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PRISON REFORM

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NO justice, no peace!

Dear friend:

Kids aren’t adults. Treating kids like adult criminals doesn’t work – it hurts public safety and condemns kids before their brains have even fully developed.

But New York is one of only two states in the country that prosecutes all kids as adults when they turn 16-years-old. And children as young as 7-years-old can be arrested in our state and charged with acts of juvenile delinquency.

This hurts our kids. Children in adult prisons face the highest risk of sexual assault. They are 36 times more likely to commit suicide. They are more than twice as likely to report being beaten by staff in adult prisons than in juvenile facilities. And they are often placed in solitary confinement, which can permanently harm their mental health.

Children with criminal convictions face bleak futures. The vast majority of 16- and 17-year-olds who face prosecution as adults were arrested for only misdemeanors. But a criminal conviction, even for a low level misdemeanor, can tarnish a child’s image and stunt their future before the child even finishes high school.

Right now state leaders have a historic opportunity to end this shameful treatment of our children. Tell state leaders that New York must raise the age of criminal responsibility!

Raising the age is not only good for kids, it is good for public safety. Because their brains are still developing, kids respond well to the interventions and rehabilitative programs that exist in the juvenile justice system. Children in the adult criminal justice system have nearly 34 percent more re-arrests for felony crimes than children in the juvenile justice system. By placing kids in adult jails and prisons, New York makes it more likely that kids will reoffend.

The kids who need help the most are disproportionately impacted by this system. Prosecuting kids as adults disproportionately harms children of color. Over 70 percent of kids arrested in New York are black or Latino. Kids of color disproportionately bear the burden of being incarcerated and the mark of a criminal conviction.

Take action: Tell state leaders to stand up for New York’s children and for public safety.

New York's kids should be treated as juveniles, not adults, and their mistakes should not haunt them for the rest of their lives. They need shorter sentences and programs that divert them out of the criminal justice system. And they should be removed from adult jails and prisons where they are more likely to be physically and emotionally abused.

Help make New York a leader instead of last in class. Take action now.

Thank you standing up for New York,

********************************************************************* 

Shaka Senghor spent seven out of his 19 years in prison in solitary confinement, known to other inmates asthe hole’ or ‘administrative segregation’ in the official language of the U.S. prison system - a term eerily designed to reduce the impact of its reality.

Convicted of the murder of a fellow drug dealer, Senghor was incarcerated in a bare six-foot by eight-foot excuse for human habitation. A concrete slab juts out of the wall, threatening impalement instead of offering sleep. The hole in the wall that’s intended for bodily functions gapes back at him as if to say, I will swallow you. The lockdowns run 23 hours a day on weekdays, and 24 hours on weekends.

Human contact, if it ever happens, is administered as if an animal is being handled, replete with leashes and five-point chains. The environment is steeped at a pitch of insanity - cell blocks rife with shouts and screams and the flinging of human feces. The walls seem to speak: ‘you cannot escape the incessant reminder that what you did is now who you are.’

Even after his release in 2010, Senghor, like most other former prison inmates, faced systematic discrimination as he attempted to step out of one bizarre reality into another that seemed intent on recycling his original punishment. A job and a supportive community are top priorities for those leaving prison if they are to avoid recidivism. But on employment applications, a box must be checked if the applicant has served time. In implicit and explicit ways, former prisoners are reminded of—and invisibly shackled by—their crime, long after their discharge.

Today however, Senghor is part of a new initiative in the United States that aims to transform the justice system by cutting the U.S. prison population in half by 2025. Called the “#Cut50 initiative” and launched on March 26th 2015, this effort has unusual bi-partisan support and leadership, and carries a powerful moral and political message: a culture of punishment run amuck is destroying the fabric of society; it’s time to end the warehousing and exploitation of human beings.

As someone who transformed his own life and discovered a love for writing while serving those 19 years in prison, Senghor will be a powerful and respected spokesperson for #Cut50. By sharing his story, he’s already helped mothers of murder victims to forgive, inspired young men in the streets to choose a college degree over a prison number, and shifted the thinking of ‘tough-on-crime’ advocates from the ‘lock them up and throw away the key’ mentality to believing that redemption is possible. His TED talk “Why Your Worst Deeds Don’t Define You” has received over one million views.

Senghor’s colleagues include Van Jones and an ongoing endorsement from Newt Gingrich, about the most unlikely political partnership imaginable in the USA. Jones is an attorney and co-host of CNN’s Crossfire program, as well as a former Obama Administration advisor on “green jobs” and the co-founder of organizations such as the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Green For All. Gingrich is known for his staunch conservatism. Yet both realize the high stakes involved in the transformation of the US justice system, and the common ground that exists underneath the surface of party politics.

#Cut50 aims to reduce the incarcerated population of the US by 50 percent over the next 10 years by convening ‘unlikely allies,’ communicating a powerful new narrative, and elevating proven solutions such as restorative justice and youth empowerment programs that provide jobs and skills. Recent successes in both ‘red’ and ‘blue’ states prove that it is possible to reduce incarceration rates successfully while achieving better outcomes, saving money, and protecting public safety.

These programs have already demonstrated a reduction of recidivism to eight per cent, compared to national averages of 65 per cent to 70 per cent. Fania Davis and the Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth program is a good example, with a proven track record of diverting young people from detention and the likelihood of entering the ‘school to prison pipeline.’ Gregory Ruprecht’s work in Colorado is another, showing how police officers with conventional views of justice—‘lock them up and throw away the key’—can change over time as a result of direct experience of the alternatives.

