Tag Archives: Justice Department

Apple: Founding Fathers ‘Would Be Appalled,’ Accuses DoJ of Trying to ‘Rewrite History’

In preparation for next week’s hearing, Apple Inc. submitted a court filing Tuesday criticizing the United States Department of Justice, claiming that the U.S. founding fathers “would be appalled” at the department’s order.

The company first brought attention to the conflict in February, when a U.S. magistrate judge ordered Apple to create the software to decrypt the iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooting suspect Syed Farook.

Apple CEO Tim Cook argued that creating software to override the iPhone’s encryption “has implications far beyond the legal case at hand,” and could set a precedent for future cases.

[RELATED: Apple Rejects Government Order to Create ‘Backdoor’ for iPhone]  

In the court filing released Tuesday, Apple’s lawyers argued that the DoJ and the FBI are seeking an order from this Court that would force Apple to create exactly the kind of operating system that Congress has thus far refused to require,” and that in doing so, “they are asking this Court to resolve a policy and political issue that is dividing various agencies of the Executive Branch as well as Congress. “

The DoJ has used the All Writs Act of 1789 as justification for its order. The act states that “The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law” and that “an alternative writ or rule nisi may be issued by a justice or judge of a court which has jurisdiction.”

[RELATED: NY Judge: DoJ Cannot Force Apple To Extract Data from Locked iPhone in Drug Case]

Apple is currently facing 12 orders from the DoJ to provide data from iPhones in various cases. On Feb. 29, Brooklyn Magistrate Judge Orenstein became the first federal judge to rule that the All Writs Act does not justify “imposing on Apple the obligation to assist the government’s investigation against its will” in a criminal drug case.

Apple argued that the court should reject the DoJ’s order in the San Bernardino case because the All Writs Act “cannot be stretched to fit this case,” claiming that by using it, the government “attempts to rewrite history.”

[pull_quote_center]This Court should reject that request, because the All Writs Act does not authorize such relief, and the Constitution forbids it. The All Writs Act cannot be stretched to fit this case because to do so ‘would be to usurp the legislative function and to improperly extend the limited federal court jurisdiction.’ …The government attempts to rewrite history by portraying the Act as an all-powerful magic wand rather than the limited procedural tool it is.[/pull_quote_center]

“According to the government, short of kidnapping or breaking an express law, the courts can order private parties to do virtually anything the Justice Department and FBI can dream up,” Apple argued. “The Founders would be appalled.”

[RELATED: FBI Director Admits Apple’s ‘Backdoor’ Could Be Used for Other iPhones]

Apple also criticized comments made by FBI Director James Comey during a recent congressional hearing from March 1, and questioned why the DoJ has not gone to the NSA, if it is just wanting to hack into the one iPhone in question.

“The government does not deny that there may be other agencies in the government that could assist it in unlocking the phone and accessing its data; rather, it claims, without support, that it has no obligation to consult other agencies,” Apple wrote, noting that former National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism, Richard Clarke said, “Every expert I know believes that NSA could crack this phone.”

The court hearing is scheduled for March 22, and in its court filing, Apple’s lawyers argued that the DoJ’s order is far from what the government has described as a “modest” rule only applying to a “single iPhone.”

“Instead, this case hinges on a contentious policy issue about how society should weigh what law enforcement officials want against the widespread repercussions and serious risk their demands would create,” Apple wrote.

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Report: Prosecutors Decline to Charge Police in 96 Percent of Civil Rights Cases

An investigation into the results of civil rights cases in the United States between 1995 and 2015 found that federal prosecutors declined to charge police officers 96 percent of the time.

A report from the investigation, which was conducted by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, analyzed 3 million federal records from the Justice Department’s 94 U.S. Attorney offices. Out of 13,233 complaints, prosecutors turned down 12,703 alleged civil rights violations.

The report listed weak or insufficient evidence, lack of criminal intent and orders from the Justice Department as reasons given by prosecutors for declining to charge officers, and it noted that for all other crimes, prosecutors rejected only about 23 percent of complaints.”

