Free all non-violent criminals jailed on minor drug offences, say experts – End our Ludicrous “War on Drugs” – kra
This article was sent to me by our friend, Lynn, who knows that I have been saying this for years!
Excerpts from the Article:
Non-violent offenders serving time for drug use or possession should be freed immediately and their convictions erased, according to research published in the peer-reviewed The American Journal of Bioethics.
More than 60 international experts including bioethicists, psychologists and drug experts have joined forces to call for an end to the war on drugs which they argue feeds racism.
All drugs currently deemed illicit – even crack cocaine and heroin – should be decriminalized as a matter of urgency, according to this new alliance. Legalisation and regulation should then follow with restrictions on age, advertising and licensing, they say.
They have analysed evidence from over 150 studies and reports, concluding that prohibition unfairly affects Black people, damages communities, and violates the right to life as illustrated by the killing of medical worker Breonna Taylor in March 2020.
“The ‘war on drugs’ has explicitly racist roots and continues to disproportionately target certain communities of color,” say lead study authors Brian D. Earp from the University of Oxford and Jonathan Lewis from Dublin City University.
“Drug prohibition and criminalization have been costly and ineffective since their inception. It’s time for these failed policies to end.
“The first step is to decriminalize the personal use and possession of small amounts of all drugs currently deemed to be illicit, and to legalize and regulate cannabis. Policymakers should pursue these changes without further delay.”
Their research adds to growing calls for drug policy reform at a time of renewed focus on injustices faced by Black people, and cannabis legalisation for recreational use by a growing list of US states.
The study is based on evidence from existing research into how drug prohibition affects users, communities and human rights, and the impact of decriminalisation by governments.
The authors found that prohibition motivates individuals to commit offences such as burglaries to fund their habit. This lowers life expectancy because people end up in prison, and triggers a ‘multitude’ of health-related costs from unsafe drug use.
Communities are damaged by illicit markets which undermine drug purity, with Black and Hispanic men more likely to end up in the criminal justice system. The war on drugs makes people more vulnerable to violations of their rights including what they choose to put in their bodies.
In contrast, the study highlights the liberal approach of countries such as Portugal where drug-related deaths have fallen and where users are encouraged to seek treatment.
An estimated £43.5bn ($58bn) could be generated in federal, state and local tax revenues through the legalization of drugs, according to the findings. This compares with an annual federal, state and local spend of more than £35bn ($47bn) on prohibition.
The authors stress that non-violent prisoners found with a small amount of illegal substances should be released.
BULLSHIT! The shooter should have been charged, and let a jury decide. That is WHY God created juries! Expect more protests and more calls for justice … rightly so!
Excerpts from the Article:
The top prosecutor in Kenosha, Wis., declined to bring charges against the police officer who shot and gravely wounded Jacob Blake outside an apartment building in August, an episode that sparked protests and rioting and made the city an instant flash point in a summer of unrest that began with the killing of George Floyd.
The decision not to file charges against the officer, Rusten Sheskey, was announced on Tuesday afternoon by Michael Graveley, the Kenosha County district attorney. He said that investigators had reviewed 40 hours of video and hundreds of pages of police reports before making the decision.
The prosecutor said a case against the officer would have been very hard to prove, in part because it would be difficult to overcome an argument that the officer was protecting himself. He said Mr. Blake had admitted to holding a knife — even describing switching it from one hand to another as he moved to open a car door — and that statements from officers and other witnesses indicated that Mr. Blake had turned toward an officer with the knife immediately before he was shot.
The case involved a white officer shooting a Black man, circumstances which the prosecutor said made it especially difficult. “I feel in many ways completely inadequate for this moment,” said Mr. Graveley, who is white. “I have never in my life had a moment where I had to contend with explicit or implicit bias based on my race.”
Michael Graveley, the Kenosha County district attorney, said on Tuesday that his office would not bring charges against Rusten Sheskey, the police officer who shot Jacob Blake outside an apartment building in August.
Mr. Blake’s family expressed anguish at the decision not to charge the officer, saying that video from the scene made it clear that Officer Sheskey had acannounced. “This is bigger, greater than little Jake. This is about all the little Jakes. That’s why the people keep coming out and supporting us. You know why? Because it could have been them.” “It’s a gut-wrenching experience,” Justin Blake, Mr. Blake’s uncle, said.
The case came during a year of protests over police shootings of Black people in cities across the country. It drew the attention of President Trump, who voiced support for a white teenager, Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot three protesters on the streets of Kenosha, two of them fatally, as part of an armed group that sought to confront protesters.
Even before revealing his decision to forgo charges against the officer, Mr. Graveley pleaded with the community — and the country — to keep the peace.
“Rather than burning things down, can moments of tragedy like this be an opportunity to build things?” he asked.
