Man Serving 18 Years On Marijuana Charges Just Died In Federal Prison COVID-19 Outbreak Fidel Torres, 62, qualified for a sentencing reduction, but the same judge who sentenced him denied it based on infractions while in custody.
I see that it was a judge in Texas on this case. I shall never, ever, ever forget that my first year out of law school – ’73 or ’74 – I read a case where a judge in Texas had sentenced a man to 40 years in prison for possession of less than an ounce of pot, and on appeal the U S Supreme Court ruled that it was not “cruel and unusual punishment”! I was horrified.
My good friend and great lawyer, Steve Hampton, (302) 678-1265) – one of few with the guts and the know-how to sue prison officials and their “health care” providers – sent me this article, to which I replied: A double whammy of injustice. In legal parlance: fucked up! One of the most idiotic and harmful laws still on the books is the federal criminalization of pot, ranking it just as “dangerous” as heroin!
- Nobody should be in prison for pot. It is legal now in many areas of the U S.The medical use of cannabis is legalized (with a doctor’s recommendation) in 33 states, four out of five permanently inhabited U.S. territories, and the District of Columbia. Fourteen other states have laws that limit THC content, for the purpose of allowing access to products that are rich in cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis. Although cannabis remains a Schedule I drug, the Rohrabacher–Farr amendment prohibits federal prosecution of individuals complying with state medical cannabis laws.The recreational use of cannabis is legalized in 11 states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington), the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam. Another 16 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands have decriminalized. Commercial distribution of cannabis is allowed in all jurisdictions where cannabis has been legalized, except Vermont and the District of Columbia. Prior to January 2018, the Cole Memorandum provided some protection against the enforcement of federal law in states that have legalized, but it was rescinded by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
2. Prison is the worst place to be for any illness. Prison officials and health care staff ROUTINELY ignore protocol, ignore illness, and ignore the law. Also, they regularly LIE about “cause of death”, so we will never know the true number of deaths thus caused.
The “Double Whammy” reminds me of this oldie: Double shot of my Baby’s love = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk4Rj9WXjko
Excerpts from the article
The most recent inmate to die as the COVID-19 crisis rips through the federal prison system is a 62-year-old who had less than two years left on an 18-year sentence for marijuana charges.
Fidel Torres was sentenced to 220 months in prison way back in 2006 after he waived a jury trial and let a judge decide his fate. Torres was convicted on a conspiracy charge for possession with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana, as well as with aiding and abetting the possession with intent to distribute more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. During the case, federal prosecutors also pointed to two previous convictions on Torres’ record, both of which were marijuana-related.
The same judge who found Torres guilty and decided his sentence — U.S. District Judge George Kazen of the Southern District of Texas — later denied Torres a sentencing reduction for which he would otherwise have qualified under revised 2014 U.S. Sentencing Commission guidelines, based on relatively minor instances of prison misconduct.
Kazen filed a form order stating that Torres “qualifies for sentence reduction, but the Court will not grant the reduction because of behavior while in custody.” Those violations, according to the government, included “sanctions for stealing, possessing stolen property, possessing an unauthorized item, being insolent to staff, and interfering with taking count.”
“After the commission reduced the drug guideline retroactively in 2014, nearly 32,000 people got shorter, fairer sentences,” said Kevin Ring, who heads the group Families Against Mandatory Minimums. Some 19,000 people were denied relief, Ring added. Less than 2% of those denials were due to prison misconduct, “and Mr. Torres appears to have been part of that very small and unfortunate minority,” he said.
Kazen also banned Torres, who became a prolific pro se litigator behind bars, from filing anything to the court docket without the court’s permission.
Advocates like Ring say that cases like Torres’ show that the federal Bureau of Prisons needs to do more to expand home confinement to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. Bureau records show that Torres was scheduled for release in February 2022. “Fidel Torres was 62 years old and was nearing the end of a lengthy sentence for selling marijuana. He seems like a poster child for home confinement,” Ring told HuffPost.
“Instead, he dies on the same day Michael Cohen goes home after spending a year in prison,” Ring said, referring to the recent release of President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, who wasn’t scheduled for release until November 2021. “Even if one assumes the BOP is acting with the best of intentions, its decision-making process is impossible to understand.”
Several other defendants in Torres’ case received shorter sentences under plea deals or later had their sentences reduced.
