WBEZ | prison http://www.wbez.org/tags/prison Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Get out of jail, get deported http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-11-04/get-out-jail-get-deported-113629 <p><header><figure><div id="file-93113"><img alt="" src="http://cdn1.pri.org/sites/default/files/styles/story_main/public/story/images/prison.jpg?itok=sm550Ifv" style="height: 349px; width: 620px;" title="Inmates leave the exercise yard at San Quentin state prison in San Quentin, California. (REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson)" typeof="foaf:Image" /></div></figure></header><div><div><article about="/stories/2015-11-03/get-out-jail-get-deported" typeof="sioc:Item foaf:Document"><div><p>Under a new law, some 6,000 federal prisoners will be freed as part of a plan by President Barack Obama to adjust federal drug penalties and ease prison overcrowding. That should be some good news to many of the families of these prisoners.&nbsp;</p></div></article></div></div><p>But not all.&nbsp;</p><p>Nearly a third of the 6,000 are foreign inmates who will be placed on a different track, one that may lead to deportation and leaving their families behind in the United States.</p><p>Immigration officials estimate that most of those foreign inmates are from Mexico. Once released, they will be handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials for likely deportation &mdash;&nbsp;whether they legally immigrated to the US or illegally. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><div style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/chart.png" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="(Kuang Keng Kuek Ser/PRI)" /></div></div><p>While they are detained, an immigration judge will decide whether the inmate has a legal basis to remain in the United States.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;Deportation is almost never automatic... but it is much more likely that somebody who does not have the federal government&#39;s permission to be in the United States will end up being deported,&quot; César Cuahuhtémoc, an immigration and criminal law professor at the University of Denver. &quot;The tricky part is that there is no right to an appointed counsel in an immigration court&quot; so they have to pay for their own attorney and if they can&#39;t, they will have to make their own case to fight deportation.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;We don&#39;t think of these migrants as being members of our community.&nbsp;We think of them as outsiders, as people who belong to some other country when in reality, many folks who are in the United States who are not US citizens have families.... their livelihoods are here, their homes, their properties are here, so they&#39;re very much part members of our community whether or not we think of them as such.&quot;</p><p>According to Reuters,<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/31/us-usa-justice-prisoners-idUSKCN0SO2O220151031#2VBsTBJar4OGjKfA.97" target="_blank">&nbsp;ICE said</a>&nbsp;it will ensure all immigrants subject to deportation &quot;receive the full process they are due while in removal proceedings and ICE custody,&quot; including access to phones to contact attorneys, consulates and legal aid groups.&nbsp;Cuahuhtémoc says that the US is adhering to the laws involving criminal acts,&nbsp;but he wonders&nbsp;&quot;whether this is morally sound.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-11-03/get-out-jail-get-deported" target="_blank"><em>PRI&#39;s The World</em></a></p></p> Wed, 04 Nov 2015 12:14:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/world/2015-11-04/get-out-jail-get-deported-113629 For this released inmate, freedom tastes like pizza for breakfast http://www.wbez.org/news/released-inmate-freedom-tastes-pizza-breakfast-113623 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/photo1-edit_slide-b8ac6910becb3d1edec39dbfacd6916a0c3037a0-s1200.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Dana Bowerman's family and best friend joined her to celebrate her release with sparkling grape juice Monday: Pictured from left: Bowerman's mother, Rose West, Bowerman, sister Paula Bailey, friend Michelle Elliott, stepfather Dwayne West. (Syeda Hasan /NPR)" /></div><p>Dana Bowerman walked out of a federal prison camp in Bryan, Texas, Monday morning and for the first time in more than a decade, she chose her own breakfast.</p><p>&quot;I had five pieces of different kinds of pizza,&quot; Bowerman told&nbsp;All Things Considered&nbsp;in an interview. &quot;Been waiting 15 years for that. I about choked though because I got kind of emotional and I&#39;d have a mouthful of pizza ... and it still feels very surreal.&quot;</p><div id="res454049141"><div>&nbsp;</div></div><p>Bowerman is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/07/18/332636931/unanimous-vote-could-mean-reduced-penalties-for-46-000-defendants" target="_blank">one of about 6,100 inmates released</a>&nbsp;over the past few days as part of a change in the way the U.S. punishes people convicted of federal drug crimes.