Author Topic: Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons  (Read 1249 times)

Offline imchills

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President Obama on Monday announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system, saying the practice is overused and has the potential for devastating psychological consequences.

In an op-ed that appears in Tuesday editions of The Washington Post, the president outlines a series of executive actions that also prohibit federal corrections officials from punishing prisoners who commit “low-level infractions” with solitary confinement.

The new rules also dictate that the longest a prisoner can be punished with solitary confinement for a first offense is 60 days, rather than the current maximum of 365 days.

The president’s reforms apply broadly to the roughly 10,000 federal inmates serving time in solitary confinement, though there are only a handful of juvenile offenders placed in restrictive housing each year. Between September 2014 and September 2015, federal authorities were notified of just 13 juveniles who were put in solitary in its prisons, officials said. However, federal officials sent adults inmates to solitary for nonviolent offenses 3,800 times in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2014, suggesting that policy change will have more sweeping ramifications.

The reforms come six months after Obama, as part of a broader criminal-justice reform push, ordered the Justice Department to study how solitary confinement was being used by the Federal Bureau of Prisons...


Offline Battle

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Re: Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons
« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2019, 08:59:32 am »
Sunday, 17th November 2019
Representative Pressley Launches A Bold, Progressive Criminal Legal Reform Resolution: The People’s Justice Guarantee

Press Release

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, Representative Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), introduced a comprehensive, people-centered, decarceration-focused legislation H.R. 702, The People’s Justice Guarantee.

Representative Pressley’s resolution lays out a bold, new vision for justice in the American criminal legal system.

The resolution aims to outline a framework that will transform the U.S. criminal legal system to one that meets America’s foundational yet unfilled promise of justice for all. 

Currently, more Americans live in jails and prisons than in Phoenix, Philadelphia, or the state of New Mexico.

Additionally, the American criminal legal system is disproportionately decimating Black and brown communities, who unjustly make up 31% of America’s population but 56% of the incarcerated population.

“You cannot have a government for and by the people if it is not represented by all of the people,” said Representative Pressley.

“For far too long, those closest to the pain have not been closest to the power, resulting in a racist, xenophobic, rogue, and fundamentally flawed criminal legal system. The People’s Justice Guarantee is the product of a symbiotic partnership with over 20 grassroots organizations and people impacted by the discriminatory policies of our legal system. Our resolution calls for a bold transformation of the status quo - devoted to dismantling injustices so that the system is smaller, safer, less punitive, and more humane.”

The mass incarceration crisis has taken a severe toll on families with an estimated 1 in 2 U.S. adults, including 2.1 million American children, having had an immediate family member spend at least one or more nights in jail.

Women, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, and people with disabilities have also been disproportionately impacted by the criminal legal system and subjected to the traumatizing effects of practices like solitary confinement.

In July, in response to the U.S. Department of Justice’s announcement that they will resume the use of the death penalty for the first time in more than 16 years, Representative Pressley introduced H.R. 4052, legislation to prohibit the use of the death penalty at the federal level and require re-sentencing of those currently on death row.

Additionally, she wrote a letter with Representative Jamie Raskin, Chairman of the Oversight ​Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, to Attorney General Barr and the Bureau of Prisons demanding answers on plans to resume the use of the death penalty.

The People’s Justice Guarantee lays out the framework needed to create a fair, equitable, and just criminal legal system and emphasizes the need for a participatory “peoples process” as a critical aspect of effective policy-making.

Ultimately, the resolution calls to substantially reduce the number of people incarcerated and transform the purpose and experience of the criminal legal system.

The People’s Justice Guarantee was developed in collation with several grassroots organizations, advocates, and individuals including:

National Immigration Law Center, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Immigrant Defense Project, UndocuBlack Network, KNOW YOUR SMOKE, Inner City Weightlifting, Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College, African-American Coalition Committee of MCI-Norfolk, SAW youth program, Janelle Ridley, and United We Dream.


Representative Pressley’s resolution is based on 5 guiding principles:

1. Shared Power

The People's Justice Guarantee enlists a participatory people’s process - through assemblies, town halls, listening sessions, and workshops ─ to ensure that communities directly impacted by mass incarceration and historical oppression will be active partners in achieving true justice, freedom and safety for all.

