Incarceration

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New York County Closes Crime Lab Over Massive Drug Test Errors

Location: 
NY
United States
New York county officials shut down their crime lab because, they said, police officials knew that examiners were producing inaccurate measurements in drug cases even before a national accrediting agency placed the lab on probation. Nearly 9,000 drug cases dating to late 2007 are currently being reviewed for signs of errors after a spot check last week of nine cases involving ketamine or ecstasy revealed that six of them were inaccurately analyzed.
Publication/Source: 
Sify News (India)
URL: 
http://www.sify.com/news/ny-county-closes-crime-lab-over-drug-test-errors-news-international-lctbOdabcha.html

Hearing on Indiana Marijuana Study Bill Today (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE            February 15, 2011

Hearing on Indiana Marijuana Study Bill Today

CONTACT: Morgan Fox, communications manager………………………(202) 905-2031 or mfox@mpp.org

INDIANAPOLIS — The first hearing on S.B. 192 took place today to discuss the need to study the marijuana laws in Indiana and find alternatives to arrest and incarceration. S.B. 192 would create a mandate requiring lawmakers to investigate other options to the marijuana laws that put non-violent Hoosiers behind bars and tie up scarce resources that the public would rather see spent on infrastructure. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Dist. 4).

            “It has become painfully obvious that our current marijuana laws are not effective,” Sen. Tallian said. “We spend a sizable amount of money every year going after marijuana users and locking them up for a non-violent crime, while more important programs that desperately need funds go wanting. I think we need to take a very close look at the laws we have, determine what is working and what isn’t, and explore every possible alternative. This bill will make sure that we, as lawmakers, commit to this course.”

            Over a dozen people testified at the hearings, including policy experts, former law enforcement officers, and medical marijuana patients that suffer from the threat of arrest under the present system. One speaker, C.J. Parker, said, “I am a Gulf War Era Veteran and former police officer who suffers from over 20 diagnosed illnesses, including PTSD, and have been 100% unemployable since 2004 due to the combined effects of my illnesses. I have had no success with the over 30 pharmaceutical medications that have been prescribed to me over the last 9 years, but have found great relief from treating my illnesses with marijuana. It is time my elected leaders take a look at how to allow people like me to live without the fear of arrest.”

            A local leader in the marijuana reform community, Joh Padgett, said, “I have been a cannabis [marijuana] therapy patient for many years treating diabetic neuropathy, and pain associated with chronic venous stasis, edema, and a blood clotting disorder that has reduced circulation in my legs by 80%. I co-founded ReLegalize Indiana with our Chairman, Bill Levin, in January 2010 to give a voice to patients in Indiana like me who can benefit greatly from medical cannabis. Proper medical research is something we do well in Indiana and it is time we allowed our world-class researchers and our most vulnerable citizens to study and access a therapy allowed in 15 states and the District of Columbia.”           

            With more than 124,000 members and supporters nationwide, the Marijuana Policy Project is the largest marijuana policy reform organization in the United States. For more information, please visit www.mpp.org.

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Location: 
IN
United States

Bill Aims to Legalize Marijuana, Make Washington Pioneer State

Location: 
WA
United States
Sponsors of a marijuana legalization bill predict Washington will lead the nation in getting rid of the prohibition on marijuana. If bill sponsors get their way, Washington residents will be able to go to the state liquor store and legally buy marijuana. The same laws against selling to minors and driving while impaired would apply.
Publication/Source: 
KOMO (WA)
URL: 
http://www.komonews.com/news/local/115604624.html

ACLU Witnesses Brutal Beating of Los Angeles County Jail Inmate Detained on a Non-Violent Marijuana Charge (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 8, 2011

CONTACT: ACLU [1] Will Matthews, ACLU National at (212) 549-2582 or 2666; media@aclu.org [2] Sandra Hernandez, ACLU of Southern California at (213) 977-5252; shernandez@aclu-sc.org

ACLU Witnesses Brutal Beating Of Los Angeles County Jail Inmate By Sheriff’s Deputies

Attack Underscores Need For Systemic Reform And Decrease In Jail’s Population

LOS ANGELES - February 8 - The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Southern California (ACLU/SC) today condemned a recent brutal beating by two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies of a detainee at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, part of the county jail system.