</p><p>She was a first-time, nonviolent offender who got sent to prison in 2001, at age 30, for taking part in a conspiracy surrounding a methamphetamine ring. Under the sentence in place at the time, Bowerman&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/07/28/426875213/after-hope-for-early-release-prisoners-applications-stuck-in-limbo" target="_blank">had been scheduled</a>&nbsp;to serve 19 years and seven months, or until 2018.</p><p>&quot;A lot of wasted time, I think,&quot; Bowerman said. &quot;The money that was spent to keep me in prison all this time could have been better used for drug education and rehabilitation because I needed to get clean, and I needed to change my way of thinking, and I needed a good seven years to do that. ... You couldn&#39;t have convinced me when I walked in the door that I had any victims. But now I know that everything I did had a ripple effect, and everything I touched with drugs or my lifestyle affected the people they loved.&quot;</p><p>Bowerman said she got clean in prison. And she said she&#39;s proud of her work there &mdash; talking to students about keeping straight and raising puppies, including Angel, who became an award-winning drug detection canine.</p><p>The feeling of being free, Bowerman said, is still new.</p><p>&quot;I thought when I drove off the property that it would sink in but it still feels weird, different,&quot; she said about an hour after her release, in a hotel room surrounded by her mother, stepfather, sister and best friend.</p><p>Bowerman had surgery over the summer for a persistent problem with her vision, so, unlike many other inmates, she couldn&#39;t take advantage of the option to leave the prison camp near College Station for a halfway house or home confinement during the last six months of her prison term.</p><p>Bowerman said now that she&#39;s out, she&#39;s keeping close track of the rules. No alcohol, so her family toasted her release with sparkling grape juice. And she won&#39;t be able to travel beyond the rural area outside Lubbock where she&#39;s staying with relatives for at least two months.</p><p>But Bowerman said when the time is right, she&#39;s eager to try to visit her father, a co-defendant in her prosecution. He&#39;s still behind bars.</p><p>&quot;I&#39;m hoping and praying and having faith that he&#39;ll receive his ... reduction also,&quot; Bowerman said. &quot;Even if it&#39;s a one-time special visit, I haven&#39;t seen my dad in 15 years. I can&#39;t wait to hear his voice. I hope he calls today.&quot;</p><p>Bowerman said she&#39;s looking forward to some solitude in her new home in the country &quot;because there&#39;s never anywhere to be alone during prison.&quot;</p><p>She said she wants to volunteer to talk to church youth groups to educate kids about the dangers of drugs. Once a straight-A student, Bowerman had no real obstacles in her way &mdash; except for herself.</p><p>&quot;I had curiosity and I had no responsibility and I had a selfish attitude and instant gratification,&quot; she said. &quot;Now I see in hindsight how it changed all of my decisions.&quot;</p><p>Bowerman also said she&#39;s looking forward to swimming and getting into shape. &quot;I&#39;ve stayed to myself a lot, and I used food for comfort; now I&#39;m ready to get out there and get healthy and go swimming,&quot; she said. &quot;I want to make my family proud. My biggest fear walking out those gates is that I will disappoint my family again. I can do time, I&#39;ve always been able to do time, but my family can&#39;t do one day more.&quot;</p><p>She said she hopes the Sentencing Commission, the federal body that sets guidelines for federal criminal offenses, understands how much this second chance means to her &mdash; and to the 6,000 others who just won early release because of the commission&#39;s decision.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/11/02/453992907/for-this-released-inmate-freedom-tastes-like-pizza-for-breakfast?ft=nprml&amp;f=453992907" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Tue, 03 Nov 2015 15:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/released-inmate-freedom-tastes-pizza-breakfast-113623 What you should know about the federal inmate release http://www.wbez.org/news/what-you-should-know-about-federal-inmate-release-113585 <p><div id="res453796422" previewtitle="The prison yard at the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015, is seen during a visit by U.S. President Barack Obama. Obama has advocated for prison reform during his time in office. This weekend, thousands of inmates are being released as the result of some changes in federal sentencing guidelines."><div data-crop-type=""><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_261316597298.jpg" style="height: 427px; width: 620px;" title="An open gate awaits a guard as he walks down a hall in the now-closed men's section of the Baltimore City Detention Center, Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015, in Baltimore. President Barack Obama has advocated for prison reform during his time in office. This weekend, thousands of inmates are being released as the result of some changes in federal sentencing guidelines. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)" /></p><div><div>&nbsp;</div></div></div><div><div><p>Thousands of federal inmates are getting out of prison because of a&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2014/07/18/332619083/drug-sentencing-guidelines-reduced-for-current-prisoners">change in the way the U.S. government sentences drug criminals</a>. It&#39;s part of a broader movement to reconsider tough-on-crime laws that were passed during the War on Drugs.</p></div></div></div><p>The decision to change sentencing guidelines &mdash; and apply the changes retroactively &mdash; was made last year, but the release of any inmates was delayed until this weekend.</p><p>Leaders at the Justice Department supported the changes. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/31/453393913/in-phases-federal-prison-release-of-inmates-has-begun">recently told Congress</a>&nbsp;it&#39;s a myth that federal prisons only house the worst of the worst.</p><p>When it comes to drug offenses, Yates said, only 16 percent of federal prison inmates used a weapon in connection with their crime.</p><p>Here is what else to know about the release, which began Friday and continues Monday:</p><p><strong>How many people are we talking about?</strong></p><p>About 6,100 prisoners total &mdash; mostly Hispanic and African-American men incarcerated for drug trafficking crimes.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Why are they getting out?</strong></p><p>Last year the U.S. sentencing commission, which sets guidelines for federal crimes, decided to cut suggested prison terms for those who commit drug trafficking crimes, and apply those changes retroactively for people who were already incarcerated.</p><p>An inmate who was eligible had to apply for early release and have a judge review the case, make a determination about public safety and sign off on reducing the sentence. Judges shaved off an average of two years from their sentences.</p><p><strong>Will they all be released straight from prison?</strong></p><p>No. About 4,300 of the total (6,100) are being released from prison, from halfway houses or from home confinement. Of those 4,300, about 80 percent have been living in halfway houses or home confinement for the past few months, to ease their transition back into the community &ndash; so they will not go straight from prison to freedom.</p><p><strong>Where will they be going back to? What supervision or support will they receive?</strong></p><p>The largest numbers are from Texas, Florida, California, North Carolina and Illinois.</p><p>The U.S. Probation Office will be watching these prisoners for a specific amount of time, and have been preparing for more than a year. Officials say they have beefed up hiring of probation officers &mdash; devoting resources to prisoners who pose the biggest risk &mdash; and started working with them a while ago.</p><p>The system is not perfect. Halfway houses are overstuffed, and there was not a lot more money to help smooth out this transition. In addition, there are still open questions about the quality of services they&#39;re getting in halfway houses, in terms of things like drug treatment, job placement.</p><p><strong>What about the <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/07/18/332636931/unanimous-vote-could-mean-reduced-penalties-for-46-000-defendants" target="_blank">rest of the 6,100</a>?</strong></p><p>About 1,700 of the inmates are undocumented immigrants, and they will not be released from federal custody.</p><p>These people will be transferred to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, which will begin deportation proceedings against many of them.</p><p>Some of them may be on the hook for state or local crimes, so officials are checking their records to see if they need to be adjudicated for those crimes.</p><p>Some in Congress, such as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a Republican, are already asking questions about the undocumented inmates, seeking assurances they will be quickly removed from the country.</p><p><strong>All of these prisoners coming out have been convicted of drug crimes, but were they all non-violent crimes?</strong></p><p>Not necessarily. These are people who served time in the federal system, and federal prosecutors don&#39;t send people away for simple drug possession. These inmates have usually been convicted of trafficking-type offenses. They or their partners in crime may have used a weapon.</p><p>Judges considered all of those factors when deciding whether they should get early release. And about three times out of four, the judges approved the requests for release.</p><p><strong>Is there any concern these prisoners could end up committing crimes after being released?</strong></p><p>Justice officials say that is always a concern. But, they say, the great majority of these prisoners would be getting out at some point regardless; the issue is whether it&#39;s now or in two or three or four years. That said, they say they are going to be watching closely.