Officers who shot Andrew Brown get off without charges; South Carolina reinstates firing squad method; and more — your weekly justice news
Melissa Murray @ProfMMurrayFirst SCOTUS opinion of the morning is in Edwards v. Vannoy, the case dealing with retroactivity issues related to last term's decision in Ramos v. Louisiana. Court held that The Ramos jury-unanimity rule does not apply retroactively. https://t.co/CQXUmnVeyc
moving forward: The nomination of attorney and voting rights advocate Kristen Clarke for assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division has been deadlocked by the Senate Judiciary committee. Democracy Now (May 14, 2021)
unwavering: LA County DA, George Gascon, wants to reframe how victims are viewed by the criminal justice system and focus on mercy and the community’s best interests. Gascon has both vocal support and opposition; his firmest critics have been the county sheriff and violent crime victims’ families, but Gascon refuses to waver on his vision of justice. Los Angeles Times (May 16, 2021)
collateral consequences: Dating apps ban people sentenced to felonies for a $10 drug conviction to capital murder the same. These bans are further punishment for people who have finished sentences and will disproportionately affect people of color while not actually increasing protection, say civil rights advocates. The Marshall Project (May 20, 2021)
unprotected: Within a week three inmates in Alabama prisons have been killed in conflicts between inmates. Alabama has the highest incarceration rate in the nation and the DOJ has been investigating their system for years and has confirmed that prison conditions create tension between incarcerated people. NYT (May 19, 2021)
uncertainty: Bodycams are supposed to ensure that the public sees what actually happens to victims of police brutality, but because the police have the power to release footage when they see fit, this has not been the case. A 2020 report shows that it is unclear that bodycams mitigate the use of force, rather they tend to reduce complaints from citizens. USA Today (May 17, 2021)
effective alternatives: COVID-19 has torn through prison populations prompting NYC to send some inmates to alternative incarceration programs. Programs include hotels run by nonprofits where participants can access support services like counseling, medical aid, and case management. Advocates say these programs save money and discourage recidivism. News Decoder (May 17, 2021)
between a rock and a hard place: South Carolina signed a bill that forces people on death row to choose between firing squad and electric chair; this comes after years of trouble securing lethal injection drugs. There is no current system for the firing squad method, and politicians are questioning the law’s constitutionality for people who already have sentences. Truthout (May 17, 2021)
unwarranted: Edward Caniglia sued Rhode Island police for searching his house without a warrant after his wife asked them to perform a welfare check, citing Fourth Amendment rights. The Supreme Court ruled in Caniglia’s favor, saying that police officers can perform civic tasks beyond their normal responsibilities but not without boundaries. NBC (May 17, 2021)
not yet justice: Though the Supreme Court recently banned non-unanimous juries, they declined to make it retroactive, thus blocking relief to more than 1500 people found guilty by divided juries in Louisiana. Nola (May 17, 2021)
lethal force once again: Pasquotank County, NC’s District Attorney declared that officers involved in the fatal shooting of Andrew Brown Jr. were justified because their lives were in danger. Brown’s family and attorney uphold that bodycam videos show he was never a threat. Protests against police brutality and calls for transparency have ensued since Brown’s death on May 11. CNN (May 18, 2021)
opinion: Florida fails to pass criminal justice reforms despite prisons in ‘crisis’ | from inside: “Losing my mom was hard enough. Prison made it unbearable” | from the frontlines: “Where did we agree to sign away our identities when we decided to fight for freedom?”
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