He Was Sentenced to Only Two Days in Jail, a Lawsuit Says. Three Months Later, He Killed Himself in His Cell. Robert Wayne Johnson’s wife is suing a Mississippi county, saying he was held past his release date and not provided with mental healthcare.
I see several such horror stories every fucking week! Raise a ruckus about prison abuse! It is costing you a fortune AND making us less safe!
Over detention is a major problem, because the “records department” in most prisons is as fucked up as everything else they do!
Excerpts from the Article:
Robert Wayne Johnson was allegedly sentenced to two days in a rural Mississippi jail for not paying a fine. Three months later, still in his cell, Johnson strangled himself with his shoelaces.
Now, his widow, LaToya Johnson, is suing the county, the sheriff’s office, and several correctional officers. She filed a wrongful death lawsuit in a Mississippi federal court on September 30, alleging that he was unlawfully held past his release date, not provided with mental healthcare, and not properly monitored after he became suicidal.
Robert Wayne Johnson, a father of five, was given two days in jail and 199 hours of community service as punishment for not paying money he owed to a Meridian municipal court, according to the suit. In the complaint, LaToya says he wasn’t able to pay the fine because he had lost his job and couldn’t afford it. He was jailed in Kemper Neshoba Regional Correctional Facility, under the Kemper County Sheriff’s Office.
READ: The U.S. isn’t counting prison suicides even though the law requires it.
Robert Wayne made another suicide attempt while jailed before his death, the complaint says. LaToya alleges that the jail ignored her husband’s mental health issues and other inmates’ repeated warnings that he had been tying shoelaces around his neck in the days leading up to his death on Jan. 9, 2018. In the hours before he died, he slit his wrists as well, the suit says.
The complaint says that Johnson was transferred to an unmonitored segregation cell with all of his belongings, including the shoelaces, after a “scuffle” with another inmate over Johnson being upset his fellow inmates had alerted a guard to his suicide attempt. Johnson killed himself approximately 14 minutes after being placed in isolation. The lawsuit also alleges that Johnson was unlawfully held beyond his release date, and accuses the jail of failing to properly monitor inmates’ release dates. According to the suit, when Johnson wasn’t released after two days he began to panic because he didn’t know why he was still in jail, and worried that he had been mistakenly sentenced on a felony charge.
“Not only did I lose my husband and best friend, but his children lost their father, his parents lost a son, and his siblings lost a brother. So many others lost a good friend in him,” Johnson said in a news release after the complaint was filed.
Mississippi has faced scrutiny over its record on mental healthcare. Earlier this year, a federal judge called for increased oversight of Mississippi’s treatment of people with mental illness. A 2011 Justice Department investigation also found the state was “unnecessarily institutionalizing persons with mental illness.” Sheriffs in the state have also long said that they’re overburdened with mentally ill inmates who require extensive care, according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
Mississippi, which has a high poverty rate but has not yet expanded Medicaid to increase health care services for the poor, also ranks among the states that offer worst access to mental health services, according to Mental Health Care America.
Just an article about dreams, me, jury trials, my rambling, fantasy, …. probably not of interest to most of you.
This is what I wanted to post online, but it was too long, so I did it this way.
Hi, internet friends. I had an awful nightmare, related to my prison experience. First one in a long time.
It reminded me of the first “speech” I ever gave, in public speaking class at prep school, 9th grade. I chose to talk about dreams. So I did some research and away I went! All I recall from that is that I did ok, dreams are meaningless, something about rem (rapid eye movement), dogs cannot dream in color, we remember very few of our dreams, and …. I think it is true to this day …it is, I just googled it … “The questions, “Why do we dream?” or “What is the function of dreaming?” are easy to ask but very difficult to answer. The most honest answer is that we do not yet know the function or functions of dreaming.” … but scientists think it has something to do with how our brains process the day’s experiences.
These days I only dream of marrying Tammie Caldwell. She’ll get a chuckle out of that. 🙂 lol
I have given may talks since then, but the ones I most enjoyed were to an audience of 12. Juries. Whether asking them to convict the bad guy or to acquit my client, often “the bad guy”, it was tons of fun. TONS of fun. Probably because I was doing the right thing, and probably because I was a bit of a show off when I was young. 🙁
This leads me to the old “cocktail party question”: “how can you represent a guilty person?” Easy: the system demands, requires, that everyone have a good defense attorney. And I firmly believed that … still do. “Would you represent Hitler?” I used to answer yes, when I was younger … yes, because the system blah, blah , blah. Today I would say “sheeeeit, NO! Let him get somebody else.” There was one case when I chose not to represent a guilty person. Judge Trader called to appoint me to a murder case. The defendant had raped and beat the hell out of a young lady, and then, to make sure she was dead, he ran over her head with his truck. I told Judge Trader that I was super busy and could he please call someone else on this one. He said ok. By the way, although we did not always agree, Judge Merrill Trader, the longest sitting judge in DE history, was a great judge: always fair! Wish I could say that for all of them. 🙁
You know, that 9th grade class may have been an audience of 12. None of the classes was more than 15 to 18 of us; it is one thing that made it a great school. Which reminds me now that the best thing my parents ever gave me, at great sacrifice, was a super education!
