Weekly ReCAP in Criminal Justice: July 27, 2012

Criminal justice news stories that CAP highlighted this week: 

Lois Ahrens: ‘Three strikes’ law a step back, Lois Ahrens, Gazzettenet.com, July 27, 2012
Op-ed explaining why the “three strikes” legislation passed by the Massachusetts legislature, and awaiting the Governor’s signature, is a step backwards.

Science of Eyewitness Memory Enters Courtroom, Brandon Kelm, Wired, July 27, 2012
“According to instructions issued July 19 by New Jersey’s Supreme Court, judges must tell jurors that “human memory is not foolproof,” and enumerate the many ways in which eyewitness recall can be distorted or mistaken.”

One Giant Step for Michigan: Indigent Defense Reform is Around the Corner, Tanya Green, ACLU, July 27, 2012

  • VIDEO: Defense of the Indigent: A Constitutional Crisis in Michigan, In recent years, the ACLU has been engaged in an effort to create the first independent, statewide indigent defense system in the state of Michigan. This short film documents some of the horrors of the current unconstitutional “system” in that state that regularly leads to wrongful convictions, grossly inadequate representation, and diminished public confidence.

Federal appeals court to reconsider California DNA-collection law, Maura Dolan, Los Angeles Times, July 26, 2012
A federal appeals court will take a second look at a California law that requires police to collect DNA from people who are arrested on suspicion of felonies, regardless of whether they are convicted

Annual DOJ letter to USSC urges making “our public safety expenditures smarter and more productive”, Douglas A. Berman, Sentencing Law and Policy Blog, July 26, 2012
Annual U.S. Dept. of Justice letter to U.S. Sentencing Commission urges making “our public safety expenditures smarter and more productive” – “This 11-page letter has many extraordinary passages and interesting facets; the letter demands to be read in full.”

A Reprieve for Juvenile Lifers?,  Scott Michels, The Crime Report, July 26, 2012
“Though the Court barred mandatory life sentences for juveniles, experts said it left unanswered a host of legal issues that could impact who is eligible for a new sentence and what rights they have…[I]n some states, there may be little courts can do until the legislature acts.”

King County Steps Up to Save Education for Inmates, Eric Nygren, ACLU-Washington, July 25, 2012

Inmates at Va women’s prison allege shoddy health care amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, Associated Press, Washington Post, July 24, 2012

Bard Prison Initiative, Stefan Falke Photography Archive
This is a great series of photos documenting the Bard Prison Initiative, a program that gives incarcerated people in five New York prisons the opportunity to earn a Bard College degree (more info at: http://bpi.bard.edu/).

I am a different person at 20 than the drugged child I was at 13, Richard Ross, Juvenile-in-Justice Blog, July 24, 2012

While called ‘balanced,’ sentencing bill lacks provisions sought by Gov. Patrick, Michael Norton and Andy Metzger, Boston Herald.com, July 24, 2012
“Advocates on all sides of the crime and sentencing debate continue to speak out about the habitual offender and sentencing reform bill on [Massachusetts] Gov. Deval Patrick’s desk, urging him to sign it, veto it or send it back to the Legislature with amendments…”

Sweeping NOPD reform strategy outlined in federal consent decree, Brendan McCarthy, The Times-Picayune, July 24, 2012
“Taking aim at a long history of civil rights abuses, corruption and slipshod oversight within the New Orleans Police Department, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu unfurled a bevy of sweeping reforms Tuesday afternoon in the nation’s most expansive consent decree to date.”

Why Everyone is Reading The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander, CrimeDime, July 24, 2012
“Why is [Michelle Alexander's book] so popular?
Because it tells the story of race, ethnicity, criminal justice, and social control in a compelling, accessible way…Racism, no longer socially acceptable in its overt forms, has become socially acceptable in a new format: the criminal justice system.”

Speech: Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer Speaks at the National District Attorneys Association Summer Conference, Justice News, U.S. Department of Justice, July 23, 2012
US Asistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer: “At the same time that we search for ways to overcome budget constraints, however, we need to continue striving to find solutions that also promote public safety. The legislative proposals I’ve discussed with you today are designed to do both – reduce prison costs, and reduce recidivism, by encouraging inmates to better prepare themselves for life after prison.”

States Efforts To Outsource Prison Health Care Come Under Scrutiny, Kimberly Leonard (in collaboration w/ The Washington Post), Kaiser Health News, July 22, 2012
About 20 “[s]tates, in an attempt to cut costs, are increasingly outsourcing health care for inmates to for-profit companies, but the trend is raising concerns among unions and prisoners’ rights groups.”

Hawaiian prisoners fight for right to marry, Radio Australia, July 2012
“Interview with ACLU Hawai‘i’s Senior Staff Attorney, Dan Gluck, regarding a lawsuit filed by ACLU Hawai‘i on May 15, 2012 on behalf of four women who were denied the right to marry their fiancés, who are incarcerated in Saguaro Correctional Facility in Eloy, Arizona, by Hawai‘i’s Department of Public Safety.” Here for CAP blog post with more on the issue.

Davis & Leo on Acute Suggestibility in Police Interrogation, CrimProf Blog, July 21, 2012
“This chapter examines the failure of police, attorneys, judges, and juries to appreciate the magnitude of acute impairments of will and cognition in interrogation…In particular, the authors concentrate on three common but underappreciated sources of IRRD (“interrogation-related regulatory decline”) in police interrogation, one or more of which are present in most cases involving claims of involuntary or false confession: acute emotional distress, fatigue and sleep deprivation, and glucose depletion. The chapter concludes by arguing that much more weight should be given to issues of acute sources of vulnerability to influence and suggestion than is presently the case.”

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