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    Unshackled: A Remarkable Journey To Finding Life's Meaning From Prison And Releasing The Guilt, Shame And Bitterness Of The Past


    Dallas, TX, January 2, 2017 – From serving a life sentence to finding life's meaning and purpose took Gene McGuire on a decades-long journey inside a very small cell. In his riveting new book, McGuire takes readers through nearly 35 years of incarceration, steeped in the culture of violence, drugs, and pornography that is prison life, all while serving a life sentence for a murder he didn't commit. Miraculously, that injustice did not turn McGuire against the world. Instead, he moved from ruin to redemption.

    "This is my story,” McGuire says. "But it's your story, too. God didn't intend for you to live your life in chains, shackled to guilt, shame, or bitterness related to events in your past, fears in the present, or apprehension of the future. God set me free—unshackled me! He will do the same for you. Imagine your life … unshackled!”

    In 1977, Gene McGuire was one of three people involved in the late-night robbery of a bar. One of the men, his cousin, stabbed and killed the bar owner. At seventeen, McGuire was sentenced to life in prison without parole. He embraced the prison culture wholeheartedly for nearly ten years. Then, by God's grace, he humbled himself and experienced a Christ-transformation.

    After submitting to years of discipleship, McGuire became a spiritual leader to thousands of inmates. With no hope for release himself, he instead developed a fruitful, fulfilling ministry within his small world. He became an elder in the prison church, developing small groups and yard Bible studies and leading others who had no hope of freedom to true freedom in Christ.

    Then, almost 35 years into his prison sentence, came an unexpected miracle. In 2012, a judge ruled that McGuire had been wrongfully charged, that his life sentence was reversed and that he had already served the appropriate sentence due. He was released a free man.

    His story is riveting — from a life in shackles to one filled with the power of God's love, forgiveness and freedom, bringing hope to all. Now a resident of Texas, McGuire works as a speaker, author and community advocate, sharing his remarkable story and hope with people and corporations around the country.

    For more information, please visit: https://genemcguire.org

    Unshackled – From Ruin To Redemption
    Available January 20th, 2017 in all book stores and at:
    https://www.amazon.com/Unshackled-Ruin-Redemption-Gene-McGuire/dp/1943127433/
    ISBN: 978-1943127436


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    Disclaimer
    The articles on this site are provided as a public service and to be used for information purposes only. No information on this site is intended to serve as professional advice. BlackRefer.com does not accept any responsibility or liability for the use or misuse of the article content. Use at your own risk.

    No Endorsement:
    BlackRefer.com does not endorse or recommend any article on this site or any product, service or information found within said articles. Resources and links included in said articles are only suggested as sources for further exploration, but we cannot vouch for or take responsibility for information contained in these resources. The opinions and views of the authors who have submitted articles to BlackRefer.com belong to them alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of BlackRefer.com.





    (BPRW) “President Obama, Pardon this Man”

    Candlelight Vigil for Dr. Malachi York to be Held Jan. 7





    (Black PR Wire) WASHINGTON DC – December 20, 2016 – A candlelight vigil will be held January 7, 2017, from 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. outside the White House in Lafayette Square at Pennsylvania Avenue NW and 16th Street NW in Washington, DC. The vigil is being organized by Victoria Broussard, owner of The Law Offices of Victoria Broussard based in Houston, Texas.

    The vigil is part of the organized effort to have Dr. Malachi York be given a presidential pardon or commutation of his sentence by President Obama before he leaves the Oval Office later in January.

    “Dr. York was overcharged and over-sentenced for a non-violent crime,” said Broussard. “He is currently serving 135 years at a Supermax prison in deplorable conditions.”

    York is elderly and in failing health. “The humane thing to do is for President Obama to grant him a pardon before he leaves office, and before Dr. York dies,” said Broussard.

    Broussard describes York, prior to his conviction, as a pillar of society, consistently giving thousands of dollars to charity, feeding the homeless, and transforming downtrodden communities. Today, he is 71 years old and suffers from a life-threatening illness, Hereditary Angioedema, for which the Federal Bureau of Prisons neglects to provide him with any of the FDA-prescribed medications to prevent the attacks, leaving him frequently found by unsympathetic guards unconscious on his concrete cell floor.

    “Dr. York’s insane 1,620-month sentence is extremely harsh, as each count received the maximum time according the sentencing guidelines,” she said. “Other factors that weigh in favor of a reduced sentence, such as his health status, remorse for any pain this situation caused, age, rehabilitative qualities, past criminal history, the community’s desire to embrace his return, and Dr. York’s ability to benefit society if released from incarceration should all be considered.”

    Additionally, a petition to free Dr. York is online at www.change.org. “Search for my name – Broussard – and read about the grave injustice done to this community leader and sign the petition,” encouraged Broussard. The petition will be present at the vigil for interested parties to sign. There is also more information that can be found at www.facebook.com/YorkLightTheWorldClemencyVigil. Broussard encourages people to contact her at victoria@broussardlegal.com.


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    Join Exodus Foundation.org as they Announce HUNGER STRIKE in front of the White House at LaFayette Square.


    Rev. Dr. Madeline McClenney-Sadler Announces HUNGER STRIKE In Effort To Commute The Sentences Of Non-Violent and Overcharged Federal Inmates By End Of President Obama's Term

    ExodusFoundation.org schedules a press conference on the white house lawn to call for President Obama to systematically commute the sentences of 80,000 non-violent and overcharged federal inmates before he leaves office .

    What: A press conference to announce a HUNGER STRIKE on Thursday, January 5th to bring awareness to the official request of President Obama to adopt the Exodus Coalition Plan. If the plan is not adopted by January 16th, organization founder will refuse water until midnight, January 20th.

    Who: Rev. Dr. Madeline McClenney-Sadler, President and founder of Exodus Foundation.org., Sebastian Goodson, Exodus Foundation Assistant (formerly incarcerated 25 years) and others will fast to various degrees.

    Press Conference Speakers: *Featured speaker, Rev. Dr. Madeline McClenney-Sadler, President and founder of Exodus Foundation.org * Featured speaker, Dr. Howard Trulear, Howard University Professor, Founder of Healing Community USA, formerly incarcerated

    Why: An official request to the White House from Exodus Foundation.org has been made, asking President Obama to adopt the Exodus Coalition Plan before he leaves office to systematically commute the sentences of 80,000 non-violent and overcharged federal inmates that qualify under the plan’s new and fairer criteria.

    Who Should Attend: All DMV, national and international media

    When: Monday, December 19th at 3p.m. for a press conference during its ongoing vigil

    Where: (near the center statue). Come snow, rain or shine.


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    A bold plan to safely cut the prison population


    Dear Friends,

    I’m delighted to share a groundbreaking new study the Brennan Center released today on how to dramatically cut the prison population.

    The report launched in a New York Times interactive feature by Timothy Williams.“Four Violent Crimes: You Decide the Sentence” gives readers the opportunity to weigh in on prison sentencing. We hope you add to the discussion.

    The Center’s study asks the question: How many people are currently behind bars without a public safety reason? The report is the product of three years of research conducted by Dr. James Austin, one of the nation’s leading criminologists, the Brennan Center’s Lauren-Brooke Eisen and Inimai Chettiar, and a team of statistical researchers. The team analyzed criminal codes, convictions, and sentences and determined that we can release 39 percent of the U.S. prison population — 576,000 people — with little to no risk to public safety.

    Mass incarceration has huge social, racial, and economic costs. As a result, there is now intriguing, bipartisan consensus that we need to fix our broken criminal justice system. This report is the first detailed, granular look at precisely how we can achieve this by significantly and safely cutting the prison population.

