05-26-2018  4:39 pm      •     
The Skanner Report
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NEWS BRIEFS

Attorney General Forms Hate Crime Task Force

The task force will study hate-motivated crimes and review existing legal protections for victims ...

Portland Art Museum Celebrates Art Museum Day with Free Admission on May 25

Portland Art Museum joins art museums across North America, with great works of art and public programs ...

June Key Delta Community Center Hosts May Week ’18 Health Fair May 26

Event includes vision, glucose screenings, medication disposal and car seat installation ...

Mississippi Avenue Giving Tuesday

On Tuesday, May 22, 10 percent of proceeds from participating Mississippi Ave. businesses will go to SEI ...

Amtrak: No evidence injured passenger was in fight

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The family of a 22-year-old train passenger found severely injured next to railroad tracks in Truckee, California, suspects he may have been the victim of a hate crime, but Amtrak said Saturday that investigators have found no evidence of foul play.Aaron Salazar's family...

Investigation: Police fired 14 bullets, shotgun at man

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An investigation by the Portland Police Bureau says Portland police officers and a Multnomah County sheriff's deputy fired 14 bullets, three shotgun blasts and nine less-lethal rounds at a man inside a Portland homeless shelter.KATU-TV reports the investigation material...

City aims to block release of dangerous psychiatric patients

LAKEWOOD, Wash. (AP) — The city that houses Western State Hospital, Washington's main psychiatric facility, is fighting to keep patients from being released into its boundaries.The News Tribune reports Lakewood on Monday approved a moratorium on city business licenses for new adult family...

Missing fisherman found by divers in submerged vessel

SEATTLE (AP) — The body of a missing fisherman was found by divers inside the sunken vessel, the Kelli J.The Coast Guard said Saturday that the body was found before the vessel was refloated by contractors in Willapay Bay on Friday.The Pacific County Sheriff's Office took the fisherman's...

OPINION

Racism After Graduation May Just Be What's on the Menu

Dr. Julianne Malveaux says that for our young millennials, racism is inevitable ...

Prime Minister Netanyahu Shows Limits of Israel’s Democracy

Bill Fletcher, Jr. on racial politics in Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s uneven treatment of African immigrants ...

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Meeting draws people angry over fatal police shooting

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — More than 200 people turned out for a community meeting Saturday to protest the death of a young black man who was fatally shot by a Virginia police officer after he ran naked onto an interstate highway.Speakers at the meeting at Richmond's Second Baptist Church said...

The Latest: Family: Police need to handle people better

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Latest on the fatal police shooting of a naked and unarmed man in Richmond (all times local):5:16 p.m.Family and friends of a man who was fatally shot by Richmond police after running naked onto an interstate highway are calling on police to find non-lethal ways of...

White neighbor gets prison for harassing black family

EASTON, Pa. (AP) — A neighbor accused of harassing and using racial epithets against a black Pennsylvania family for years has been sentenced to prison.A Northampton County judge sentenced 45-year-old Robert Kujawa to the term Friday after a jury convicted him of ethnic intimidation,...

ENTERTAINMENT

Glenn Snoddy, inventor of fuzz pedal for guitarists, dies

MURFREESBORO, Tennessee (AP) — A recording engineer whose invention of a pedal that allowed guitarists to create a fuzzy, distorted sound most famously used by Keith Richards in the Rolling Stones' hit "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" has died.Glenn Snoddy was 96. His daughter Dianne Mayo...

Reaction to criminal charges filed against Harvey Weinstein

Reaction to rape and other criminal charges filed in New York on Friday against Harvey Weinstein:"I hope this gives hope to victims and survivors everywhere, that we are one step closer to justice. Because one win is a win for all of us." — Weinstein accuser Rose McGowan, to The Associated...

Vindication, triumph, also fear: Weinstein accusers react

NEW YORK (AP) — Watching the stunning images of Harvey Weinstein walking into a courthouse Friday in handcuffs, a detective on each arm, Louisette Geiss still felt a shiver of fear in reaction to the man who, she says, once cornered her and tried to physically force her to watch him...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Bale's scissor-kick gives Madrid 3rd straight European title

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Gareth Bale's eye-catching scissor-kick helped Real Madrid to a third successive...

Resisting Trump in a bright red state

EDMOND, Oklahoma (AP) — Vicki Toombs was watching the returns on election night 2016 when her phone buzzed...

Legal hurdles may make Weinstein's prosecution an exception

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Harvey Weinstein's arrest in New York Friday is a landmark moment in the #MeToo...

Ebola vaccinations begin in rural Congo on Monday: Ministry

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Ebola vaccinations will begin Monday in the two rural areas of Congo where the...

Israeli soldier badly wounded in West Bank arrest raid dies

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military says a soldier who was seriously wounded in action this week has...

US warns Syrian government not to advance on south

BEIRUT (AP) — The United States warned it would take "firm and appropriate measures" to protect a...

