Lawyer accused of trying to have Dem official killed

An eccentric Staten Island lawyer busted Friday in a fraud, kidnapping and extortion scheme also tried to have a Democratic Party official killed, according to court documents. In an application to deny bail to Richard Luthmann, acting Brooklyn federal Attorney Bridget Rohde said the attorney tried to hire co-defendant George Padula to “kill” former Staten…

An eccentric Staten Island lawyer busted Friday in a fraud, kidnapping and extortion scheme also tried to have a Democratic Party official killed, according to court documents. In an application to deny bail to Richard Luthmann, acting Brooklyn federal Attorney Bridget Rohde said the attorney tried to hire co-defendant George Padula to “kill” former Staten...

from https://nypost.com

Categories: Uncategorized

Teacher accused of having sex with teen inside middle school

An Ohio middle school teacher is accused of engaging in oral sex and intercourse with a 14-year-old male student in May – and the alleged sex acts reportedly occurred inside the school. Jessica Langford, 32, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of sexual battery and three counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor,…

An Ohio middle school teacher is accused of engaging in oral sex and intercourse with a 14-year-old male student in May – and the alleged sex acts reportedly occurred inside the school. Jessica Langford, 32, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of sexual battery and three counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor,...

from https://nypost.com

Categories: Uncategorized

Friday Squid Blogging: Baby Sea Otters Prefer Shrimp to Squid

At least, this one does. As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven’t covered. Read my blog posting guidelines here….

At least, this one does.

As usual, you can also use this squid post to talk about the security stories in the news that I haven't covered.

Read my blog posting guidelines here.

from https://www.schneier.com/blog/

Man sentenced to death for beheading coworker

NORMAN, Okla. — An Oklahoma judge on Friday sentenced a man to death for beheading a co-worker in 2014 at a food processing plant. Cleveland County District Judge Lori Walkley accepted a jury’s recommendation of the death penalty over life in prison without parole for Alton Nolen, 33. Jurors earlier this year convicted him of…

NORMAN, Okla. — An Oklahoma judge on Friday sentenced a man to death for beheading a co-worker in 2014 at a food processing plant. Cleveland County District Judge Lori Walkley accepted a jury’s recommendation of the death penalty over life in prison without parole for Alton Nolen, 33. Jurors earlier this year convicted him of...

from https://nypost.com

Categories: Uncategorized

Petition of the day

Petition of the dayThe petition of the day is: ICTSI Oregon, Inc. v. International Longshore and Warehouse Union 17-770 Issue: Whether a claim that parties to a collective bargaining agreement have violated the antitrust laws by conspiring to seize work controlled by employers outside the bargaining unit through coercion that violates the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 158(b)(4)(B) […]

The post Petition of the day appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

Petition of the day

The petition of the day is:

17-770

Issue: Whether a claim that parties to a collective bargaining agreement have violated the antitrust laws by conspiring to seize work controlled by employers outside the bargaining unit through coercion that violates the National Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. §§ 158(b)(4)(B) and 158(e), is barred as a matter of law by application of the nonstatutory labor exemption.

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from http://www.scotusblog.com

How the Grinch stole relists

How the Grinch stole relistsJohn Elwood reviews Monday’s relists, after a fashion. Every Nerd Down in Nerd-ville Liked relists a lot … But the Grinch, Who lived just south of Nerd-ville, Did NOT! The Grinch hated relists! The whole relist thingy! Now, please don’t ask why. Who can tell with that ninny? It could be his head wasn’t screwed […]

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How the Grinch stole relists

John Elwood reviews Monday’s relists, after a fashion.

Every Nerd

Down in Nerd-ville

Liked relists a lot …

But the Grinch,

Who lived just south of Nerd-ville,

Did NOT!

The Grinch hated relists! The whole relist thingy!

Now, please don’t ask why. Who can tell with that ninny?

It could be his head wasn’t screwed on just right.

It could be, perhaps, his work schedule’s too tight.

But I think what may have most rankled the rube,

Was he was sick of the search for sight gags on YouTube.

 

But,

Whatever the reason,

Billable hours or camcorders,

He hunched at his desk, just dreading the orders,

Staring down at his screen with a sour, Grinchy scowl.

