Soros Foundation Funding Proposal Page 4

Proposed Tasks / Projects

PROJECT #1 - Already under way [see www.justicedenied.org] for magazine issues

Headed up and Operated by: Clara A. Thomas Boggs

Statement of Purpose of Justice Denied, the Magazine for the Falsely Accused and Wrongly Convicted. Compiled from the Premier Editorial, "innocence Behind Bars," and Policy of Justice Denied, A Magazine dedicated to freeing the Wrongly Convicted.

Justice Denied was born in response to the plight of innocent citizens wrongly convicted and imprisoned. The United States imprisons more of its citizens than any other industrialized nation, and more than a million and half people are currently warehoused in prisons across this land. In the current "tough on crime" climate, and the resulting growth of a "prison/judicial industry," it is inevitable that our overburdened legal system makes grievous mistakes. These "mistakes" are people whose lives and family are severely damaged or destroyed.

The purpose of Justice Denied is to bring these injustices to the American public and to enlist its aid in funding new trials for those innocence who can provide ample proof of this claim.

Justice Denied is now published privately on the internet but is scheduled to be moved to a permanent site. The goal is to publish Justice Denied in hard copy form (a street magazine), to reach maximum public exposure for individual claims of innocence. We believe this will give claimants their best chance at freedom. The reasons for wrongful convictions range from prosecutor misconduct and simple witness errors to hysteria over certain kinds of crime, like child abuse. We publish information from many sources and experts so that people may discover the scope of this national tragedy.

The Staff at Justice Denied believes that the average citizen should be concerned about the wrongly convicted because the frequency of false accusations and convictions has risen to the point where more and more innocent citizens are at risk. A relative, friend, or you may be the next victim. These travesties of justice need attention because, as many people rightly suspect, our justice system is in trouble. It is too often up for sale to the highest bidder. Money frequently buys freedom, but the reverse can also be true: the lack of money has resulted in the worst representation conceivable, even resulting in death to innocence.

As more injustices occur during this "boom" time for prisons, we are observing parallel developments in justice activism: more groups are forming to counter the wrongs, and they are growing stronger. Eventually, Justice Denied can provide a voice to these groups, although at present, it must focus solely on the wrongly convicted. Since the "justice system" is now a profitable industry and demand for legal services of all kinds and for prison personnel are explosively growing, more are benefitting from the imprisonment of people, guilty or innocent. Justice Denied will be a part of halting these injustices and restoring justice to the system by acting as a voice for the grieved and the conscience of our nation.

Justice Denied plans to publish monthly. Any person claiming to be innocent may submit a case account for consideration. Our role is to identify those who say they are wrongly convicted and to raise funds to help them prove their innocence. We believe in the innocence of the people we profile in JD, although we cannot vouch for what only a court of law can declare with authority. Our aim is to give those who claim innocence the chance to prove it.

We believe that Justice Denied represents the best hope yet of bringing the plight of so many innocence to the attention of people. We also aim to prod the system to correct its grievous errors. Most importantly, we want help for these innocence. We want your help.

Money is an important key in working to get these people out of prison. We estimate that we would need approximately one million dollars to fund a hard copy version of JD, and can supply a break-down of costs anticipated for this venture. Our plan is to raise funds by recruiting donors both online and through other contacts and to seek grants. If you are an individual who can help, or respresent a foundation, please reach deeply into your conscience and into your pocket to give help where it is desperately needed.

These ideas to be used as a basis for helping the wrongly convicted are compiled from the Justice Denied criteria and policy writing, and are also modeled on Canada's "Association In Defense of The Wrongly Convicted" (AIDWYC). Justice Denied seeks to maximize potential help to all the wrongly convicted. Practically, we divide the wrongly convicted into categories from the severe (Life in prison for murder) to what may appear to be less severe (a term of years for child abuse). In reality, both are severe, for in the case of those wrongly convicted of a "lesser" crime, children may be growing up without a parent and therefore be vulnerable to also being in prison someday. This is the rationale for including all kinds of wrongful convictions: they hurt many more people than the one immediately harmed.

