Who’s Giving Second Chances to War on Drugs Survivors?

Who's Giving Second Chances to War on Drugs Survivors?

“Are we moving towards a society where it’s much harder to get a second chance?” Moving towards? That ship’s long sailed considering that for 30 years now in Missouri, for example, mothers with a past drug conviction can’t access food stamps—ever. For mainstream America, though, slowly awakening to the ills of too-much incarceration, the question is thankfully relevant and it leads off a worthy D.C. panel this morning featuring Joe Jones.

Jones, a recovering addict and ex-knucklehead, he says, is the founder and CEO of the Center for Urban Families in Baltimore. According to the current cover story in The American Prospect, “Is there hope for the survivors of the Drug Wars?” CUF is among the first programs in the country designed to specifically help young men of color readjust for economic success in society. In addition to workforce training, it offers fatherhood classes, helps men navigate family court and counsels ex-prisoners forever marked by where they’ve been but, not where they are or trying to be.

Start the video at the 7:40 mark when journalist Monica Potts introduces Jones who tells his story. The idea for CUF formed, he says, when he realized early on that programs targeting women and children in the 1990s were incomplete if they didn’t also try to help the men in their lives.

Also, add to the discussion through #2ndChanceSociety on Twitter and cc: @Colorlines, of course.

How can we build a second chance society? 

(h/t Assets Building Program, NAF)

Sebelius Resigns, White Men on Late Night and Google Glass Sale

Sebelius Resigns, White Men on Late Night and Google Glass Sale

Here’s some of what I’m reading up on this Friday morning: 

TAGS: Morning Rush

For Missouri Moms, A Past Drug Conviction Means No Food Aid, Ever

For Missouri Moms, A Past Drug Conviction Means No Food Aid, Ever

Missouri is one of 10 states that still ban people, mainly women, with felony drug convictions from ever receiving food stamps. Overall, according to the Sentencing Project, an estimated 180,000 women and their children, primarily families of color, are disproportionately affected by this little-known holdover from Clinton-era welfare reform. Now for the first time Missouri’s legislature is looking at loosening if not lifting the lifetime ban. Even with bipartisan support however, it’s unclear whether the bill will make it through. 

The majority of the other states still riding hard for this War on Drugs-era punishment are located in the South. 

(h/t St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

AG Holder Tweaks F.B.I. Racial Profiling Rules

AG Holder Tweaks F.B.I. Racial Profiling Rules

After five years in revision status, anonymous sources tell The New York Times that the U.S. attorney general has finalized the F.B.I.’s racial profiling rules. The paper describes them as a compromise between Eric Holder’s “desire to protect the rights of minorities,”—influenced in no small part by his experience as a younger man—and concerns from national security officials that they might be hampered in their front-line fight against terrorism.

“Decades ago, the reality of racial profiling drove my father to sit down and talk with me about how, as a young black man, I should interact with the police if I was ever stopped or confronted in a way I felt was unwarranted,” Holder said this week before Al Sharpton’s civil rights group, the National Action Network.

However, as the rules revision process appears to have repeatedly highlighted: “Making the F.B.I. entirely blind to nationality would fundamentally change the government’s approach to national security.”

Besides race, the new rules reportedly add religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation to the F.B.I.’s prohibited profiling list. They also increase “the standards that agents must meet before considering those factors” and establish a program to track profiling complaints.

The new rules do not change however, how the F.B.I. uses nationality to map neighborhoods, recruit informants, or look for foreign spies. They leave unchallenged, the fundamental question of whether the F.B.I. can collect information on a Muslim man without evidence of wrongdoing.

Civil rights groups welcome the expanded prohibitions but had also been looking to the new rules to rein in more of the authority granted to federal agents in the aftermath of 9/11.

At the White House’s request, the Justice Department is reportedly delaying release of the new rules in order to coordinate a larger review of racial profiling to include the Department of Homeland Security. Under Bush-era regulations, racial profiling rules carried exemptions not only for national security investigations but border security and immigration investigations as well. 

