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Showing posts from February, 2011

Father of slain student's emotional testimony halts Florida law allwoing guns on campus

The Florida state Senate is considering a controversial bill, introduced last month, that would allow guns to be carried on college and university campuses. Like 49 other states, Florida currently bans firearms from campus, but state Sen. Greg Evers (R) wants permitted weapons allowed on campus because “it’s just a good idea that people be allowed to carry firearms wherever they feel the necessity to protect themselves.” The state Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee was considering the bill yesterday when an unexpected speaker arrived: Robert Cowie, whose daughter Ashley was killed last month at a Florida State fraternity house when an AK-74 owned by one of the fraternity members accidentally discharged. Reading from a prepared statement, but frequently overcome with emotion, Cowie — who described himself as a registered Republican that never missed an election — pleaded with legislators not to pass the bill:COWIE: As parents, we send our children to college campuses hop…

Recommendations for Juvenile Justice Reform

Opportunities for the Obama Administration

The National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition (NJJDPC) brings together a collaborative array of youth‐ and family‐ serving, social justice, law enforcement, corrections, and faith‐based organizations, that work to ensure healthy families, build strong communities and improve public safety by promoting fair and effective policies, practices and programs for youth involved or at risk of becoming involved in the juvenile and criminal justice systems.

NJJDPC achieves its mission by engaging a broad spectrum of opinion leaders and
stakeholders, including the voices of those most affected by the juvenile justice system, to:
• advocate for sensible and safe solutions to crime and delinquency;
• build and leverage policy leadership in the field; and
• serve as a clearinghouse for research and best practices within our nation’s juvenile
and criminal justice systems.

For more information, please contact the Coalition Co‐Chairs:
Ashley Nelli…

It's Time For Our Nation To Be Smart on Crime

Smart on Crime: Recommendations for the Administration and Congress provides the 112th Congress and the Obama administration with analysis of the problems plaguing our state and federal criminal justice systems and a series of recommendations to address these failures. The report examines the entire criminal justice system, from the creation of new criminal laws to ex-offenders’ reentry into communities after serving their sentences. Our comprehensive recommendations range from helping to restore and empower victims to identifying ways to protect the rights of the accused. Due to the undeniable human costs and the overwhelming fiscal costs, Americans from diverse political perspectives--particularly professionals with experience in all aspects of the criminal justice system--recognize that the system fails too many, costs too much, and helps too few. Smart on Crime provides the most promising recommendations for resolving our nation’s criminal justice crisis.Leading Crim…

The State of Sentencing 2010

Developments in Policy and Practice

This report was written by Nicole D. Porter, State Advocacy
Coordinator of The Sentencing Project, with research support from
Ajima Olaghere.

The Sentencing Project is a national non-profit organization engaged
in research and advocacy on criminal justice policy issues.

The full report can be found here.

Crunch the numbers: Crime rates are going down

EDWARD GREENSPAN and ANTHONY DOOB Everyone wants to reduce crime and use resources effectively. But the Conservative government’s “tough on crime” agenda would have you believe that crime is increasing and can only be reduced by using tougher penalties. This assertion is wrong, as is a study by an Ottawa-based think tank that reviewed the 2009 Statistics Canada report on crime.

The study, by former Alberta Crown attorney Scott Newark for the Macdonald-Laurier Institute, suggests that violent crime is increasing, contrary to the Statscan report and all reasoned examinations of existing data. Mr. Newark’s study is filled with problems: It compares figures that can’t be compared. It presents figures that are inaccurate. And it ignores evidence supporting the conclusion that crime is, in fact, decreasing. Mr. Newark criticizes Statscan for not including crime rates for all criminal offences. This information is available to anyone in the world on Statscan’s website. The figur…

Professors fight back in information war

Susan DelacourtOttawa Bureau OTTAWA – Two University of Ottawa professors are issuing a dare to the anonymous person who’s been trying to obtain their personal information in what they suspect is an attempt at political intimidation.Amir Attaran and Errol Mendes, vocal critics of the federal Conservative government, say they will release all the information requested – even the data that they don’t have to disclose by law – if the person making the request comes forward and identifies himself or herself.“We don’t have anything to hide,” said Mendes, saying that he hopes this is also true of the person making the requests, which were so unusually large and beyond the scope of the law that they set off alarm bells with the university.
Read on...
Anyone care to speculate who is making these information requests? Tom

NRA Head Wayne LaPierre On Tuscon Shootings: ‘Government Policies Are Getting Us Killed’

