We need to be sure that ALL employers are aware of this great incentive to hire ex offenders! The benefits are real and will help many people succeed in reentry, who otherwise might not!
Excerpts from the Article:
Everyone deserves a second chance — at least that’s what the United States Department of Labor believes. It offers tax breaks to businesses that give a second chance to those recently released from prison. They do this via the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program. Many times, criminal offenders find it difficult to find employment due to their past convictions. This arrangement is a win-win for everyone. The business reduces its overall tax liability and the employee gains valuable work experience.
The WOTC is a by-product of the 1996 Small Business Job Protection Act. The purpose of the credit is to encourage employers to hire certain population segments by providing them with an incentive. The segments of the population that the credit covers are SSI recipients, veterans, welfare recipients, ex-felons and individuals living in HUD-designated empowerment zones. Since 1996, the credit’s target groups have expanded to include disadvantaged teens as well.
How the Program Works
After interviewing a potential candidate and offering him a position, the employer must complete a pre-screening notice and certification form from the IRS by the date of the job offer. After the hiring takes place, the employer completes the appropriate U.S. Department of Labor form. Applicants who are referrals from employment agencies or rehabilitation sites may already have their certifications in place. The employer then mails the IRS form and the Department of Labor form to the state workforce agency WOTC coordinator for processing. The forms must be mailed no later than 28 days after the employee begins work.
The WOTC program allows employers to select whomever they wish to hire within the target groups. An employer can hire as many people within the target groups as they wish and they will receive a tax savings on all those who qualify. For employers hiring ex-felons, the guidelines for the program state that the hiring must be within one year of the conviction or prison release. Relatives and dependents of the employer do not qualify for the tax credit. Former employees are exempt from the credit as well.
How the Credit is Calculated
Qualified wages paid to the employee during the first year of employment form the basis of the tax credit. There is a cap of $6,000 on wages that can be used for the credit calculation. For employees working at least 120 hours but fewer than 400 for the first year, the credit is 25 percent of qualified wages. For those working over 400 hours the credit is 40 percent of wages. The wage cap is slightly higher for those employing disabled veterans and welfare recipients. An employer hiring an ex-felon can potentially receive a $2,400 tax credit for the year.
Three New Marijuana Myth-Busting Studies That the Mainstream Media Isn’t Picking up On – Very Interesting! kra
Of course, if the federal government would legalize marijuana we could have the research needed. Now, research facilities are terrified to act because the feds classify marijuana as a drug as deadly as heroin. The federal classification of marijuana is one of the most glaring injustices in the system today!
One of the favorite arguments by anti-pot forces [can you say “the alcohol industry and big pharma”? For THEY are spending billions of dollars to try to prevent the competition they face when pot it legal!] is that where pot is legal, there are more DUIs and related driving problems. Studies now show that this simply is not true!
Excerpts from the Article:
Allegations surrounding the supposed dangers of pot are frequently reported and repeated without criticism. But these new studies cast serious doubts on three of the more prominent marijuana myths.
Claims that marijuana retailers attract crime are unsupported by the available evidence. In fact, studies show just the opposite result.
Most recently, data published in The Journal of Urban Economics reports that dispensary operators deter neighborhood crime. Researchers at the University of Southern California assessed the impact of dispensary closures on crime rates in the city of Los Angeles. Investigators identified an immediate increase in criminal activity – particularly property crime, larceny, and auto break ins – in the areas where dispensary operations were forced to close as compared to crime rates in those neighborhoods where marijuana retailers remained open for business.
“Open dispensaries provide over $30,000 per year in social benefit in terms of larcenies prevented,” researchers concluded.
Federally funded research published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs reported a similar trend in Sacramento, concluding: “There were no observed cross-sectional associations between the density of medical marijuana dispensaries and either violent or property crime rates in this study. These results suggest that the density of medical marijuana dispensaries may not be associated with crime rates or that other factors, such as measures dispensaries take to reduce crime (i.e., doormen, video cameras), may increase guardianship such that it deters possible motivated offenders.”
