The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of November 9, 2015

Sunday, November 8, 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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The Heat: U.S. Federal Prison Releases

The U.S. government just released thousands of prisoners in the largest one-time release of federal offenders. What’s next for those now on the outside? See video interview with Stanley Richards of The Fortune Society, an organization that …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTSRja6gy1c

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6,000 People Are About To Be Freed From Federal Custody — Here’s What They’ll Face

We asked six men who spent long stretches of their adult lives behind bars to explain what it’s like to re-enter society. Some of the men live at “The Castle,” a NYC residential facility for ex-offenders run by The Fortune Society

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/10/30/6-000-people-are-about-to-freed-from-federal-custody-here-s-what-they-ll-face?ref=hp-1-122

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Fortune Society On Obama Steps Up Efforts To Help Ex-Prisoners

“We can’t ask people to do well once they transition to the community and then put a thousand different roadblocks in their way,” said Ronald Day, associate VP of The Fortune Society’s David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy

http://www.takepart.com/article/2015/11/02/obama-ban-box

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State Needs 31,745 Supportive Housing Units For Homeless, Report Says

A new report finds that New York needs to create 31,745 new supportive housing units statewide “in the near future” to meet the needs of the homeless. That’s far more units than anything so far proposed by Mayor de Blasio or Gov. Cuomo  …

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2015/11/8581513/state-needs-31745-supportive-housing-units-homeless-report-says

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Opinion: Will Crime Rise If More People Are Kept Out Of Prison?

Many of the nation’s police chiefs have called for reducing the number of people sent to prison. But the news that a man suspected of murdering an NYPD officer was free because he’d been allowed to enter a diversion program has …

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/10/29/will-crime-rise-if-more-people-are-kept-out-of-prison

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David Lynch And Katy Perry Promote Meditation

At New York’s Women’s Prison Association, which serves a population of 4,000 women incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, and at risk of incarceration, the David Lynch Foundation recently helped introduce Transcendental Meditation (TM) to …

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/04/david-lynch-transcendental-meditation-luxury-fad

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National:
Obama Takes Steps To Help Former Inmates Find Jobs And Housing

President Obama ordered federal agencies to stop asking most prospective employees about their criminal histories at the beginning of the application process, a change long sought by activists to help reintegrate former inmates into society …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/03/us/obama-prisoners-jobs-housing.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

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National:
Think It’s Hard Finding A Place To Live? Try Doing So With A Criminal Record

Some 6,000 inmates serving time for drug crimes were released early from federal prisons over the weekend. One of the most pressing questions facing the newly freed is where they’ll live. Many are likely to end up on the street. More than half …

http://www.thenation.com/article/public-housing-criminal-record/

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National:
Obama Pushes TechHire Program To Help Ex-Cons Get Coding Jobs

President Obama announced that a series of additions will be made to his TechHire initiative that will expand access to tech jobs to the formerly incarcerated. The new programs will be implemented in New Jersey, Connecticut, and …

https://www.inverse.com/article/7725-obama-pushes-techhire-program-to-help-ex-cons-get-coding-jobs

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National:
Opinion: “Ban The Box” Is A Band-Aid On A Gaping Wound That Is Mass Imprisonment

Barack Obama’s executive order to “ban the box” is a feel-good half measure which likely will accomplish little. Following the lead of various states and companies, the proposal will forbid the federal government from asking those convicted of …

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/nov/03/ban-the-box-is-a-band-aid-on-a-gaping-wound-that-is-mass-imprisonment

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National:
What You Should Know About The Federal Inmate Release

Thousands of federal inmates are getting out of prison because of a change in the way the U.S. government sentences drug criminals. Here is what else there is to know about the release, which began last week …

http://www.capradio.org/news/npr/story?storyid=453564956

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National:
America’s Prison Population Is Falling, But Too Slowly To Undo Decades Of Growth

Here’s the good news: The number of prisoners in the United States dropped last year to its lowest point since 2005. And here’s the bad: The prison population still only dropped by 1% in 2014, to about 1.6 million. At this rate, we won’t …

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/11/americas-prison-population-falling-not-fast-enough

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National:
Clinton Calls To End Private Prisons, Mass Jailing

Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for prison reform, criticizing the American private jail system and sentencing practices. In a series of tweets, she said the United States needs to end private prisons and mass incarceration …

http://www.cnbc.com/2015/10/30/clinton-calls-to-end-private-prisons-mass-jailing.html

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National:
Hillary Clinton’s Tweets About Prison Reforms Not Enough, Activists Say

Hillary Clinton is moving closer to the left on issues of criminal justice reform, but it may not be enough for activists in the Black Lives Matter movement who say they want more than rhetoric from the presidential candidate …

http://money.cnn.com/2015/10/30/news/economy/clinton-black-lives-matter/

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National:
Hillary Clinton Says She’ll Eliminate The Criminal Distinction Between Crack And Cocaine

Hillary Clinton will soon announce her plan to eliminate the distinction between crack and powder cocaine, which would mean that those sentenced for crimes involving either form of the substance will receive the same sentence …

https://www.inverse.com/article/7600-hillary-clinton-says-she-ll-eliminate-the-criminal-distinction-between-crack-and-cocaine

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National:
Opinion: Forget The “Ferguson Effect” On Crime

FBI Director Comey joined anti-reform advocates in asserting the recent crime rise in certain cities should be attributed, in part, to the “Ferguson effect.” He’s wrong. Officers, he said, are withholding their services because they’re resentful of …

https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/10/28/forget-the-ferguson-effect-on-crime/