He knew it’d be hours ‘fore he could throw in the towel

Because learning QPs is a trouble-filled tale

When counsel of record don’t respond to email.

 

Right then the Grinch thought, “I must stop this whole thing!

“Why, for seven long years I’ve put up with it now!

“I MUST stop these relists from coming!

… But HOW?

Then he got an idea!

An awful idea!

THE GRINCH GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!

 

“I need vehicle problems …”

The Grinch looked around.

But for lots of the cases, there were none to be found.

Did that stop the old Grinch?

No! The Grinch simply said,

“If I can’t find such problems, I’ll make them instead.”

“I know just what to do!” the Grinch uttered, awed.

And then he dispatched a quick text to Geek Squad.

He chuckled, and clucked, “More great Grinchy turns!”

“I’ll hack PACER and introduce vehicle concerns!”

So he called the Geek, Max. And explained, to his terror,

“You must inject, on each docket, a confession of error.”

“No court would do anything quite so headstrong,

“As grant relief to a party that’s admitted it’s wrong.”

 

Then he slithered and slunk, with a smile disagreeable,

And returned, with a smirk, to go home in his vehicle.

“This week, and forever, there’ll be no counsel to call,

“Cause with luck, there’ll be no relists, from now on, AT ALL.”

And when next Monday came, the Nerds were not blissed

‘Cause the orders contained not a single relist.

*  *  *  *  *

Now you know that our SCOTUSblog posts are on fleek,

And it’s true: There ARE no new relists this week.

We wish to assure our readers most fearful,

Who grouse ‘cause the ending’s supposed to be cheerful

That there’s no dark conspiracy, at least not ‘bout this,

It’s just that the court’s used up all its relists.

Come next year, we’ll be sure to have relists galore.

And we’ll be able to hunt for cat videos once more.

And so let me say, ‘fore I send to the printer,

“Happy Festivus to all, and to all a good winter!”

 

And with that, we’ll get down to the mundane matter of actually listing this week’s relists. The court has not formally relisted these cases on the dockets; we’re inferring from inaction that certain cases are relisted and that certain others (not listed below) are being held for cases that are already on the merits docket.

Thanks for reading this year and we look forward to making 2018 the best year yet for saying, “Relist Watch used to be better!”

Thanks to Kent Piacenti for compiling the cases in this post.

 

New Relists

I feel so slighted that you didn’t read the great literary work above. There aren’t any!

 

Returning Relists

Sykes v. United States, 16-9604

Issue: Whether Missouri’s second-degree burglary statute is divisible into two offenses with separate elements for the purpose of analyzing whether a conviction under that statute qualifies as a conviction for a “violent felony” as defined in the Armed Career Criminal Act of 1984, 18 U.S.C. § 924(e)(2)(B)(ii).

(relisted after the October 6, October 13, October 27, November 3, November 9, November 21 and December 1 conferences; likely relisted after the December 8 conference)

 

Tharpe v. Sellers17-6075

Issues: (1) Whether reasonable jurists could disagree with the district court’s rejection of the petitioner’s Rule 60(b) motion, and, accordingly, whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit erred in denying a certificate of appealability; (2) whether, given the petitioner’s credible evidence that a juror voted for the death penalty because the petitioner is a “nigger,” the lower court erred in ruling that he failed to make “a substantial showing of the of the denial of a constitutional right” under 28 U.S.C. § 2253(c)(2); and (3) whether Pena-Rodriguez v. Colorado created a new constitutional claim, and, if not, whether the lower courts erred in denying the petitioner’s motion for relief from judgment under Rule 60(b)(6).

(relisted after the October 6, October 13, October 27, November 3, November 9, November 21 and December 1 conferences; likely relisted after the December 8 conference)

 

Serrano v. United States, 17-5165

Issue: Whether Richardson v. United States precludes a double jeopardy appeal based on evidentiary insufficiency where the jury returns a guilty verdict that is set aside for a new trial.