2. Freedom

The People's Justice Guarantee calls for a significant reduction of the U.S. prison population by promoting policies at the federal, state, and local levels to support mass decarceration and repealing failed policies of the war on drugs and 1994 crime bill. Prison should be a last resort, not the first stop.

3. Equality

The People's Justice Guarantee calls for equal justice under the law by abolishing private prison, jail, and immigrant detention contracts; bail bondsmen; and other prison profit-making mechanisms such as telecommunications and health care that rake in billions of dollars at the expense of incarcerated people.

4. Safety

The People's Justice Guarantee seeks to disrupt the over-policing, criminalization and presumption of guilt among vulnerable groups – such as people of color, women, immigrants, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community. These communities disproportionately come in contact with the criminal legal system and The People’s Justice Guarantee aims to break the cycles of violence and discrimination that lead to it.

5. Dignity

The People's Justice Guarantee uplifts the humanity and dignity of all people by challenging the underlying racism, criminalization, dehumanization and oppression that define the U.S. criminal legal system.

The People’s Justice Guarantee pledges to create a more just and equal society by reimagining safety and dismantling discriminatory aspects of the current criminal injustice system. Amongst other things, the People's Justice Guarantee calls for:

Dramatically Reducing Jail and Prison Populations by:

Expanding access to restorative justice and diversion programs

Decriminalizing consensual sex work and low-level offenses, which are byproducts of poverty, homelessness, discrimination and/or addiction

Ending the death penalty, including life sentences without the possibility of parole, which effectively function as “death by incarceration”

Capping sentences, for all crimes, particularly those that do no cause serious harm

Transforming the Experience of Confinement by:

Ending solitary confinement

Expanding visitation

Allowing trans people to be housed in accordance with their chosen gender identity

Providing high-quality, trauma-informed, and culturally-responsive mental and physical health care (including substance- use therapy, hormone therapy, and mental health treatment)

Increases vocational and educational access, including Pell Grants, and ends the use of forced labor

Eliminating Wealth-Based Discrimination and Corporate Profiteering by:

Prohibiting private companies from profiting off of incarceration and immigrant detention

Relieving people in poverty of the unfair debt burdens by ending the use of money bail and the imposition of unaffordable fines and fees - ceasing the practice of charging people for their own supervision and banning incarceration for debt alone

Supporting a just transition for returning citizens, including policies that remove restrictions to employment and public services such as housing, education assistance, and voting

Investing in Impacted Communities by:

Ending the transfer of military equipment to local police and refocusing resources to dramatically increase clearance (or solve) rates for the most serious crimes – shootings, homicides, domestic and sexual violence

Limiting firearm production and sales

Eliminating qualified immunity and establishing standards on use of force, de-escalation, and crisis intervention training including the designation of a non-911 number for dispatch of crisis and trauma intervention teams

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« Last Edit: November 17, 2019, 06:09:06 pm by Battle »

Offline Battle

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Re: Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2020, 10:17:43 pm »
Wednesday, 22nd January 2020
2 inmates in Mississippi prison die from 'blunt force' beatings
by Erik Ortiz

Two inmates at a maximum-security prison in Mississippi have died after suffering injuries from a "blunt force beating," officials said Tuesday, bringing the death toll across the state's prison system to at least seven since the beginning of the year.

The deaths come after another inmate at the same facility — Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman — had apparently taken his own life in his cell on Sunday, Sunflower County Coroner Heather Burton said in a news release.

The increased scrutiny has spurred Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, a Republican who took office last week, to pledge his administration would provide transparency amid the fraught situation.

"There is much more to be done here," he tweeted Tuesday.

The Mississippi Department of Corrections did not immediately provide details into the latest deaths, but tweeted that they stemmed from an "isolated incident," and not part of the recent wave of retaliatory, gang-related killings.

The gang violence led to a lock down of prisons across the state earlier this month.

Mississippi State Penitentiary, the state's only maximum-security prison for men and home to more than 3,500 inmate beds, has been the focus of attention given its history of inmate abuses, racial segregation and corruption.

One of this week's victims was identified as Timothy Hudspeth, who was serving a 10-year sentence for possession of a firearm by a felon.

The other inmate was not named pending notification of kin.

"The safety of staff and prisoners at Parchman is our immediate priority, and we are working hard to restore and maintain order," interim Commissioner Tommy Taylor said in a statement, adding,

"The environment that makes such violence possible must be addressed quickly, and we are committed to making changes to do so."

