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From School To Prison

The US Justice Department released it's investigation showing the youth in Meridian, Mississippi's constitutional rights are being violated by the Mississippi Division of Youth Services, Meridian Police Department and Lauderdale County Youth Court. According to the investigation, children in Lauderdale County have been routinely and repeatedly incarcerated for allegedly committing school disciplinary infractions and are punished disproportionately, without constitutionally required procedural safeguards. Children have also been arrested at school for offenses as minor as defiance. Furthermore, children on probation are routinely arrested and incarcerated for allegedly violating their probation by committing minor school infractions, such as dress code violations, which result in suspensions. The department’s investigation showed that students most affected by this system are African-American children and children with disabilities. 

Click here to read the full report.

Oregon Inmate Fights Clemency

The governor of Oregon has blocked the death penalty in his state saying no executions will happen under his watch. Gary Haugen, an inmate scheduled to die is fighting the governor. A judge has ruled the inmate has the right to reject the Governor's clemency. This case is sure to keep moving up in the court system.

Click here to read the full article in the Corvallis Gazette-Times.

New Jersey Warns Juries in Eyewitness Identification

Beginning September 4, 2012 a new law in the state of New Jersey will warn juries that human memory is not foolproof and eyewitness testimony must be carefully scrutinized. The new eyewitness instructions should help influence other states to change their instructions too.

Click here for the full story in ABAJournal

Control of Prisons Going to Private Companies

A proposed contract in Virginia between the state and the nation's second-largest private prison operator, GEO Group and a company managing mental health institutes, Liberty Healthcare Corp., would give these private companies authority over convicted sex offenders enrolled in a controversial program known as "civil commitment". The state designates some inmates as sexually violent predators, that label gives the state the right to hold inmates indefinitely while administering mental health treatment. Virginia has advanced deliberations on this contract without official public input or legislative hearings even though both GEO Group and Liberty Healthcare Corp. have had incidents managing a similar facility in Florida. It should be noted according to state records that GEO Group was one of the largest single contributors to Republican Bob McDonnell. The GEO Group has also made smaller contributions to Virginia legislative leaders. In the past two years, a subsidiary, GEO Care has spent more than $13,000 on lobbying related to the sex offender facility. The intriguing part about the contract is the fact that these institutes will be able to profit by being the agencies that determin whether these inmates have been reformed or not. In other words they will be able to decide to keep people incarcerated indefinitely to keep the prison full.

Click here to read the full story.

Judge Abuses Authority

In order to have a fair judicial system, judges need to be impartial  and provide an equal setting for both the prosecutors and defense attorneys. Unfortunately that is not always the case. A judge in Alameda County, California was publicly admonished for "abuse of contempt of power and authority". It was the second time an abuse of authority complaint has been filed against him.

Click here to read the full story

 

Justice Department to Review Use of Forensic Evidence in Thousands of Cases

The U.S. Justice Department has decided to review the use of forensics in thousands of cases because of flawed work that has been done by FBI laboratories since 1985.  Although the Justice Department has known about these problems for years, they only released those findings to the prosecutors. One man was executed because of this flawed work.

For more information, please read David Greenwald's story on Vanguard Court Watch of Yolo County. 

The Truth About Solitary Confinement

Even though solitary confinement has extensive physical and psychological negative effects on people, there are about 80,000 inmates held in solitary confinement in the U.S. The cost to house inmates in solitary is 3 times greater than housing them with the general population. It amounts to spending about $50,000 more per inmate to house them in this inhumane way. Some people have spent up to 40 years living in this torturous environment. Nick Gillespie discusses the issue of solitary confinement with Mother Jones' correspondent James Ridgeway.

Click here to listen to the interview: 

 

Freedom On June 29, 2012 After Enduring 17 Years Of Wrongful Conviction

LaMonte Armstrong suffered 17 years of injustice and finally won his freedom with the help of Duke Law School’s Wrongful Convictions Clinic (an Innocence Project). His conviction of murder was overturned when exculpatory evidence that had been withheld by the prosecutor was discovered.

To read more regarding Mr. Armstrong's visit the Huffington Post or WMFY News 2.

162 Years Sentence for 1st Conviction Due to Stacking the Charges

A Florida man is the latest victim of what is called “stacking”. Stacking is the process that District Attorney’s use to leverage a case against someone. With mandatory minimum sentencing, which is a Federal requirement since legislation passed in the 1980, District Attornies have the power to sentence someone to multiple life times. Quartavious Davis was convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to 162 years even though it is his first conviction and no one was hurt.

Click here to read the full story

When Innocent People Confess to Crimes They Do Not Commit

This article by David Greenwald of the Vanguard Court Watch of Yolo County explains why people might admit to a crime even though they are innocent. It goes into interrogation methods and how those conducting the interrogation are allowed to lie and produce false evidence—something that is not allowed in Great Britain. 

Click here to read the full article.