Posts tagged justice


Torture victim released from prison. 

Eric Caine free after 25 years behind bars, says the false confession was beat out of him.

He has long claimed that his confession to killing an elderly couple was beat out of him by officers at Area 2 in Chicago. These officers answered to former police commander Jon Burge.

Ironically, Caine learned he would be freed from prison on the very day Burge was sent to prison himself for abusing suspects and forcing confessions.

Caine remains angry that his case was ignored for so long, but he is trying not be bitter. He said today is the first day of the rest of is life. Caine grinned as he said “I’m living the dream.”

Caine first learned about his pending freedom last night on theWGN News at Nine. He said he wept in his cell and asked other inmates if he heard the news correctly.

As for what is next, Caine knows he has a tough road ahead when it comes to adjusting to life outside prison walls. he’d like to go into ministry and plans to marry his girlfriend. VIA

Good time to plug a related cause, eh?   

A Kentucky bill would require nursing homes to report deaths to the local coroner so that evidence of possible abuse or neglect could be collected.

This wasn’t happening already??!!  Why? Money, obviously. The coroner stated even if only 10% of cases need investigating, more staff (three more MDs, some admin staff and equipment) would be needed.  I’m positive this investment would be quickly returned based on the fines given to nursing homes for poor care as a result of said evals. What are they waiting for? The less than mediocre manner in which we regard elder care is revolting.

Burch said nursing home representatives are concerned that too much extra work would be generated for the facilities by the bill.

And he said nursing home officials don’t like a provision that strengthens the criminal penalty for failing to report abuse and neglect of an adult.

I wonder why. Cry me a river you ingrates. Don’t get me started on this one.

Bias, Lies and Videotape

the time has indeed come to make transparency of custodial interrogations the rule, rather than the exception.

Widespread implementation of the recommendation to video record interrogations in their entirety and with a camera perspective that permits a clear view of both the suspect and interrogator(s) will achieve this goal admirably.

The White Paper authors also imply that such video recordings will likely make it easier for later fact finders to detect and reject false confessions. For the sake of the innocent, all hope that this will be the case; however, anecdotal evidence and, more important, relevant psychological science suggest that it would be prudent to temper expectations in this regard. (via)

—Yeah, I keep going on about this (i know) but mandatory video taping all custodial interrogations protects the integrity of the police interrogators as well as the rights of the accused AND reduces the likelihood of a confession being thrown out on a legal technicality (for when they really are guilty).  It’s a win/win and there is absolutely no good reason at all why it shouldn’t be the rule in every state, especially when dealing with those susceptible to psychological coercion (juveniles, ESL, psychiatric illness, etc). Further, it should be done using different camera angles  to eliminate angle bias. I wouldn’t trust a jury as far as I could throw them unless they had every fair resource availible…and even then,  oof.


Love this cover of The Economist this week.
The leader:Rough JusticeAmerica locks up too  many people, some for acts that should not even be criminal
The Special report:Too many laws, too many prisoners
Currently, the state does not have a single full-time psychiatrist on staff to treat young offenders. Guards at the youth prisons, known as youth counselors, will be barred from physically restraining youths except when a person’s physical safety is threatened or a youth is trying to escape from the institution.

N.Y. Agrees to Vast Changes in Youth Prison System -

It’s about time this is fixed. The situation has been horrendous for years. As bad as the state-run asylums of forty years ago.

(via mikehudack)

Long overdue bit of progress. There are some really good post-release mentoring/counseling/vocational programs (like this one I volunteered for yrs ago) and school integrated peer mentoring programs in NYC, I’m not clear on why they aren’t available for juvenile populations at-risk to reach these kids before detainment. The ones I did know of were unable to get funding and were forced to shut down.

An Arbitrary System

"To paraphrase Animal Farm, all people are equal, but some people are more equal than others.

A legal system cannot demand the faith and fealty of the governed when rules are seen as arbitrary and deceptive. Our leaders have led us not to an economic crisis or an immigration crisis or an environmental crisis or a civil liberties crisis. They have led us to a crisis of faith where citizens no longer believe that laws have any determinant meaning. It is politics, not the law, that appears to drive outcomes — a self-destructive trend for a nation supposedly defined by the rule of law.”

Jonathan Turley, the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University


Research by the Equal Justice Initiative, which issued the 2007 report Cruel and Unusual: Sentencing 13- and 14-Year-Old Children to Die in Prison, found “73 cases where children 13 and 14 years of age have been condemned to death in prison,” nearly two-thirds of them children of color. In most of the cases, “the propriety and constitutionality of their extreme sentences have never been reviewed” because the children don’t have lawyers to mount such challenges. Most of the sentences were mandatory, and “the court could not give any consideration to the child’s age or life history.” Even among homicides, many were “offenses where older teenagers or adults were involved and primarily responsible.”

