Archive for the ‘ Criminal Justice ’ Category

filed under: Criminal Justice |

To Democrats Who Are Scared Of November: Stop Locking People Up

9PM ON 15/03/2010
BY Dave Segal

//” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.I have this article up at HuffPo today. Essentially, I think that Dems are misreading a lot of the angst that’s out there right now. It’s not cause to clam up — it’s a reason to show some fight.

Criminal justice reform plays well to our base, and also to many Ron Paulies and crew, who are fiscal and social libertarians.

We should push hard on marijuana decrim and probation reform, and stop locking up women for prostitution. Doing so would save money and afford us a greater claim to the mantle of fiscal responsibility, do right by disenfranchised constituents, and appeal to a lot of people who identify with the moment’s right and center-right populism.

The funders of the Tea Party are indeed of the intransigent far right, but It’s imprudent to dismiss all of the popular consternation — and every person who’s attended a rally or who voted for Ron Paul — as essentially reactionary. (As a former Green, I’ve had quite a few conversations with people who voted for Nader in 2000 or 2004, and then Paul in 2008. While I think they were misguided, those votes were expressing something very different than the left’s caricature of the underpinnings of contemporary popular angst.)

Last month’s Tea Party convention was notable for how much time was devoted to consideration of how to hold together the strong-willed, and frequently headstrong, members of the movement. It was rife with lofty platitudes about agreeing to disagree, and pledges to abide by paraphrases of Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of another conservative.”

All the more evidence that Democrats can and should break up the party by taking aggressive stands on those issues that’ll pry loose social libertarians. And foremost, we should quit locking people up for no good reason.

filed under: Criminal Justice |

Hearing Today: Count Prisoners In Their Neighborhoods

7AM ON 09/03/2010
BY Dave Segal

This is by Bruce Reilly, via RIFuture:

A hearing will be held tomorrow in the House Judiciary Committee at 4pm to weigh the current practice of counting prisoners as residents of Cranston, thereby artificially adding people to House Districts 15 and 16, and Senate District 27.  Being a Census year, the General Assembly will be redistricting in 2011 based on data from 2010.  Supporters of the move to count prisoners as residents of their last known address include Direct Action for Rights and Equality, Common Cause, the ACLU, Prison Policy Initiative, Demos, and the National Urban League.

more »

filed under: Criminal Justice |

Probation Reform Bills To Be Heard Tomorrow

7AM ON 02/03/2010
BY Dave Segal many readers know, from years of our yapping about it, Rhode Island has the most heavy-handed probation laws in the country. Sentences are way longer than average, and it’s far easier than in most places to end up back in prison for a new offense: Violation hearings are held before the trial, so defendants have little time to line up a real defense, and charges are adjudicated at the lowest standard of proof in our legal system. And then, even if you’re later found not guilty of the act that underpinned your violation, you keep rotting in your cell with no recourse.

The three bills which were mentioned in this post will be heard this Wednesday in room 205 of the State House, at around 4:30.

Our priority is moving forward the bill which the Governor keeps vetoing, which basically says that if you’re found not guilty, or charges are dismissed for lack of evidence, you ought to be released from prison. Please join us.

Rep. David Segal and Sen. Rhoda Perry re-introduced the twice-vetoed bill to release probationers who are ultimately cleared of their new charges. Segal’s bill is now co-sponsored by new Judiciary Chair David Caprio, and Reps John Carnevale (retired Providence P.D.), Scott Slater, and Al Gemma. With the shake-up in the House, it is good to see the diversity of legislators who have come to support this not be shaken.

filed under: Criminal Justice |

If We’re Gonna Keep On Arresting All These Women

8PM ON 28/02/2010
BY Arthur

The Propo should perhaps invest in a few pairs of these:

filed under: Criminal Justice |

Spa Sting Arrests Three Adult Women, No Men

5PM ON 28/02/2010
BY Daily Dose Nick Horton:

The second series of arrests for indoor prostitution occurred Thursday night, Projo article here, resulting in three arrests of adult women and no human trafficking charges.  From the reports I heard, there were no translators present, and as you can see in the article, all of the women arrested were adults.  No men were arrested.

There was a tremendous amount of concern over human trafficking last year in Rhode Island, from a lot of people concerned about human rights and women’s right.  There has been considerably less attention paid to the issue now that proponents of criminalized prostitution in Rhode Island passed legislation last session.  However, the effects of the legislation are still very real.  I have previously discussed how proponents of the legislation stated many times that the women arrested are the women the legislation was intented to help, so it will be interesting to see if these arrests actually do in any way help the women that are now facing criminal charges.

