Monday, April 30, 2007

Arpaio's singing contest - prisoners sing to get better food

Joe Arpaio is the sheriff of Phoenix, AZ. Notorious for brutality, corruption and humiliation, his latest is to have prisoners sing for better food and then post the videos on line. Below are some links. Some of the singers aren't bad actually. If you can't sing apparently you're stuck with swill. There's a reason, apparently, that Arpaio is the most popular elected official in the state of Arizona. He is also the head of Arizona state campaign for presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Paul Wright, Editor

Prison Legal News

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Brattleboro, VT 05301


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Prison Legal News

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Seattle, WA 98117


For $82 a Day, Booking a Cell in a 5-Star Jail


SANTA ANA, Calif., April 25 — Anyone convicted of a crime knows a debt to society often must be paid in jail. But a slice of Californians willing to supplement that debt with cash (no personal checks, please) are finding that the time can be almost bearable.

For offenders whose crimes are usually relatively minor (carjackers should not bother) and whose bank accounts remain lofty, a dozen or so city jails across the state offer pay-to-stay upgrades. Theirs are a clean, quiet, if not exactly recherché alternative to the standard county jails, where the walls are bars, the fellow inmates are hardened and privileges are few.

Many of the self-pay jails operate like the secret velvet-roped nightclubs of the corrections world. You have to be in the know to even apply for entry, and even if the court approves your sentence there, jail administrators can operate like bouncers, rejecting anyone they wish.

"I am aware that this is considered to be a five-star Hilton," said Nicole Brockett, 22, who was recently booked into one of the jails, here in Orange County about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles, and paid $82 a day to complete a 21-day sentence for a drunken driving conviction.

Ms. Brockett, who in her oversized orange T-shirt and flip-flops looked more like a contestant on "The Real World" than inmate, shopped around for the best accommodations,

"It's clean here," she said, perched in a jail day room on the sort of couch found in a hospital emergency room. "It's safe and everyone here is really nice. I haven't had a problem with any of the other girls. They give me shampoo."

For roughly $75 to $127 a day, these convicts — who are known in the self-pay parlance as "clients" — get a small cell behind a regular door, distance of some amplitude from violent offenders and, in some cases, the right to bring an iPod or computer on which to compose a novel, or perhaps a song.

Many of the overnighters are granted work furlough, enabling them to do most of their time on the job, returning to the jail simply to go to bed (often following a strip search, which granted is not so five-star).

The clients usually share a cell, but otherwise mix little with the ordinary nonpaying inmates, who tend to be people arrested and awaiting arraignment, or federal prisoners on trial or awaiting deportation and simply passing through.

The pay-to-stay programs have existed for years, but recently attracted some attention when prosecutors balked at a jail in Fullerton that they said would offer computer and cellphone use to George Jaramillo, a former Orange County assistant sheriff who pleaded no contest to perjury and misuse of public funds, including the unauthorized use of a county helicopter. Mr. Jaramillo was booked into the self-pay program in Montebello, near Los Angeles, instead.

"We certainly didn't envision a jail with cellphone and laptop capabilities where his family could bring him three hot meals," said Susan Kang Schroeder, the public affairs counsel for the Orange County district attorney. "We felt that the use of the computer was part of the instrumentality of his crime, and that is another reason we objected to that."

A spokesman for the Fullerton jail said cellphones but not laptops were allowed.

While jails in other states may offer pay-to-stay programs, numerous jail experts said they did not know of any.

"I have never run into this," said Ken Kerle, managing editor of the publication American Jail Association and author of two books on jails. "But the rest of the country doesn't have Hollywood either. Most of the people who go to jail are economically disadvantaged, often mentally ill, with alcohol and drug problems and are functionally illiterate. They don't have $80 a day for jail."

The California prison system, severely overcrowded, teeming with violence and infectious diseases and so dysfunctional that much of it is under court supervision, is one that anyone with the slightest means would most likely pay to avoid.

"The benefits are that you are isolated and you don't have to expose yourself to the traditional county system," said Christine Parker, a spokeswoman for CSI, a national provider of jails that runs three in Orange County with pay-to-stay programs. "You can avoid gang issues. You are restricted in terms of the number of people you are encountering and they are a similar persuasion such as you."