The violent attack January 24 on James Parker, detained on a non-violent marijuana charge, was witnessed by ACLU/SC’s Esther Lim, who is assigned to monitor all county jails.

“We believe Mr. Parker’s beating is not an isolated incident,” said Hector Villagra, incoming Executive Director of the ACLU/SC. “Rather, it highlights the rampant violence that continues to plague the county’s jails, and demands court intervention to protect detainees from brutal attacks and retaliation. That the ACLU/SC monitor witnessed a brutal attack in plain sight is alarming and can only lead us to conclude detainees are subject to even greater cruelty when no one is looking.”

The beating was made public Monday in a sworn statement submitted in federal court by Lim, who watched through a glass window as deputies repeatedly punched, kneed and tasered Parker while he was lying motionless on the floor.

“Mr. Parker looked like he was a mannequin that was being used as a punching bag,” Lim says in her statement. “I thought he was knocked out, or perhaps even dead.”

Lim hit the glass divider hoping to get the deputies’ attention and stop the attack, but the officers continued to punch and taser Parker.

“Mr. Parker was not fighting with the deputies,” Lim says in her statement, adding he “was not trying to kick, hit or otherwise fight with the deputies.”

Yet deputies continued to order him to “stop resisting” and “stop fighting,” while simultaneously punching and kneeing his limp body repeatedly and tasering him multiple times.

The deputies then wrote in a jail log that Parker had been fighting and resisting, in complete contradiction to what the ACLU witnessed.

“This kind of brutal beating is unacceptable,” said Peter Eliasberg, ACLU/SC managing attorney. “We are also very concerned that shortly after the beating the sheriff’s department issued a log report contradicting what witnesses, including our monitor, saw. The report claims Parker was resisting and fighting with deputies. That is blatantly false.”

Parker now faces charges for allegedly assaulting the very deputies who beat him.

Lim’s statement, along with that of another witness to the beating, was filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, to bolster a motion the ACLU filed in November seeking a federal court order prohibiting jail deputies from retaliating against prisoners through violence or threats.

The ACLU first sued Los Angeles County and its sheriff on behalf of all detainees in the county’s jail system in 1975, charging the conditions of their confinement violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. Many remedial orders have been issued over the years in the case, Rutherford v. Block. But the systemic problems plaguing the system have recently become so acute the ACLU in December asked U.S. District Court Judge Dean D. Pregerson to order a new trial in the case based on “an escalating crisis of deputy violence, abuse and inmate suicides” at Men’s Central Jail, another of the system’s facilities. The ACLU contends the problems plaguing the jail system can only be fixed by finding alternatives to incarceration like drug treatment and community-based programs for the low-level, non-violent offenders and detainees with serious mental illnesses that comprise the vast majority of the system’s population, and seeks to prove the jail’s population can be safely, rapidly and radically reduced with existing resources and at great savings to county taxpayers.

A report released by the ACLU in September painted a stark picture of unacceptable levels of violence in the jails, including reports of deputies beating handcuffed detainees, injuring some so badly that they ended up in intensive care. The report also showed retaliation against inmates to be an acute problem. Several prisoners have been severely punished for meeting with representatives of the ACLU, which is the court-appointed monitor of conditions inside L.A.'s county jails.

“The reign of terror we’re uncovering in the Los Angeles County jails is unmatched by any of the hyper-violent prisons and jails across the country we have investigated,” said Margaret Winter, Associate Director of the ACLU National Prison Project. “The brutality there is so blatant and routine that the deputies carried out a vicious beating in full view of a court-appointed monitor. The court needs to take immediate action to ensure the protection of prisoners.”