But experts have said the string of deaths underscores the long-festering problems within Mississippi's prison system, which has one of the nation's highest incarceration rates.

The Department of Corrections also faces a new lawsuit after rap mogul Jay-Z filed a federal complaint in Mississippi last week against the agency and the warden of the state penitentiary, saying the recent deaths "are a direct result of Mississippi's utter disregard for the people it has incarcerated and their constitutional rights."

The department replied that it does not comment on pending litigation.

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Offline Battle

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Re: Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons
« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2020, 10:19:03 pm »
Thursday, 23rd January 2020
San Francisco will no longer seek cash bail in criminal cases
by J. Edward Moreno

San Francisco's newly-elected district attorney Chesa Boudin announced that the city will no longer ask for cash bail for criminal defendants' pretrial release.

Boudin was sworn into office just two weeks ago after being elected to office in November.

On Wednesday he made good on his central campaign promise to abolish cash bail.

According to a statement posted on Twitter, prosecutors will use a "risk-based system" to determine if a defendant is likely to flee.

The cash bail system in the U.S. has been criticized as benefiting defendants of higher incomes.

Defendants without enough money to post bail spend the time between their arrest and the end of their trial - often months - behind bars.

In the statement, Boudin said taxpayers spent $38 million per day jailing people who have not been convicted of any crimes.

Boudin said the practice disproportionately affects communities of color and lower-income individuals.

"For years I've been fighting to end this discriminatory and unsafe approach to pretrial detention," Boudin said in a statement.

"From this point forward, pretrial detention will be based on public safety, not on wealth."

The shift to remove cash bail goes a step further than Boudin's predecessor.

George Gascón brought down cash bail by introducing an algorithmic risk assessment tool in 2016.

The DA's office on Wednesday said they will continue to use the tool, which "has allowed prosecutors and judges to preserve the constitutional protection of presumed innocence, while maintaining public safety through objective data."

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Offline Battle

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Re: Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2020, 04:59:47 am »
Thursday, 27th February 2o2o
Jay-Z and Yo Gotti file second lawsuit against Mississippi prisons on behalf of 150 inmates living in 'filth and dilapidation'
by Christina Maxouris and Jamiel Lynch

Rappers Yo Gotti and Jay-Z filed a second lawsuit this week against the Mississippi Department of Corrections targeting the state's notorious Parchman prison, where at least nine inmates have died since the beginning of the year.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of more than 150 inmates housed in the prison -- formally known as the Mississippi State Penitentiary -- and alleges "barbaric" conditions within the facility, including food contaminated with rat feces and cockroaches, flooded cells and lack of medical care.

In a news release, Team Roc -- the philanthropic arm of Jay-Z's entertainment company Roc Nation -- called for the Mississippi Department of Corrections to address the health and safety risks within 90 days.

The announcement came alongside a harrowing video released by the organization, which documents some of the conditions inside the prison and includes testimony from the relatives of inmates who died inside.

Just last month the two rappers helped more than two dozen inmates file another class-action lawsuit against the prison that attributed inmate deaths to a "culmination of years of severe understaffing and neglect."

"The game plan is to get change," Yo Gotti told CNN's Stephanie Elam recently.

"To make sure the Mississippi prison be held accountable to treat the prisoners like humans and not have them living in inhumane conditions."

CNN has reached out to the Mississippi Department of Corrections for comment on the lawsuit.

The latest lawsuit, much like the first one, says the prison suffers from understaffing issues which result in improper inmate care, neglect and rampant inmate-on-inmate violence.
At least three people have died behind facility bars as a result of violent outbreaks.

The filing goes on to say that in addition to the violence, "words cannot adequately describe the degree of filth and dilapidation the men at Parchman live in, and lie in, every day."

"Were these conditions in existence at an animal shelter, media would swarm, arrests would be made, and those in charge would be on their way to jail as a result of public outrage over this criminal conduct."

The inmates cite problems such as flooded cells, missing light fixtures, collapsing ceilings, black mold, broken sewer systems and water systems contaminated with human feces, and cold, dark cells that in the summer jump to stifling hot temperatures.

Further, it states, "the inmates receive meals that are undercooked and served at unsafe temperatures. Many times, the food is adulterated with rat feces, cockroaches, rocks, bird droppings and other foreign matter."