Until the details of the arrests come out, it will be impossible to say for certain whether there is any evidence of human trafficking in the spas where the arrests occurred.  All three of the women were released by the judge on bail, meaning that the state did not hold any of them for interrogation as part of a human trafficking investigation or place them in protective custody as potential victims of trafficking.  Proponents of the legislation previously argued that arresting women for indoor sex work would allow the state to remove them and protect them from dangerous situations.  No allegations or investigations regarding human trafficking ever surfaced in conjuction with the first sting, last December, which resulted in 14 arrests.  However, I hope that the interest in this issue by the media and legislators does not die now that the battle over legislation has faded.

filed under: Criminal Justice |

Check Out The First And Last 90 Secs

2PM ON 27/02/2010
BY Johnny Contributor

filed under: Criminal Justice |

36 Sponsors Introduce Marijuana Decriminalization

7AM ON 04/02/2010
BY Dave Segal is usually Beth’s beat, but… Rep. Jay Edwards has taken the lead on pot decriminalization, with about half of the members of the House signing on, and many more asserting their support. If it went to a vote today, it’d pass with a veto-proof margin.

There is, frankly, a good deal of apprehension in political circles these days. Let’s call it “Scott Brown Syndrome.” People are particularly risk-averse — even moreso than usual. But the Tea Party thing, and the more general populist consternation that is creating such pressures, are in good part a function of social-libertarianism — not just slash-and-burn anti-tax sentiment. And pushing measures like this will cleave off some of those social libertarians, tending to increase support for those who are willing to work to keep government out of people’s social lives.

In other words, passing this bill would help Democratic incumbents get re-elected, not hurt them.

filed under: Criminal Justice |

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

7AM ON 02/02/2010
BY Arthur Mayor has vetoed the City Council’s recent changes to the Providence External Review Authority, entity that’s meant to monitor police abuse, which has historically been higher in Providence than in all but a couple of other large cities. And he’s upped the ante, by having the City Solicitor sue the Council too. The Mayor asserts that PERA violates his right to appoint directors of agencies and departments.  But the thing is, PERA’s been this way since its inception, and back when he was a state rep and practicing lawyer, the Mayor wrote the ordinance. Here’s RIFuture’s take:

The provision states that the Mayor shall have the power to “appoint all heads of city departments and agencies with the approval of the city council.” Ok, fair enough, but why now? Since 2002 the Executive Director of PERA has been hired by the Board, and for the past eight years PERA has functioned well under the previous structure. It’s strange that it wasn’t until Friday, January 29, that the City Solicitor, Adrienne Southgate, filed a civil action challenging the Board’s power to hire the Executive Director. The Mayor’s argument that the work of PERA is “too important to be undermined by violating the City Charter,” and that the City Council “cannot make good policy by breaking the law” is disingenuous at best.

The assertion that the Executive Director of PERA should be appointed by the Mayor creates a significant conflict of interest. The agency is supposed to be independent. The Solicitor’s civil suit seems to be more motivated by a power grab in order to put PERA under Mayoral control.

Hopefully we can move past these squabbles so PERA can start functioning in a consistent way, after years of half-assedness, as it’s fended off lawsuits and been stuck in the middle of City Hall bickering.

filed under: Criminal Justice |

Schwarzenegger: Hasta La Vista to Exploding Prison Budgets

7AM ON 11/01/2010
BY Daily Dose

By Bruce Reilly:

In this time of fiscal crisis the governor has announced that he will push for a constitutional amendment prohibiting the percentage of the state budget earmarked for prisons from exceeding what is set aside for its public university system.

“Choosing universities over prisons,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said in his final annual address to the Legislature. “This is a historic and transforming realignment of California’s priorities.”

In a state well-known for its ballot questions, advocates will face stiff opposition from those with their own wallets in the race:  The California Correctional officers, who annually push $20 million into the political landscape.  With just 10% the membership of the teachers’ unions, they (as in other states) wield far more clout than they are due.

The California prisons budget stands at 11% of the state budget while Higher Ed is 7.5%.  In Rhode Island, the real numbers look like this:

more »

filed under: Criminal Justice |

Press Conference To Call For Override Of Probation Reform Veto

4PM ON 15/12/2009
BY Dave Segal

Short on time, so I’m just plopping down the press release. Would be wonderful if anybody cared to join us:

Press Conference Wednesday, December 16 at Statehouse, 3pm

Domestic Violence Victim Asks General Assembly to Override Governor’s Veto and Pass Probation & Innocence Bill

On Wednesday there will be a press conference to ask the General Assembly to override the Governor’s veto of Senate 86/H5040, the Probation & Innocence Bill. Louis Monroe and her daughter Melanie will ask the Rhode Island legislature to reform the probation laws which put Melanie in prison repeatedly for crimes she did not commit. Representative David Segal and Senator Harold Metts will ask the General Assembly for the opportunity to vote for a veto override on the legislation.

For the second year in a row, the Governor vetoed legislation that passed by large majorities in both legislative bodies that would reform Rhode Island’s probation laws, which are the most oppressive in the country. The legislation would require that if an individual is acquitted of a crime, they not be incarcerated for that crime.