A copy of the ACLU’s sworn statement, as well as that of the beating’s other witness, is available online at:

http://www.aclu.org/prisoners-rights/declarations-esther-lim-and-christopher-brown-regarding-january-24-2011-beating-twi[4]

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Location: 
Los Angeles, CA
United States

Mexican Prisons Failing to Keep Drug Traffickers on the Inside

Location: 
Mexico
Just as Mexican authorities are struggling to put drug traffickers in prison, Mexican prisons are struggling to keep them there. Hundreds of dangerous inmates have escaped from state penitentiaries along the U.S. border in recent months, some through spectacular action-movie breakouts, others by simply walking out the door.
Publication/Source: 
The Washington Post (DC)
URL: 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/03/AR2011020303747.html

Georgia Governor Pushing More Alternative Programs for Non-Violent Drug Offenders

Location: 
GA
United States
Gov. Nathan Deal says he's moving ahead to reduce Georgia's prison population by diverting non-violent drug offenders to other programs. A 2009 national report said drug prohibition related crimes were listed as the primary offense for about 17 percent of Georgia's prisoners. Deal has made it clear he's not interested in springing repeat or violent offenders. But locking up non-violent offenders wastes their lives, strains the state's budget and depletes its work force, he said.
Publication/Source: 
Savannah Morning News (GA)
URL: 
http://savannahnow.com/news/2011-02-01/gov-deal-working-divert-non-violent-drug-offenders-programs-outside-prison

Republican Lawmakers Shifting Tough-On-Crime Stance As State Budget Problems Multiply

In no state is the philosophical U-turn more abrupt than in Oklahoma, where last year the Legislature was barreling in the opposite direction. New Republican Speaker of the House Kris Steele is expected to unveil a package of proposals that would divert thousands of nonviolent lawbreakers from the prison system and ramp up paroles. Similar crash prison reductions are going on from coast to coast. Michigan has shuttered 20 correctional facilities and slashed spending by nearly 7 percent. South Carolina expects to reduce its inmate numbers by 8 percent by putting drug dealers, burglars and hot check writers into community programs instead of behind bars.
Publication/Source: 
Los Angeles Times (CA)
URL: 
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/wire/sns-ap-us-broken-budgets-prison-problems,0,2779184.story

Commission: Illinois Minorities More Likely to Face Prison for Drug Crimes Than White Offenders

Location: 
IL
United States
A state commission says minority offenders in Illinois are far more likely to go to prison for minor drug crimes than whites are. Blacks, for instance, served time in 19 percent of low-level drug cases, while only 4 percent of white offenders were imprisoned.
Publication/Source: 
WQAD (IL)
URL: 
http://www.wqad.com/news/sns-ap-il--raceandsentencing,0,4201370.story

The Drug War, Minorities and the Rust Belt

The Rust Belt is no stranger to America’s drug prohibition war. In her recent book, "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," former Stanford Law professor, civil rights lawyer, and current Ohio State University faculty member, Michelle Alexander convincingly paints the war on drugs as far more than just a failed multi-decade policy that has resulted in America becoming the prison capital of the world. She positions the drug war as part of a racial caste system that has imprisoned over a million African American men and disenfranchised even more.
Publication/Source: 
Rustwire.com
URL: 
http://rustwire.com/2011/01/25/the-drug-war-minorities-and-the-rust-belt/

Reagan Turns 100: Fawning Media Ignore His Disastrous War on Drugs (Opinion)

Tony Newman, communications director for the Drug Policy Alliance, opines on Ronald Reagan's legacy. Newman says Reagan's harsh drug policies not only exploded the prison population, he also blocked programs that could have prevented hundreds of thousands of AIDS deaths.
Publication/Source: 
Alternet (CA)
URL: 
http://www.alternet.org/drugs/149658/reagan_turns_100%3A_fawning_media_ignore_his_disastrous_%27war_on_drugs%27

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