Sunday, May 24, 2015

Firefighters on the frontline of heroin epidemic

Responding to overdose calls is part of the job for first responders–but they say it’s also impacting the services they provide, reported WKBN-TV.
At Ohio’s fire training academy in Reyonldsburg, Akron Firefighters Association Local 330 President Russ Brode said heroin isn’t a new epidemic–it’s been going on for years. Brode said Akron firefighters go on six to ten heroin overdose calls everyday.
As of May  15, 131 days into 2015, Lane EMS has been on 123 drug overdose calls on the year for its service area.
Officials with Lane couldn’t confirm if all of those calls were for heroin. It did research the ages for the calls. Randall Pugh with Lane said that the calls included people as young as 14 and as old as 82.
First Responders in Akron and Cincinnati say they’re going on multiple heroin overdose calls every day.
“My area that i have is through a major thoroughfare, where we see a lot of people who can’t wait to get to their home to take their heroin,” Doug Stern with the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters said. “They’re stopping at drug store bathrooms, gas station bathrooms, restaurant bathrooms, in the parking lots.”
Firefighters say educating people about how destructive heroin is is key. Ohio Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor says it’s an effort everyone needs to be involved in.
“You can’t do just the law enforcement side,” Taylor said. “You have to get the community involved, the faith-based groups involved, parents, teachers, coaches.”
Taylor said Ohio is making some progress in fighting the heroin problem, but there’s a lot more to do.
To read more CLICK HERE

Saturday, May 23, 2015

GateHouse:Is Nebraska a death penalty game-changer?

Matthew T. Mangino
GateHouse Media
May 22, 2015
While a majority of our nation’s 50 states still have the death penalty on their books, that number has begun to shift in recent years. Prior to 2007, 12 states had outlawed executions; between 2007 and 2013, six states banned the procedure.
Now, Nebraska is on the verge of outlawing executions. But what is happening in Nebraska is different.
Maryland was the last state to end capital punishment, in 2013. That wasn’t unexpected. Maryland’s then-Gov. Martin O’Malley worked hard to get the death penalty off the books in his state.
Three other left-leaning states have abolished the death penalty in recent years — New Mexico in 2009, Illinois in 2011 and Connecticut in 2012.
Nebraska is not like any of those states. Nebraska is a red state, a conservative state with a Republican governor.
Thirty-two states and the federal government allow capital punishment. Nebraska may soon make it 31. Lawmakers in Nebraska agreed this week to abolish the death penalty. Nebraska would be the first conservative state in more than 40 years to ban capital punishment, reported The Associated Press.
Nebraska’s vote marks a shift in the national debate because it was bolstered by conservatives who oppose the death penalty for religious reasons, argue that it is a waste of taxpayer dollars and question whether the government can be trusted to efficiently administer the ultimate punishment.
Conservative lawmakers who voted for repeal also suggested that the penalty is pointless because it is so rarely carried out.
This stands in stark contrast to traditional law-and-order conservatives who have long stood among the strongest supporters of capital punishment.
Gov. Pete Ricketts, a Republican supporter of Nebraska’s capital punishment law, has vowed to veto the measure. However, the vote margin in the unicameral Legislature is more than enough to override the veto.
“It’s looking like it could be a very dark day for public safety,” Ricketts told the Omaha World-Journal. “The Nebraska Legislature is completely out of touch with the overwhelming number of people I talk to.”
On the other side of the issue, Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, an independent and opponent of the death penalty, told The Associated Press, “Nebraska has a chance to step into history — the right side of history — to take a step that will be beneficial toward the advancement of a civilized society,”
Nebraska hasn’t executed a prisoner since 1997, when the electric chair was the preferred method of execution. The state has never imposed the punishment under the lethal injection process now required by state law. Some lawmakers have argued that constant legal challenges will prevent the state from carrying out executions anytime soon.
The legislation would not apply retroactively to the 11 men on Nebraska’s death row. However, it would leave the state with no way to carry out their executions.
The state’s last execution was carried out during an era when Democrat President Bill Clinton was using the federal death penalty to secure his standing with the tough-on-crime constituency.
It’s a different time. As Hillary Rodham Clinton pursues her presidential bid, three of her Democratic rivals — former Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee, Maryland’s former Gov. O’Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — are death-penalty opponents.
As Bruce Shapiro recently wrote in The Nation, “It should be clear by now that the federal death penalty, far from reflecting social consensus or meaningful deterrence, is entirely political in nature.” He suggested that the federal death penalty was “designed to sell the capital punishment back to states that clearly rejected it,” and the number of rejections continues to grow.
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 and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewTMangino.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Practitioners seek to address mass incarceration and overcriminalization