The suit also says the inmates don't receive access to adequate medical care.

"[Inmates] insert their own catheters, treat their own stab wounds, vomit up blood, teeter on the verge of diabetic comas, and suffer through seizures without medical care. Even a broken neck can go without treatment at Parchman, with the inmate being left to suffer through his injury while sleeping on exposed, steel bedsprings with no mattress," the suit says.

The lawsuits echo a June report from state Department of Health environmental administrator Rayford Horton, which raised concern about the prison's conditions -- highlighting several issues within one specific unit: Unit 29.

More than half of the inmates in Team Roc's recent lawsuit come from that unit.

In his state of the state address last month, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves vowed to shut down the unit, which he called the "most notorious" in the facility.

Reeves said in January that he visited the facility and the problems within were "infuriating."

"We can do better," he said.

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Offline Battle

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Re: Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2020, 12:34:32 pm »
Tuesday, 10th March 2o2o
Prison Whistleblower Mysteriously Found Dead
by Perry Vandell

A corrections officer who sparked a statewide investigation into broken cell locks in Arizona prisons was found dead Sunday evening.
Gabriela Contreras, 31, was found dead around 11:30 p.m. Sunday, according to the Goodyear Police Department.

The department is not investigating her death as a homicide.

Contreras gained notoriety after she downloaded and leaked videos of attacks related to broken locks at Lewis Prison.

Contreras said she raised her concerns to superiors about the broken locks and low staffing levels, but said her concerns were largely ignored.

She then decided to share the videos with ABC15.

Arizona Department of Corrections Director David Shinn issued a written statement offering his condolences to Conteras' family.

"On behalf of the men and women of the Arizona Department of Corrections, Rehabilitation and Reentry, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the family of Correctional Officer III Ana Gabriela Contreras, who passed away early this morning," Shinn said.

"This is a sad day for us all, and tragic loss as she was a valued member of our team."

Reach the reporter Perry Vandell at 602-444-2474 or

Follow him on Twitter @PerryVandell.

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Offline Battle

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Re: Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2020, 02:19:32 pm »
Thursday, 19th March 2o2o
Ending Cash Bail
by Lea Hunter

What is cash bail?

Three out of 5 people in U.S. jails today have not been convicted of a crime.

This amounts to nearly half a million people sitting in jails each day, despite the fact that they are legally innocent of the crime with which they have been charged.

Most jurisdictions in the country operate a cash bail system, in which the court determines an amount of money that a person has to pay in order to secure their release from detention.

The cash amount serves as collateral to ensure that the defendant appears in court for their trial.

What is wrong with cash bail?

In effect, the cash bail system criminalizes poverty, as people who are unable to afford bail are detained while they await trial for weeks or even months.

Cash bail perpetuates inequities in the justice system that are disproportionately felt by communities of color and those experiencing poverty.

Spending even a few days in jail can result in people losing their job, housing, and even custody of their children.

Studies show that pretrial detention can actually increase a person’s likelihood of rearrest upon release, perpetuating an endless cycle of arrest and incarceration.

What is more, the cash bail system often leads to the detention of people who do not pose a threat to public safety.

How can jurisdictions fix the problem?

Many jurisdictions across the United States are rethinking the way they use jails, reforming pretrial practices to ensure that defendants’ rights to be presumed innocent and treated equally under the law are preserved, regardless of their income.

In ending cash bail, jurisdictions are redesigning their pretrial systems with the goal of reducing the overuse and misuse of jails.

This starts with a presumption of release, which places the burden on prosecutors to prove the need for detention and limits qualifying offenses for detention to only the most serious offenses.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, sending fewer people to jail and minimizing the use of pretrial detention shows promising results toward making communities safer while shrinking the footprint of the criminal justice system and saving taxpayer dollars.

Jurisdictions are also instituting practices to support defendants’ successful appearance in court, such as providing court date reminders, transportation vouchers, flexible scheduling, and on-site child care.

What is the controversy behind ending cash bail?

One common misperception is that ending cash bail and reforming the pretrial system could endanger the public even more than the status quo.

However, studies of New Jersey and Washington, D.C., demonstrate that defendants’ rates of appearance for trial after reforms were implemented are similar or better to rates of appearance before the reforms.

