google-site-verification=cXrcMGa94PjI5BEhkIFIyc9eZiIwZzNJc4mTXSXtGRM A year after Biden declared April “Second Chance Month,” have his criminal justice reform efforts lived up to the expectations of black voters? - 360WISE MEDIA
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A year after Biden declared April “Second Chance Month,” have his criminal justice reform efforts lived up to the expectations of black voters?

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One Year After Biden Proclaimed April

Before the 2020 presidential election, then-candidate Joe Biden campaigned on “strengthening and reforming” the criminal justice system. Perhaps the most publicized step he has taken to this point was his proclamation last year declaring April 2023 Second Chance Month, an attempt to provide a second probability for formerly incarcerated people.

“I believe in redemption, but with the hundreds of thousands of Americans released each year from state and federal prisons, or the nearly 80 million people with arrest or conviction records, that is not always easy to achieve.” President Biden’s proclamation was read.

“Three-quarters of formerly incarcerated people remain unemployed one year after release, and unemployment is a leading predictor of recidivism,” the statement also said. “We don’t give people a real second chance.”

A year after Biden declared April
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during the “Campaign for Reproductive Freedom Rally” at George Mason University on January 23, 2024 in Manassas, Virginia. During the first joint rally hosted by the President and Vice President, Biden and Kamala Harris spoke out about what they see as a threat to reproductive rights. (Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Broad reform is very crucial in the criminal justice system to address racial disparities. Data show African Americans are incarcerated at five times the rate of white Americans. It is subsequently clear why, during the 2020 election season, Black voters expected elected officials to take lively steps to reform the criminal justice system and support decarceration.

In the first two years of Biden’s presidency, his criminal justice reform (and crime prevention) efforts have included: investing in community-led initiatives to reduce gun violence, appointing more Black and Latinx people as court judges federal and the appointment of 37 American lawyers, of whom 20 were black.

Many Black activists and other people who voted for Biden wanted to see more done to fulfill his campaign guarantees, so his administration’s support for last year’s Second Chance Month left many optimistic.

Now that Second Chance Month 2024 is upon us, let’s have a look back at what Biden’s initiative included and what impact it has – or hasn’t had – over the past year.

What is Second Chance Month and what has the Biden administration done?

While the White House has paid more attention to Second Chance Month in 2023, it is a movement that began with a national movement in 2017 led by the faith-based nonprofit Prison Fellowship (the initiative was recognized by the U.S. Senate this year). It goals to “raise awareness, break down barriers and unlock a second chance for the 1 in 3 people with a criminal record in America.”

Following the Biden administration’s declaration of Second Chance Month, a multi-year strategic plan for alternatives, rehabilitation and re-entry was released in late April. The plan is to “strengthen public safety by reducing unnecessary interactions between the criminal justice system so police officers can focus on fighting crime; supporting social rehabilitation while serving a prison sentence; and facilitating successful re-entry.” – we read in the statement.

Biden also participated in commuting the sentences of 31 Americans serving sentences for nonviolent drug crimes.

What has been the mood since then?

While last April’s efforts were hailed as a step in the right direction, the Biden administration has taken no motion toward making campaign guarantees for a progressive criminal justice system a reality, Vincent M. Southerland, faculty director of the Center on Race, Inequality, and the Law at NYU School of Law, assured Atlanta Black Star.

Southerland noted that while the Biden administration has invested in mental health and community violence interventions, this has been achieved by allocating more resources to policing.

“History clearly shows that investments in law enforcement exacerbate inequities in the criminal justice system,” Southerland said. “This allows more people to have contact with police officers. This in turn leads to an increase in the number of people arrested, prosecuted, convicted, sentenced and imprisoned.”

A 2015 report from the nonprofit The Sentencing Project: “Black Lives Matter: Eliminating Racial Inequities in the Criminal Justice System”, outlines 4 key features of the criminal justice system that exacerbate underlying inequalities. One particularly found that criminal justice policies exacerbate socioeconomic inequalities by imposing additional consequences on individuals with criminal records and by diverting public spending.