A question and answer style is used to make these proposals clear to understand. We clarify that Justice Denied does not presently offer all these services, but that this is a projection of its plans upon receipt of a grant or grants. For now, the Justice Denied Magazine profiles cases of possible wrongful convictions online to solicit funds for defense.

HELP FOR THE WRONGLY CONVICTED

bullet[1] WHAT IS Justice Denied (JD)?
bullet[2] WHAT CASES WILL JD TAKE?
bullet[3] WHAT SERVICES WILL JD PROVIDE?

WHAT IS JD?

Justice Denied is The Magazine for the Falsely Accused and Wrongly Convicted, an enterprise to help free the wrongly imprisoned.

WHAT CASES WILL JD TAKE?

The "criteria" below are proposed on a short term basis until JD is established enough to expand what it can offer to the wrongly convicted. "Claimant" refers to the individual who claims to be innocent.

The criteria for the adoption of an individual's case by JD are as follows, and are based on the assumption that JD will have lawyers on Staff:

bulletThe Claimant must be serving a sentence in any prison of the United States of America.
bulletThe Claimant must lack financial resources (other than the availability of Legal Aid) to adequately present his/her case.
bulletThe Staff of JD must be satisfied that the Claimant is innocent of any culpable participation in the events which led to the offense of which he/she was convicted.
bulletWhen JD accepts a case, the Claimant agrees to waive all past and future rights to solicitor/client privilege for JD's investigation, and permit JD's lawyers to review all relevant files and materials regarding the case.
bullet 

The Claimant must provide:

  1. A synopsis of his or her case to Justice Denied.
  2. Be ready to provide transcripts of the trial. Contact your trial lawyer for these transcripts.
  3. Give to JD written information about any fresh evidence that may be available that was not considered at trial.

JD will review all cases in which a prisoner seems to have a valid claim of innocence. JD's goal is to provide the means to get any given case to court where the claim of innocence will succeed or fail on its merit, and will especially help those who did not get a fair trial. JD's role is to find funds to finance a new legal defense, including case investigation, for those who claim innocence. Any case taken, therefore, will undergo rigorous scrutiny. This scrutiny will protect JD from any liability in the case of a false claim. In case anyone misrepresents him or herself, we accept no liability for having acted in good faith, and reserve the right to pursue legal remedy against any false claimant. We are not attorneys, judges or juries, and limit ourselves to a lay opinion of the cases we accept.

WHAT SERVICES WILL JD PROVIDE?

JD will champion an adoptee's case in the following ways:

bulletBy publishing as complete an account as possible of the Claimant's case for innocence in Justice Denied Magazine.
bulletBy providing editing so the Claimant's account is related as clearly as possible.
bulletBy being available to the press for conferences.
bulletBy attracting the interest of the media in his/her case and thereby raise public awareness of the case.
bulletBy providing information to the media.
bulletBy waging a campaign for funds to help individual cases.
bulletBy raising the public's awareness of wrongful convictions in general.
bulletBy hiring a lawyer and investigator for Claimant's case when the funds are available.

JD will fund the investigation into cases of Claimants by:

bulletAdvertising on the Internet to raise funds for individual defense funds.
bulletUsing funds out of JD's general revenues to support Claimants' needs when possible.
bulletAssisting in finding the best legal aid for Claimants.
bulletProviding funds for further investigation of the case where appropriate.
bulletProviding funds for legal assistance to the Claimant.

If, after a person has had a chance to prove his or her innocence in a court of law, s/he is still found guilty, we will have done our part. Since the cases we mostly see have strong claims of innocence, we assume that our success ratio for proving innocence could be fairly high, and the failure rate fairly low.

As the first efforts of JD to help the wrongly convicted succeed at winning cases based on innocence, we hope to increasingly enter the related areas of reform of the justice system by sponsoring reform legislation. We hope to help form a coalition of groups and agencies also involved in helping free the wrongly convicted. Our first aim is to raise awareness of the great problem of wrongful convictions. Our eventual aim is to help make wrongful convictions less likely. To this end, and when we are established, we will push for the creation of Review Boards that investigate each and every claim of wrongful conviction. Compensation to the wronged will also be sought as we demand accountability from the Justice System in every state.