</p><p>The Sentencing Commission did&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/research-and-publications/research-projects-and-surveys/miscellaneous/20110527_Recidivism_2007_Crack_Cocaine_Amendment.pdf">a study</a>&nbsp;of returning crack cocaine prisoners about five years ago and found that those inmates were actually slightly less likely to return to crime than other prisoners.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/11/01/453564956/what-you-should-know-about-the-federal-inmate-release" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 02 Nov 2015 09:59:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/what-you-should-know-about-federal-inmate-release-113585 StoryCorps Chicago: ‘That was my rescuing point’ http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-%E2%80%98-was-my-rescuing-point%E2%80%99-113581 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/StoryCorps 151030 Lawrence Karen bh.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: justify;">When Lawrence Thomas graduated at the top of his class from Ball State University, he was still in prison. That&#39;s especially remarkable given that, when he was locked up at age 16, he hadn&rsquo;t yet completed high school. Thomas eventually got out and connected with the Safer Foundation in Chicago, which helps people with criminal records find work. Recently he visited his financial coach there, Karen DeGrasse. As part of our StoryCorps series, Thomas tells her about his childhood and growing up as one of eight kids to a single mom who was an alcoholic.</p><div><p style="text-align: justify;"><em>This story was recorded in partnership with the Safer Foundation.</em></p></div><p style="text-align: justify;"><em><a href="http://www.storycorps.org" target="_blank">StoryCorps</a>&rsquo; mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to share, record and preserve their stories. These excerpts, edited by WBEZ, present some of our favorites from the current visit, as well as from previous trips.</em></p></p> Fri, 30 Oct 2015 18:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-chicago-%E2%80%98-was-my-rescuing-point%E2%80%99-113581 FCC moves to cut high cost of prisoner's calls http://www.wbez.org/news/fcc-moves-cut-high-cost-prisoners-calls-113450 <p><p>It costs a lot of money to talk on the phone to someone in jail &mdash; so much that those phone bills have drawn the attention of federal regulators. Now the Federal Communications Commission is set to vote Thursday to limit the price of prison phone calls.</p><p>&quot;We&#39;re cutting off necessities, just so we can keep this communication going,&quot; says Miguel Saucedo, a Ph.D. student and community activist in Chicago. His brother Luis is in prison in Illinois, where he has been incarcerated since 1996.</p><p>For roughly 20 years, Miguel Saucedo and his family have been setting aside money to talk to Luis on the phone &mdash; money that could have gone to those necessities. Saucedo doesn&#39;t know exactly how much his family has paid over the years. But he estimates &quot;it would have to be&quot; over $10,000 or $20,000.</p><p>For most of us, those phone calls would cost just a few cents per minute. But for inmates and their families, phone rates and fees can be many times higher. It&#39;s common for them to pay $13 for a 15-minute call.</p><p>&quot;I see the clearest, most egregious case of market failure ever,&quot; says FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who has been&nbsp;<a href="https://www.fcc.gov/blog/another-step-toward-fairness-inmate-calling-services">working on this issue</a>&nbsp;for several years. &quot;This is a major cost that families pay. And these families are the most economically vulnerable in our nation.&quot;</p><p>Inmates and their families are &mdash; all joking aside &mdash; pretty much the definition of a captive market. Just about every jail and prison signs an exclusive contract with one telephone company. For more than a decade, activists have been pushing the FCC to regulate those contracts. Two years ago, the commission moved to place caps on interstate calling rates. And Thursday, the commission will vote on a proposal to cap the rates and fees that inmates&#39; families pay for all calls.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Capture_2.JPG" style="float: right; height: 326px; width: 250px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="" />But the prison phone industry is poised to fight back.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s financially borderline catastrophic,&quot; says Brian Oliver, CEO of Global Tel*Link or GTL, the biggest player in the market for prison phone calls. He says the FCC&#39;s proposal would slash his revenues by as much as half.</p><p>If the commission really wants to do something about prison phone rates, Oliver says, it should go after what are known in the business as site commissions &mdash; what activists call kickbacks to the county sheriff or state corrections department. Oliver says site commissions can account for as much as 60 or 70 cents of every dollar an inmate&#39;s family spends.</p><p>&quot;Rates are high because people want commissions,&quot; Oliver says. &quot;And the people who set the rules, the counties and the states who want that income, directly create the high rates. When there are no site commissions, the evidence is clear: Rates become extremely affordable.