That’s my rambling for the morning. Must shower now, down some more coffee, get ready for church, and my appointment right after that.
ps: It’s a Sunday. Why not use a wee bit of your time to take some food to the homeless people in your area!? You know where they are .. under that bridge … the people you drive by regularly. 🙂
Gonna be a rough day; I am behind on some work, and a guy I spent a couple of hours with yesterday is on his way over now. He is at the shelter and is a total wreck. One of those cases where his wife made up some lies after an argument, got a pfa from F Court, and now he is out, cannot see his two young daughters, etc. Plus, he is disabled, had MH issues, has an anger problem and is an alcoholic. “Thank you, God, for preparing me to help this guy”!
See Nancy, Elijah, and Donnie play. See Donnie run. See Nancy and Elijah catch him.
See Donnie learn that he is NOT above the law! This is as it should be, and the next stop for this case no doubt is the Supreme Court.
Based on my vast, vast experience in criminal law, as a prosecutor, I would bet my life that tRump is fighting like hell on this BECAUSE his returns will reveal multiple crimes …. tax fraud, money laundering… AND we will see that when we finally DO she the sonofabitch’s returns! 🙂 I post anti Trump comments because all responsible citizens have a duty to do so! I shall give the nitwits who respond in his defense exactly the amount of my time they are worth: NONE.
Excerpts from the Article:
President Trump’s accounting firm must comply with a House committee’s demands for eight years of his financial records, a federal appeals court panel ruled on Friday in a major victory for House Democrats in their struggle against his vow to stonewall “all” of their oversight subpoenas.
In a 66-page ruling, the panel rejected Mr. Trump’s argument that Congress had no legitimate legislative authority to seek his business records from the firm, Mazars USA, because the committee was trying to determine whether he broke existing laws — not weighing whether to enact a new one.
“Having considered the weighty issues at stake in this case, we conclude that the subpoena issued by the committee to Mazars is valid and enforceable,” wrote Judge David S. Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Mr. Trump is virtually certain to appeal the ruling, either to the full Court of Appeals or to the Supreme Court. But the decision — affirming an earlier ruling by a Federal District Court judge — was the first test at the appeals court level of the Trump legal team’s sweeping challenges to the constitutional authority of Congress to conduct oversight of his activities.
Judge Tatel was joined by Judge Patricia A. Millett in the majority of the three-judge ruling. Both were appointed by Democratic presidents. Judge Neomi Rao, a former Trump administration official whom Mr. Trump appointed to the bench in March, dissented, saying she would have quashed the subpoena as exceeding the House’s legislative powers.
Representative Elijah E. Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the oversight committee, hailed the appeals court’s decision. “Today’s ruling is a fundamental and resounding victory for congressional oversight, our constitutional system of checks and balances and the rule of law,” he said in a statement. “For far too long, the president has placed his personal interests over the interests of the American people.”
Lawyers for Mr. Trump were reviewing the decision, said one, Jay Sekulow. “We continue to believe that this subpoena is not a legitimate exercise of Congress’s legislative authority,” he said. Sarah E. Sutton, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, declined to comment on the ruling.
The scope of Congress’s power to compel the production of information — and the president’s power to keep information secret — has emerged as a recurring battleground between House Democrats and Mr. Trump, whose legal team has put forth novel legal arguments in carrying out his vow to systematically defy House subpoenas.
This week, Mr. Trump’s White House counsel, Pat A. Cipollone, sent a letter to the House declaring that the administration would not cooperate with the House’s impeachment inquiry, such as by providing documents or permitting witnesses to testify.
The Trump legal team has separately argued that Mr. Trump’s current and former White House aides are absolutely immune from subpoenas for their testimony — meaning they would not even have to show up — and that Congress lacks legitimate legislative authority to scrutinize potential wrongdoing in the executive branch.
The appeals court ruling on Friday centered on that third argument, and it was in some respects already obsolete because the premise of the argument was that the House was relying only on its routine legislative and oversight authorities, rather than any extra investigative powers that lawmakers gain when engaged in an impeachment inquiry.
But since the Mazars case started going through the courts, the House Judiciary Committee and Speaker Nancy Pelosi have declared that the chamber is conducting an impeachment inquiry. The Trump administration has disputed that premise, since the full House has not voted for a resolution approving such an investigation.
Friday’s ruling did not address the question of whether an impeachment inquiry is underway — and, if so, whether that matters. The majority on the panel ruled for the House without any need to invoke its impeachment powers.
Mr. Cohen also testified before Congress that Mr. Trump routinely changed the value of his assets for different financial purposes, like inflating their value for loan applications but deflating them for taxes. (Mr. Cohen was separately convicted of lying to Congress in earlier testimony.)
In making the request for documents and then issuing the subpoena, Mr. Cummings said that Congress was trying to determine whether the president had broken laws, but he also said that lawmakers were trying to decide whether to update financial disclosure laws.
In a letter to Democrats celebrating the ruling, Ms. Pelosi wrote: “The president’s actions threaten our national security, violate our Constitution and undermine the integrity of our elections. No one is above the law. The president will be held accountable.”
Correction: Oct. 11, 2019
An earlier version of this article referred incompletely to the type of documents that a federal court ruled President Trump’s accounting firm must release to a House committee. It is eight years of financial records, not tax records alone.
The Whole Story:
From my prior dealings with Chief Mailey, and my knowledge of his operation of Dover P D, he may just be the right man for the job to solve some of the many problems with probation/parole/work release. The problem for anyone inclined to improve Delaware D O C is that other staff and administration will file false reports and lie to them, to try to conceal their many wrongdoings.
This is a MUST READ if you have not read it! Probation and Parole – a short Essay by Ken Abraham – With Letter to the Editor or Editorial Submission
Excerpts from the Article:
Delaware Department of Correction Commissioner Claire DeMatteis announced Oct. 10 the appointment of former Dover Police Chief Marvin Mailey as chief of the Bureau of Community Corrections.