In Ruprecht’s case the turning point was his arrest of a group of 10 and 11-year old boys who had broken into a chemical plant. Instead of charging them with a felony, he agreed to take part in a series of “restorative justice circles” that were designed to bring the boys into direct contact with the people they had harmed, along with their parents and a trained facilitator. At the end of the process, the boys signed a legal agreement listing how they were going to set things right, ensuring accountability without having to process yet more people through the justice system and eventually into prison.

Given that the US warehouses 25 per cent of the world’s prison population while comprising a mere five per cent of the world’s total population, #Cut50 is long overdue. But regardless of where you live, the initiative provides a clarion call to reframe how we see ourselves and each other in the emerging landscape of justice.

In its Mission Statement, the initiative argues that there has never been a better time to mainstream the idea that prisons can be safely closed, and more effective alternatives pursued in their place. In terms of public opinion, Americans of all political stripes are questioning the failing prison system and searching for new ideas and alternatives. The moment is ripe to capture the imagination of the public with a bold vision and concrete efforts to mobilize people to hold their elected representatives accountable for seeing it through to completion.

Critics who aim to polarize the issue claim that approaches like restorative justice are ‘soft on crime,’ and may actually enhance the prospects of violence. A recent article published in The New York Post by Paul Sperry, for example, asserts that “liberal policies” are making schools “less safe” by placing too much attention on offenders. The #Cut50 movement aims to dissolve such criticism by providing statistical evidence that the alternatives are working, and by moving public and political opinion beyond worn-out stereotypes about crime, punishment and retribution.

These alternatives make sense far beyond any particular party line. At heart, very few people would deny the basic needs that exist inside everyone to be understood, heard, and seen; to be given a chance to redeem; to confront the impact of our actions and be given the opportunity to re-enter the collective endeavor of society.

The choice is clear: stand by and allow the rampant school-to-prison pipeline of the US to inflict yet more needless punishment on a population that produces no improvements in its stated goals of rehabilitation and public safety – or join #Cut50’s efforts to achieve a root and branch reform.

Ultimately, Senghor’s message of personal and political transformation provides all of us with an opportunity to contemplate the reality of that harsh solitary cell, and to question the enormous costs of caging the human spirit.

NASSAU PRISON VISITOR BOARD

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Documentary on Drug Addiction

Prisoner Family Bill of Rights

NASSAU ISSUES//RUMORS

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Prison Reform Fact Sheet

End Torture Now!

Nassau jail staff accused of inmate assault

A Nassau County inmate has been hospitalized followingA Nassau County inmate who twice sued correction officers for alleged beatings has been hospitalized in critical condition after a confrontation with jail staff earlier this month.

During Jerome Washington's recreation period on Feb. 14 "he assaulted a staff member and had to be restrained," Elizabeth Loconsolo, general counsel for the county sheriff's office, said in a brief statement.

His family accused correction officers of bashing the right side of his head, which they said bruised his brain and put him in a coma. He also appears to have a small fracture or bruising on his spine, relatives said.


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"I know he's been a troublemaker in life, but they had no right to whup him," said Kenneth Washington, his brother and an Alabama correction officer.

Loconsolo declined to discuss Washington's medical condition, citing privacy issues, but said the sheriff's office and Nassau police are investigating.

John Jaronczyk, president of the Nassau County Sheriff's Correction Officers Benevolent Association, said two officers were involved in the scuffle and both sustained serious injuries. "I am confident that the investigation will prove both correction officers used exactly the appropriate and legally permitted amount of force necessary to defend themselves and secure the inmate," he said in a statement.

Washington, 47, was in critical condition at Nassau University Medical Center on Friday, when he was moved from intensive care into a room.

"He opened his eyes and closed them right back," said his mother, Annie Washington, who moved to Alabama after retiring as a nurse from Winthrop-University Hospital.

In 2002 and 2012, Washington filed suit in federal court against the Nassau sheriff, certain jail supervisors and some correction officers. In papers, he said he had been "brutally beaten" several times and that officers sprayed Mace on his food and deprived him of medical care. His 2002 suit was dismissed after he missed a deadline, and the 2012 lawsuit is pending.

As an inmate, Washington has pushed for his rights and called the New York Civil Liberties Union several times recently about treatment and conditions, said Jason Starr, director of the NYCLU Nassau chapter.

Starr said Washington was spending almost all of each day in the "behavior management unit," where inmates are housed alone in cells.

Photo credit: handout | A Nassau County inmate has been hospitalized following a Feb. 14 confrontation with jail staff, an incident that is currently under investigation. (Feb. 18, 2018 )

 
 
 
-------- Begin forwarded message --------
 
Subject: Saturday visits at Nassau Correction Center
 

 
Dear peacemakers,
 
At the demonstration against solitary confinement outside the Nassau County Correction Center today, we l also learned that no visits are  allowed  on Saturdays for the families/prisoners at this  facility. Weekdays are difficult and/or impossible  for most people because of job commitments so it is very important that Saturdays be made available.
 
Martin Melkonian urged us to call County Executive Mangano,
 
516 626 4266, to urge him to allow visitors on Saturdays.
 
 
Please spread this information to those you think would be interested.
 
 

 

 

Pope Francis Denounces Solitary Confinement, Calls for Prison Conditions That “Respect Human Dignity”

by Jean Casella

Pope Francis washes the feet of youth in a juvenile detention center in Rome during Holy Week, 2013.

In a wide-ranging speech on Thursday, Pope Francis revealed himself as a passionate criminal justice reformer. His words also suggest that he is familiar with the controversies surrounding solitary confinement and supermax prisons, and strongly opposes their use.

Speaking at the Vatican to representatives of the International Association of Penal Law, the Pope said: “All Christians and people of good will are called today to fight not only for the abolition of the death penalty, be it legal or illegal, in all of its forms, but also for the improvement of prison conditions in respect for the human dignity of those who have been deprived of liberty.”

