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Obama Loses Key Immigration Case, Decision May Be A Year Away

A series of setbacks and delays in the key legal challenge to President Obama’s executive actions on immigration could irreparably damage his legacy on the issue, even if the Supreme Court ultimately upholds his authority to act, Politico reports. In the latest blow, an appeals court panel in New Orleans voted, 2-1, to deny the administration’s request to proceed with Obama’s plan to grant quasi-legal status and work permits to millions more illegal immigrants while litigation over those actions plays out.

Two and a half months after the Justice Department sought an emergency stay of a judge’s order blocking Obama’s moves, the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals turned down the request. If the administration can’t get the Supreme Court to lift the injunction or chooses not to try, Obama could find his long-promised immigration actions on hold until the high court rules definitively, which likely wouldn’t happen until next June. By then, the presidential campaign will be in full swing and Obama’s term will be winding down, prompting some immigrants to consider holding off applying until the dust clears.

 

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States Trying To Cope With Increasing Elder Abuse Problems

Victims of elder abuse tend to be socially isolated, physically weakened and struggling to maintain their independence. They are reliant on family, friends or caregivers who violate their trust. Because elder abuse is underreported, no one knows is how big the problem really is, reports Stateline. There are no official national statistics on how many older people are mistreated physically, emotionally or financially. Definitions and methods of addressing the issue differ state to state, and even county to county. Nor is there a dedicated stream of federal dollars for Adult Protective Services (APS) agencies that states rely on to combat elder abuse. Each state has cobbled together its own funding and bureaucracy. 

There is little doubt the problem is growing, driven by the tremendous growth in the elderly population. Some states are training police and financial professionals to recognize and report elder abuse, and creating special teams of police, social workers and geriatric experts to investigate it. Cities, states and nonprofits are creating shelter housing for abuse victims. “People need to understand what a huge, expensive and lethal problem elder abuse is,” said Kathleen Quinn of the National Adult Protective Services Association. Some researchers estimate that one in 10 people over 60 is abused. That does not include financial exploitation, which costs victims $2.9 billion a year, says MetLife. “If we had a disease that affected 10 percent of the population, I think we’d look closely at it,” Quinn said.

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Drugs Pervade Missouri Prison System, Suggesting Treatment Is Ineffective

In Missouri’s prison system, the cat-and-mouse game of illicit drugs pits 32,000 inmates and thousands more on probation and parole against 11,000 corrrections employees. It’s a game that Missouri’s largest agency often loses, says the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Narcotics violations accounted for about a fifth of 5,065 reports of illegal activity in the state’s prison system from 2011 to mid-2014. All told, the corrections department’s office of Inspector General recorded 980 such incidents during that period, ranking it as the second most common violation behind assault of an inmate by an inmate.

George Lombardi, the veteran leader of Missouri’s prison system, says that hardly a week goes by when a visitor doesn’t get caught attempting to bring drugs into a prison during visits. “It still happens so frequently that you would think people would learn over a period of time that we are going to bust you, we are going to arrest you,” he said. “But it still happens. It just amazes me.” Experts say the prevalence of drugs in prison signals that drug treatment efforts inside and outside of prisons are ineffective, which undermines the integrity of the whole system. Nearly half of Missouri’s first-time drug offender population is back in prison within three years of release.

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Federal Indictment Charges $150 Million In Bribes, Kickbacks At Soccer Group

Law enforcement officials threw some serious red cards at the world soccer organization, charging nine FIFA executives and five corporate executives with conspiracy and corruption, McClatchy Newspapers reports. A stunning 47-count federal indictment unsealed today charged the defendants with racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering, among other offenses, in connection with what the Justice Department called a “24-year scheme.” Defendants include high-ranking officials of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the organization that regulates and promotes soccer worldwide, as well as leading officials of other soccer governing bodies.

“The indictment alleges corruption that is rampant, systemic, and deep-rooted both abroad and here in the United States,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. “It spans at least two generations of soccer officials who, as alleged, have abused their positions of trust to acquire millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks.” The soccer officials are charged with conspiring to solicit and receive well over $150 million in bribes and kickbacks in exchange for their official support of the sports marketing executives who agreed to make the unlawful payments.