(h/t The New York Times)

Resetting Passwords, Hercules Gifs and Derrick Gordon Comes Out

Resetting Passwords, Hercules Gifs and Derrick Gordon Comes Out

Here’s what I’m reading about this morning: 

  • Facebook chat? There’s an app for that (that you will be forced to download separately).
  • Is Hercules, the film, as good as Hercules, the gifs?

      Inline image 1 

  • University of Michigan’s Derrick Gordon comes out
TAGS: Morning Rush

ICYMI: Women (Still) on Losing Side of Equal Pay Gap

ICYMI: Women (Still) on Losing Side of Equal Pay Gap

Even in women-dominated professions, men are paid more than their female counterparts. Women comprise 80 percent of the nation’s elementary and middle school teaching force. Their median weekly pay is $937 compared to $1,025 for men. Secretaries and administrative assistants are nearly 95 percent women; their male counterparts receive $100 more in median weekly pay. The gender pay gap according to an informative if maddening Instititute for Women’s Policy Research report, exists in all but three occupations, at every income level and widens within race and ethnic groups. And today the Senate Republicans blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act, intended to help close that gap. Happy belated National Equal Pay Day, by the way. (It was yesterday.)

It’s likely the Paycheck Fairness Act never had a real shot at clearing the Senate. The New York Times describes the bill as part of a larger Democratic strategy to appeal to low- and middle income voters during an election year. Other pillars of that strategy—increasing the federal minimum wage, extending long-term unemployment benefits—aren’t expected to pass the divided House.

(h/t ProPublica)

Pa. School Stabbings, Heartbleed Bug and Traveling Sneezes

Pa. School Stabbings, Heartbleed Bug and Traveling Sneezes

Here’s what I’m reading about this morning: 

  • That Congressman who brought the Duck Dynasty guy to Obama’s State of the Union has been busy making out with a person who is not his wife. 
  • Futures are up after Alcoa shares gain, and ahead of the Fed meeting. 
  • Time to change all of your passwords or the Heartbleed bug will get you (if it hasn’t already). 
TAGS: Morning Rush

Hunger Striking at the White House

Hunger Striking at the White House

A group of three people and their supporters began camping out in front of the White House on Saturday, coinciding with a national day of action against continued deportations by Obama’s administration.  And today, they’ve started an indefinite hunger strike. 

Jose Valdez, a 55-year-old construction worker from Arizona already knows what it’s like to stop eating. Valdez, who’s been working with the Puente Movement, participated in a 15-day long hunger strike in Phoenix that started in February—during which time someone threw burritos at him covered in racist slurs. But the bigger blow for Valdez, was that his 31-year-old son Jaime, who was also on a hunger strike at the notorious Eloy Detention Center, was deported. Valdez concluded his strike in March, and is now starting another just a month later.

Jaime Valdez, who says his deportation was retaliation for his participation in the hunger strike at the detention center, turned himself in at the Nogales Port of Entry on April 1, demanding humanitarian parole. Jaime Valdez is now at the Florence Detention Center in Ariz., waiting to hear back to learn whether he will be allowed to reunite with his family. In the meanwhile, his father, hasn’t given up hope.

“I’m in DC hunger striking again to see who will support me,” says father Jose Valdez—adding that he didn’t get much support from politicians during his first hunger strike. “I want to know who will help stop deportations and detentions, and who will help provide some kind of relief for undocumented people.”

This new hunger strike kicks off as a 48-hour fast wraps up on the National Mall. Some 100 women fasters, organized through the We Belong Together campaign, were visited by several members of Congress today, as they conclude a month-long series of fasts to highlight immigration as a women’s issue. 

More Trouble in Ukraine, Sharpton: FBI Informant and UConn’s Starved Athlete

More Trouble in Ukraine, Sharpton: FBI Informant and UConn's Starved Athlete

Here’s some of what I’m reading this morning: 

TAGS: Morning Rush

Following Lumumba’s Death, Jackson, Miss. Votes Today

Following Lumumba's Death, Jackson, Miss. Votes Today

All eyes are on Jackson, Miss. today. Six weeks after his untimely passing this February, a special election is being held to replace mayor Chokwe Lumumba, 66, whose brief tenure held the promise of a black progressive renaissance not just for Jackson but similar cities across the South. Among today’s seven top candidates is Lumumba’s 31-year-old son, attorney Chokwe Antar Lumumba. 