Most of the programs — which offer 10 to 30 beds — stay full enough that marketing is not necessary, though that was not always the case. The Pasadena jail, for instance, tried to create a little buzz for its program when it was started in the early 1990s.

"Our sales pitch at the time was, 'Bad things happen to good people,' " said Janet Givens, a spokeswoman for the Pasadena Police Department. Jail representatives used Rotary Clubs and other such venues as their potential marketplace for "fee-paying inmate workers" who are charged $127 a day (payment upfront required).

"People might have brothers, sisters, cousins, etc., who might have had a lapse in judgment and do not want to go to county jail," Ms. Givens said.

The typical pay-to-stay client, jail representatives agreed, is a man in his late 30s who has been convicted of driving while intoxicated and sentenced to a month or two in jail.

But there are single-night guests, and those who linger well over a year.

"One individual wanted to do four years here," said Christina Holland, a correctional manager of the Santa Ana jail.

Inmates in Santa Ana who have been approved for pay to stay by the courts and have coughed up a hefty deposit for their stay, enter the jail through a lobby and not the driveway reserved for the arrival of other prisoners. They are strip searched when they return from work each day because the biggest problem they pose is the smuggling of contraband, generally cigarettes, for nonpaying inmates.

Most of the jailers require the inmates to do chores around the jails, even if they work elsewhere during the day.

I try real hard to keep them in custody for 12 hours," Ms. Holland said. "Because I think that's fair."

Critics argue that the systems create inherent injustices, offering cleaner, safer alternatives to those who can pay.

"It seems to be to be a little unfair," said Mike Jackson, the training manager of the National Sheriff's Association. "Two people come in, have the same offense, and the guy who has money gets to pay to stay and the other doesn't. The system is supposed to be equitable."

But cities argue that the paying inmates generate cash, often hundreds of thousands of dollars a year — enabling them to better afford their other taxpayer-financed operations — and are generally easy to deal with.

"We never had a problem with self pay," said Steve Lechuga, the operations manager for CSI. "I haven't seen any fights in years. We had a really good success rate with them."

Stanley Goldman, a professor of criminal law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, has recommended the program to former clients.

"The prisoners who are charged with nonviolent crimes and typically have no record are not in the best position to handle themselves in the general county facility," Professor Goldman said.

Still, no doubt about it, the self-pay jails are not to be confused with Canyon Ranch.

The cells at Santa Ana are roughly the size of a custodial closet, and share its smell and ambience. Most have little more than a pink bottle of jail-issue moisturizer and a book borrowed from the day room. Lockdown can occur for hours at a time, and just feet away other prisoners sit with their faces pressed against cell windows, looking menacing.

Ms. Brockett, who normally works as a bartender in Los Angeles, said the experience was one she never cared to repeat.

"It does look decent," she said, "but you still feel exactly where you are."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Healing the Wounded Hearts-Mother's Day Walk

Please come out and join us for the 11th Annual Mother's Walk for Peace
A pledge event to benefit the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute
Healing the Wounded Hearts
Mother's Day
Sunday, May 13th, 2007
7:00 am (registration)
Walk: 8:30 am to 10:30 am
Rain, Sleet or Snow
Register online at
Walk starts and ends at Townsfield Park
Fields Corner
Dorchester, MA

May 10th CORI forum at the Boston Foundation

Dear Friend,

Join us on May 10th when City Mission Society's Public Voice Project will be represented at a Boston Foundation Forum on Criminal Justice.

CORI: Opening Doors of Opportunity A Workforce and Public Safety Imperative

Welcoming Remarks:

Paul S. Grogan, President & CEO, The Boston Foundation
Elyse Clawson, Executive Director, The Crime and Justice Institute

Presentation of Task Force Findings and Recommendations:

Elizabeth Pattullo, President & CEO, Beacon Health Strategies, LLC;
Co-chair, Task Force on CORI Employer Guidelines

The Economics of CORI: The Labor Supply and Our Economic Future

Andrew Sum, Director, Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern


Kevin M. Burke, Secretary of Public Safety, Commonwealth of

Panel Discussion


Bob Gittens, Vice President for Public Affairs, Northeastern
University; Co-chair, Task Force on CORI Employer Guidelines


The Honorable Byron Rushing, Second Assistant Majority Leader,
Massachusetts House of Representatives
Ben Thompson, Executive Director, STRIVE
Maureen Walsh, Chair, Massachusetts Parole Board; Member, Criminal
History Systems Board
Fay White, City Mission Society, Public Voice Project

THURSDAY, MAY 10th, 2007
8:30 to 10:30 a.m.

