News

Brooklyn Detective Accused of Corruption

By Dianne Frazee-Walker

After serving two
consecutive 20-years to life sentences, a Brooklyn man’s persistence for a
review hearing was granted by a judge.  Shabaka Shakur, 48, has spent the last 25-years in prison for
two murders he claims he did not commit. Shakur argues his conviction was the result
of a detective’s fabricated confession and a non-credible witness.

According to Shabaka, former Brooklyn North homicide
detective Louis Scarcella was responsible for his alleged incriminating
statement that was used as evidence against him.

Allegedly, Mr. Scarecella has a history of obtaining false
statements from defendants. The Brooklyn District attorney’s office is in the
process of reviewing 50 murder cases that are suspicious. Scarecella is
suspected of solving murder cases by proclaiming false statements from
defendants.

After scrutinizing over a dozen similar cases, The New York Times was savvy enough to
notice a pattern of defendants arguing their convictions were false and
Scarcella was the investigator responsible for framing them. Criminal advocacy
organizations, defense lawyers and inmates were in alignment with the
suspicious synchronicity and requested the district attorney’s office dig
further into these cases. 

Conjuring up bogus confessions was not the only consistency
found in the cases Scarcella handled. Murder suspects also claimed they were
railroaded by Scarcella using the same unreliable-eye witness for each case.

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The Bard Prison Initiative: Reducing Recidivism and Changing Lives

By Christopher Zoukis

The New York-based Bard Prison Initiative (BPI) is one of the largest prison-based higher education programs of its kind.  While serving their prison sentences, participants study rigorous coursework and work toward earning college degrees.  The program offers access to higher education to both incarcerated men and women who want to pursue their education and increase their chances of finding a good job and enjoying a more rewarding life upon their release.  In this way, the program’s mission is to employ education as a vehicle for change—changing people’s futures and the criminal justice system itself.   Image courtesy www.jjay.cuny.edu

Introduction to the Bard College Prison Program

According to the program’s website, the initiative “enrolls incarcerated women and men in academic programs that lead to degrees from Bard College” (bpi.bard.edu/faqs/).  Courses are instructed by faculty from Bard College as well as other area colleges at five participating prisons.  Participants work to earn Associate of Arts or Bachelor of Arts degrees.  The program offers classes in the arts, humanities, mathematics, and sciences and offers general education coursework that fulfills degree requirements.  An important feature of the program is that coursework is not altered for the prison population. “Incarcerated students are held to identical academic standards as conventional undergraduates at Bard College. The substance of the courses is not tailored to the incarcerated students and is the same as offered on the main Bard campus.”  In this way, incarcerated students receive the same education as if they attended classes outside of prison.

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