Wayne LaPierre, the head of the National Rifle Association, delivered a fiery address to the Conservative Political Action Conference today, saying that guns are not to blame for the shooting rampage in Tuscon — rather, the government is. LaPierre criticized “gun-free zones and anti-self defense laws that protected the safety of no one except the killers,” and said that “by its lies and laws and lack of enforcement, government polices are getting us killed, and imprisoning us in a society of terrifying violence.” LaPierre also criticized legislation aimed at banning high-capacity magazines like the type used by Tuscon shooter Jared Loughner, saying, “These clowns want to ban magazines. Are you kidding me? But that’s their response to the blizzard of violence and mayhem affecting our nation. One more gun law on top of all of the laws already on the books.” Watch it:LaPierre’s narrative is absurd on its face. The Safeway parking lot where the shootings occurred was not a gu…

The Abortion Tax

The Republican plan to prevent your abortion by holding your tax money hostage.By William Saletan

The Republican platform ridicules Democrats for failing to recognize the difference between public and private money. It complains that Congress "treats well-deserved tax cuts as a kind of spending, so that letting Americans keep more of their earnings is considered the same as more spending on pork projects." Democrats forget that "eliminating … tax reductions" is just another way "to raise taxes," says the GOP:Today's Democratic Party views the tax code as a tool for social engineering. They use it to control our behavior, steer our choices, and change the way we live our lives. The Republican Party will put a stop to both social engineering and corporate handouts by simplifying tax policy, eliminating special deals, and putting those saved dollars back into the taxpayers' pockets.Two years after writing that platform, Republicans have …

Why Bradley Manning Is a Patriot, Not a Criminal

Washington is clearly intent on destroying this young Army private and then putting him away until hell freezes over. It should not be this way. February 10, 2011 | Editor's Note: The Obama administration came into office proclaiming "sunshine" policies. When some of the U.S. government's dirty laundry was laid out in the bright light of day by WikiLeaks, however, its officials responded in a knee-jerk, punitive manner in the case of Bradley Manning, now in extreme isolation in a Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia. The urge of the Obama administration and the U.S. military to break his will, to crush him, is unsettling, to say the least. Whatever happens to Julian Assange or WikiLeaks, Washington is clearly intent on destroying this young Army private and then putting him away until hell freezes over.It should not be this way.Today, thanks to lawyer and essayist Chase Madar, TomDispatch is making a long-planned gesture…

Access to justice becoming a privilege of the rich, judge warns

The middle class has been shut out of a justice system that caters primarily to the very rich and the very poor, the country's top judge has told a group of legal luminaries.Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada said on Tuesday that the middle class cannot hope to pay legal fees that average $338 per hour, leaving them little option but to represent themselves in court or go away empty-handed."Do we have adequate access to justice?” she asked a University of Toronto conference on the problem. “It seems to me that the answer is no. We have wonderful justice for corporations and for the wealthy. But the middle class and the poor may not be able to access our justice system.”Chief Justice McLachlin said that a court proceeding can easily swallow up a litigant’s bank account or home equity. “How can there be public confidence in a system of justice that shuts people out; that does not give them access?” she asked. “That’s a very dangerous r…

Think tank targets Statscan’s falling crime rate claim

Think tank targets Statscan’s falling crime rate claim JOHN IBBITSON OTTAWA— From Thursday's Globe and MailPublished Wednesday, Feb. 09, 2011 9:50PM ESTLast updated Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011 10:21AM EST An Ottawa-based think tank has concluded that Statistics Canada’s evidence that crime rates are falling is false, though the government agency stands by its data. That dispute cuts to the heart of the divisions between Stephen Harper’s government, which is toughening crime laws and expanding prisons, and its opponents, who claim the Conservatives are pushing voters’ panic buttons even though the streets are actually getting safer.
"Serious violent crime is increasing,” contrary to Statistics Canada’s claims, asserts Scott Newark, a former Alberta crown prosecutor who is now a security consultant. “On the central question of the state’s duty to protect citizens from crime and public disorder, Canadians are not as well served as they should be” by Statscan, he concl…

Health researchers slam Tory mandatory-minimum-sentence proposal for drug crimes

More than 500 health professionals from across Canada have written to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and opposition leaders to protest a government bill that would impose mandatory minimum sentences for drug crimes including growing small amounts of marijuana.The physicians, scientists and researchers, led by the Urban Health Research Initiative, a program of the B.C. Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, and the Canadian Public Health Association argue that the measures included in Bill S-10 are both ineffective and expensive.“We, the undersigned, are concerned that the federal government is pursuing significant amendments to federal drug legislation, through Bill S-10, which are not scientifically grounded and which research demonstrates may actually contribute to health and social harms in our communities,” the health professionals say in the letter.Read on...Talk about being behind the curve. Here's a blurb about the Rockefeller …

The FBI Has Been Violating Your Liberties in Ways That May Shock You

As Congress seeks to renew the Patriot Act, new information exposes egregious FBI violations.