[RELATED: Investigator Says He Was Fired for Finding Police Officers At Fault in Shootings]

Steve Kaufman, chief of Western Pennsylvania’s criminal division, told the Tribune-Review that while the U.S. Attorney’s office for the area opens files for all accusations, civil rights cases are some of the “most difficult cases” to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

We don’t hesitate to open a file on a civil rights case, yet it’s one of the most difficult cases to gather sufficient evidence to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt at trial,” Kaufman said. “Obviously then you do have a relatively high percentage that don’t end up being prosecuted.”

While Jim Pasco, executive director of the national Fraternal Order of Police, questioned whether some of the complaints against police officers were just “false complaints,” Craig Futterman, founder of the Civil Rights and Police Accountability Project at the University of Chicago, told the Tribune-Review that he thinks “the failure to aggressively bring those cases has allowed too many abusive officers to believe that they can operate without fear of punishment.”

[RELATED: DEA Records Show Punishment is Rare Among Rampant Misconduct]

The report listed 12 federal districts— Southern Alabama, Southern Georgia, Northern Indiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, Northern Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Western Virginia, Western Washington and Western Wisconsin— where out of 671 complaints over 21 years, only one officer was prosecuted in each district.

Out of the federal districts examined, prosecutors in 11 districts— Alaska, Colorado, Central Illinois, Southern Iowa, Maine, Western Michigan, New Jersey, North Dakota, Vermont, Eastern Washington and Wyoming— received a total of 240 complaints, “yet never charged a single officer from 1995-2015.”

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Department of Justice Recruits Social Media Firms to Fight ‘Online Radicalization’

On February 23, the U.S. Department of Justice met with officials from Facebook, Twitter, and Google to discuss how online social media firms can take the lead in disrupting online radicalization.

Seamus Hughes, the deputy director of George Washington University’s Program on Extremism, attended the meeting and told Reuters it was “a recognition that the government is ill-positioned and ill-equipped to counter ISIS online.”

George Selim, director of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) office for “countering violent extremism” activities, said the federal government is not equipped to push back against “online recruitment efforts” from terror groups. Selim said the objective is to help “communities and young people to amplify their own messages.”

Reuters reports that the U.S. government is also investing in “counter-narrative” programs “at schools and community groups.” Another program, funded by Facebook and the U.S. government, involved “peer-to-peer (P2P) college courses that teach students to create their own anti-militant messaging.”

A senior FBI official told Reuters that the bureau works with many other non-governmental organizations on spreading “counter-narrative” programs.

This latest meeting between social media firms and the U.S. government represents a continuation of policies the Obama Administration sought to enact at the end of 2015. In December 2015, President Obama gave a speech urging “high-tech and law enforcement leaders to make it harder for terrorists to use technology to escape from justice.” The speech came after the terror attack in San Bernardino, California.

Despite the Obama administration’s push for closer relationships, it seems that many tech companies may be resistant to working with the government. Reuters reported in December that former employees of Facebook, Google and Twitter, stated that the companies “all worry that if they are public about their true level of cooperation with Western law enforcement agencies, they will face endless demands for similar action from countries around the world.”

In January 2016, The Guardian reported that senior intelligence officials were flying to California to meet with executives from Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Microsoft, YouTube and others.

The Guardian obtained a copy of the agenda which showed the White House’s desire to channel the tech firms’ talent into a fight against radicalization.

It states: “In what ways can we use technology to help disrupt paths to radicalization to violence, identify recruitment patterns, and provide metrics to help measure our efforts to counter radicalization to violence?”

The meeting involved Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, National Security Agency chair Admiral Mike Rogers, the director of national intelligence, James Clapper and FBI director James Comey.

What does the increasingly cozy relationship between government and technology companies mean for the privacy of Americans? Should the people continue to use these services if they agree to operate more closely with the already intrusive U.S. government?

We should remain skeptical of the government’s claims regarding their need to access private information shared through social networks.