    Too many are sent to prison when alternatives like treatment would work better. Still others have served sufficiently long sentences and could be released. This blueprint could save nearly $20 billion annually.

    We hope you’ll take a look at our study, How Many Americans Are Unnecessarily Incarcerated?, and share it with your friends and colleagues.

    Best regards,
    Michael Waldman
    President
    Brennan Center for Justice


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    Disclaimer
    The articles on this site are provided as a public service and to be used for information purposes only. No information on this site is intended to serve as professional advice. BlackRefer.com does not accept any responsibility or liability for the use or misuse of the article content. Use at your own risk.

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    BlackRefer.com does not endorse or recommend any article on this site or any product, service or information found within said articles. Resources and links included in said articles are only suggested as sources for further exploration, but we cannot vouch for or take responsibility for information contained in these resources. The opinions and views of the authors who have submitted articles to BlackRefer.com belong to them alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of BlackRefer.com.





    THE MASS INCARCERATION CONTINUUM: THE HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE OF THE 21ST CENTURY IN THE U.S.


     MASS INCARCERATION



    The Advocacy in Action Coalition of the InterNational Prisoner’s Family Conference released its White Paper today citing The Mass Incarceration Continuum as the human rights issue of the twenty-first century. Comprised of nearly one-hundred individuals and organizations directly affected by mass incarceration, the Coalition calls upon state and national legislators to substantially reform the United States’ criminal justice system.

    The Coalition states, “The Mass Incarceration Continuum is evidence of a system that overtly devalues and devastates human lives, wastes taxpayer dollars and diminishes the quality of life and safety in our communities.” They point to the widespread consequences of hyper-incarceration and harsh sentencing policies that have made the United States the largest jailer in the entire world. With only five percent of the world’s population, the country incarcerates twenty-five percent of the entire world’s prisoners.

    “This is a shameful fact that is destroying the fabric of our society, especially for minorities and the economically disadvantaged,” says Coalition spokesperson, Carolyn Esparza, a long time social worker who chairs the annual InterNational Prisoner’s Family Conference. She adds, “It is the intention of the Advocacy in Action Coalition White Paper to expose this grave dilemma and propose workable solutions to our legislators.”

    “We must eliminate all for-profit criminal justice contracts that demand human lives as inventory,” Esparza says, pointing to the country’s growing dependency on privatization of prisons and prison services to grow economies. “Privatization places a focus on increased revenue rather than prisoner rehabilitation and is a major factor fueling mass incarceration.”

    The Coalition identifies a broad spectrum of incarceration that has resulted in a lucrative prison industry throughout the United States. That spectrum ranges from School Criminalization resulting in the School to Prison Pipeline, whereby zero tolerance policies have resulted in extensive arrests of children, many in elementary school, to the rapidly expanding prison geriatric population that has required opening hospices throughout the nation’s prison system.

    The Coalition White Paper states, “Although much has been written about the collateral consequences of mass incarceration, hyper-incarceration, and harsh sentencing policies, little if any has been written about the broad spectrum of this social dilemma.” Revealing an invisible, yet intentional shroud of secrecy that assures continued profitability of the prison industrial complex, the document brings to light the causes and dangers of The Mass Incarceration Continuum and identifies areas of needed reform throughout the entire criminal justice system.

    The document states, “The United States’ burgeoning prison populations comprised of men, women, and children, coupled with the impunity of criminal justice officials, resulting from long-term self-governance, has created an autonomous system, allowing officials at all levels to assert autocratic rule in a country that boasts human rights and democracy.”

    The group is calling for the establishment of citizen oversight committees comprised of members empowered to effect change in a number of areas, such as holding criminal justice officials accountable for adhering to prescribed laws and maintaining integrity at all levels of the judicial system. The Coalition calls for transparency through independent audits and random site visits and the monitoring of parole hearings to assure decisions reflect recognition of the human capacity for positive change and rehabilitation.

    Pointing to the United States Constitution and the United Nations’ tenets for humane treatment of all prisoners, Dr. Avon Hart Johnson, CEO of DC Project Connect, who chairs the Coalition’s White Paper Task Force emphasizes, “While we acknowledge sanctions are necessary for the safety and security of society, incarceration must not violate basic human rights or discount the constitutional rights of prisoners or their families.” Hart Johnson says, “Ninety-five percent of prisoners will one day return to our communities. It behooves us as a nation to ensure that eligible prisoners return to society as prepared citizens to contribute to the safety, security, and stabilization of our communities.”

    The document concludes: “As a leader of the free world, we are obligated to ensure the processes of our criminal justice system are administered to all humans with equality and dignity, instilled with the principles of basic human rights. The enormity of The Mass Incarceration Continuum requires immediate meaningful legislative intervention. The Advocacy in Action Coalition calls upon our legislators to promptly embrace and promote genuine integrity, equitable and humane treatment throughout the entirety of the criminal justice system.”

    To learn more about the Advocacy in Action Coalition of the International Prisoner’s Family Conference and the Coalition White Paper interested parties may visit the Conference website at www.prisonersfamilyconference.org or e-mail info@prisonersfamilyconference.org or call the Conference office at 915-861-7733.

    CONTACT PERSONS:

    Carolyn Esparza, LPC – Chair, International Prisoner’s Family Conference
    Phone: 915-861-7733
    E-mail: info@prisonersfamilyconference.org

    Avon Hart Johnson, PhD – Chair, Advocacy in Action Coalition White Paper Task Force
    Phone: 301-925-8320
    E-mail: avonhartjohnson@gmail.com

    For local area contact persons, please contact Carolyn Esparza at 915-862-7733 or info@prisonersfamilyconference.org.


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    Disclaimer
    The articles on this site are provided as a public service and to be used for information purposes only. No information on this site is intended to serve as professional advice. BlackRefer.com does not accept any responsibility or liability for the use or misuse of the article content. Use at your own risk.

    No Endorsement:
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    Study Finds Life Without Parole Sentences for Juveniles Increasingly Rare, Setting Stage for Supreme Court Review

    On October 13, High Court Will Hold Oral Argument in JLWOP case


    (Washington, D.C.) States are abandoning life without parole sentences for juveniles at a rapid pace, according to a report released today by The Phillips Black Project. Since the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated mandatory life without parole for juveniles (JLWOP) in 2012, nine states have abolished it, with six states acting within the past year. In actual practice, the sentence has dropped precipitously since its sudden peak in the mid-1990s and is increasingly isolated to outlier counties and states. For example, one county – Philadelphia, PA – accounts for almost 10 percent of all JLWOP sentences nationwide.

    The report, “No Hope: Re-Examining Lifetime Sentences for Juvenile Offenders,” and infographics are available at http://bit.ly/1LHbrRK.

    “Most of the nation’s abandonment of JLWOP, both in policy and in practice, demonstrates that sentencing children to die in prison, foreclosing all hope of redemption and rehabilitation, is anathema to who we are as a people. There is a growing consensus against the practice and the U.S. Supreme Court should hold juvenile life without parole unconstitutional in all cases,” said John Mills, the lead author of the study and Principal Attorney at the Phillips Black Project.

    In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory life without parole sentences for juveniles violated the Eighth Amendment. On October 13, the Court will hold oral argument in Montgomery v. Louisiana, in which it will decide whether to apply the ban on mandatory JLWOP retroactively, i.e., on offenders whose appeals were finished at the time Miller was decided. A number of advocates, including Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree, have urged the Court to rule that JLWOP is unconstitutional in all cases.

