Commentary: Life after prison in Delaware has unfair consequences – by my friend, Ron Fraser – Excellent!
My friend, Ron Fraser, did a great job with this “Commentary” piece, PUBLISHED in the Delaware State News of 4/3/19 on pages A4 and A5. Way to go, Ron!
Commentary: Life after prison in Delaware has unfair consequences:
With each criminal conviction, the state of Delaware matter-of-factly tells the defendants how long they will spend behind bars. Hidden from view, in the “fine-print,” is a long list of additional penalties attached to these convictions.
Only upon leaving prison and while attempting to rebuild their lives, do offenders experience, first-hand, how these non-prison “collateral consequences” limit or deny their basic rights to housing, food stamps, education, voting, employment, child custody and much more.
A 2018 study conducted by the Prison Policy Initiative found that “formally incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of over 27 percent — higher than the total U.S. unemployment rate during any historical period, including the Great Depression … [and] … Exclusionary policies and practices are responsible for these market inequities.”
The study concludes: “A prison sentence should not be a perpetual punishment … States should implement automation record expungement procedures and reform their licensing practices so as to eliminate the automatic rejection of people with felony convictions.”
“The stigma of incarceration and disconnection from the workforce,” according to a Council of State Governments report, “are among the challenges people face when trying to find a job after release from prison or jail. People who have been incarcerated earn 40 percent less annually than they had earned prior to incarceration.”
Researchers at the Council of State Governments have prepared a list of 770 separate “collateral consequences” imbedded in Delaware statutes and regulations — waiting to snare persons convicted of a crime. Some consequences kick-in automatically. Others are applied on a case-by-case basis. Some have a set duration, others are indefinite.
Here are examples of how Delaware’s post-prison penalties make the prison-to-society transition more difficult for ex-offenders.
“Ineligible for a plumbing license.” A discretionary penalty with a variable duration for conviction of a felony or misdemeanor.
“Ineligible to be public education employee.” A discretionary penalty with an indefinite duration for conviction of a felony or misdemeanor.
“Ineligible for home inspector license.” A discretionary penalty with various durations for conviction of a felony or a misdemeanor.
Public Assistance and Other Rights
“Ineligible to participate in/attend organized sports event.” A mandatory penalty with a time-limited duration for conviction of crimes of violence.
“Ineligible to vote.” A mandatory penalty with a time-limited duration for conviction of any felony, crimes of violence and election-related offenses.
“Ineligible to participate in Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF)/food stamps program.” A mandatory penalty with a variable duration for conviction of any felony, misdemeanor, controlled substances offenses, and crimes involving fraud, dishonesty, misrepresentation or money-laundering.
Because “one out of five working Americans needs a license to work while one in three American adults has a criminal record,” the Institute for Justice encourages state lawmakers to repeal needless licenses, scale back anticompetitive licensing laws and strengthen the rights of people with a criminal record to gain meaningful employment.
To do so, the Institute has prepared, for state adoption, a model legislation titled, “Collateral Consequences in Occupational Licensing Act.” And, to date, at least 18 states — including Delaware — have reformed their occupational licensing laws to reduce entry barriers for those with a criminal record.
According to the Collateral Consequences Resource Center’s Restoration of Rights Project, a non-profit organization that tracks legal restrictions on people with a criminal record, Delaware has taken steps to remove employment barriers for ex-offenders.
•Denial or revocation of professional licenses based upon a criminal conviction requires that the crime be “substantially related” to the profession or occupation at issue.
•Statewide, public employers, with certain positions exempt, may not inquire regarding an applicant’s criminal history until a conditional offer is made.
When state legislatures erect legal barriers that make life after prison difficult, if not impossible, they are setting people with a criminal record up for failure — and a trip back to prison.
Ex-offenders have a personal responsibility to make the lifestyle changes needed to successfully re-enter society. Delaware legislators also have a responsibility to give wrong-doers the opportunity to make these changes and to become productive, law-abiding citizens.
Ronald Fraser, Ph.D., writes on public policy issues for the DKT Liberty Project, a Washington-based civil liberties organization.
Verdict Against Prison Guard – Brutal Attack – $65,000 Awarded- Steve Hampton – 2019 – Fox vs Eben – PRESS RELEASE
My friend, Steve Hampton, Esq., called to say that he won a verdict – an award – of $65,000 against some Delaware D O C officials who beat an inmate for no reason.
