from the frontlines: Sept. 19, 2022

Imprisoned kids denied bathrooms

Children in Texas youth prisons have been trapped in their cells and forced to urinate in water bottles, milk cartons, lunch trays or pieces of paper as makeshift toilets. At Giddings State School, dozens of detained youth reported officers didn’t let them out of their cells to use the bathroom and were kept in their cells for 22 hours some weekends, due to a lack of teachers and case managers to fill in officer positions. Gov. Greg Abbott remained silent on the crisis. Texas Tribune (Sep. 12, 2022)

Billions of covid funds to police?

President Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act gave local governments $350 billion to recover from COVID-19. Funds were spent on police, prisons, and courts. The Treasury Department’s lax reporting requirements make it difficult to track how much was spent on law enforcement but data showed that billions of dollars went towards the criminal justice system. The Marshall Project (Sep. 7, 2022)

prosecuting pregnant women for weed use

Two district attorneys in Oklahoma have been targeting pregnant women with child neglect due to using marijuana during their pregnancy. Amanda Aguilar, a mother who struggled with severe nausea, was approved for a medical marijuana license by a doctor to ease her morning sickness. Two months after having her baby she was charged with child neglect, a felony. She is among 26 other women who were charged with child neglect.  The crime can be punishable with up to life in Oklahoma prisons. The Marshall Project (Sep. 13, 2022)

black hole

Cleveland residents and elected leaders question whether $60 million spent has improved policing in the city and end federal oversight. Consent decrees force cities to change abusive police tactics.The consent decree agreed to between the Cleveland Division of Police and the U.S. Department of Justice in 2015 did not assign guilt or liability.  Instead, it was a blueprint to repair the community and stop excessive force. The Marshall Project (Sep. 12, 2022)

teen who stabbed rapist won't go behind bars

An Iowa teen who pleaded guilty in the fatal stabbing of her alleged rapist will not go to prison and might escape a felony record. Pieper Lewis received five years of probation and a deferred judgment. Lewis was ordered to stay at the Fresh Start Women’s Center while she is on probation and is ordered to pay $150,000 to the man’s family. USA Today (Sep. 14, 2022)

denied medical evaluation

Incarcerated people in Washington state prisons who developed COVID-19 symptoms died due to not being adequately evaluated after they requested to be seen for symptoms. This issue is one of more than half a dozen reports that were delayed or shelved after the departure of the Ombuds office’s inaugural director. The delay of the COVID-19 reports raises questions about the state’s response to the pandemic. Crosscut (Sep. 14, 2022)

lawsuit for the use of DNA

A woman sued San Francisco after her DNA from her sexual assault case was used to convict her of an unrelated crime. The woman’s DNA, which was collected and stored in the system back in 2016 for a domestic violence and sexual assault case, was tied to a burglary in late 2021. Without her consent or knowledge of the woman, her DNA was placed in the database to identify suspects in crimes. The woman filed the lawsuit under the alias of Jane Doe to protect her privacy. CBS News (Sep. 13, 2022) 

treated like animals

People with severe mental illness in the Los Angeles County Jail’s booking center have been chained to chairs and benches for days. The Los Angeles County jail system’s Inmate Reception Center has become so overcrowded that detainees are left to sleep on the ground without blankets, while the floor is covered in garbage and urine, the attorney of the American Civil Liberties Union alleged in a filing submitted in federal court. The Appeal (Sep. 13, 2022)

Jail deaths not publicly disclosed

Seven deaths have occurred in the D.C. Jail this year. Giovanni Love was one of those who  died in custody of the D.C. Department of Corrections. Love died at the age of 20 from what seems to be a suicide but his family is still searching for answers about his death and to hold the Department of Corrections accountable. Four out of the seven deaths including Love’s have not been previously reported or publicly disclosed. DCist (Sep. 15, 2022)

limit long sentences

North Carolina’s Supreme Court broke new ground in protecting the rights of criminal defendants in recent years. Their high court which has a 4-3 Democratic majority, ruled along party lines to limit long sentences for juvenile offenders. Depending on the outcome of the high courts election, the progress may come to a halt’s next year. Two democratic seats are on the ballot and a Republican group has pledged millions of dollars to flip one of the seats. Facing South (Sep. 15, 2022)

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