This was quite predictable. But this shows how desperate the GOP is to disenfranchise people!
Excerpts from the Article:
A Delaware judge on Monday upheld a law allowing vote-by-mail this year due to the pandemic, rejecting a lawsuit from the state Republican Party. Sam Glasscock, a member of the Court of Chancery, concluded the GOP failed to prove the measure is unconstitutional and unnecessary after hearing arguments on the case Thursday. “In short, the Plaintiffs disagree with the policy decision of the legislature. They have attempted to convince me to disagree as well. But even if they were successful, such an attempt would be inapt,” Vice Chancellor Glasscock wrote in his opinion.
“The legislature, in the face of an epidemic of airborne disease and in light of the health emergency declared by the Governor, has made a determination that vote-by-mail is necessary for the continued operation of governmental functions, and that it would be impracticable to address this problem other than by otherwise-extraconstitutional means. These finding are not clearly erroneous. Therefore, the Plaintiffs’ Motion for Summary Judgment must be denied.”
Legislators created vote-by-mail in June, expanding the absentee ballot process in response to concerns about COVID exposure should people be forced to vote in person. The bill passed the House on party lines, though it saw some GOP support in the Senate.
During oral arguments last week, Julia Klein, an attorney presenting the Republican argument, noted state government has continued to function despite COVID and cited the specific reasons given in the state constitution to cast an absentee ballot. Republicans around the country have expressed concerns about voting by mail, none more so than President Donald Trump. Many experts have dismissed those as politically motivated and untrue, although Delaware’s Sept. 15 primary election saw some issues with ballots.
Vice Chancellor Glasscock shot down GOP arguments against the law in his ruling, finding no reason to overrule the General Assembly.
“The Plaintiffs’ note that, with or without the Act, the polls will be open, and that those brave or heedless enough can stand in line, indoors and out, and vote in person. In their view, any health risk resulting is offset by the risk that a mail-in ballot will be unintentionally spoiled,” he wrote.
“It is true, I suppose, that the few or many who were unable to vote absentee under previous law, and were willing to undertake a health risk to exercise their franchise in person, could serve as the electorate by which officials could be chosen and government ‘continued.’ But it is also clear that continuity of a democratically elected government requires meaningful participation from the citizenry. The Delaware Constitution at Article I, § 3 requires that elected officials be chosen by ‘free and equal’ elections.
Attorney General Kathy Jennings represented the state in court last week, calling the law “common sense.”
In a statement Monday, the Delaware GOP said it “will respect the decision of the Court and fashion (the) get out the vote effort around vote by mail in addition to absentee and in person voting.”
Delaware’s primary saw a record number of ballots cast remotely, with roughly 45% of the nearly 178,000 votes taking place by mail. More Democrats actually voted by mail than in person, though the shares were close, while Republicans were several times more likely to vote at a polling place than by mail.
About 5% of the 121,000 participants in 2018’s primary contest voted absentee.
The Whole Story:
Here we see the all too common ignorant arrogance and abuse of females by law enforcement officials. This is some real BULLSHIT! I hope this woman is awarded many millions of dollars, to bankrupt the abuser.
See the unusually lenient plea deal the dirtbag got.
WOMEN, If you are in Delaware and are being sexually harassed by a Corporation, a private executive, a government official, a cop, or an entire government agency, CALL me and I shall refer you to an excellent attorney, a friend of mine, who SPECIALIZES in suits to get you justice and hold the assholes accountable! 302-423-4067. You need not put up with such shit!
Excerpts from the Article:
A former Buncombe County jail deputy was so rattled by the sexual abuse and harassment she faced at work that she vomited in the shower every morning before work, her lawsuit filed earlier this week said.
She showed up to work at the Buncombe County Detention Center to do her job and support her family, all the while trying to avoid the notice of her boss, Capt. Charles “Josh” Wilhelm, her complaint said.
She tried to have a female colleague sit in her office when she expected Wilhelm to be nearby. But her precautions, her attempts to defuse or ignore his behavior didn’t work, the lawsuit said — the unsolicited photos, his requests for her nudes and his lewd comments toward her continued unabated.
He called her to his office multiple times under the pretense of a work-related issue and then tried to grope her — sometimes he succeeded, the lawsuit said.
The plaintiff’s tearful appeals for help to a superior who could stop the harassment went unanswered, the complaint said. Her entreaties to other co-workers who could help her fell on deaf ears or were met with sexist comments, the lawsuit said. Had any one of them done anything about Wilhelm’s behavior, the lawsuit said, he would not have felt entitled to continue an escalating campaign of sexual harassment and assault against multiple women.
