The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of February 29, 2016

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

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

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Rikers Reimagined: Innovative Ideas to Turn The Infamous Island Into a New York Destination

Come stroll with us along 413 acres of city-owned waterfront property. Don’t mind the incessant roar of planes and the stench of the mudflat at low tide. Check out that breathtaking skyline view. From Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the New York Times and Crain’s editorial board, heavyweights are lining up to slam the door once and for all on the Rikers Island jail complex …

Crain’s New York

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Dennis Kozlowski as Board Chair: The Fortune Society Responds to NPQ

Opinion: I am writing this response primarily for reasons of policy and values. I am saddened by the stance that you have taken toward our election of Dennis Kozlowski to the volunteer position of Chair of Fortune’s Board of Directors. I hope that you—and your readers—will thoughtfully reconsider what we too often see happen when a person has finished his period of incarceration and is working to build a new, positive life in the community …

Nonprofit Quarterly

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Radio Clip: 106.7 LITE FM

The Fortune Society’s President and CEO, JoAnne Page, explains the challenges facing formerly incarcerated men and women.

106.7 LITE FM

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How to Reduce Crime: Stop Charging Children as Adults

Opinion: For the second year in a row, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York has proposed raising the age of the state’s Family Court jurisdiction to 18 from 16. If that legislation fails again this year, it will leave New York and North Carolina as the only states where people age 16 and older can be tried as an adult and, if incarcerated, locked up in adult prisons and jails …

The New York Times

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Council Leader Makes Impassioned Argument For Criminal-Justice Overhaul

The leader of the City Council issued an emphatic call for the end of the Rikers Island jail complex and changes for the “highly, highly punitive” criminal-justice system, blasting naysayers for spreading “misinformation” …

Crain’s New York

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After Years In Solitary, A Woman Struggles to Carry On

Six weeks after her arrival at Rikers Island, an argument over who should clean a jailhouse shower sent Candie Hailey to solitary confinement — known as “the bing.” It was the first time, but it would not be the last. A month later, records show, she cursed and spit at a guard and resisted when she was put in a hold. Ninety-five days in the bing. She later got 70 days for cursing at an officer, splashing the guard with toilet water and refusing to stop. Among other infractions …

Associated Press

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Imagining a Rikers Island With No Jail

Opinion: Any serious effort to repair criminal justice in New York City must do something about Rikers Island, the jail complex in the East River where justice goes to die, or at least be severely beaten …

The New York Times

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A Skeptical Sharpton Asks: Shut Down Rikers?

Rev. Al Sharpton presided over a heated town hall discussion in Harlem Monday night, asking whether or not the city’s sprawling correction facility on Rikers Island should be shuttered. Calls to close New York City’s 10-jail complex on the East River island have grown after City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito proposed the move in her State of the City address earlier this month …

City & State

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Suit Alleges Persistent Sexual Abuse of Female Inmates in New York State Prisons

Sexual abuse of female inmates is persistent in New York State prisons, six female prisoners claim in a lawsuit. Even if abuse is reported, the women claim, corrections officers are so unlikely to be disciplined that they openly disregard policies on such behavior …

The New York Times

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Albert Woodfox and the Case Against Solitary Confinement

On Friday, February 19th, Albert Woodfox turned sixty-nine and walked out of a Louisiana prison, celebrating his first birthday as a free man in more than forty-five years. He had spent nearly all of the previous four and a half decades in solitary confinement. As far as we know, no one in the United States has been held in isolation for so long …

The New Yorker

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For 45 Years in Prison, Louisiana Man Kept Calm and Held Fast to Hope

A hotel door, a short elevator ride, a stroll through the lobby and the urge to take a walk were all that separated Albert Woodfox from the great wide world. This had been the case only for less than 24 hours. On Friday morning, Mr. Woodfox, who had just turned 69, was released from prison as part of a plea deal with Louisiana prosecutors …

The New York Times

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How a Former Black Panther Could Change the Rules of Solitary Confinement

By his 70th birthday in 2013, Russell Maroon Shoatz had spent nearly 30 years in extreme solitary confinement. A prisoner in Pennsylvania’s Restricted Housing Unit (RHU), Shoatz spent 23 hours each day confined to a 7-by-12-foot cell. He ate all his meals alone inside that cell. He slept under lights that were never turned off. He was not allowed any educational, vocational, or group programming …

