This article comes from USAToday, Jan. 2nd 2013, written by: Tim Evans:
This article comes from USAToday, Jan. 2nd 2013, written by: Tim Evans:
This article comes from USAToday, Jan. 2nd 2013, written by: Tim Evans:
This is from the Las Vegas Review-Journal dated Dec. 28th 2012, in which is shown that it can help if the defense questions the dismissal of jurors in a case.
By Francis McCabe:
The Nevada Supreme Court has granted a new trial for Jermaine Brass, one of two brothers convicted of killing their brother-in-law in 2009.
In a decision handed down Thursday, the state’s high court ruled District Court Judge Doug Smith made an error by excusing a juror, whose dismissal from the jury pool was questioned by defense lawyers because she was black.
Juror No. 173 was dismissed by prosecutors using a peremptory challenge, meaning they didn’t have to give a reason for the dismissal. The law, however, allows for a hearing if defense lawyers believe race was the cause of the dismissal. The defense lawyers asked for a hearing because juror No. 173 was the second black juror to be dismissed by prosecutors with a peremptory challenge.
Smith sent the juror home and then held the hearing, during which prosecutors said they dismissed her because she had “Democratic views on law enforcement,” court documents show. Smith found that peremptory challenge valid.
The Supreme Court held that “dismissing this prospective juror prior to holding the (hearing) had the same effect as a racially discriminatory peremptory challenge because even if the defendants were able to prove purposeful discrimination, they would be left with limited recourse.”
All Smith had to do was delay excusing the juror until the hearing was held, according to the nine-page ruling written by Justice Michael Douglas.
Read the rest here.
From: Chattanooga Times Free Press, Dec 28th 2012
Dec 28, 2012 (Menafn – Chattanooga Times Free Press – McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) –The death of an inmate on Christmas night at Hays State Prison in Trion, Ga., was the second in a week.
State investigators say they don’t believe the deaths are related, though both died in the same cellblock at the maximum security prison.
“They weren’t tied any way together,” Georgia Bureau of Investigations Agent James Harris said. “That was the first thing on our minds.”
Damien McClain, 27, who was serving time on two armed robbery convictions, was killed in a prison cell late Christmas night after getting in a fight with another inmate, Harris said.
On Thursday, GBI agents arrested inmate Daniel Ferguson and charged him with murder in McClain’s death. Ferguson, who already is serving a life sentence for murder, was taken to the Chattooga County Jail to be booked and then likely will be returned to Hays to await a transfer, officials said.
GBI agents were at the prison Thursday investigating McClain’s death and that of 25-year-old Derrick Stubbs, who was found dead Dec. 19.
While Georgia Department of Corrections officials have been mum on Stubbs’ death, his mother, Shawn Singleton, said she was told her son was being held in protective custody after a fight when he was found dead. Stubbs had been at Hays for more than a year on two counts of armed robbery.
Singleton, who is burying her son today in Chicago, is searching for more answers to what happened, but she said corrections officials won’t return her calls.
The final five inmates at the high-security home for the “worst of the worst” were shipped to the Pontiac Correctional Center, a prison spokeswoman said. Among the last to leave was a convict who helped lead a prison riot in 1979 and stabbed serial killer John Wayne Gacy while on death row.
Also bused out of the southern Illinois city were four dozen residents of the adjoining minimum-security work camp, packed off to Sheridan Correctional Center in north-central Illinois.
The departures mark the end of a nearly 15-year experiment with the super maximum-security prison, which supporters say the state still needs for troublemaking convicts — particularly during a time of record inmate population. But opponents contend the prison’s practice of near-total isolation was inhumane and contributed to some inmates’ deteriorating mental health.
More than 130 inmates were moved out of the prison in just nine days, after the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that legal action by a state workers’ union could no longer hold up the governor’s closure plans. The state has offered to sell the $70 million facility the federal government, but there are no solid plans for the future of the prison, often simply called Tamms.
“It’s sad for our area, but we’re never going to give up,” said Rep. Brandon Phelps, a Democrat from Harrisburg whose district includes Tamms. “We still have an overcrowding problem. That’s the deal with this. The governor has made it worse. Eventually, some of these facilities are going to have to reopen.”
