« Reveal

10 Years or Life

2018-10-06 | 🔗

An accused man faces an impossible choice in New Orleans. Plus, a new district attorney in Philadelphia sets out to undo the work of those who came before him.

From reporters Eve Abrams and Laura Starecheski, and editor Catherine Winter.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Hey it is your favorite host in all of pod custom. Now for the rest of the year, I'm gonna be asking you to join us by becoming a member of reveal reveal is all about going deep, pulling on threads telling stories that matter for more than three years now reveal has been fighting a lawsuit. That's been jeopardizing our very existence of restoring we, about an organization called planet aid. Our story raises serious questions about whether international aid was actually reaching the people. It was intended to help and what's more, our story was truthful and we stand by it. We believe it is our duty to fight attacks like this, but fighting a lawsuit comes at a huge costs. Are legal fees alone totalled more than seven million dollars? Luckily we have pro bono legal support to help our in house counsel, but it still takes significant resources, resources that should be used to do more public service journalists. This kind of investigative,
it takes time and it cost money. If you believe in the work, we do the absolute best way to support us is by becoming a member of reveal to do it just text. The word reveal two hundred and forty seven, four thousand seven hundred and forty seven standard data rates apply and you can text stop or cancel at any time. Also, all new members who donate at least five dollars a month. We get our facts, t shirt again just text. The word reveal two hundred and forty seven, four thousand seven hundred and forty seven and all you who already support our work. I would offer a deep sincere thanks. We can't do this work without being willing afforded twenty twenty. We have big things plan, so, let's go to some good work together. From the info for reporting in p r ex this is reveal analysis would telling a story today with Eve Abrams Shoe ports on criminal justice in the world
city. This infamous, for its extremely high rate of incarceration evils, the podcast unpleasant fave hand I'm afraid. So, where are we starting? Well, I like to dance so what started this club near my house? It's called the prime example that's Conrad Albert singing, he's the dj, but he is also getting down. Swain is hips, clapping he's wearing a fly, king, all type cap, the kind old men where Conrad is sixty six, but he hopped up on his chair to peer over the GDP. And see how people are damned music. No Conrad works as a security guard, as well as a dj he used to be. The Navy, and then the merchant marine, his son named prince,
Call me criminal his tone, really changes when he's talking about aside near his son, Prince Albert has been locked up for seven years. What, Lake Career family. To have him be away for so long is very, very miss. This should be learning how to explain- when you go out and married every week, so com, and his family are torn apart, not just because princes in jail, but because he's in jail for so long will. What did he do to you looked away, for? computer time it's not so much what he did out. The main reason he still in jail is Louisiana. Three strikes law, it's called the habitual offend our statute and
no, you don't hear about it until someone's charge for some minor cry like stealing a flood of sodas and the district attorney, our chief prosecutor, we on Kennedy Euro uses the law to hammer them the day. Bernard noble has served for years of his more than thirteen year sentence for carrying less than three grams of marijuana. Louisiana has one of the strongest repeat offender laws in the: U S and renewal that could now put a man in prison for a possible twenty years to life for stealing candy bars to Cobia Grimes was one to accept this call there may be a good boy coded I've. Format, Conrad son, Prince in person, but we talk on the phone with it out again. Princes jail, that's over five hours from New Orleans, where he's from the phone is this one huge, noisy room where he also sleeps and eats and spends his days
with over a hundred other men. We ve been talking for months one day prince caught me when I was really stressed out, let my hair down. Did you say you were working? collective, though you cities letter, because these habitual offender statue explained the well prince, was arrested a few times for John charges, which means he's known as a multiple offender or habitual offender, and this law can now be applied to him. Here's how it works, the more times you can made a felony, the harsher and harsher the punishment gets say you get caught with heroin like Prince was the first time you face or to ten years behind bars, then
get caught again now, you're, what's known as a double offender, and you face between five and twenty years. If you get caught a third time, you face a life sentence. Thus the three strikes and people in New Orleans had been telling me. I should do a story about this law for years, because they say that this war, I'm law is a big reason why New Orleans has such a high incarceration rate in our days hands R D. Leon, Kenneth zero. The law becomes a tool to remove people from their families. Our neighborhoods for decades. Often, or non violent crimes, and that's what happened? A prince well hold on. Let me tell you the story go head. It's all you I got to know. Princess family including his sister re Linda, who calls prince by his middle name. Denard, then, is that while there were visit error, I keep what we everybody. Everybody from France,
the family may nearby or they are all he can. See meannesses before he went in whatever re Linda lives, and suburb of New Orleans, where the airport is she has around face and her smile takes up most of it. The law plea ball. Basketball. He was bright day is one trophies. I wish us to hear the choices they lost on that stuffing Katrina real under says there are lucky to have family pictures. Does my father S Basso your idea, which house is full of framed and cabinets hanging on the walls marsala flagged in those big ears debate. Here he looked just like all the Albert Sir Military family models and they re also if so, this was like, following by their air? That's what I can see Farley his father's steps.
