This article was sent by my friend Margaret Hawkins, head of DARSOL. It is an excellent summary of some positive developments in our criminal justice system to date.
Excerpts from the Article:
January 10, 2019
“Reducing Barriers to Reintegration: Fair chance and expungement reforms in 2018”
Cover-Fair-Chance-Reform-2018 The title of this post is the title of this notable new report from the Collateral Consequences Resource Center to document the laws passed in 2018 aimed at reducing barriers to successful reintegration for individuals with a criminal record. Here is the report’s executive summary:
* In 2018, 30 states and the District of Columbia produced 56 separate laws aimed at reducing barriers faced by people with criminal records in the workplace, at the ballot box, and elsewhere. Many of these new laws enacted more than one type of reform. This prolific legislative “fair chance” track record, the high point of a six-year trend, reflects the lively on-going national conversation about how best to promote rehabilitation and reintegration of people with a criminal record.
* As in past years, approaches to restoring rights varied widely from state to state, both with respect to the type of relief, as well as the specifics of who is eligible, how relief is delivered, and the effect of relief. Despite a growing consensus about the need for policy change to alleviate collateral consequences, little empirical research has been done to establish best practices, or what works best to promote reintegration.
* The most promising legislative development recognizes the key role occupational licensing plays in the process of reintegration, and it was this area that showed the greatest uniformity of approach. Of the 14 states that enacted laws regulating licensing in 2018, nine (added to 4 in 2017) adopted a similar comprehensive framework to improve access to occupational licenses for people with a criminal record, limiting the kinds of records that may be considered, establishing clear criteria for administrative decisions, and making agency procedures more transparent and accountable.
* The most consequential single new law was a Florida ballot initiative to restore the franchise to 1.5 million people with a felony conviction, which captured headlines across the country when it passed with nearly 65% of voters in favor. Voting rights were also restored for parolees, by statute in Louisiana and by executive order in New York.
* The largest number of new laws — 27 statutes in 19 states — expanded access to sealing or expungement, by extending eligibility to additional categories of offenses and persons, by reducing waiting periods, or by simplifying procedures. A significant number of states addressed record clearing for non-conviction records (including diversions), for marijuana or other decriminalized offenses, for juveniles, and for human trafficking victims.
* For the first time, the disadvantages of a separate petition-based relief system were incorporated into legislative discussions. Four states established automated or systemic record-sealing mechanisms aimed at eliminating a “second chance gap” which occurs when a separate civil action must be filed. Pennsylvania’s “clean slate” law is the most ambitious experiment in automation to date. Other states sought to incorporate relief directly into the criminal case, avoiding the Pennsylvania law’s technological challenges.
* Three additional states acted to prohibit public employers from inquiring about criminal history during the initial stages of the hiring process, Washington by statute, and Michigan and Kansas by executive order. Washington extended the prohibition to private employers as well. A total of 33 states and the District of Columbia now have so-called “ban-the-box” laws, and 11 states extend the ban to private employers.
* Four states expanded eligibility for judicial certificates of relief. Colorado’s “order of collateral relief” is now the most extensive certificate law in the nation, available for almost all crimes as early as sentencing, and effective to bar consideration of conviction in public employment and licensing. Arizona, California, and North Carolina made more modest changes to facilitate access to this judicial “forgiving” relief.
* The District of Columbia established a clemency board to recommend to the President applications for pardon and commutation by D.C. Code offenders. Governors in California and New York used their pardon power to spare dozens of non-citizens from deportation, and California also streamlined its pardon process and made it more transparent. Moving in the other direction, Nebraska authorized sealing of pardoned convictions, and Maine made both pardon applications and pardon grants confidential.
* The legal landscape at the end of 2018 suggests that states are experimenting with a more nuanced blending of philosophical approaches to dealing with the collateral consequences of arrest and conviction. These approaches include forgiving people’s past crimes (through pardon or judicial dispensation), forgetting them (through record-sealing or expungement), or forgoing creating a record in the first place (through diversionary dispositions). While sealing and expungement remain the most popular forms of remedy, there seems to be both popular and institutional resistance to limiting what the public may see respecting the record of serious offenses, and a growing preference for more transparent restoration mechanisms that limit what the public may do with such a record, along with standards to guide administrative decision-making.