Similarly, the rates of re-arrest for people who were released pretrial are comparable to those before the reforms were instituted.

An additional point of contention for policymakers seeking to end cash bail is the use of actuarial risk assessments—formulas or algorithms used to predict an individual’s likelihood of appearance at trial and their risk of reoffending pretrial.

These tools premise that judges and prosecutors have too often relied on preconceived ideas and gut feelings to impose harsh pretrial conditions, including detention and exorbitant bail.

But risk assessments have been criticized for a lack of transparency and validation as well as for perpetuating and exacerbating racial disparities, in large part by relying on historical, racially biased data.

In spite of these and other challenges, the movement for pretrial reform today is only gaining greater momentum.

States and localities across the country are dramatically reducing or eliminating the use of money bail and rethinking their use of jails, leading to substantial reductions in unjust pretrial detention.

Who is implementing reforms?

Washington, D.C., was an early pioneer in pretrial reform, taking steps to eliminate the use of cash bail as early as the 1960s.

The results have been extraordinary: 94 percent of defendants are released pretrial, and 91 percent of them appear in court for their trial.

New Jersey passed a suite of criminal justice reforms in 2016 that essentially eliminated cash bail and created a new pretrial services program.

Since implementing these reforms in 2017, New Jersey saw a 20 percent reduction in its jail population.

In 2017, 95 percent of defendants were released pretrial and 89 percent of them appeared at their trial date.

Harris County, Texas, home to the third-largest jail system in the country, reformed its pretrial system as part of a consent decree to virtually eliminate the use of money bail for misdemeanor charges.

Prior to these reforms, 40 percent of people arrested on a misdemeanor charge were detained until their case was adjudicated.

Experts estimate that reforms will result in pretrial release for 90 to 95 percent of misdemeanor defendants.

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Offline Battle

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Re: Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2020, 05:20:51 pm »
Monday, 23rd March 2o2o
Colorado Death Penalty Abolished!
by Andrew Kennedy

Governor Jared Polis has signed a bill to repeal the death penalty.

The measure passed the Democratic legislature with limited bipartisan support earlier this spring and was sent to him shortly before lawmakers suspended their session.

This makes Colorado the 22nd state to abolish capital punishment, and it marks the conclusion of reform efforts that began at the Colorado State Capitol in 2007.

“It's important that we end that I think it has been a very discriminatory practice, not just towards people of color, but people within geographic areas within the state,” said Democratic Representative Adrienne Benavidez of Adams County, one of the law's main sponsors.

Prosecutors and juries in different parts of Colorado have shown different levels of comfort with the penalty.

In normal times, the signing of such a historic bill would likely be a news event, with the champions of abolition gathered around to celebrate.

But Polis followed his own recommendations for social distancing, instead announcing the signing through a press release after the fact.

At the same time he announced the bill signing, the governor also commuted the sentences of three men on death row:

Robert Ray, Sir Mario Owens and Nathan Dunlap.

They will now serve life in prison without possibility of parole.

Their cases were not directly affected by the repeal, leaving their fates up to Polis.

“Commutations are typically granted to reflect evidence of extraordinary change in the offender. That is not why I am commuting these sentences to life in prison without the possibility of parole," Polis said in the press release announcing his decision.

"Rather, the commutations of these despicable and guilty individuals are consistent with the abolition of the death penalty in the State of Colorado, and consistent with the recognition that the death penalty cannot be, and never has been, administered equitably in the State of Colorado."

However, Polis' decision to commute the three sentences was met with blistering criticism by District Attorney George Brauchler, whose predecessors prosecuted all three men.

Brauchler said the governor had failed to confer with his office, as required by law.

And he excoriated the underlying decision to end the death penalty.

"We will save no money. We are not safer. We are not a better people. And the only lives spared are those who commit the ultimate acts of evil against us," Brauchler said in a statement.

This is the sixth time that state lawmakers have tried to repeal the death penalty in recent years -- and the debate extends more than a century.

Colorado lawmakers first abolished the death penalty in 1897, only to reinstate capital punishment a few years later -- an effort to discourage extrajudicial mobs from lynching prisoners.

This is the latest milestone in the United States’ dramatic shift on capital punishment.

Nationwide, support for the death penalty reached a high of 80 percent in 1995, when Democrats and Republicans alike demanded a crackdown after years of climbing violent crime rates, according to Gallup polling.