Yes, yes, well, I'm the one who gave me that's princes dad again Dj Conrad Laburnum today That may well be nice, but denying these smaller kid you know He couldn't mid career by a few years in, while station near Cuba Prince heard his back during teen operations on his ship. He was honourably discharged, but his career plans, to be a merchant marine like his dad we're squashed work was Now really painful, and here a family to support, maybe doctors prescribed, painkillers and somewhere along the way prince became addicted and then were voted through the street. Ok, small gosh nod without fear
I wasn't there. For the first time prince was arrested and convicted for drugs was in ninety ninety eight distribution of marijuana. Next, two thousand possession of Hair he did five years for that one, two thousand and three fashion of marijuana for months in jail, two thousand and seven possession of marijuana by two thousand eleven prince had five kids, and this was When his life ran headlong into the habitual offend our statute, it happened during a traffic stop Pooh Pooh drawn. A beggar my alarm and they found on board? We ve got arrested, Rebecca the Jersey, to drug charges. Possession of marijuana and possession of heroin prince was being prosecuted in New Orleans by district attorney.
Leon Cannas, arrow, the second man and our story: here's: how can a zero campaign to get the job back in two thousand I am the ploughing war criminal elements on the city zero one that election and the next one he's been the d for ten years, with two more to go: But lately people in New Orleans are not happy with him people have been calling de can zero extreme for years and then in two thousand seventeen New Orleans learned that his office had been sending fake subpoenas two witnesses and also crime victims, even jailed some victims for refusing to cooperate with his office after this became public protesters gathered outside the criminal court house. Focusing our Ani Defranco brought her guitar come along
this vote next time show which sad argue bond. Sad aren't you lock, you ve got I saw it, was just a back a little bit, I mean we ve been seen lots of protests of DA's in the last few years. Since Ferguson, where my browse, killed me yeah. All over the country like in Pittsburgh, in SALT Lake City he has given. Now in States elections are one of the very few weighs two whole days accountable. Another way is money is cynical.
The hearings on the mayor's twenty eighteen proposed budget today will be seriously on Canada, zero in New Orleans City Council hearing from two thousand and seventeen talking, which sometimes sounds like shouting about his budget, while the phone Of the DA's office is shameful. The frightening revelation in the city. Its funding decisions is that it lacks a consistent and coherent criminal justice policy to address rising crime rates. Recipe. Is your budget presentation and good include a budget presentation or just more rhetoric or the record? Yes, we're gonna we're making up programme. Just one that's Jason Williams, then city, council, president, no it's out of line is coming here, continuing with the same irresponsible. Fearmongering mongering that we saw from prison The next seven years ago,
same sort of Willie Horton we ve seen throughout this country. The same type of pay among interferon does feel like he's from a bygone era button that serious Mr Lyon order his greying side parted hair is always perfectly in place. Even when he's upset we're not he had a fair longer anyway. Go. Look at this tactics on the crime rates, and we cannot look at the statistics because you will not turn over your battles in ours. That tells you will not turn over your dad. Don't wait I'll get a dad. Some The data Williams was demanding was about the law we ve been talking about the habitual, offend our statute, several counts members think Canna. Zero uses it like crazy, which is what I'd heard two I'd heard. He used it to lock up thousands of people. The problem is no one knows Dear Cannas, there were still hasn't given Williams. The data he asked for over a year ago didn't give it to me either I wanted to find out how
Many people was he locking up with this law. The answer to that question and what happened to Prince Albert that's coming up after the break on reveal from the centre for investigative reporting and p r eggs from the centre for investigative reporting and p r ex this is revealed, a mallet we'll telling a story about two men Prince Albert is in jail Leon. Can zero is the district attorney who put him thing, DNS era use, Louisiana three strikes law, the habitual offenders statute, to lock up Prince Albert for a really long sentence and rapporteur, even crimes has been hearing a lot that it's not just Prince Albert its thousands of people so Eve. What did the d? I have to say about that the day promised me and energy for the story, but he never gave it to me. I asked