Judge Orders Access To 32,000 ‘Personal’ Emails After Hillary Turns In Blank Server

After Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton cleaned the server she used during her tenure as Secretary of State and handed it over to the FBI, a federal judge made an order that the Justice Department and the FBI gain access to the 32,000 emails Clinton did not turn over because she classified them as “personal.”

Before releasing the server, along with three thumb drives containing a redacted list of emails, Clinton released 55,000 pages comprised of 30,000 emails that she deemed “work-related” to the State Department last year, and then claimed that she deleted over 30,000 emails that she had deemed “personal.”

[RELATED: Hillary Clinton Deletes All Emails, Wipes Server Clean]

Out of the 30,000 emails the State Department has access to, it has released 40 to I. Charles McCullough III, the inspector general for the intelligence community. On Tuesday, he classified two of those emails as “top secret,” containing the highest classification of government intelligence information.

After it was revealed that at least two messages had been upgraded to classified, Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ordered the Justice Department work with the FBI to gain access to the trove of “personal” emails Clinton claimed she deleted.

[RELATED: Breaking The Law? Hillary Clinton Used Private Email As Secretary of State]

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), a member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said that the Committee is now aware that they “didn’t get all the relevant documents from that server and the American people are entitled to them.”

The Washington Times noted that while one judge is trying to decide how the government is going about determining what classified information is included” in Clinton’s emails, another judge is “exploring the email practices” of Clinton’s top aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills.

Although Clinton insisted that her server did not contain any classified information, McCullough’s “top secret” findings add to the list of false claims she has made about her email use as Secretary of State.

[RELATED: Fact Check: Holes In Hillary’s Email Story]

Judge Andrew Napolitano, the Senior Judicial Analyst for Fox News, noted that while Clinton’s server contained “top secret,” or the highest level of information that could potentially cause “grave harm” to national security, General David Petraeus had access to classified information, which is at the lowest level, and he was “indicted, prosecuted and convicted” for having the materials “in a desk drawer in his house.”

Prior to the revelation that Clinton’s email account contained “top secret” information, two inspectors general requested that the State Department conduct a criminal investigation into Clinton’s email practices after a memo was released, which stated that Clinton’s private email account contained “hundreds of potentially classified emails.”

[RELATED: Criminal Investigation Requested In Hillary Clinton’s Use Of Personal Email]

For more election coverage, click here.

Cleveland Police Union Head Rebukes New Reform Measures: “It’s Going To Get Someone Killed”

Cleveland, OH- Earlier this week, the city of Cleveland and the Justice Department established an agreement to make changes to the Cleveland Police Department, which will mandate several reforms to the department. The CPD has agreed to establish various committees, revise use-of-force policies, and improve training.

Within the agreement are reform measures that focus specifically on identifying levels of force used by police and requiring increased oversight of police use-of-force incidents via paper documentation and outside analysis.

Three levels of force used by police have been established:

  • Level 1 use of force is identified as actions expected to cause “transient pain and/or disorientation” such as bending a suspect’s fingers, according to Cleveland.com. It also includes unholstering and pointing a firearm, but not firing it. Level 1 use of force incidents require the officer to file a police report explaining the incident and why the officer felt the use of force was necessary.
  • Level 2 use of force is identified as actions that cause “an injury, could reasonably be expected to cause an injury, or results in a complaint of an injury, but does not rise to the level of a Level 3 use of force,” such as use of an ECW (also referred to as a Taser); use of pepper spray; kicking, striking and punching; and using a police canine to accost a suspect. Any use of Level 2 force on a handcuffed suspect becomes a level 3 use of force. Level 2 use of force incidents require the immediate arrival of a supervisor to the scene of the incident, who are then tasked with interviewing the injured individual, seeing that proper medical care is administered, and writing a report to be reviewed by the district commander, Internal Affairs Unit and the police chief to decide if the use of force is justified.
  • Level 3 use of force is identified as actions including “uses of lethal force; uses of force resulting in death or serious physical injury; uses of force resulting in
    hospital admission; all neck holds; uses of force resulting in a loss of
    consciousness; canine bites; more than three applications of an ECW
    on an individual during a single interaction, regardless of the mode or duration
    of the application, and regardless of whether the applications are by the same
    or different officers; or an ECW application for longer than 15 seconds,
    whether continuous or consecutive.” All cases of Level 3 use of force are subject to the invesigation of a new branch of the Internal Affairs Unit called the Force Investigation Team(FIT), which is tasked with arriving to the scene to complete a criminal investigation. The FIT will be “comprised of personnel from various units and will not be a new unit.”

Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association, takes issue with the documentation aspect of the reform agreement, claiming that the requirement is “going to get somebody killed.”

“I’m afraid that officers are going to be hesitant to pull their gun in an appropriate situation because they don’t want to do the paperwork that’s going to be associated with having to pull your gun,” he said.

According to Cleveland.com, Loomis believes the reforms are not necessarily tailored to Cleveland officers, but are a response to increased coverage of police use of force incidents that have occurred nationwide. “This is a political agenda,” Loomis said. “This has nothing to do with the actions of the men and women of the Cleveland police department.”

Sarah Childress, a reporter for PBS’s Frontline, notes that this is Cleveland’s second attempt at reforming their police department. “Over the last two decades, Cleveland’s police department is one of only five law enforcement agencies that has been subject to two separate federal investigations, underscoring how entrenched the city’s problems have become,” she wrote.

The Justice Department investigated the CPD in 1999 and had identified problems regarding properly addressing use of force incidents and examining its own officers. In 2014, the Justice Department published another investigation of the department and concluded that the CPD was engaging in a “pattern or practice of the use of excessive force” in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

Report: FBI Examiners Gave Flawed Testimony About Hair Matches In Trials For Over 20 Years

According to a report from The Washington Post, the FBI has acknowledged that examiners from the agency’s microscopic hair comparison unit had overstated forensic matches for over two decades prior to the year 2000 during criminal trials.

The Post reported that 26 out of 28 examiners in the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit gave flawed testimony, which was beneficial to prosecutors, in 257 of 268 reviewed criminal trials that used hair evidence against defendants. There were about 2,500 cases identified by the FBI for review; the government agreed to release the findings of the first 200 reviewed cases.

The Post reported that “The review confirmed that FBI experts systematically testified to the near-certainty of “matches” of crime-scene hairs to defendants, backing their claims by citing incomplete or misleading statistics drawn from their case work.”

The cases included 32 defendants who were later given a death sentence. Fourteen defendants of the 32 sentenced to death have either died in prison or have been executed, according to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and the Innocence Project.

The Post pointed out that the flawed testimony regarding hair matches did not necessarily mean that hair evidence was the only evidence used to prosecute a defendant.

Four defendants have been exonerated. Defendants and federal and state prosecutors have been informed of the recent findings in case of possible appeals.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) has urged the FBI and Justice Department to notify all of the defendants in roughly 2,500 cases that involved a hair match. Blumenthal, a former prosecutor, said that “These findings are appalling and chilling in their indictment of our criminal justice system, not only for potentially innocent defendants who have been wrongly imprisoned and even executed, but for prosecutors who have relied on fabricated and false evidence despite their intentions to faithfully enforce the law.”

Felony Charges Filed Against Albuquerque Officer Accused Of Shattering Suspect’s Testicle

Albuquerque, NM- Albuquerque officer Pablo Padilla faces felony charges of aggravated battery and evidence tampering stemming from an April 2014 traffic stop that led to emergency surgery for a University of New Mexico law student.

On April 25th, 2014, Padilla pulled over Jeremy Martin for failing to stop at a stop sign. KOB noted that the police report “says he [Martin] blew a stop sign while traveling north on Wellesley Place, but there is no way to travel northbound on Wellseley to the stop sign in question.”

Martin was uncooperative with Padilla’s order to remain seated on a curb outside of his vehicle. The original police report stated that Martin was actively resisting arrest and was later treated for face and leg lacerations. The initial report did not include any information regarding the physical altercation between Padilla and Martin that ultimately led to Martin being rushed into emergency surgery to remove a testicle that had been badly damaged by Padilla’s knee. Video capturing the incident, provided by ProgressNow New Mexico, can be seen below.