Federal traffic safety data refutes allegations that changes in marijuana’s legal status has led to increased carnage on the roads. Investigators from the University of Texas-Austin recently evaluated crash fatality rates in Colorado and Washington pre- and post-legalization. They compared these rates to those of eight control states that had not enacted any significant changes in their marijuana laws. Their findings appeared last month in The American Journal of Public Health.
“We found no significant association between recreational marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado and subsequent changes in motor vehicle fatality rates in the first three years after recreational marijuana legalization,” they concluded.
Authors also reported no association between adult use marijuana legalization laws and the total number of non-fatal crashes.
To those familiar with the available evidence, the findings were not surprising. In fact, a prior study published in the same journal in 2016 reported that the enactment of medical marijuana legalization laws was associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities compared to other states, particularly among drivers ages 25 to 44 years old.
Overall, traffic fatalities have fallen significantly over the past two decades – during the same time that a majority of US states have legalized marijuana for either medical or social use. In 1996, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that there were an estimated 37,500 fatal car crashes on US roadways. This total fell to under 30,000 by 2014.
Claims that the passage of marijuana regulatory laws has been associated with an increase in rates of marijuana abuse – sometimes described as ‘cannabis abuse disorder’ – remain largely unsubstantiated. In fact, the majority of studies addressing the issue find no significant changes in the number of young people or adults using cannabis in a problematic manner.
Specifically, Columbia University researchers writing last month in the journal Addiction reported “no associated increase in the prevalence of cannabis use disorder” among either adolescents or adults in the years following the enactment of medical cannabis laws. They also reported “no significant change in the prevalence of past-month marijuana use among adolescents or young adults (those ages 18 to 25)” following legalization – a finding that is consistent with numerous prior studies.
In fact, separate studies have reported that fewer young people overall are using marijuana today than were a decade ago. Perhaps even more notably, there has been a significant drop in recent years in the percentage of adolescents nationwide who say they consume pot habitually. According to data published last year in The Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, “Past-year prevalence of marijuana use disorders among US adolescents declined by an estimated 24 percent over the 2002 to 2013 period.”
Separate data published in March 2016 in JAMA Psychiatry similarly reported a “net decrease” in the prevalence of marijuana-related disorders since 2002. Commenting on the study’s findings, the lead author concluded: “[O]ur survey didn’t notice any increase in marijuana-related problems. Certainly, some people are having problems so we should remain vigilant, but the sky is not falling.”
That’s right, at least 5,363 family pets are killed by cops annually, and most of those shootings are needless!
Excerpts from the Article:
State police in West Virginia shot a family’s dog June 24 as it was reportedly running away from them during a search for a suspect on adjoining property. Shots rang out even as the dog’s owner was screaming for officers to hold their fire and let her put her dog inside. In Maryland, two Baltimore police officers were charged last week with animal cruelty after one of them allegedly held down Nala, a 7-year-old Shar-Pei, while the other slit the dog’s throat.
Richard Bruce Rosenthal, general counsel and co-founder of New York-based the Lexus Project, said police across the country are trending toward less tolerance and less respect for people’s pets, which he sees as part of a larger trend toward more aggressive policing tactics in America.
A pet is a person’s property, which should not be summarily executed for doing what dogs naturally do, which is to investigate unknown people or other dogs who approach their territory, he asserted.
“All over the country we have cops shooting dogs for no other reason than they can. And our courts and our elected officials, rather than protecting the citizens and the Constitution, simply see it as a way to take more power and more money. I think it’s a civil-rights violation. I think it’s a constitutional violation.”
Police shot a dog in front of its owner in Hawthorne, California, because they didn’t like the owner recording them.
“I’m going to have to call on other legislators to work with me on a combined letter demanding it,” he said. “Unless they are forthright and give the information without being required to, I think we’re going to have to get a letter from several lawmakers. Our letter will probably go to the governor because he’s their boss.