But activists opposed to the prison’s isolation practices cheered Friday’s landmark moment. One organizer, Laurie Jo Reynolds, called the course to closure “a democratic process” that involved not high-priced lobbyists or powerful strategists but, “the people — truly, the people.”
Shuttering Tamms is part of Quinn’s plan to save money. The Democrat said housing an inmate at the prison cost three times what it does at general-population prisons. He has also closed three halfway houses for inmates nearing sentence completion, relocating their 159 inmates, and plans to shutter the women’s prison in Dwight.
|Khalfani Malik Khaldun 042711|
On Dec. 17th 2012 this article was published by the Las Vegas Sun about a study researching the question if there are not enough guards in Nevada’s prisons:
This article is a mish-mash of news about Nevada’s prisons with just a few words, and without much research, which omits Real Issues.
For instance, towards the end of the LV Sun article, this sentence can be read:
On another subject, state Health Officer Stacy Green told the board that all the medical violations in the prison system have been corrected. The prisons are in “complete compliance” with the medical standards, she said.
Which medical standards? Those of the UN? Is this a response to the ACLU of Nevada’s Report of 2011?How can this be? Nevada Cure has expressed to its members that they still receive complaints by prisoners of the lack of medical care on a daily basis. See for instance documents 28, 29, 30 and 30a here. And documents 55, 57-58, 59-59A here. And document 60, 61 here. These are documents belonging to Nevada Cure’s ongoing project documenting abuses inside the Nevada Department of Corrections’ prisons.
Does this mean that the culture institutionalized inside Nevada’s prisons of disrespect and cruelty towards incarcerated people, of some dominant, authoritarian, unreasonable tyrant-wardens and unprofessional, revenge/retaliation-seeking staff is now over? It is simply not true!
Why are Real Issues like Solitary Confinement (two prisons are nearly completely on permanent lockdown (meaning being celled up 23/7) with no change in sight: HDSP and Ely State Prison, and other prisons like NNCC may follow), staff-to-prisoner assaults, unhealthy food, lack of programs, lack of care for mentally ill prisoners, to name but a few ills inside the prison system, not mentioned in more detail and more regularly? Why are prison deaths never investigated by journalists?
More money MUST be invested if we want to keep incarcerating people for such long times as Life Without Parole, or sentences of 20+ years. Why? Because people voted to have representatives who WANT this! The public PAYS TAX to have these long sentences inflicted on people who go to prison, whether they are guilty or not. And prisoners are still human beings! Therefore we have to review how they are being treated.
You do not have to like prisoners to treat them humanely just like any other person in a state-run or privately run institution. Because most people in prisons will one day return, and will not be reformed, if we go on like this. And crime is not being solved by building or expanding prisons.
We need a system based on prevention and reform, not revenge.
Vol. 2, No 5 “Veritas in Caritatis”
Summer Issue 2012
THEME: “Audi alterum partem”
Listen to the other side!
“Voice of the Nevada Jurisprudence and Prison Report”
Statement of Purpose:
The NJPR Newsletter reports on current prison conditions, good and bad; more importantly it looks at and evaluates the legal processes and the substantive laws which are designed to keep men in prison: Pre-trial issues, probation and parole policy, sentencing structures, post-conviction law, and most important, the philosophy underlying policy in practice.
The purpose of the NJPR Website is to provide a repository of affidavits, declarations and grievances in Web-Dossiers organized by categories of intuitional behavior. Fundamentally, this is a whistleblowing organization trying to associate with other “transparency” projects at an intrastate, national and global level. We seek to identify patterns which can be utilized by the U.S. Department of Justice.
We invite any resident, and especially judicial officers of the Courts and government Administration to write letters to the NJPR.