At about 7 minutes and 15 seconds into the video, Padilla is seen ordering one of Martin’s passengers to put away his cell phone that was recording the incident. Padilla is then seen seizing the passenger’s phone. At about 9 minutes into the video, Padilla can be seen deleting video from a phone.

Padilla’s decision to delete the video recording led to Martin’s DWI charge being dismissed. Padilla’s testimony in the DWI case was suppressed by a judge because the officer “intentionally and in bad faith destroyed evidence.” Padilla’s lawyer maintained that while deleting the citizen’s video was “poor judgement,” the act was not tampering with evidence.

Martin later filed a lawsuit against APD for the injury sustained during the traffic stop. Padilla was suspended for six weeks after the incident and is still employed by the APD on administrative leave. Padilla’s certification was revoked by the The New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy Board last December, but Padilla requested a formal hearing that initiated an appeals process that leaves Padilla’s certification in place until a final decision is made by the hearing officer or a state District Court judge.

On Wednesday, Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry released the city’s new proposed budget that included spending $4.7 million “to implement and go beyond the U.S. Department of Justice Settlement Agreement. Areas of focus include recruitment, crisis intervention, misconduct complaint investigations, training, development of policies and procedures, and community engagement and oversight.” A settlement agreement was reached between the Justice Department and APD last fall after a Justice Department investigation found that the APD has routinely engaged in excessive and deadly force against citizens.


Two Albuquerque Officers Charged With Murder Of Homeless Camper

Albuquerque, NM- Albuquerque officers Dominique Perez and Keith Sandy were charged with murder on Monday in the shooting of homeless camper James Boyd.

Boyd, who had been accused by police of illegally camping in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains, was ultimately shot and killed by Sandy and Perez, a SWAT team member, on March 16th, 2014 during a standoff lasting several hours. The shooting provoked national criticism of the Albuquerque Police Department after video was released that appeared to show Boyd, who was in possession of two small knives, surrendering just before he was shot by Sandy and Perez. The video is available below (graphic content):

Audio from Sandy’s dash camera had also been released of Sandy’s conversation with State Police Officer Chris Ware regarding Boyd from the scene of the standoff before the shooting:

Sandy: What do they have you guys doing here?

Ware: I don’t know. The guy asked for state police.

Sandy: Who asked?

Ware: I don’t know.

Sandy: For this f***ing lunatic? I’m going to shoot him in the penis with a shotgun here in a second.

Ware: You got uh, less-lethal?

Sandy: I got…

Ware: The Taser shotgun?

Sandy: Yeah. Ware: Oh, I thought you guys got rid of those?

Sandy: ROP’s got one…here’s what we’re thinking, because I don’t know what’s going on, nobody has briefed me…

The APD denied that Sandy said “I’m going to shoot him in the penis with a shotgun here in a second” and claimed he had said “I’m going to shoot him with a Taser shotgun in a second”. However, the APD’s denial conflicted with Sandy’s acknowledgement to investigators that he had made the “shoot him in the penis” remark as a joke. “Just kind of locker room banter,” Sandy had told investigators. “[I] just told him, you know, ‘don’t worry; I’ll shoot him in the pecker with this and call it good.’”

Sandy abruptly recanted that admission after a break during the interview.

Second District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said Monday that Perez and Sandy each face one open murder count. In an open murder charge, prosecutors may push for either first-degree or second-degree murder charges.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the case was not brought before a grand jury and Brandenburg “filed the counts via criminal information, which allows her to charge the officers without presenting evidence to a grand jury.” The FBI is currently investigating the shooting, but it’s unknown if the officers will face federal charges.

Albuquerque has become well known for excessive force used by police. In May of last year, more than 40 residents effectively shut down a city council meeting and attempted to serve Police Chief Gorden Eden with a warrant for a citizen’s arrest while calling for the APD to stop its violent tactics. APD Officer Jeremy Dear was fired last month for repeatedly refusing to use his body camera; in the last instance of Dear either failing to turn on or disabling his camera, he had fatally shot 19-year-old Mary Hawkes.