Lumumba has won an endorsement from the Jackson Free Press but earns a cautious review from the Clarion-Ledger

New York Governor Drops Prison Education Plan

New York Governor Drops Prison Education Plan

Just six weeks after announcing the plan before a gathering of black and Latino lawmakers, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, last week dropped a plan to publicly fund college classes at 10 prisons. Nationwide, only about a dozen privately funded prison education programs have survived the past two decades. There were 350 up until 1994 when the Clinton administration and Congress cut Pell grants to inmates. 

The prison education setback in New York is significant. It comes amidst a growing bipartisan effort to reform federal and state prisons, as well as president Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative for boys and young men of color. But in this new environment of possibility for prison reform, there still appears to be insufficient political support from directly affected communities of color and their sending-cities for scaling back mass incarceration. Nationwide, nearly a million men and women reenter society annually from federal and state prisons. Education programs like the Bard Prison Initiative have been shown to reduce the rate of recidivism, which in New York, is 40 percent.

New York’s prison population, the vast majority of which come from downstate, is 49.2 percent African American, 24 percent Latino and 24.1 percent white. Prisons are located in upstate New York, in largely Republican and majority white counties. Political resistance to Cuomo’s plan came from the Republican-controlled state senate. But popular pushback appears to have settled on the unfairness of providing a free education to prison inmates while law-abiding citizens struggle to pay for college.

It’s not clear whether the 10 prisons initially selected for the prison education program were minimum or maximum security facilities or a combination of both. New York currently spends $60,000 a year to incarcerate one person. It costs about $5,000 a year for a year of college education for an inmate. 

(h/t The New York Times)

Gentrification Report: Black and Latino Displacement Is Remaking the Bay Area

Gentrification Report: Black and Latino Displacement Is Remaking the Bay Area

A new report from San Francisco-based community advocacy group Causa Justa::Just Cause released today details just how deeply gentrification is reshaping San Francisco and Oakland. In a sweeping report detailing the economic, social and even public health impacts of gentrification, Causa Justa::Just Cause hits back at the narrative of the seeming inevitability about gentrification. Rather, the authors of “Development Without Displacement” argue, gentrification is the outgrowth of public disinvestment in marginalized communities and years of unjust economic development policies.

In 2011 median rental prices in Oakland neighborhoods in late stages of gentrification surpassed rental housing prices in even Oakland’s historically affluent neighborhoods like the Oakland Hills. Between 1990 and 2011, median rental housing prices in San Francisco neighborhoods in the late stages of gentrification increased 40 percent. What’s more, the rental price increases and housing crisis have fueled the displacement of blacks and Latinos from both cities.

Between 1990 and 2011 the proportion of black residents in all Oakland neighborhoods fell by nearly 40 percent. Perhaps more stunning, black homeowners were about half of north Oakland’s homeowners in 1990. By 2011 they were just 25 percent of the neighborhood’s homeowners. In San Francisco’s Mission district, the historically Latino neighborhood has lost over 1,000 Latino families and seen an influx of 2,900 white households, the report authors write.

“The Mission right now is in chaos with evictions,” Causa Justa member Cecilia Alvarado says in the report. “There is also nowhere to go. The units available are for people who earn $6,000 to $7,000 more than I do per month—not for middle-class or working-class families, which had always been the status of the Mission—families with kids.” Indeed, to longtime residents of the historically Latino neighborhood in San Francisco, the Mission is a new and strange place these days. 

The report also includes policy recommendations to slow and reverse gentrification, ranging from housing protections to equitable economic development in all communities. The underlying message is that displacement is a choice, not an inevitability. 

UCSB Riot, Walters to Leave The View and Moondust Gear

UCSB Riot, Walters to Leave The View and Moondust Gear
Here’s some of what I’m reading up on today: 
  • We’re getting close to a blood test that will detect early and later stages of cancers. 
TAGS: Morning Rush

The State of Children of Color in the U.S.

The State of Children of Color in the U.S.

