The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of February 1, 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

A wide-ranging collection of news and opinion from the previous week focusing on criminal justice policy, advocacy, and reform.

———————————————————————————————————-

Barack Obama: Why We Must Rethink Solitary Confinement

In 2010, a 16-year-old named Kalief Browder from the Bronx was accused of stealing a backpack. He was sent to Rikers Island to await trial, where he reportedly endured unspeakable violence at the hands of inmates and guards — and spent nearly two years in solitary confinement …

The Washington Post

———

Obama’s Solitary Ban Will Need Buy-in From Guards

President Barack Obama announced that he will ban solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons. Not curb, decrease or scale back the practice – ban it. By any measure, it was a dramatic move. But it is also a largely symbolic one. The vast majority of incarcerated juveniles in the U.S. are held in state or local facilities, which are not subject to federal prison reforms. Most implement solitary confinement free of significant outside oversight …

The Center for Investigative Reporting

———

James Ridgeway’s Solitary Reporting

Prison officials rarely allow journalists to walk through their prisons, and even rarer is the warden who lets a reporter into his solitary-confinement unit. The voices of the men and women confined inside these prisons-within-a-prison are often the last ones that any prison administrator wants outsiders to hear. But the potential power of these prisoners’ stories to draw public attention—and propel politicians to act—was on display earlier this week, when President Obama announced a plan to decrease the use of solitary confinement in federal prisons. Obama cited the story of a young man named Kalief Browder, who spent nearly two years in solitary confinement on Rikers Island without having been convicted of a crime …

The New Yorker

———

Colleges That Ask Applicants About Brushes With the Law Draw Scrutiny

The online admissions application for Auburn University appears simple, until you get to this question on Page 7: “Have you ever been charged with or convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to a crime other than a minor traffic offense, or are there any criminal charges now pending against you?” Those who check “yes,” even though they have never been convicted of any crime, face extra scrutiny — a call from the admissions office asking for additional information, the university says …

The New York Times

———

This Boy’s Life

Tony Clayton was 30 years old, and just two years out from passing the Louisiana bar, when he walked into court in February of 1994, prepared to try his first murder case. He was, in his words, a “braggadocious kind of little young jit,” determined to prove himself with a case that would test even the most veteran of prosecutors.This story was produced in collaboration with Mother Jones.The defendant, Taurus Buchanan, stood charged with second-degree murder—accused of throwing, at the age of 16, a single, deadly punch in a street fight among kids. If convicted, an automatic sentence would fate him to spend the rest of his life in prison, with no hope for parole …

The Marshall Project

———

For Homeless, Supportive Housing Provides Path to Normalcy

A group of formerly homeless people played bingo in the basement of a Bronx apartment building one recent afternoon, trying to win prizes such as movie tickets and bottles of laundry detergent. Residents cheered when LaVerne Rogers won cheap bath towels and gave them to a friend …

The Wall Street Journal

———

Prisons Are Full of Low-level Offenders. It’s Time to Rethink Federal Sentencing Laws

The same year I was elected to Congress, a young man named Donald Taylor was arrested, then later convicted, for selling powder cocaine and sent to federal prison on a 20-year term. Taylor had once planned on a lifelong military career, but after he was struck by a motorist near Fort Rucker, Ala., he was honorably discharged from the Army. Haunted by injuries and the collapse of his dream, Taylor fell in with the wrong crowd and began selling drugs …

The Washington Post

———

The Critical Missing Piece in Reducing the Prison Population

Even with a new skill set, good behavior served and any and all attempts to keep up with technology, returning home after years of incarceration can be woefully difficult for former inmates and even harder for the communities they return to.
In the past year, we have seen bipartisan support for prison reform emerge from Congress …

Ebony

———

Federal Task Force Recommends Reducing Number Of Inmates By 60,000 In 10 Years

A bipartisan task force created by Congress issued “an urgent call to action” Tuesday to overhaul the nation’s federal prisons and reduce the number of U.S. inmates by 60,000 over the next decade …

National Public Radio

———

Supreme Court Gives New Hope To Juvenile Lifers, But Will States Deliver?

