Posts Tagged ‘prisoners’

Crime and punishment roundup

  • “Regulatory Crimes and the Mistake of Law Defense” [Paul Larkin, Heritage]
  • Victims of sex offender registry laws, cont’d [Lenore Skenazy]
  • James Forman, Jr.: case against mass incarceration can stand on its own without flawed Jim Crow analogy [Boston Review and N.Y.U. Law Review, 2011-12]
  • “For-profit immigration jails, where the inmates — convicted of nothing — work for less than peanuts.” [@dangillmor on Los Angeles Times]
  • “The New Science of Sentencing: Should prison sentences be based on crimes that haven’t been committed yet?” [Marshall Project on statistically derived risk assessments in sentencing]
  • Group of 600 New England United Methodist churches issues resolution calling for an end to Drug War [Alex Tabarrok, who was also profiled the other day]
  • Prison guard in Florida speaks up about witnessing abuse of inmate, and pays a price [disturbing content, Miami Herald]

Law enforcement for profit roundup

  • One Oklahoma official used asset forfeiture to pay back his student loans, another lived rent-free in a confiscated house [Robby Soave, Reason]
  • Per ACLU, Arizona has a one-way legal fee rule in forfeiture cases, with prevailing police allowed to collect from property owner but not vice versa [Jacob Sullum]
  • From Michael Greve, some thoughts on prosecution for profit and where money from public fines should go [Liberty and Law]
  • About the Benjamins: Philadelphia mayor-to-be cites revenue as reason to let parking officers ticket sidewalk users [Ed Krayewski, Reason]
  • Captive market: with wardens’ and sheriffs’ connivance, prison phone companies squeeze hapless families [Eric Markowitz, IB Times]
  • Former red light camera CEO pleads guilty to bribery, fraud in Ohio [Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica]
  • Taxpayers lose as Maine counties jail indigents over unpaid fines [Portland Press-Herald]
  • “St. Louis County towns continue to treat residents like ATMs” [Radley Balko]

“More than 3/4 of the civil cases filed in Tucson’s federal court last year…

“…originated with one person: a state prisoner upset about his health care behind bars.” Dale Maisano, whose 3,000 lawsuits last year were mostly handwritten, has served much of a 15-year sentence for aggravated assault. “He alone is responsible for a nearly fourfold increase in civil cases since 2012.” [Curt Prendergast, Arizona Daily Star]

“Inmates file claims for $18 million after Seahawks TV privilege revoked”

A sudden wave of claims by inmates of the Yakima County, Wash., jail demanded a cumulative $18 million in damages over a variety of alleged problems from clogged sinks to “denial of outside yard time. The claims, 15 in all, were filed by inmates housed in the same unit of the jail’s annex. … The claims began a day after the entire unit lost its television privileges for misbehavior, preventing inmates from watching the Jan. 10 Seattle Seahawks playoff game against the Carolina Panthers, which the Seahawks won 31-17. Despite the unusual nature and impractical monetary demands of the claims, they still had to be addressed by county legal staff and jail officials, [county paralegal Cindy] Erwin said.” [Yakima Herald-Republic]

Great moments in blame: prisoner cellphone access

Prison inmate orders attack on guard at guard’s home in Bishopville, South Carolina. Surviving guard Robert Johnson and wife “did not, however, sue the typical defendants – i.e., the shooter or any prison inmate or employee. Rather, the Johnsons sued several cellular phone service providers and owners of cell phone towers. According to the Johnsons, these defendants are liable for Mr. Johnson’s injuries because they were aware that their services facilitated the illegal use of cellphones by prison inmates and yet failed to take steps to curb that use.” [Fourth Circuit opinion in Johnson v. American Towers LLC, et al., affirming district court’s dismissal of claim on the merits]

Crime and punishment roundup

Great moments in brutality claims

“A California man, who claimed detectives assaulted him during an interview in a holding cell in the Lane County Courthouse last month, has been found guilty of attempted coercion and initiating a false report after surveillance video in the holding cell showed the man punching himself in the face numerous times. … When Tomaszewski was told the self-beating incident had been captured on camera, he allegedly confessed to making up the story with hopes of winning early release from jail, deputies said.” [Eugene, Ore. Register-Guard]

Rikers Island and the correctional officers’ union

It isn’t just in California (here, here, here, here, here, here) that the political power of guard unions makes prisons hard to reform. In December the New York Times investigated the head of the guards’ union in New York City, Norman Seabrook, seen as “the biggest obstacle to efforts to curb brutality and malfeasance” at the city’s notorious Rikers Island, and noted that most elected officials are reluctant to be quoted discussing him by name, sometimes due to “fears about their safety while visiting Rikers” if they get on his wrong side. Seabrook has derailed investigators, reformers, and oversight officials for years:

Perhaps the most naked display of Mr. Seabrook’s power came on Nov. 18, 2013, when a Rikers inmate, Dapree Peterson, was scheduled to testify against two correction officers in a brutality case. Mr. Seabrook essentially shut down the city’s courts by sidelining the buses that ferry inmates to and from court, interviews and documents show. As a result, hundreds of inmates missed court dates, including Mr. Peterson, whose beating had been investigated and referred for prosecution by [deputy commissioner for investigation Florence] Finkle.

The blockage also caused 49 inmates to miss scheduled medical appointments at Bellevue Hospital Center.

Full story here. More: John McGinnis (despite personal tone of Times’s criticism of Seabrook, his actions respond to the predictable incentives of a union leader), Daniel DiSalvo, Washington Examiner (unions can win popularity by preventing discipline of misbehaving workers), Ed Krayewski, Kevin Williamson. See also our coverage of correctional officers “bill of rights” laws in Maryland, Pennsylvania, etc. here, here, here, and here.

Police and prosecution roundup

  • Judge chides Montgomery County, Md. police for “unlawful invasion” of family’s home [my new Free State Notes post]
  • As more offenses get redefined as “trafficking,” state extends its powers of surveillance and punishment [Alison Somin on pioneering Gail Heriot dissent in U.S. Commission for Civil Rights report; Elizabeth Nolan Brown/Reason on legislative proposals from Sens. Portman and Feinstein] Proposal in Washington legislature would empower police to seize/forfeit cars of those arrested for soliciting prostitutes, whether or not ever convicted [Seattle Times]
  • Progressives and the prison state: “most of the intellectual and legal scaffolding of the contemporary American carceral system was erected by Democrats.” [Thaddeus Russell reviewing new Naomi Murakawa book The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America]
  • Here comes the next verbal conflation with negative implications for defendants’ rights, “traffic violence” [Scott Greenfield]
  • Please don’t pay attention to what goes on inside Florida prisons, it would only spoil your day [Fred Grimm, Miami Herald via Radley Balko]
  • Trouble in California: “U.S. judges see ‘epidemic’ of prosecutorial misconduct in state” [L.A. Times, Ronald Collins/Concurring Opinions, video from Baca v. Adams with Judges Kozinski, Wardlaw, W. Fletcher, earlier on California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Moonlight Fire case] But will Ninth Circuit’s strong words change anything? [Scott Greenfield including updates]
  • “Plea Bargaining and the Innocent: It’s up to judges to restore balance” [U.S. District Judge John Kane]