Index to this Issue:
Section One: Conditions
1. Civil Actions Against NNCC Law Library Closures
2. Parole News: AB 85 Committee Report, Aug. 20 2012
3. Compassionate Release DOES Exist?
4. Cop Beaten by Inmate
Section TWO: Law, Equity and Policy
1. Ex-Con Travel Passport Policy
2. Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? Administrative Law Loopholes
Section Three: Art, Culture, Education and Religion
1. “Christian” Hater Habits and Correspondence Policy
2. Inmate Intellectual Activities at Rock Bottom
3. Call for Fast Against Injustice
4. Thoughts on Henry David Thoreau
Subscriptions and Services
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Section One: Conditions
1) Civil Actions Against NNCC Law Library Closures
The prisoners at NNCC have voiced their grievance at both the Federal District Court and the local district state court. The Federal petition was kicked to the curb apparently. The local action taken was a writ of mandamus/alternative. The court tried to chill the inmate litigants by illegally demanding a federal level of proof of indigency.
The closure of the law library is conjectured to be a long-range plan to lock-down the last remaining medium custody yard in the Nevada system. At this writing, the plan is to create a level system here, which is usually reserved for high security situations. The administrator has just informed the Prison Industry workers they will be moved from cell-designed unit four, to a barn designed unit 10. The battle against state sovereignty begin.
2) Parole News: AB 85 Committee Report, Aug. 20 2012
The Nevada legislature created in 1999 an Advisory Committee to study the draconian sex laws and the registration requirements. NJPR wrote to the Legislative Counsel and received the minutes of its second report. The committee is monopolized by the “criminal justice community” members and under the dominium of the Executive branch Attorney General.
The meeting minutes express with great satisfaction that their laws now conform to the Federal SORNA, which threaten individual states with a 10% loss in Federal Justice Assistance Grants. The Parole and Probation Department come into the prison to break the “happy” news about the decrease of liberties for released inmates condemned for sex crimes, leaving behind public information pamphlets on the subject. The Legislative Counsel refused to send additional documents (exhibits) of the AB 85 Committee, instructing us to contact the boss of the Committee, the Attorney General. Separation of powers issue seem to be implied.
3) Prisoner Let Go on Compassionate Release!!
Some months back, NJPR reported on the lack of statutory authority for releasing men to families to die. Our old friend Doug died stuck on the yard we reported; but recently another very ill man was actually let go! Which is great, but what is the procedure? Is it a new procedure? Is it covered by an Administrative regulation, or by legislative statute? Or does it come under the common law of executive clemency of the executive branch chief, the Governor of the State of Nevada?
To be continued…
4) Cop Taken on in Fisticuffs After Taunting Inmate Complaining of Broken Property
The custody managers of the prison decided to do a deep search of a barn-like housing units at NNCC, and the staff well instructed by their supervisor to be zealous. The result was the destruction of the property (some say it was a trivial Styrofoam dinner tray) of an inmate, who went up to the unit officer in a rage, yelling about his loss.
The officer did not respond with an apology about the breakage and the inconvenience. The officer responded with aggression and a throat of immediate arrest and placement in the “hole”. The inmate apparently took the Cop’s aggressive comments to be an invitation to have a boxing match, and commenced to pummel the officer to the ground. Why taunt? Is it smart? Is it respectful? Is it prudent? Is it in accordance to the Code of Professional Conduct?
Section Two: Law, Equity and Policy
1) Felons and Ex-Felons, and Foreign Travel
We still receive lots of inquiries about the truth of U.S. Passport policy. This is taken verbatim from a letter from San Francisco Passport Agency:
“Indeed, the information you received is correct… Felons and ex-felons are allowed to apply for and receive passports; but please note there are exceptions to this rule. In certain circumstances, felons and ex-felons are given a “namecheck hold” status (depending on the specific circumstances) by law enforcement and when we receive a namecheck hold we are required to have these applications approved by our legal department in Washington D.C. If legal approves these, we issue the passports. If legal does not approve these, we do not issue the passport and send the applicant a letter and advise them that their passport could not be issued at this time. Please note that in these circumstances, no refunds are given.”
