5 Ways Gun Safety Advocates Are Using The NRA’s Playbook Against It

CREDIT: AP One year after Congress failed to pass a background check bill that 90 percent of Americans supported, groups to combat the National Rifle Association are ratcheting up their financial investment, and pledging to take the gun lobby head on like never before. “Because of Washington’s failure, we are beginning the next phase in the fight,” said John Feinblatt, president of the newly launched Everytown for Gun Safety funded with $50 million from Michael R. Bloomberg. Added an Everytown press release: “This means continuing to press for change in Washington and moving beyond Congress to bring the fight for common-sense gun policies to state capitols, corporate boards, and state and federal elections – fields of play formerly occupied almost solely by the … [Read more...]

Transgender Youth Confined In Adult Prison Writes Of Experiencing Extensive Past Sexual Abuse

CREDIT: Shutterstock A transgender 16-year-old in Connecticut spends 22-23 hours per day in de facto solitary confinement at an adult prison, the youth’s affidavit states. Under a seldom-used Connecticut statute, a judge ordered the transfer of the teenager to an adult correctional facility last week despite the absence of any charges against her. The youth, who identifies as female and has her identity concealed, is being housed in the York Correctional Institution for women despite the possibility she would be placed in an all-male facility. Although not in the official solitary confinement wing at York, the teenager is isolated from interaction. “She’s essentially in an adult jail, but she has to be kept away from the adult population because she’s not an adult … [Read more...]

Philadelphia Police Will No Longer Hold Immigrants Without A Warrant

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter signs an executive order that seeks to limit cooperation between Philadelphia police and federal immigration officials. CREDIT: Yvette A. Nunez Philadelphia police will no longer detain immigrants unless the federal government shows up with a warrant, Mayor Michael Nutter announced Wednesday morning. The mayor signed an executive order at a press conference that would limit cooperation between the Philadelphia Police Department and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to hold arrested immigrants for possible deportation. Nutter’s executive order would prevent Philadelphia police from turning over immigrants with no criminal convictions to ICE agents. Similar restrictions are already enforced in “two states, the District of … [Read more...]

This Man Would Have Spent 3.5 Extra Years In Prison For A Typo, If Not For Obama’s Clemency

CREDIT: Shutterstock President Obama, who has exercised his presidential pardon power less frequently than any other modern president, showed a rare moment of criminal justice mercy Tuesday, cutting short the sentence of Ceasar Huerta Cantu for two drug trafficking offenses. There were no indications that the commutation was a sweeping policy statement on those facing draconian drug sentences: He issued the commutation to fix a particularly incendiary typo. But Cantu’s story does shed a light on the potential for serious errors in the criminal justice system that remain unnoticed or unremedied. Cantu pleaded guilty in 2006 to money laundering and conspiracy to possess marijuana. For those offenses, Cantu should have been designated what is known as a “base offense … [Read more...]

Iowa Supreme Court Preserves Voting Rights For Some Former Offenders

CREDIT: Shutterstock A case before the Iowa Supreme Court this week that could have disenfranchised as many as 50,000 Iowa voters instead opened the door to potential future expansions of the franchise. In a 5-1 splintered opinion, the court ruled that the state constitution presumptively does not bar any individuals convicted of misdemeanor offenses from voting, and may even allow some with felony convictions to vote. The ruling comes out of a challenge on a different issue by state senate primary candidate Ned Chiodo. Chiodo sought to disqualify his opponent, Tony Bisignano, because of drunken driving offenses on his record. Iowa law bars those from running for office who have committed “infamous crimes.” The court ruled that drunken driving was not an infamous crime, but … [Read more...]