On the night before the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling Monday in Montgomery v. Louisiana, giving new hope for release to prisoners serving life without parole for crimes they committed as juveniles, Sister Alison McCrary received a collect call from the Louisiana State Penitentiary, better known as Angola. It came from a man she had met during her 10 years visiting the prison as a spiritual adviser to those on death row. Nicknamed “Reverend Joe,” he did not face execution, but like most of Angola’s residents, nonetheless confronted the prospect of dying in prison …

The Intercept

———

What Obama’s Actions Mean for Solitary Confinement in America’s Prisons

Citing the “devastating, lasting psychological consequences” of solitary confinement, President Barack Obama announced a set of policy changes designed to dramatically reduce the use of prison isolation. The changes, which apply only to the federal prison system, will have a limited initial impact on the total number of people held in solitary, but they set a powerful precedent for further reforms across the country …

Solitary Watch

———

The Supreme Court Says Again: Juveniles Are Different

The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly over the last decade that it is morally and constitutionally wrong to equate offenses committed by emotionally undeveloped adolescents with crimes carried out by adults. It made this point again on Monday when it ruled that people who were sentenced to mandatory life in prison without the possibility of parole as juveniles have the right to seek parole …

The New York Times

———

Obama Must Do Better on Prison Reform

The president banned the monstrous practice of holding kids in solitary confinement. But it’s only in federal facilities—and there’s so much more he could be doing on criminal justice …

The Daily Beast

———

Labor Unions Should Heed Obama’s Call to Reform Solitary Confinement

Correctional officers and their unions need to join the growing chorus to shut down solitary confinement in the U.S., not only to get on the right side of one of the major human rights issues of our day, but to address the long overdue subject of the well-being of workers in U.S. prisons and jails …

The Huffington Post

———

San Quentin Puts on a Happy Face

What if, instead of building prisons in remote locations, we put them near cities, accessible to family members and to the resources — educational, vocational, therapeutic, recreational, cultural — that are scarce in most prison towns? What if, instead of walling out the world, we invited in volunteers by the hundreds to help prepare inmates for life outside – to put the correction in “corrections?” What if we offered public tours, during which visitors could chat with prisoners beyond the earshot of guards?

The Marshall Project

———

A Prison of Her Own

A woman’s plight to deal with trauma and mental illness landed her behind bars repeatedly, like scores of others trapped in the system without proper care. One of the con­sequences of the dec­ades-long drug war has been that, in the past two dec­ades, the num­ber of wo­men in jail and pris­on has skyrock­eted—in­creas­ing at double the rate of men. As of 2013, there are 104,134 in state and fed­er­al sys­tems com­bined, ac­cord­ing to The Sen­ten­cing Pro­ject, a pris­on-re­form re­search and ad­vocacy group. About a third are in for drug-re­lated crimes, and are much less likely than men to be vi­ol­ent of­fend­ers …

National Journal

———

Only Once I Thought About Suicide

Every prison and jail in Virginia has a series of cells used for solitary confinement. Fairfax County Jail had three units for solitary confinement. None had windows. The R-Cells had ceilings so high that a tall man could not reach them by jumping. The other had a door so thick and heavy that when it closed no sounds escaped. The third looked like the cells for the general population …

Yale Law Journal

———

Pennsylvania Agrees to Bolster Support For Mentally Ill Defendants in ACLU Settlement

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services will create 170 new treatment slots for mentally ill people as part of a settlement with the ACLU of Pennsylvania over a federal lawsuit concerning failures to treat mentally ill defendants …

Penn Live

———

Oklahoma Treats Its Mental Health System Without Care

Even before Oklahoma was a state, leaders grappled with how to provide care to residents with mental illnesses. By wagon, by horse, on foot, by train, thousands of people flooded into the Oklahoma Territory during the late 1800s. And with that deluge of people came a need for a mental health system …

News OK

———

Coalition Wants To Give Voters A Choice On Criminal Justice Reform In Oklahoma

A politically diverse group of state officials, policy advocates, and members of the business community came together Wednesday to announce they were joining forces to stop a problem the state can no longer ignore: Oklahoma’s high incarceration rates …

The Oklahoman

———

Chicago Police to Get Enhanced Mental Illness Training

Chicago police officers and 911 dispatchers will receive enhanced training on interacting with people in crisis, particularly those with mental illness, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced.

Ebony

———

AP INVESTIGATION: Feds’ Failures Imperil Migrant Children

As tens of thousands of children fleeing violence in Central America crossed the border in search of safe harbor, overwhelmed U.S. officials weakened child protection policies, placing some young migrants in homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay, an Associated Press investigation has found …

Associated Press

Categories: News

Contact

No appointment necessary!
Call us or stop by our main
office in Long Island City
headquarters during visiting
hours to learn more about
our programs and services.

Long Island City (Main Office)

29-76 Northern Boulevard
Long Island City, NY 11101

N/R/Q | Get Directions

(212) 691-7554
Mon-Thurs: 8am - 8pm
Fri: 8am - 5pm

Castle Gardens

625 W. 140th St.
New York, NY 10031

Get Directions

No walk-ins accepted at this location. Please call or visit our main office in Long Island City.

The Castle (Fortune Academy)

630 Riverside Drive
New York, NY 10031

Get Directions

No walk-ins accepted at this location. Please call or visit our main office in Long Island City.