    In the three years since the Court’s decision in Miller v. Alabama, nine states – Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Nevada, Texas, West Virginia, Wyoming and Vermont – have abolished JLWOP, bringing the current number of states to completely outlaw the sentence to 15. California and Florida, which were previously the heaviest users of the sentence, have severely limited the circumstances where JWLOP can be imposed. North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Washington State eliminated JLWOP for felony murder, second-degree murder, and persons less than 16 years of age, respectively.

    In actual practice, only a few states and a handful of counties impose JLWOP sentences. Just nine states – California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania – account for 82 percent of all JLWOP sentences. Five counties account for more than one-fifth of all JLWOP sentences. Those counties are: Philadelphia County, PA; Los Angeles County, CA; Orleans Parish, LA; Cook County, IL; and St. Louis City, MO.

    From 1992 to 1999, 45 states passed laws expanding adult court jurisdiction over juveniles, exposing additional young offenders to life without parole sentences. Legislatures were sparked by the now discredited theory that a generation of superpredators was on the horizon. The superpredators never arrived, but many individuals are languishing under sentences premised on superpredator-era policies with little prospect of demonstrating that they are very different from the juvenile they once were.

    Since 1992, a black juvenile arrested for homicide has been twice as likely to be sentenced to life without parole than his white counterpart. Texas only has persons of color serving JLWOP sentences. Eighty percent of the people serving JLWOP in Pennsylvania are people of color. This disparate treatment of persons of color warrants further examination to determine whether JLWOP sentencing has served any legitimate purpose.

    The pace of abolition of JLWOP – a rate of three per year since 2012 – is faster than the rate at which states were repealing the death penalty for juveniles and people with intellectual disabilities in the years before the Court invalidated those punishments. To determine whether there is a national consensus against a given punishment, the Court typically assesses the number of states that allow the punishment, the direction and rate of legislative change, and the rarity with which the sentence is imposed in practice. All three metrics manifest a national consensus against JLWOP and, when faced with the opportunity, the Court should strike it down.

    ###


    The Phillips Black Project is public interest law practice dedicated to providing the highest quality of legal representation to inmates in the United States sentenced to the severest penalties under law. Phillips Black’s attorneys further contribute to the rule of law by conducting death penalty clinical training and developing research on the administration of criminal justice. For more information, please visit PhillipsBlack.org.


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    Disclaimer
    The articles on this site are provided as a public service and to be used for information purposes only. No information on this site is intended to serve as professional advice. BlackRefer.com does not accept any responsibility or liability for the use or misuse of the article content. Use at your own risk.

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    BlackRefer.com does not endorse or recommend any article on this site or any product, service or information found within said articles. Resources and links included in said articles are only suggested as sources for further exploration, but we cannot vouch for or take responsibility for information contained in these resources. The opinions and views of the authors who have submitted articles to BlackRefer.com belong to them alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of BlackRefer.com.





    Annie E. Casey Foundation CEO Calls for States to Close ‘Youth Prisons’

    As New Report Finds Secure Facilities Inherently Flawed and Dangerous, McCarthy Calls for Them to Be Replaced with Strategies That Promote Youth Development


    BALTIMORE (June 24, 2015) – In a TEDx talk recorded today, the president and CEO of the Annie E. Casey Foundation challenged states across the country to close all youth prisons, which he said undermine the development of young people who get into trouble with the law and expose them to grave dangers while failing to improve public safety.

    Patrick McCarthy, the Casey Foundation leader, issued his call to governors and legislators in the TEDxPennsylvaniaAvenue session recorded at the Newseum in Washington, DC. TEDx is an independent version of the influential TED series of talks, which shares ideas from a broad spectrum — from science to business to global issues. The Foundation has worked to reform juvenile justice systems for 23 years through its Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative and is launching an effort to close youth prisons.

    “I believe it’s long past time to close these inhumane, ineffective, wasteful factories of failure once and for all. Every one of them,” McCarthy said in his TEDx talk. “We need to admit that what we’re doing doesn’t work, and is making the problem worse while costing billions of dollars and ruining thousands of lives.”

    McCarthy pledged the Foundation’s support to any state willing to join its commitment to close large secure juvenile facilities that resemble adult corrections facilities. He recalled early in his career when he was assigned to administer such a facility. His first visit revealed children in shackles, incessant noise, glaring lights, corrections officers with mace and isolation rooms for youth. He made a number of personnel and programmatic changes designed to improve conditions before finally concluding that facilities like his were inherently flawed.

    A new report released by the Foundation today, Maltreatment of Youth in U.S. Juvenile Corrections Facilities validates his conclusion. The report documents instances of maltreatment in an increasing number of facilities since Casey published a signature report on the issue in 2011, No Place for Kids: The Case for Reducing Juvenile Incarceration. The 2011 report found that states relied heavily on confinement that exposed youth to widespread maltreatment, high recidivism rates and incarceration of children who pose no significant threats to public safety while ignoring the emergence of effective treatment models.

    The new report documented systemic abuse to children in 29 states and substantial evidence of maltreatment in three additional states since 2000. The report cites widespread physical abuse and excessive use of force by juvenile corrections staff, including incidents described as “heinous.” It also finds “an epidemic” of sexual abuse, citing a 2013 Bureau of Justice Statistics survey on the topic finding that more than 10 percent of young people had been victimized sexually by staff or other youth.

    The report also describes overreliance on isolation – or solitary confinement – and restraints, youth-on-youth violence and frequent violence against staff. On any given day, about 60,000 youth are in secure confinement, most of them for nonviolent offenses.

    “The Maltreatment of Youth report shows that despite the best intentions of the people who run and work in them, youth prisons are inherently prone to abuse of the young people they are supposed to rehabilitate,” said Nate Balis, director of the Foundation’s Juvenile Justice Strategy Group. “Even for the small portion of kids who have committed serious crimes and require confinement, this outdated model needs to be replaced with strategies we know encourage youth development and growth.”

    McCarthy said states can produce better outcomes for young people who get into trouble with the law, and they should commit to three things: First, decrease the number of youth going into juvenile systems by half; second, improve existing systems by expanding community-based and family-centered programs proven to help kids who have the most serious problems; and third, eliminate all publicly operated and contracted youth prisons and instead use small, treatment-intensive secure care programs.

    He pledged support by bringing the Foundation’s nearly quarter century of juvenile justice reform expertise to states that commit to closing youth prisons.

    “I make this offer to every state in the nation,” McCarthy said. “When you are ready, contact us and we'll be there.”

    The Annie E. Casey Foundation creates a brighter future for the nation’s children by developing solutions to strengthen families, build paths to economic opportunity and transform struggling communities into safer and healthier places to live, work and grow. For more information, visit www.aecf.org.


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    Disclaimer
    The articles on this site are provided as a public service and to be used for information purposes only. No information on this site is intended to serve as professional advice. BlackRefer.com does not accept any responsibility or liability for the use or misuse of the article content. Use at your own risk.

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    Youth First and Advocates to End Youth Incarceration Welcome Grammy®-Award Winner John Legend to DC as part of #FREE AMERICA Listening Tour


    Youth First!, a newly launched national advocacy campaign to end youth incarceration, welcomed Oscar, Golden Globe, and nine-time Grammy® Award winner John Legend to Washington, DC late Friday afternoon, April 24th, for the first stop on his #FREEAMERICA tour to focus on youth incarceration.

    Youth First's live tweeting of the event can be seen here: https://twitter.com/KidsNotPrisons

    At The Achievment Center, a juvenile justice facility that is a part of the D.C. Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services, Youth First’s CEO Liz Ryan briefed the group on the fight to end youth incarceration and what comes next. After, John joined a tour of the facility and spoke with kids who have served sentences in youth jails or are currently on probation, and took time to hear music created by kids at the facility.

