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Criminal Justice Reform


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"With less than 5% of the world’s population yet nearly 25% of the world’s prisoners, the U.S. is absurdly out of step with the rest of the world. In order to reverse this trend sentencing reform is desperately needed.

 

The federal government began to enforce more and more archaic and extreme sentencing policies in the 1980’s as part of the failed “War on Drugs.” Outrageous sentences were handed down by overzealous courts targeting and trapping low-income people of color in jails and prisons. The problem has only worsened over the last 30 years.

 

These ineffective policies swept more and more people into overcrowded prisons, driving mass incarceration and stretching prison and state budgets to the breaking point. Study after study proves extreme sentencing has no effect on the crime rate in a community.

 

Pass The Sentencing Reform And Corrections Act!!!

 

https://action.aclu.org/secure/real-criminal-justice-reform-now?emsrc=Nat_Appeal_AutologinEnabled&emissue=massincarceration_smartjustice&emtype=petition&ms=eml_171116_massincarceration_smartjustice_realCJreformnow&__af=

 

 

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November 17, 2017

 

"In a sudden about-face Thursday night, Chicago police said seven cops once part of an allegedly corrupt crew will be removed from street duties while their conduct years ago is investigated.

 

The reversal came hours after Cook County prosecutors threw out the convictions of 15 men who were framed by the crew — led by former Sgt. Ronald Watts, who did prison time for shaking down drug dealers.

 

Police spokesman Frank Giancamilli said Thursday night that one sergeant and six officers who worked with Watts have been placed on paid desk duty while an internal investigation is conducted.

 

Asked earlier Thursday why several officers tied to Watts’ corrupt crew were still on the force, police Superintendent Eddie Johnson noted none had been convicted of a crime — unlike Watts.

 

“They have due process and rights just like any citizen in this country,” he told reporters after his speech to the City Club of Chicago. “… But we just can’t arbitrarily take the job away from people.”

 

Meanwhile, in the wake of the mass exoneration, attorneys vowed to continue to review potentially hundreds of convictions tied to Watts and his crew.

 

The lead attorney for the 15 men whose drug cases were thrown out said as many as 500 additional convictions need to be checked out.

 

“It needs to be investigated and vetted about how many of those are appropriate to overturn,” Joshua Tepfer told reporters after the charges had been tossed. “We are very much in the process of doing that.”

 

It marks the third consecutive day that prosecutors dropped charges at the Leighton Criminal Court Building because of alleged misconduct by Chicago police. Jose Maysonet, 49, walked free Wednesday after 27 years in custody for a double murder when a sergeant and four detectives — all retired — indicated they would assert their Fifth Amendment right and refuse to answer questions about the alleged confessions they obtained.

 

On Tuesday, Arthur Brown, 66, was released after county prosecutors reversed course and dropped murder charges against him, saying significant evidentiary issues raised deep concerns about the fairness of his conviction. Brown had been in custody 29 years for a double murder.

 

The mass exoneration Thursday comes two months after lawyers for the 15 men filed a joint petition seeking to overturn a total of 18 criminal drug convictions, alleging that Watts and his crew framed all of them between 2003 and 2008.

 

Watts and an officer under his command were sent to federal prison in 2013 for stealing money from a drug courier who had been working as an FBI informant.

 

Because of the age of the cases, all 15 men had completed their sentences, including prison time for many."

 

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-mass-exoneration-ronald-watts-20171116-story.html

 

https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/innocence-list-those-freed-death-row

 

 

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It marks the third consecutive day that prosecutors dropped charges at the Leighton Criminal Court Building because of alleged misconduct by Chicago police. Jose Maysonet, 49, walked free Wednesday after 27 years in custody for a double murder when a sergeant and four detectives — all retired — indicated they would assert their Fifth Amendment right and refuse to answer questions about the alleged confessions they obtained.

 

On Tuesday, Arthur Brown, 66, was released after county prosecutors reversed course and dropped murder charges against him, saying significant evidentiary issues raised deep concerns about the fairness of his conviction. Brown had been in custody 29 years for a double murder.

 

 

 

 

 

Guilty.

 

 

 

 

kj

 

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  • 9 months later...

 

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Inmates Are Risking Their Lives For $2 A Day

August 8, 2018

 

"As California firefighters work to contain the largest wildfire in state history, they find themselves working their 24-hour shifts alongside a group of unlikely partners: 3,400 inmates from the California Department of Corrections And Rehabilitation. The groups work in unison, but while salaried California firefighters earn an annual mean wage of $74,000 plus benefits, inmates earn just $2 per day with an additional $1 per hour when fighting an active fire.

 

Inmates without histories of arson, sexual crimes, kidnapping, gang-affiliation, escape attempts or facing a life sentence are allowed to volunteer for the firefighting program and are trained for two weeks in fire safety and field conditions before taking a physical exam. Once the exam is passed, prisoners are sent to live in one of 43 low-security field camps throughout the state. Juvenile delinquents are also eligible for the program, at least 58 youth offenders are currently fighting active wildfires."

 

 

Ya' gotta wonder if anyone remembers to put CERTIFIED/EXPERIENCED FIREFIGHTER, on their work-history/resumé.

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ap_18240720961936-01feef99df641ada464298

 

California; First State To End Cash Bail

August 28, 2018

 

"California will become the first state in the nation to abolish bail for suspects awaiting trial under a sweeping reform bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday.

