It’s Almost A Travesty” How Inmates Are Freed With $20, No ID. The Crime Report (Citing Chicago Tribune)
August 25, 2015

“About half of the 30,000 inmates released from Illinois prisons each year find themselves back behind bars within three years. For those who manage to remain out of prison, they do so with little money and few prospects, reports the Chicago Tribune. Some are forced to live with parents or adult children or in homeless shelters. Back in their old neighborhoods and without a job, they struggle to resist the temptations that led to prison. “They face difficulty in just about every aspect of life,” said Victor Dickson, president of the Safer Foundation, the Chicago-based not-for-profit that helps former inmates find jobs and adjust to life back in the outside world. “Unless you have a really strong family — and most of them don’t have that — this is an almost impossible task to come out with nothing and having to rebuild your life.

As several inmates rode a Greyhound bus back to their Chicago neighborhoods from prison last February, most from the medium-security Vienna Correctional Center in southern Illinois, the Tribune accompanied them to chronicle the journey to freedom. Many had been in prison several times, as many as five or six times in some cases. In a way, they were emblematic of the great churn of a criminal justice system that leaves inmates ill-equipped to handle life on the outside. Many of the inmates were hopeful but realistic, knowing they faced long odds. Drug abuse, anger issues, unstable housing, child support debts, limited work histories, little education — all that and more made the transition a precarious enterprise. Many didn’t even have a driver’s license or a state ID. “You get out with $10 or $20 and you spend some of that coming home for cigarettes and food. But then you have to go all over the city to get an ID or whatever else they need,” said Dickson. “It’s almost a travesty that we release these people understanding the challenges they face but without the assistance they need.””

“Three years after Connecticut abolished the death penalty for any future crimes, the state’s highest court on Thursday spared the lives of all 11 men who were already on death row when the law took effect, saying it would be unconstitutional to execute them.

The Connecticut Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, held that the death penalty “no longer comports with contemporary standards of decency and no longer serves any legitimate penological purpose.”

Connecticut Court Bars Execution of 11 Death Row Inmates
HARTFORD, Conn. — Aug 13, 2015
By PAT EATON-ROBB Associated Press

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Connecticut Supreme Court Advance Release Opinions: 

Grits for Breakfast: WELCOME TO TEXAS JUSTICE: YOU MIGHT BEAT THE RAP, BUT YOU WON’T BEAT THE RIDE.” — Learning from Sandra Bland: First thoughts (July 25, 2015):

“The protections guarding anyone from being pulled out of their car for no reason, taken downtown and booked into jail (for no demonstrated reason), and then quite possibly dying there, have eroded to the vanishing point. Sandra Bland, like most Texans, didn’t actually know that and received the harshest possible lesson when she tried to articulate what she thought were her rights…”

“The police officer should not have had grounds to arrest her in the first place; even if arrested, she should have been booked and released, not jailed, and once in jail, she should have been more closely monitored, assuming that her death was in fact, a suicide. While lots remains unknown about Bland’s death, she would probably be alive today if she had been booked and released on a personal bond with a date to return to court for her hearing.”

The Crime Report, The Death Penalty’s ‘Normal Accidents’, By James Doyle
July 16, 2015

“In the final days of this year’s Supreme Court term, Justice Stephen Breyer unexpectedly launched a new offensive against the American system of capital punishment. The offensive was announced in his dissenting opinion in a case upholding the legality of Oklahoma’s lethal injection protocol.

Some commentators believed that Breyer was training his artillery on one particular target: namely, Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Roberts Court’s perennial swing voter. Just days earlier, Kennedy had displayed his taste for making history in a grandiloquent opinion for the Court in the same-sex marriage case of Obergefell v. Hodges. He might be ripe for conversion.

Others argue that Breyer had a wider array of targets in mind. The Obama administration is waning. A presidential campaign is in its early stages. With four justices of the narrowly divided court over 75 years of age, the electorate might decide to make the death penalty an issue. Breyer, these onlookers contend, wants to shape that battlefield in advance.

Breyer’s immediate objective may be veiled, but his general strategic approach is perfectly clear. He will attack the death penalty simultaneously on four fronts, and for his ammunition he will use empirical research…

“Justice Antonin Scalia called it “Gobbledegook.”

James Doyle, a Boston defense lawyer and author, was a 2011-2014 Visiting Fellow at the National Institute of Justice, and the principal essayist in the National Institute of Justice Special Report, Mending Justice: Sentinel Event Reviews (2014). The opinions expressed here as his own. He welcomes comment from readers.

“The city of Vernon, California is little more than five square miles of flat industrial plain, where railway tracks and power lines run between the factories and warehouses. Its most prominent landmark is a water tower and its residents numbered 114 in 2013. Its history, however, is riddled with enough corruption to suit a far larger community.

If this all sounds familiar to viewers of a certain US television crime drama, that is no coincidence. The second series of HBO’s acclaimed True Detective stars Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn as a corrupt cop and the crook who turned him in in a rotten industrial city named Vinci, at the heart of South Los Angeles.

The show’s creator, Nic Pizzolatto, has said in interviews that Vinci was loosely based on Vernon – and some of the series was filmed there.

Though it may not look like one in the traditional sense, Vernon has been officially a city since 1905, when it was founded by John Baptiste Leonis. Vernon has since developed its own business-friendly tax code, its own water and power agency, and a police force of more than 40.

The city’s seal describes Vernon as “exclusively industrial” and it is home to approximately 1,800 businesses, including Tapatio Hot Sauce and a Whole Foods distribution centre, employing 50,000 people.

One of the biggest employers in Vernon is a Farmer John’s meat-packing facility. It is wrapped in a rustic mural of farm animals frolicking in fields. Inside is a vast slaughterhouse.

As mayor of Vernon, Mr Leonis was said to operate like a “feudal lord”. Worth millions by his death in 1953, he left his fortune to his grandson Leonis Malburg, who subsequently served as mayor of Vernon for several decades. Malburg was convicted of voter fraud in 2009 after it was found that he lived not in Vernon, but in a mansion in the Hancock Park neighbourhood, which he had inherited from his grandfather.

In 2010, The Los Angeles Times published an exposé citing critics of the city’s administration, who denounced Vernon as “a fiefdom run by a small cabal who controlled the population of about 100 people and used the city’s coffers to lavish themselves with huge salaries and expensive meals and trips”.

The newspaper found that the city enjoyed an annual budget of more than $300 million, greater than that of Beverly Hills.

The following year, Bruce Malkenhorst, a former Vernon city administrator, pleaded guilty to misusing public funds, after earning a salary of $911,000 (£593,000) and a pension worth more than $500,000 per year – the largest of any public official in California.

His successor, Eric Fresch, was paid a salary of $1.6m in 2008. In 2012, Mr Fresch’s body washed up on the Northern California coast, shortly after he was subpoenaed by the state to answer questions about Vernon’s finances…”

The Independent, “Reality TV? Vernon, a city with a tainted past, comes to life in crime drama True Detective,” TIM WALKER LOS ANGELES Wednesday 08 July 2015

City of Vernon Seal

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