It also noted that a robust state regulatory approach

This preview shows page 234 - 235 out of 239 pages.

of marijuana so long as states comply with certain federal priorities, such as prohibiting sale of drugs to children or transport of drugs across state lines. It also noted that a robust state regulatory approach to marijuana may prevent organized crime from benefiting from the illicit marijuana trade. Washington and Colorado moved forward with implementation of state ballot initiatives to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, as well as to regulate its production, sale, and distribution. Twenty other US states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Prison Conditions September 2013 marked the 10-year anniversary of the passage of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), which resulted in the development of national standards to detect, prevent, and punish prison rape. Implementation remains a challenge: approximately 4 percent of state and federal prison inmates and 3 percent of jail inmates report having experienced one or more incidents of sexual abuse in 2011-2012, and many incidents continue to go unreported. Transgender prisoners continue to experience high levels of violence in detention. Many prisoners and jail inmates—including youth under age 18—are held in solitary confinement, often for weeks or months on end. In July, an estimated 30,000 inmates in California’s prison system engaged in a hunger strike to protest conditions, including the use of solitary confinement. Prolonged solitary confinement is considered ill- treatment under international law and can amount to torture. Poverty and Criminal Justice Poor defendants across the country languish in pretrial detention because they are too poor to post bail. The most recent data indicates 60 percent of jail inmates—at a cost of $9 billion a year—are confined pending trial, often because they lack the financial resources to secure their release. In 2013, the chief judge of New York supported legislative reforms that would begin to reduce the pretrial incarceration of indigent defendants. Extremely high court fees and surcharges are also increasingly common, as cash-strapped counties and municipalities often expect their courts to pay for themselves or even tap them as sources of public revenue. The impact on poor defendants is particularly harsh. Practices that exacerbate and even punish economic hardship are increasingly common. In Arkansas, tenants who fall behind on their rent face criminal prosecution. In states across the US, courts put hundreds of thousands of misdemeanor offenders on probation with private, for-profit companies that charge local authorities nothing for their services but collect tens of millions of dollars in fees each year from the offenders they supervise. In August, a decade after a group of inmates’ families filed a petition challenging the exorbitant rates charged for interstate jail and prison phone calls, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to cap the cost of the calls. In cities throughout the US, homeless people are targeted and arrested under laws that prohibit loitering, sitting, and occupying public space. Youth in the Criminal Justice System In nearly all US jurisdictions, substantial numbers of youth offenders are tried in adult court and sentenced to serve time in adult jails and prisons. The widespread practice of sentencing youth offenders to life without the possibility of parole is

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture