Can We Make “Juvenile Justice” More Just?

Crime is prevalent everywhere in our world. When a person commits a crime, they are punished and, depending on its severity, are eventually brought back into society. While many crimes are perpetrated by adults, teenagers and even children – juveniles – can also commit offenses. A person is considered a juvenile delinquent if they are under the age of eighteen and commit an act that otherwise would be considered a crime if they were an adult. Many juveniles are placed in adult prisons and forced to endure sentences that are inappropriate to their age. The criminal justice system needs to realize that simply locking up a juvenile and throwing away the key is not the answer. We must find ways to keep our young people out of adult facilities and do whatever we can to rehabilitate them and keep them away from a life of crime.

The Sentencing Project compiled a study in 2011 that showed nearly 8,000 minors were in adult jails or prisons that year. In my opinion, this is simply unacceptable. If we work to rehabilitate our juveniles and do whatever it takes to keep them out of prisons and jails, it can lead to better futures for them. Read more…

Capital pride logo

Pride Everywhere

This past month, people throughout the country and around the world participated in LGBT Pride.  In San Francisco, for the first time, 14 Reform Jewish congregations in the greater Bay Area marched together with 75 participants from URJ Camp Newman behind a Union for Reform Judaism banner. Inspired by the Jewish teachings about the equality and dignity of every human being, approximately 200 Jewish individuals came together for this momentous occasion and this public display of support. Check out the JWeekly article for more details. Read more…

Denominations Unite To Stop Smoking

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is partnering with the faith community to promote Tips from Former Smokers. Tips is a national tobacco education campaign that encourages Americans to quit smoking, by “showing the toll that smoking-related illnesses take on smokers and their loved ones.” The Tips campaign goals include building public awareness of the health damage caused by smoking, encouraging smokers to quit, and encouraging smokers not to smoke around others, in order to avoid the effects of secondhand smoke. You have probably seem some of their memorable ads, which vividly depict some of the consequences of smoking. Take a look at the campaign’s website, which features powerful personal stories and important information about the consequences of tobacco use. Read more…

Double Booked: The Four-Tenths of 1% Solution

By Shifra Bronznick

I have been passionately involved in fighting for women’s equality since 1964 when, as a fourth grader, I announced that I wanted to be the first woman president of the United States.

My declaration was met with mockery. “You mean: first woman president of the garbage department?” said Claude, the boy sitting to my right. I responded without thinking with a swift punch to his nose.

It was a short-lived campaign for President but the start of a life-long journey to expand women’s opportunities for success on every front – personal, professional, and political.

Fifty years later, I participated in the first White House Summit on Working Families. I was moved when Barack Obama declared “When women succeed, America succeeds…21st-century families deserve 21st-century workplaces…And that means paid family leave, especially paid parental leave.”

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Supreme Court

Updates: Since the Hobby Lobby Decision

A week ago today, the Supreme Court came down in what will be noted as one of the most important decisions in recent memory. In finding that closely-held corporations have the right to free exercise of religion under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), these entities can thus seek exemptions from the contraception mandate. Although the majority opinion showed significant effort on the part of the Court to curtail RFRA-based exemptions to the contraception mandate and the contraception mandate only, it is clear that the Hobby Lobby case will have serious and significant impact.

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Jewish Clergy for Immigration Reform

Moving Forward on Immigration

On Monday, President Obama announced a significant change to immigration policy, stating in a Rose Garden address that he would begin “a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress.” The announcement came after a report that House Speaker John Boehner informed the President that he would not bring up an immigration reform bill for a vote in the House this year. Read more…

Honoring our Legacy by Continuing the Work

As I think back on my years of service and involvement in Jewish communal life, I marvel at the key role the Reform Movement played in advancing and achieving civil rights, both in the lead-up to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and in the years since.

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When Money Equals Influence, Influence Equals Power

In 2010, the United States Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled in favor of Citizens United in the landmark case Citizens United vs. Federal Election Committee. This decision meant that there would be no limit on independent spending by private corporations to organizations that clearly support but do not coordinate with specific candidates. These organizations have been termed Super PACs. Essentially, corporations are seen through the eyes of the court as people, with the ability to donate however much they see fit. This amount was astronomical in the 2012 presidential election ($567 million). Read more…