A case in a NYC court has become the focus of an effort by the correction officers’ union to keep secret the identity and disciplinary histories of guards at  city jails, including Rikers, where the Feds are  cracking down on widespread abuse by …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/10/20/new-york-city-jail-guards-are-fighting-to-keep-their-records-secret?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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De Blasio Is Underestimating The Homeless Population: Advocate

The de Blasio administration is grossly underestimating the number of people living on the street, a top advocate for the city’s homeless said. “The city came up with a number between 3,000 and 4,000, but there are anywhere between …

http://nypost.com/2015/10/19/de-blasio-is-underestimating-the-homeless-population-advocate/

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“We’re Dying In Here, Miss, We’re Dying!”: Horrors I Saw In Solitary

Solitary confinement induces the bleakest depression, plunging despair, and terrifying hallucinations. Rikers folklore has it that the term “bing” was coined to describe the human brain under the strain of solitary — it goes … bing! Whether …

http://www.salon.com/2015/10/18/were_dying_in_here_miss_were_dying_horrors_i_saw_in_solitary_confinement/

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Former Inmate Sues Over Injuries He Received From Beating Allegedly Planned By Jail Guard Linked To Gang

Former inmate Gilbert Bacallao says he still suffers from a brutal beatdown by a group of fellow inmates that was allegedly ordered up by a city correction officer with ties to the violent Bloods gang, prosecutors say …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/exclusive-ex-inmate-sues-beating-bronx-jail-article-1.2402238?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Daily%20Newsletter%202015-10-19&utm_term=DailyNewsletter

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Rikers Inmate Found Dead In Cell Of Apparent Drug Overdose

A Rikers Island inmate was found dead in his cell after an apparent drug overdose. Richard Gonzalez, 45, who had a long criminal record, was found in a holding pen inside the Anna M. Kross Center on Rikers. He had been arrested …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/rikers-inmate-found-dead-cell-apparent-drug-overdose-article-1.2397799

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NYPD Recruits Will Be Required To Learn The “Realities Of Racism” By Watching “Anne & Emmett” 

The play’s the thing — that will teach NYPD recruits about the “realities of racism,” Commissioner Bratton hopes.  Over 1,000 recruits will watch “Anne & Emmett” as part of their academy curriculum. The play imagines a conversation between …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nypd-recruits-watch-anne-emmett-learn-racism-article-1.2403989

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A Play That Confronts The Horror Of Solitary Confinement

A small crowd gathered in a church for “Mariposa and the Saint,” a play composed entirely from the text of letters written by a woman named Sara (Mariposa) Fonseca while she was serving a 15-month sentence in solitary confinement …

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/a-play-that-confronts-the-horror-of-solitary-confinement

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National:
Obama Previews His Criminal Justice Reform Tour

President Obama renewed his push for criminal justice reform, announcing a nationwide tour in the coming weeks  “to highlight some of the Americans who are doing their part to fix our criminal justice system … much of which remains unfair …

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/obama-previews-criminal-justice-reform-tour/

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National:
Obama Administration Backs Bill To Reduce Prison Time

The Obama administration expressed support for bipartisan Senate legislation that would reduce prison sentences for some nonviolent drug offenders, a rare issue where conservatives and liberals agree that the current system is…

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article40249062.html

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National:
Prison Reform Meets Little Resistance In Senate Hearing

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard few objections to proposed legislation that would reduce prison sentences for low-level, nonviolent drug offenders. President Obama has said he wants such a bill on his desk this year, and promised …

http://www.courthousenews.com/2015/10/20/prison-reform-meets-little-resistance-in-senate-hearing.htm

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National:
Opinion: The Senate’s Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Bill Only Tackles Half The Problem

So far, the growing cost of imprisonment and the injustice of long prison sentences for nonviolent offenders have been the centerpieces of conversations about reform. But that fails to address the root causes of the explosion in the incarcerated …

http://www.thenation.com/article/the-senates-bipartisan-criminal-justice-reform-bill-only-tackles-half-the-problem/

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National:
Edwin Meese III Calls For Criminal-Justice Reform, Raps “Overcriminalization”