Previous popes, including John Paul II, have been outspoken opponent of capital punishment. But Francis took his discourse a step further, denouncing sentences of life in prison, and saying that "a life sentence is a hidden death sentence."

The Pope called for a ban on all criminal detention of children, for "special treatment" for elderly people in prison, and for an end to preventive detention, which he called a "hidden, illegal punishment." More broadly, he denounced "the deplorable conditions of detention that take place in different parts of the world,"  which he called an "arbitrary and merciless exercise of power over persons who have been deprived of freedom.”

Francis specifically turned his attention to supermax prisons. His term was carceri di massima sicurezza, which more literally translates to "maximum-security prisons"--but from his emphasis on extreme isolation and its consequences, it is clear that the Pope was referring to the use of solitary confinement. Pope Francis's statement in full on the subject is as follows (with apologies for a rough translation):

One form of torture is sometimes applied by imprisonment in maximum security prisons. With the motive of providing greater security to the community or special treatment for certain categories of prisoners, its main feature is none other than the isolation. As demonstrated by studies carried out by different human rights bodies, the lack of sensory stimuli , the complete lack of communication and the lack of contact with other human beings, causes physical and emotional suffering such as paranoia, anxiety, depression, and weight loss, and significantly increases the chances of suicide.

This phenomenon is characteristic of high security prisons, but it also occurs in other kinds of prisons, along with other forms of physical and mental torture...These tortures are now administered by not only as a means to achieve a particular purpose, such as confession or denunciation, in the name of national security. They are a genuine surplus of pain that is added to the suffering of detention. In this way, torture takes place not only in clandestine detention centers or in modern concentration camps, but also in prisons, juvenile institutions, psychiatric hospitals, police stations, and other institutions of detention and punishment.

The Pope also warned against seeing prison as a cure for all of society’s ills. “In recent decades there has been a growing conviction that through public punishment it is possible to solve different and disparate social problems, as if for different diseases one could prescribe the same medicine,” he said. In conclusion, he advised that "caution in the application of punishment should be the governing principle of all criminal justice systems," and that States should not, for any purpose, subvert "respect for the dignity of the human person."

Pope Francis previously made headlines during his first Holy Week by washing the feet of twelve youth held at a juvenile detention center in Rome while celebrating the mass of the Last Supper, when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples.

In a papal mass just a few days before his speech on criminal justice, Francis told an assembly of Catholic bishops: "God is not afraid of new things. That is why he is continuously surprising us, opening our hearts and guiding us in unexpected ways."

Jean Casella | October 26, 2014 at 11:00 am | Tags: capital punishment, criminal justice, death penalty, life sentences, Pope Francis, religion, solitary confinement, supermax prisons, Vatican | Categories: civil liberties/civil rights, featured posts, human rights, international, news, physical effects, politics of punishment, psychological effects, solitary confinement, supermax prisons, torture | URL: http://wp.me/p2HYoj-3G6

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Ex-jail officer guilty of inmate sex abuse

Former corrections officer Mark Barber at the Nassau

Photo credit: Howard Schnapp | Former corrections officer Mark Barber at the Nassau County Court in Mineola. (July 23, 2012)

A former Nassau correction officer will experience life on the other side of prison bars after a jury found him guilty Thursday of using his position to extort sex from female inmates.

Mark Barber, 50, of Levittown, was held for a short while at the Nassau County jail, where he worked for more than 20 years, before being transferred to the Suffolk County jail, a spokeswoman said. He will be held there until Nassau County Court Judge Norman St. George sentences him to up to 10 years in an upstate prison on Sept. 18.

Barber's daughters sobbed as the jury forewoman announced Barber was guilty in 30 of 43 counts he was charged with, including third-degree criminal sex act, forcible touching and official misconduct. Barber was found not guilty of the most serious charge, third-degree rape.

"Today's verdict ensures that this defendant will be behind the cell doors he once was trusted to guard, and that's exactly where he belongs," said Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice in a statement.

Barber's lawyer, Edward Galison of Mineola, called the verdict a "travesty."

"These girls lied through their teeth and they were caught at it," Galison said outside court, referring to the inmates and former inmates who accused Barber of the abuse. "It's just a shame."

Galison also said several of the women were motivated by a $10 million lawsuit they've filed against Barber.

Barber, who was a grievance officer when the crimes occurred between 2007 and 2009, targeted inmates who had histories of drug abuse, prostitution or mental health treatment, prosecutor Bernadette Ford said in court. He made arrangements so he could be alone with six female inmates at various times, then asked them for sex in exchange for things they wanted, such as cigarettes and phone privileges, Ford said.

In one case, Barber entered a woman's jail cell, then asked her to show him her breasts, Ford said. In another, he arranged for a woman to join a work crew cleaning the jail chapel, then used the opportunity to get her alone in a rest room and ask for sex, Ford said.

Ford said the women agreed to have sexual contact with Barber, but she said under the law all sexual contact between inmates and correction officers is illegal, even if the inmate says that she or he consents.

