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ACLU Says Businesses Need to Also Start Hiring Ex-Criminals

A report issued last week by the American Civil Liberties Union implores the business community to help put people with criminal records–that’s one-third of adults in the U.S.– back to work, for the good of the economy.

According to a 2016 study by the Center for Economy and Policy Research, barriers to employment for people with a criminal history is costing the U.S. between $78 and $87 billion in annual GDP. And, as the ACLU points out, unemployment is the most significant factor in recidivism, leading to increased prison costs.

“By expanding the hiring pool to include people with criminal histories, companies can improve their bottom line, reduce recidivism and incarceration costs, avoid discriminatory practices, and increase public safety,” the report reads.

Several recent studies have found that people with a criminal record tend to keep their jobs longer, and can reduce a company’s rate of employee turnover. The latest literature includes a Northwestern University report on Criminal Background and Job Performance (2017), and an ongoing investigation by the Johns Hopkins Health Resource Center.

The ACLU cites Walmart and Koch Industries, both of whom have adopted ‘Ban-the-Box’ practices, as fair chance leaders in the business community. Companies that adhere to these policies do not ask job seekers to disclose criminal history until a conditional offer has been made. In the case of Walmart, a background check is only performed once someone has accepted an offer, and hiring teams and HR personnel are not made aware of any convictions disclosed– “only whether the candidate is eligible for hire or deferred for hire to a later date based on the final results of the report.” Candidates with a criminal history are allowed to participate in a review, providing additional information about education, and efforts at rehabilitation.

In addition to advocating for wider adoption of Ban-the-Box legislation, the ACLU advises companies to consider pair with local workforce development programs, whocan advise them on tax credits, offer case management for employees with criminal histories, and educate companies on state and local laws.

A major concern for employers is liability: in hiring someone with a criminal record, companies fear it will be difficult to get private malfeasance insurance for that individual, or that they will be found negligible if the employee harms someone else on the job. But according to the ACLU, liability risk is actually low for employers who follow the national Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) guidelines. On the policy side, the ACLU advocates for the expansion of state laws that restrict employee liability. Several states have already adopted such legislation, including Texas, Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and Tennessee.

Ultimately, argues the ACLU report, education is the key to reducing unemployment, recidivism, and prison costs: for every $1 spent on education, $5 is saved on correctional costs. The business community can help by partnering with local workforce development programs; offering tuition assistance; lobbying legislators to expand prison education programs, as well as educational institutions to ‘Ban the Box’ themselves.

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39 Percent of Prisoners Should Not Be In Prison

For the past year, President-elect Donald Trump campaigned on “law and order,” stating at the Republican National Convention that under a Trump presidency, “safety would be restored.” His administration, with Sen. Jeff Sessions as attorney general, is likely to be unfriendly on criminal justice. However, Trump and his ilk are outliers. There is strong trans-partisan agreement, among politicians, law enforcement, advocates and researchers that there are simply too many people in prison.

Crime exploded in the 1980s and 90s. Officials responded with harsh sentencing laws that had little impact and ironically may have made things worse. Now that crime is down, we need to change our approach. Instead of doubling down on the failed draconian policies of the past, based on vengeance, we have an opportunity to rethink how America punishes people who break the law and ground those decisions in what we know works.

With 2.2 million people in prison, mass incarceration is the greatest moral and racial injustice of our time. We need bold solutions to solve this crisis, but few systemic solutions exist.

For the past three years, we led a team of criminologists, lawyers, and statistical researchers to analyze criminal codes, convictions, and sentences to help pave a way forward. This week, we released our findings in a new report, How Many Americans Are Unnecessarily Incarcerated?

We found that approximately 39% of the nationwide prison population (576,000 people) is behind bars with little public safety rationale. And they can be released, significantly and safely cutting our prison population.

How did we get to this number? First, many people who are in prison shouldn’t have been sent there in the first place. For example, we found that 25% of prisoners (364,000 people), almost all non-violent, lower-level offenders, would be better served by alternatives to incarceration such as treatment, community service, or probation. Second, another 14% (212,000 prisoners) have already served long sentences for more serious crimes and can be safely set free.

Releasing these inmates would save $20 billion annually, enough to employ 270,000 new police officers, 360,000 probation officers, or 327,000 school teachers.

Republicans and Democrats agree that America’s experiment in mass incarceration has failed. Our research-driven recommendations aim to help rethink sentencing to make our justice system better by decreasing crime and recidivism, reducing the disproportionate impact on communities of color, and preserving the hard-won declines in crime over the last 20 years.

