Examining “Collateral Consequence Laws”


Public housing in New York City (Image via NYC.gov)

 

A new study suggests that harsh “collateral consequence laws” for former inmates may be related to lower rates of return to prisons.

The study, which was funded by the National Institute of Justice, challenges widely-held assumptions that “collateral consequence laws” — formal restrictions following arrest or conviction to employment, public assistance, driver’s licenses and other things — increase the likelihood that former inmates will return to prison.

The author notes, however, that the limited data on “collateral consequence laws” led to wide variances in results from state to state that “restrict the validity of conclusions.”

“In 2010, states varied in the percentage of prison admissions that were made up of parole violations from 7 percent to 65 percent,” according to the study.

Read the full report HERE.

Via The Crime Report

Scott Panetti is not competent for execution


By George Parnham | Special to the American-Statesman

Do you remember Scott Panetti? He is pretty unforgettable. Panetti is the man with paranoid schizophrenia who was allowed to represent himself, while on trial for his life, wearing a make-believe Western cowboy outfit. He insisted on defending himself and attempted to summon dozens of witnesses, including John F. Kennedy, the pope and even Jesus Christ.

Panetti’s delusional courtroom performance was not simply painful to watch. It was a mockery of civilized society.

If Texas executes Panetti, it would be another travesty. He would go to his death convinced that he is being executed for preaching the gospel, not for the 1992 murder of his in-laws in Kerr County. The U.S. Supreme Court should intervene and prevent this gross injustice. The court needs to announce a clear standard for determining competency for execution that will provide guidance for the lower courts.

For more than 30 years, Panetti has suffered from severe mental illness. In the decade leading up to the crime, he was hospitalized 14 times for schizophrenia, manic depression (bipolar disorder), auditory hallucinations and delusions of persecution and grandiosity. At one point, he buried his furniture in his backyard because he believed the devil was in his furniture. By all accounts, his mental condition has gotten worse in prison.

Panetti’s case previously went to the U.S. Supreme Court, when the court held that the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals’ standard for assessing his competency for execution was unconstitutional. In Panetti v. Quarterman (2007), the court emphasized that evaluating Panetti’s factual understanding of the meaning of his execution and its consequences was not sufficient in light of his severe mental illness. The objectives of capital punishment, the court wrote, are not served “if the prisoner’s mental state is so distorted by a mental illness that his awareness of the crime and punishment has little or no relation to the understanding of these concepts.”

Both the district court and the 5th Circuit ignored the court’s direction. Neither attempted to reconcile how a severely mentally ill man like Panetti, whose delusions and reality are so intertwined that he believes Satan and Texas are conspiring to execute him, can possess a rational understanding of the connection between his crime and death sentence.

The District Court showed a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of delusions when it found that Panetti’s delusions were not “constant,” citing a visit between Panetti and his parents. Panetti’s parents would have no reason to place Panetti under stress with challenging questions or “press his buttons,” unlike experts who are tasked with evaluating competency.

In any event, the district court overlooked evidence that Panetti did, in fact, speak of his delusions with his parents. He spoke repeatedly of his efforts to fulfill his destiny and bring the word of god to the men on death row. For example, Panetti called the trial judge in his case a “devil worshipper” and explained: “Some of (these Death Row inmates) are possessed with devils. They’re anti- Christian, Satanists. So that’s why I’m here to deal with that.”

On appeal, the 5th Circuit upheld this limited understanding of competency for execution. Under the 5th Circuit’s view, if a court can single out any shred of evidence that appears to show a prisoner’s rational understanding of the reason for his punishment, his delusional belief system and decades of severe mental illness are simply irrelevant.

The courts should listen to the doctors who study psychotic disorders. The district court and the 5th Circuit’s reasoning downplays Panetti’s severe mental illness and how his delusions control his mind.

The state does not dispute that Panetti believes that he would be executed for saving souls on death row, not for murder. It cannot be said that such a prisoner has the capacity to accept responsibility for his crime. If he doesn’t have a rational understanding of the link between his crime and his execution, the death penalty fails to serve its purpose as a punishment.

The U.S. Supreme Court should take Panetti’s case and clarify a precise standard for determining a prisoner’s competency for execution. Current law has left the lower courts with unfettered discretion in determining which prisoners will be executed. If we want to live in a just, humane society, we cannot continue to fail to protect people with severe mental illness from execution.
– – – – -
Parnham is an attorney in Houston who has represented many defendants with severe mental illness, including Andrea Yates.

