Should Former Gov. McDonnell be allowed to remain free during the appeal process? Should everyone appealing their case be allowed to remain free?
Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell Denied Request to Remain Free During Appeal
A request to keep former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell free during his appeal has been denied, reports Mike Valerio of NBC12.
McDonnell will be ordered to report to prison within the next several weeks to begin serving time for his corruption conviction, Valerio reports. Meanwhile, he has 90 days to ask the Supreme Court to review his case.
McDonnell said in a statement that he was “saddened by the court’s decision today to deny me freedom while I pursue vindication.”
“I am innocent of these charges and will petition the U.S. Supreme Court for a grant of bond,” McDonnell said.
McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, were convicted of doing favors for a wealthy businessman in exchange for more than $165,000 in gifts and loans. Bob McDonnell was sentenced to two years in prison; his wife to one year and one day. They have remained free on bond while they pursued separate appeals in the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The appeals court last week refused to reconsider a three-judge panel’s unanimous ruling upholding Bob McDonnell’s convictions but said nothing about his bond status. McDonnell asked the court to state in writing that he can remain free while he seeks Supreme Court review. Prosecutors opposed the request, arguing that McDonnell should begin serving his term now that the appeals court has finished with the case.
Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who closely follows the Richmond-based appeals court, said he doubts the Supreme Court will allow McDonnell to remain free.
“I think there’s a chance, but it’s probably a longshot,” Tobias said Thursday.
Legal experts say that once the appeals court completes its review and a conviction is final, the federal probation office compiles information about the defendant’s case and background and forwards it to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. The agency analyzes the information and determines what type of programs the defendant might need — substance abuse counseling or high school equivalency courses, for example — and determines the appropriate security level and designates a prison. The agency then sends a certified letter to the defendant telling him where and when to report to prison.
The process can take a few weeks.
When the former governor was sentenced in January, his lawyers asked U.S. District Judge James Spencer to recommend that McDonnell be sent to the low-security federal prison camp in Petersburg, Virginia. The Bureau of Prisons considers judges’ recommendations along with other factors, such as available space.
McDonnell’s lawyers weren’t immediately available for comment Thursday afternoon.
McDonnell was convicted on 11 public corruption charges. The case derailed the career of a rising Republican star who had been viewed as a possible running mate to presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012.
The appeals court will hear arguments in Maureen McDonnell’s case in late October. Late Wednesday, she filed a brief saying the recent appeals court decision in her husband’s case shouldn’t mean her own appeal suffers the same fate.
For 10-extra credit points, please comment on President Obama’s Smart Probation strategies for drug offenders. Do you think repeat drug offenders should get probation?
Alternatives to Incarceration
Federal, state, and local leaders are looking for innovative ways to improve public health and public safety outcomes, while reducing the costs of criminal justice and corrections. A number of innovative strategies can save public funds and improve public health by keeping low-risk, non-violent, drug-involved offenders out of prison or jail, while still holding them accountable and ensuring the safety of our communities.
The Obama Administration is committed to funding and evaluating the long-term effects of these innovative criminal justice and corrections interventions. Meanwhile, Federal agencies will continue to seek opportunities to expand smart probation and problem-solving court initiatives around the country in collaboration with state, local, and tribal agencies. In recognition of the considerable potential in cost savings, improved outcomes for offenders, and improved public safety, a growing number of state and local officials around the country are starting their own promising initiatives to break the cycle of drug use, crime, and incarceration.
Nearly every state is struggling with significant shortfalls in revenue and making significant cuts to spending in order to close budget gaps. In making these cuts, many states are focusing attention on corrections spending, one of the fastest growing lines in state budgets over the past two decades. Many states are pursuing a justice reinvestment approach, using data to determine what has been driving the growth in the prison population and how that growth might be stopped. In addition, small investments have been made in programs designed to reduce recidivism.
New policies have been enacted, slowing the growth of prison populations or even downsizing corrections systems, saving states hundreds of millions of dollars. A portion of those savings are being reinvested in community-based services and supports, including substance abuse treatment. But to have meaningful impact on behaviors that contribute to crime, recidivism, and substance abuse, states must focus on a handful of proven strategies that will maximize the impact of limited investments being made in the treatment of substance use disorders and community supervision.
Smart Probation Strategies
Probation officers in the United States often find themselves with large, unmanageable caseloads, while judges are forced to choose between sending repeat offenders away for long periods of time or ignoring probation or parole violations altogether. However, “smart” justice systems now offer better, cheaper, and more effective options. A growing number of states and localities are implementing strategies to improve outcomes and reduce the burden of drug-involved offenders on their criminal justice and corrections systems.
Smart Probation—Project HOPE
To date, the most well-studied smart probation approach is Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) program, which is showing promising results in reducing drug use and recidivism. Started in 2004, the HOPE program uses drug testing and swift, certain sanctions to change a probationer’s drug using and criminal behavior. Since 2009, more than 1,500 probationers (one in every six felony probationers in Oahu) have been enrolled in HOPE.