How We Got Here

There was a period in America where crime dominated the headlines. In 1968, Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon ran a campaign commercial where a series of still photos of angry protesters and burning buildings appeared over a soundtrack of a snare drum and dissonant piano chords. “Let us recognize that the first civil right of every American is to be free from domestic violence,” Nixon intoned. “So I pledge to you, we shall have order in the United States.” To a large extent, what average Americans saw on their television screens squared with their own experiences. From 1960 to 1980, violent crime soared 270%, peaking at 758 violent offenses per 100,000 people in 1991. African American and Latino communities bore the brunt of this crime rise. By the late 1970s, people of color were crime victims at a rate 24% higher than white Americans.

States and the federal government responded by enacting a series of laws that dramatically lengthened sentences for many crimes, and also created entirely new ones. Increased policing of lower-level offenses and drug violations swept more individuals into the system. Punitive policies such as mandatory minimum sentencing, the abolishment of parole, and a slew of new criminal laws caused the prison population to explode.

The nation experienced a prison boom. Average lengths of time behind bars increased by 33% in state prisons between 1993 and 2009, and doubled in the federal system.

As America became the world’s number one jailer, crime plummeted dramatically. Today, the overall crime rate is half of what it was at its peak in 1991. Violent crime is about where it was in 1970. Property crime is at 1967 levels.

Many may assume that this decrease in crime was caused by the increase in incarceration. But research shows incarceration had a limited impact on the massive drop in crime.

“When the incarceration rate is high, the marginal crime reduction gains from further increases tend to be lower, because the offender on the margin between incarceration and an alternative sanction tends to be less serious,” according to the Brookings Institute’s Hamilton Project. “In other words, the crime fighting benefits of incarceration diminish with the scale of the prison population.” A 2015 Brennan Center study came to the same conclusion.

Although there is some relationship between increased incarceration and lower crime, at a certain point, locking up additional people is not an effective crime control method, especially when imprisoning one person costs $31,000 a year.

Building on State Successes

The current sentencing regime was largely a knee-jerk reaction to crime, not grounded in any scientific rationale. While it may have seemed like a reasonable approach to protect the public, a comprehensive examination of the data proves it is ineffective at that task. Worse yet, it is also inequitable, placing a disproportionate burden on communities of color. Whether viewed through a lens of justice, fairness, public safety, cost, or victims’ rights, the U.S. prison system unnecessarily warehouses millions of people.

There are some state models for success. Over the last decade, a majority of states reduced their prison populations while cutting crime. From 1999 to 2012, New Jersey and New York reduced their prison populations by about 30%, while crime fell faster than it did nationally. Texas decreased imprisonment and crime by more than 20% during the same period. California cut its prison population by 27%, and violence in the state also fell more than the national average. These state reforms are excellent steps in the right direction. They provided modest fixes and short term relief. Although these reforms are heartening, we need more wholesale systemic changes to strike a blow to mass incarceration.

A problem of such epic proportions needs a bold solution.

Who’s Unnecessarily Behind Bars

Our team discovered these 576,000 people by rethinking who really needs to be behind bars and whether an alternative to prison could be a more effective sentence. Our current sentencing regime is largely based on outdated ideas about what is necessary to keep the nation safe, which we know don’t work.

Public safety should be the number one reason we incarcerate. But penalties should be the most effective, proportional, and cost-efficient sanction to achieve that goal. This would create more uniform sentences and reduce disparities, while preserving judicial discretion when needed.

To arrive at our findings, we considered four major factors.

The first factor is seriousness. Murder, for instance, should be treated as a far graver crime than writing a bad check. The second is victim impact. If a person has been harmed in the commission of a crime, especially physically, the punishment should weigh toward a more serious sentence. The third factor is intent. If a person knowingly and deliberately violated the law, a more severe sanction may be appropriate. The fourth factor is recidivism. Those more likely to reoffend may need more intervention.

We first applied this analysis to people convicted of lower-level offenses. We found that for an estimated 364,000 lower-level offenders (25% of the nationwide prison population), alternatives to prison are likely more effective.

We then applied these factors to prisoners who were serving serious crimes. They may warrant prison, but do they really need such lengthy sentences?

