December 13, 2014

THE END OF ONE NIGHTMARE

Appeals Court Dismisses Debra Milke Murder Charges

We have previously posted about the Debra Milke case here and here.

Milke was originally convicted of murder for having her 4-year-old son killed. The conviction rested upon the testimony of a rogue cop, who claims she confessed to him, although there is no documented record of that confession, and Milke denies it ever happened. This officer had a history of substantial misconduct, and that record was withheld from the defense.

In a ruling just today – citing “egregious prosecutorial misconduct,” the Arizona Court of Appeals on Thursday ordered a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to dismiss murder charges against Debra Milke with prejudice, meaning they cannot be brought again.

See the azcentral story here

December 7, 2014

THOUGHTS FROM A VOLUNTEER ON GIFTS FOR IMPRISONED WOMEN

The Prison Ministry, at Emmanuel Church in Thousand Oaks, filled 100 Christmas Gift bags today.  We are scheduled to deliver the bags to Fire Camp 13 on Tuesday evening, December 9th.
This is our fifth year visiting FC 13 at Christmas, and we look forward to this event each year.
My 93-year-old mother will again go with our team to help hand out the gift gags to the women.  Mom hugs each of the women and I know she enjoys this more than they do.  Many of them get tears in their eyes.  We share Christmas messages and sing hymns with them as they look through their gift bags.   A few of the women have said to me, “You do this for us and you don’t even know us.”
Our congregation generously donates to this effort with the items they collect during the year, and with their resources.  For the second year, our youth group at church has helped in purchasing needed items for the gift bags.  We are blessed to be a part of your ministry.
December 7, 2014

ANOTHER WRONGFULLY CONVICTED WOMAN

Belynda Goff Wrongfully Convicted
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elizabeth-weillgreenberg/dear-governor-beebe-pleas_b_6208042.html

November 26, 2014

MAKE THE HOLIDAYS EVEN MORE SPECIAL FOR THE ACTION COMMITTEE FOR WOMEN IN PRISON

Help us when you shop online…its FREE

Even people who don’t shop often shop online this time of year.  Like you, they probably want to make sure Shopping = Giving at stores like Amazon,JCPenny’s, Macys, Nordstrom, and lots, lots more.  As always, it’s completely free, all costs are paid for by the stores. Over 1,500 of the greatest stores participate.

Now is the moment for maximum help for action committee for women in prison.  That’s why we’re giving action committee for women in prison an extra $5 for every new member that tries the iGive Button, even if they don’t end up shopping.

Share now by forwarding this email, posting on Facebook, or even tweeting.
Here’s the special link you must use: http://iGive.com/welcome/warmwelcome.cfm?c=55312&m=717902

$5 Free for evey new member who tries iGive before Cyber Monday

November 26, 2014

FREEDOM FOR MARISSA ALEXANDER

Marissa Alexander accepts plea deal, is expected to be released in January

Alexander pled guilty to three counts of aggravated assault. She will reportedly be released in January

Katie McDonough
http://www.salon.com/2014/11/24/marissa_alexander_accepts_plea_deal_is_expected_to_be_released_in_january/

After 1,030 days in jail and faced with a possible 60 year sentence for firing a warning shot to ward off her abusive husband, Marissa Alexander accepted a plea agreement on Monday that will likely end her incarceration come January.

As part of the agreement, Alexander pled guilty to three counts of aggravated assault and was sentenced to three years in prison. The 1,030 days she has already spent in jail will be counted toward that sentence, but Alexander will still be incarcerated for another 65 days.

But as the Associated Press reported, the second count against Alexander is considered an “open plea,” meaning that she could still be sentenced to five years at the judge’s discretion. After her release, Alexander will be ordered to spend two years under “community control,” she will be held under house arrest and required to wear a monitoring device.

The plea deal will mean that after more than 1,000 days in jail, after being vilified by state attorney Angela Corey, after being twice denied the ability to invoke stand your ground to justify the warning shot she fired to defend herself against a man who had threatened to kill her — a shot that harmed no one — she will be able to go home.

