Study Finds Black Students Suspended at Higher Rates

“A new analysis of federal data identifies districts in 13 Southern states where black students are suspended or expelled at rates overwhelmingly higher than white children. Among the other findings in the analysis were that in 181 school districts where blacks represented just under 60 percent of enrollment on average, all of the students expelled during 2011-12 were black. Within the 13 states, Louisiana and Mississippi expelled the highest proportion of blacks.” To read more, click here. Also find the study cited in this article, here.

LGBTQ Girls’ Needs Not Met by Juvenile Justice Reform

JUVENILE DETENTION

“Juvenile justice initiatives often fail to include the unique challenges confronted by young LGBTQ women of color in their approaches, making issues associated with sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression invisible.” This article discusses how interpersonal violence, trauma, homelessness, a lack of affirming health care services can contribute to the sexual abuse to prison pipeline–through which girls who are survivors of trauma are funneled into a punitive juvenile justice system. In some states, as many as 8 in every 10 girls in the juvenile justice system have a history of sexual or physical abuse. A high percentage of girls in the juvenile justice system–40 percent, most of whom are girls of color–identify as LGBTQ or as gender-nonconforming (GNC). Read this article for more information on how the LGBTQ community is marginalized within the criminal justice system.

Latinas and Mass Incarceration

This short article featured in Latina Magazine lists facts regarding the mass incarceration trends for latina women in the United States, a population often ignored when talking about criminal justice reform. One such fact is that the number of women behind bars is increasing at almost double the rate for men, and Latinas are 69 percent more likely to be incarcerated than white women. Latinas face harsher sentences than white defendants and are also most often arrested for for non-violent drug offenses.

Clinton’s Alternate Plan to the War on DrugsCop looking at drugs with arrested criminal behind.

On September 1st, presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton announced her plan to commit $10 billion over 10 years to target addiction. Clinton’s plan addresses mass incarceration by including alternatives for low-level and nonviolent drug offenses and provides for treatment programs. It also targets opioid dependence, which has recently moved to the forefront of the national health agenda. Learn more here.

Drug Reform for Immigrants

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The Human Rights Watch recently released an article advocating for the passage of two bills presented to the California legislature that address a gap between California state law and federal immigration law. “Under California law, participants who successfully complete drug diversion under a program known as Deferred Entry of Judgment earn a dismissal of charges and a clean record. But because they must plead guilty before starting the program, federal law considers even successful participants as having a conviction that can trigger deportation and mandatory detention for permanent residents (“green card holders”) and unauthorized immigrants alike.” Read more here.

Ferguson Announces Amnesty on Arrest Warrants

As a response to the sharp criticism of the court system in Ferguson after the killing of Michael Brown, the city recently announced that it would withdraw thousands of arrest warrants for municipal violations and taking steps to prevent the incarceration of people who cannot pay fines and fees. The city additionally will limit the amount of money municipalities can keep from minor traffic offenses and imposes safeguards on the amount of time people can be locked up for failing to pay fines and fees. To learn more about these important measures, see here. Photo Credit: fergusonaction.com

To Improve Police-Community Relations, End the War on Drugs

FERGUSON PROTEST 2014

According to this Huffington Post blog written by a former prosecutor and board member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, “ending drug prohibition is essential to restoring peace in the streets, reforming our criminal justice system, and healing our communities. Until those policies change, black communities will continue to fall victim to American policing gone awry.  LEAP believes that without reforming U.S. and global drug policy, no reform or set of reforms can stop the unending perversion of American values, virtues [and]… policing [practices].” To read the rest of the argument regarding the merits of ending the war on drugs from the perspective of law enforcement, click here.

Obama Extends College Grants to Some Prison Inmates

“More than 20 years after banning prisoners from receiving student aid, some federal and state inmates could be eligible for Pell grant money to take college courses while still behind bars. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the administration’s new Second Chance Pell Pilot program during a visit to the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup, Maryland. The program will allow, on a temporary basis, federal grants to be used to cover college costs for prisoners for the first time since Congress excluded them from student aid in 1994. It will last three to five years and be open to prisoners who are eligible for release, particularly within the next five years. Inmates could be eligible for the money as early as the fall of 2016. Read more here. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

HBO’s VICE series will air VICE Special Report: Fixing The System on Sunday, Sept. 27, and will include Obama’s tour in July of the Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma. HBO says the special, hosted by Shane Smith, is aimed at giving viewers a look at the pervasive consequences of America’s approach to crime and imprisonment. It explores the interlocking pieces of the sprawling system, from prisoners and their families to the judiciary and community reformers.

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