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Criminal Justice Reform

This Mom Saw Her Husband Sent to Jail. So She Went to Law School to Reform System.

Jessica Jackson | Posted 04.17.2015 | Impact
Jessica Jackson

My husband was taken out of the courtroom that day and sent to a diagnostic facility, where we would be unable to have any contact with him for the first six weeks of his incarceration. Not knowing anything about prisons besides what I'd seen on television, I imagined the worst. I lay in bed terrified at night, kept awake with worry, wondering if I would get a call telling me he'd been hurt or possibly worse.

Over-Policed and Underserved

Timothy P. Silard | Posted 04.16.2015 | Politics
Timothy P. Silard

Contrary to the myth we've been sold that more police, and more jails and prisons, are the best or only way to keep us safe, the real solutions to community safety lie in the things that make for thriving neighborhoods.

Here's the Issue That Even the ACLU & the Koch Brothers Agree Upon

Pat Nolan | Posted 04.16.2015 | Impact
Pat Nolan

As the prison population soared, conservatives chafed at the waste of human potential and increasing cost of the prison bureaucracy. They were frustrated that so little was being done to prepare inmates for their release, and they were appalled at the overcrowded conditions, violence and rape, and the lack of medical care, drug treatment and mental-health services. Conservatives joined with liberals in backing such important reforms as the Prison Rape Elimination Act, the Second Chance Act and the Fair Sentencing Act.

Booker: Justice appears to have gone missing from the criminal-justice equation

Cory Booker | Posted 04.16.2015 | Impact
Cory Booker

In the United States, African Americans are far more likely to be arrested for selling or possessing drugs, even though studies have shown that African Americans and whites use drugs at the same rate, and whites are actually more likely to sell drugs.

Community Power: Rallying to Close a Notorious D.C. Youth Detention Center

Liz Ryan | Posted 04.15.2015 | Impact
Liz Ryan

The reform effort succeeded in many ways. D.C. has dramatically reduced its reliance on incarceration and is instead utilizing a network of community-based, non-residential alternatives to incarceration for young people in the juvenile-justice system. Youth-reoffending rates have gone down substantially. The reform has been so successful that the District's juvenile-justice system is used to showcase how to transform a juvenile-justice system for national, state and local officials.

Why I Favor Drug Legalization

Laura Weiss | Posted 04.14.2015 | Politics
Laura Weiss

Drug-related incarceration has little to do with the risks of recreational drug use, and everything to do with keeping the systems in place that fuel violence, systemic racism, the cycle of poverty, and the prison pipeline.

Here's an Issue That, Surprisingly, Republicans and Democrats Are Agreeing on

Grover Norquist | Posted 04.14.2015 | Impact
Grover Norquist

Conservatives laugh at those who equate spending more on "education" with actually educating children. And yet they made that -- spending more equals progress -- assumption in judging the criminal-justice system.

Juvenile Justice in America: We Can Do Better

Cara H. Drinan | Posted 04.13.2015 | Crime
Cara H. Drinan

Today the United States is an international outlier in the severity of its juvenile sentencing practices.

Gingrich: The corrections system's failure to correct has led us to injustice

Newt Gingrich | Posted 04.13.2015 | Impact
Newt Gingrich

It's only fair to recognize the difference between young- and full-grown adults in sentencing, just as we draw a distinction between juveniles and adults. People who commit offenses before their capacities are fully formed deserve a second chance -- an opportunity for a parole hearing if they mature, rehabilitate, and pay serious restitution to their victims and to the community.

This State's Governor Is Leading the Way in Criminal-Justice Reform

Nathan Deal | Posted 04.13.2015 | Impact
Nathan Deal

Approximately 70 percent of Georgia's inmates don't have a high school diploma. If their lack of an education is not addressed during their incarceration, when they re-enter society they have a felony on their record but no job skills on their résumé. An ex-con with no hope of gainful employment is a danger to everyone. This is why we're working to help get these individuals into a job. Our prisons have always been schools. In the past, the inmates have learned how to become better criminals.

This Re-Entry Program Houses College Students with Ex-Cons

Jean DeWinter | Posted 04.10.2015 | Impact
Jean DeWinter

At the South Bend, Indiana, Dismas house, male and female residents live in a century-old home adjacent to downtown. Residents are ex-offenders, as well as college students from the University of Notre Dame, Indiana University at South Bend, or other local colleges. Only 16 residents can live in the house at one time, allowing more personal one-on-one interaction and mentoring. It is in this mentoring that the task of empowering former offenders to find the strength within themselves to be productive members of society begins.

This Prisoner Endures Loss of Dignity -- and Strip Searches -- to Get a Degree

Timothy Nash | Posted 04.10.2015 | Impact
Timothy Nash

On countless occasions, I have been strip-searched and made to get completely naked outside for all to see, because two inmates got into a fight on the opposite side of the yard. Strip searches are supposed to be utilized if staff has a reason to believe an inmate is hiding dangerous contraband on their person. However, staff routinely use strip searches as a form of humiliation or intimidation, stripping away not just an inmate's clothes, but their dignity, as well. Furthermore, inmates are stripped of their personal identity and relegated to a number.

If You're Black, This City's Status as Liberal Bastion Is Just a Myth

Savion Castro | Posted 04.09.2015 | Impact
Savion Castro

Despite making up only 10% of Madison, Wisconsin's population ages 12-17, Black youth make up 60% of the detention-facility population; black youth are six times more likely to be arrested than white youth, compared to a 2:1 national ratio. The point here is that Madison isn't some national outlier regarding these statistics, but proof that even the most "progressive" of places are not immune from a criminal-justice system that is archaic, ineffective, and most of all, unjust. It prioritizes retribution over redemption, punishes poverty, and bars too many from reaching future success.