Mr. Graveley said that shortly before announcing his decision he spoke by phone to Mr. Blake, who was hospitalized for weeks after the shooting. Mr. Blake was partially paralyzed; his family said he would probably never walk again.
Advocates for Mr. Blake, who is 29, have been holding regular demonstrations in Kenosha, and had called upon Mr. Graveley to file charges against the officer.
“This decision does nothing but shore up that message that Black people are not safe in the United States of America in 2021,” Corey Prince, chair of the criminal justice committee of the N.A.A.C.P. in neighboring Racine, said Tuesday. “They continue to devalue Black lives, Black humanity, Black freedom, even when we’re with our kids.”
Dominique Pritchett, a community activist and mental wellness clinician in Kenosha, said the news was difficult to hear. “It’s re-traumatizing,” she said. “It regurgitates every unjustified Black death and shooting that has happened in history.”
B’Ivory LaMarr, a lawyer representing Mr. Blake’s family, said they would probably sue. “We will be looking at bringing a civil action in the near future to seek justice for Jacob,” he said.
Officer Sheskey’s lawyer, Brendan P. Matthews, said that the officers who responded to the call about Mr. Blake “did an outstanding job under challenging circumstances.”
“At the end of the day, Officer Sheskey was presented with a difficult and dangerous situation and he acted appropriately and in accordance with his training,” Mr. Matthews said in a statement. “The video remains difficult to view but that does not change what actually occurred.”
The Kenosha police union on Tuesday called the decision vindication for the officers. Officer Sheskey, who has been employed by the Kenosha Police Department for seven years, was placed on administrative leave after the shooting.
The case incited emotions in large part because of the gruesome scene captured by a cellphone video: A Black man being shot in the back multiple times as he moved away from the officer. Even those arguing that the officers acted appropriately conceded that law enforcement needed to figure out how to reach better outcomes in such situations.
Noble Wray, the former police chief of Madison, Wis., who analyzed the shooting for the district attorney’s office, said that he, too, was initially pained by the video. “I would totally concur with how this came across,” he said after a reporter from a German news outlet said that many Europeans saw the video as an example of police abuse. “I felt that way. But the flip side of that, is that it is not necessarily true that in a use-of-force situation, that it would only take one shot to stop a threat.”
In a statement following Mr. Graveley’s announcement, Gov. Tony Evers said that the state and the country had failed to deliver on promises of justice, equity and peace for Black people. “Today’s decision is further evidence that our work is not done — we must work each day in earnest toward a more just, more fair, and more equitable state and country, and to combat the racism experienced by Black Wisconsinites,” he said.
But he stopped short of criticizing the district attorney, instead blasting lawmakers for failing to provide “meaningful, common-sense reform to enhance accountability and promote transparency in policing in our state.”
The community simmered with tension before the announcement, as residents and officials anxiously sought to prevent the unrest that unfolded after the shooting last summer. On Tuesday evening, a crowd of a few dozen people marched through the streets, shouting through megaphones and bundled in heavy coats as the temperature dropped below freezing.
Many businesses in Kenosha were boarded up Tuesday in anticipation of the charging decision, and some streets were closed. National Guard members stood near the Kenosha County Courthouse, which was surrounded by an iron fence. At a Subway sandwich shop two blocks from the courthouse, fresh plywood was installed Tuesday, as it had been during the summer unrest. “If the decision goes in the cop’s favor, we’re thinking it’s going to turn how it was before,” an employee, Tyler Blazek, said.
The City Council unanimously passed an emergency declaration Monday that would allow the mayor to implement a curfew once the charging decision was made public. The sheriff for Kenosha County also declared a state of emergency that he said would allow him to change the schedules of his deputies.
The shooting, on Aug. 23, unfolded after three officers arrived at an apartment complex in Kenosha in response to a domestic complaint.
As the officers attempted to take Mr. Blake into custody, he walked along the passenger side of a four-door S.U.V., away from the officers, as three of his children waited in the back seat of the vehicle. The officers used a Taser in an effort to subdue Mr. Blake. Officer Sheskey then grabbed Mr. Blake’s shirt and fired his gun several times into Mr. Blake’s back.
Two other officers were pointing their guns at Mr. Blake during the incident.
For several days in August, protests and destruction erupted on the streets of Kenosha, as rioters burned buildings, cars and garbage trucks, smashed streetlamps and spray-painted graffiti on schools and businesses. Hundreds of National Guardsmen were summoned to the city in an attempt to restore order, using tear gas and rubber bullets to subdue protesters.
Two days after the shooting of Mr. Blake, Mr. Rittenhouse, who was then 17, shot and killed two men on a downtown street in what his lawyer has described as an act of self-defense. He was charged with six criminal counts, including first-degree intentional homicide.
On Tuesday, Mr. Rittenhouse, now 18, pleaded not guilty to the charges during a brief arraignment that was done via videoconference. His case is scheduled to proceed in March.