A Justice Department letter from April 2014 informed the APD- that had killed 23 people and wounded 14 over a four-year period- that its department “engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment” and the Justice Department later demanded reforms to correct the APD’s practices. Last October, the Justice Department and APD reached an agreement to engage in “wide-ranging reforms”.


Is the internet protected by the First Amendment? The Supreme Court will decide

The Supreme Court is set to hear a case which could settle if the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech extends to the internet and social media.

The case is Elonis vs. United States, where Anthony Elonis will argue posts he made on Facebook were made in jest and not meant to be taken seriously.  Elonis was previously convicted by a federal court for these posts, saying they were of a threatening nature and therefore not protected.

All of the posts in question were viewed by Elonis’ ex-wife who said she felt threatened by them and by Elonis.

One such post reads, according to the Huffington Post, “There’s one way to love you but a thousand ways to kill you. I’m not going to rest until your body is a mess, soaked in blood and dying from all the little cuts.”

The LA Times also says other posts made by Elonis mentioned killing an FBI agent, as well as massacring a kindergarten class.  Elonis testified his posts were never meant to frighten anyone, and he also said his posts were a spontaneous form of expression similar to rap lyrics.

John Elwood, Elonis’ attorney, told CNN he agreed the posts were cathartic for Elonis.  “There’s a reason why all these graphic songs were written when Eminem wrote these things and he hasn’t been prosecuted for a felony for writing these songs which are virtually indistinguishable about his ex-wife,” said Elwood.

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. is representing the government in the case and disagrees, saying, “A bomb threat that appears to be serious is equally harmful regardless of the speaker’s private state of mind.”

The Justice Department weighed in on the situation saying no matter what the speaker believes about his comments, if someone feels threatened by the comments, those comments are not protected speech.

Some civil liberties groups such as the ACLU, are siding with Elonis, saying “A statute that proscribes speech without regard to the speaker’s intended meaning runs the risk of punishing protected First Amendment expression simply because it is crudely or zealously expressed.”

Arguments from both sides will begin Monday.

Department Of Justice Report Reveals “Rampant Use Of Unnecessary And Excessive Force” On Teen Inmates

New York- A report released by the Department Of Justice on Monday detailed the results of an investigation surrounding the practices of corrections officers regarding treatment of adolescent inmates at Rikers Island. The report, focused on events between 2011 and 2013, concluded that corrections officers regularly violated the constitutional rights of teenage prisoners by consistently and swiftly resorting to violence in their handlings with them. New York and North Carolina are the only two states that automatically charge teens 16 and older as adults.

Not only did the report criticize the liberal use of force on the teens- nearly 44% of the youth were subjected to use of force by the officers- it also exposed the fact that many investigations into such incidents were corrupted or inadequate. It was found that corrections officers often used a phrase- “hold it down”- to warn inmates against reporting abuse.

In addition to excessive violence from the corrections officers, it was found that the they were also using “punitive segregation”- solitary confinement as punishment- far too often and for long periods of time, sometimes subjecting inmates to months of segregation.

Many of the teen inmates at Rikers suffer from mental health issues; according to the report, in the year of 2013 51% of the incarcerated youth were diagnosed with mental illnesses.

The report also showed a startling number of incidents of inmates fighting one another; in 2013, there were 845 reports of inmate-on-inmate fights within two facilities that hold most of the youth inmates. In 2012, there were 795 reports.

In a press release, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara pointed out that many of the inmates are awaiting trial and have not yet been proven guilty of committing crimes. “As our investigation has shown, for adolescents, Rikers Island is a broken institution. It is a place where brute force is the first impulse rather than the last resort; where verbal insults are repaid with physical injuries; where beatings are routine while accountability is rare; and where a culture of violence endures even while a code of silence prevails. The adolescents in Rikers are walled off from the public, but they are not walled off from the Constitution. Indeed most of these young men are pre-trial detainees who are innocent until proven guilty, but whether they are pre-trial or convicted, they are entitled to be detained safely and in accordance with their Constitutional rights – not consigned to a corrections crucible that seems more inspired by Lord of the Flies than any legitimate philosophy of humane detention,” read the release.

