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Opening Statement
May 24, 2019
Edited by Andrew Cohen

Pick of the News

Bad apples: 85,000 cops investigated for misconduct in America. Judges, prosecutors, police officials, legislators, bureaucrats, union representatives and representatives of virtually every other constituency in the justice system have conspired to keep secret vital information about police misconduct. A year-long media investigation tries to cut through all the official secrecy. USA Today You can find the records here. USA Today TMP Context: The right to know when police misbehave. The Marshall Project

I taught myself to read in prison and then sued to vindicate my rights. Andre Jacobs now is serving out a federal sentence for assault following a stint in prison in Pennsylvania. He first went to prison at age 15, “lost and illiterate,” he says. He read the same book over and over again for nine months as he learned new words. Then he became a successful “jailhouse lawyer,” winning two separate civil jury trials and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Here is the latest in our “Life Inside” series. The Marshall Project

17 more charges, and now the Espionage Act, for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The New York Times A federal grand jury in Virginia Thursday returned a new indictment against Assange for his work with Chelsea Manning publishing classified information in 2010. HuffPost A prosecution by an administration hostile to the media raising free press issues. The Washington Post Related Analysis: What the Assange charges say, what they mean. EmptywheelMore: Read the indictment. U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia

Slavery by another name. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery except as a punishment for crimes, and in the 154 years since its ratification that loophole has been exploited by state officials in Florida. These days, about 3,500 prisoners in the state work, often in grueling conditions, without any of the labor protections afforded other employees. Corrections officials say the value of this prison labor is $147.5 million over the past five years. Florida Times-Union TMP Context: My life as a prison laborer. The Marshall Project

The many faces, and facets, of Kamala Harris, the prosecutor. She’s endorsed many justice reform policies in her run for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, but her long record as a prosecutor and attorney general in California leaves many longtime observers with doubts about the sincerity of her current views. Over and over again, they say, she missed opportunities to do right by those suffering from injustice out of political expediency. Others say her evolution is real. And sustainable. California Sunday Magazine

“The destruction of much of working-class America by opiates and opioids has happened silently.” A visit to Huntington, West Virginia, lays bare the damage wrought by a drug epidemic that was as predictable as it was preventable in Appalachia after the coal economy tanked. About 100,000 people used to live there. Now less than half do and about a quarter of those residents, about 12,000, have some sort of substance-abuse disorder. They are neologized now as “pillbillies” and many aren’t getting the help they need. Longreads

N/S/E/W

Florida executed serial killer Bobby Joe Long by lethal injection last night after the U.S. Supreme Court denied his final appeal request. The next execution is scheduled in six days in Alabama. The Marshall Project

John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban, walked free from a federal prison in Indiana Thursday after 17 years of confinement. CNN Related: An early symbol in the war on terror and now a 38-year-old ex-offender who’ll go forward with sweeping restrictions on what he can do and where he can go. The New York Times More: What if his case had gone to trial in 2002 instead of ending in a plea bargain? Slate

In Texas and at least six other states, women have had to sue police departments recently to force officers to improve the way they handle sexual assault investigations. The New York Times Related: Harvey Weinstein reaches preliminary $44 million civil settlement with his accusers and creditors. Los Angeles Times

A federal judge in Arizona has received hundreds of letters from prisoners describing the poor health care and treatment they continue to receive from Corizon Health, the private contractor under fire for poor practices. Arizona Republic Related: Meet Gabriela Contreras, a whistleblower within the corrections department, who rose above the intimidation and threats of retaliation to speak out about the deplorable conditions she saw. KJZZ

It’s taken four years for a police brutality case in Honolulu, Hawaii, to get to trial. A civil lawsuit alleges police are responsible. They say the victim died because he was high on drugs and had preexisting medical problems. Honolulu Civil Beat

Prosecutors in Washington successfully lobbied to reduce the scope of sentencing reform legislation designed to blunt the force of the state’s three-strikes law. Associated Press

Commentary

My rapist apologized. I still needed an abortion. By Michelle Alexander. The New York Times

War crimes, pardons and the attorney general. William Barr has an obligation to talk the president out of his reported plan to pardon war criminals. But will Trump even seek out his advice? Lawfare Related: More senior military officials are speaking out against the White House’s purported plans. Los Angeles Times Finally: The links between Trump and Eddie Gallagher’s defense team. Task and Purpose

If marijuana is legal, then Michael Thompson shouldn’t be in prison. He was sent there 25 years ago for selling three pounds of pot to a police informant while having a record and owning a gun in Michigan, a state that legalized marijuana in 2018. The Intercept Related: How Joe Biden’s drug policies affected the opioid crisis. Politico

Parsing perjury in the age of Trump. A “literally true” statement can also be false and a crime. Just Security Related: Federal prosecutors Thursday charged Stephen Calk, a bank executive and former Trump campaign advisor, with trying to bribe Paul Manafort in an effort to gain a top spot in the administration. The Washington Post

The battle over life without parole in Massachusetts is a fight worth having. Studies show it has no more deterrent effect than capital punishment. digboston TMP Context: Life after life without parole. The Marshall Project

New mayor. Old problem. The challenge for Lori Lightfoot in Chicago is to get people who aren’t suffering from gun violence in the city to care more about those who are. Chicago Tribune

Etc.

Lawsuit of the Day: The National Rifle Association sued its most prominent contractor this week, alleging that the advertising firm Ackerman McQueen breached a contract by undertaking a “campaign to tarnish and ultimately destroy” the reputation of the NRA and its executives. The New York Times

Speech of the Day: Delivered earlier this week by Attorney General William Barr, in which he railed against nationwide injunctions and extolled the virtues of limited judicial authority to check executive and legislative power. Justice Department

Future Jurors of the Day: The next battlefield for those fighting against the effects of felony disenfranchisement may be the push to make ex-offenders eligible for jury duty. Mother Jones

First Responders of the Day: The 911 operators who took calls from students one year ago during an attempted mass shooting at the middle school in Indiana still are reckoning with what they heard. Indianapolis Star

Censorship of the Day: Corrections officials in Arizona have banned from their prisons the book “Chokehold: Policing Black Men,” by Paul Butler. He and the ACLU say they’ll sue if the censorship is not reversed. The New York Times TMP Context: Do you have what it takes to be a prison censor? The Marshall Project

Dogs of the Day: A case about the Fourth Amendment and drug-sniffing dogs in Colorado raises questions about the state’s marijuana legalization regime. Colorado Sun

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