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Baltimore prosecutor of police in the Freddie Gray case tells how she learned ‘everyone makes mistakes’

Thrust into the national spotlight, the Baltimore prosecutor who charged six police officers in the arrest and death of Freddie Gray, told the Baltimore Sun last week that she learned at an early age she “about the importance of taking responsibility for the choices and mistakes that we make.” The Sun’s backgrounder on State's Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby delves into  five generations of her family’s complex relationships with the Boston Police Department and the Massachusetts State Police. “Mosby's father, a Boston police officer, was accused of robbing a drug dealer — and for a time dismissed from the department. Her mother, also an officer at the department, was disciplined several times and served a 45-day suspension for violating a substance-abuse policy. An uncle was dismissed after he failed drug tests. Several other members of Mosby's family waged legal battles against their law enforcement agencies. Her grandfather, a founder of a minority law enforcement association, alleged racial discrimination in a lawsuit against the Boston Police Department and lost.

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Thousands of rape kits found untested and abandoned

USA TODAY marshaled journalists from more than 75 Gannett newspapers and television stations to request and inventory untested rape kits at 1,000 law enforcement agencies across the nation and found at least 70,000 kits used to collect forensic evidence from rape survivors were never DNA tested. The investigation found widespread inconsistency in how agencies handle the assault kits. 
"Rape survivors were often assumed to be prostitutes and therefore what had happened to them was considered to be their own fault,"researchers from Michigan State University wrote in their analysis of Detroit's rape investigations.”
Read the full story here.  

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Examining medical care in California prison

California Forensic Medical Group, a private contractor that provides medical services to correctional facilities, is growing exponentially. It oversees the treatment of about 13,000 inmates in detention facilities in 27 counties across the state. However, the group is now coming under fire after deaths of inmates in their care, reports FairWarning. “The outsourcing of medical care in jails and prisons reflects a nationwide push for privatizing government duties. The private sector, outsourcing advocates say, offers better services at a lower cost.

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Staph outbreak at Alabama daycare shows lack of oversight

After 86 children at two of Sunny Side Day Care Center’s locations became ill with a staph bacteria, questions arose. The Montgomery Advertiser reports Sunny Side is one of Alabama’s unlicensed, “church-exempt” centers and thus is not necessarily inspected by any state officials. Thus, the center’s failure to meet fire safety standards and inconsistency in food reports have gone largely unnoticed.  

“Alabama is one of about a dozen states that have 'church-exempt' day care centers. Sunny Side is one of them.

Retired Army 1st Sgt. William Staude, of Elliott, Pa., salutes soldiers from the 316th Expeditionary Sustainment Command, stationed in Coraopolis, Pa., as they march past him during the Veterans Day parade in downtown Pittsburgh, Nov. 11.

The “tragic” effects of the new VA painkiller policy

The VA used to freely hand out prescriptions for painkillers to veterans. However, it recently began cutting back, leaving the veterans who relied on them to seek out their drugs elsewhere, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Since the new policy adoption, some veterans have overdosed and died, unable to stand their pain. “The VA made a stark and sudden shift: Instead of doling out pills to thousands of veterans like him — a policy facing mounting criticism — they began cutting dosages or canceling prescriptions, and, instead, began referring many vets to alternative therapies such as acupuncture and yoga.”
Read the full story here.  

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Colorado law easy on rogue officers

Colorado law is lenient when it comes to discipline of police officers. Unless they are convicted of a felony or one of 44 misdemeanors detailed in statute as cause to end an officer's career, an officer can remain in law enforcement despite past offenses that forced him or her out of a previous job. The Denver Post found some striking examples of police who were rehired by other units with little reprimand, such as an officer who allegedly had sex with a prostitute in a squad car and another who was twice arrested for domestic violence. “In Colorado, a police officer can be fired or resign for egregious violations of moral turpitude… But so long as there is no conviction of a felony or one of the misdemeanors, the officer is free to seek employment at another agency.”
Read the full story here. 

 

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Connecticut nurse pleads guilty to drug kickback charges

An advanced practice registered nurse identified in recent Connecticut Health i–Team  stories as the state’s highest Medicare program prescriber of  potent narcotics – writing $2.7 million in prescriptions - has admitted to taking kickbacks from a pharmaceutical company and claiming more than $1 million in Medicare claims. Heather Alfonso, 42, of Middlebury, Conn. pleaded guilty June 23 to federal charges she received $83,000 in kickbacks from January 2013 to March 2015  from an unnamed drug company for prescribing the company’s drug for cancer pain. “The U.S. attorney’s investigation revealed that the manufacturer of the drug paid Alfonso as a speaker for more than 70 ‘dinner programs,’ at a rate of approximately $1,000 per event. In many instances, the dinner programs were only attended by Alfonso and a sales representative for the drug manufacturer,’ [federal prosecutors said].”
Read the full story here.

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Amphetamines prescribed to treat binge eating disorder

Amphetamines were once used as diet pills. But in the 1970s, production and use of them dropped after the FDA deemed them only appropriate for narcolepsy and ADHD (then called hyperkinetic disorder of childhood) and prohibited doctors from selling them as weight loss drugs. However, Mother Jones reveals amphetamines are now being prescribed to individuals with binge eating disorder. “Amphetamine products were categorized as federally controlled substances with strict regulation of when and how they could be prescribed. The FDA prohibited doctors from selling the drugs for weight loss; the only approved usages were narcolepsy and ‘hyperkinetic disorder of childhood’—today's ADHD.”
Read the full story here. 

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‘White nationalist’ group that inspired alleged Charleston shooter enjoys tax exemption

 The Council of Conservative Citizens, which promotes white primacy, allegedly inspired Dylann Roof, the man charged with nine counts of murder in the shootings at the South’s oldest black church in Charleston, S.C.  However, the Council is listed as a 501 (c)(4) by the IRS, indicating that it is considered a “nonprofit organization that promotes social welfare” and thus is tax exempt. “The Council of Conservative Citizens explains on its website that its members believe ‘that the American people and government should remain European in their composition and character…. We also oppose all efforts to mix the races of mankind.’ ”
Read the full story here.

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Unaccredited schools of sexuality, religion, and massage paid for by the GI Bill

The U.S. Department of Education has a set of minimum standards that must be met by most schools before receiving federal funds. However, Reveal News found that some schools do not have to meet such standards under a GI Bill loophole initially implemented to let veterans attend trade schools. Taxpayers have spent over $260 million on these unaccredited institutions. “Reveal has found a gold rush of 2,000 schools cashing in on the exemption. The list includes schools set up to make a profit by teaching blackjack, scuba diving, dog grooming, taxidermy and yoga. Many are owned by individuals who’ve gone bankrupt… A handful are owned by convicted felons.”
Read the full story here.