The Bureau of Prisons press release about Torres’ death doesn’t mention any medical issues. But in 2006, his attorney told the court that Torres was diabetic and going blind. The judge ordered Torres to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.
Torres, according to BOP, tested positive for COVID-19 on May 2. He was admitted to a hospital on May 6 and placed on a ventilator. He died on Wednesday, “with immediate cause of death listed as septic shock due to COVID-19 pneumonia.”
At the Lexington Federal Medical Center in Kentucky, where Torres was incarcerated, 212 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19. Four Lexington inmates have died. As of Thursday, BOP reported that 1,735 federal inmates had confirmed positive COVID-19 tests and 59 inmates have died.
While the wheels of injustice never stop, the wheels of justice move ever more slowly. I do believe (based on filings during the past 3 months which have gotten NO response) that many judges are simply loafing.
ACTUAL WHEEL OF JUSTICE IN MOST OF AMERICA’S COURTS! THIS ONE WAS PHOTOGRAPHED IN A FAMILY COURT.
Excerpts from the Article:
In consultation with the other members of the Supreme Court on Thursday, Delaware Supreme Court Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz, Jr. extended the Judicial Emergency and related orders, due to the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, until June 13.
This is the second 30-day extension of the March 16 Judicial Emergency Order. This means that court facilities will continue to be closed to the public at least through June 13, or until the order declaring a judicial emergency is modified or lifted.
“Our state continues to operate under the governor’s emergency declarations,” Chief Justize Seitz said. “Those restrictions – vital to protecting the health and safety of Delawareans – do not presently allow us to increase activity in judicial facilities. Therefore, I have entered an order (Thursday) extending the judicial emergency declaration until June 13, 2020.
“As I have noted before, with the exception of trials, all state courts continue to use video and audio platforms to conduct as much court business as possible. The goal is to work down each court’s non-trial casework so we are prepared for increasing court operations when health and science experts tell us it is safe and reasonable to do so.”
The Court Reopening Committee, led by Superior Court Judge William C. Carpenter, Jr. and staffed by judicial officers and employees from the state courts, our judicial system partners, and a medical expert on infectious disease, is drafting the plan for a gradual and safe increase in activities at all judicial facilities.
The committee hopes to have a final report and recommendation in May, with a possible “first phase” limited increase in judicial facility activity in June.
The Whole Story:
Another super sloppy search warrant by police. Thousands of criminals can thank cops for these each year.
Excerpts from the Article:
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit affirmed the suppression of evidence seized from a suspected drug dealer’s home as fruit of the poisonous tree.
Jamal Roman was alleged in a search warrant application submitted by DEA Special Agent Scott Smith to be “a known cocaine trafficker” who “oversaw distribution of narcotics” for Javier Gonzalez. That suspicion was the result of the cooperation of a confidential informant (“CI”) who in January 2014 was caught with three kilograms of cocaine. The CI subsequently agreed to cooperate with law enforcement, who then initiated surveillance of Roman and Gonzalez.
Two months later, Smith drafted an affidavit to support a search warrant application of seven locations. The search warrants were granted on March 21, 2014, and the searches conducted four days later. Roman was indicted on March 24, 2016, by a grand jury on one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and heroin and a count of distribution and possession of cocaine.
He moved to suppress the fruits of the search of his person, residence, and business. The district court found the affidavit supporting the searches “contained material misrepresentations and omissions made with reckless disregard for the truth and without which a finding of probable cause would not have been made.” It granted suppression of evidence obtained from the business and home, which yielded $438,560, a firearm, and photographic identification documents.
The Government appealed as to the search of the home only, arguing there was a nexus between drug activity and the home. The First Circuit noted that the nexus element requires a showing that “enumerated evidence of the offense will be found at the place searched.” United States v. Dixon, 787 F.3d 55 (1st Cir. 2015).
The inquiry is not whether “the owner of the property is suspected of crime” but rather whether “there is reasonable cause to believe that the specific things to be searched for and being seized are located on the property to which entry is sought.” Zurcher v. Stanford Daily, 436 U.S. 547 (1978).
The First Circuit saw “no basis to conclude … that drug related evidence would be present at Roman’s home.” The Government failed to show he dealt drugs from the home, and it agreed the drug headquarters was among the other searched places. There was no showing in the affidavit that Roman had even been at the home in question, was his residence or that he had taken contraband there. The statement that he was a known drug dealer was conclusionary.
