Weekly ReCAP in Criminal Justice: August 10, 2012

Criminal justice news stories that CAP highlighted this week: 


Probation Program Set for Trial Run in Texas, Emily Foxhall, The Texas Tribune, August 8, 2012
“A Hawaiian court program known as Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement, or HOPE, which strictly enforces criminal offenders’ probation periods, has officially arrived in Texas for a test run.”

Special counsel: POHAKU management is proper, Tom LaVenture, The Garden Island, August 3, 2012
This is an interesting story about a diversion program that was started by the Kaua`i prosecutor and challenged by the county attorney regarding the procurement process.


Hillsborough judge gives ‘juvenile’ offender 100-year-sentence, John Barry, The Tampa Bay Times, August 9, 2012
Because of a 2010 Supreme Court [Graham v. Florida] ruling that said juveniles who don’t commit murder can’t be given life sentences with no hope of parole, Walker had a chance of a new sentence and possible release.”

Program aims to reform prison inmates, Diana Fairbanks, WIVB.com, August 8, 2012
“The P.E.A.C.E. Program, which stands for “persistent effort always creates excellence,” was launched by Reverend Jimmie Seright. He teams up with former inmates who have changed their lives to help current inmates change their mindsets and their lives. Those discussions can be heated and raw, but aim to get to the real issues they all know too well.”

Courts ponder: When is juve’s long prison term effectively ‘life’?, David Royse, The Florida Courier, August 8, 2012
“A district appeals court urged the state Supreme Court on Wednesday to weigh in on how long is too long when sentencing a juvenile for crimes other than murder, since the U.S. Supreme Court has said such kids can’t spend their entire lives in prison.”

Pennsylvania high court fast-tracks juvenile lifer appeals, Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, York Daily Record, August 7, 2012
“Pennsylvania’s highest court is moving quickly to determine how the state should respond to a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court on Monday scheduled oral arguments for Sept. 12 in a pair of cases that will determine what to do about the hundreds of people already serving such sentences, as well as how to handle the issue going forward.”

Prison staff shortages and budget reality, Grits for Breakfast Blog, August 7, 2012
“Texas correctional officers guard one of the largest state inmate populations in the country but are plagued by a shortage of people willing to do the job. It’s a thankless but critical function. The pay is low, the hours are long, the conditions are grueling and the danger is constant…”

In-Person Visits Fade as Jails Set Up Video Units for Inmates and Families, Adeshina Emanuel, The New York Times, August 7, 2012
“And Arthur M. Wallenstein, director of the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation in Montgomery County, Md., does not believe that prisoners should be limited to video visits, which is now the only option in the District of Columbia. “I believe real family contact is essential,” he said. “But a younger generation of correctional administrators much more focused on technology may see this new approach as more than acceptable.”

Courts Differ on Police Use of DNA, Maggie Clark, Stateline, August 7, 2012
“A final word from the Supreme Court will provide long-awaited guidance for states, which have greatly expanded DNA collection policies over the last 10 years. Police officers take arrestee samples using a cheek swab, and the samples are then processed and catalogued in a state database and sent to the national DNA database managed by the FBI.”

A Legislative Model for Dismantling Debtors’ Prisons, Roopal Patel and Meghna Philip, The Crime Report, August 7, 2012
“Illinois’ new Debtors’ Rights Act of 2012 ensures that debt collectors and lenders cannot send people facing consumer and civil debts to jail for payments they cannot afford. People across the country facing criminal justice debt need such protections, too. This Act is a promising model for protecting low-income people from debtors’ prison in the criminal context as well…”

Private Prisons Cost Arizona $3.5 Million More Per Year Than State-Run Prisons, Aviva Shen, Think Progress, August 6, 2012
“The extra $3.5 million dollars per year that Arizona is paying to have private prisons could go a long way if it were invested in education or healthcare initiatives instead.”

Notable report on “decarceration laboratory” taking place in California, Sentencing Law and Policy Blog, August 6, 2012
“Today’s New York Times has this interesting new article, headlined “In California, County Jails Face Bigger Load.” The piece discusses how one big county in the largest state in the US has been responding to the Plata ruling, which has required California to reduce its prison populations to remedy the Eighth Amendment problems created by severe overcrowding…”

Judges to warn jurors about eyewitness IDs, Asbury Park Press, August 6, 2012
“Beginning next month, jurors will be getting instructions from judges encouraging them to consider eyewitness testimony more skeptically. The new instructions from the state Supreme Court are aimed at reducing the high percentage of overturned convictions that result from eyewitness misidentifications.”

Marceau & Rudolph on Pre-Counsel Plea Bargaining, Crim Prof Blog, August 6, 2012
“Colorado’s procedures for handling misdemeanor prosecutions raise novel questions of Sixth Amendment law that have not been squarely addressed by state or federal courts. At the center of Colorado’s counsel conundrum is a statute, Colorado Revised Statute § 16-7-301, which requires the prosecution to negotiate plea deals with a person charged with a misdemeanor before the defendant has an opportunity to meet with an attorney.”

Too Many Prisoners, Editorial, The New York Times, August 4, 2012
“The [Justice Department] calls for reforms “to make our public safety expenditures smarter and more productive.” Yet it fails to address sentencing changes that should be made, which would significantly reduce the problem of over incarceration in federal prisons.”

From Prison to a Paycheck, Howard Husock, The Wall Street Journal, August 3, 2012
“[T]he city established the Office of Reentry, which pushes ex-offenders toward “rapid attachment to work.” They’re referred to one of several job-placement programs, which help them with interviewing skills and send them to employers…So far the Newark program has seen 1,800 ex-offenders (all of whom sought help voluntarily), and placed 1,090 in private, unsubsidized jobs. While New Jersey’s Department of Corrections estimates that 50% of those released from prison will be rearrested for a new crime within nine months, the Newark office has seen only 29% rearrested—and believes that figure to be exaggerated by arrests which do not lead to charges.”

Despite Supreme Court Ruling, Many Minors May Stay in Prison for Life, Suevon Lee, ProPublica, August 2, 2012
“For the roughly 2,500 juvenile offenders already sentenced to life in prison without parole, the upshot of the ruling — Miller v. Alabama — seemed clear: “They will all get another bite at the sentencing apple,” Dan Filler, a professor at Drexel University’s Earle Mack School of Law, wrote shortly after the ruling. That may not happen if Iowa’s governor or many other states get their way…The governor’s action, which sidesteps any potential resentencing hearings, has sparked criticism and legal challenges.”


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