(relisted after the November 21 and December 1 conferences; likely relisted after the December 8 conference)

 

Hidalgo v. Arizona, 17-251

Issues: (1) Whether Arizona’s capital sentencing scheme, which includes so many aggravating circumstances that virtually every defendant convicted of first-degree murder is eligible for death, violates the Eighth Amendment; and (2) whether the death penalty in and of itself violates the Eighth Amendment, in light of contemporary standards of decency.

(relisted after the December 1 conference; likely relisted after the December 8 conference)

The post How the Grinch stole relists appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

from http://www.scotusblog.com

Ask the author: Justice Robert Jackson’s revealing thoughts and unpublished opinion in Brown v. Board of Education

Ask the author: Justice Robert Jackson’s revealing thoughts and unpublished opinion in <em>Brown v. Board of Education</em>The following is a series of questions posed by Ronald Collins on the occasion of the publication of David M. O’Brien’s  “Justice Robert H. Jackson’s Unpublished Opinion in Brown v. Board” (University Press of Kansas, 2017, pp. 220). David O’Brien is the Leone Reaves and George W. Spicer Professor at the University of Virginia. He was […]

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Ask the author: Justice Robert Jackson’s revealing thoughts and unpublished opinion in <em>Brown v. Board of Education</em>

The following is a series of questions posed by Ronald Collins on the occasion of the publication of David M. O’Brien’s  “Justice Robert H. Jackson’s Unpublished Opinion in Brown v. Board” (University Press of Kansas, 2017, pp. 220).

David O’Brien is the Leone Reaves and George W. Spicer Professor at the University of Virginia. He was a judicial fellow and research associate at the U.S. Supreme Court. O’Brien is the author of numerous books and over 100 articles, including “Storm Center: The Supreme Court in American Politics” (11th ed. W.W. Norton), which received the ABA’s Silver Gavel Award, and a two-volume casebook, “Constitutional Law and Politics” (10th ed., W.W. Norton 2017).

Welcome, David, and thank you for taking the time to participate in this question-and-answer exchange for our readers. And congratulations on the publication of your latest book, which is quite extensive in its examination of Justice Robert Jackson’s views on Brown v. Board of Education.

* * *

However sympathetic we may be with the resentments of those who are coerced into segregation, we cannot, in considering a recasting of society by judicial fiat, ignore the claims of those who are coerced out of it….

My real difficulty is not with the conclusion [in the case], which is congenial to my own background and policy preconceptions. Justice Robert H. Jackson (1953)

Question: How did you come to write this book?

O’Brien: When researching the first edition of Storm Center I came across Jackson’s unpublished opinion and found it so prescient about debates over “originalism” and, as Jackson put it, a “living constitution.” That was about 1985 and his papers had just been processed at the Library of Congress.

Question: You devote 10 pages to reproducing the final draft of Jackson’s unpublished opinion in Brown. Your account of the various drafts of that opinion introduces us to Jackson’s view of constitutional interpretation and his evolving thoughts on matters such as “original intent” versus a “living Constitution,” along with his understanding of the role of the Supreme Court and social change. As far as you know, has the opinion ever been published before? Why is it important?

O’Brien: Excerpts of the unpublished opinion were published in every edition of my casebook, “Constitutional Law and Politics: Vol. 2 Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.” Harvard Law School professor Mark Tushnet also included an excerpt in his edited book, “I Dissent: Great Opposing Opinions in Landmark Cases” (2008). But, of course, Jackson’s opinion was never intended as a dissent.

The opinion is important because it provides insight into a justice’s thinking about the greatest decision in the 20th century, unencumbered by the input or influence of a law clerk and it reveals much about and indeed anticipates later debates over constitutional interpretation, and remains timely and instructive today.

Question: As you discuss, Jackson crafted six draft opinions in Brown. Can you give us a brief overview of the evolution of his thinking in those drafts?

O’Brien:  Jackson had no doubt about the outcome. His first draft was written two days before the second round of oral arguments and specifically refers to “the decision we decide today” — almost six months before Brown came down.

Initially, Jackson hoped Congress would resolve the matter but gave up, acknowledging that the public and the political system could not own our “hypocrisies” about race. He increasingly concentrated on thinking through (conversing with himself) a constitutional justification for the ruling because he (correctly) feared the court’s decision would be challenged as too sociological (for which it was criticized, particularly for (in)famous footnote 11). He also anticipated the difficulties of overruling a precedent (Plessy v. Ferguson) that had legitimated “a way of life,” as well as the lengthy struggle over the matter of remedies, especially in light of the foreseeable pushback in the states.