Research shows long sentences aren’t very effective. A 2007 National Bureau of Economic Research study found that prison stays longer than 20 months had “close to no effect” on reducing commission of certain crimes upon release. Other studies show prison often has a “criminogenic” effect, meaning that imprisonment can actually lead people to commit more crimes after release.

With that in mind, we took the 58% of prisoners serving time for six major crimes — aggravated assault, murder, nonviolent weapons crimes, robbery, serious burglary, and serious drug trafficking — and tested several methods for cutting sentences, ultimately landing on a 25% reduction. This approach would ensure that sanctions for serious crimes involve significant prison time, but that the sentences are better calibrated to deter recidivism and protect public safety.

This approach would shave a little over a year from prison sentences for these crimes. Applied retroactively, it means 212,000 prisoners (14% of the total prison population) have already served sufficiently long prison terms and could be released within the next year with little risk to public safety.

Rethinking Sentencing in America

Our findings are not isolated. A prominent coalition comprised of groups such as the ACLU, Beyond the Dream, #Cut50, Ella Baker Center, #FreeAmerica, and JustLeadershipUSA is calling for the prison population to be cut by 50%. Other criminologists have recommended we go back to the sentencing regime of the 1970s and 1990s, which would require us to cut average prison stays by almost 40%.

Our recommendations are more conservative and err on the side of public safety. We recommend that state legislatures and Congress make two major changes to sentencing laws: (1) eliminate prison for lower-level crimes altogether, barring exceptional circumstances; (2) and reduce current sentence lengths to be more proportional to the crimes committed, starting with considering a 25% cut to the six crimes we tested. We also recommend that they allow current prisoners to petition for application of these news laws, and that prosecutors use their discretion to seek sentences in line with this report.

Judges should have discretion to depart from these guidelines in special circumstances. And, we can’t simply swing open the prison doors — prisoners need proper support upon reentry into society to ensure they get back on their feet and do not recidivate.

Sentences should be based on what works to prevent crime, not vengeance. On social science research, not conjecture from 30 years ago on what we mistakenly assumed worked. And sentences should be proportional to the crime committed.

What Now?

Donald Trump campaigned on a message that Washington is broken. Our bloated, wasteful, ineffective, and unnecessarily harsh criminal justice system is a prime example of that. Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senators Mike Lee and John Cornyn, and even Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Newt Gingrich have strongly backed criminal justice reform. In fact, many efforts in the states were championed by conservative lawmakers.

Republicans should not walk away from the cause now that Trump is in the White House. Their voices will be crucial in explaining to the next administration why America’s experiment in mass incarceration has failed, and needs to be fixed. Not only does using prison as a one size fits all punishment for crime devastate families and communities, but many of today’s overly punitive prison sentences produce little public safety benefits.

Our findings and recommendations are intended to offer a practical and effective approach to end mass incarceration while preserving public safety. Our goal with this report is to jump-start a conversation about how the United States can implement specific reforms that are audacious enough to truly end mass incarceration.

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(Video) National Association of Black Journalists and the ABA talk Black Lives Matter, Voting Rights and Criminal Justice Reform

The National Association of Black Journalists and the ABA Criminal Justice Section teamed up to launch the NABJ Media Institute on Legal Affairs on September 24 at Hogan Lovells LLP in Washington, DC.

The conference theme was “Law and Justice: Issues of Consequence; From Black Lives Matter to Voting Rights.” Attendees were able to engage in an open and honest discussion on the state of the Black Lives Matter movement and its meaning in the realm of criminal justice reform. They also heard from Marcus Bullock and Jabriera Handy, who expressed the challenges they faced as youth in the adult criminal justice system. St. Pete’s Police Chief Anthony Holloway provided a law enforcement perspective on the use of body cameras, and community policing.

Section leadership, members and committee chairs, including the Hon. Bernice B. Donald, Melba Pearson, April Frasier-Camara, James E. Felman, Police Chief Anthony Holloway, Jenny Roberts and Nicole Austin-Hillery, engaged in dialogue with Award-winning NABJ members such as Cherri Gregg, Aaron Morrison, Gary Fields, Melanie Eversley, and Charles Robinson.

This dynamic group shared how journalists and criminal justice practitioners can work together to provide well-informed coverage of criminal justice issues. Photos from the conference can be viewed here.

