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California District Attorneys look to block good conduct credits; new evidence from the murder of Ronald Greene shows extreme police brutality — your weekly justice news

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credit where credit isn't due: Manhattan district attorney D.A candidate Tali Farhadian Weinstein created a bureau for “post-conviction justice” but only exonerated four people. Critics say she is taking credit for exonerations she had nothing to do with and was not intent on helping wronged African or Latinx people. The Appeal (May 17, 2021)  

judgment misplaced: Virginia focused on visitors in combating the inflow of drugs and contraband into prisons. But after visitations were banned during the pandemic, officials found that drugs weren’t any less present; a formerly incarcerated person said that contraband mainly comes from staff. Virginia Mercury (May 24, 2021)  

fixing uneven lines: Connecticut passed a bill ensuring incarcerated people count as residents of their home address when drawing legislative districts; CT is the 11th state to ban prison gerrymandering. This should make districts more fair as prison gerrymandering overly affects communities of color. Prisoners of the Census (May 27, 2021)  

crisis for D.As: District attorneys are suing California to block crisis rules that increase good conduct credits for inmates and offer quicker releases to many incarcerated people. Lawyers argue that the Corrections Secretary used emergency declaration to get around usual procedures. L.A. and San Francisco’s DAs actually support notably back the sentencing changes. AP (May 27, 2021)

critical competition: The Manhattan district attorney race will likely have consequences for Donald Trump if evidence of criminal behavior is found because  as many of the candidates expressed their willingness to prosecute him. Street crime and criminal justice are also central points of discussion in this race. U.S News (May 23, 2021)

detrimentally underrepresented: Life-without-parole has replaced death penalty sentences across the U.S., and the country’s public defense system has not been able to keep up. People with life sentences have few opportunities to appeal and severely lack representation for an often-permanent life sentence. NBC (May 22, 2021) 

in the dark: The public has limited information about how prison officials choose who is transferred within the prison system. Though security reasons could explain the secrecy, criminal justice advocates fear that abusive or retaliation motivated transfers may be the real reason. Center for Public Integrity (May 21, 2021)

more to do: After a win when North Carolina NC moved the minimum age to try people as adults to 18 in 2017, advocates are looking to increase the age of juvenile jurisdiction to 20 or make separate court or parole allowances for ages 18 to -25, citing research that the brain isn’t fully developed until 25 years old. USA Today (May 26, 2021)

despicable deceit: Documents uncovered from Louisiana State Police show inconsistencies between ranking officer’s statements on the fatal shooting of Ronald Greene and body camera footage. Police had said his death was a result of a car crash, but videos’ reveal violent police misconduct. USA Today (May 24, 2021)

unfit: Police in the U.S. tend to be first responders to mental-health crises, but they are not well-trained to handle these emergencies. Lack of training has resulted in an uneven amount of people jailed or imprisoned with mental illnesses; there is a long history behind this trend. The Atlantic (May 25, 2021) 

urgent investigations: California Attorney General Rob Bonta is committed to legislation mandating the investigation of police shootings resulting in the death of an unarmed civilian. He is working to secure funds from the governor and state legislature that will let him implement the new law to its full extent. KCRW (May 25, 2021)


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