CRT Biweekly Newsletter January 29 2016

  • Media outlets reported on a proposed consent decree negotiated between the Justice Department and the City of Ferguson, Missouri.  A New York Times story this week highlighted the potential widespread impact of the agreement: “For the Justice Department, where civil rights and policing have become dominant policy issues, the broad settlement offers a road map that it can show cities around the country, a sort of benchmark against which other police departments can measure themselves.”
                                                                    
  • In a letter sent to Ferguson officials on Tuesday, head of the Civil Rights Division Vanita Gupta wrote that the proposed agreement aims to “ensure that police and court services in Ferguson are provided in a manner that fully promotes public safety, respects the fundamental rights of all Ferguson residents, and makes policing in Ferguson safer and more rewarding for officers.” 
     
  • The Justice Department reached an agreement with Kemper Moving Systems Inc., a Huntsville, Alabama, franchise of Two Men and a Truck, to resolve allegations that the moving company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it refused service because of a customer’s Hepatitis-C.
     
  • A grand jury charged the Chief of Police of Stevenson, Alabama, with civil rights offenses for allegedly physically assaulting an arrestee and willfully failing to intervene to stop another person from using unreasonable force during the arrest.
     
  • A former Marion County, Florida, Deputy Sheriff was indicted on civil rights charges for using excessive force during an arrest.
     
  • The Justice Department released a new report earlier this week, outlining a series of “Guiding Principles,” or best practices, for correctional systems across the country and detailed policy recommendations aimed to curtail and limit how the federal prison system uses restrictive housing, including solitary confinement.  The recommendations for the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) include ending solitary confinement for juveniles; diverting inmates with serious mental illness to secure mental health units; and discouraging the placement of inmates in any form of restrictive housing during the final 180 days of their prison terms.
     
  • In a blog post following the release of the Department’s report, Vanita Gupta highlighted the Division’s investigations into restrictive housing practices dealing with severely mentally ill inmates in Pennsylvania and juveniles in Ohio as examples of cases that “demonstrate the urgent need for a fundamental shift in how we use and apply solitary confinement.”
     
  • A former deputy with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office in Huntsville, Alabama, pleaded guilty to lying under oath to obstruct a federal investigation into the beating of a local handyman.
     
  • A Virginia man was charged with a federal hate crime under the Shepard-Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act for assaulting a victim because of the victim’s actual and perceived sexual orientation.
     
  • We reached a settlement with Evolve Bank & Trust to resolve allegations that the bank engaged in a pattern or practice of discrimination against mortgage loan applicants who receive disability income.  Under the terms of the settlement, Evolve has agreed to maintain revised policies, conduct employee training, and establish a settlement fund of $86,000 to compensate affected borrowers.
     
  • The Justice Department filed a proposed settlement of a Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleging that a Waunakee, Wisconsin, landlord and apartment complex owner discriminated against two residents based on disability.
Updated December 28, 2016

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