The affidavit also failed to offer corroboration that Roman was a close associate of Gonzalez or oversaw a narcotics operation. The statement that Roman was a known drug dealer was found to be conclusionary and unsupported by any facts. The affidavit was found to rely upon “speculative inferences piled upon inferences” that Roman’s home would yield evidence. As it failed to establish “a clear and substantial connection between the illegal activity and the place searched,” the district court properly suppressed the fruits of that search, the Court ruled.
Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court’s grant of the motion to suppress evidence obtained from Roman’s residence. See: United States v. Roman, 942 F.3d 43 (1st Cir. 2019).
Opioid Epidemic Keeps Climbing at California Prisons, and Claiming Lives of Released Prisoners as Well
It still goes on! So where are all the drugs coming from? Despite all the bullshit put out by prison officials, 95% of ALL contraband – including drugs – is brought in by the fucking guards!
And let us not lose sight of the fact that addicts need treatment, NOT prison!
Excerpts from the Article:
With opioid overdoses claiming the lives of over 68,000 Americans annually, detention facilities have reported a corresponding rise in drug-related deaths among those incarcerated or recently released. (See PLN, September 2019, p. 1. )California’s nearly three dozen penal institutions recorded 997 overdoses in 2018, more than double the number just three years earlier. Forty prisoners died from overdoses in California in 2017, a rate three times the average nationwide.
Although cancer, heart disease and liver disease remain the top killers of California prisoners, overdoses have outpaced suicides and homicides since 2017 to claim the fourth spot. Meanwhile, a November 21, 2019 story in Capital & Main said that “Drug overdoses are the single greatest factor contributing to Los Angeles’ rising rate of homeless mortality,” and that many of those dying on the streets were recently released prisoners. “Released prisoners may get clean behind bars…but the medications prescribed in jail detox programs aren’t normally the kind to adequately wean them from their opioid cravings,” the story said. “With the resultant loss of tolerance, if they relapse on the outside one erroneously judged dose can kill them.”
The numbers of prison deaths have risen despite increases in funds to fight the influx of drugs into the state’s lockups. Under a 2018 plan spearheaded by former Gov. Jerry Brown, $13.8 million was spent in California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) facilities on body scanners, urine tests, drug-sniffing dogs and camera surveillance, yet these added security measures have made little impact.
The former finance chairman of the guards’ union, Joe Baumann, blamed loopholes in the process. The scanners do not detect drugs smuggled inside orifices, which he said visitors could remove in a bathroom and then pass to prisoners. Other smugglers filled tennis balls with contraband substances and threw them over the penitentiary fences. Although visits are limited to weekends, employees have access to prisoners at all times, and Baumann admitted that occasionally ‘‘dirty” guards had facilitated smuggling operations. Corrupt staff are the main conduits, in terms of sheer bulk, of drugs introduced into detention facilities yet they are subjected to fewer searches or countermeasures, which allows the problem to continue.
“There are so many opportunities, so much money to be made, I don’t think there’s one single answer,” agreed Jody Lewen, who established the Prison University Project to offer higher education at San Quentin State Prison. “As long as there are human beings going in and out, there are going to be opportunities.”
The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that two-thirds of the U.S.’s 2.3 million prisoners suffer an addiction to drugs or alcohol. But most of the country’s lockups – about 2,000 state and federal prisons and 3,100 county and municipal jails – do not provide any of the three drugs used in Medically Assisted Treatment (MAT), despite approval from the federal Food and Drug Administration. Only 120 jails in 32 states as well as just 10 state prison systems offer even one of the three MAT medications: methadone, buprenorphine or Vivitrol.
The problem continues at least two years after release, when former prisoners face a risk of death triple that of the general population. In just the first two weeks, the risk of a fatal overdose is 13 times higher.
That’s why Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo led the state in 2016 to begin providing all three drugs for MAT to every one of its state prisoners with an opioid addiction. Along with addiction counseling, the one-of-a-kind, $2-million-a-year program – which includes follow-up treatment after a prisoner is released – has cut overdose deaths after release by two-thirds, from 26 to just nine in its first full year. Some critics question whether substituting one drug for another really solves the problem or merely prolongs it.