The report showed multiple examples of brutal and unnecessary force on the inmates used by New York City’s Department of Corrections, and also pointed out failures to report instances of excessive force, resulting “in a culture in which staff feel empowered to use force inappropriately, in ways that go outside the bounds of written policies, because they know they are unlikely to face any meaningful consequences.” In one detailed incident:

“The inmates and one officer were working in the trailer and got into a verbal confrontation. The officer grabbed Inmate M by his neck, slammed his face into a concrete wall, and then began to repeatedly punch him. The officer reported that he had been jumped and called for backup. Soon thereafter, several other officers, including probe team members, arrived and brutally assaulted the four inmates, punching and kicking them and striking them with radios, batons, and broomsticks. This continued for several minutes after the inmates had been subdued and handcuffed. The probe team then took the inmates to holding pens in the clinic intake area where they were handcuffed and beaten again by several DOC Gang Intelligence Unit members, who repeatedly punched and kicked them while they were handcuffed and slammed them against cell walls.”

This incident was one of several detailed in the investigation.

The report outlined several measures considered necessary to remedy the violations, including a call for more surveillance cameras, separating the teens from Rikers Island, revising the use of force policy, and implementing an environment where violence is not tolerated and the staff is held accountable for abuse. Bharara said the city has been allowed 49 days to respond.

The report is available in full here.

Justice Department Report Blames 4 DEA Agents for Deadly Detention Error

In April of 2012, University of California, San Diego student Daniel Chong was mistakenly picked up during a drug raid. He was detained and taken to a Drug Enforcement Administration facility, where, according to Chong’s testimony, agents told him his detention was a mistake and that he would be released and given a ride home shortly. Then, an agent handcuffed Chong and placed him in a holding cell, telling him, “Hang tight, I’ll come get you in a minute.”

Chong told Inside Edition, “The doors closed and never opened again… until four and a half days later.” For nearly five days, Chong was forgotten by agents in the cell and therefore received no food, water, or restroom breaks. Though four agents did notice his presence in the cell, each of them believed that someone else was going to return for him shortly and took no action.

Subsequently, Chong experienced serious medical and mental health issues that nearly cost him his life. He was left with no choice but to drink his own urine to survive, and, at one point, after being led to believe that no one was going to notice him before he passed away, attempted to carve a good bye note to his mother in his own arm with a shard of broken glass from his damaged eye wear. When he was discovered later by DEA agents that had not been assigned to his case, he was found screaming and covered in his own feces.

Chong was then rushed to the hospital where he was treated for the next five days for a perforated esophagus, dehydration, kidney failure, and cramps. While in custody, he lost fifteen pounds, and he currently suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.

CNN reported that a settlement was reached in the case, and the DEA has been ordered to pay $4.1 million in damages to Chong, putting US taxpayers on the hook for what Chong’s lawyer Julia Yoo called “a mistake of unbelievable and unimaginable proportions.” Reason published the Justice Department’s newly-released July 2014 report on the incident, which places the blame primarily on the DEA supervisor who failed to provide a system for monitoring the condition of detainees. The report also blames three other agents, two task force officers and a DEA employee, who were responsible for keeping up with Chong. Also, the fact that the supervisor attempted to investigate the incident without reporting to management suggests that there may have been an effort to cover up the mistake. Though the Justice Department report recommends policy adjustments in an effort to prevent further incidents, it does not note whether or not any disciplinary actions will be taken against the DEA officials who left Chong without food, water, or access to a restroom for almost five days.

Said Chong’s lawyer Julia Yoo, “As a result of his case, it’s one of the primary reasons the DEA placed a nationwide policy that calls on each agent at satellite offices to check on the well-being of prisoners in their cells on a daily basis.”