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Restorative Justice Aims To Be Peaceful Alternative to Punishment

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HOST INTRO:

The American criminal justice system seems pretty simple: After someone commits a crime, they’re convicted, sentenced and sent to prison. Time is served and people are released. But the disturbing fact is that 40-percent of the people leaving prison will be back.

But there’s another way of looking at crime and punishment – it’s called restorative justice. And as Christie Thorne reports, it’s a movement that’s taking off across the country.

[AMB: Fade Up and Hold Under, Driving in car with Vicky to scene of accident (Engine, Turn Signal)]

On a recent sunny afternoon, Vicky Ruvolo takes a right turn onto Sunrise Highway in Ronkonkoma, a quiet Long Island town. We arrive at a spot less than five minutes from her house. Vicky says this is where she almost died nine years ago.

VICKY RUVOLO:

See, I think it happened right over here at this miniature golf place.

Just before Thanksgiving in 2004, Vicky was driving home from a fun night out with her family. Four teenagers were approaching in an oncoming car. The kids were joyriding, on a shopping spree with a stolen credit card. As the two cars passed, 18-year-old Ryan Cushing hurled a large object out of the window, aiming it right at Vicky. It was a 20-pound frozen turkey…

VICKY RUVOLO:

That went into my windshield, hit me in the face and nearly killed me. I didn’t wake up until over a month later.

She was knocked out on the spot.

[AMB: Drop Out "Driving in car"]

Vicky’s injuries were so severe that she spent a month in a medically induced coma, and another five recovering.

It took the police less than a week to identify the teenagers. Ryan eventually turned himself in. He was facing up to 25 years in prison for first-degree assault and reckless endangerment.

VICKY RUVOLO:

He was going to be wasting his whole life – he was going to lose 25 years to sit and rot in jail for a stupid, ridiculous act.

Vicky didn’t understand the benefit of punishing Ryan. Her emotional struggle was just as challenging as the physical. Still in rehab, Vicky prayed. And she came to a realization: that she had to forgive.

VICKY RUVOLO:

Because that’s the biggest thing that people forget. Is that forgiveness, isn’t about that other person. It’s all about you. Because when you forgive you’re letting go of all that anger, that pain, that negativity. It actually releases you.

Vicky asked that Ryan be given leniency. She didn’t want him to spend more than 6 months in jail.

At the sentencing hearing, Vicky and Ryan met face-to-face for the first time. At the end of the day, Ryan walked over to where Vicky was sitting with her family.

VICKY RUVOLO:

And he stood in front of me and was just crying profusely, just crying. Talking through his tears just saying, “I never meant this to happen. I prayed for you every day. I’m so glad you’re doing well.”

Then, she hugged him.

VICKY RUVOLO:

The only thing I could do was coddle him like a child. And I told him, “Just take this experience and do something good with your life.”

In response to Vicky’s request, the judge sentenced Ryan to six months in jail, five years of probation and a year of community service.

Ryan spent that year working with Dr. Robert Goldman, who was the supervising psychologist at the Suffolk County Probation Department. Goldman had developed an innovative restorative justice program called TASTE.

[AMB: Fade Up and Hold Under, Vicky & Robert greet one another at restaurant (Waitress, Dishes)]

ROBERT GOLDMAN:

I was seeing children in the juvenile justice system graduate into the adult criminal justice system.

Goldman had spent a little over a decade as a criminal defense attorney. And most of his defendants were children. He noticed a problem. Not just in Long Island, but across the country.

ROBERT GOLDMAN:

Like Vicky, I really didn’t know what restorative justice was, I just knew what we were doing wasn’t right.

Restorative justice is an alternative to a purely punitive approach. The movement focuses on the needs of both victims and offenders and gives both parties an opportunity to heal and learn from a criminal experience.

Psychologist Jacques Verduin has pioneered several restorative justice programs in California prisons:

JACQUES VERDUIN:

Where you get to stare down your demons, confront your actions and name your victim in front of everybody. That’s tough on crime.