What the head of prisons in Vermont does not say is what EVERYONE who knows the truth knows: most drugs in all prisons are brought in by prison staff!
Their policy of amnesty for inmates willing to tell the truth would be great IF it actually led to prosecution of all wrongdoers, including staff!
Excerpts from the Article:
Two inmates overdosed over the weekend in the Northwest State Correctional Facility in Swanton, prompting corrections officials to place the prison on lockdown while Vermont State Police canines searched for drugs.
One inmate was discovered without a pulse, but both survived. Corrections Commissioner Mike Touchette said the drug they ingested was likely K2 or Spice — synthetic cannabinoids. Corrections officials said both inmates were given the overdose-reversal drug Narcan. The department acknowledged that Narcan doesn’t have an effect in reversing a non-opiate overdose, but it’s policy to administer the drug whenever an inmate is found unresponsive with no apparent injuries.
Two other Vermont inmates have overdosed during the past six months or so. Staff quickly used Narcan to reverse those overdoses.
Touchette has decided to expand Narcan access for prison guards and workers. Previously, shift supervisors and medical staff were the only staff equipped with overdose-reversal kits. “After the weekend here we’ve made a change in policy to make sure that all staff have access to the Narcan,” Touchette said Monday. “Generally, our response times [to any incident] are between 10 and 30 seconds, but you know with any overdose event, time matters. Seconds matter.”
Touchette said that illicit drugs get smuggled into prisons through mail, visitors and incoming inmates. State police are working with DOC to find any remaining drugs in the Swanton prison. Touchette has also implemented a temporary amnesty policy for any inmates wishing to turn over contraband drugs.
The corrections department is also planning to work with Vermont State Police and the Department of Health to review this weekend’s incidents.
Touchette called the review a “social autopsy, top to bottom” and said officials hope it will inform future policies.
I slept through my alarm and missed Douche Bag’s speech, but here it is (I watched it because I love America). What I expected, but even worse. I did not count the lies, but there were many.
The fact is, he’s just a damn racist bigot! That is what drives his comments on immigration, not any concern for your safety!
With the work I do, I know “a boatload” about crime and criminals, and that may be his worst lie: (a) what he says about who ICE is locking up and (b) the nature of most immigrants. His bullshit “scare tactics” make me want to puke! Go to our website for the TRUTH!
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.
And please spare me the stupidity of saying “impeachment may backfire” because of our experience with Clinton. tRump is so clearly a lying, incompetent, dangerous fool, and everyone knows it, that there is NO chance of any “backfire”!
His Bullshit Speech: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2019/01/08/watch_live_president_trump_addresses_the_nation_on_government_shutdown_border_wall.html
Practical Tip – Updated – Send out a PRESS RELEASE! – Call ATTENTION TO YOUR ISSUE OR CAUSE OR BUSINESS – FREE ADVERTISING
Updated 1/4/19 These are so effective that I remind you again. I am about to prepare a Press Release for the homeless shelter I work with, as they are in need of equipment and furnishings for their two new properties.
If your organization needs donations or help, tickle your calendar to send out a Press Release at least once every 5 or 6 months, to stay in the public’s eye!
The BEST way to get the word out about issues is a Letter to the Editor* – Click on Articles and then scroll to “Go in Depth” and click on “Letters to the Editor” for hundreds of examples and easy instructions.
*READ Practical Tip – Get Empowered! How YOU Can Create a Powerful, Effective Force for Reform of our Criminal Justice System -http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/practical-tip-how-you-can-create-a-powerful-effective-force-for-reform-of-our-criminal-justice-system/
But ANOTHER GREAT WAY to also attract eyeballs and the press, is a PRESS RELEASE. When I had my fast-growing businesses I sent one out every 3 months and got millions of dollars of “free advertising” … that’s what it amounts to! “We just hired so and so” or “We are now the exclusive Printer for X company” or “RecycleSaurous campaign Takes Off!”.