Named in her lawsuit, in addition to Wilhelm, are several former Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office employees: former Sheriff Jack Van Duncan, former Chief Scott Allen, former Sgt. Calvin Elliott and former Lt. Larry Woods. The lawsuit also names Buncombe County and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office.
The incidents described in the lawsuit occurred before current Sheriff Quentin Miller took the oath of office on Dec. 3, 2018. All of the employees named in the lawsuit either were fired, retired or resigned before Miller took office.
Because of what the lawsuit calls “negligence” to ensure that employees could work in an environment free from sexual harassment and assault, the former employee is suing for damages in excess of $175,000, with punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury.
In a related criminal probe last year, Wilhelm pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor charges of assault on a female relating to his conduct toward two women.
The lawsuit seeks $175,000 for several negligent actions that the plaintiff said allowed Wilhelm to continue more than a decade of unwanted advances, harassment, multiple assaults and other actions forbidden by office policy against the plaintiff, including him sending her unsolicited pictures of his genitals. The lawsuit also seeks punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury.
The suit said Wilhelm boasted that other women he supervised at the jail sent him sexually suggestive pictures at work and that nobody would find out, and he sent pictures of his exposed genitals to several of his subordinates.
In November 2016, the lawsuit said, Wilhelm was promoted to run the jail and was in charge of reviewing policies. “Ironically, Sheriff Duncan put Capt. Wilhelm in charge of ensuring that none of the employees at the jail suffered sexual abuse. (The plaintiff) worked directly for him as the administrative sergeant,” the lawsuit said.
Wilhelm continued to harass his colleague through 2017, the lawsuit said. At one point, he told the woman that she needed to choose between her personal life and her professional life.
“He asked (the plaintiff) to send him pictures and sent her pictures of him in his underwear with an obvious erection,” the lawsuit said. “She did not ask for any of this and never reciprocated or appreciated it.”
As 2017 continued, so did the abuse, the lawsuit said. Wilhelm at times called her to his office for work-related tasks. In one of a series of similar attacks, he put his hand on her knee and fondled her breast, the lawsuit said. She “pushed his hand away, but he kept grabbing her and said, ‘Just let me feel, I want to feel.’” Before she left Wilhelm’s office, he told her: “’I know you like it, I know you want it.’” the lawsuit said. “She neither enjoyed nor wanted her boss to sexually assault her in his office, then or ever.” Immediately after she left his office, he texted a request for a nude picture, the lawsuit said.
On another occasion, the lawsuit details an incident where he grabbed her hand and pressed it against the crotch of his pants while grabbing her breast with his other hand. In another instance, he put his hand down her shirt and into her bra to grope her naked breast, and ground his crotch against her, the lawsuit said.
“On every single occasion that Capt. Wilhelm attacked (the plaintiff) physically in his office, she was terrified of him,” the lawsuit said. “She never agreed to any of these attacks or willingly participated in what transpired.”
The plaintiff was not the only woman whom Wilhelm harassed, the lawsuit said. In one instance, an employee told then-Capt. Woods what Wilhelm was doing to her. The lawsuit was not specific about what he allegedly did but said Woods had the power to stop Wilhelm and did nothing.
In May 2017, the lawsuit said, the plaintiff asked her boss for time off to attend doctor appointments for two of her children. Wilhelm told her she could leave early if she did “a few things.”
“Capt. Wilhelm grabbed her hand and forced her to touch him over his clothes on his groin,” the lawsuit said. “Capt. Wilhelm then rubbed (the plaintiff’s) chest and tried to force her to crawl under his desk and perform oral sex on him.” She refused and “was able to escape Capt. Wilhelm’s office,” the lawsuit said. Her actions “visibly angered Capt. Wilhelm.”
She returned later that day to confront him over the attack but realized he had left the office. Instead, the lawsuit said she talked to then-Chief Allen and said Wilhelm should stop mistreating her. “She became emotional when discussing Capt. Wilhelm,” the lawsuit said. “After (the plaintiff) tearfully asked for his help, Chief Allen brushed off her concerns,” the lawsuit said. He did make one suggestion: “If you make Wilhelm some dinner, it will make everything better,” Allen said, according to the lawsuit. “While he offered no help to (the plaintiff), apparently Chief Allen told Capt. Wilhelm that she had raised an alarm about this behavior. Capt. Wilhelm was angry at (her) for reporting him and retaliated against her.” The lawsuit also said Allen and Wilhelm had “a close personal and professional relationship.”