    “All around the country, I hear stories of children who look like me being labeled as criminals for doing the kinds of things that children do,” said John Legend to the room of advocates and young people. “The fight for educational equality is deeply tied to the system of incarceration-- which all too often begins in our schools. Kids who act out in even minor ways, which once would result in a visit to the principal, now results in a trip with the cops and time in cages. That’s why we launched the #FREEAMERICA campaign.”

    “The US is the world’s largest incarcerator of children, and we have to stop it,” said Liz Ryan in her briefing for John Legend. Ryan is CEO of Youth First, a new national initiative to end youth incarceration and redirect resources towards effective community programs for youth. “Rather than rehabilitating young people, we simply set them on a pipeline to prison when we incarcerate them. We won’t stop fighting until it ends.”

    On any given night, approximately 60,000 young people are confined in youth prisons or other out-of-home placements, most of whom are there because of social service needs. Youth First wants to change that by closing all youth prisons and redirecting those resources to community services that helps young people who would otherwise end up behind bars succeed.

    Just last week, John Legend launched #FREEAMERICA, a multi-year culture campaign to amplify the growing movement to end mass incarceration. As part of the #FREEAMERICA initiative, which will expand to include other artists and high-profile individuals committed to justice reform, John Legend will lead a listening and learning tour across the country visiting with incarcerated individuals, law enforcement, legislators, and experts who’ve been thinking critically about America’s prison problem.

    # # #


    Youth First is a new national initiative to end youth incarceration and redirect resources towards effective community programs for youth. Find out more at EndYouthIncarceration.org.


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    Disclaimer
    The articles on this site are provided as a public service and to be used for information purposes only. No information on this site is intended to serve as professional advice. BlackRefer.com does not accept any responsibility or liability for the use or misuse of the article content. Use at your own risk.

    No Endorsement:
    BlackRefer.com does not endorse or recommend any article on this site or any product, service or information found within said articles. Resources and links included in said articles are only suggested as sources for further exploration, but we cannot vouch for or take responsibility for information contained in these resources. The opinions and views of the authors who have submitted articles to BlackRefer.com belong to them alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of BlackRefer.com.





    Pretrial Reform Advocates: Ferguson Findings Just the Beginning, Racial Disparities in Detention Pretrial is Nationwide Epidemic


    Bias-driven police brutality was not the only part of the criminal justice system under fire in yesterday’s DOJ report findings in Ferguson; the detention of people of color in large numbers without convictions also came under the microscope. Those findings aren’t unique to Ferguson, according to the Pretrial Justice Institute, a national leader in the fight against discriminatory pretrial practices.

    “Discrimination in Ferguson is just the tip of the iceberg. Nationwide, communities of color are bearing the brunt of a discriminatory pretrial detention system that leaves those who can’t afford costly bond amounts behind bars from periods lasting from days to years, beforebefore they get their day in court," said Cherise Fanno Burdeen, Executive Director of Pretrial Justice Institute.

    “Sadly, unnecessary pretrial detention disrupts the work, education and family life of the detained, causing irreparable harm. And, the overuse of jail threatens public safety. We now know that even short periods of pretrial detention increase an individual’s likelihood to commit crime after their case is resolved.

    “We are glad to see the DOJ shedding light on this nationwide problem. The decision to arrest or detain should not be based on a person’s skin color or how much money they have.”

    Traffic stops, arrests, and use of force are merely the beginning of a person’s criminal justice experience. Those arrested in Ferguson, 93% of whom are African American, will most likely be required to post a financial bond for their release, creating financial hardship on them and their families. If they can’t afford bond, they will remain in jail until trial or until they plead guilty.Those held in jail for a few days or more, of which 95% are African American in Ferguson, face worse sentencing outcomes and long-term hurdles such as reduced employment and education prospects.

    Key facts on bias in pretrial detention rates nationwide:

    African-Americans are twice as likely to be detained than Whites for non-violent drug arrests;

    Pretrial bond is 35% higher for African American men than for White men charged with the same offense;

    Those detained pretrial, who are disproportionately men of color, are more likely to be convicted and given additional jail or prison time than similar individuals who are released before trial.

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    For Pretrial Justice Institute’s video and infographic on the correlation between race and bail in America, please visit: http://www.pretrial.org/the-problem/race-bail/. To learn more about pretrial detention, please visit: http://www.pretrial.org/the-problem/.

    The Pretrial Justice Institute is a national organization working to advance safe, fair, and effective pretrial justice that honors and protects all people. We do this by working collaboratively with organizations and funders who support pragmatic solutions guided by research and the law.


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    Nation Saw Record Number of Exonerations in 2014 Report from National Registry of Exonerations Documents More than 100 Exonerations in a Single Year for the First Time


    The National Registry of Exonerations recorded 125 exonerations of innocent criminal defendants in 2014, the first time the Registry found more than 100 exonerations in one year, according to a report released today that analyzes trends in exonerations and details the work of the nation’s 15 prosecutorial Conviction Integrity Units.

    The Registry credits Conviction Integrity Units for contributing to the spike in exonerations: 34 more than the previous record of 91 exonerations in 2013.

    “The big story for the year is that more prosecutors are working hard to identify and investigate claims of innocence. And many more innocent defendants were exonerated after pleading guilty to crimes they did not commit,” said Michigan Law Professor Samuel Gross, editor of the National Registry of Exonerations and the author of the report.

    Read the report, Exonerations in 2014, at http://bit.ly/1C4YwIk
    Visuals at http://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/Pages/Exoneration-by-Year.aspx

    The states with the most exonerations in 2014 are Texas (39), New York (17), Illinois (7), Michigan (7), Ohio (6), North Carolina (4), Louisiana (3), Maryland (3), Oregon (3), Pennsylvania (3), and Tennessee (3). The states with the most recorded exonerations are not necessarily those where most false convictions have occurred.

    Much of the increase in the total number of exonerations is due to 33 exonerations in drug cases in Harris County (Houston), Texas. In mid-2014, the Harris County District Attorney’s Post Conviction Review Section centralized and prioritized its review of cases in which crime lab analyses of the “drugs” defendants pled guilty to possessing was negative for the presence of illegal substances.

    The trends in 2014 reflect several long-term trends in exonerations that are expected to continue:

    · 67 of the 125 known exonerations in 2014 – 54% – were obtained at the initiative or with the cooperation of law enforcement. This is the highest number of exonerations with law enforcement support in a single year. Almost three quarters of those exonerations, 49 out of 67, were the work of Conviction Integrity Units.

    · 47 of the 125 defendants who were exonerated in 2014 – 38% – were exonerated for crimes to which they had pled guilty, another record number. Almost all exonerations for drug crimes in 2014 were for convictions based on guilty pleas.

    · Non-DNA exonerations continue to rise. The number of exonerations that did not rely on DNA rose to an all-time high of 103, a higher number than all exonerations, with and without DNA, in any single previous year.

    · The proportion of exonerations in the Registry that do not involve murder or sexual assault continues to steadily grow. The proportion of non-homicide, non-sex crime exonerations rose from 25% of all cases in the earliest 5-year period covered by the Registry (1989 through 1993) to 34% for the most recent 5-year period (2010 through 2014).

    · Nearly half of the known exonerations in 2014 – 46% – were cases where no crime in fact occurred. That is true of all the drug crime exonerations – they were based on lab tests that showed that the substances seized from the defendants contained no illegal drugs – as well as cases of accidents that were misinterpreted as crimes, assaults that were concocted by the supposed victims, and others.

    “Judging from known exonerations in 2014, the legal system is increasingly willing to act on innocence claims that have often been ignored: those without biological evidence or with no perpetrator who can be identified because in fact no crime was committed; cases with comparatively light sentences; and judgments based on guilty pleas by defendants who accepted plea bargains to avoid pre-trial detention and the risk of harsher punishment after trial,” the report states.