You get the email address for media outlets in your area … Newspapers, Radio, TV, and you email the PRESS RELEASE to yourself with bcc to all of the outlets!
YOU might do one like:
Joni Jumison has set up an organization to help free her wrongly convicted son. It is crystal clear he was wrongly convicted. To help or for further information, contact Joni Jumison at The Free Johnny Jumison Group at .. phone, email and mailing address.
YOUR signature block.
They may or may not use it, and they might contact you to do an article or report about it!
Here are two I sent out recently:
PRESS RELEASE – RALLY for JUSTICE – on 10/7/17
Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE (CCJ) is hosting a peaceful, quiet Rally for JUSTICE on The Green, Dover, DE on Saturday, 10/7/17, from 10 AM to 1 PM. All are welcomed. The Green is where our forefathers assembled to create this nation, a nation with a great criminal justice system. But that system has been severely damaged during the past 40 years. Join us, to improve your country and restore justice and fairness to the system. This is a NOT a political event. It is about justice and fairness. Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen will “kick it off” with his remarks at 9 AM. We have several other featured speakers, and you can make YOUR voice heard! Bring a hand held sign to promote your organization or cause!
Want to talk about kneeling, the flag, the anthem , protest? Come here to talk about it. After all, it is the failure of our criminal justice system which sparked the first such protest. Want to talk about DACA? Want to talk about Mandatory Minimum Sentences? Come Join us! We expect hundreds of people.
To learn more about this rally, contact Ken Abraham at email@example.com ; 302-423-4067
Come join us on The Green In Dover, from 9 A M to 1 P M to show your concern for the need for meaningful, positive, common sense criminal justice reform! https://www.facebook.com/images/emoji.php/v9/f4c/1/16/1f642.png:)
Any ????, give me a call.
PRESS RELEASE 10/7/17 – Executive Director of NARSOL To Speak in Delaware!
Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE has just received confirmation that the Executive Director of NARSOL To Speak in Delaware! Ms. Brenda Jones, the Executive Director of a relatively new national organization, NARSOL – National Advocates for Rational Sex Offender Laws- will be one of the Featured Speakers at our Rally for JUSTICE on Saturday, the 7th. She is travelling from Washington D C to be here and will speak at 10:30.
https://narsol.org/ See their website.
She is most welcomed indeed! I have long seen that many of our sex offender laws and restrictions make NO sense whatsoever!
Come join us on The Green In Dover, from 9 A M to 1 P M to show your concern for the need for meaningful, positive, common sense criminal justice reform!
For further information contact Ken Abraham at firstname.lastname@example.org or 302-423-4067.
I once wrote mandatory minimum laws. After ties to Abramoff landed me in prison, I know they must end
There is still a long way to go in eliminating them, but today most judges realize that these laws were a mistake!
Studies show that for children, having a parent in jail is more traumatizing than divorce!
Excerpts from the Article:
Three months into my federal prison sentence, my cellmate Santos saw that I was struggling. I couldn’t stop thinking about my young daughters at home. I would imagine them getting ready for school, or watching TV on the couch, or playing basketball on the team I used to coach. My eyes would fill with tears. Do your time in here and let them do theirs out there, Santos told me, in far more colorful language.
As a former Washington lobbyist who worked for Jack Abramoff, I was serving time for honest-services fraud and was facing more than a year in prison in Cumberland, Maryland — more than a year away from my kids.
“Your kids will be fine,” Santos said. “Keep your head in here or you will go crazy.”
I was reminded of Santos’ good advice when I had the opportunity to see an advanced screening of “The Sentence,” a moving documentary released this week on HBO that follows the lives of three girls after their mother, Cindy Shank, begins serving a 15-year mandatory minimum sentence for a drug conspiracy.
Although I have been home from prison for nearly four years, the movie brought me right back to the days when I would listen over a prison payphone as my oldest daughter performed a new song she learned on the piano.
Years before my time in Cumberland, I supported mandatory minimums. As a staffer on Capitol Hill in the late 1990s, I helped draft a new law that instituted mandatory minimums for people who sold methamphetamine. Back then, I thought prison and sentencing reform were problems that only plagued “others” — the bad people, the wayward children from broken homes, the criminal class.