&quot;</p><p>Some states &mdash; including New York, Ohio and Rhode Island &mdash; have already outlawed site commissions. In those places, the FCC says prison phone rates are down. And call volumes are up.</p><p>The people who run jails and prisons defend site commissions. Jonathan Thompson, the CEO of the National Sheriffs&#39; Association, says sheriffs have to make sure that inmate calls don&#39;t create a threat to the community. And that takes money.</p><p>&quot;You&#39;re monitoring that phone call. That takes manpower, that takes time,&quot; Thompson says. &quot;We&#39;re looking at upping the number of calls, right? But yet, not increasing capabilities or the resources that go with it. That is a huge challenge for sheriffs.&quot;</p><p>Thompson says some sheriffs will likely stop allowing inmate phone calls at all if the FCC votes to cap rates. But regulators insist the proposed caps would still leave counties and states with enough money to cover their security costs. And activists like Miguel Saucedo say rate reform might actually save states and counties money &mdash; in the form of lower recidivism rates among people like his brother, Luis.</p><p>&quot;Us having that line of communication is vital for him to rehabilitate,&quot; Saucedo says. &quot;And for me to cut that line off for him, and say, &#39;Sorry Luis, I can&#39;t answer your phone calls this month&#39; &mdash; it&#39;s not imaginable. It cannot happen.&quot;</p><p>Saucedo applauds the FCC for finally moving to regulate prison phone rates, but he and other activists may have to wait even longer to see any real-world effects. The prison phone industry is expected to challenge the proposed caps in court.</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/21/450464766/fcc-moves-to-cut-high-cost-of-prisoners-calls?ft=nprml&amp;f=450464766" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Wed, 21 Oct 2015 13:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/fcc-moves-cut-high-cost-prisoners-calls-113450 Thousands of 'juvenile lifers' place their hope in Supreme Court http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-13/thousands-juvenile-lifers-place-their-hope-supreme-court-113312 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Marsha%20Levick%20%28third%20from%20right%29%20the%20co-founder%20of%20the%20Juvenile%20Law%20Center%20sits%20on%20a%20panel..jpg" style="height: 417px; width: 620px;" title="Marsha Levick (third from right) the co-founder of the Juvenile Law Center sits on a panel. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments Tuesday<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/new-house-bill-could-cut-some-mandatory-life-sentences-25-years-113236" target="_blank"> on a case that could affect more than 2,300 prison inmates</a> who were convicted as juveniles and are serving life sentences.</div><p>The biggest impact will be felt in Philadelphia, which has more so-called juvenile lifers than any place in country.</p><p>From the&nbsp;<em>Here &amp;&nbsp;Now</em>&nbsp;Contributors Network,&nbsp;Bobby Allyn&nbsp;of WHYY&nbsp;reports that many families of those inmates view the case as their last hope.</p><p><em><strong><a href="http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/philadelphia/87065-for-hundreds-of-inmates-who-killed-in-their-youth-chance-for-parole-hinges-on-high-court-ruling" target="_blank">Read more on this story via WHYY</a>.</strong></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/10/13/juvenile-lifers-supreme-court" target="_blank"><em>via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></p> Tue, 13 Oct 2015 13:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-13/thousands-juvenile-lifers-place-their-hope-supreme-court-113312 New House bill could cut some mandatory life sentences to 25 years http://www.wbez.org/news/new-house-bill-could-cut-some-mandatory-life-sentences-25-years-113236 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/ap_938870333008-45f8230c42fc4955314f777d6e36ebcf3acd2a2c-s1200.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The top Republican and Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee are preparing to introduce a bill Thursday they&#39;re billing as &quot;companion&quot; legislation to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/10/03/445309516/heres-1-thing-washington-agreed-on-this-week-sentencing-reform" target="_blank">major Senate sentencing overhaul</a>&nbsp;unveiled last week.</p><p>Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Ranking Member John Conyers, D-Mich., issued a rare joint statement saying their proposal results from several months of negotiations &quot;to ensure our federal criminal laws and regulations appropriately punish wrongdoers, are effectively and appropriately enforced, operate with fairness and compassion, protect individual freedom ... and do not waste taxpayer dollars.