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July 30 roundup of criminal justice news and updates
Hi all, due to vacation, I’ve been delayed in posting this — below you’ll find news and updates here up till July 24. My next roundup post will catch the stuff that happened this past week!
Top reads: Reform opponents are already trying to recall Oakland’s DA; restorative justice for a grieving family in North Carolina; Cages in the Coalfields, about the growing carceral state in Appalachia (from last year but still profoundly relevant).
The work of Equity and Transformation (EAT) was recently covered by NowThis News. The video highlights EAT's fight to earn living wages for Black informal workers & system-impacted people, eliminate all the permanent punishments that negatively impact Chicago communities, and develop inclusive economies for all workers.
Solutions and Wins
Organizers in Dayton, Ohio, succeeded in pushing the city to quit using ShotSpotter, a notoriously unreliable technology.
The Guardian published a lengthy account of a murder case in North Carolina where the family asked for - and, amazingly, received - restorative justice instead of a criminal trial. The DA’s office is run by Satanna DeBerry, who was elected as a reform DA in 2018.
Capital B published an in-depth commentary on the linkages between work to end mass incarceration and the environmental justice movement. They linked back to this great piece from 2022, Cages in the Coal Fields, about how jails and prisons are replacing coal in appalachia. A just transition is needed.
Zak Cheney-Rice meditates on the future that America is investing in, where temporary crime spikes drive a one-way ratchet of limitless investment in policing.
A study of social media posts by professors at Stanford, Duke, and U Chicago found that “Police agencies on Facebook overreport on Black suspects in all violent crime categories.”
Knock LA has produced another outstanding report with their investigation of police shootings in Los Angeles. And if you’ve never read their 15-part series on the Sheriff's deputy gangs in Los Angeles, prepare to be astounded.
Paul Engler and Marc Engler report out on Barcelona’s 8-year experiment in radical governance.
Atlanta continues to fight efforts by community leaders and activists to stop the construction of ‘cop city,’ this time by trying to preemptively invalidate efforts to pass a city referendum against the project.
Sean Teare is running for District Attorney in Harris County (Houston) to replace the horrible incumbent Kim Ogg, giving signals that he will be more restrained in his prosecution approach. Teare has raised over $700,000, compared to Ogg’s $250k cash on hand.
We knew to expect it: reform opponents have mounted a campaign to recall Alameda (Oakland) DA Pamela Price. The Intercept has a quite good run down.
Bolts took a dive into what’s at stake in the final months of Governor Edwards’ tenure in Louisiana, where 56 out of the 57 people currently on death row have petitioned Edwards to commute their sentences to life. Edwards has signaled that he may provide relief. What political considerations are holding him back?
Wall of Shame
Illinois, which has passed significant criminal justice reforms in recent years, still has an extreme sentencing problem: more than half of people in IL prisons are serving sentences over 20 years long, and the percentage of prisoners who are elderly has grown by over 4x since 2005.
A prison guard in Louisiana was fired for offering to care for a prisoner’s baby for a few months until she was released, thereby keeping the baby out of the foster system.
Children imprisoned at Angola (the former slave plantation) in Louisiana are housed in solitary confinement in cells without air conditioning, where ACLU experts found the heat index has reached 132F. The prison holds children as young as 14 years old.