Some jail wardens complain that their facilities have become little more than makeshift mental asylums, and that they lack the money and expertise needed to handle problems, says the New York Times. “It’s a national disgrace how we deal with this,” says Cook County, Il. Sheriff Thomas Dart, who appointed psychologist Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia to run the Cook County Jail and who refers to the facility notorious for its history of violence and overcrowding, as the nation's largest mental institution in the country. He said that as many as one-third of the jail’s 8,600 inmates were mentally ill. Three large jails — Rikers Island in New York City, the county jail in Los Angeles and Cook County in Chicago — are operating under federal oversight, in part because of mistreating the mentally ill.
Cook County has become a model of sorts for other troubled institutions in how to deal with the mentally ill, and it recently hosted delegations from Rikers Island and Los Angeles County. Before becoming warden, Dr. Jones Tapia oversaw health care at the jail, and under her guidance, Cook County began offering services that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. All new inmates now see a clinician who collects a mental health history to ensure that anyone who is mentally ill is properly diagnosed and receives medication. The jail forwards that information to judges in time for arraignments in the hope of convincing them that in certain cases, mental health care may be more appropriate than jail. "We’ve started to focus on the entirety of the system, from the point of arrest through discharge, and really forcing the whole system to take a look at the people that we’re incarcerating,” Dr. Jones Tapia said.
Texas has counted 140 people who have killed themselves in the state's 240 county jails since September 2009, says the...
Nearly a year after U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, a Philadelphia Democrat, was ominously described as "Elected Official A" in a former aide's plea deal, federal prosecutors announced a sweeping indictment against the 11-term congressman and four associates, the Philadelphia Daily News reports. The bombshell 85-page indictment doesn't charge Fattah with committing a mere crime or two, but rather with leading an entire criminal "enterprise" aimed at furthering his political and financial objectives and those of his co-conspirators. Among the charges: Racketeering, wire fraud, conspiracy, mail fraud, money laundering, falsification of records, honest-services fraud, bank fraud, and bribery.
"The public expects their elected officials to act with honesty and integrity," said U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger. "The public does not expect their elected officials to misuse campaign funds, misappropriate government funds, accept bribes or commit bank fraud. These types of criminal acts betray the public trust and undermine faith in government." The 29-count indictment alleges that Fattah and four others participated in a racketeering conspiracy, largely stemming from his failed 2007 Philadelphia mayoral bid. The indictment consists essentially of five alleged schemes. Fattah stepped down from his position as top Democrat on the House Appropriations panel that oversees the Justice Department budget, and said he was "confident that I will be cleared of these charges."
A University of Cincinnati police officer is in jail on a murder charge after his own body camera video showed him...
The Waller County, Tx., Jail failed to complete a two-part mental health screening process required by state law during Sandra Bland's booking process, according to the state jail commission and at a public policy group, the Texas Tribune reports. At a minimum, the 28-year-old who was found hanged on July 13 should have received a court-ordered mental health exam once she indicated she had tried to commit suicide in the past, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards said yesterday. "The commission believes that at the very least, given what was on the screening form, the magistrate should have been notified," said Diana Spiller, a research analyst with the agency that oversees county jails in Texas. A standard background check of state records for a history of mental health issues also failed in the Bland case. Although that process might not have yielded information about Bland, its failure concerns state officials who are trying to determine what happened.
Capt. Brian Cantrell of the Waller County Sheriff's Office said Bland was asked about her mental health two different times during her booking and she answered two different ways. Once she answered "yes" when asked about depression and attempted suicide, the jail should have notified a magistrate of the possible mental health issue under state law. The magistrate would then order a mental health professional to perform a more thorough exam. That did not occur. The second check is done by computer. Along with checking an inmate's past criminal history, Texas jailers perform a Continuity of Care Query, or CCQ, by searching the state's health department databases to determine if an inmate has received any Texas mental health services. "These are the things that are supposed to happen each and every time," said Katharine Ligon of the Center for Public Policy Priorities.
Top lawmakers are putting the Tennessee Department of Correction under greater scrutiny because of an escape yesterday from the same prison where eight inmates were hospitalized last week after multiple stabbings, The Tennessean reports. Speaker Beth Harwell called the incidents "concerning." House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh said without changes to how correctional officers are scheduled and paid, the issues plaguing Tennessee prisons won't improve. The incidents occurred amid a severe manpower shortage after the state switched correctional officers from a traditional 40-hour workweek to save overtime costs.