Verduin says that the current system isn’t doing anyone any good.

JACQUES VERDUIN:

You know, to run a system that is so heavy on custody and so little on creating opportunities for people to change their ways, is in many ways a disservice to public safety. It’s time for us to start investing in keeping people out of prison rather than in prison.

Right now, 1 in 34 Americans are under some form of correctional supervision – that’s close to 7 million people in prison, jail, parole or probation.

JACQUES VERDUIN:

Across the board, about 95 percent of all prisoners eventually get out. And they get out to be somebody’s neighbor. So how do you want them to come out? Punished, clueless, not having learned anything? Or educated, evolved and a bit more humble?

Ryan Cushing is a good example of the latter. Vicky still keeps in touch with him.

VICKY RUVOLO:

Now he’s off probation, now he’s got a job, he’s got his own apartment, now he’s paying taxes like the rest of us – instead of our taxes paying for him to rot in jail!

Vicky knows how much Ryan took away from the experience. She says that she gained, too.

VICKY RUVOLO:

I got my life, what better gift is there? And I was just glad that I could do that for him.

Right now, Ryan’s outcome is the exception and not the norm. But more and more restorative justice programs are being implemented across the country. And in New York City, the method is even being introduced in some schools.

Christie Thorne, Columbia Radio News.

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Boston Bombing’s Impact on Immigration Law

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HOST: Last week a bipartisan group of 8 senators announced a deal on immigration reform. Days later, police identified two Chechen immigrants as suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. On the day the second bomber was caught, Republican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa told the Senate Judiciary Committee the attacks in Boston should inform the immigration debate.  

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Country Music Legend George Jones, Dead at 81

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HOST: George Jones, the iconic and influential country star of the (nineteen sixties) 1960s and  (seventies) 70s passed away today. He had a storied career, releasing 60 albums and piling up hundreds of hit songs like “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”

DIXON_LIVE_T1

IN: He said I’ll love you ‘til I die…

OUT: …forget in time. (:10)

Jones became known as “No Show Jones” during his career, because of his penchant for missing shows due to his drinking habits. He talked about the origin of the name with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air back in 2010.

DIXON_FRESHAIR_T2

IN: I missed a few dates…

OUT: …dates as it’s been built up to be.(:13)

Despite that, he’s still considered by many as the greatest country singer to ever perform. Before his health declined, he was planning a final tour called “The Grand Tour” that would’ve culminated this November with a retirement show in Nashville. He was 81.

DIXON_LIVE_T2 (:13)

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Formerly Incarcerated Students Get Training On How To Secure Jobs

Formerly Incarcerated Students Get Training On How To Secure Jobs

Students in the Osborne Association’s Green Career Center in the Bronx practice pitching themselves to potential employers in front of their class.

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HOST INTRO:

Governor Andrew Cuomo is pushing a new statewide initiative that gives employers up to $2,400 for each formerly incarcerated person they hire. But first, they’ve got to get the job. Christie Thorne reports.

REPORTER:

We’ve all filled out job applications. You write down your name, your employment history, add a few reference contacts. And then you’re asked about your criminal history. Each year, about 700,000 people have to mark YES to that question. That’s the number of men and women leaving the U.S. prison system.

RONALD DAY: Often times it’s like, well, if that person has checked off on an application that he or she has been convicted of a crime, sometimes those applications get put in the garbage.

REPORTER:

Ronald Day is the Director of Workforce Development at the Osborne Association, a non-profit that offers practical skills and support for the formerly incarcerated.

RONALD DAY: What we want to do is try to level the playing field for individuals because we know that there’s a great deal of discrimination and a lot of stigma.

SOUND: Students chatting in class at The Osborne Association

REPORTER:

It’s a busy Monday morning at the Osborne Association’s headquarters on Westchester Avenue in the Bronx. Fifteen grown men sit in a classroom staring at the front of the room.

SOUND: Teacher talking to students in the classroom

REPORTER:

They’ve all spent time in prison, but none intend on going back.