Question: In Chapter 5 of your book, you say that Jackson was “principled,” but immediately thereafter you add that “he was also a realist and pragmatist.” Are you saying that he was a principled pragmatist? If so, what might that mean?

O’Brien: Yes, Jackson was a “principled pragmatist” in the sense that he defended constitutional principles but was not slavish in doing so; he was no “absolutist” like Justices Hugo Black and William Douglas. (See and compare Jackson’s 1943 opinion in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, and other cases dealing with claims by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, with his 1949 opinion in Terminello v. Chicago on the scope of First Amendment protection of freedom of speech, observing that “the Constitution is not a suicide pact.”)

Question: As you note, Jackson hoped to become chief justice (as did Black). Given the makeup of the court at the time, and had he lived longer, how effective do you think Jackson might have been as a chief justice?

O’Brien:  He would have been effective, given his wit and charm, but also would have encountered conflict (as did Chief Justice Fred Vinson) with Black and Douglas.

Question: Vinson died unexpectedly of a heart attack on September 8, 1953, before any ruling had been released in Brown. Many have speculated about whether the vote, or even the result, in the case might have been different had Vinson lived longer. Where do you come down on this matter and why?

O’Brien:  This is discussed in Chapter 2, which makes clear that the outcome would have been the same, based on a study of all the justices’ and their law clerks’ papers. Much of the history of the decision-making in Brown done in the 1970s and 1980s was misleading, incomplete or simply wrong because scholars did not have or look at all of the justices’ private papers.

Question: Why was Brown a problematic case for Jackson? Was it the history of the 14th Amendment? The Plessy v. Ferguson precedent from 1896? The result the court reached? Brown’s implementation?

O’Brien: Jackson was equally troubled  by three concerns. First, after examining the “original intent” of the 14th Amendment and finding no support for the court’s proposed ruling, he then turned “from words to deeds” as a possibly more reliable source of the original public understanding of the amendment. Having done so, he found that approach no more helpful — that period in history was simply a confused and deplorable time. He ultimately concluded that the Constitution had not changed but the country had — in terms of acknowledging interracial intimacies and recognizing the demands of public education (for both whites and blacks). Second, he questioned the justification for discarding Plessy’s 1896 “separate but equal” ruling not only because it had sanctioned a “way of life” for over half a century, but because the number of students and school districts affected by the ruling in Brown far exceeded those affected by the earlier rulings in the 1950s admitting one or two students into graduate or law school (Sweatt v. Painter and McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents). And third, the latter concern about the breadth of the decision in Brown deeply disturbed him, as well as other justices. There was the predictable problem of fashioning a remedial decree that would provide flexibility. While such a judicial decree would upend social taboos against interracial intimacies, it would also invite a widespread pushback to the court’s ruling in Brown – what to do?

Question: In his unpublished opinion in Brown, Jackson wrote:

It is hard to find an indication that any of the influential body of the movement that carried the Civil War Amendments had reached the point of thinking about either segregation or education of the Negro as a current problem, and harder still to find that the Amendments were designed to be a solution. If we turn from words to deeds as evidence of purpose, we find nothing to show that the Congress which submitted these Amendments understood or intended to prohibit the practice here in question.

By contrast, in his 1990 dissent in Rutan v. Republican Party of Illinois, Justice Antonin Scalia argued:

[T]he Fourteenth Amendment’s requirement of “equal protection of the laws,” combined with the Thirteenth Amendment’s abolition of the institution of black slavery, leaves no room for doubt that laws treating people differently because of their race are invalid. Moreover, even if one does not regard the Fourteenth Amendment as crystal clear on this point, a tradition of unchallenged validity did not exist with respect to the practice in Brown. To the contrary, in the 19th century the principle of “separate-but-equal” had been vigorously opposed on constitutional grounds, litigated up to this Court, and upheld only over the dissent of one of our most historically respected Justices.