The bureau oversees probation and parole, pretrial services, the community work release program, electronic monitoring and other supervision programs for more than 14,000 individuals statewide who are housed in work release and violation of probation facilities or are serving probationary sentences in the community. Mailey will replace current Bureau of Community Corrections Chief Jim Elder, who will become chief of an expanded Bureau of Healthcare, Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services on Nov. 1.
“Chief Mailey’s distinguished career reflects a strong commitment to public safety through community engagement and partnership, and he knows the balance between law enforcement and reentry services needed to lead our Bureau of Community Corrections into the future,” said DeMatteis. “As Dover Police chief he was recognized for efforts to reduce violent crime by building relationships between law enforcement, residents and community partners. At the DOC he and his team will leverage that same collaborative approach to support successful reentry and reduce our state’s recidivism rate.”
The Bureau of Community Corrections works to reduce crime and support public safety by assessing offender risks and needs and providing responsive supervision through comprehensive evidence-based reentry-focused programs that feature substance abuse treatment, mental health services, career counseling, education and training. Bureau staff collaborate on a daily basis with medical and behavioral healthcare professionals, community organizations, service providers, state agencies, employers and the Judiciary to connect men and women under their supervision to systems of support that improve their chances of leading productive lives in our communities. They also play an active role in collaborative crime reduction initiatives, including the Group Violence Intervention project in Wilmington.
“I am honored to rejoin the Department of Correction and look forward to leading an exceptional team of Probation and Parole Officers and Community Corrections professionals who work hard every day to guide justice-involved men and women on their path out of the criminal justice system and into successful, healthy and productive lives in the community,” said Mailey.
Mailey returns to the Department of Correction with more than 30 years of community-focused law enforcement experience. After serving for four years as a law enforcement specialist in the U.S. Air Force Chief Mailey served from 1989 to 1993 as a correctional officer with the Delaware Department of Correction. In 1993, he joined the Dover Police Department, with assignments in the Patrol Unit, Drugs, Vice and Organized Crime Unit and Community Policing program. He served in leadership positions as a supervisor of the Special Operations Response Team, Patrol Platoon, the Special Enforcement Unit and Unit Commander of the Internal Affairs Unit. He was appointed deputy chief in 2014 and in May, 2017 was appointed chief in a unanimous vote of Dover City Council. Mailey retired as police chief in May. Most recently, Mailey served as public safety manager for Bayhealth.
Every prosecutor and defense attorney should be aware of this. Just when we thought we had some certainty regarding some crimes in the crazy criminal justice system, we see this! As I understand it*, the circumstances where false inclusions occur will be rare, but still, given that juries now think DNA is infallible, this is important news.
*I think I get what they are saying, but my trial days preceded the advent of DNA testing. I made sure I convicted the right people the “old-fashioned” way: 1. If ever I had any doubt about a defendant’s guilt, I dropped the charges. 2. I was prepared (I realized early on that eye witness testimony is not always reliable) and 3. I was pretty darn good at cross-examining lying witnesses!
Excerpts from the Article:
A federal study from 2013 showed that manually sorting DNA mixtures is not as foolproof as previously believed. MIX13, which sent the same hypothetical cases to 108 crime labs around the U.S., tested the accuracy of traditional DNA analysis. Each of the five cases grew more complicated until the last, which involved a mixture of four individuals’ DNA collected from a ski mask at a robbery. The labs were presented with the identities of two of the likely suspects, along with a fifth person who was not involved.
Just seven labs managed to fully solve the problem; worse, more than 70 percent implicated the fifth “innocent” suspect in their findings.
John Butler of the National Institute of Standards and Technology said the purpose of MIX13 was to show the limitations of using combined probability of inclusion (“CPI”), not to expose the probability of mistakes. “This was a teaching moment to realize you can falsely include somebody with CPI.”
The few labs that correctly answered MIX13 employed rigorous techniques or advanced technology like TrueAllele, a genotyping software.
Critics charge that errors associated with CPI are more than possibilities—they have already happened. The Virginia Department of Forensic Sciences used TrueAllele to take a second look at 144 cases and found five where suspects should have been excluded. Another case in Georgia has been granted a retrial due to a TrueAllele analysis of DNA mixtures from evidence. The defendant, Johnny Lee Gates, has spent over 40 years in prison for a crime he may not have committed.
A paper in Forensic Science International: Genetics criticized the six-year delay in releasing MIX13’s results and demanded that labs begin using the updated technology.
“The adoption of probabilistic genotyping by many laboratories will certainly prevent some of these errors from occurring in the future, but the same laboratories that produced past errors can also now review old cases with their new software—without additional bench work,” emphasized Greg Hampikian, the paper’s author.
More agencies have employed genotyping software in recent years, but the majority still rely on manual methods.
It has not made it through the Senate, but pray that it does! This Bill will ease many problems in the marijuana industry, which now is an all cash business … with the problems that naturally flow from that. HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR IDIOT LEGISLATORS TO DO WHAT IS INEVITABLE? LEGALIZE AND REGULATE POT!
Excerpts from the Article:
The House of Representatives passed a standalone marijuana reform bill for the first time in history on Wednesday. The chamber advanced the legislation—which would protect banks that service the cannabis industry from being penalized by federal regulators—in a vote of 321-103.
All but one Democrat voted in favor of the bill. Republicans were virtually split, with 91 voting for the legislation and 102 opposing it.
