The Fortune Society News Of The Week — the week of September 27, 2016

Tuesday, September 27, 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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Re-enter, Stage Right: Out of Prison and Into the Arts

For this theatrical performance, there are no props. No costumes. No elaborately adorned stage. There are only voices. Voices that tell powerful stories and that evoke the raw emotion that can only come from baring one’s soul. This is “The Castle”, the play that The Fortune Society’s founder, David Rothenberg, first conceived nearly a decade ago.

City Limits

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Rehabilitating People Who Committed Violent Crimes Is Possible. Why Aren’t We Doing It?

“It is possible to prevent violence if you want to badly enough,” Gilligan told TakePart. “When you put people in a position where you treat them with respect and support them, even incarcerated people who have killed multiple people, it works. There’s nobody who I would regard as hopeless.”

Takepart

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Rikers Officer Pleads Guilty to Helping Cover Up Fatal ’12 Beating of Incarcerated Person

A correction officer at Rikers Island pleaded guilty on Tuesday to helping cover up the fatal 2012 beating of a 52-year-old incarcerated man who had kidney problems and walked with a cane. Prosecutors had accused the officer, Byron Taylor, 32, of helping to hold the incarcerated man, Ronald Spear, face down with his hands behind his back while another officer kicked him repeatedly in the head. Mr. Spear was pronounced dead a short time later.

The New York Times

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Bronx DA to open satellite office on Rikers Island; new unit will tackle long case delays

The Bronx District Attorney’s Office is opening a satellite office on Rikers Island to expedite criminal cases against incarcerated people and officers. The office is located next to the Robert N. Davoren Complex at the lockup by the East River. The new bureau comes in response to complaints about how multiple criminal cases in the troubled city jail system languished for weeks without charges filed.

Daily News

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Council to Examine Young Men’s Initiative, a Bloomberg Program & National Model

In August of 2011, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed a group of nonprofit and community leaders as he announced the launch of a landmark approach to tackling persistent problems facing young black and Latino men. The Young Men’s Initiative, Bloomberg said, would address “four areas where the disparities are greatest and the consequences most harmful: education, health, employment, and the justice system.”

Gotham Gazette

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SUNY’s Wise Move on Admissions

Colleges that ask about criminal convictions on their applications frighten away untold numbers of students who could succeed academically and who present no risk to campus safety. Fortunately, the trustees of the 64-campus State University of New York did the right thing last week when they voted to remove the felony question from admissions applications. Colleges elsewhere in the country would do well to follow this example.

The New York Times

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Why the Senate Couldn’t Pass a Crime Bill Both Parties Backed

A major criminal-justice overhaul bill seemed destined to be the bipartisan success story of the year, consensus legislation that showed lawmakers could still rise above politics. Then the election, Donald J. Trump’s demand for “law and order” and a series of other political calculations got in the way.

The New York Times

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Ensuring That The Criminal Justice System Works Fairly For Everyone

Last year, an average of 174 individuals entered our city’s jails every day. That amounts to over 63,000 detainees over the course of a year. The overwhelming majority of these people – mostly young men of color – are there because they are too poor to afford bail. These individuals – who have not been convicted of any crime – are locked in impenetrable facilities, their plight too often overlooked. This is unacceptable.

City & State New York

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Racial Bias Among Jurors at Heart of Supreme Court Case

Justice Monica M. Márquez wrote that “racial bias is detestable in any context, but in our criminal justice system it is especially pernicious.” Jury secrecy is important, she said, but it cannot “trump a defendant’s opportunity to vindicate his fundamental constitutional right to an impartial jury untainted by the influence of racial bias.”

The New York Times

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Why Incarcerated People Across the Country Have Gone on Strike

Following a call for a nationwide prison strike that began September 9, incarcerated people in at least three states have organized work stoppages or staged protests in support of improving their wages and working conditions. Here’s the latest on the strike and the issues behind it.

Mother Jones

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Justice Dept.’s new $4M pledge to keep veterans out of jail

On Tuesday, the Justice Department pledged to support more outlets in this growing court system, awarding more than $4 million to 13 state and local jurisdictions to develop their own programs.

MilitaryTimes

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Formerly Incarcerated People Are Leading The Fight Against Mass Incarceration

Today, Kenny is known as Pastor Kenneth Glasgow, the man behind The Ordinary People’s Movement (TOPS), in Dothan, Alabama. It is “an oasis,” as described by the writer and Drug Policy Alliance activist asha bandele; a place where community members and the formerly incarcerated come for housing and sustenance — not to mention the grassroots headquarters for “some of the most far-reaching drug policy and criminal justice changes in Alabama.”