The incidents "are just the beginning of the problems we're going to see if we don't do something about the staffing situation at our prisons. People's lives are in danger," Fitzhugh said. "Until we reverse this terrible 28-day schedule and do something about wages, we're going to continue to lose guards and end up with our prisons back under federal control." Yesterday an inmate walked away while on a work detail outside of the prison. He was captured last night. Last Friday, three inmates were stabbed at one prison and an additional eight were injured in multiple stabbings at another. There have been reports of correctional officers, tired after working 16 hours straight, getting into auto accidents.
Ferguson is preparing for the national spotlight to return on the August 9 anniversary of Michael Brown's death and the unrest that followed, reports KSDK-TV in St. Louis. Many of the city leaders who guide Ferguson through the one year anniversary are new to their roles. "We feel like we're being very well prepared. It was very good to get the staff fully up to speed," said city manager Ed Beasley. Ferguson's newly named interim police chief Andre Anderson, told the City Council, he has a community policing strategy.
"I've asked the police department to adopt four things as we start: We want to embrace professionalism, we want to embrace respect, we want to embrace community engagement and we want to make the community safer," Anderson said. The city plans a job fair for the anniversary weekend, including a jobs fair and have conducted a road cleanup. At the anniversary, Beasley vows to make sure people "have the right to exercise their civil rights the proper way."
Emergency call operators – 911 dispatchers – are trained differently depending on where they work, but telling a caller to “deal with it yourself” and hanging up on her is not generally accepted protocol, says the Christian Science Monitor. So when 17-year-old Esperanza Quintero called 911 after her friend Jaydon Chavez-Silver, also 17, was shot at a party and got the "deal with it" response from an Albuquerque, N.M. Fire Department dispatcher, she was confused and upset. Quintero said she wished dispatcher Matthew Sanchez had stayed on the line to help calm her down as she waited for emergency services to arrive, rather than hanging up when she got frustrated and used an expletive.
New Mexico 911 dispatchers are required to take a 132-hour certification course through the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy. The course includes training in “rules for crisis listening” and ways dispatchers can manage their own stress in emergency situations. Trainees must also complete eight hours of simulated 911 call scenarios “while maintaining appropriate documentation and professionalism.” Sanchez was reassigned when officials learned of the call, and he resigned Tuesday, the Associated Press reports. On the recording of the call, obtained by AP, after Sanchez asks Quintero for the second time if Chavez-Silver is breathing, Quintero says, "He is barely breathing, how many times do I have to (expletive) tell you?" Sanchez responds, "OK, you know what ma'am? You can deal with it yourself. I am not going to deal with this, OK?"
After the Newtown school shooting, the National Rifle Association proposed putting more guns in schools. After a racist...
Waller County, Tx., officials released the full video of Sandra Bland's three days in jail before she was found hanging in her cell, and confirmed that the 28-year-old was not receiving medication to treat her epilepsy. "We're doing this because we've received death threats," said Capt. Brian Cantrell of the Waller County Sheriff's Office, reports the Houston Chronicle. County Judge Trey Duhon (an elected, not judicial official) hoped the release would refute conspiracy theories and misinformation being spread on Twitter. Some conspiracy theories shared on the social networking site include allegations that Bland was dead when she arrived at the jail and her booking photo actually shows her corpse. "Social media cannot be relied upon," said Duhon, who shut down his public Facebook page because of threats and to prevent it from becoming a forum for misinformation and vulgarities.
The new video footage might confirm official reports that Bland changed her responses when answering questions during a second intake interview, show how often jailers check on her face-to-face and could include parts of some phone calls she made to friends or family. Officials said it will include her booking into the jail and any medication requests. International scrutiny has fallen on Waller County, 30 miles northwest of Houston, after state Trooper Brian Encinia, 30, pulled over Bland on July 10 for failing to signal a lane change. A dash cam video of the arrest shows the routine stop spiral out of control when Bland refuses the trooper's order to put out her cigarette, leading Encinia to pull out his taser and threaten to "light (her) up." Bland was arrested for assaulting an officer and found dead in her cell three days later.