Supporters Skeptical but Hopeful for Justice in Travon Martin Case on Anniversary of Murder

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Jason Lewis/Village Voice
A year removed from the murder of 17-year-old Travon Martin, hundreds of supporters took to Union Square yesterday, carrying candles and wearing hoodies, to stand in solidarity alongside Martin's parents on the anniversary of his death.

They demanded justice for Martin in the case against George Zimmerman, the 28-year-old neighborhood watchman who shot and killed the unarmed teenager in a gated community where Martin's father lived in Sanford, Fl. While demands for justice were loud and fierce, many in attendance acknowledged that the justice they'd like to see for Martin's death may never materialize if solely left up to the legal system.

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NYCLU Files Lawsuit Against State Over DOC's Solitary Confinement Policies

Categories: Justice?
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The New York Civil Liberties Union yesterday filed a lawsuit in federal court charging New York State prison officials with overseeing policies that lead to the "arbitrary and unjustified use" of solitary confinement for prison inmates.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit, Leroy Peoples, spent more than two years in "extreme isolation" as punishment for non-violent infraction of prison rules that the NYCLU says never threatened the safety of other inmates or prison staff.

His crime: filing false legal documents in 2009. His sentence: 36 months in isolation, which was reduced to 26 months for good behavior.



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Bronx D.A.'s Bungled Rape Cases Could Cost City $3 Million

Categories: Justice?
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Brian Brockington was linked by DNA to three rapes. He's currently a free man -- and is suing the City for $3 million.
As we reported in August, the Bronx District Attorney's Office is pretty awful at one thing: prosecuting violent criminals -- which just so happens to be its primary function.

As if allowing alleged violent criminals back on the streets isn't bad enough, Bronx prosecutors' inability to make charges stick could potentially cost the City $3 million.

An accused rapist has filed a notice of claim alerting City officials of a lawsuit he plans on filing charging the City and its Department of Correction with illegally keeping him behind bars for several months -- after the seemingly slam-dunk cases against him fell apart.

Brian Brockington was arrested in 2007 on a charge unrelated to three alleged rapes to which he was later linked.

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Drayton Curry, Nation's Oldest Federal Prisoner, Dies Without Obama Deciding on His Two-Year-Old Clemency Request

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Drayton Curry, at 92 the nation's oldest federal prisoner, died in prison last month before the Obama administration acted on his nearly two year old plea for clemency.

As the Voice reported in September, 2011, Curry had been petitioning the government to grant him release from nearly 20 years of imprisonment for a fairly thin non violent drug conspiracy conviction so he could spend whatever time he had left with his family.

He passed away of heart and kidney ailments on Oct. 16 at the Buckner federal prison in North Carolina before the Obama administration's pardons office could get itself together to even make a decision on his case.

And it was not for having a lack of time. Curry began petitioning for his release in 2007. Most recently, his lawyer Alex Eisemann filed a clemency petition in February, 2011, saying that Curry was a "physically decrepit old man whose only desire was to be reunited with his family. Whatever danger he posed to the United States has long passed."

The pardons office, which is part of the Department of Justice, did nothing.

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Letters From The Hole: Solitary Confinement "Has Damaged Me Beyond Repair"

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The New York Civil Liberties Union recently released a report outlining the "inhumane, arbitrary use of solitary confinement" in New York state prisons.

Included in the report are handwritten letters from several inmates placed in segregated housing (solitary confinement) for various -- in many cases non-violent -- reasons. The letters describe what life is like for those locked in a cage for 23 hours a day.

The Voice will be publishing several of the letters in a series called
Letters From the Hole.

Today's inmate: Daniel has a long history of hurting himself, which is a violation of prison rules in New York. As a result, Daniel has spent "more than two decades cycling in and out of extreme isolation." His latest self-mutilation landed him in solitary confinement for four months. He says his life in isolation "has damaged me beyond repair."

See Daniel's letter below. 

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Letters From The Hole: Suicide In Solitary Confinement

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The New York Civil Liberties Union recently released a report outlining the "inhumane, arbitrary use of solitary confinement" in New York state prisons.

Included in the report are handwritten letters from several inmates placed in segregated housing (solitary confinement) for various -- in many cases non-violent -- reasons. The letters describe what life is like for those locked in a cage for 23 hours a day.

