The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of November 23, 2015

Tuesday, November 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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City Controller Scott Stringer: Rikers Island Is An “Urban Shame” That Should Be Shut Down

Scandal-scarred Rikers Island is an “urban shame” that should be shut down, the city’s financial watchdog said. City Controller Scott Stringer said it’s time to close the notorious jail. He cited crumbling buildings, repeated reports …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/scott-stringer-time-shut-rikers-island-article-1.2439552

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Rikers Island Leader Under Fire From Both Sides At Board Of Correction Meeting

Just about nobody is happy with the way things are going on Rikers. That was the overwhelming takeaway from a tumultuous meeting of the Board of Correction which saw protesters decry the Island as a “racist” institution akin to a …

http://observer.com/2015/11/rikers-island-leader-under-fire-from-both-sides-at-board-of-correction-meeting/

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Opinion: No Going Back On Rikers Reforms: The Jails Will Only Get Safer Only If We Stay The Course

Says NYC Correction Commissioner Ponte: “Those who condemn violence at Rikers argue that safety requires we scale back our reforms, that violent incidents are occurring because we are making changes. Nothing could be further from ….

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/joseph-ponte-no-back-rikers-reforms-article-1.2433109

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NYS Prison Budget Climbs, Despite Fewer Inmates

NYS has slashed its inmate population by more than a quarter since its peak in 1999 — from 71,538 to roughly 53,000 — but the state’s corrections department budget has swollen by nearly a third in that time to close to $3 billion …

http://citylimits.org/2015/11/10/nys-prison-budget-climbs-despite-fewer-inmates/

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Contractor: Taxpayers Should Buy Every Inmate A Tablet

JPay, a private corrections contractor, is trying to get prisons across the country to put more of its money-making tablets into inmates’ hands with the promise of free educational services. The company has been pitching NYC agencies to …

http://nypost.com/2015/11/15/service-connecting-family-to-prisoners-wants-to-expand-app/

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City Settles For $3.8M In Rikers Island Inmate’s Soap-Swallowing Horror

The city will pay a whopping $3.8 million to the family of a mentally ill inmate who died in custody at Rikers after swallowing a toxic soap ball. That figure may be the largest sum paid by the city in a case involving denial of medical care …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/city-settles-4m-rikers-inmate-poison-horror-article-1.2437263

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Carmelo Anthony Visits Rikers Island, Knicks Star Calls For Jails To Focus More On Rehab

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony, after visiting Rikers amidst reports of young inmate abuse, said there needs to be more focus on separating violent offenders from non-violent. “You get charged as an adult at 16. How you gonna put me in there with …

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/basketball/knicks/carmelo-anthony-visits-rikers-calls-jail-reform-article-1.2437852

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National:
Loretta Lynch Says There’s “No Data” To Support The Ferguson Effect

Attorney General Loretta Lynch says there is “no data” to support the notion that the national debate over the use of force by police has made the country less safe, an idea that has sometimes been referred to as the “Ferguson effect” …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/loretta-lynch-ferguson-effect_564b4d33e4b045bf3df0d983

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National:
Sentencing Reform Bill Advances In House

The House Judiciary Committee passed a criminal justice reform bill that would reduce certain mandatory minimum prison sentences. While the bill allows the reduced sentencing reforms to apply retroactively, it does not do so blindly …

http://thehill.com/regulation/legislation/260577-sentencing-reform-bill-advances-in-house

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National:
States Of Women’s Incarceration: The Global Context

Only 5% of the world’s female population lives in the U.S., but the U.S.  accounts for nearly 30% of the world’s incarcerated women. Across the globe, the 25 jurisdictions with the highest rates of incarcerating women are all U.S. states …

http://www.prisonpolicy.org/global/women/

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National:
Black Americans Twice As Likely To Report Force In Last Police Encounter

Black Americans were more than two times as likely as whites to report being threatened with force or to have experienced it in their most recent police encounter, according to a new federal report. The report found that …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/use-of-force-statistics-doj_564a1d4ae4b06037734a24ae

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National:
Our Prisons In Black and White: The Race Gap For Adults Is Shrinking. Why Is It Widening For Juveniles?