2) Quis custodiet ipsos custodies? Administrative Blind spots
There used to be, among the American people, a healthy distrust of the individual states. The people were wary of the state’s disrespect and disregard for constitutional rights of the United States, and would look to the federal government for the vindication of those rights. But the states have been able to utilize the coercive power of mass media to create a unanimous identity between the American individual person and the nation-state. This identity between the “people” and its government is the hallmark of the “totalness” of a totalitarian nation-state. But this merging of identity is an extremely new phenomena, and infects both camps of the struggle between “federalists” and “state’s rightists”. The first identifies with the federal government, the second is loyal only to the local despot over the federal agent. The tension of this social conflict is perceptible in the Supreme Court of the United States, especially in the Marshall-Brennan era.
For a good illustration of the attitude creep over time, let’s look at a passage from Coleman v. Thompson 501 U.S. 702, in the dissent of Blackmun, Marshall and Stevens. This is a case that “states rights” philosophy continues the trajectory towards totalitarianism through “its crusade to erect petty procedural barriers in the path of state prisoners” seeking justice in the federal courts, by creating a “Byzantine morass of arbitrary… impediments to the vindication of federal rights” but the right being eroded, the right to come to a higher law, springs from a duty, as all rights do—the duty of the federal courts to keep a vigil over the state’s treatment of its citizens. About the source of this duty, Blackmun notes: “Indeed the duty arose out of a distinct distrust of state courts, which this court perceived as attempting to evade federal review.”
This distrust reflects the truth of power, and the high degree of corruptibility of governments at local levels, and the higher likelihood of the breakdown of the Republican form of government that prohibits the merging of the branches into a “total” state at the local level. It is a prudent habit of caution and the intellectual virtue of circumspection to “distrust” the political seats of power in the shadows of localities. Even the federal district courts are subject to passively give in to the pressures of the various pressures of the executive and legislative branches.
This healthy intellectual distrust of local governments is evident in the Supreme Court insofar as there are judges on that bench that have not swallowed the mythology of the “states rights” doctrine. The Supreme Court is more impossible than local courts due to three things: the dignity of the institution, the extremely high public visibility, and lack of local connections that could influence its Justices. These natural political prophylactics against corruption are not present in local state courts.
And they are not present in state prison mechanisms of local “justice communities”. Normally, both state and federal executive branch agencies are constrained by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments (respectively) to provide due process in the formulation of agency rules and the actions these agencies carry out upon the non-governmental social agencies of the Executive branch, although authorized and funded by the legislature.
But in Nevada (and probably many other states) the prison administration is EXEMPT from normal public participation, oversight and scrutiny as provided for by it Administrative Procedure Act. Nevada Revised Statute 233B.039 (1) (b) EXEMPTS the Nevada Department of Corrections from its rulemaking guidelines. Of course, the effect of this exemption is to make its operations invisible and secret. Even though Nevada has grand jury statutes that permits them to enter into prisons, this is a very rarely, if-ever-used vehicle to draw prison officials into the light of public scrutiny. The only reliable public participation in rulemaking by prison officials has been the end-user, prisoners themselves. But since local courts are now so much under the thumb of the executive and legislative branch, very little justice comes from courts. But that is all the more reason to keep up the good fight!
Section Three: Art, Culture, Education and Religion
1) Ely Chaplain Transfers to NNCC with Hater Habits
Chaplain Stogner came to NNCC after being brainwashed into Ely-style institutional hatred of human beings called inmates. His first Jesus-loving act was to tear down the Chapel schedule and cancel all “inmate-led” services and violated AR 810.3-7A “Inmate Facilitators”. Then he disinfected the chaplain office, installed a huge stereo-system apparently so he can thump his bibles to the beat of Christian-rock (a bizarre oxymoron).
A lawsuit is pending on several issues against his acts. One issue regards a threat he issued to an inmate for writing to the Roman Catholic Bishop Randelph Calvo. To make the story short, the inmate said “Reeaally?” and wrote a letter to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who wrote an e-mail back as follows:
“… Nevada State prison inmates corresponding to and receiving letters from ordained clergy who are also volunteers at the correctional center of the inmate, correspondence is permitted regarding religious matters of faith and morals. When this kind of communication occurs the ordained clergy is acting in the capacity of a professional for the Church and not a lay volunteer.”