The Aspen Institute's Forum for Community Solutions is the latest to take up the challenge of mass incarceration in the U.S., reported The Crime Report.  The Aspen Institute hosted a forum on the issue recently in Washington, D.C., with three other organizations, the Center for Community Change, My Brother's Keeper Alliance, and the Vera Institute of Justice.
Vera President Nick Turner called the current interest in the issue of prisons and jails a "remarkable moment," noting that presidential candidates ranging from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) to former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton already are discussing it. Turner highlighted the high incarceration rate among African Americans and the fact that the U.S. is by far the leader among world democracies in its incarceration rate.
Aspen invited several organizations that are dealing with various aspects of the incarceration problem, from the conservative group Right on Crime, to Take Action Minnesota, which is campaigning to "ban the box," requiring or encouraging employers not to ask about job applicants' criminal histories. One speaker, Danielle Sered of the Vera Institute's Common Justice Program, urged more emphasis on getting crime victims involved in endorsing non-prison alternatives for offenders.
Paul Wright of Prison Legal News and the Human Rights Defense Center argued that there is "not a one-size-fits-all solution" to reducing the nation's high incarceration totals. He urged more attention to the "overcriminalization of American life" such as imprisoning sex offenders merely for failing to register. Wright suggested that reforms may take some time, noting that it has taken several decades to reach the level of 2.2 million behind bars. So far, he said, rhetoric about reform has outpaced actual policy changes.

To visit The Crime Report CLICK HERE

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Nebraska moves closer to abolishing the death penalty

Nebraska lawmakers agreed this week to abolish the death penalty.  Nebraska would be the first conservative state to do so since 1973 if the measure becomes law, reported The Associated Press.
The vote margin in the unicameral Legislature was more than enough to override a promised veto from Gov. Pete Ricketts, a supporter of capital punishment. Ricketts, a Republican, said the vote represented a "dark day" for public safety.
"Nebraska has a chance to step into history — the right side of history — to take a step that will be beneficial toward the advancement of a civilized society," said Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, an independent who has fought for four decades to end the death penalty.
The Nebraska vote marks a shift in the national debate because it was bolstered by conservatives who oppose the death penalty for religious reasons, cast it as a waste of taxpayer money and question whether government can be trusted to manage it. Law-and-order conservatives in the United States have traditionally stood among the strongest supporters of the ultimate punishment.
Nebraska hasn't executed a prisoner since 1997, when the electric chair was used. The state has never imposed the punishment under the lethal injection process now required by state law. Some lawmakers have argued that constant legal challenges will prevent the state from executing anyone in the future.
Maryland was the last state to end capital punishment, in 2013. Three other moderate-to-liberal states have done so in recent years: New Mexico in 2009, Illinois in 2011, Connecticut in 2012. But the last conservative state to do so was North Dakota in 1973. Thirty-two states and the federal government allow capital punishment.

Parolees in the same neighborhood with other parolees increases recidivism

Within three years of their release, two-thirds of ex-prisoners in America are arrested again, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, reports CityLab from The Atlantic. Many complex and interconnected factors explain these alarmingly high rates of recidivism. One of the most significant, according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is whether or not the released prisoners lives in the same neighborhood as others parolees.
Here’s how David Kirk, sociology professor at the University of Oxford and author of the study, sums up his findings:
Put simply, the alarming rates of recidivism in the United States are partly a consequence of the fact that many individuals being released from prison ultimately reside in the same neighborhoods as other former felons.
In America, the prison system releases 650,000 people back into society each year. A significant share of the released tend to cluster in a few, extremely disadvantaged neighborhoods. It’s hard to test what would happen if these reentry patterns were different, but living conditions in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina gave Kirk that unique chance.