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Trends in the Joblessness and Incarceration of Young Men

In 2014, 16 percent of men in the United States between the ages of 18 and 34 were jobless or incarcerated, up from 11 percent in 1980. Those numbers and related longer-term trends have significant economic and budgetary implications. Jobs

In 2014, there were 38 million men in the United States between the ages of 18 and 34; about 5 million of those young men were jobless, and 1 million were incarcerated. Those numbers and some related longer-term trends have significant economic and budgetary implications. Young men who are jobless or incarcerated can be expected to have lower lifetime earnings and less stable family lives, on average, than their counterparts who are employed or in school. In the short term, their lower earnings will reduce tax revenues and increase spending on income support programs, and the incarceration of those in federal prison imposes costs on the federal government. Farther in the future, they will probably earn less than they would have if they had gained more work experience or education when young, resulting in a smaller economy and lower tax revenues.

The share of young men who are jobless or incarcerated has been rising. In 1980, 11 percent of young men were jobless or incarcerated; in 2014, 16 percent were (see figure below). Specifically, 10 percent of young men were jobless in 1980, and 1 percent were incarcerated; those shares rose to 13 percent and 3 percent in 2014.

Share of Young Men Who Were Jobless and Share Who Were Incarcerated

Trends in Joblessness and Incarceration

Rates of joblessness and incarceration differ among young men with different levels of education. In every year between 1980 and 2014, young men with less education were likelier than those with more to be jobless or incarcerated. For example, in 2014, about 1 in 5 young men with only a high school education was jobless or incarcerated; among young men with a bachelor’s degree or more, the share was 1 in 13. That difference was larger in 2014 than in 1980 because the rate of joblessness and incarceration for young men with only a high school education rose considerably over that period, growing much closer to the rate for those without a high school education. (The incarceration rate grew more slowly for young men with a high school education than for young men without one, but the rate of joblessness grew much more quickly for the first group than for the second.)

Rates of joblessness and incarceration also differ among racial and ethnic groups. Throughout the period from 1980 to 2014, young black men were more likely than other young men to be jobless or incarcerated. In 2014, they were roughly twice as likely to be jobless or incarcerated as young Hispanic men or young white men were. The differences in incarceration were particularly stark: Roughly 8 percent of young black men were incarcerated in 2014, whereas about 1 percent of young white men and 3 percent of young Hispanic men were. The racial and ethnic differences in rates of joblessness and incarceration grew over the period—primarily because of a large increase in the incarceration of young black men, though reduced rates of military employment among black men also played a role.

And throughout the period, among young men lacking a high school education, those who were black were particularly likely to be without a job or incarcerated. More than half of young black men without a high school education were either jobless or incarcerated in almost every year between 1993 and 2014. By contrast, among young white men without a high school education, the share who were jobless or incarcerated peaked in 2009, after the recent recession, at about one-third, and fell slightly after that. The share of young Hispanic men without a high school education who were jobless or incarcerated also peaked in 2009, at about one-quarter, though it was still close to that level in 2014. The differences were largely because of differences in incarceration: In 2014, for example, young black men without a high school education were four times as likely to be incarcerated as their white or Hispanic counterparts.

Why Joblessness and Incarceration Increased Among Young Men

Changes of at least three kinds contributed to the increase in joblessness and incarceration among young men between 1980 and 2014: economic changes, including the recent recession and slow recovery; policy changes at the federal, state, and local levels; and changes in the skills of young men with less education.

Economic Changes
Several economic factors contributed to the increase in the share of young men who are jobless. Among them were longer-run trends in the economy, such as increases in the employment of women and the movement of some jobs to other countries. The especially large increase in joblessness among less educated young men may be partly attributable to changes in technology that have reduced demand for the labor of those young men. Some research suggests that a subset of that group—less educated young men who are native born—may have seen increased joblessness because of an influx of young immigrant men with little education and high rates of employment, but the evidence is mixed.

In addition to those long-run factors, the recent recession and slow recovery have also increased joblessness (though not incarceration) among young men. The unemployment rate of young men increased from 3.1 percent in 2006 to 7.9 percent in 2009, and the rate rose still more for young men without a high school education.

Policy Changes
Changes in federal policy have contributed to the increased joblessness among some young men since 1980. First, employment in the military, which had long been an important source of work for less skilled young men, fell significantly during the 1990s; also, the military now employs more young women than it did in the 1980s, and it has stopped accepting people who have not graduated from high school. Second, the federal government has increased its efforts to elicit child support payments from noncustodial fathers (who now account for a larger fraction of young men than they did in 1980), and that increased enforcement has probably made employment less attractive to some young fathers, because they can now keep less of their earnings. Third, federal spending on means-tested benefits—that is, cash payments or other benefits for people with relatively low income or few assets—increased substantially between 1980 and 2014, possibly reducing young men’s incentives to work.