    To speak with University of Michigan Law Professor Samuel Gross, editor of the National Registry of Exonerations and author of “Exonerations in 2014,” please contact Margot Friedman at 202-332-5550 or mfriedman@dupontcirclecommunications.com.

    ###


    The National Registry of Exonerations, a project of the University of Michigan Law School, provides detailed information about every known exoneration in the United States since 1989 – cases in which a person was wrongly convicted of a crime and later cleared of all the charges based on new evidence of innocence. exonerationregistry.org


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    Civil Rights Organization Urges California Voters to Vote ‘Yes’ on Proposition 47 Ballot Initiative

    ColorOfChange.org launches campaign urging members to approve the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act to fix decades of harm caused by mass incarceration


    Oakland, CA -- ColorofChange.org, the largest online civil rights organization, has launched a campaign calling on its nearly 100,000 California members to approve Proposition 47 - the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act. This November, California voters will have a unique opportunity to move away from the state's notorious over-incarceration and overcharging of low-level, nonviolent offenders. Prop 47 will give tens of thousands of Californians hope, opportunities and the clinical services that they need to stay out of prison.

    By approving Prop 47, voters will reclassify six non-violent offenses from felonies to misdemeanors, meaning more non-violent offenders would be diverted to probation and treatment in the community, a move that would finally bring the state into compliance with the 2011 federal court order to reduce prison overcrowding.

    Rashad Robinson, Executive Editor of ColorofChange.org, has issued the following statement:

    “California’s $10 billion prison budget is larger than the entire state budget of 12 other states. This horrifying reality underscores the skewed priorities of state lawmakers and why it's critical for voters to reject the state’s current costly and ineffective incarceration-only policies. California has been targeted under federal court order to reduce prison overcrowding since 2011, but lawmakers have lacked the political courage to enact a solution bold enough to resolve the state's prison crisis.

    “40,000 mostly Black Californians are convicted of low-level, non-violent crimes annually. These prisoners are often warehoused in dangerous, inhumane state prisons and then denied basic human rights and services upon release from custody. We cannot wait another three years for lawmakers to relieve prison overcrowding and let this rare opportunity to reverse years of destructive criminal justice policy pass us by.”

    “Prop 47 will give Californians a chance to interrupt the vicious cycle of recidivism by redirecting $1 billion dollars in state resources to substance abuse and mental health treatment, K-12 truancy, and dropout prevention school programs.”

    “By pledging to vote ‘yes’ on 47, our members are sending a powerful message to lawmakers that there are thousands of Californians that are organized and prepared to take action when their policy and budget decisions deviate from the intent of Prop 47.”

    With more than 900,000 members, ColorOfChange.org is the nation’s largest online civil rights organization.


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    Expunging A Criminal History Is The Game Changer When It Comes To Realizing Life Goals


    Bedford, TX, October 3, 2014 – When we're young we often do things we later regret. But nothing can ruin a person's chance for a great job, buying a house, or getting custody of their children quite like a criminal history. This is especially true nowadays when all anyone needs is access to a computer to search police records, so it's imperative a criminal history be eliminated.

    Brian J. Willett is a Double Board Certified attorney in both criminal and juvenile law who happens to be one of only ten among 85,000 attorneys in the state of Texas with this qualification. He understands the many ways kids can get into trouble but other than hiring an attorney, what options do parents have when legal issues arise? His latest book, Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse (Outskirts Press), devotes an entire section to eliminating criminal records and is a highly effective resource that puts expert legal advice at a parent's fingertips!

    Willett's book offers a common sense approach to understanding the Texas Criminal Justice system, with examples to illustrate complex situations, and covers every possible scenario from DWIs and drug or weapon charges to sexual offenses and family assaults. This trusted expert in criminal and juvenile law provides practical advice on many serious issues, and his book is packed with tips that also helps parents better educate their children on how the criminal justice system works.

    Brian Willett has defended more than 6,000 criminal and juvenile law cases and tried in excess of 250 criminal and juvenile law offenses in his 20-year career. He has served as both a government and private attorney, and has been recognized as a Top 100 Attorney by the National Trial Lawyers, a Texas Super Lawyer and a Top Tarrant County attorney.

    A graduate of the University of Iowa and Memphis State University School of Law, Brian Willett received an undergraduate degree in Biology/Education and served as a teaching and research assistant while attending the University of Iowa. He is an in-demand speaker who is often asked to speak at legal educational seminars. He has been published in the Voice for the Defense - a magazine and online resource that educates and improves communication within the criminal defense community, as well as a writer for Blind Justice, a quarterly newsletter.

    For more information on Brian Willett or his book, please visit: www.brianwillett.com.

    Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse
    Outskirts Press (Third edition, May 3, 2014)
    ISBN-13: 978-1478730149
    $23.97
    Available at Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/1kB015c

    Excerpt from a five-star review on Amazon.com:
    "…Often most of us go through our day clueless of the laws that govern us. I read that we may routinely commit 3 felonies a day because of all the laws and regulations that are imposed on us…In Brian Willett's [book] he updates his earlier two versions to give the reader a broad understanding of the law and its implications…Willet does a good job of writing scenarios of John Public and what happen to him. You soon realize that often bad things happen to good people and a series of events can trigger a spiral downward. Of course Willet notes this does not replace a need for an attorney, it merely gives you a foundation to work with. But in our litigious society it is not a bad idea to have one around you can trust because ignorance of the law is no excuse. This book is a good read and valuable tool for the average citizen.”


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    New Report: A Path for Prosecutors to Reduce Incarceration


    Recent events in Ferguson, Mo., and revelations about America’s unprecedented levels of incarceration have highlighted the urgent need to reform the justice system.

    " In this moment for justice reform, prosecutors can play an important role. "
    A new Brennan Center report proposes modernizing one key aspect of that system: federal prosecution.

    Today, the Brennan Center launched this report at a conference keynoted by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Other speakers are four sitting U.S. Attorneys, including New Jersey’s Paul Fishman and Louisiana’s Kenneth Polite; former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer; Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance; Washington, D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier;and more.

    Federal prosecutors are a uniquely powerful force for change, as they have wide discretion over criminal charges, plea agreements, and sentencing recommendations. This decision-making authority can have a great effect on the prison population. The report, Federal Prosecution for the 21st Century, was developed with the input of a Blue Ribbon Panel of the nation’s leading prosecutors, led by former U.S. Undersecretary for Enforcement James E. Johnson and former U.S. Attorney G. Douglas Jones.

    “In this moment for justice reform, prosecutors can play an important role. They are charged with protecting the public and enforcing the law. Prosecutors increasingly agree that they can advance public safety and justice without excessively relying on incarceration. This report seeks to expand and institutionalize this shift,” said Inimai Chettiar, director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program.

    The report recommends that the Justice Department and U.S. Attorneys implement a policy called Success-Oriented Funding to create new incentives to drive practices toward three priorities:

    Reducing violent and serious crime;
    Reducing prison populations; and
    Reducing recidivism.

    “[Prosecutors] can lead the way to advance thoughtful, sensible approaches that have a real impact on violence and crime, while also reducing unnecessary prosecution and incarceration,” writes former Attorney General Janet Reno in the foreword. “This report provides a blueprint for federal prosecutors to establish a new set of priorities to better reduce crime and reduce incarceration, while modernizing criminal justice...We encourage prosecutors and law enforcement across the country to adopt this approach.”

    This shift in federal prosecutorial priorities can reduce the federal prison population and its costs, and spur change in state and local practices.

