We will be back soon with our features, but until then catch up on the news.
Spreading: While cases in the free USA begin to explode again, prisons and jails never saw a significant drop, and now it's going up again. “By July 14, at least 64,119 people in prison had tested positive for the illness, a 13 percent increase from the week before.” [The Marshall Project]
Significant increases in Texas and California where COVID-19 cases on the outside are exploding.
681 people inside have died due to the virus in jails and prisons nationwide.
In Alabama there have only been 138 reported cases, but no released number of tests conducted whereas other states have released the number of tested inmates to compare to the number that came back positive.
Makin’ it worse: “ How did this system allow something so profoundly stupid in the middle of this deadly pandemic to actually happen?” a California representative on a May prisoner transfer that imported COVID-19 into San Quentin Prison. [KQED]
‘Potentially dangerous weapons’: Alabama jail refuses inmates COVID-19 masks because ‘they’re going to eat them' [AL.com]
Call in the troops: Colorado is using the National Guard to help test people in prison after multiple new outbreaks. [Pueblo Chieftain]
Two executed: “You’re killin an innocent man.” Daniel Lewis Lee’s last words to an AP reporter who witnessed two of the federal death sentences carried out this past week. Read more about his Aryan nation past. A faulty tool labeled him a ‘psychopath’. [AP]
Exonerated: Read this mans words on his quarter of a century behind bars fighting for his innocence. [The Injustice Watch]
From bars to ballot: A frontline tangling with the justice system may make these candidates the best suited to fix it. [The Marshall Project]
Nice try, but try again: Risk assessment tools meant to stop racist application of bail just replicated the bias of the past. [The Intercept]
Calls to cancel bail: Tribal courts left behind traditional Indigenous forms of justice for European ones, and cash bail continues to punish Native people. [High Country News]
Blueleaks: Sixteen million lines of data and hundreds on hacked websites - Anonymous revealed the personal data of law enforcement in their most recent targeted attack. [The Intercept]
Long read from the New Republic, getting caught in the Civil legal system:
The average civil case can easily involve nearly 200 separate tasks, many of which require legal expertise. […]
The network of interlacing injustices is so vast that it becomes difficult to comprehend as a whole. Martha Bergmark, the executive director of Voices for Civil Justice and a past president of LSC, said the problem reminded her of the story of the blind men and the elephant. People may be aware that consumer debt collection is predaceous and corrupt; that low-income people face terrible odds in family or housing court; that anyone hoping to receive government benefits depends on the whim, and competence, of bureaucrats seeking to cut costs. But they don’t connect these effects back to a root cause: Without representation and adequate information, poor people don’t have access to the rights and benefits they’re due.
What’s more, civil courts constitute a burden borne almost entirely by the most marginalized members of society. They’re poor people’s courts, black and brown people’s courts, women’s courts. The higher your income, the less likely you are to deal with them at all.
Educate yourself: The refusal to update crime statutes to reflect inflation means harsher punishments for some states. They vary from the OLDEST in New Jersey where a $200 theft is a fourth-degree felony to Wisconsin where a theft must be worth $2,500 before a state prison sentence is possible. Alaska is the only state that automatically adjusts its theft threshold for inflation. Where does your state sit in the Felony Threshold? [Prison Policy Initiative]
COVID-19 resources: State Policy Changes. News. Bureau of Prisons updates. State court changes.
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The Des drops into your inbox weekly with a collection of small and digestible snippets concerning the criminal justice system. It promises to be humanizing, spunky, and educational. Our name: The Des is short for Desmoterion or “place of chains”, used to describe prisons in ancient Athens. We like the idea of the chains because incarceration expands far beyond bars, connecting all of parts of this country. We are here to cover it all.