For the first time since 1978, populations in both state and federal prisons are getting smaller, the result of an overall decline in crime, an easing of the War on Drugs, and reform efforts. But what about the racial disparity in incarceration …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/11/18/our-prisons-in-black-and-white?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter&utm

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National:
Aging People In Prison White Paper

According to a new report — “Aging In Prison: Reducing Elder Incarceration And Promoting Public Safety” — people 50 and older comprise 17% of NYS’s prison population, up 81% over the past decade, a vastly disproportionate percentage …

http://centerforjustice.columbia.edu/policy/aging-in-prison/

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National:
Opinion: A Criminal Record And A Fair Shot At A Job

Nineteen states and 100 cities and counties forbid public agencies — and in some cases, private businesses — to ask job applicants about criminal convictions until later in the application process, when they have had a fair chance to prove …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/11/opinion/a-criminal-record-and-a-fair-shot-at-a-job.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=0

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National:
FBI: Reported Hate Crimes Down Nationally, Except Against Muslims

Hate crimes in America dipped across the board in 2014, except in the category of anti-Muslim crimes, which rose about 14% over the prior year. Given the barbaric ISIS attacks in Paris and elsewhere, that latter trend seems destined to …

https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2015/11/16/fbi-reported-hate-crimes-down-nationally-except-against-muslims

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National:
Anti-Panhandling Laws Spread, Face Legal Challenges

Many cities — and even some states — are cracking down on panhandling, driven in large part by the unlikely combination of thriving downtowns and the lingering effects of the Great Recession. But panhandling bans have faced …

http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2015/11/12/anti-panhandling-laws-spread-face-legal-challenges

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National:
Microsoft Says Its Software Can Tell If You’re Going Back To Prison

Microsoft is pitching its software and cloud data storage to law enforcement agencies. Researchers say that using data to find crime patterns can help stop burglaries, but using data analysis to “predict” violent crimes is highly …

http://www.csmonitor.com/Technology/2015/1106/Microsoft-says-its-software-can-tell-if-you-re-going-back-to-prison

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National:
Opinion: Can Predictive Policing Be Ethical And Effective?

More police departments are trying to predict crime through computer analysis of data, part of the growing trend of using algorithms to analyze human behavior.  Advocates say this approach focuses on those most likely to commit crimes, but …

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/11/18/can-predictive-policing-be-ethical-and-effective?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

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National:
Elite Fed Interrogation Unit Training Local Police, Other Agencies

The U.S. government’s elite interrogation unit, formed in the aftermath of the al-Qaeda suspect torture scandal, has been providing extensive training to local police, other federal agencies, and friendly foreign governments …

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/11/14/federal-interrogators-training-local-cops/75472064/

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National:
Opinion: More Scrutiny, Better Policing

Police departments have no choice but to embrace the notion not only that scrutiny is inevitable, but also that it will lead to better policing. This includes the adoption of body cameras. Law enforcement should embrace this because …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/14/opinion/more-scrutiny-better-policing.html?_r=0

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National:
Top Reasons People Are Falsely Imprisoned

Studies show that 2.3% to 5% of all those currently locked up in U.S. prison are actually innocent. That could mean as many as 100,000 inmates are languishing behind bars for crimes they didn’t commit, each wondering, “How did I …

http://nypost.com/2015/11/15/top-reasons-people-are-falsely-imprisoned/

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National:
White House, Department Of Labor Announce $120M Tech Grant Competition Prizes

Earlier, President Obama launched an initiative called TechHire, aimed at getting Americans into jobs in the tech industry. Now, the White House announced $20M in grants to “promote rehabilitation and reintegration for the formerly incarcerated …

http://recode.net/2015/11/17/white-house-department-of-labor-announce-120m-tech-grant-competition-prizes/

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Alaska:
Report: Widespread Dysfunction In Alaska Prisons May Have Led To Inmate Deaths

Gov. Bill Walker vowed to fix Alaska’s “broken” correctional system after a scathing report detailed widespread failures and dysfunction that may have led to deaths in state jails.” He accepted the resignation of Alaska’s corrections commissioner …

http://www.adn.com/article/20151116/walker-fires-corrections-commissioner-after-report-finds-failures-alaska-prisons

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Massachusetts:
Should Drug Addicts Be Forced Into Treatment?

Opiate addiction is on the rise in the U.S. Death rates, partly stemming from substance abuse, are increasing among middle-age white Americans. In response to what is being called a heroin epidemic, Massachusetts Gov. Baker proposed …

http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/11/11/should-drug-addicts-be-forced-into-treatment?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share

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Texas:
Dallas Police Excessive-Force Complaints Drop Dramatically

Excessive-force complaints about the Dallas police have dropped by 64% from 2009 to 2014. “The officers know they’re being monitored,” said Assistant Chief Tammie Hughes, who oversees internal affairs. Meanwhile, in New York City …

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/headlines/20151116-dallas-police-excessive-force-complaints-drop-dramatically.ece

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