Louise Monroe will tell the story of her daughter Melanie, who is the victim of domestic violence and nine false criminal accusations which have been dismissed or for which she has been acquitted. Unfortunately, because of Rhode Island’s probation laws, she was repeatedly incarcerated for crimes she did not commit. In 2008 she spent over two months in jail as a probation violator for a charge of disorderly conduct.

On November 4 of this year she finally received the jury trial she demanded for the charge, and was found innocent. Because Rhode Island does not grant people on probation sufficient due process, she had already been imprisoned for that charge. As a result of the incarcerations, she lost her career and custody of her young son.

It is time to finally reform this process and grant due process to all people so that no more innocent people are incarcerated.

filed under: Criminal Justice |

Fundraiser For Open Doors

2PM ON 15/12/2009
BY Daily Dose Doors, until recently known as the Family Life Center, helped lead the groundbreaking movement to restore voting rights of those on probation and parole in RI.  In its day-to-day work it helps those who are leaving prison reintegrate into our communities, and fights high-cost (in social and monetary terms), regressive legislation at the State House, and pushes to reform a prison system that incarcerates more people than any other in the world.

Come join them for a holiday fundraiser tomorrow, Wednesday, at the Sidebar.

127 Dorrance Street, Wednesday, 5:30pm to 8:30pm, $15.

filed under: Criminal Justice | Democracy

I Have Seen The Future Of The Republican Party

6PM ON 25/11/2009
BY Dan Bass

alamo And his name is George Hutchins.  Just a couple minutes poking around his campaign website for North Carolina’s Fourth District will make it clear that Hutchins is the real deal, not one of those fake conservatives.

And as any REAL conservative knows, the reason that our country is in the economic mess it’s in– and why Democrats have won overwhelming majorities in both chambers in the last two elections, and Obama trounced McCain –is not a result of 8 years of Bush’s radical conservativism: it’s because Bush wasn’t ultra-radical conservative enough.

Which is why Palin should waste not one minute in declaring Hutchins her VP candidate for 2012.  In fact, the best political decision of her life would be to announce him as her pick on Thanksgiving.  And no worries about it being a rushed decision.  After all, looking at his website is about the same amount of vetting McCain did when he chose Palin.

Imagine it, the most coordinated and massive robocall in human history.  Timed to hit at precisely the moment families across the nation are sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner, every house, business, and cell phone in the nation receives a call, and who’s on the phone but Sarah Palin to announce that in exactly 90 seconds, on Fox News of course, she will be making the most important announcement in the 6,000 years of the earth’s history. more »

filed under: Criminal Justice |

Another Week, Another Column

7AM ON 10/11/2009
BY Dave Segal the pompous-as-ever Ed Achorn, decrying we Neanderthal legislators who care not to punish victims of human trafficking.

We know he thinks highly of himself, but the repeated self-congratulations must still be at least a bit hollow. So I’ve invited him to visit the ACI with me, so that all of the women who’ve been saved by his advocacy for the criminalization of prostitution may thank him in person.

I’ll let you know when he accepts.

filed under: Brain Drain | Conspiracies

Mob To Move To Massachusetts

7AM ON 07/11/2009
BY Arthur 12 says that the center of gravity of the New England mob is about to shift back to Boston. The wonderfully sensationalistic video can be viewed here.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – We’ve learned a major shift in power is happening right now inside the Patriarca crime family . It’s an historic move with major implications.

According to the FBI, the leadership of the New England mob has been in the hands of Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio for the past 12 years. But Target 12 has learned that Manocchio is stepping aside.

You can add Raymond Patriarca as a Facebook friend over here.

filed under: Criminal Justice |

The Danger Of The Rhetoric Of Punishment

2PM ON 03/11/2009
BY nhorton do we give the enforcers of criminal law — our police, our prosecutors, our jailers — so much power to make it? The last year of controversy, culminating in last week’s decision to outlaw indoor prostitution, proved once again that debates about criminal law are some of the most irresponsible public policy conversations that we have. The conversation was started by victims’ advocates pleading for help for the victims of trafficking. So how did we end up with legislation that almost none of them wanted?

The history of this debate exhibits many of the flaws in all our discussions over criminal justice policy: Ultimately, politicians and the press who fail to demand honesty allow the rhetoric of punishment free reign to incite the public.

Although legislation to close the prostitution loophole has been introduced for the last three years, this year became different on April 19th.

more »

filed under: Activism | Civil Liberties

Trying To Sum It All Up

7AM ON 28/10/2009
BY Dave Segal at the HuffPo, I’ve tried to do a (nearly, or at least somewhat) comprehensive post on the prostitution situation in Rhode Island.  It’s incredibly complex, even moreso after last night, and next to impossible to explain in any remotely linear fashion.



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