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News stories tagged with "justice"

Governor Nelson Rockefeller surprised his own staff with his dramatic shift on drug policy.
Governor Nelson Rockefeller surprised his own staff with his dramatic shift on drug policy.

Murrow Award: How Rockefeller drug laws changed America

This spring North Country Public Radio's news team has been honored with several major national awards for some of the work we've brought you over the past year. Much of that recognition has gone to our Prison Time Media Project, which over a year and a half has looked in-depth at the growth of the prison industry here in our region, across New York and around the country.

The series unfolded as the country was beginning to take another look at the way we think about crime, and justice, and these stories became part of that national conversation. The first story of the series has just received one of the top honors in journalism: a National Edward R. Murrow award.

In January of 1973, New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller launched his campaign for what came to be known as the Rockefeller drug laws. Rockefeller demanded tough prison sentences, even for low-level drug dealers and addicts. It was an idea that quickly spread, influencing state and Federal law across the US.

In this first story, Brian Mann takes us back to the beginning, when New Yorkers were demanding solutions to a heroin epidemic that was scarring urban neighborhoods.  Go to full article
At a rally in March, workers from Chateaugay Correctional Facility protested the Cuomo administration's decision to close the prison in July. Photo provided by NYSCOPBA.
At a rally in March, workers from Chateaugay Correctional Facility protested the Cuomo administration's decision to close the prison in July. Photo provided by NYSCOPBA.

How America's drug war sparked the North Country prison boom

This week, North Country Public Radio is looking in-depth at how New York's 40-year prison boom changed two very different neighborhoods, Brownsville in New York City and Chateaugay in Franklin County. Check out these stories and many more in our Prison Time Media Project.

This week, the tiny North Country town of Chateaugay learned that their local prison -- operated by the state Corrections Department -- will close in July.

The decision was made final in New York's state budget.

Town supervisor Donald Bilow told the Plattsburgh Press-Republican that he is "devastated" by the closure.  Go to full article
Aaron Hinton, outside his building in Brownsville, Brooklyn. He calls the war on drugs "the war on the poor." Photo: Natasha Haverty
Aaron Hinton, outside his building in Brownsville, Brooklyn. He calls the war on drugs "the war on the poor." Photo: Natasha Haverty

What if 10 percent of your neighbors went to prison downstate?

The North Country has more than a dozen state and federal prisons, housing thousands of inmates. It turns out a lot of those inmates come from just a few neighborhoods, and those have been at the center of the 40-year drug war. Today, Brownsville, Brooklyn has one of the highest concentrations of incarcerated or formerly incarcerated people in the country.  Go to full article
Five Omar Mualimm-ak, speaking at St. Lawrence University earlier this month. Photo: Tzintzun Aguilar
Five Omar Mualimm-ak, speaking at St. Lawrence University earlier this month. Photo: Tzintzun Aguilar

Five Mualimm-ak: A voice out of solitary confinement

Last month, the state of New York made sweeping changes to its use of solitary confinement. The new policy, signed by a federal judge, prohibits anyone under the age of 18, women who are pregnant, and people with severe mental illness, from being locked away in solitary.

Five Mualimm-ak helped write the new protocol. He's a prison reform activist. Mualimm-ak spent five years of his life in solitary confinement, out of 12 years he served inside New York prisons on charges that were later overturned. He was in Canton last week for talks and events at St. Lawrence University, and sat down with Martha Foley.  Go to full article
NYCLU says this kind of solitary confinement cell is widely used in New York's prisons, including Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone. Source: NYCLU
NYCLU says this kind of solitary confinement cell is widely used in New York's prisons, including Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone. Source: NYCLU

NY will limit solitary confinement time for prison inmates

Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to sweeping changes to the way state prisons use solitary confinement. The deal was prompted by a federal lawsuit filed by critics who say thousands of inmates, some of whom are pregnant or have mental illness, are being held for months and even years in isolation, often for minor infractions.

The deal will end the use of solitary confinement for the most vulnerable inmates, and will also mean strict limits on the length of time an inmate can be locked away.

The lawsuit focused in part on inmates housed at Upstate Correctional Facility in Malone, but will affect disciplinary procedures at a dozen state prisons across the North Country.  Go to full article
View from a subway platform in Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of the neighborhoods in New York city with the highest concentration of men and women admitted to prison. Photo: Natasha Haverty
View from a subway platform in Bedford-Stuyvesant, one of the neighborhoods in New York city with the highest concentration of men and women admitted to prison. Photo: Natasha Haverty

Cuomo: "reducing the madness of an incarceration society"

Cuomo also talked about the state of prisons in New York yesterday. And according to the Governor, there's good news, and there's bad news.  Go to full article
Community leaders meeting in Chateaugay to orchestrate fight to save the state correctional facility. Photo: Brian Mann
Community leaders meeting in Chateaugay to orchestrate fight to save the state correctional facility. Photo: Brian Mann

How prisons became the North Country's normal

This year, North Country Public Radio has been looking in-depth at New York's Rockefeller drug laws and how those laws reshaped our state over the last forty years.

This week, the series will focus on the North Country, which is home to more than a dozen state and federal prisons.

Corrections work has grown into one of the region's biggest and most controversial industries, providing thousands of high paying jobs, and anchoring the economies in towns from Malone to Moriah.

As part of our Prison Time Media Project, Brian Mann has a special report on how the North Country became a magnet for new prisons and how the industry is facing new scrutiny.  Go to full article
Democrat Nicole Duvé (left) faces a challenge from Republican Mary Rain for St. Lawrence County district attorney. Photos: David Sommerstein
Democrat Nicole Duv (left) faces a challenge from Republican Mary Rain for St. Lawrence County district attorney. Photos: David Sommerstein

Accusations, but little information, in St. Lawrence DA race

The district attorney race has dominated the election season in St. Lawrence County. Incumbent Democrat Nicole Duv has run a low-key - you could say, lawyerly - campaign for a third term. Republican challenger Mary Rain, on the other hand, has aggressively attacked Duv's record and credibility, while calling for change.

Both women have their vulnerabilities. Duv failed to get convictions on two high profile murders. Rain left her job as the county public defender under mysterious circumstances two years ago.

David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article
The Hogansburg Triangle is in pink on this map.
The Hogansburg Triangle is in pink on this map.

Judge sustains part of Mohawk land claim

Native tribes' claims to ancestral lands in New York haven't fared so well recently. In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court essentially dismissed the Oneida Nation's land claim, saying too much time had passed since the 18th century treaties the claims are based on. Other courts have followed that ruling with other tribes' land claims.

So this week, when a judge recommended throwing out 85% of the Mohawk land claim in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe focused on the 15% that has a chance to survive. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article
Protestors outside the state house
Protestors outside the state house

Vermonters protest Citizens United, call for constitutional amendment

Saturday marked the two-year anniversary of the supreme court Citizens United decision. The court voted 5-4, saying that corporations have the same protected speech rights as people, including the right to make unlimited financial contributions to groups who want to influence elections. That's upsetting to a lot of Vermonters. And as Sarah Harris reports, they're working to change it.  Go to full article

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