Some rare good news!
Yep, there are more than 45,000 barriers to reentry nationwide, most of them totally unnecessary! More than 230 here in lil ole Delaware!
God Bless Mr. Rivera!
Excerpts from the Article:
No one appreciates the challenges of re-entering society like a former prisoner, especially one who was wrongfully convicted.
For exonerated ex-prisoner Juan Rivera of Illinois, his experiences led him to invest some of his multi-million dollar wrongful conviction settlement into training low-income students at a barber’s school in Chicago’s South Side, according to a March 2018 news article.
Rivera was convicted three times for the 1992 rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl and sentenced to life, even though DNA evidence excluded him as the perpetrator. Then 19 years old with an IQ of 79, he signed a confession written by police officers after three days of questioning. Rivera’s conviction was overturned by the Illinois Appellate Court in 2011 and the charges were dismissed the following year. He was stabbed twice during the two decades he served in prison.
The number of known wrongful convictions in the United States has risen to almost 2,300, according to the National Registry of Exonerations, with most of those who have been released serving over 10 years, like Rivera and Kristine Bunch. Bunch spent 17 years in prison for the arson death of her young son before she was exonerated and released in 2012. Like Rivera, she is doing her part to assist wrongfully-convicted prisoners by starting a charitable foundation to help them upon their release, called “Justis4justus.”
According to Bunch, “The moment you get out is incredible. Then the cameras leave, and you realize you don’t even have a toothbrush.” Rivera agreed, stating, “No one can walk in our shoes or understand but us.” After all of the years he served behind bars, he added, “We don’t know what normal is.”
Lauren Kaeseberg, legal director of the Illinois Innocence Project, maintains that most prisoners who are released receive some assistance from the state, but those who are exonerated get nothing unless they take legal action.
Bunch did just that, filing a lawsuit against the investigators in her case, which remains pending. On January 30, 2018, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a district court’s grant of summary judgment to the defendants and remanded for further proceedings. See: Bunch v. United States, 880 F.3d 938 (7th Cir. 2018).
Rivera also filed suit after his release from prison in 2012, against police officials in the City of Waukegan and Lake County, Illinois, and obtained a $20 million settlement in March 2015. After attorney fees and other costs he received around $11.4 million.
Despite the substantial settlement, Rivera still suffers emotional scars and “pain and suffering” from his wrongful conviction and lengthy incarceration. “I’ve been out a little over five years, and I still cannot go out in public, like in a big crowd,” he said. “I get nervous, I start sweating. I get into panic attacks, so it’s still a process. I still get death threats and … people are very ignorant and approach me.”
However, he has tried to focus on the positive. Befriended in prison by a guard who was also the barber instructor, Rivera contributed $300,000 to start the Legacy Barber College in Chicago.
I have many quotes from both of these wise men. Ponder these two:
“Justice is the highest of all virtues.” – Aristotle
“An avidity to punish is always dangerous to liberty. It leads men to stretch, to misinterpret, and to misapply even the best of laws.” – Thomas Paine
ICE Detention Center Says It’s Not Responsible for Staff’s Sexual Abuse of Detainees – It’s called Failure to Train and Supervise – kra
That is pretty funny. ICE clearly is responsible. It’s called “Failure to Train and Supervise” as a civil rights claim and the also can and should be prosecuted!
ICE “detention centers” are the worst prisons in America. This article reminds us that laws intended to monitor them need TEETH and enforcement.
Below I am seen giving a talk about 3 years ago about the terrors of ICE “detention centers”. It was a real eye opener for the clergy and others in attendance.
Excerpts from the Article:
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government impose criminal liability on correctional facility staff who have sexual contact with people in their custody. These laws recognize that any sexual activity between detainees and detention facility staff, with or without the use of force, is unlawful because of the inherent power imbalance when people are in custody. Yet, one immigration detention center is trying to avoid responsibility for sexual violence within its walls by arguing that the detainee “consented” to sexual abuse.
E.D., an asylum-seeker and domestic violence survivor from Honduras, was sexually assaulted by an employee while she was detained with her 3-year-old child at the Berks Family Residential Center in Pennsylvania. At the time of the assault, E.D. was 19 years old. She filed suit against the detention center and its staff for their failure to protect her from sexual violence, even though they were aware of the risk. The record in the case, E.D. v. Sharkey, shows that her assailant coerced and threatened her, including with possible deportation, while the defendants stood by and made jokes.
The ACLU, ACLU of Pennsylvania, and partner organizations filed an amicus brief this week supporting E.D., explaining that officials wield such tremendous control over the lives of those in their custody, including through coercion and exploitation, that consent to sexual contact cannot be freely given in these circumstances. We also discuss how sexual violence in custodial settings is a serious and pervasive issue, including in immigration detention. For many years, the ACLU, various advocacy groups, and immigrants themselves have reported on the unsafe conditions in immigration detention, including sexual violence and the retaliation that detained immigrants face when they decide to come forward with these violations.
A recent investigation into sexual abuse in immigration detention found that there were 1,448 allegations of sexual abuse filed with ICE between 2012 and March 2018. In 2017 alone, there were 237 allegations of sexual abuse in immigration detention facilities.
Other reports include a 2014 complaint documenting widespread allegations of sexual harassment at the Karnes County Residential Center, where more than 500 women were detained with their children. In 2017, advocates filed a complaint on behalf of eight immigrants who recounted their experiences of sexual violence while detained in various ICE detention facilities across the country.
The Government Accountability Office reported in 2013 that officials at immigration prisons and jails failed to report 40 percent of sexual abuse allegations to the ICE headquarters. After looking at 10 different detention centers and analyzing over 70 cases of sexual abuse, researchers found that only 7 percent of 215 allegations of sexual assault in immigration detention facilities from 2009 to 2013 were substantiated, calling into question the thoroughness of investigations as well as reporting and oversight mechanisms.
Sexual violence impacts immigrants across federal agencies that are charged with immigrant detention. Most recently in Arizona, the state’s Department of Health Services, which licenses facilities that are used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement to detain migrant children, moved to revoke the license of Southwest Key, a nonprofit contractor that rakes in about a half a billion dollars to detain migrant children in facilities across the country. The state moved to revoke the group’s license because Southwest Key failed to comply with required employee background checks. At least three former employees have been arrested for sexually abusing migrant children. One was convicted, and one of the facilities was closed down following allegations of staff abusing children.