Today, public opinion is split near evenly.

In some states, the death penalty was repealed only after dramatic scandals, especially the exoneration of men on death row.

Colorado’s situation is the reverse; there’s no dispute that the three men on death row committed the crimes they were sentenced for.
Instead, the punishment all but eroded away here.

It’s been a decade since a Colorado jury handed down a death sentence.

No one has been executed in this state since 1997.

“Colorado is following the trend that we're seeing in the West, which is a steady movement away from the death penalty, first in practice, and then in abolition,” said Robert Dunham, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center, a national nonprofit that tracks the issue.

“So, we're seeing states moving away from it. We're seeing juries moving away from it. And we're seeing the executions, even though the death penalty is on the books, aren't happening.”

Colorado jurors have been reluctant to apply the death sentence even in high-profile cases like the Aurora theater shooting or the slayings of five bar patrons in Denver, and the volume of capital sentences nationwide has dropped by nearly 90% since its peak in the ‘90s.

But until now, the threat of death has loomed over criminal cases in Colorado.

Conservative prosecutors say it has helped them win plea deals and avoid costly trials for the most horrific crimes.

There’s also the idea that the death penalty discourages crime, which is hotly disputed by opponents and some researchers.

A committee of the federally chartered National Research Council found that existing studies are too flawed to make any connection.

On the other side, reformers argue that the death penalty is cruel, that it puts innocent lives at risk, and that the endless debate has drawn attention away from other important questions.

Twenty-eight states still have death-penalty laws.

Until the turn of the millenium, repealing the death penalty was practically a taboo subject, nationally and in the Colorado legislature.

“It was difficult to ever vote on anything that made you look like you weren’t tough on crime,” said Paul Weissmann, a former state lawmaker and current treasurer for Boulder County.

In the state Senate, “there were maybe seven of us that consistently opposed the death penalty and fought hard then to repeal it,” he said.

“Seven out of 35 (senators) isn’t a great number to get that done.”

But the politics of the issue started to shift.

Colorado’s last execution -- of the murderer Gary Lee Davis -- was in 1997.

And the state hadn’t executed anyone else for 30 years prior, while other states killed dozens or hundreds.

“It’s pretty much been a non-death penalty state for years, functionally” Weissmann said.

He thinks that gave momentum to the abolition effort.

Repeal bills started making headway in the legislature by the 2000s.

Weissmann’s 2009 effort passed the House and failed in the Senate by a single vote.

In 2013, after Democrats regained control of the legislature, reformers tried again.

“I actually thought it would pass. I was very, very hopeful. We had spent a lot of time educating members about the issue,” said former representative Claire Levy.

She blames its failure on then-governor John Hickenlooper, now a primary candidate for U.S. Senate.

Initially, Hickenloper expressed ambivalence, “but he was not closing the door to the possibility that he would sign (the bill),” Levy said.

But she said support crumbled when Hickenlooper eventually signaled that he might instead veto.

“Because of that, some members of the House that were in swing districts felt that if the bill wasn’t going to pass, wasn’t going to be signed into law, they didn’t want to take a risky vote," Levy said.

Months later, Hickenlooper was credited with effectively putting a moratorium on capital punishment when he indefinitely delayed the execution of Nathan Dunlap, who murdered four people in a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in 1993.

Hickenlooper’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

In 2018, reformers thought their time had finally arrived when Democrats retook full control of state government with the “blue wave” midterm elections.

But their expected victory was delayed by emotional arguments within the Democratic Party, largely because of one lawmaker’s tragic experience:

State Senator Rhonda Fields’ son and his fiancee were murdered before he could testify in a murder trial.

The perpetrators are two of the three men on death row in Colorado.

Fields has long maintained that repealing the death penalty would be a miscarriage of justice for her son and his fiancee.

"We have kept people alive who are guilty of committing murder, mass murders," Fields said earlier.

"We should maintain justice, and we should maintain the rights of victims and our ability to seek justice."

Fields accused repeal advocates of trying to rush the bill through without giving opponents a fair chance to organize.

In the end, her objections over process undermined support for the bill in the Senate and sponsors ended up pulling the measure.

This year, the goal was the same, but Gonzales and the other sponsors said they were committed to a transparent process that would let the bill stand on its own merits.