“There are so many non-lethal ways they could have dealt with this dog. Pepper spray, or simply yelling at it, probably would have made him run away.”
No government agency keeps a national database on the number of pets killed by police. But animal-abuse activists have kept statistics, and they say a pet is killed by law enforcement every 98 minutes in America. They say it is largely a result of officers having little-to-no training on how to deal with dogs.
“It’s a travesty that’s going on all over the country, and the more it happens the more our police feel emboldened to pull their guns and shoot first,” Rosenthal said.
“Whenever and wherever this happens, people are horrified at the reckless use of police power, but basically (police) ignore it in the name of security,” Rosenthal said. “The only way it’s going to be reformed is if more and more people get lawyers and litigate. And people need to petition their state legislature to make them responsible. If pet owners would band together and say ‘we’re going to vote them out of office unless they start protecting us,’ things would change.”
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/07/police-take-horrific-action-every-98-minutes/#x2vo78wCu6ItMuzP.99
Five ways private prisons break the rules – and get away with it What little oversight for-profit incarceration gets reveals the unsavory tactics used to get a leg up on the competition
Private prisons are one of the worst developments in the system over the past 40 years, as articles on this website show! CoreCivic and GEO are the largest and the worst!
READ this EXCELLENT article by our friend Akex Friedman: Apples-to-Fish: Public and Private Prison Cost Comparisons – An Excellent and Thorough Analysis by Alex Friedman
Excerpts from the Article:
In the $500 billion game of federal procurement, private prisons hold a top ten spot among the beneficiaries. A recent Inspector General report and fresh court challenges highlight some of the questionable methods by which privatized corrections have held their place in the criminal justice landscape.
1. Controlling the field.
An industry that once saw over a dozen competitors has shrunk over the last three decades, as the major players have consolidated their markets and strategically purchased their smaller competitors, challenging the assumption that a competitve market would lead to improvements in corrections operations.
2. Political contributions.
For decades, there has been a prohibition on contractors making political donations. But in a lawsuit filed last month, the Campaign Legal Center is challenging the hundreds of thousands of dollars contributed by both GEO Group and CoreCivic to pro-Trump super-PACs during the 2016 elections.
3. Single-source contracting.
An April report from the Department of Justice Inspector General looking at the U.S. Marshals Service contract with CoreCivic in Leavenworth, Kansas highlighted a series of failures with the agreement, beginning with the very basic requirements it laid out. In a detail that would seem to be designed to specifically favor the pre-existing facility in Leavenworth, the contract required that respondents provide their services in that one town, though there was no particular necessity in so limiting the location.
A lawsuit alleging that immigrant detainees at GEO Group’s Denver Contract Detention Center had been subjected to forced labor. The challenge reached class action status this spring. According to a GEO Group statement: “Our facilities, including the Aurora, Colo. Facility, are highly rated and provide high-quality services in safe, secure, and humane residential environments pursuant to the Federal Government’s national standards.”
5. Failure to penalize.
Finally, and most frustratingly, as highlighted in the DOJ IG report, there’s the government’s own failure to penalize its contractor in any way at any time for its deficiencies.
Want to learn more about prison privatization? Check out the Private Prison Project and join the mailing list. Tips? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Like some other prisons recently have done, Michigan restrictions included mail with perfume or lipstick on it and mail written in marker, crayon, or paint. They say it is to keep drugs out, which is downright laughable, because YOU CAN BET YOUR ASS that the guards bring in far more drugs than the inmates ever do!
Excerpts from the Article:
Gone are the days of handmade holiday cards or perfume on a love letter for an inmate. The Department of Corrections is cracking down on its mail policy. “We probably get 5-10 letters a day,” Doug Tjapkas said. Tjapkas is the founder of Humanity for Prisoners and works around the clock fighting for their rights.
“We’re helping them with issues like healthcare, substance abuse, mental health abuse,” he said. And the latest? Mail regulation.
