Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Source: Prison treats inmates too harshly – Rockford Register Star

Richard’s case was set for jury trial today, but really stood little chance of going forward. The State became aware that one of it’s expert witnesses who lives out of state is unable to appear at trial now in November due to her medical condition. It is a general prerequisite in criminal trials that witnesses testify at trial in-person, because all defendants have the legal right to face their accusers and cross-examine them in-person. Judge Collins knows this and does not want to allow anything wrong to happen in Richard’s case which can be reversed later on appeal.  The State tried to argue that with modern technology, the witness could appear via Skype, but no Illinois caselaw supports this, so Collins was forced, once again, to reset the trial date. Any trial delay, like this which is caused by the State is usually assessed against the State’s deadline to bring someone to trial in a timely manner, but Collins assessed the delay to Richard instead.  However, the State lost in it’s attempt to have her to reschedule the trial to Feb 6, 2016. It will now instead begin on February 21, 2016, barring the occurrence of any other delays.

A number of issues still remain to be decided by Judge Collins anyways concerning what evidence will be allowed to be presented by each side and how the evidence will be presented. Any trial delay now is minor considering, it took the State years to charge this case in the first place. This delay does however, give the defense additional time now to prepare it’s witnesses and evidence and hopefully procure some expert testimony on Richard’s behalf. Richard’s attorneys have cited a lack of time in which to do this and this delay should now take away that excuse.

Decatur – Today Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice, Rita B. Garman, announced that news cameras are permitted in Illinois courtrooms.   The decision comes after a four year pilot project which allowed media cameras in certain courtrooms on an experimental basis.   Macon County State’s Attorney, Jay Scott, says he’s not a big fan of the Extended Media Coverage or (EMC).   “I really wasn’t in favor of it when they came out with the idea of cameras in the courtroom,” says Scott. “After doing the one trial that’s been televised in Macon County it’s like we didn’t even know the cameras were there.”   Scott says that he thinks the cameras could create an uncomfortable atmosphere for witnesses.   “I think is some cases you’re going to have people not wanting to come to court to testify,” says Scott. “I think in those situations when you’re dealing with very dangerous criminals that are on trial it could have an intimidating effect on witnesses.”   According to the Illinois Supreme Court, the continued goal of promoting transparency, accountability and accessibility to the court system is why cameras were implemented in courtrooms.   Only 15 judicial circuits in the state of Illinois have been approved to use cameras in courtrooms. Those circuits that have not joined will not be forced to do so.   Chief Judge of the Sixth Judicial Court in Illinois, Dan Flannell, says that Macon County has been a part of the pilot project and will now be grandfathered in with the new policy to continue to have EMC in the courtrooms.

Source: Illinois Supreme Court adopts permanent policy for Extended Media Coverage in courtrooms | NowDecatur

By Jeff Kolkey Staff writer

Posted Jun. 24, 2016 at 12:14 PM
Updated Jun 24, 2016 at 5:37 PM

ROCKFORD — Digital scanners tuned to Rockford police channels will fall silent Aug. 1.

Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea is ordering all digital radio communications to be transmitted over only encrypted channels starting in August, preventing members of the public and news organizations from listening to police radio traffic. O’Shea said he is concerned about officer safety and individuals’ privacy rights and worries that open communication tips off criminals to police movements.

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department may follow suit next year.”I’m not trying to hide anything,” O’Shea said today. “It’s not about cutting off the media or the public.”

O’Shea said technology had made it easier for criminals to glean information from police radio traffic that can thwart law enforcement, give suspects advanced notice of imminent law enforcement activity and compromise investigations.

The change to encrypted channels involves reprogramming police radios at virtually no cost, O’Shea said.Plans are for the department to continue keeping a police blotter, Facebook page and Twitter feed to disseminate information to the public.

O’Shea said the department plans to establish a dedicated news media hotline and create a 911 call log that journalists and the public can use to monitor criminal and police activity.It has not been determined how often the log will be updated and published. And O’Shea said it will be scrubbed of calls, such as child sex crimes and “certain domestics,” the police department determines are inappropriate to publish.

“With what we are putting in place, I feel very comfortable it won’t decrease our transparency,” O’Shea said.Don Craven, an attorney for the Illinois Press Association, said the shift to encrypted police communications is becoming more common in the state and in jurisdictions across the country. Police encryption raises the chance that the police department itself becomes the sole source of news and information about crime, he said.

“It’s going to make it very difficult to have immediate knowledge of what’s going on,” Craven said. “I’m not sure if this was designed to keep nosy reporters from knowing what’s going on, or if that’s an aftereffect.”

Source: Rockford to scramble all police radio communication – News – Rockford Register Star – Rockford, IL

Sunshine Week

Posted: March 16, 2016 by scaryhouse in Uncategorized

Open government is good government March 13-19, 2016
Join ASNE and the Reporters Committee in the annual nationwide celebration of access to public information and what it means for you and your community. Find all the free resources you need to get started


By Michelle ShermanOf GateHouse Media Illinois

Posted Feb. 29, 2016 at 5:24 PM CANTON — The Illinois budget crisis continues to hit home as Canton officials recently learned the state owes $674,000 for various services at Illinois River Correctional Center.

