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Criminal Justice News This Week (week of 03-30-20)

Our Leaders Have The Power To Release People In Prison. Now They Must Use It. "State governors and the president have the authority to grant commutations and reprieves to people in prison across the country as COVID-19 spreads."

D.C. Public Defenders’ Sweeping Motion Asks for Release of All Misdemeanants in DC Jail. "One inmate has contracted COVID-19 and three others have been tested."

Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Applauds Repeal of the Death Penalty in Colorado. "On March 23, 2020, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed into law a bill repealing the death penalty in Colorado, making Colorado the 22nd state in the United States, in addition to the District of Columbia, to abolish or overturn the death penalty."

How the coronavirus outbreak is affecting the US criminal justice system. "Pressure has been building all week from corrections officers, healthcare leaders and even some prosecutors to free as many low-level inmates from their local institutions as possible. 'Imagine you have to suffer through the COVID-19 outbreak in a closed building,' Tim Zerillo, a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, wrote in a blog post on March 16. 'You are in that building in close quarters with others. You cannot leave. You cannot step outside for a breath of fresh air. You cannot wash your hands or douse yourself in Purell whenever you like. You are stuck there, with others, waiting for the virus to get you.'"

5 Ways Ethics Can Save—and Build—Your Practice Right Now. By Brian L. Tannebaum, "Right about now you’re not as concerned about rules or deadlines. You’re concerned about health and the future. And that’s expected.")

Firing of Montco Public Defenders Draws Lawsuits From Attorneys, ACLU. Labor attorney Patricia Pierce said the lawsuits raise a very 'concerning' matter about the independence of public defenders offices."

High Court Revives Decades-Old Deportation Dispute. "The Supreme Court on Monday held a federal appeals court may hear the claims of two men seeking to have their removal proceedings reopened decades after they were deported for committing drug crimes."

Prison, Jail Data Show Incarceration ‘Myths. "The Prison Policy Institute has published a new analysis of the U.S. prison and jail population, detailing what kinds of facilities hold the 2.3 million people behind bars and what offenses brought them there."

Smartphone data reveal which Americans are social distancing (and not). "D.C. gets an 'A' while Wyoming earns an 'F' for following coronavirus stay-at-home advice, based on the locations of tens of millions of phones")

City of Cleveland won’t have to pay $13.2 million to wrongfully convicted man, Ohio Supreme Court rules. "The City of Cleveland does not have to pay a $13.2 million jury verdict against two police detectives who framed a former housing security officer for murder, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday."

Staff Bring Virus Into Prisons, Infecting Inmates. "Hundreds of cases are confirmed behind bars in New York, California, Michigan, Alabama and a dozen other states. Some in custody are afraid to report symptoms because they’ve seen others placed in solitary confinement for doing so."

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