 SOUND: Student presents a pitch exercise

REPORTER:

Today they’re crafting one-minute pitches – written to sell themselves to potential employers.

SOUND: Student presents a pitch exercise (Continued)

REPORTER:

He’s fine practicing one on one, but when he reads in front of the class he stumbles. Disappointed in himself, he gest choked up. But he’s encouraged to keep going by the class, and he does.

SOUND: Students applaude

REPORTER:

Then comes the important part. Getting feedback from his classmates.

SOUND: Students critique pitch exercise

REPORTER:

After weeks of work on their resumes and practice interviewing, they’ll move on to technical skills, like plumbing and construction. When they make the transition in a few weeks, they’ll be come students of Alvin Banks.

ALVIN BANKS: I think it’s important to provide that inspiration or that template for people to see, like listen – there are opportunities out here and if you work hard enough you can be afforded them and life is not over.

REPORTER:

Banks knows what they’re going through first hand. He graduated from here about two years ago, after he struggled to find a job when he got home from prison.

ALVIN BANKS: I came home from the Federal system February 10th, 2011. I did approximately 10 years altogether.

REPORTER:

Ten years for fraud. The first thing Banks did when he got out was spend time with his four kids.

ALVIN BANKS: My youngest is 5. She was born while I was on Rikers and I actually was listening to her mother give birth on the phone. I made a decision the last time I was in prison to not come back.

REPORTER:

A big part of staying out? Finding a job.

ALVIN BANKS: I was promptly told that I was basically unemployable because of my record.

REPORTER:

And this is where a big problem lies for people that are trying to re-enter normal life. Ann Jacobs is the Director of the Prisoner Re-Entry institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City.

ANN JACOBS:It’s human that when we get discouraged, when we can’t think of the next thing to do and be hopeful about it that we revert to old patterns. I mean, I do think that’s the essence of recidivism.

REPORTER:

About 40 percent of people leaving prison will be back in the system within three years. That number is even bigger in New York City – as many as half will go back.

 ANN JACOBS:We should want to welcome them back to society and to have them have a stake in the larger whole.

REPORTER:

Another problem is that many people returning from prison are going back to places that aren’t equipped to support them. Jacobs says to tackle recidivism we also need to look at these communities. But Alvin Banks says his main goal is to keep them focused on the uphill battle ahead.

ALVIN BANKS:I tell the participants that we have to be more diligent, we have to work harder. We have to get up earlier, we have to be smarter, we have to be more resilient than the average person because of our background.

REPORTER:

And the strategy behind Governor Cuomo’s Work for Success program is to help ex-prisoners help themselves. Because lowering recidivism is ultimately good for everyone. Christie Thorne, Columbia Radio News.

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Newscast 1

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NEWSCAST:

A drug ring operating in Manhattan gets busted.

Thomas Pendergast named as new CEO of the MTA by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

New York City Fleet Week cancelled due to Sequestration budget cuts.

Christie Thorne reports on the days news headlines.

REPORTER:

For Columbia Radio News in New York, I’m Christie Thorne.

A drug ring operating from the Lower East Side was busted today for selling millions of dollars of cocaine. 30 people involved in a street gang were charged with drug trafficking across the city.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced today that Thomas Pendergast will be the next CEO of the MTA. In his weekly address on WOR radio, Mayor Bloomberg responded to Christine Quinn’s hopes that the city will take more control over the transit system. He says that the plan is a good idea in theory, but that it seems unlikely.

MAYOR BLOOMBERG: The problem is that the state has this big organization, they would never give up power I don’t think, and the state funds a lot of it. Almost all subway lines in the city will undergo service changes this weekend due to maintenance.

Senator Chuck Schumer and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan announced plans to help people impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The expanded efforts will allow homeowners to suspend their mortgage payments for up to 12 months while they repair their homes.

Police have released surveillance video of a man that attacked a 68-year-old woman in her East Harlem apartment building on Monday.The attack happened on Columbus Avenue near 102nd Street when the suspect tried to steal the woman’s purse and punched her in the face. The victim is in stable condition.Police believe the suspect is in his early 20s. He was last seen wearing an orange baseball cap and blue and white hooded jacket.