    Contact: Tim Rusch, Tim@fitzgibbonmedia.com
    Andy Stepanian, Andy@fitzgibbonmedia.com


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    Eleven Formerly Incarcerated Citizens Meet with White House Officials to Discuss Policy Changes for Returning Citizens

    Requested Full Rights Restoration Upon Returning to Society


    WASHINGTON – Today, PICO National Network’s Live Free Campaign and All of Us or None, were joined by eleven formerly incarcerated citizens to meet with White House officials and discuss policy
    " Their requests included restoring the right to vote and implementing policies and practices that prohibit discrimination in the housing and job markets."
    recommendations for returning citizens. They requested full rights restoration for individuals who have completed their sentences and returned to society.

    Their requests included restoring the right to vote and implementing policies and practices that prohibit discrimination in the housing and job markets. In addition, the team highlighted the need for a broader conversation beyond formerly incarcerated people and asked that the Department of Justice do extensive and comprehensive investigations into the systemic abuses by police department and make specific recommendations for police trainings and community engagement strategies.

    Currently, a considerable number of returning citizens experience homelessness, largely due to discriminatory housing practices. Many struggle with the job application process, especially if they are required to “check the box” indicating they were once incarcerated. The most integral is loosing one’s right to vote, leaving returning citizens feeling invisible to the democratic process.

    The 11 representatives from California, Ohio, Louisiana, New York, and Florida gave testimony of their personal experiences and discriminatory barriers they faced upon returning to society. Among the group is PICO’s own Desmond Meade, a recent law school graduate and director of Florida’s Live Free Campaign, Dorsey Nunn, co-founder of All Of Us Or None and Elder Carol Thomas of Christ Temple Church of Harlem. The voices of formerly incarcerated citizens are most often left out of conversation regarding the very policy changes that impact them, thus making this meeting unique and unprecedented.

    “Our goal is to encourage continued dialogue between the White House and the returning citizens community and to achieve a consensus on policy changes that will benefit marginalized communities, enhance public safety and value the lives of all God’s children,” said Desmond Meade, state director of Florida’s Live Free Campaign. “It is important that the voices of returning citizens be heard at the highest level of government. Today we served as the emissaries of over 6 million returning citizens throughout this nation.”

    PICO National Network’s Live Free Campaign is a faith-based effort to reduce gun violence and end mass incarceration in our nation’s urban communities. Live Free has long partnered with All of Us or None in an effort to raise awareness around rights restoration for formerly incarcerated citizens. All Of Us Or None is a grassroots civil rights organization founded in 2003 by formerly incarcerated people who fight for the rights of formerly and currently incarcerated people and their families.

    PICO National Network is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. PICO works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 60 local and state federations. PICO and its federations are non-partisan and do not endorse or support candidates for office. PICO urges people of faith to consult their faith traditions for guidance on specific policies and legislation. Learn more at www.piconetwork.org.


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    Death Penalty vs. 8th Amendment
    Source: CriminalJusticeDegreeHub.com





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    The Prison Capital of the World! 7 Times More Inmates than All of China


    . . .PREACHERS who obviously no longer consider “tithes and offerings” is how God’s churches are supposed to operate, need to surrender tax exempt statuses Considering the vast amount of corrupt Louisiana politicos, it’s unfortunate that so many people are imprisoned in Louisiana –for such lengthy periods, and often unjustly.

    The current protest that some people are making about upcoming show, Black Jesus, is for some people disingenuous in light of the fact that their conduct illustrates they believe they’re some type ‘Jesus’, or superior to the true Jesus Christ. (The person on the news last night –appears to use opportunities for promoting himself.) And for too many protesters, the protest about that show evolves around their own regard for esteem and social seal of approval that their religion bestows on them before their peers, business circles, and social arenas. It is not about God –at all!

    Unlike religious people who are comfortable with corruption ESPECIALLY when it fattens their wallets, Jesus Christ got angry about injustice and cheating fellowmen (especially those inside the “Household of Faith” –Gal.6:10!) Also, Jesus Christ taught this:

    For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. –Matthew 25:35-36

    In a sense, for some members and their loved-ones, matter like these can be their prisons: sexual identity and confusion \ insurmountable debt \ suicide, homicide thoughts \ medical conditions \ jailed loved-ones \ incest and molestation \ domestic violence \ AIDS \ slum landlords \ rodent infestations \ gambling, pharmaceutical, substance addiction –some of people’s troubles are linked to disconnect they feel at churches (unless they’re “prominent” in society). Ironically, FAME-SEEKING PULPIT CELEBRITIES who climb social ladders by means of their –not God’s pulpit, pretty much are saying to their flock: “good luck with ALL that.”

    Also, this is to non-clergy people who hasten to interject that people are in their predicaments because of their poor choices –the "GO ALONG, TO GET ALONG FOLK" who are selfishly "at ease in Zion"! Do you feel better when you cast attention off your indifference to placing blame on a fallen person?! You might want to believe you are a loving person. However, a loving person is not selective about being kindhearted; and the opposite of love is not hate; the opposite of love mostly resembles INDIFFERENCE. Also, since LOVE RESPONDS WITH INDIGNATION AT INJUSTICE. Do you make a practice of "passing by on the other side,"(Luke 10:31-32) while looking away from hurting people with disdain (Or, are you among the shocking, shameless people who formed a nonprofit, and then obtained a skilled grant writer so you can tap in to those overflowing federal and state dollars –after all since people make poor choices; you should enrich yourself and your family with those funds by means of your favorite politician and courtroom judges!?). . .

    Moreover, those who –without knowing all the details– blame people for their circumstances must be proud of your wonderful selves for all your good choices –and possibly social connections or whatever you were blessed with that enabled your "respectability" –until your dirty laundry becomes exposed. (It's just a matter of time --what goes around, does come around.)

    . . .convey the following statements to whoever is being labeled, “first lady”, and to married or unmarried women, and fits any of the following characteristics:

    • When you show up at your husband’s church or office, dressed in what you think looks good (and may / may not stand out above others), and as far as you’re concerned, people with problems could go see Jerry Springer, or enquire to “Madea,” you are a last lady!


    • When you cannot state when and how you evangelized or helped some of the above people when the spotlight was not on –or what that even means; if you don’t bother complying with Matthew 28:19-20, (but you invite “walking dollars” to churches so there’ll be additional contributors), you are a last lady!


    • If you don’t isolate time daily to pray for your church members to have blessed lives, so that they can be God’s Kingdom builders and healthy support system to your husband, you're a last lady!


    • When you cannot recall when you’ve walked the street or considered walking –since “he that winneth souls is wise” (not walked because it’s within your job description, and you’re on the clock!), as Jesus did, a first lady you are not!


    • If you get dressed for church with thoughts in mind of being seen, instead of simply enjoy looking nice; if you don’t hug people, or hold babies because you’re concerned about getting your clothes messed up, you're not a first lady!


    • If you use your children for spying on your husband; giving reports of what they think they heard or saw; if you carry tales to drive who or what threatens you, you're a last lady!


    • If you remain in the front of the church, or edifice gawking at audiences to see who's who; if you don't greet and interact with people as if they matter as much as you do and determine how you can help, you are a last lady!


    • If you think you can talk your husband in to doing what you want, someone else can talk him out of it. But God’s preacher will do what God wants, and for such that kind of preacher, God's mission is not optional.


