05 23 2016
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  • The judge concluded Officer Edward Nero played little role in the arrest and wasn't responsible for the failure by police to buckle Gray in  
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  • Bill Cosby faces a preliminary hearing Tuesday to determine if his criminal sex-assault case in suburban Philadelphia goes to trial.Prosecutors had declined to charge the comedian-actor over the 2005 complaint, but arrested him in December after his explosive deposition in the woman's lawsuit became public. In the testimony given in that deposition, Cosby is grilled about giving drugs and alcohol to women before sex; making secret payments to ex-lovers; and hosting Andrea Constand at his home. They knew each other through Temple University, where he was a trustee and she managed the women's basketball team. Bill Cosby's wife refused to answer dozens of questions during a combative deposition in a defamation lawsuit filed by seven women who say the comedian branded them liars after they accused him of sexually assaulting them, according to a transcript released Friday. Camille Cosby was subjected to intense questioning by the women's lawyer, who repeatedly pressed her to say whether she believes her husband "acted with a lack of integrity" during their 52-year marriage. The lawyer also asked if her husband used his position and power "to manipulate young women." Camille Cosby didn't answer those questions and many others after her lawyer cited marital privilege, the legal protection given to communications between spouses. She repeatedly said she had "no opinion" when pressed on whether she viewed her husband's behavior as dishonest and a violation of their marriage vows. About 50 women have publicly accused Bill Cosby of forcing unwanted sexual contact on them decades ago. Cosby has denied the allegations. He faces a criminal case in Pennsylvania, where prosecutors have charged him with sexually violating a former Temple University employee, Andrea Constand. He has pleaded not guilty. Camille Cosby answered questions in the deposition Feb. 22 and again April 19 after her lawyers argued unsuccessfully to stop it. A judge ruled she would have to give a deposition but said she could refuse to answer questions about private communications between her and her husband. Camille Cosby's lawyer, Monique Pressley, repeatedly cited that privilege and advised her not to answer many questions asked by the women's lawyer, Joseph Cammarata. The exchanges between Cammarata and Cosby became testy at times, and she admonished him: "Don't lecture me. Just keep going with the questions." Using a transcript of a deposition Bill Cosby gave in a civil lawsuit filed by Constand in 2005 and a transcript of an interview she gave to Oprah Winfrey in 2000, Cammarata asked Camille Cosby about extramarital affairs her husband had. "Were you aware of your husband setting up trusts for the benefit of women that he had a sexual relationship with?" Cammarata asked. She didn't answer after her lawyer cited marital privilege. Cammarata asked her about Shawn Thompson, a woman who said Bill Cosby fathered her daughter, Autumn Jackson, in the 1970s. Jackson was convicted in 1997 of attempting to extort money from Bill Cosby to prevent her from telling a tabloid she's his daughter. He acknowledged he had an affair with her mother and had given her money. "Was it a big deal when this came up in the 1970s that your husband had — big deal to you that your husband had an extramarital affair and potentially had a daughter from that extramarital affair?" Cammarata asked. "It was a big deal then, yes," Camille Cosby replied. She said she had "no opinion" on whether her husband's admission he obtained quaaludes to give to women with whom he wanted to have sex violated their marriage vows. Her lawyer objected and instructed her not to answer when Cammarata asked her if she ever suspected she had been given any type of drug to alter her state of consciousness when she had sex with her husband. A spokesman for the Cosbys declined to comment on her deposition. The Cosbys have a home in Shelburne Falls, an hour's drive from Springfield, where the lawsuit, seeking unspecified damages, was filed. An attorney handling a separate lawsuit against Bill Cosby revealed Friday that Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner provided sworn testimony Wednesday. In the sexual battery lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, Judy Huth says Cosby forced her to perform a sex act on him at the Playboy Mansion around 1974, when she was 15. Bill Cosby's former lawyers have accused Huth of attempting to extort him before filing the case and have tried unsuccessfully to have it dismissed. Huth's attorney, Gloria Allred, said Hefner's testimony will remain under seal for now. Hefner also was named as a defendant in a case filed Monday by former model Chloe Goins, who accuses Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually abusing her at the Playboy Mansion in 2008.   The Associated Press generally doesn't identify people who say they're victims of sexual abuse, but the women accusing Cosby have come forward to tell their stories.___AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney contributed to this report from Los Angeles.
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  • Some hope killing will bring peace in Afghanistan     
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Prison bars

A new report from criminal justice and human rights groups found that the “emerging ‘Treatment Industrial Complex’ has the potential to ensnare more individuals, under increased levels of supervision and surveillance, for increasing lengths of time—in some cases, for the rest of a person’s life.” (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON (NNPA) – As cash-strapped state and local governments shift resources from incarceration to treatment for individuals convicted of low-level drug crimes, for-profit prison companies are following the money and potentially “undermining efforts to treat and rehabilitate prisoners,” according to a new report.