 

An overhaul of the state's bail system has been in the works for years, and became an inevitability earlier this year when a California appellate court declared the state's cash bail system unconstitutional. The new law goes into effect in October 2019.

 

"Today, California reforms its bail system so that rich and poor alike are treated fairly," Brown said in a statement, moments after signing the California Money Bail Reform Act.

 

The governor has waited nearly four decades to revamp the state's cash bail system. In his 1979 State of the State Address, Brown argued the existing process was biased, favoring the wealthy who can afford to pay for their freedom, and penalizing the poor, who often are forced to remain in custody."

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"As California Goes, SO GOES THE NATION!!"

 

 

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https://www.c-span.org/video/?457721-1/good-kids-bad-city

March 10 | 7:41pm ET | C-SPAN2

 

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GUEST_d6eed891-3155-4447-91f9-48bd51ff12

 

"From award-winning investigative journalist Kyle Swenson, Good Kids, Bad City is the true story of the longest wrongful imprisonment in the United States to end in exoneration, and a critical social and political history of Cleveland, the city that convicted them.

 

In the early 1970s, three African-American men—Wiley Bridgeman, Kwame Ajamu, and Rickey Jackson—were accused and convicted of the brutal robbery and murder of a man outside of a convenience store in Cleveland, Ohio. The prosecution’s case, which resulted in a combined 106 years in prison for the three men, rested on the more-than-questionable testimony of a pre-teen, Ed Vernon.

 

The actual murderer was never found. Almost four decades later, Vernon recanted his testimony, and Wiley, Kwame, and Rickey were released. But while their exoneration may have ended one of American history’s most disgraceful miscarriages of justice, the corruption and decay of the city responsible for their imprisonment remain on trial.

 

Interweaving the dramatic details of the case with Cleveland’s history—one that, to this day, is fraught with systemic discrimination and racial tension—Swenson reveals how this outrage occurred and why. Good Kids, Bad City is a work of astonishing empathy and insight: an immersive exploration of race in America, the struggling Midwest, and how lost lives can be recovered."

 

 

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Federal:

The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, & Expungement Act

 

"The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment, and Expungement (MORE) Act (HR 3884 / S. 2227) is bipartisan legislation that removes marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, thus decriminalizing the substance at the federal level and enabling states to set their own policies. The Act would also allow the existing state-legal marijuana industry to no longer be barred from accessing financial services or standard tax treatment as every other legal business. Similarly, veterans will have better access to medical marijuana with VA doctors no longer risking federal prosecution for filling out state-legal medical recommendations.

 

The MORE Act is the most comprehensive marijuana reform bill ever introduced in the US Congress. Crafted by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (NY) and carried in the Senate by Sen. Kamala Harris (CA), the bill is backed by a broad coalition of civil rights, criminal justice, drug policy, and immigration groups.

 

Enter your information to tell your members of Congress to sign on as cosponsors of this monumental legislation."

 

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Oklahoma;

LAST To Recognize WHICH Century General Population

Is Experiencing???

November 8, 2019

 

"Hall’s sentence, issued under Oklahoma’s controversial “failure to protect” laws, was far harsher than the one given to her boyfriend, Robert Braxton Jr., who abused Hall and her children. He served two years in jail. The disparity has been seen as an example of the criminal justice system bungling cases of intimate-partner violence.

 

Hall’s story has also highlighted the state’s nation-leading incarceration numbers — particularly for women, who are imprisoned there at a rate twice the national average.

 

“It’s a perfect example of the misunderstanding of domestic violence within Oklahoma’s criminal justice system,” said Megan Lambert, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union who represented Hall. “It shows how quick Oklahoma is to incarcerate rather than to understand and support and heal.”

 

 

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Georgias Probation System Squeezes The Poor/

Feeds Mass Incarceration

November 13, 2018

 

"Charles “Skip” Eckartz, a 63-year-old disabled veteran, and his wife, Virginia “Ginny” Eckartz, were arrested in their Georgia home for manufacturing marijuana. They were incarcerated for five days until Ginny was able to use the small inheritance she’d received after her mother’s death as collateral for their bond.

 

Although all of the charges were dropped against his wife, Skip accepted a plea agreement that allowed him to avoid a felony conviction and up to 10 years in prison. Skip, who had no criminal history, was sentenced to five years of felony probation under the First Offender Act in Georgia.

 

Unfortunately, Skip didn’t realize that probation, which is promoted as a way to keep people out of jail and prison, is actually one of Georgias main feeder systems of incarceration. In 2016, Georgia had more people on felony probation — close to 206,000 people on felony probation — than any other state in the nation.

 

In addition to his sentence, Skip was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine plus court costs and fees. The Eckartzes survive on a fixed income of $965.89 a month. They net just under $12,000 a year, and owe the state almost $10,000 in fees and fines that Skip is required to pay as a condition of probation. The result: Skip is forced to decide between paying the lease on his home, or fines and fees. He lives with the constant threat that if he continues to miss payments, he could be thrown into prison and given a criminal record for the first time in his life.

 

There is insufficient oversight over how these companies collect fines and fees, and whether they abide by constitutional standards. As a result, Georgians have been forced to pay additional fees to private probation companies for GPS ankle monitors and alcohol and drug testing, even without a judge’s order. Furthermore, when a poor person falls behind on their payments, they are threatened with the prospect of incarceration in violation of basic rights to a hearing and representation by counsel."

 

 

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