    *extract from extract from “SOUND OFF –Skinnin’ & Grinnin’ Louisiana Pulpit Preachers, Their Wives, Politicos, and ‘Go Along Folk’” http://www.lawgrace.org/2014/07/27/sound-off-skinnin-grinnin-louisiana-pulpit-preachers-their-wives-politicos-and-go-along-folk/


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    ICYMI: Infographic #Last100Executed


    The data from a new study on 100 people executed during 2012 and 2013 is now available as an infographic on the Death Penalty Information Center’s website athttp://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/node/5800

    The research shows that the death penalty system has failed to identify and execute “the worst of the worst.” In fact, the overwhelming majority of executed offenders (nearly nine out of ten) had deficits of at least one kind, such as intellectual disability, severe mental illness, being under 21 at the time of the offense, or chronic childhood trauma -- characteristics that made them the same as, or very similar to, offenders the U.S. Supreme Court has exempted from the death penalty.

    The data is also summarized in this Washington Post opinion editorial by Harvard Law School Professor Charles Ogletree at wapo.st/1nUPYNn

    If you wish to tweet about it, a sample tweet is -- #Last100Executed: Who are they? wapo.st/1nUPYNn #DeathPenalty

    The research was published in The Hastings Law Journal at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2446950

    In Atkins v. Virginia (2002), the U.S. Supreme Court exempted intellectually disabled offenders from the death penalty because of their diminished capacity. Yet,one-third of the last 100 executed offenders had intellectual disabilities, borderline intellectual function or traumatic brain injury, a similarly debilitating intellectual impairment.

    Similarly, in Roper v. Simmons (2005), the Court held the death penalty unconstitutional for offenders aged 17 and under based, in large part, on science showing that the brains of juveniles are still developing. Among the last 100 people executed, however, more than one-third committed a capital crime before turning 25 – the age at which the brain fully matures. Twenty offenders had not yet reached the age of 21.

    More than half (54 percent) of the last 100 people executed had severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder or psychosis, but the courts did not find them incompetent for execution under Ford v. Wainwright (1986).

    The study of 100 people executed between 2012 and 2013 further shows that at least half of the offenders experienced severe childhood trauma including physical abuse, sexual molestations, domestic violence, and chronic poverty and homelessness. The 50 percent figure, like the other statistics in the study, is probably lower than the reality. The records in death penalty cases are usually scant and under-resourced capital litigators often do not have the opportunity to investigate and present all available mitigation evidence.


    Death Penalty Information Center


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    Missouri State NAACP, Victim’s Daughter and Former Juror Call on Governor Nixon to Grant Clemency to John Winfield

    Growing Concern about Execution of “Model Prisoner” Scheduled for June 18 at 12:01 a.m. CT


    (Jefferson City, Missouri) Amid growing concern that the State of Missouri may be on the verge of executing a man who, by all accounts, is a model prisoner who does not deserve to die, prominent Missourians today are calling on Governor Jay Nixon to spare the life of John Winfield and commute his death sentence to life without parole. Mr. Winfield is scheduled for execution on June 18, 2014 at 12:01 a.m. CT.

    The clemency petition, including letters urging clemency from the Missouri State NAACP Conference of Branches, the victim’s daughter, a former juror and other prominent individuals, is being delivered to Governor Nixon today.

    The clemency petition states: “Mr. Winfield has rehabilitated himself after 18 years in prison. He mentors youth at Potosi Correctional Center and raises money for shelters and charities in St. Louis. Correctional staff at the St. Louis County Jail, where Mr. Winfield was held for two years before his trial, have described his positive influence on other prisoners and called him a unique example of the power of rehabilitation and ‘an ideal person to serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole.’”

    The clemency petition can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQazh3RHpTdEpOeXlBenF3NjFDakY4X29YNGxF/edit?usp=sharing

    In its letter to the Governor, the Missouri State NAACP Conference of Branches wrote: “We support clemency for Mr. Winfield on several grounds, including the recent testimony from a juror at Mr. Winfield’s trial concerning the prosecutor’s manipulation of the nearly all-white jury’s racial biases, his family’s plea to spare Mr. Winfield’s life, and in particular the plea for mercy from Mr. Winfield’s daughter, whose mother was a victim of the crime, and Mr. Winfield’s exceptional adjustment to prison as a youth mentor and model inmate.”

    The letter from the Missouri State NAACP Conference of Branches can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQcGc2VHpvalh5SEU/edit?usp=sharing

    Kimberly Turner, one of at least two jurors who voted to spare Mr. Winfield’s life, has asked the Governor for clemency and stated in a sworn declaration: “I recently learned that Mr. Winfield was a model inmate while he was in jail in St. Louis County awaiting trial, that he did not get in trouble, that he was a positive influence on other inmates, that he worked in prison and helped the guards, and that the guards trusted him. The guards did not want Mr. Winfield to be executed and thought that he would be productive and helpful if he served a life without parole sentence … If I had heard this evidence at trial, I would never have given into the pressure from the Court or the other jurors.”

    Ms. Turner’s declaration can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQZmFMZ3J0RTlBT2M/edit?usp=sharing

    The jury in Mr. Winfield’s case was all white except for one African American. Ms. Turner, one of the white jurors, stated in her sworn declaration that the prosecutor played upon the jury’s racial biases. She stated that the prosecutor painted Mr. Winfield as a “thug” who drove around St. Louis in a Cadillac with tinted windows. Due to the complete and admitted breakdown of Mr. Winfield’s trial attorneys, the jury did not hear that he was working hard to support his children or that he was trusted and respected by the county corrections officers.

    Ms. Turner voted for life without parole, but she changed her vote after the court’s bailiff instructed the jurors to keep deliberating. The lone black juror also testified, under oath, that the bailiff told the jurors to keep deliberating at a time when they were split in their vote. A single vote for life without parole would have spared Mr. Winfield’s life.

    In addition, Mr. Winfield’s daughter, Symone Winfield, whose mother was a victim of the crime, does not want her father executed. She stated in a sworn declaration: “My dad has been there for me at every step of my life, giving me encouragement, love, and support. I love him unconditionally and would be devastated if he were executed.” Ms. Winfield stated that she speaks with her father sometimes several times a day, he helps her family from prison, including preparing the paperwork so her grandmother could buy a house, and is engaged in her children’s lives.

    Ms. Winfield’s declaration can be accessed here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQWlB4d1dxaVFvelU/edit?usp=sharing

    The letter from the Missouri State NAACP Conference of Branches concludes:

    “In addition to supporting his family, Mr. Winfield also serves as a positive influence and mentor to youth in prison and is described by inmates and corrections officers alike as a model inmate. He encourages younger inmates to abandon the negative influences in their lives, focus on family, and work toward establishing a productive life upon release. Mr. Winfield is known for his acts of kindness and generosity, from collecting tabs off of aluminum cans to raise money for a child cancer patient to helping illiterate prisoners write letters to their family, and he holds positions of leadership and responsibility in prison, including in the NAACP chapter. Mr. Winfield’s contributions to others in prison and to the young men who have since returned to society are valuable and we ask that you spare his life so that he may continue to make a difference.

    “Please commute Mr. Winfield’s sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the interests of justice and mercy.”


    ooOoo


    Disclaimer
    The articles on this site are provided as a public service and to be used for information purposes only. No information on this site is intended to serve as professional advice. BlackRefer.com does not accept any responsibility or liability for the use or misuse of the article content. Use at your own risk.

    No Endorsement:
    BlackRefer.com does not endorse or recommend any article on this site or any product, service or information found within said articles. Resources and links included in said articles are only suggested as sources for further exploration, but we cannot vouch for or take responsibility for information contained in these resources. The opinions and views of the authors who have submitted articles to BlackRefer.com belong to them alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of BlackRefer.com.





