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



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 18, 2015
Race & Justice News: Connecticut Struggles to Reform Drug-Free-Zone Law

Reforms: Connecticut Struggles to Reform Drug-Free-Zone Law » GO

JJDPA Reauthorization Would Require Reductions in Racial and Ethnic Disparities

Policing: Minneapolis Police Disproportionately Enforce Low-Level Offenses Among People of Color

Black Drivers in Missouri 75% More Likely to be Stopped Than Whites

Incarceration: Nearly Half of Black Women Have a Family Member in Prison

School-to-Prison Pipeline: Black Students Disproportionately Arrested in Louisiana's Jefferson Parish

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 1, 2015
State Advocacy Update: Grassroots Strategy to Address Mass Incarceration

Reinforcing broad support to address mass incarceration has been a priority for several state advocacy organizations. This year, grassroots organizations in California, Maryland, and North Carolina organized lobby days in support of policy goals to scale back harsh criminal justice practices.

May 18, 2015
Race & Justice News: Why Are 1.5 Million Black Men "Missing"?

Policing: Over one quarter of police officers are people of color

Connecticut study identifies racial disparities in traffic stops

Reforms: Justice Department faces challenges in ensuring constitutional policing

Incarceration: "Missing" black men due to high incarceration and mortality rates

Fines and fees: States suspend driver's licenses over court-related debt

School discipline: Virginia schools top the nation in sending students to law enforcement