“Half my friends are in graveyards,” said 58-year-old former Rhode Island prisoner Lloyd Baker, “because when they got out of prison, they used what they did before they got in – and now they’re gone. I was one of the lucky ones.”
In May 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom introduced a plan to provide treatment at most of CDCR’s correctional facilities to prisoners struggling with addiction. With an estimated two-year cost of $233 million, the plan would be the nation’s largest.
“The value of this goes way beyond prisons,” emphasized Dr. Matt Willis, public health officer in Marin County, where San Quentin State Prison is located. “This will save lives and money.”
County emergency medical crews responded to four fatal overdoses of fentanyl on San Quentin’s Death Row between November 2017 and December 2018. The death of a fifth condemned prisoner in June 2019 was also attributed to a heroin overdose.
A rise in popularity of fentanyl – a synthetic opioid that can be 100 times more powerful than morphine – is a factor in California’s burgeoning prisoner overdoses. Because of its potency, an effective dose requires a very small amount of the drug, making it easier to smuggle. In April 2018, at least a dozen men at Mule Creek State Prison overdosed on fentanyl during a single weekend. One of them died.
Newsom’s plan, like the one in Rhode Island, includes substance abuse treatment for prisoners facing release to help them remain in recovery after they leave prison.
“The way to interrupt the cycle of addiction and crime that lands people in court over and over again is to treat the addiction,” Dr. Willis said. Another way is to decriminalize drugs and treat it as a public health problem the same way that smoking and alcoholism are treated.
Around the ValleyCampusCurrent AffairsShowcase Reforming an incarcerated America – Excellent Article – kra
I have posted many articles showing that a great way – maybe the best way – to reduce crime (reduce recidivism) and lower criminal justice costs is to EDUCATE inmates.
I love this sentence: “It’s reminding them that they have a voice . . . no matter if they are being called a number or an inmate . . . that they’re people that can tell stories,”… it reminds me that my first Letter to the Editor upon release from prison in 2012 was titled “NO VOICE”, and published in several papers.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE??
Excerpts from the Article:
How do we reform the justice system in a country that has unparalleled rates of incarceration and of those returning to prison? This common question is growing in the conversations between members of the American public, millions of which are intertwined in the criminal justice system at various levels.
Many politicians, academic leaders, and reformists offer a solution to the growing problem: education. With the growth of postsecondary education classes being offered to people who are incarcerated around the country and in our local community, there is clear evidence indicating education’s rehabilitating abilities.
On the national level, education programs within prisons are increasing as correctional facilities, academic institutions, national organizations, and businesses are seeing the quantitative data that proves that these programs reduce recidivism — the tendency of a criminal to re-offend after leaving prison — and, consequently, reduce the costs with which incarceration burdens taxpayers.
These programs have an overwhelmingly positive socioeconomic impact on the community in which they are offered. “Prison is an incredibly expensive resource,” says Ruth Delaney, a program manager at the VERA Institute for Justice who provides assistance to corrections agencies and colleges looking to expand postsecondary education in prisons. Any program that lowers recidivism lowers the cost of prison, and a summary of the research done for the last 35 years “has shown us that [for] people who participate in college programs in prison, the likelihood of them going back to prison is 48 percent less.” Not only does this give people who were formerly incarcerated the opportunity to redeem themselves, and make the communities in which they are released safer, but funding for programs like this will also deliver direct economic turnout — “for every $1 invested, [it] has been shown to produce four or five dollars in return” to be exact, indicated by Delaney.
Education programs also produce highly qualified employees upon release, which business owners are usually satisfied with. Ben Pierce is the Hiring Manager of the Massachusetts based company Holt & Bugbee, which employs formerly incarcerated individuals. He notes, “A growing economy needs people who are willing to work . . . This includes hundreds of thousands of people who are entangled in various levels of the criminal justice system.”
Employment Coordinator at the Hampshire County Jail, Rafael Santos, says that “we try discerning whos appropriate to go out [for work release] based on their institutional adjustment; their involvement in education and treatment.” He notes that even in classes that may not have a direct association with the jobs that they are seeking boosts their appeal in the workforce because “it shows that they’re doing something while in custody, being proactive.” Consequently, many different aspects of a society observe a cascade of benefits of prison education.