Then in October 2017, Wilhelm called her to his office over the message system, the lawsuit said. When she arrived, he asked if he could touch her, the lawsuit said. “I don’t want you to,” she said. “So you aren’t saying no,” he said, according to the lawsuit, before fondling her breast. He then exposed himself to her and forced her to touch him. “She froze from the trauma,” the lawsuit said. “Her brain would not work, so she just sat there and tried to look out the window and focus on something else and try to mentally escape the sexual assault that unfolded in her boss’s office. “When he ejaculated, she tried to leave his office, but he blocked the door. He said: ‘Don’t leave yet,’” the lawsuit said. “Despite her terror, she managed to push him away, open the door, and escape from his office.”
In November 2017, she took leave for mental health reasons. The following month, Duncan promoted Wilhelm to captain, the lawsuit said.
In Jan. 9, 2018, the woman approached the county human resources director “about the abuse and sexual assault she suffered at Capt. Wilhelm’s hands,” the lawsuit said. “Only then, after someone outside of the sheriff’s chain of command became aware of the abusive, criminal activity Capt. Wilhelm had taken against the women who worked for him at the BCSO, did Sheriff Duncan and his senior management finally start to take action to investigate how he abused all of these victims,” the lawsuit said.
That same day Sheriff Duncan put Wilhelm on paid leave, county employment records show. Also on the same day, according to the lawsuit, “one or more higher-ranking officials within the BCSO” told others not to talk with anyone from the county human resources department or help with the criminal investigation into Wilhelm’s actions.
Once the county human resources department and the State Bureau of Investigations started looking into the plaintiff’s claims, the lawsuit said, then-Sheriff Duncan told her, “It would be a good idea for you to resign or transfer.”
“She had enjoyed working in her career at the jail, but she had to leave it,” her complaint said. The woman left the department in March 2018, her attorney told CPP. The SBI started looking into Wilhelm’s conduct, and the sheriff fired Wilhelm on Jan. 22, 2018, for violating the office’s general conduct standards, county records show.
In late 2019, Wilhelm pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of assault on a female for harassing and assaulting women who worked with him after initially being charged with six counts of sexual battery. Wilhelm served a 30-day sentence in the Madison County Jail.
Through her attorney Ellis Boyle, the plaintiff said an assistant district attorney spoke with both victims before Wilhelm pleaded to the smaller number of charges. Unlike sexual battery, the charges to which he pleaded did not require his placement on the sex offender registry. She was not pleased with the sentence. “I was upset because it felt like he was getting away with his crimes with just a slap on the wrist,” she said in the lawsuit. “From what I understand, he was even allowed to choose which jail he would serve his sentence.”
Our friend, a young lady with the ACLU, recently had this published in our state’s largest paper. All states should listen and solve this problem which I have mentioned for years!
READ Letter to Editor or Editorial Submission – What a Monster we Have Created! Probation and Parole 2/19/19 PUBLISHED
Excerpts from the Article”
COVID-19 impacted Delaware’s criminal justice system in many ways, including how we police communities and those on probation. Those changes have led to the biggest decrease in Delaware’s prison and probation populations in the last ten years.
While many police departments were reluctant to speak publicly about how the pandemic changed policing, we did see some important changes from local law enforcement. In the wake of the pandemic, according to an article from DelawareOnline, the New Castle County Chief of Police requested that his officers use greater discretion in proactive traffic or pedestrian stops and weigh if the stop would expose the officer or civilian to COVID-19. Similarly, according to an article from the Middletown Transcript, Middletown’s Chief of Police limited unnecessary exposure to COVID-19 by handling non-emergency situations over the phone and only taking people into custody if they were a threat.
Furthermore, probation should be a temporary tool that can help a person re-enter the community after incarceration. While it should aid a person’s rehabilitation, too often Delaware’s system treats people punitively. Inflexible rules and a lack of compassion for an individual’s unique needs can lead people back to prison without having committed a new crime.
Delaware’s probation system sends thousands back to incarceration each year for violating a technical condition or “crimeless” condition of their probation, such as missing meetings with their probation officer, missing curfew, or failing a drug test. Recently, though, the Department of Correction (DOC) temporarily stopped incarcerating people for technical violations during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Prison cell bars.
Between February and August 2020, Delaware’s probation population dropped by roughly 1935 people, and the incarcerated population decreased by 900. While the cause of this decline is unknown, it is likely attributable to a combination of factors that include: reduced crime; changed policing methods that caused fewer people to be charged with a crime and ultimately sentenced to probation; judges being cognizant of the impact on the defendant and the system of placing another person on probation or in jail; probation officers altering some of the conditions of probation, such as conducting meetings by phone rather than in-person; or even the DOC determining that additional monitoring was no longer necessary. However, one thing is certain: COVID-19 forced criminal justice system stakeholders to reconsider who should be in the system and who should not.