New York City Fleet Week has been cancelled because of sequestration budget cuts.The event welcomes New Yorkers to meet members of the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. It has been an annual tradition at New York Harbor every year since 1984.

Mario Batali’s West Village eatery, Babbo, is in jeopardy of losing its zoning license. The Community Board rejected Batali’s renewal request for a 10-year extension. The much-loved restaurant is technically placed in a residential zone. And Batali is facing some backlash from his neighbors on Waverly Place.

It’s 42 degrees with scattered showers here in New York City.

For Columbia Radio News, I’m Christie Thorne

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Fast Food Workers Strike For Higher Wages

Fast Food Workers Strike For Higher Wages

Hundreds of New York City fast food workers protest for higher wages and the right to unionize. They marched from a Harlem park to a McDonald’s on Lexington and 125th.

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Fast food workers across the city staged a walk-out yesterday. Workers from some of the biggest chains – McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC – are demanding higher wages and the right to unionize. This is the second time in the last six months workers have staged a one-day strike. Christie Thorne reports.

REPORTER

At 8:30 in the morning on Thursday, Cherise Rodriguez was supposed to be behind the counter of a Burger King at 116th and Lexington. But instead of clocking in there, she was standing outside of a McDonald’s in Midtown. Yesterday was Rodriguez’s first protest. She says even though she was nervous, she knew it was important to join in.

 CHERISE RODRIGUEZ

I’m an overworked person and underpaid. All of us here are overworked and underpaid. And we’re out here for the struggle and we just want everybody’s support for the day. (:10)

 Rodriguez is one of about 50,000 fast food workers in New York City. All of whom make minimum wage – seven dollars and twenty-five cents an hour.

AMBI

Harlem Rally / We can’t survive on $7.25! (:07)

Workers want to double the wage to $15. Rodriguez is chanting at a park in Harlem with her Burger King colleague, Kasseen Silver. They’re about to take part in the final march of the day. Silver says that the city’s cost of living makes these jobs harder.

KASSEEN SILVER

So in order for us to continue to pay our taxes, to receive medical coverage and for us to be able to take care of our family and not nickel and dime check to check…we need these things that everybody wants in this country. We’re tax-paying citizens, we do our job, we do our job well and we just want what we deserve. (:17)

And that’s just not possible on minimum wage says Jessica Cogle, who works at a Harlem McDonald’s and has a baby on the way.

JESSICA COGLE

With $7.25, I can’t afford nothing. Once I pay for my metro card to get to work, and eat…it’s gone! (:08)

In a statement to Uptown Radio, a McDonald’s spokeswoman called the company’s wages competitive and said that employees have access to a range of benefits to meet their individual needs. She adds that McDonald’s works hard everyday to treat employees with dignity and respect.

Workers were happy with the turnout. So was Joseph Barrera. He’s an employee at a Brooklyn Kentucky Fried Chicken and an advocate with New York Communities for Change, one of the organizers of the strike. Barrera says it stalled a Burger King from opening and shut down a Domino’s Pizza altogether.

 JOSEPH BARRERA

Enough of the workers were on our side. I guess it was impossible for them to run the store because it was so understaffed. My store as well. Out of the 11 workers that work there, 6 of them are by my side. (:11)

And Barrera says there have been other gains. Just a week ago City Council Speaker Christine Quinn announced a bill that would give full time employees paid sick leave. And last month, New York legislature approved a budget that will bump up the city’s minimum wage to $9 an hour by 2015. Christie Thorne, Columbia Radio News.

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Bullies Make the Biggest Babies

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HOST INTRO

Commentator Christie Thorne has spent every summer of her life at her family’s cabin on Long Lake in rural Wisconsin. That’s where she learned that sometimes bullies are the biggest cry babies of all.