Continental Breakfast served at 8:00 a.m.
The Boston Foundation, 75 Arlington Street, 10th Floor, Boston, MA

To reserve a seat, please call 617-338-4390 or email by MAY 4th. Seating is limited and may be cut off before the RSVP deadline if capacity is reached.

The Understanding Boston forum is supported in part by the Civic Leadership Fund of the Boston Foundation. This is a public forum. The Boston Foundation will be photographing and videotaping this event for archival, informational and educational purposes.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

WASHINGTON – ACLU Releases Crack Cocaine Report

WASHINGTON – To mark the 20th anniversary of the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, the American Civil Liberties Union today issued the report, "Cracks in the System: Twenty Years of the Unjust Federal Crack Cocaine Law." The report details discriminatory effects of the drug law that devastated African American and low-income communities.

"This anniversary marks two decades of a tragic mistake, when lawmakers allowed emotion to overtake reason." said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "The result is a drug policy that makes a false distinction between powdered and crack cocaine and perpetuates a racial caste system when it comes to our criminal justice system."

One of the report's key findings indicates that sentencing policies, particularly the mandatory minimum for low-level crack offenses, subject people who are low-level participants to the same or harsher sentences as major dealers. As law enforcement focused its efforts on crack offenses, a dramatic shift occurred in the incarceration trends for African Americans, relative to the rest of the nation. This trend effectively transformed federal prisons into institutions increasingly dedicated to incarcerating African Americans.

The report also explains that there is no rational medical reason for the 100-to-1 disparity between crack and powder cocaine, and instead causes an unjustified racial disparity in our penal system.

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, passed during the media frenzy following the death of University of Maryland basketball star Len Bias, established mandatory minimum sentences for possession of specific amounts of cocaine. However, it also established a 100-to-1 disparity between distribution of powder and crack cocaine. For example, distributing just five grams of crack carries a minimum five-year federal prison sentence, while distributing 500 grams of powder cocaine carries the same sentence. The discrepancy remains despite repeated recommendations by the U.S. Sentencing Commission to Congress to reconsider the penalties.

Because of its relative low cost, crack cocaine is more accessible to poor people, many of whom are African Americans. Conversely, powder cocaine is much more expensive and tends to be used by more affluent white Americans.

The report includes recent data that indicates that African Americans make up 15 percent of the country's drug users, yet they make up 37 percent of those arrested for drug violations, 59 percent of those convicted, and 74 percent of those sentenced to prison for a drug offense. More than 80 percent of the defendants sentenced for crack offenses are African American, despite the fact that more than 66 percent of crack users are white or Hispanic.

Prior to the enactment of federal mandatory minimum sentencing for crack cocaine offenses in 1986, the average federal drug sentence for African Americans was 11 percent higher than for whites. Four years later, the average federal drug sentence for African Americans was 49 percent higher.

"The law's goal of targeting high-level drug traffickers failed," Fredrickson added. "Congress made it clear that by passing the current mandatory minimum penalties for crack cocaine, it intended to target major drug traffickers. The opposite is true: mandatory penalties for crack cocaine offenses apply most often to offenders who are low-level participants in the drug trade. For example, data from the Sentencing Commission shows that 73 percent of crack defendants have only low-level involvement in drug activity, such as street-level dealers, couriers or lookouts."

The report, authored by Deborah J. Vagins, Policy Counsel for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties and Jesselyn McCurdy, Legislative Counsel, makes the following policy recommendations. The quantities of crack cocaine that trigger federal prosecution and sentencing must be equalized with, and increased to, the current levels of powder cocaine. Federal prosecutions should focus on high-level traffickers of both crack and powder cocaine. And mandatory minimums for crack and powder offenses, especially the mandatory minimum for simple possession, should be eliminated.

