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A Year of Massachusetts Criminal Justice

By Jean Trounstine

The good, the bad, and the very very ugly. These are some things that stood out for me in 2013, and with them, I wish you all a Happy New Year.

1. Wonderful news for every prisoner who managed to get out of prison, stay out, stay clean, promote a worthy cause, get a job, heal/end negative relationships, and/or make a healthy start: bravo.

2. Thankfully Massachusetts has finally improved on a federal law. We struck down life without parole for juveniles: The ruling goes farther than the Supreme Court decision in 2012 that struck down automatic sentences of life without parole for juveniles per The Boston Globe.

3. Massachusetts raised the age of juveniles — finally — from 17 to 18. As of July, 2013, 37 other states had already raised the age so juveniles would not be tried as adults. But in Massachusetts, a child of 14 who kills can stil be tried as an adult. (What say you, progressives?)

4. Annie Dookhan went to jail for her part in the state drug lab scandal but how many assistant district attorneys did not? And why is there still such silence about this? Apparently, the moola — $8.5 million already spent to deal with this and Legislature setting aside an additional $8.6 mil — and putting innocent people behind bars and releasing people who may or may not be ready is all gonna fall on her shoulders.

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Former Halfway House Director Sentenced to 18 Months

By Prison Legal News

A former halfway house director, who embezzled up to $213,787 from a federally-funded non-profit Oregon halfway house, pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.

As previously reported in PLN, Laura Marie Edwards, 39, served as executive director of the Oregon Halfway House (OHH), now known as the Northwest Regional Re-Entry Center, from 2007 until she was fired in 2010. The facility houses federal prisoners prior to their release from custody. [See: PLN, March 2012, p.33; Jan. 2011, p.42].

Edwards’ troubles began when the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) alerted the OHH Board of Directors that she should be relieved of her duties. BOP officials would not elaborate, but OHH commenced an internal investigation and turned its findings over to the FBI.

The investigation revealed that Edwards had funneled up to $213,787 of OHH’s funds into her personal bank account. According to court records, she misused an OHH debit card meant for business purchases to buy items from the Adoption Shoppe – an online store that she owned.

Edwards also admitted to OHH Board President and Federal Public Defender Steven Wax that she previously had been fired as the regional director of Cornell Industries, a California-based halfway house, for embezzling about $90,000.

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Bad Boys of Summer-San Quentin Baseball

San Francisco is known for it’s baseball team, the San Francisco Giants. But behind the prison walls of the maximum security prison, San Quentin is the San Quentin Giants. This is a baseball team made up of hard-core convicts coins serious time in one of the country’s most notorious prisons.

The baseball diamond field is housed on the grounds of San Quentin and for four months out of the year, the players of the San Quentin Giants gets to be part of a team – something that they do not get to experience in their lonely and desolate lives locked up in prison.

Inmates of San Quentin prison have been playing baseball within the compound since the 1920’s, however in 1994, inmates began playing against players from outside of San Quentin. The games occur twice a week during the summer. The team is named in honor of the San Francisco Giants and they have donated uniforms to help boost the spirit of the baseball players incarcerated.

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