 

Earlier coverage of Scott Panetti’s case and standards for competency to be executed is at:
http://standdown.typepad.com/weblog/scott_panetti/

Via Statesman.com

Hall of Shame: Nayely is only 7 and fighting brain cancer in detention


by Emma J. Randles

 

We are highlighting the Karnes County family detention center, which is operated by GEO Group.

Beginning August 1 of this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) began using Karnes to hold more than 500 women and children who have recently come to the U.S. from Central America seeking refuge.

Recent reports indicate that ICE is unwilling to grant any bonds, or grants exorbitantly high bonds — even to those women with children who are able to pass a credible fear interview and qualify to apply for asylum status. According to ICE spokeswoman Nina Pruneda, bond decisions are now being made on a case-by-case basis with consideration given to flight risk and public safety.  However, the majority of the women currently being denied bond can prove that they have family members or others who are available to receive them. This new policy was handed down as a reaction to the influx of women and children fleeing from increasing violence in Central America.

One of the families who is  severely affected by this new no-bond policy are the Beltrans. Sara Beltran Rodriguez and her seven-year-old daughter Nayely Bermudez Beltran are being detained after fleeing from violence in El Salvador. Prior to fleeing their country, Nayely was being treated for a malignant brain tumor. While they are being held at Karnes, Nayely is not receiving any treatment for her life-threatening condition. Sara has passed a credible fear interview, which means she qualifies for asylum in the U.S., and they have arrangements to stay at the Posada Esperanza shelter in Austin when they are released.

Nayely’s MRI results have been analyzed by three U.S.-trained doctors who recommend immediate care so that her condition does not becoming life-threatening. According to Dr. Simon Carlson, a neuroradiologist based in Austin, “This is a case which can become life threatening in very short order, which can take a turn for the worse with little to no forewarning, with devastating outcomes. Urgent care is needed for this child, and she is likely to suffer long term brain damage or worse if left to routine care without urgent specialist intervention.”

Texans United for Families has been advocating for the family to be released, asking people to call Assistant Field Office Director Sylvester Ortega at 830-254-2500 to ask that Nayely and Sara be allowed to leave the family detention center to seek medical care immediately. 

The cruelty of ICE and the Karnes County family detention center in this case earns them a place in our humpday hall of shame. We can’t think of anything more shameful that keeping Nayely and Sara for more than a month in the prison-like conditions of detention while Nayely’s tumor threatens her life. But this case also shows us the shame of keeping these families in detention under a no-bonds policy. It also poses the question: Why put women and children seeking asylum in prison-like conditions in the first place?

There’s one more reason why she needs to be released right away. The family’s attorney has arranged care for Nayely at Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin, and she has an appointment with a specialist scheduled for this Tuesday, September 9.

But as of this posting, ICE still won’t free the Beltrans.

Please, lets all help Nayely!!

A Simple phone call is that we are asking for…her LIFE depends on us!!

Call Assistant Field Office Director Sylvester Ortega at 830-254-2500 to ask that Nayely and Sara Beltran be allowed to leave the family detention center to seek medical care immediately. 

Via Grassroots Leadership Blog

Krista McDaniel~another INJUSTICE


Krista- age 28-2014

 

Krista McDaniel is one of many  who as a child, was convicted as an adult and is now serving barbaric and inhumane sentences!
In 2002, just turning 16 yrs of age, Krista got caught up with  grown adults. Easily influenced,  vulnerable  and wanting to be “accepted,” she  was sentenced to 30 yrs with NO chance of parole due to just being in the company of BAD adults who robbed and murdered 2 convenience store workers. Unfortunately Krista was with them, but she did NOT know they were going to do this evil deed. “Guilt by association?” She spent two years in the S. C. jail until she turned 18, then sent to a woman’s prison in South Carolina for 30 yrs.
With the background life of Krista, NO father in her life, a mother who struggles to make ends meet, and out of Krista’s life most of the time, which was  NO fault of her own, Krista was left alone to do whatever she wanted.  No structure or guidance in her life, she was easily  influenced by other “adults” and unfortunately landed her in prison, facing 30 yrs with NO chance of parole.  Krista DOES DESERVE a chance, this is a grave injustice, for a 16 yr old, who was literally USED BY ADULTS, a “pawn”  for their evil acts. Krista should NOT have to pay for this mistake with her very “life” for 30 yrs.  She did NOT rob or murder anyone!! 
Anyone interested in support of and/or would care to write Krista,  please contact kidsincourt1@roadrunner.com
There are a number of posts in reference to Krista McDaniel, please follow this link: http://justicewinds.blogspot.com/search?q=krista+mcdaniel 
Krista’s  Advocate, Knightgale  ( who maintains her blog and has been trying for years to secure justice for Krista) has this to say:
Have followed her case from the time of her detention to the present days. She has grown in many ways, “growing” up in a prison, facing 30 yrs with NO chance of parole. Post conviction relief request DENIED. Clemency request DENIED.  Am still seeking a “pro bono” lawyer to look at the court transcripts of this case. Such a gross INJUSTCE for this child, giving NO “chance”, mistakes made as a “child.”  The sentence is barbaric, with No compassion, NO mercy, NO credit for the 12 years already served, facing 18 more years with NO parole, for a crime itself, SHE DID NOT COMMIT. True, unfortunately she was with those ADULTS, who DID this crime!! My question is why a conspiracy and armed robbery charge??? How does the prosecutor “prove” conspiracy?? Was there a GSR performed on her clothes and hands?? S.C law says the “hand of one is the hand of all.” The background of this child, contributes, but she did NOT get to where she is today, ALL BY HERSELF.  I strongly urge the reading of all the posts located at the above URL link.”

