Justice Newzzz

inhumane Rikers' conditions gain more attention; juvenile evacuations to adult prison during Ida raise concerns; DOJ opens an investigation into Georgia prisons — your weekly justice news

open investigation: Complaints by inmates, their family members and advocates sparked the Department of Justice to announce an investigation into Georgia prisons concerning violence committed among inmates and sexual violence against the LGBTQ+ population within the prisons. CNBC (Sept. 14, 2021)

uproar at rikers: Politicians toured Rikers Island to assess the jail’s condition: one labeled the visit “Horror Island.” They saw the reality of overcrowding, unhygienic conditions and a man’s attempt at suicide. New York Daily News (Sept. 13, 2021)

aftermath of hurricane: Two women prisons in New York are raising concerns about the quality of water after Hurricane Ida. Women believe the water to be contaminated given the foul smell and poor taste. NBC (Sept. 14, 2021)

remnants of a barricade: One month ago, Lynchburg Adult Detention Center inmates barricaded themselves in a unit and  they enclosed themselves in “heavily” damaged equipment and property inside. The reasons for the barricade are inconclusive, so investigators are probing inmates and their complaints to find answers. News and Advance (Sept. 17, 2021)

questionable: Juvenile justice advocates are questioning the legality of an evacuation of youth from the detention center to an adult prison amid Hurricane Ida. With the detention center being primarily composed of minors awaiting trial—the transfer to an adult facility for many seems unethical. Louisiana Illuminator (Sept. 15, 2021)

ordered release: Governor Kathy Hochul ordered the immediate release of 191 inmates at Rikers Island and signed a bill into law that would allow for more individuals in Rikers to be released amid the jail’s inability to maintain safe conditions and maintain staffing levels within the jail. New York Daily News (Sept. 17, 2021)

charges dropped: Ralph Blaine Smith, spent 21 years behind bars for a robbery he alleges never occurred. Smith was granted a new trial and the judge ruled the prosecutors withheld evidence that would have relieved Smith from the crime he was initially convicted of. The Columbus Dispatch (Sept. 16, 2021)

bias and force: An investigative report into the Aurora Police Department found a habitual practice of civil rights violations including racially biased policing, forceful punishments and failure to obtain and record community interactions. Colorado Newsline (Sept. 16, 2021)

punished after release: A welfare reform clause, disqualifying formerly incarcerated persons from receiving food stamp benefits, is still upheld in some parts of the country. Opponents to the clause maintain that denial of food access is an is a barrier to successful reentry. The Guardian (Sept. 13, 2021)

restrained by quarantine: Detainees at Shelby County Detention Center quarantined due to COVID-19 diagnosis or COVID-19 exposure were unable to attend their court hearings. One public defender is advocating for the implementation of virtual courts to combat this problem. WFPL (Sept. 17, 2021)

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