With new support from a few Republicans, they mounted a months-long effort that drew dozens of crime victims, lawyers, reformers and others to the Capitol’s chambers and committee for debates that stretched late into the night.

They came from every background and seemed to make every possible point.

Some who wanted to keep the penalty said that repeal would end their chance at justice for a loved one.

Numerous prosecutors testified the state would lose its ultimate tool, giving it litlte recourse for horrific crimes, especially those committed by life prisoners.

But lawmakers heard as well from numerous relatives of murder victims, who said that death would offer them no healing.

Gail Rice, 72, is the sister of Bruce VanderJagt, a Denver police officer who was murdered in 1997.

The killer died at the scene, but his death offered no closure, an experience that shaped her opposition to capital punishment.

“Partly, I think (other survivors) have been led by prosecutors and politicians and sometimes family members too, to this hope that they're going to find peace. They're going to find closure. Everything is going to be fine,” she said in an interview.

“And, and that's false.”

The repeal bill left Governor Jared Polis with a big question:

What should he do with the three men still on death row?

The law does not apply retroactively, so without the governor exercising his power of clemency, they would still potentially be on a path to execution.

Polis chose to settle the question at the same time he signed the new law, reducing the sentences of all three to life without parole.

“While I understand that some victims agree with my decision and others disagree, I hope this decision provides clarity and certainty for them moving forward. The decision to commute these sentences was made to reflect what is now Colorado law, and done after a thorough outreach process to the victims and their families,” the Governor said in his statement.

Other governors have taken different approaches.

Martin O’Malley didn’t make a final decision about the prisoners on his state's death row until two years after he signed Maryland’s repeal law, despite his leading role in abolition.

With just a few weeks left in his term, he commuted four men’s sentences to life-in-prison.

In New Mexico, governors left two men on death row for a decade after abolition, until the state’s supreme court spared them.

Ultimately, most death-row inmates end up with a life sentence after their states pass repeal.

There’s another wrinkle in Colorado, too.

Adams County District Attorney Dave Young is currently pursuing a capital case in the killing of sheriff’s deputy Heath Gumm.

The Colorado law also won’t apply retroactively to that case.

So if the jury chooses death, it will leave Polis with one more decision to make.

In a world without the death penalty, prosecutors like Young worry that they won’t have leverage to encourage guilty pleas in the most serious trials.

“Without the leverage, the entire judicial system would be bogged down,” Young said at a January meeting.

Denver District Attorney Beth McCann countered that idea, saying that the threat of death can unbalance the entire system -- leading defendants to give up their rights.

“It’s a sledgehammer,” she said at the meeting.

Now, as that “sledgehammer” disappears into Colorado’s past, other criminal justice reform questions may take center stage.

“People are able to take a look at other problems, that are less magnified, and get down to the small details,” Dunham said of what happens in states after abolition.

“And we also see that there is a lot less emotional turmoil. When people are dealing with the other issues, they can look at it much more rationally. The death penalty debate soaks up a lot of emotions and, and reasonably so.”

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Re: Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons
« Reply #8 on: March 26, 2020, 04:03:23 pm »
Thursday, 26th March 2o2o
Representative Rush Introduces Legislation to Protect Inmates and Their Families from Unjust Charges for Communications Services

According to Representative Bobby L. Rush of Illinois, "The average inmate pays up to $25 per call. Given that most prisoners are paid legal slave wages, this cost is incurred by the person they are calling. Yesterday, I introduced legislation to protect inmates and their families from these unjust charges."

H.R. 6389 - To amend the Communications Act of 1934 to ensure just and reasonable charges for confinement facility communications services, and for other purposes.

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Yesterday, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.) introduced H.R. 6389, the Martha Wright Prison Phone Justice Act, which protects inmates from unjust and unreasonable charges related to the telephone services and advance communications they rely on during their term of imprisonment. 

In particular, the bill bans commissions received by prisons and other confinement facilities from communications providers, which is the primary cause of increased rates incurred by inmates and their families.

“In jails and prisons across the country, the average inmate can expect to pay as much as $25 per call they make to a family member or loved one.  Given that most prisoners are paid legal slave wages — if any wages at all — this cost is usually incurred by the person they are calling, often forcing families to choose between putting food on the table and speaking with their loved one who happens to be in prison,” said Representative Rush. 

