Sunday, September 25, 2022

New York's bail reform law a success--not contributing to increase in crime

New York nonprofit The Legal Aid Society (LAS)  reported that data from the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) shows the successes of New York’s 2019 bail reform law, according to Jurist.

Under the 2019 law, judges must release those charged with misdemeanors or most nonviolent felonies on their own recognizance or under “non-monetary conditions.” However, for all violent felonies and some nonviolent felonies, like sex offenses, judges can still set monetary bail. DCJS data shows that 15 percent of people failed to return for trial in 2019; in 2o21, the figure decreased to 9 percent. For those released on their own recognizance, re-arrest rates decreased from 18 percent to 16 percent by 2021.

In a statement, Supervising Attorney of the LAS Decarceration Project Arielle Reid said the “numbers confirm what we’ve known all along: bail reform has decreased jail populations, kept communities intact and furthered public safety. Any claim to the contrary doesn’t square with reality, and is merely baseless fear mongering.” According to Reid, LAS and other organizations will pursue further reforms in the state legislature’s next session.

To read more CLICK HERE


Saturday, September 24, 2022

San Diego DA pushes left-wing conspiracy theories involving George Soros

 A district attorney pressing an unusual slate of conspiracy charges against anti-fascist protesters previously had a campaign site accusing philanthropist George Soros of funding anti-fascists to increase crime, reported The Daily Beast.

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan has brought a sweeping new conspiracy case against left-wing protesters who counter-demonstrated at a pro-Trump rally in San Diego on Jan. 9. The result was a beachside brawl, during which rallygoers on the right flashed a knife and a BB gun and protesters on the left fired pepper spray. But rather than result in simple assault charges, Stephan is pressing conspiracy charges—and only against demonstrators on the left.

Stephan has a history of obsessing about the anti-fascist movement. In 2018, while running against progressive challenger GeneviĆ©ve Jones-Wright, Stephan’s campaign paid for a website that accused billionaire philanthropist Soros of supporting Jones-Wright because he “backs anti-law enforcement candidates over experienced prosecutors, trying to tip the balance to the criminals.”

The caption ran directly under a picture of black-clad anti-fascists—one of multiple such pictures that ran alongside photographs of Soros on the site.

The website, which has since been removed, drew backlash. Soros, a Holocaust survivor, is a frequent target of antisemitic conspiracy theories, including those that accuse him of funding “antifa.” (“Claims that George Soros funds antifa or is otherwise involved in fomenting civil unrest related to Black Lives Matter protests are false and touch on longstanding, sometimes antisemitic conspiracy theories,” the Anti-Defamation League notes.)

When the Times of San Diego questioned Stephan about the website and antisemitism in 2018, she walked away from the interview without comment.

In September 2020, Stephan again appeared to suggest that leftist protests were secretly motivated by nefarious interests.

“We’ve seen where there’s the peaceful protest and all of a sudden another group shows up without license plates, with generators and water, and there’s not good things that are happening,” Stephan said in 2020, adding that untoward events were unfolding “behind the scenes.”

“Somebody talked about subverting the truthful nature of the protesters, and that is going on,” Stephan said. “There are movements that are not what you would think of.”

To read more CLICK HERE


Friday, September 23, 2022

Alabama halts execution due to lethal injection failure

Alabama officials called off the lethal injection of a man convicted in a 1999 workplace shooting because of time concerns and trouble accessing the inmate’s veins, reported The Associated Press.

Alabama Corrections Commissioner John Hamm said the state halted the scheduled execution of Alan Miller after they determined they could not get the lethal injection underway before a midnight deadline. Prison officials made the decision at about 11:30 p.m. The last-minute reprieve came nearly three hours after a divided U.S. Supreme Court had cleared the way for the execution to begin.

“Due to time constraints resulting from the lateness of the court proceedings, the execution was called off once it was determined the condemned inmate’s veins could not be accessed in accordance with our protocol before the expiration of the death warrant,” Hamm said.

Hamm said "accessing the veins was taking a little bit longer than we anticipated." He did not know how long the team tried to establish a connection, but noted there are a number of procedures to be done before the team begins trying to connect the IV line.

Miller was returned to his regular cell at a south Alabama prison.

The aborted execution came after the state's July execution of Joe Nathan James took more than three hours to get underway after the state had difficulties establishing an intravenous line, leading to accusations that the execution was botched.

Miller, 57, was sentenced to death after being convicted of a 1999 workplace rampage in which he killed Terry Jarvis, Lee Holdbrooks and Scott Yancy.

“Despite the circumstances that led to the cancellation of this execution, nothing will change the fact that a jury heard the evidence of this case and made a decision," Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey said in a statement. She added that three families are still grieving.

“We all know full well that Michael Holdbrooks, Terry Lee Jarvis and Christopher Scott Yancey did not choose to die by bullets to the chest. Tonight, my prayers are with the victims’ families and loved ones as they are forced to continue reliving the pain of their loss,” Ivey said.