The Nation

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Debtors’ Prison in 21st-Century America

In 1846, Dred Scott began his infamous legal battle in what is now called the “Old Courthouse” in downtown St. Louis. Scott had traveled with his master from Missouri to Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory, neither of which recognized slavery. Having lived for an extended period in free territory, Scott argued that state law supported his claim to freedom. But the Missouri Supreme Court disagreed. The court’s message to Scott was clear: Perhaps you can live freely elsewhere, but not here …

The Atlantic

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What Humans of New York Got Right About Federal Prison — and What it Left Out

Humans of New York (HONY) just ended its powerful series inside federal prison, leaving some fans with questions. Some felt that HONY creator Brandon Stanton might have cherry-picked the most sympathetic people to feature– low-level drug offenders who grew up in poverty, suffered abuse, and have tried to make amends, yet still face decades-long sentences. How do his profiles stack up against the broader federal prison population? And what can we each do to help fix the system?

Huffington Post

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Why Some Prisons are Spending Millions on a Pricey New Drug

An estimated 3.5 million people in the U.S. are infected with hepatitis C, and a third of them pass through prisons and jails every year. For doctors and public health experts, this is an opportunity: wiping out the virus in prison can lower infection rates nationwide. Prisons see sticker shock: Drugs cost as much as $1,000 a day, with a course of treatment running upwards of $80,000, not including lab work or other costs …

The Marshall Project

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For Mark Willenbring, Substance Abuse Treatment Begins With Research

On the rainy fall morning of their first appointment, Dr. Mark Willenbring, a psychiatrist, welcomed a young web designer into his spacious office with a firm handshake and motioned for him to sit. The slender 29-year-old patient, dressed in a plaid shirt, jeans and a baseball cap, slouched into his chair and began pouring out a story of woe stretching back a dozen years …

The New York Times

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What Life Is Like Inside the Massive Jail That Doubles as Chicago’s Largest Mental Health Facility

A man bound hand and foot struggles to sit upright and hollers, “This is inhumane!” Another pulls his knees to his chin and, wide-eyed, whispers about telekinesis and the CIA. “Someone cut off all my toes,” a third man with scars streaking his face says quietly. “I’m so glad I’m finally in the hospital.” But this isn’t a hospital. The Cook County Department of Corrections in Chicago is one of the largest single-site pre-detention facilities in the world, with an average daily population hovering around 9,000 inmates. It is estimated that 35 percent of this population is mentally ill …

Vice

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A Judge Embraces Diversion

Many states have made moves to end the fruitless cycle of arrest and incarceration by moving nonviolent defendants out of prosecution and into more productive intervention programs. One New Orleans judge has seen just how effective this approach can be …

The Atlantic

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Jailed For Being Homeless

Fort Collins, a college town at the base of the Rocky Mountain foothills, prohibits practices such as loitering, “misuse of public waters,” and “camping or pitching a tent without permission.” Being homeless here necessitates invisibility, and consequently, isolation. Things that offer safety and even comfort at night — tents or multi-person encampments — make hiding difficult, and often land homeless people in jail …

The Week

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What It’s Like to Be Gay in Prison

“Hey slut!” he yelled at me, laughing with his friend. “What? You know you’re a slut!” I stopped and turned to face the two corrections officers who were pointing at me. I smiled and waved before proceeding to walk into the dining hall. I put up with this type of behavior from the Michigan Department of Corrections staff constantly. It’s something I expected from other prisoners, but the harassment from the officers is actually much more severe …

The Marshall Project

 

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This Is How Medical Negligence Can Kill Immigrants Held at ICE Detention Centers

When Pablo Gracida-Conte was admitted to the Eloy immigrant detention center in Arizona on June 10, 2011, the 54-year-old Mexican immigrant had no history of chronic illness, and no significant medical issues. Nine days after he arrived at Eloy — which is run by the private prison company Corrections Corporation of America and overseen by the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) — he went to the medical clinic complaining of vomiting and heavy sweating …

Vice News

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