Nearly a decade – and two presidencies later – the same problems with America’s criminal justice system remain.

“The slow pace is not surprising,” William J. Drummond, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s journalism school and writer of “Prison Truth: The Story of the San Quentin News,” told Atlanta Black Star. “Any policy changes have to go through a huge bureaucracy. Racial bias permeates the entire criminal justice system, at all levels. “Prison is a by-product of the inequalities that exist in society.”

Non-profit organization Prison Policy Initiativewho conducts research documenting the harms of mass criminalization, racial discrimination in housing, sentencing and policing, often explains why the data shows stark disparities in African American involvement in the justice system.

“Race and racial inequality are features, not bugs, of the criminal system,” Southerland added. “Executive action could reduce the influence of race on the application of criminal law. However, the diverse ways in which the criminal justice system works in practice mean that no single actor or arm of government can eliminate the racial harms caused by the system.

“Unfortunately, due in part to these dynamics, the Biden administration’s policies have failed to have an undue impact on the deep racial disparities that plague the criminal system.”

In fact, the Department of Justice under Biden has continued harmful past practices, including prosecuting the death penalty, contrary to then-candidate Biden’s campaign promise to end the federal death penalty.

Southerland added that if there’s one vibrant spot, it’s Attorney General Merrick Garland issuing a memorandum which, amongst other things, included guidelines for more proportionate sentencing and encouraged federal prosecutors to seek alternatives to imprisonment.

“These are steps in the right direction. Time will tell how rigorously these policy directives will be implemented.”

Election year politics

In February 2024, the White House stated that the United States was safer than before due to historic declines in crime. He attributed this to the three-part approach in his statement: “funding an effective and accountable police force; investing in intervention and prevention strategies; and keeping particularly dangerous weapons off our streets and out of dangerous hands.”

According to recent media reports, polls show former President Donald Trump gaining popularity amongst black voters on this year’s presidential election. Trump claimed the support was because Black people “embraced” his photo, knowing what it’s like to have criminal cases against them, something he himself experiences.

What more than likely represents the interests of Black voters when it comes to criminal justice reform this election season is printed in two recent polls: About 75 percent of Black voters imagine that mass incarceration causes many of the problems that lead to unsafe communities ; in addition they want federal and state governments to take motion on criminal justice reforms.

This article was originally published on : atlantablackstar.com
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A judge sentenced a man in 20 minutes for beating an 8-year-old boy to death and leaving his body in his apartment for a year with his siblings.

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A Texas man will spend the remainder of his life in prison for murdering his girlfriend’s son and leaving his decomposing body in the apartment where his three brothers were forced to live.

On Monday, 34-year-old Brian Coulter was found guilty of murder in the death of 8-year-old Kendrick Lee.

Prosecutors narrowed Kendrick’s date of death to between October and November 2020. His skeletal stays weren’t found until October 2021.

Brian Coulter, 34 (left), was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of murder in the death of 8-year-old Kendrick Lee (right). (Photo: YouTube/KHOU)

Coulter opted for a non-jury trial, which lasted 4 days while arguments continued between defense lawyers and prosecutors, nevertheless it took the judge only 20 minutes to consider his fate.

Coulter will serve life in prison without the potential of parole.

“These children harassed me last week – they disrupted my safe space as I left this building,” Judge Kelli Johnson said. “I hope that in prison, those boys who haunted my mind will haunt yours, too.”

Kendrick’s brothers, now 17, 12 and 10, testified concerning the extent of Coulter’s abuse.

Two brothers described how Coulter often locked them in a bedroom where they were forced to use the lavatory. They also recalled instances of Coulter punching, punching and kicking Kendrick in the months leading up to his death.

Prosecutors characterised Coulter as a mean, jealous and indignant boy who increasingly competed with the youngsters for their mother’s attention.

The 10-year-old brother testified that he was in the room when Coulter beat his brother to death.

