“To be fair, the First Step Act, Trump’s landmark criminal justice law, is commendable. More than 3,000 people have been released thanks to the law’s effort to take good behavior while incarcerated into account. And by retroactively applying the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduced the sentencing disparity between crack and cocaine charges, over 2,000 people received sentencing reductions — 91 percent of them were African Americans, according to the Sentencing Project. 342 people have also been released into the elderly home confinement pilot program.
The problem, however, is that the Department of Justice has “attempted to block hundreds of eligible beneficiaries” and send those released back behind bars, according to the Sentencing Project.
It may not be too surprising considering that Attorney General William Barr had expressed his concerns about the First Step Act behind closed doors, according to the Washington Post. The publication found that Barr thought the early release could drive up crime numbers and put the administration in a bad light.
As a result, the department has tried to freeze applications or re-incarcerate former inmates by setting higher standards for their release.”
“beyond the disruption of the Justice Department, there’s a lot to be accomplished for the First Step Act to reach its full potential. Funding falls far short of the $75 million authorized by Congress. Many prisons lack both the space and money to hold vocational, educational, mental health, and substance abuse programming. And the government has yet to expand the Second Step Act, which promised to help break barriers in employment after release. Until all these issues are addressed, Trump’s criminal justice efforts — and the speeches he makes about them — remain lackluster.”
“In 2017, ABC7 and the Chicago Sun-Times discovered that most of the drivers cited for running the light were actually making right turns, some even doing so after making a complete stop. In 2019, ABC 7 also found that the Chicago intersections that racked up the most fines had shorter timed lights, giving drivers less time to pass through legally. The investigation identified one intersection where the green and yellow lights were only up for a combined 20 seconds.”
“The final straw, the press release indicated, was a federal investigation into red light contractor SafeSpeed.
Both the Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune have reported on SafeSpeed’s chumminess with local officials, including connections to a county commissioner’s chief of staff as well as a former police chief; the latter was fired from his job in the police department after his relationship with the company came to light. These local officials worked as consultants to negotiate SafeSpeed’s presence in various communities. At least one of the officials went on record saying that he received a kickback for every fine paid in certain communities.”
“In addition to concerns about corruption, studies all across the country have found that their local red light cameras have made little positive impact on safe driving practices. In 2014, Reason reported that Chicago’s red light cameras may have traded in one traffic accident for another: While the rate of right-angle crashes causing injury at intersections decreased by 15 percent (much lower than the city’s touted 47 percent), rear-end collisions causing injury rose by 22 percent. Additionally, 40 percent of the cameras were placed in intersections with low rates of injury-causing collisions.”
“Matthew Luckhurst of the San Antonio Police Department (SAPD) tried to feed a homeless man a sandwich made of dog feces. While Luckhurst was initially fired for such crappy behavior, Reason reported in March 2019 that his employment was fully restored.
Luckhurst was able to rejoin the force following an arbitration hearing required by the collective bargaining agreement the San Antonio Police Officers Association has with the city. Since the department could not prove the exact date of the crap sandwich incident, the department had no choice but to accept that it missed the 180-day window in which it could discipline Luckhurst, and the arbitration panel ruled in Luckhurst’s favor.
The San Antonio Current reported this week that Luckhurst’s story is not an exception to the rule. Twenty-seven of the 40 SAPD police officers fired between 2010 and 2019 have managed to get their jobs back through arbitration. Only 13 firings were upheld in that entire time.”
“one day in jail plus probation for a lie that nearly cost a man 15 years of his life. Contrast that with the fate of low-income people trapped behind bars because of expensive pre-trial bail. Though the law considers them innocent until proven guilty, they often spend far more time in jail than Bergmann while waiting for their day in court. In one infamous case, Kalief Browder spent three years in Rikers Island without a trial because his bail was set at an unaffordable $3,000.”