GREAT JOB, Steve!
PRESS RELEASE – 4/3/19
Dover Lawyer Wins Case Regarding Brutal Assault
On Tuesday, April 2, following a two-day trial in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware, Dover attorney Stephen Hampton, Esq. won his case on behalf of Jake Fox against Eben Boyce, who brutally attacked and injured Mr. Fox for no reason whatsoever, when the jury awarded Mr. Fox $65,000 in damages. What is noteworthy is that this was no “run of the mill” assault case.
This was one of scores of cases which could and should be won annually! You see, Mr. Fox is an inmate, and Mr. Boyce is a Delaware D O C prison guard. For every one of these cases which is filed, at least a dozen more could and should be. For every one which makes it to trial, at least 100 do not, because most inmates do not have an attorney, cannot get one, and they are no match for the D OC lawyers who specialize in making these cases go away! So many such cases are filed that there are at least a half-dozen, maybe far more, attorneys to swat them down.
As I have said for years, since I SAW it, Delaware D O C is an agency out of control. Mr. Hampton, myself, and other advocates know this because we get credible and verifiable reports of crimes committed by D O C staff weekly … primarily from inmates and their loved ones. It is long past time for the Press to acknowledge the tragic, rampant, and counterproductive violence against inmates by prison personnel.
Here is the Complaint filed in that case:
Ken Abraham, former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE, 302-423-4067
This is what we need to do … get the word out! I sent this to my press list of about 300 media outlets.
The Articles about the trial were published on the front page of our state’s two principal newspapers the day after I sent out the Press Release.
Here is the one from the Delaware State News:
Hi, Please read this all when time permits! Not trying to sell anything; it is info you should know!
Introduction to new connections on LinkedIn – kra – GREAT INFORMATION!
The German prison program that inspired Connecticut A prison in Connecticut is taking cues from Germany, where inmates do yoga and have keys to their cells. 60 Minutes reported on it in 2016
Thank God that the mainstream show, 60 Minutes, again featured this. Word will spread and perhaps more politicians and prison officials will come to their senses! These kinds of programs have proved far superior in keeping us safe for years in European countries. Our “lock them up … tough on crime” policies have failed for over 40 years. See related articles on this website.
Excerpts from the Article:
This week on 60 Minutes, correspondent Bill Whitaker reports on a radical attempt at prison reform at a Connecticut prison nicknamed the Rock. The prison focuses on therapy and self-improvement, with the idea that rehabilitation will reduce re-offense. The idea came from Germany, where the recidivism rate is about half that of the U.S.
In 2016, Whitaker reported on the Germany approach, where the objective is rehabilitation, not retribution. While touring a Berlin prison, he joined a group of U.S. prison and law enforcement officials, including then-Governor of Connecticut Dannel Malloy.
As seen in Whitaker’s 2016 report, German prison is dramatically different from American incarceration. To begin with, prison is reserved for the worst of the worst—murderers, rapists, career criminals. Life inside mirrors life outside as much as possible; Germans call it normalization. Cells have doors, not bars, and inmates have the key. There is yoga, crocheting, and painting class.
Bernd Junge, a convicted murderer in Germany, was serving a life sentence but earned weekend leave for good behavior. “The real goal is reintegration into society, train them to find a different way to handle their situation outside, life without further crimes, life without creating new victims, things like that,” Joerg Jesse told Whitaker. A psychologist by training, he is the director of prisons in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, a state in northern Germany.
But what about punishment? “The incarceration, the imprisonment itself is punishment,” Jesse said. “The loss of freedom. That’s it.”
Malloy was impressed by what he saw and returned home inspired to launch the small German-style program at the Rock.
As many related articles point out, the 13 th Amendment of the U S Constitution still allows prison slavery, which is really a racist policy, given the inarguable racist nature of our criminal justice system. There are posted here many articles documenting racism in the system.
Excerpts from the Article:
The second time was the charm. On November 6, 2018, Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state’s constitution that abolished all forms of slavery and involuntary servitude, after rejecting a similar ballot measure in 2016. [See: PLN, Dec. 2018, p.48; Nov. 2017, p.40]. Previously, Article II, Section 26 of Colorado’s constitution prohibited slavery “except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”
The anti-slavery Amendment A was approved by 65 percent of Colorado voters. A similar measure, Amendment T, had been narrowly defeated two years earlier – a difference attributed to the language used in the prior ballot measure.
