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California releases plan to cut billions in prison spending

Monday the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) released “The Future of California Corrections: A Blueprint to Save Billions of Dollars, End Federal Court Oversight and Improve the Prison System,” an attempt to overhaul and redirect a prison system that has been floundering for at least a decade.

New data from Office of Civil Rights: SF Black students suspended six times more...

The recently released data reveal that in San Francisco Unified, Black suspension rates are more than six times the rate for whites (14.4 percent vs. 2.2 percent), and the Hispanic expulsion rate is 5 percent. Black males stood out, with 20 percent (one in five) being suspended from school during the 2009-10 school year.

Sen. Sanders, Big Pharma’s greed is killing 3 million Hep C sufferers, including Mumia

Sen. Sanders, you have spoken out against the depredations of Big Pharma, refused to take donations from any of them, and call for “Medicare for all.” You’ve also spoken to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Currently in Pennsylvania there is a case before a federal court which embodies both of these battles, Abu-Jamal vs. Kerestes. Mumia Abu-Jamal is suing to force the Department of Corrections to immediately provide him treatment with the Hep C drug.

Broken promises of a just recovery in the Gulf Coast

On the fifth anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Gulf Coast residents are still trying to rebuild their lives after years of broken promises and government neglect. The Gulf Coast Civic Works Act to provide hundreds of thousands of jobs languishes in Congress. Affordable housing eludes both survivors and those displaced by the storm.

Who dat? Dat’s the Super Bowl champs!

The New Orleans Saints won Super Bowl 44. I can’t believe I’m even typing the words. Four and a half years ago, after the levees broke, the concern was not whether there would be a Saints, but whether there would even be a New Orleans.

Letter to Obama: Bring our troops home now!

I am writing to urge you to announce an immediate cease-fire followed by a withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan in the fastest way consistent with the safety of our forces. Sadly, war crimes and torture are now committed with your name on them.

Amani Sawari awarded a 2019 Roddenberry Fellowship to develop Right2Vote Campaign for Jailhouse Lawyers...

I’m thrilled to share that I will be joining 19 other activists and changemakers for the 2019 Roddenberry Fellowship! Jailhouse Lawyers Speak’s Right2Vote (R2V) Campaign is being recognized for the direct impact on civil rights in the United States. The Roddenberry Fellowship supports 20 activists, organizers, leaders and changemakers who are working to make the U.S. a more inclusive and equitable place to live. Fellows’ projects focus on one of four issues: Civil Rights, Immigration and Refugee Rights, LGBTQIA and Women’s Rights, Environmental Protection.

The day the music died: Malcolm X’ assassination, Feb. 21, 1965

On the afternoon of Feb. 21, 1965, I went to the Audubon Ballroom to hear Malcolm X speak. It was the saddest day of my life. An update has been added to this story, originally published in 2009.

UN Human Rights Committee finds US in violation on 25 counts

Recently, the U.N. Human Rights Committee issued a report excoriating the United States for its human rights violations. It focuses on violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which the country is party. The report mentions 25 human rights issues where the United States is failing. This piece focuses on a few of those issues – Guantanamo, NSA surveillance, accountability for Bush-era human rights violations, drone strikes, racism in the prison system, racial profiling, police violence and criminalization of the homeless.

Right to Return Weekend: Housing IS a human right!

The Right to Return Weekend challenges the forced removal of all public housing residents following Hurricane Katrina and the discriminatory policies of the government to permanently displace low-income Black communities from the “new” New Orleans.

Jackie Lacey – first Black, first woman – in run-off for LA DA, as...

The David who upset Goliath to take the lead in the run-off to become the next Los Angeles district attorney is actually an African American woman, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jackie Lacey, who came out 8 points ahead of second place finisher Alan Jackson and 10 points ahead of perceived frontrunner LA City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, despite being outspent 3 to 1 by the Trutanich campaign.

LA mayor holds contractors accountable for lack of Blacks hired on Phase I of...

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and local Black community activists were outraged at the appallingly low percentage of Blacks working. The mayor demanded a more aggressive campaign to ensure Black participation and increase employment among African Americans as part of advanced utility relocation activities for the Crenshaw-LAX Transit Corridor Project.

Where are the police in the murder investigation of Humboldt State student David Josiah...

It has been two months since the murder of David Josiah Lawson, a Humboldt State student who was stabbed at an off-campus party Easter weekend. Lawson was a 19-year old sophomore at HSU from Perris, California, in Riverside County. Police arrested 23-year-old Kyle Zoellner at the scene. After five days of preliminary hearings and 17 witness testimonies, Eureka Judge Dale Reinholtsen released Zoellner due to a lack of physical evidence.

California labels alienated, idealistic kids of color as potential violent extremists

California’s “Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE)” program flags teenage kids “feeling alienated from their peers,” “having a strong sense of being troubled by injustice” and suffering from “depression” as also having “tendencies to extremism” that should be closely monitored. And surprise surprise, these kids are disproportionately Black and Brown.

Three Strikes: Today’s civil rights challenge

Three Strikes has disproportionately targeted the poor and people of color. More than 70 percent of the Three Strikes prisoners serving life sentences are either African American or Latino; making Three Strikes one of the leading civil rights issues of today. We need your help. On Nov. 6, California residents will have another opportunity to amend Three Strikes. Vote Yes on Prop. 36.

Prisoners urged to sign NCBL petition: Assata is not a terrorist!

On July 16, 2013, Assata Shakur’s birthday, prisoners in FCI (Federal Correctional Institution) Cumberland spontaneously showed their strong support for her and the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL), whose online petition calls for Assata’s removal from the government’s “Most Wanted Terrorists” list and revocation of the $2 million bounty on her.

Yee introduces bill to aid young parents in foster care system

On Feb. 22, Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco-San Mateo, chair of the Senate Committee on Human Services, introduced legislation to assist pregnant teens and young parents in the foster care system. Legislation helps ensure access to child care, offers support to pregnant foster youth, and provides reproductive health education.

Mumia Abu-Jamal: The fall

It has been exceedingly difficult to write about the Trump presidency, seemingly crumbling before our eyes. In part that’s because of the sheer pace of new revelations, scandals superseded by new scandals, the inane utterances – and tweets – of the president, a daily cascade of craziness. Part of this is the news media, which rushes at us on a 24-hour clock, with no sense of cessation. Part of it is Trump’s sheer obsession with social media.

Pandemic shutdown separates parents from their children in the foster system

imagine being quarantined indefinitely as a foster child where you have no idea when you will see your parents next. As statewide shutdown orders sweep through the nation, child welfare agencies and juvenile courts are, by and large, treating foster children and system-impacted families with sheer indifference. Most COVID-19 juvenile court orders, if any exist at all, merely address court closures and give brief statements that parent-child visitation is suspended indefinitely.

Bernie Sanders speaks to Cleveland’s Black community at Olivet Baptist Church

The Community Coalition Concerned for Black Life convened a town hall-style meeting with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders at the historic Olivet Institutional Baptist Church on Cleveland’s majority Black east side on Saturday, March 5. Organizers said that the overall purpose of the meeting at Olivet was to discuss issues affecting the Black community and how Sanders would address such issues if ultimately elected president.