The Sentencing Project News
October 25, 2013 (WFPL News)
Kentucky GOP uncertain about restoration of rights
A Republican leader in the Kentucky Senate says GOP members are not warming to the restoration of voting rights for people with felony convictions despite U.S. Sen. Rand Paul's support of the issue.
The response comes days after Paul staffers said they had been in contact with state lawmakers about the restoration of voting rights.
As a result, earlier this week, Democratic Senator Gerald Neal of Louisville told WFPL he was beginning to see opposition to his proposal wane. Neal's bill would automatically restore the civil rights of certain formerly incarcerated people.
The Sentencing Project estimates nearly a quarter-million Kentuckians with felony convictions were barred from the polls in 2010. Its report noted that disenfrancisement has a disproportionate effect on black voters in particular, with the state holding the highest rate of disenfranchisement among African-Americans in the country at 22 percent.
October 24, 2013 (NBC News4)
Female Incarceration Grows at Local Prisons
The number of women in Washington, D.C. and Montgomery County, Md. prisons has surged in the past decade, creating strains on local jails and their rehabilitation programs.
“Women don't commit many violent offenses, so their numbers in prison were always very small," Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project said. "When the drug war expanded, there was new potential for rounding them up and sending them to prison."
U.S. Justice Department records reviewed by the News4 I-Team show a surge of 22,000 new women in local lockups nationwide since 2000.
October 24, 2013 (Fox45 Baltimoe)
One in Three Black Males May End Up In Prison
A new report issued on Wednesday comes to some startling conclusions about the fairness of the country's criminal justice system.
Among the high number of inmates in the US is a disproportionate number of African American men and the new report argues that this number could grow.
The analysis was released by The Sentencing Project, an advocacy group based in Washington DC, and contends police strategies targeting black men and a pattern of harsher sentencing for minorities means that a black male born today has a one in three chance of ending up in prison.
According to the report there were 159,520 serving life sentences as of 2012, an 11.8% rise since 2008. Nearly half of lifers are African Americans and one in six is Latino, the report states.
October 23, 2013 (PolicyMic.com)
Democracy is Broken without the Vote
Denying people the right to vote extends prison into everyday society, years after people who were incarcerated have served their sentences. It sends the message that people who were formerly incarcerated will never be able to participate in civic life again. No nation can consider itself a democracy until the right to vote has been granted without discrimination.
In light of the United Kingdom Supreme Court ruling that barred two people in prison from their right to vote, the issue of felony disenfranchisement has come to light on the international stage.
Peter Chester & George McGeoch are incarcerated and used the argument that European Union law grants them the right to participate in civic duties such as voting.
The United Kingdom Supreme Court response?
“Eligibility under EU law is a matter for national parliaments,” according to Clive Coleman, a BBC legal correspondent.
October 23, 2013 (The Cornell Daily Sun)
A Fair Democracy
Sam Kuhn writes that “the distinction between money and power is becoming less and less obvious. Much has been made of our nation’s grossly distorted wealth distribution. But an equally troubling phenomenon is that the distribution of wealth in America mirrors the distribution of access to ‘power.’
“Even as the rich are given new avenues to power and seemingly unlimited second chances at influencing policy, the poor are being excluded from the political process in ever more inventive and widespread ways.
“The 2012 elections were marred by numerous efforts by state governments to impose obstacles to voting, which almost exclusively inconvenienced the poor, such as requiring government-issued photo identification, shortening early voting periods and requiring proof of citizenship at the polls.
“According to a report from the non-profit research and advocacy group, The Sentencing Project, nearly 6 million (needless to say largely poor) Americans are unable to vote due to prior felony convictions. To be clear, many of these ex-convicts shouldn’t be allowed to vote. But the disjuncture between the civic penalties exacted on human and corporate criminals is tough to swallow.
October 23, 2013 (Kenosha News)
NAACP award ceremony to feature Nicole Porter
Nicole Porter, The Sentencing Project's director of advocacy, is the featured speaker at the Kenosha NAACP’s Freedom Fund dinner and award ceremony November 2.
Local NAACP president Veronica King said that Porter will address court issues in applying the guidelines for minimum and maximum sentences.
“She takes a look at sentencing all across the country and looks at what’s working and what’s not working,” she said.
According to The Sentencing Project, 60 percent of people incarcerated are ethnic minorities. One in every 10 black males in their 30s has been to prison or jail on a given day, according to national data.
In addition to Porter, Dr. Diane Gerlach of Aurora Medical Center will talk about the Affordable Care Act and her involvement with the NAACP in raising awareness of staying healthy.
October 23, 2013 (The Sentencing Project)
Race & Justice News
Policy: EEOC Struggles to Curb Employers' Indiscriminate Use of Criminal Background Checks
October 18, 2013 (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
Rights restoration for 6,800 formerly incarcerated Virginians
Gov. Bob McDonnell said Thursday that the civil rights of 6,874 Virginians have been restored during his tenure, including 1,577 since July 15, when he began automatically restoring rights for nonviolent felons on an individual basis.
There are still about 350,000 disenfranchised people in the state who have completed their sentence, according to The Sentencing Project’s 2012 report, which used 2010 numbers.
McDonnell’s announcement capped a frenzy of activity by administration officials in recent weeks to restore the rights of as many nonviolent felons as possible before last Tuesday’s deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 5 elections.
“I strongly believe in second chances and redemption. It is a fundamental part of the American way,” McDonnell said in a statement, touting the restoration numbers — more than any previous Virginia governor.
October 18, 2013 (Tampa Bay Times)
How Florida kept blacks from voting
Darryl Paulson, professor emeritus of Government at University of South Florida, writes about “the many ways that Florida has discriminated against black voters from the Civil War forward.
“For almost a century, Florida had been extraordinarily successful in disenfranchising black voters. As Southern historian J. Morgan Kouser observed, ‘The registration, poll tax, eight-box, and secret ballot simply exterminated the opposition’ in Florida elections.
“Turnout among black males in 1888, before the barriers went into effect, was 62 percent. Just four years later, after the barriers were enacted, black male turnout in Florida dropped to 11 percent, and continued to fall until it became virtually extinct.
“The civil rights movement and the passage of federal laws such as the Voting Rights Act ended the major hurdles to black voting in Florida and the South. Black voter registration soared, and with the passage of time hundreds of blacks in Florida would be elected to political office.
“But while the major barriers to black voting have been removed, many observers argue that voter disenfranchisement has now been replaced with vote dilution. Too many impediments still stand in the way of free and fair elections.
October 14, 2013 (The Sentencing Project)
New Publication: Ending Mass Incarceration: Social Interventions That Work
Mass incarceration has resulted from a great imbalance in our national approach to public safety, one that relies far too heavily on the criminal justice system. This has produced excessive levels of punishment and a diversion of resources from investments that could strengthen the capacity of families and communities to address the circumstances that contribute to crime.