Weekly ReCAP in Criminal Justice: August 17, 2012

Criminal justice news stories that CAP highlighted this week:

Would Judge Give Psychopath With Genetic Defect Lighter Sentence?, Alex Spiegel, NPR, August 17, 2012
“Simply using the term psychopath adds an average of five years to criminal sentences, according to this study, but once the biological explanation was included, the length of the sentence dropped. “It did create a significant reduction in sentencing,”…In other words, Mobley was right: Our sympathy for the idea that biology might be responsible for criminal behavior is powerful.”

Coastal Bend law enforcement to change suspect photo lineup procedures, Michelle Villarreal, caller.com, August 16, 2012

Study of Judges Finds Evidence From Brain Scans Led to Lighter Sentences, Benedict Carey, The New York Times, August 16, 2012
“Judges who learned that a convicted assailant was genetically predisposed to violence imposed lighter sentences in a hypothetical case than they otherwise would have, researchers reported on Thursday, in the most rigorous study to date of how behavioral biology can sway judicial decisions.

People v. Caballero, California Supreme Court, August 16, 2012
California Supreme Court ruling in concerning the application of Graham v. Florida (2010): “In Graham v. Florida (2010) 560 U.S. ___ [130 S.Ct. 2011] (Graham), the high court held that the Eighth Amendment prohibits states from sentencing a juvenile convicted of nonhomicide offenses to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. (Id. at p. ___ [130 S.Ct. at p. 2030].) We must determine here whether a 110-year-to-life sentence imposed on a juvenile convicted of nonhomicide offenses contravenes Graham’s mandate against cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. We conclude it does….”

Program aims to curb Metro East youth from repeating crimes, Sarah Baraba, Suburban Journals, August 16, 2012
Illinois – “The majority of [youth offenders] are coming from families that have generational dysfunction,” Smith said. “Even if they change in the Department of Juvenile Justice, when they come out they go back into that same environment and same family patterns and it’s easy for them to get wrapped back up into that same mind set. If there’s no support or resources for those kids, especially educational or employment counseling, it’s a good recipe for them to go back.”

Maryland Law Brings Long-Awaited Racial Justice to Somerset County, Leah Sakala, Prison Policy Initiative, August 16, 2012
“Although Somerset County Maryland contains a sizable African-American population, first slavery, then Jim Crow, and then prison-based gerrymandering prevented the African-American community from being able to elect a candidate of its choice for hundreds of years. Activists from Somerset County played a central role in passing Maryland’s first-in-the-nation law requiring that incarcerated people be counted at their home addresses for state and local redistricting purposes.”

“What is the fairest way for Pa. to deal with juvenile lifers petitioning for resentencing?”, Sentencing Law and Policy Blog, August 16, 2012
“Pennsylvania has more prisoners who were sentenced to life without parole as minors than any other state — about 500 — and the least amount of time to deal with the flood of resentencing petitions. Under existing state law, those prisoners have 60 days to re-open their cases, while some states have as long as a year. If the decision is to work retroactively, which is not at all clear yet, it could mean a lot of potential resentencing hearings and a lot of unhappiness dredged up for the families of murder victims. What is the fairest way of dealing with this?”

Prison alternatives prove tough on crime, Editorial, statesman.com, August 16, 2012
“Though not a household name, Fabelo is the reason Texas policymakers began to question the cost-effectiveness of locking ’em up and throwing away the key. Fabelo offered facts, figures and cogent analysis to drive a message that incarceration isn’t the universal answer…”

MOLLOHAN AND KEENE: Left and right agree on criminal justice reforms, David Keene, The Washington Times, August 15, 2012

WATCH: Eyewitness Identifications Lead to Wrongful Convictions, John McCarthy, Lawyers.com, August 15, 2012
VIDEO: Interview with “Karen Newirth, Staff Attorney for the Innocence Project and an expert in eyewitness identification. She reveals that eyewitness testimony has been discovered to be highly unreliable; nearly 75 percent of the approximately 300 exonerations achieved by the Innocence Project involved eyewitness accounts of the crime.”

Texas says rise in paroles gives state bragging rights, Cindy Horswell, chron.com, August 15, 2012
“Instead of fearing accusations of appearing too lenient, state authorities are smiling. “We are pleased with our continuing increase in granting parole,” said Rissie Owens, chairwoman of the state’s pardons and parole board. “The use of our parole guidelines to assess the likelihood of a successful parole outcome has been cited as a national model for its positive impact on returning more offenders to productive lives.”

The Apple of the U.S. Prison System, Nick Lieber, Bloomberg Business Week, August 14, 2012
The crisis of mass incarceration presents a (literally) captive market for entrepreneurs who seek to reap profits from making products to sell in prison. This article describes a CEO who’s looking to lock in the prison tech market.

Editorial: Governor, stop stalling on the prisons, Los Angeles Times, August 14, 2012
“As Times staff writer Paige St. John has reported, the state probably isn’t going to meet a June 2013 deadline, imposed by a panel of three federal judges, to cut its prison population to 137.5% of design capacity (that means about 112,000 inmates at California’s 33 prisons.”

Pennsylvania eyes overhaul of parole process: Halfway houses a focus of program, Clara Ritger, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, August 14, 2012
“[Pennsylvania] State officials are working to streamline parole interviews and focus halfway house rehabilitation on their parolees as they implement a law designed to save millions of dollars in corrections spending. Efficiency measures and program overhauls in the state’s penitentiary system are expected to save $253 million over five years, according to numbers from the Senate Republican Caucus.”

Female inmates sue state over disparities, Annmarie Timmins, Concord Monitor, August 13, 2012
New Hampshire female inmates sue the state Dept of Corrections for equal treatment:
“In a written statement, Elliott Berry of New Hampshire Legal Assistance said the “facilities, programs, services and conditions of confinement for female inmates are seriously inferior to those afforded male state prisoners.”

Extreme Sentencing, Rachel Myers, ACLU.org, August 13, 2012
“Some might argue that these extreme sentencing policies would be justified by their effectiveness at dissuading would-be criminals. But that’s not the case. A 2003 review of the research on sentence severity and crime rates concluded that ‘sentencing severity has no effect on the level of crime in society.'”

Texas continues to lower its (still high) incarceration rates, Sentencing Law and Policy Blog, August 12, 2012

Boston’s Homeless Court helps defendants get a fresh start, James H. Burnett III, appeared in The Boston Globe, August 12, 2012
“Launched in late 2010, the program aims to serve the unique needs of Boston’s homeless defendants, who often find themselves cycling through the court system for minor, nonviolent offenses, or in contempt for failing to respond to court summonses they often don’t receive because they’re living on the streets.”

The Irrational Race Bias of the Criminal Justice and Prison Systems, Michelle Alexander and Mark Karlin, ZCommunications, August 4, 2012
Great interview with Michele Alexander author of “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,”

Private Prisons Spend $45 Million On Lobbying, Rake In $5.1 Billion For Immigrant Detention Alone, Aviva Shen, ThinkProgress, August 3, 2012


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