An anti-death penalty group said the situation with Miller's attempted lethal injection sounded similar to other “botched” executions.

"It is hard to see how they can persist with this broken method of execution that keeps going catastrophically wrong, again and again. In its desperation to execute, Alabama is experimenting on prisoners behind closed doors — surely the definition of cruel and unusual punishment,” Maya Foa, director of Reprieve US Forensic Justice Initiative, a human rights group opposed to the death penalty, said in a statement.


Prosecutors said Miller, a delivery truck driver, killed co-workers Holdbrooks and Yancy at a business in suburban Birmingham and then drove off to shoot former supervisor Jarvis at a business where Miller had previously worked. Each man was shot multiple times and Miller was captured after a highway chase.

Trial testimony indicated Miller believed the men were spreading rumors about him, including that he was gay. A psychiatrist hired by the defense found Miller suffered from severe mental illness and delusions but also said Miller’s condition wasn’t bad enough to use as a basis for an insanity defense under state law.

Justices in a 5-4 decision lifted an injunction — issued by a federal judge and left in place by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals — that had blocked Miller's execution from going forward. Miller’s attorneys said the state lost the paperwork requesting his execution be carried out using nitrogen hypoxia, a method legally available to him but never before used in the U.S.

When Alabama approved nitrogen hypoxia as an execution method in 2018, state law gave inmates a brief window to designate it as their execution method. Miller testified that he turned in paperwork four years ago selecting nitrogen hypoxia as his execution method, putting the documents in a slot in his cell door at the Holman Correctional Facility for a prison worker to collect.

U.S. District Judge R. Austin Huffaker Jr. issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday blocking the state from killing Miller by any means other than nitrogen hypoxia after finding it was “substantially likely” that Miller “submitted a timely election form even though the State says that it does not have any physical record of a form.”

Nitrogen hypoxia is a proposed execution method in which death would be caused by forcing the inmate to breathe only nitrogen, depriving him or her of the oxygen needed to maintain bodily functions. Nitrogen hypoxia is authorized for executions in three states but none have attempted to put an inmate to death using the method. Alabama officials told the judge they are working to finalize the protocol.

Many states have struggled to buy execution drugs in recent years after U.S. and European pharmaceutical companies began blocking the use of their products in lethal injections. That has led some to seek alternate methods.

To read more CLICK HERE

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Justice Thomas' wife to testify before House Committee investigating Jan. 6 Capitol attack

Virginia Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas and a conservative activist who pushed to overturn the 2020 election, has agreed to sit for an interview with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, reported The New York Times.

The development could represent a breakthrough for the committee, which for months has sought to interview Ms. Thomas, who goes by Ginni, about her communications with a conservative lawyer in close contact with former President Donald J. Trump.

“I can confirm that Ginni Thomas has agreed to participate in a voluntary interview with the committee,” her lawyer, Mark Paoletta, said in a statement. “As she has said from the outset, Mrs. Thomas is eager to answer the committee’s questions to clear up any misconceptions about her work relating to the 2020 election. She looks forward to that opportunity.”

Her cooperation was reported earlier by CNN. A spokesman for the committee declined to comment.

The committee requested an interview with Ms. Thomas in June, after it emerged that she had exchanged text messages with Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, in which she urged on efforts to challenge Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory in the 2020 election. She also pressed lawmakers in several states to fight the results of the election.

But it was Ms. Thomas’s interactions with John Eastman, a conservative lawyer who pushed Vice President Mike Pence to block or delay the certification of Electoral College votes on Jan. 6, 2021, that has most interested investigators.

“We are specifically investigating the activities of President Trump, John Eastman and others as they relate to the Constitution and certain other laws, including the Electoral Count Act, that set out the required process for the election and inauguration of the president,” the committee’s leaders — Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi, and Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming — wrote to Ms. Thomas. “The select committee has obtained evidence that John Eastman worked to develop alternate slates of electors to stop the electoral count on Jan. 6.”

The panel obtained at least one email between Ms. Thomas and Mr. Eastman after a federal judge ordered Mr. Eastman to turn over documents to the panel from the period after the November 2020 election when he was meeting with conservative groups to discuss fighting the election results.

That same judge has said it is “more likely than not” that Mr. Trump and Mr. Eastman committed two felonies as part of the effort, including conspiracy to defraud the American people.

Mr. Paoletta has argued that the communications between Ms. Thomas and Mr. Eastman contain little of value to the panel’s investigation.

 To read more CLICK HERE

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

States fail to report deaths in jails and prisons as required by law

 The Justice Department's annual tally of deaths in state prisons and jails was short by nearly 1,000 last year, an investigation by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found, reported Reason.