 

NYCLU Sues Nassau County to Establish Jail Oversight Board FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 21, 2012 – Following the recent suicide of an Iraq war veteran housed at the Nassau County Correctional Center – the fifth inmate suicide in less than two years – the New York Civil Liberties Union today filed a lawsuit to compel county officials to comply with a 22-year-old unfulfilled charter mandate to establish an independent board charged with overseeing and reforming conditions at the jail. “Tragically, a stay at the Nassau County Jail can become a death sentence for the 11,000 people a year who are housed there awaiting trial or serving time for minor offenses,”  said Samantha Fredrickson, director of the NYCLU’s Nassau County Chapter. “Since Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano has turned a blind eye to this disturbing reality, we have no choice but to ask the court to compel the county to take this initial step toward finally treating people housed at the jail with basic human dignity.” The lawsuit was filed in State Supreme Court for Nassau County on behalf of two individuals currently housed at the county jail. It seeks to force the county to fulfill its duty to establish the Board of Visitors, an independent oversight committee that has never fully operated since being established in 1990. The county charter authorizes the seven-member committee to respond to inmate grievances and advise the sheriff on programs that would improve the care and treatment of people housed at the jail.  The lawsuit follows the suicide of a 33-year-old Iraq War veteran who was found on Feb. 24 hanging in his cell. He is one of seven people who have died while in custody at the jail since January 2010, including five suicides. State authorities have indicated that several of those deaths were clearly preventable.   Plaintiff Joseph Marone was forced to wait weeks to see a nurse after noticing blood discharging from his left ear. By the time a nurse examined him, the bleeding had stopped, though he believes he suffered hearing loss. After injuring his hand and ribs in an accident involving his cell door, Marone was given over-the-counter medication that did not alleviate his pain. Doctors x-rayed his hand, but not his ribs, which continue to hurt him when he breathes. Marone filed numerous grievances complaining of this inadequate care, but the county and jail officials failed to address his concerns.      “People shouldn’t be forced to live in constant pain because the county won’t provide them basic medical care,” said Marone. “I hope this lawsuit marks the beginning of the end of the county’s cruel indifference toward people housed at the jail.” Over the same period, the NYCLU has received more than 200 complaints from people incarcerated at the jail about the failure to provide necessary medication, the mistreatment of persons with disabilities and the utter lack of mental health services at the jail. The number of complaints has escalated dramatically since the county hired a private contractor to provide medical and mental health care at the jail. Many of these complaints point to the facility’s inadequate grievance system.   Plaintiff Paul Nantista has had difficulty receiving medical treatment at the jail on numerous occasions. Most recently, he was unable to have a doctor examine a broken toe on his right foot. Though the toe was severely swollen, he received no pain medication for it. “My toe was clearly broken, and yet I couldn’t see a doctor,” Nantista said. “Living behind bars is hard enough without having your basic medical needs ignored.”   According to the county charter, the Board of Visitors is to be composed of seven county residents who will serve three-year terms and have some “working knowledge of the correctional system.” The committee is required to have an office at the jail and access to jail records, books and data.  Committee members would be appointed by Mangano and serve without compensation.   “The recent deaths represent the latest chapter in a long saga of mistreatment and neglect at the jail,” said NYCLU Senior Staff Attorney Corey Stoughton, lead counsel in the case. “For more than 30 years, the county has failed to meet its legal and moral obligations to treat inmates humanely. Strong, independent oversight can help end this troubling history and finally ensure that inmates receive the basic medical care they need.” In 1981, the Nassau County sheriff entered into a consent judgment with inmate plaintiffs who had complained of unconstitutional conditions of confinement in the jail. Throughout the 1980s, people housed at the jail won a series of lawsuits arising from the county’s failure to comply with the consent judgment.  In 1999, inmate Thomas Pizzuto died while in custody at the jail, allegedly the result of a beating by corrections officers. Four corrections officers received prison sentences in the case. That same year the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation that found unconstitutional violations at the jail due to deliberate indifference towards inmates’ serious medical needs and incidents of excessive use of force against inmates. In 2002, the county entered a consent decree with the DOJ that mandated significant changes to the jail’s policies and procedures governing medical and mental health care and use of force. Less than a year after the DOJ ended its oversight of the jail, the state Commission on Correction in 2009 issued a report indicating that the jail was not meeting minimum statewide standards for correctional facilities.   In addition to Stoughton, New York University Civil Rights Clinic students Jessica Scholes and Richard Sawyer are working on the case. To read the full complaint and the memorandum of law, visit http://www.nyclu.org/news/nyclu-sues-nassau-county-establish-jail-oversight-board.  -xxx-     Jennifer CarnigCommunications DirectorNew York Civil Liberties Union125 Broad St., 19th FloorNew York, NY 10004212.607.3363845.553.0349 (cell) Join our team to defend New Yorkers’ rights and freedoms! Click here to sign up for the NYCLU's E-Activist list. 




There is a human rights crisis behind the walls of the Nassau County Correctional Center. The  thousands of inmates housed there, many whom have not yet been convicted of a crime, are living in the shadows and facing serious injustices everyday. People with serious medical conditions are being denied necessary treatment and medications. Requests to see mental health specialists go unanswered. Family members who take the day off fromwork to visit their loved ones are being turned away after hours ofwaiting outside. But no one is listening. We need your help!

The County Charter requires an oversight committee, called the Board of Visitors, to address issues at the jail. Though mandated by the law, the committee has never fully operated since it was established in 1990. The volunteer committee would consist of seven county residents who are knowledgeable of the correctional system. There is no shortage of individuals willing to take on this important work.

It's time for County Executive Edward Mangano and the Nassau County Legislature to stop turning a blind eye to this problem. It's time to restore the Board of Visitors.

Come rally with us and put pressure on the County to do the right thing.

What: Rally to Restore Human Dignity

When: Monday, Dec. 19th at 10 a.m.

Where: Nassau County Legislature, 1550 Franklin Ave. Mineola, NY 11501

Details: We'll rally outside of the legislature building and then head inside for the Legislative Meeting at 10p.m. Individuals interested in
testifying before the legislature about the problems at the jail and the need for an oversight committee can sign up to testify. There is a 3 minute limit per person.

More info: Contact Samantha Fredrickson, NYCLU Nassau Chapter at
516-741-8520 or Nassau@nyclu.org.