Outside the courthouse on Tuesday afternoon, two protesters said they were there to support Mr. Rittenhouse.
“Self -defense is not a crime,” said Tim Conrad, 34, who drove 90 minutes from Joliet, Ill., to be in Kenosha.
His friend, Emily Cahill, 32, from Plainfield, Ill., carried a poster that read “IGY6 Kyle” meaning “I got your back, Kyle,” she said.
The state Department of Justice and its Division of Criminal Investigation led the investigation into the shooting of Mr. Blake. The Justice Department has opened a separate civil rights investigation into the case.
At the time of the shooting, Mr. Blake was facing charges stemming from a July incident. On Nov. 6, prosecutors in Kenosha County Circuit Court dropped one count of third-degree sexual assault and agreed to drop one count of criminal trespass if Mr. Blake pleaded guilty to two counts of disorderly conduct, according to court records and Mr. Blake’s lawyer, Patrick Cafferty.
Mr. Blake pleaded guilty to the two disorderly conduct charges and was sentenced to two years of probation.
The Walworth County district attorney, Zeke Wiedenfeld, who had prosecuted the case, said the sexual assault charge had been dropped in part because the woman who had accused Mr. Blake declined to cooperate with the prosecutors. Mr. Blake had maintained that he did not commit sexual assault.
D.C. National Guard will be activated as mobs breach U.S. Capitol; one person shot inside; D.C. mayor imposes curfew
This is what “government” looks like with tRump in charge. Thank God he is heading for prison.
Excerpts from the Article:
Thousands of President Trump’s supporters are in Washington for rallies Wednesday to falsely assert that the presidential election was stolen from him. The demonstrations turned violent as many in attendance saw them as a last stand for Trump on the same day that Congress votes to certify that President-elect Joe Biden won the election.
Trump — who lost the popular and electoral college vote — continues to dispute the results, without evidence, and has encouraged his supporters to attend the rallies. He took the stage about noon to roaring crowds, claiming he had won the election.
Later at the U.S. Capitol, throngs of people pushed past police who were trying to block them from entering the building as lawmakers inside debated the certification of the presidential election. A mob was able to breach security and successfully enter the building.
The latest developments:
The Senate stopped its proceedings with Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) interrupted by an aide who said protesters were in the building. The House doors also were closed. In a notification, U.S. Capitol Police said no entry or exit is permitted in the buildings within the Capitol Complex. “Stay away from exterior windows, doors. If outside, seek cover,” police said.
A person was shot inside the U.S. Capitol after the mob breached the building, according to two people with knowledge of the incident. The circumstances were not immediately clear. One of those people said the person shot was receiving emergency care.
The entire D.C. National Guard will be activated within hours. The rapid expansion of military involvement came after D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser requested that guardsmen already on duty be sent to the Capitol, said a defense official and a District official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Bowser (D) imposed a citywide curfew as a chaotic scene worsened at the U.S. Capitol building. From 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday, Bowser said no one other than essential personnel would be allowed outdoors in the city.
President Trump, who repeatedly urged his supporters gathered on the Ellipse earlier Wednesday to march to the U.S. Capitol to demand that Congress overturn the election, tweeted a call to “stay peaceful” as some of those supporters broke into the Capitol building.
U.S. Capitol Police were unable to hold back the mob outside the building, some of whom pushed their way inside. With the House and Senate on lockdown inside the building, Trump asked for “support” for the police force trying to maintain order.
Cuccinelli called on people breaching the Capitol grounds to disperse.
“There is a proper venue to resolve grievances,” he wrote. “This is not it.”
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted that the National Guard and federal forces were on their way to the Capitol.
“We reiterate President Trump’s call against violence and to remain peaceful,” she wrote.
The right guy for the job, not a Bozo like Barr! He will enforce our laws fairly, and protect civil rights.
Excerpts from the Article:
President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Merrick B. Garland, a Democratic casualty of the bitter partisan divide in Washington over court nominees, to become the next attorney general, according to people familiar with the decision.
Garland, 68, serves as a judge on the federal appeals court in the District. He is best known for being nominated to the Supreme Court in 2016 by President Barack Obama — a nomination that went nowhere because Senate Republicans refused to give him a hearing. The opening on the high court was eventually filled the following year by President Trump’s choice, Neil M. Gorsuch.
Biden’s transition team did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The intended nomination was first reported Wednesday by Politico.
Many Democrats still think of Garland as a living example of Republican double-standards when it comes to the courts and the law, though some Biden advisers have come to view him as well-suited to restore norms of nonpolitical decision-making at the Justice Department, given his track record as a judge and a former senior official at the department, according to people familiar with the decision.