The disaster destroyed a lot of property, and in doing so, geographically redistributed the former-prisoner population. Instead of concentrating in the same places as they had before Katrina, ex-prisoners released after the storm spread out across new neighborhoods. Kirk compared the re-incarceration rates in neighborhoods that had seen a change in parolee concentration to ones that hadn’t, both before and after the hurricane. Here’s what he found:
The results of my analyses suggest the greater the concentration of ex-prisoners in a neighborhood, the greater the rate of subsequent recidivism. I find that concentrating former prisoners in the same neighborhoods leads to significantly higher recidivism rates than if ex-prisoners were more dispersed across neighborhoods.
Dispersing parolees across neighborhoods means that, to some extent, incarceration and recidivism rates will also rise in neighborhoods that gain ex-prisoners. The graph below illustrates this point: for each additional parolee per 1,000 residents in a neighborhood, the rate of re-incarceration rises about 11 percent. But after controlling for other factors that come into play across neighborhoods, Kirk found that net recidivism still came down.

To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

North Carolina looks to resume executions

North Carolina lawmakers approved a measure aimed at resuming executions in the state after a nine-year break by removing the requirement that a doctor be present at all lethal injections, according to Reuters.
The state has not executed any inmates since 2006, in part due to conflicts with the state’s medical board, which has threatened to punish physicians who participate in a prisoner's death.
The state's House of Representatives passed legislation in an 84-33 vote recently that would also allow nurses, physician assistants or paramedics to oversee lethal injections.
Supporters hope the measure will pave the way for prison officials to resume carrying out death sentences. There are 149 inmates on death row in North Carolina, according to the state Department of Public Safety.

To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

DA: 'I think we need to kill more people'

More than 10,000 homicides last year--only 72 death sentences

“I think we need to kill more people,” said Dale Cox, a prosecutor in Caddo Parish, Louisiana, according to  Robert J. Smith an assistant professor of law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in column in Slate.
Cox was responding to questions about the release of Glenn Ford, a man with Stage 4 lung cancer who spent nearly three decades on death row for a crime he did not commit. Cox acknowledged that the execution of an innocent person would be a “horrible injustice.” Still, he maintained of the death penalty: “We need it more now than ever.”
Cox means what he says. He has personally secured half of the death sentences in Louisiana since 2010. Cox recently secured a death sentence against a father convicted of killing his infant son, despite the medical examiner’s uncertainty that the death was a homicide. Rather than exercising caution in the face of doubt, Cox told the jury that, when it comes to a person who harms a child, Jesus demands his disciples kill the abuser by placing a millstone around his neck and throwing him into the sea.
The nation suffered more than 10,000 homicides last year, yet only 72 people received death sentences—the lowest number in the modern era of capital punishment. The numbers have been steadily declining for the better part of a decade. Most states are abandoning the practice in droves. Even in states that continue its use, capital prosecutions are being pursued in only a few isolated counties.
Cox is one of them. Jeannette Gallagher of Maricopa County, Arizona, is another. She and two colleagues are responsible for more than one-third of the capital cases—20 of 59—that the Arizona Supreme Court reviewed statewide between 2007 and 2013. Gallagher recently sent a 19-year-old with depression to death row even though he had tried to commit suicide the day before the murder, sought treatment, and was turned away. She also obtained a death sentence against a 21-year-old man with a low IQ who was sexually abused as a child, addicted to drugs and alcohol from a young age, and suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. She then sent a U.S. military veteran with paranoid schizophrenia to death row. Her response to these harrowing mitigating circumstances has not been to exercise restraint, but rather to accuse each of these defendants of simply faking his symptoms.
Meanwhile, in Duval County, Florida, Bernie de la Rionda has personally obtained 10 death sentences since 2008.
Not surprisingly, death sentences drop precipitously after these prosecutors leave office. Bob Macy sent 54 people to Oklahoma’s death row before retiring in 2001. Over the past five years, Oklahoma County has had only one death sentence. Lynne Abraham secured 45 death sentences as the Philadelphia district attorney. Since she retired in 2010, the new district attorney has obtained only three death sentences.
To read more CLICK HERE