These are not isolated cases. They clearly show that officials are not doing enough to detect and respond to incidents of sexual abuse in immigration detention. The result is that immigrants are put at serious risk for sexual violence while they are detained.
The Prison Rape Elimination Act was passed by Congress in 2003 to protect against sexual assault in prisons and jails across the country. It took the Department of Homeland Security until 2014 to finalize regulations implementing PREA. Even with those regulations in place, DHS PREA standards do not protect immigrants in all detention facilities because the agency has taken the position that those requirements can only apply when the agency enters into new contracts or renews or modifies old ones.
Rather than meaningfully addressing these endemic problems in immigration detention, the Trump administration continues to aggressively target immigrants and asylum seekers by stripping away legal protections, ramping up enforcement, and expanding immigration detention. E.D.’s case highlights the real need for greater protections against sexual abuse and more robust oversight and accountability measures in immigration detention, not less.
“Health care” in all of our prisons is one of America’s greatest hoaxes! This failure to abide by agreements/settlements is precisely what I say in Delaware D O C. This article features revelations from doctors inside the system, doctors with the courage to tell the TRUTH.
If you are not totally outraged, you are not paying attention!
The specific cases we see here of needless pain, suffering, and death are typical of today’s state of affairs regarding health care in our prisons.
Excerpts from the Article:
The Arizona Department of Corrections contracts with privately-owned correctional health care company Corizon Health to oversee all medical, mental and dental care at 10 state prisons. However, that care has come under scrutiny in federal court.
In 2015, prisoners settled a lawsuit with Arizona over poor health care conditions in state prisons. More than two years later, Arizona and its provider have failed to meet the more than 100 stipulations agreed to in the settlement and a federal judge is threatening to fine the state millions of dollars. [See note at the end of this article; the district court imposed $1.4 million in fines in June 2018 as part of a contempt ruling]. Prisoners have testified in the settlement process to long wait times for medicine, delayed chronic disease care and a lack of access to specialists. The voices in this series confirm those allegations and more, recounting their experiences with the Arizona prison health care system.
Lucinda Jordan hadn’t talked to her father, Walter Jordan, for several years. He was serving time in an Arizona prison and they had lost touch. Then, one day in August 2017, the phone rang. “He has a really strong voice and usually he’s pretty calm about things but I could tell he was really upset,” Lucinda Jordan said. Her father had called to tell her he had cancer. “I asked him how bad and he said it was really bad,” Jordan said. “I asked him what kind of cancer and he told me it was skin cancer.”
Days later, Walter Jordan would file a notice of impending death with the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC). He alleged that his cancer treatment had been delayed and was causing memory loss and pain. He predicted he might not make it another month. And then just weeks later, on September 7, 2017, Walter Jordan died.
Now attorneys for the plaintiff class in the Parsons v. Ryan prison health care settlement are alleging a review of Walter Jordan’s medical records shows a history of delayed and inadequate care.
Dr. Todd Wilcox called Walter Jordan’s case “unfortunate and horrific” after reviewing his medical history at the request of plaintiff attorneys in the case. In his declaration, submitted in federal court, Wilcox says he believes Walter Jordan “suffered excruciating needless pain from cancer that was not appropriately managed in the months prior to his death.” In his review, Wilcox states a dermatologist used improper medical techniques to treat Walter Jordan’s squamous cell carcinomas, including a four-square-inch section of Jordan’s scalp that was “electrically fried” with a process called electrodesiccation.
Wilcox writes the procedure made Walter Jordan “much worse, and burning a hole in his skull could cause the surrounding bone to die and become at risk of infection.” Dr. Anna Likhacheva is a staff radiation oncologist at the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center. She says with any kind of cancer, an early diagnosis means the patient will have a better chance at survival. Doctors at the Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center use radiation therapy to treat invasive skin cancer. “Some cancers that are easily curable at an early stage, if left untreated for years, can take someone’s life,” she said. Likhacheva says invasive squamous cell carcinomas “cannot be treated with just simple, do it at home procedures or in-office procedures. Those need either surgery or they need radiation therapy.” Medical records show after months of seeing a dermatologist, Walter Jordan was finally referred to an oncologist. The referral came after a Corizon Health provider noted his rapidly deteriorating state. After evaluating a large wound on Jordan’s scalp, the provider wrote in all capital letters:
“THE WOUND IS HORRIFIC. PT IS EXPOSED TO THE ENVIRONMENT (DUST, DIRT, HEAT, FLIES) DIRTY HOUSING AND SHOWER FACILITIES…. I CANNOT STRESS HOW IMPORTANT IT IS THAT WE TAKE SOME SORT OF IMMEDIATE ACTION.”
Wilcox’s report says the medical records show by the time Walter Jordan received radiation therapy, the cancer had already penetrated his skull.
“It is difficult to fathom,” Wilcox writes, “how a squamous cell carcinoma could grow so large and so deep that it breached the skull and reached the brain, if the treating provider and the specialist dermatologist is vigilant and practicing within the standard of care.”
Corene Kendrick, an attorney with the Prison Law Office, had Wilcox review Walter Jordan’s records.
“Mr. Jordan’s care and what happened to him is sadly very emblematic of the deficiencies that we see in the medical care that’s being delivered by ADC and Corizon,” she said, “from the inadequate specialty care to the lack of pain management for somebody with terminal cancer, and also the failure to take basic preventative measures.”
Walter Jordan’s records show he was prescribed SPF 50 sunscreen by a provider. But a nurse reversed the order for sunscreen and suggested Walter Jordan buy his own, lower SPF sunscreen at the prison commissary.
In his review, Wilcox notes that Walter Jordan experienced “extreme pain throughout the last few months of his life. The medical record also documents Corizon provided him only Tylenol with codeine dosed twice per day.”
