02.21.2022

Top news stories from last week in the justice world. Hit the ground running and well informed every Monday. 

"A court denied Eberbaugh’s motion, in part citing the lack of covid cases in the prison. A few days later, she responded in a handwritten letter, appealing for legal counsel from the public defender’s office. “Your honor, it is only a matter of time before it reaches here and I am in fear of my life,” she wrote. The court denied that appeal in April 2021. Within nine months, she had died of covid."

LJ Dawson for Kaiser Health News: Inmates Who Died Asked for Release Before Falling Ill With Covid Tweet

STORIES FROM THE FRONTLINES

Federal female inmates asked for release and were denied before dying of covid; Senate launches investigation into BOP; nearly half of unemployed U.S. men have a criminal conviction by age 35

on the move

After the uncovering of widespread corruption and abuse in prisons, the U.S. Senate is launching a bipartisan working group of lawmakers to address the issue. The group will be developing policies to better oversee the federal prison system, improve transparency, and protect human rights inside federal prisons. PBS (Feb. 17, 2022)

no compassion for the convicted

In the midst of numerous COVID outbreaks, BOP is accused of manipulating related statistics to cover poor healthcare and inadequate response to the pandemic behind bars. Yet the ones who asked for compassionate release before dying of COVID were still denied. KHN (Feb. 18, 2022)

constitutional right goes criminal

When a Tennessee woman 'requested a jury trial’ for her case, she was sentenced to six years in prison. After illegally registering to vote on her probation, Pamela Moses refused the plea deal and requested a jury trial. She exercised her constitutional right, yet the DA claimed this was the reason for the sentencing. Reason (Feb. 17, 2022)

recognizing

A Los Angeles based CA senator is introducing legislation to increase the funds that people released from state prisons are given from $200 to nearly $2,600. This would be the first attempt to increase the funds in nearly 50 years. “This is really about making sure that when people get out, we are not perpetuating a cycle of economic violence.” The Guardian (Feb. 18, 2022)

deadly consequences

A young pregnant woman ended up in jail after her family called 911 for mental health help. Her condition deteriorated and her newborn died a week after she gave birth alone in her cell months into her being held without trial. Prism (Feb. 16, 2022)

exposing re-entry barriers

A new study reveals that nearly half of unemployed U.S. men have a criminal conviction by age 35, which creates further restriction in finding a job. This shows that unemployment is in fact an issue of mass criminalization, when one in three adults in the US has been arrested at least once.

mercy only for some

Advocacy groups accused the Department of Justice of unjustly barring or limiting people from filing compassionate release pleas. Many say that's cruel. NPR (Feb. 16, 2022)

ICYMI

A new Oklahoma law allows state employees, including police, to run public school classrooms with no experience or higher education requirements. Scalawag (Feb. 9, 2022)

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