For six years, lawmakers have been pushing for the modest reform, which is seen as necessary to increase financial transparency and mitigate risks associated with operating on a largely cash-only basis—something many marijuana businesses must do because banks currently fear federal reprisal for taking them on as clients.
While the House has approved historic cannabis amendments in the past, including one this summer that would protect all state marijuana programs from federal intervention, those have had to be renewed annually. This is the first time a standalone reform bill was approved in the chamber, and the policy will be permanently codified into law if the Senate follows suit and the president signs it.
“If someone wants to oppose the legalization of marijuana, that’s their prerogative, but American voters have spoken and continue to speak and the fact is you can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Prohibition is over,” Perlmutter said on the floor. “Our bill is focused solely on taking cash off the streets and making our communities safe and only congress can take these steps to provide this certainty for businesses, employees and financial institutions across the country.”
Americans across the country are voting to approve some level of marijuana use & we need these marijuana businesses & employees to have access to checking accounts, lines of credit & more. #SAFEBanking will improve transparency & reduce the public safety risk in our communities.
Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) made an impassioned case for the bill, sharing an anecdote about a security guard who worked for a cannabis shop who was killed on the job and emphasizing that the legislation would mitigate the risks of violent crime at these businesses. “You can be agnostic on the underlying policy of whether or not cannabis should be legal for either adult recreational use or to treat seizures, but you cannot be agnostic on the need to improve safety in this area,” he said.
“I have long fought for criminal justice reform and deeply understand the need to fully address the historical racial and social inequities related to the criminalization of marijuana,” Waters said in a press release on Tuesday. “I support legislation that deschedules marijuana federally, requires courts to expunge convictions for marijuana-related offenses, and provides assistance such as job training and reentry services for those who have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.”
“I am proud to bring this legislation to the Floor, but I believe it does not go far enough,” he said. “This must be a first step toward the decriminalization and de-scheduling of marijuana, which has led to the prosecution and incarceration of far too many of our fellow Americans for possession.”
“Today’s vote is a significant first step, but it must not be the last. Much more action will still need to be taken by lawmakers,” NORML Political Director Justin Strekal told Marijuana Moment. “In the Senate, we demand that lawmakers in the Senate Banking Committee hold true to their commitment to move expeditiously in support of similar federal reforms. And in the House, we anticipate additional efforts to move forward and pass comprehensive reform legislation like The MORE Act—which is sponsored by the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee—in order to ultimately comport federal law with the new political and cultural realities surrounding marijuana.”
“This bipartisan legislation is vital to protecting public safety, fostering transparency, and leveling the playing field for small businesses in the growing number of states with successful cannabis programs,” he said.
The Whole Story:
The harm done by this wrongdoing is broad. Guilty criminals may go unpunished, as well as innocent ones punished. I can only wonder how many more terrible, awful cops there are nationwide. I remind you again of the subtle but serious harm: the people distrust the police, and therefore do not cooperate to try to solve/reduce crimes!
The good news is that some officers have been convicted, and the Federal investigations continue. Thank God Ms. Mosby is doing the right thing.
City Solicitor Andre Davis has said he’s concerned that many defendants could file lawsuits against the city. Ya think?! They should!
Excerpts from the Article:
Baltimore’s top prosecutor has begun asking judges to throw out nearly 800 convictions that she said were tainted by officers linked to a corruption scandal.
The Baltimore Sun reported Friday that State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s review found 790 criminal cases handled by 25 city officers whom she says she has reason to distrust. Mosby updated the number of officers being scrutinized on Friday, saying it could fluctuate as her office investigates.
Eight members of the Gun Trace Task Force were convicted of racketeering crimes and sentenced to prison. Many of the other 17 officers cited by Mosby’s office were named in testimony during the federal trial, though not necessarily charged with crimes. Mosby’s office hasn’t disclosed all of their names because of ongoing federal investigations.
The newspaper said three of the additional officers remain on the force, including a detective and two sergeants, citing confirmation from a department spokesman. One of the three has been suspended.
Mosby said in an email to the newspaper that “our legal and ethical obligation in the pursuit of justice leaves us no other recourse but to ‘right the wrongs’ of unjust convictions associated with corrupt police officers.”
Of the eight Baltimore officers sentenced to prison for racketeering charges, six accepted plea deals and two were convicted. Officers admitted to stealing money from people, lying in police paperwork and claiming unearned overtime pay. Officers found guilty also testified about potential wrongdoing by additional police officers who haven’t been charged.
Prosecutors spent more than a year reviewing thousands of arrests by the task force and identified the 790, most of which are older cases in which the defendants have already been released.
With expanded authorities under a new state law, Mosby’s staff will file 200 cases a week, with judges holding daily hearings to consider erasing bad convictions. “It is still very early in the process, and we are hopeful for the swift vacatur of all of the many tainted convictions,” said Melissa Rothstein, spokeswoman for the Baltimore public defender’s office.
City Solicitor Andre Davis has said he’s concerned that many defendants could file lawsuits against the city.
Study on solitary confinement makes a tragic case for restricting it in the U.S. People held in solitary confinement were 127 percent more likely to die from opioid overdose.
I was placed in isolation cells for 1,510 days. I saw many men go mad. “Thank you,God, for my strong spirit”! YOU should read: It’s not about What They Did to Me – Prison Abuse
What these studies don’t tell you is that the isolation cells are used improperly and illegally very often by mean-spirited guards to shut up or punish inmates who try to complain about prison abuse or medical neglect, or try to contact the outside world about the same.
Excerpts from the Article:
In the United States, thousands of prisoners are put in “the hole” for years, and while it’s established the practice of isolating people results in trauma while they are in prison, new research shows solitary confinement is linked with massive costs once prisoners are released.
Scientists reported Friday that people who spent any time in what’s officially known as “restrictive housing” during their incarceration at a North Carolina state prison were “significantly more likely to die of all causes in the first year after release than those who did not.” Furthermore, spending more than 14 days in solitary confinement was linked with a higher risk of death and reincarceration after release from prison.
Their work was published the journal JAMA Open Network, and it examined those prisoners between 2000 to 2015. The data was provided to the team by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, which has expressed interest in reforming how the state approaches solitary confinement.
First author Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, tells Inverse that previous research has shown that solitary confinement can be detrimental to health, but “traditionally it has been very hard to obtain administrative data on time in solitary confinement during incarceration.”
Similarly, it’s been difficult for researchers to establish how many Americans have been placed in solitary confinement. A 2016 study by Yale Law School found that about 66,000 prisoners were in solitary confinement, based on data from 73 percent of the country’s prison population. The study also estimates that if all data was available, that number would rise to 80,000 people.
In the case of this new study, Brinkley-Rubinstein and colleagues were able to use data provided by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, then matched that data to mortality records. The cohort study included 229,297 people, some who had been placed in restrictive housing and others who had not.
Certain patterns emerged: People who spent any time in restrictive housing were 24 percent more likely to die in the first year of their release. Within this group, 78 percent died from suicide while roughly 54 percent from homicide. These individuals were also 127 percent more likely to die from an opioid overdose in the first two weeks after their release. This was especially true for white individuals.
These individuals were also 127 percent more likely to die from an opioid overdose in the first two weeks after their release.”
While this study shows that exposure to restrictive housing “may be a contributing factor” to risk of death during community reentry, it can’t establish exactly why.
“We know that being incarcerated increases the risk of adverse health outcomes post-release but, what is understudied, is what are the ‘mechanisms of incarceration’ that heighten this risk above and beyond what we already know,” Brinkley-Rubinstein explains.
But testaments of prisoners and psychiatrists point to the mechanisms that are likely at play. To be in restrictive housing means to be within a cell about the size of a king-sized bed for 22 to 24-hours a day. These settings mean social isolation, sensory deprivation, and intense physical idleness. Interviews with prisoners in solitary show indicate that time spent there can induce paranoia, hallucinations, panic attacks, and suicidal intentions among other repercussions. They can lose their ability to interact with other people and to know who they are.
Currently, there is a lawsuit filed against the Virginia Department of Corrections for holding a man named Tyquine Lee in solitary confinement at Red Onion State Prison for more than 600 days. Lee has lost over 30 pounds, as well as his ability to speak and remember his name.
There are movements to reform restrictive housing rules in the United States, but various agencies and advocacy groups differ on when it should be applied. Some consider it torture and advocate for its complete restriction, while others argue for more gradual efforts or alternatives.
In 2016, the Department of Justice argued that in certain occasions “correctional officials have no choice but to segregate inmates from the general population” but “we believe strongly this practice should be used rarely, applied fairly, and subjected to reasonable constraints.” Meanwhile, the nonprofit the Vera Institutes argues it should only be used as a “last resort” and “for the shortest time possible.” While federally there are no restrictions on solitary confinement, as of July 2019 there are eight states that have legislation that limits the use of restrictive housing.
In turn, the authors of this new study argue that their results can be used to “identify people for linkage to trauma-nformed, community-based substance use and mental health treatment, overdose prevention and harm reduction, and wraparound care and services. To Brinkley-Rubinstein, the goal is that the data can ignite change: “I hope that jails and prisons reconsider the use of solitary confinement and restrict its use.”
In 2015, the United Nations instituted the “Mandela Rules,” which state that no one should be put in solitary confinement for more than 15 days. However, the US doesn’t follow those rules.
Conclusions and relevance: This study suggests that exposure to restrictive housing is associated with an increased risk of death during community reentry. These findings are important in the context of ongoing debates about the harms of restrictive housing, indicating a need to find alternatives to its use and flagging restrictive housing as an important risk factor during community reentry.
Wrongly Convicted, They Had to Choose: Freedom or Restitution Prosecutors are adopting strategies to keep from having to pay for mistakes. – With Letter to the Editor – kra
This bullshit is really OUTRAGEOUS. I was a prosecutor, and when I had ANY doubt about a defendant’s guilt, I dropped the charges. READ THIS, AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS TO SOME OF THE THOUSANDS OF INNOCENT PEOPLE IN PRISON IN AMERICA. Prosecutors tell innocent defendants that they will be freed if they plead guilty to a lesser charge; if they do not they will be retried, which could mean many more years of prison.
Some prosecutors say these types of offers are inherently coercive when the alternative is staying in prison. “It flies in the face of our most basic concepts of an accurate and just system: Simply put, I think the whole thing is despicable,” Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s district attorney and a former defense lawyer, said when asked to comment on Mr. Dennis’s case and another similar deal arranged by his predecessor.
Excerpts from the Article:
Outside of Jimmy Dennis’s house, on a quiet block, it was one of those perfect summer days. But Mr. Dennis preferred to stay inside, behind drawn shades, where there was little risk anyone would misinterpret what he was up to. Twenty-five years on death row can do that to a man.
