Weekly ReCAP in Criminal Justice: September 14, 2012

The penalty that good men pay for not being interested in politics is to be governed by men worse than themselves. – Plato 

Criminal justice news stories that CAP highlighted this week: 


Setting the Record Straight on HOPE Probation: Memo from the Founder, Hawaii Reporter, Judge Alm, Sept. 12, 2012
“I watched the recent Hawaii Reporter television interview featuring Honolulu City Prosecutor Keith Kaneshiro and Deputy Attorney General Kevin Takata with great interest.    Mr. Kaneshiro made some statements about HOPE Probation and Drug Court that are inaccurate and I thought it was important to set the record straight.”

NEW REPORT: Money Bail Serves No Purpose in a Fair, Effective Justice System, CAP Blog, Sept. 12, 2012
“The Justice Policy Institute released the first of a 3-part series on bail, Bail Fail: Why the U.S. Should End the Practice of Using Money for Bail. Bail is a huge issue in Hawai‘i since the Justice Reinvestment Initiative analysts found that we hold pre-trial detainees for 71 days as opposed to 3-5 days in 39 of the largest counties in the US. It is no wonder our jails are overcrowded and we are broke.”

PLDC & Public-Private Partnerships, CAP Blog, Sept. 10, 2012
“By now, many of you have probably heard that the Public Lands Development Corporation hearings have generated community outrage on all islands. Hundreds of people turned out and testified (the majority in opposition) at all the hearings. There are a plethora of videos of hearings on every island (except Lana`i and Ni`ihau) on Youtube.com under ‘PLDC’.    To our knowledge, CAP was the only group that raised concerns about public-private partnerships. This morning’s Civil Beat story highlighted concerns about these deals. Below is an except from the Civil Beat story as well as excerpts from an article about privatization. Also below is the transcript and video from Dan Rather Reports about public-private partnerships that we highlighted in our testimony.”

Staffing shortage plagues prison, kitv4, Sept. 6, 2012
“It’s an issue that continues to plague Hawaii’s prison system: staff shortages. A problem that ends up affecting, not only the inmates, but their families as well.”


Ruling will make it more difficult to try juveniles as adults, NorthJersey.com, Sept. 13, 2012

California prisoners make historic call for peace between racial groups in California prisons and jails, Bay View, Sept. 12, 2012
“Prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison’s Security Housing Unit (SHU) have announced a push to end all hostilities between racial groups within California’s prisons and jails. The handwritten announcement was sent to prison advocacy organizations. It is signed by several prisoners, identifying themselves as the PBSP-SHU Short Corridor Collective. [Their statement follows this one.]”

Pennsylvania Supreme Court hearing arguments on (first?) major Miller retroactivity cases, Sentencing Law and Policy, Sept. 12, 2012
“[T]he Pennsylvania Supreme Court must decide whether to apply Miller retroactively and, if so, what new sentence should apply. If the case applies to past cases, some of the inmates could eventually be released. “Some of the clients that we represent have been serving these sentences for decades and really have come to terms with what they have done and have really matured as people.   She says one example is 61-year-old Sharon Wiggins. “She was convicted of a murder that occurred in 1968,” says Keller. “She’s the longest serving female inmate in the state of Pennsylvania. She’s gotten jobs while she’s been incarcerated, she’s been a mentor for other juvenile mentors for other women incarcerated at SCI Muncy.”   The Commonwealth argues that Miller should apply only to future cases and the new sentence should be life without parole or life with parole.”

Innocence Project to Grade Witness Lineup Policies, The Texas Tribune, Sept. 11, 2012
“The Innocence Project of Texas is preparing to grade about 1,200 law enforcement departments statewide on their compliance with a law that requires police agencies to adopt eyewitness identification policies.

Compassion Behind Bars, Huffington Post, Sept. 11, 2012
“A few weeks ago, an unprecedented letter arrived at our office at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. [See link for excerpt of letter from prisoner.] The purpose of the inmate’s letter was to request reading materials pertaining to research on meditation and the brain. His goal upon his release is to get a Ph.D. in psychology or neuroscience. Through that, he hopes to help others who, like himself, find themselves behind bars because of criminal impulses. In his four years of jail time he has obviously been dedicating himself to his passion: His letter demonstrates an extensive knowledge of the top academic organizations for research on neuroscience and meditation…So what does it take to turn criminals around? A number of non-profits offer programs they hope will facilitate compassion through recognition of common humanity. How does such a program work?…”

New report examines what ACA can mean for corrections and public safety, Sentencing Law and Policy Blog, Sept. 10, 2012
“I often tell my students that all legal and public policy issues always somehow are really sentencing and corrections issues in some way. (The 2000 election and the fights in Bush v. Gore are my favorite example: if not for broad felon disenfrachisement laws in Florida, it seems unlikely the popular vote in that state would have been so close.) For that reason (and others), I was pleased today to get this notice from The Sentencing Project about a new publication examining the impact and import of the Affordable Care Act for certain criminal justice matters:”

Pell Grant Program’s 40th Anniversary Observed, Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Sept. 10, 2012
“It is my hope that…our students for the next generation will be more likely to receive a college degree than serve time in prison.” – U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va), on the 40th anniversary of the Pell Grant Program.”

A father’s plea: End the war on drugs, CNN, Javier Sicillia, Sept. 10, 2012
Mexican poet Javier Sicilia’s son and six friends were killed by drug cartel hit men; Sicilia gave up writing and started a movement for peace and an end to war on drugs; Sicilia: 60,000 slain since war on drugs began in 2006, with no end to drugs; Sicilia leading a peace caravan in the U.S. to end the drug war ravaging both nations

‘Another Kind Of Prison’: Dana Ullman Documents the Challenging Return to Society for Women After Incarceration, Prison Photography
“This photo series by Dana Ullman documents the difficult transition that women face when they are released from prison and must pick up the pieces of their lives on the outside:”

MHP: Louisiana’s Booming Prison System, The Root, Sept. 9, 2012
“On Saturday, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry took her show’s cameras to New Orleans to look into Louisiana’s prison system. The state has become the prison capital of the world, incarcerating five times more people than the country of Iran and 16 times more than country of China. Harris-Perry sat down in the Big Easy with Norris Henderson, a local prison-reform activist, and talked about what America has built and how law officers in some areas are even paid per head they deliver into the jail system.”

The Media’s Reporting On Justice Is Criminal, 90.9 Boston’s NPR station, Sept. 4, 2012
“All concerned assume that the right sentence is the one the prosecutor
wanted or the victim demanded. So when the judge sentences the defendant to less, they cry foul. Another lenient judge! Another liberal! Another blow against the “tough on crime” mentality! Never do you see the opposite: a columnist decrying a sentence that was too high or a reporter noting that these sentencing lengths are just arbitrary numbers – five, 10, 15, 20 – without any relationship to what works to deter crime, what is cost effective, etc. And they are “just” numbers that will inevitably increase over time, precisely because they are contentless…”


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