Higher minimum wages may also have increased joblessness among young men. The federal minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, has not consistently risen since 1980, but there has been an increase in the number of state and local minimum-wage laws in recent years.

As for the increase in incarceration among young men, most of it is not due to an increase in crime, which has declined since the early 1990s. Rather, it is largely due to the same policy changes, such as changes in sentencing rules, that have made nationwide incarceration rates about four times as high as they were in 1980. Because roughly 90 percent of all inmates are held in state prisons or local jails, most of the policy changes that have led to increased incarceration have been at the state and local levels. Though incarceration rates have increased for young men in all of the racial, ethnic, and educational groups examined in this report, the effect has been strongest for those who are less educated and those who are black, who already had higher rates of incarceration at the beginning of the period.

The increased incarceration of young men is itself another factor in the increased joblessness of young men. People who are incarcerated are less likely than others to be employed in the future, both because they have a more tenuous connection to employment and because they have a criminal record, which employers generally avoid. That avoidance may have increased of late, as searchable databases have improved employers’ ability to identify people who have been incarcerated.

Changes in the Skills of Less Educated Young Men
Also possibly contributing to the increase in joblessness is that more young men may have been entering adulthood without the cognitive and noncognitive skills that employers want. Cognitive skills are generally equivalent to academic skills, whereas noncognitive skills include such “soft skills” as diligence, punctuality, and teamwork. If mismatches between young men and employers have indeed been growing more common, it could be either because the young men have fewer of the skills that employers have traditionally sought or because the employers are seeking different skills.

Among young men with less education, another reason that joblessness and incarceration have become more common is that those men have, on average, lower skills, in relation to all young men, than their counterparts in 1980 had—and those with lower skills are more likely to be jobless or incarcerated. Also, young men who are categorized as high school graduates are increasingly likely to have passed the General Educational Development (GED) test in lieu of having completed high school—and such people’s employment status resembles that of people who did not complete high school more closely than that of people who have completed high school.

The Implications of Joblessness and Incarceration

The increase in the joblessness and incarceration of young men between 1980 and 2014 has immediate implications for the federal budget. Jobless young men have no earnings on which to pay taxes, for one thing. Also, they and their families receive more federal benefits—such as benefits from Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—than employed young men and their families do, on average. And increased incarceration in federal prisons directly imposes significant costs on the federal government.

There are also future implications for the federal budget. Young men who are neither employed nor in school today are less likely to work when they are older. Among those who work in the future, estimates suggest, a lost year of schooling will lower annual earnings by roughly 10 percent, on average, and a lost year of work experience will lower earnings by roughly 3 percent. Those lower future earnings will yield a smaller economy and lower tax revenues than would have existed otherwise.

By adversely affecting future rates of marriage and family formation, joblessness and incarceration may have budgetary implications still farther in the future. Young men who are jobless or incarcerated today are less likely to marry, less likely to stay married, and less likely to have children who live in two-parent households than their counterparts who are employed or in school. Because the earnings of the next generation are likely to be affected by the families in which they grow up, adverse consequences for today’s families can have long-run economic impacts.

The Scope of This Analysis

CBO analyzed trends for young men because those trends are considerably less favorable than the corresponding trends for young women. The share of young men who were jobless or incarcerated increased from 11 percent to 16 percent between 1980 and 2014, whereas the corresponding share of young women declined from 31 percent to 22 percent (see Exhibit A-4 in Appendix A). That decline was partly attributable to an increase in school attendance; since 1988, the share of young women who are in school has exceeded the corresponding share of young men. Furthermore, the large increase in incarceration since 1980 had a far smaller impact on women than on men. (It is true that the share of young women who are jobless or incarcerated remains higher than the corresponding share of young men—but that is largely because many more young women than young men are spending their time caring for other people, particularly children, which drives up their rate of joblessness.)

This analysis focuses on young men instead of older ones because the consequences of joblessness and incarceration can be much greater for young men. A young man has, on average, many more years of prospective work ahead of him than an older man does

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Bill Clinton Admits He’s Destroyed Millions Of Black Men With Prisons

Admits That Mass Incarceration Stems From Policies Enacted During His Administration

President Bill Clinton on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, conceded that over-incarceration in the United States stems in part from policies passed under his administration.

