More Americans receive mental health treatment in prisons and jails than in hospitals or treatment centers. In fact, the three largest inpatient psychiatric facilities in the country are jails: Los Angeles County Jail, Rikers Island Jail in New York City and Cook County Jail in Illinois.
“We have a criminal justice system which has a very clear purpose: You get arrested. We want justice. We try you, and justice hopefully prevails. It was never built to handle people that were very, very ill, at least with mental illness,” Judge Steve Leifman tells Laura Sullivan, guest host of weekends on All Things Considered.
via Nations Jails Struggle With Mentally Ill Prisoners : NPR.
The breaded chicken patty your child bites into at school may have been made by a worker earning twenty cents an hour, not in a faraway country, but by a member of an invisible American workforce: prisoners. At the Union Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in Florida, inmates from a nearby lower-security prison manufacture tons of processed beef, chicken and pork for Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises PRIDE, a privately held non-profit corporation that operates the state’s forty-one work programs. In addition to processed food, PRIDE’s website reveals an array of products for sale through contracts with private companies, from eyeglasses to office furniture, to be shipped from a distribution center in Florida to businesses across the US. PRIDE boasts that its work programs are “designed to provide vocational training, to improve prison security, to reduce the cost of state government, and to promote the rehabilitation of the state inmates.”
via The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor | The Nation.
Phoenix — They came from all over the country, agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, brought here in a bold new effort to shut down the flow of U.S. guns to Mexican drug cartels. It was called Operation Fast and Furious, after a popular movie about street car racing.But from the beginning, much of the fury was inside the agency itself.
via Operation Fast and Furious: A gunrunning sting gone wrong – The Washington Post.
Of all the topics on which Ive focused, Ive likely written most about Americas two-tiered justice system — the way in which political and financial elites now enjoy virtually full-scale legal immunity for even the most egregious lawbreaking, while ordinary Americans, especially the poor and racial and ethnic minorities, are subjected to exactly the opposite treatment: the worlds largest prison state and most merciless justice system. That full-scale destruction of the rule of law is also the topic of my forthcoming book. But The New York Times this morning has a long article so perfectly illustrating what I mean by “two-tiered justice system” — and the way in which it obliterates the core covenant of the American Founding: equality before the law — that its impossible for me not to highlight it.
via The Two-Tiered Justice System: An Illustration | Common Dreams.
When he recently signed legislation abolishing the death penalty in Illinois, Gov. Pat Quinn noted a “grave danger” that the innocent could be executed. This past March, the U.S. Supreme Court decided, in Skinner v. Switzer, to expand the right to access DNA testing that could potentially prove a defendants innocence. Last week the New York Times published a firsthand account by John Thompson, an innocent man who came within hours of his own execution. Two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a $14 million jury award compensating him for the years he spent in prison. Public opinion surrounding the death penalty has been shaped, in recent years, by the possibility of innocents being executed. And DNA exonerations continue to regularly occur, although with little rigorous assessment of what went wrong.
via Who confesses to a crime they didnt commit: Frank Sterling and mistaken confessions. 1 – By Brandon L. Garrett – Slate Magazine.
Nine years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators.
The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nations history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing.
via Monitoring America | washingtonpost.com.
Faced with a possible $20 billion budget gap, Texas legislative leaders had hoped to discuss closing some state prisons to save money. However, those prisons that for months have had empty bunks are slowly filling back up.
And while officials are split about the reasons, most agree that if the trend continues, it could make decisions about slashing state spending even more difficult when the Legislature convenes in January.
Full prisons cant be closed without releasing convicts, a politically unthinkable solution. That leaves treatment and rehabilitation programs — two areas where Texas has expanded its funding and has been successful in recent years at reducing its prison population — as the likely targets for cuts that by some estimates could reach 15 percent of current spending.
via Cutting prison budget could be challenging if inmate population keeps growing.
Since 2001, many state legislatures have changed their criminal sentencing policies, increasingly emphasizing approaches that are “smart on crime.” The three main areas of legislative reform involve redefining and reclassifying criminal offenses, strengthening alternatives to incarceration, and reducing prison terms. This report is a reference for legislators, their staff, and other policy makers who may be considering or implementing similar changes in sentencing statutes and policies.
via Criminal justice trends: key legislative changes in sentencing policy, 2001-2010 | Vera Institute of Justice.
A leading Miranda scholar recently concluded that “[t]he best evidence now shows that, as a protective device, Miranda is largely dead. It is time to ‘pronounce the body,’ as they say on television, and move on.” And that was before the Supreme Court’s 2009–10 term.
In a trilogy of decisions from that term, the Court eviscerated Miranda safeguards, reversed state and federal decisions finding violations of Miranda, and, in the view of dissenting justices, “turn[ed] Miranda upside down.” As an attorney for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers lamented, “[a]t this rate, what’s left of Miranda will be only what we see on TV.”
In this essay, I analyze the Court’s Miranda decisions from the 2009–10 term. Part I provides an overview of the three cases, highlighting how the Court narrowed longstanding interpretations of Miranda in each case. Part II discusses the implications of the decisions. I show that the Court created new rules that make it harder for suspects to assert their rights while making it easier for police to question suspects without the presence of counsel and for prosecutors to introduce inculpatory statements into evidence. I also consider the potential impact on police interrogation tactics and what the new decisions suggest about the future of Miranda given the current composition of the Court. Regrettably, my conclusion echoes prior assessments of the state of Miranda. That is, although the Court has not overturned Miranda, it has whittled away at the decision bit by bit, transforming a bold effort to protect suspects’ constitutional rights into a hollow ritual. In many ways, I conclude, that is a fate worse than death.
Harvard Law and Policy Review » Death by a Thousand Cuts: Miranda and the Supreme Court’s 2009-10 Term.