African-American children face “crisis-level” barriers to success. Asian and Pacific Islander children followed by whites are best positioned to meet most of the 12 indicators selected to communicate a child’s likelihood of becoming, “middle class by middle age.” And similar to African-American children, Latino and Native American children also face greater hurdles beginning at birth. That’s according to a new, comprehensive report that, where data was available, went beyond the standard broad racial groupings to look at a child’s lifetime opportunity by region, tribe, or family’s country of descent.

For example, children of Southeast Asian descent (Hmong, Cambodian, Vietnamese) faced greater challenges than those of Indian, Chinese or Filipino descent. Among African-American children, those living in the southeastern U.S. were least likely overall to become middle class because the report says, of a legacy of “institutional discrimination that still plague[s] the region.” Children in Choctaw households fare better economically than those in Apache households. And children of Mexican and Central American descent had to surmount bigger obstacles than those born into Cuban and South American households.

The report, Race for Results, is a first for the Annie Casey Foundation, long recognized for producing the massive state-by-state Kids Count data trove. Race for Results recommends race- and ethnicity-targeted investments (especially for boys and men of color) and greater data collection.

García Márquez Hospitalized, Obama Selfie and Hummingbirds

García Márquez Hospitalized, Obama Selfie and Hummingbirds

After a three-day retreat, here’s some of what I’m reading about this morning: 

  • Mozilla’s anti-gay brand new CEO steps down
TAGS: Morning Rush

Ariz. Mom’s Arrest Triggers Outpouring of Support

Ariz. Mom's Arrest Triggers Outpouring of Support

Over the weekend, strangers mobilized to help an Ariz. mom facing child abuse charges after leaving her 2-year-old and 6-month-old sons in a parked car while she went for a job interview. An online fundraiser begun for Shanesha Taylor’s $9,000 bail blew through that goal. More than $60,000 has been donated so far. And the #ISupportShanesha hashtag on Twitter is on fire. It’s a running commentary that Taylor is not alone and that indeed, her impossible choice between work and childcare is not unique. Millions of women and their children (and dads and grandmothers, too) can relate. So what about them?

The danger of charity is the same thing that provokes it: an individual story so affecting that it moves people to act. It’s easy to relate and react to a single human being. It’s difficult to nurture a sustained response to the millions of Shanesha Taylors living both below and scraping by above the federal poverty line (currently, $20,000-a-year for a family of three). But if social justice is the goal, then attention must be paid to everyone else and the social safety net, too.

Over at ThinkProgress Annie-Rose Strasser looks at state cuts to subsidized childcare—about 40 percent—over the past four years in Ariz. And Taylor came to mind in a brief post last Friday about a little known but apparently successful federal housing program that, while available nationwide, is poorly funded. In Houston for example, federal funds allow 540 of 18,000 eligible households ( or .03 percent) to participate in its Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) program, which helps to transition families off welfare. 

Issues like housing and childcare aren’t as media friendly as abortion or images of a woman “leaning in” in a power suit. But they are critical this election year for most of America’s working moms and their families. 

Expect more of Shanesha Taylor’s personal story to unfold as the week gets underway. 

The Known Unknowns of Obamacare’s Racial Justice Impact

The Known Unknowns of Obamacare's Racial Justice Impact

Today’s the day. As of midnight, if you’ve not enrolled in a health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act (or asked for a special extension), you’ll have to wait until 2015 to buy coverage on the law’s exchanges. Medicaid enrollment continues all year.

The Obama administration has already declared the tumultous enrollment process of the past six months a success. After the rocky start of, the Congressional Budget Office estimated 6 million people would enroll in private plans this year. Last week, the White House announced it had hit that number. That’s an important political victory for the administration, to be sure. But health policy wonks across the ideological spectrum agree the number doesn’t say much useful about the overall effort to fix our health care system. It doesn’t answer any of at least three crucial questions.