UMass Amherst is actually involved in this national movement, collaborating with the Hampshire County Jail to provide people who are incarcerated with an opportunity for education and expression.
Professor Annie Raymond in the Math Department began a lecture series at the jail in the fall of 2018. She had previously been involved with larger-scale prison education programs in Seattle and Berkley and wanted to bring that opportunity to the UMass community. Here in Hampshire County, professors from different departments commute to the Hampshire County Jail to give lectures on a wide variety of topics, ranging from how the brain works to computer coding. The relationship between UMass and Hampshire County Jail is still in its infancy, but Professor Raymond hopes to cultivate it into a more well-established program that forms a direct “pipeline” between release from jail to enrollment at UMass — or even a class that regular UMass students take alongside students who are incarcerated. Professor Raymond values how much the students at the jail truly appreciate the opportunity they have been given and emphasizes that it will go a long way towards improving society in the long run.
Another faculty member involved, Professor Paul Collins from the Legal Studies department, lectures on myths of the Supreme Court. He echoes the sentiment of his colleagues, saying the students who are incarcerated are “one of the most engaged audiences I’ve ever had giving a lecture . . . [they] seemed genuinely excited to be talking to somebody about an issue that they care about.” Along with an interest in the subject came an interest in this University. “I did get [the] impression that some of these inmates were thinking about enrolling in college classes,” Professor Collins states, “and one of them specifically mentioned UMass.” If the program gains more support and more funding from UMass, this could certainly be possible. It would give UMass students the opportunity to encounter extremely different experiences, says Professor Raymond, which creates a rich and diverse campus, along with providing a stable future for those incarcerated.
The Social Justice Journalism class here at UMass Amherst, the first class that extends the opportunity for UMass students to get involved with the program and allows incarcerated people to earn college credit, was created by Professor Razvan Sibii and formerly co-taught by Shaheen Pasha. The course allows journalism students to teach the practice of journalism to people who are incarcerated and discuss issues of mass incarceration with them, creating a mutual learning process. An alumnus of UMass and former student of the class, Olivia Jones, notes the transformative experience the class had on her. She confessed that, as a prosecutor, “I spent a lot of time thinking about the inmates as cases” but the class reformed her to see those who are incarcerated on a holistic level — as complex people that have a past and a future. Education, specifically in areas such as journalism, amplifies the voices of the people who are incarcerated; a voice that is arguably the most important one to hear in the issue of mass incarceration. “It’s reminding them that they have a voice . . . no matter if they are being called a number or an inmate . . . that they’re people that can tell stories,” Jones says.
Not only is there quantitative data demonstrating the social and economic benefits of such programs, but there is also another facet to the issue that can not simply be explained by numbers. Education allows incarcerated students to regain a sense of dignity and humanity that the prison experience often strips from them and allows them to have something to look forward to in the midst of their repetitive and mundane lives behind bars. “People had told us that this was the first time in a long time that they felt valued . . . that someone appreciates their brain,” says Professor Sibii.
Olivia Jones remembers that one of the incarcerated individuals she worked within the classroom had told her that “he had something to live for” and she had seen the effects of the classes in “instilling determination and perseverance” in the other incarcerated people.
Every national movement begins at a local level.
Here at Hampshire County, The spirit of education and its reverberating effects can be felt in the classrooms of the County Jail, and the room in which many prisoner’s graduate for the first time in their lives. UMass Amherst has many plans in expanding the classes they offer at the jail, and by utilizing the enthusiasm of students and the expertise of the professors, along with the potential and willingness to learn of the inmates at the Hampshire County Jail, the local community at Amherst and Hampshire County could be a leader in incorporating education in prison. Massachusetts is a leading example for higher education in America, “and I’d love for them [Massachusetts] to be an example on education in prison as well,” Delaney states.
The Whole Story:
1st prison inmate to die of coronavirus wrote heartbreaking letter to judge Patrick Jones “spent the last 12 years contesting a sentence that ultimately killed him,” one of his former lawyers said.
This article was sent to me by my friend, great attorney, Steve Hampton. It is a poignant reminder of the real toll of mass incarceration: needlessly ripping apart families.
We can be sure that many, many inmates will die from coronavirus, for the prison “health care” is abominable.