Wilcox writes this was not an appropriate treatment plan for a patient with cancer pain. “This pain management style with intermittent pain relief from a short-half-life medication is just wrong. It is actually the opposite of how cancer pain should be managed,” he said. “Appropriate management of chronic severe cancer pain should be accomplished using long-half-life opiates of adequate strength to ameliorate the pain.” In his report, Wilcox says there are “many options for adequate pain management,” adding “there is no excuse for therapeutic nihilism (undertreatment) of cancer pain that appears to be the norm in the Arizona prison health care system.”
Arizona is not the only state where Corizon’s health care practices have come under scrutiny. The company has been sued hundreds of times in multiple jurisdictions across the country.
Randall Berg is the executive director of the Florida Justice Institute. His organization has sued Corizon multiple times over claims of malpractice while the company had a contract to treat prisoners in Florida state prisons. Berg says Corizon was “not providing medical care known to be necessary and just generally exalting the profit motive over the provision of medical care.” He says Corizon was reluctant to refer Florida prisoners to outside specialists. “Any time they need to send somebody outside the prison walls, they have to pay for it,” Berg said of Corizon’s obligations under its contract with the state of Florida. He believes the company has a pattern of denying these referrals to save money.
“We have a client who is in severe need of pain medication and we had to consistently sue the department of corrections and Corizon to obtain pain medication for him,” Berg said.
Stephen Swartz was recently released from custody after serving 10 years in the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis in Buckeye. He believes delayed care for prisoners with chronic illness is a serious concern in Arizona prisons. He says failures in the state prison health care system prompted him to become a named plaintiff in the Parsons v. Ryan case. “I experienced, personally, the lack of medical care – the inadequate medical care – the wrong medical care – so I wanted to bring about change,” he said. Swartz says he watched his cellmates and countless friends suffer and die from delayed medical care over the years.
Dr. Jan Watson has seen a lot in her career. She’s worked on trauma teams in emergency rooms, practiced internal and occupational medicine. For most of her career she was an OB-GYN. “Yes, I used to deliver babies,” Watson said, beaming with the joy of recalling the families she got to work with. Birth, death and everything in between – after more than 30 years in health care, Watson thought she had seen it all. But then she took a job at an Arizona state prison. “I had never seen anything like that in my life,” she said, her eyes taking on a distant gaze as she recalled her experiences. “I had inmates dropping left and right. It was kind of overwhelming and scary at first, but then, I just – became accustomed to it.”
“I got to attend two days of my training, and then I got pulled to actually start seeing patients,” because she was the only doctor for more than 5,000 prisoners. Watson says the pace was overwhelming. “They would schedule 20 patients for you daily for multiple medical problems.”
Watson says there were also frequent emergencies – called an ICS, which stands for Incident Command System. “I call them inmate down situations, that was easier,” Watson said. She says prisoners would frequently come into her clinic unconscious. “I have no idea what’s going on. Then my nursing staff don’t know what they’re doing, and I’m trying to tell them what to do and assess the patient.” She tried to hold things together the best she could – with ace bandages and splints and a sense of humor: “But it’s just total chaos,” Watson said.
However, emails provided by Watson show that the shortage of providers was significant. In his request for overtime workers, a Corizon employee notes that in October 2017 there were more than 800 outstanding requests for medical treatment.
Watson says getting medicine for prisoners was a constant challenge. “There were several inmates who had cancer and so they were taking morphine,” Watson said. Prescriptions were supposed to be filled by PharmaCorr, a correctional pharmacy provider owned by Corizon Health, but Watson says medications would often run out. “So then I would have to write prescriptions and someone would have to go to Walgreens and get the morphine to tide them over until PharmaCorr could send us some more,” Watson said.
As a provider at the clinic, Watson could refer prisoners to a specialist. When she first started at the prison, she says most of her referrals were going through. But then she says in August 2017, after she accepted an extension to her contract, things changed. “It was just, ‘No, no, no,’ all the time,” Watson said of the denials she would get from Corizon.
“I got an X-ray, he hit his hand, and he had fractured his hand. That should have been a no-brainer,” Watson said. But she says the doctor who reviewed the case wrote back, asking her to find out how much rotation was in the displaced bone. started to v
“I’m thinking, ‘What difference does it make? The man’s hand is fractured. He should go to ortho.’” She says the referral was denied, so she pushed back. “We went round and around about the angulation on this bone. We’re now weeks out after the fracture – I had never heard of such.”
She says another denial of care involved a prisoner who came in with a black eye because he had fallen and hit his head.
“This man would have episodes where he would have over 10 seizures in a row, and we couldn’t control him with all of the anticonvulsants. He was on like three or four.” Watson says she asked for an EEG – a brain scan – and it was denied.
“So we have this man who goes around and periodically has these episodes of multiple seizures and we couldn’t get him to a neurologist.” Finally Watson says she reached out to her medical director and asked why the prisoner couldn’t be sent to the hospital. “It cost too much money,” Watson says was the response. So she asked what the plan was to keep the prisoner from hurting himself.
“‘Oh, well, we’ll order a helmet for him to protect his head,’” Watson says was the suggestion for treatment from the medical director.
But Watson says she kept pushing back on the denials.
“I would go search medical journals to find data to support my side,” she said. “But I’m just thinking, ‘Why do I have to go through this to get care that is so obvious.’”
Watson says she was asked to cancel referrals to an infectious disease specialist for HIV patients because, according to Corizon, they did not have a contracted infectious disease specialist.
Even if a referral was approved, Watson says that was still no guarantee the patient would receive care. She says Corizon would ask her to cancel referrals that were approved but had yet to be completed so the company could avoid fines.
Watson says the Utilization Management team at Corizon would suggest what were called alternate treatment plans, which she says often suggested the provider on site handle the request. “I am the provider on site,” Watson said. “I’m the one who wrote for this!” The Arizona Department of Corrections and Corizon Health are being monitored by a federal judge as a part of the Parsons v. Ryan settlement agreement. But Corizon keeps its own numbers. Watson says a woman responsible for the monitoring was open with her disregard for the process. “When we had this provider meeting – she even said at the meeting, ‘Well, let me tell you how to beat the monitor,’” Watson said.