To some in Biden’s circle, Garland seems like the best choice to restore the Justice Department’s credibility, which eroded under Trump. He enjoys a reputation as a unifying, moderating force on the appeals court, and some Democratic advisers said they view his selection as a signal to congressional Republicans that the department will operate in an evenhanded fashion in the Biden administration.
Karen L. Dunn, a former prosecutor who once clerked for Garland, called him “the perfect choice for this job. He will restore independence and integrity to the Justice Department, be the people’s lawyer, not the president’s lawyer, and will come in with the respect of the career public servant who advance the cause of justice every day.”
But some defense lawyers and criminal-justice-reform advocates have said they worry Garland’s record on the bench shows he is too deferential to the government and law enforcement — and perhaps would not be as aggressive about implementing the kind of dramatic changes they seek.
Biden advisers are hopeful that the slate of senior officials tapped to fill out Justice Department leadership roles around Garland will ease any such concerns from civil rights groups, according to people familiar with the discussions, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity because Biden’s selection has not been formally announced yet.
These people said Biden and his inner circle of advisers plan to nominate Lisa Monaco, a former national security official during the Obama administration, to serve as deputy attorney general, the Justice Department’s No. 2 position. Monaco, once considered by Obama as a candidate to lead the FBI, has held senior positions within the Justice Department and the bureau.
The incoming administration has picked Vanita Gupta, the former head of the department’s civil rights division under Obama, to take the No. 3 job there, these people said. Gupta is president of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and an outspoken critic of the Trump administration’s record on civil rights.
Biden also plans to nominate Kristen Clarke to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division, these people said. Clarke once worked in that division’s criminal section, handling police misconduct, brutality and hate crimes cases. She is president of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights.
Garland has called his work on the Oklahoma City case “the most important thing I have ever done in my life,” and his selection suggests that the incoming Biden administration wants someone running the Justice Department with experience in dealing with domestic terrorism.
Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general, called Garland “the definition of fair. It’s a hard task to bring back honor and integrity to the Justice Department after what Trump has done,” Katyal said. “If anyone can do it, it’s Judge Garland.”
If Garland is confirmed as attorney general, the selection would leave an opening on a key federal appeals court. Before Tuesday’s Senate elections in Georgia, some Democrats had worried Republicans might block an effort to fill the vacant seat, leading to a loss of Democratic influence on the court. But with Democrat Raphael Warnock having won his race — and Democrat Jon Ossoff holding a lead — it now seems more likely that Democrats will seize control of the Senate, making it easier for Biden to get nominees for both administration posts and the federal courts.
The Georgia races did not factor into Biden’s decision to pick Garland, according to a Biden transition official. The president-elect wanted to be sure his nominee would be seen as a lawyer serving the country’s interests and not the president’s personal interests, this person said, noting that Biden also was eager to select a person who would empower career department employees to work independently of any political influence.
Jamie Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general who worked with Garland when he was last in the Justice Department, said he will “bring his judicial temperament and judicious personality to the table.”
Garland will be confronted with a number of thorny legal and political challenges if he is confirmed, including how to handle the two-year-old investigation into the finances of the president’s son Hunter Biden, and what to do about calls from liberals and other Trump critics to investigate or prosecute Trump and his inner circle.
The next attorney general will also face a host of policy decisions made by the previous administration that will either be undone, modified or left alone. Democratic administrations have sought to shorten prison sentences for some types of drug offenses, while the department under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions moved in the opposite direction.
All of these avoidable lawsuits cost you, the taxpayer, tons of money!
Health care in America’s prisons is a joke, and especially with private prisons, an often fatal, tragic joke.
I have seen HUNDREDS of articles like this one! When will it end? When YOU speak out about it.
Excerpts from the Article:
The family of a prisoner who died at the Bi-State Jail in Texarkana has filed a federal civil rights suit alleging his death resulted from inadequate medical care.
The jail is unique in that it straddles the border of Texas and Arkansas in a city that spreads out over four counties in two states. The 164-bed facility, opened in 1985, is run by a for-profit company, LaSalle Corrections, and used by law enforcement agencies in both Texas and Arkansas.
On July 19, 2015, Michael Sabbie, 35, was arrested on suspicion of verbal assault, a Class C misdemeanor, in Texarkana, Arkansas after he had an argument with his wife during which he allegedly threatened her. He was booked into the jail.
During the intake process, Sabbie told a nurse he had heart trouble, diabetes, mental illness, a communicable disease, asthma and hypertension, and reported he had suffered from congestive heart failure. He also complained of shortness of breath and told the nurse he had pneumonia prior to his arrest.
Sabbie’s complaints about shortness of breath continued over the next two days. He was seen twice by nurses, but sent away without treatment and, at least once, without even a rudimentary check of his vital signs. Then he was returned to his cell.
Sabbie was taken to court where a bailiff noticed he was “coughing and sweating heavily around the head and face area.” He appeared before an Arkansas City District Court judge, who noticed his shortness of breath and asked if he wanted to sit. Sabbie replied that he had been spitting up blood and needed to go to a hospital. He was instead sent back to the jail.
