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July 1, 2015
State Advocacy Update: Alabama and Texas Address Lifetime Federal Public Benefits Ban

Alabama:

Texas:

Efforts to reinstate federal ban in other states: Pennsylvana, Missouri, and Maine

Other news: Alaska, Illinois, Michigan, New York, and Virginia

In recent months there has been legislative reform to modify the federal food stamp ban in states like Alabama and Texas. In 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) imposed a lifetime denial of federal benefits for cash and food assistance to people convicted in state or federal courts of felony drug offenses; the ban is imposed for no other offenses but drug crimes. States can opt out of the federal ban or modify it by authorizing legislative reform. States that have not authorized a legislative remedy include Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming. During 2014, Missouri modified the federal ban and California opted out of the full ban.


June 30, 2015
Disenfranchisement News: Virginia governor removes financial barrier for voting rights restoration

Virginia: Governor removes modern day "poll tax" 

National: Hillary Clinton calls for sweeping voting rights reforms

Voter turnout among people with felony convictions 


June 26, 2015 (RT)
Mississippi private prisons hold inmates longer, without reducing crime – study

Nazgol Ghandnoosh, a research analyst at The Sentencing Project, appeared on the RT news network to discuss a new study finding that prison stays tend to be longer for individuals in for-profit facilities than public prisons in Mississippi.


June 16, 2015 (The Sentencing Project)
The time is now to raise the age of criminal responsibility

In an open letter hand-delivered to Albany, The Sentencing Project and sixty other organizations, including international human rights groups, social workers, faith-based organizations, criminal justice reform groups, and children's advocates, strongly urged the passage of Raise the Age legislation in New York before the session ends this week.

Currently, New York remains one of only two states that still prosecute all 16- and 17-year-olds in the justice system as adults. New York also houses 16- and 17-year-olds in adult jails and prisons, where they are at grave risk of suicide, rape, and physical abuse, and often do not receive appropriate services.

With days remaining until  the 2015 legislative session ends, it is imperative that there be no further delay in raising the age. The letter describes the horrific risks faced by youth incarcerated as adults, the collateral consequences of prosecuting children as adults, and evidence from other states that raising the age has proven to increase public safety.


June 15, 2015 (The Sentencing Project)
New Report: Was There a "Ferguson Effect" on Crime in St. Louis?

A new analysis by The Sentencing Project finds little support for a so-called “Ferguson effect” on crime in St. Louis, Missouri. The “Ferguson effect” describes a conjecture by some commentators that rising crime rates in some urban areas in recent months are the result of widespread protests against police misconduct and calls for reform. The movement spread across the nation in response to a stream of highly publicized killings of unarmed black men and boys by police, starting with the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri last August.