PROJECT #3

Headed up by: ____________________

Legislation and legal efforts

bulletPrepare a nationwide class action lawsuit to eliminate the prison telephone contracts that provide kickbacks to the institution while subjecting prisoners and their families to telephone rates averaging triple the usual rate provided by telecommunication companies.
bulletPromote the defeat of the video visitation campaign. We believe this campaign for high-tech video visiting, which eliminates all human contact, is not conducive to rehabilitation or encouragement of family ties. It is not in the interest of good public policy and promotes further abuse within the prison system.

PROJECT #4

Headed up by: ____________________

Jury Education

Develop a 2-3 day educational course for prospective jurors and lobby to make this course mandatory for all jurors. We believe a defendant cannot receive a fair trial when jury members do not know (1) the law, (2) their rights, and (3) the behind-the-scene motives of both district attorney and attorney for the defense.

PROJECT #5

The PATRICK Crusade has a number of goals that we want to share with you but first we’d like to tell you about one of our projects that we think will have the most impact on assisting both prisoners and society at large. This is the ADOPT-A-CON project.

PURPOSE

Provide interface between the public and prisoners for purposes of communication and learning. The furtherance of knowledge regarding the lives of prisoners for the public as well as knowledge of society to prisoners, thus providing understanding, compassion, and rehabilitation. Due to the population of prisoners affecting an ever-increasing portion of society and society’s resources, individual concerns and progress can be addressed through this program.

SCOPE

bulletEstablish sources of funding to provide printing and mailing costs.
bulletProvide media information through press releases.
bulletProvide National or International database of available prisoners for adoption, by location and gender.
bulletCompile a list of organizations both private and public interested in adopting a prisoner, i.e. churches, businesses, organizations.

PLAN

  1. Establish computer database with the ability to sort prisoners by location and gender.
  2. Design printed material.
  1. Materials for public distribution.
    1. The PATRICK Crusade address and contact information
    2. Purpose of "ADOPT-A-CON"
    3. Photos of "typical" convicts available for adoption.
    4. Benefits to society through this program.

B. Materials to be sent to prisoners and institutions.

III. Establish distribution network to PATRICK Crusade members and affiliated organizations of materials.

IV. Collect information from adoptive families on progress and publish in newsletters and press releases.

V. Establish CON of the month or CON of the year awards.

A. provide certificate of achievement

B. provide certificate of attendance

C. provide press release

VI. Establish adoptive family of the month and year awards.

A. provide certificate of appreciation

B. provide quantity of adopted awards

C. provide press release

VII. Establish communication between adoptive groups or organizations and help establish local, state and national conferences of adoptive groups.

VIII. Establish national media connections for The PATRICK Crusade.

To achieve our goals, The PATRICK Crusade requires a few of our most qualified and most dedicated members to be on full-time paid status for The PATRICK Crusade. These members welcome the opportunity to resign from their present full-time careers to do this work because they believe in the principles of The PATRICK Crusade. The qualifications of these members are listed below under Staff Resources.

The remainder of our goals are as follows:

PROJECT #6

Headed up by: ____________________

Prison Investigations

bulletConduct in-depth investigations into reported cases of abuse of prisoners.
bulletOrganize and manage a committee specifically appointed to visit prisons in America and report findings to The PATRICK Crusade, media, and/or authorities responsible for overseeing the prison system. We believe that the disallowance of the media into prisons in America is designed to keep abuse hidden from the American taxpayers who are funding the prison industry. Federal prisoners in this country are prosecuted by "the people of the United States’ however the people of the United States have no right to know what conditions we are incarcerating these people in.
bulletContinue our research on prisoner handling of toxic waste substances without education or training required by federal waste handling laws.

