All Articles Tagged "criminal justice"
(New York Times) — A state judge ruled on Friday that it was unconstitutional for the Florida Legislature to attach a far-reaching proposal — one that would privatize 29 prisons in South Florida — to “the hidden recesses” of an appropriations bill. The ruling by the judge, Jackie L. Fulford, stops the state’s plan to privatize the prisons, which was expected to begin early next year. Nearly 4,000 correction workers were expected to lose their jobs or be transferred. The Florida Police Benevolent Association, which represents the workers, sued the state to block the plans. The Legislature, Judge Fulford said, circumvented the law by failing to fully and separately consider the privatization bill, which had drawn opposition. The Florida Constitution says major policy changes cannot be enacted through budget bills.
(New York Times) — After decades of new laws to toughen sentencing for criminals, prosecutors have gained greater leverage to extract guilty pleas from defendants and reduce the number of cases that go to trial, often by using the threat of more serious charges with mandatory sentences or other harsher penalties. Some experts say the process has become coercive in many state and federal jurisdictions, forcing defendants to weigh their options based on the relative risks of facing a judge and jury rather than simple matters of guilt or innocence. In effect, prosecutors are giving defendants more reasons to avoid having their day in court. “We now have an incredible concentration of power in the hands of prosecutors,” said Richard E. Myers II, a former assistant United States attorney who is now an associate professor of law at the University of North Carolina. He said that so much influence now resides with prosecutors that “in the wrong hands, the criminal justice system can be held hostage.”
(AJC) — Troy Anthony Davis has been granted a third clemency hearing by the state Board of Pardons and Paroles, which will hear his renewed claims of innocence two days before his scheduled execution. On Wednesday, the state Department of Corrections set Davis’ execution for 7 p.m. on Sept. 21 for the killing of off-duty Savannah police officer Mark Allen MacPhail in a Burger King parking lot in 1989. The parole board will hear presentations from Davis’ legal team and prosecutors on Sept. 19. Since Davis’ trial, some prosecution witnesses have either recanted or backed off their testimony against Davis. Others have come forward and said Sylvester “Redd” Coles, another man at the scene, told them he was the triggerman. At trial, however, Coles said he fled before shots were fired, and he implicated Davis. Chatham County prosecutors and the state Attorney General’s Office have countered they are confident Davis is a cop killer who needs to die for his crimes.
A Chatham County judge on Tuesday signed a death warrant for Troy Anthony Davis, who was convicted of killing a Savannah police officer in 1989. The warrant sets the execution between Sept. 21 and Sept. 28. The state Department of Corrections will set the actual date. Davis has been on death row for 19 years.
Davis’ appeals are exhausted. He is expected to once again ask the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant him clemency. The board has previously denied that request.
Davis, 41, was convicted of killing off-duty police Officer Mark Allen MacPhail 21 years ago as MacPhail ran to the aid of a homeless man being pistol-whipped outside a Burger King.
(AP) — More than half of all people sent to federal prison for committing felony crimes so far this year were Hispanic, a major demographic shift swollen by immigration offenses, according to a new government report released Tuesday. Hispanics already outnumber all other ethnic groups sentenced to serve time in prison for federal felonies. Hispanics reached a new milestone for the first time this year, making up the majority all federal felony offenders sentenced in the first nine months of fiscal year 2011, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
(Chicago Defender) — State Rep. Monique Davis, D-27th Dist., recently sponsored and got passed state legislation that would study the plight of African Americans in this state. PA 97-0460 authorizes the assembly of a Commission to End the Disparities Facing the African American Community Act to look at health, employment criminal justice, education and other issues besetting African American Illinoisans.
(Reuters) – Ohio said on Thursday it had gone through with a controversial plan to privatize a portion of the state’s prison system, the latest step in Republican Governor John Kasich’s campaign to shrink government and close the state’s budget shortfall. Officials said the state had sold the Lake Erie Correctional Institution, an 11-year-old prison housing about 1,500 nonviolent prisoners, to the Corrections Corporation of America for $72.7 million. The state will now pay the Nashville-based company to run the facility.
(Reason Online) — A group representing black government employees, including a former DEA agent and member of the U.S. Marshals, has released a petition calling for an end to the drug war. Authored by Matthew F. Fogg, a retired DEA agent, the Blacks In Goverment (BIG) petition calls for a “Federal investigation for solutions to eliminate the pretense and continued arrest and incarceration of African-Americans at extraordinarily disparate rates for drug-related charges,” as well as for Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama to immediately end “racial bias drug enforcement operations, provide retroactive reduction in sentences for victims and suggest alternatives to incarceration that may in part, include a model to regulate and control the distribution of some drugs.”
(New York Times) — The decision by New Jersey’s Supreme Court last week to overhaul the state’s rules for how judges and jurors treat evidence from police lineups could help transform the way officers conduct a central technique of police work, criminal justice experts say. In its ruling, the court strongly endorsed decades of research demonstrating that traditional eyewitness identification procedures are flawed and can send innocent people to prison. By making it easier for defendants to challenge witness evidence in criminal cases, the court for the first time attached consequences for investigators who fail to take steps to reduce the subtle pressures and influences on witnesses that can result in mistaken identifications. “No court has ever taken this topic this seriously or put in this kind of effort,” said Gary L. Wells, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University who is an expert on witness identification and has written extensively on the topic. Other courts are likely to follow suit, and in November the United States Supreme Court will take up the question of identification for the first time since 1977.
(San Francisco Chronicle) — More than four years after journalist Chauncey Bailey was gunned down in broad daylight on a downtown Oakland street, the man who ordered him and two others killed was sentenced Friday to prison for the rest of his life – but not before he proclaimed his intention to find the real mastermind of the slayings. Yusuf Bey IV, 25, denied that he had ordered the killings and, in a statement read by his attorney, said, “I will not rest until I find those who are truly responsible for setting this operation up.” Bey’s sentencing was a final act of sorts for Your Black Muslim Bakery, the black empowerment group his father formed in Oakland in the 1960s. At its height, the group aspired to promote healthful dietary habits in the African American community and recruit local blacks, mostly men, for positions of responsibility.