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21 May 2010

Rick Casey on Juvenile Sentencing

via The StandDown Texas Project by Steve Hall on 5/21/10

His column in today's Houston Chronicle is, "That liberal legislature ... in Texas."

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday barred sentences of life without parole for juveniles who committed crimes other than murder. The vote was 5-4.

This will surprise a lot of Texans — and even more outsiders — but a year ago the Texas Legislature went the Supreme Court one farther.

It barred sentences of life without parole for juveniles who commit capital murder.

And the vote wasn't even as close as the Supreme Court's.

The Senate passed the bill 30-1. The House passed it 124-21, a ratio of 6-1.

And Gov. Rick Perry signed it.

This is a rare case of the U.S. Supreme Court following Texas, not vice-versa.

The Supreme Court gave hope to 129 prisoners serving sentences of life without parole for crimes they committed as juveniles, but not a single one was in Texas. In Texas, life without parole is only given in capital murder cases.

We do have 20 juvenile offenders serving life without parole for capital murders, who were saved when the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005 ruled, 5-4, that the death penalty could not be given to those who were under 18 when they committed a crime. Of the 20, three were 15 when they committed capital murder. Four were 16 and the rest 17.

Under a Texas law that covered all capital murders, the only punishment available other than death was life without parole. Sen. Juan Hinojosa (D-McAllen) carried last year's bill, arguing that science had shown that teenagers were not mentally and emotionally fully developed and should not be classified as being beyond rehabilitation.

The law is not exactly lenient. It requires that convicts serve a full 40 years, with no reduction for good behavior, before they are even eligible for parole. What's more, it doesn't help those 20 already in prison, since it applies only to crimes committed after last Sept. 1.


Defense lawyers are already talking about asking the Supreme Court to bar life without parole for juveniles convicted of murder.

It's not hard to imagine them arguing that if the Texas Legislature bans it, then it must be outside of societal norms.

Earlier coverage of the Graham v. Florida ruling begins with this post.  There's been almost universal praise for the ruling from editorial boards across the nation.  Later today, I'll link to the editorial coverage.

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

Detroit City Counsel to make a victim impact statement in sentencing of form...

via Sentencing Law and Policy by Doug B. on 5/21/10

This local article, which is headlined "City Council Writing Victim Statement: Council's Statement To Be Read At Ex-Mayor's Sentencing," reports on an intriguing example of victim input in a high-profile sentencing. Here are the basic details:

Members of the Detroit City Council want their voices heard next Tuesday in the form of a victim impact statement when former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is sentenced for probation violation.

Council members were meeting with attorney William Goodman Friday to draft the statement. Goodman represented the council when it tried to force Kilpatrick from office before he resigned.

Council members said they want the statement, which will spell out the damage they say Kilpatrick has caused the city, to be read before his sentencing in Wayne County Circuit Court next Tuesday morning.

The Michigan Department of Corrections has said it already has finished Kilpatrick's pre-sentencing report.

Last month, Groner ruled that Kilpatrick violated terms of his probation by failing to report assets and turn over tax refunds toward restitution owed the city. Kilpatrick pleaded guilty in 2008 to misconduct tied to his lying under oath about an affair with a staff member in a whistle-blowers' lawsuit. He served almost four months in jail, agreed to give up his law license and his political career and repay the city $1 million for settling an employment lawsuit related to his misdeeds.

He had been making monthly payments of $3,000 while living in the Dallas area and working as a salesman for information-technology company Covisint.

In February, Groner ordered the stepped-up payments of $79,000 within 30 days and another payment of $240,000 within 90 days after a contentious six-day hearing, spanning from October to December -- which was triggered by Kilpatrick’s claim that he had only $6 a month left after living and family expenses in his new home in Southlake, Texas.

During the hearings, prosecutors revealed Kilpatrick and his wife had hidden assets; put money in other accounts, including $240,000 in loans; live in a rented mansion; and drive fancy SUVs....

Kilpatrick's attorney Michael Allen Schwartz has said he doesn't believe Kilpatrick should serve jail time because that would impede his ability to work and pay back the city.

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

Two Women Arrested For Allegedly Smuggling Crystal Meth In Bible [Oh Christ]

via Jezebel by Dodai on 5/21/10

The ladies were trying to give the meth-filled Holy Book to a man in prison. The dude's been jailed since October… for drug-related crimes. Maybe he was confused about the concept of "higher" power? [SF Gate] More »

Methamphetamine - Drugs - Prison - Health - Substance Abuse

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

Global Tel Link Opinions.

via Prison Talk by MizSunshine on 5/21/10

Now that I'm drawing to an end with having to deal with GTL, I have to overall say that I have surprisingly few complaints with my prepay account.

I was initially frustrated, because I could NOT set up my account using the automated system when I received my first phone call, it kept declining my card.

I was finally able to get through to Customer Service who set my account up and did the first charge. I should have been able to use the Automated System after that, but I can't - it declines through there, but if I speak to a person, it always goes through. Annoying that I can't do it at my convenience, but I still get the money on the phone.

On two occasions, my calls were terminated due to "3rd Party Calls", when I was doing nothing but sitting here having a conversation. Annoying, but he was able to call right back and continue as normal. Both times I called GTL and received a credit back to my account for the ENTIRE CALL within 4 days, after the calls were reviewed by staff and it was proven that I wasn't using 3way calling.

Staff has always been pleasant and adding money to my account with them, as well as dealing with the 2 terminated calls has been easy and stress free. There is one man named Kwan who I've somehow managed to get on the phone at least 5 times and he always apologizes for my issues with the automated system, and we joke about it.

It is VERY expensive ($5 for 15 min), and I am glad to not have to deal with it soon, as VConnect will be so much cheaper, but overall I'm satisfied. I can talk to my loved one daily and all issues have been solved politely and promptly. Which has been a HUGE relief after some of the horror stories I've read here.

I am looking forward to cheaper calls soon, and hopefully the actual service and customer service with VConnect will be as nice as with GTL.

And I hope that people start getting treated as well as I have by GTL, because I am very surprised my experience has been a good one!

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog

VA Gov Vows Faster Action To Restore Some Felons’ Voting Rights

via The Crime Report by tedgest on 5/21/10

Nonviolent felons must now wait two years, instead of three, after completing their sentences to apply to have their right to vote restored in Virginia, Gov. Robert McDonnell announced as he outlined a faster rights-restoration process, reports the Washington Post. McDonnell pledged that his office will act on applications from felons wanting to have their civil rights restored within 60 days of receiving the necessary paperwork from courts and other agencies, a significant acceleration of the process from past governors.

He said he would form a work group to find ways to get courts and probation officers to submit the necessary documents more quickly, a traditional hang-up of the process. In 39 states, voting rights are automatically returned to felons who have completed their sentences. Only Kentucky and Virginia permanently revoke rights upon conviction and leave restoration entirely at the discretion of the governor. McDonnell faced criticism from civil rights groups and others after about 200 nonviolent felons who had applied for rights restoration since he took office Jan. 16 received a notice from his office indicating that he was instituting a new policy requiring them to write a letter explaining their community involvement and justifying their request.

Posted via email from the Un-Official Southwestern PA Re-Entry Coalition Blog


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