As mentioned above, NRS 233B.039 (1) (b) exempts the Department of Corrections from the watchful eye of normal administrative rule-making and adjudication. This creates a dark shadow where citizens hired as staff are invited to be “role models” of the typical consumer culture I-do-what-I-want attitude!
2) Broken Record Tactics: Give Men Something to Do
The first thing Charles Dicken’s noticed about the Philadelphia experiment of mandatory solitary confinement was the amazing creative output of the inmates. The only alternative to stark raving madness was for the wardens of the … to give the inmates opportunities for intellectual stimulus and things to do with their hands.
The Nevada policy is to drive men stark raving mad so that the resulting raving madness can become propaganda that brainwashing (by mass media) the public mind into believing inmates are sub-human, the worst-of-the-worst. Many other “states” have the same policy. Any state that has such a policy has no right to the name or status of “state”. The state has turned into a “nation-state”, which is more of a civil religion than a state, according to contemporary thinkers like.
NNCC has lost its Toastmaster’s International group, the Blue Eagles Gavel Club, all of its inmate led religions programs, all college level course offerings, all of its Alcoholic Anonymous meetings led by inmates and has reduced all inmate activities to psycho-Therapeutics or “programming”. They leave open the gym, organized sports and pool (billiards). Of course also the typical prison “weight-pile” for the bodybuilder cult. But if a fellow would like to buy a Great Course college class, that seems to be excluded by the “safety and security” of the institution.
3) Fasting as Social Action and Prayer for Justice
The Nevada Prison News (NPN) ran an article in its last issue (Summer 2012, p. 5) by SAMAEL, who calls on the audience of that Zine for a fast against the terrible conditions of Ely State Prison. The editors of NJPR are in full support of this. Mahatma Gandhi kicked out British oppressors by his practice of Satyagraha. In the ancient prayer practices of the Roman Catholic, and other Eastern Christian Churches, fasting plays a major role. There are entire seasons of fasting-prayer (Advent before Christmas and Lent before Easter). Every week there is a required fast on Fridays, and the Saturday night before Sunday Mass. The word “breakfast” refers to the nightly fast of the monastic tradition—break-fast.
The important part of the fast is the intentionality, the “giving” aspect of the suffering that accompanies a fast. There are three kinds of ends to prayer in the Christian monastic view: purgative, the illuminative and the unitire. Fasting can be used to any of these ends. By fasting for the purging of an injustice in the world, we are using petitionary prayer.
Now, there is a doctrine of equity and natural law called the doctrine of clean hands: he who asks for justice must DO justice. If we are unjust ourselves, how dare we approach the almighty Creator? So, the intention for justice must be universal—we must wash our hands of our own injustices at the same time as the purging of social injustices in a specific sense.
So, that being said, this editor will offer up and participate in fasting toward any end (if good) suggest by other Nevada prisoners.
4) The Civil Religion of Henry David Thoreau
In the famous essay “Civil Disobedience”, Thoreau drops numerous memorable one-liners and gnomic phrases. For example here is one that should tickle the ears of inmates: “Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison”. How about this one: “Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it”.
And this: all men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and resist, the government when its inefficiency or its tyranny are great and unendurable”. These are all reiterations, not to poorly spoken of principles of natural law Andthis is my “The mass of men serve the state thus, not as men mainly, but as machines, with their bodies… In most cases there is no free exercise whatever of the judgment or the moral sense”.
All of this secular wisdom is for naught, and completely nulled out by the following declaration: “There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize theindividual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly”. It can be, and has been demonstrated that there will never be a really free and enlightened state, period! Just like there will never be a man who is an angel, or impeccable (never making error).
The American writer looks at the state from an epistemological perspective, which really is the wrong category to use as a measure (although it continues to be the measure, which explains the wholesale acceptance of modern masses on the omniscient levels of “knowing” by the Homeland Security domestic surveillance program).
The correct category to use is merely Justice, and that is harder to reach perfection in than the techniques of government surveillance. So, as ear-tickling as Thoreau’s quips are, that is all they are. His mind is an early-middle stage onset of immanentism, and this means the loss of the imagination’s power to conceive of the true Power and Authority of the universe. If one cannot do justice to that One, how will justice be done in a plurality of men?