Say you get arrested for drugs. Say you are pregnant. Now–say you go into labor and see the ‘nurse’ — twice, even, but are put in the Cage for complaining too much. Now what? Well, you give birth in the cell, alone, and your child is born with a cord around her neck. All of a sudden, a guard appears and helps you both to the hospital, where the baby is declared dead. Now what? You learn that the nurse’s license had expired… etc. So you sue. Won’t bring your daughter back, no. But maybe, perhaps, the prison will be on notice that its health policies are wrong. Perhaps there will be some justice, here. Perhaps.
New York legislature has 2 bills to consider that would establish a unit that looks into alleged misdeeds by prosecutors. Wow, what a thought! If they open the unit, wonder how many cases will go forward? Wonder how many will hit a headline? Wonder how many other states would be courageous enough to find their own answers. And finally, I wonder if they’ll have the money and personnel to go back and look at cases where the inmates insist the prosecutors framed (etc) them? That might take all the money in the world, eh? But perhaps a few solid cases and convictions later, the abuse will end. Perhaps.
Yet another report, yet another years-long study into Mass Incarceration. This one recommends starting back at the home front: help communities hardest hit with financial and family losses, and boost them up so they don’t all wind up a part of the larger problem. Since that makes sense, probably no one will listen–but now you have! “Resources should go into community programs that keep people out of jail and prison, including public housing, substance abuse treatment, and mental health programs. Those programs, in the long run, will be more important than programs offered inside prisons and jails.” James Kilgore, responding to the report from the highly-regarded National Research Council (an arm of the National Academy of Sciences).
The retired detective isn’t speaking to the press now. But he did plenty of times in his career. And he apparently sent innumerable innocent citizens to prison! “Mr. Scarcella, whose investigative work was blamed last year for a wrongful conviction that kept a man in prison for 23 years, was accused of fabricating confessions, coercing witnesses and failing to turn in exculpatory evidence. The most damning pattern in the detective’s cases — uncovered last year by The New York Times — was the use of Teresa Gomez, a crack addict who was a witness in six separate murder cases.”
The newest revelation comes rather late: three brothers, convicted on murder, are declared innocent–one died in prison, one got parole in 2007, and one is finally being released. There are still 57 Scarcella cases being investigated. Imagine?
The standard is impossibly high; inmates’ ‘facts’ are rarely accepted. But still! Still, prisoners in the US do have rights, and the ACLU enumerated them in 2012. Although some case law may have changed them here and there, nevertheless, this is a good primer
Hey! Wake up, California! Your need to imprison everyone has reached epidemic proportions, and now the consequences have epic proportions as well. Of course. Smashing 3-tier bunks side by side in jails and prisons creates a germ factory. Germs fly between those stacked bunks, and inmates get sick. Some were already sick. They get sicker and die. Release the low-level offenders. Release the very old and ill. Stop mass incarceration and these senseless deaths.