As he and 10 other prisoners were being returned to their cells, Sabbie paused with his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. Jailer Clint Brown then threw him to the ground and five other guards piled on. During the incident, which was video-recorded, Sabbie kept repeating, “I can’t breathe.” Lt. Nathaniel Johnson arrived and pepper sprayed him.
The guards then pulled Sabbie to his feet and escorted him to a nurse, who performed a perfunctory examination before sending him away again. The whole time, the video showed Sabbie gasping for breath. A guard wrote a disciplinary report, charging Sabbie with “creating a disturbance” by “feining [sic] illness and difficulty breathing.”
The guards then took him to a shower for “decontamination.” He collapsed to the floor, but eventually got up and was taken to his cell, still complaining of being unable to breathe. He was found dead the next morning, two days after entering the jail.
Aided by attorney Erik Heipt, Sabbie’s family, including his widow and three children, filed a civil rights complaint on May 24, 2017 against Southwestern Correctional LLC, d/b/a LaSalle Corrections, and Bowie County and the City of Texarkana, Arkansas. Heipt obtained copies of the video recordings, which disproved jail officials’ attempts to make it appear they found Sabbie dead on the floor of his cell with no explanation as to how he died. The lawsuit noted 19 times he was recorded saying, “I can’t breathe.”
“The senselessness of his death has affected me deeply,” stated Sabbie’s widow, Teresa Sabbie. “It was totally preventable. It sickens me to know he needed to go to the hospital and was denied. They treated him as if his life did not matter.”
“They want to expose what happened in the hopes that this sort of thing doesn’t happen to anyone else,” Heipt said of the family’s suit.
A custodial death report listed the cause of Sabbie’s death as natural and mentioned his collapsing in the shower as “Sabbie sat down in the shower.” Jail staff likely would have gotten away with whitewashing his death had it not been for the video recordings. The district court denied a motion to dismiss filed by the defendants on November 30, 2017, and the case remains pending. See: Sabbie v. Southwestern Correctional, LLC, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Texas), Case No. 5:17-cv-00113-RWS-CMC.
“Michael Sabbie is not the first inmate to die after being written up for faking an illness,” Heipt told the Huffington Post. “And if we allow this sort of reckless disregard for human life to continue in our county jails, he won’t be the last.”
Additional sources: www.huffingtonpost.com, www.nbcnews.com, www.nytimes.com, www.cbsnews.com
- There is no “law enforcement” official, police or prison guard, who is above the law. ALL must be held accountable for their conduct.
2. There is no official so virtuous that he or she should not be criticized when they have their heads firmly in the sand regarding serious problematic crimes – police abuse and prison abuse, any official misconduct!
3. There is no politician so powerful that you cannot call him or her on it when they LIE.
4. There is no person in the criminal justice system, in any court system (i.e. Family Court) who should not be reminded, when necessary, that their job is to do JUSTICE, to be FAIR.
5. There is no politician who from time to time should not be reminded that THEY work for YOU.
6. There is no prosecutor (United States Attorney, U S Department of Justice – for your district or state. Attorney General, DA) who should not be bombarded with complaints from the public and requests for PROSECUTION from the public when police, prison guards, CPS investigators, politicians, or other officials lie under oath or commit other crimes. Most such acts are federal crimes under 18 USCA Sections 241 and 242. Hold “public servants” accountable!
THERE SHOULD BE A 7th TRUTH: EVERYONE IS ENTITLED TO A GOOD LAWYER WHEN “THE SHIT HITS THE FAN”! If YOU have any question or problem with ANY prison/criminal justice situation, CALL me at 302-423-4067. NO charge to chat, and I am able to help more than 95% of folks who call me every day from all over the country.
Another Arrest, and Jail Time, Due to a Bad Facial Recognition Match A New Jersey man was accused of shoplifting and trying to hit an officer with a car. He is the third known Black man to be wrongfully arrested based on face recognition.
So much for this “science”! As we have seen with DNA and other “foolproof” methods of scientific identification, they are not foolproof.
This is all the more reason why we must fix our dysfunctional criminal justice system. See some of my other articles on how to do that! Like: How the “War on Drugs” has Destroyed Justice! – KRA
How many have been wrongly convicted for this reason? We shall never know.
Excerpts from the Article:
In February 2019, Nijeer Parks was accused of shoplifting candy and trying to hit a police officer with a car at a Hampton Inn in Woodbridge, N.J. The police had identified him using facial recognition software, even though he was 30 miles away at the time of the incident.
Mr. Parks spent 10 days in jail and paid around $5,000 to defend himself. In November 2019, the case was dismissed for lack of evidence.
