Write an Op-Ed for PfCJR for Our March Newsletter

Write an Op-Ed

THE TOPIC

Attorney General William P. Barr has supported an expansion of mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes involving fentanyl analogues that some have dubbed “The “New War on Drugs.”

THE QUESTION

Should the US government expand minimum sentencing penalties on fentanyl analogues? Would it actually help reduce illicit drug use? What inadvertent effects might it have on marginalized communities?

OP-ED CRITERIA

  • Respond to this month’s prompt
  • Writer must be a paid member of PfCJR
  • Remain under 750 words
  • Share your perspective on the topic
  • Due by March 15, 2020

Submit Piece

        » Send here

Background

NANCY GERTNER: William Barr’s New War on Drugs

The Washington Post: Attorney General William P. Barr’s support for an expansion of mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug crimes involving fentanyl analogues should come as no surprise given his long record of hawking incarceration as a solution to our drug crisis. We have seen this movie before; it does not end well.

READ MORE >

SADIE GURMAN: Will William Barr Revive the 1990s Tough-on-Crime Approach?

The Wall Street Journal: William Barr’s vision of law and order was forged at the height of the 1990s crack epidemic, when the DC consensus was that long mandatory sentencing was the best way to fight crime. Since then, bipartisan support has shifted toward more lenient punishments and alternatives. Mr. Barr is signaling that the views defining his first stint in the role may be changing.

READ MORE >

Not sure how to write an op-ed?

Check out this op-ed training webinar! It provides tips for writing effective and engaging op-eds, specifically with regard to health care and physicians issues.

This webinar was co-hosted by one of our partners, Doctors For America, and Families USA.

Click here to watch the webinar.

Have any other questions? Reach us at our social media or the email contact listed below.

Write an Op-Ed for PfCJR for Our February Newsletter

Write an Op-Ed

THE TOPIC

The Second Look Amendment Act: a proposed bill which expands eligibility for sentence review to all those who committed crimes before age 25 and have served at least 15 years in prison.

THE QUESTION

Would the Second Look Amendment Act help or harm the criminal justice system? If passed, what effects would the bill have on public health and juvenile justice?

OP-ED CRITERIA

  • Writer must be a paid member of PfCJR
  • Remain under 750 words
  • Answer this month’s question
  • Share your perspective on the topic
  • Due by February 28, 2020

Submit Piece

        » Send here

Background

JAMES FORMAN JR: Justice Sometimes Needs A Do-Over

The Washington Post: Forman Jr. argues that the Second Look Amendment Act “offers a promising corrective to the harsh — and ineffective — practices once commonplace in courthouses across America. The bill gives the D.C. Council a chance to restore a measure of fairness to a criminal system often lacking it. If the council is willing to embrace reason over fearmongering, I am confident the Second Look Amendment Act will be recognized as another proud accomplishment.”

READ MORE >

THE POST: D.C. Has Gone Too Far on Justice Reforms

The Washington Post: The Post argues that the Second Look Act would be harmful to the criminal justice system. “Out the window would go transparency and truth in sentencing — the assurance to victims and the community that punishment is what it appears to be. By discouraging judges from considering the original crime when they weigh reducing sentences, the council is putting the public at increased risk, unnecessarily.”

READ MORE >

Not sure how to write an op-ed?

Check out this op-ed training webinar! It provides tips for writing effective and engaging op-eds, specifically with regard to health care and physicians issues.

This webinar was co-hosted by one of our partners, Doctors For America, and Families USA.

Click here to watch the webinar.

Have any other questions? Reach us at our social media or the email contact listed below.

Write an Op-Ed for PfCJR for Our February Newsletter

Write an Op-Ed

THE TOPIC

The Second Look Amendment Act: a proposed bill which expands eligibility for sentence review to all those who committed crimes before age 25 and have served at least 15 years in prison.

THE QUESTION

Would the Second Look Amendment Act help or harm the criminal justice system? If passed, what effects would the bill have on public health and juvenile justice?

OP-ED CRITERIA

  • Writer must be a paid member of PfCJR
  • Remain under 750 words
  • Answer this month’s question
  • Share your perspective on the topic
  • Due by January 19, 2020

Submit Piece

        » Send here

Background

JAMES FORMAN JR: Justice Sometimes Needs A Do-Over

The Washington Post: Forman Jr. argues that the Second Look Amendment Act “offers a promising corrective to the harsh — and ineffective — practices once commonplace in courthouses across America. The bill gives the D.C. Council a chance to restore a measure of fairness to a criminal system often lacking it. If the council is willing to embrace reason over fearmongering, I am confident the Second Look Amendment Act will be recognized as another proud accomplishment.”

READ MORE >

THE POST: D.C. Has Gone Too Far on Justice Reforms

The Washington Post: The Post argues that the Second Look Act would be harmful to the criminal justice system. “Out the window would go transparency and truth in sentencing — the assurance to victims and the community that punishment is what it appears to be. By discouraging judges from considering the original crime when they weigh reducing sentences, the council is putting the public at increased risk, unnecessarily.”

