Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Louisiana Public Defender Board sues Orleans Parish judges

The Courthouse News Service reports that the Louisiana Public Defender Board has filed a law suit against 23 Orleans Parish (New Orleans) judges for their failure "to collect a $35 fee from criminal defendants who appear before them. The fee, which is mandatory, helps fund public defenders offices, and the judges' refusal to collect it has resulted in 'critical underfunding' of the New Orleans Public Defender's Office, according to the complaint."

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12:37 PM
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ohio's Chief Justice calls for reform of probation system

An Associated Press story today notes the counter-productive consequences of disproportionate sentences on low-risk, non-violent offenders. By "exposing them to harsher probationary terms than they require" and "removing minor offenders from their communities, families and jobs makes it much more likely they'll commit more crimes and go back to prison." In the face of Ohio's ongoing budget woes, the state's chief justice says now is the time for sentencing reform.

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12:20 PM
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Houston Chronicle calls for the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Texas

The Houston Chronicle started off 2011 by calling for the abolition of the death penalty in Texas in a January 1st editorial.  The position was taken, in part, because of the very real likelihood that Texas has executed two innocent people.  The September 2009 edition of the New Yorker has an excellent expose on the Cameron Todd Willingham case and the work of The Innocence Project on his behalf.  The Innocence Project also has further information on the case of Claude Jones.  The Chronicle notes that a drop in the number of death sentences has occurred since the Texas legislature passed a life-without-parole statute in 2005. 

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11:54 AM
Friday, January 7, 2011

Prominent conservatives take up the call of criminal justice reform

“The criminal justice system is broken, and conservatives must lead the way in fixing it,” wrote former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in a January 7, 2011 Washington Post Op-Ed on behalf of other prominent conservatives making up the Right on Crime Campaign. Given the economic landscape of most states, Gingrich argues that there is an urgent need to address the “astronomical growth in the prison population, with its huge costs in dollars and lost human potential.”  Knowing that “there are more humane, effective alternatives,” the Right on Crime Campaign demands that “it is time to fundamentally rethink how we treat and rehabilitate our prisoners.” 

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1:00 AM
Thursday, January 6, 2011

New York Court certifies class in NYCLU lawsuit

On May 6, 2010, we reported that New York’s Highest Court allowed the NYCLU lawsuit to proceed.  Two months later a trial court judge ruled that the class could not be certified, making the lawsuit potentially more difficult to pursue.  On January 6, 2011, an appellate court overturned that decision and certified the class, noting “denial of class certification gives rise to the possibility of multiple lawsuits involving duplicative claims of those asserted in this action and inconsistent rulings by various courts in the state.”  The ruling paves the way for the case to proceed to trial, as an appeal to the Court of Appeals is viewed as highly unlikely.

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1:00 AM
Thursday, December 30, 2010

Editorial calls for solutions to Oklahoma's right to counsel system

The editors at The Oklahoman, lamenting the state's indigent defense system "gasping under the weight of too many cases, too few attorneys and too little funding," have called for solutions "that are smart, not just tough, on crime."

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1:00 AM