Mr. Parks, 33, is now suing the police, the prosecutor and the City of Woodbridge for false arrest, false imprisonment and violation of his civil rights.
He is the third person known to be falsely arrested based on a bad facial recognition match. In all three cases, the people mistakenly identified by the technology have been Black men.
Facial recognition technology is known to have flaws. In 2019, a national study of over 100 facial recognition algorithms found that they did not work as well on Black and Asian faces. Two other Black men — Robert Williams and Michael Oliver, who both live in the Detroit area — were also arrested for crimes they did not commit based on bad facial recognition matches. Like Mr. Parks, Mr. Oliver sued over the wrongful arrest.
Nathan Freed Wessler, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who believes that the police should stop using face recognition technology, said the three cases demonstrated “how this technology disproportionately harms the Black community.”
“Multiple people have now come forward about being wrongfully arrested because of this flawed and privacy-invading surveillance technology,” Mr. Wessler said. He worries that there have been other arrests and even mistaken convictions that have not been uncovered.
Law enforcement often defends the use of facial recognition, despite its flaws, by saying it is used only as a clue in a case and will not lead directly to an arrest. But Mr. Parks’s experience is another example of an arrest based almost solely on a suggested match by the technology.
On a Saturday in January 2019, two police officers showed up at the Hampton Inn in Woodbridge after receiving a report about a man stealing snacks from the gift shop.
The alleged shoplifter — a Black man, nearly 6 feet tall, wearing a black jacket — was visiting a Hertz office in the hotel lobby, trying to get the rental agreement for a gray Dodge Challenger extended. The officers confronted him, and he apologized, according to the police report. He said he would pay for the snacks and gave the officers a Tennessee driver’s license.
When the officers checked the license, they discovered it was fraudulent. According to a police report, one of the officers spotted a “big bag of suspected marijuana” in the man’s pocket. They tried to handcuff him. That was when the man ran, losing a shoe on the way to his rental car, police said.
As he drove off, the man hit a parked police car and a column in front of the hotel, the police said. One of the officers said he had to jump out of the way to avoid being hit. The rental car was later found abandoned in a parking lot a mile away.
A detective in the Woodbridge Police Department sent the photo from the fake driver’s license to state agencies that had access to face recognition technology, according to a police report.
The next day, state investigators said they had a facial recognition match: Nijeer Parks, who lived in Paterson, N.J., 30 miles away, and worked at a grocery store. The detective compared Mr. Parks’s New Jersey state ID with the fake Tennessee driver’s license and agreed it was the same person. After a Hertz employee confirmed that the license photo was of the shoplifter, the police issued a warrant for Mr. Parks’s arrest.
“I don’t think he looks like me,” Mr. Parks said. “The only thing we have in common is the beard.”
Mr. Parks’s mistaken arrest was first reported by NJ Advance Media, which said the facial recognition app Clearview AI had been used in the case, based on a claim in Mr. Parks’s lawsuit. His lawyer, Daniel Sexton, said he had inferred that Clearview AI was used, given media reports about facial recognition in New Jersey, but now believes he was mistaken.
Clearview AI is a facial recognition tool that uses billions of photos scraped from the public web, including Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Clearview AI’s founder, Hoan Ton-That, said officers affiliated with the state agencies where information was analyzed in the case, known as fusion centers, were not using his company’s app at that time.
According to the police report, the match in this case was to a license photo, which would reside in a government database, to which Clearview AI does not have access. The law enforcement involved in making the match — the New York State Intelligence Center, New Jersey’s Regional Operations Intelligence Center and two state investigators — did not respond to inquiries about which facial recognition system was used.
In January, after a New York Times article about Clearview AI, New Jersey’s attorney general, Gurbir S. Grewal, put a moratorium on Clearview’s use by the police and announced an investigation into “this product or products like it.” A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said that New Jersey’s Division of Criminal Justice was still evaluating the use of facial recognition products in the state, and that the development of a policy governing their use was ongoing.
‘I Was Afraid’
After his arrest, Mr. Parks was held for 10 days at the Middlesex County Corrections Center. New Jersey’s no-bail system uses an algorithm that evaluates the defendant’s risk rather than money to determine whether a defendant can be released before trial.
A decade ago, Mr. Parks was arrested twice and incarcerated for selling drugs. He was released in 2016. The public safety assessment score he received, which would have taken his past convictions into account, was high enough that he was not released after his first hearing. His mother and fiancée hired an attorney, who was able to get him out of jail and into a pretrial monitoring program.
His history with the criminal justice system is what made this incident so scary, he said, because this would have been his third felony, meaning he was at risk of a long sentence. When the prosecutor offered a plea deal, he almost took it even though he was innocent.
“I sat down with my family and discussed it,” Mr. Parks said. “I was afraid to go to trial. I knew I would get 10 years if I lost.”