“A gentleman came in with chest pain,” Watson said of a prisoner. “He was known to have heart disease.” His symptoms, combined with an EKG, made Watson think he was having a heart attack, but she couldn’t get approval for him to go to the hospital for hours. After the referral was finally approved, Watson’s fears were confirmed. The prisoner had suffered a heart attack. Watson says her medical director, Dr. Rodney Stewart, reviewed the prisoner’s test results from the hospital and conveyed the treatment plan to her and the prisoner. “He told me that’s what had happened with the patient. He had had a heart attack. None of his arteries could be bypassed and so there was nothing that could be done,” Watson said of her conversation with Stewart.
“I was told if he ever came in with chest pain again to just let him die, keep him comfortable, because there was nothing we could do about it,” Watson said. She says she couldn’t believe what she had heard. Corizon says Dr. Stewart “denies having made such a statement.” Watson stands by her memory of the statement, which she said was made in the presence of others, because it was so alarming. “You know, this wasn’t like a do not resuscitate,” Watson said. “This was, if the man had chest pain – I’m not supposed to treat that? I’m just supposed to let it continue and let him die?”
Watson says she pulled the prisoner’s medical record and looked at the notes from the hospital. She says what she saw conflicted with what the Corizon medical director told her. “It didn’t say none of the arteries could be bypassed,” Watson said. “It only said one couldn’t. One could. And another could benefit either from medical management and/or a stent.”
Watson created a new plan. She prescribed the prisoner nitroglycerine to take the next time he had chest pains. And she told him she wouldn’t let him die. Shortly after she changed the prisoner’s plan, Watson says she was called in to a meeting with Stewart and the area medical director. “I was told I was not doing things ‘The Corizon way,’” Watson said. She says when asked what the “Corizon Way” was, she was given a list of don’ts. “Don’t make so many referrals. Don’t order so many splints. And I had to be faster. Don’t talk so much to the inmates,” Watson said.
Corizon says there is no company policy entitled the Corizon Way, but confirms Dr. Stewart said it. “When Dr. Stewart used this term,” Corizon said, “he was referring to applicable patient care standards. He merely used this phrase as a term of art.” At this point, Watson told her medical director she was going to have to have a talk.
“And he says – ‘Well, you and I?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m going to have to have a talk with myself, because every day you come up with something that prevents me from providing care.”
Watson put in her 30-day notice and left Eyman in early October 2017. During her five months at the prison, she sent multiple emails requesting more resources and asking why her patients were being denied care. She says she never filed a complaint within the company because she didn’t think it would do any good. She believes Corizon Health was too focused on its bottom line. “Corporate-run medicine is really big on numbers, but numbers do not tell you anything about the quality of care,” Watson said. “And if they actually went about it the other way and actually focused on, let’s deliver good health care, the numbers would fall into place.” Watson says she would return to prison health care under different management. She says she misses the prisoners. She liked them. After a while, Watson said she didn’t even think of them as prisoners anymore.
“A patient is a patient,” Watson said. “Doesn’t matter where they are or who they are, I have to treat them the same.”
Ed. Note: Prison Legal News has repeatedly covered poor health care in Arizona prisons. [See: PLN, May 2018, p.28; April 2017, p.48; Feb. 2016, p.56; July 2013, p.1; Sept. 2012, p.34]. The class-action settlement over inadequate medical treatment in Arizona’s prison system remains ongoing. In June 2018, the ADC was held in contempt by the federal district court overseeing the settlement, which found “wide-spread and systemic failures.” The court imposed $1.4 million in fines. Corizon reimbursed the state for the fines, and state prison officials have appealed the contempt finding to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. On October 2, 2018, KTAR.com reported that the attorneys representing prisoners in the case are now seeking $1.6 million in fees and costs, in addition to the $6.1 million they have been awarded since the class-action lawsuit settled. See: Parsons v. Ryan, U.S.D.C. (D. Ariz.), Case No. 2:12-cv-00601-DKD.
I have had at least 700 trials. Mind you, I do not know enough about exactly what happened to say for sure, but I am afraid that here Judge Carpenter may have been in too big a hurry to move along a complicated trial, and here committed reversible error.
The questioning certainly was relevant, and the answer important for the jury to know. If it had been asked and answered several times already, that’s one thing. But we do not know that from what is here. As to the prosecutor’s objection: “Mr. Gifford is trying to suggest the state is trying to do something under the table — it’s inappropriate.” Absurd! The state – including prosecutors (loads of articles here on that!) – often “does something under the table”, and if they do the jury must know!
I happen to know that witnesses in this case were threatened and pressured by the state! READ Trial Looms, DOC is trying to cover up, and Class Action Lawsuits will be filed within a Month … all due to prison abuse here in Delaware.
Please don’t tell me that Judge Carpenter is of the same ilk as Her Dishonor, Sue Robinson, a disgrace to the federal bench! READ The story of Boo – Curtis Collins – True Story of Prison Abuse and Cover Up- I helped him win $50,000 – kra
Excerpts from the Article:
Ben Gifford, an attorney defending inmate Deric Forney in the ongoing Vaughn prison riot trial, told Judge William C. Carpenter Jr. he was “moving toward a mistrial” during a sidebar on Thursday.
Judge Carpenter quickly and firmly denied the request.
The request was prompted by the prosecution’s objection to Mr. Gifford’s cross-examination of their inmate eyewitness Melvin Williams.
Forney is one of the 16 inmates who are facing murder charges and, along with two other prisoners, are also looking at kidnapping, conspiracy and rioting charges.
Recent testimony from eyewitness inmates has begun to take on a back-and-forth formula in the trial. Prosecutors begin with the inmates by having them recall what they witnessed during the riot and have them identify who they believed to be part of the riot — via mugshots — and explain specifically what they observed each perpetrator doing. Then on cross-examination, the defense, with fairly consistent success, seeks to undermine each testimony by pointing out inconsistencies between what the inmate said in court versus the transcripts of earlier statements given to investigators.
A common tactic the defense has used is suggesting that the inmates were either coerced or persuaded into testifying in hopes that they’d gain leniency in their respective sentences.
Mr. Gifford was trying this tactic on Thursday with Mr. Williams grilling him repeatedly on what, if anything, the prosecution had offered him in exchange for his testimony in the trial.
Deputy attorney general John Downs objected to the line of questioning.
“Mr. Gifford is trying to suggest the state is trying to do something under the table — it’s inappropriate,” he said.
