The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of December 14, 2015

Sunday, December 13, 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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Mayor At The Crossroads: Bill de Blasio’s Midterm Report Card

According to JoAnne Page, president of The Fortune Society, “If Rikers were closed and it were broken into much smaller facilities throughout the boroughs, with much fewer people being locked up, it would be a huge step forward …

http://observer.com/2015/12/mayor-at-the-crossroads-bill-de-blasios-midterm-report-card/

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Neediest Cases: After Homelessness And Jail, A Harlem Woman Finds Stability Working Construction

After her release from Rikers Milan Chapman hoped to find a construction job, which she believed could one day lead to a career as a commercial painter. She completed a 12-week job training program at The Fortune Society

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/03/nyregion/after-homelessness-and-jail-a-harlem-woman-finds-stability-working-construction.html?_r=1

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The Public Theater Announces New Community Partners For Public Works 2016

The Public Theater has announced three new partners for Public Works 2016. Casita Maria Center for Arts and Education, Military Resilience Project, and Center for Family Life in Sunset Park join Public Works partners The Fortune Society

http://www.theatermania.com/off-broadway/news/public-works-2016-kwei-armah-taub_75265.html

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State Inmates In Solitary Confinement Surpass 4,000 Despite Vows To Limit Use

The number of state prison inmates tossed in solitary confinement has surpassed 4,000 for the first time in three years, despite vows by officials to limit its use. And prison advocates say there’s been an increase since this summer, due …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/state-inmates-solitary-confinement-surpass-4-000-article-1.2456485

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Report Details “Systemic Failures” In Communication Between New York Police And Housing Authority

Failures in required communications between the NYC Housing Authority and the NYPD are partly to blame for the disproportionately high crime rates that have plagued the public housing projects, according to a city investigation …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/09/nyregion/report-details-systemic-failures-in-communication-between-police-and-housing-authority.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=0

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$12M In NYC’s Budget Will Boost Job Training Programs In Homeless Shelters

The city is adding $12M to the budget to increase job training programs for homeless people who need help navigating the job market. The programs, which will be tied to 31 shelters, include cooking classes and training for …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/exclusive-nyc-boosting-job-homeless-article-1.2460622

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City Council Progressives Blast Bill Bratton For Saying Protests “Led” To NYPD Cops’ Murders

NYPD Commissioner Bratton better watch his mouth, according to a scathing letter from the City Council’s Progressive Caucus which blasted the city’s top cop for saying that police reform protests “led” to the shooting deaths of Detectives …

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/councilmembers-blast-bratton-protest-comments-article-1.2454639

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Coalition Calls On Governor To Restore TAP Eligibility For Inmates

A coalition of education programs, including a few SUNY schools, is reviving a push to restore college aid eligibility for convicts. In a letter sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Education from the Inside Out Coalition is calling on the governor to …

http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/244047/coalition-calls-on-governor-to-restore-tap-eligibility-for-inmates/

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New York Lawmaker Eyes Bill To Create Agency To Probe Abuse In State Prisons

An influential state lawmaker intends to introduce legislation creating an independent agency to investigate complaints of abuse in NY prisons. Assembly Correction Committee Chairman O’Donnell said an “ombudsman” office would …

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ny-lawmaker-create-agency-probe-prison-abuse-article-1.2453301

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Mothers, Experts Plead For Oversight Of NY Prison System

Several corrections experts and mothers of inmates testified that NY needs far better oversight of its prison system, citing cases where mentally ill inmates were abused, improperly isolated in solitary confinement, and …

http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_268748/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=WppaVsn3

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NYPD’s Stop-And-Frisk Drops To Record Low

Stop and frisk is slowly grinding to a halt. New NYPD statistics show only 4,747 New Yorkers were targeted citywide by the divisive policing tactic in July, August. and September — the lowest quarter since numbers were first released in 2002 …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/nyc-crime/exclusive-nypd-stop-and-frisk-drops-record-article-1.2459465

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Opinion: Rikers’ Walls Have Got To Go

Despite the growing chorus from city officials and the public to shut down the jail at Rikers, the forces of law and order have reached new lows, shamelessly delaying the implementation of new policies aimed at ending solitary confinement for …

http://socialistworker.org/2015/12/03/rikers-walls-have-got-to-go

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Mother Of Kalief Browder Says City Needs To “Own Up” To Its Role In Son’s Suicide Following His Rikers Island Horror 

It has been six months since her son’s tragic death, but to Kalief Browder’s mother, time is standing still.“This is the six-month anniversary of his death, but it’s fresh. It’s all still as fresh as the day he took his life,” said Venida Browder …

http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/kalief-browder-mom-city-son-death-article-1.2456579

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New Officers Add To Hope For Reform At Rikers Island

Why would someone want to work at Rikers Island? For some of the 592 new correction officers just sworn in, the answer was simple –the good pay and solid pension far outweigh the regular reports about violence and criminal behavior …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/05/nyregion/new-officers-add-to-hope-for-reform-at-rikers.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=0

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Opinion: Urban Agenda — Our Best Chance To Fix A Broken System

New spotlights on violent confrontations between police and black and brown communities as well as a deeply-felt understanding that mass incarceration has exacted a devastating social and economic toll have created unheard-of …

http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2015/dec/03/urban-agenda-our-best-chance-fix-broken-system/

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Reentry Tough For Ex-Inmates

In 1983, an 18-year-old high school dropout accompanied her boyfriend and friends on a robbery in Coney Island. Diana Ortiz did not pull the trigger, but was still sentenced to a minimum of 17 years. She served more than 22 years. Today …

http://gargoyle.flagler.edu/2015/12/reentry-tough-for-ex-inmates/

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James Burke, Ex-Suffolk Police Chief, Charged In Assault, Cover-Up