I ended up serving time with people whose unnecessarily long sentences were caused by the laws I helped write.
Since my release, I’ve tried to call attention to the problems caused by excessive prison sentences and the lack of rehabilitative programming inside prison. And now that President Donald Trump has spoken in support of justice reform (last week he stated during a television interview that mandatory minimums are “very unfair right now. It’s very unfair to African-Americans. It’s very unfair to everybody. And it’s also very costly.”), I will continue to urge Congress to pass commonsense sentencing and prison reform.
My two girls and Shank’s daughters are just a fraction of the 10 million children in America who will experience having a mother or father behind bars during their lifetime.
Obviously, parents who pose a threat to a child’s well-being should be removed. But it is equally clear that we send far too many parents to prison as a first resort instead of a last option. Nearly two-thirds of women in state prisons have minor child at home, according to the Sentencing Project.
My family was spared the worst. My sentence was relatively short, and I had more resources than most. In many instances, having a parent behind bars “massively strains family life, with cascading consequences for children,” according to professor Kristen Turney and Rebecca Goodsell of University of California-Irvine. Those family consequences can include economic hardship, an inability for the inmate to find work, separation and divorce.
We can and should take some simple steps to ease the burden on families, reduce the cost to taxpayers, and strengthen our communities overall. First, we need to stop relying so heavily on prisons. There are other ways to hold people accountable that are more effective and cause less harm to innocent family members.
Where prison is necessary, we should allow courts to consider all the relevant facts and circumstances of a crime and an individual defendant, instead of being hampered by a mandatory minimum sentence. Too often today, judges’ hands are tied by one-size-fits-all laws and guidelines that were drafted by politicians who hoped to appear tough on crime. Opponents of eliminating mandatory sentencing reflexively argue that reforms in this area will jeopardize public safety, but the opposite is true. Stronger families and stronger communities will lead to greater public safety.
Fortunately, many states have begun to reform their mandatory sentencing laws, and a growing bipartisan majority in Congress is considering legislation to do the same at the federal level.
Second, we must make it easier for families to stay connected to their incarcerated loved ones. I was lucky that my daughters were only a five-hour round-trip car ride away. Many parents are locked up so far away from their children that visits became rare if not impossible.
Citing budget and safety concerns, more prisons and jails now are cutting back on visiting hours, and some are replacing in-person visits with video visits. These policies are shortsighted and inhumane. Policymakers should be looking for ways to strengthen the bonds between incarcerated parents and their children. It’s the right thing to do from a moral perspective, and research suggests that maintaining family ties makes an individual less likely to become a repeat offender
In a country where approximately 70 million people have some type of criminal record — the same number of people who have a college degree — we need to be honest about the fact that there are no “others.” The incarcerated come from all kinds of families, churches and communities. For everyone’s sake, we need to do better.
It took 40 years to see the folly of our asinine war on drugs, but steady progress will continue! The most important thing this country can do is to eliminate the federal criminalization of Pot. Maybe this will be the year! Call and MAKE it happen:
Excerpts from the Article:
The last year was a 12-month champagne toast for the legal marijuana industry as the global market exploded and cannabis pushed its way further into the financial and cultural mainstream. Liberal California became the largest legal U.S. marketplace, conservative Utah and Oklahoma embraced medical marijuana, and the U.S. East Coast got its first commercial pot shops. Canada ushered in broad legalization, and Mexico’s Supreme Court set the stage for that country to follow.
U.S. drug regulators approved the first marijuana-based pharmaceutical to treat kids with a form of epilepsy, and billions of investment dollars poured into cannabis companies. Even main street brands like Coca-Cola said they are considering joining the party.
“I have been working on this for decades, and this was the year that the movement crested ,” said U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat working to overturn the federal ban on pot. “It’s clear that this is all coming to a head.”
