Weekly ReCAP in Criminal Justice: August 24, 2012

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. 
-Margaret Mead

Criminal justice news stories and research that CAP highlighted this week:

HAWAI‘I

IMPORTANT: Public Land Development Corporation (PLDC) Public Hearings
If we don’t want to see Hawai`i sold off parcel by parcel, the community MUST STEP UP to ask for safeguards. Please raise your voice to protect Hawai`i.
Here for more information and schedule of hearings.

Hawaii gets $2 million in federal funds, KHON2, August 22, 2012
“Hawaii will receive $2,037,469 to combat domestic violence, fund drug courts, and lower rates of recidivism, Senator Daniel K. Inouye, Senator Daniel K. Akaka, U.S. Representative Mazie K. Hirono and U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa announced Tuesday. The money comes through a series of four grants administered by the U.S. Department of Justice.”

Pulehunui Master Plan Encompasses Potential Prison Site, Wendy Osher, MauiNow.com, August 17, 2012
A public informational meeting will be held later this month to discuss preparations of a master plan for the district of Pulehunui on Maui. The meeting will be hosted by State Senator Roz Baker, and will run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, August 27, 2012, at the Kihei Community Center.

NATIONAL

Good news: TX prison population down, parole rates up, pols not panicking, Grits for Breakfast Blog, August 24, 2012
“Ward attributed the decline to alternatives to incarceration enacted by the Legislature in 2007, as well as “A decrease in crime rates, changes in demographics and an aging state population [which] also have a role in emptying Texas’ prison beds.” However, there’s another big reason for the shift that’s less frequently discussed…Changes in back-end parole policies to release more prisoners and to reduce the number of parolees who’re revoked back to prison.”

Vote on releasing dying, sick inmates expected this month, Andy Wright, Pulse of the Bay, August 23, 2012
“If approved, the [California] bill would institute a practice called medical probation, which would let inmates who suffer from a permanent medical condition that requires 24-hour care for help with daily activities, like bathing or feeding, serve out jail time as medical probation instead. It would also allow sheriffs to grant release to inmates who have less than six months to live, a practice known as compassionate release.” *See link for VIDEO: Dying in Prison

Eyewitness Accounts Can Receive New Scrutiny, Edmund Mahony, The Hartford Courant, August 23, 2012
“Hartford – In an opinion a legal scholar called “momentous,” the state Supreme Court reversed itself Thursday and will allow defendants in criminal trials to use scientific testimony to attack identifications made by witnesses to crimes. The court’s decision in a double-murder case called State v. Brady Guilbert puts Connecticut among a growing number of jurisdictions that recognize research suggesting that human psychology can create flaws in the way witnesses observe, recall and — often much later — testify about events related to a crime.”

The State of Aging: Prisoners and Compassionate Release Programs, Tina Maschi, Huffington Post, August 23, 2012

One Year In, Is California’s Plan to Fix Its Prisons Working?, The California Report, August 22, 2012

Gov. Jerry Brown Has a Chance to Usher in Major Prison Reforms in California, Albert Samaha, SF Weekly, August 21, 2012
“Yesterday, the state Senate passed a bill that would give parole opportunities to juvenile offenders sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.This week, that body will likely also vote on a bill that would allow journalists to set up interviews with inmates in state prisons. The prison media access bill has passed through the state legislature eight times over the past couple of decades, and has been vetoed at the governor’s desk each time.”

Veterans in the justice system pose special challenges for courts, corrections, Mike Francis, The Oregonian, August 21, 2012
“Around the country, including Oregon, veterans’ advocates are pushing such initiatives as veterans courts and veterans dockets to steer them into substance abuse treatment or other programs instead of prison.”

Allow inmates to talk, Editorial, LA Times, August 21, 2012
“A bill before the state Senate intended to make it easier to interview inmates in California prisons may sound like one to benefit reporters. In fact, it’s an essential reform needed to bring some public accountability to the state’s beleaguered prison system.”

Do Prosecutors Have Too Much Power?, The New York Times, August 20, 2012
“Legal observers — including the editorial board of The New York Times — focused on the judge’s concern as a sign that plea bargains have gotten out of control and in the process given prosecutors too much power. When one party decides whether to bring charges, what charges to bring and whether to offer a plea bargain, is the justice system lacking checks and balances?”

Group hopes to cut Wisconsin prison population in half, Gilman Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio, August 20, 2012

Kids Behind Bars: Illinois Rethinks Juvenile Justice, NPR, August 18, 2012
“Illinois — one of a number of states rethinking how it pursues juvenile justice to make sure kids who’ve committed a crime once don’t end up in a juvenile facility again…”

RESEARCH

Eyewitness Identifications after Perry v. New Hampshire: A Call for Greater State Involvement in Ensuring Fundamental Fairness, Dana Walsh, Boston College Law Review, August 2, 2012
This Note addresses the future eyewitness identifications after the 2012 Supreme Court decision Perry v. New Hampshire and calls on states to take greater action to ensure reliability of eyewitness identifications at trial.

Prosecutorial Administration, Rachel Barkow, NYU School of Law, August 2012
“But prosecutorial power over federal criminal justice policy goes deeper still. Because of the structure of the Department of Justice, prosecutors are involved in other areas of criminal justice policymaking. Indeed, we are living in a time of “prosecutorial administration,” with prosecutors at the helm of every major federal criminal justice matter.

This Article describes the current regime of “prosecutorial administration” and explains why its consequences should concern anyone interested in a rational criminal justice regime that is unbiased in any particular direction. It focuses on three areas of criminal justice policy – corrections, clemency, and forensics – and describes how these matters came under the aegis of the Department without much concern about the conflicts they would create with the Department’s law enforcement mission.”

Meaningless Opportunities: Graham v. Florida’s ‘Meaningful Opportunity for Release’ for Juvenile Offenders and the Reality of De Facto LWOP Sentences, Mark Freeman, McGeorge Law Review, March 15, 2012
“In 2010 the United States Supreme Court decided Graham v. Florida, which held that LWOP sentences for juvenile, non-homicide offenders were unconstitutional. This Comment argues that de facto LWOP sentences, lengthy term of years sentences that exceed a juvenile’s natural life expectancy and effectively guarantee the offender will die in prison, are also unconstitutional for juvenile non-homicide offenders.

Part II provides a brief overview of the Supreme Court’s Eighth Amendment jurisprudence and how lower courts have responded to Graham. Part III explains why de facto LWOP sentences for juveniles who commit non-homicide crimes will fail the Supreme Court’s traditional Eighth Amendment tests and argues for a categorical ban against these sentences. Part IV discusses the practical implications of this Comment and whether juvenile offenders will see any meaningful change if courts adopt a categorical ban. Part V concludes that courts should embrace the spirit of Graham’s holding and provide a meaningful opportunity for juvenile offenders to experience life outside of prison before they die.”
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