Sheriff union sues Nassau over appointments

Nassau County Sheriff Officers Association President John Jaronczyk

Photo credit: Photo by Howard Schnapp | Nassau County Sheriff Officers Association President John Jaronczyk (Feb. 3, 2012)

The Sheriff Officers Association is suing Nassau County in State Supreme Court, charging top county and correction officials have made three illegal appointments that should be overturned.

Capt. James Ford was named acting deputy undersheriff on March 31, and promoted to acting commissioner of correction May 12. That day, Capt. Dennis Hesse was promoted to acting deputy undersheriff. Last Wednesday, correction officer Vincente Valente Sr. was jumped five grades to deputy undersheriff.

"These appointments . . . are inappropriate and illegal," said John Jaronczyk, president of the 1,000-plus member union. He said the county recently demoted 30 corporals and reduced the number of jail supervisors.

Jaronczyk said the county charter does not allow employees in civil service titles such as correction officer and captain to serve in "acting" positions. The union filed suit last week.

In response, County Executive Edward Mangano said the State Commission of Correction directed Nassau to fill the supervisory positions as a condition for continuing to house inmates from Suffolk, for fees. "The union is trying to diminish the number of individuals who discipline employees and to thwart the county's efforts to generate millions of dollars in revenue that help hold the line on property taxes," he said.

Nassau Civil Service Commissioner Karl Kampe, who is named, along with Mangano and Sheriff Michael Sposato, as a respondent, confirmed that the commission "does not recognize 'acting' titles," then referred questions to County Attorney John Ciampoli.

Ciampoli called the appointments "appropriate."

 

NASSAU AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PROJECT (NAAP)

Nassau Charter Board of Visitors

Inmate Assistance Programs

Prison Oversight Agencies Link

Nassau Jail Suicides

I in 11 Blacks in correction

Nassau County Sheriff Department

Black officers make case against Nassau in court

A group of black Nassau correction officers who say county officials have not lived up to the terms of a long-standing federal order to improve racial hiring and properly administer an affirmative action job in the sheriff's department began to make their case in a Brooklyn courthouse Monday.

In a contentious first day of the hearing, attorneys for the Nassau County Sheriff Guardians, a group of black correction officers, and a lawyer representing the county objected dozens of times to the other side's questioning and failed to finish with the day's sole witness. At one point, the federal magistrate called the proceedings "tedious" and threatened to stop the hearing, saying attorneys had failed to adequately discuss "in good faith" the production of documents or who would be called to testify.

In February, attorneys for the Guardians filed a letter in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn seeking monetary damages and compliance with a 1998 decree. That legally binding agreement settled a 1992 lawsuit alleging discrimination in hiring, and the unequal treatment of black employees, the Guardians president has said.

The letter said the sheriff's office has marginalized the role of a "special assistant to the sheriff for affirmative action," appointed under the decree. The position was intended to investigate allegations of bias and help with recruitment and community outreach. The job was created in part to ensure the agency's compliance with the county's affirmative action policy.

Much of Monday's testimony centered on the county's hiring this year of Andre Guilty, a one-time rapper and cable television producer, for the county sheriff's affirmative action position.

Guilty is a well-known figure in Hempstead and a former supporter of former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi. Guilty switched allegiance during current County Executive Ed Mangano's successful run for the seat last year.

Under questioning by plaintiff's attorney Bonita Zelman, county Civil Service Commission personnel specialist Deborah Welt said hiring documents entered into evidence Monday indicated that county commissioners knew that Guilty had prior criminal convictions at the time they approved his provisional hiring.

Welt also acknowledged that a job application signed by Guilty indicated that he had no such criminal past. A letter Zelman said was from a county official recommending that Guilty be paid $71,662 annually, based on his job experience, was also entered into evidence.

The minimum salary for the job of affirmative action specialist III is $48,600, Welt said.

After the hearing, which U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Eastern District of New York Joan Azrack ended abruptly before ordering lawyers to her chambers, an attorney representing the county, Joshua Jemal, said the agency has always been in compliance with the decree. He also said Guilty acknowledged on the first of two applications that he had a misdemeanor criminal conviction from 1993, and that a subsequent application related to an exam required for the position referred back to the previous application.

Jemal declined to say what the conviction was for, or whether Guilty might have had other convictions, as Zelman said in court. "This was a provisional appointment. [Guilty] was hired through the civil service process properly, and we followed all the civil service guidelines," Jemal said.

The hearing is set to resume Friday.

 

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Nassau jail needs a hard look

Nassau County Jail in East Meadow

Photo credit: Ed Betz, 2008 | Nassau County Jail in East Meadow

It's time to put the Nassau County Correctional Center under a microscope. Four Nassau County inmates have committed suicide over the past 12 months, and the facility and its procedures need a speedy, comprehensive review. Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice last week joined state officials, inmate advocates and the New York Civil Liberties Union in calling for such a study, to be conducted by independent experts, and those calls should be heeded by the federal government.

Earlier this month, inmate Darryl Woody, arrested on domestic violence charges, hanged himself at the Nassau University Medical Center, which provides medical care for inmates of the Nassau County jail. Woody, who reportedly suffered from depression and schizophrenia, was placed in the hospital after he slit his wrists in the jail's mental health tier. The suicide of a man who had just tried to slit his wrists is particularly troubling; Woody, clearly willing to do himself great harm, should have been under closer watch by corrections staffers, even while getting medical care.

The jail had significant problems from 1999 until 2005 - so much so that it was placed under federal oversight, as was the NUMC inmate unit. Federal officials began monitoring the jail because of overcrowding and in response to the 1999 beating death of an inmate. Insufficient inmate medical care was also cited.