“I saw (Coulter) beating (Kendrick). (Coulter) used his fists,” the boy said, adding that he saw Kendrick stop moving and blink at one point through the beating before Coulter “put a blue blanket over him.”

Kendrick’s oldest brother is the one who called 911 concerning the body. At this point, the boys had been living in the apartment with Kendrick’s decomposing body for an entire year. He told dispatchers that his brother had been “dead for some time” and that he and his younger brothers were alone in the apartment.

On October 24, 2021, officers found a body with broken ribs and broken pelvis under a blue blanket. Investigators described the scene contained in the apartment as terrifying. One person stated that the home was infested with cockroaches and had a distinct odor.

“The apartment was in terrible condition. We saw a dirty carpet, no furniture. No bedding or blankets that we saw. We saw cockroaches and flies and very poor living conditions,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said when Kendrick’s body was found.

Coulter and Kendrick’s mother, Gloria Williams, was arrested at a local library two days after authorities found Kendrick’s body. They were found while searching for newspaper articles concerning the case. Williams was charged with injuring a child and tampering with a corpse.

She and Coulter moved out of the apartment about five months after Kendrick’s death and abandoned the remaining boys to live in squalor, without electricity or beds to sleep in.

The boys testified that they returned every few weeks to bring food. During these visits, Coulter beat the younger boys. When investigators were finally called to the house, they said one in all the boys had a swollen jaw and had been beaten so severely that he required surgery.

Williams and Coulter exchanged text messages about Kendrick’s body immediately after his death. Williams sent Coulter a message that he had feces on him and “looked dead,” to which Coulter responded that “it’s in God’s hands” and “don’t worry.”

A search warrant revealed that Williams knew Kendrick had died but didn’t want to call the police to avoid going to jail and losing custody of her sons.

Her trial begins on Friday.

This article was originally published on : atlantablackstar.com
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Black LGBTQ+ voters could influence Biden in the 2024 election

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Election polling data and turnout trends amongst Black and LGBTQ+ voters signal the significant impact these two groups could play in the final result of the 2024 presidential election.

Black LGBTQ+ voters, who sit at the intersection of those two influential voting blocs, could be crucial to President Joe Biden’s re-election.

“Both the Black and LGBTQ communities are key parts of the Biden-Harris coalition, which played an important role in the president’s victory in 2020 and will be crucial to his victory in November,” said Florida State Sen. Shevrin Jones, a member of the Biden Party-National Advisory Council Harris 2024 and the first black member of parliament in Florida to openly admit to being homosexual.

In addition to the proven fact that more Black Americans voted in 2020 than in some other presidential election since President Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012, the variety of voters identifying as LGBTQ+ in 2020, a growing population (no less than 20 million) , reached its highest level (7% of the electorate) in US history.

Understanding the crucial impact that Black and LGBTQ+ voters can have in this 12 months’s election, the Biden-Harris 2024 campaign launched early, investing tens of millions of dollars in ads targeting Black voters. The campaign recently launched the OUT for Biden national organizing and engagement program to mobilize LGBTQ+ voters.

Senator Kamala Harris greets the crowd at the annual Pride Parade at the Civic Center on Sunday, June 30, 2019, in San Francisco, California. (Photo: Gabrielle Lurie/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

So far, several LGBTQ+ organizations have endorsed President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris for a second term, including those led by Black LGBTQ+ leaders like Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ civil rights organization.

Pointing to battleground states like Texas, Georgia and Florida, which include a few of the country’s states The biggest Black populations and highest growth in LGBTQ+ voters, the social justice advocate added: “Black LGBTQ+ voters are doing this better than any other community. We are a huge voting bloc.”

The winner of TIME’s 2024 Most Influential People Award said the HRC PAC endorsed Biden and Harris because “the contrast is stark” between them and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“The Biden-Harris administration has been the most pro-equal administration in the history of the United States,” Robinson said, noting President Biden’s signing of the Respect for Marriage Act, which enshrined same-sex marriage in federal statute for the first time in U.S. history — and the administration’s expansion of protections against discrimination.