The Michigan Department of Corrections posted an announcement on their website, alerting people of changes in the mail they will allow into the prison. On that list of restrictions included mail with perfume or lipstick on it and mail written in marker, crayon, or paint.
“It just said, ‘I love you’ on there real big. ‘I love you Uncle,'” Ms. Bond said. The local woman did not want to be physically identified but says a letter her granddaughter wrote to her son, was returned.
“She didn’t understand like, ‘Why’d they send my letter back?’ she wondered” Bond added. “And it’s contraband — I don’t understand what kind of contraband you put on a colored piece of a paper but apparently they have some.”
“We immediately contacted the front office of the Michigan DOC because we wanted an explanation and they explained about the drug problem,” Tjapkas said. Tjapkas says the prisons have seen an issue with drugs making their way into the prison system via mail. Like Suboxone strips, a dissolving strip used to treat those addicted to pain medications. But Tjapkas says some of the new regulations just don’t add up.
“I’d like to know what is the issue with the crayon,” he said. “Exactly what it has to do with getting drugs in the system. We don’t get that explanation yet and its been very vague so far.”
The DOC mail policy changes will go into effect October 1, 2017.
The benefit of a class action lawsuit is that not each individual needs to undergo the cost and rigors of suing the defendant. It is an economical way enabling many aggrieved parties to sue the wrongdoer. However, even if you qualify for a class action case, you want to think twice before jumping in. With most of them, the only people who make any real money are the lawyers! Often, if you can afford to do it you are MUCH, MUCH BETTER OFF filing individually. Many, many class action cases, whether by a win in court or by a settlement, result in each plaintiff getting pennies on the dollar, very little money, while the lawyers make “big bucks”!
Op Ed Submission – So Far, Fewer Than 1/2 of 1%! – End the “War on Drugs” – 8/14/17 Or use it as a Letter to the Editor
Op Ed Submission – So Far, Fewer Than 1/2 of 1%! – End the “War on Drugs”
It is pretty amazing that only 30 out of the total of 7,572 state legislators* – less than 1/2 of 1%! – are wise enough to see the best way to end the carnage, the costs, and the suffering caused by our “war on drugs”! Yes, only Oregon legislators have voted to decriminalize all drugs, just as the nation of Portugal did more than 16 years ago. Why? Because have seen that addiction is down, crime is down, costs are down, and the violence of the illicit drug trade virtually disappears with this approach!
In Portugal, the number of heroin addicts was cut in half, with most remaining addicts in a form of treatment. Meanwhile, drug overdose rates have fallen, and Portugal’s overall drug-induced death rates are more than five times lower than the European Union average and are miniscule compared with ours, which are exorbitant and climbing.
We see big headlines about a recent “bust” in Delaware, an operation involving all of these resources over a period of 9 months: The Sussex County Drug Unit and the Delaware Department of Justice organized and conducted this operation with the assistance of the Sussex County Governor’s Task Force, Kent and New Castle County Drug Units, Kent and New Castle County Governor’s Task Force, the Delaware State Police Special Operations Response Team (SORT), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Delaware Department of Corrections, Seaford Police Department, Georgetown Police Department, Delaware Probation and Parole, along with Delaware, Maryland, and New Jersey National Guard. Wow! What a waste of resources! But this is much easier to do than solve murder cases. Do you know that the percentage of murders solved has plummeted from over 94% to less than 48% in the past 4o years, ever since we ramped up the “war on drugs”? Yes, drugs and money were seized, and some idiots will go to prison, but I dare say [as we have seen countless times in the past] that this will not put a dent in the drug trade nor in the numbers of our children, parents, friends … DYING from drug overdoses!
In time, too long a time, the rest of the nation will catch up with those Oregon legislator, because it just makes sense!
Ken Abraham, Deputy Attorney General 1974-1979, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
*7,383 state legislators plus the few lawmakers from U S Territories and DC.