When the threat of this virus wanes, and as Delaware continues to reopen and navigate a new normal, our leaders must remember that lives are always on the line. These temporary criminal justice system changes made in response to the COVID-19 crisis have improved our system for the better. This should become the new normal, and we should not return to the status quo as it existed in the pre-COVID world.
As Delaware’s economy recovers and leaders look for ways to tackle a possible budget deficit, the benefits of permanently adopting these temporary changes to the criminal legal system become even more apparent. If state leaders were able to reduce the number of technical probation violations by 60% and cut the average amount of time on probation by half, they would save at least $37 million by 2025. Those are dollars we can reinvest in our schools, healthcare, economic development, and enhancing reentry services.
Delaware leaders should permanently adopt the changes to probation and policing that are already working. The response to COVID-19 has shown that expedient change is possible. If the system’s leaders decide to, they can change the probation and policing system — and they can do it quickly.
Javonne Rich is policy advocate at the ACLU of Delaware.
Florida attorney general asks for investigation of Bloomberg’s efforts to reinstate felon voting rights
God Bless Mike Bloomberg. I have oodles of articles about felons being unable to vote. The right to vote should have nothing to do with the criminal justice system. But Republicans try to prevent access to voting at every turn. Witness tRump’s unrelenting rubbish about “ballots”!
Many argue that the policies blocking voting are racist; remember that people of color are disproportionately hammered by our criminal justice system.
I see nothing illegal in this idea, and neither will the courts.
Excerpts from the Article:
Florida’s attorney general has requested that the FBI and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigate Michael Bloomberg’s efforts to reinstate the voting rights of felons by paying their fees, according to a letter to the agencies provided to CNN by the attorney general’s office.
Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody said she requested that the agencies investigate “potential violations of election laws.”
Bloomberg, a former New York mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, and his political operation have raised more than $16 million from supporters and foundations over the last week to pay the court fines and fees for more than 30,000 Black and Latino voters in Florida with felonies, allowing them to vote in the upcoming election.
The fundraising effort, according to multiple Bloomberg aides, will benefit the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, an organization run by formerly incarcerated people who are working to make it easier for ex-felons to vote.
“This transparent political ploy is just the latest example of Republicans attempting to keep Floridians disenfranchised,” Jason Schechter, a Bloomberg spokesperson, told CNN.
The attorney general said Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office had asked her to review the matter. DeSantis’ office has not yet responded to CNN’s request for comment. Moody’s letter, dated Wednesday, said, “After preliminarily reviewing this limited public information and law, it appears further investigation is warranted.”
Voters in Florida approved a constitutional amendment during the 2018 midterm elections that restored voting rights to more than a million people previously convicted of felonies, excluding those imprisoned for murder or sex offenses. Republican officials in the state passed and signed a subsequent law that required all former felons to pay their outstanding debts, including court fees. The US Supreme Court later upheld the law.
The FBI Field Office in Tampa said it has “not officially received the letter.” But “standard policy is not to confirm nor deny the existence of an investigation,” a FBI spokesperson Andrea Aprea told CNN.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed that it has received the letter and “will review the information,” Jeremy Burns told CNN.
Unlike most of the recent killings of Blacks by police, there is no good cause for anger – or for prosecution – against the police in this case. They are not to blame; the system is to blame. They entered with a “no knock warrant”, and when the occupant heard them coming, he opened fire. He fired a shot, not knowing who they were.
The problem is with no knock warrants, which should be eliminated, because they almost never are really needed. The risk of harm to cops and to civilians far outweighs any benefit.
Watch the Video Here:
This was bound to happen in our age of technology. In this regard, the Constitution has not kept pace with changes in society.
Although this article bristles with hints of dangerous circumventions of Constitutional rights, very, very, few are cited.
Excerpts from the Article:
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) knows about it and reportedly uses its database to conduct warrantless surveillance. CBP admitted that it uses the database in CBP’s updated Privacy Impact Assessment (“PIA”). The PIA states the database “provide[s] CBP law enforcement personnel with a broader ability to search license plates nationwide.”
LEARN (the Law Enforcement Archival Reporting Network) is a license plate reader innovation that allows for the collection of plate information of passing vehicles. With this information, CBP tracks historical locations of specific cars. Often other vehicles are equipped with license plate reader cameras and collect data on passing cars.
Vigilant’s sister company, DRN, claims to have over nine billion scans in its database. DRN shares all of its information with Vigilant customers.
It is virtually impossible to avoid such a dragnet. In April, a man was convicted of dealing heroin in Massachusetts. The state used historical location evidence caught by a reader near a bridge. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the conviction.
Justice Frank M. Gaziano did warn, “Where the [automated license plate readers] are placed matters…. ALPRs near constitutionally sensitive locations – the home, a place of worship, etc. –reveal more of an individual’s life associations than does an ALPR trained on an interstate highway.” The PIA claims to give notice and assessment of the unique privacy risks when using such information.