“The plea deal is a relief in some ways, but this is far from a victory. The deal will help Marissa and her family avoid yet another very expensive and emotionally exhausting trial that could have led to the devastating ruling of spending the rest of her life in prison,” Alisa Bierria, of the Free Marissa Now Mobilization Campaign, said in a statement.

“Marissa’s children, family, and community need her to be free as soon as possible. However, the absurdity in Marissa’s case was always the fact that the courts punished and criminalized her for surviving domestic violence, for saving her own life. The mandatory minimum sentences of 20 years, and then 60 years, just made the state’s prosecution increasingly shocking. But we have always believed that forcing Marissa to serve even one day in prison represents a profound and systemic attack on black women’s right to exist and all women’s right to self-defense.”

Katie McDonough is Salon’s politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at kmcdonough@salon.com.

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November 21, 2014

PRISONS AND PROFIT


California voters passed a groundbreaking ballot measure this month that reduces penalties and sentences for non-violent, “non-serious” crimes. Now, the private industry is responding to these changes in public attitudes and declining prison populations by opening up new lines of business.

 A new report released by American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Grassroots Leadership, and the Southern Center for Human Rights highlights the expansion of the private prison industry into other profitable and growing areas in the criminal justice system: prison and jail subcontracted medical care; forensic mental hospitals and civil commitment centers; as well as “community corrections” programs such as probation and halfway houses.

The report authors have named this new expanded private corrections industry as the “treatment industrial complex” via the report. As other states follow California’s lead and pass laws reducing mandatory minimum sentences, the report urges policy makers, advocates and others to ensure that private corporations can’t profit from any part of the criminal justice system. Please read and share the report, The Treatment Industrial Complex: How For-Profit Prison Corporations are Undermining Efforts to Treat and Rehabilitate Prisoners for Corporate Profit

November 18, 2014

REAL JUSTICE…..FINALLY

For the First Time Ever, a Prosecutor Will Go to Jail for Wrongfully Convicting an Innocent Man | Mark Godsey  11.2013


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-godsey/for-the-first-time-ever-a_b_4221000.html

“Today in Texas, former prosecutor and judge Ken Anderson pled guilty to intentionally failing to disclose evidence in a case that sent an innocent man, Michael Morton, to prison for the murder of his wife. When trying the case as a prosecutor, Anderson possessed evidence that may have cleared Morton, including statementsfrom the crime’s only eyewitness that Morton wasn’t the culprit. Anderson sat on this evidence, and then watched Morton get convicted. While Morton remained in prison for the next 25 years, Anderson’s career flourished, and he eventually became a judge.”
November 10, 2014

PROMINENT FEMALE ACTIVIST IN DANGER

Petition · Help free my mother, Souad Al-Shammary, prominent human rights activist and women’s rights advocate · Change.org.

November 10, 2014

HOLIDAY GIFT PROJECT

Support the largest holiday gift project for incarcerated women in the United States                   http://www.gofundme.com/5scwjg

November 9, 2014

PRISONERS FREED QUICKLY AFTER VOTERS OK MEASURE

BY DON THOMPSON

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
11/07/2014 6:45 PM
 11/07/2014 11:05 PM
In this Feb. 21, 2013, file photo, an inmate at the Madera County jail is taken to an inmate housing unit in Madera,. In an effort to save money on state prison spending, shoplifting, forgery, fraud, petty theft and other lower-level offenses will now be treated as misdemeanors under the recently passed Proposition 47.
In this Feb. 21, 2013, file photo, an inmate at the Madera County jail is taken to an inmate housing unit in Madera,. In an effort to save money on state prison spending, shoplifting, forgery, fraud, petty theft and other lower-level offenses will now be treated as misdemeanors under the recently passed Proposition 47.RICH PEDRONCELLI/ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE
SACRAMENTO 

