Tag Archives: Criminal Justice
A Woman in Prison

On Purim, Exploring the Intersections of Reproductive Justice and Criminal Justice

On Purim, we celebrate a time of transition for the Jews, from “grief to joy and from mourning to a festive day—to make them days of feasting and joy, and sending portions one to another, and gifts to the poor” (Megillat Esther 9). As we prepare for Purim, we look forward to a time of “feasting and merrymaking” (Megillat Esther 9:22). Indeed, Purim is a time to celebrate the fortitude and resilience of the Jewish people, focusing especially on the impressive role of women leaders that is unique in the Purim story and throughout our history. Yet, as we celebrate our triumphs over the injustices of discrimination and exclusion, we must also reflect on the injustices that persist in our world today.

A new report by the Women in Prison Project, an initiative of the Correctional Association of New York, reveals one such travesty, finding that people do not receive adequate reproductive healthcare while incarcerated. The report, titled “Reproductive Injustice: The State of Reproductive Health Care for Women in New York State Prisons,” is an in-depth study of reproductive health care in the New York state prison system. Over the course of five years, researchers interviewed 950 inmates, visited prisons across the state, conducted surveys and reviewed medical charts to reveal “a shockingly poor standard of care, the routine denial of basic reproductive health and hygiene items, and the continued egregious practice of shackling pregnant women during labor and childbirth despite a 2011 law prohibiting it.” Read more…

A number of Oscars all in a row

Social Justice at the Oscars

In case you missed it, last night at the Academy Awards, many of the winners discussed important issues of social justice in their acceptance speeches. The stage of the Dolby Theater is a unique platform to call attention to these critical issues, and it can be validating to see celebrities discuss topics that we have long been working on in our mandate to repair the world. Read more…

Unmasking the Use of the Death Penalty

Though Purim is a time to for costumes, carnivals and hamentaschen, the story also prompts big questions, like the use of the death penalty in our society. At the end of the Purim story, we see the death penalty carried out when Haman is hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecai. This use of capital punishment is notable because though the Torah mandated death for some crimes, the rabbis of the Talmud intentionally made its application so complex and difficult, that it became virtually impossible to use. There is no justice in taking a life for a life, and we learn in Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5 that causing a single life to perish is the same as “caus[ing] a whole world to perish.” Read more…

Supreme Court at night

Supreme Court Ruling Upholds Key Religious Freedom Protections

Earlier today, the Supreme Court ruled 9-0 in Holt v. Hobbs, holding that under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), prisoner Abdul Maalik Muhammed could grow a half-inch beard while incarcerated in Arkansas. This decision upheld the fundamental religious freedom rights of all people, of all backgrounds, and is heartening in light of the current debate over religious exemptions. The Union for Reform Judaism, the Central Conference of American Rabbis and Women of Reform Judaism were pleased to join an amicus brief coordinated by American Jewish Committee on the side of Mr. Muhammed. Read more…

photo taken by Task Force on 21st Century Policing

RAC Submits Public Comments to President’s Policing Task Force

The Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which President Obama created by Executive Order in December, convened for the first time on Tuesday, January 13. The first listening session was on “Building Trust and Legitimacy” and included testimony from five different panels of witnesses representing members of the law enforcement community, local politicians and mayors, community representatives and civil society leaders. The Task Force also solicited public comments – see below for an excerpt of the RAC’s comments and click here to read the comments in full. Read more…

Why are you one of 90 million who think the death penalty is wrong?

Reform Movement on the Launch of the 90 Million Strong Campaign to Abolish the Death Penalty

Earlier today at a press conference at the National Press Club, the 90 Million Strong Campaign to Abolish the Death Penalty was launched. Barbara Weinstein, Director of the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism spoke on behalf of the Reform Movement, which has long advocated for the abolition of the death penalty and reform of the criminal justice system. Here is Barbara’s statement from this morning: Read more…

RAC Submits Testimony for Senate Judiciary Subcommittee Hearing

Tomorrow, Senator Durbin is holding a final hearing for the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights. The Senator’s goal for the hearing is to assess what has been accomplished in recent years and what still needs to be done on key civil and human rights issues. The RAC has submitted written testimony to show the strength of our community’s interest in the topics the subcommittee works on. Our testimony covers a number of the important issues including voting rights, criminal justice and sentencing reform, the death penalty, hate crimes, and more. Read more…

Death Penalty

Nevada Audit Shows Death Penalty Is Not Cost Effective

According to a state audit, murder cases in Nevada in which prosecutors seek the death penalty can cost nearly twice as much as those that seek a lesser punishment. The Nevada Legislature just released a 105 page audit focusing on the cost of death penalty and non-death penalty murder cases in two counties between 2000-2012. The audit was conducted as part of the Legislature’s oversight responsibility for public programs in order to improve state government. The audit took 18 months to conduct and looked at the price of trials, appeals and jail time for 28 Nevada cases. Read more…

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