Eric Tucker, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A push to overhaul criminal sentencing is prompting the early release of thousands of federal drug prisoners, including some whom prosecutors once described as threats to society, according to an Associated Press review of court records.

About 6,000 inmates are due to be freed from custody in the coming month, the result of changes made last year to guidelines that provide judges with recommended sentences for specific crimes. Federal officials say roughly 40,000 inmates could be eligible for reduced sentences in coming years.

Many of them are small-time drug dealers targeted by an approach to drug enforcement now condemned by many as overly harsh and expensive. But an AP analysis of nearly 100 court cases also identified defendants who carried semi-automatic weapons, had past convictions for robbery and other crimes, moved cocaine shipments across states, and participated in international heroin smuggling.

Supporters of lighter drug sentences say there's no evidence that longer punishment protects public safety. Studies show that inmates released early aren't more likely to reoffend than those who serve their entire sentences.

Still, the broad spectrum of defendants granted early release — including some about whom prosecutors not long ago raised dire warnings — underscores the complex decisions confronting the government as it pursues an overhaul of drug sentencing.

"I'm a career prosecutor. I'm a law-and-order girl, and I believe that you need to send dangerous people to prison for a very long time," said Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. "But I think that we need to be smart about deciding who are those dangerous people."

Willie Best, a one-time District of Columbia drug dealer whose sentence was already slashed under past crack guideline changes, had an additional month taken off and is due out in 2016.

Prosecutors in 2008 said Best helped run a drug-dealing organization, shot at someone he believed had stolen from him and, after fleeing as warrants were served, was found in a stolen car with an assault rifle and other guns. His lawyer described him as the product of a troubled, impoverished upbringing. And Best, in an interview from prison, called himself a loving father who bears no resemblance to his past self.

"It's been a long time coming. Eight years is a long time," he said. "I came in one way. I'm coming out another."

Guidelines set by the U.S. Sentencing Commission offer recommended minimum and maximum terms for federal crimes. The independent commission voted last year to reduce ranges for drug offenses, then applied those changes to already-imprisoned convicts.

Since then, prisoners have sought relief from judges, who can reject those they consider to be public safety threats. About three-quarters of requests had been granted as of August.

The first wave is due around Nov. 1, and most of those getting early release are already in halfway houses or under home confinement. Others will be released to immigration authorities for eventual deportation.

Though the commission has repeatedly tinkered with the guidelines, including narrowing the disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentences that resulted in disproportionately long penalties for blacks defendants, the latest revision is its most sweeping because it covers all drug types.

The commission delayed implementation by a year to allow judges time to review requests and weed out inappropriate candidates and to arrange for defendants to be moved to halfway houses.

"Nothing to date comes close to what this shift is likely to produce over the next decade or so, starting this year," said Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Project, an advocacy group.

The action, along with an Obama administration clemency initiative and directives against mandatory minimum sentences, is part of a national effort to rethink punishments for a drug offender population that comprises roughly half the federal inmate count.

New bipartisan legislation in the Senate aimed at reducing spending on a prison system that sucks up nearly one-third of the Justice Department budget would give judges greater sentencing discretion and ease penalties for nonviolent criminals. House lawmakers are also expected to unveil criminal justice legislation this week.

Supporters call the commission's move, which would on average pare two years from sentences and in many cases just months, a modest dialing-back of punishments that were too harsh to begin with and wouldn't be imposed today.

Research shows "longer lengths of stay cost taxpayers a tremendous amount but don't add any additional crime-control value," said Adam Gelb, a Pew Charitable Trusts criminal justice expert.

But absent foolproof formulas, judges are grappling with balancing cost against public safety.

The issue arose last month in Washington, D.C., where a judge rejected early release bids from two organizers of a 1980s-era cocaine trafficking operation. Though both were sentenced in 1990, the judge declared them to be continuing threats and chastised prosecutors for appearing to dismiss the pair's involvement in violent and calculating crime.
Others with shortened sentences are defendants whom prosecutors said had squandered repeated opportunities.

Regis Payne is due out in 2017 after his 82-month sentence for selling PCP in the District of Columbia was cut to 60 months. Before his 2012 sentencing, prosecutors called him a "calamity waiting to happen," undeterred by past convictions. Roscoe Minns was cleared for release in November, though prosecutors in 2012 highlighted prior assault and theft convictions in pursuing stiff punishment.

Though some released early will reoffend, most will not, statistically speaking, said Ohio State law professor Doug Berman.

"Mark my words: The sky will not fall," said Julie Stewart of Families Against Mandatory Minimums.

Tuan Evans, who sold pistols and cocaine to undercover officers, had 11 months shaved off his 108-month sentence. He wrote from prison that he's acquired haircutting skills and hopes to start a landscaping business and mentor children once he's freed. Records show a 2018 release date.

"You don't have to lock us up and throw away the key when we make a mistake," he said.

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