Since being arrested for a 1991 murder in Philadelphia, Mr. Dennis has maintained his alibi — that he was on a bus — and his innocence. But not until 2016 did a federal appeals court tell the state to start a new trial or release Mr. Dennis. Neither happened. Instead, prosecutors offered Mr. Dennis a deal: sign a plea of no contest to third-degree murder and he could leave prison instantly. If he declined, a new trial would most likely take years.
The deal gave the city a potential out. Without an affirmative finding that he was innocent, the city would later argue, Mr. Dennis should not be able to bring a civil suit seeking payment for his years in prison.
“The whole thing was they didn’t want me to sue,” Mr. Dennis said. “That’s what it all comes down to.”
Mr. Dennis’s deal is one of several nationally that federal judges are taking a close look at, weighing their fairness and whether they stand up under legal precedent. The deals suggest an emerging strategy in potentially costly wrongful conviction cases: Set people free, but pay them nothing.
Governments are fielding huge bills as the number of overturned convictions mounts. Since 1989, municipalities have paid $2.5 billion to exonerees, who can seek money under compensation statutes in more than 30 states or via civil lawsuits, according to research from Jeffrey S. Gutman, a law professor at George Washington University.
Some jurisdictions are having trouble paying. Michigan this year had to pass legislation to replenish its wrongful conviction claim funds after it almost ran out of money, while tiny Gage County, Neb., which has been ordered to pay $28 million to six exonerees, has considered raising property taxes and declaring bankruptcy.
In Beatrice, Neb., where a 1985 murder sent six people to prison. More than 30 years later, those wrongful convictions have saddled the county with a $28 million legal bill.
In order to bring a civil rights claim, defendants must have a favorable termination of their criminal case, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 1994 decision Heck v. Humphrey.
In the prevailing interpretation of that ruling, favorable termination means an affirmative finding of innocence. But such findings are rare. If a conviction is vacated, the defendant is typically granted a new trial rather than declared innocent outright.
Prosecutors may then retry the case, or they may drop it — either because so much time has passed that the case would be too difficult to retry, or as a de facto acknowledgment that the person probably did not commit the crime. Or, as in Mr. Dennis’s case, they may strike a deal requiring the defendant to forgo seeking civil damages.
Some prosecutors say these types of offers are inherently coercive when the alternative is staying in prison.
“It flies in the face of our most basic concepts of an accurate and just system: Simply put, I think the whole thing is despicable,” Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s district attorney and a former defense lawyer, said when asked to comment on Mr. Dennis’s case and another similar deal arranged by his predecessor.
When Mr. Dennis was offered the deal, his mother was sick and his father had already died. His daughters, one born after he was jailed, were in their 20s. “When your mother doesn’t ask you for anything your entire life and she says, ‘You’ve proven your innocence, and what else do you need to prove?’” He trailed off, his voice cracking. “To this day, sometimes I hate the fact that I let these people off the hook,” he said.
In a 1997 Alaska case, four defendants — all Native Americans or Native Alaskans — were convicted of the murder of a white 15-year-old named John Hartman. As problems with the case against them came to light, supporters began to call them the Fairbanks Four.
At a hearing in 2015, the four presented exculpatory evidence — including some that pointed to lapses by law enforcement. Prosecutors began shaping a deal that would free the men if they agreed not to pursue a lawsuit.
But there was a hitch: One defendant, Marvin Roberts, had received a lighter sentence and was already out on parole. He would not have to choose between incarceration and taking the deal.
Marvin Roberts had already left prison on parole when prosecutors began shaping a deal that would let his three co-defendants go free if all four agreed not to sue. One former prosecutor wrote in an email that Mr. Roberts “may be convinced if it means the release of the other three.” Otherwise, he warned, the state could “face exposure of tens of millions of dollars.”
Alaska’s attorney general’s office formalized its offer, agreeing to drop charges and release the remaining three men if they relinquished any claim of wrongdoing by the police or the state. If any of the four refused to sign, the deal was off. “In the end, for going through what I went through, I would not get any compensation whatsoever,” Mr. Roberts said. “I spent over 18 years in hell, in a nightmare.”
He had already experienced the financial impact of so many years in prison: Though he had been a high school valedictorian, the only job he could initially get was property maintenance, with duties like shoveling snow.
“But my three friends, my brothers, they were still in jail,” he said. “So I was going to be out for Christmas and they weren’t — if I didn’t make the deal.” He signed.
The corner of Ninth Avenue and Barnette Street in Fairbanks, Alaska, near where John Hartman, 15, was killed in 1997. There was no physical evidence connecting the four defendants to the murder.
Alaska’s former attorney generl, Craig Richards, who approved the settlement, declined requests for comment, as did the current attorney general.
In 2017, the four men filed a lawsuit citing police misconduct and civil rights violations in the original case. They argued that the prosecutors’ dismissal of the charges counted as favorable termination.
Last year a federal judge ruled against them on the grounds that the signed agreements specifically said the parties had not reached an agreement on guilt or innocence. The four are appealing.
Mr. Roberts, left, joined Kevin Pease, Eugene Vent and George Frese in Fairbanks in December 2015 after they were freed from prison. “Once there’s compelling evidence that there’s serious misconduct in obtaining the conviction, why should prosecutors have the power to stop a civil rights suit?” said Anna Benvenutti Hoffmann, a lawyer for two of the men. Among other things, officials had failed to disclose inconsistent statements by a key witness.
It can be difficult to understand why a person would sign away the right to sue, even if doing so means freedom. At one hearing, Sean Kelly, a brother of the victim, said the bargain underscored his belief that the four were guilty. If they were innocent, he asked, “would they accept a deal that basically gives them nothing?”