That consent decree was lifted in 2006, and between 2006 and 2009 the facility didn't have a single inmate suicide. But Herve Jeannot and Gasparino Godino hanged themselves in the jail in October, as did Eamon McGinn a year ago this month.

The jail houses 1,500 inmates, or 1.7 percent of the state's incarcerated population, but was the scene of 10 percent of the state's suicides by prisoners over the past year.

These deaths aren't the only signs of problems. Former prison grievance officer Mark Barber, a corrections worker at the jail for 22 years whose responsibility was handling complaints from female inmates, was indicted last year on 80 charges that include rape, sexual abuse and forcible touching involving seven women. Barber, accused of using his position to manipulate jailed women into sex acts, pleaded not guilty in September.

So the county needs answers. Each of the suicides created a mandatory probe by the state Commission of Correction, but they normally take 13 months to complete. That's too long. An immediate, comprehensive and professional evaluation of the jail's practices by outside experts is what's needed.

Once the review is done, the county must respond to its findings and recommendations quickly and thoroughly. It's not time yet to cast blame. But it's past time to assess where it might fall and to find and implement solutions to protect Nassau's inmates. hN

Mentoring Former Prisoners: A Guide for Reentry Programs

by Renata Cobbs Fletcher and Jerry Sherk with Linda Jucovy
November 2009, 90 pages


Few social programs have attempted to provide high-risk adults—and, particularly, former prisoners—with mentors. And thus there are few resources that offer practical advice and recommendations for mentoring this population, given its distinct needs, assets and challenges. While much remains to be tested and learned, this manual draws on the experience of the 11 sites involved in P/PV's Ready4Work prisoner reentry demonstration, as well as established best practices in the mentoring field, to provide guidelines for practitioners who are interested in developing a mentoring program to support former prisoners and enhance the effectiveness of other reentry services, such as employment and case management services.

The guide was originally published by the US Department of Labor in November 2007 under the title Mentoring Ex-Prisoners: A Guide for Prisoner Reentry Programs. However, because of growing interest in establishing mentoring programs as part of larger reentry efforts around the country, P/PV decided to reissue the guide, along with updated information related to P/PV's evaluation of Ready4Work (particularly findings published in Mentoring Formerly Incarcerated Adults, 2009.)


Fortune Society Rehab

Hidden Truth Re-Entry

Pew REport

Prison Health Report-Correctional Association

Prison-Menal Health Hearing

Saturday Prison Visits Cancelled

After three decades of explosive growth, the nation's prison population has reached some grim milestones: More than 1 in 100 American adults are behind bars. One in nine black men, ages 20 to 34, are serving time, as are 1 in 36 adult Hispanic men. Nationwide, the prison population hovers at almost 1.6 million, which surpasses all other countries for which there are reliable figures. The 50 states last year spent about $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections, up from nearly $11 billion in 1987
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Building Bridges, May 2009
 
Dear Reader, 
 
Prison Action Network has been working with the Coalition For Fair Criminal Justice Policies to develop a strategy for changing parole laws so people can no longer be denied parole solely because of the type of crime they committed. We feel there are other much more important criteria to be considered. In our discussions with experienced policy makers, we've become familiar with the Reintegrative Sentencing Model developed by the Center for Community Alternatives (CCA) and championed by ICARE. We recognize that the foundation for this concept was laid when Penal Law 1.05(6) was amended in 2006 to add a new goal, "the promotion of their (convicted person's) successful and productive reentry and reintegration into society.."  to the four traditional sentencing goals of deterrence, rehabilitation, retribution and incapacitation.
 
We envision this model being applied to create a documented Reintegration Plan upon arrest, which would subsequently be used at every step of the process through which the accused person passes, including the bail hearing, the court's sentencing decisions, and leading to a new role for the parole board.  The Reintegration Plan would be designed in partnership with the arrested person in analyzing the person's strengths and deficits to determine whether incarceration or an alternative would be most appropriate, and if incarceration, the programs deemed necessary for the person to earn release and eventual full reintegration into the community to which he or she is returned.
 
That of course, would require a radical restructuring of our current criminal justice process.
 
To encourage this shift we are suggesting that all of our proposals for improving the criminal justice system, including new Merit Time statutes and Parole Board policies be consistent with this model.
 
In the new paradigm, we visualize Merit Time becoming a tool to demonstrate the positive growth of a person throughout incarceration and during the reintegration process.  Revisions to 259-i, governing the Parole Board's authority, would be focused on reducing the Board's sanctioning role and expanding its role in monitoring and evaluating the person's behaviors and activities during incarceration. Upon release their role would be solely to monitor and provide support until such time as the person is fully reintegrated into all aspects of the community to which he or she returned.
 
Be well, have hope, and please, get involved!



 
Dear Coalition members,With the recent successful reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws, we are more excited than ever to travel to Albany to fight for more critical changes to the criminal justice system for women and their families.  We hope you will be there for the Coalition for Women Prisoners 15th Annual Advocacy Day on Tuesday, May 5th.  Last year, our Coalition was represented by almost 300 members and we now have a terrific opportunity to once again make our presence known and bring the issues we care so deeply about to the top of our legislature's list of priorities. If you are interested in attending Advocacy Day, you must attend an Advocacy Day training.  There are two ways for you to do this:·         Attend any of our April meetings which will serve as Advocacy Day Trainings.(If you are from upstate or out of the area, please contact Serena Alfieri at salfieri@correctionalassociation.org or 212-254-5700 x.311 to find out how you can participate in a training.) ·         Contact Stacey Thompson, our Community Outreach Coordinator, who will hold training workshops throughout the month and can come to your organization if you have a large group of members who would like to attend.  She can be contacted at: sthompson@correctionalassociation.org or 212-254-5700 x.333. Participating in a training will provide you with an overview of each of the three bills we are advocating for: the DV Merit Time Bill, Department of Health HIV/HepC Oversight Bill, and the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) Expanded Discretion Bill.A huge congratulations to all those who fought so hard for so long to enact meaningful change to the Rockefeller Drug Laws.   As Caitlin Dunklee, Drop The Rock Coordinator, recently wrote in a message to DTR members: "It may not be the end of the laws, but, if we have anything to do with it, these reforms will be the beginning of the end."  Our deepest respect and hats off to everyone who made this tremendous achievement possible.Looking forward to seeing you on May 5th,Tamar, Serena, Stacey & AndreaWomen in Prison Project Staff
The Coalition for Women Prisoners, coordinated by the Women in Prison Project of the Correctional Association of New York, is a statewide alliance of individuals and organizations dedicated to making the criminal justice system more responsive to the needs and rights of women and their families.