Former U.S. AG Edwin Meese III decried an “explosion” of federal laws and regulations since the 1980s. Congress has written so many laws that citizens are unwittingly in danger of breaking them. Worse, he said …

http://www.mlive.com/news/grand-rapids/index.ssf/2015/10/edwin_meese_iii_calls_for_crim.html

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National:
Eric Garner And Tamir Rice Among Those Missing From FBI Record Of Police Killings

Killings by police that unleashed a new protest movement around the U.S. in 2014 — including those of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and John Crawford — are missing from the federal government’s official record of homicides by officers because …

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/oct/15/fbi-record-police-killings-tamir-rice-eric-garner

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National:
Inmate Phone Providers Threaten Legal Action Over New Rules

The largest players in the prison pay phone industry made a last-minute blitz against regulatory changes that they predict will have a “devastating” effect on their business. In letters to the FCC, the industry leaders threatened legal action if …

http://thehill.com/policy/technology/257208-inmate-phone-providers-threaten-legal-action-over-new-rules

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National:
Mike Huckabee Wants To Sell Poor Criminals Into Indentured Servitude

Mike Huckabee is just the latest in a long line of presidential candidates to offer his views on the U.S. prison system. But he is the first to suggest indentured servitude as an alternative to jail time. He suggested selling poor convicts into …

http://national.suntimes.com/national-world-news/7/72/1956335/mike-huckabee-wants-sell-poor-criminals-indentured-servitude/

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National:
Opinion: How To Get Around A Criminal Record

Some 70-100 million people in the U.S. — more than a quarter of all adults — have a criminal record, and as a result they are subject to tens of thousands of federal and state laws and rules that restrict or prohibit their access to …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/19/opinion/how-to-get-around-a-criminal-record.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=0

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California:
California Governor Signs Landmark Automatic Registration Bill

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will automatically register eligible citizens to vote when they interact with the DMV. With approximately 6.6 million eligible but unregistered citizens, the measure could dramatically boost …

https://www.brennancenter.org/press-release/california-governor-signs-landmark-automatic-registration-bill

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Maryland:
Protesters Aim To Alter Police Tactics In Baltimore

Activists opposed to the permanent appointment of Baltimore’s interim police commissioner occupied City Hall and said they would not leave until the commissioner and mayor agreed to their demands, including changes to …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/15/us/protesters-aim-to-alter-police-tactics-in-baltimore.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=1

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National:
Separation By Bars And Miles: Visitation In State Prisons

In practice and perhaps by design, prisons are lonely places. Analyzing little-used government data, we find that visits are the exception rather than the rule. Less than a third of people in state prisons receive a visit from a loved one in …

http://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/prisonvisits.html

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Police Leaders Join Call To Cut Prison Rosters

Over 130 police chiefs and prosecutors — including some of the most prominent law enforcement officials — are adding their clout to the movement to reduce the nation’s incarceration rate. The group includes William J. Bratton of New York …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/21/us/police-leaders-join-call-to-cut-prison-rosters.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

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New Jersey:
New Jersey A Leader In Reducing Mass Incarceration, Report Says

New Jersey isn’t just cutting crime across the state — it’s reducing the number of people behind bars, too. The state’s prison population — down a staggering 26% since 2000 — dwindled 9.5% between 2011 and 2014, says a new report …

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/n-leader-reducing-mass-incarceration-report-article-1.2404138

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Maine:
Opinion: Proposed Inmate Contact Rules Speak Poorly Of Maine Corrections System

It’s disturbing to learn the Maine Dept. of Corrections may severely limit outside communication by prisoners as part of proposed reforms to the system’s inmate discipline policy. The restrictions not only violate inmates’ free-speech rights …

http://www.pressherald.com/2015/10/21/our-view-proposed-inmate-contact-rules-speak-poorly-of-maine-corrections-system/

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New Jersey:
Former NJ Governor McGreevey Tackles Prison Reform

Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey has found a new calling behind prison bars. Just more than a decade after his resignation from the state’s top office, McGreevey spends his time preparing inmates for a life beyond a prison with …

http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/2015/10/former-nj-gov-mcgreevey-tackles-prison-reform/

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