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Sep 5, 2014 At a distance of nearly a month, the shooting death of Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, Missouri, the deeply troubling response to it, and the ongoing commentary have a certain back-to-the-future quality, reminding us of how stuck in the past we still are, despite real progress in matters of race. Much remains to be done—and not only in Ferguson—to combat the source of distrust and enmity between police and community, particularly African American...
Jul 2, 2014 In February, President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper, an initiative “to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential,” and established an interagency task force to work on it. Last month, the task force released a 90-day progress report to the President including an initial...
May 5, 2014 We tell a story in this country about the normalization of violence. We look at arrest records—particularly for adolescents and young adults—and see groups of young people who commit more and more violent crimes over time. The story we tell to explain this trend is one of children being hardened into violent adult criminals. We have come to believe that each offense paves the way for the next, that the punishment for the lower level ones is an inadequate...
Apr 30, 2014 In 2012, the number of patients with severe mental illness in prisons and jails was ten times the number in state psychiatric hospitals. Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights held a hearing entitled “Law Enforcement Responses to Disabled Americans: Promising Approaches for Protecting Public Safety.” Led by Subcommittee Chairman Senator Dick Durbin, it featured the verbal testimony of...
Apr 4, 2014 It’s been more than ten years since Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), and in February, the Southwest Idaho Juvenile Detention Center became the first juvenile facility—and one of the first correctional facilities of any kind—to be certified as PREA compliant. On April 17, Vera will...
Jan 9, 2014 People with limited capacity and serious medical needs often require guardians to help them navigate the many challenges surrounding health care decisions, finances, and housing. A recent incident in Scottsbluff, Nebraska shows how vulnerable these individuals can be to exploitation—even from the very people supposed to protect them. On November 25, 2013, a woman whose small business served as the legal guardian for more than 600 people...

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