The Voice will be publishing several of the letters in a series called
Letters From the Hole.

Today's inmate: An inmate identified only as "Mr. Diaz" was in solitary confinement at Upstate Correctional Facility when he took his own life. Diaz, according to two other inmates, didn't speak English and the prison didn't provide him with a translator -- he was unable to ask for mental health services. The inmates wrote letters to prison officials on Diaz's behalf requesting help for their fellow inmate. Help never came, and Diaz committed suicide on May 21.

See the letters below.


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Letters From The Hole: Inmate Denied Mental Health Treatment For Nine Months. Then He Attempted Suicide

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The New York Civil Liberties Union recently released a report outlining the  "inhumane, arbitrary use of solitary confinement" in New York state prisons.

Included in the report are handwritten letters from several inmates placed in segregated housing (solitary confinement) for various -- in many cases non-violent -- reasons. The letters describe what life is like for those locked in a cage for 23 hours a day.

The Voice will be publishing several of the letters in a series called
Letters From the Hole.

Today's inmate: Daryl is an inmate at the Upstate Correctional Facility. He kept records of the multiple requests for mental health treatment he made while in extreme isolation. His requests, he says, were ignore for nine months. Then he tried to kill himself. See his letter below.

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Letters From The Hole: SHU Inmate Allowed Just Two Showers A Week. And That's Pretty Much It

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The New York Civil Liberties Union recently released a report outlining the  "inhumane, arbitrary use of solitary confinement" in New York state prisons.

Included in the report are handwritten letters from several inmates placed in segregated housing (solitary confinement) for various -- in many cases non-violent -- reasons. The letters describe what life is like for those locked in a cage for 23 hours a day.

The Voice will be publishing several of the letters in a series called
Letters From the Hole.

Today's inmate: Na'im is an inmate at New York's Southport Correctional Facility. His fourth trip to segregated housing was the result of an "unauthorized exchange," which essentially means he passed a note to another inmate without permission. Na'im opted to forgo recreation because he was afraid of what corrections officers would do to him while he was out of his cell. He was allowed just two showers a week, which were the only times he opted -- and was allowed -- to leave his cell. See his letter below.

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Letters From the Hole: New York Prison Inmate Gets a Year in Solitary Confinement for Smoking Pot

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The New York Civil Liberties Union recently released a report outlining the  "inhumane, arbitrary use of solitary confinement" in New York state prisons.

Included in the report are handwritten letters from several inmates placed in segregated housing (solitary confinement) for various -- in many cases non-violent -- reasons. The letters describe what life is like for those locked in a cage for 23 hours a day.

The Voice will be publishing several of the letters in a series called
Letters From the Hole.

Today's inmate: Chris, a New York state prison inmate, currently is serving a one-year sentence in extreme isolation. This means he's alone in his cell 23 hours a day. His infraction: testing positive for marijuana. This is Chris' seventh trip to the segregated housing unit. All of his prior offenses were non-violent -- primarily drug-related -- infractions. See his letter pleading for treatment below.

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Tunnel Burglar Hit With Whopping 28-Year Prison Sentence -- And He Didn't Even Kill Anyone

Categories: Justice?
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Cy Vance threw the proverbial book at a Manhattan burglar Shawn McAleese.

*UPDATE* We've compiled a list of what McAleese stole that would warrant such a lengthy prison sentence. Ribs and saki are involved.

When 43-year-old Shawn McAleese was tunneling his way into Manhattan businesses to steal stuff earlier this year, he probably didn't think he could potentially face more time in prison than a convicted murderer. He was wrong.

McAleese was sentenced today to 28 years to 56 years in state prison after pleading guilty to a string of robberies, during which he broke into residential apartments that were next to bars or restaurants and tunneled through walls to gain access to the businesses.

"[McAleese] embarked upon a two-month-long burglary spree throughout Manhattan," Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance says. "He not only violated the sanctity of private homes by breaking into residences, but also used those apartments as launch pads to steal from nearby businesses. Theft from a business doesn't end at emptying the cash register -- it jeopardizes the job security of those who work there because it affects the bottom line."



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