Free Vic!!


Victor Norman Hansen a.k.a #138866
On January 27, 2006 three friends since school days, BK, JW , and Victor Hansen went out to the Pearl Street Pub in Boulder to shoot some pool and have a few drinks. Another female friend, MS, who was not invited, got BK’s phone number and called to find out where they were, later joining them. They spent the evening recalling high school days, a reunion of sorts. BK and JW thought it probably wasn’t a good idea for MS to drive up the canyon more than 20 miles to her home because she was likely over the legal alcohol limit to drive. So, BK invited her to stay with them at their apartment. They left the bar at about 1:30 AM. Vic, drove everyone the two city blocks to the apartment. Victor and MS ended up sharing a room that night, as they had been flirting at the pub. In the morning, Victor woke up and left at about 8:00 AM to return to his house to get ready to go to work in Boulder. MS stayed at the apartment until the afternoon, and then had  another friend, JZ drive her to her car so she could drive home. At 11:30 PM later that night, there was a loud knock on the apartment door. The Boulder Police were investigating a reported sexual assault. MS had reported to the Boulder Police that she believes that she had been drugged and sexually assaulted earlier that day…

The Boulder Police continued their investigation and on August 22, 2006 an arrest warrant was signed. The Boulder Police contacted the Hansen family to let them know that Victor needed to appear at the police station. He called them to ask if he could wait until after the weekend, as he was completing a flooring installation for work. The police agreed that he could appear the following Monday. He drove himself to the Boulder Police Department. He was released on bond, a few days later.

The trial began on June 18, 2007. On June 22, 2007, the jury returned a not guilty verdict on F3 (Sexual assault–victim physically helpless), but was found guilty on F4 (Sexual assault–victim incapable of appraising the nature of her conduct.) Victor’s parents met with Prosecuting Attorney, Ingrid Bakke, on two separate occasions, including October 29, 2007–just 3 days before sentencing. These meetings were an attempt to explain that prison would be the worst possible scenario for Victor. They were informed both times, that if Victor would at least admit that perhaps he misjudged the situation, and give a slight admission of guilt, then that could save him from going to prison, as he would be considered psychologically treatable and no longer in denial. Victor refused the offer and said, “This idea sickened me… If I totally change my story and lie about what…transpired on January 28, I may lessen my sentence.” Victor also said that he would not refute other witnesses’ testimonies by his friends or professionals. He could not be threatened into submission and would not fabricate a story, even though the Prosecuting Attorney tried to tempt him to change his story. On

November 1, 2007, Victor Norman Hansen was sentenced to four years in prison, but with a mandatory release date. Victor was sent to Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center (DRDC). He was transported to Freemont Correctional Facility in Canon City, and was later moved to Crowley County Correctional Facility in Olney Springs. The Alternate Defense Counsel neglected to file a motion for bond pending appeal, and did not file a motion for reduction of sentence. On November 13, 2007, he did file a motion for reconsideration of sentence. However, on April 23, 2008, he withdrew the motion, although Victor wanted him to proceed. On March 19, 2009, the judge changed the sentence, after District Attorney, Catrina M. Weigel, who had no involvement with this case, filed a “motion to change an illegal sentence and amend mittimus”. The Appellate Attorney failed to respond, so the judge granted the motion to change the punishment to a life sentence. On October 29, 2009, Victor Hansen demanded in writing that his attorney remove himself as the attorney on record in Boulder County. (On November 14, 2009, the Alternate Defense Counsel removed himself from the case). On October 29, 2009, the Hansen family contacted appellate attorney, Andrea Gammell, by phone. They wanted to know what statute prevented Vic from being released on bond. Ms. Gammell did not think that Victor was eligible for bond. She thought that the trial attorney had filed an appeal bond and that it had been denied. When she checked, she realized that she was wrong after a conversation with Vic’s Sister (only a person convicted of sexual assault on a child is not eligible for bond.) On December 7, 2009, she apologized to Victor in a letter. He had already been in prison for more than two years.