The ACLU's report, "Cracks in the System: Twenty Years of the Unjust Federal Crack Cocaine Law," is available at:


Source URL:

Unfinished justice

Unfinished justice
By Brian McGrory, Globe Columnist February 23, 2007

What goes on in the corridors of government that our leaders so rarely, too rarely, own up to their mistakes?

No, not Deval Patrick and his car again. He admitted fault. Well, he tried. The topic today is the city of Boston and what it did to a young man named Shawn Drumgold by sending him to prison for 15 years on ridiculously flawed evidence and by refusing to make good to him ever since.

Drumgold, people may recall, was convicted of the 1988 slaying of Darlene Tiffany Moore, the 12-year-old girl felled by a stray bullet as she sat on a mailbox in the middle of a gang-infested section of Roxbury. Her death came to represent the lawlessness that existed on the streets at the time, marked by shootouts between rival gangs of drug dealers.

Some 14 years after Drumgold's conviction, the Globe's Dick Lehr wrote a 5,000-word story that made a veritable mockery of the police and prosecutors' case. One key eyewitness was suffering from a brain tumor that caused severe memory loss, a fact never reported to the defense. Another witness said she was pressured by police to place Drumgold at the scene of the crime.

A crucial eyewitness, a homeless teenager, told Lehr that police gave him months of free housing, food, and walking-around money, and wiped clean his criminal record, to testify against Drumgold. He told the Globe and a judge that his testimony was a bunch of lies.

Local residents told Lehr that they could confirm Drumgold's alibi that he was a couple of blocks away at the time of the shooting, but were afraid to tell police at the time.

Six months after the 2003 Globe story, the Suffolk district attorney issued a report saying that in the interests of justice, the conviction should be overturned. The DA said he had no plans to retry Drumgold, who was set free.

The only issue remaining is what the city owes a man for taking away 15 years of his life. Drumgold filed a federal civil rights suit in 2004, so it's up to the city to make a nice offer and make the whole thing go away. Right?

Wrong again. Here's what the city has done instead: It has gone out and hired a battery of law firms that have rung up legal bills that officials said totaled $250,000, but that Drumgold's appellate lawyer, Rosemary Scapicchio, estimated at closer to $1.5 million. In defending the city against Drumgold's suit, the city's lawyers are insisting that Drumgold was guilty of a crime that the district attorney himself won't touch. Very cute.

The city has deposed virtually everybody involved in the old case, packing conference rooms with high-priced private sector lawyers getting paid by you and me. It gets worse. The city is trying to depose Scapicchio on some seemingly Hail Mary argument that she personally persuaded witnesses to change their stories and is withholding documents. The obvious goal: Force her off the case and gut Drumgold's suit.

In the city's eyes, his conviction was everybody's fault but its own, never mind the fact that a few rogue cops paid off one witness and bullied others. No settlement offer has been made.

"I took Shawn's case on for nothing," Scapicchio said yesterday. "I worked on it forever. I thought what happened to him was outrageous. They're saying that I did something wrong, which is so incredibly obnoxious they shouldn't be able to get away with it. I didn't do anything but work as hard as I possibly could to get this guy out from a conviction of a crime I didn't think he did."

Drumgold's life is spiraling. He was laid off from his foreman's job with a construction company. He has a wife and a couple of children, and they've gone from a two-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom to a homeless shelter. He faced a recent drug charge.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino declined to comment, though his spokeswoman said he has asked his Law Department to "expedite" the case.

It's a little late for that. The city has dragged its feet. It rings up huge legal bills. And a man's life gets further trampled by the day.

Brian McGrory is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

War on Drugs

CNN’s Lou Dobbs is out to revitalize the war on drugs, claiming in a recent commentary that we’ve “been in retreat” for three decades, and promising ongoing coverage of “a war that is inflicting even greater casualties than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” on his show in the following week. Drug reporting often brings out the worst in the media – partial reporting, dodgy, context-free statistics, and moral posturing. So how did the “Dobberman” do?

Defending Justice Resource Kit

Great resource:

Another tragic death

Ash Street inmate dies

Standard-Times staff writer

April 18, 2007 6:00 AM

NEW BEDFORD - A woman held at the Ash Street Jail on a drug charge was found dead Monday morning, according to the Bristol County Sheriff's Department, which manages the facility.