Excerpts from the Article:
In the months before the coronavirus infiltrated the U.S., a 49-year-old inmate began drafting a letter inside the walls of a federal prison in Louisiana. The man, Patrick Jones, had been locked up for nearly 13 years on a nonviolent drug charge. He hadn’t seen his youngest son, then 16, since the boy was a toddler.
“I feel that my conviction and sentence was also a punishment that my child has had to endure also and there are no words for how remorseful I am,” Jones wrote to U.S. District Judge Alan Albright in a letter dated Oct. 15. “Years of ‘I am sorry’ don’t seem to justify the absence of a father or the chance of having purpose in life by raising my child.”
Jones was arrested in 2007 after cops found 19 grams of crack and 21 grams of powder cocaine inside the apartment he shared with his wife in Temple, Texas. His wife testified against him and was spared a prison sentence.
Jones wasn’t so fortunate. He was ultimately ordered to spend 27 years behind bars, in part because he lived within 1,000 feet of a junior college and already had a long rap sheet, mostly burglaries that he committed when he was a teenager living on the streets.
He was now writing the judge in the hope of receiving a sentence reduction through the newly signed First Step Act, which offered relief to some inmates convicted of nonviolent drug crimes. “My child having his own experience of raising his own child would validate my life experience and give meaning to my existence in this world, because 83582-180 has no meaning,” he wrote, referring to his federal inmate number.
“It is just a number to be forgotten in time. But Mr. Patrick Estell Jones is a very good person. Caring, hard working, free and clean of drugs and a lot smarter now, with a balanced outlook on life.”
The judge denied the request on Feb. 26. Twenty-two days later, Patrick Estell Jones was dead, the first federal inmate to die of the coronavirus disease.
He had contracted COVID-19 at the low-security prison in Oakdale, Louisiana, a penitentiary now dealing with the deadliest outbreak of any of the 122 federal facilities. “He spent the last 12 years contesting a sentence that ultimately killed him,” said Alison Looman, a New York-based lawyer who had represented Jones in an earlier bid for clemency. “Ironically, it seems it is his death that might finally bring his case some attention.”
The U.S. has seen a movement in the past several years to reduce the sentences of nonviolent drug offenders, but criminal justice reform advocates say Jones’ case illustrates the limits of the effort.
“You see everything that is wrong with our sentencing system in this case,” said Kevin Ring, president of the criminal justice advocacy group FAMM, which stands for Families Against Mandatory Minimums.
Ring ticked off the series of factors that led to Jones’ lengthy prison term: a questionable accounting of the amount of drugs he was selling, his apartment’s proximity to a junior college, his decision to go to trial rather than take a plea and a criminal record that was made up largely of teenage offenses.
“He was no choirboy, but his life had meaning,” Ring said. “I feel like his life was taken from him when he was sentenced, and then he was killed in prison, and both of those things should trouble us.”
At least 18 inmates and four staff members have tested positive, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons, but prison union leaders say the real numbers are significantly higher.
“You’re just afraid all the time,” said an Oakdale corrections officer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he’s not authorized to speak to the media. “You’re afraid of catching it and bringing it home to your family. You’re afraid of spreading it in the community.” The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on jails and prisons across the country. Last week, the Bureau of Prisons announced that it was locking down all inmates in their cells or quarters, with limited exceptions, for 14 days, but new cases keep popping up.
“There’s a feeling of terror not knowing when this is going to end,” the Oakdale staffer said.
If you are a concerned relative of anyone in jail or prison, maybe send an email to the warden: “If (name and number of prisoner) dies of coronavirus in your facility, I shall sue you personally.” READ Put it in Writing! = http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/practical-tip-put-writing/ – Always do this!
Excerpts from the Article:
This global pandemic is being touted as a game-changer that will make us re-examine our personal lives, political polarization and profit-driven culture.
This virus should have us questioning how we’ve gone about our business. And at this moment, when everyone is being urged to keep their distance, the crowded confines of a jail or prison are not what the doctor ordered. But despite calls from Gov. Ralph Northam and activists for law enforcement, prosecutors and judges to rethink arrests and incarcerations, some area officials are touting business as usual.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is NOT a get-of-out-jail-free card in Chesterfield County,” Police Chief Jeffrey Katz posted on Facebook. Katz added that Chesterfield Sheriff Karl Leonard “assured me that the Chesterfield County Jail is open for business.”