States are required under the Death in Custody Reporting Act (DCRA) to submit data on deaths in prisons and jails to the Justice Department, but in a report released today, the committee says that the Justice Department has failed to effectively implement the law, undermining the accuracy of its data and congressional oversight of deaths in custody.

The committee and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that in the last year alone the department missed 990 prison and jail deaths that were reported on state websites, news articles, and other public databases. 

Those failures have "deprived Congress and the American public of information about who is dying in custody and why," the report says. "This information is critical to improve transparency in prisons and jails, identifying trends in custodial deaths that may warrant corrective action—such as failure to provide adequate medical care, mental health services, or safeguard prisoners from violence—and identifying specific facilities with outlying death rates. DOJ's failure to implement this law and to continue to voluntarily publish this information is a missed opportunity to prevent avoidable deaths."

Despite the Constitution's bans on cruel and unusual punishment and excessive force, incarcerated people in prison systems and jails across the U.S. are regularly subjected to medical neglect, brutality, and unsafe living conditions.

Federal judges in both Arizona and Illinois recently held those state prison systems in contempt for failing to address gruesome medical neglect within their walls. The Justice Department has in recent years found unconstitutional conditions in prisons in Florida and Alabama, and it is investigating similar allegations in Mississippi and Georgia. In New York City, the infamous Rikers Island jail complex is under threat of being put in receivership by a federal judge because of a string of preventable deaths and chronic corruption.

Congress passed the DCRA in 2000 and reauthorized it in 2013. The law requires states to report deaths in prisons and jails. It also authorized the attorney general to cut up to 10 percent of federal law enforcement grant funding to states that fail to comply.

But a series of changes over the past several administrations have degraded what was supposed to be a strong law, the report says. In 2019, the Justice Department moved responsibility for the DCRA from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) to the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The latter office is responsible for federal grant-making, not tabulating data. The BJA then stopped publicly reporting the mortality data it collected, which the BJS had done annually for 16 years.

Since the switch between offices, the quality and accuracy of the data submitted to the Justice Department has plummeted. The subcommittee's investigation found that 70 percent of the records submitted to the BJA were missing at least one required field.

A WBUR investigation last year found 37 in-custody deaths that local sheriffs never reported to the Justice Department, and an analysis published earlier this year in The Appeal found that most states were not in compliance with the DCRA.

To read more CLICK HERE


Monday, September 19, 2022

Mangino appears on Law and Crime Network's podcast Sidebar

Watch my appearance on Law and Crime Network's podcast Sidebar to discuss the transportation of immigrants from Texas and Florida to other location across the country.


Friday, September 16, 2022

Mangino a guest on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace

Listen in to my interview with Nancy Grace on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace as we discuss the murder of Las Vegas investigative reporter Jeff German and the arrest of local politician Robert Telles.

To listen CLICK HERE

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Judge calls Cruz defense team "unprofessional" after abruptly resting

 Attorneys for Florida school shooter Nikolas Cruz suddenly and surprisingly rested their case on September 14, 2022 after calling only a fraction of their expected witnesses, leading to a shouting match after the judge accused them of a lack of professionalism, reported The Associated Press.

Cruz’s attorneys had told the judge and prosecutors they would be calling 80 witnesses but rested at the beginning the court session after calling only about 25. There were 11 days of defense testimony overall, the last two spotlighting experts about how his birth mother’s heavy use of alcohol during pregnancy might have affected his brain’s development and led to his murder of 17 people at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School four years ago.

The sudden announcement by lead attorney Melisa McNeill led to a heated exchange between her and Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer, who called the decision without warning to her or the prosecution “the most uncalled for, unprofessional way to try a case.”

The 12-member jury and 10 alternates were not present but were lining up outside the courtroom to enter. The sudden announcement also meant prosecutors weren’t ready to start their rebuttal case.

Lead prosecutor Mike Satz threw his hands up when Scherer asked if he could begin and, with a nervous laugh, said “no.”

“We’re waiting for 40 more (defense) witnesses,” Satz said.

Scherer then accused Cruz’s attorneys of being inconsiderate to all involved, but especially the jurors for wasting their trip to court.

“To have 22 people march into court and be waiting as if it is some kind of game. I have never experienced such a level of unprofessionalism in my career,” Scherer said, raising her voice.

McNeill countered angrily, “You are insulting me on the record in front of my client,” before Scherer told her to stop. Scherer then laid into McNeill, with whom she has had a testy relationship since pretrial hearings began more than three years ago.

“You’ve been insulting me the entire trial,” Scherer barked at McNeill. “Arguing with me, storming out, coming late intentionally if you don’t like my rulings. So, quite frankly, this has been long overdue. So please be seated.”

Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty last October to murdering 14 Stoneman Douglas students and three staff members on Feb. 14, 2018. His trial, now ending its second month, is only to determine whether he is sentenced to death or life without parole. For a death sentence, the jury must be unanimous.