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Rising Criminal Justice Fees Impede Ex-Inmate Reentry, Brennan Center Says

U.S. criminal justice costs, mostly policing, jails, prisons, and courts, jumped from $35 billion in 1982 to more than $265 billion in 2012, a growth of over 650 percent, says a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice. Those caught in the system are being hit with additional fees, many of which are charged simply for being in the criminal justice system, the center says. Forty-three states and the District of Columbia allow fees to be charged for using a public defender, and 44 states charge individuals for using probation services.

As more jurisdictions face strapped budgets, private probation companies have profited from requiring probationers to pay out of their own pockets for drug treatment, electronic monitoring, and myriad other services they are required to participate in as a condition of their supervision. Probation fees typically run about $80 to $100 a month. More costly fees compound the problem. For example, a monthly electronic monitoring system can cost as much as $300 a month. A defendant can emerge from the system owing thousands of dollars in fees. The center says that some people leave jails and prisons "with a mountain of debt, much of it stemming from the fees they incurred behind bars, where a short telephone call home can cost as much as $20. This debt can create a barrier to successful reentry, the report says.

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Outraged Oakland Protesters Targeting Police, Mayor Over "Curfew"

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf’s response to the rampaging protesters who destroyed dozens of new cars for sale and broke merchants’ windows this month has been to prohibit marching in the street after dark without a permit. Since Thursday night, when the crackdown began, crowds of 100 to 200 people have gathered on three nights to defy the new approach and protest in the streets, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Protesters have asked for no permits, which take 30 days to issue and cost $300 each.

Police used tear gas to try to enforce what is arguably the most hard-lined interpretation of the city’s crowd-control regulations since 2011, when police clashed with hundreds of Occupy protesters while former Mayor Jean Quan was out of town. “We used to essentially provide police escorts for them,” Schaaf said of past nighttime protests. Now, she said, police officers are assessing the size and demeanor of each crowd, attempting to contain traffic and prevent chaos, while facilitating activism that seems “reasonable.” Outraged protesters have turned Schaaf and Oakland police into their targets, calling the mayor’s crackdown a curfew. A small but vocal subset has begun referring to its protest movement in profanity-laced, antipolice terms.

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Expert Says Baltimore Police Union Contract Impedes Misconduct Cases

The contract between Baltimore and the Fraternal Order of Police contains impediments to accountability, says a report by criminologist Samuel Walker of University of Nebraska at Omaha quoted by the Baltimore Sun. Walker said "offensive provisions" in the contract, a three-year pact expiring next year, violate "best practices" across the U.S. and should be revised to boost professionalism in the police department. "In Baltimore, and in other cities and counties ... police union contracts contain provisions that impede the effective investigation of reported misconduct and shield officers who are in fact guilty of misconduct from meaningful discipline," Walker wrote. The report comes as tension swirls around the Police Department after Freddie Gray's death. Six officers have been charged in Gray's death from spinal injuries sustained in police custody. The U.S. Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into his death, as well as a broader probe of alleged misconduct in the department.

Walker cited items including the "do not call list," the expungement of internal records and the makeup of hearing boards. The contract says that officers cannot be disciplined if prosecutors place them on the "do not call list," a list of officers who are not called to testify due to credibility issues. Del. John Cluster, a Baltimore County Republican and retired county police officer, said that when officers are placed on the list, supervisors typically put them in jobs where they won't be required to testify in court. "They're basically being taken off the streets," he said. "They're not given the premiere jobs in the department anymore, which is the right thing to do. So in essence, they are being disciplined."

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TCR at a Glance

When Justice Wasn’t Blind

q & a May 25, 2015

A unique encyclopedia documents the painful and often tragic history of African Americans and the law since the colonial era.

Study: Rape on Campus an 'Epidemic'

new & notable May 22, 2015

A study in the Journal of Adolescent Health finds rampant instances of both incapacitated and forcible rape on campus