Victor was transported from Crowley County Correctional Facility and was placed in the Boulder County Jail pending the bond hearing. The bond was granted on April 2, 2010, and Victor Hansen was released from the Boulder County Jail on April 5, 2010. On the night of September 16, 2011 while Victor was driving home from a get together with people from work at Roy’s Last Shot near Rollinsville, he noticed a traffic accident. He stopped and asked the Gilpin County Sheriff if he needed any help. It was at that time that the sheriff smelled alcohol on Vic’s breath, and had him taken to jail as this was a violation of the bond. Although the Hansen family posted $1500 for bond, the probation department refused to allow Gilpin County to release him. At the bond hearing, Judge Lael Montgomery ruled to send him back to prison. While imprisoned at Freemont Correctional Facility, although Victor Hansen had not been written up for any behavioral issues, prison officials placed him in 22-hour lockdown for over 100 days in an attempt to convince him to confess to the original crime. Victor was considered for parole, but the parole board denied the request. Perhaps they thought that if Victor was still in denial about his crime, then he is untreatable and therefore ineligible for parole. Victor Hansen continues to maintain his innocence, and so remains in prison. It has been nearly seven years since his Sentencing.

Free Vic Hansen!!

http://www.freevichansen.org/home.html

Compassionate Release for Robert C. Fuentes (Pelican Bay & Vacaville)


Originally posted on Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity:

Please sign the petition (link below) for Compassionate Release for Robert C. Fuentes, who has been incarcerated for 32 years, 20 years at Pelican Bay State Prison (PBSP) and never debriefed to get out of SHU. He is dying from liver cancer that could have been treated had it been diagnosed sooner; in February/March of 2014 he was given a diagnosis of inoperable liver cancer. He has been sent to hospice in California Medical Facility Vacaville.
His sister Cynthia has initiated the petition “Jerry Brown and Jeffrey Beardand Martin Hoshino: Release Robert C. Fuentes before he dies in prison,” asking for compassionate release (CR) of Robert to his family in Corona (parents Frank and Frances Fuentes, five siblings, two children, 3 grandchildren,  and countless extended family members).
 Although the prison system has refused compassionate release, his family, Justice Now, and supporters will fight to get him out…

View original 162 more words

When Officer Friendly Becomes Delta Force


Originally posted on deafinprison:

By BitcoDavid

CX500 Forum
CX500 Forum

I find myself bombarded by images and news stories of police committing what can only be called atrocities on American citizens. I’ve struggled with this for the past few weeks, because we’ve talked before – on this site – about the dangers of militarization of the police. Recently, our publisher asked me to do a research piece based on a simple question. Are police abuses of power actually increasing, or are we seeing them more, because people are recording them on cell-phone cameras?

The ’50s and ’60s were rife with cases of police brutality. Prior to Miranda in 1966, interrogations were commonly brutal, and in many cases actual torture. It wasn’t uncommon in those days, for police with no warrant to enter one’s home and search. Traffic stops – same thing. And of course, any of us who were involved in the counterculture movement of…

View original 786 more words

Tennessee Death Row Inmates Sue to Block Electric Chair


tennessee-becomes-the-first-state-to-bring-back-the-electric-chair

Death row inmates in Tennessee are suing to stop the state from using the electric chair as its backup execution method. Papers filed Friday argue that the state’s testing method for the chair is inadequate and that electrocution does not necessarily cause instantaneous death. “A prisoner that remains alive, conscious, and sensate for some period of time during an electrocution execution will experience excruciating pain and suffering,” the suit says.

In May, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam signed a law allowing prison officials to use the electric chair when unable to get drugs for lethal injections, making it the only state that forces electrocution on inmates; other states allow the condemned to choose the chair. “Tennessee took a huge step back when it reinstated the electric chair,” federal public defender Kelley Henry said, noting that courts in Nebraska and Georgia have already declared the method unconstitutional. The Tennessee attorney general’s office said it was reviewing the court papers and had no immediate comment.