Francelina Soares Furtado, 41, of New Bedford, was brought to Ash Street by New Beford police Saturday, at 10:30 p.m., on a charge of possession of a Class C substance, the Sheriff's Office said. She was held in lieu of $1,500 cash bail.

Bernard Sullivan, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Office, said workers at the jail found Ms. Furtado slumped in her cell Monday morning when they brought her a dose of the prescription medicine she was receiving.

She was found unresponsive at 9:11 a.m., with no signs of suicide or foul play.

Mr. Sullivan said jail staff administered CPR and called an ambulance. Ms. Furtado was taken to St. Luke's Hospital, where she was pronounced dead just after 9:30 a.m.

"As in any death of that sort, the District Attorney's Office is handling the investigation," Mr. Sullivan said.

A spokesperson for the DA said the state Medical Examiner's Office is performing an autopsy.

Psychological Torture

Prisoners subjected only to psychological torture report as much mental anguish as those who are beaten, according to new research.

Human Rights and the Drug War

Please see the news at "Human Rights and the Drug War"

5/1 Prison Suicides - State House Hearing

 Please come out to support real public safety
Guards and staff slipping prisoners razor blades? Taunting them to commit suicide? Parading "non-cooperative" individuals on suicide watch unclothed down the cell block? Placing vulnerable individuals in sensory deprivation, known to exacerbate reactions termed mental illness? Imposing sensory deprivation for helping a sick cell mate, filing a grievance, or exhibiting symptoms of "mental illness"?
All this and more is paid for by you, the taxpayer.

State House, Room B-1
Hearing on Prison Suicides
Tuesday, May 1st, 2007
1:00 p.m.
The Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse and the Joint Committee on Public Safety and Homeland Security will convene the hearing to "take a closer look at prison suicides and the prevalence of mental illness in our prison system."
The 29 recommendations of the Hayes report on suicide prevention focus on prohibiting DOC prisoners from committing suicide barely addressing the conditions which drive them and those in county custody to it. Those few focused on guards and staff in no way acknowledge the "culture of  viciousness" inside MA jails and prisons. In some measure sensible, the recommendations do not address the despair of benign and malicious neglect and abuse, including rape, and will allow the DOC and guards to control ever more of the dollars desperately needed for community services. The report ignores the need for public oversight to stop human rights abuse and hold the abusers accountable.
Join us so that everyone is represented at this hearing and not just the "experts" and insiders. Our loved ones have told us what needs to be done. We will carry their voices to the State House. Let's show our government that it must address the root causes of the deaths behind bars, not just the symptoms of a sick system.
For Justice,
Massachusetts Statewide Harm Reduction Coalition

Support HB1723 for a moratorium on jail and prison construction/expansion
Read the bill, sign the petition:

WE DEMAND:    QUALITY SCHOOLS--not jails.  HOUSING--not jails. JOBS--not jails.  HEALTH CARE--not jails.  MONEY FOR DRUG TREATMENT--not jails.  A LIVING WAGE--not jails.  AFFORDABLE HIGHER EDUCATION--not jails.  AN END TO CORI--not jails!

Stop Violence Against Indigenous Women

News Brief from
April 24, 2007

"Maze of Injustice: The Failure to Protect Indigenous Women from Sexual Violence in the USA": A Summary of Amnesty International's Findings

Sexual violence against Indigenous women in the USA is widespread -- and especially brutal.  According to US government statistics, Native American and Alaska Native women are more than 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than other women in the USA.  Some Indigenous women interviewed by Amnesty International said they didn't know anyone in their community who had not experienced sexual violence.  Though rape is always an act of violence, there is evidence that Indigenous women are more like than other women to suffer additional violence at the hands of their attackers.  According to the US Department of Justice, in at least 86 per cent of the reported cases of rape or sexual assault against American Indian and Alaska Native women, survivors report that the perpetrators are non-Native men.

Sexual violence against Indigenous women is the result of a number of factors including a history of widespread and egregious human rights violations against Indigenous peoples in the USA.  Indigenous women were raped by settlers and soldiers in many infamous episodes including during the Trail of Tears and the Long Walk.

Such attacks were not random or individual; they were tools of conquest and colonization.  The underlying attitudes towards Indigenous peoples that supported these human rights violations committed against them continue to be present in society and culture in the USA.  They contribute to the present high rates of sexual violence perpetrated against Indigenous women and help to shield their attackers from justice.

