Preventing the Next American Gun Tragedy: One Mother’s Story

The attack in Las Vegas earlier this month was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, with 58 dead and hundreds of people injured. While the families of the victims and Americans around the country grieve the catastrophic loss of life, legislators and lobbyists are already strategizing how to use this shooting as a catalyst for pushing their gun policies. Whether it is a pro-gun stance to endow schools and businesses with weapons of their own, an anti-gun position to reduce gun … [Read more...]

California’s Sexual Assault Law Will Hurt Black Kids

Gov. Jerry Brown of California is poised to sign a worrisome bill that will codify the Obama-era sexual assault guidelines. Those rules told colleges to toughen up on sexual assault allegations or risk losing federal dollars. California’s law explicitly applies to children in public kindergarten, elementary and high schools. So a first grader could face dire consequences if found to have committed an act of “sexual violence,” which is broadly defined to include any “physical sexual acts … [Read more...]

The First White President

The foundation of Donald Trump’s presidency is the negation of Barack Obama’s legacy. It is insufficient to state the obvious of Donald Trump: that he is a white man who would not be president were it not for this fact. With one immediate exception, Trump’s predecessors made their way to high office through the passive power of whiteness—that bloody heirloom which cannot ensure mastery of all events but can conjure a tailwind for most of them. Land theft and human plunder cleared the grounds … [Read more...]

Trump Wants to Get Tough on Crime: Victims Don’t Agree

Sending more people to prison, deporting illegal immigrants, cracking down on marijuana use — those are some of the things the Trump administration has said will make America safer. But what do crime victims think about all this? It is a group whose views are rarely measured, but a poll commissioned by the Alliance for Safety and Justice sought to find out. A few notes of caution: The group supports criminal justice reform, including incarcerating fewer people, and seeks to promote the … [Read more...]

Tyranny of the Minority

Historian Timothy Snyder got it exactly right in his commentary on the political situation we face today "when the less popular of the two parties controls every lever of power at the federal level, as well as the majority of the statehouses." In such circumstances, he wrote, "The party that exercises such control proposes few policies that are popular with the society at large, and several that are generally unpopular — and thus must either fear democracy or weaken it." Snyder's worrying … [Read more...]

The Essential Role of Medicaid and Criminal Justice

This past month America’s first mental health court celebrated its 20th anniversary. The behind the scenes story, which led to the creation of Broward’s Mental Health Court, is a case-study of the need to preserve and expand Medicaid from a criminal justice perspective; and what happens when people in need of mental health and primary care are left behind. Aaron Wynn, a young man living in South Florida, was preparing to leave for college. According to his family, Aaron loved the ocean, his … [Read more...]

The Justice Dilemma: When the Cure Is Worse Than the Disease

Harm to a patient caused by treatment rather than disease is called “iatrogenic”—coming from the healer. Some iatrogenic harm is caused by medical error—surgery on the wrong patient or at the wrong site on the right patient.   Other iatrogenic harm—some fatal drug interactions— might have been impossible to anticipate. Predictable consequences of treatment—a scar after necessary surgery—could be called iatrogenic too.  Some iatrogenic injuries, such as a toxic needle-stick to a nurse, hurt … [Read more...]

2017 Bills Could Limit Juvenile Shackling, Repeal Sentencing Enhancements, and More

Each year, the California State Legislature considers hundreds of juvenile and criminal justice bills, many of which seek to repair the harms of mass incarceration and bring humane, commonsense reforms to the state’s justice system. This year, members of the Assembly and Senate have introduced public safety bills that address topics as varied as voting rights, access to technology in juvenile facilities, and fair hiring practices. CJCJ is co-sponsoring two bills, SB 190 and SB 439, which will … [Read more...]

Behind Many ‘Mom and Pop’ Bail Bonds Shops Is a Huge Insurance Corporation Out to Profit from Misery

Eleven years ago, San Diego, California, resident Melodie Henderson was arrested for assault after a minor altercation with a former coworker. Her bail was set at $50,000. This was before a judge ever laid eyes on her. Although she was employed, there was just no way Melodie would ever have been able to come up with the $50,000 she needed to post bail to be released while she fought her case in court. Her other option was to pay a bail bonds company a 10% nonrefundable fee, but with a $50,000 … [Read more...]

Shutting Down American-Style Authoritarianism

It is impossible to imagine the damage Trump and his white nationalists, economic fundamentalists, and white supremacists friends will do to civil liberties, the social contract, the planet, and life itself in the next few years. Rather than address climate change, the threat of nuclear war, galloping inequality, the elimination of public goods, Trump and his vicious acolytes have accelerated the threats faced by these growing dangers. Moreover, the authoritarian steam roller just keeps … [Read more...]