Illinois Governor Proposes Closing SuperMax Prison!

Congrats to our friend Laurie Jo Reynolds, and the rest of the Tamms Year Ten Committee, for their tremendous victory! Check out the story reported by the Belleville News-Democrat and Associated Press.– Post submission by Raj Jayadev

BY BETH HUNDSDORFER – News-Democrat — Gov. Pat Quinn has proposed closing the state’s only supermax prison — the Tamms Correctional Center in Southern Illinois, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. The approximately 200 inmates held at Tamms live in nearly continuous solitary confinement, the Belleville News-Democrat reported. The prison was built in 1998. The BND published an investigative series in August 2009 reporting that many inmates at Tamms were mentally ill and became worse because of long-term solitary confinement in the prison located in the southern tip of Illinois. It holds inmates the state describes as the “worst of the worst.” Read More…

A Father Takes One More Step Towards Finding His Kids

This may not look for much, but this worn packet of disheveled papers held together by a rubber band is actually the key to one of our ACJP members getting his kids back. They were taken from him, without consent or notice, while he was incarcerated. When he got out of prison, they were gone, with no state or county agency giving him any information on where they are, or how they are doing. He has been on a mission ever since, undeterred by the bureaucratic obstacles in his way. This packet is from his former public defender, and may contain the papers he needs to reach his kids. It took months to receive, and he’s now one step closer. We took the picture as soon as he got it, memorializing history in the making.

The Birmingham News: First US Public Defender in Alabama to build offices in Birmingham and Huntsville

It’s hard to think of places in the United States that don’t provide public defenders, leaving those who are poor with less of a shot at getting some “justice” from the justice system. I can only imagine how justice was dealt with before.  Hopefully now with a system in place, the courts can be a little fairer for the poor in Alabama. Photo on the right is of Kevin Butler, the first US Public Defender appointed in North Alabama (Birmingham News/ Joe Songer) Submission Post by Charisse Domingo

First US public defender in North Alabama to build offices in Birmingham and Huntsville

by Kent Faulk, The Birmingham News
Published: Thursday, January 05, 2012, 7:55 AM

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — North Alabama’s first federal public defender says he hopes to have offices in Birmingham and Huntsville open by summer with a staff to defend federal criminal defendants who can’t afford to hire their own lawyers.

Since beginning his job in October as the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Alabama, Kevin Butler has been busy interviewing potential staff and locating office space in the two cities. He’s also begun fighting on behalf of a few indigent criminal defendants.

Butler said his first goal for the office is to provide “the highest-quality representation of the indigent defendant as soon as possible.”
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In Response to National Criticism, ICE Announces New Detainer Form

In a recently released media alert, ICE has presented new features to the ICE immigration detainer (Form I-247). Detainer requests are the device ICE uses to request local jails to hold people beyond their local sentence in order for ICE to then pick them up and place them in detention. The new form, and press release, may be in response to the national criticism of their Scomm (Secured Communities) program. Counties such as Santa Clara County and Chicago have lead the charge against ICE’s detainer policies.


The new features may represent positive impact for counties across the United States, if actually enacted. Here in Santa Clara County, the Santa Clara coalition against SCOMM has been working hard in advocating for all immigrants that could be impacted by detainers. We also see the same hard work being done in countless counties across the nation. This new ICE detainer form has potential in shifting who will eventually get deported and who will not in other counties – again depending on how counties and states respond to the announced changes, and how sincere ICE is in these changes. First off, the document does state that the detainer request form is in fact a request. Many county officials across the county did not know that a detainer is an actual request, rather erroneously thinking it was legally mandatory. And in an interestingly worded statement, the press release states that “the new form allows ICE to make the detainer operative only upon the individual’s conviction.” ICE, through SCOMM, currently sends people into detention regardless of conviction or not. Another interesting part of the form is that they have now incorporated a hot-line one could call to lodge a complaint or any issues that one may have with their hold, although I wouldn’t trust a hot-line made by the same department of the government that is trying to work so hard in getting immigrants deported out of. Continue reading

Amy Bach Creates New “Measures for Justice”

Check out this exciting new creation by our friend Amy Bach, author of Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court, who is starting a measure and improve systemic problems in our court system. Reading her book was like reading a diary for ACJP families, and we are certain her new Justice Index is going to lead to real, tangible, and life-changing improvements in the courts…check it out at:

New York Times Editorial: Jurors Need To Know That They Can Say No

Retired Professor Julian Heicklen was recently indicted on federal charges of jury tampering for standing outside the US Courthouse in Manhattan distributing information on “jury nullification”. Jury nullification is when a jury reaches a verdict outside of a judge’s instructions on the law.  It has been used in the past to defy unjust policies such as the fugitive slave laws but has also been used by a jury in the South who refused to convict civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor and Law Professor at George Washington University, wrote this piece in the New York Times, advocating for jury nullification.  Submission post by Charisse Domingo

Jurors Need to Know That They Can Say No

Published: December 20, 2011

New York Times

IF you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote “not guilty” — even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adult. As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer.

The information I have just provided — about a constitutional doctrine called “jury nullification” — is absolutely true. But if federal prosecutors in New York get their way, telling the truth to potential jurors could result in a six-month prison sentence.

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MSNBC: Must-Watch Maddow Segment on New GOP Voting Restrictions Barring Elderly Women From the Polls

From progressive to regressive voting laws. What has his world (aka the right to democratic inclusion) come to. — Submission by Cesar Flores.

The poll tax that isn’t a poll tax is arriving around the country in the form of new GOP-instated voter restrictions–and the ACLU is filing suit.

The anticipated victims of these stringent ID requirements include the poor, the young who don’t drive, students, and minorities, and as Rachel Maddow noted in a devastating segment last night, the elderly. Maddow focused on two lovely elderly women who cannot vote now, including an 84-year-old who is a member of her town council–who has cast her vote in elections regularly for 63 years. Now, thanks to efforts by the one and only Scott Walker, she cannot exercise her rights in this upcoming race.

It’s a must-watch.

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Meadville Tribune: Meadville cop involved in Tasering to retire

Its time for Tasers to the shelved, check out this article about a cop that just filed for retirement. — Submission Blanca Bosquez

A lethal "non-lethal" weapon.

MEADVILLE — The Meadville police officer who fired a Taser that took out a resident’s eye has filed for retirement.

Sgt. Glen Peterson, a 32-year veteran of the Meadville police force, has declined to speak to the media. City officials say that while the Aug. 23 Taser incident did weigh on Peterson, it was not the primary reason he decided to retire. Continue reading