Clinton signed into law an omnibus crime bill in 1994 that included the federal “three strikes” provision, mandating life sentences for criminals convicted of a violent felony after two or more prior convictions, including drug crimes. Clinton acknowledged that policy’s role in over-incarceration in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

“The problem is the way it was written and implemented is we cast too wide a net and we had too many people in prison,” Clinton said Wednesday. “And we wound up…putting so many people in prison that there wasn’t enough money left to educate them, train them for new jobs and increase the chances when they came out so they could live productive lives.”

Clinton’s comments come on the heels of protests in Baltimore over policing and the death of a young black man there and a week after Hillary Clinton delivered one of the first policy addresses of her presidential campaign on , saying that the system focuses too much on incarceration.

“Keeping them behind bars does little to reduce crime, but it does a lot to tear apart families,” Hillary Clinton said. “Our prisons and our jails are now our mental health institutions.”

Your Black World’s Dr. Boyce Watkins shares his thoughts on the former presidents too little, too late admission of his involvement in the mass incarceration on black men.

AJ Woodson
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AJ Woodson

Editor-In-Chief at Black Westchester
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief of Black Westchester and Co-Owner of Urban Soul Media Group, the parent company.
AJ is a Father, Author, Writer, Rapper, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian and A Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine and several others.

You can also hear AJ every Tuesday morning on The Bob Marrone show on WFAS

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(Video) Seeking Justice: The Biggest Prison System in History is in the United States – The Empire FIles

The United States has five percent of the world’s population but has twenty-five percent of the world’s prisoners. A staggering statistic that continues to be ignored by most of society, and profited by much of society.  Recently we have heard discussions of Criminal Justice Reform.  A subject that has been discussed at times in the recent past.  Meanwhile over 50% of our prisoners are serving sentences for non-violent and mostly victimless crimes, disproportionately applied to blacks and latinos. The injustice of the United States Prison and, the Criminal Justice systems are chronicled here by Abby Martin in the latest offering of The Empire Files.

As I discussed in an article previously for The Anti-Media, it is important to understand how we got to this point so we can fix this problem once and for all.  Piling on the injustice are the vast amount of profits made by corporations feeding off our taxes and the families of prisoners. Juveniles are being incarcerated at alarming rates as well, with more money being allocated to prisons and juvenile detention facilities than to education. The court system is a cesspool of corruption with a focus on winning instead of justice for the victims and the accused.  Good lawyers are subject to an abundance of interference and the majority of public defenders do not offer most of their clients the best possible representation.

Right now we are subjecting 1 out of every 100 people in this country to our criminal justice system.  We have become a police state and we are destroying millions of lives every single day.  Easily one of the most important issues in our society as well as one of our most glaring hypocrisies.

 

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Voters to Decide Whether Ohio Will Become First Midwest State to Legalize Pot

will vote on a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana in November, state officials announced Wednesday. If the measure passes, Ohio would become the fifth state and the first in the Midwest to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, in addition to the District of Columbia. A pro-marijuana group, ResponsibleOhio, gathered enough signatures to place the… Continue reading Voters to Decide Whether Ohio Will Become First Midwest State to Legalize Pot

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Missouri Man Serving Life for Pot Prepares for First Parole Hearing

is among the handful of Americans serving life in prison for nonviolent marijuana crimes. Jeff Mizanskey has served almost two decades of a life sentence since being nabbed in a marijuana-buying sting in the early 1990s. This week, he will have his first parole hearing, thanks to a limited commutation given by Missouri Gov.… Continue reading Missouri Man Serving Life for Pot Prepares for First Parole Hearing

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The Prison Dilemma: Racism and the War On Drugs

It appears that Congress is finally about to take some action to reverse the mistakes of the and the burgeoning prison population. A number of conservatives and liberals seem to agree that something needs to be done to reduce the prison population which is the highest per capita of any developed nation. Republican… Continue reading The Prison Dilemma: Racism and the War On Drugs

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Group of U.S. lawyers form National Cannabis Bar Association

In an attempt to bestow greater legitimacy on the legal marijuana manufacturing sector, a group of U.S. lawyers, including a current partner from Akerman and a former Reed Smith partner, have formed the National Cannabis Bar Association. According to The American Lawyer, the organization’s mission is “to bring a relatively niche practice area into the mainstream,… Continue reading Group of U.S. lawyers form National Cannabis Bar Association