Monday, November 29, 2010

ACLU: Washington Death Penalty is Hoplessly Broken

The good folks at the ACLU of Washington explain why the state's death penalty system is a mess here, here, here, and here.

You can see proposed legislation to address the issue here. And you can easily encourage your legislators to support the plan here

As with all other movements for civil rights, this will not happen overnight. Modest as it may be, however (phone call, letter, buzz in a legislator's ear at a public meeting, etc.), this is the stuff that builds toward change. 
Take a moment to contact your legislators, put a but in the ear of friends and family, and cross your fingers...

Thank you for all you do.

Friday, October 22, 2010

WA Supreme Court justices' comments send jaws dropping

Recent comments by two Washington State Supreme Court justices suggesting that dramatic racial disparaties in criminal convictions are merely an accurate reflection of race-based differences in crime rates have sparked heated controversy.

Within hours of the story's publication a prominent national legal blog posted the story, and the Seattle Urban League called for an inquiry.

Urban League CEO James Kelly has called on WA Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen to "establish a special commission on racial disproportions in the criminal-justice system and to make recommendations on how to modernize the system and ensure equal justice before the law."

"Clearly," Kelly stated, "if two seated justices think there are more African Americans in jail only because they have a crime problem, then there's a problem that goes to the top."

80,000 Victims a Year: AG Holder Needs to Approve PREA Standards

A recent blog post from the ACLU of Washington notes the staggering numbers of sexual assaults in American prisons and jails, and calls on the Obama administration to adopt national standards for correctional sexual assaults ASAP.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Maryland Nixes Prison Census Gerrymandering

In recent years felon disenfranchisement has become a lively topic for civil rights and social justice activists. A related, lesser-noted phenomenon has been prison gerrymandering.

Under current procedures, the U.S. census attributes place of residence to the place where individuals live when the count is done. In most cases, this seems obvious. In the age of mass incarceration, however, large populations (usually people of color from urban areas) have been uprooted and relocated to rural jurisdictions. The New York Times noted one of the most grotesque examples of this phenomenon in Anamosa, Iowa, where a city council member was elected with precisely two votes. How? Because Iowa's largest penitentiary is located in his district.

In April, Maryland became the first state in the nation to enact legislation to make the census accurately reflect reality.

One down, 49 to go.

Friday, March 19, 2010

R.I. Legislator Seeks to Restore Equity in Districting

Periodically the issue gets raised that prison populations skew census results and subsequently political districting and allocation of government resources. The issue seldom merits more than a passing mention, but one Rhode Island legislator proposes to address the inequity, even if only on principle.

Monday, March 8, 2010

More from NYR on preventing prison rape

In their first article, David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow of Just Detention International diagnosed the problem of prison rape; in this piece they discuss strategies for prevention.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

More on incarcerated children victimized

The NY Review of Books has been a voice of conscience on this and other issues of carceral excess. Latest story here.