I get it: “Arresterfield” has a reputation to keep. Police want to send a get-tough signal to crooks who might want to exploit this situation. And authority has been known to seize moments of crisis to flex its muscle. But now is no time to double down on the misguided policies that have resulted in the U.S., “The Land of the Free,” having the highest incarceration rate on the planet, with 2.2 million people in our prisons and jails, according to The Sentencing Project.
“Business as usual” was a problem before COVID-19. “The jail is not a business enterprise that needs to justify to the public that it’s still a functioning business,” said Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia.
No one is asking law enforcement to release or fail to arrest anyone who’s a direct and imminent threat, she said. “But we are asking the question, ‘Why the heck do you have all these people in your jail who’ve never been convicted of anything?’ … It’s kind of the opposite of ‘get out of jail free.’ It’s the ‘get in the jail without reason.’”
Our isolation provides ample opportunity for introspection. It’s time to deconstruct a mass incarceration system that routinely jails the mentally ill, the homeless and drug-addicted, and metes out disproportionate punishment to people of color or those too poor to pay bail. We also incarcerate too many elderly inmates who have aged beyond risk to society.
Jails are not hermetically sealed environments; guards enter every day, possibly bringing the coronavirus with them. Unless inmates have access to room service, private showers and a better supply of Purell hand sanitizer than most of us, there’s heightened risk in institutions that too often are crowded and less than sanitary. Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, cites encouraging measures undertaken scattershot across Virginia, but said “this problem needs to be addressed statewide.”
Low-risk people shouldn’t be held in jail, he said, adding that thousands of people in state prisons with high-risk medical conditions or who have served enough time to pose little risk to society should see their sentences reduced.
This pandemic has highlighted many other aspects of American life — our flawed, profit-driven health care system, the hollowing out of essential government agencies, disregard for science and the devaluation of integrity — that need a reset.
Our incarceration-heavy approach “is something I’m hoping we will come out of this crisis viewing differently,” Gastañaga said. “The criminalization of the poor, the criminalization of people who have addiction issues and health care issues, is not going to stand us in good stead as a society, either in terms of its outcomes or its justice, ever.”
In a post-pandemic societal order, we have much to rethink and redo.
“If the nation is successful in substantially reducing prison and jail populations to save lives, we may come to recognize that excessively lengthy prison terms are harmful to the individuals in prison and create greater problems for their families and communities.”
Just as this virus is teaching us the folly of the concept of borders as barriers, the bars of a jail or prison will never create enough distance between us and what ails our community.
This image pretty well sums it up. Did you know that for every 1 person arrested, 29 people make money?!
It is no wonder that all manner of people/groups spend BILLIONS of dollars annually fighting needed changes to our wildly screwed up justice system.
For them, it is merely job preservation.
Never mind that most of them don’t actually help anyone, (neither individuals nor society) that the system is so fucked up that thousands – yes, thousands – of innocent people are locked up, convicted, every year, that lives are ruined needlessly, families are torn apart, by imprisoning non violent offenders and the mentally ill …
READ How The War on Drugs Destroyed Justice = http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/how-the-war-on-drugs-has-destroyed-justice/ = I remember when the system worked well; justice nearly always was the result. Today it is a total train wreck – perhaps the most vivid manifestation is that we are imprisoning hundreds of innocent people every year. This is WHY it is a train wreck! READ IT!
Prison guard unions, police unions, DAs’ Associations, private prison companies, the thousands of contractors who provide goods and services (most services – “programs” – are a joke, totally useless) to inmates and probationers [nearly 5 MILLION Americans are on probation – most needlessly!] … all these and more stand in the way of justice and of real progress! 🙁
But you can be damn sure of one thing: I’ll keep fighting, keep sounding the alarm. PLEASE DO YOUR PART AND SHARE THIS POST! Thanks.
The fucking guards should pay, inasmuch as THEY bring in most of the drugs! If you don’t think so you have NO clue about what goes on in our prisons. I have seen it!
Excerpts from the Article:
On March 15, 2019, the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADOC) implemented a change to its disciplinary procedures for prisoners. Policy No. 803 now mandates that prisoners requiring hospital treatment for substance abuse must repay the cost of “all medical related expenses,” including ambulance transport, as well as the “cost of staff overtime.”