To read more CLICK HERE


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Mangino joins Nancy Grace on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace

Listen in to my interview with Nancy Grace on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace as we dig deeper into the abduction and murder of  Eliza Fletcher.

To listen CLICK HERE

More than half of the U.S. prison population is serving 10 years or longer

Amy Fettig and Steven Zeidman write in Time Magazine

There’s no question: Our legal system loves long prison sentences. From 2000 to 2019, the number of people serving sentences of 10 years or longer exploded from 587,000 to 773,000, according to a new report from The Sentencing Project. Those 773,000 people account for more than half of the U.S. prison population.

Extreme sentences have become so commonplace in the U.S. that 10 years can seem like a relatively minor punishment, perhaps woefully inadequate for serious offenses. But 10 years is an enormously long period of time – one in which people can experience profound growth, especially in their younger years.

That’s why we believe incarcerated people should have the opportunity to have their sentence re-evaluated after 10 years. In fact, the American Bar Association just passed a resolution recommending precisely that.

Make no mistake. This does not mean opening the prison doors for everyone after a decade. It just means giving incarcerated people the chance to show how they’ve changed and why they deserve a second look. An external body (a judge, for example) would then determine whether to reduce the sentence.

From a scientific perspective, this model makes a lot of sense. Everyone may know that young people are more likely to commit crimes than older people. But it’s important to know why. It’s largely because the prefrontal cortex – the part of the brain responsible for reasoning, problem-solving, and impulse control – does not fully develop until the mid-20s. So young people often exhibit immaturity, irresponsibility, recklessness, and susceptibility to negative influences and outside pressure – which the Supreme Court has recognized in cases involving extreme sentencing of youth. In 2010 in Graham v. Florida, for example, the Court wrote that because young people “have lessened culpability they are less deserving of the most serious forms of punishment.”

Think about it this way: Many people in their 30s would never dream of repeating the choices they made a decade earlier.

An overwhelming amount of research confirms that people age out of crime. It’s also clear that people released after decades of imprisonment rarely commit new crimes upon release, even those who had been convicted of the most serious crimes.

Revisiting sentences is not just about showing mercy; the entire community stands to benefit from the abundance of talent wasted behind bars. Many incarcerated people take classes, learn new skills, and earn degrees while in prison. Returning citizens often serve as credible messengers to guide at-risk youth, work as violence interrupters, and help promote public safety. They’re hard-working, tax-paying community members.

They also heal communities. Many incarcerated people have been separated from their children and aging parents for years or decades. Second looks can return fathers and mothers to support their sons and daughters, and sons and daughters to act as caregivers to aging parents.

Consider just one example of an incarcerated person who we know is truly deserving of a second chance. RC was 17 years old when an older man assaulted his friend during a dice game in New York. RC reacted by getting a gun and firing a shot that killed the man. At sentencing, the judge referred to RC as an irredeemable menace and in sentencing him to 25 years to life stated that RC should never again walk free. Ten years later, RC became a prison hospice worker, mobility aide, and sign language interpreter, revered by prisoners and staff alike. He languishes in prison with no mechanism for anyone to see the man he has become, one of many people we have met who would be an upstanding citizen outside prison bars.

Fortunately, momentum is growing to make that possible. In 2019, Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Karen Bass introduced the Second Look Act to permit people who have served 10 years in federal prison to petition a court for resentencing. In the meantime, federal court judges are utilizing the First Step Act of 2018 – which made changes to compassionate release that enabled an unprecedented number of people serving long sentences to be re-sentenced during the pandemic. Washington, DC, allows those who committed crimes as emerging adults—under age 25—to petition for resentencing after 15 years of imprisonment. And states such as Oregon, Illinois, and California allow individuals serving lengthy sentences to demonstrate that they’ve earned an opportunity for another review.

We’ve changed an enormous amount as a society over the past decade. And yet, our legal system assumes that people can’t do the same. That needs to change. Let’s build on the momentum and ensure all incarcerated people get a second look after 10 years.

To read more CLICK HERE


Monday, September 12, 2022

Attacks on progressive prosecutors 'an affront to democracy'

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner won a hard-fought campaign in 2017 amid a rising wave of dissent over police shootings of unarmed people of color and calls to reform criminal justice policies that harm the nation’s most vulnerable communities.

Five years later, following a resounding reelection victory in 2021, Krasner is among progressive prosecutors across the country who face Republican-backed efforts to remove them from office, writes Peter Hall of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.

Criminal justice experts call the attacks an affront to democracy and an effort to forestall the criminal justice reform movement that reached critical mass after the murder of George Floyd in 2020.

“A key premise of our democracy is, let people decide what’s right for their community,” Akhi Johnson, director of the Reshaping Prosecution Initiative at the Vera Institute of Justice, said.

District attorneys in California, New York, and Florida who advanced policies to end mass incarceration, cash bail and rethink the approach to prosecuting minor crimes have faced efforts by state lawmakers or Republican Party leaders to remove them from office. 

