Current Thinking

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Oct 19, 2015 As I reflect upon my previous life where I was confined for up to 22 and half hours per day to an 8-by-10 foot prison cell in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California, I recall that I would often get lost in my thoughts—hopelessly dreaming that one day I would live in New York City after my release. Although I did not have a clue of how I would make this dream come true, I just knew that it was something that I...

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Oct 16, 2015 “We’re very forgiving....a lot of things are explained by wrong place, wrong time.” That’s one of the many encouraging responses white tenants with criminal records heard from landlords, realtors, and other housing providers, according to a recent report by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center (GNOFHAC). Unfortunately, African American renters were not afforded the same leniency; the report reveals that housing providers regularly use...

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Oct 13, 2015 A new report from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Research Action Design lays bare the significant impact that mass male incarceration has on women who remain in the community—a critically important and often overlooked aspect of our current offender-funded justice system. Although women also suffer financial and emotional consequences when they are themselves incarcerated—and these experiences should not be minimized or ignored—the report...

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Oct 12, 2015 */ The Justice in Katrina's Wake blog series reflects on New Orleans' local incarceration practices, the movement to foster fairness in its criminal justice system, and efforts to increase safety for all communities. Dolfinette Martin is an administrative assistant with New Orleans Pretrial Services...

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Oct 9, 2015 The recent murder of Lara Sobel, an employee of the Vermont Department for Children and Families, who was killed by a parent who had lost custody of her child, reminds us of the inherent risk associated with contentious custody battles. Unfortunately, fatal encounters involving estranged parents have occurred in Maryland, New York, Washington State, and other regions throughout the country. Such traumatic events not only affect the families involved but...

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Oct 8, 2015 In domestic violence training, we sometimes ask participants what makes a “good victim.” I’ve led this exercise dozens of times, with many different audiences—from doctors to high school students. The responses are strikingly consistent. “Good victims” have never committed a crime; they are compliant; they are bruised and battered; they don’t get angry; they don’t use drugs or alcohol; they aren’t mentally ill or homeless. Above all, they never, ever...

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Oct 6, 2015 In 1978, I landed a job as a community organizer for the Florida Clearinghouse on Criminal Justice. I was fresh out of school, with an MSW in tow. My job was part of a larger organization, Southern Coalition on Prisons and Jails, which had similar organizations in five other southern states. While there, I was introduced to what is now known as “IF,” or the innocence frame—the mindset to work with a much marginalized and really despised group within our...

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