over and over and each time he declined. But I did talk to a ban People from all different sides of the courtroom, the first person used to work for ten zero. As an assistant prosecutor Gregory, Thompson to how I'm wearing your idea. Well read: years, seven years, but indeed years, just like an attempt. Thompson worked for Canada, zero right after he was first elected. I asked him how often the days office used the habitual offenders statute back then mouths are not important. Percent of the time I was just there was a standard bay, was edged deep. Low her heavy office for lack of a better way of describing it. It was the way it was so basically any time they could use the habitual offend our statute. It was the policy of the G8, office in Orleans Parish to use it
I can't figure in this is only one way to think about the habitual offender statute is as a tool like a ranch or a hammer. Something prosecutors can pull out of their tool box when they need it. But it's like D. Ten zero never puts this tool away. Always in his hand for every possible case. There's a mindset that more people we lock up more time that we give you, but the more. I want to stop the crime brown punished vanish from the spanish version. You know harsh sentences are deterrent New Orleans public Different Her Danny and Gomberg says Cannas Errors office still uses the habitual offender statute all the time, and that makes guilt or innocence almost irrelevant. Instead, it's all about a defendants past their record it's. The first thing you're looking at is the start of every analysis of cases.
Free way? You talk to your client has started anyway. You talk to the prosecutor and to the judge. Its even considerations were the prosecutors making bail arguments or even from the moments of your arrest. It's part of the core of the case. I also spoke to see Judge of Orleans Parish Criminal Court Arthur Hunter. It was the middle of summer when it was over a hundred degrees outside. He wasn't wearing a judge's robe. Instead, black polo shirt black pants, given the heat I had to tease about it, isn't a light black or right. This is a light lack. This is not a heavy black
over his blaring air conditioner, the judges job is kind of like our wrath between the defence and the prosecution. I asked Judge Hunner what he thinks of this law takes away the primary function of the judge wishes to fashion a sense. Is this programme specifically for the particular person, because when District attorney's use the habitual offender statute, judges no longer decide how long a person will sit behind bars or under conditions. Instead, mandatory sentences kick in. The judge has no choice. If I have someone who has little health issues or drug abuse issues, I warned that treatment aspect there conform to be part of the sentence with vendor statues via the citizen when the twenty or twenty five years. That won't be there now and taxes. Faint twenty to twenty five thousand a year for someone just to go away and sit
I also went to another city- that's really comparable to New Orleans to find out what their dna does. Andrews is ninety minutes away just up the Mississippi River. Populations of east bat nourish, perish and New Orleans or about the same, and so are there demographics around half white half black their DNA Heller more is really comparable to. For starters, he's from New Orleans just slightly on Cannas era, I lived in a shack in Russia. Are you? Did you prevent recycling I'll, be down on Georgian Wall Street Hell are more attended a private catholic high school which actually play sports again: scanners, arrows private catholic Highschool, both their white men, both have been dossier for a decade now for me, from is just another statutes. Another tool that we could possibly use day more saves this law, for when someone is really dangerous,
the bottom line of everything that is public safety? Can you syrup of safety with no charm in jail or those public safety really demand, Thomas in the ten years he's been D. His office has used this law sixty six times. Now. Let's talk about what d Ten zero does in New Orleans. He wouldn't tell me, but I got a hold of court data in the same ten years. Can a zero has used this same law more than two thousand six hundred times I shared this number with the dossier and his spokesman denied at the deal's off his only son and keeping data on the habitual offend our statute in twenty sixteen, so I asked them to look at the court data. I have I never her back in an email. The dear spokesman said their office uses the lodge judiciously against people, who quote resist rehabilitation and shit.