READ MORE >

Not sure how to write an op-ed?

Check out this op-ed training webinar! It provides tips for writing effective and engaging op-eds, specifically with regard to health care and physicians issues.

This webinar was co-hosted by one of our partners, Doctors For America, and Families USA.

Click here to watch the webinar.

Have any other questions? Reach us at our social media or the email contact listed below.

Archive of Past Op-Ed Topics

January 2020

THE TOPIC:

Joe Biden vs. Cory Booker on criminal justice reform and decriminalization of marijuana

THE QUESTION:

Why is decriminalization of marijuana an important issue in criminal reform? How do Biden and Booker’s different platforms address this issue?

BOOKER: Argues Joe Biden was ‘architect’ of criminal justice system

Politico: “Sen. Cory Booker on Tuesday blamed Joe Biden for what he called a “failed” criminal justice system, dismissing the former vice president’s new plan to combat mass incarceration and escalating a weeks-long dispute between the pair.” Booker argues that his plan is more “comprehensive” and capable of creating “transformative change.”

READ MORE >

BIDEN: Scrutinized for Crime Bill, Unveils Plan to Reduce Mass Incarceration

New York Times: “Joseph R. Biden Jr., whose long record on criminal justice matters has cast a shadow over the early months of his presidential campaign, has unveiled a comprehensive plan aimed at combating mass incarceration and reducing “racial, gender and income-based disparities in the system.” 

READ MORE >

Not sure how to write an op-ed?

Check out this op-ed training webinar! It provides tips for writing effective and engaging op-eds, specifically with regard to health care and physicians issues.

This webinar was co-hosted by one of our partners, Doctors For America, and Families USA.

Click here to watch the webinar.

Have any other questions? Reach us at our social media or the email contact listed below.

A New Partnership for PfCJR

PfCJR Partners With A New Criminal Justice Taskforce From ACOEM

In 2016, the United States held 2.2 million people in prisons and jails, and about 870,000 of these inmates performed some type of work, whether supporting the functioning of the prison, for prison industries, or under contract for private corporations.

 

They work jobs with well characterized occupational hazards – agriculture, manufacturing, fire fighting, chemical production, and many others – yet our standard occupational health surveillance systems (eg OSHA and NIOSH) explicitly ignore work-related injuries, illnesses, or fatalities in this “institutionalized” population.

 

Furthermore, there are precisely zero articles in our medical and public health literature addressing the occupational health of prisoners, and prison inmates are almost completely excluded from every major labor and employment protection in the US.



 Finally, inmates are exposed to all the unique hazards of the prison environment – psychosocial stressors, physical and social isolation, poor institutional oversight, and vulnerability to exploitation, powerfully suggesting that these workers suffer higher rates of injury and illness compared to counterparts in the free market.

 

Herein lies the opportunity – physicians have precisely the training and authority to guide research and address hazards in prisoners’ workplaces. That research must document current injury and illness rates and advocate workplace controls equivalent to those in the free labor market. We must also characterize unique hazards faced by inmates, informed by social epidemiological and qualitative methods, while recognizing the larger environmental forces shaping their overall safety. 

 

The following article is the first to ever recognize the position inmates hold as the most marginalized of occupational populations, written by a member of the Incarcerated Workers Occupational Health Task Force, under the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM). OEM physicians are certified by the American Board of Preventive Medicine and specially trained to attend to the health of workers through epidemiological investigation, direct medical care, prevention of occupational injuries and illnesses, and protection from environmental hazards.

 

This task force will be applying precisely these skills to address the workplace health of incarcerated workers. In the coming years we will confirm a literature review, scope and plan a research strategy, identify stakeholders, and publish the initial results from our investigations, but a challenge of this magnitude will require broader expertise.

 

The Task Force is seeking partners from all other medical specialties to help. Virchow reminds us that “It is the curse of humanity that it learns to tolerate even the most horrible situations by habituation,” but together we can build this research from the ground up, propose policy, and to lend the powerful, trusted, and moral voices of physicians to a critical and growing conversation about criminal justice reform. 

 

Andre Montoya-Barthelemy MD MPH

    Incarcerated Workers Occupational Health Task Force

    American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine

    agmb1214@gmail.com

 

Andre Montoya-Barthelemy is a physician of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (OEM) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is a recent graduate of the HealthPartners OEM residency where he completed his thesis on the labor rights of incarcerated workers, and now serving as clinical faculty, assistant residency director, and consultant medical director for Xcel Energy and General Mills. He intends to continue searching for ways for physicians to combine their unique skills and voice to address topics of human rights.

Implicit Bias and Law Enforcement

Racial profiling has been an obvious point of contention between law enforcement and minority group members. Over the past decade, the term “bias-based policing” has been coined, and the subject has been the topic of much research and debate. It often paints the picture of ill-intentioned officers deliberately acting upon preconceived stereotypes and prejudices. What if, perhaps, there was another answer?

