New Ruling Supports Exorbitant Costs of Phone Calls With Inmates

Families with incarcerated loved ones will continue to face challenges as they grapple with the exorbitant cost of phone calls with inmates.  These calls can be as high as $10 per minute at some facilities.  Two years ago, telecom companies and some state governments filed suit against FCC rules which limited the price of in state prison phone calls.  Last month, a federal appeals court ruled against the FCC rules.  Learn more at http://www.npr.org/2017/06/18/533438857/fcc-decides-to-cap-prices-of-in-state-phone-calls-by-prison-inmates.

FDA Advises That Opioid Painkiller Opana Be Pulled Off Market

In an unprecedented move, the FDA has called for the removal of opioid painkiller Opana from the market. The FDA has never before asked that an opioid pain medication be pulled from the market due to its strong potential for abuse. The mandate is in response to the opioid crisis. Opana is about twice as powerful as the opioid OxyContin, which is also frequently abused.  Learn more at http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/08/health/fda-opioid-opana-er-bn/index.html

Lawmakers Respond to Prison Corruption Investigation

In response to a Charlotte Observer investigation regarding prison corruption, Senate leader Phil Berger has said that he plans to call for a legislative inquiry on prison corruption. Moreover, Governor Roy Cooper has called upon Secretary of Public Safety Erik Hooks to identify ways to address the issues identified in the investigation. The investigation exposed a host of problems. These include officers physically abusing inmates, permitting or encouraging attacks on inmates, having sex with inmates, and running contraband rings inside prisons.  Learn more at http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article155319679.html

DEA Proposal Reminiscent of War on Drugs

The DEA has proposed action that is reminiscent of the unsuccessful “War on Drugs” of the 1980s. This “War on Drugs” involved draconian and discriminatory sentencing for drug offenders. The current proposal is that the DEA hire a separate prosecutor corps of as many as 20 prosecutors to prosecute cases related to drug trafficking, money laundering. The proposal, according to DEA spokesman Rusty Payne, is in response to the opioid crisis. Opponents of the plan, including the Drug Policy Alliance, fear that the plan exceeds the DEA’s authority under federal law and represents movement away from treating drug addiction as a public health crisis.  Learn more at http://www.npr.org/2017/05/04/526784152/dea-seeks-prosecutors-to-fight-opioid-crisis-critics-fear-return-to-war-on-drugs

Congress Pushes Back of Jeff Sessions’ Regressive Approach to Criminal Justice

Republican Senator Rand Paul and Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy have pledged to fight back against Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ vow to seek the longest possible sentences even for non-violent drug offenses. Paul, Leahy, and Democrat Jeff Merkley have introduced the Justice Safety Valve Act, which would allow federal judges the discretion to give out sentences below the mandatory minimum in some cases. The Senators noted the failure of increasing incarceration to lower crime rates, as well as the extraordinary cost to taxpayers. They also noted the ineffectiveness of Sessions’ approach for treating opioid addiction.

Former Civil Rights Attorney Takes the Lead Towards Becoming Philadelphia’s Next DA

It is possible for prosecutors to be champions of progressive criminal justice reform. Larry Krasner, a former civil rights attorney who has never been a prosecutor, has taken the lead to win the Democratic nomination over several experienced prosecutors and a former city manager. He will run against one Republican candidate in the fall. Krasner is a strong opponent of mass incarceration and the death penalty. He has fought hard against the death penalty while advocating for his clients. In 25 years of defending capital cases, none of his clients have been sent to death row. He seeks to work towards “a criminal justice system that works for everyone” and a “society that builds people up instead of tearing them down.”

 

North Carolina need to identify and support candidates for district attorney who are willing to create a judical system that works for all citizens, like Krasner.