Instead to commit more felony crimes against more innocent victims. The reason these two days act so different. Because every day has discretion to charge people the way they want to the bottom line is, if prince, had been prosecuted for drug possession and east batten. Ruse or almost anywhere else in Louisiana, he'd likely be home already, from what you say. It sounds like DA's have the power to selectively enforce the law in a way I mean days, do take an oath to uphold the law and ten zero always emphasizes this oath. His duty, not his discretion like here at this their city council meeting where he's defending how we prosecutes marijuana crimes be remiss if I have what I consider to be a plastic killable case and simply said: I'm not gonna plus acute. Because I agree with the law. That's really at best
call that's what you guys do you make the decision whether or not that should be the law or not. It is, I think I have a responsibility to prosecuted if the facts in fact support that. In other words, I dont make the lies. I just enforce them. Or, as we sing in New Orleans why is he doing his job so differently than any other day in the ways? Yet because in New Orleans so zero line is I'm just doing my job. Why is he doing his job so different key any other explain in my name, as a new Orleans when it comes to the habitual offender statute, that's how it's done and this man gesturing from a very squeaky chair, can explain why my name is, No Would I com A criminal law specialists- and I heard that really you go by baggy biggie
the air G, why they knew with the were. Not This is my little domain radiates my war room at its next to his kitchen and fall of paper stacked by his computer taped to the walls. This is where Biggie works, he's been studying the law for decades and back in the seventies, he saw this law, which had been around for a really long time. Basically come back from the dead. Biggie calls the law the multiple bill with
is one of its many names nobody was doing is, but one Harry can came into office. Woah will wait, wait, wait, wait! Wait! A minute here did. Did you just say Harry colleagues, the jazz singer? No, that's junior! This was his dad Harry Conic SR one Harry: can it can my job? Is he used the multiple below two shores talking? This Philip society, that he's gonna put people in jail for the rest of conic, was the yea of New Orleans for thirty years and kind of a tough on crime trailblazer? He first ran in nineteen seventy three and promised to use the habitual offender statute much more aggressively. Here's one of his newspaper adds as strict attorney Harry Conic pledges to use the powers of his office to help remedy is
but time and time again returns habitual offenders to continue their uninhibited crimes against decent citizens. This was the nineteen seventies and I must surging all over the country. People were scared, so they can't Plato that fear, so he brothers law back from when, when start Well, the first mention I found in Louisiana is from eighteen, thirty three. If any person shall a third time be convicted of any crime, you shall be considered as and its office at and be imprisoned at hard labor for life through this, the whole story of in thinking about how race is connected to all of this and in that line unfit for society, I mean a edges sounds like something right out of the races handbook right yeah. I attach historian about that John barred studies, the history of an
our situation in Louisiana at two Lane University? I think the fact that habitual thunder laws- came into the roan as part of this intensely rationalize mass incarceration. Undoubtably speaks to this imagining the contact as a scary, african, american, the kind of man who can never be rehabilitated independent century and for people who couldn't be transformed would become a place for storage and for forced labour, forced labour, well yeah, and this leads us right back to Biggie before he became an act.
On the law. He fought in the Vienna more where he also picked up a drug habit and when he returned home to Louise, the Anna Biggie killed a man and a botched robbery, something here tributes to his addiction and untreated post traumatic stress. He was convicted of murder and was sent to Angola State penitentiary in nineteen. Seventy two, the pic Prendick goal. If you didn't big, pity bounds guy in the morning, you were gonna make it all it didn't. Take that the Basel III, that you were gonna fix it all their scale that there were ever. You turn the going you edit take your God and put it on a scale away. Did you ever have to go to the hall, no alone a picture and quick? This isn't slavery by another name. This is slavery and biggie is living through this in the night.
