Saturday, November 22, 2014

New Hampshire has fastest growing incarceration rate in the country

In the past two decades, New Hampshire’s crime rate has remained steady. It has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the U.S., and the state’s population has only grown by about a fifth.
As the number of incarcerated Americans inched up for the first time in four years, the prison population in small, largely rural New Hampshire grew faster than any other state. The 8.2% increase in the Granite State topped second-place Nebraska’s 6.8% rise and far outpaced the 0.3% national increase in the number of inmates, according to figures released this fall by the U.S. Department of Justice.
A bipartisan effort in New Hampshire was meant to cut a prison population that had been growing for decades. According to the New Hampshire Department of Corrections, state prisoners increased from 287 in 1980 to 1,250 by 1990 and 2,847 by 2008. A policy called Truth in Sentencing, which reduced early releases for inmates based on good behavior, contributed to that growth. The Justice Reinvestment Act, as the 2010 law was known, undid many of those guidelines.
 
 
 

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Friday, November 21, 2014

Utah lawmakers looking to bring back firing squad

Ten years after banning the use of firing squads in state executions, this week Utah lawmakers endorsed a proposal to allow the practice again to avoid problems with lethal-injection drugs, reported NBC News.
The proposal from Republican Rep. Paul Ray of Clearfield would call for a firing squad if the state cannot obtain the lethal injection drugs 30 days before the scheduled execution. Utah dropped firing squads out of concern about the media attention, but Ray said it's the most humane way to execute someone because the inmate dies instantly.   
"We have to have an option," Ray told reporters Wednesday. "If we go hanging, if we go to the guillotine, or we go to the firing squad, electric chair, you're still going to have the same circus atmosphere behind it. So is it really going to matter?"        
An interim panel of Utah lawmakers approved the idea on a 9-2 vote. The proposal still needs to go through the full legislative process once lawmakers convene for their annual session in January. Under current law, death by firing squad is only an option for criminals sentenced to death before 2004. It was last used in 2010.
For years, states used a three-drug combination to execute inmates, but European drugmakers have refused to sell them to prisons and corrections departments out of opposition to the death penalty. That move has led states to use different types, combinations and doses of lethal drugs, but those methods have been challenged in court.
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Missouri carries out its 9th execution of 2014

The 33rd Execution of 2014
Leon Vincent Taylor was executed on November 19, 2014 in Missouri.  He killed a suburban Kansas City gas station attendant in front of the worker's young stepdaughter in 1994. His execution was the ninth execution in Missouri this year, reported the Kansas City Star.
Taylor, 56, was pronounced dead at 12:22 a.m. at the state prison in Bonne Terre, minutes after receiving a lethal injection. With Taylor's death, 2014 ties 1999 for having the most executions in a year in Missouri.
Taylor shot worker Robert Newton to death in front of Newton's 8-year-old stepdaughter during a gas station robbery in Independence, Missouri. Taylor tried to kill the girl, too, but the gun jammed.
Taylor's fate was sealed Tuesday when Gov. Jay Nixon declined to grant clemency and the U.S. Supreme Court turned down his appeal.
His body covered by a white sheet, Taylor could be seen in the execution chamber talking to family members through the glass in an adjacent room. Once the state started injecting 5 grams of pentobarbital, Taylor's chest heaved for several seconds then stopped. His jaw went slack and he displayed no other movement for the rest of the process.

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Florida executes man for murder of woman and daughter

The 32nd Execution of 2014
Chadwick Banks was executed in Florida on November 13, 2014. He fatally shot his sleeping wife and then raped and killed his 10-year-old stepdaughter 22 years ago, reported The Associated Press.
The forty-three-year-old Banks was pronounced dead at 7:27 AM after a lethal injection at a Florida State Prison, the office of Gov. Rick Scott said.
Banks was condemned for the September 1992 killing of 10-year-old Melody Cooper. Banks also received a life sentence for the murder of his wife, Cassandra Banks, in a community outside the state capital of Tallahassee.
Authorities said Banks was drinking and playing pool at a bar before going home about 3 a.m. the night of the slayings. Banks shot his wife point-blank in the head and then raped and shot his stepdaughter, according to authorities.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Prison population expected to rise through 2018

The population of inmates in state prisons is on the rise, according to projections from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ public safety performance project, reported The Crime Report.
Researchers for the project collected projections from 34 states and found the country’s overall state prison population is expected to rise 3 percent by 2018. However, researchers note that "when measured against projected growth in the U.S. population, however, the overall state imprisonment rate could remain steady or even decline by 2018.”
Among those in Pew’s study, 28 states expect increases in their inmate populations; Iowa projected the largest increase (16 percent).
Pennsylvania expects the greatest decline in inmate population (6 percent); six states total project declines.
“This snapshot suggests that, without policy reforms, the recent uptick in the number of state inmates reported by the Justice Department in 2014—the first increase in four years—could continue over the next four years,” researchers write.
Read the full study HERE.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Holder: America may one day execute an innocent person

U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder reflected on his legacy in an interview with the Marshall Project, the criminal justice-themed journalism venture headed by former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller, reported the Wall Street Journal.
Here is what he had to say about the death penalty:
Mr. Holder, who says he is personally opposed to capital punishment, predicted that America will one day execute an innocent death-row inmate, if it hasn’t already.
“Men and women who are dedicated, but dedicated men and women can make mistakes. And I find it hard to believe that in our history that has not happened,” Mr. Holder said. “I think at some point, we will find a person who was put to death and who should not have been, who was not guilty of a crime,” he said, taking issue with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s suggestion in 2006 that the nation’s capital punishment system has never made such an error.
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Justice Reinvestment Working for North Carolina

Three and a half years ago North Carolina passed wide-ranging legislation designed to address the state's soaring prison population and budget, high recidivism rates and thin behavioral treatment programs for offenders.
According to a new report from a nonprofit group that helped lawmakers facilitate the law's creation, the "Justice Reinvestment Act" is exceeding expectations laid out in 2011, reported the Associated Press.
The Council of State Governments Justice Center told a General Assembly oversight committee on criminal justice matters that the state prison population has declined by 3,400 offenders within three years to under 38,000 inmates, or hundreds below projected levels expected under the law by mid-2017. Ten prisons also have closed, contrasting with a prison building spree in the early 2000s.
Overall, the state is on track to save or avoid $560 million in spending on prisons and other government services by mid-2017 because of the reforms, the report said.
"The way North Carolina did it is truly unique and something to be proud of," said Marshall Clement, the center's director of state initiatives, told the panel last week to provide a three-year update. "You've beaten those projections."
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