“The hope is that this win opens up the door to a larger conversation about what abolition really looks like and can accomplish,” said Abolish Slavery Colorado’s co-chair Jumokie Emery. “It’s clear to me, but regardless of how people feel about the criminal justice system, the ultimate outcome shouldn’t be slavery.”
The ballot measure made Colorado the first state to remove language allowing slavery as a punishment for crime from its constitution. At least a dozen other states’ constitutions and the U.S. Constitution still contain clauses permitting slavery as a form of punishment. Similar abolition measures failed in Wisconsin in March 2018 and stalled in Tennessee.
“This won’t have a direct impact on prison reform or how inmates are treated,” said Abolish Slavery Colorado organizer Kamau Allen. “But it is definitely more impactful than removing something like a Confederate monument, because this will actually change the text of a living document.”
Indeed, constitutional exceptions that allow prison slavery seem to be most prevalent in the states where chattel slavery once thrived. It is beyond time for those states to throw off this last vestige of their “peculiar institution” and follow Colorado’s lead in abolishing all forms of slavery, including prison slave labor.
New lawsuit accuses New Mexico prisons, health provider of poor care – Another Mentally Ill Prison Suicide – kra
If you had $5 for every such outrageous abuse of authority and deplorable indifference to life, you would be fabulously wealthy! This is not a New Mexico problem, it is an American problem, which exists in every state.
Here is just one of the latest such cases: County settles lawsuit with estate of man who killed himself at Lerdo Jail for $2 million = https://www.bakersfield.com/news/county-settles-lawsuit-with-estate-of-man-who-killed-himself/article_0772c9e8-4a8a-11e9-a25c-3fd4e55b9825.html
I shall repeat for the umpteenth time:
- YOU are paying billions of dollars annually for all of this avoidable litigation, the costs every step of the way, the payouts and settlements.
- The ONLY way to change this is to prosecute and imprison those responsible. READ = How to avoid the deaths of prison guards and inmates
- This is an abuse of epidemic proportions.
Excerpts from the Article:
State prison officials and health care providers at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility are accused in a new lawsuit of failing to provide appropriate mental health care to a suicidal inmate, leading to his death at the prison in December. The inmate’s mother, Trini Encinias, says in the complaint, filed Tuesday in the state District Court in Santa Fe, that her son Adonus Encinias hanged himself in his cell Dec. 8 after repeatedly pleading for help and attempting suicide at least twice.
It is at least the third lawsuit filed this month against the state Department of Corrections and Centurion Correctional Healthcare, a private firm the state contracts for $41 million a year to provide medical services in its 11 prisons.
The new suit says Adonus Encinias, in his early 20s, was using medications to treat mood disorders, such as depression. While he was incarcerated, medical staff changed his treatment regimen to include medications for chronic anxiety, seizures, insomnia and other mental and physical ailments, the suit says, and Encinias’ mental health began to deteriorate.
The complaint lays out a litany of instances in which Encinias asked for help, including a request to be enrolled in the prison’s substance abuse program. But, the suit alleges, that request was denied.
He told behavioral health staff at the prison that he was “really depressed and had a lot of emotional issues, no precautions were taken” to prevent him from attempting suicide, according to the complaint.
It cites two incidents, in May and in August, in which he made suicide attempts. Health care providers at the prison “should have known or knew and should have trained its agents and employees to care for such patients at chronic risk of suicide,” the suit says.
The suit, alleging negligence, medical malpractice and wrongful death, names as defendants the prison and its warden, Ken Smith; the Corrections Department; the department’s Behavioral Health Bureau chief, Wendy Price; acting Corrections Secretary Anthony Romero; Centurion; MHM Health Professionals Inc., a division of Centurion; and other officials and employees affiliated with the prison.
The Corrections Department remains without a Cabinet secretary after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s appointee for the position, former Florida corrections chief Julie Jones, withdrew her candidacy in February.
Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesman for Lujan Grisham, said in an email Wednesday that the state cannot comment on pending litigation.