With buzz building across the globe, the momentum will continue into 2019. Luxembourg is poised to become the first European country to legalize recreational marijuana, and South Africa is moving in that direction. Israel’s Parliament approved a law allowing exports of medical marijuana. Thailand legalized medicinal use of marijuana, and other Southeastern Asian countries may follow South Korea’s lead in legalizing cannabidiol, or CBD. It’s a non-psychoactive compound found in marijuana and hemp plants and used for treatment of certain medical problems.
“It’s not just the U.S. now. It’s spreading,” said Ben Curren, CEO of Green Bits, a San Jose, California, company that develops software for marijuana retailers and businesses. Curren’s firm is one of many that blossomed as the industry grew. He started the company in 2014 with two friends. Now, he has 85 employees, and the company’s software processes $2.5 billion in sales transactions a year for more than 1,000 U.S. retail stores and dispensaries. Green Bits raised $17 million in April, pulling in money from investment firms including Snoop Dogg’s Casa Verde Capital. Curren hopes to expand internationally by 2020.
Legal marijuana was a $10.4 billion industry in the U.S. in 2018 with a quarter-million jobs devoted just to the handling of marijuana plants, said Beau Whitney, vice president and senior economist at New Frontier Data, a leading cannabis market research and data analysis firm. There are many other jobs that don’t involve direct work with the plants, but they are harder to quantify, Whitney said.
Investors poured $10 billion into cannabis in North America in 2018, twice what was invested in the last three years combined, he said, and the combined North American market is expected to reach more than $16 billion in 2019.
Increasingly, U.S. lawmakers see that success and want it for their states. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. states now have legalized some form of medical marijuana.
Voters in November made Michigan the 10th state — and first in the Midwest — to legalize recreational marijuana. Governors in New York and New Jersey are pushing for a similar law in their states next year, and momentum for broad legalization is building in Pennsylvania and Illinois.
“Let’s legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana once and for all,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week.
The East Coast’s first recreational pot shops opened in November in Massachusetts.
“Attitudes have been rapidly evolving and changing. I know that my attitude toward it has also changed,” said Nebraska state Sen. Adam Morfeld, a Democrat. “Seeing the medical benefits and seeing other states implement it … has convinced me that it’s not the dangerous drug it’s made out to be.”
The same inhumane conditions exist in most of America’s prisons. READ the many related articles here under “prison abuse”! Below are some of the most common problems, which occur all over the country because nobody holds prison officials ACCOUNTABLE!
He and 18 other men shared a single toilet for the first month, the suit says.
When Martin did shower, the shower was riddled with insects and the curtain was covered in mold and soap scum, the suit says.
Varner said he has spotted mice near food in the jail’s kitchen, and said the trays smell of mildew and he has not seen a new tray in the jail.
The jail only allows inmates to visit with their attorneys for 30 minutes, which denied Scruggs enough time to properly review evidence to assist in his defense, the suit claims.
Scruggs also accused special response team officers of intimidation during raids and weekly “shakedowns”.
Like the other men, Varner has been in a one-man pod with another inmate, the suit says. He has slept on the floor every night since his arrest, the lawsuit said.
The toilet in Varner’s cell was broken for three weeks and, when the jail staff didn’t fix it, a corrections officer told Varner to put a bag in the bowl to collect his waste, the suit said. Their cell smelled of urine and excrement, the suit said.
Two women who are among the plaintiffs claim in the lawsuit they were only given two sanitary pads at a time and the jail refused their requests for more, leaving many women to use washcloths and toilet paper in place of sanitary pads.
Open The Whole Story to read the accounts of abuse.
Excerpts from the Article:
The seven inmates named as plaintiffs in Thursday’s lawsuit over inhumane conditions at the Cuyahoga County Jail say many issues the county claims to have fixed in the wake of a blistering report by the U.S. Marshal’s office have permeated at the jail as recently as this week. The 52-page report released last month documented what the report called “inhumane” conditions at the overcrowded jail. The lawsuit insists that jail officials routinely violated the constitutional rights of inmates.