Are these two statements in opposition to one another? If so, which originalist view do you think to be the stronger one?

O’Brien: Jackson’s understanding, as is clear in the unpublished opinion, of the 14th Amendment was certainly more accurate, honest and candid than Scalia’s revisionist view of the “original public understanding” of the amendment. Jackson repeatedly stresses that Congress funded segregated schools in the District of Columbia both before and after the ratification of the 14th Amendment, as well as admitted representatives of the Confederate states who ratified the amendment and yet continued maintaining (or later embraced) racially segregated schools.

Question: How do you think Jackson would have ruled in Brown II, in which the Supreme Court ordered that desegregation be implemented “with all deliberate speed”?

O’Brien: Jackson would have signed on to the 1955 remedial decree (had he lived) because, like all of the other justices, he saw the need for flexibility in implementation; like others too, he underestimated the amount of time it would take to achieve “integration” — to move, as he put it, from one world to another — from a world of white supremacy to one of equal dignity and respect.

Question: William Rehnquist was a law clerk to Jackson during October Term 1952. In his book “The Supreme Court,” Rehnquist wrote: Jackson “requested that I come to Washington on February 1, 1952, and plan to serve as his clerk from then until June 1953. I was surprised and delighted to receive this offer, and accepted it immediately.” You have a somewhat different view of this matter. Can you say a few words about it?

O’Brien: Based on Rehnquist’s correspondences with Jackson (which are at the Hoover Institution and the Library of Congress), it is clear that he “embellished” the matter in his book and in fact doggedly pursued the clerkship, until Jackson finally relented and took him on.

Question: In his 1952 memo to Jackson concerning Brown, Rehnquist wrote:

Urging a view palpably at variance with precedent and probably with legislative history, appellants seek to convince the Court of the moral wrongness of the treatment they are receiving. I would suggest that this is a question the Court need never reach; for regardless of the Justice’s individual views on the merits of segregation, it quite clearly is not one of those extreme cases which commands intervention from one of any conviction. If this Court, because its members are ‘liberal’ and dislike segregation, now chooses to strike it down, it differs from the McReynolds court only in the kind of litigants it favors and the kinds of special claims it protects.

In his 1971 confirmation hearing to become an associate justice and again at his 1986 hearing to become chief justice, Rehnquist argued that his memo represented Jackson’s views. In a 1971 letter sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman James O. Eastland, Rehnquist stated: “I am satisfied that the memorandum was not designed to be a statement of my views on these cases.”

Can you briefly explain why Rehnquist claimed that the views expressed in his memo were not his but rather Jackson’s?

O’Brien: Rehnquist’s memo argued that Plessy’s holding should be reaffirmed, and at his confirmation hearings as an associate justice and then as chief justice in 1976 and 1986, he simply distorted or lied about the memo’s reflecting Jackson’s views (As indicated above, Jackson in the very first draft indicated he supported the eventual outcome in Brown.). The undeniable fact that  Rehnquist distorted or simply lied is clear from primary and secondary sources cited in Chapter 3.

Question: You write: “[W]ithout any doubt, in 1971 and 1986 Rehnquist at the very least misled and misrepresented whose views his memo represented, if not outright lied.” That is a serious charge. On what do you base it?

O’Brien: As suggested above, it is obvious from both primary sources (correspondence in Jackson’s and Rehnquist’s papers) and secondary sources — works by Richard Kluger, “Simple Justice” (2004),  and John Dean, “The Rehnquist Choice” (2002).

Question: You also discuss Rehnquist’s 1953 memo in Terry v. Adams, the state-action white-only pre-primary election case. There, the court, in an 8-1 ruling, held that the combined election procedures of the Jaybird Democratic Association and the Democratic Party deprived black citizens of the right to vote. Could you briefly describe that memo and explain why you think it sheds light on Rehnquist’s Brown memo?

O’Brien:  The Terry memo was written by Rehnquist, as was that in Brown, and expressed his distaste or lack of sympathy for desegregation and civil rights efforts. And again the memo was contrary to Jackson’s own thinking and eventual vote. University of Chicago Law School professor Dennis Hutchinson wrote an excellent article about this memo and how it further discredits Rehnquist’s testimony.