Seventies. I know I know his story really has stuck with me, especially because, at the same time, Biggie also became what's called a jailhouse lawyer. In fact, he helped create and goal as law, library and after Harry Comic, selected Yea Biggie, noticed something guys we're being prosecuted really. Aggressively under the habitual offender statute and given sentences like a hundred two hundred years for small crimes. People will come in to prison with legs like when we then was like today you there were still a killer they like that bigoted analysis and found the vast majority of guys prosecuted under this law were black here found. There were white man, Conic could have gone after, but didn't, in other words, Conic used his discretion to punish black men more harshly, so in
eighteen. Seventy five biggie and another jailhouse lawyer filed a civil right suit, alleging racial discrimination. They sued comic suit. Her forget, I did it as well. But anyway can it was fling intermodal meals zone lies and pre bull core hers to plead guilty. With its read me now to build a sentence for a life sentence. So a lot of people would play give the even if they were guilty, so be saying this. Coercive innocent people to plead guilty and out. Everybody said it still true in New Orleans, all the lawyers. I talk to you for this story, which will get back to anyway biggest lost. Dude against conning didn't go anywhere, but he was a good jailhouse lawyer.
And after twenty one years in prison, he got himself out on lifetime parole, so kind of began using this large like people up most of them black men, then what happened eight after state started, passing their own, harsher three strikes laws and the prosecutors who came after conic, kept going on I know guess who Harry Conic hired right out of law school to begin assistant d, a luminous Leon. Canada, zero NGO, Mr Conic, was about prosecuting cases. He certainly wanted us to be successful We cannot zero was an assistant, yonder Conic for almost five years. Then he ran for judge and one and for almost two decades. Every case he presided over came from comics
These are the legal waters. Cannas arrow learned to swim. In our I told you, Cannas arrows use the law more than two thousand six hundred times to send people the prison well. Ninety percent of these people have been black ninety per cent New Orleans is only around sixty percent black suit would utilities nothing's really changed from the time Biggie was imprisoned. Even worse now, because so many more people have been locked up and from the inside Prince Albert sees without looks like while we want to build a bridge to the same situation ended. Other people mentioned the habitual offender statute. Well, when we are similar situations prepared knows and everything
and all these other people where they also from Orleans Paris Kenneth Harden, was one of princess attorneys. He's a public defender. Also a sharp dresser blue suit. Pink tie crisp white shirt, Mr Alber, because of his power convictions, his past felonies and the wall drudges. He faces circumstances where the EU decided to go to trial, but face life face life if you lose mandatory life, basically be a pity me of that restructure out April. Sixteen two dozen twelve, Mr Hogg, come to me and tell me what it was all for. There was an ignore one of those prior conditions in charge. Him ass, a double failure. They also include a number the number
they showed was ten flat ten years, in other words, charge prince not for the three strikes just for two double bill: him, Darfur, the bubble brew luggage or from Was this the first time you heard of the habitual offender bill said that those who was Vicksburg River Prince was hoping for drug court some sort of programme to help him kick his habit and stable Five kids like a baby was never really true girl. You feel, like you are being blackmailed more like treadmill course figure a bill prince had to make this decision outside a cramped courtroom. People call the attic was small court room
This is a very now hallway, so allow about conversations we had to have around the corner What is a little bit more standing, and I remember there were two two women with him and his dad Conrad was their narrative at court. Then there would on for me. Just you seem more decent fanned. Maybe he was very emotional and I remember going back and forth because I want to give him the time needed to discuss this with the spam. You wanna be intrusive. Princess sister re Linda, was there to case use a lot of deal. He was only acts. Can I put him in a programme sunlight day to help him Ilsa there were a lot of tears at one point I recalled and being in prayer by Like Lou we hope to get it really just deciding what to do.
This was literally all morning and there was one point where I'll go back to the shop and it seemed like he wanted to take the rest and go to trial, and then there was some point where I just like you know. I take this deal. Can you just travel more time to see if you can, they will lower in which ideas and they didn't I, The more worried about my jewels, my family or every day, covering the bug, begin to spin the, whether this big I remember him saying in a very faint, very defeated
Very low voice to take the deal, one of the things that you have to do when you enter a plea of Guilty- and MR I will have to do prince had to do was one of the form is that I have not been forced, threaten or Hurston to enter his plea of guilty, and he has to initial that and tell that judge when she asked it back to him. Yes, ma'am, whatever you are faced between life or ten years, how is that not coerced? How is that not forced? How is that not threatened, but yet we have people every single day that stand before a judge, and they are entering this because they feel they have to avoid consequence.