PROJECT #7

Headed up by: ____________________

Prisoner and Family Assistance

bulletPrepare and circulate publications offering assistance and information to prisoners who are abused and cannot speak up for fear of retaliation by prison employees. These publications include instructional pamphlets for prisoners and families; a quarterly magazine to educate the general public, correctional industry, legislators (to inform and advise, as well as to earn revenue for The PATRICK Crusade); and a monthly newsletter.
bulletOrganize and manage a release support system to help newly released prisoners prepare for re-entry into society by helping them find housing, obtain proper clothing for job interviews, obtain jobs and/or education and training necessary to secure meaningful work that will help them stay out of prison.
bulletProvide competent legal assistance for prisoners who are unjustly incarcerated.
bulletUtilize the skills of The PATRICK Crusade educators to promote educational and substance abuse treatment courses inside prisons to help prisoners prepare for re-entry into society.
bulletDevelop and/or promote pilot programs in our prisons that promote rehabilitation through education and proper treatment of prisoners.

PROJECT #8

Headed up by: ____________________

Public Education and Fund Raising

bulletContinue fund raising and membership drive efforts.
bulletContinue the development of The PATRICK Crusade information center via the Internet. Developing information includes pages dedicated to the following topics: (1) History of The PATRICK Crusade, our mission statement, goals, successes, and subscription invitations, (2) Misconceptions, (3) Documentation regarding corrupt public servants, (4) Legal information, books, studies, (5) Prisons and prison official’s addresses and contact information, (6) Restorative justice organizations, (7) Documented illegal incarcerations, (8) Family support organizations, etc.
bulletObtain the necessary contacts and resources to oversee two made-for-TV movies based on the real-life experiences of two cases that depict the atrocities in this nation’s court and prison systems. The purpose of this is to educate the middle class to ensure their right-to-know privileges.
bulletContinue to develop and stock The PATRICK Crusade Library which provides a wealth of information to people who would not otherwise be able to access this information. It is centrally controlled and available to all members of the organization at no cost.
bulletOrganize, in conjunction with other human rights organizations a "Million Person March" on Washington, D.C., to promote public awareness of what their tax dollars are paying for with respect to abuses in the court and prison systems in this country.
bulletContinue the development of media participation for public awareness. We believe that if the American people knew about the abuses in this country’s court and prison systems, justice would prevail for all. For example, our Director of Legislative and Public Affairs is heading up The PATRICK Crusade Quilt Project as an eye-catching way to call the plight of the children who have been orphaned by unnecessary and often all together unwarranted incarcerations.
bulletSupport for Justice Denied

April 15, 1999, NYTimes - Soros Giving $15 Million
for Program on Medical Ethics and Money


By ANTHONY RAMIREZ

George Soros, the billionaire financier, plans to spend $15 million on a
new program to de-emphasize profit in medical care, develop altruistic
service programs for young doctors and encourage consumer groups to join
with physicians to monitor the quality of care better.

Soros said the money would pay for research and lectures from scholars
on the role of professionalism and ethics in modern medicine, and help
develop programs for young doctors to learn how to provide medical
services to patients outside of the medical mainstream, like new
immigrants or the homeless. The program will also solicit grant
applications from groups hoping to form physician-patient alliances to
help define priorities in care.

"The amount of money we're committing is tiny compared to the field,"
Soros said in an interview Tuesday. "But we hope to make a difference in
the way health care is provided in the United States."

He is announcing the program in a speech today at Columbia University's
College of Physicians and Surgeons. In his prepared text, Soros, who
made his fortune trading in currency markets, said: "Health care
companies are not in business to heal people or save lives; they provide
health care to make profits. In effect, in the necessary effort to
control health care costs through the market mechanism, power has
shifted from physicians and patients to insurance companies and other
purchasers of services."

David J. Rothman, who teaches the history of medicine at Columbia, will
lead the program, which is called "Medicine as a Profession."

For most of the 20th century, Rothman said, medicine was not very
lucrative: "It began to be in 1965 with Medicare. Medicine was given a
blank check: You order it and the Government will pay for it."

Rothman said he had assembled a variety of scholars and experts for the
program's advisory board. To address health care as an economic and
political system, he has recruited Eli Ginsberg, a health economist;
Marc A. Rodwin, author of the 1995 book "Medicine, Money, and Morals:
Physicians' Conflicts of Interest," and James R. Tallon Jr., a former
New York State assemblyman who is now head of a health-care
philanthropic fund, the United Hospital Fund.