James Burke, the former Suffolk County (Long Island) police chief of department, was arrested on charges of assaulting a handcuffed suspect and conspiring to cover it up during a federal grand jury investigation …

http://www.newsday.com/long-island/crime/james-burke-former-suffolk-police-chief-of-department-arrested-1.11208592

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Wawarsing Judge Acquits Ulster Correctional Facility Officer Of Assaulting Inmate

A state corrections officer accused of kicking an inmate at the Ulster Correctional Facility so hard in the groin that he had to have a portion of a testicle removed was acquitted in Wawarsing Town Court. Watch a video here …

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/general-news/20151208/wawarsing-judge-acquits-ulster-correctional-facility-officer-of-assaulting-inmate

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National:
Criminal Justice Reform Is Quickly Running Out Of Time

It was supposed to be the rare bipartisan bright spot in the Senate, but a crowded legislative calendar and the looming election year are endangering the last best hope for criminal justice reform while President Obama is still in office …

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/dc/timing-could-endanger-criminal-justice-reform-bill

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National:
Struggling To Fix A “Broken” System; For Many Drug Offenders, Their Only Hope Is President Obama’s Clemency Power … And His Time Is Running Out

Some prosecutors are continuing to resist changes to mandatory minimum sentencing. The initiative has also not yet made a significant dent in the number of inmates crowded into federal prisons. Only 25 of the 531 elderly inmates who …

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2015/12/05/holderobama/

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National:
Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2015  

The American criminal justice system holds more than 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 2,259 juvenile correctional facilities, and 3,283 local jails, as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities …

http://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2015.html

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National:
Opinion: The Real Problem With Police Video

As we have seen video after video of police officers killing civilians, many people have argued that greater use of cameras could help curb police abuse and mend police-community relations. But, as currently implemented …

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/02/opinion/the-real-problem-with-police-video.html?_r=0

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National:
As DOJ Zeros In On Profit-Driven Policing, Advocates Urge Crackdown

Federal civil rights officials at the DOJ are launching an effort to combat widespread constitutional abuses in courts in the hope of ending budget-driven policies that cripple those unable to afford fines and fees for minor offenses …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/as-doj-zeros-in-on-profit-driven-policing-advocates-urge-crackdown_565dd88ee4b072e9d1c36495

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National:
2.7 Million Kids Have Parents In Prison; They’re Losing Their Right To Visit

The movement toward keeping families united in spite of incarceration began to reverse in the mid-1990s, when a more punitive approach took hold in corrections with the elimination of several conjugal and extended-family visiting programs …

http://www.thenation.com/article/2-7m-kids-have-parents-in-prison-theyre-losing-their-right-to-visit/

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California:
California Prison Chief To Leave

California’s top prison official is stepping down at the end of this year. Jeffrey Beard, 68, will retire after three years as secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. In a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, Beard set …

http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article47839745.html

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Illinois:
Emanuel: Chicago Needs Justice Department Help With Police Department

The U.S. Justice Department announced a civil rights investigation into the use of deadly force by Chicago cops, prompting Mayor Rahm Emanuel to make what just days ago would have been considered a stunning admission — he needs help to …

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-chicago-police-federal-investigation-20151207-story.html

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Illinois:
Rahm Emanuel: I’m Sorry For 2014 Shooting, Police Force Needs “Complete And Total Reform”

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel apologized for the 2014 shooting of a black teenager during a special City Council meeting that was called to discuss a police abuse scandal at the center of the biggest crisis of his administration …

http://www.businessinsider.com/rahm-emanuel-sorry-laquan-mcdonald-shooting-2015-12

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Illinois:
Before Laquan McDonald, A Chicago Police Shooting With No Video

There was something sadly familiar about the video of a police officer in Chicago shooting a 17-year-old 16 times. After the city’s lawyers viewed the video, they offered his family $5 million, before the family had even filed a lawsuit …

http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/before-laquan-mcdonald-a-chicago-police-shooting-with-no-video

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Kentucky:
Steve Beshear Issues 201 Pardons In Final Act As Governor

In his final hours as governor, Steve Beshear granted 201 pardons and six commutations to people sentenced for a range of offenses, including 10 women sentenced for violent crimes they committed after suffering years of  …

http://www.kentucky.com/news/politics-government/article48539005.html

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Louisiana:
Wrongfully Convicted Victim Speaks At “Global Dialogues For Incarceration” Lecture

After being wrongfully convicted of a second-degree murder charge and receiving a life sentence, Norris Henderson spent 27 years, 10 months and 18 days in prison before being released in 2003. “One of the most important things in prison is …

http://www.louisianaweekly.com/wrongfully-convicted-victim-speaks-at-global-dialogues-for-incarceration-lecture/

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Maryland:
Maryland Could Save $247 Million And Cut Prison Population, Reform Panel Is Told

Maryland could save about $247 million over 10 years and cut its prison population by nearly 4,000 if it adopts a series of reforms under consideration by a high-profile commission, researchers told the panel …

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-justice-decisions-20151202-story.html

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Massachusetts:
Opinion: Criminal Justice Reform Must Include Civil Legal Aid

As our country moves toward reversing decades of overly harsh sentences for non-violent crimes and mandatory “3 strikes” life sentences, criminal justice reform packages must also incorporate civil legal assistance for …

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lonnie-a-powers/criminal-justice-reform-m_b_8688438.html

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Ohio:
Expert For Tamir Rice’s Family Releases New Report That Says Shooting Was Unreasonable

12-year-old Tamir Rice had his hands in his jacket pockets and never reached for the airsoft pellet gun that was tucked in his waistband when a Cleveland police officer fatally shot him, says a report from an expert, which also concluded that …

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2015/12/tamir_rice_had_hands_in_pocket.html

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