CRIMINAL JUSTICE

The Franklin County House of Correction in Greenfield, Mass.
Henry Epp / NEPR

Earlier this week, a federal judge blocked President Donald Trump's executive order to withhold funding from so-called sanctuary cities. These cities, including some in our region, have explicitly said they won't comply with requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to hold detainees.

At the same time, some local prisons are holding inmates on behalf of ICE, including the Franklin County House of Correction in Greenfield, Massachusetts. 

In November 2016, Damien Johnson was one of several people who painted a solvent on rocks atop Mount Tom to get rid of racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic messages.
Nancy Eve Cohen / NEPR

Anti-Semitic incidents in the United States increased by more than a third in 2016 over the year before, according to an annual audit from the Anti--Defamation League. The jump was especially steep in Massachusetts, with a 150 percent increase.

Compared to other states, Massachusetts had the fifth highest number of anti-Semitic incidents last year, with a total of 125 episodes -- topped by only California, New Jersey, New York and Florida.

Aaron Hernandez, in 2010.
Karen Cardoza / Creative Commons

Following the suicide of former New England Patriot player Aaron Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for murder at the state's maximum security prison in Shirley, Gov. Charlie Baker said he has faith in his Department of Correction commissioner.

The governor said the number of prison suicides in Massachusetts has declined over the past decade, but said, "Anytime anybody kills themselves in a prison, something clearly went wrong."

A syringe.
ZaldyImg / Creative Commons

There's legal uncertainty at this hour about whether Arkansas will be allowed to go ahead with a pair of executions Thursday night. Eight executions had been scheduled to begin on Monday -- and there have been conflicting court decisions since then.

While this has been playing out in court, a western Massachusetts folk singer has been playing a song he wrote called "Eight Men Dying."

Tom Neilson of Greenfield, Mass., is on tour now. He said he played a few gigs in Arkansas earlier this month.

Exterior of Hampden County Correctional Center in Ludlow, Mass.
File photo / The Republican

New legislation filed Tuesday by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker would allow those fined by a court a chance to work off the debt through community service, instead being thrown in jail.

In a statement, Baker said the hope is to keep more people from going behind bars just because of their inability to pay.

Richard Dohoney, president of the Berkshire County Bar Association, said the bill would have some positive impacts beyond that.

Graphic of an Amherst College baseball cap on the skeleton of a Columbian mammoth, which is on display at the school's natural history museum.
Screen shot from mascot video / Amherst College

Our panel of journalists looks at the big stories in the news.

What made The Short List this week?

Herman Paul Cumby, one of the four men who say a group of off-duty Springfield police officers attacked them on April 8, 2015.
Dan Glaun / MassLive

New details were made public this week in a case in Springfield in an alleged fight between several city residents and a group of off-duty police officers outside a bar in 2015.

An internal investigation by the Springfield Police was obtained by MassLive reporter Dan Glaun. 

RELATED: Report reveals missing video, contradictory testimony in case of alleged Springfield police beating

File photo / Daily Hampshire Gazette

At least two communities in western Massachusetts could lose federal funding from the Department of Justice. That's if the department follows through on its pledge to cut grant money from cities that do not comply with federal immigration requests to detain individuals suspected of being in the country illegally.

Last week, both Amherst and Northampton landed on a federal list of so-called "sanctuary cities." 

The police station in Pittsfield, Mass.
Adam Frenier / NEPR

The former head of the Pittsfield police union pleaded guilty Monday to stealing more than $200,000 from the organization.

The Berkshire County District Attorney's office said the thefts took place between 2008 and 2015 when Jeffrey Coco was the treasurer and later president of the police union in Pittsfield.

A police investigation concluded Coco wrote checks from a union account to either himself or his wife for personal use. He was fired from his job as a police officer in 2015. 

A screenshot from the West Mass branding video.
Video by Steve Porter / PORTERHOUSE MEDIA

What made The Short List this week?

  • Ardent President Trump supporter Massachusetts State Representative Geoff Diehl is considering running against Senator Elizabeth Warren in 2018.
  • Should the long standing moniker Pioneer Valley be changed to West Mass?
  • Educators and police in Northampton, Massachusetts, are trying to come up with new ways to engage students after a program called “High Five Friday” was stopped due to concerns about some children’s reactions to law enforcement. 

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