Judge Carpenter temporarily removed the jury to hear each side’s concerns. Mr. Gifford said he wanted to move for a mistrial because his questions, which he feels are legitimate, have been deemed out of bounds.
“My questions have been repeatedly called inappropriate, and it’s not the first time, in front of the jury — the optics are bad,” said Mr. Gifford.
The judge forcefully denied the request, demanding the Mr. Gifford ask relevant questions, and promptly move on once the witness provides their answer. He dismissed the notion that the defense was being treated unfairly.
“You feel that you’ve been inappropriately chastened, but it’s just not the case,” said Judge Carpenter.
The Newest Jim Crow Recent criminal justice reforms contain the seeds of a frightening system of “e-carceration.”
This EXCELLENT article by Michelle Alexander conjoins several topics, and she warns of the dangers and problems I have alluded to in several recent articles! We must heed her warning.
This article reminds me of one of my favorite Grooks: (Google Grooks by Piet Hein!)
THE ONLY SOLUTION
We shall have to evolve
since each problem they solve
creates ten problems more.
Excerpts from the Article:
In the midterms, Michigan became the first state in the Midwest to legalize marijuana, Florida restored the vote to over 1.4 million people with felony convictions, and Louisiana passed a constitutional amendment requiring unanimous jury verdicts in felony trials. These are the latest examples of the astonishing progress that has been made in the last several years on a wide range of criminal justice issues. Since 2010, when I published “The New Jim Crow” — which argued that a system of legal discrimination and segregation had been born again in this country because of the war on drugs and mass incarceration — there have been significant changes to drug policy, sentencing and re-entry, including “ban the box” initiatives aimed at eliminating barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated people.
This progress is unquestionably good news, but there are warning signs blinking brightly. Many of the current reform efforts contain the seeds of the next generation of racial and social control, a system of “e-carceration” that may prove more dangerous and more difficult to challenge than the one we hope to leave behind.
Bail reform is a case in point. Thanks in part to new laws and policies — as well as actions like the mass bailout of inmates in New York City jails that’s underway — the unconscionable practice of cash bail is finally coming to an end. In August, California became the first state to decide to get rid of its cash bail system; last year, New Jersey virtually eliminated the use of money bonds. But what’s taking the place of cash bail may prove even worse in the long run. In California, a presumption of detention will effectively replace eligibility for immediate release when the new law takes effect in October 2019. And increasingly, computer algorithms are helping to determine who should be caged and who should be set “free.” Freedom — even when it’s granted, it turns out — isn’t really free.
Under new policies in California, New Jersey, New York and beyond, “risk assessment” algorithms recommend to judges whether a person who’s been arrested should be released. These advanced mathematical models — or “weapons of math destruction” as data scientist Cathy O’Neil calls them — appear colorblind on the surface but they are based on factors that are not only highly correlated with race and class, but are also significantly influenced by pervasive bias in the criminal justice system.
As O’Neil explains, “It’s tempting to believe that computers will be neutral and objective, but algorithms are nothing more than opinions embedded in mathematics.”
Challenging these biased algorithms may be more difficult than challenging discrimination by the police, prosecutors and judges. Many algorithms are fiercely guarded corporate secrets. Those that are transparent — you can actually read the code — lack a public audit so it’s impossible to know how much more often they fail for people of color.
Even if you’re lucky enough to be set “free” from a brick-and-mortar jail thanks to a computer algorithm, an expensive monitoring device likely will be shackled to your ankle — a GPS tracking device provided by a private company that may charge you around $300 per month, an involuntary leasing fee. Your permitted zones of movement may make it difficult or impossible to get or keep a job, attend school, care for your kids or visit family members. You’re effectively sentenced to an open-air digital prison, one that may not extend beyond your house, your block or your neighborhood. One false step (or one malfunction of the GPS tracking device) will bring cops to your front door, your workplace, or wherever they find you and snatch you right back to jail.
Who benefits from this? Private corporations. According to a report released last month by the Center for Media Justice, four large corporations — including the GEO Group, one of the largest private prison companies — have most of the private contracts to provide electronic monitoring for people on parole in some 30 states, giving them a combined annual revenue of more than $200 million just for e-monitoring. Companies that earned millions on contracts to run or serve prisons have, in an era of prison restructuring, begun to shift their business model to add electronic surveillance and monitoring of the same population. Even if old-fashioned prisons fade away, the profit margins of these companies will widen so long as growing numbers of people find themselves subject to perpetual criminalization, surveillance, monitoring and control.
Who loses? Nearly everyone. A recent analysis by a Brookings Institution fellow found that “efforts to reduce recidivism through intensive supervision are not working.” Reducing the requirements and burdens of community supervision, so that people can more easily hold jobs, care for children and escape the stigma of criminality “would be a good first step toward breaking the vicious incarceration cycle,” the report said.
Many reformers rightly point out that an ankle bracelet is preferable to a prison cell. Yet I find it difficult to call this progress. As I see it, digital prisons are to mass incarceration what Jim Crow was to slavery.
Some insist that e-carceration is “a step in the right direction.” But where are we going with this? A growing number of scholars and activists predict that “e-gentrification” is where we’re headed as entire communities become trapped in digital prisons that keep them locked out of neighborhoods where jobs and opportunity can be found. If that scenario sounds far-fetched, keep in mind that mass incarceration itself was unimaginable just 40 years ago and that it was born partly out of well-intentioned reforms — chief among them mandatory sentencing laws that liberal proponents predicted would reduce racial disparities in sentencing. While those laws may have looked good on paper, they were passed within a political climate that was overwhelmingly hostile and punitive toward poor people and people of color, resulting in a prison-building boom, an increase in racial and class disparities in sentencing, and a quintupling of the incarcerated population.
Fortunately, a growing number of advocates are organizing to ensure that important reforms, such as ending cash bail, are not replaced with systems that view poor people and people of color as little more than commodities to be bought, sold, evaluated and managed for profit. In July, more than 100 civil rights, faith, labor, legal and data science groups released a shared statement of concerns regarding the use of pretrial risk assessment instruments; numerous bail reform groups, such as Chicago Community Bond Fund, actively oppose the expansion of e-carceration.
