The federal government is investigating another state police department; a law to protect victims’ privacy has been co-opted to protect police officers — your weekly justice news
a just chance: People convicted of a crime before November 1987 are not eligible for compassionate release through the First Step Act. A bill currently in Congress is hoping to grant these “old-law” prisoners a fair chance to petition their case to a judge. NPR (August 6, 2021)
reason for inquiry: Last Thursday, the DOC announced that the Phoenix Police Department was to be investigated for civil rights abuses, the third examination of its kind against a national police force. Activists in Arizona are supportive but warn against funneling more training money into the department as a solution. New York Times (August 5, 2021)
deceiving: Lawmakers in New York are speaking out against New York City’s new restrictive housing that continues solitary confinement under a new name. They say it violates the recent HALT act, which bans the use of long-term solitary confinement in jails and prisons. Politico (August 2, 2021)
much to be desired: Advocates in Chicago have spoken out against the treatment of domestic violence survivors and barriers to court access throughout the pandemic. Many have complained about the way Judge Raul Vega’s handle domestic violence cases and even said he has been an obstacle to survivors. Injustice Watch (August 5, 2021)
intolerable exonerations: The governor of Missouri decided to pardon the couple infamous for pointing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis last summer. The couple claimed to be threatened from inside their luxury home despite no evidence that the protesters were anything but peaceful. AP News (August 3, 2021)
endemic racism: Federal prosecutors are investigating the death of Black motorist Ronald Greene in 2019. The Monroe, Louisiana police department responsible for Greene’s death is notorious for their racism. AP (August 4, 2021)
disastrous consequence: Marsy’s Law, a Florida amendment added in 2018, was intended to keep the names and personal information of crime victims private but it has more often been employed to keep Jacksonville officers who have shot people from being held accountable. The Tributary (August 3, 2021)
troubling: The delta variant has invaded Louisiana prisons due to the low vaccination rate. Over 50 incarcerated people have now tested positive for COVID-19 and more people have been transferred to Camp J, a controversial facility at Angola that reopened at the beginning of the pandemic. The Lens (August 4, 2021)
encouraging: Boston, Massachusetts has put policies into place that will send mental health workers to respond to mental health crises instead of law enforcement. The hope is to divert unnecessary and often traumatic arrests and help people get the support they need. The Boston Globe (August 5, 2021)
cause for alarm: Activists and health experts are concerned about the low vaccination rate within Colorado’s state prisons and jails, especially as the delta variant surges through the population. The ACLU of Colorado has already sued the state for not doing enough to protect at risk people in prisons and jails from the virus. Colorado Newsline (August 3, 2021)
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