Climate Change, Obamacare Deadline and Final Four

Climate Change, Obamacare Deadline and Final Four

Here’s what I’ve been reading this morning:

  • Those aren’t missing flight MH370 plane parts in the Indian Ocean; they’re junk
  • It’s back up now, but the Obamacare site was down earlier today, which is the last day for open enrollment for 2014. 
  • Must-read on Suey Park and #CancelColbert. 
  • Apple wants to make walking while texting safer by making your phone’s text background a live feed of whatever’s in front of you. 
  • It was snowing here in New York when I woke up this morning, but spring is supposedly coming soon—along with allergies
TAGS: Morning Rush

NYPD (Finally) Gets Independent Oversight

NYPD (Finally) Gets Independent Oversight

An inspector general with subpoena power over the NYPD was named today. After much opposition during the Bloomberg years, the City Council created the post in response to surveillance of Muslim communities and stop-and-frisk tactics towards black and Latino young men. Philip K. Eure (pronounced yore), a Boston native, is tasked with investigating police practices on the street as well as department policies. 

Eure officially takes office this May. In addition to impacting how stop-and-frisk is conducted on city streets, it remains to be seen how this appointment will affect the efforts of Muslims in New Jersey to stop NYPD surveillance of their communities. A judge last month dismissed their claim that NYPD spying was unconstitutional because it focused on religion. There are plans to appeal.

“It’s now time for the mayor to turn his attention to the NYPD’s mistreatment of another minority community: Muslims who have borne the brunt of the post-9/11 police surveillance,” the Brennan Center’s Faiza Patel wrote this week. Since taking office Mayor de Blasio has abandoned the city’s appeal of a landmark stop-and-frisk ruling and he has dropped the city’s challenge of a law making it easier to sue police for racial and religious profiling.

(h/t New York Times)

More Trouble for Dan Snyder’s Foundation

More Trouble for Dan Snyder's Foundation

When Dan Snyder, who owns the Washington, D.C. NFL team, announced his “Original Americans Foundation” this week, some Natives weren’t too happy. Now, there’s more information that throws Synder’s effort into more suspicion.

Synder’s been working with Gary Edwards (Cherokee), who heads the foundation. Edwards also runs an organization called the National Native American Law Enforcement Association (NNALEA). Sounds legit, right? It turns out it probably isn’t.

According to a 2012 federal investigation by the Office of the Inspector General, Edwards received nearly $1 million in federal funds for his Native cops association. In return, Edwards supposedly recruited 748 people to apply for law enforcement position in Indian Country. More than 100 of those applicants didn’t even meet standard age requirements. 492 of them aren’t even Native. And not one was even qualified for a hire:

Upon delivery, [Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice] officials reviewed the first batch of applications, finding them to be generally unacceptable because they were incomplete and/or applicants exceeded age requirements, did not have Indian preference, and/or had criminal records. Specifically, we reviewed 514 applications for age, felony records, citizenship, driver’s license, educational requirements, required documentation, and position applied. We found 244 applications (47 percent) to be unacceptable because applicants were not qualified for the position applied for or applications were incomplete. For example, one applicant was born in 1929, which is clearly too old at 80 years of age. Other examples include the following:

•          3 applicants were not U.S. citizens;

•          104 applicants were either too old or too young;

•          3 applicants did not have a driver’s license;

•          26 applications were missing critical documents required by the contract;

•          47 applicants lacked a 4-year degree for the criminal investigator position;


•          119 applicants did not specify the position they were applying for, which is an Office of Personnel Management requirement (see appendix 4 for additional details).

According to BIA’s Human Resources deputy director, NNALEA’s CEO stated that he would focus his recruitment efforts in Indian Country. We found that recruitment in Indian Country was ineffective, with only 22 of 514 applicants (or about 4 percent) having Indian preference.

The Oneida Nation, which leads Change the Mascot, thinks the revelations illustrate Snyder’s flawed approach. Ray Halbritter, Oneida Nation representative, says that while the information is disturbing, he’s not surprised. “[Synder] then hired a former associate of notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who helped bilk Native Americans, and selected a person who financially harmed Native Americans to run a foundation to defend his team’s name,” says Halbritter. “These aren’t accidents, but part of a systematic campaign to denigrate Native Americans by a team owner who will stop at nothing to keep the team’s offensive name.”

You can read the damning federal investigation in full

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