Two thousand and twelve, the prince was prosecuted with Canada, heiress high point for using the habitual offend our statute. He prosecuted five hundred people under the law that year it has gone down since then officially, but even these numbers people prosecuted under the law they dont tell the full story. Woody me well. The DA's office also uses this law and indifferent way to get people to plead guilty in cases where the law never appears. On the record, for example, they'll tell someone charged with a misdemeanor crime, a petty offence, plead guilty or will bump the charge to a felony, which is a much more serious crime. New Orleans public defender, Lauren Anderson sees this every day with a quiet has, for example, a symbol battery charge, which is a misdemeanor, but there are some kind of object used and we ve been told you know if they don't play too
over here in my go across the street and aggravated batteries? Are they be looking at twenty to life on it versus the zero to six months, you're saying that they would change the charge so that they could then employ the multiple bell exactly, and there is no record of this. None it's behind the scenes. Part of verbal plea negotiations between prosecutors. Defence attorneys and remember in these cases the day, never officially charges the habitual offend our statute, his prosecutors just say they will, if the defendant doesn't plead guilty, so all traces of the law just disappear, We don't even know how many people were talking about here ray we know, can a zero use, the law and over two thousand six hundred cases, but that number is just the tip of the iceberg.
Of course, Canada refused to be interviewed for this story, which is frustrating because he's an elected official, but he did offer a statement about princess case here. A few parts that stood out to me, Mr Alber voluntarily entered into a plea agreement and received a legal sentence under Louisiana LAW. If he believed himself not guilty, he could have exercised his constant, all right to stand trial then can a said, my hope is that Mr Albert, while ply himself toward programmes by which to better himself and eradicate his substance, abuse issues while imprisoned
after I requested to interview prince, he was moved from one job to another to begin a drug programme. I asked him if this was the first time in a seven years, locked up that he'd been in a programme to treat as addiction. Our connection was in great: when did you the first one to Luminous- and I was like six years into your sense here for a Prince said he took a while for him to enter programme because they didn't really has programmes one dollar. Just wasting time sitting in one dormitory with a hundred and twenty people doing nothing spin, seven years you ve got three to go.
Has anything changed for. You must allow found what you ve been away for those We can communicate. The way you want to communicate me be were met. Are we not start all over again? A few times now, Prince has asked me to give a message to his oldest son: Prince Junior, these jail calls are expensive and his son can always afford them anyway. Prince asks me to tell us on. He misses him, and then he says tell him. I love him and I do. Thanks to Eve Abrams in New Orleans. For that story, her package is called on present next in Philadelphia
Any idea who shaking up the system might be sending the wrong message to people who commit crimes were soft were easy. You ve got a friend in today's office. That's a head on reveal, Therefore, investigative reporting and pr exe, from the centre for investigate reporting in p r ex this is reveal a mallet. So we just the deepened. The world of a very harsh prosecutor in words, but in some places across the? U S, Houston Chicago, even Mississippi, newly elected progressive prosecutors are abandoning tough on crime and been there I'll see to its mercy. Many of them have one elections with help from criminal justice reform. Billionaire George Soros in Philadelphia Soros
almost one point: seven million dollars to back the campaign. Of a man who never prosecutor the case in his life. Further do the district attorney of Philadelphia. Through our reveals, lost or Chaskey has a story. But total outsider, trying to change how justice is done in a slit, co, working space raped by city hall about forty fresh faced distant prosecutors are meeting their new boss thrill to see or hear some of you. I know from interviews. Some of you have never met the eight Larry Cranberries pacing back and forth with a coffee cup trying to convince the new hires in this room. Some just our law school that almost everything we ve heard about being a prosecutor is wrong. The obligation of a prosecutor to seek justice cannot simply be defined
