Felony Disenfranchisement News
December 5, 2013 (The Daily Free Press)
Zero-tolerance means zero productivity
An editorial states: “People send their children to schools to learn, not to be subject to rough societal punishments. When a person trusts a school with the well being of his or her child, it is understood that educators and administrators in middle and high schools will act in the best interest of the student. Zero-tolerance policies are counterintuitive to the development of a functioning member of society, and they should be eradicated before more young people are prematurely introduced to the incarceration system.
“Any zero-tolerance policy against non-violent crime breeds criminals. When a student is in possession of an illegal substance or spray paints a wall on a campus, administrators should take the responsibility to discipline. Guidance counselors and school security should be held more accountable for discovering and assessing a child’s actions and administering constructive discipline rather than punishing the student to the fullest extent.
“Disruptive students should not be contained to jail cells, juvenile detention or simple detention in a cafeteria. If a social problem warrants possible incarceration, parents and school officials should be more than capable of avoiding such harsh consequences. How is society going to advance if young people are left to fend for their rights in a courtroom?
December 3, 2013 (The Sentencing Project)
National: Have Felony Disenfranchisement and Prison Gerrymandering Diluted Our Democracy?
Support for Disenfranchisement Reform Growing
"A Blatant Stain on America's Hard-Won Universal Suffrage"
Two New Books on Felony Disenfranchisement
Virginia: 6,874 Virginians Reenfranchised Under Gov. McDonnell
How the Next Governor Will Impact Reform Efforts
Kentucky: Opposition to Voting Rights Restoration Bill in State Senate
December 3, 2013 (Womensenews.org)
Faith-Based Housing Helps Women Leave Prison
Missy Denard prayed for six years before she rented the first home for New Beginnings in Abilene, Texas, for women who have nowhere to go.
That was in 2011. Since then the two-bedroom house with an attached apartment has been housing up to six women and Denard has acquired another house and an apartment building to rent to approximately 65 more women, all with children.
The female population in prisons in the United States continues to grow at an alarming rate. From 2000 through 2009, the number of women incarcerated in state or federal prisons rose by 21.6 percent, compared to a 15.6 percent increase for men. A total of 205,000 women were in U.S. prisons or jail in 2010, with the families and communities being torn apart as a result, according to a report released earlier this year by The Sentencing Project.
As the need grows, some members of religious communities are creating new ways to respond to women leaving prison, including teaching them that Christ loves and forgives them.
December 2, 2013 (C-Span)
Reforming Prison Sentencing
Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, talked about the changing political climate for criminal justice reform on C-Span and why he believes the expanding growth and cost of the U.S. prison system has contributed to an increased desire for reform. He also spoke about the findings of his organization on the rapid growth of life sentencing and the impact of the federal drug ban on welfare families. Watch here.
November 21, 2013 (Congressional Quarterly)
Feinstein Wary of Proposals to Reduce Prison Sentences
Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., said Wednesday that she is conflicted about legislation to scale back mandatory minimum sentencing laws, signaling that lawmakers in both parties are wary of the effort ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee markup in December.
Feinstein, the second-highest-ranking Democrat on the committee, said in an interview that she is “not comfortable” with legislation that would reduce criminal penalties for some offenders, even though Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has strongly urged the panel to act on the issue.
“We’ve been wrestling with it,” Feinstein said. “For me right now, it’s not an easy question.”
The Judiciary Committee is expected to meet after the Thanksgiving recess to mark up four bills related to the federal prison system, including two that would effectively reduce criminal sentences and two that would allow some prisoners to earn earlier releases if they participate in rehabilitation programs. All four bills are aimed at curbing the rapid growth in the number of federal inmates.
One of the sentencing bills (S 619), sponsored by Leahy and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., would greatly expand judges’ discretion to impose criminal penalties below the mandatory minimum sentences that are set out in statute. The other (S 1410), sponsored by Sens. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, is narrower, but would reduce the statutory minimum penalties for some drug crimes, among other steps.