Officials from Centurion did not respond to an email requesting comment. The suit seeks monetary damages.
The state awarded Centurion its prison health care contract in May 2016 following a New Mexican report a month earlier on the firm’s predecessor, Corizon Health Inc., which had faced about 15o lawsuits alleging delayed, denied or substandard medical care in the nine years it held the contract.
Since Centurion began operating in the state, it has faced at least 30 lawsuits filed by inmates or the estates of deceased inmates.
Women who accused Contra Costa deputy of rape settle for $80,000 County releases documents naming alleged victims
I get enough complaints about this stuff to know that for every one of these incidents of rape by police where the cop is held accountable, at least 100 are not reported or nobody acts on the report. Credit is due here to authorities for charging the dirty cop.
Follow this and pray the cop is convicted and given prison time.
Excerpts from the Article:
Two women who last year accused a Contra Costa County sheriff’s deputy of using threats to rape them while they were being held in the Richmond jail each settled for $40,000, according to county records released Monday. The women, who this newspaper are not naming, were both awaiting trial in the West Contra Costa Detention Facility in March 2018, when they alleged they were sexually assaulted by then-Deputy Patrick Morseman, 29, a resident of Vallejo at the time. After a police investigation, Morseman was charged with four counts of unlawful sex with an incarcerated person, but not rape, court records show.
Morseman was fired and arrested after the allegations surfaced.
After Morseman’s arrest, the women acquired attorneys at civil firm based in Los Angeles called West Coast Trial Lawyers. They were expected to file a federal lawsuit against Morseman and Contra Costa County, but the legal claims settled last November, without a suit having been filed. Contra Costa County released records detailing the settlement on Monday, in response to a records request by this news organization.
The records released by the county were supposed to be redacted, but were sent to a reporter with the names of the women listed. This newspaper, though, has a policy against naming alleged victims of sexual assault or domestic violence without their explicit consent. One of the women, known as “Jane Doe 1” in court records, recently caused a hiccup in the criminal case against Morseman when she failed to obey a subpoena and show up to court to testify against him. Last week, a judge issued a bench warrant for the woman.
Last year, the women alleged Morseman approached them in a jail cell and threatened to give them a write-up if they didn’t perform various sex acts on him.
Morseman was initially investigated on suspicion of raping the women under color of authority, but police say they later acquired evidence — details of which have not been made public — that showed Morseman committed what the penal code defines as “unlawful, consensual sex.” He pleaded not guilty and remains out of jail on bail. A preliminary hearing in his case is set for April.
Whatever you are doing to help others, to lift the spirits of another person ….
God Bless your Day and …
If you know an inmate, send him or her a letter; I remember so well what a joy it was to get any outside contact!
Sweet home Alabama …. unless home is a prison. This is how out of control all of our prisons are! Relatives of the slain men may have a case for “failure to protect”.
Excerpts from the Article:
An emergency response team has been sent to the Bibb County Correctional Facility in Brent following the latest murder to occur inside the state prison in a span of three days. Ray Anthony Little, 56, was fatally stabbed during an assault by another inmate around 4 p.m. Friday in one of the facility’s housing areas.
Little, who was serving a life sentence for a 2012 first-degree robbery and kidnapping conviction in Mobile County, was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Charged with murder is 30-year-old Devarrieo Montez Shepherd. He had been serving a 30-year sentence from a 2005 first-degree robbery in Etowah County.
Shepherd, according to an Alabama Department of Corrections news release, appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance at the time of the attack. No further incident occurred during the attack. ADOC is also investigating a homicide that occurred Tuesday inside the same facility, in which 27-year-old Quinton Ashaad Few was fatally stabbed, possibly by 31-year-old Terrence Griffin.
Griffin, who is serving a life sentence without parole for a 2011 murder conviction in Tuscaloosa County, now faces a capital murder charge. Few was serving a 20-year sentence for a conviction earlier this year on first-degree robbery.
In response to the incidences, the ADOC dispatched a Correctional Emergency Response Team (CERT) to the prison to assist staff and to search inmates and the facility for contraband. The prison is secure and remains locked down until ADOC completes its investigation into both homicides, the department said.