as if this is a sports of it. It's not just patent yourself on back by saying I charge more charges than ever. I charge more defence than ever. I charge the highest charging them case we got more years. We must be keep it everybody safer. Present so adamant, because for decades, fillies jails have been packed with thousands to many people, most of them african American. We reverse, insane money fire of mass incarceration before he was elected Ba crazier was a career civil rights attorney. He's defended black lives matter activists, he sued the police department dozens of times he tells the new recruits his goal to send fewer. People to jail to end mass incarceration and fully entirely
furthermore nodding along, but the old guard prosecutors working at the DA's office. When Craster took the helm last winter, they were a harder cell. We carefully vetted people who we thought might never be down for this mission and we asked them to leave and they left. The purge was on full displays. The file boxes kept rolling out of a visa office. Thirty one staffers, including a number of motor squad prosecutors, high, ranking deputies vision Chiefs were among those terminated. This local ABC News, Footed showed lawyers, mostly older white men, dragging boxes of paper through the January slush, then in February Crasser told me came the document that would come to be known as the memo We have laid down policies that have caused a little bit of commotion, which points in a different direction prisoner had
bullet. It pointed his new policies in an internal staff memo which got leaked. It's a long document here, just a few of those bullet points for most violent crimes. His prosecutor should offer the lowest possible sentence. They should stop charge anybody arrested for marijuana possession they should see charging most prostitution cases, shoplifter stealing small amounts should just get a ticket. The idea was to stop jailing p, who are homeless or poor or who have problems with drugs and get them help instead land attack o runs crass charging unit there. The lawyers who decide which cases to charge and what charges to bring after the police arrest someone. She says a lot of people freaked out when they saw this memo. They act like Crasser was a fling open the jail the worse and let everybody go, but she didn't get with the big deal was
charging small amounts of merriment anymore work. Do it's true but the city had already decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. A few years ago there were here, city, wide initiatives already under way to reduce the jail population and they were working so obvious, and it's not like everybody- was all on fire to prosecute all small amount of marijuana cases or the prostitution cases, but in the day, day grind of hundreds of cases, prisoners, new policies shook things up, be were followed, especially the beginning. A bee unevenly mark hold them is the policy director at the Philly Public Defenders office, but the very fact that a good number of dossiers were actually doing what Mr Grasser laid out in in that memo was truly remarkable. I mean we just had never seen district attorney's willing to take it upon themselves
decline, a case that they think they could actually proved beyond reasonable doubt craswellers office was throwing away easy convictions, at least that's how rich taxis it he's a public defender. Masquerading as the elected DE sacks was a prosecutor in fully. More than thirty five years he retired and twenty seven teen right before cries, nor one, the primary he says presenters Office is sending a clear message to people who commit crimes were soft were easy. You ve got a friend in the days office. Sex told me that he wanted to be wrong about crasser. He wanted to believe that crossness policies wouldn't make Philly a more dangerous city, but sacks has watching. The numbers there's been an increase in shootings already a hundred more this year than this time last year. Even though cry hasn't, stopped, prosecuting violent crimes and never said he would sacks blames him word.