&quot;</p><p>Key provisions in the proposal, obtained by NPR in advance of a formal news conference, suggested that the language mostly tracks the Senate legislation. If passed, the bill would reduce mandatory life sentences for drug offenders convicted under the &quot;three strikes&quot; laws to 25 years behind bars. The changes would apply to people already in prison &mdash; but in a change from the Senate counterpart, prisoners who have certain prior violent felony convictions would not be eligible.</p><p>The lawmakers said they expect to propose other legislative changes to the asset forfeiture system and to prisons and juvenile justice, in the coming weeks.</p><p>The plan by the House members came as something of a surprise for advocates following the issue. Goodlatte had previously said he would address parts of the justice system piecemeal, with asset forfeiture coming first.</p><p>&quot;Nobody expected this all would be coming so quickly,&quot; said Holly Harris of the U.S. Justice Action Network, a group that pushes for reform at the state and federal level. &quot;I wonder if there was an effort in D.C. to tamp down expectations.&quot;</p><p>Harris said the Senate plan released last week is &quot;far more comprehensive&quot; than anticipated and the outlines for action in the House Judiciary Committee are aggressive too. &quot;If all of that gets done this year, it&#39;ll put me out of business,&quot; she added.</p><p>Jeremy Haile, who&#39;s long advocated for changes to the justice system, called the new plan &quot;substantial&quot; and &quot;salutary.&quot; Haile, of the DC-based nonprofit The Sentencing Project, pointed out that federal courts usually don&#39;t have jurisdiction to prosecute crimes like assault or armed robbery.</p><p>So, by definition, most violent offenses are handled in state or local courts, which require state-by-state legislative changes. The bulk of the current and future inmates who will be touched by the legislation are engaged in drug-related crimes, he said.</p><p>Criminal justice policy once represented a third rail of U.S. politics. But over the past few years, in a movement led by states such as Texas and Georgia, political conservatives have advocated for releasing nonviolent offenders who pose little risk to public safety and for spending more money on reentry programs and alternatives to incarceration. An unusual left-right group, the Coalition for Public Safety, has been pressing for reforms. Its members include Koch Industries and the ACLU.</p><p>Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah made justice reform a centerpiece of his remarks at the Heritage Foundation Wednesday: &quot;For conservatives it is not&nbsp;a questions&nbsp;of whether to punish but how to punish.&quot; Lee added that the record declines in violent crime were not &quot;simply a function of locking up more offenders.&quot;</p><p>That point is already the source of debate inside Congress and throughout the law enforcement community. FBI statistics&nbsp;suggest&nbsp;violent crime nationwide dropped in 2014, but several big cities have experienced an increase in homicides, from Baltimore and Chicago to St. Louis. The U.S. Justice Department held a crime summit in Washington this week to bring together police chiefs,&nbsp;mayors&nbsp;and others from 20 cities to discuss ways to reduce the violence.</p><p>One element that Harris, of the Justice Action Network, said was not yet getting enough attention was providing programs and doing more to incentivize employers to hire inmates when they are released from prison.</p><p>&mdash;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/08/446677729/new-house-bill-could-cut-some-mandatory-life-sentences-to-25-years" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 09:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/new-house-bill-could-cut-some-mandatory-life-sentences-25-years-113236 The myth of the low-level offender http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-06/myth-low-level-offender-112581 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/prison FlickrMichael Coghlan.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>When it comes to criminal justice, you&rsquo;re probably familiar with the following phrases: Three strikes. Mandatory minimum sentences. Truth in Sentencing. They&rsquo;re shorthand for policies that many say have put far too many Americans behind bars.</p><p>Another phrase people toss around is &ldquo;the low-level offender.&rdquo; You&rsquo;ll hear it on Capitol Hill, where these days bipartisan consensus is building around the need to reduce the prison population. If we would just release low-level offenders, the argument goes, we could end mass incarceration. The thing is...some people say the low level offender is a myth, or at the very least, a designation without a clear definition.</p><p>So, what could that mean for the discussion we&rsquo;re having in this country about how we mete out justice for crimes? We&#39;re joined by WBEZ criminal and legal affairs reporter Robert Wildeboer and Mark Kleiman, a Professor of Public Policy at New York University who specializes in crime policy.</p></p> Thu, 06 Aug 2015 10:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-08-06/myth-low-level-offender-112581 Morning Shift: Maine East War Bonds and Townships http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-03-06/morning-shift-maine-east-war-bonds-and-townships-111664 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jamie%20McCaffrey.