“Predictably, these unjust and unreasonable charges can enflame already tense relationships between incarcerated persons and their support systems, thereby exacerbating recidivism."

“Mrs. Martha Wright-Reed knew this struggle intimately, forced to choose between purchasing medication for herself and communicating with her incarcerated son.  She would go on to lead a campaign for just communications rates for incarcerated people for over a decade, and later serve as lead plaintiff in Wright v. Corrections Corporation of America,” Representative Rush continued.
“This legislation serves to commemorate her fight for justice, protect prisoners from unfair rates for their communications services, and ensure that their families do not have to make the difficult choice between paying their bills and speaking with a loved one ever again.”

In addition to banning site commissions, H.R. 6389 caps intrastate and interstate phone services at four cents per minute for debit prepaid calling, and five cents per minute for collect calling.

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Re: Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2020, 02:34:40 pm »
Tuesday, 31st March 2o2o
COVID-19 cases in Dallas County jail reaches 17
by Jozelyn Escobedo

An online report released Tuesday by Dallas County Health and Human Services shows the number of COVID-19 cases in jail has now reached 17.

Last week, on March 25th, officials confirmed five Dallas County jail inmates had tested positive for the virus.

It's unclear how the first inmate got the disease.

He has been in jail since December and was held in a pod with 50 others, according to the Dallas County Sheriff's Office.
In a news conference last week, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins assured families of Dallas County inmates that people are housed separately.

"The fact that your loved one is in jail does not mean they're going to get COVID," Jenkins said.

Two days ago, Governor Greg Abbott issued a new executive order that bans the release of "dangerous felons" from Texas prisons and jails.

The governor said he wants to reduce and contain the spread of virus in jails and prisons for the benefit of the inmates and the staff.
Abbott said he has been working with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to work toward this – but releasing "dangerous criminals" makes Texas even less safe and doesn't slow the spread of the virus.

"Releasing dangerous criminals from jails into the streets is not the right solution. Doing so is now prohibited by law by this declaration," Abbott said.

On Monday night during a Zoom news conference, Jenkins said non-violent drug offenders should be in jail right now.

He also stated he wants a tool to keep dangerous inmates in custody but safe.

Abbott's executive order remains in effect until further notice.

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Re: Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2020, 03:18:48 pm »
Thursday, 2nd March 2o2o
Cuyahoga County Jail warden resigns amid investigations, while self-isolating from virus concerns
by Adam Ferrise

(CLEVELAND, Ohio) — Cuyahoga County Jail Warden Gregory Croucher resigned Thursday amid two investigations into his conduct, and just days after he went into the jail after his return from an overseas vacation without going through the county’s mandated virus screenings.

Croucher was hired as warden in August after the former jail warden, Eric Ivey, was charged and convicted of misconduct during a string of deaths at the jail in 2018.

Croucher cited personal reasons for his resignation, according to Cuyahoga County spokeswoman Mary Louise Madigan.

Madigan said an acting warden has not yet been named.

The Cuyahoga County Sheriff and the county inspector general launched investigations earlier this month into two accusations against Croucher — one that he used excessive force on an inmate and another that he forced an on-duty corrections officer to drive him to the airport.

He was sent home to self-isolate on March 25th after a trip to Costa Rica.

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Re: Obama bans solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2020, 03:24:47 am »
Saturday, 4th April 2o2o
Virus Cases Inside Cook County Jail Soar Into Triple Digits
by Lorraine Swanson

(COOK COUNTY, IL) — Virus cases jumped into the triple digits this week at Cook County Jail since the first two cases were announced on March 23rd.

As of Thursday, 167 detainees and 46 employees from the Cook County Sheriff's Office have tested positive for COVID-19.

Eleven inmates are hospitalized.

Judge LeRoy K. Martin Jr. ordered the case-by-case bond reviews of inmates awaiting trial to reduce the jail population to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Over the past week, 400 non-violent, low-level inmates awaiting trial have been released from the county jail.

The behind-the-walls population dipped from 5,306 a week to 4,711, with 2,590 detainees in community corrections, including electronic monitoring.

A 42-year-old Albany Park man released following a bond review after enduring COVID-19 inside the walls, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the atmosphere inside the jail is like a “Disneyland for coronavirus.”

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