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Justice System

This Week in the Justice System

Bail reform hasn’t led to fewer held in jail, Maryland court records show
According to data from the Maryland Judiciary, the number of defendants held without bail has increased, despite bail reform that intended to let more people remain free before trial. Read the full story in the Maryland Reporter.

Dallas’ new DA promises new era in which petty criminals aren’t punished ‘because they’re poor’
Creuzot said too often the criminal justice system has penalized people of color and people living in poverty. “We will still prosecute the violent criminals. We will still keep our focus on keeping the community safe,” he said. “But we will also take care not to make the community worse or an individual worse just because we’ve done that in the past.” Read the full article in the Dallas Morning News.

Upstart candidates for prosecutor hope to bring reform wave to Northern Virginia
“The American criminal justice system is now a mass incarceration machine set on auto-pilot,” Tafti said in a statement announcing her run. “As a public defender, I know all too well how this machine dismantles communities, destroys families, uses bad science, and wastes money.” Read the full story in the Washington Post.

Proposed Bill Would Require Ky. Lawmakers Weigh Racial Impact Of New Criminal Justice Laws
If passed, BR-3 would affect future laws affecting sentencing, probation, parole policies, and other parts of the criminal justice system. Read the full story at WFPL.

Audit: private prisons cost more than state-run prisons
State prisons in Georgia cost about $44.56 per inmate per day, compared to $49.07 for similar inmates in private prisons, according to the audit. Two private prison companies — Florida-based GEO Group and Nashville, Tenn.-based CoreCivic — get nearly $140 million a year to house 15 percent of the inmates. The payment is about double the amount spent on private prisons 12 years ago. Full story at the Ledger-Enquirer.

Accused of preventable inmate deaths, state agrees to sweeping health care reforms, oversight at all prisons
During the legal battle, reviews by court-appointed experts in 2014 and 2018 reported pervasive problems in the health care provided in Illinois prisons. The most recent report attributed numerous preventable deaths to the poor quality of care, according to court records. Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.

Virginia woman’s prison must improve medical care, judge says
The settlement agreement was the outcome of a yearslong legal battle that began in 2012 when prisoners at FCCW filed suit against the VDOC for failing to provide adequate healthcare to prisoners. Read the full story at WTKR.

Misconduct in Federal Prisons Goes Unpunished, Congressional Study Says

Maryland courts begin using artificial intelligence in bail decisions
Capt. Deborah Diedrich, acting commander of the St. Mary’s County corrections division, said the tool they use is not racially biased, even though it considers these factors. But the county does not track metrics that prove the tool provides fair and accurate scores across different demographics. “We don’t measure it,” Diedrich says, referring to racial bias. “We just know it’s fair.” Read the full story at The Maryland Reporter.

Oregon women’s prison becomes one of few to offer free tampons to inmates
Kelly Simon, staff attorney for ACLU of Oregon, said the new practice at Coffee Creek “appears to be an improvement.” But she said prison officials shouldn’t limit the number and type of pads and tampons women use. Read more on The Oregonian.

How cash bail ruins immigrants’ lives
In 2008, when I was 17, my mom was arrested for driving without a license. As an immigrant here without authorization, she was not eligible to apply for one, but we lived on Long Island and there is simply no other reliable way to get around. At my mother’s arraignment, the judge set bail at $1,000. It was just the three of us — my mom, 13-year-old brother and me — and we did not have $1,000. A friend offered to help, but when we went to pay the bail with a credit card, a judge told us the bail could only be paid in cash. Two days later, our community across Long Island raised the money. But it was too late. Because the Suffolk County jail chooses to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement these two days meant that the immigration agency had taken my mom’s case. Read the full story on Newsday.

‘You can get justice’: Utah rape kit initiative pushing for prosecution statewide
The initiative established an information hotline, 801-893-1145, in mid-2017 that victims can call to learn the status of their rape kits. More than 3,900 previously unsubmitted and untested rape kits have been submitted for testing through the Utah Sexual Assault Kit Initiative. Of those, more than 2,700 have since been tested, according to the initiative. Read the full story on KSL.com.

In New Jersey, Deaths At The Hands Of Police May Face Outside Scrutiny
A bill recently passed by the New Jersey state legislature would require the Attorney General’s office to investigate any death at the hands of police or that occurred in the custody of law enforcement, such as inside a jail. Read the full story at NPR.

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