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--
Barbara Allan

Prison Families Anonymous
P.O. Box 343
Central Islip, NY 11722
www.hiddentruthtv.net
link to Prison Families Anonymous

631-943-0441

  centerforconstitutionalrights  
  

 

Dear CCR Supporter,

In October 2008, U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ruled that the imprisonment of 17 Uighur men at Guantánamo was illegal and that they
should be released into the United States. The Uighurs, members of a persecuted Muslim minority in Western China, were sold to U.S. forces by bounty hunters. Most of them were cleared by the military of any offense in 2003, and in 2008, the U.S. government formally acknowledged that none of them is an enemy combatant. All 17 have been exonerated by both military and habeas courts, and all three branches of the government have acknowledged that the Uighurs should be released. After 7 years of illegal detention, the only safe place these men can go is the United States. Join the Center for Constitutional Rights, Witness Against Torture and other human rights groups in supporting their freedom.

The Bush administration appealed Judge Urbina's ruling to prevent the Uighurs' release into the U.S. But there has never been and never will be any legal basis or security condition that should extend the imprisonment of these innocent men a single day more. Call President Obama (202.456.1111) and Attorney General Eric Holder (202.353.1555) today to ask for the immediate release of the Uighurs in accord with Judge Urbina's ruling. Ask them to dismiss the Bush Administration's appeal of Judge Urbina's order and vacate the stay preventing the settlement of these innocent men. For more information,
click here.

Stand with us against illegal detention and in support of the safe placement of the Uighurs.


Yours truly,

Annette Warren Dickerson
Director of Education and Outreach

 
 
 
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 Center for Constitutional Rights ll 666 Broadway 7th floor NY, NY 10012 ll 212-614-6464 ll www.ccrjustice.org  
   

New York Times, February 1, 2009
Examining Human Error in Wrongful Convictions
By MANNY FERNANDEZ
   A new examination of wrongful convictions in New York City and around the state found that a number
of them stemmed not from DNA evidence being used to prove someone's innocence, but from a far older
phenomenon: human error.
   The report, released on Friday by the New York State Bar Association, studied the cases of 53 men and
women whose convictions were overturned, often after spending years, sometimes decades, in prison for
murders, rapes and other crimes they did not commit.
   It determined that the root causes of the convictions included errors by a prosecutor, judge or member of law
enforcement, as well as the misidentification of the accused by victims or witnesses. The mishandling of forensic
evidence and a reliance on false confessions from the accused or false testimony from jailhouse informants were
also to blame.
   Fewer than half the cases involved new DNA evidence. Even with the DNA cases, elements of human error
were found.
   In many of the 53 cases, several factors, not just one, played a role in the wrongful convictions, the report found.
Thirty-six cases involved a misidentification by a witness or a victim, and 31 involved errors by prosecutors, judges
or law enforcement, it said.
   "If you were manufacturing widgets, and 53 widgets were defective, it would be acceptable," said Barry M. Kamins,
a Criminal Court judge in Manhattan who was the chair of the state bar association task force that prepared the report.
"If you're dealing in human lives, and 53 people are innocent and serving time for crimes they didn't commit, that is
unacceptable. One is too many, and 53 in New York is unacceptable."
   The 53 cases in the report read like a litany of legal missteps.
   Betty Tyson spent 25 years in prison before her murder conviction was overturned in 1998. She was convicted of
strangling a Philadelphia businessman in Rochester in 1973, largely as a result of the testimony of two teenagers
who said they had seen her with the victim.
   One of the teenagers later recanted his account, and a police report of an interview with the other teenager, in which
the witness said he did not see Ms. Tyson with the victim, was suppressed by the police and never given to her lawyers
at the time of the trial, according to the report and news accounts.
   James Walker was convicted in 1971 of murdering an armored car driver in Brooklyn, based on the testimony of an
informant. But the report stated that the prosecutor and the lead detective in the case suppressed the fact that the
informant had actually implicated a second man and that a surviving victim had seen Mr. Walker in a lineup but selected
another person. Mr. Walker served 19 years in prison and was freed in 1990.
   Bernice K. Leber, the president of the bar association, said the wrongful convictions have not only eroded public confidence
in the criminal justice system but have also had a significant, often-overlooked economic impact.
   A 1984 state law permits lawsuits and damage awards for unjust conviction and imprisonment.
   Anthony Faison and Charles Shepherd, two men whose cases were examined, were wrongfully convicted and imprisoned
for 14 years in the 1987 shooting death of a livery cab driver in Brooklyn. Their conviction relied on the testimony of a witness
who later admitted she had lied to collect a $1,000 reward. In a settlement with the state, Mr. Faison and Mr. Shepherd
each received $1.65 million.
   "These are huge numbers of dollars we're talking about," Ms. Leber said. "What kind of toll is that taking on the state? I
really do think that this report will be a seismic step and a wake-up call for our legislators and the governor to take a hard
look at where these dollars are going."
   The report comes amid criticism that New York has failed to do enough to prevent wrongful convictions. Several states have
established innocence commissions to review cases and propose legislative and procedural changes, but New York has not.
The state also does not require law enforcement agencies to record interrogations, as some other states do.
   In a statement, Ann Pfau, the state's chief administrative judge, said, "We look forward to studying the report and working
with the bar, legislative leaders, the executive branch and criminal justice professionals on this critical issue."
   Paul J. Browne, the New York Police Department's chief spokesman, said police officials had not had a chance to review
the report.
   "The N.Y.P.D., as much as anyone -- in fact, more than most -- is committed to convicting the guilty and exonerating the
innocent, and reasonable measures to accomplish both are welcome," he said in a statement.
   The task force that prepared the report makes a number of recommendations, including additional training for the police,
prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges, as well as changes in how police lineups are conducted. It also calls for
interrogations of all felony-level suspects to be electronically recorded, and urges the state to provide financial aid and
re-entry services to those exonerated, which Mr. Kamins said is not provided currently.
   The bar association will hold two public hearings on the report's findings -- one in Manhattan on Feb. 13 and the other in
Albany on Feb. 24. The report will then be presented on April 4 to the bar association's House of Delegates, which will vote