ADOC spokesperson Bill Lamoreaux said that while the department “understands that the struggle with addiction is not an easy one,” it believes that “obtaining contraband illegal drugs while incarcerated requires a series of deliberate and extremely poor choices.”
Even prior to this policy change, the ADOC charged prisoners a $4 copay for healthcare visits and took 10 percent of deposits into prisoners’ trust accounts to cover medical treatment costs. ADOC prisoners who test positive for illegal drugs must also pay for the urinalysis test. Prison officials insist the policy is designed simply to hold prisoners accountable for their actions.
ADOC prisoners with jobs typically earn 10 to 80 cents an hour. About seven percent of the state’s prison population – around 3,000 prisoners – receive drug treatment, though 78 percent have “significant substance abuse histories,” according to a March 2019 ADOC report. Methadone is only provided to pregnant prisoners who are addicted to opioids, per accepted medical protocols.
Rebecca Fealk, program coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee in Arizona, said prisoners have told her group, “Oh yeah, my treatment was a worksheet that asked me about negative outcomes from using.”
Karen Hellman, division director of Inmate Programs & Reentry for the ADOC, admitted to the state House Judiciary Committee in March 2019, “I could not today treat everyone in the system who needed treatment immediately. The need of the inmates is greater than our capacity to deliver.”
Dr. Josiah Rich, director of The Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights at Rhode Island’s Miriam Hospital, said that Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) is a disease and the new policy betrays “an ignorance about what the disease is and how to treat it.”
“People don’t decide, ‘Hey, I think I’ll overdose today,’” Rich said. “They don’t decide, ‘Oh, I better not overdose today because I might have to pay money from my account to pay for the treatment I’m going to need.’ People overdose because there’s a discrepancy between how much tolerance they have and the amount and purity of the drug and the potency of the drug that they consume.” Dr. Kimberly Sue, medical director of the Harm Reduction Coalition and a physician at New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex, agreed that the ADOC’s policy “runs counter to the reality of addiction.”
“An opioid overdose inside a prison indicates medical mismanagement of a treatable disorder,” she said, adding that “for the people currently incarcerated, we should be providing medications if at all possible in the case of [OUD].”
Treating addiction as the poor choice of people who just need a stronger sense of morality is really “just reflexively punitive and entirely counterproductive,” noted David Fathi, director of the ACLU’s National Prison Project.
“From a public health perspective, this is the worst policy imaginable,” he added. “The solution is treatment, not punishment.”
The ADOC is struggling to meet the terms of a class-action settlement reached in 2015 over its healthcare services. For its failure to do so, U.S. Magistrate Judge David Duncan levied a $1.4 million fine in June 2019. [See: PLN, April 2019, p.56; May 2018, p.28].
In December 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Roslyn Silver named an outside evaluator to report on the ADOC’s medical services. Fathi said the new policy “certainly is consistent with some of the resistance that we have seen in the case to providing even basic and life-saving healthcare,” and “This obviously does affect the ability of our clients in [the class-action suit] to get necessary healthcare.”
Essay on the Guilty Plea, by Ken Abraham: The ‘Voluntarily and Knowingly Made’ Standard – This is a HUGE Myth! – kra
This is one of the greatest myths in the world of criminal justice: that one’s guilty plea is/was ‘Voluntarily and Knowingly Made’ .
About 95% to 98% of all cases end in a guilty plea. In 2018 alone, in the federal system there were 73,109 federal convictions with 71,550 of them being guilty pleas. And the federal system is only 15% of all cases!
When one pleads guilty [READ Rush to Sentence – A Major, Awful Consequence of our “War on Drugs”! = http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/rush-to-sentence-a-major-awful-consequence-of-our-war-on-drugs/ to learn WHY so many cases end in a plea,], the judge asks you, on the record, a series of questions. You usually also sign a page with the same questions, saying that you understand them and agree to them, further dooming your chances of getting JUSTICE later – and thereafter, you chances of undoing that guilty plea are, literally, less than one in a million!
The standard is whether one’s guilty plea was ‘Voluntarily and Knowingly Made’ . What a sad joke! Far, far faaaaar too many times, the defendant is too petrified and/or ill-informed by his jackass lawyer to know what the hell is going on! He/she is “a deer in the headlights”, doing what his/her attorney told him or her to do!
For various reasons, many of those attorneys should be SHOT. And if you don’t think so you need to …