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Flickr/Jamie McCaffrey" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194557103&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">CPS launches Latino Studies program</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">December of 2013, Chicago Public Schools unveiled a curriculum guide on African-American studies that allowed teachers to incorporate African-American studies into core subjects all year round. Now, CPS is targeting its largest group of minority students- Latinos. Chicago Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz joins Morning Shift to talk about the new Interdisciplinary Latino and Latin American Studies curriculum.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/JesseRuizEsq">Jesse Ruiz</a> is the Vice President of the Chicago Board of Education.&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194556666&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Smart Bar Chicago launches New Women in Music Series</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">The music festival season is not too far off and according to one Chicago venue talent buyer, when you look at the line-ups of festivals, women comprise about 10 percent of the talent. So Smart Bar Chicago talent buyer and DJ Marea Samper (aka The Black Madonna) has decided to hold a mini festival during Women&rsquo;s History Month showcasing established and up and coming female electronica and DJ talent from around the globe. Stamper tells us about the idea behind the DAPHNE: A Women&#39;s Movement in Dance Music Festival.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="http://www.last.fm/music/The+Black+Madonna">DJ Marea Samper</a> is the talent buyer for Smart Bar Chicago.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194556660&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Maine East/South students craft documentary</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Ever heard the expression &quot;Faster, higher, that&#39;s Maine&#39;s Flyer?&quot; We hadn&#39;t - until a group of 20 students at Maine South and Maine East High Schools produced a documentary of the same name. The doc commemorates a World War II plane funded by a student-led war bond sales effort and named in honor of what were then Maine Township High School students. We talk with Maine East student Rachel Stan, and supervising teacher Phillip Ash about the film.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guests:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="http://east.maine207.org/pash/?DepartmentId=-1">Phillip Ash</a> is a teacher at Maine East High School.&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><em>Rachel Stan is a student at <a href="https://twitter.com/maine_east">Maine East High School.</a>&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194556656&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">A look at Illinois townships&nbsp;</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">While High School District 207 is an entirely separate governmental entity from Maine Township, it got us thinking about the history behind townships in Illinois. How do they operate and how have they evolved? Maine Township is the largest in Cook County and oldest unit of local government in the area. Joining us from the Township&#39;s Park Ridge office is Supervisor Carol Teschky.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="http://www.mainetownship.com/government/electedofficials.shtml">Carol Teschky</a>&nbsp;is the Maine Township Supervisor.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194556649&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">New book of poetry and photography provides hope for the recently incarcerated</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Coming out of prison can often be more difficult than going in. Even though they&rsquo;ve paid their debt to society, they&rsquo;re faced with the stigma of being ex-cons, and often lack the needed resources-in society and in themselves-to move on and rebuild their lives. For years, Brandon Crockett has taught poetry to folks living at St. Leonard&rsquo;s, a facility dedicated to moving people from prison to a positive, productive life on the outside. Now Crockett has teamed up with world-famous photographer Sandro Miller to produce a book of poetry and portraits by and of the people in his class. Brandon and members of his class join Morning Shift to talk about the experience.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em>Brandon Crockett teaches poetry at <a href="https://twitter.com/StLeonardsMinis">St. Leonard&#39;s Ministires</a></em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><em>Jesse Anderson and Marketta Sims are in the poetry program at St. Leonard&#39;s Ministires and contributors of the book <a href="https://twitter.com/findfreedombook">&quot;Finding Freedom.