Mr. Parks was able to get proof from Western Union that he had been sending money at a pharmacy in Haledon, N.J., when the incident happened. At his last court hearing, he told the judge that he was willing to go to trial to defend himself. But a few months later, his case was dismissed.
Robert Hubner, the chief of the Woodbridge Police Department, declined to comment on the case because of the pending lawsuit, but said his department had not been served the complaint. The Middlesex County prosecutor’s office also declined to comment.
Mr. Parks’s lawsuit over the wrongful arrest does not yet ask for damages.
“I was locked up for no reason,” Mr. Parks said. “I’ve seen it happen to other people. I’ve seen it on the news. I just never thought it would happen to me. It was a very scary ordeal.”
We can be sure that this problem is in prisons nationwide! The “health care” in prisons is abominable, and they – prison officials – lie like hell to hide that fact.
Excerpts from the Article:
Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections is apparently doing such an effective job in its coronavirus response that it’s bringing people felled by the disease back to life. On Dec. 21, DOC’s COVID-19 Dashboard showed that the number of people incarcerated who died of the coronavirus in Pennsylvania’s state prisons was 65. The next day, that number went down to 58.
But it wasn’t a Christmas miracle. It was just the latest and most egregious example of data errors and lack of transparency by the DOC on the coronavirus behind prison walls.
On the same date that seven fatalities disappeared from the data, so did nearly 25,000 tests, 11,000 of which were positive. The number of people who recovered also went down from 10,103 to 2,584.
The unexplained change in data wasn’t the first time, nor the first discrepancy.
The dashboard for Dec. 14 showed that a person incarcerated in State Correctional Institution Forest had died of the coronavirus. However, in a press release last week, DOC announced that the first death at SCI Forest was on Dec. 22.
Philadelphia’s Amistad Law Project found multiple instances in which the reported number of positive cases went down in specific prisons, without explanation.
According to a DOC spokesperson, there was a “system glitch” on the 21st that led to an erroneous report of cases and deaths. Other tests were removed because of a deliberate change — in cases when there was both a positive rapid test and lab test for the same person, for example, the dashboard reported two positives. Since the 24th, the dashboard reports individual positive cases.
The early SCI Forest death on the dashboard was an input error.
Data errors happen. But for data to be trustworthy, changes need to be transparent. The change in how tests are counted was not explained publicly. The language on the dashboard was not updated. It is also unclear if the dashboard data before and after the change is comparable — making analysis of trends unreliable.
Tracking trends is key. From mid-March to mid-October, 11 people incarcerated died of COVID in prison. In the months since, another 51 died.
The data is particularly important because it is one of few windows into the state’s prisons. Since March, visitations were canceled, though the capacity for video calls has increased. Family members have minimal ability to assess the risk to their incarcerated loved ones.
Claire Shubik-Richards of the Pennsylvania Prison Society says that the issue with the COVID-19 dashboard is just one manifestation of an inability to track basic issues, including who is incarcerated and why.
Case in point: When Gov. Tom Wolf instituted a reprieve program in April as part of the coronavirus effort, DOC estimated that 1,200 people would be eligible. The true eligible pool was much smaller, and fewer than 200 actually received reprieve.
If the Pennsylvania DOC can’t be accurate and transparent about its data, it sheds doubt on its ability to be transparent about how it’s handling COVID-19. Behind every number is a life, and far too many are being lost in prison during this pandemic.
What a great program. It will save many lives. Every city should have it!
Excerpts from the Article:
Imagine for a moment, you just lost your job. The lack of income might soon push you into homelessness and a host of other troubles. Out of eEy overlook the real problem – and a simple solution.
In situations involving psychological or physical needs that pose no threat to public safety, the cops should not be called at all.
The Support Team Assistance Response (“STAR”) is a pilot program in Denver that directs certain 911 calls to a paramedic and a mental health professional. The two-person team has been sent to about 350 calls in the first three months of the program, which began in June 2020. While this represents a small fraction of the 911 calls that Denver typically receives, advocates point out that the STAR program allows cops to avoid many unnecessary uses of force or incarceration and also frees them up to focus on actual crime.
“It’s the future of law enforcement, taking a public health view on public safety,” said Paul Pazen, Denver’s police chief. “Instead of putting people in handcuffs we’re trying to meet their needs.”
The police department has started reviewing calls to get an idea of how much of their workload could be better handled by an expanded STAR program, though Pazen does not believe it would replace any of the cops needed on the streets.
STAR itself is an expansion of another program that has been including mental health professionals on appropriate police calls since 2016. The Mental Health Center of Denver charges around $700,000 annually for providing this service, which in 2019 included a staff of 17 professionals who were involved in over 2,200 calls.
Because the calls coming in to 911 cover a wide array of situations, having options like STAR and the co-responder programs in addition to standard police response should allow operators to more effectively meet the public’s needs.