Question: You remind your readers that Judge Learned Hand criticized the Brown decision in his 1958 Oliver Wendell Holmes Lecture. In light of that, can any justice today attain greatness if he or she has contested, for whatever reasons, the outcome in Brown?

O’Brien: To borrow from Isaiah Berlin’s famous essay, Hand, like Jackson, was a “hedgehog” who believed that equal protection should apply across the board to all segregated public accommodations, unlike Justice Felix Frankfurter, a “fox” who always tried to avoid or minimize the Supreme Court’s rulings on controversial legal/political issues, like Brown.

Today, no one on the left or the right would deny the legitimacy of Brown. But what is even more remarkable is how liberal/progressive and conservative/originalist scholars now seek to justify Brown and 1967’s Loving v. Virginia (striking down miscegenation laws) on the grounds of the “original public understanding” of the 14th Amendment. They do so only by distorting the history of the amendment or by abandoning history in a quest for a higher level of generality in the application of the 14th Amendment. In doing so, both sides fail to face facts. Jackson, by contrast, held otherwise and concluded that the Constitution had not changed, but the country had in terms of interracial intimacy and public education. And that justified the court’s ruling.

So, in answer to your question, no one today — on the left or the right — would contest the canonical ruling in Brown, but that is because they — judges and scholars alike — are all Machiavellian in their reading of history and constitutional interpretation.

The post Ask the author: Justice Robert Jackson’s revealing thoughts and unpublished opinion in <em>Brown v. Board of Education</em> appeared first on SCOTUSblog.

from http://www.scotusblog.com

About 6,500 Under 17 Shot to Death Since Newtown

About 6,500 children under 17 have been killed, and about 30,000 others have been wounded since the elementary school shooting in Newtown, Ct.. The numbers are crunched by averaging annual numbers of deaths and injuries recorded in recent years by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The numbers are unbelievably high,” says Dr. Michael Nance of Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia.

In the five years since 20 first-graders were shot to death at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct., the number of children under the age of 17 killed or wounded by gunfire in the U.S. is astounding, the Boston Globe reports. About 6,500 have been killed, and about 30,000 others have been wounded. The numbers are crunched by averaging annual numbers of deaths and injuries recorded in recent years by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Experts like Dr. Michael Nance of the Pediatric Trauma Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who has closely researched childhood gun injuries, said they believe the figures to be a fair representation, as stunning as they may seem. “The numbers are unbelievably high,” Nance said. “While events like Sandy Hook and Aurora or Columbine grab the headlines, quite obviously the problem goes on every day, insidiously . . . drip . . . drip . . . drip. It isn’t the mass shootings that are the major issue, it is the daily repetition that leads to the numbers that are so unbelievable.”

The figures show that nationwide, between 2012 and 2015, the latest year of available data, about 1,300 children each year were killed by guns, and nearly 6,000 more were injured. “The numbers have been pretty consistent year after year,” said Dr. Eliot Nelson, a professor and pediatrician at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital whose research has focused on injury prevention, including injuries from firearms. “As a cause of death in our country, firearm injuries are really second only to motor vehicle accident injuries for young people.” A study by CDC researchers published in the journal Pediatrics found that the vast majority of those shooting victims were older children. A total of 82 percent of children killed by guns in recent years were between 13 and 17 years old. The rest — about 230 children a year on average — were 12 or younger.

from https://thecrimereport.org

Immigrants Get Inhumane Treatment at Some Centers: IG

Immigrants detained at large centers used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in California, Georgia, New Jersey and New Mexico are subject to inhumane treatment, given insufficient hygiene supplies and medical care, and provided potentially unsafe food, says the Department of Homeland Security Inspector General.

Immigrants detained at large centers used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in California, Georgia, New Jersey and New Mexico are subject to inhumane treatment, given insufficient hygiene supplies and medical care, and provided potentially unsafe food, says a Department of Homeland Security Inspector General’s report, according to NPRThe findings are similar to those of outside groups that have alleged ‘extensive’ human rights abuses at ICE detention centers.