To look at health care in minority communities, Rothman has recruited
Susana Morales, an expert on minority patient care with Cornell Internal
Medicine Associates, and Gerald E. Thomson, a senior associate dean of
Columbia's medical school.

And to address broad issues of medicine and society, Rothman has
recruited Norman Daniels, a bioethicist at Tufts; David Blumenthal, a
Harvard professor specializing in quality of care, and Jerome Kassirer,
the editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.

[The PATRICK Crusade hopes the issue of medical care in prisons will be addressed]

 

 

April 16, 1999, NYTimes - CYBER LAW JOURNAL
[pro bono work supported by Soros]

By CARL S. KAPLAN

A Virtual Firm for Lawyers Who Volunteer

NEW YORK -- Idealistic law school graduates often start their careers at
large New York firms with a burning desire to do some "pro bono" work --
volunteering their time in the public interest.

But many never get around to it. Once inside a firm's polished front
door, some overworked lawyers find they have little time to devote to
the public good. Others may feel they lack the expertise to take on a
complex case involving an unfamiliar area of the law. Worries about
isolation from colleagues and a lack of resources may also take a toll.

Now a new Web site aims to help lawyers overcome those real-world
barriers to public service.

Rolled out earlier this month, the non-profit site, dubbed Probono.net,
hopes to create a public interest law firm in cyberspace. It is designed
to stitch together a decentralized army of public-spirited lawyers --
everyone from the most experienced mentor at a public-interest law firm
to the greenest pro-bono wannabe at a private firm.

Founded by Michael Hertz, a partner on leave from the law firm Latham &
Watkins, the project also brings together many parts of the New York
legal establishment: elite law firms, well-known public interest law
organizations, law school clinics and public interest lawyers. It is
supported by a $250,000 grant from the Open Society Institute, a project
of the financier George Soros.

Hertz said he hoped the site could be adapted for use in other cities
like San Francisco and Chicago. He said he was exploring the possibility
of spinning off a version of Probono.net for the Long Island area.

Hertz, 39, a tall and thin man with a casual manner, said in an
interview that "the light bulb went off" in his mind about the need for
a pro bono Web site three years ago. He said that as a member of his
firm's pro bono committee and a devotee of Internet technology, he
realized that cyberspace would be the perfect place to create a
"platform" for lawyers and others interested in pro bono work in New
York.

There are three kinds of lawyers, Hertz explained. Some do pro bono work
no matter what. Others will do none at all. The last group will do it if
they are convinced that the task will be convenient and easy, and that
they will have support from experienced lawyers, he said.

"I wanted to create a site that would make it as simple as possible for
lawyers in the third group to get involved in pro bono," Hertz said. He
noted that a recent study by the New York State Office of Court
Administration revealed that only 47 percent of New York lawyers
performed free legal work for the poor in 1997.

"The need is huge," Hertz said. "Studies show that 80 percent of the
civil legal needs of low-income people go unmet by lawyers. If we can
link all the parts of the legal system together, it can be very
effective."

Probono.net, which took about a year to develop at the New York offices
of the Open Society Institute, is organized around "practice areas,"
focused on specific legal topics. Each practice area is "hosted" by one
or more public interest law firms and supported by a private law firm.

For example, a lawyer could go to the site and click on the "calendar"
button to see a listing of training sessions in New York offered by
various public interest groups. After attending a training session in,
say, asylum law -- one of two practice areas available on the site so
far -- the lawyer can ask to join that practice area, which is hosted by
the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights with assistance from the firm of
Davis Polk & Wardwell.

Once approved, the lawyer gets a password and can go to a private area
on the site to view postings of new asylum cases that need volunteers.
He or she can visit an online library that contains training materials,
briefs, standard legal forms and the like.

Most important, the lawyer can participate in discussions on a special
message board in the practice area. By posting questions and chatting
with colleagues, the lawyer can get answers or advice from more
experienced lawyers or volunteers. There's also a news section where
lawyers can post links to articles of interest on other sites.