The majority-Republican state House passed a resolution in July to empanel a select committee to investigate the Philadelphia district attorney’s office with a goal of establishing support for Krasner’s impeachment.  

“For people who don’t live in those areas to come in and say, ‘No no no, we know better than you do,’ certainly raises concerns from a democratic perspective and further raises the question, why not let people vote on the issue,” Johnson said.

Fordham Law School professor John Pfaff said examining election results and crime data refutes the notion that those most affected by violent crime want progressive prosecutors removed from office. 

Pfaff compared support for the winners in the last two elections for district attorney in Philadelphia and Chicago, where pro-reform candidate Kim Foxx was reelected in 2020, with the locations of gun crimes. 

The resulting maps show the areas with the most support for the progressive candidates are also the areas with the highest concentrations of gun crime.

“The fact that Krasner’s support is the best where violence is worst … makes the idea that, ‘We’re stepping in for victims,’ just not true,” Pfaff said.

 “There are so many types of crime there will always be one that you can try to weaponize as a story,” Pfaff said.

John Holloway, executive director of the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania, said blaming a prosecutor for trends in crime is too simplistic.

“Gun crime in Philadelphia is an unbelievable problem and I get it, but I dont know of any study that says that is caused by the way Larry Krasner prosecutes crime,” Holloway said.

Kransner’s approach has been to redirect his office’s resources away from prosecuting low-level crimes such as shoplifting, marijuana and prostitution and to not request cash bail for offenses such as drunken driving. In his first year in office, that resulted in 20 percent fewer cases being filed.

Meanwhile, Krasner has focused on holding those in power, including police officers, accountable, preventing wrongful convictions, and promoting alternatives to jail for those with substance use disorders and mental illnesses.

“There are some areas that are getting more attention. There are some that are getting less. Whether that’s a good thing depends on your point of view,” Holloway said.

To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, September 11, 2022

New program seeks to clear criminal convictions in Pennsylvania

Nearly three million people in Pennsylvania have a criminal record and more than 200,000 new criminal cases are filed each year, reported

With each conviction comes a set of collateral consequences – nearly 900 in Pennsylvania – that restrict housing, employment and even education.

A new project aims to reduce those effects and help people with criminal convictions get a new start.

TImeDone Pennsylvania is a new program from the Alliance for Safety and Justice – a national criminal justice reform non-profit – seeking to help people clear their records.

TimeDone provides connections to legal resources and employers for people with criminal records, free background checks, as well as other services like person finance workshops and planning for ownership.

The group is hosting a family-friendly block party from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Break the Chainz, 2134 N 6th Street, Harrisburg. The event is a launch party for the new initiative.

Along with direct support for people with criminal records, TimeDone and the Alliance for Safety and Justice are advocating for the state legislature to expand eligibility for record sealing – an effort currently underway in the House and Senate – making changes to the state’s record sealing process and making record sealing automatic for some low-level misdemeanors.

The legislature passed a Clean Slate Law in 2018 that automatically seals some low-level offenses after 10 years of the person remaining crime free. A bill working through the senate right now would shorten that time to seven years for misdemeanors, five years for summary offenses and expand the law to include some low-level drug offenses.

More information about TimeDone is available at

To read more CLICK HERE


Saturday, September 10, 2022

Mangino discusses the murder of Eliza Fletcher with Nancy Grace

 Listen to my interview with Nancy Grace on Crime Stories with Nancy Grace as we examine the shocking murder of Eliza Fletcher.

To listen CLICK HERE

Friday, September 9, 2022

South Carolina judge declares electric chair and firing squad unconstitutional

South Carolina Circuit Court Judge Jocelyn Newman ruled that the state’s planned use of a firing squad and an electric chair for executions was unconstitutional, reported Jurist. This ruling grants relief to four death row inmates.

Freddie Eugene Owens, Brad Keith Sigmon, Gary Dubose Terry, and Richard Bernard Moore were all convicted of committing at least one murder and sentenced to death. After the convictions, South Carolina passed Bill 200, which changed the default method of execution in the state to electrocution. The law also added a firing squad as an option. In addition, the law could force inmates into execution by the electric chair if they refuse to elect a method of execution. In response to the law, the inmates sued, alleging that death by electrocution and firing squad are unconstitutional under the state’s constitution.

Judge Newman’s order held that electrocution and firing squads violate Article 1 Section 15 of the state’s constitution. South Carolina’s constitution does not allow cruel, unusual, or corporal punishment. Corporal regards mutilation of the human body. The order held that using Bill 200 would violate ex post facto laws of the state and federal Constitution. Ex post facto prohibits “law that changes the punishment, inflicts a greater punishment than the law annexed to the crime, when committed.” The order also held that the statute was unconstitutionally vague and violated the plaintiffs’ due process rights.

