Protest the Moral Madness of LA County’s Jail Construction Plan

Later today, at a special budget meeting, the LA County supervisors will adopt a budget for the new fiscal year that begins July 1. That budget includes $92 million in interest payments for the cost of a new $2.2 billion dollar jail. We urge Justice Not Jails supporters to makes themselves heard on the ethical insanity of moving forward with a massive jail construction plan that totally ignores other ongoing efforts to divert people away from the jail system and to release significant numbers … [Read more...]

Philandro Castile and the Terror of an Ordinary Day

Philando Castile was shot to death last July on his way home from buying groceries with his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter. Last week, the Minnesota police officer who killed him was acquitted by a jury on all counts. I am haunted by how ordinary Mr. Castile’s final moments were. He was just running errands with his family. It’s this denial of the right to simply be — the perpetual state of otherness — that dangerously shadows black people. This is most obvious in our criminal … [Read more...]

The GOP Healthcare Bill Will Doom Millions of People Struggling with Addiction

"You are only as sick as your secrets,” we say. People in recovery from struggles with addiction know this line by heart. To be open and honest about my years of problematic substance use, and my 4 years of recovery, is key to keeping me alive. This morning, after weeks of backroom drafting and repeated calls for information — sometimes from their own party — the Senate released the text of their healthcare bill, an amended version of the Affordable Health Care Act passed recently in the … [Read more...]

When Twisted Justice Stops Prisoners from Starting Over

After Casey Irwin, 37, was released from prison, she worked a string of low-wage jobs that made it nearly impossible for her to pay the rent or put food on the table for herself and her two kids. Irwin's criminal record prevented her from getting affordable housing. She applied for higher-paying jobs, but her lack of education (she dropped out of high school) and history of incarceration limited her work options. Her husband was still in prison on the fraud charges that had gotten them both … [Read more...]

In Police Shootings, Blue Is the Color That Matters Most

Monday morning’s news out of Seattle that police officers shot and killed Charleena Lyles, an expectant mother who’d called for help because she suspected a robbery was taking place, is disheartening but not shocking. For many, last week’s acquittal of the police officer who shot Philando Castille, a permit-carrying gun owner riding in the passenger seat of a car with his family, is another example of how police literally get away with murder. Many people have pointed out that both victims were … [Read more...]

After Creating Danger, Can Cops Use Force with Impunity?

Imagine police officers enter your home, without permission and without warning, while you’re sleeping. In a daze, you might think they were criminals breaking in. You might even seek to exercise your Second Amendment right to protect yourself and your family. But if the officers shoot you upon seeing that you’ve raised a weapon in self-defense, have they used excessive force? In other words, are police officers allowed to unreasonably provoke a response that will cause them to open fire? A … [Read more...]

The California Story: Reduced Crime, High Immigration

As California’s population moved from two-thirds white in 1980 to over 60 percent people of color today (Table 1), the state has seen dramatic reductions in crime in each category. Additionally, indicators of social health and safety—such as violence, violent death and school dropouts—have decreased significantly, and California has weathered the national opioid epidemic better than elsewhere in the country. Read the full report here: Refuting Fear As of 2015, the state’s total violent and … [Read more...]

Religious Liberals Sat Out of Politics for 40 Years: Now They Want in the Game

In Nashville, a crowd of ministers carrying palm fronds occupied the governor’s office during Holy Week, demanding the expansion of Medicaid to cover more of the uninsured. In California and 16 other states, an interfaith network has organized thousands of volunteers to swoop into action when immigrants are arrested or houses of worship are vandalized. Across the country, religious leaders whose politics fall to the left of center, and who used to shun the political arena, are getting … [Read more...]

Report: America’s Prisons Are So Polluted They Are Endangering Inmates

Environmental hazards are having a massive affect on one of society’s most marginalized groups: The incarcerated. According to a new investigation from Earth Island Journal  and Truthout, mass incarceration has led to some of the most egregious examples of environmental injustice. “[M]ass incarceration in the US impacts the health of prisoners, prison-adjacent communities, and local ecosystems from coast to coast,” the authors of the special report said. Prisons are often located in areas … [Read more...]

What’s Hidden Behind the Walls of America’s Prisons

Few Americans fully appreciate just how many of their fellow citizens are ensnared in the criminal justice system. Some may have heard that there are about 2.3 million people behind bars, but that figure tells only part of the story. Yes, in a stunning array of 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 901 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails and 76 Indian Country jails, as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers and prisons in … [Read more...]