Collateral Costs of Incarceration on the Economic Mobility

By , September 29, 2010 8:58 am

Incarceration reduces former inmates’ earnings by 40 percent and limits their future economic mobility, according to a new Pew report, Collateral Costs: Incarceration’s Effect on Economic Mobility. This is a growing challenge now that 1 in every 28 children in America has a parent behind bars, up from 1 in 125 just 25 years ago.

“People who break the law need to be held accountable and pay their debt to society,” said Adam Gelb, director of the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Center on the States. “At the same time, the collateral costs of locking up 2.3 million people are piling higher and higher. Corrections is the second fastest growing state budget category, and state leaders from both parties are now finding that there are research-based strategies for low-risk offenders that can reduce crime at far less cost than prison.”

via Collateral Costs of Incarceration on the Economic Mobility – Pew Charitable Trusts.

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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New Survey Says Public Favorable To Cutting Prison Populations

By , September 15, 2010 11:38 am

A new public opinion survey on crime and sentencing issues gives policymakers some breathing room on moves to reduce prison populations during this time of budget crises in states. Most registered voters believe that about one fifth of inmates could be released and not pose a threat to public safety, said the survey sponsored by the Pew Center on the States’ Public Safety Performance Project.

The survey found vast majorities (nearly 90%) favoring the concept of fewer low-risk and non-violent offenders behind bars to keep more violent offenders imprisoned, and to reinvest any money saved in probation and parole improvements. About 2/3 of Democrats and about half of Republicans ”strongly” favor” such changes, meaning that they have reasonably strong bipartisan backing.

Daniel Franklin of the Benenson Strategy Group, which did the survey with Public Opinion Strategies, said that most Americans see crime policy “through a personal rather than political lens.” At the same time, both Franklin and Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies said that politicians in general still would be wise not to be portrayed as “soft on crime.”

The survey, of 1,200 registered voters across the U.S. taken last March, found that the citizenry may not be so harsh on crime as some political candidates may believe. Only 37 percent, for example, believe that anyone who sells drugs should be sent to prison on a first offense; the number jumps to 43 percent for burglaries in unoccupied homes and for offenses committed by people on probation and parole (63 percent automatic prison for probationers or parolees possessing drugs with the intent to sell, for example.)

via The Crime Report » Archive » New Survey Says Public Favorable To Cutting Prison Populations.

Freedom’s Just Another Word

By , September 5, 2010 11:16 am

And yet here we are, slouching toward yet another 9/11 anniversary, still waiting for a correction, with even our president, an eloquent Iraq war opponent, slipping into denial. Of all the pro forma passages in Obama’s speech, perhaps the most jarring was his entreaty that Iraq’s leaders “move forward with a sense of urgency to form an inclusive government that is just, representative and accountable.” He might as well have been talking about the poisonous political deadlock in Washington. At that moment, there was no escaping the tragic fact that instead of bringing American-style democracy and freedom to Iraq, the costly war we fought there has, if anything, brought the bitter taste of Iraq’s dysfunction to America.

via Op-Ed Columnist – Freedom’s Just Another Word – NYTimes.com.

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