The ruling found Bill 200 unconstitutional and vague and permanently enjoined the defendants from forcing the four plaintiffs to be executed by electrocution or firing squad. Earlier this year, the South Carolina Supreme Court blocked the state from committing a firing squad execution.

To read more CLICK HERE


Mangino on WFMJ-TV21 Weekend Today

Watch my interview on "Press Pass" on WFMJ-TV Weekend Today. 

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Over half of all U.S. prisoners are serving sentences of 10 years or more

The Sentencing Project released an extensive analysis of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have served 10 or more years behind bars. The report finds that in 2019, over half of the people in U.S. prisons – amounting to more than 770,000 people – were serving sentences of 10 years or longer. That’s a huge jump from 2000, when 587,000 people were serving such sentences. 

“Extreme sentences are so common in America that 10 years behind bars can seem like a relatively short imprisonment. But it’s an incredibly long period of time – one in which people can experience profound change. After a decade of imprisonment, many incarcerated people mature, take accountability for their actions, and acquire skills to support their successful re-entry,” explained Nazgol Ghandnoosh, Ph.D, Senior Research Analyst at The Sentencing Project and co-author of the report. “Unfortunately, people with excessive sentences are rarely given an opportunity to show how they have changed and have their sentences re-evaluated. That’s a major flaw in our legal system.”

Other key findings of the report – titled “How Many People Are Spending Over a Decade in Prison?” – include: 

In 2019, nearly one in five people in U.S. prisons – over 260,000 people – had already served at least 10 years. Back in 2000, just 133,000 people had served 10+ years. 

In 12 jurisdictions, two-thirds or more of the prison population were serving sentences of at least a decade – including Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

Racial disparities are stark among those serving longer sentences. In 2019, Black Americans represented 14 percent of the total U.S. population, 33 percent of the total prison population, and 46 percent of the prison population who had already served at least 10 years.

An abundance of criminological evidence shows that criminal careers typically end within about10 years, after which recidivism rates fall measurably.

Drawing on this research, the report makes a case for pragmatic and humane reforms, including giving incarcerated people the chance to have their sentence re-evaluated within 10 years. Importantly, this does not mean every person would be resentenced; it simply means people would have the opportunity to make their case before a court. In line with this reasoning, the American Bar Association – the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world – just passed a resolution recommending that people receive precisely such resentencing opportunities.

The list of recommended reforms includes:  

  •      Create an automatic judicial sentence-review process within a maximum of 10 years of imprisonment, with a rebuttable presumption of resentencing 
  •    Bolster front-end sentencing reform by eliminating mandatory minimum sentences and changing prosecutorial practices 
  •    Limit maximum prison terms to 20 years, except in rare cases
  •    Increase investments in effective violence prevention and interventions outside of the criminal legal system

The full report is available here

Mangino a guest on Law and Crime Network

Watch my appearance on Law and Crime Network with attorney Bob Bianchi discussing the  penalty phase trial of Nikolas Cruz the Parkland School shooter.

To watch the segment CLICK HERE

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

First elected official removed from office for Jan. 6 involvement

A New Mexico county commissioner became the first public official to lose their job for participating in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol when a state judge ruled that the Republican violated the U.S. Constitution by engaging in an insurrection, reported Reuters.

State District Court Judge Francis Mathew wrote in his decision that Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, founder of a group called "Cowboys for Trump," violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution when he took part in the riot that left four people dead and 100 police officers injured, disqualifying him from holding local, state or federal office.

On Jan. 6, Griffin joined thousands of people at the Capitol. He breached security barriers outside of the building and eventually assumed a leadership role in the mob and egged on the violence, Mathew said in his ruling.

Griffin "incited, encouraged and helped normalize the violence," Mathew wrote. Griffin's actions were "overt acts in support of the insurrection."

Griffin is the first elected official to be removed from office for their involvement in the riot. The ruling also marks the first time a judge has ruled that the incident was an insurrection and the first time since 1869 that a judge has removed a public official under Section 3.

To read more CLICK HERE

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Monday, September 5, 2022

10 dead in Canadian mass killing

The Canadian authorities were looking for two “armed and dangerous” suspects after a stabbing spree in an Indigenous community and a nearby village in the province of Saskatchewan left at least 10 dead and 15 others injured on Sunday, reported The New York Times.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Saskatchewan said in a statement that “multiple” victims had been attacked at random in several locations across the James Smith Cree Nation and the village of Weldon.

The police warned residents in the area around Regina, the provincial capital, to shelter in place.

The authorities identified two suspects, Damien Sanderson, 31, and Myles Sanderson, 30, who might be traveling in a black Nissan Rogue. They said that their direction of travel was unknown and that they may have switched vehicles.

The police also asked residents of the neighboring provinces of Alberta and Manitoba to look out for the men. It was not immediately clear whether the two men were related.

