New BOP Chief Kathleen Hawk Sawyer: Prison or Rehabilitation?

New Bureau of Prisons Leadership Should Focus on Rehabilitation: (“Over the past decade and a half, many of our state criminal justice systems have abandoned unnecessarily punitive and ineffective practices and instead refocused on rehabilitation and preparing inmates for a successful return to society. Now is the time for the federal system to do the same. * * * Attorney General William Barr’s appointment of Kathleen Hawk Sawyer as the new director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons offers an opportunity to enact change at the federal level. For this to happen, Sawyer will need to show the same commitment, foresight, and drive she demonstrated when she previously held the role. * * * In 2001, when there was strong bipartisan support for so-called ‘tough-on-crime’ policies, Sawyer pushed back and said, ’70-some percent of our female population are low-level, nonviolent offenders.’ Sawyer went on to say that ‘[the fact that these women] have even come into prison is a question mark for me. I think it has been an unintended consequence of the sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimums.’ She concluded by saying that many of the incarcerated women in question should have received probation instead.”)

Criminal Justice Crisis? Blame Prosecutors.

Prosecutors Are Mainly to Blame for the Criminal Justice Crisis: (“In a speech last week at the National Biennial Conference of the Grand Lodge Fraternal Order of Police, Attorney General William Barr lamented the emergence of ‘anti-law enforcement DAs’ who ‘refus[e] to enforce broad swathes of the criminal law.’ Barr cited, in particular, their refusal ‘to prosecute cases of resisting police,’ which Barrs sees as symptomatic of an ‘anti-police narrative [that] is fanning disrespect for the law.’ * * * Barr’s speech paints a grim picture of ‘predators in our society.’ He says that ‘violence, lawlessness, and predation lie just below the surface,’ but it’s worth asking who is really responsible for this predation. * * * If Barr is genuinely worried about respect for the rule of law, he ought indeed to turn his attention to prosecutors, but not the reform-minded prosecutors he damns. Insulated from accountability and empowered with extraordinarily broad discretion, prosecutors are among the greatest dangers to the rule of law and the most socially destructive forces in American life today. * * * If American defendants are innocent until proven guilty as a matter of law, they are nonetheless too often treated as guilty until proven innocent as a matter of fact. Likewise, if the American system is an adversarial jury system in theory, it is in fact a mere ‘administrative process [that] operates within the shell of the due process model’— a process in which prosecutors wield tremendous power and discretion.”)


Computer Fraud and Abuse Act Turns 35

As Federal Anti-Hacking Law Turns 35, Its Meaning, Reach, and Effectiveness Are Still Murky: (“The year was 2012 and Mark Jaffe and Tor Ekeland had just started a law firm. Business was not exactly booming, and the two had decided to bet their fledgling firm on defending a highly controversial client pro bono. * * * ‘It got really bad at points,’ recalls Jaffe, a partner at Tor Ekeland Law in Brooklyn. ‘It’s: How are we paying rent? Literally, can I get to the courthouse? When’s it going to pay off?'” * * * The client, Andrew Auernheimer, is a hacker who in 2010 had a small internet security company that got into hot water. Going by the online handle ‘weev,’ he’s also ‘a neo-Nazi white supremacist infamous for his internet trolling and extremely violent rhetoric advocating genocide of non-whites,’ according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. * * * Auernheimer was facing two counts under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act—the federal government’s anti-hacking statute—after he and his business partner found a vulnerability on an AT&T website that left iPad users’ information public. Through an automated script, they slurped up 120,000 email addresses and SIM card identifiers. While his partner took a plea, Auernheimer faced 41 months in prison and decided to fight the case.”)

“Culture of Indifference” in Jails

Epstein’s Death Reveals “Culture of Indifference” in Jails: (“Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide has drawn headlines since it happened. But advocates say the only unusual aspect of his death is how much attention it’s receiving. The circumstances are painfully familiar to prisoners, their families, and advocates. * * * On Saturday, Epstein was discovered dead in his cell at the federally run Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York. The billionaire was facing charges of sex trafficking, and accused of targeting underage girls. * * * “He is obviously an unusually unsympathetic character, but when the government takes you into custody, the government assumes a duty to protect you, including to protect you from self-harm and suicide,” said David Fathi, director of the ACLU National Prison Project. ‘And it’s a duty that all too often the government completely fails to discharge.'”)

FBI Surveillance Sets Up Clash with Facebook

Agency Solicits Vendor Proposals to Collect Data from Facebook, Other Social Media to Head Off Safety Threats: (“An effort by the FBI to more aggressively monitor social media for threats sets up a clash with Facebook Inc.’s privacy policies and possibly its attempts to comply with a record $5 billion settlement with the U.S. government reached last month. * * * The Federal Bureau of Investigation is soliciting proposals from outside vendors for a contract to pull vast quantities of public data from Facebook, Twitter Inc. and other social media “to proactively identify and reactively monitor threats to the United States and its interests.”)