Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Black Lives Matter - It’s More than Police Killings

By David Muhammad
Guest Blogger

I have struggled with the theme of “Black Lives Matter” in the protests against police killings of Black men in America. I totally agree with the sentiment, but I have just had trouble with the message that seems so basic and demands a low bar. Then after an argument with a friend who thought the theme was ridiculous, I found myself defending it and eventually fully embracing the notion that one of our biggest challenges is that so many people in this country devalue the life of Black youth. But it is much more than police killings.

I watched the March and rally organized by Reverend Al Sharpton in the nation’s capital recently. Toward the end of the event, he brought up numerous families of the countless Black men murdered by police in cities throughout America. It was a stage full of pain. The mothers of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Amadou Diallo and many more. It inspired great emotion and passion.

Somehow, the everyday injustice in America does not evoke the same response. Gross racial disparities in arrests, prosecutions, incarceration, violations of probation and parole, and sentencing destroy millions of Black lives. Though the magnitude is much greater, it does not inspire the level of anger that a video of a White officer murdering a Black man does.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act’s Impact on Youth

By Kathleen Kelley
JPI Intern

(The White House)
There are 6.7 million opportunity youth in America, which is defined as young people ages 16-24 who are out of school and out of work.  The period directly after high school can be very tricky to maneuver and even harder for those without a high school diploma or a GED. Nowadays, for most jobs, a high school diploma is not enough to obtain and keep a good job.  If this Congress can take some action on legislation before it, this country can help these kids, get the help they need around work.

On July 22nd of this year, President Obama signed into the law the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) which replaces the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998. The National Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Coalition held a meeting held on Tuesday October 21st to review the provisions of WIOA that directly benefit youth, and especially opportunity youth.

WIOA is a bipartisan act that is also the first legislative reform in 15 years of the public workforce system. The enactment of WIOA provides opportunity for reforms to ensure the American Job Center system is job-driven, responding to the needs of employers and preparing workers for jobs that are available. WIOA strengthens the public workforce system and creates partnerships that sustain it by unifying and streamlining services to better serve job-seekers. The Act empowers local boards to tailor services to their regions employment and workforce needs.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Community Policing to End Racial Profiling

By Povneet Dhillon
JPI Intern

(NY Post)
Recently, we have mourned the loss of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Charles Smith, Darrien Hunt, Kajieme Powell and Cameron Tillman – all men of color, all killed by the police. It seems impossible to count all the accounts of “use of excessive force,” all the “paid leaves of absence” and all the times that it seems we have not moved past the stark and startling injustices of the Jim Crow era. U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder expressed the frustration of our inability to facilitate discussion needed to promote positive racial relations in a powerful statement:  “though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”

During the Jim Crow era, society regarded people of color as the lesser class. This was epitomized in public spaces, which were segregated between Whites and people of color. As enforcers of the law, police officers were expected to maintain the borders at all costs. One disturbing story of how the Jim Crow justice system works comes from St. Paul, Minnesota.

Christopher Lollie, a black father, made the mistake of sitting in an undesignated space. Mr. Lollie had just gotten off work and was waiting to pick up his children from school. A security guard walked past the other parents and told Mr. Lollie that he was sitting in a private “employee only” space. In an act of deviance evocative of—though perhaps not as memorable as--Rosa Parks, Mr. Lollie refused to leave.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tim Murray Talks Bail & Pretrial Services on the Justice Podcast

By Tony Mastria

JPI is excited to announce the release of the second episode of the Justice Podcast, now available on iTunes and Podbean.  Listen, download, and subscribe to stay informed on the latest and best news in justice reform.

In honor of Incarceration Generation's first anniversary, we will be interviewing the authors who made this compilation possible, including researchers, advocates, community members, and other individuals in the justice field.

In the second installment of our Incarceration Generation series, JPI had the pleasure of speaking with Tim Murray, Director Emeritus of the Pretrial Justice Institute, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, whose mission is "to advance safe, fair, and effective juvenile and adult pretrial justice practices and policies."  During our conversation, Murray touched on the bail system, the private bonding industry, and pretrial services and how these components of our justice system affect detainees, their families, and the broader public.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

12 Things You Should Have Learned from JPI's #MarylandMonth

In support of JPI's ongoing work with the Baltimore Grassroots Criminal Justice Network and other stakeholders in Maryland to advance sound justice policy reforms in the state, JPI declared last month "Maryland Month." Even though September is over, you can still learn about the state's policies and advocate for criminal justice reform.

We have highlighted statistics related to jails, prisons, parole, probation, pretrial services, community supervision, treatment, demographics on who is in the system, what taxpayers spend on the system, and ways to put the hard numbers on Maryland's overuse of incarceration into context.
 Read, share and advocate with our factsheets. Like, post and tweet our infographics using the hashtag #MarylandMonth and join the conversation on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram using #MarylandMonth as we share this information. 











Friday, September 26, 2014

How Committed Are We?

By Kathleen Kelley
JPI Intern

Maybe it was the location or my personal perspective being a first timer on the Hill, but Rep. Tony Cardenas opening remarks for
the Building Safe and Strong Communities: A Conversation about Community-Based Alternatives for Juvenile Justice-Involved Youth Congressional Briefing really resonated with me.  His words were powerful and passionate.

He was addressing the gathering of policy makers, advocates, lawyers, and other juvenile
justice related professionals that filled the seats, but yet Rep. Cardenas was also reaching out to the whole Hill, the others beyond the room.  He asked just how committed are we?  Are we as committed as Martin Luther King Jr. who marched on Washington with thousands of committed individuals?  He expressed the dire need for truly committed individuals to express their commitment strongly with the issue of the incarceration of juveniles and the overrepresentation of minority youth, especially African-American youth. 

Rep. Cardenas makes an excellent point, but as I enter the public policy sector of criminal justice and especially of public policy, I see the march being made.  The current group of extremely passionate and driven individuals making that march is very much present and devoted.  Good examples are the very panelists that were introduced by Rep.Cardenas. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

It’s Time for Pell Grant Justice

This Just Policy Blog re-post was originally featured on the website of the Center for Educational Excellence in Alternative Settings.

Picture this. Rodney, an 18-year-old who was adjudicated delinquent in the spring, is being held in a secure care facility where he will likely stay for another three to six months while
he completes his rehabilitative program.
 He just passed the new GED and hopes to start taking online courses from his local community college. His facility just implemented a new policy that enables him to have secure Internet access. Rodney is interested in technology and wants to take Introduction to Coding along with English 101. His initial plans are to get an associate’s degree and accumulate a number of programming badges.*
There’s one big problem: he can’t afford the tuition, and both the counselor at his school and the financial aid officer at the community college are telling him he doesn’t qualify for a Pell Grant. It is their understanding that under federal law, criminals who are serving sentences don’t qualify for Pell Grants. No one seems to listen to Rodney when he keeps saying, “I’m not a criminal. I made a big mistake, and I want to get back into school now so I don’t fall further behind.”
So, instead of taking those two post-secondary courses, Rodney is slated to spend his days working on the facility’s grounds and sitting in high school classes that he doesn’t need to graduate, that don’t offer him any credits, and that aren’t in the field he is interested in. When he gets released later this year, mid-semester, he will be jobless and not enrolled in a postsecondary program. He will have to keep himself busy while starting the college application and financial aid process all over again. The odds are that a young man like Rodney won’t take those steps on his own, and that his education will end with his GED.