The county says it bought more than 1,000 food trays to replace old trays that the marshals said were smelly and oozed dirty, moldy water, and that shower curtains have been placed to all showers that inmates use. But the lawsuit, filed by lawyers at the Friedman & Gilbert law firm in U.S. District Court in Cleveland Thursday, contains anecdotes from inmates who say the trays still smell of mildew and moldy shower curtains have yet to be replaced.
My son’s life was almost ruined by Pa.’s debtors’ prison system – “Almost” = He is one of the lucky ones! – kra
This article was sent to me by my good friend, William C. (Bill) Gierasch, now retired. Bill was in my study group in law school, and we became great friends; he went on to be among the very best attorneys in Pennsylvania until his recent retirement. The article highlights one of the significant obstacles to reentry, “killer” fees, costs, and “assessments”!
Written by an addict’s Mom, this article shows us the futility, and, really, the cruelty, of the endless cycle of incarceration release, and re-incarceration. Her son is one of the lucky ones, staying free with help from family, but many others go through the revolving door, costing YOU tons of money. Here is a fact for you: of the roughly 600,000 people who enter prison each year, about 400,000 are going back, for a violation of probation or parole, often due to these fees and costs.
Excerpts from the Article:
A few weeks ago, my son received a voice message from his Dauphin County probation officer. She was leaving for vacation but wanted him to know that, since he had missed a couple of payments in the past six months, he would be “violated” unless ALL the money he owed Dauphin County (about $2,300) was paid by Dec. 5. She went on to say that a warrant would be issued and he’d be incarcerated and placed on work-release until his debt was paid in full.
Many don’t know that when you are found guilty of a crime in Pennsylvania, after incarceration, you are handed a big bill — court costs, transportation, sheriffs costs, booking fee — the list goes on and on. In my son’s case, it totaled $4,233.23 for Dauphin County and $9,366.62 for York County.
My son’s crime was forgery, six years ago in the summer of 2012. He was an addict living on the streets of Baltimore when a group from Chicago pulled up in a car and asked if he had valid ID. He did, and they offered to buy him some food and new clothes, drive him to Pennsylvania to cash some checks, and give him a few hundred of the stolen money for his trouble. He agreed.
The first couple of banks in York County cashed the checks. The last one, in Dauphin County, called the police. As the police pulled up, the gang from Chicago pulled out, and my son was arrested. He was found guilty and served a total of 18 months, part in York and part in Dauphin County. But the story doesn’t end there, because that’s not how it works in Pennsylvania. The large dollars demanded by each county are the second punishment, much more insidious than the jail time. That’s because ex-cons have trouble finding jobs; when they do, they are usually low-paying, minimum-wage jobs, not remotely enough to support oneself at our current $7.25 per hour minimum wage, and certainly not enough to support a family. But the counties want their money, usually at least $100 a month, and they don’t want to hear about your financial struggles.
Here’s the clincher: If you miss payments, pay too little, or don’t have it paid off by the end of the probation period, this is considered a “violation of probation.” And a “violation” means a warrant for your arrest and re-incarceration. The court keeps extending the probation time until all the money is paid so they have the leverage to “violate” and incarcerate. For a crime six years ago, time already served, you go back to jail, maybe multiple times, because you still owe the county money.
In my son’s case, he is clean, doing great, working two jobs, and just welcomed his first child. He hasn’t committed any new crime in the past six years, except the crime of not paying his debt to Dauphin County fast enough.
Most of us think debtors’ prison ended in this country in 1833 when the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. The Department of Justice re-affirmed this three years ago after it found many cases of incarceration due to municipal debt when investigating the Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri. This prompted the DOJ to send a letter to every court in the land, pointing out that incarcerating people because they owe money is unconstitutional. Apparently courts in Pennsylvania got a good laugh at these letters, balled them up, and tossed them in their big round circular file — which is exactly what it is doing with Pennsylvania citizens. Only the trash can isn’t round, it’s rectangular, has bars and guards, and ruins whatever life an ex-con has created.
