Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Where are the 6,000 federal inmates scheduled for release going?

Here is were the 6,000 federal drug offenders are going when they are released at the end of October according to The Marshall Project:

8North Carolina470
13New York336
14South Carolina329
17West Virginia258
20Puerto Rico218
31New Jersey107
37South Dakota73
45District of Columbia45
46Rhode Island36
47North Dakota32
48New Hampshire28
49New Mexico24
53Mariana Islands1

Monday, October 12, 2015

Malcolm Gladwell examines school shootings in The New Yorker

Malcolm Gladwell proposes an interesting theory on school massacres in The New Yorker.  Gladwell examines research on riots to explain the motivation of school shooters. Gladwell writes:

In a famous essay published four decades ago, the Stanford sociologist Mark Granovetter set out to explain a paradox: “situations where outcomes do not seem intuitively consistent with the underlying individual preferences.” What explains a person or a group of people doing things that seem at odds with who they are or what they think is right? Granovetter took riots as one of his main examples, because a riot is a case of destructive violence that involves a great number of otherwise quite normal people who would not usually be disposed to violence.
Most previous explanations had focussed on explaining how someone’s beliefs might be altered in the moment. An early theory was that a crowd cast a kind of intoxicating spell over its participants. Then the argument shifted to the idea that rioters might be rational actors: maybe at the moment a riot was beginning people changed their beliefs. They saw what was at stake and recalculated their estimations of the costs and benefits of taking part.
But Granovetter thought it was a mistake to focus on the decision-making processes of each rioter in isolation. In his view, a riot was not a collection of individuals, each of whom arrived independently at the decision to break windows. A riot was a social process, in which people did things in reaction to and in combination with those around them. Social processes are driven by our thresholds—which he defined as the number of people who need to be doing some activity before we agree to join them. In the elegant theoretical model Granovetter proposed, riots were started by people with a threshold of zero—instigators willing to throw a rock through a window at the slightest provocation. Then comes the person who will throw a rock if someone else goes first. He has a threshold of one. Next in is the person with the threshold of two. His qualms are overcome when he sees the instigator and the instigator’s accomplice. Next to him is someone with a threshold of three, who would never break windows and loot stores unless there were three people right in front of him who were already doing that—and so on up to the hundredth person, a righteous upstanding citizen who nonetheless could set his beliefs aside and grab a camera from the broken window of the electronics store if everyone around him were grabbing cameras from the electronics store.
Granovetter was most taken by the situations in which people did things for social reasons that went against everything they believed as individuals. “Most did not think it ‘right’ to commit illegal acts or even particularly want to do so,” he wrote, about the findings of a study of delinquent boys. “But group interaction was such that none could admit this without loss of status; in our terms, their threshold for stealing cars is low because daring masculine acts bring status, and reluctance to join, once others have, carries the high cost of being labeled a sissy.” You can’t just look at an individual’s norms and motives. You need to look at the group.
To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, October 11, 2015

DOJ to release 6,000 inmates to ease overcrowding

The Justice Department is set to release about 6,000 inmates early from prison — the largest one-time release of federal prisoners — in an effort to reduce overcrowding and provide relief to drug offenders who received harsh sentences over the past three decades, according to U.S. officials, reported the Washington Post.
The inmates from federal prisons nationwide will be set free by the department’s Bureau of Prisons between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2. About two-thirds of them will go to halfway houses and home confinement before being put on supervised release. About one-third are foreign citizens who will be quickly deported, officials said.
The early releases follow action by the U.S. Sentencing Commission — an independent agency that sets sentencing policies for federal crimes — that reduced the potential punishment for future drug offenders last year and then made that change retroactive.
The commission’s action is separate from an effort by President Obama to grant clemency to certain nonviolent drug offenders, an initiative that has resulted in the early release of 89 inmates.
The panel estimated that its change in sentencing guidelines eventually could result in 46,000 of the nation’s approximately 100,000 drug offenders in federal prison qualifying for early release. The 6,000 figure, which has not been reported previously, is the first tranche in that process.
To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Ohio fights FDA to import execution drugs

Ohio prison officials think they have found a way to potentially import an execution drug without running afoul of the federal Food and Drug Administration, reported the Columbus Dispatch.

In a letter sent today to the FDA, Stephen Gray, chief counsel of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, argued that if the state meets a series of five criteria, including that the drug, sodium thiopental, is from an FDA-registered source, then it is legal to import.

Ohio has not executed an inmate since Jan. 16, 2014, when Dennis McGuire struggled and gasped for several minutes before succumbing to a combination of drugs being used for the first time anywhere in the U.S.

The FDA in June warned state prison officials that the agency learned the state was trying to obtain bulk dosages of sodium thiopental, which is not available in the United States.

“Please note that there is no FDA-approved application for sodium thiopental, and it is illegal to import an unapproved new drug into the United States,” the FDA wrote.

The state did not follow through with a foreign drug purchase, and state officials responded today arguing that there is a legal way to import the drug under a 2012 court ruling.

“The responsibility to carry out lawful and humane executions when called upon by the courts to do so is enormous, and it is the responsibility that ODRC does not take lightly,” Gray wrote. “ To that end, ODRC has no intention of attempting to procure drugs for legal injection in a manner that would violate a proper interpretation of the (Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act).”

Gray wrote that he wants to start talks with the FDA to determine how to legally procure drugs for lethal injection.

To read more CLICK HERE

Friday, October 9, 2015

GateHouse: Crime-free zones do more harm than good

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
October 9, 2015
Officials in Charlotte, North Carolina, are considering whether to create “public safety zones,” areas within the city where people with past convictions, and merely arrests, would be restricted from entering.

