Image

Obama Admin Details Historic Clemency Eligibility for Drug Offenders

Obama Admin Details Historic Clemency Eligibility for Drug Offenders

The Obama administration has unveiled its plan to grant early release to federal prisoners sentenced under harsh drug laws. The Justice Department will widen the criteria for clemency to consider nonviolent felons who have served at least 10 years behind bars and who would have received shorter terms had they not been sentenced under old laws. The Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 reduced sentencing disparities between users of crack cocaine and powdered cocaine to address a racial imbalance in prison terms. But the law did not apply retroactively. Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the new policy is a matter of basic fairness.

James Cole: “These defendants were properly held accountable for their criminal conduct. However, some of them, simply because the operation of sentencing laws on the books at the time, received substantial sentences that are disproportionate to what they would have received today. … Correcting these sentences is simply a matter of fairness that is fundamental to our principles at the department, and it’s a commitment that all Department of Justice employees stand behind.”

The move marks the most substantial clemency effort since President Jimmy Carter offered a reprieve to those who avoided the Vietnam War draft. But while tens of thousands of prisoners may be eligible for the new clemency guidelines, experts warn a lengthy review process and other restrictions could lead to just hundreds being released. Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, called the shift a small step forward, saying: “We’ve had a significant rhetorical shift in the war on drugs, but we’ve had a moderate policy shift.” Both President Obama and drug reform advocates are now calling on Congress to take additional action with major sentencing reforms.

Via @ http://www.democracynow.org/2014/4/24/headlines#4241

SEE THE FULL SHOW @ http://www.democracynow.org/

Advertisements
Video

Jailed for Life for Stealing a $159 Jacket? 3,200 Serving Life Without Parole For Non-Violent Crimes

Via http://www.democracynow.org

A shocking new study by the American Civil Liberties Union has found that more than 3,200 people nationwide are serving life terms without parole for nonviolent offenses. Of those prisoners, 80 percent are behind bars for drug-related convictions. Sixty-five percent are African American, 18 percent are white, and 16 percent are Latino — evidence of what the ACLU calls “extreme racial disparities.” The crimes that led to life sentences include stealing gas from a truck, shoplifting, possessing a crack pipe, facilitating a $10 sale of marijuana, and attempting to cash a stolen check. We speak with Jennifer Turner, human rights researcher and author of the new ACLU report, “A Living Death: Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses.”

Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow gives a depth look into this epidemic of blacks being targeted and imprisoned. Until this so-called justice system gets defaced, there is no justice for my people. We must educate each other and fight alongside if we want any change to this prison caste system.

Video

NYPD Officer Risks His Job to Speak Out Against “Stop-and-Frisk” Targeting of People of Color

The New York City Police Department’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” program was a major issue for voters going to the polls in the city’s mayoral election. The issue drew widespread attention in August when U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin found stop-and-frisk unconstitutional, saying police had relied on a “policy of indirect racial profiling” that led officers to routinely stop “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.” While she did not halt use of the tactic, Scheindlin appointed a federal court monitor to oversee a series of reforms. In a dramatic development last week, those reforms were put on hold. On Thursday, an appeals court stayed the changes, effectively allowing police officers to continue using stop-and-frisk. We get reaction from a police officer who has spoken out about problems with the program he and thousands of others are asked to carry out. Adhyl Polanco became critical of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy when his superiors told officers to meet a quota of stops, or face punishment. Polanco made audio recordings of the quotas being described during meetings in his precinct and brought his concerns to authorities, but he said he was ignored. He then took his audio tapes to the media, including The Village Voice, where reporter Graham Rayman wrote a series called “The NYPD Tapes,” featuring several police officers like him. For several years, Polanco was suspended with pay. He has returned to work on the police force, where he has been put on modified assignment. “You cannot treat the whole black and Latino community as if they are all about to commit a crime,” Polanco says. “I’ll handcuff anybody who’s committing a crime. But when you take a male black [and say]: ‘Cuff him, he doesn’t look like he belongs here.’ Cuff him for what?”

Source: democracynow.org

This is a seed of the new jim crow. There is still a fight for black & brown equal rights. The justice system needs a new face and progressive thinkers who will know not color, but just law for all.

Image

30,000 prisoner hunger strike against Long-Term Solitary Confinement

30,000 prisoner hunger strike against Long-Term Solitary Confinement

What is Solitary Confinement?
In the early nineteenth century, the U.S. led the world in a new practice of imprisoning people in solitary cells, without access to any human contact or stimulation, as a method of rehabilitation. The results were disastrous, as prisoners quickly became severely mentally disturbed. The practice was all but abandoned. Over a century later, it has made an unfortunate comeback. Instead of torturing prisoners with solitary confinement in dark and dirty underground holes, prisoners are now subjected to solitary confinement in well-lit, sterile boxes. The psychological repercussions are similar.

Today, tens of thousands of individuals across the country are detained inside cramped, concrete, windowless cells in a state of near-total solitude for between 22 and 24 hours a day. The cells have a toilet and a shower, and a slot in the door large enough for a guard to slip a food tray through. Prisoners in solitary confinement are frequently deprived of telephone calls and contact visits. “Recreation” involves being taken, often in handcuffs and shackles, to another solitary cell where prisoners can pace alone for an hour before being returned to their cell.

Ever since solitary confinement came into existence, it has been used as a tool of repression. While it is justified by corrections officials as necessary to protect prisoners and guards from violent superpredators, all too often it is imposed on individuals, particularly prisoners of color, who threaten prison administrations in an altogether different way. Consistently, jailhouse lawyers and jailhouse doctors, who administer to the needs of their fellow prisoners behind bars, are placed in solitary confinement. They are joined by political prisoners from various civil rights and independence movements.

There is no contact with the outside, no contact with nature, no sunlight seen by these prisoners for years. The use of long-term solitary confinement is torture. It causes mental illness, anxiety, more uncontrollable behavior and is not in any way rehabilitation.

The prison industrial system for private profit has to be put back into the federal governments hands and laws need to be changed for a better society.