In Dauphin County, it’s a true horror. When you are newly booked, you are put on A-block, which consists of tiny 2-person cells. Prisoners are only let out for 1 hour per day, into a tiny hallway that has a phone. If you have no cellmate, this amounts to solitary confinement for 23 out of 24 hours per day. And it typically takes 2-4 weeks for the court to hear a case for a new inmate. Yes, a person can, and often does, spend 2-4 weeks in solitary confinement before even speaking to a judge, over unpaid county debt. In my son’s case, he scraped together $400, and my mom and I paid the rest. We did this so he wouldn’t lose his jobs, his home, and cause enormous hardship and heartache for himself and his fiancé by being incarcerated with a new baby. We did this against the advice of 12-step programs and every book written about addiction. They all say to let addicts face their own responsibilities and consequences. I agree. But we couldn’t sit by and watch while my son’s life was ruined by the outrageous money-grubbing policies, posing as criminal justice, of Dauphin County — and many other counties in our state.
The counties and courts know the family is easy prey. The rip-off scam begins the first day of incarceration with the outrageous cost of the prison phone system and the over-priced commissary items and continues for years. And if you have plenty of money, you can talk to your loved one on the phone, buy him overpriced clothing and snacks from the commissary, and keep him out of jail once his time is served. If not, too bad.
Moreover, it makes no sense financially to municipalities. It costs way more to re-incarcerate people than the couple of thousand dollars they owe. The policy is not only cruel and unusual, it is financially stupid and self-defeating.
Gov. Tom Wolf is doing some great work advancing criminal justice reform. I applaud his efforts and the positive changes that were made, especially ending the arbitrary snatching of driver’s licenses from convicts. But it’s time to go further. It’s time to demand that Pennsylvania stop violating our country’s 14th amendment by incarcerating people for owing money. I call upon our York County state legislators to advocate for reform.
This will be huge, and once they see how successful it is, they no doubt will change the onerous licensing process. It has taken far too long to get here, but much of the world is moving in the right direction on Pot. For many African countries, cultivation will be a godsend.
Excerpts from the Article:
2018 has been called the “year for cannabis” in South Africa. But there are still hurdles before a legal marijuana industry can flourish in an African economic power deemed ideal for large-scale cultivation. Advocates rejoiced at a Constitutional Court decision in September that upheld the legalization of the adult use and cultivation of pot in private. A cannabis expo in the capital, Pretoria, this month was Africa’s first, organizers said. However, buying and selling cannabis for recreational reasons remains illegal, and an onerous licensing process has held up the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana.
Although the cannabis plant was barred from the expo for traders and consumers, the packed event reflected the view that cannabis has big business potential, particularly for export. As visitors learned about growing techniques and equipment, and cannabis-related products, promoters noted big consumer markets in Europe as well as Canada’s legalization of recreational marijuana this year and a similar trend at the state level in the United States.
“Gone are the days of the stigma of the lazy stoner, sitting at home,” said Andrew Lawrie of Schindlers Attorneys, a South African firm that has a department dedicated to cannabis law. “They are around, but now we’re talking about industry, we’re talking about corporations, we’re talking about tax.”
Some industry pioneers could still face the risk of criminal liability as they await the South African parliament’s expected move to bring cannabis laws into line with the Constitutional Court ruling, Lawrie said in an interview. At the expo, he and a colleague handed out packs of rolling papers emblazoned with the slogan “Rolling In Style” and the name of their law firm. Elsewhere, “Canna-Cocktails” were on sale and Mango Monkey lip butter was on show. Companies including House of Hemp had displays.
Expo director Silas Howarth said there is already “a healthy, strong, legal industry” in cannabis-related products in South Africa, including an energy drink and a beer (Durban Poison, named after a cannabis strain) that use hemp seed oil in production and lack THC, the plant’s main psychoactive component. Some South African pharmacies also carry products that won’t get people “high,” though prescriptions are required. Some traditional healers use cannabis in treatments.
The growth potential for South Africa as a cannabis industry provider could be “massive” as the global market for medical cannabis expands and laws on recreational use loosen, Howarth said. He didn’t offer a dollar figure for South Africa’s projected trade.
The small, mountainous country of Lesotho, which is surrounded by South Africa, has already issued permits to some foreign-owned companies to grow and export medical marijuana. Other nations in the region, including Zimbabwe and Malawi, are moving in a similar direction.