The second practice area available on the site is "family justice." Down
the road, Hertz expects to add online communities dealing with subjects
like criminal appeals, disability rights and the death penalty.

Lawyers say the site will be an efficient matchmaker between lawyers and
cases.

"In one way, this site enables attorneys sitting at desktops in an
office to find out about areas of law that might interest them, find out
who the players are and find out how to get involved in a public
interest program," said Michael Rothenberg, associate director of New
York Lawyers for the Public Interest. The non-profit legal group will
host Probono.net's disability rights practice area in the fall, with
support from the law firm Schulte Roth & Zabel.

Another key advantage is that the Web site provides virtual hand-holding
and collegiality, Rothenberg said. Traditionally, lawyers at
Rothenberg's organization, like many public interest firms, circulate
lists of cases to private law firms in hopes of attracting volunteers,
who would, in turn, be supervised by law firm partners.

"What this does is create a sort of online community and support network
for lawyers in each practice area," Rothenberg said. The site also
leverages the ability of an experienced lawyer to mentor or offer advice
to others in the same electronic practice area, he said.

Another benefit is harder to see, but no less important. "People in
legal services and the pro bono community are getting excited about
this, and in some ways [Hertz's] concept is unifying the community,"
said Maria Imperial, executive director of the City Bar Fund, a
non-profit affiliate of the Association of the Bar of the City of New
York that provides legal services to the poor.

Richard Zorza, an expert in technology and law who is a vice president
of the Fund for the City of New York, a private foundation, said
Probono.net is a harbinger of a transformation in the delivery of legal
services.

"I think all kinds of people that worked in disconnected ways in the
past are now able to work in a more connected way," he said. "The fact
is that attorneys who were unconnected in the past will now be able to
help each other, share court papers, et cetera. The Net is making it
possible for those kinds of things to happen."

Probono.net will leave its incubation cubicle at the Open Society
Institute's offices next fall and open its doors as a free-standing
private charity, Hertz said. He expects he will hire a small staff to
run it and raise money from foundations.

For his part, Hertz said he expects to return to his old job at a
private firm. But for the time being, he will remain with Probono.net.
"I'm going to see this through," he said.



 

NEWSWEEK.COM APRIL 19, 1999 - MY TURN

It's Time to Open the Doors of Our Prisons


Freeing first-time offenders is the compassionate answer. It also makes good economic sense.

By Rufus King

Americans, once so kind-hearted, have become lusty punishers. Since President Nixon's "war" on crime, the public has become increasingly intolerant of wrongdoers, a group with no lobbyists or spin doctors to look out for them. In the late 1960s, America, like most of the rest of the world, forsook capital punishment. Since reviving it almost a decade later, we have executed more than 500 people. Now governors brag about the number of death warrants they sign.
The U.S. prison population, 1.2 million not counting short-term jail inmates, is the largest in the Western world. A number of states are spending more on prisons than on schools, and along with the federal government are turning some of their prisoners over to private custody—so that skimping on accommodations directly boosts stockholders' dividends. Lawmakers trample one another to pose as tough crimefighters, and mandatory minimums force judges to hand out long sentences, sometimes life, automatically upon conviction. Parole programs have atrophied.

The situation is aggravated by America's hysteria over drugs. Self-administered opiates (heroin and morphine) and cocaine together cause fewer than 8,500 deaths per year—compared with tobacco, 430,000, and alcohol, 100,000 dead, plus millions drunk in the gutter or otherwise incapacitated. I don't think marijuana has ever killed anyone.

Yet the White House campaign to be "drug free" not only costs billions, but concentrates on prohibition and punishment at the expense of notably cheaper and more effective treatment. The elaborate U.S. campaign to compel drug-crop growers abroad to give up their livelihoods is one of the most fatuous national efforts ever undertaken. Imagine Turks and Andeans trying to keep Yankee farmers from growing their truly deadly tobacco!