Finally, as Sara Mayeux points out on her Prison Law Blog, being eligible for parole by no means guarantees that these inmates will ever actually see the light of day: “[I]nsofar as juveniles have now won a right to a parole hearing,” Mayeux writes, “we might question how meaningful of a right that really is (notwithstanding the “some meaningful opportunity” language [in Kennedy’s opinion]) given that in many states, parole hearings have become a sort of charade in which the prisoner can never actually win release, because the parole board routinely denies parole eligibility based solely upon the facts of the underlying crime, which is the one thing that the prisoner, of course, can never change.”

In other words, for thousands of child offenders, the Supreme Court’s decision today offers no hope.

Targets for Sexual and Physical Assault

"Juveniles placed in adult prisons are at heightened risk of physical and
sexual assault by older, more mature prisoners. Many adolescents suffer
horrific abuse for years when sentenced to die in prison. Children are five times
more likely to be sexually assaulted in adult prisons than in juvenile facilities.”

So this is not news to anyone, and its no secret what happens in there….but what is surprising (to me at least) in a kinda related vein is re: an experimental study I did using 300 mock jurors about juveniles being tried as adults for murder. I used 3 different versions of an actual juvenile murder case and made 3 versions where the offender would be 13, 15, or 17. The participants were given a different age in the scenario and asked to read the case and decide if the juvenile should be tried as an adult where he would get life in prison, or go to a juvenile detention until he was 18, then be re-evaluated.  The results showed the jurors were more likely to send the 13 and 17 year old to adult prison for life, but not the 15 year old.  (Certain juror’s rationale was the 15 has a chance to reform, but the 13 year old is probably damaged goods already if he is murdering at that age.)  When measuring the confidence level of these mock verdicts, the older the offender the more confident they were in their verdict, which means they would send an 13 year old to adult prison, but not 100% sure if it was the right decision. Also, males were more likely than female jurors to send all of the juveniles to adult prison for life.

Signs of a Cover-Up After Killings in a Haitian Prison

“…Prison officials would not allow The Times to enter the walled prison compound, which sits directly behind the police station in the heart of town. But reporters interviewed six witnesses to the disturbance as well as five others who visited the prison either immediately after the shootings or…(via)

Teens Sentenced to Perform Shakespeare


Wow…that’s pretty awesome :D

"The show is the culmination of a five-week intensive program called Shakespeare in the Courts, a nationally recognized initiative now celebrating its 10th year. Berkshire Juvenile Court Judge Judith Locke has sent these adjudicated offenders — found guilty of such adolescent crimes as fighting, drinking, stealing, and destroying property — not to lockup or conventional community service, but to four afternoons a week of acting exercises, rehearsal, and Shakespearean study."

news of non-violent offenders clogging state prisons shocks those living in caves

"Pennsylvania has more than 400 inmates sentenced as juveniles to life without parole, a number more than in any other state. Why? In 1979 a referendum requiring a unanimous decision rather than a majority of the five members of the Parole Board increased the life-without-parole population. This ruling has resulted in some nonviolent inmates incarcerated for decades at a cost of millions.

It also dismisses the scientific facts shown by high tech brain scans (PET) that the pre-frontal area of the brain responsible for judgment, decision making and control of impulses is not fully developed until the mid-20s. Studies show that the majority of violent youth grow out of anti-social behavior upon maturing.” (via.)

There’s more…. “In contrast, New York’s inmate population has decreased by 13 percent. New York officials are considering closing one or more prisons. This is attributed to alternative sentencing, intensive drug treatment, and mental health programs.

When the U.S. Supreme Court denied Charles Dean Hood’s appeal last week, it was done in a one-sentence, unsigned order. Hood is a Texas death-row inmate who was convicted of murdering two people in 1990. Long after the conclusion of the trial it became clear that his trial judge and prosecutor had been secretly involved in a years-long extramarital affair. Because they were both married they denied the affair, even to Hood’s death-penalty lawyers. After the clandestine relationship finally came to light, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected Hood’s challenge in two curt sentences last September, finding that his lawyers had waited too long to raise the issue on appeal. How Hood was to have raised the conflict of interest when the existence of the affair was not conclusively established until 2008, when the judge and prosecutor were forced to admit it under oath, is not explained.
You should read this, a really nice bit from Dahlia Lithwick (via newsweek)
 artist: stefanie schilling