Wednesday, January 27, 2016
President Obama Bans Solitary Confinement for Juveniles. On Monday, January 25, President Obama announced a ban on solitary confinement for juveniles incarcerated in the federal prison system, citing the practice’s overuse and its potential risk of psychological effects. The president describes in a Facebook post part of his reasoning for such a policy decision stems from the story of Kalief Browder, a 16-year-old from the Bronx accused of stealing a backpack six years ago and was sent to Rikers Island where he experienced unspeakable acts of violence at the hands of both inmates and guards, but was also placed in solitary confinement for two years. Never facing trial, Browder was released and then one Saturday committed suicide. It is because of stories like Kalief Browder’s and the fact that 100,000 people, to include juveniles are held in solitary confinement, that President Obama asked the Department of Justice to review its overuse.
The National Urban League applauds the decision to ban solitary confinement by President Obama and we look forward to further reform of the criminal justice system under this current Administration. (Juliet Eilperin, The Washington Post)
Voter ID Goes to Trial in NC. Attorneys for the Department of Justice and NAACP argued against the voter-ID law passed by North Carolina General Assembly intentionally discriminates against African American and Latino voters, who also disproportionately to white Americans lack one of the newly required forms of photo ID that could be required to vote as early as March 3 when early voting begins in the State of North Carolina. We will keep you updated on this and more around voter ID law changes and restoration of the Voting Rights Act. (Sari Horwitz, The Washington Post)
National Urban League Weighs in on ESSA. The National Urban League provided comments to the Department of Education on the Every Student Succeeds Act, advising the Department on where they should consider making regulations. (National Urban League Comments on ESSA)
Planned Parenthood Video Creator Indicted. On Monday, January 25 in Houston, Texas, a grand jury announced charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, the anti-abortion activists responsible for creating the now viral videos that suggested that Planned Parenthood was “dismembering aborted babies” and “selling babies fully intact.” These charges come as a surprise after two months of reviewing the coverage; the jury did not find evidence of illegal activity on the behalf of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, but instead on the behalf of Daleiden and Merritt. We will continue to track this story as it develops. (Sarah Ferris, The Hill)
Trump Opts Out. On Tuesday, January 26, presidential candidate, Donald Trump announced that he will not participate in the last Republican National Committee presidential debate to air on FOX News, Thursday, January 28th. Trump’s decision comes following his reaction to a press release from FOX News that he found to be unsettling; “They can’t toy with me like they toy with everybody else. So let them have their debate, and let’s see how they do with the ratings,” said Trump to reporters. We will see if Donald Trump decides to change his mind at the last minute or to continue with his plans to host a fundraiser for wounded veterans in Des Moines, Iowa. (S.V. Daté, National Journal)