Sunday, March 29, 2009

Corruption, Greed, Prisons

America, we can do better. When judges are corrupted it takes a long time to undo the damage, as you can only imagine from this article about youth in Pennsylvania sentenced by two greedy (but well educated) judges. You can't make this stuff up.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009

Jim Webb, Senator from Virginia, gets it. He and Sen. Specter cosponser this legislation to review and reform criminal justice and incarceration policy.

Not your Chevrolet's America

Chevy, "this is America"

This past year, both the Republican and the Democratic Presidential candidates came out firmly for banning torture and closing the facility in Guantánamo Bay, where hundreds of prisoners have been held in years-long isolation. Neither Barack Obama nor John McCain, however, addressed the question of whether prolonged solitary confinement is torture. For a Presidential candidate, no less than for the prison commissioner, this would have been political suicide. The simple truth is that public sentiment in America is the reason that solitary confinement has exploded in this country, even as other Western nations have taken steps to reduce it. This is the dark side of American exceptionalism. With little concern or demurral, we have consigned tens of thousands of our own citizens to conditions that horrified our highest court a century ago. Our willingness to discard these standards for American prisoners made it easy to discard the Geneva Conventions prohibiting similar treatment of foreign prisoners of war, to the detriment of America’s moral stature in the world. In much the same way that a previous generation of Americans countenanced legalized segregation, ours has countenanced legalized torture. And there is no clearer manifestation of this than our routine use of solitary confinement—on our own people, in our own communities, in a supermax prison, for example, that is a thirty-minute drive from my door.

Thank you New Yorker Magazine, Atul Gawande et al.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Blawger's Baseball League

As I was perusing Blonde Justice's anonymous blog, (not trying to blow anybody's cover or anything like that, and I'll add that she links to Texas and other geographic places as well) I came across Baltimore Crime which I'll add to my blog roll, as if it's not overloaded already. I just had to do it.

Overcome by the same fit of curiosity I came across this one, (pdiblog) too, by a member of last year's league, Sanchovilla.

The reason for looking was to see if she's still there, and if we're going to do the Blawger's baseball league again this year.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Actual Innocence, DNA Testing, Sec. 1983, Osborne in the Supreme Court

At this link is the transcript of oral argument in the Supreme Court in the Osborne DNA case from Alaska in which the government argues that new evidence in the form of DNA testing should be denied, remain untouched, apparently in the interests of "finality", one, because 1983 civil claim is not the appropriate way to ask for it, and it is more of a discovery request, and prisoner does not have a federal constitutional right to his own DNA for testing, and because he refuses to swear unde penalty of perjury that he is actually innocent and has confessed twice, and remarkably, that there is no right to present new evidence that shows, or could show, your actual innocence (more to come) -- HuH?

I took some notes yesterday and stupidly kept thinking I'd return to post to the blog and didn't so it's lost, only to be retrieved from memory. Perhaps I'll not bother. Now to return to finish reading the transcript...,

For now, let's just say that this case tests whether or not there is a constitutional right to obtain evidence of actual innocence that is in the possession of the state.

Doc Berman's post on the case has the usual good commentary, here.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Citizens for Change

A new reader found my site, left a comment here, so at the request of JustaDadatHome, I'll be adding a direct link to Citizens for Change ( under the Sex Crime, Public Education, and Civil Rights section of my blog. Thanks, JaDaH!

I'm looking forward to seeing the great logo link on their website to my blog! It's nice to have talented friends!

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Justice Center Chair Facing Removal in Texas CCA

I don't know how to describe this but, just the facts, sir. Judge Keller, Honorable Sharon Keller, Presiding Judge, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (the supreme criminal court) is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Justice Center which is the umbrella organization controlling the Reentry Policy Council noted in my last post. I just happened to stumble upon this fact today while reviewing the website out of an abundance of curiosity.

Unfortunately, the Judge is now facing a removal proceeding and trial (estimated to cost $250,000 dollars of your taxpayer money) thanks to the State Commission on Judicial Proceedings. Just one more reason to stop electing judges is this article about the fee, in which her lawyer, Chip Babcock, says they'd defend her for a buck, but are prohibited by law for giving a discount on legal fees to a judge as it would amount to an illegal political contribution! The buck in question is the amount the lawyer hired by the Commission is set to receive for prosecuting the case against Keller.

Allegations state that Judge Keller refused to follow written procedures in the Richardson execution causing the lawyer's request for stay based upon the USSC grant in Baze to be rejected. It is alleged she knew the lawyers wanted to file the request but could not get it to Court by the five pm close and refused to allow papers to be filed late. I might have added, stupidly and callously refused, but that would just be my spin on it. We'll just have to see what kind of sanction, if any, is appropriate for this kind of behavior by our supreme court justices.

All major Texas newspapers, including Texas Monthly have decried Keller's hastening of the execution of Richardson. To a man, all have called for Keller's removal.

I wonder how will this affect the future of the reentry movement?

The Justice Center's Board provides guidance on the Center's priorities and is comprised of senior level state officials who shape criminal justice policy.

Grits has this post on it.

Grants for Prisoner Reentry

Second Chance Act grant solicitations are on the way, link for more info from the Reentry Policy Council. Understanding the Act's provisions is easy with this link to Sections 101 (for State and Local Governments) and 211 (for Nonprofits).