criminal justice, Healthcare, Social Problems

‘Jails Are Petri Dishes’: Inmates Freed as the Virus Spreads Behind Bars.

Some jails are releasing people to stem outbreaks, but critics say it is not happening quickly enough to save lives and resources.

By Timothy Williams, Benjamin Weiser and William K. Rashbaum March 30, 2020

The coronavirus is spreading quickly in America’s jails and prisons, where social distancing is impossible and sanitizer is widely banned, prompting authorities across the country to release thousands of inmates in recent weeks to try to slow the infection, save lives and preserve medical resources.

Hundreds of Covid-19 diagnoses have been confirmed at local, state and federal correctional facilities — almost certainly an undercount, given a lack of testing and the virus’s rapid spread — leading to hunger strikes in immigrant detention centers and demands for more protection from prison employee unions.

A week ago, the Cook County jail in Chicago had two diagnoses; by Sunday, 101 inmates and a dozen employees had tested positive for the virus. A nearby Illinois state prison reported a coronavirus-related death on Monday, and Michigan prisons had 78 positive tests. The Rikers Island jail complex in New York City had 167 confirmed cases among inmates by Monday. And at least 38 inmates and employees in the federal prison system have the virus, with one prisoner dead in Louisiana.

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criminal justice, Healthcare, Social Problems

Chicago’s Jail Is Top U.S. Hot Spot as Virus Spreads Behind Bars At least 1,324 confirmed coronavirus cases are tied to prisons and jails across the United States, according to data tracked by The Times, including at least 32 deaths. Prisoners hung signs pleading for help in a window of the Cook County jail on Tuesday.

By Timothy Williams and Danielle Ivory April 8, 2020

It started small. On March 23, two inmates in the sprawling Cook County jail, one of the nation’s largest, were placed in isolation cells after testing positive for the coronavirus. In a little over two weeks, the virus exploded behind bars, infecting more than 350 people. The jail in Chicago is now the nation’s largest-known source of coronavirus infections, according to data compiled by The New York Times, with more confirmed cases than the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, a nursing home in Kirkland, Wash., or the cluster centered on New Rochelle, N.Y.

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African-Americans, criminal justice, Police, Social Problems

Opinion: The Injustice of This Moment Is Not an ‘Aberration.’ From mass incarceration to mass deportation, our nation remains in deep denial. By Michelle Alexander Opinion Columnist Jan. 17, 2020. Ten years have passed since my book, “The New Jim Crow,” was published. I wrote it to challenge our nation to reckon with the recurring cycles of racial reform, retrenchment and rebirth of caste-like systems that have defined our racial history since slavery. It has been an astonishing decade. Everything and nothing has changed.

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African-Americans, criminal justice, Race

Black People Are Charged at a Higher Rate Than Whites. What if Prosecutors Didn’t Know Their Race?

George Gascón, San Francisco’s district attorney, said the lopsided number of African-Americans in the city’s criminal justice system had compelled him to try something new.

By Timothy Williams

June 12, 2019

While riding the train in San Francisco three years ago, a white man told an African-American man that he smelled bad and should move away from him. An argument followed, and the African-American man, Michael Smith, was eventually tackled by police officers and accused of assaulting them.

The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office charged Mr. Smith with seven counts, including battery on a police officer and resisting arrest. But after viewing body camera footage, a jury acquitted Mr. Smith, then 23, on most of the charges, and the prosecutors dropped the other counts. Mr. Smith’s lawyer said he does not believe a white person would have been arrested or prosecuted.

While the district attorney’s office disagreed with that assessment of the case, George Gascón, the district attorney, has acknowledged that a disproportionate number of African-Americans are prosecuted in the city, which led him to ask a troubling question: To what extent does bias affect the work of prosecutors?

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Gender, Sexual Abuse, Social Problems

These Rape Victims Had to Sue to Get the Police to Investigate

As more women come forward to report sexual assault, some say law enforcement has failed them. ‘There was no collection of evidence,’ one victim said. ‘Except off my body.’

Julie Ann Nitsch, left, and Marina Conner, two of the plaintiffs in an Austin lawsuit that argues that sexual assault victims do not receive equal treatment compared with victims of other violent crimes.

By Valeriya Safronova and Rebecca Halleck

May 23, 2019

Evidence so neglected it grew mold. Calls to the authorities for help that went unanswered. Witnesses and victims who were never interviewed. These are just a handful of the claims that sexual assault survivors are making against law enforcement in courts around the country.

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