I get lots of letters published, and ghost write for others. THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO REACH THOUSANDS OF READERS! The keys to getting your Letter published are:
1. Keep it to 250 words or fewer.
2. Do not make it about “poor little old me”. Describe the problem as one which not only affects the individual, but is a senseless or ineffective measure, policy, or law which also harms communities and society. For example, with reentry, the obstacles make it unnecessarily difficult for the individual, but also harm society by making it hard to become productive, spending money and paying taxes in the community, and they cause increased recidivism = increased crime.
3. Speak from your heart.
4. Google any facts you are not sure about.
5. Do not name-call.
Do what works: Write that Letter!
Letter to Editor – sign name, town, state, and your phone number (they often call to verify that you sent it), and “Member of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE” if you like – shows you are part of a large group.
Send the email to yourself, and put on the “bcc” bar the email addresses for Letters to the Editor for the top ten newspapers in your state and several national ones – The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, U S A Today (google the Letter to Editor email addresses). Any questions, CALL me at 302-423-4067!
GOOGLE THE EMAIL ADDRESSES FOR “LETTERS TO THE EDITOR” FOR THE TOP TEN NEWSPAPERS IN YOUR STATE AND SAVE THAT INFORMATION FOR REPEATED USE – Some papers will print a letter from you every 2 ekke, some every 30 days, some every 90 days. They have varying policies. But if you really want to make a difference shoot them a new letter once a month! I send one out every 2 weeks.
Need a Letter on some criminal justice issue and not a great letter writer? NO EXCUSE! Email me a rough draft and call me and I’ll polish it up! email@example.com .
ANY QUESTIONS, CALL ME AT 302-423-4067.
We see here a slew of common sense measures which every state should enact. These will save Oklahoma at least $1.9 Billion!
Excerpts from the Article:
Tuesday was a banner day for advocates of Oklahoma criminal justice reform as the state Senate passed eight separate bills that were written with the goal of lowering Oklahoma’s high incarceration rate while preserving public safety. “These historic votes will improve public safety in Oklahoma and save our state $1.9 billion,” said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, whose criminal justice reform task force recommended the bulk of the changes currently being considered by the Legislature.
“Making smart, data-driven decisions on how to increase safety while decreasing our overcapacity prisons is key to pursuing smaller, more efficient and more moral government,” the governor said.
Oklahoma, which has the second-highest incarceration rate in the nation and the highest rate for women, is facing a prison crisis. Oklahoma’s state prison system is currently operating at 107 percent of capacity, with 26,507 inmates behind prison walls, 1,513 awaiting transfer from county jails and another 33,497 serving some form of probation.
Unless changes are made, the state will need to build three new prisons within the next 10 years, which would cost the state an additional $1.9 billion in capital expenditures and operating costs, experts have said. The timing couldn’t be much worse, with the state facing an $878 million budget shortfall. With those factors in mind, Oklahoma lawmakers drafted a dozen separate bills in an effort to enact laws that would implement a lengthy list of reforms recommended by the governor’s task force. By late Tuesday afternoon, all 12 had obtained favorable votes in either the Senate or House and are now awaiting action by the other chamber.
Another key reform measure that passed the Senate on Tuesday was Senate Bill 689. The bill, which passed 42-3, would give judges and prosecutors more options in diverting people from prison and into treatment and supervision programs. It also is designed to reduce financial obstacles that hinder convicted individuals in their ability to reintegrate into society and would expand the use of graduated sanctions and incentives to modify behavior.
The Senate also passed:
• Senate Bill 649, which distinguish between violent and nonviolent offenders in determining how much their sentences should be lengthened for repeat offenses.
• Senate Bill 650, which decreases the amount of time nonviolent offenders who have reformed their behavior must wait before they can apply to have their criminal records expunged.
• Senate Bill 603, which would require the development of individualized improvement plans for inmates to help them better prepare to reintegrate into society.
• Senate Bill 604, which would provide training for law enforcement officers on dealing with victims of domestic violence.
• Senate Bill 609, which calls for the state attorney general to develop a training and certification process for professional victim advocates.
