Opening Statement
May 31, 2018
Edited by Andrew Cohen
Opening Statement is our pick of the day’s criminal justice news. Not a subscriber? Sign up. For original reporting from The Marshall Project, visit our website.

Pick of the News

Questioning co-pays in prison. The federal Bureau of Prisons and 42 states charge inmates some sort of co-pay for health care. The idea is to try to deter prisoners from making unnecessary medical visits. The costs of those visits, while small in dollar amounts, are relatively enormous for inmates who may earn only a few dollars a week working behind bars. Now some states, like Illinois, are moving to eliminate the fee — to save long-term health care costs. TMP’s Beth Schwartzapfel has our story. The Marshall Project

What the House does through that legislation is about the equivalent of a spit in the ocean compared to what the problem is of too much imprisonment.” Sen. Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican and Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, says he will continue to push for bipartisan sentencing reform amid White House pressure to endorse the narrower prison legislation passed in the House earlier this month. There’s also competing legislation touted by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). The Hill TMP Context: Is the “First Step Act” real prison reform? The Marshall Project

What Trump’s “zero tolerance” border policy looks like inside an immigration “court” in Texas. Mass trials lasting just a few minutes. Virtually no due process rights or legal representation. A presumption of guilt. Parents separated from their children. Overworked judges who cannot handle the crush of defendants. What’s happening now in places like Brownsville, Texas, under the direction of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is an order of magnitude more severe than what happened under Presidents Bush or Obama. The Intercept TMP Context: Lost in court. The Marshall Project

“Strippers rights are human rights.” First came a dubious newspaper series purporting to reveal human trafficking problems in exotic dance clubs in New Orleans. Next came the police raids that shut down those clubs, humiliated the dancers inside, and precluded hundreds of them from earning a legal living. What came next was relatively new, and surprising: the women fought back, peacefully and powerfully protesting against a law enforcement culture that has alternated for generations between tolerance and crackdowns. The Appeal

The “Columbiners.” Twenty years after the Columbine High School massacre, gun violence experts say there’s something about that shooting in particular that has inspired imitation ever since. Fueled by teenage alienation, young shooters are competing with one another to amass body counts in what some investigators say is an American version of the suicide bombing attack. The New York Times Related: How Columbine spawned one copycat after another. Mother Jones


After the botched execution of Doyle Hamm earlier this year a federal judge in Alabama Thursday ordered state corrections officials to make public a redacted version of their lethal injection protocols. Associated Press Related: Transparency efforts won a round in California, too, where a judge allowed a challenge to execution protocols to proceed. ACLU/Northern California

The homicide rate is up sharply in Washington, D.C. Some neighborhoods have been hit particularly hard and officials there are gearing up for a long, hot summer. The Washington Post

Even as Iowa taxpayers pay settlements to the families of children locked away in isolated detention, state corrections officials continue the practice of using solitary confinement on teenagers. The Des Moines Register

Meet Warner Frey, the ex-NYPD commander who has exposed details of New York’s corrupt police discipline process. New York Daily News

In Texas, the drive to defund overzealous multi-county drug task forces was a precursor to the state’s broader reform efforts. Grits for Breakfast

In California and elsewhere ex-offenders are returning to their communities aging, ill and without health insurance. Here’s a look at earnest efforts to help them. The New York Times


American Paralysis. On guns, writes Montana’s governor, we are as paralyzed as we were a quarter of a century ago when his nephew was shot to death. USA Today Related: How the NRA transformed itself from a sportsman’s club to a lobbying giant. The Washington Post More: To no one’s surprise Texas plans no significant changes to its gun laws in the wake of the Santa Fe shooting. The New York Times

Police officers don’t need special hate crime protections. The shameless election-year pander is unconstitutional, for starters. The American Conservative

Larry Nassar’s other terrible legacy. The anger over revelations of his crimes against gymnasts is fueling another wave of bad sex assault legislation. The Appeal

The arc of history bends toward Colin Kaepernick. On the irony of a presidential pardon for Jack Johnson and scorn for football players who take a knee to protest police brutality. Politico More: Taking a knee is a protest steeped in religion. The Washington Post Related: Did someone mention accountability for police misconduct? The Advocate

#MeToo and the Military. The Uniform Code of Military Justice is particularly ill-suited to ensure accountability for sexual assault offenders in our armed forces. Pacific Standard

Abolition of federal parole was a terrible mistake. Witness the injustice of the Matthew Charles case in Tennessee. Sentencing Law and Policy


Summit Meeting of the Day: Reality television star Kim Kardashian visited the White House Wednesday to advocate on behalf of a 63-year-old grandmother serving a federal life sentence without parole for a drug crime. Bloomberg More: Kardashian posed for a photo with another reality television star. Twitter Related: Alice Johnson’s story. Raw Story

History of the Day: We all know about Johnny Cash’s Folsom prison shows. We forget how deeply he otherwise was committed to prison reform. The Washington Post

Question of the Day: How did a convicted neo-Nazi release a propaganda video from federal prison? Rolling Stone

Bad Idea of the Day: Staffing polling places with ICE agents isn’t just impractical it’s a waste of time given how rare in-person voter fraud is. The Washington Post

Counterattack of the Day: In Charlottesville and beyond, white nationalists are on the defensive in court after a series of civil lawsuits are filed against them. The Guardian

Scholarship of the Day: The Supreme Court’s recent decision favoring a Louisiana death row defendant whose lawyer entered a guilty plea over his client’s objections means new challenges for attorneys and new risks for the mentally ill. George Washington Law Review

Want less email? Update your preferences.

This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
The Marshall Project · 156 West 56th Street · Suite 701 · New York, NY 10019 · USA