Charlotte is not the first city to pursue such restrictions. In 2011, North Arlington, Texas, home of Cowboy Stadium, made the neighborhoods around the stadium prostitution-free zones before and during Super Bowl XLV.

In 1992, Portland, Oregon, was the first jurisdiction to create drug and prostitution exclusion zones. Some crimes, such as prostitution, easily fit into zones where all such activity is closely monitored and aggressively pursued.

Fifteen years later, former Portland Mayor Tom Potter abolished the zones, saying they just moved criminal activity to new areas and that African-Americans were being disproportionately excluded from the designated areas.

This is not Charlotte’s first foray into unusual attempts to curb crime. In 2005 the city created “prostitution-free zones” that later expired after three years, having made no real impact on crime. Two years ago, in another crime fighting innovation, according to the Charlotte Observer, the city was granted an injunction that barred gang members from the Hidden Valley Kings from associating with one another.

One obvious problem with public safety zones is the wide net they cast. An individual with an arrest, not just a conviction, may be prohibited from entering a safety zone. This limits a former offender, or a non-offender for that matter, access to employment, accommodations, medical treatment and other essential services and recreational activities.

The other problem with public safety zones is that people of color are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system. As a result, minority and low-income neighborhoods will be disproportionately affected by public safety zones.

Research by the Justice Policy Institute conducted in Massachusetts and Connecticut supports the notion that urban communities of color are disproportionately impacted by prohibited zones, and that enforcement of the laws have little or nothing to do with protecting the public. Research also suggests that there may be sharp disparities in the way crime-free zone laws are enforced.

Under Charlotte’s controversial proposal, the police chief could designate a high-crime area as a safety zone in response to crimes such as drug sales or discharging guns on public property.

Someone who has been arrested for crimes in the area could be issued a notice that they are no longer allowed to enter, for as long as the safety zone is in effect. Entering the zone after being prohibited would result in a misdemeanor charge.

According to Justice Strategies, a Brooklyn based nonprofit research organization, a stunning 96 percent of New Jersey prisoners sentenced under the state’s drug-free zone laws were African-American or Hispanic. In Connecticut, majority nonwhite cities had ten times more zones per square mile than cities where less than 10 percent of residents were African-American or Hispanic.

Charlotte City Council member Al Austin told the Observer, “We were looking for additional tools that could address some of the criminal behavior. … We want something more flexible.” There is some urgency to finding new solutions. Violent crimes — including homicides — are up this year in Charlotte compared with 2014.

“Truthfully, I don’t know if they will do any good,” said city council member Claire Fallon, who chairs the public safety committee. “If someone doesn’t obey the law, do you think a safety zone will impress them?”

The uses of crime-free zones as proposed in Charlotte have the potential to do more harm than good. Stigmatizing former offenders and alienating individuals who are under court ordered supervision may make neighborhoods less safe and citizens more vulnerable.

Matthew T. Mangino is of counsel with Luxenberg, Garbett, Kelly & George P.C. His book “The Executioner’s Toll, 2010” was released by McFarland Publishing. You can reach him at www.mattmangino.com and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewTMangino.
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Thursday, October 8, 2015

Texas executes gang member who killed a man for $8

The 23rd Execution of 2015
Juan Martin Garcia, a teenage Houston gang member who spent his entire adulthood on Texas' death row, was executed on October 6, 2015 for the 1998 robbery murder of one-time Mexican missionary Hugo Solano.
According to the Houston Chronicle, although Garcia's lawyers fought to save him by asserting that he was mentally impaired, and thus ineligible for execution, and that the punishment phase of his trial was tainted by a psychologist's racially tinged testimony, state and federal courts declined to act in his favor. Garcia's last hope ended when the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 5-2 not to recommend clemency.
Garcia, 35, administered a massive dose of sodium pentobarbital, was the 11th Texas killer executed this year. Three others currently are scheduled to be put to death by year's end.
Solano, 36, the father of two young children, was shot four times in the head and neck on Sept. 17, 1998 as he was accosted in an apartment complex parking lot in the 17000 block of Cali by Garcia and three other men. He was robbed of $8.
Lynn Hardaway, chief of the Harris County District Attorney's Post-Conviction Writ Division, said the robbery was part of a crime spree, which included nine additional aggravated robberies and the shooting of two other individuals.
To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

DOJ: Use-of-Force Data is Vital for Transparency and Accountability

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch called for national, consistent data on law enforcement interactions with the communities they serve, especially data collection on the use-of-force.  The Attorney General noted that the department has already taken steps to improve the accuracy and consistency of use-of-force data from law enforcement.
“The department’s position and the administration’s position has consistently been that we need to have national, consistent data,” said Attorney General Lynch.  “This information is useful because it helps us see trends, it helps us promote accountability and transparency,” said Attorney General Lynch.  “We’re also going further in developing standards for publishing information about deaths in custody as well, because transparency and accountability are helped by this kind of national data.”
Currently, federal authorities publish annual figures on the number of “justifiable homicides” by law enforcement.  But this reporting is voluntary and not all police departments participate, causing the figures to be incomplete.  That’s why the Justice Department and the Obama Administration are taking steps to work with law enforcement to improve the process.
“This data is not only vital – we are working closely with law enforcement to develop national consistent standards for collecting this kind of information,” Attorney General Lynch added.
The FBI recently announced that the Uniform Crime Reporting Statistics (UCR) will begin to collect data on non-fatal shootings between law enforcement and civilians.
To read more CLICK HERE