Monday, December 17, 2018

Today All Political Factions May Lurch US Justice One Big Step Toward Successful Italian Model

Posted by Peter Quennell

Culinary school inside a modern Italian prison


Justice reform was a popular issue in the national elections last month. Vox’s German Lopez describes the first step the US Senate will vote on today.

Who Is Affected

The bill, known as the First Step Act, would take modest steps to reform the criminal justice system and ease very punitive prison sentences at the federal level. It would affect only the federal system “” which, with about 181,000 imprisoned people, holds a small but significant fraction of the US jail and prison population of 2.1 million.

What Is In First Step

(1) The bill would make retroactive the reforms enacted by the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which reduced the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences at the federal level. This could affect nearly 2,600 federal inmates, according to the Marshall Project.

(2) The bill would take several steps to ease mandatory minimum sentences under federal law. It would expand the “safety valve” that judges can use to avoid handing down mandatory minimum sentences. It would ease a “three strikes” rule so people with three or more convictions, including for drug offenses, automatically get 25 years instead of life, among other changes. It would restrict the current practice of stacking gun charges against drug offenders to add possibly decades to prison sentences. All of these changes would lead to shorter prison sentences in the future.

(3) The bill would increase “good time credits” that inmates can earn. Inmates who avoid a disciplinary record can currently get credits of up to 47 days per year incarcerated. The bill increases the cap to 54, allowing well-behaved inmates to cut their prison sentence by an additional week for each year they’re incarcerated. The change applies retroactively, which could allow some prisoners “” as many as 4,000 “” to qualify for release the day that the bill goes into effect.

(4) The bill would allow inmates to get “earned time credits” by participating in more vocational and rehabilitative programs. Those credits would allow them to be released early to halfway houses or home confinement. Not only could this mitigate prison overcrowding, but the hope is that the education programs will reduce the likelihood that an inmate will commit another crime once released and, as a result, reduce both crime and incarceration in the long term. (There’s research showing that education programs do reduce recidivism.)

Comparison With Italy

On measures (1) and (2) Italy (which does not have the US’s gun problem or rate of murders) would remain far down the road with its short prison terms and small numbers locked up..

But measures (3) and (4) definitely represent convergence on rehabilitation being more useful (and cheaper) for society than grindingly extensive punitive stays.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/17/18 at 07:51 PM in

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“My Brilliant Friend” episodes 1 to 8 have come and gone on HBO channels in the US and so we have only another 24 episodes to go!

This was our heads-up note.

Headsup: The first 8 episodes of the RAI/HBO production “My Brilliant Friend” about a supreme alpha-girl and her “moon” of a best friend airing in 60-plus countries are proving amazingly endearing. So many colorful elements of evolving post WWII Italy on display. Yes, some violence too, but peanuts compared to say New York in that era. A real must-see.

Several baroque European cities each of which once had great wealth have also long had reputations for being pretty tough - Hamburg, Glasgow, Marseilles, Naples.

All are to some extent wussified these days (NYC too).

Now the placing of this unflinching series in Naples, when it really was one tough city in which two girls persevere in a gripping two-steps-forward, one-back sort of way, is working wonders for the tourism there.

And for the past several years girls and women as leads in movies and on TV have already had it won. Look at the trends here.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/17/18 at 08:29 PM | #

So the Criminal Justice Bill made it handily through a first round of voting on Monday.

Now Senators’ amendments - some to take it further, some to attach poison pills - are being taken up. Final vote could be 80-20 by Friday.

It’s said that many who support it are family of those previously impacted.  One who brokered it hard is Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner.

When his father fell out with his uncle, New Jersey Attorney General at the time Chris Christie inserted himself, and put Kushner’s father away for a while.

Many of all stripes thought this and other Christie prosecutions ungrounded and political.

Christie did go on to be NJ governor, but he left office wildly unpopular, was snubbed by Trump (said to be channeling Kushner), and now sees this “anti Christie” bill advancing!

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/18/18 at 04:40 PM | #

Well that was fast! And decisive.

The US justice reform bill, the first to make it this far in eight years, was passed on Tuesday by the Senate, 87 votes to 12 votes.

A similar House of Representatives version may be passed soon by a similar margin and then the 2 bills will be conciliated.

There is big news on justice reform from Italy also, to be posted on when we are told about all implications. It would have affected RS and AK prospects for the worse as it came down heavily against defenses trying to run out the clock and turning appeals into new trials.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/19/18 at 05:19 PM | #

Great news. So much reform is needed. This bill is a wonderful common sense improvement for justice.

Heaven knows TJMK has fought for justice. Almost 11 years now, TJMK has dug deep, drilling down into the Meredith Kercher case. The facts are here to help in the future.

The ‘good time credits’ for inmates is a real encouragement in this justice reform bill as First Steps to improve an unwieldy system.

As Christmas is just around the corner I’m distracted by local mall and last minute shopping. Ho Ho Ho may your holidays be bright…big or small, joy to all. Or have a Grumpy Cat Christmas, it’s no federal crime to have one of those. Grumpy says: “Bah, humbug doesn’t come close to covering it.” and “Everything glitter touches…I hate.” ha ha ha! Sometimes less is more.

Posted by Hopeful on 12/20/18 at 01:20 AM | #

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