• Senate Bill 793, which would establish an oversight council to continue to monitor criminal justice reforms.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would reduce the potential punishment for a number of property crimes by making prison sentences dependent on the value of items stolen.
Terry O’Donnell, author of House Bill 2281, said passage of the bill is important if the state wants to decrease the number of Oklahoma women in prison because these are the types of crimes for which many women are imprisoned. “It is a real game changer,” O-Donnell, R-Tulsa, said of the bill.
Here we see an innovative program helping to reduce recidivism by preparing inmates for work after release.
Excerpts from the Article:
JUST A FEW days after his 28th birthday, Steve Lacerda went to a local bar with his buddies to celebrate. Lacerda, who had graduated from UC Santa Barbara and was working as a network troubleshooter for a startup in the Bay Area, met a woman there. The two of them got to talking and, after too many drinks, Lacerda decided to take her for a ride on his motorcycle. She hopped on the back. Lacerda began driving. He crashed. She died.
“I look back at it now, and I’m like, I don’t even know what the hell I was thinking,” says Lacerda, who at the age of 42 has been sober ever since. Lacerda served nearly 12 years behind bars for driving under the influence and vehicular manslaughter. Finally, in June, he was released from San Quentin State Prison on parole. Adjusting to life on the outside has been far tougher than he ever imagined.
But Lacerda has some advantages as he re-enters society that most formerly incarcerated people don’t, namely, a resume full of web development projects he completed while inside and some $6,000 in savings he earned for that work. Lacerda was part of a new work program inside San Quentin called The Last Mile Works, which is essentially a web development startup inside the prison in which inmates build websites for businesses and organizations on the outside. An offshoot of the non-profit The Last Mile, which teaches coding skills inside prisons, The Last Mile Works pays people like Lacerda $16.79 an hour and, so far, has worked with companies like Airbnb and Dave’s Killer Bread on small web development projects. Later this month, its biggest project yet—a full redesign of the Coalition for Public Safety’s website—will launch, adding to a portfolio of work that Lacerda is eager to shop around as he looks for a job.
Among all the problems with mass incarceration in the United States, prison work programs are especially fraught. The 13th amendment eliminated slavery, except as punishment for a crime. Now, prison labor is a multi-billion dollar industry according to the Prison Policy Institute. And yet, often, prisoners are paid as little as 23 cents an hour. Before he began working with TLM Works, Lacerda’s job in San Quentin’s machine shop paid 39 cents an hour.
Venture capitalist Chris Redlitz created TLM Works as a way to address this problem of what is essentially involuntary servitude. It was the natural evolution of his non-profit TLM, which since 2010 had been teaching business and coding courses to inmates at San Quentin. Over the years, some of the students, including Lacerda, became proficient developers. “The talent pool we have access to is pretty phenomenal,” Redlitz says of the men in the program.
By building a dev shop in the prison that works with real clients, Redlitz thought, he could give graduates of the coding course well-paid work using skills that could land them well-paid jobs on the outside. TLM Works launched in October (WIRED covered the launch), and since then the team has completed about 10 projects. To skirt the prison’s strict rules against internet access inside, the organization set up a server on site and worked with the company WP Engine to create a virtual environment where the TLM Works team could collaborate on website builds, without accessing the internet. Similar to any other dev shop, clients communicate with the team through a program manager inside the prison.
So far, most of those clients have been organizations with a social mission, including the criminal justice reform advocacy group Coalition for Public Safety. “It’s an opportunity to live our values,” says Steven Hawkins, president of the Coalition. “One of the main ways to keep people from returning to prison is through employment opportunities.”
. “This is a great example of a program that’s offering marketable skills that hopefully lead to meaningful employment after release, and that’s the best we can hope for when it comes to prison labor,” says Wendy Sawyer, a policy analyst at the Prison Policy Institute. Sawyer would like to see programs like this scale to other prisons, as well.
Three weeks since he became a free man, Lacerda has already been applying to web programming jobs around the Bay Area. He hopes the work speaks for itself.