Nearly all the nation's prison systems are overcrowded, many critically. In state and federal prisons, more than half of all inmates are serving their time for nonviolent offenses. Some 30 percent are first offenders. African-Americans are a grossly disproportionate 49 percent. Drug-law convictions account for almost one fourth, and nearly one third of these are for simple possession. Genuine hardship cases abound, with stunning sentences for minor wrongs, the separation of parents and young children and a wide disproportion among convictions for identical offenses.

After working for many years in the development of criminal law, I've become increasingly concerned about our clogged prison system. My proposal to relieve the problem is simple: systematic use of pardon and commutation powers to clear out worthy first-offense long-termers to make room for serious felons. It should stir compassion and appeal to common sense. But there is another consideration that Americans may understand even better: costs. At an estimated $20,000 per year to hold each prisoner, we are spending more than $25 billion annually for simple, nonproductive warehousing of convicted offenders.

Altogether, our annual layout for corrections is more than $35 billion, curving steadily upward even as crime rates drop. We are developing a powerful "prison- industrial complex," a national growth industry exploiting today's hostility toward wrongdoers. There is scant evidence that long prison terms alone are causing the drop. Most observers credit other factors such as progress in reducing poverty, the improved economy, tighter gun laws and the increasing average age of the population. Criminologists agree that about-to-be lawbreakers don't look up penalties in the law books; they plan, if at all, on how to avoid being caught.

Every system for administering justice has, since ancient times, included some provision for tempering punishment, usually a power to pardon and commute sentences, vested in the executive. Royal pardons were well known to most of our European forebears. American presidents draw the power directly from the Constitution, and every state governor enjoys some such prerogative. Historically, the power has been freely, often liberally used, sometimes to grant amnesty to entire classes of offenders.

So I urge an immediate review of all sentences now being served in order to identify nonviolent first offenders held for disproportionately long terms, to release those who have paid their debts to society and are good risks, and to make room for menacing recidivists and other serious offenders.

There would inevitably be a few Willie Hortons, but the process might be designed to include further screening in each case. Release should be strictly conditioned on good behavior and other factors where appropriate.

The president could initiate such a program simply by directive, or Congress could set up a new authority for it. And any governor or state legislature could give it a try. I only need to convince enough economy-minded people that some of the nation's prison-budget billions could be better spent elsewhere. Perhaps I've convinced you.

King is a Washington lawyer with a lifelong interest in criminal justice.

Newsweek, April 19, 1999

KIDS LIKELY TO FOLLOW PARENTS TO PRISON
Experts Warn of Trouble With Growing Incarceration Rate


April 8, 1999

By Jim Krane

WASHINGTON (APBNews.com) -- Across the United
States, more than 1.5 million children go through life with at least one parent in prison.

An estimated 60 percent of the country's 1.8 million state and federal prisoners are parents. Since men make up 94 percent of the prison population, most are fathers.

And according to speakers at a U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance law enforcement conference here,
those figures are a harbinger of the prison population of the future.

Cycle threatens to snowball

Statistics show that children whose parents are locked away in prison are likely to be jailed themselves. And with corrections systems now sequestering Americans at an unprecedented pace, the parent-child inmate cycle threatens to snowball.

With more parents behind bars today, more children will follow tomorrow, speakers said.

In fact, a child with an incarcerated parent is five times more likely to be jailed than an a child who grows up with parents who manage to stay out of jail, said Ann Jacobs, director of the Women's Prison Association, a group which develops programs for incarcerated women.

One in 10 of those children will be jailed before adulthood, said Jacobs.

"Children with an incarcerated parent are much more susceptible to a bad activity such as gang involvement, early pregnancy and early crime activity," said Jacobs.

Locking up mothers hurts

And when a mother goes to jail, the effect on a child is particularly bad, said Jacobs.

Jacobs pointed to a recent federal law, the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, as worsening the situation. Instead of seeking to reunify children with their parents -- who may have reformed after leaving jail -- the law makes it easier for authorities to strip away parental rights and place a child with relatives or in foster care.

The majority of women prisoners are nonviolent offenders, often locked up on drug charges, said Jacobs. Since many states now employ strict sentencing guidelines -- and since women are generally low-level offenders with little information that might entice a prosecutor to bargain for a lesser plea -- women offenders often draw long prison sentences, said Jacobs.