The conditions inside Alabama’s prisons continue to receive scrutiny following U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson’s emergency order earlier this year to block the placement of inmates diagnosed with serious mental illness in segregation, or individual cells, because the isolation causes their conditions to worsen and increases the risk of suicide.
The ADOC is under a court order to roughly double its security staff by adding 2,000 correctional officers over the next few years.
The state’s prisons have been identified as among the most violent in the country, with a prison homicide rate that is 10 times the national average. Severe understaffing, poor security, and aging facilities continue to plague the system.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, last month, announced a plan to build three new prisons for men at a cost of around $900 million. Some lawmakers have since criticized the plan.
In class-action settlement, Minnesota prisoners win access to pricey hepatitis C drugs Class-action suit accused state of withholding the cure for hepatitis C
Of course, rigorous monitoring will be needed to ensure that prison officials follow the court order. More often than not, they ignore it and proceed with business as usual …. causing more litigation … wasting more of your hard-earned tax dollars!
Excerpts from the Article:
Minnesota prisoners with chronic hepatitis C infections must be provided with highly effective but costly antiviral drugs following a class-action lawsuit settlement. A group of five inmates infected with the virus sued the Department of Corrections in 2015, accusing the agency of withholding the new drugs from them despite the medications having a 95 percent cure rate.
“The settlement will provide a cure to all prisoners at every stage of progression,” said Andrew Mohring, an attorney for the prisoners. “It puts Minnesota in the forefront for treatment and care of its prisoners who have chronic hepatitis C.”
The prisoners were not awarded any money as part of the settlement. However, the DOC must reimburse their attorneys $325,000 in fees and another $41,000 in costs. The medications, known as “direct acting antiviral” (DAA) drugs, range in price from $26,400 to more than $100,000 per patient. In court filings, the DOC has said that providing the drugs to all infected inmates could “result in a fundamental alteration to the DOC or its programming” because of the expense.
Under the terms of the settlement, which won preliminary approval on Monday, the DOC must screen all prisoners for hepatitis C. Antiviral drugs must be provided if the inmate has an advanced stage of the disease or has hepatitis along with other complications, such as another viral infection, diabetes or a liver transplant.
An inmate denied treatment can request a re-evaluation every six months. Any inmate with the virus will get treatment after 16 months’ imprisonment.
The litigation joins a series of similar lawsuits across the country that ask whether prison inmates have a right to the most effective drugs despite the toll on the corrections budget. The lawsuit alleges that, although some inmates were getting the new drugs, the DOC’s medical guidelines conflict with the medical standard of care endorsed by “practitioners, major medical associations, and care providers” that requires testing and immediate treatment of all patients with chronic hepatitis C, with limited exceptions.
The DAAs, first approved by federal regulators in 2013, have fewer side effects than older treatments and only require taking a pill once or twice daily for up to 12 weeks.
Private and government health insurers have increasingly agreed to cover the drugs for patients suffering from all levels of hepatitis C, a contagious disease that attacks the liver. Hepatitis C typically spreads by blood through needles or sexual contact. Left untreated, hepatitis C can cause severe liver damage and cancer. About 75 percent to 85 percent of people who have hepatitis C will develop a chronic infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Some of the inmates in the lawsuit said they were infected with hepatitis C while incarcerated.
A previous court filing from the prisoners estimated that there 3,500 inmates with a hepatitis C infection, though in a statement the DOC said 100 prisoners were treated a year, a number that could double.
In an order, U.S. District Judge Patrick Schiltz found that the DOC was essentially telling its inmates that they wouldn’t be treated until they suffered liver damage.
There is one movie which my son and I watched 4 or 5 times when he was little; he liked it so much. It was a sci-fi movie starring Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver in a space adventure where aliens from another planet [the Thermians, led by Mathesar] had seen the T V show broadcast from earth [Galaxy Quest] and they thought the actors – the show – were real. So when the “evil villain” [General Sarris] threatened their civilization, they brought Tim Allen and his team through space to help them fight the evil forces.
Baxter was 10, and he just loved that movie! Here is the link to it on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galaxy_Quest
Yes, it was a goofy-ass movie, but I loved the line repeated throughout by the leader of the “good guys”, Mathesar: “Never give up, never surrender!” That was “the moral of the story”, and it is the attitude one must have when fighting real life injustice.
As you know, my theme song is Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUTXb-ga1fo