Tag Archives: Criminal Justice

Moving Forward: Sh’nat Ha-Evel for Michael Brown, and 50 Years after the VRA

This weekend marks one year since Michael Brown was shot and killed in the street by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MO. As we take this moment to reflect on the past year, I am reminded of the Jewish tradition’s unique way of coping with death, to help mourners gradually reenter into normal life after the death of a loved one. Read more…

President Obama Commutes Sentences

President Obama Pushes Ahead on Criminal Justice

In a video announcement on Monday, President Obama announced that he is granting clemency to 46 men and women. Because of much-needed reforms to sentencing laws, if convicted of the exact same crime today, nearly all of these individuals would have already served their full sentences and reintegrated into society. This announcement comes only a few months after the President commuted the sentences of 22 other individuals in April. In total, the President has issued nearly 90 commutations, the vast majority have which have gone to non-violent drug offenders. Read more…

Supreme Court

UPDATED: Supreme Court Opinions Raise Important Criminal Justice Questions

The Supreme Court term that just came to an end was extremely significant, and not just because of the historic healthcare and marriage equality rulings. Throughout the term, we saw a number of important criminal justice cases argued and decided, and though some of them did not go the way we would have hoped, important questions were raised about the way that “justice” is carried out in our criminal justice system. Read more…

prisoner in solitary reaching out to a warden's hand

Solitary Confinement in the U.S. Prison System- Inhumane and Ineffective

By Sophie Ranen

As an intern at The National Religious Campaign Against Torture, I have had the opportunity to learn about a pressing racial justice issue: solitary confinement.

Currently, the United States holds at least 80,000 prisoners in isolation, more than any other country in the world. Prisoners in solitary confinement are held alone, or with another person, in a small cell for 22-24 hours a day and deprived of human contact, natural sunlight, and productive activities for months, years, or even decades. Isolation is used both as punishment for behavior in prison as well as gang management. For the former, prisoners receive a sentence for a specified time-period while prisoners with assumed gang affiliation often receive indefinite sentences. Additionally, solitary confinement is often used as punishment for non-violent infractions of prison discipline such as talking back, having too many postage stamps, wearing the wrong sweatshirt, or cheering too loudly for the Patriots during the Super Bowl. Read more…

The Value of Human Life: Acknowledging and Addressing Deaths at the Hands of Police

According to The Guardian’s investigation, the deaths of Isiah Hampton, 19, in New York City, and Quandavier Hicks, 22, in Cincinnati on Wednesday, brought the number of people killed by police in the United States in 2015 to 500. The total number includes both unarmed victims and encounters when responding violent altercations. Through a project called The Counted, The Guardian is using reports and crowd-sourcing to keep track of American deaths at the hands of law enforcement. The Counted keeps track of data such as the names, races, ages and other information about those who have died. Read more…

No Trivial Pursuit: Criminal Justice Reform

It is an exciting time for criminal justice reform advocates across the country. Legislators, activists and citizens from across the political spectrum are coming together to make our nation’s justice system more just. This collaboration can be seen in the Bipartisan Summit that took place this past spring hosted by Van Jones, Newt Gingrich, Donna Brazile and Pat Nolan. In addition, the new bipartisan Coalition for Public Safety brings together the Koch Brothers, the ACLU, the Center for American Progress and others and is working across the political spectrum to bring about comprehensive criminal justice reform. Read more…

Join Us in the Fight to End Racial Profiling in California

By Lee Winkelman

Reform CA is fighting to end racial profiling in California and we need your help now.

My son Henry is 11 years old.  When he starts to drive in a few years, I won’t worry that he will be pulled over because of the color of his skin. I am reassured that if Henry is in trouble, a police officer is someone he can turn to when he needs help. Read more…

What Happens When We Come Together

On Wednesday, Nebraska became the nineteenth state to abolish the death penalty. The vote made Nebraska the first state in two years to formally abolish capital punishment. The decision comes at a time when support for the death penalty is decreasing and the number of executions is declining. In fact, polls released last month by Pew Research Center and CBS News show that public support for the death penalty has declined to almost historic lows. Only 56% of Americans reported supporting the death penalty—the lowest level of support ever recorded by the CBS News poll and near the lowest level reported by Pew in the last 40 years. And, the level of support for capital punishment has been falling consistently for two decades. Read more…

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