In contrast, she said, Trump “has led some of the most anti-LGBTQ+ efforts in American history,” including enforcing the military’s trans ban. Robinson also expressed dismay at Trump’s campaign promise to “support a hateful ban on transgender health care access and (and) a promise to fund hospitals and criminalize doctors for providing health care.”

Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, speaks at the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner at the Washington Convention Center on October 14, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Black and LGBTQ+ voters overwhelmingly favor Biden over Trump, in accordance with polls. March 2024 vote conducted by GLAAD found that 68% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and queer voters prefer Biden in comparison with 15% preferring Trump. Likewise the New York Times/Sienna vote conducted in April found that 69% of black voters support Biden in comparison with 16% who support Trump. An additional 15% remained undecided.

While support for the president and vice chairman amongst Black and LGBTQ voters dwarfs support for Trump, the Biden-Harris re-election campaign is in search of to widen that gap through mobilization efforts like OUT for Biden and attack ads aimed directly at Black voters.

Robinson said the remainder of the work to mobilize Black and LGBTQ+ voters falls on organizations like HRC.

“We have an obligation to be there to bridge the gap and let them know that we see the things that matter most to them in their communities,” she said. “And sharing how the Biden-Harris administration… is pushing forward legislation and policies that will make a difference.”

Earl Fowlkes, president and CEO of the Center For Black Equity, a black LGBTQ+ social justice organization that also endorsed the Biden-Harris campaign, said he personally speaks to voters, including his younger nieces and nephews who’re of voting age to vote and who “come to (him) with some concerns.”

The longtime political organizer said his “job” is to “provide evidence” to voters about the Biden-Harris record, including $147 billion in student loan cancellations, record low Black unemployment and rebuilding America’s infrastructure, including bridges, highways and Dear.

“(Biden) doesn’t get praised for these things. So we need to remind people how bad things were under the previous administration,” Fowlkes said. “If we don’t re-elect a president and vice president, we will be fighting battles we thought we had already fought and won.”

President Joe Biden delivers the 2023 State of the Union address with Vice President Kamala Harris standing behind him. (Photo: Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

Kenyatta, Pennsylvania’s first openly gay lawmaker of color, said seeing “50-year-old precedents overturned” like Roe v. Wade “certainly” didn’t make him and others “feel safe” in the relationship with other precedents corresponding to Obergefell v. Hodges, the landmark U.S. Supreme Court that recognized same-sex marriage as a constitutional right.

The 33-year-old state lawmaker, who chairs President Biden’s advisory committee on advancing educational equity and economic opportunity for Black Americans, said Black and LGBTQ+ people “are becoming victims of intimidation” from leaders like Trump.

“Instead of being able to solve real problems for real people, Donald Trump demonized people,” Kenyatta said. “Joe Biden, on the other hand, has been an outspoken and unapologetic supporter of all Americans, regardless of sexual orientation.”

He also noted key Black LGBTQ+ appointments in the Biden-Harris administration and presidential campaign, including himself, Senator Jones and White House press secretary Karine-Jean-Pierre.

“All hands will be on deck,” Jones said. “The contrast between President Biden, who has worked to lower costs, create good, family-sustaining jobs and keep our families secure, and Donald Trump, who is set to deprive Americans of their freedoms and gut Social Security, could not be more stark. and Medicare, which is able to undo the progress revamped the past 4 years.

Fowlkes, who argued that campaigns encouraging voters to vote early “will make a difference,” said: “The black LGBTQ population will once again stand up and crush everything.”

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This article was originally published on : thegrio.com
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Letitia James returns to court to prove that Trump’s bail in his fraud case is invalid, clearing the way for seizure of his assets

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New York AG Letitia James Heads Back to Court to Prove Trump

A court hearing scheduled for April 22 will determine whether Donald Trump has met the conditions required to stay on bail, reduced from the $464 million he was required to pay to New York State to appeal a civil fraud verdict against him earlier this 12 months .

