justice from the frontlines: April 10, 2023

DC Black teen killed by U.S. park police

The Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Park Police released video footage of the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Dalaneo Martin in Northeast D.C. last month. Martin was found asleep in a car that police suspected of being stolen. Footage shows officers ambushing Martin while he was asleep and a Park Police officer shooting him five times after he woke up and accelerated with the officer inside the car. Martin’s family demanded justice for their loved one. His mother called for the release of the name of the officer who shot her son and for all officers involved in the shooting to be charged with murder. The DCist (Apr. 4, 2023

No one wants to be D.C. Five-O

D.C. Mayor, Muriel Bowser, announced an increased hiring bonus for police officers, raising the amount to $25,000, a $5,000 increase from the current amount, as police departments across the U.S. are struggling to hire and retain officers. The new bonus surpasses the $20,000 incentives offered in Montgomery County and Anne Arundel County. New recruits receive $15,000 when hired, with the remaining $10,000 paid after completing the police academy. The move comes amid debates over police staffing and budget cuts, with Bowser pushing for the force to return to 4,000 officers, while critics advocate limiting police responsibilities by diverting to other agencies to improve response times and reduce overtime costs. The DCist (Apr. 7, 2023)

Juvenile Justice Overhaul

The Department of Juvenile Justice in Virginia is implementing new rules for the discipline of youth held in the state’s detention centers and juvenile prisons, including limits on physical restraints and requirements of frequent checks on young people isolated after an infraction. The changes have been made to establish clearer guidelines and set new rules on the use of room restriction and physical and mechanical restraints. The use of physical restraint will be a last resort measure when other methods have failed and will be used only when the residents’ behavior threatens their safety or others’. The Richmond Times-Dispatch (Apr. 5, 2023)

Christian programming blocks inmate‘s release

Andrew Miller, an atheist and secular humanist incarcerated at Saint Marys Correctional Center and Jail in West Virginia, is suing the officials in charge of the state’s jails and prisons for violating his constitutional rights. Miller alleges that the state has required Christian-affiliated programming as a condition of release, including Christian reading materials and mandated Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings where the Serenity and Lord’s Prayer are recited. His attorneys are requesting the court immediately provide secular alternatives for all religious elements in the program and remove the program as a requirement of Miller’s reentry plan. AP (Apr. 7, 2023)

AG pressures D.C. on crime

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares urged D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the D.C. Council to address a “crime explosion” that he says is putting Virginia residents at risk. In a letter, Miyares claimed that officials refused to address the increase in crime in D.C., which has seen a 30% rise in homicides and a 21% increase in carjackings compared to the same time last year. Miyares cited the killing of a Virginia resident at a D.C. motel last week, whose alleged murderer had previously been released on bail for a robbery offense. Violent crimes committed by adults are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney for D.C., but Miyares urged Bowser and the council to do more to address crime. The DCist (Apr. 6, 2023)

Voting rights reversal

The trend of states loosening restrictions on voting rights for former felons in the United States could be at risk of reversing, as some Republican-led states roll back policies that allow those who have served time to cast a ballot. While Virginia’s governor recently revoked an automatic restoration of voting rights policy, North Carolina’s Supreme Court is expected to rule on a lower court’s decision to restore voting rights to residents who completed their sentences. Experts say political polarization is eroding the bipartisan consensus that previously existed on restoring voting rights to those who have paid their debt to society. The New York Times (Apr. 6, 2023)

CARES Act house home confinement inmates can stay

The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has been able to monitor minimum-security inmates on home confinement under the CARES Act since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, the program is set to end in mid-May 2023, but the success of the initiative led BOP Director Colette Peters to issue a memorandum to all Residential Reentry Managers that individuals placed on home confinement under the CARES Act will remain there for the remainder of their sentence, provided they follow the rules and regulations of community placement. Forbes (Apr. 5, 2023)

From the Des

in other news

Clearview AI used nearly 1m times by US police, it tells the BBC

Robin Farris released from Colorado women’s prison after 30 years and governor’s commutation (read her essay for The Des)

The Bureau of Prisons Proposes to Raid Incarcerated People’s Bank Accounts

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Lulia started working as a Research & Reporting Intern for The Des in January 2023. She is a third-year student at The University of Texas at Austin, majoring in Journalism, International Relations & Global Studies and East Asian Studies. Growing up in the US, Saudi Arabia, and China has given her a unique perspective on international relations and sparked her interest in understanding the ways in which technology impacts civil rights and privacy.

Before joining The Des, Lulia worked as an undergraduate researcher at the Global Disinformation Lab, where she gained valuable experience in researching and understanding the ways in which disinformation and emerging technologies impact policy. She hopes to continue gaining valuable experience and knowledge through her internship at The Des, and use this experience to further her career in journalism and public policy.