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The Latest: Prison security head wants to reduce segregation

The Latest on court hearing over Wisconsin youth prisons (all times local):

5:35 p.m. A federal judge says that Wisconsin’s juvenile prison for boys is a “troubled institution” that overuses segregation, pepper spray and shackles on inmates. But U.S. District Judge James Peterson said Thursday he doesn’t know if the answer is to immediately bar those practices like the American Civil Liberties Union and Juvenile Law Center is asking. Peterson says he wants to maintain safety at the prisons and he doesn’t want to overreach with whatever he orders on Friday.

Peterson made the comments to attorneys following the end of a daylong hearing on the issues. He says he hopes that both sides could agree to a plan for moving forward. But he also says he has “concerns that the problems are so severe and the harm to the residents of Lincoln Hills is so acute” that the state should be allowed to refine its use of the tactics on its own.

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4:30 p.m. The security director at Wisconsin’s juvenile prisons says he wants to reduce the amount of time that youth inmates are put into solitary confinement.

But Brian Gustke testified in federal court Thursday that there are impediments to doing that. He says those include high turnover and vacancies in prison staff that leads to forced overtime, not knowing schedules and “confusion on everyone’s part, staff as well as the youth.”

Gustke defends the tactics used by guards as a way to maintain the safety and security both of staff and inmates, while admitting that the policies that lead to someone being put into solitary confinement could be improved. He says as of Wednesday, 20 of the 173 inmates at the Lincoln Hills boys prison were in segregated units.

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1:30 p.m. Videos taken inside Wisconsin’s youth prisons showing young inmates being pepper sprayed by guards have been shown in federal court during a hearing on whether the practice is cruel and unusual punishment.

One video shown Thursday shows a young female inmate who refused to go into her room repeatedly pepper sprayed by a guard and then taken to the ground by two others. A second video shows a boy inmate being pepper sprayed in his cell after he refused to take his arms out of a slot in his door. Both were offered as evidence by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Juvenile Law Center in a lawsuit they brought challenging the use of pepper spray and other disciplinary tactics at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake prisons.

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11:50 a.m. An expert witness says juveniles do not need to be kept in solitary confinement, pepper sprayed or shackled at Wisconsin’s youth prisons to maintain safety.

Vincent Schiraldi testified Thursday in a federal court hearing over whether solitary confinement and other disciplinary tactics used by the state Department of Corrections are constitutional. He is the former director of juvenile corrections in Washington, D.C. and is now a researcher at the Harvard Kennedy School. He says 90 percent of prisons in the country don’t use pepper spray. But he says some juveniles in Wisconsin have been sprayed more than a dozen times a piece. Corrections officials defend the practices, saying they’re needed to maintain order and security at the prisons.

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11:20 a.m.

An expert witness says juveniles do not need to be kept in solitary confinement at Wisconsin’s youth prisons to maintain safety. Vincent Schiraldi testified Thursday in a federal court hearing over whether solitary confinement and other disciplinary tactics used by the state Department of Corrections are constitutional. He is the former director of juvenile corrections in Washington, D.C. and is now a researcher at the Harvard Kennedy School. He says some juveniles at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake prisons spend seven or more days in a row in isolation and sometimes are not released from their cells at all during a 24-hour period.

Corrections officials defend the practice, saying it’s needed to maintain order and security at the prisons.

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10 a.m. A federal judge says it appears there is a “serious problem and an ongoing use” of pepper spray to restrain juvenile inmates at Wisconsin’s youth prisons. U.S. District Judge James Peterson during a Thursday hearing voiced numerous concerns with the state’s use of pepper spray, solitary confinement and shackling of young inmates at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake prisons. Civil rights groups are seeking a temporary restraining order to block the use of the disciplinary tactics while a lawsuit challenging their constitutionality is ongoing.

Department of Corrections attorney Sam Hall says the use of pepper spray has been going down all year. He says in June it was only used four times. But Peterson says it appears the only reason its use dropped was because of the lawsuit.