A dissent to the deal filed earlier this month by New York Attorney General Letitia James raised serious concerns about whether Trump had met the terms of the reduced $175 million bond that Trump received in late March after the former president successfully appealed the requirement paid a deposit in the amount of the full judgment amount plus interest. James was prepared to begin seizing Trump’s assets if he couldn’t pay the full amount in money.

Trump’s lawyers responded this week to James’ April 4 motion, arguing that her office’s review of the bond posted last month was unnecessary and lacking detail, adding that she should bear the costs of the escalating legal battle.

Letitia James returns to court to prove that Trump's bail in his fraud case is invalid, clearing the way for seizure of his assets
New York Attorney General Letitia James (Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

“The NYAG exception is unnecessary and should be offset by costs. “Her scant notice reveals no shortcomings other than her failure to include a certificate of qualification,” reads the motion filed by Trump’s lawyers. “Although the certificate would be conclusive justifying evidence, it is not the only justifying evidence.”

Earlier, Trump had asked for a delay in paying the massive high-quality while difficult the unprecedented ruling, although defendants in New York typically must post bail higher than the sentence to be eligible for an appeal.

A Feb. 16 ruling by Judge Arthur Engoron found Trump responsible for inflating the value of his New York properties, including hotels and golf clubs, while defrauding banks and insurers for many years.

In late March, a New York appeals court stopped short of putting the former president into debt collection if he could collect $175 million inside 10 days, but James’ motion filed in early April questioned whether the conditions had been met.

Initial problems with the first bond order led to an amended version that would have allowed Trump to pay 62 percent lower than the original judgment.

A small number of billionaire donors have stepped up greater than a month after the verdict to help Trump raise his recent bonds, which Trump admits he cannot afford to pay in money after bragging for years that he is one of the world’s richest billionaires .

Ultimately, Knight Specialty Insurance Company and its owner Don Hankey committed to providing $175 million and helping Trump prevent the attorney general from seizing Trump’s assets for a mass verdict.

In her April 4 arguments, James claimed that Trump’s lower bond amount was issued “without a certificate of qualification under § 1111 of the Insurance Act” and that Trump’s legal team had to file additional documents inside 10 days to “justify the bond.”

However, Trump’s lawyers dismissed James’ concerns about the “sufficiency of the surety bond.”

Trump’s lawyers and KSIC’s lawyers filed papers on April 15 in response to James, arguing that the attorney general’s objection to their bond needs to be dismissed and her office should cover costs incurred in responding to her objection.

Lawyers acknowledged that a “certificate of eligibility” would eliminate the need to explain the bond. However, they argued in the note that Engoron could approve the bond even without the certificate. They said there was “overwhelming” evidence in the documents showing that the $175 million bond was secured by $175 million in money in a Schwab brokerage account controlled by KSIC.

The latest court filing underscored Trump’s dire financial situation, as disclosures made during the February campaign revealed that about $50 million from Republican Party donors was used to pay Trump’s outstanding legal bills amid a flurry of criminal and civil charges.

Engoron’s ruling also coincided with a separate ruling in a defamation suit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll, in which Trump was ordered to pay $83 million.

In the lawsuit filed by AG James, Trump was ordered to pay $355 million, which just about immediately increased to $454 million with interest, a rise of greater than $85,000 for every day that Trump failed to pay the full amount of the high-quality.

James filed a civil lawsuit against Trump in 2022 after discovering evidence of systematic fraud at the Trump Organization, including schemes that inflated Trump’s net price with false financial statements.

Last 12 months, Trump and his adult sons testified at trial and accused the accountants of financial mismanagement. Both Trump Jr. and Eric Trump testified that that they had little to do with their father’s financial statements, stressing that other executives at the Trump Organization were responsible for keeping the books.

This article was originally published on : atlantablackstar.com
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