Category: courts

The Hidden History of ALEC and Prison Labor | The Nation

By , August 3, 2011 9:42 pm

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.

Time to end drug ‘war’ – Leonard Pitts Jr. – MiamiHerald.com

By , June 16, 2011 6:02 pm

Frankly, Mr. President, you should take this one personally. As you must know, the War on Drugs has been, in effect, a war on black men. Though whites are the nation’s biggest users and dealers of illicit drugs, blacks are the ones most likely to be jailed for drug crimes and to suffer the disruption of families and communities that comes with it.You have done little to address these and other racial inequities of the criminal injustice system.

via Time to end drug ‘war’ – Leonard Pitts Jr. – MiamiHerald.com.

The Two-Tiered Justice System: An Illustration | Common Dreams

By , April 16, 2011 3:54 pm

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.

How a Fraud’s Value Affects Prison Time

By , November 9, 2010 7:10 pm

LOS ANGELES—When Bruce Karatz was running KB Home, the giant home builder pulled in billions of dollars a year in revenue. But now, a mere $11 million could help determine whether Mr. Karatz spends more than a half decade in prison.

On Wednesday, the former chief executive is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court here for his April conviction for fraud and making false statements in connection with an options-backdating scandal. Mr. Karatz, who the government alleges tried to make nearly $11 million from backdating, has denied wrongdoing and plans to appeal his conviction.

The U.S. Probation Office, an arm of the courts, has recommended that Judge Otis Wright give Mr. Karatz probation and eight months of home confinement. The U.S. Attorney’s office here wants a 6.5-year prison sentence. In a filing, the prosecutors argue that confining Mr. Karatz in his “24-room Bel-Air mansion,” would suggest “a two-tiered criminal justice system, one for the affluent….and a second for ordinary citizens.”

via How a Fraud’s Value Affects Prison Time – WSJ.com.

Criminal justice trends: key legislative changes in sentencing policy, 2001-2010 | Vera Institute of Justice

By , October 31, 2010 8:32 am
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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.

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YouTube – Franklin Zimring: The decline in crime New York City

By , October 30, 2010 10:51 am

YouTube – Franklin Zimring: The decline in crime New York City.

Death by a Thousand Cuts: Miranda and the Supreme Court’s 2009-10 Term

By , October 13, 2010 5:08 pm
The United States Supreme Court.
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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.”[1] And that was before the Supreme Court’s 2009–10 term.

In a trilogy of decisions from that term,[2] 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.”[3] 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.”[4]

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.[5] 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.

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Attorney: Client a ‘poster child’ for broken death penalty system

By , September 23, 2010 7:45 pm
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The only thing sustaining Jim Rocap III in the last few days, he said Tuesday, was the classic Winston Churchill admonition: “If you are going through hell, keep going.”

Rocap, partner at Steptoe & Johnson in D.C. has represented Virginia death row inmate Teresa Lewis since 2004. But this week the final avenues of appeal were closing, one by one. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell refused to grant clemency twice, and late Tuesday the Supreme Court denied Lewis a stay of execution by a 7-2 vote and rejected Rocap’s petition for certiorari. Barring any unforeseen development, she will be executed Thursday night at 9 at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, the first woman put to death in nearly a century by Virginia.

“We are deeply disappointed,” Rocap said in a statement after the Court action was announced. “A good and decent person is about to lose her life because of a system that is badly broken.”

Earlier on Tuesday Rocap sounded optimistic, having filed with the Court a petition offering two seemingly plausible arguments for habeas relief: one, based on Apprendi v. New Jersey claiming a jury, not a judge should have decided if she should be sentenced to death, and the other a Strickland v. Washington claim about the trial lawyer’s failure to rebut aggravating factors raised during her sentencing.

“This was not an innocence case, but it is as good an example as you can find of someone who should not be put to death,” said Rocap. “Teresa is a poster child for why the death penalty process is broken.”

via Attorney: Client a ‘poster child’ for broken death penalty system.

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Can Three Women Really Change the Supreme Court?

By , August 31, 2010 6:52 pm
Kagan Prepares Statement For SCOTUS Hearing
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Much has been made of the fact that Elena Kagan’s ascent to the Supreme Court means that for the first time in American history there will be three women on the high court. But beyond the fact that the court will be slightly more representative of the American people, and the possibility of yet more white lacy scarves from on high, what does the difference between having one, two, or three women at the court really signify?

Social scientists contend that the difference is more than just cosmetic. They cite a 2006 study by the Wellesley Centers for Women that found three to be the magic number when it came to the impact of women on corporate boards: after the third woman is seated, boards reach a tipping point at which the group as a whole begins to function differently. According to Sumru Erkut, one of the authors of that study, the small group as a whole becomes more collaborative, and more open to different perspectives. In no small part, she writes, that’s because once a critical mass of three women is achieved on a board, it’s more likely that all the women will be heard. In other words, it’s not that they bring any kind of unitary women’s perspective to the board—there’s precious little evidence that women think differently from men about business or law—but that if you seat enough women, the question of whether women deserve the seat finally goes away. Women speak openly when they don’t feel their own voice is meant to reflect all women.

via Can Three Women Really Change the Supreme Court? – Newsweek.

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Agents’ Secrets | The News Observer

By , August 17, 2010 7:20 pm

This series, the product of months of reporting, reveals deep trouble at North Carolina’s State Bureau of Investigation. “Agents’ Secrets” shows an agency in line with prosecutors’ wishes. Agents and analysts ignore or twist the truth and push past the bounds of science.

Agents’ Secrets | The News Observer.

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