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9:20 a.m. A federal judge says he will not close his courtroom when two videos showing juvenile inmates being pepper-sprayed are presented as evidence at a hearing over the practice.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson said Thursday he has “very significant concerns” about a request by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Juvenile Law Center to close the courtroom when the videos are shown. They are suing the state Department of Corrections, seeking an end to the use of pepper spraying and solitary confinement at the troubled youth prisons in Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake. A group of media outlets, including The Associated Press, has asked that the hearing be open. Peterson says he will allow viewing of the videos as long as media outlets sign a non-disclosure agreement to not identify the juveniles being pepper sprayed.

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6:25 a.m.

A federal judge is set to hear evidence in a case seeking to halt the use of solitary confinement, pepper spray and the shackling of inmates at Wisconsin’s troubled youth prisons. The hearing Thursday before U.S. District Judge James Peterson comes in a lawsuit filed against the state Department of Corrections by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Juvenile Law Center. They are asking the judge to temporarily ban the disciplinary tactics at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake prisons while its lawsuit challenging them as unconstitutional proceeds. Attorneys asked the judge to close the hearing when videos are shown that reveal the identities of young inmates as they are pepper sprayed. A coalition of media outlets and groups was objecting to closing the hearing to show the videos.

Missouri Boy Killed By Log In Surf As Tropical Storm Churns In Gulf

NEW ORLEANS (AP) A boy on an Alabama beach was struck and killed Wednesday by a log washed ashore by storm surge from Tropical Storm Cindy, which spun bands of severe weather ashore from the Florida panhandle to east Texas as it churned ever closer to the Gulf coast. Baldwin County Sheriff s Capt. Stephen [ ]

Written by: [1]

2017/06/21 6:00 PM

Missouri Boy Killed By Log In Surf As Tropical Storm Churns In Gulf

NEW ORLEANS (AP) A boy on an Alabama beach was struck and killed Wednesday by a log washed ashore by storm surge from Tropical Storm Cindy, which spun bands of severe weather ashore from the Florida panhandle to east Texas as it churned ever closer to the Gulf coast. Baldwin County Sheriff s Capt. Stephen Arthur said witnesses reported the 10-year-old boy from Missouri was standing outside a condominium in Fort Morgan when the log, carried in by a large wave, struck him. Arthur said the youth was vacationing with his family from the St. Louis area and that relatives and emergency workers tried to revive him. He wasn t immediately identified. It was the first known fatality from Cindy. The storm formed Tuesday and was expected to make landfall some time late Wednesday or early Thursday. The storm was expected to come ashore near the Louisiana-Texas line but the severe weather extended far to the east. National Weather Service forecasters estimated it had had dumped anywhere from 2 to 10 inches (50 to 250 millimeters) of rain on various spots along the Gulf Coast from south Louisiana to the Florida panhandle as of Wednesday. And more rain was on the way.
Alek Krautmann at the weather service office in Slidell, Louisiana, said more moisture was heading in from the Gulf Wednesday evening.

There were plenty of breaks today, but it s filled in a little more this afternoon, he said.

Coastal roads and some buildings flooded. There were several reports of possible short-lived tornadoes. In Gulfport, Mississippi, Kathleen Bertucci said heavy rainfall Wednesday sent about 10 inches of water into her business, Top Shop, which sells and installs granite countertops.

It s pretty disgusting, but I don t have flood insurance because they took me out of the flood zone, said Bertucci, whose store is near a bayou. We re just trying to clean everything up and hope it doesn t happen again.
In nearby Biloxi, a waterspout moved ashore Wednesday morning. Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy said there were no injuries but fences, trees and power lines were damaged. Storms also downed trees in the Florida Panhandle. Fort Walton Beach spokeswoman Jo Soria said fallen trees hit houses and cars in what she called pockets of wind damage in two or three residential neighborhoods.
The White House said President Donald Trump was briefed on the storm Wednesday by Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert. Also Wednesday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency, like his Alabama counterpart a day earlier. He was among authorities stressing that the storm s danger wasn t limited to the coast.

In Knoxville, Tennessee, the power-generating Tennessee Valley Authority, said it was drawing down water levels on nine lakes it controls along the Tennessee River and its tributaries in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky, anticipating heavy runoff from Cindy s rains once the storm moves inland. The TVA manages 49 dams to regulate water, provide power and help control downstream flooding. The storm was centered Wednesday afternoon about 135 miles (215 kilometers) south of Lake Charles, Louisiana and had top sustained winds of 50 mph (85 kph). A tropical storm warning was in effect along the coast from San Luis Pass, Texas, to the mouth of the Mississippi River. In Alabama, streets were flooded and beaches were closed on the barrier island of Dauphin Island. Some roads were covered with water in the seafood village of Bayou La Batre, but Becca Caldemeyer still managed to get to her bait shop at the city dock. If only there were more customers, she said.