Treaties, the US Constitution and federal law affirm a unique political and legal relationship between federally recognized tribal nations and the federal government.  There are more than 550 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes in the USA. Federally recognized Indian tribes are sovereign under US law, with jurisdiction over their citizens and land and maintaining government to government relationships with each other and with the US federal government.  The federal government has a legal responsibility to ensure protection of the rights and wellbeing of Native American and Alaska Native peoples.  The federal government has a unique legal relationship to the tribal nations that includes a trust responsibility to assist tribal governments in safeguarding the lives of Indian women.

Tribal law enforcement agencies are chronically under-funded - federal and state governments provide significantly fewer resources for law enforcement on tribal land than are provided for comparable non-Native communities.  The lack of appropriate training in all police forces -- federal, state and tribal -- also undermines survivors' right to justice.  Many officers don't have the skills to ensure a full and accurate crime report.  Survivors of sexual violence are not guaranteed access to adequate and timely sexual assault forensic examinations which is caused in part by the federal government's severe under-funding of the Indian Health Service.

The Federal Government has also undermined the authority of tribal governments to respond to crimes committed on tribal land.  Women who come forward to report sexual violence are caught in a jurisdictional maze that federal, state and tribal police often cannot quickly sort out.  Three justice systems -- tribal, state and federal -- are potentially involved in responding to sexual violence against Indigenous women.  Three main factors determine which of these justice systems has authority to prosecute such crimes: - whether the victim is a member of a federally recognized tribe or not; - whether the accused is a member of a federally recognized tribe or not; and - whether the offence took place on tribal land or not.

The answers to these questions are often not self-evident and there can be significant delays while police, lawyers and courts establish who has jurisdiction over a particular crime.  The result can be such confusion and uncertainty that no one intervenes and survivors of sexual violence are denied access to justice.

Tribal prosecutors cannot prosecute crimes committed by non-Native perpetrators.  Tribal courts are also prohibited from passing custodial sentences that are in keeping with the seriousness of the crimes of rape or other forms of sexual violence.  The maximum prison sentence tribal courts can impose for crimes, including rape, is one year.  At the same time, the majority of rape cases on tribal lands that are referred to the federal courts are reportedly never brought to trial.

As a consequence Indigenous women are being denied justice. And the perpetrators are going unpunished.

In failing to protect Indigenous women from sexual violence, the USA is violating these women's human rights.  Indigenous women's organizations and tribal authorities have brought forward concrete proposals to help stop sexual violence against Indigenous women - but the federal government has failed to act.

Amnesty International is calling on the US government to take the first steps to end sexual violence against American Indian and Alaska Native women:
  • Work in collaboration with American Indian and Alaska Native women to obtain a clear and accurate understanding about the prevalence and nature of sexual violence against Indigenous women;
  • Ensure that American Indian and Alaska Native women have access to adequate and timely sexual assault forensic examinations without charge to the survivor;
  • Provide resources to Indian tribes for additional criminal justice and victim services to respond to crimes of sexual violence against Native American and Alaska Native women.


Click on "Stop Violence Against Women" and then scroll down to "Stop Violence Against Native American & Alaska Native Women in the US".

Chicopee Women's Jail Delay

CHICOPEE - The opening of the $26.1 million women's regional jail on Center Street, originally planned for this spring, will be delayed until late September.

Lethal injection is excruciating, study says

April 24, 2007

A new medical study alleging that lethal injection can cause slow, painful death was timely but possibly terrifying news for condemned killer James J. Filiaggi.

As Filiaggi, 41, awaited his execution last night in a cell yards away from the death chamber at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility near Lucasville, a medical review concluded that lethal injection could result in slow death, possibly by suffocation, while inmates are conscious but unable to move.

Barring last minute legal intervention, Filiaggi will be lethally injected at 10 a.m. today. He was convicted and sentenced to death for murdering his ex-wife, Lisa Huff Filiaggi, on Jan. 24, 1994. He chased her to a neighbor's house where he used 9 mm Luger pistol to fatally shoot her in the shoulder and head.

Gov. Ted Strickland, in what may have been Filiaggi's last chance to avoid execution, denied a reprieve last night. Filiaggi's attorneys asked for more time to pursue litigation challenging lethal injection.