The street really does get out there, and people see that it's a kinder gentler d and that message, I believe in my heart, is manifesting itself in all hell breaking loose since crasser took office. There's been lots of whispering discontent, some right into my ear, but most people are reluctant actually talk on tape. The police department didn't want to talk to me about how officers feel about arresting people only to have the DA's office not charge them. The police union sent along a boy and one paragraph statement saying they look forward to working with Craster a guy who works for a big clothing store here. Doing security really wanted to talk, but his stores corporate office, wouldn't let him he told me shoplifting is a constant problem. He still catches pupil stealing, but now after the police commentary-
stem the DE says to let them go with a chicken when somebody does end up in custody. Prisoners prosecutor sometimes withdraw their case anyway. The guy said one habitual shoplifter came back to his store and stole again so fast that he still had the cheese sandwich from jail in his back back this summer I asked creditors office for some data I wanted eight months into his term. What were they actually doing where the police Stiller still people for prostitution and shoplifting and was his office turning all those cases away. His press guy handed me some statistics about five minutes before I sat down with crasser for an interview so I've just got this and other questions for you, but I'm curious. You know what to do with this. The first time your office has I'm gonna tally of the cases your accepting and declining in this way. This is
The first metrics I have seen we general sense of what we were doing, because we passed certain policies. It could not help but pushes in this direction, but these metrics are the first, that I have seen, and so, for example, they reflect the fact, We are no longer charging sex workers with crimes because simply put we view them for the most part as victims we on the piece of paper. I could see that Overall Craswellers Office had declined to prosecute about seven per cent of the case, Does the police brought them? That means that the police had arrested someone in each of those cases and each time the days office had said. No, let him go we're not charging them under the previous day that rate hovered around two or Three percent two and a half percent declination rate is a rubber stamp. That means whatever the police want is what I will do. Craswellers office is on track to charge about two
I was in fewer we'd possession, prostitution and shoplifting cases this year. That's compared to what the days office did and twenty seventeen two thousand fewer cases so what about all those people, the people prisoners trying to help? by not putting them in jail Diane. I love you too mere we're talking about what it's like in jail. This is Amanda. I met her in Kensington We're headed North Philly people are selling buying injecting drugs out in the open. I'm just gonna use first names for the women I talk to their since they all had outstanding fines and warrants a man says: she's been arrested twelve times for prostitution and told me the cops had sometimes been rough with her arresting or so many times. Also just seem like a waste of resources I think the whole prostitution thing, I think it's a great idea with them, not charging anybody within
This is what I had expected to hear. Then I ducked into the backyard of a recovery house a place for women trying to stop using drugs. To sit down with another woman named Chantelle, I ass gentle. What did she think of creditors decision to stop tar? Jeanne most prostitution cases all year. I don't do that Good idea, Chantelle stop using heroin and moved into this recovery house a few weeks ago, but she's been caught up in uplifting and doing sex work to pay for drugs. For years she kept saying that fillies opium problem is out of control. Especially in this neighbourhood, and it's it's a big problem and understand that people want to touch it and get involved. But if we avoid it is I'm just gonna go away, is not just going away. Does not charging shoplifting and prostitution seem like avoiding the problem to you. Yes, Yes, absolutely avoid their condoning. My bare behaviour Chantelle
is very clear. She is not saying jail is the answer, but the idea of God ignored by law enforcement as flawed as the system is that feels to Chantelle like people in power or saying wheedle care. What have Thanks steel, you and saying: well, we just can't keep send me to jail, so here you go to keep alive in like death. You know It's cool, just keep open in how everything will be. Fine can't help them if somebody's been convicted a few times before for prostitution, craswellers policy is to charge them person sent me a statement saying they do want people like her to have a way out. They see sex workers as victims who need help and the DA's office can help them if somebody's been convicted a few times before for prostitution. Chryslers policy is the charge them and then, instead of sending them to jail, put them in a diversion programme where they get connected to rehab and counselling.
The Crosshairs office also said: charging is really not the best way to help people like Chantelle, because that can leave them stuck with a criminal record bottom line. It should be easier declining the prosecution of dumb. We can put more and better police resources and prosecution resources into the process Nor maintains that the other crimes he's declining to charge, especially marijuana possession just fall into the category of dumb by declining the prosecution of dumb, we can put more and better police resources and prosecution resources into the prosecution of serious crimes, a tear apart society? he can put fewer people in jail and, at the same time, find his own. On people involved in gangs and war in groups. We focus on that prisoners about three more years and his term three years to prove to the city that he can put fewer people in jail and, at the same time,
find his own brand of toughness for the most serious crimes? that story from reveals lost our Chaskey and Philip finance. Oh my manual, Aruba, Chrysophora mercy, Yo R Senior supervised lost. Our chaskey and Catherine Winner edited the show, thanks to W H why wine Philadelphia for production, Our production managers, windy in a host are sound design team is the I never do o J Breezy, Jim Briggs and my manual Aruba Christa Sharpsburg is our sea YO or senior supervising editors talk. You tell it needed solving, is our executive producer. Our theme by expect comrade lightning support for it. Is provided by the Raven David Logan Foundation, the John D in Kathmandu, Macarthur Foundation, the Jonathan Logan, Fair, Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the hiding Simons Foundation and the
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Transcript generated on 2019-12-20.