REPORTER

When I was a kid there was this boy named Kevin that was just a few years older than me. His family has a place further down the lake. And I hated him. Every summer I’d worry about what kind of evil prank he was going to pull on me…because it did happen every summer. I had attempted revenge in the past, but my execution was never quite as good as I had conjured up in my head. Mostly failures, to be frank.

One July, my three best friends from back in Chicago were visiting me for the week. I could usually expect one – maybe two – good pranks from Kevin every summer. But this week it was different – every night it was something new. I’m talking stink bombs, dead fish and stolen underwear. And one night after a great night of card games my friends and I were making our way up a path to the main cabin to go to sleep. Kevin jumped out of the woods wearing a Michael Myers mask and fired up a chainsaw. He scared the crap out of us…even though I’m fairly certain that there’s not a chainsaw in the movie Halloween.

This time Kevin went too far. And I wanted him to know. So later that night, my little brother and I led the small pack of our friends through the dark woods with clunky flashlights to Kevin’s house, where his parents were sleeping. The absence of Kevin’s red four-wheeler let us know that he wasn’t home. And since our posse of fourteen-year-olds was probably the most dangerous thing on the lake that night, the door to the house was unlocked.

 Kevin’s house had a big porch that wrapped all the way around it. So, we decided to start moving everything from the porch onto their front yard. EVERYTHING. Including the fishing poles hanging on the wall and the rug on the floor. And then, as if it were meant to be, I saw the Michael Myers mask hanging on a hook among some coats and helmets. I didn’t put Michael out on the lawn. Oh no. I took him as my hostage.

We all ran back through the woods to our cabin, so high on adrenaline that we didn’t even need our flash lights. We turned out the lights at the house and hid giggling on the dark porch waiting for a reaction. We’d be able to hear Kevin’s four-wheeler approach. And it did. And man, was he pissed. He did a little ranting and then went on his way. We FINALLY got him back!

When I woke up the next morning, it came to me. We needed to take the prank one step farther. So we affixed Michael to the top of an old broomstick – or maybe it was a rake – and my Dad helped us attach it to the back of our boat. And so, for the whole next day, as we were out and about on the lake, we would pass Kevin and wave. Judging by his face, he got the memo.

Later that evening, as we were enjoying the last 45 minutes of sunlight in the water, I saw my Dad heading down to the dock with Kevin’s mom. Yikes. She wasn’t mad, but she did say:

“I told Kevin, don’t dish it out if you can’t take it, ya know. So he won’t be botherin’ ya anymore. But he’d really like his mask back.”

My Dad winked at me and smiled. I ran to grab the mask and returned it to Kevin’s mom.

And man, I couldn’t believe after all that he sent his mother over here instead of trying to get the mask back himself. But I did realize that the one who doesn’t tattle always comes out on top. I can’t wait to tell my kids that, some day.

BACK-ANNOUNCE 

Christie Thorne hasn’t been a target of Kevin’s pranks since then. But should he strike again, he should be afraid. Very afraid.

 

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Prison System Feels Sequester Budget Cuts

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HOST INTRO: The across-the-board budget cuts to Federal programs forced by the congressional sequester will start hitting in a couple weeks. One of the many programs losing funding is the Federal Bureau of Prisons. It could be hit with more than $330 million dollars in losses. And that raises questions of safety. Christie Thorne reports.

THORNE: We’ve heard it before – in movies and TV shows, maybe at a tour of the infamous prison, Alcatraz. (:05)

AMB: Prison Doors Lock (:07)

THORNE: The sound of a prison door closing represents something pretty final – who’s in and who’s out. But budget cuts may soon blur this line. And those cuts may cause holes in the system that makes things unsafe. A couple of weeks ago, a former Rikers
Island inmate, Matthew Matagrano, impersonated a corrections officer to break back in to two New York City prisons. His goal seemed to be innocent: he broke in to hang out and smoke cigarettes with some of the inmates. But if he could get in,
what’s going to keep people from getting out? (:23)

NORMAN SEABROOK: Well, I absolutely think that budget cuts has something to do with it. (:04)

THORNE: Norman Seabrook is the president of the Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association– the union that represents New York’s nine thousand prison officers. Seabrook says stopping someone who wants to sneak into prison, isn’t the biggest problem the department will face with the coming budget cuts. But each problem could create a ripple effect through the system.