on whether to formally adopt it.

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Date: Thu, 29 Jan 2009 08:41:10 -0500
Subject: [NYAPRS Enews] MHASC Alert: Call Albany Today to Preserve the Promise of Prison MH Reform!
NYAPRS Note: The Governor's budget proposal threatens to erode major elements of the SHU law (the law ending the practice of solitary confinement for prisoners with severe psychiatric disabilities), by delaying its implementation, eliminating its application in half of the state's prisons, and reducing mental health training for correctional officers.NYAPRS joins advocates from Mental Health Alternatives to Solitary Confinement in urging legislators at today's Mental Hygiene budget hearing to restore these provisions, you can do your part by making calls to the key legislative officials mentioned below. Help us 'boot the SHU' (inhumane solitary confinement settings called Special Housing Units) by calling today!  

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Featured News - January 2009

CA Report Calls for Renewed Public Funding for Higher Education in Prison

Education from the Inside, Out recommends reversing federal and state budget cuts from the 1990s that have virtually eliminated in-prison college programs in New York and across the country. The report includes a survey of relevant research and a review of six model in-prison college programs. The report also contains first-hand testimony from program directors and formerly incarcerated program participants.

Read the press release | Download the full report

Featured press coverage:

Watchdog group wants inmate college grants back, Associated Press/Newsday, (January 29, 2009)


MEET THE CA:
Laura Davidson wins Phyllis McCarthy Public Interest Service Award

For 20 years, through successes, political challenges, fiscal difficulties, periods of rapid expansion, and, literally, a fire, Laura Davidson has been both a pillar and driving force for the Correctional Association. She is the heart and soul of our organization—and everyday she exemplifies the CA’s mission to ensure that all members of our society are treated justly and with dignity and respect. [read more]


Get Ready: CA's Prison Downsizing Campaign

It is not hyperbole to say that we now have a historic opportunity to win significant criminal justice reforms. New York’s budget crisis, combined with a more receptive legislature in Albany and a governor with a history of supporting drug law overhaul, creates a virtually perfect storm where far-reaching change is possible. The CA is moving swiftly to take advantage of this moment. [read more]

Upcoming Events

Crime, Justice and the Economic Crisis
February 10, 2009
6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Theresa Lang Community & Student Center

More info

 

 

Take Action!

Already signed it? Get your friends, families, and colleagues to sign and possibly win a prize! [read more]

 

 



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Our postal address is
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Suite 200
New York, New York 10027
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*****************************************************

trouble reading? click here
The Correctional Association of New York
in collaboration with
The Center for New York City Affairs / The New School
and
The Nation magazine

CRIME, JUSTICE AND THE ECONOMIC CRISIS

Tuesday, February 10, 2009, 6 pm to 8 pm
Theresa Lang Community & Student Center
55 West 13th Street (between 5th and 6th Avenues), 2nd Floor

Like New York, most states face deepening budget gaps and are slashing education and human services. Nationwide, states pour $50 billion a year into incarceration. New York led the way in expanding its prison system more than 25 years ago; should it lead the way in the other direction today? Will the federal government take a new approach to criminal justice in an Obama administration? And with at least 25,000 ex-offenders returning home each year from NY state prisons, what kind of support can communities expect?

MODERATED BY:
Katrina vanden Heuvel
, Editor, The Nation

WITH FEATURED PANELISTS:
Robert Gangi
, Executive Director, Correctional Association of New York
Glenn Martin, V.P. of Development and Public Affairs, The Fortune Society
Marc Mauer, Executive Director, The Sentencing Project
Denise O'Donnell, Commissioner, NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services
Anne Swern, First Assistant District Attorney, Kings County

Admission is free, but you must reserve a seat.

Call 212.229.5418 or email centernyc@newschool.edu.

Supported by the Sirus Fund and the Milano Foundation

 



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Our postal address is
2090 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd.
Suite 200
New York, New York 10027
United States

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for further information on Prison visits contact ballanpfa@aol.com,

 "War destroys. And we must cry out for peace.
Peace sometimes gives the idea of stillness, but it is never stillness.
It is always an active peace.
I think that everyone must be committed in the matter of peace,
to do everything that they can,
what I can do from here.
Peace is the language we must speak."
Pope Francis

 

 

 
                                            ~Pope FRANCIS