Returning to Prison, But This Time To Help

Shaka Senghor | Posted 04.10.2015 | Impact
Shaka Senghor

When I walked inside the prison, everything about serving time came rushing back to me. The sound of gates crashing closed, officers barking orders and the painful laughter and jokes of incarcerated men, all reminded me of the years I spent inside. It reminded me of my darkest days, and how deeply I desired to have a second chance to prove that I could be an asset to society. It reminded me of the lonely days pacing my cell, dreaming of the day I could work a regular job, be a father and enjoy the small creature comforts that we so often take for granted.

Adults and Juveniles Should Not Mix In Prison

Yosha Gunasekera | Posted 04.09.2015 | Crime
Yosha Gunasekera

It's time to stop jailing juveniles in adult facilities. The treatment of juveniles in the criminal justice system is alarming. They frequently do not have access to rehabilitative services. We cannot keep children safe in adult prisons.

After Kicking Drugs & Putting 12 Jail Stints Behind Him, Shaye Now Has a Job

Kabira Stokes | Posted 04.09.2015 | Impact
Kabira Stokes

As a country, when we set up huge barriers to employment for people with criminal records ... we are doing ourselves a disservice... The disservice is to the people who have paid their debt to society but who are never forgiven, and it is also to ourselves, to those of us on the outside who actually are making our society less safe by almost ensuring that people who come out of prison will have to turn back to crime in order to make any money. We must start to create opportunities for people with records who want to and are ready to work.

Former Drug Dealers & Gang Leaders Get Shark Tank-Style Business Education

Lindsay Freeman | Posted 04.09.2015 | Impact
Lindsay Freeman

Despite society's use of expressions like "they've served their time," people with criminal records don't just move on from prison. Formerly incarcerated men and women often end up serving a life sentence. Many initially avoid illegal activities after being released from prison, but as their applications for legitimate jobs are repeatedly rejected due to felony records, enticing offers from old criminal connections often appear irresistible. Recidivism rates are high for people with criminal records, but of those who are rearrested, 89% are unemployed at the time.

How 'Makes Me Wanna Holler' Helped Get This Man Out of Prison

Phil Mosby | Posted 04.09.2015 | Impact
Phil Mosby

The seeds of change were planted, but it would take years for them to grow. In federal prison, there was so much violence and negativity around me, I went back to my old ways. Free Minds never gave up on me though, sending me books, letters, birthday cards, and a newsletter called "The Connect." I was often in the SHU ("Special Housing Unit," otherwise known as solitary confinement). You are locked down 23 hours a day and you feel like the whole world has forgotten you. Then you get mail and you feel human again.

Jennifer Bendery

The Surprising Voting Rights Issue Both Democrats and Republicans Support

HuffingtonPost.com | Jennifer Bendery | Posted 04.03.2015 | Politics

WASHINGTON -- When it comes to restoring the landmark Voting Rights Act, Republican lawmakers don't seem to want anything to do with it. The Suprem...

Jersey City Women Ex-Offenders Find Hope in 'Most Excellent Way'

Francine LeFrak | Posted 04.09.2015 | Impact
Francine LeFrak

Working is critical: Many owe significant fines, court fees, and 85% of female ex-offenders have children to support. But for ex-offenders, getting a job through normal channels is next to impossible -- many lack hard skills and work experience, with nothing on their resume except their conviction.

Arrested But Innocent? The Internet Still Thinks You're Guilty

Jason Tashea | Posted 04.09.2015 | Impact
Jason Tashea

The Internet is failing 77 million Americans with a criminal record. If you are one of those Americans, you may have been arrested, but never charged with a crime, prosecuted, or found guilty. Still, your name appears in a criminal database potentially costing you a job, housing, or government services. This scarlet letter disproportionately plagues minority communities.

Criminal Justice - There's an App for That

Brandon L. Greene | Posted 04.01.2015 | Crime
Brandon L. Greene

The promise of a second impression is to simplify the job search for people with records and to leverage consumer power to either support progressive employers or put pressure on employers who fail to adopt more progressive hiring policies.

From Gangs & 'Gladiator School' to L.A. Chamber of Commerce

Kent G. Mendoza Morales | Posted 04.13.2015 | Impact
Kent G. Mendoza Morales

Over the five years that I was incarcerated, I felt confused and often dehumanized. After dropping out of my gang, life became a daily struggle to survive. In no way was my incarceration an environment of rehabilitation. In fact, some even called our facility "gladiator school," because of the harsh treatments we faced daily.

Democrats and Republicans In Congress Actually Found Something To Agree On

The Huffington Post | Maxwell Tani | Posted 03.30.2015 | Politics

Republicans and Democrats in Congress may finally agree on something, and they want Americans to know about it. This was the message repeated again...

Sentenced to Life in Prison, This Man Now Has Great SF Tech Job

Chrisfino Kenyatta Leal | Posted 04.09.2015 | Impact
Chrisfino Kenyatta Leal

Every day, men and women are released from prisons and jails across the U.S. after taking this same journey. Most incarcerated settings do not provide programs that teach relevant job skills for reentry to society. As a result, recidivism -- the rate at which people return to incarceration -- is enormous. Society blames these individuals for their failure. Had I not been fortunate enough to be a founding member of a program called The Last Mile, I too could have ended up back in prison.