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Plea Deal Frees Prisoner but Prolongs Battle Over JLWOP Retroactivity


George Toca, sentenced as a teen to life without parole in 1985  has been released from a Louisiana prison after Orleans Parish prosecutors allowed him to enter an Alford plea, leading to the vacation of his previous sentence. Toca’s case has been at the center of the ongoing legal battle to determine the retroactivity of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling in Miller vs. Alabama. According to SCOTUS Blog Toca’s case had been scheduled to be heard by the court this year and would have addressed retroactivity at least in Toca’s case. “Over the past year, the Court has several times turned down the same plea that it agreed to hear in Toca’s case. Continue Reading →

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How Ga. Drug Court Saved the Davis Family

Davis family

TALKING ROCK, Ga. — Not long before Tony and April Davis met, he was facing up to 60 years in prison for robbery and drug charges. April’s young children had been taken from her and placed in foster care. She was also facing jail time for drug use and child neglect. Neither seemed like good candidates for eHarmony.

Recently Tony, 50, April, 40, and their two children, Austin Ramsey, 16, and Sara Ramsey, 12, spoke to the JJIE about their past struggles and how ultimately the Pickens County Drug Court played a major role in bringing the family together and setting them on the road to a new life. Continue Reading →

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Protesters Seek NYPD Policy Change in Spirit of Dr. King

Azra Tahirovic holds a hand-drawn portrait of King.

NEW YORK — The image and words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. could be seen and heard everywhere the Dream4Justice march went, from Harlem to Midtown, Monday afternoon. But as the marchers walked a slow and peaceful four miles over as many hours, King’s voice mixed with the protesters’ now familiar chants: “I have a dream” alongside “I can’t breathe” and “No justice, no peace.”

King’s memory brought organizers and protesters together but the marchers’ demands came from more recent deaths. In memory of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and others who had been killed by police, the march ended near the United Nations to bring attention to police brutality as a human rights issue. Marchers called for immediate policy change at the city and state levels in keeping with King’s philosophy. “We are non-violent but we are not peaceful,” said Tamika Mallory, an organizer and board member of The Gathering for Justice. Continue Reading →

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Gov. Cuomo Commish: New York State Should Raise the Age to 18

Gov. Andrew Cuomo

New York state should raise the age that youths can be tried and convicted as adults to 18, a commission appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo recommended Monday. Cuomo, speaking in Albany, said he planned to propose the recommendations of the Governor’s Commission on Youth, Public Safety & Justice as a legislative package to the State Assembly. In a 164-page report, the commission said its recommendations would reduce by 1,500 to 2,400 the number of crimes against people across the state every five years while saving taxpayer dollars. And pointing to states including Connecticut and Illinois that have raised the age of criminal responsibility, the report said recidivism and juvenile crime rates can be lowered through “evidence-based” interventions that steer nonviolent young offenders out of the juvenile justice system and into family mental health or other services. “Extensive research on the significant negative impacts on adolescents of incarceration in adult jails and prisons has brought a sense of urgency for reform,” the report stated. Continue Reading →

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