The report published by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Grassroots Leadership, and the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR), groups that advocate for criminal justice reform and human rights, found that the “emerging ‘Treatment Industrial Complex’ has the potential to ensnare more individuals, under increased levels of supervision and surveillance, for increasing lengths of time—in some cases, for the rest of a person’s life.”

That’s because more than 90 percent of people serving time behind bars are eventually released, but individuals who receive care at mental health facilities or in community-based programs can continue to receive treatment indefinitely, “which spells long-term, guaranteed profits for private corporations,” according to the report.

According to the Sentencing Project, a research and education group that advocates for criminal justice reform, 1 in every 10 Black men in their 30s “is in prison or jail on any given day” and 1 in 3 Black men is likely to spend some time in jail or prison during their lifetime compared to 1 in 17 White men who will share the same fate.

A 2012 study conducted by researchers at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tenn. found a correlation between the frequency of substance abuse disorders (SUDs) and the high incarceration rates of Black males.

The Justice Policy Institute reported that treating people struggling with SUDs was far less expensive in community-based programs, from $1,800 to $6,800 per participant, than treating them in prison where costs could exceed $24,000 per year to house them and more than $20 per day to treat them for SUDs.

Criminal justice advocates worry about the impact that private prison corporations will have on those rehabilitative efforts as for-profit companies evolve to take advantage of new sentencing reforms and potential markets created by those changes.

“While many sentencing reform efforts are geared toward keeping people out of the system and/or returning them to their communities as quickly as possible, the financial incentive for private prison corporations is to keep people in custody or under some form of supervision for as long as possible at the highest per diem rate possible in order to maximize profits,” the report said. “This creates the potential for a dangerous trend of “net widening” –  placing more people on stricter forms of supervision than is necessary, for longer than is warranted.”

The “Treatment Industrial Complex” study said that Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group (formerly Wackenhut Corrections Corporation), two companies that profited greatly from the rise in mass incarceration in the United States, have spent millions on lobbying activities. Although both companies publicly denied lobbying on “sentencing or detention enforcement legislation,” they have benefitted from hiring former legislators and corrections officials and forging political ties by helping their past employees obtain government jobs.

According to the report, these investments have clearly paid off.

“CCA and GEO Group have turned incarceration into a multi-billion dollar industry. Combined, these two corporations operate more than 158 correctional and detention facilities with a capacity of more than 163,500 beds in the U.S. and three other countries,” stated the report. “Together, the companies’ revenues exceed three billion dollars annually.”

As shareholders cash-in, reports of prisoner abuse, poorly-trained and underpaid staff, escapes and wrongful death suits plague the companies. Criminal justice advocates are concerned that these companies will take those same practices into the treatment and rehabilitation arena with dire consequences.

“While the prison industrial complex was dependent on incarceration or detention in prisons, jails, and other correctional institutions, this emerging ‘treatment industrial complex’ allows the same corporations (and many new ones) to profit from providing treatment-oriented programs and services,” stated the report.

Some of those programs and services may be covered under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), a law that disproportionately benefits Blacks that go without healthcare at higher rates than their White counterparts, because it also covers mental health and substance abuse treatment.

As the “Treatment Industrial Complex” expands, the report said that additional research is needed to determine best practices and to guard against potential pitfalls that would have negative impacts on states and local communities.

The report continued: “When a state contracts with an organization or company to provide medical or mental health care, treatment or rehabilitation services, it is handing over control of an essential public function to a company that may have different goals and priorities than the government and public.”

The report recommended that state and local officials looking at the past success of private companies at administering care in the treatment industry, background monitor the mergers and acquisitions of companies, avoid occupancy guarantees and examine the corporate philosophies of companies seeking contracts.

“Corporations such as CCA and GEO Group are historically grounded in a “prison-mindset” that emphasizes custody, control, and punishment. The difference between viewing individuals in a facility as ‘inmates’ versus ‘patients’ or ‘consumers’ is vast,” stated the report. “Even when rebranded as healthcare companies, their original purpose of incarcerating ‘inmates’ remains.”

The report continued: “Large publicly held corporations should be viewed with scrutiny because they must continually produce increasing profit for their shareholders, often prioritizing their shareholder profits over quality, effectiveness and ethical and moral concerns.”

Caroline Isaacs, program director of the Arizona branch of the AFSC and author of the report echoed those concerns.

“With the profitization of treatment and alternatives, there is a perverse incentive to ensnare more individuals, placing them under increased levels of supervision and surveillance, for increasing lengths of time,” said Isaacs in a press release about the report. “This runs contrary to the best practices in the field.”

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