A ballot measure passed by voters this week is already freeing California suspects from jail as their felony charges are reduced to misdemeanors and people previously convicted of the charges receive reduced sentences as they appear in court.
Sheriffs across the state immediately began implementing Proposition 47, which calls for treating shoplifting, forgery, fraud, petty theft and possession of small amounts of drugs, including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, as misdemeanors instead of felonies.
More than 60 inmates held for those charges were released from the the Stanislaus County jail in the past few days, including a man arrested for his third felony strike, which was reduced to a misdemeanor under the new law, said Sheriff Adam Christianson.
“I released a three-striker today, first time I’ve ever done that in my career,” he said Friday. “A longtime career criminal who’d been sentenced for felony theft with prior convictions. We recalculated his sentence credits, so he’s out the door.”
Due to overcrowding and court-ordered caps in Stanislaus County jails, misdemeanor offenders generally are not booked or held for more than a few days.
In Sacramento, two dozen suspects walked out of the Sacramento County jail two days after 58 percent of voters approved the initiative on Tuesday. They were among the more than 400 Sacramento jail inmates expected to be freed while they await trial on reduced charges that in many cases will no longer keep people behind bars after arrests.
Other sheriffs immediately changed arrest policies while they reviewed which inmates qualify for release. Meanwhile, inmates in state prison on the charges can petition for release.
It appears the measure intended to save hundreds of millions of dollars a year in reduced prison and jail costs is already having that effect. Under the initiative, savings will be diverted to rehabilitation programs intended to reduce crime, though the programs will lag far behind the criminals’ release.
Hours after the bill passed, Fresno County deputies were instructed to stop jailing people arrested on the lower-level crimes, said Sheriff Margaret Mims. Suspects there and in other counties are now issued citations similar to traffic tickets and ordered to appear in court.
The state corrections department began notifying nearly 4,800 inmates in California prisons that they can petition judges to have their felony convictions and sentences reduced. Convicts serving time for the felonies in local jails can also petition for release.
The initiative is projected to keep about 4,000 inmates out of state prisons each year, more than enough to help the state meet a population cap ordered by federal judges.
County prosecutors and courts also may shift more attorneys and judges to handle the increase in misdemeanors.
Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer immediately sought more than $510,000 to hire 15 lawyers and clerks. He anticipates about 13,500 additional, mostly drug-related cases a year – a 17 percent increase in the current workload.
Critics predicted, however, that the measure will hurt public safety.
Christianson estimated the number of bench warrants will increase for suspects who fail to appear in court and the drug programs won’t be utilized because the consequences for failing to complete the programs are greatly reduced.
“(The initiative) was absolutely disingenuously marketed as safe communities and more money for schools and of course people are going to gravitate toward that but nobody bothered to read the fine print,” he said.
“It’s a grand experiment: Can we take this money we’re no longer spending on jail and prison and turn it into rehabilitation one day down the line?” said Cory Salzillo, legislative director for the California State Sheriffs’ Association. “But the one thing we have for certain is more crime, less people in custody and more victims.”
The savings won’t be calculated until 2016, and it will take more time to divide the money among rehabilitation programs.
The Board of State and Community Corrections is in charge of 65 percent of the savings, which will be distributed as grants for mental health and drug treatment programs. Another 25 percent is earmarked for school truancy and dropout prevention programs, and 10 percent to help crime victims.
Implementing the ballot measure so quickly will create a lag between the release of criminals and ramping up the programs intended to help them, board spokeswoman Tracie Cone said.
“That said, counties already have rehabilitation programs in place; they’re used to providing drug treatment programs,” she said. “We’re hoping they find ways to fill the gaps until the treatment begins flowing.”
Emily Harris, statewide coordinator for the group Californians United for a Responsible Budget, which backed the initiative, said lower-level offenders don’t deserve lengthy jail or prison terms even if they can’t immediately benefit from crime prevention programs.
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