justice from the frontlines: June 4, 2023

officer impersonation

Maryland State Police issued a warning, alerting the public that impersonators are making phone calls acting like officers. MPS received reports that callers claimed to be state troopers or officers, asking for any donations or for support in a police investigation. In a few phone calls, the names of registered officers were used to gain trust. Anyone who has received one of these phone calls has been urged to reach out to the local police department or file an online complaint. In addition, the MPS has provided guidelines for what to do in the case that someone receives a suspicious call. DC News Now (June 2, 2023)

45 days for assaulting teen

Former Prince George’s County police officer was sentenced to 45 days in jail, after choking and punching 17-year-old Kayvon Hines. Officer Darryl Wormuth was charged with second-degree assault and misconduct for choking and throat-punching a handcuffed Hines. Since the assault, Hines said that he is terrified to go out and is “glad that we got justice, that [the officer] knows how it feels to be in handcuffs and how it feels to be arrested.” Wormuth has been suspended without pay for the past two years. Channel 4 Washington (May 31, 2023)

affordable phone calls in prison

The Martha Wright-Reed Just and Reasonable Communications Act passed in 2022 began regulating the costs of calls for incarcerated individuals. The cost of a call was brought down 12-14 cents per minute but only for interstate calls. The FCC will begin to look for other technologies as well that will allow prisoners to communicate more with their families. This law made great impact for families in Virginia. Paulettra James of Woodbridge, Virginia says that it has allowed her to cut costs of talking to her son.  A15-minute phone call in Virginia was as high as $4.20.  Marketplace (May 31, 2023)

Two shot in Alexandria

Two were shot in Alexandria, Virginia this Wednesday around 8:20 p.m., off of Van Dorn Street by I-395. The two victims were taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries. However, their ages have not been confirmed. At least one of the nearby houses was struck by gunfire.. Police officers are looking for any suspects who left the scene in a car, but they have no description of the shooter. Channel 4 Washington (May 31, 2023)

no charges for violent officer

There have been no charges filed against the Dunbar, West Virginia police officer who have been accused of slamming a man’s head to the pavement which led to his death. In Michael Scott Jr. ‘s death certificate, the coroner referred to his death as a homicide and attributed it to “blunt force injuries of the head.” The Kanawha County Prosecutor’s Office said that they oversaw the case’s camera footage and autopsy, yet they have taken no further steps. The lawyer representing Scott’s family called the footage tragic and inhumane. 13 News (May 30, 2023)

child arrests in D.C.

Last Sunday, police in D.C. arrested an 11-year-old boy and charged him with robbery while armed, assault with a dangerous weapon and robbery fear.  Earlier in May, a 12-year-old boy was charged with six counts of carjacking. The month before a 14-year-old girl was charged with robbery and armed carjacking. The community is heartbroken to see yet another child engage in crimes. Co-founder of Mute the Violence D.C, Derrick Lewis, spoke out that this is a pattern of younger and younger kids  engaging in increasingly serious crimes. A few experts attributed this pattern to an over-exposure to negativity and deteriorating mental health. DC News Now (May 31, 2023)

Cannabis laws in Maryland

House Bill 1071 passed in Maryland this past week. Police will no longer be allowed to pull over drivers because of the smell of marijuana. The law will serve to put an end to officers racial profiling drivers. However, there are worries that the new law will lead to greater gun violence, given that 75% of guns confiscated by Montgomery County law enforcement  came from searches  started due to the smell of pot. The ACLU spoken out against these claims, supporting the bill. In a statement to 7News, the ACLU celebrated the bill, given that “claims by police have been routinely used to infringe on individual’s privacy rights and justify racial profiling.” ABC 7News (May 31, 2023)

in other news

ending incarceration for girls:

Four California counties– Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Diego, and Imperial– will be given funds to work towards ending the incarceration of girls and gender-expansive youth. In the first year of the initiative, the counties will each be given $125,000 for research and local efforts. If their efforts are successful, they will be given two-year grants of up to $750,000. The Imprint (May 31, 2023) 

tiktok showcases inhumane prisons: Bernard Jemison, an incarcerated man at Ventress correctional facility in Clayton, Alabama, posted numerous TikTok videos showcasing the conditions in prison. Videos with fellow prisoners reveal ailments ranging from untreated psoriasis infections, untreated surgery complications, broken ribs, and chronic untreated pain. Alabama has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world and sixth highest in the country The state has faced lawsuits against its treatment towards prisoners. However, the state has only built new facilities in response to their rising prison issues. The Guardian (May 26, 2023) 

45 words in traffic stops: Virginia Tech researchers uncovered that the first 45 words police use during a traffic stop decide whether the situation with the driver will escalate. If the officer starts off with a command rather than a reason, researchers believe that drivers can be in a “life or death” incident. The study similarly uncovered that Black men could often tell how a traffic stop would play out within the first 30 seconds of an encounter with an officer. The researchers observed 557 audio recordings and transcripts taken by police officer body cameras in a “medium-sized, racially diverse city.” They narrowed their research to Black drivers, after seeing that less than 1-percent of escalated stops involved a non-Black driver.  Study Finds (May 30, 2023)

lying officer gets out of 44 tickets: Chicago Officer Jeffrey Kriv has gotten out of 44 tickets by lying to judges that his ex-girlfriend stole his car. This “girlfriend alibi” began in 1996, and since then, he has had at least 92 misconduct complaints, according to city and police disciplinary records. Around 28% of these complaints against Kriv have evidence and merit. Kriv has been investigated at least 26 times over allegations of dishonesty as a police officer, which included claims of falsifying records, writing unwarranted tickets, performing improper searches, and making false arrests. ProRepublica (June 3, 2023)

These survivors rooted out sexual abuse in federal prison. Now they face deportation. (The Appeal)

community board

  • NCORE conference: The National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in Higher Education or NCORE Conference is tackling the rising issue of incarceration. Wednesday’s keynote speaker Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, shared that areas have banned job interviewers from asking about any prior convictions and the great strides taken by prison abolitionists. To Alexander, the radically reformed justice system will take more courage than was needed in the Civil Rights Era. Diverse Education (June 1, 2023)
  • indiana women’s prison history project: The Indiana Women’s Prison History Project is working to showcase the shortcomings of police records. “Who Would Believe a Prisoner?” is a scholarly work that critiques prisons and the carceral state. To the authors, a “nonviolent woman-run correctional facility serving women is imaginary.”  Kauffman and her students observed hundreds of omitted and suppressed records and files of abuse. The Project has showcased and researched the proof that violence and abuse persist in prisons where all guards are women. The New Yorker (May 22, 2023)
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Zoe Kim attends Villanova University, where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and minors in Economics and Philosophy. Passionate in criminal justice, Zoe was drawn to The Des and independent journalism serving as a call to action. The Dez gives Zoe the opportunity to pursue her interest in media and criminal justice. As an intern, she is enthusiastic to see first-hand how journalism can spark change socially.