Smart Probation—The 24/7 Sobriety Project
The 24/7 Sobriety Project is a court-based program designed to reduce the re-offense rates of repeat Driving Under the Influence (DUI) offenders. Started as a pilot project in South Dakota in 2005, the 24/7 Project requires participants to maintain full sobriety, meaning no use of alcohol or illegal drugs, in order to keep their driving privileges and stay out of jail.
Emergency Declared in Ferguson After Shooting
FERGUSON, Mo. — The St. Louis County executive declared a state of emergency here on Monday as officials and activists sought to regain control of the volatile streets after plainclothes police officers shot and critically wounded an 18-year-old black man who they said was firing on them late the night before.
The police said the man, Tyrone Harris Jr., was among two groups of young people who exchanged gunfire near peaceful protests late Sunday on the first anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed teenager who was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson. Prosecutors on Monday charged Mr. Harris, of the St. Louis suburb Northwoods, with 10 counts, including four of felony assault on a law enforcement officer.
The declaration of a state of emergency by the county executive, Steve Stenger, empowered the county police force and its top commander, Chief Jon Belmar, to oversee police operations in and around Ferguson, where police units from surrounding towns arrived on Monday to bolster efforts to maintain calm. Gunfire on the fringes of demonstrations commemorating Mr. Brown’s death — which set off looting, arson and confrontations with the police last year — unnerved residents and demonstrators over the weekend.
“The recent acts of violence will not be tolerated in a community that has worked so tirelessly over the last year to rebuild and become stronger,” Mr. Stenger said in a statement. “Chief Belmar shall exercise all powers and duties necessary to preserve order, prevent crimes, and protect the life and property of our citizens.”
On Monday, protesters who had commemorated Mr. Brown throughout the weekend staged acts of civil disobedience across the region. They protested incarceration rates and prison contractors in Clayton, the county seat, and held a rally outside the federal courthouse in St. Louis, where nearly five dozen people were arrested. Another 60 or so were arrested after blocking traffic for about 30 minutes during the evening rush on Interstate 70 in the St. Louis suburbs.
Around 10 p.m., police officers and state troopers began to make arrests after some demonstrators did not clear West Florissant Avenue, which was scarred by vandalism and looting a year ago. There were isolated scuffles, and some frozen water bottles were hurled toward officers. Some protesters were not so quick to embrace the police version of the shooting of Mr. Harris, whose family has questioned whether he fired on the police or was even carrying a weapon. The authorities said they had recovered a 9-millimeter Sig Sauer next to Mr. Harris that was reported stolen last year.
Still, there seemed to be agreement among some protest leaders — many of whom were from the region, but others who had come into town to commemorate Mr. Brown — that much of the trouble has been caused by young people with no connection to the demonstrations and who were hanging out along the street.
“We continually talk and engage folks and try to help them understand what it is to actually be in confrontation, what resistance looks like, what organized resistance looks like versus like some of what happened last night,” Montague Simmons, the executive director of the Organization for Black Struggle, said Monday. “Some of those folks were not there to protest, obviously. They were just there for their own reasons. I guess the point for us is making sure we’ve got enough people on hand that when that happens, we’re able to help keep folks safe.”
Is it a crime to lie about your income to get free or reduced lunch for your kids? Please respond and earn 10 extra points this week!
Five Government Accountability Office Employees’ Accused of Cheating School Lunch Program
The integrity of five Government Accountability Office employees, including a school board member, are under scrutiny because of a school lunch theft probe by their employer.
The employees and the husband of an employee lied about their income to get free and reduced-price lunches for their children, according to the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s Office.
GAO, which audits federal programs looking for possible abuse, found the five employees during a routine examination of the U.S. meals program.
“We were both disappointed and surprised during the course of our investigation to discover some of our own employees might be involved,” a GAO spokesman Charles Young said in a statement. “We will now be monitoring the judicial process and then determine what personnel actions might be appropriate.”
The employees are accused of under-reporting their income or reporting no income to qualify for the school lunch program. From 2010-14, the children of Barbara Rowley, Jamilah Reid, Tracy Williams, Charlene Savoy and Lynette Mundey received almost $11,500 in reduced lunches.
“They’re stealing federal dollars that could be going to other students,” state’s attorney’s spokesman John Erzen said.
County Executive Rushern Baker appointed Mundey to the new, hybrid school board of appointed and elected members in 2013. She is scheduled to resign later this month.
“She is not above the law,” Erzen said. “She’s going to be treated just as any other normal citizen would.”
A statement from Baker’s office said he is “… deeply disappointed with the news of indictments of GAO employees … and specifically Board of Education Member Lyn Mundey … These allegations of improper use of critical and much needed federal program are disheartening and concerning. ”
James Pinkney, the husband of a GAO employee, failed to report his wife’s salary when applying for the program, the state’s attorney’s office said. His family received more than $1,700 in reduced lunches
Pinkney and the five employees are charged with several counts of theft, fraud and filing false applications.
“The actions of these individuals have threatened the integrity of a program meant to help those in need,” State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks said in a statement. “There is no excuse for stealing funds intended to go to children whose parents cannot afford the school lunches.”