In South Africa, “legally the framework is there for them to issue licenses and there’s nothing stopping them at this moment. … Everyone says ‘tomorrow’ — every day. But it will be soon,” said Neta Isralls, engineering manager at Vegtech, a South African company that specializes in greenhouse agriculture and had a display at the expo.
“It’s a very closed process,” Isralls said. “It’s not like they’re going to start issuing licenses and 1,000 people around the country are suddenly going to get licenses. When they do it, it’s going to be people that have already invested a lot of money to put up pharmaceutical-type facilities that are ready to go.”
South Africa has a good growing climate for cannabis, also known locally as “dagga,” and low labor and production costs compared to consumer nations in the West.
The Constitutional Court judgment allowing private use of cannabis “will force a rethinking of all legislation and may see government allowing mass production of marijuana for medical purpose,” the South African Federation of Trade Unions said last month. It said it might recruit and organize so that “workers in the new industry are protected.”
Parliament is expected to determine soon what quantity of marijuana is deemed acceptable for personal use and cultivation, since the Constitutional Court did not offer specifics. For now, it’s up to police to make that judgment, meaning consumers should be especially cautious, according to Lawrie, the lawyer.
“Right now, we’re advising people to keep it humble and just really audit themselves,” he said. The hope, Lawrie said, is that parliament will not just set guidelines for personal use but go further “toward liberalizing the local trade.”
The real benefit of this law is that it will call attention to SO MUCH MORE WHICH NEEDS TO BE DONE TO RESTORE JUSTICE TO THE SYSTEM! People still are getting hammered with unjust laws!
Excerpts from the Article:
Prison reform advocates are hailing the Senate passage of the bipartisan First Step Act as a watershed moment for American criminal justice, which could positively impact the lives of thousands of federal prisoners. The sweeping legislation passed Tuesday proposes easing racial disparities in sentencing, dismantling some of the systemic holdovers from the war on drugs, and implementing programs aimed at reducing recidivism. To be clear, the reforms proposed in the First Step Act would affect only the federal prison system, which houses just 181,000 of the approximately 2.1 million total incarcerated population including state prisons and jails.
For every 100,000 people residing in the U.S, about 655 are behind bars, according to a 2018 report by the Bureau of Justice statistics – a 20-year low, but still far outpacing the incarceration rates in every other country. Soaring incarceration rates have disproportionately impacted communities of color: Black people account for 38 percent of the federal inmate population but make up 13 percent of the overall population.
Incarceration is also incredibly expensive: The annual cost per federal inmate is around $36,000, according to the Federal Register, putting the total cost of the federal inmate population at around $6.5 billion per year.
“Now that moderate sentencing reform is being positioned as a Trump criminal justice bill, it really moves the entire political spectrum on the issue to the left in terms of what reform-minded candidates and progressives should be bringing to the table,” said Inimai M. Chettiar, director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. “I think we’ll start to see a lot more bolder proposals at the federal and state level.”
Another reform to reduce recidivism is that federal prisoners have to be housed in facilities within 500 miles from their homes, which makes it easier and less expensive for family members to visit them. A study from 2016 found that in-person visitations reduced recidivism rates by 26 percent.
The bill also offers “time credit” incentives to enroll in and compete rehabilitative or vocational courses, which are also designed to reduce recidivism. If they earn enough credits, inmates could find themselves eligible for transfer to a halfway house or house arrest. However, that option would be available only to minimum and low-risk prisoners.
These reforms apply only to the federal prison system, advocates hope it will inspire state legislatures to follow suit. “This victory at the federal level is really important,” said Chettiar. “To see this victory playing out on a national stage is going to help increase public and political support for criminal justice reform throughout the country.”
While the passage of the First Step Act is being hailed as a victory by civil rights groups and reform advocates, they say the fight is nowhere near over, and are already sharpening their tools for the next steps. Chettiar says that the Brennan Center will roll out a package of model legislation for state and federal lawmakers to consider, which includes more progressive proposals, such as outright eliminating prison sentences for low-level offenses and ending cash bail.