At a news conference on Sunday afternoon in Regina, Rhonda Blackmore, a commander with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said that the police were working at 13 crime scenes and that in addition to the 10 deaths and 15 injuries, there might be more victims, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

In the wake of the stabbings, the James Smith Cree Nation declared a state of emergency until Sept. 30.

In a post on Twitter, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the attacks in Saskatchewan “horrific and heartbreaking.”

Information about a motive was not immediately available, although the police said earlier on Sunday that some of the stabbings appeared to be targeted and others random.

To read more CLICK HERE

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Mangino appears on Law and Crime's The Daily

Tune in to my interview on Law and Crime Network's The Daily discussing the leading trials of the day.

To watch the interview CLICK HERE

Saturday, September 3, 2022

The continuing long-term erosion of capital punishment across most of the country

 Austin Sarat, of Amherst College writes on The Crime Report:

The state of Oklahoma put James Coddington to death on Aug. 25 for the 1997 murder of a 73-year-old friend who refused to give him money to buy drugs.

It marks the beginning of a busy period at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary’s execution chamber.

Last month, the state announced plans to carry out the death sentence of 25 people over the next couple of years.

As a scholar who has long followed the capital punishment debate in the U.S., I know that Oklahoma’s plan runs against the grain of the death penalty’s recent history. Over the past several years both the number of death sentences imposed and executions carried out across the U.S. has declined sharply.

Since 2007 more states have abolished the death penalty than in any comparable 15-year period in American history. And in November 2020 America elected its first president ever to openly oppose capital punishment.

Today, fewer jurisdictions are using the death penalty, but some – like Oklahoma – seem to be doubling down.

America’s death penalty is now defined, as the nonprofit Death Penalty Information Center noted in a 2021 report, “by two competing forces: the continuing long-term erosion of capital punishment across most of the country, and extreme conduct by a dwindling number of outlier jurisdictions to continue to pursue death sentences and executions.”

That “extreme conduct” includes imposing death sentences arbitrarily and sometimes sentencing innocent people to death. Moreover, it includes carrying out executions in a racially discriminatory way.

Looked at as a whole, capital punishment in the United States, as Amnesty International puts it, is used “against the most vulnerable in society, including the poor, ethnic and religious minorities, and people with mental disabilities.”

Indeed, framing the argument against the death penalty in ways that appeal to American’s sense of procedural fairness and equal treatment has been a tactic of death penalty abolitionists for decades – and may help explain the gradual decline in popular support for executions since the early 1990s.

Yet the U.S. appears to be at something of a stalemate when it comes to the death penalty – the country is seemingly unable to either achieve fairness in capital sentencing or to abolish the death penalty once and for all.

My research on capital punishment suggests that both the arguments of today’s abolitionists and the current stalemate can be traced back half a century to the Supreme Court’s 1972 decision in a landmark death penalty case: Furman v. Georgia.

For a time, that decision stopped the death penalty in its tracks and offered a stinging critique of its unfairness. Yet it left the door open for states to implement or reform their own laws – and some chose to preserve capital punishment.

The Furman Framework

The Furman litigation was the culmination of a campaign conducted by a group of lawyers under the auspices of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. They hoped the Supreme Court would strike down the death penalty because of its demonstrated racial discrimination and other inequities.

What they got instead was something less.

The court issued a cryptic and unusual “per curiam” decision – one which is a given in the name of the court rather than any specific judges.

It read: “The Court holds that the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty in these cases constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.” The ruling was narrow in scope. It set out that if a death sentence was handed out in a capricious or discriminatory nature, then it would be unconstitutional.

But the NAACP lawyers were unable to get a majority of the court to agree on a set of reasons for this judgment. In fact, five justices each wrote separate opinions concurring in the judgment of the court. The other four justices each wrote separate dissenting opinions.

Justice William Douglas, who did not think the death penalty was always unconstitutional, used his opinion to condemn the arbitrary and discriminatory way in which death sentences were imposed under laws that gave complete discretion to the sentencing judge or jury.

Because judges or juries rarely handed down death sentences, Justice Potter Stewart wrote that any particular capital defendant would have to be very unlucky to get one. It was, Stewart said, like “being struck by lightning.”

Justice Byron White agreed and concluded that, because they were rarely imposed, they could serve no legitimate punitive purpose.

Justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall both announced that the death penalty was, in their view, always unconstitutional.

The dissenters were similarly split in their views, though they generally agreed that the question of whether the death penalty should be ended was a legislative and not a judicial question.

The Furman decision was both a remarkable achievement for the NAACP lawyers and a disappointment for those seeking to abolish capital punishment in this country.

It was remarkable because, for the first time in American history, the court insisted that if the U.S. were going to use death as a punishment, the government had to take extraordinary steps to ensure that it was administered fairly.

It was a disappointment because the court did not say, once and for all, that capital punishment could not be squared with the Constitution.

The Return of Capital Punishment

Reaction to the Furman decision was swift. Death penalty states worked hard to discern its meaning and to ascertain what they could do to restore capital punishment.

Some states, such as Louisiana and North Carolina, enacted mandatory death penalty statutes, eliminating discretion entirely from the death penalty system. Others – Georgia, Florida and Texas – chose a different path, retaining the punishment but guiding discretion by narrowing and specifying the class of death-eligible crimes.

Four years after Furman, the death penalty was back before the Supreme Court. The question was whether either of those approaches adequately addressed the concerns expressed by the justices who concurred with the Furman decision.

This time the court’s verdict was less equivocal, though no less divided. In a 5-4 decision, it struck down mandatory death sentencing statutes. In addition, a seven-justice majority found guided discretion statutes to be constitutional.

Despite compelling evidence that narrowing and specifying the class of death-eligible defendants did not cure the problems of unfairness identified in Furman, the Supreme Court again upheld the death penalty in 1987.

In McCleskey v. Kemp, it ruled that statistical evidence could not be used to prove that racial discrimination persisted even after the implementation of the Furman-inspired reforms.

Furman’s Legacy

Fifty years after Furman, arbitrariness and discrimination remain persistent features of America’s death penalty system.

Today Americans are still arguing about fairness in that system. And the case against the death penalty continues to be made on the terms that Furman’s concurring opinions articulated.

But Furman also initiated a process that lent a veneer of legal respectability to the death penalty system. It has allowed states such as Oklahoma to keep the machinery of death running by making procedural changes rather than addressing the injustices that continue to plague capital punishment in the United States.

Sociologist and law professor David Garland rightly observed that Furman and the court decisions that took up its mantle have served “to enhance the perceived lawfulness and legitimacy of capital punishment” and acted “as a force for its conservation.”

Mangino a guest on Court TV

Watch my appearance on Court TV discussing the Staged Suicide trial in Ohio. 


Friday, September 2, 2022

Wife of SCOTUS justice contacted Wisconsin legislators asking to reverse election

Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, emailed Wisconsin legislators in November 2020 and asked them to effectively reverse then-President Donald Trump’s election loss to President Joe Biden in that state, according to emails disclosed Thursday.

It was already known that the conservative advocate Ginni Thomas had contacted legislators in Arizona with a similar request seeking to undo Biden’s victory there, reported CNBC.

The Washington Post first reported Thursday that she wrote two Republican legislators in Wisconsin, state Sen. Kathy Bernier and state Rep. Gary Tauchen, on Nov. 9, 2020, at “virtually the same time the Arizona lawmakers received a verbatim copy of the message from Thomas.”

Bernier at the time was the chair of the state Senate elections committee.

Thomas sent the emails days after Trump refused to concede the election to Biden, vowing, “We’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court.” The subject lines of her messages read, “Please do your Constitutional duty!”

 “Please stand strong in the face of media and political pressure,” those emails said, according to The Post, which obtained them from the watchdog group Documented.

“Please reflect on the awesome authority granted to you by our Constitution. And then please take action to ensure that a clean slate of Electors is chosen for our state,” Thomas wrote.

Documented obtained the emails through a request under Wisconsin’s public records laws. The group posted a copy of the emails online later Thursday.

The report comes more than a month after Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., said the select House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, pro-Trump riot at the U.S. Capitol was considering issuing a subpoena to Ginni Thomas.

Thomas sent the emails to Arizona and Wisconsin lawmakers via the online site FreeRoots, which provides pre-written messages that can be sent to multiple elected officials.

Arizona and Wisconsin sent Biden electors to the Electoral College, as he won the popular vote in both states. The Electoral College then named him the winner of the 2020 vote.

A lawyer for Thomas and a spokeswoman for the Supreme Court did not immediately respond to requests for comment from CNBC about her emails.

Thomas’ advocacy for conservative causes while her husband serves on the high court has generated controversy in recent years.

Thomas sent 29 messages to Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows after the 2020 election encouraging him to pursue then-ongoing efforts to undo Biden’s victory, CBS News reported in March.

“Help This Great President stand firm, Mark!!! ...You are the leader, with him, who is standing for America’s constitutional governance at the precipice,” she wrote Meadows on Nov. 10, 2020. “The majority knows Biden and the Left is attempting the greatest Heist of our History.”

Several efforts to effectively overturn Trump’s losses in battleground states ended up at the Supreme Court after the election. None of those efforts succeeded.

In January, Clarence Thomas was the only Supreme Court justice to support Trump’s request to block White House records from being sent to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot.

That riot began after Trump and his allies falsely claimed for weeks that he had actually won the presidential election and that Biden’s victory was the result of widespread ballot fraud in states that included Arizona and Wisconsin.

The violence disrupted a joint session of Congress for hours as lawmakers gathered to confirm Biden’s Electoral College win.

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