NORMAN SEABROOK: They’ll start with furloughs; they’ll start with giving people four days of work as opposed to five days. So I don’t think it’s going to be something that’s going to drown, if you will, the country, but this will be something that will be sprinkled to those that are used to having umbrellas, so they will feel a little sprinkle. (:21)

THORNE: That sprinkle could turn into a downpour because fewer officers due to budget cuts won’t necessarily mean fewer prisoners. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told ABC before the sequester that these cuts pose a real danger. (:11)

HOLDER: This is something that’s going to have an impact on safety of this country and anybody who says that that’s not true is either lying or saying something that runs contrary to the facts. (:11)

THORNE: But not everyone agrees that those facts are so black and white. Martin Horn’s entire career has been in corrections. He’s the former Commissioner for the New York City Department of Corrections and now teaches at John Jay College of criminal justice. He says safety – both inside and outside of the prisons – is essential. And he thinks it’s going to take a lot more than these budget cuts to weaken the system. (:17)

HORN: I suspect that the Bureau will do whatever it can to spread the sequestered amount over its large number of facilities and each one of its facilities will take a proportionately small share of the hit. (:17)

THORNE: Horn adds there are other ways to cut down on prison costs and he’s confident folks like Matagrano who want to break into a prison won’t become the norm. (:07)

HORN: I doubt, strongly, that they would ever compromise security. All it took was for a single officer to closely check this guy’s credentials and numerous officers failed to do so, so it’s hard to attribute that to staffing. (:18)

THORNE: But as someone who’s focus is on worker safety, union head Norman Seabrook says he’s skeptical that the Department of Corrections Commissioner will be able to have that much control over how the cuts work – and he says there is a chance that
another case like Matthew Matagrano could happen again.

SEABROOK: So yes, we’re going to see more of that because of budget cuts, we are going to so more of that because of the impact of the way that the individuals in the City of New York at Commissioner levels at this time hold no responsibility to the public. So, we are faced with those things
in the future as well. (:18)

THORNE: The New York City Department of Corrections did not return requests for comment on this story. It’s expected that furloughs will begin on April 4th and we’ll start seeing some of these ripple effects – if there are any – in the months to follow.
Christie Thorne, Columbia Radio News. (:06)

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NYPD Sued For Spying on Muslims

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HOST: The New York City Police Department is facing new allegations that it’s spying improperly on Muslim groups. Civil liberties advocates have asked a Federal court to crack down on the NYPD. Christie Thorne reports. (:12)

N1: Lawyers filed the motion two weeks ago in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The filing alleges that the NYPD has been infiltrating mosques, restaurants and coffee shops frequented by Muslims, and even a student organization at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. That was on the minds of members of Columbia University’s Muslim Student Association when they met last week. (:20)

AMB1:
MSA MEETING
Applause (:03)

N2: Monika Kahn was there to celebrate Islam Awareness Week. She says that while the tone of the evening was upbeat, what goes unsaid is chilling. Kahn says that the allegations against the NYPD aren’t surprising. (:12)

A1:
MONIKA KAHN ACTUALITY
“It’s not that I’m apathetic to the incident necessarily, but violation of privacy has become such a common phenomenon post 9/11 that you never really know who’s surveilling your emails or phone calls anymore.” (:14)

N3: The lawyers who filed the suit say law-abiding citizens and students shouldn’t have to worry about this. They argue that sending informants to spy on student organizations violates what is known as the Handschu Agreement. The 1985 ruling established a set of guidelines that control how far the police can go when conducting surveillance on political organizations. Paul Chevigney is one of the five attorneys behind the current filing. He says that police need some evidence of wrongdoing before they spy on a political organization. (:28)