If our goal is not a better system of mass criminalization, but instead the creation of safe, caring, thriving communities, then we ought to be heavily investing in quality schools, job creation, drug treatment and mental health care in the least advantaged communities rather than pouring billions into their high-tech management and control.
Fifty years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. warned that “when machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.” We failed to heed his warning back then. Will we make a different choice today?
Another excellent article about our futile, absurd, war on drugs. Prosecutors are the most powerful people in the system.
This extensive survey reveals that we have far too many knuckleheads working as prosecutors! Read The Whole Story for vivid, named, examples!
Excerpts from the Article:
Public opinion is souring on the criminalization of drug use. But what prevents this from translating into practice?
While politicians makes laws and police officers can arrest whoever they find in possession of drugs, it’s prosecutors who turn arrests into criminal charges. Prosecutors have the final say in who to charge with a crime, which charge to use, and what punishment will be sought. In short, they’re in a position to inflict great harm.
Filter’s Nationwide Investigation
There are over 2,000 elected local head prosecutors, most commonly known as district attorneys, in the United States. And overall, these powerful individuals do not care what people think about the War on Drugs. They are going to fight it anyway, and hope that the voting public doesn’t notice.
That is the conclusion of an exclusive investigation from Filter, which surveyed the top prosecutors of the nation’s 50 most populous counties. (We included incumbents, outgoing incumbents, incoming DAs and challengers, making 61 individuals in total.) The full results (which have been updated to reflect the results of the November 6 elections*) are presented in map, chart and table forms here.
After collecting public statements and reviewing cases, we emailed each prosecutor a short questionnaire about their positions on four key issues: marijuana legalization, drug-induced homicide prosecutions, mandatory minimum sentences for drugs, and the criminalization of relapse.
Around half of their offices never responded, even after a round of reminders. We telephoned 10 offices, which listed no email address for a media representative on their government websites. One of them—that of Wake County, NC District Attorney Lorrin Freeman—hung up immediately on hearing the word “reporter.”
Many of the prosecutors surveyed have stated publicly that we must treat drug use as a “public health issue,” rather than a criminal justice one. But our findings show that the vast majority nonetheless support or implement practices that drive criminalization, inequality and large-scale human suffering.
Most Prosecutors Still Radically Oppose Marijuana Legalization. …A large number of America’s top prosecutors still fearmonger over marijuana, despite the fact that most Americans (Republicans included) favor legalization. Overall, 41 of 61 (67 percent) of the prosecutors we surveyed have failed to support or are opposed to legalization or decriminalization. Five (8 percent) support decriminalization, and 12 (20 percent) have instituted or cooperated with a county cite-and-release program, whereby people get a court summons but are not arrested.
Only a single incumbent prosecutor, Cy Vance of Manhattan, publicly supports legalization, as he says, “once and for all”—despite being harshly punitive to poor people of color, including setting prohibitively high bail fees for people arrested on misdemeanor charges. (Hennepin County, Minnesota challenger Mark Haase also supports legalization).
“After I received a felony conviction for possession of marijuana, it led to being involved in more criminal activity out of survival. I was denied housing, jobs, and the opportunity to go to college.”
While decriminalization programs are vastly preferable to no change, police officers can—and do—ignore policy mandates from DAs. In a county where marijuana is technically “decriminalized,” DA offices, too, can effectively ignore that by applying other charges, like disorderly conduct, to people found in possession, as happens in Brooklyn. After Harris County, Texas, DA Kim Ogg launched her office’s decriminalization program, for example, cops outside of Houston ignored it. Many people who support marijuana legalization do so out of concerns over racial equity. And even when decriminalization is followed faithfully, racial injustice can still run rampant. Dianna Houenou, policy counsel at the ACLU of New Jersey, told Filter that “simply replacing criminal sanctions with civil fines [as happens under decriminalization] is yet another tool that keeps people in poverty,” and can even lead to arrests for nonpayment. It is also “foreseeable that these arrests will continue to disproportionately impact poor people and people of color.”
Decriminalization additionally fails to mitigate a history of racist enforcement, whereas appropriately tailored legalization efforts can mitigate damage through employment opportunities. (That’s not to say legalization efforts thus far have necessarily succeeded.)
Police have also used the illegality of marijuana to justify violence. After Philando Castile, a Black man, was shot and killed by an officer in Ramsey County, Minnesota in 2016, the officer claimed that a marijuana smell from Castile’s car justified it. A jury acquitted him of manslaughter.
Even where small amounts of marijuana are decriminalized, prosecutors can still charge people with felonies for selling or for having certain quantities. “After I received a felony conviction for possession of marijuana, it led to being involved in more criminal activity out of survival,” Tonja Honsey, a formerly incarcerated community organizer in Minnesota, told Filter. “I was denied housing, jobs, and the opportunity to go to college. The only option I saw was to start to sell drugs to provide for my family.”
“Drug-induced homicide” laws allow prosecutors to charge people who provided drugs involved in an overdose death with homicide. Many of these laws were first passed as a response to basketball star Len Bias’s overdose death in 1986. But the charge became a common part of the prosecutor’s repertoire only recently—contemporaneous with courts like the Mississippi Supreme Court and the Virginia Court of Appeals seriously curtailing its potential use. The uptick in these prosecutions has had no effect on the frequency of overdose deaths. The people on the receiving end are often friends and family members of the deceased, and these prosecutions can deter people from calling 911. Eighteen (30 percent) of our 61 prosecutors have used the charge for members of public at least once, while six of 61 (10 percent) are explicitly open to doing so in the future. An additional two prosecutors have used the charge specifically for doctors involved in a patient’s fatal overdose.
Drug-induced homicide prosecutions are most prevalent in the Midwest and Northeast, where the current overdose crisis is hitting the hardest. In Columbus, Ohio, Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien has said: “If we can prove it, we are going to charge you with manslaughter.” In New York, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas, who has a self-styled “heroin war room,” pushed for a bill to permit prosecutors there to follow suit.
Getting rid of mandatory minimum sentencing, especially for drug-law violations, has strong bipartisan support. That’s because mandatory minimums impede individualized consideration of fair sentencing based on the facts of the case and defendants’ characteristics. Historically, prosecutors have used mandatory minimums to obtain disproportionately punitive sentences.