He would become the first man executed in Ohio this year, as well as the first under Strickland's administration, and the 25th to die since Ohio resumed capital punishment in 1999. Strickland rejected clemency for Filiaggi last week, which was the unanimous recommendation of the Ohio
Parole Board.

The study was done by the Public Library of Science, an online medical journal. The organization includes heavy hitters from medicine and science, including Harold Varmus, a former director of the National Institutes of Health, a co-recipient of a Nobel prize, and president and chief executive officer of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

The team, which admitted its opposition to capital punishment, reviewed dozens of executions from North Carolina and California, plus others in Florida and Virginia. They considered the weight of prisoners, the amount of chemicals administered and the time it took them to die.

"The person would feel either asphyxiation or the burning sensation associated with the potassium, something like being put on fire," said Dr. Leonidas Koniaris, a surgeon at the University of Miami and co-author of the study.

"You wouldn't be able to use this protocol to kill a pig at the University of Miami" without more proof that it worked as intended, said Teresa Zimmers, a biologist and the study leader.

The major problem, the study concluded, was that all 37 states, including Ohio, that rely on lethal injection use the same doses of the deadly three-chemical cocktail for all prisoners, regardless of size and weight.

Filiaggi waived legal appeals to hasten his execution, but changed his mind late last week, touching off a furious 96-hour legal fight.

His attorneys fought and lost on several fronts yesterday.

First, the Ohio Supreme Court voted 5-2 against his request to stop the execution. The U.S. District Court later turned down Filiaggi's motion to be allowed to join other condemned men in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of lethal injection.

A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also turned down his appeal last night.

Jeff Gamso, Filiaggi's attorney, argued that lethal injection would, in effect, mean his client was "tortured to death."

State officials say the process is reliable and legal.

However, 11 of 37 states have either put lethal injection on hold or are studying its usage.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


News Release

U.S. Sentencing Commission
One Columbus Circle NE
Washington, DC 20002-8002

For Immediate Release
April 27, 2007

Contact: Michael Courlander
Public Affairs Officer
(202) 502-4597


WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 27, 2007) — The United States Sentencing Commission held its final public meetings for the 2006-2007 guideline amendment cycle, promulgating amendments to the federal sentencing guidelines today and on April 18, 2007, on several important issues. Among other actions, the Commission voted to promulgate and submit to Congress sentencing guideline amendments regarding offenses that include terrorism, sex offenses, and intellectual property offenses. It also took action to address sentencing disparities resulting from federal cocaine sentencing policies.

On April 18, 2007, the Commission voted to promulgate amendments that include –

- an amendment implementing provisions of the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act of 2005 and the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act of 2007. The amendment establishes new guideline penalties for offenses created by the PATRIOT Reauthorization Act relating to (1) narco-terrorism, (2) smuggling of munitions or military equipment without the required validated export license, (3) mining of U.S. navigable waters, and (4) destroying or tampering with aids to maritime navigation. The amendment also addresses a new offense created by the Homeland Security Act pertaining to the construction, financing, or use of tunnels that cross the borders of the United States.

- a multi-part amendment implementing the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006. The amendment establishes guideline penalties for failure to register as a sex offender and provides significant sentencing enhancements if a defendant commits certain offenses after failing to register. Further, the amendment creates another guideline provision that provides additional punishment for certain aggravated offenses related to the requirement to register as a sex offender. This additional penalty would run consecutive to any sentence imposed for the failure to register offense or any sentence imposed for an enumerated underlying offense. The amendment also implemented other provisions of the Adam Walsh Act that provided enhanced penalties for sexual offenses.

- a temporary, emergency amendment that implemented a directive in the Stop Counterfeiting in Manufactured Goods Act regarding criminal infringement of copyright or trademark. Specifically, the amendment addresses convictions under 18 U.S.C. § 2318 (trafficking in counterfeit labels) and 18 U.S.C. § 2320 (trafficking in counterfeit goods or services). These offenses involve trafficking in counterfeit labels that are not affixed to goods. The amendment provides for increased sentences based on the retail value of the genuine good that the counterfeit label would help imitate if the label's use would lead a reasonably informed purchaser to believe that the counterfeit good was an identifiable, genuine good. The amendment also provides increased sentences for cases involving use of a circumvention device under 7 U.S.C. §§ 1201 and 1204. Circumvention devices would include "mod" chips that allow game consoles to play pirated games. The amendment includes a specific sentencing enhancement for trafficking in such items.