Why is Tennessee using the electric chair as a backup?

Like many states, Tennessee has had difficulty obtaining the chemicals it needs for lethal injections; it has not been able to carry out an execution since 2009 because of drug shortages.

Although the Department of Correction says it is confident it will be able to secure the deadly doses for the 10 men with execution dates, politicians are apparently not as sure.

They drafted a bill that would make the electric chair the automatic backup method, and the governor signed it Thursday night. Previously, electrocution was used only if an inmate convicted before 1999 chose it.

Does Tennessee actually have an electric chair?

The state’s original chair — dubbed Old Sparky — was reportedly crafted from the gallows where inmates used to be hanged.

Department of Correction spokeswoman Neysa Taylor refused to answer any questions about the current chair, but a 2007 state report detailed its history.

In 1989, it was rebuilt and outfitted with a new electricity-delivery system by Fred Leuchter, a self-styled execution specialist who was labeled a Holocaust denier by the Anti-Defamation League.

Later, electrical engineer Jay Weichert put in modifications and helped the Correction Department decide on the settings: 1,750 volts at 7 amps cycled on for 20 seconds, off for 20 seconds and on for 15 seconds.

The current chair was first used in 2007 for the execution of Daryl Holton, who shot his four children. Days before, Leuchter claimed it would not work properly and would torture the inmate, but the medical examiner said Holton’s death was quick and unremarkable.

 The chair is “fully operational.”

Via NBC News

California Inmates Sue State Over Valley Fever, Again


Pleasant Valley State Prison is one of two California prisons to have the most inmates stricken by Valley fever.

 

A lawsuit was filed in federal court in Sacramento on July 14 against the state of California on behalf of 58 current and former inmates who contracted Valley fever while serving time in one of the state’s Central Valley prisons. The lawsuit accuses the state of knowing for years that the incurable disease was being spread throughout Central Valley prisons, but did nothing to address the problem, reported The Sacramento Bee.

Valley fever is an infection caused by a fungus in the soil that can get into the air and is then inhaled when people breathe. Symptoms of the disease include fatigue, fever, cough, night sweats, a shortness of breath and a rash on the upper body or legs. Some inmates, particularly Filipinos, African Americans and Latinos, are more susceptible to severe illness after contracting the disease than others. Inmates with health problems such as diabetes or HIV also are more prone to greater illness if infected. Lawyers for the inmates said in court filings that state officials knew some prisoners were at an elevated risk of contracting the disease, and that those inmates should never have been housed at Pleasant Valley or Avenal state prisons, but were placed there anyway.

Hundreds of inmates have contracted the disease in recent years in the state’s Central Valley prisons, and it has contributed to the deaths of more than 30 inmates since 2005. The state has imposed on inmates “a lifelong, crippling and sometimes fatal disease in addition to their lawfully determined sentences,” the suit claimed.

The state spends more than $23 million each year — $9 million for hospital care, $2.4 million for antifungal care and $12 million to guard the patients — in order to treat inmates stricken by the disease. It may end up spending more in the lawsuit, which seeks monetary damages to offset the medical costs that inmates will have the rest of the years. Those costs amount to $5,000 a year for antifungal medication to keep the disease in check, $1,000 annually for testing and $25,000 in hospitalization expenses for inmates with the worst infections, according to The Sacramento Bee.

The lawsuit was filed two weeks after the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report that recommended testing all inmates eligible for housing at Pleasant Valley and Avenal state prisons — the two that have had the most inmates stricken by the disease — to identify those who might be susceptible to the disease.

The respiratory disease is common in Central California, especially in the San Joaquin Valley. As such, the department said it has worked diligently for years to address the problem.

“CDCR has been working to mitigate Valley fever for years,” spokeswoman Deborah Hoffman told The Sacramento Bee in an email. “We have put in place numerous measures in our prisons to reduce the amount of dust and the movement of dust, particularly into buildings.”

Hoffman added that the department is now considering the findings in the CDC study.

This is not the first lawsuit to be filed against the state on behalf of inmates with Valley fever. Last year, lawyers filed a class-action lawsuit representing inmates at both prisons. At that time, U.S. District Judge Thelton E. Henderson barred the state from housing inmates who are susceptible to the Valley fever in the prisons where the disease is most prevalent.

Via Correctional News