In the name of “consistency,” these sentencing provisions take power from judges and siphon it to prosecutors, who already have power over how to charge cases. Prosecutors often use the threat of a high mandatory minimum to coerce defendants to plead guilty to lesser charges, rather than risk fighting a charge with a potentially terrifying sentence attached.
However, as our survey reflects, several prosecutors have spoken out against these laws. For example, DA Marian Ryan of Middlesex, Massachusetts, claimed while facing a competitive primary in September that her advocacy “played a part in the change in mandatory minimums for a number of drug offenses.” (Ryan won the primary and is uncontested in the November election).
The top prosecutors in Salt Lake City, Utah, San Jose, California, and other large cities also issued a joint statement denouncing Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ demands for increased use of drug mandatory minimums. Kevin Ring, president of Families Against Mandatory Minimums, told Filter: “We’re encouraged that more local prosecutors are questioning the effectiveness of mandatory minimums, especially in drug cases.” But other prosecutors have lobbied state legislatures for more mandatory sentencing laws. “These are naked power grabs cloaked in the language of public safety,” said Ring.
Prosecutors Swim Against the Science on Addiction. DA Stephen A. Zappala, Jr. of Allegheny County (Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, continues to prosecute marijuana cases, fights to bring drug mandatory minimums back to his state, and charges fatal overdoses as homicides. But unlike many DAs surveyed, Zappala admits that the criminal justice system field “is not well equipped to handle” drug addiction.
Most prosecutors see drug courts—programs that seek to reduce drug use through mandated treatment and close judicial oversight—as the solution. Fifty-five of our 61 prosecutors (90 percent) support and/or employ drug courts. Prosecutor Jessica Cooper of Oakland County, Michigan, received criticism for shuttering a drug court in 2009—stating that she needed to save her “severely diminished financial and personnel resources to deal with the surge in violent crime and the surge in technically complex cases”—but even her county currently has a drug court. In San Diego County, DA Summer Stephan’s office told Filter that “relapse is often a part of the process and does not result in being dismissed” from her office’s drug use program. In general, however, as drug users relapse, they face a range of sanctions, including imprisonment.
Diversion programs are employed by four of our 61 prosecutors (7 percent). The best known of them, the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program, pioneered in part by Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg of King County (Seattle), Washington, goes a step further than most drug courts. It is a pre-booking program, which means that people who qualify are diverted before they are arrested or charged with a crime. But it struggles with its claimed public health goal. Eligibility requirements, like a lack of serious criminal history and a three-gram limit on drugs possessed, contravene the science of addiction. LEAD can also ensnare more people in the criminal justice system if officers are fishing for people who fit an “addict” profile.
Some major urban county district attorneys have acknowledged that the War on Drugs is a failure. A number have made changes toward curtailing the practices associated with it, but old habits are hard to kick. Most DAs in our survey who have instituted reforms are prosecutors elected in the last few years. Former civil rights attorney Larry Krasner, elected as Philadelphia DA last November, has been working to end mass incarceration from the inside.
The traditional way of discussing the job is that the “law is the law”—or, as Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg’s office wrote in declining our questionnaire, DAs are “constitutionally and ethically required to enforce the laws” as written. Yet anyone who has compared counties by criminal justice outcomes, even when adjusting for crime rates, knows that the reality of enforcement is much more complex—in a world of limited resources, prosecutorial discretion is key.
Interest in DA elections exploded after the Black Lives Matter movement brought national attention to holding law enforcement accountable. Now, the ACLU is spreading awareness through its Smart Justice campaign, while Color of Change PAC, Real Justice PAC, the former Vermont Governor Howard Dean-founded Democracy for America, and philanthropist George Soros offer organizing and financial support for reform. Famous R&B singer John Legend, contemporary street artist Shepard Fairey, and other celebrities have also weighed in on district attorney races.
After Wesley Bell, a Black city councilman in Ferguson, Missouri, defeated Bob McCulloch in the 2018 St. Louis County district attorney race, Jennifer Soble from the Justice Collaborative Engagement Project said: “Our jail population is out of control. Locally elected county prosecutors have the greatest capacity to change that instantly, more than any other actor in the system.”
Prosecutors should be able to usher in important changes to the criminal “justice” system. If they refuse to, as still seems likely in most cases, they will remain some of the most significant roadblocks to a more humane drug-policy future.
The Whole Story:
Most Americans do not realize that many prisons are built atop of toxic waste dumps or landfills. Here in Delaware, D O C staff is advised to bring in bottled water. Most inmates, of course, cannot afford bottled water.
My friend Steve Hampton is acquiring information needed for a class action lawsuit.
Excerpts from the Article:
In July 2018, former prisoners and their family members in Arkansas raised concerns about a variety of issues at a hearing with state lawmakers, included concerns about the water quality at several prisons. One ex-prisoner said the water at the East Arkansas Unit was not even “fit to take a shower in.”
Water quality problems should always be a red flag when a prison’s water system is operating far beyond its capacity. But the Arkansas Department of Corrections preferred to dodge a thorough investigation rather than address a possible crisis.
Prisoners had been complaining of brown, dirty water at four state prisons, the Tucker, East Arkansas, Cummins and North Central Units and their nearby satellite camps, which use a common water system. Collectively the facilities house around half the state’s almost 18,000 prisoners.
According to news reports, the Tucker Unit, which captured headlines in November 2017 when several prisoners took two guards hostage, has a daily maximum demand of more than 890,000 gallons of water – far above the system’s capacity of 590,000 gallons per day.
Water quality experts said the discoloration was likely due to high levels of iron and manganese, according to reports they reviewed from the Arkansas Department of Health.
Following a public records request by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the Health Department released inspection reports that confirmed high levels of iron in the raw well water at the East Arkansas Unit, and iron and manganese at the Tucker Unit. The levels at the Cummins and North Central Units did not raise concerns.
The reports were based on water samples taken in May and June 2018, finding iron levels at the Tucker water treatment plant as high as 2.25 milligrams per liter, well over the federally-established limit of 0.3 milligrams per liter. Measurements of manganese ranged from 0.02 to 0.04 milligrams per liter, above the 0.01 milligram federal limit.