Shaurn Thomas walked out of prison in 2017. Philadelphia’s conviction integrity unit, a division of its district attorney’s office that re-examined old cases, had vacated his decades-old murder conviction, deciding there was evidence that could have shown that Mr. Thomas was not guilty. But at the time, the city was being sued by another exonerated man, who would ultimately win a record $10 million. His name was Anthony Wright.
“Would be nice to avoid a second Anthony Wright-type case and get a nolo contendere” — a plea of no contest — a city lawyer wrote to a colleague.
But Mr. Thomas refused to sign a deal saying he would not pursue a lawsuit. “You are going to bankrupt the city,” the acting district attorney told one of Mr. Thomas’s lawyers, according to a court filing.
In the end, prosecutors used a “nolle prosequi” — translation: “to be unwilling to pursue” — to dismiss the charges. The city argues that a nolle prosequi does not count as a favorable termination.
A wrongful conviction does not necessarily mean the defendant’s rights were violated. A conviction can be vacated for many reasons, including exculpatory DNA evidence, prosecutorial misconduct, errors during the trial, new witnesses, new evidence or, as in Mr. Thomas’s case, a prosecutorial review.
If there is no evidence the police or prosecutors acted improperly, the defendant cannot sue.
The considerations for overturning a conviction and for determining a city’s civil liability are different, Mike Dunn, a spokesman for the City of Philadelphia, wrote in an email: “They are not interchangeable. Thus, it is incumbent upon us to consider and avail the city of all available defenses.”
Mr. Thomas argues that there were civil rights violations against him. The Philadelphia police pressured a participant in the crime to name Mr. Thomas, he said in a federal lawsuit, and ignored evidence that he was at a youth study center at the time of the crime.
In August, Judge Gene E.K. Pratter of Federal District Court decided the suit could go forward. The city’s “nol pros decision is indicative of the plaintiff’s innocence” and indicates “favorable termination,” she wrote.
“See how gorgeous he is?” said Corby Johnson, Jimmy Dennis’s fiancée, showing pictures of Mr. Dennis just after they first met as children, at an elite choir for Philadelphia public school students.
When a teenage girl was shot and killed in 1991 near a transit stop, Mr. Dennis was miles away on a bus en route to singing practice, he said.
After decades of appeals, a judge found that prosecutors had suppressed statements and evidence that backed up Mr. Dennis’s alibi and pointed to another perpetrator. Mr. Dennis “was wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to die for a crime in all probability he did not commit,” the federal judge, Anita B. Brody, wrote in a 2013 decision. Mr. Dennis still carries his copy of it, worn and water-stained, almost all the time.
Life has resumed some regular rhythms since he has left prison. He moved in with Ms. Johnson; he has been writing and recording songs. But he is not normal, and he knows that. He keeps his phone locator on at all times so Ms. Johnson can track him. He panics if she so much as double parks, worried it will attract the police. When he travels, he insists on hotels lined with cameras. “What was taken away from me so easily could easily be taken away from me again,” he said.
He has nightmares about his trial, with the judge and police officers looming cartoonishly above him.
“This side of the bed is dry but my side of the bed — ” he said. “Soaking wet,” Ms. Johnson finished.
In May, Mr. Dennis got some good news. A federal judge, Eduardo C. Robreno, had found a novel way to let his lawsuit against Philadelphia proceed even though he had entered the plea deal in 2016.
Judge Robreno determined that the deal was the second of two separate convictions, and said that Mr. Dennis was entitled to sue based on the first one, which had been declared invalid by a federal judge.
If Judge Robreno’s decision is upheld by higher courts, it could present a new way forward for the wrongfully convicted.
Mr. Dennis, for now, is trying to figure out each day. “I’m sitting here a semblance, trying to get back to me,” he said.
He rose to shake hands, and then stopped at the threshold of his house, not willing, for now, to go any further.
Letter to the Editor or Op Ed Submission – Cheating Exonerees Out of Fair Compensation! – 10/6/19
We can never know the precise number of innocent people in prison, but, depending upon which study one reads, it is between 10,000 and 100,000. The justice system is such a train wreck that thousands of innocent people are imprisoned and convicted, for various reasons. For the lucky ones, the truth eventually comes out. But prosecutors are now scheming to cheat them out of fair compensation for their years behind bars.
Consider this: governments are facing huge bills as the number of overturned convictions mounts. Since 1989, municipalities have paid $2.5 billion to exonerees, who can seek money under compensation statutes in more than 30 states or via civil lawsuits. $2.5 Billion!
Now there is a new, dangerous, unfair, and insidious practice afoot by prosecutors, to try to avoid liability and having to pay for government wrongdoing. In order to bring a civil rights lawsuit, the mechanism for the exonerated to get compensated, defendants must have a favorable termination of their criminal case, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the 1994 decision Heck v. Humphrey. “In the prevailing interpretation of that ruling, favorable termination means an affirmative finding of innocence. But such findings are rare. If a conviction is vacated, the defendant is typically granted a new trial rather than declared innocent outright.Prosecutors may then retry the case, or they may drop it.” Or, as in some cases, they may strike a deal requiring the defendant to forgo seeking civil damages.
Prosecutors tell innocent defendants that they will be freed if they plead guilty to a lesser charge; if they do not they will be retried, which could mean many more years in prison.