A2:
PAUL CHEVIGNEY ACTUALITY
“Investigating organizations just to make sure nothing is going on is a formula for investigating everything and everybody all the time. And one of the big and chilling things about that is that it is potentially interminable.” (:20)

N4: The attorneys also asked the court to order the NYPD to destroy records of past surveillance if they do not establish criminal activity and to appoint an auditor to monitor surveillance. Chevigney believes that working without standards is a recipe for police intimidation. (:15)

A3:
PAUL CHEVIGNEY ACTUALITY
“Work against counter-terrorism is appropriate but there’s got to be some limits. There has to be a balance between liberty and investigation oversight by the police.” (:10)

N5: That balance is likely to be the central issue when THE JUDGE rules, says Fordham Law School professor Karen Greenberg. (:07)

A4:
KAREN GREENBERG ACTUALITY
“I think any judge is going to try to understand the post-9/11 context. I think what he’s going to look for is this real question of was there grounds for suspicion or were they just in there and trying to find something that would give them grounds for suspicion.” (:18)

N6: An NYPD spokesman said that the force adheres to the Constitution in all it does and specifically the Handschu guidelines. It’s not clear when the court will rule.

Christie Thorne, Columbia Radio News. (:11)

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New Yorkers Ready to Say Goodbye to Styrofoam

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced plans for his final year in office in his State of the City address yesterday. He called it his busiest and most important year yet. He hopes to tackle immigration laws, recovery from Hurricane Sandy and…Styrofoam.

Christie Thorne reports:

The line to grab a cup of coffee is about 10 orders long on this sunny Friday morning in Upper Manhattan. It’s a typical wake-up routine among morning commuters. But it might be going through some changes.

A ban on Styrofoam would get rid of cups at the local coffee shop and take-out containers at the curbside halal cart. Mayor Bloomberg said that he would like to ban the material in his twelfth and final year in office.

“Something that we know is environmentally destructive, that is costing taxpayers money, and that is easily replaceable, is something we can do without,” he said.

New York City would not be the first to eliminate the un-recyclable material. Queens resident Donna Michael Escue has just picked up two big Styrofoam cups full of hot coffee, but she says she’s on board with the initiative and is used to being Styrofoam-free
“I just transplanted from Southern California and they banned – Santa Monica banned Styrofoam about four years ago,” Escue says.

If Starbucks is famous for its bright green straws then Dunkin Donuts is known for its big white Styrofoam cups. But at the donut shop at 106th and Amsterdam, Anik, an employee who didn’t give his last name, says that the ban will probably not be a bad thing.

“Well some people say that Styrofoam is bad for your health, it’s also bad for the environment. Right now we have about 3 different sizes of cups that comes in Styrofoam but we also have paper cups. So what Dunkin Donuts might do is replace the Styrofoam with paper cups,” Anik says.

He says that some customers are already asking for environmentally friendly alternatives: “Actually, we have customers that come in that ask for the paper cups instead of the Styrofoam.”

Some New Yorkers think the mayor has overstepped his bounds. Nageeb Noman stands next to a stack of Styrofoam take-out containers in his corner bodega. He’s not pleased about the recent announcement.

“He didn’t have the right to say anything. He has the right to go out of office, that’s all,” Noman says.

Noman is already angry about the fact that the mayor has banned extra large sodas.

“He want to control people’s lives. That’s what he want to do. And this will effect the state and the city, too,”  he says.

The bans are just one of the reasons Bloomberg was dubbed “Nanny Mayor” by New Yorkers. Rebecca, who didn’t give her last name, says she’s seen firsthand the damages of Styrofoam when she lived in China. Although she doesn’t always agree with the Bloomberg administration, she thinks that this kind of ban would be a step in the right direction, regardless of where it comes from.

“I think that using the mayor’s office as a bully pulpit for decent proposals is not a bad thing, I just don’t normally agree with Bloomberg on many things but on this, in particular, I do agree with him,” Rebecca says.

City Council Speaker Christine Quinn says that she’s on board with the ban, so we can expect to see more on this in the next few months.

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