"I personally find this devastating," she said. "I can't tell you how many women I know who've lost their kids, and then turned out to be good moms."

Those children, she said, are more likely to be headed for trouble -- and jail -- without their mother's support.

Visitation encouraged

Jacobs and others who spoke at the workshop on incarcerated parents said children should be encouraged to visit parents in prison, to strengthen family bonds and give the jailed parents incentive to turn their lives around.

"Now, can we actively involve the family, instead of sending out ambulances to repair the damage that's being done to them?" asked Jim Mustin, founder of the Family Corrections Network, a group that seeks to strengthen ties between family members inside prison and out.

Currently, roughly half of incarcerated mothers receive visits from their children, Jacobs said.

Value systems taught in prison

Inside the prison, too, more should be done to teach inmates how to be better parents, said Garry Mendez, director of the National Trust for the Development of African-American Men.

Mendez said he was less interested in reforming the system than those inside it.

"How come, when we have this captive audience of males, we can't try to teach them how to be responsible fathers?" Mendez asked.

Mendez's group works inside prisons to change the value systems of prisoners, teaching them to take care of their own mental and physical health, and to respect their families.

"We demand that they take care of themselves. We tell them, 'Don't call anyone home collect and tell them what to do,'" said Mendez. "Instead, when you call, ask them if there's anything you can do."

im Krane is an APBNews.com staff writer (jimk@apbnews.com).

Davis names Mimi Silbert to her second stint on Board of Corrections

SACRAMENTO - The driving force behind San Francisco's nationally recognized Delancey Street Foundation was appointed Friday by Gov. Davisto her second stint on the state Board of Corrections, which helps set prison policy for the state. Mimi Silbert, 57, has served for more than 25 years as president, board chair and chief executive of Delancey Street, a self-help residential center for former convicts, addicts and prostitutes. They also run a popular South Park restaurant. Since 1996, Silbert has served as a special assistant to Mayor Willie Brown on juvenile justice policy. At the time of her appointment, Brown asked Delancey Street to come up with a master plan for The City's juvenile justice system. Some of Silbert's recent reforms include a 24-hour "community assessment center" in the Tenderloin District's YMCA, staffed by workers from the Juvenile Probation Department, Police Department, Department of Public Health and community-based organizations. In an interview, Silbert said she's looking forward to working again on the Board of Corrections because the Legislature recently gave its members more power over juvenile justice policy. Silbert said she wants to work on coordinating all 58 counties in California to form a single vision for juvenile justice, and she wants to update facilities and work on better links between juvenile jails and community programs, like group homes.

"There is such a span of possibilities," Silbert said. "It's really getting each county to be able to go in both directions at the same time, to provide a circle of real alternative services so we can do something to change criminals into non criminals, which is the whole point." Delancey Street is acclaimed for reforming hardened adult criminals by administering a dose of confrontational group therapy, occupational training, "life-skills training" and tough love - all within a residential setting. Silbert served on the Board of Corrections from 1986 to 1992, after being appointed twice by Republican former Gov. George Deukmejian. From 1990 to 1994, Silbert served as project director for the Department of Corrections' Bay Area Parole Services Network. In an interview with The Examiner at the time of her first Corrections appointment, Silbert said imprisoning criminals "at someone else's expense, providing all their food and lodging and letting them sit there with no responsibility, is absurd." She was equally opposed to the folks who are soft on crime. "If you care about people," she said, "you hold them accountable." Silbert has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in criminology and psychology at UC-Berkeley, CSU-San Francisco and Golden Gate University. She also was a member of the Peace Officers Standards and Training advisory commission. The Board of Corrections position is unpaid, but Silbert must be confirmed by the state Senate. Approval is almost certain: Senate president pro tem John Burton, D-S.F., is one of Silbert's biggest supporters.

 

 

Inmate populations for US jails and prisons 1980-1997

US rate of Incarceration compared to other western nations

Data from Data-International use of Incarceration (1997 report) http://www.sproject.com/press-12.htm

End of Proposal

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