&quot;</a></em></p></p> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 07:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-03-06/morning-shift-maine-east-war-bonds-and-townships-111664 Report details big problems at Illinois prison for women; state says it's safe http://www.wbez.org/news/report-details-big-problems-illinois-prison-women-state-says-its-safe-111230 <p><p dir="ltr" style="line-height:1.15;margin-top:0pt;margin-bottom:0pt;"><span id="docs-internal-guid-a5e63f9b-53b1-62ff-3b89-808b4b5244cb"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">UPDATED at 9:23 a.m. on Dec. 16, 2014</span></span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; white-space: pre-wrap; line-height: 1.15;">A new report out Monday shows major problems at Logan Correctional Center, a prison for women in central Illinois. Those problems include housing units at Logan Prison with a ratio of 156 inmates for one officer. </span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">Earlier this year, two suicides took place within 30 days there. And women in segregation told researchers the noise was so loud, they couldn&rsquo;t get anyone&rsquo;s attention for medical treatment.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">John Maki with the John Howard Association, which issued the report, said Logan&rsquo;s problems were exacerbated when the state closed other centers for women and the correctional center in Dwight.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;All we ended up doing was consolidating more people into less space and that has made for very, very poor conditions,&rdquo; said Maki.&ldquo;It was a facility that was not staffed, that was not prepared to meet the needs, you know, of female inmates.&rdquo; </span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">At the time of the prison closures, the Illinois Department of Corrections estimated the state was saving about $7 million a month. </span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">But the prison is safe for inmates, according to Tom Shaer, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC).</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;To say that closing Dwight Correctional Center was ill-conceived based on what&rsquo;s happening at Logan, we believe is not at all the case,&rdquo; Shaer said. &ldquo;In fact, the safety and security at Logan has been outstanding.&rdquo; </span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">Shaer said there&rsquo;s been one serious assault on staff in the previous two years, which occurred when that employee was breaking up a fight among inmates. In a written statement, he also noted, &ldquo;Medical personnel walk every cell wing to check needs daily and officers are present at all times. It is virtually impossible to be unheard, especially for medical attention.&rdquo;</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">Shaer also said the investigations into the two suicides found they did not occur because of a lack of resources. He said neither inmate had shown evidence of intending to commit suicide - and neither was on suicide watch.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">Logan Correctional Center is also where the majority of inmates with mental health issues are sent. It&rsquo;s in the process of adding 120 beds for inmates with mental health needs, due to litigation over IDOC&rsquo;s mental health services. That project is expected to cost about $8 million.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s where we send some of the most mentally ill people in our state and it&rsquo;s simply not staffed for that. There&rsquo;s no real resources for that, which is why it&rsquo;s being sued. Which is why there&rsquo;s a consent decree being worked out, which will cost the state millions and millions of dollars to build that capacity,&rdquo; Maki said. </span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">Maki is serving on a small committee to advise Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner about the state&rsquo;s public safety needs.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not trying to paint a rosy picture, but we don&rsquo;t believe that this (report) at all shows that the closing of Dwight was ill-conceived. And it saved the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars while not compromising safety and security at Logan,&rdquo; IDOC spokesman Shaer said.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: Arial; font-size: 16px; font-style: italic; line-height: 1.15; white-space: pre-wrap;">This story was updated to reflect IDOC&rsquo;s response to some claims in the John Howard Association report.</span></p><p><span style="line-height: 1.15; font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him </span><a href="https://twitter.com/tonyjarnold" style="line-height: 1.15; text-decoration: none;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">@tonyjarnold</span></a><span style="line-height: 1.15; font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">.</span></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 15 Dec 2014 05:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/report-details-big-problems-illinois-prison-women-state-says-its-safe-111230