The Intercept

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1 In 4 American Women Has A Family Member In Prison. Now They’re Organizing.

You’ve never heard from the women in the video above. Until recently, no one even knew how many there were. They’ve had few support networks, no group identity, no political movement. But it turns out their numbers are staggering. They are the mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, and girlfriends of people incarcerated in the United States.

The Huffington Post

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Captive Lives

Jose Garcia, who has served time primarily for drug offenses and auto theft, isn’t the only one paying a price for his crimes. Luna is, too. She carries the burden and the stigma of having a father who is not just absent but behind bars, a fact that studies show gives her and children like her long odds at success in life.

San Francisco Chronicle

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‘Traumatized every day’: prison sexual abuse survivor jailed again – as a witness

The triggers in Brandy Buckmaster’s jail cell are everywhere. The walls surrounding her, the sounds of officers walking by, the demeaning comments – it all reminds her of the prison guard who she says sexually abused her behind bars. But one of the hardest parts about being incarcerated in Washington County jail in Oregon is knowing that the courts are treating her like a criminal while the man she accuses of victimizing her lives in the free world.

The Guardian

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Thousands of Girls Are Locked Up For Talking Back or Staying Out Late

Running away from home is a status offense. So is skipping school or missing curfew. Once a kid is roped into the system, she can be drawn in again and again for minor violations of her probation. The flexibility in the system means kids have greater opportunities to reform, but it also means judges have a lot of leeway to inflict arbitrary and extreme punishment for, say, an attitude problem.

Mother Jones

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The Rise of ‘Crimmigration’

The term crimmigration, coined by legal scholar Julie Stumpf in 2006, refers to the complex nexus of immigration policy and policing that emerged in the U.S. after 1980. In his book, García explores the rise and consequences of this phenomenon, chronicling how a series of legislations stitched together criminal and immigration law practices, creating the current Frankenstein-like system that incentivizes immigrant incarceration.

CityLab

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When Juries Say Life and Judges Say Death

The state law authorizing these judicial overrides, now the only law of its kind in the country, was passed in 1981, in theory to allow judges to protect defendants from vengeful or careless juries. In practice, the opposite has happened. While Alabama judges have converted death sentences to life in 11 cases, they have rejected the jury’s mercy and chosen death in 101, nearly a quarter of all death sentences handed down in Alabama since 1982.

The New York Times

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This Letter From Louisiana Prosecutors Perfectly Explains Why Criminal Justice Reform Is So Hard

Louisiana can lower its staggering incarceration rate — and save taxpayers money — by locking up fewer nonviolent justice involved people and devoting more resources to people who are actually dangerous, the state’s legislative auditor argued in a report last week.

The Huffington Post

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Louisiana: not even pretending to provide real indigent defense

The state has never seemed serious about providing attorneys for poor people who can afford them, and, at the present team, judicial districts across the state are engaged in a deeply cynical enterprise: assigning warm bodies to defendants whose lives depend on a vigorous legal defense.

The Times-Picayune

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After 50 years in prison, juvenile-lifer may see freedom within months

From inside his prison cell, for the first time in 50 years, 67-year-old John Hall can almost taste freedom.The bald and graying defendant has been in prison since he was 17, when he received a life sentence for his role in a back-alley killing in Detroit that claimed the life of a 63-year-old man. Parole was not an option.

Detroit Free Press

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If Texas’ prison population were a city, it would be the state’s 20th largest

For those who don’t think we need to keep working toward criminal justice reform, let me paint a picture for you. If the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, one of the largest prison systems in the nation, were a city, it would be the 20th largest municipality in our state.

The Dallas Morning News

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As an incarcerated person in Florida begged for help, guards gassed him to death, suit says

The incarcerated man, Randall Jordan-Aparo, suffered from a genetic blood disorder that had flared up in the months before his death. As his condition worsened, the lawsuit alleges, corrections officers, doctors and nurses at the prison denied him medical attention, and when he complained, they forced him into an isolation cell and gassed him until he could no longer breathe.’

Miami Herald

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37 years in solitary confinement is enough for incarcerated person from Philly, judge rules

In a case that trained a spotlight on the state’s corrections practices, a federal judge ruled Tuesday that a convicted murderer from Philadelphia who has spent nearly 37 years in solitary confinement must be transitioned into the prison’s general population.

The Inquirer Daily News

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Feds pulled ICE detainees out of Hampton Roads Regional Jail after jail did not meet standards and incarcerated person died

After problems dating back nearly a decade, a federal agency pulled all of its detainees out of the Hampton Roads Regional Jail in 2014. It’s the same jail where two men have died under questionable circumstances since August 2015, and where another questionable death happened more than a decade ago.

The Virginian Pilot

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