Sen. Ron Wyden wrote, “[CBP] owes the public an explanation … it’s now clear that several government agencies are purchasing data as an end-run around the Fourth Amendment….” CBP’s use of the purchased data is the latest in a trend being embraced by many government agencies.
In February, the Department of Homeland Security was chastised for tracking citizens through commercially available cellphone records from data broker Venntel. DHS was trying to circumvent stricter subpoena requirements set forth in the 2017 U.S. Supreme Court case Carpenter v. United States regarding use of historical cellphone location records.
Criticizing the FBI’s use of such information then, Chief Justice John Roberts warned, “Only the few without cell phones could escape this tireless and absolute surveillance.” Cellphone data, license plate data—what commercial data will Big Brother use next?
Certainly a major development, and a move which every state should make, as should the Feds!
Excerpts from the Article:
Colorado became the first state to pass a law prohibiting law enforcement officers from invoking qualified immunity as a defense when they’re accused in a lawsuit of violating a citizen’s civil rights. Hopefully, the law passed in June will start a trend in other states and lend support to a bill introduced in Congress on June 4, 2020, to do the same for federal civil rights lawsuits.
As part of a police reform bill introduced by Colorado Governor Jared Polis, called “Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act,” the new law says “qualified immunity is not a defense to liability pursuant to this section.” It also bans chokeholds, limits when police can shoot at fleeing suspects, and requires police to use body cameras and make the footage available to the public.
Qualified immunity, a hot topic lately, is a commonly used affirmative defense protecting law enforcement from lawsuits arising from alleged civil rights violations by officers committed in the line of duty. It was created by the U.S. Supreme Court in Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967), where a group of men filed a federal civil rights lawsuit after they were arrested and convicted in Mississippi for violating a state segregation law by mixing races in a bus terminal. When the Supreme Court later declared the law unconstitutional, they filed their lawsuit. The Supreme Court ruled that the police weren’t expected to “predict” that the law was unconstitutional and therefore they weren’t liable for the illegal arrests. Qualified immunity stems from the idea that unless “clearly established” law exists prohibiting an officer’s conduct, he’s immune from liability, no matter how egregious his actions may be.
Colorado’s law disqualifying qualified immunity, however, only applies to state lawsuits. “What Colorado did in this bill, which I think is really creative,” says Benjamin Levin, an associate professor at Colorado Law, “it creates a state cause of action in Colorado State courts, for people whose rights have been violated under the Colorado State Constitution.”
University of Denver law professor Alan Chen adds, “the importance of this is that it gives Colorado citizens a credible vehicle for enforcing their state constitutional rights against law enforcement officers.”
Critics of limiting or abolishing qualified immunity for law enforcement officers say it’s needed to ensure protection for officers’ split-second decisions in life-threatening situations. But “that doesn’t mean that the police are going to lose every [lawsuit] just because they don’t have qualified immunity,” says Chen. “There are other reasons why the plaintiffs might not necessarily prevail.” And the new law’s supporters have said as much, noting the change in law in Colorado only creates a lane for relief and doesn’t guarantee the outcome.
Studies show that isolation for juveniles is wildly counterproductive. I have seen adults go nuts (start talking to themselves, answering themselves, etc.) and it is worse for juveniles.
As for my experience, when guards willfully, maliciously, and criminally kept me in isolation for 415 days … “Thank you, God, for my strong spirit”.
Many kids need mental health attention, which is totally lacking in all of our prisons.
Excerpts from the Article:
Isolation. Timeout. Lockdown. The hole. Solitary confinement goes by many names, and it can be employed as arbitrarily as the language used to define it.
“There is no single standard for anything in the United States when it comes to crime and punishment, which is usually to everyone’s detriment,” said Ian Kysel, a visiting assistant clinical professor of law at Cornell Law School.
“In the area of conditions of confinement, that really continues to be the case. There’s really no enforceable national standards for anything in relation to minimally adequate conditions of confinement.”
Solitary confinement has its roots in the Quakers, a Protestant sect exploring more humane ways to treat criminals in the late 18th century. Quakers used isolation as a means of purification through introspective prayer — a form of penance.
The practice has since transformed and been institutionalized throughout the U.S. justice system, including in juvenile facilities as a means of discipline, protection and treatment.
Roughly 20% to 26% of youth reported being isolated during their time in juvenile detention. Of these, 87% reported they were isolated for more than two hours, while 53% said it was longer than 24 hours, according to a 2016 report by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency
“Solitary confinement and other forms of isolation remain all too common in juvenile facilities,” said Karen Lindell, a senior attorney at the Juvenile Law Center. “As described in our 2017 report on the use of solitary confinement, almost half of juvenile facilities report using isolation to control behavior, and more than two-thirds of juvenile defenders we polled say they have clients who spent time in solitary.”