Some prosecutors say these types of offers are inherently coercive when the alternative is staying in prison. “It flies in the face of our most basic concepts of an accurate and just system: Simply put, I think the whole thing is despicable,” Larry Krasner, Philadelphia’s district attorney and a former defense lawyer, said when asked to comment on such cases.
You can read more about this problem in this article from Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE: Wrongly Convicted, They Had to Choose: Freedom or Restitution. Prosecutors are adopting strategies to keep from having to pay for mistakes. – With Letter to the Editor – kra = http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/wrongly-convicted-they-had-to-choose-freedom-or-restitution-prosecutors-are-adopting-strategies-to-keep-from-having-to-pay-for-mistakes-with-letter-to-the-editor-kra/
Ken Abraham, former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
I get lots of letters published, and ghost write for others. THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO REACH THOUSANDS OF READERS! The keys to getting your Letter published are:
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3. Speak from your heart.
4. Google any facts you are not sure about.
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Do what works: Write that Letter!
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Send the email to yourself, and put on the “bcc” bar the email addresses for Letters to the Editor for the top ten newspapers in your state and several national ones – The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, U S A Today (google the Letter to Editor email addresses). Any questions, CALL me at 302-423-4067!
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This former top notch federal prosecutor says what I have been saying for months; 1. tRump is sure to have a prison cell as hid next residence if he is gone by 2021, 2. this realization is fueling his rage and his current barrage of lies and misinformation on social media, by direct mail, and with T V ads, 3. there are numerous crimes quite obvious in tRump’s conduct, and he in increasingly desperate to avoid accountability.
Excerpts from the Article:
The thing about being president is that your every move, past and present, is subject to microscopic examination. That can be a problem if your closet is filled with skeletons …or decomposing bodies.
In Donald Trump’s case, his skeletons often include legal jeopardy. The most recent example of his legal exposure is the whistleblower complaint that detailed Trump’s efforts to persuade the president of Ukraine to produce dirt on political rival Joe Biden, possibly in exchange for the release of U.S. financial aid. Trump’s solicitation could well be a violation of federal campaign contribution laws.
While the whistleblower allegations are at the center of the newly official congressional impeachment inquiry, the president’s latest legal breach is preceded by a long line of similar activities. Who could forget the New York U.S. Attorney’s “porngate” indictment in which Trump is named as an unindicted co-conspirator, “Individual 1,” alongside his former personal attorney? Or the multiple examples of criminal obstruction set forth in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s report?
While it appears to many Americans that Trump is above the law, this status is only conferred on him as long as he remains president. An Office of Legal Counsel opinion forbids the indictment of a sitting president but offers no protection to a former president. Once he leaves office, Trump can be indicted for past crimes, including those he committed as president.
At that point, his only legal protection will be the statute of limitations — the time limit for charging a crime. The federal statute of limitations for most crimes, including campaign finance and obstruction violations, is five years.
Any crimes Trump might have committed early in his campaign will not be chargeable if he leaves office in 2021. But paying hush money to Stormy Daniels, firing FBI Director James Comey, and ordering the White House counsel to fire Mueller are all fair game for indictment if Trump does not win a second term.
This sobering recognition on Trump’s part could be fueling what appears to be his escalating desperation to ensure that he secures another four years in the White House. The cards, as Trump has played them, leave him in a predicament. If he loses the 2020 election, he will be red meat for a Democratic president and attorney general eager to hold him accountable for his flagrant abuses of power. To avoid being fed to the Democrats, Trump’s best bet is to follow the tried-and-true playbook that secured his 2016 win. This means illegally soliciting foreign assistance in the upcoming election.
If time and experience have shown us anything about Trump, it is that he is willing to burn the house down to secure his own advantage. How else to explain his recent effort with Ukraine? It is essentially the same crime that put him in Mueller’s sights for nearly two years.
And it accomplished what Mueller could not. The former special counsel’s 448-page report showed a sprawling pattern of corruption. The call between Trump and the Ukrainian president is a discrete nugget of corruption that has a beginning and an end, and it’s easily understood. It’s perfectly geared to the many Americans who view politics like a TV sitcom — 23 minutes of attention and done.
At the moment, impeachment is the best bet for Democrats. Unlike a criminal prosecution, impeachment does not require strict adherence to a criminal statute. And unlike a criminal trial, one MAGA juror cannot derail the train.
Reelection is Trump’s only protection. Assuming the House votes in favor of articles of impeachment, it looks unlikely at this point that there will be enough straight-spined Republicans to convict and remove Trump in a Senate trial. Even so, impeachment in the House will have its own rewards, including a rallying cry to flip the Senate.
And the tide might be turning on Trump. Even the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr of North Carolina, is conducting an “inquiry” into the whistleblower complaint. But even if the critical mass of Trump’s apparent effort to trade U.S. money for dirt on a political rival reaches hurricane proportions, Trump will not go quietly. To the contrary. Think feral cat cornered in a back alley. Trump has already floated the idea of executing those involved in blowing the whistle on his under-the-table deal with Ukraine.
Punishing treason the old-fashioned way: Trump’s new impeachable offense is threatening the life of a CIA officer
In order to maximize the political punch that comes with impeachment proceedings, Democrats must abandon the “when they go low, we go high” platitude. With all due respect to former first lady Michelle Obama, those days are long gone. If House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff and his congressional backup singers are not willing to fight in the mud, Democrats will be forever eating Republican dust.
In 2016, Trump’s run for the presidency was motivated by narcissism and greed. In 2020, Trump needs the protection that comes with reelection. Don’t expect him to go from a solid gold toilet to an industrial prison urinal without a fight.