The inspector general’s report comes as the Trump administration is asking Congress for funding to expand the immigration detention system. ICE says some of its existing facilities are short-staffed. The agency’s acting director agreed to the report’s recommendations. The study was based on inspections of five detention facilities, four of which failed to meet certain federal standards, although not every problem was present in all of them. The report said some detainees were housed incorrectly based on their criminal history. In violation of standards, all detainees entering one facility were strip searched. The report said that, “Staff did not always treat detainees respectfully and professionally, and some facilities may have misused segregation. Finally, we observed potentially unsafe and unhealthy detention conditions.” Critics of President Trump’s immigration policies say the conditions predate his administration.

from https://thecrimereport.org

The Painful Lessons of a Corrections Crisis

When the Washington Department of Corrections learned a software programming error led to the erroneous early release of 3,000 prisoners, it took three years to address the problem. That led to at least two deaths—and some hard lessons about the need to recognize non-traditional emergencies before they became crises, according to a case study published this month.

Correctional institutions are usually well prepared to address serious emergencies like prison riots, but what happens when they encounter a crisis that staff and authorities never imagined could occur?

That was the situation which confronted the Washington Department of Corrections (WDOC) when authorities learned a software programming error had led to the erroneous early release of over 3,000 inmates between 2002 and 2015.

According to a case study analyzing the WDOC’s belated response, the episode made clear that correctional and other public institutions need to develop the “situational awareness” to deal with crises for which they had little training.

The study, published this month in the Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, showed that authorities could have headed off the crisis earlier if they had responded to an inquiry from the father of an victim in 2012 who believed his son’s perpetrator had been released too early.

A request for a “fix” was sent to the Information Technology Unit (IT), but the WDOC failed to address it until 2015. Meanwhile, several of the erroneously released inmates had committed crimes, and were responsible for at least two deaths.

The sentencing miscalculation arose in 2002 following a Washington Supreme Court decision, In re King, which ruled that the WDOC had not awarded “good time” to inmates for the time spent in jail awaiting trial and during trial. But a change in the software programming used to recalculate each inmate’s release date to accommodate the ruling unwittingly led to total earned- time credits that exceeded the statutory maximum.

This resulted in inmates being released, on average, 55 days early.

WDOC’s failure to deal in a timely manner with the error once it was pointed out turned an “emergency into a crisis,” said the study.

Two of the three authors of the study, “The Making of an Institutional Crisis,” were key players in the episode. Dan Pacholke, the state’s Secretary of Corrections, led the emergency response. Sandy Felkey Mullins served on the governor’s staff as his senior policy advisor on public safety and government operations. Bert Useem of Purdue University conducted many of the post-crisis interviews with WDOC staff who had to decide whether and how to bring the inmates back to prison.

The WDOC leadership decided that bringing back offenders post-release to serve additional time on their sentence after several years of liberty would be “fundamentally unfair,” unless the offender had committed a class-A felony.

Specialized WDOC community response units accompanied local law enforcement to arrest inmates who it was decided did need to return to prison to serve out the remainder of their sentence. Unsurprisingly, the legitimacy of the arrest was often challenged by the former inmates—who argued they were being asked to “bear the burden of WDOC’s error” of being released and returned again.

Specialty teams for disturbance control were placed in prison facilities around the state in the event of possible unrest, though no noticeable inmate response arose. And a public communications strategy was developed.

Following the crisis, the WDOC redeveloped its IT procedures and issued instructions requiring anyone on headquarters staff who identified an issue that impacted public safety or critical operations to immediately inform his or her supervisor.

If the issue was not addressed, they were to go directly to agency leadership.

The principal lesson drawn from the episode, according to the study, was that large public agencies must train senior staff to have the flexibility to deal with incidents that are not part of their normal crisis training.

An agency needs to “develop in its culture the alertness not to solve, but rather to recognize, a crisis emergency and quickly mobilize a non-traditional response,” authors concluded.

“Agencies ….must develop situational awareness – thinking through the broad features of the situation and what must be done.”

TCR news intern Brian Edsall contributed to writing this summary. The full journal article is available for purchase only and can be downloaded here. Journalists can obtain free access by contacting TCR Deputy Editor Victoria Mckenzie at Victoria@thecrimereport.org

from https://thecrimereport.org