It s pretty quiet, Caldemeyer said by phone from Rough Water Bait and Tackle. Nobody can cast a shrimp out in this kind of wind.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ordered the State Operations Center to raise its readiness level. He also activated four Texas Task Force 1 boat squads and two Texas Military Department vehicles squads of five vehicles each for weather-related emergencies.
The Louisiana National Guard dispatched high water vehicles and helicopters into flood-prone areas. The state said the Federal Emergency Management Agency also was moving 125,000 meals and 200,000 liters of water into Louisiana. And workers on Grand Isle, Louisiana s barrier island community south of New Orleans, reinforced a rock levee protecting the island s vulnerable west side.
All arms of the state s emergency preparedness and response apparatus are taking Tropical Storm Cindy seriously, and we are calling on all Louisianans throughout the state to do so as well, Edwards said in a statement.

Missouri Boy Killed By Log In Surf As Tropical Storm Churns In Gulf

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References

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Will Electronic Poll Books Make Wisconsin Elections More Vulnerable to Hackers?

Update, June 20:

It appears Wisconsin will become the 28th state to begin using electronic poll books. The Wisconsin Elections Commission on Tuesday voted to have its staff develop the software and offer it to municipalities. A spokesman earlier told WUWM that the state’s paper poll books and decentralized voting system likely made Wisconsin elections less appealing to Russian hackers. The state has used paper poll books until now. They are printouts of all registered voters in the ward and their addresses. There are companies that sell the software for e-poll books, but Wisconsin is opting to create its own and save money, in doing so. Any municipalities interested in using the program would have to purchase the hardware needed – laptops and printers.

Original story: June 12, 2017

WEC’s Reid Magney talks about safeguards to Wisconsin’s voting system. While there are reports that Russia attempted to disrupt last year s U.S. presidential election, including by penetrating a Florida company that provides some communities with software for their electronic poll books, Wisconsin did not notice anything suspicious, according to Reid Magney, spokesman for the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

Wisconsin does not have electronic poll books. All of our poll books are printed on paper. What happened in Florida is that the Russians somehow were able to steal identities or credentials for this voting company, and then (the hackers) sent emails to local elections officials in Florida and to some other states where the company does business – trying to get people to click on malicious links or open word documents that contained malicious software, Magney says.

Is Wisconsin moving toward electronic polls books, and if so, how do you (plan to secure them)?

We are moving toward electronic polls books the commission is meeting on June 20 and will get a presentation about electronic poll books. Do we want to build our own system, or do we want to essentially set standards and let vendors meet those standards and then sell their products to clerks in Wisconsin, the way we now do with voting equipment. But any system that gets approved will have to have very strong security, Magney says. What types of protections are in place in Wisconsin to guard against a (cyber) attack or to detect one, if it is taking place?

We have 1,853 municipal clerks and 72 county clerks whom we partner with in running elections in Wisconsin. We have a statewide voter registration system, which keeps the names and addresses of all the people who are registered to vote and information about the election (such as) where the polling places are, who the poll workers are, who the candidates are, etc. We have a very sophisticated system set up and one that we just essentially rebuilt and re-launched last year. We have excellent security associated with that.

Now the issue is, if someone were to trick somebody who has access to that system into giving up their credentials, it is possible someone could get access to that system. But again, if you are a clerk in a city, that clerk only has access to that city s records, not the whole state s,” Magney says. Magney says Wisconsin has other safeguards in place to identify if a hacker had entered the system and was doing something malicious. While WEC leaders have not seen or heard evidence of anything like that happening, he says they are reminding clerks to be careful, in light of Russian attempts to attack voting systems.

In Wisconsin, almost 90 percent of ballots are cast on paper, either optical scan paper ballots or hand-counted paper ballots. There are about 10 percent that are cast on touch- screen voting machines and even those have a paper trail to them. So these machines are not connected to the internet and the system is very decentralized. There is no one place that holds the programing to all the machines, so there is no one place where the system is vulnerable it is all very distributed, Magney says.

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