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National:
The Alleged “Ferguson Effect” And Police Willingness To
Engage In Community Partnership

Although the “Ferguson Effect” on crime rates remains an open question, there may also be a Ferguson Effect on other aspects of police officers’ jobs, such as willingness to partner with community members, according to a new report …

http://themarshallproject.us3.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=a92567c13cca06b470824aead&id=e7e2a30360&e=1aac8400f0

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National:
How Private Bankers Cash In On Released Prisoners

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) wants to put a stop to “predatory practices” with prepaid debit cards that many jail and prison inmates receive when they’re released. The issue is the huge fees that financial companies can charge …

http://www.vox.com/explainers/2015/11/3/9661554/prison-bank-prepaid-card

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National:
Elderly Prisoners Up 250%: Should They Be Released To Save Money?

Since 1999, elderly prisoners (55 and older) in state and federal facilities grew 250 while their younger counterparts (younger than 55) grew by only 10%. There are two widely agreed upon causes of this phenomenon …

http://wiat.com/2015/11/02/elderly-prisoners-up-250-percent-should-they-be-released-to-save-money/

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National:
Turns Out Police Stingray Spy Tools Can Indeed Record Calls

The government has been fighting hard for years to hide details about its use of stingray surveillance. But documents confirm long-held suspicions the devices are capable of intercepting the content of voice and text communications …

http://www.wired.com/2015/10/stingray-government-spy-tools-can-record-calls-new-documents-confirm/

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National:
New Bill Would Ban Warrantless Cell-Phone Tracking

A bill introduced last week would make it illegal for law enforcement agencies to use a controversial cell-phone surveillance technology — so-called “Stingrays” — without a warrant. Cell-site-simulator technology operates by imitating a …

http://www.nationaljournal.com/s/91939/new-bill-would-ban-warrantless-cellphone-tracking

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National:
Hundreds Of Officers Lose Licenses Over Sex Misconduct

In an investigation of sexual misconduct by U.S. law enforcement, The Associated Press uncovered about 1,000 officers who lost their badges in a six-year period for rape, sodomy, and other sexual assault. That number is unquestionably …

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/fd1d4d05e561462a85abe50e7eaed4ec/ap-hundreds-officers-lose-licenses-over-sex-misconduct

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National:
Opinion: Prison Problem Ignored In Political Debates

Following yet another debate of the presidential season, there has been a lot of questions about who won the debate, but the real question is, who lost? Once again, the criminal justice system was not mentioned in a debate setting …

http://students.hamilton.edu/spectator/opinion-2015/p/prison-problem-ignored-in-political-debates/view

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National:
Study Highlights Little State Oversight Of Educational Services Provided To Incarcerated Youth

A first-of-its-kind report released by The Council of State Governments Justice Center found most incarcerated youth do not have access to the same educational services as their peers in the community, and little accountability exists …

http://us5.campaign-archive1.com/?u=68349a0517e51cf0191607610&id=b688d01c39&e=ae071a6890

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National:
Prison Yoga Is Helping Inmates Transcend Their Cells

If, like 25 million other Americans, you’ve practiced yoga recently, you probably did it in a studio. Elsewhere, it might be you in your windowless 8-by-10-foot cell in a supermax prison. Founded in 2002, the Prison Yoga Project now  …

http://www.vice.com/read/shavasana-behind-bars-962

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Connecticut:
New Haven Chief Meets with President Obama

Just back from law enforcement meetings in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, New Haven’s police chief is not only joining the growing nationwide chorus for prison reform, but Connecticut — especially New Haven — is helping lead the way …

http://wtnh.com/2015/10/29/new-haven-chief-meets-with-pres-obama/

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Georgia:
America Nears Sweeping Reform Of A Criminal Justice System That Has Decimated Black Communities

When a new inmate steps behind the walls of a prison in Georgia, the entirety of his or her criminal record and mental state is fed into a complex algorithm called the Next Generation Assessment. The NGA just might be the future of America’s …

http://thewestsidegazette.com/america-nears-sweeping-reform-of-a-criminal-justice-system-that-has-decimated-black-communities-2/

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New Jersey:
How N.J. Became A Nationwide Leader In Reducing Prison Population

Over the last three years, New Jersey has reduced its prison population at a greater rate than nearly every other U.S. state, according to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School. Only Mississippi …

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/10/nj_cutting_prison_populations_faster_than_most_sta.html

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New Jersey:
As Obama’s Visit Looms, Newark Mayor Talks Criminal Justice Reform

In a room packed with men confined by law at the Essex County Correctional Facility, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka spoke about self-determination and criminal justice reform: “You are not a prisoner … do not define yourself as that … do not …

http://www.nj.com/essex/index.ssf/2015/11/baraka_obama_prison_reform_rentry.html

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South Carolina:
Opinion: Schoolkids In Handcuffs

The video that went viral showing a white sheriff’s deputy in a Columbia, S.C., classroom throwing an African-American student across the floor may well be indicative of a deeper problem with the security program in that school district …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/04/opinion/schoolkids-in-handcuffs.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=1

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Vermont:
Prison Education Initiative At Bennington College

Beginning this month, Bennington College in Bennington, VT, will offer courses at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, NY, a maximum-security prison where 1,600 men are incarcerated. The course taught will be identical to …

http://www.bennington.edu/Benningtonandtheworld/CAPA/CAPAprogram/incarceration-in-america

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