Rule 45.1 of the UN’s “Nelson Mandela Rules” of internationally recognized guidelines states that solitary confinement “shall be used only in exceptional cases as a last resort, for as short a time as possible.”
At the national level, a federal law in 2016 prohibited the use of solitary confinement and involuntary seclusion to punish children — but it’s only applicable to those in federal Bureau of Prison facilities. However, across the country, it’s up to state and local officials to regulate the use of solitary confinement.
Jacqueline Rodriguez, then 12, spent the 2009 Christmas holidays at the Hillcrest Juvenile Hall in San Mateo, California. She was held in isolation because state law required roommates to be no more than two years apart in age and there were no other detainees 14 or younger.
Advocates, researchers, legislators and psychologists agree on the long-lasting, detrimental effects solitary confinement has on youth and adults alike. Despite overwhelming evidence and pressure from these groups, solitary confinement still is utilized in nearly every state for one reason or another. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 16 states use it without limitations.
One of those states is Louisiana, where juvenile detention centers follow standards outlined by the state’s Department of Child and Family Services. Long-term correctional facilities follow standards outlined by the Office of Juvenile Justice. These standards mainly address the process employees must follow after placing a youth in room confinement, room isolation, protective isolation or administrative segregation. Included are mandatory check-ins and proper documentation. “I would say that those standards are still lacking. They still allow kids to be confined in their cells for too long,” said Rachel Gassert, policy director at the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights. “It’s certainly of no value and it’s very harmful.”
Isolation can have an almost immediate psychological impact and cause lasting trauma in adults, research has shown, but experts say its effects on young people are more detrimental because their brains still are developing.
The extensive psychological effects of solitary can include hallucinations, anxiety, rage, insomnia, self-harm and suicidal thoughts and attempts, according to a 2011 report by Human Rights Watch. Physical damage includes lack of adequate exercise, physical changes, stunted growth, inadequate nutrition, hair loss and problems menstruating.
Experts say young people placed in solitary are more at risk to develop depression, engage in acts of self harm and attempt or die by suicide. Those with a history of mental illness, trauma and abuse are even more at risk.
This was the case for Solan Peterson, 13, of Louisiana. On Feb. 1, 2019, Solan was sent to Ware Youth Center in Coushatta after setting a roll of toilet paper on fire in his middle school restroom. Four days later, he was placed in solitary confinement after taking apart a lamp and using it to break the lock on his cell door. On Feb. 10, Solan died by suicide in the room he was confined.
“I think it was a major contributor to his death,” said his father, Ronnie Peterson. “He was not the type that would have survived long in solitary confinement.” Two days before Solan took his life, a 17-year-old at Ware had died by suicide while in solitary.
Solan was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and had a history of trauma from his time in the foster care system, where he went from home to home until his adoption in October 2013.
“When it’s like the situation we grew up in,” said Siarah Shalom Hall, Solan’s biological sister. “Occasionally after having been adopted it would cross my mind, ‘I wonder if my biological parents are still alive? I wonder how they’re doing or if one of them have killed themselves?’ “It never even crossed my mind that it was one of my siblings.”
Under Louisiana’s guidelines, corrections officers are supposed to check on young people held in solitary every 15 minutes. They didn’t. About two that morning in 2019, Peterson and his wife received a phone call informing them their son had hanged himself using a bedsheet and died hours before. He had been in isolation for four days.
“He would have probably been OK in a regular cell amongst a bunch of other kids in Ware,” his father said. “It might not have been ideal, and he might have had some problems, but I don’t think we’d had the same outcome.”
Hall, Solan’s sister, said there were red flags that should’ve been considered before placing Solan in confinement, including his childhood trauma and ADHD medications. “It just blows my mind that every single sign just slipped past everyone,” she said. “So many people played a role in this happening, and so many people were able to prevent it and just no one did.
“If there were even just a few more regulations. There were tons of things that could be put into place. But even if one of those things were there, this could have been prevented.”
After Solan’s suicide, his family became advocates against the use of solitary confinement, working with various groups and lawmakers, including the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, to push new legislation. In June 2019, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed House Bill 158, commonly known as Solan’s Law.
The law provides alternatives to juvenile detention in Louisiana and requires screening that takes into account any factors — such as previous arrests and mental health — that would lessen or increase a sentence.
“The idea was just to establish objective criteria that was aligned with the purpose of detention,” Gassert said. “That does not mean that a child must be detained if they meet certain criteria. But just that they should not be detained if they don’t meet the criteria.”