Last week, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-VT, introduced legislation to extend the Patriot Act past its February 28 expiration date to December 2013. Though the extension once again saves some of the most nefarious, First-Amendment trampling provisions of the act -- roving wiretaps, secret access to third-party records, the hunting of targets unafilliated with foreign powers -- Leahy released a statement assuring us that the new extension will increase citizen protections

“It will promote transparency and expand privacy and civil liberties safeguards in current law,” he said in a statement. “It increases judicial oversight of government surveillance powers that capture information on Americans. This is a package of reforms that all Americans should support.” The expanded bill would require the Department of Justice to issue public reports and generally expand oversight…

Is This the Year America Wakes Up to Its Prison Disaster? Why Conservatives Are Finally Jumping on the Bandwagon

As states' budgets bleed, some of them are shifting from "tough on crime" to "smart on crime."

Struggling with chronic budget crises, lawmakers in more and more states are embracing sentencing and other reforms in a bid to hold down corrections costs. But while sentencing reform has long been the domain of "bleeding heart" liberals, now conservatives are driving those efforts in some states.It's not just about dollars. Although fiscal concerns are a driving force among conservatives, there are also signs they are recognizing and confronting the failures of our drug and criminal justice policies. In a recent Washington Post op-ed, none other than former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote of "more humane, effective alternatives" to the national imprisonment binge

Still, as their states bleed red ink, some of them are shifting from "tough on crime" to "smart on crime." Leading the charge is a newly formed advo…

30 of the Most Loathsome People in America

From the right-wing Koch brothers to Mel Gibson to Michele Bachmann, here are the Americans we should be least proud of.

-David & Charles KochCharges: In a land filthy with noxious liars, these two are the filthiest. Their dad founded the ridiculous John Birch Society which claimed fluoridated tap water was a Communist mind-control plot—while his company built oil refineries for Stalin. And they’ve not fallen far from the despicable hypocrite tree. Koch Industries, the second biggest privately-held company in the country, generates its annual $98 billion in profits from coal mining, stealing oil from Indian reservations, refining and piping Canadian tar sands oil, and every other clear-cut, mountaintop-removing environmental abomination under the sun. How they make money is dirty; how they spend it is dirtier. From free-market-humping think tanks CATO and Heartland to Tea Party-backing Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works, they invest vulga…

Robert Redford And Ellen Barkin Join Doug Liman At Sundance Event Shining Spotlight On Bush Torture Record

Robert Redford And Ellen Barkin Join Doug Liman At Sundance Event Shining Spotlight On Bush Torture RecordLive Closing Day Performance Features Leading Writers, Actors And Former InterrogatorsFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.orgPARK CITY, UT – Robert Redford and Ellen Barkin today joined director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Fair Game) and an all-star cast at Sundance Film Festival to perform “Reckoning With Torture: Memos and Testimonies From the 'War on Terror.'" The event, presented by the American Civil Liberties Union, PEN American Center and Sundance, featured readings of formerly secret government documents. The production was filmed for a documentary Liman is directing to raise awareness of the scope and human cost of the United States’ post-9/11 torture program.Redford and Barkin joined actor America Ferrera; writers Sandra Cisneros, Annie Proulx, Marilynne Robinson, Esmeralda Santiago, George Saunders …

Russia’s heroin epidemic: why the government is ducking the issue

Drug addiction in Russia has reached epidemic proportions, but the government is refusing to address the problem head on, preferring instead to inveigh against external forces like the USA, NATO and the war in Afghanistan. Jarrett Zigon, who works with drug addicts in St Petersburg, considers the current problems and their implications for the future.

The Russian government is once more refusing to accept responsibility for yet another form of suffering it has imposed on its people – heroin use, addiction and the various associated health crises. It is doing its best to lay the blame on others for the drug use epidemic and ensuing HIV crisis by stepping up its criticism of the USA and NATO for not doing more to stop the flow of heroin from Afghanistan into Russia. This internationally staged political theatre is intended to create the illusion that Russia’s current HIV and drug use epidemics are a direct result of the war in Afghanistan. Nothing could be further from…

Stopping Frisky Business

Eight men of color sue the City of Brotherly Love over its “stop-and-frisk” policy—the latest in a group of federal civil rights cases.PHILADELPHIA—A controversial police policy instructing officers to randomly stop and frisk suspects they deem potentially threatening may soon face the scrutiny of a federal judge. In early November, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) joined a local law firm to file suit on behalf of eight plaintiffs, all men of color, who say the Philadelphia Police Department is misusing the policy to conduct racially motivated stops of black and Latino men in the city. The plaintiffs in the current case include attorney Mahari Bailey, who says he was stopped and searched by police on four occasions between 2008 and 2010 for driving with tinted windows, a charge subsequently dropped. A Pennsylvania state representative who was handcuffed and detained for questioning the allegedly illegal stop of two of his elderly constituents is also part of the…