Criminal Justice News

A criminal justice good-news story you should know about

In April 2018, I attended the Equal Justice Initiative’s Peace and Justice Summit in Montgomery, Alabama.

I was pumped about hearing from frontline criminal justice advocates, including Michelle Alexander, Senator Cory Booker, and Anne Deavere Smith.

I wasn’t disappointed. Their message: continue the fight to reform our broken criminal justice system one community at a time.

In Birmingham, Alabama, LaTonya Tate, mother of a formerly incarcerated son, (now on parole after serving eight years for robbery), is doing just that.

According to, Tate plans to create the Alabama Justice Initiative to work with state officials “to integrate community-based practices into the states parole system.”

More importantly, she wants to assist parolees and their families in adjusting to life after prison. She’s off to a good start with an $87,000 grant earmarked for criminal justice reform initiatives.

“What intrigued me was that my son was a first-time offender. Why weren’t there any alternatives for him? Why are there so many African-American men going to prison?” Tate asked “But I learned throughout this journey there aren’t any alternatives.”

Tate plans to change that in her home state.





Criminal Justice News

Podcast watch; some states have reduced prison populations

Podcasts to follow

On my podcast, One Mother’s Voice:In the Name of Justice (on hiatus until January 2019), my message is: to bring about meaningful reforms in our criminal justice system, those of us affected–either directly or indirectly–should understand how its laws, policies, and practices impact our families and communities.

Two podcasts with differing approaches to educating their audiences are Serial and Pearl329’s Start the Conversation.


According to Huffington Post, “The new season returns to the show’s criminal justice roots by chronicling the criminal court system in Cleveland, with new episodes launching each Thursday.”

In its first season, the award-winning team, headed by Sarah Koenig, examined whether Baltimore teenager, Adnan Syed, was wrongfully convicted for the murder of  his girlfriend. Earlier this year, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that Syed has the right to a new trial based on his claim of “ineffective assistance of counsel.”

The third season, which begins September 30, “will track several storylines over multiple episodes, following criminal cases from the courtroom to defendants’ and witnesses’ homes.”

Start the Conversation

Start the Conversation is the brainchild of Eve Pollard, who describes herself as “wife and mother,” “soldier,” and “athlete.”

The podcast is dedicated to the memory of her brother, Eric “Maze” Moyler, who died suddenly in March, at age 30; he had served time in two New York State prisons.

Her podcast focuses on airing the experiences of those affected by the incarceration of a family member.

She believes that “it is important for families of inmates….(to have) conversations about the toll that prison takes on families.”

The show’s intimate feel derives from Pollard sharing her personal observations and experiences and speaking with the parents, siblings, and children of inmates.

The podcast is part of her overall mission, which includes sponsoring an event, “Run to Reform.”

Through sharing resources on wealth-building, goal-setting, healthy living, and personal growth, she hopes to empower individuals and communities to make positive changes.

Slow, but steady, progress

Reductions in some states’ prison populations is cause for measured optimism.

The Sentencing Project reports: “Since 2016, most states have modestly reduced their prison populations. These prison population reductions have come about through a mix of changes in policy and practice designed to reduce admissions to prison and term lengths. Changes in New Jersey led to a prison population reduction of 37% in 2016 from its peak in 1999.

New York’s prison population also peaked in 1999, and through a combination of policy and practice changes that largely affected drug enforcement and sentencing in New York City, declined by 31% by 2016.

Connecticut’s 28% decline in prison population since its 2007 peak has been attributed to policy shifts such as reducing prison admissions for technical parole and probation violations as part of the Second Chance Society Initiative and reclassifying drug possession offenses to misdemeanors.”

For a more detailed look at other states that have reduced their prison populations visit The Sentencing Project website.





Criminal Justice News

News: prisoners trapped inside mandatory evacuation zone in SC; bad news out of Nevada

Prisoners in more ways than one?

Why am I not surprised that prisoners in three South Carolina prisons will not be among those removed from Hurricane Florence’s destructive path, even though they are within the mandatory evacuation zone.

The welfare of prisoners is seldom a priority, only the perception that administrators are doing their best. According to prison officials, it’s “safer” for prisoners to stay put. They also cite public safety and the possibility for escape as reasons for their decision.

While these might be legitimate concerns, the plight of those trapped in cells should take precedence.

An article in yesterday’s The New Yorker, states: “During Hurricane Katrina, people were trapped in flooded cells with nothing to eat or drink. Last year, after Hurricane Harvey, prisoners reported flooding in cells; a man in a Texas prison told me that he lost access to functioning toilets and running water.”

Families of prisoners say that they could not get any information about the South Carolina Department of Corrections’s plans for evacuation.

No surprise here.

Bad news out of Nevada

In a decade, when advocates are striving to reverse policies that led to mass incarceration-from mandatory minimum sentencing to unfair bail practices–my home state, Nevada, is bucking the trend with an imprisonment rate 15 percent above the U.S. average. 

The Crime and Justice Institute (CJI) released a report on Wednesday, which states:

  • NV prison admissions have increased 6 percent in the past decade;
  • the female population (less than 10 percent of the inmate population) has increased 39 percent;
  • slightly more than 50 percent have been identified as having mental health issues.

On another note, Nevada Department of Correction Director James Dzurenda is battling a lawsuit for authorizing the use of midazolam, a sedative, for the lethal cocktail used in executions. Alvogen, which manufactures the drug, does not want it used in unintended ways.

(Midazolam was not purchased from Alvogen but from third a party, after the state’s supply of a similar drug ran out.)

In the meantime, Scott Dozier’s twice-delayed execution for the horrific killings of two drug-associates is postponed until the Nevada Supreme court hears oral arguments on September 21.

Dozier’s execution will be the first in ten years.

Ask One Mother’s Voice

If you are the mother of an incarcerated son and have questions or concerns, please contact me at or on Twitter @onemothersvoice.