    Oklahoma Execution Team Failed to Place IV in Clayton Lockett’s Vein, According to Preliminary Findings of Independent Autopsy


    The Oklahoma execution team failed to set a properly functioning IV in Clayton Lockett’s femoral vein, according to preliminary findings released today of an independent autopsy conducted by forensic pathologist Dr. Joseph I. Cohen, M.D. The autopsy was performed in Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 14, 2014, following the botched execution of Mr. Lockett in Oklahoma City on April 29, 2014. Dr. Cohen was retained by attorneys for Oklahoma death row prisoners. The preliminary findings can be accessed here:

    (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQQktuNmtaV0pGS2ZhMF8yZ3g0QU1ZcWl0UWdz/edit?usp=sharing).

    Despite the report’s findings that Mr. Lockett’s veins, both surface and deep, were in excellent shape “for the purpose of achieving venous access,” the execution team attempted to place the IV for the lethal injection execution into his femoral vein in the groin area, which is riskier, more difficult and more painful to place.

    According to Dr. Cohen’s report, he found “skin punctures on the extremities and right and left femoral areas,” demonstrating that the execution team attempted to set IVs in both arms and both sides of Mr. Lockett’s groin. Dr. Cohen further found superficial and deep hemorrhages “indicative of attempted vascular access” and “the presence of vascular injury indicative of failed vascular catheter access.” The execution team’s attempts to insert the IV perforated the femoral vein.

    Contrary to statements by the state, Mr. Lockett’s veins did not collapse or “blow out.” Rather, despite the excellent condition of Mr. Lockett’s veins, the execution team made numerous failed attempts to set an IV, eventually setting an improperly placed and ineffective IV in Mr. Lockett’s femoral vein. Dr. Cohen also notes the “unlikelihood” that dehydration could have played a role in compromising venous access.

    There are serious questions about the training of the personnel who performed the execution. The Department of Corrections timeline states that the IV was set by a phlebotomist, which was confirmed by the Governor’s office, but when Tulsa World questioned the assertions, both state agencies reversed their positions and said it was an EMT, whose name has not been revealed. (http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/state/secrets-still-shroud-clayton-lockett-s-execution/article_5513ea6b-1f24-519e-9340-66c42b109502.html) Oklahoma’s execution protocol allows for a central line, such as an IV to a femoral vein, only if set by a physician, not a phlebotomist.

    “The improper placement of the IV used in Mr. Lockett’s execution is just one factor that caused his prolonged and painful death,” said Megan McCracken, an attorney with the Death Penalty Clinic at U.C. Berkeley School of Law. “The three-drug protocol that was used exacerbated the pain and suffering that Mr. Lockett faced by needlessly paralyzing him and subjecting him to the pain of potassium chloride. Moreover, the state had no plan for contingencies in the event that the execution did not go as planned, as clearly happened here.”

    “Lack of transparency is a pervasive problem with execution procedures,” Ms. McCracken commented. “During Mr. Lockett’s execution, the Department of Corrections closed the blinds to the execution chamber so that the witnesses and press could not see what was happening for the 24 minutes leading up to the announcement that Mr. Lockett had died. Nothing is known about what happened during this timeframe, and it is one of many questions Dr. Cohen seeks answers to in order to complete his independent autopsy.”

    The additional information that Dr. Cohen seeks includes:

    · Documentation of tests and procedures performed by the State of Oklahoma’s Chief Medical Examiner’s office;

    · Autopsy, toxicology, histology and other reports generated by the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office;

    · Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ policies and procedures pertaining to lethal injection executions;

    · Documentation pertaining to Mr. Lockett’s execution;

    · Mr. Lockett’s complete medical records and prison records;

    · Information about cell extraction, including use of physical restraint or use of electrical conductive

    devices.

    · Occurrence and treatment of injuries to Mr. Lockett prior to execution;

    · Records pertaining to the transport and storage of Mr. Lockett’s body following the execution.

    “Dr. Cohen has begun a critically important inquiry into the botched execution of Clayton Lockett,” says Dr. Mark Heath, Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology at Columbia University and expert in lethal injection executions. “However, to complete this inquiry, Dr. Cohen will need the state to provide extensive additional information beyond what the body itself revealed. I hope that Oklahoma provides everything he asks for so that we can all understand what went so terribly wrong in Mr. Lockett’s execution.”

    More information about Dr. Cohen can be accessed here: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0BxR5nee8pBYQVjFVR0hNYTZoalU/edit.


    ooOoo


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    The articles on this site are provided as a public service and to be used for information purposes only. No information on this site is intended to serve as professional advice. BlackRefer.com does not accept any responsibility or liability for the use or misuse of the article content. Use at your own risk.

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    BlackRefer.com does not endorse or recommend any article on this site or any product, service or information found within said articles. Resources and links included in said articles are only suggested as sources for further exploration, but we cannot vouch for or take responsibility for information contained in these resources. The opinions and views of the authors who have submitted articles to BlackRefer.com belong to them alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of BlackRefer.com.





    Delaware to Become 12th State to Endorse Fair Hiring of People with Records

    Georgia could be next state to give qualified applicants with convictions a fair chance to work


    Washington, DC—Delaware Governor Jack Markell is expected to sign bipartisan legislation Thursday afternoon known as “ban the box,” making Delaware the 12th state in the nation to remove questions about an applicant’s criminal record from government job applications. Earlier this year in hisstate of the state address, the Governor called on Delaware to adopt the policy and “be a model for the private sector, because marginalizing ex-offenders helps none of us.”

    This latest win in the movement for fair-hiring policies follows on the heels of recent victories in the Midwest. In April, Republican Governor Dave Heineman of Nebraska signed into law a criminal justice reform bill that included a provision postponing conviction inquiries so that job-seekers can be reviewed on their qualifications first. And this week in Michigan, Genesee County and Ann Arbor, both unanimously adopted policies removing conviction questions from government job applications.

    In the South, Republican Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia has pledged to issue an executive order offering job applicants with records a fair chance to be judged on their merits, not just their records. The Governor’s spokesperson told the Times-Herald: “The governor will implement ban the box on the state level, and hope that the private sector follows suit. This will afford those with blemishes on their record a shot at a good job, which is key to preventing a return to crime.”

    Other jurisdictions are taking action to reduce unnecessary job barriers in the private sector. Last week, the Baltimore City Councilapproved a measure applying ban-the-box to private employers. In New York City, the NYC Fair Chance Act, a similar measure applying to all employers, was introduced last week with strong support in the City Council. And in Illinois, a bill applying to private employers recently passed the house and will be taken up by the state senate.

    “The tally of jurisdictions that are standing up for a fair chance for all job-seekers is up to 12 states and over 60 cities and counties. The broad support shows that we are finding common ground in ways that strengthen our economy,” said Christine Owens, executive director of the National Employment Law Project. Besides the pending executive order in Georgia and the bill in Illinois, legislation was introduced this year in Florida, South Carolina, New Hampshire, and New Jersey.

    To help advocates and policymakers tap into this national momentum and initiate fair-chance campaigns in their communities, NELP has released a new comprehensive online toolkit. It includes best practices, sample public education materials, model legislative language, media coverage, and other campaign resources.

    The National Employment Law Project is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts research and advocates on issues affecting low-wage and unemployed workers. For more about NELP, visit www.nelp.org.


    ooOoo


    Disclaimer
    The articles on this site are provided as a public service and to be used for information purposes only. No information on this site is intended to serve as professional advice. BlackRefer.com does not accept any responsibility or liability for the use or misuse of the article content. Use at your own risk.

    No Endorsement:
    BlackRefer.com does not endorse or recommend any article on this site or any product, service or information found within said articles. Resources and links included in said articles are only suggested as sources for further exploration, but we cannot vouch for or take responsibility for information contained in these resources. The opinions and views of the authors who have submitted articles to BlackRefer.com belong to them alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of BlackRefer.com.







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