- emergency and permanent amendments implementing a directive in the Telephone Records and Privacy Protection Act of 2006. This Act creates a new offense at 18 U.S.C. § 1039 making it a crime to knowingly and falsely obtain confidential telephone records. The Commission implemented the directive by incorporating this new offense into an existing guideline covering other private or protected information (§2H3.1).

- revisions to how a defendant's criminal history score is computed for certain minor offenses.

- guidance on motions by the Bureau of Prisons for reductions in sentence pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 3582(c)(1)(A).

At its April 18, 2007, public meeting, the Commission also announced its intention to form a standing victims advisory group to provide the Commission with input regarding federal crime victimization.

In addition to those earlier actions, the Commission unanimously announced today that it will submit to Congress on or before May 15, 2007, a report on federal cocaine sentencing policy. The report will set forth current data and information that continue to support the Commission's consistently held position that the 100-to-1 crack-powder drug quantity ratio significantly undermines various congressional objectives set forth in the Sentencing Reform Act and elsewhere. The Commission also will make recommendations to Congress in the report for modifications to the statutory penalties for crack cocaine offenses. At today's meeting, the Commission expressed its firm desire that this report will facilitate prompt congressional action addressing the 100-to-1 crack-powder drug quantity ratio.

The Commission also voted today to promulgate an amendment that modifies the penalties for crack cocaine offenses. The Commission described the problems associated with the 100-to-1 drug quantity ratio as so urgent and compelling that it promulgated the guideline amendment as a measure to alleviate some of those problems.

The statutory penalties for crack cocaine offenses require a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for a first-time trafficking offense involving 5 grams or more of crack cocaine, and a ten-year mandatory minimum penalty for a first-time trafficking offense involving 50 grams or more of crack cocaine. When Congress established these penalties in 1986, the Commission responded by incorporating the statutory mandatory minimum sentences into the guidelines to provide guideline sentencing ranges that are above the statutory mandatory minimum penalties. First-time offenses involving 5 grams or more of crack cocaine receive a sentencing guideline range of 63 to 78 months, and first-time offenses involving 50 grams or more of crack cocaine receive a sentencing guideline range of 121 to 151 months, before accounting for other relevant factors under the guidelines.

The Commission's amendment modifies the guideline drug quantity thresholds to provide guideline sentencing ranges that include the statutory mandatory minimum penalties for crack cocaine offenses. Accordingly, under the amendment, a first-time trafficking offense involving 5 grams of crack cocaine will receive a guideline sentencing range of 51 to 63 months, and a first-time trafficking offense involving 50 grams or more of crack cocaine will receive a guideline sentencing range of 97 to 121 months, before accounting for other relevant factors under the guidelines. Under the statutory mandatory minimum penalties, however, a five- and ten-year sentence will still be required, respectively. As a result, the Commission's amendment provides some relief to crack cocaine offenders impacted by the disparity created by federal cocaine sentencing policy.

The Commission emphasized and expressed its strong view that the amendment is only a partial solution to some of the problems associated with the 100-to-1 drug quantity ratio. Any comprehensive solution to the 100-to-1 drug quantity ratio would require appropriate legislative action by Congress.

The text of the Commission's amendments and its accompanying 2007 report to Congress, Cocaine and Federal Sentencing Policy, will be available in the coming weeks on the Commission's website,

The Commission was established by Congress in 1985 to develop national sentencing guidelines for the federal courts. Any amendments made by the Commission to the guidelines must be submitted to Congress on or before May 1 of each year and become effective on November 1 if not disapproved by Congress.

Hard time for state prisons

The following appeared on
Headline: Hard time for state prisons
Date: April 24, 2007

"OUTGOING Correction commissioner Kathleen Dennehy confronted a culture of secrecy, tolerance of inmate abuse, and rigidity when she took control of the state prison system in 2003 after the ouster of her predecessor by then-Governor Romney. But now it is the reform-minded Dennehy who is under a cloud, and who has been asked to leave her post by Governor Patrick, ..."