Finance Committee Chairman Jim Nelson said Monday he learned last week the state is that far in arrears to the city for three different services — water and sewer services to Illinois River, bulk sewer bills and two quarters of payments on an annual intergovernmental agreement for maintenance on shared roadways.

He was unsure how long it has been since the city received a payment, but asked that a discussion item be added to the City Council’s agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.“That’s a good portion of our bond payment” for water and sewer, he said. “It’s a very big number.”

LouAnn Armstrong, an accountant with Clifton Larson Allen who serves as comptroller and budget director for the city, says the Illinois Department of Corrections last received a bill on Feb. 23, but was unsure how far behind it is on payments.Because of the state budget impasse, vouchers requesting payment of bills cannot be released by the IDOC to Comptroller Leslie Munger’s office, said Rich Carter, Munger’s press secretary.

“We physically make the payment, but we can’t do that without a voucher,” and vouchers cannot be sent without a state budget, Carter said.

Source: Illinois owes $674,000 for services at Canton correctional center – News – Journal Star – Peoria, IL


Inmates know them as “Orange Crush.” They are an elite, mobile Illinois Department of Corrections tactical unit, which civil rights lawyers say regularly humiliated and terrorized more than a thousand Illinois inmates on various occasions using tactics such as forcing them to march naked in single-file, tight formations, causing men’s genitals to press against the buttocks of men in front of them.

The special squad calls the exercise “nuts-to-butts,” according to a civil rights class-action lawsuit. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in East St. Louis, and state prison officials aren’t commenting on it.

Members of the tactical unit begin the tactic by running onto a prison tier when female guards are sometimes also present, “whooping,” banging on metal tables and shouting to prisoners: “Get butt-naked.”

The guards do this, according to the lawsuit, while dressed in orange fatigues, wearing helmets, carrying clubs and chanting “Punish the inmate. Punish the inmate.”

Hundreds of prisoners at a time were marched in this way in April of 2014 at four Southern Illinois prisons while being threatened by laughing guards who shouted they would be taken immediately to solitary confinement if they allowed any daylight between themselves and the man in front of them, the plaintiffs’ lawyers allege. Prisoners were eventually led to an exercise area and made to stand for hours with their faces pressed against a wall while their hands were cuffed behind them in a “stress” position. During this time, other members of the guard unit searched the prisoners’ cells for contraband.

“This is above and beyond what I’ve seen ever in the 35 years I’ve been doing this kind of work,” said civil rights attorney Alan Mills of the Chicago-based Uptown People’s Law Center, one of two law firms pressing the lawsuit. “This is part of some official policy. Higher-ups in IDOC will have to explain what in the world they were thinking when they gave these people this kind of direction and leeway.”

Alan Mills, attorney for inmates Mills said the practice continued on at least a few occasions after the lawsuit was filed in 2015.

Source: Lawsuit: ‘Orange Crush’ guard unit terrorized, humiliated Southern Illinois inmates | Belleville News-Democrat

Five books you should read, now that you’ve watched Making A Murderer and have no idea what to do.

1. The Innocent Killer: A True Story of a Wrongful Conviction and its Astonishing Aftermath by Michael Griesbach is a true crime book about Steven Avery’s case, which looks ultimately frustrating to read after watching Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi’s documentary series. Written by a Manitowoc county prosecutor, the book tells what was until recently the prevailing story about Steven Avery: that of a man wrongfully convicted for rape, who went on to commit murder. Although the book was controversial for being “overly critical of the authorities” when it came out, Griesbach argues that “the authorities got it right this time.”

2. Essentials Of The Reid Technique: Criminal Interrogation and Confessions by Fred E. Inbau, John E. Reid, Joseph P. Buckley, Brian C. Jayne. This manual describes the interview method widely used by police in the United States—a method that is thought to be particularly effective at “extracting the truth from those who are often unwilling to provide it.” In 2012, the president of John E. Reid and Associates posted a document responding to defense expert Richard Leo’s criticisms of the way the technique was used to elicit a confession from Brendan Dassey. Douglas Starr’s 2013 New Yorker article on police interrogation reports that Saul Kassin, a legal scholar widely regarded as a leading expert on false confessions, “believes that the Reid Technique is inherently coercive.”

3. Worse than the Devil: Anarchists, Clarence Darrow, and Justice in a Time of Terror Paperback by Dean A. Strang. One half of Steven Avery’s defense team wrote his own true crime book about anarchists and a miscarriage of justice that took place in Wisconsin in 1917.

4. False Justice: Eight Myths That Convict the Innocent by Jim Petro and Nancy Petro is listed as recommended reading by the Innocence Project. It presents in detail the many assumptions at work in the justice system, which can lead to a wrongful conviction.

5. The Innocents by Taryn Simon is a powerful selection of portraits of men who were wrongfully convicted of serious crimes and later exonerated by DNA evidence. The mugshot-style photographs are accompanied by commentary from Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, the lawyers who founded the Innocence Project.

Source: Five books you should read, now that you’ve watched Making A Murderer and have no idea what to do. | New Republic