Although Solan’s Law doesn’t specifically address solitary confinement, it’s considered a step in the right direction as an increasing number of advocates push for Louisiana to ban the practice. “That’s by far not all that needs to be done,” Hall said. “There is so much more. Even through this, I learned a lot that’s wrong with solitary confinement.”
Isolation practices should only be used when it’s deemed absolutely necessary through set protocols, she said, such as when a child is putting others in genuine danger. “I would like to see all solitary confinement abolished,” Peterson said, ’but especially for youths because I find it to be a kind of torture.”
Seven states have laws that limit or prohibit the use of solitary confinement in youth detention centers, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
In January 2018, California enacted legislation that provides specific guidelines for juvenile solitary confinement and replaced the term with “room confinement.” The law limits room confinement to four hours, after which the minor must be released and checked by medical staff, or given a plan detailing when he or she will be released from the locked room.
“You could have a law that bans all uses of solitary confinement,” said Lindell with the Juvenile Law Center, “and yet the system might still be very often placing kids in a room by themselves for many hours at a time, or perhaps days at a time for their own safety or for something called room confinement or isolation. There’s all these kinds of different euphemisms or terms.”
Experts and advocates say isolation is a last-resort method of de-escalation that should only be used to allow a child time to calm down. If it doesn’t work, Lindell said, employees must try something else. “You don’t need to just continue to put that person in the room for longer,” she said. “You need to get another mental health professional involved. You need to try something different. There’s a whole host of different tools, potentially, but what we don’t need is to be next to extend that period.”
Lindell said “necessary” use of solitary confinement should be for a matter of hours, never for punishment and always as a time to calm down.
Kysel, the Cornell law professor, called the continued use of solitary confinement in the U.S. despite widespread condemnation “a kind of comprehensive institutional failure.”
“You’re not going to reform the use of solitary confinement without reforming the way that we treat young people in conflict with the law,” he said.
Jos Fox is a Myrta J. Pulliam fellow. This report is part of Kids Imprisoned, an investigation of juvenile justice in America produced by the Carnegie-Knight News21 program. For more stories, visit kidsimprisoned.news21.com. If you or someone you know is in need of help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or text 741-741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor right away.
To which I say: Hooray! Too many of the old fogies have been there too long! 🙂
We need new blood and new laws!
Excerpts from the Article:
A Black political newcomer campaigning on a progressive platform has defeated the leader of Delaware’s state Senate in a Democratic primary.
Social worker Marie Pinkney garnered about 52.4% of the vote in Tuesday’s primary to defeat Senate President Pro Tem David McBride in the 13th Senate district primary.
McBride is one of the longest-serving lawmakers in Delaware history. He was first elected to the Senate in 1980 after spending two years in the House and had not had a primary challenger since 1986. He became pro tem in 2016 after serving four years as majority leader.
Pinkney advances to face Republican Alexander Homich in the November general election.
During the campaign, Pinkney was particularly critical of McBride for “locking up” gun-control legislation last year.
McBride declared last year that several gun-control measures, including bans on certain semiautomatic firearms and large capacity magazines, would not come out of a committee he led because support among fellow Democrats was “almost nonexistent.”
Jesse Chadderdon, executive director of the Delaware Democratic Party, said the election results suggest McBride’s position on the gun bills “ultimately had consequences,” as more than two-thirds of Democrats favor stronger control measures.
“It’s hard to say it was the only factor, but do I believe it was the most significant factor? Yes, I do,” he said.
Pinkney is one of several newcomers endorsed by Progressive Democrats for Delaware who defeated incumbent Democratic lawmakers.
“That’s a huge victory,” PDD President Jordyn Pusey said of Pinkney’s win.
In other races, newcomer Eric Morrison defeated Rep. Earl Jaques of Newark, who was facing his first primary challenge in 10 years. Morrison will face Republican Tripp Keister and Libertarian William Hinds in November. Should he win the general election, Morrison would become the first openly gay candidate elected to the General Assembly.
Progressive challenger Larry Lambert defeated Rep. Ray Siegfried, who was elected in 2018 to represent a Claymont-area district. Lambert was the runner-up to Siegfried in the 2018 Democratic primary. He will face Republican James Haubrich and Libertarian Scott Gesty in November.
A fourth candidate endorsed by Progressive Democrats for Delaware, Madinah Wilson-Anton, was leading Rep. John Viola in a Democratic primary for the 26th House District. Viola has held the Newark-area seat for 22 years. Wilson-Anton, a former legislative aide, could become the first Muslim elected to the General Assembly if she defeats Viola and then Republican Timothy Conrad in November. State elections commissioner Anthony Albence said Wednesday that officials were not anticipating any changes to unofficial vote totals showing Wilson-Anton defeating Viola by a narrow margin.
Two other progressive candidates won Democratic primaries for open state Senate seats. Sarah McBride easily won the primary for the 1st District seat and is likely to become the first openly transgender candidate elected to the General Assembly, as the district is overwhelmingly Democratic.
Attorney Kyle Evans Gay, who has been endorsed by abortion rights and gun-control groups, easily won her 5th District Democratic primary and will face incumbent Republican Sen. Cathy Cloutier in November.
Pusey said Tuesday’s results show the Democratic Party needs to start listening more to its progressive members and do more to help working people.
“They’re not really in touch with the demographics of their districts anymore,” Pusey said of incumbent lawmakers. “They’re not really advocating for things that are going to help everybody, and I think the voters are just tired of it. … They have been holding onto power, and they haven’t been doing what the Democratic voters really want.”
“We’re a party that is very diverse, but our two biggest constituencies are women and people of color,” he noted, saying it should not have come as a surprise that Pinkney, a young Black woman, would be competitive in a majority-minority Senate district.
Chadderdon, a former Senate staffer, said McBride’s legacy includes his commitment to environmental stewardship and public health. He helped Delaware in 2002 become the second state, after California, to pass a law against smoking in indoor workplaces and public places.
“He was an environmentalist before it was cool to be an environmentalist,” Chadderdon said of McBride. ”… He did a great amount to move environmental policy forward at a time when it wasn’t chic.”
Trump and Biden condemn shooting of Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies – Duh! Violence is NOT the Answer – MLK taught us that! – kra
Violence never is the solution! tRump’s Tweet, like so man of his others, shows his ignorance; there is no way he can “get much faster with our courts”! The fool should spend more time governing and less time Tweeting! Add to that the fact that he promotes violence, and we must vote him OUT!
Excerpts from the Article:
President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Sunday denounced what police called an ambush of two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies and said the attacker, still at large, should face harsh punishment.
The sheriff expressed optimism Sunday that the deputies would recover after being shot Saturday night as they sat in their patrol vehicle in Compton. A video released by authorities shows a person walk up to a parked police car, fire a gun into the passenger-side window and then run away.
Police and elected officials have urged the community to come together in condemnation of the attack, which comes at a fraught moment for law enforcement across the nation and in Los Angeles. Police agencies, including the sheriff’s department there, have faced mounting anger and demonstrations over deadly force deployed against people of color.
“Animals that must be hit hard!” he said. Later Sunday morning, Trump tweeted of the officers: “If they die, fast trial death penalty for the killer. Only way to stop this!” At a roundtable in Nevada, the president spoke of stiffer penalties for violence, saying that if a suspect is apprehended, “we are going to get much faster with our courts and we have to get much tougher with our sentencing.”
Biden also condemned the “cold-blooded shooting” in a tweet Sunday morning.
“Acts of lawlessness and violence directed against police officers are unacceptable, outrageous, and entirely counterproductive to the pursuit of greater peace and justice in America — as are the actions of those who cheer such attacks on,” Biden said in a statement Sunday afternoon. “Those who perpetrate these crimes must be brought to justice, and, if convicted, face the full brunt of the law.”
The injured deputies, a 31-year-old woman and a 24-year-old man, were both sworn into office 14 months ago, officials said at a news conference. Both suffered multiple gunshot wounds, according to authorities, and underwent surgery Saturday night.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva called the shooting a “cowardly act,” echoing the words of California Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D) earlier at the news conference. Jones-Sawyer called the deputies “heroes,” and Villanueva said the attack was a reminder of the tough and dangerous job facing law enforcement.
Last year, 48 law enforcement officers were killed by an offender “while engaged in or on account of the performance of their official duties,” according to the FBI. Villanueva, who on Sunday tweeted appreciation for “overwhelming support” from across the country, expressed concern about other suspects opening fire on officers “unprovoked.”
The deputies, part of a transportation detail, were shot about 7 p.m. Saturday and were able to radio for help, according to the sheriff’s department. The shooter fled on foot. Sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener said Saturday night that despite video capturing the incident, authorities have only a “very, very generic suspect description” provided by one of the wounded deputies: Details captured through a “fisheye lens,” he said, are “going to be deceiving.”
Sunday afternoon, the sheriff’s department announced a $100,000 reward for information “leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspect,” who was described as a black man between 28 and 30 years old in dark clothing.
Sunday afternoon, the scene outside St. Francis Medical Center was calm. Officers said the protests had ended Saturday. Three members of the sheriff’s department stood outside the hospital’s entrance holding gifts, balloons, a teddy bear and a letter addressed to “Our Hero.”