In the spring of 2010, professor Jerry Kang from the UCLA School of Law presented to Connecticut judges, prosecutors, public defenders, and police administrators on the topic of implicit, or hidden, bias. His talk shed light on what has become an increasingly popular subject in social science circles. In brief, researchers contend that implicit biases are predilections held by all that operate largely outside of one’s awareness. Although hidden, these biases are both pervasive and powerful.1 Much research on the topic has focused on racial bias and has netted some intriguing results.

While the science does have its detractors, the growing research and potential implications for the criminal justice field make this a topic with which all law enforcement personnel should be familiar. The reader may find this article to be interesting, provocative, and enlightening—or some combination of the three. The purpose of this piece is to raise awareness on a topic that is growing in popularity and that has begun to emerge in the criminal justice system. It is up to readers to decide whether the science is relevant and pertinent to their lives and their workplaces.

The article discusses implicit bias, the latest testing and research into the phenomenon, and practical approaches for law enforcement interventions as recommended by social scientists in the field.

Continue Reading

Justice Department Announces New Department-Wide Implicit Bias Training for Personnel

June 27, 2016

The Department of Justice announced that it will train all of its law enforcement agents and prosecutors to recognize and address implicit bias as part of its regular training curricula. The new training, based on the latest social science research and best practices in law enforcement, will begin across the department in the next few weeks. Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates sent a memo to all law enforcement agents and prosecutors today informing them of the new Implicit Bias Training Program and its importance to a strong and fair criminal justice system.

“Our officers are more effective and our communities are more secure when law enforcement has the tools and training they need to address today’s public safety challenges,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “At the Department of Justice, we are committed to ensuring that our own personnel are well trained in the core principles and best practices of community policing. Today’s announcement is an important step in our ongoing efforts to promote fairness, eliminate bias and build the stronger, safer, more just society that all Americans deserve.”

Click HERE to read the entire article. 

Alton Sterling and Philando Castile Killed by Police

Alton Sterling and Philando Castile are dead, joining a long roll call of black people killed by officials acting in the name of public safety. And so the nation now begins a process so familiar as to have become rote.  Read the full article here.

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. (PfCJR) is a group of physicians advocating to eliminate the damaging health consequences that can result from negative interactions with the criminal justice system.  Alton and Philando have suffered the ultimate of damaging health consequences — death.  Our website has been inundated with visits.  Our membership has nearly doubled in the last two days.  Physicians are ready to speak out, and we are ready to lead change.

Please know that even if you are not a physician, we need your voice as an allied supporter.  It is our duty to use our expertise and our passion to effect true, meaningful, lasting criminal justice reform in this country.

You will be hearing from us soon with specific steps for how to get involved.  Go to www.pfcjreform.org/join to stay informed.

 

 

 

For Police, A Playbook for Conflicts Involving Mental Illness

PfCJR CORE ISSUE:  Decriminalization of mental health and addictive disorders. 

As reported by the New York Times online.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The 911 caller had reported a man with a samurai sword, lunging at people on the waterfront.

It was evening, and when the police arrived, they saw the man pacing the beach and called to him. He responded by throwing a rock at the embankment where they stood.

They shouted to him from a sheriff’s boat; he threw another rock. They told him to drop the sword; he said he would kill them. He started to leave the beach, and after warning him, they shot him in the leg with a beanbag gun. He turned back, still carrying the four-foot blade.

In another city — or in Portland itself not that long ago — the next step would almost certainly have been a direct confrontation and, had the man not put down the weapon, the use of lethal force.

But the Portland Police Bureau, prodded in part by the 2012 findings of a Justice Department investigation, has spent years putting in place an intensive training program and protocols for how officers deal with people with mental illness.

Read the entire article.

Click here to JOIN PfCJR as we advocate for criminal justice reform.

Three state juvenile lockups selected to participate in a national project designed to improve conditions

From www.chron.com:

Three state juvenile lockups that have been plagued by training and operational problems as officials struggled to deal with a more violent population of incarcerated youths have been selected to participate in a national project designed to improve conditions.

David Reilly, executive director of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, announced Monday that the Giddings State School, Evins Regional Juvenile Center in Edinburg and the McLennan County State Juvenile Correctional Facility in Mart will be included in the 18-month program.

Three other agencies across the country will also participate: Florida Department of Juvenile Justice;
Massachusetts Department of Youth Services and StarrVista, Inc. in Wayne County, Michigan.

The project is being overseen by the national Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators and the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University.

Reilly said the project at the three Texas lockups will include training and technical assistance to help his agency improve educational and rehabilitation programming, behavioral management and health care, and transition planning to ensure success for youths after they are released from custody.

Read the entire article www.chron.com

Click here to JOIN Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, Inc. as we advocate for criminal justice reform.