“Once upon a time, someone called and police were tagged in to see what was going on,” said Pazen. “And I think we’re at a point where we’re realizing that police don’t have to be the first people all the time.”
Fifth Circuit: Special Conditions of Supervised Release That Barred Use of Internet, Computers, and Electronic Devices for 10 Years Not Substantively Reasonable
Another win for sanity in the fight against “sex offender Hysteria”!
Unknown to most folks, the overwhelming majority of “sex offenders” never molested anyone. They were convicted for looking at pictures, and there is NO evidence that such conduct leads to perverse action.
Excerpts from the Article:
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held that the special conditions of supervised release imposed by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas that barred Carlos Saul Becerra from using the Internet, computers, and other electronic devices for a period of 10 years were not substantively reasonable.
In 2019, Becerra pleaded guilty to two counts related to the receipt, possession, and distribution of child pornography. The PSR recommended several special conditions of supervised release, including, “[t]he defendant shall not possess and/or use computers … or other electronic communications or data storage devices [and] … shall not access the Internet.” These conditions were “recommended because of the nature and circumstances of the instant offense, to protect the public from further crimes, and to support any of the recommendations made by the therapist during Becerra’s sex offender treatment.”
The district court sentenced Becerra to 151 months’ imprisonment to be followed by 10 years of supervised release with the abovementioned special conditions. Becerra did not object to the PSR or to the imposition of the special conditions at the time of sentencing. Later, in its Statement of Reasons, the district court adopted the PSR. On appeal, Becerra challenged the procedural and the substantive reasonableness of his conditions of supervised release.
Because Becerra did not object, the Fifth Circuit reviewed the sentence for plain error. United States v. Halverson, 897 F.3d 645 (5th Cir. 2018). Plain error is established when there is (1) a legal error that has not been abandoned (2) that is clear or obvious rather than subject to reasonable dispute (3) which affected the appellant’s substantial rights, i.e., the error affected the outcome of the proceedings, and (4) seriously affected the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of judicial proceedings. Id.
Conditions of supervised release are reviewed for procedural error – such as failing to adequately explain the chosen sentence, Gall v. United States, 552 U.S. 38 (2007). If a district court fails to adequately explain its reasons for a special condition of supervised release, the reviewing court may still affirm the condition if the reason can be inferred from the record. United States v. Alvarez, 880 F.3d 236 (5th Cir. 2018).
Regarding substantive reasonableness, a district court’s discretion in imposing conditions of supervised release is not unfettered, United States v. Duke, 788 F.3d 392 (5th Cir. 2015), but is statutorily limited in two ways. First, the condition must be reasonably related to at least one of the following provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a): (i) the nature and characteristics of the offense and the defendant; (ii) the deterrence of criminal conduct; (iii) the protection of the public from further crimes of the defendant; or (iv) provision to the defendant of needed educational/vocational training, medical care, or other correctional treatment. United States v. Clark, 748 F. App’x 190 (5th Cir. 2019). Second, the condition “must be narrowly tailored such that it does not involve a greater deprivation of liberty than is reasonably necessary” to fulfill the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). Duke.
Access to computers and the Internet is essential to functioning in today’s society. Id. This essential function of computers and the Internet in society will likely only increase as time goes on. United States v. Perazza-Mercado, 553 F.3d 65 (1st Cir. 2009). Consequently, bans on Internet and computer usage for long periods of time must be narrowly tailored in terms of their scope. Duke. Absolute bans extended over 10 years are substantively unreasonable because they effectively preclude a defendant “from meaningfully participating in modern society” for long periods of time. Id. If access to Internet and computers is to be restricted for a long period of time, the scope of the restriction must be narrowed – such as permitting access when the defendant obtains the prior approval of the probation office or of the court. United States v. Miller, 665 F.3d 114 (5th Cir. 2011). Even then, the defendant cannot be required to obtain permission for each and every perfunctory use. Id.
Because the district court adopted the PSR in its Statement of Reasons and the PSR adequately explained the reasons for the special conditions, the Fifth Circuit found no procedural error. But because the district court imposed an absolute ban on Internet and computer usage for 10 years (which wasn’t to begin for another 13.5 years after Becerra served his prison term and when computers and the Internet will most likely be even more necessary), the condition was substantively unreasonable, the Court concluded.
The prior decision of Clark made the error clear. The ubiquity of the Internet and computer use meant the restriction affected Becerra’s substantial rights. And “sentencing errors” are precisely the type of “judicial errors” that affect the fairness, integrity, or public reputation of judicial proceedings. Rosales-Mireles v. United States, 138 S. Ct. 1897 (2018). Thus, the Court ruled the district court committed plain error.
Accordingly, the Court vacated the district court’s imposition of the special conditions and remanded for resentencing consistent with the Court’s opinion. See: United States v. Becerra, 977 F.3d 373 (5th Cir. 2020).