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Tag: Justice Department

ICE Urges Justice Department to Reopen Privatized Facilities for Illegal Immigrants

ice sealBy Steve Neavling

Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement is urging the Justice Department to reopen at least two privatized facilities to help house an influx of illegal immigrants.

ICE says it needs up to 5,000 beds to house a record number of immigrants being detained and deported by the Obama administration, according to U.S. News and World Report.

Among consideration are at least three privately owned detention centers, including troubled facilities in Youngstown, Ohio, and Cibola County, New Mexico.

The Justice Department has sought to curtail its use of private prison because of an inspector general’s report that found higher rates of safety and security incidents.

“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates wrote in a memo to federal officials. “This is the first step in the process of reducing – and ultimately ending – our use of privately operated prisons.”

ICE spokeswoman Jennifer Elzea declined to comment on negotiations with the Justice Department.

“ICE remains committed to providing a safe and humane environment for all those in its custody,” Elzea says. “ICE’s civil detention system reduces transfers, maximizes access to counsel and visitation, promotes recreation, improves conditions of confinement and ensures quality medical, mental health and dental care.”

Justice Department Shakeup Seeks to Jumpstart Probe into Eric Garner’s Death

Eric Garner with his children, via National Action Network

Eric Garner with his children, via National Action Network

By Steve Neavling

In an unusual shakeup, the Justice Department has dumped a New York team of agents and lawyers investigating the death of Eric Garner, who was killed when a police officer placed him in a chokehold over selling untaxed cigarettes.

The Justice Department is replacing the agents and lawyers after the case has been stymied over a dispute between federal prosecutors and FBI officials about whether to file charges, the New York Times reports.

Prosecutors with the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department have been in favor of filing charges, saying there is sufficient evidence in the case.

Recently FBI agents were replaced with agents outside of New York. Federal prosecutors were taken off the case.

It’s not yet clear whether the civil rights prosecutors will work solo to present evidence to a grand jury.

The Justice Department and FBI declined to comment.

The shakeup was criticized for the attorney of Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who placed Garner, 43, in a chokehold.

“If it is true that the Justice Department is rejecting the recommendations of seasoned F.B.I. agents and assistant United States attorneys, this is a gross miscarriage of justice,” the attorney, Stuart London, said. “In our system of justice, politics should never take the place of the rule of law.”

DEA Agent Accused of Having Sexual Relationship with Paid Informant

dea-badgeBy Steve Neavling

A DEA supervisor denied allegations that he had sex with a paid informant.

There’s no salacious activity going on,” former DEA Atlanta office supervisor Keith Cromer said in U.S. Magistrate Judge Shirley Padmore Mensah’s St. Louis federal court on Friday, the Daily Caller reports. 

Cromer said he developed a person relationship with a paid informant, but it never became sexual.

Cromer invoked the Fifth Amendment twice during the court hearing.

The Justice Department has opened up a criminal investigation.

Cromer admitted he had gone on vacation with the informant twice, but said they stayed in separate bedrooms.

The informant received $212,000 for information that helped the DEA with several cases.

Other Stories of Interest

Justice Department Finds Implicit Bias Against People of Color in New Report

ca_-_san_francisco_policeBy Steve Neavling

A six-month Justice Department investigation of the San Francisco Police Department revealed numerous problems, including an institutional bias against people of color.

The report said, “The deficiencies identified range from outdated use of force policies to inadequate data collection and lack of accountability measures. The assessment team identified disparities in traffic stops, post-stop searches, and use of deadly force against African-Americans. In addition, there are numerous indicators of implicit and institutionalized bias against minority groups,” according to CNN. 

The Justice Department recommended more than 27 change in the police department following an investigation sparked by several officer-involved fatal shootings.

Most of the cases of deadly use of force involved people of color.

“The truth hurts,” said Ronald Davis, director of the Justice Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services. ”To be selectively ignorant and pretend nothing is going on around you is ultimately going to be fatal to your organization.”

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee pledged to pledged to respond to the findings.

“The SFPD will accept and implement every single recommendation. We must restore trust, ” Lee said. “We have worked hard to put reforms in place. We did not wait for the DOJ report to become final.”

Other Stories of Interest

Firebrand Arizona Sheriff to Face Charges of Unlawfully Targeting Immigrants

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

By Steve Neavling

Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, a prominent Donald Trump supporter who has been a firebrand for the anti-immigration movement, is expected to be charged for willfully defying federal court orders.

The Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section said Tuesday it intends to take the Maricopa County sheriff to trial on criminal charges, the Washington Post reports. 

Arpaio is accused of failing to stop targeting undocumented immigrants without a legal basis.

Arpaio’s attorney, Mel McDonald, said the sheriff “vehemently denies that he was ever knowingly and willfully contemptuous of any court order” and plans to fight the case.

U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow ruled in August that the sheriff was defying the court’s order, and the sheriff’s office “continued to stop and detain persons based on factors including their race, and frequently arrested and delivered such persons to [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] when there were no state charges to bring against them.”

“Sheriff Arpaio did so based on the notoriety he received for, and the campaign donations he received because of, his immigration enforcement activity,” Snow wrote.

Justice Department to Investigate Conditions at Prisons in Alabama

jail2photoBy Steve Neavling

The Justice Department plans to investigate conditions at Alabama’s prisons for men following a work strike by guards.

“The investigation will focus on whether prisoners are adequately protected from physical harm and sexual abuse at the hands of other prisoners; whether prisoners are adequately protected from use of excessive force and staff sexual abuse by correctional officers; and whether the prisons provide sanitary, secure and safe living conditions,” the DOJ said in its statement.

A week ago, guards at W.C. Holman Correctional Facility staged a work strike to call attention to prison overcrowding and safety issues, the Root reports.

Robert Council, a 42-year-old serving life without parole at Holman, said prisoners are almost always on lockdown and not allowed out of their cells for months.

“The Constitution requires that prisons provide humane conditions of confinement,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  “We hope to work cooperatively with the state of Alabama in conducting our inquiry and ensuring that the state’s facilities keep prisoners safe from harm.”

Outgoing Leader of Justice Department’s National Security Division Speaks out about Hackers

hacker-istock-photoBy Steve Neavling

John Carlin, the leader of the Justice Department’s national security division, said cybersecurity has become a major focus as nation states and individuals target U.S. infrastructure and business.

NPR spoke to Carlin, who is leaving after serving in the government for 17 years, about the new challenges facing the Justice Department.

Here is a partial transcript of his interview with NPR:


We’re going to hear now from the man who’s led the Justice Department’s National Security effort. And one of his big priorities has been protecting the U.S. from hackers. John Carlin sat down with NPR’s Carrie Johnson as he prepares to leave the government.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: When he took the job three years ago, John Carlin didn’t expect to spend so much time on cybersecurity.

JOHN CARLIN: I would just say to any of those out there considering whether or not to try to harm the United States through cyber means, we have a message, which is we can figure out who did it and when we do, we’re not afraid to impose consequences, and we will.

JOHNSON: The U.S. government has already gone after three major cyber adversaries, China, North Korea and Iran. That leaves one more, Russia. Senior members of Congress have blamed Russia for hacking the Democratic National Committee and for breaking into the voter registration systems in nearly two dozen states. It’s part of what lawmakers call a plot designed to undermine confidence in the American electoral system.

Carlin wouldn’t say whether indictments are imminent against anyone in Russia. But he did say actions have consequences.

CARLIN: And we would take very, very seriously an attempt to undermine the integrity of our democracy.

JOHNSON: In 2014, his prosecutors indicted five members of the People’s Liberation Army of China for stealing secrets from American businesses.

CARLIN: And their activities spiked at 9:00 a.m. Beijing time. This is their day job.

Justice Department to Award More Than $20M for Body Cameras for Police

Body cams, via Wikipedia

Body cams, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling

After the rash of police shootings of black men across country, the Justice Department plans to award more than $20 million to law enforcement agencies to use or enhance body cameras.   

Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Monday, saying the money will be awarded to 106 state, city, tribal and municipal law enforcement agencies, the Chicago Tribune reports. 

“Of course, even as we strive to support local leaders and our law enforcement partners in their work to protect their communities, we are mindful — we know, we see every day — that effective public safety requires more than arrests and prosecutions,” Lynch said. “Because It also requires winning, and keeping, the trust and the confidence of the citizens we serve.”

Lynch alluded to the police shootings to raise the importance of body cameras footage.

“There is no doubt that these are challenging times for law enforcement and communities alike,” Lynch said. “Where the relationship of trust has frayed and frankly broken, we see the mistrust within the community; we also see the underlying fear within many of our friends and neighbors that when they are threatened by violence, they will have no one to call.”