Using Prison Education to Fight Recidivism in California

This year, both liberals and conservatives have agreed that it's time to end the "mass incarceration" produced by the "crackdown on crime" of 20 years ago. KCRW is exploring how California is handling the "re-entry" of prisoners back into society. Our producer Jenny Hamel went behind bars to report on an educational program that offers everything from vocational courses to higher education. We also hear about recent legislation that has the State getting into the act. Guests: Jenny Hamel, … [Read more...]

LA County Creating Task Force to Assist Formerly Incarcerated

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously December 1 to form a task force to help non-violent ex-convicts update their records under Proposition 47 and to link them to jobs and services. Proposition 47 — dubbed by supporters as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act — was approved by 59.6 percent of California voters in 2014. It reduced some non-violent drug and property crimes — such as shoplifting, receiving stolen property and writing bad checks of less than $950 — from … [Read more...]

Prosecutors Should Search for Justice Instead of Rushing to Judgment

In the last 20 years, two new technologies have shed a revealing light on American criminal justice: DNA and video recordings. DNA testing has revealed more wrongful convictions than almost anyone had imagined. Widespread video technology has documented abuses of force by law enforcement that previously were discounted or denied. Both technologies promise to improve justice if embraced by prosecutors. In a recent case in South Carolina, a bystander’s video recording revealed that a police … [Read more...]

U.S. Police Leaders, Visiting Scotland, Get Lessons on Avoiding Deadly Force

TULLIALLAN, Scotland — The United States and Britain are bound by a common language and a shared history, and their law enforcement agencies have been close partners for generations. But a difference long curious to Americans stands out: Most British police officers are unarmed, a distinction particularly pronounced here in Scotland, where 98 percent of the country’s officers do not carry guns. For them, calming a situation through talk, rather than escalating it with weapons, is an … [Read more...]

San Francisco Called a Model for Ending Mass Incarceration

San Francisco has rapidly reduced its jail and prison populations with a series of “best practices” innovations that have built on California’s well-publicized legislative reforms enacted since 2009, according to a research study released recently. The study adds its success could serve as a model for the rest of the United States. In the study, entitled “Eliminating Mass Incarceration: How San Francisco Did It,” James Austin of the JFA Institute reports that the combined jail and prison … [Read more...]

A Conversation With Black Women on Race

[Read more...]

Rare White House Accord With Koch Brothers on Sentencing Frays

For more than a year, a rare coalition of liberal groups and libertarian-minded conservatives has joined the Obama administration in pushing for the most significant liberalization of America’s criminal justice laws since the beginning of the drug war. That effort has had perhaps no ally more important than Koch Industries, the conglomerate owned by a pair of brothers who are well-known conservative billionaires. Now, as Congress works to turn those goals into legislation, that joint effort … [Read more...]

These Savvy Women Have Made Black Lives Matter the Most Crucial Left-Wing Movement Today

There was a time when Melina Abdullah wanted to be the next Maxine Waters. A year or two ago, I recognized that those middle-class aspirations are done,” Abdullah says now, in the soothing voice of a therapist or guidance counselor. “You can’t go in and yell at people or camp in front of the mayor’s house and go, ‘Now I’m running for office.’ I had to make peace with that.” Abdullah lives in a three-bedroom house in Crenshaw with her three children. She drives a Volvo. She’s a tenured … [Read more...]

When Prisoners Go Home, Punishment Isn’t Over

Last month marked the release of more than 6,000 people from federal prison as a result of the Sentencing Commission’s 2014 Reduction of Drug Sentences Act. Thanks to this legislation, tens of thousands more people who are incarcerated could benefit from reductions in their terms over the next few years, and new drug-related sentences will be less than in recent decades. And it came not a moment too soon: we are currently saddled with an outdated, unfair, and bloated criminal justice system … [Read more...]

Kendrec McDade’s Mother Questions Latest Pasadena Police Report

The Pasadena Police Department willfully avoided the truth because the truth will damn them he Office of Independent Review (OIR) Report is even more damning to the Pasadena Police Department than I expected–and we still have more disclosures coming out December 1. I am staggered by the amount of new and damaging information in the OIR Report about the reckless conduct of Officers Griffin and Newlen, the failure of Pasadena's Police Departmnet to even conduct an administrative investigation, … [Read more...]