The limits for iron and manganese set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are part of “secondary maximum contaminant levels,” which are not enforceable by the EPA. The agency says on its website that violations of secondary standards may cause people to stop drinking the water due to smell or taste, “even though the water [is] actually safe to drink.” Prisoners, of course, have to use the water available to them.
Along with high levels of iron and manganese in the Tucker Unit’s water system, inspectors noted “sand in the raw well water.”
However, one researcher who analyzed the Health Department’s inspections raised concerns that the reports were not an accurate assessment of prison water quality problems because few of the samples came from the taps that prisoners use, where old and corroded pipes may result in significantly higher levels of contamination.
“We are unable to say anything about the quality of the water that is consumed by the prisoners since the data sheets do not indicate that any samples were collected at the taps accessed by prisoners,” noted Wendy Heiger-Bernays, a researcher at Boston University who reviewed the water quality reports.
The North Central Unit, located near Calico Rock, Arkansas, was the only facility where water samples were identified as coming from taps in prisoner housing units.
The Arkansas Department of Corrections is reportedly working on a $500,000 project to add a water filtration system at the Tucker Unit.
I have several articles on this point on my website. Watch this video!
Delaware prisons boss says system is protecting public, rehabilitating inmates – Balderdash! – With My Email to Reporters – kra
Reading such nonsense is enough to make one puke. I sent this to my list of about 300 reporters:
Hi there, 11/10/18
I just read a front page story where Commissioner Phelps says that Delaware D O C is operating just fine. Hogwash! As a Delaware reporter, you are being played for a fool. So are reporters nationwide! Phelps was the Warden when I was there, and he was a big part of the problem! You think he is suddenly going to do a 180 and tell you the truth?! I heard them say a thousand times: “we stick together”!
YOU should read: Culture of Cover Up – Prison Abuse = http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/culture-cover-prison-abuse/
The story about understaffing is also nonsense. Overtime pay is used to reward the guards who commit crimes and those who do not report them to authorities or to the press. New recruits quit in droves when they see all of the crime, other wrongdoing, and cover-up committed by C Os. Not only have I seen all of this, but two guards with whom I am in touch regularly tell me so.
Put a reporter in there undercover, and see for yourselves. Anywhere in Delaware D O C, for 4 to 6 weeks, and YOU will see. Take a trip to SCI, the hotbed for cruelty toward inmates. Be fooled no more.
Ken Abraham, Founder, Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, (CCJ), former Deputy Attorney General, Dover, DE , 302-423-4067
Excerpts from the Article:On the morning Perry Phelps was sworn in as commissioner of Delaware’s prisons, the state Department of Correction experienced what many describe as the worst day in its history. Now, more than a year and a half after the 18-hour prison riot that ended in the death of a correctional officer, the state prison system remains so woefully understaffed that 330 inmates will be shipped to neighboring Pennsylvania facilities.
Also, drones flying over the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna possibly dropped contraband inside prison walls, triggering lockdowns.
And a lawsuit has been filed against the DOC alleging abuse and torture at the hands of correctional officers with the approval of state officials.
Through all that, Phelps said the Delaware prison system is completing its mission to protect public safety and rehabilitate offenders.
“But we don’t want to push it to the limit where that becomes in jeopardy,” Phelps said outside the courtroom Friday where three inmates are standing trial on murder and riot charges as part of the Feb. 1, 2017, uprising.
He said post-traumatic stress from the riot has prompted many retirements and continues to be a problem for prison staff, one that the prison system is trying to address through better pay and recruitment efforts. Phelps, along with members of the DOC’s upper echelon, have attended much of the trial at the New Castle County Courthouse, where the jury and the public have been offered a better glimpse into the 18-hour siege.
Lt. Steven Floyd was killed during the riot while two others were badly beaten, and a counselor was held captive for the entirety of the siege.
Problems continue to the plague the DOC. Phelps, a long-serving employee of the Delaware Department of Correction, said he and his team are actively working to address them.
Though the transfer of 330 inmates to Pennsylvania correctional facilities isn’t ideal for the state, Phelps said it is one way Delaware is able to combat its largely understaffed prisons.
The state announced the transfer from the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center this week – which will cost $40,000 per day – which Phelps hopes will put a severe dent in the large overtime costs.
Between retirements and recruiting difficulties, the DOC is forced to rely on overtime to adequately staff the prison, which has been cited by correctional officers and inmates as one of the causes of the uprising. When the prisons aren’t fully staffed, programming for inmates and visitations are often the first items to be suspended.
“We have a lot of folks who are dealing with some challenges” in the wake of the riot, Phelps said. “And double shifts and forced overtime, that doesn’t help, and it doesn’t help the safety and security of the facility.”
With increased recruiting efforts – which include sending two recruiting officers to other states in search of correctional officers – Phelps hopes the two-year contract (with three one-year extension options) will give the DOC the time it needs to prepare for the return of these inmates.
Prisons have long been criticized for moving inmates to locations that make it difficult for them to see family and friends. The transfer announcement has prompted this same concern locally.
There were no working cameras inside Building C when the siege took place, which meant what happened inside the prison wasn’t captured on surveillance footage.
Stephen Hampton, a Dover attorney, filed a class-action lawsuit last week on behalf of the men house inside Building C during the takeover. The suit argues that inmates were beaten and tortured both by law enforcement during the recovery of Building C and in the weeks and months after the riot.
In the lawsuit, inmates describe ongoing assaults, shakedowns and harassment at the hands of correctional officers. Many say conditions have only worsened since the riot.
“They’ve been beaten and tortured and mistreated horribly since then,” Hampton said. Recently, reports of these assaults have worsened, according to Hampton.
“It’s unfortunate because correctional officers would like better working conditions and would like to be treated well, but in the same way that inmates acting out isn’t going to get them what they want, correctional officers acting out isn’t going to get them what they want either,” the lawyer said.
“If they want a reasonable place to work, they can’t go around beating these guys and mistreating them.”
A 49-year-old inmate, Luis Cabrera, died Thursday morning at Young Correctional Institution in Wilmington. Cabrera was housed in Building C during the uprising and was considered a potential witness to the riot.
Prison officials did not say how he died, other than that it occurred in the infirmary and that no foul play was suspected.