Obama's use of unreliable gang databases for deportations could be a model for trump

PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP’S reaffirmation of his campaign trail vow to immediately deport 2 million to 3 million undocumented immigrants has roiled communities across the country. Local leaders have attempted to calm their constituents, with authorities in California offering particularly strident opposition. California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León called Trump’s plan “catastrophic” and vowed that the state would “aggressively avail ourselves of any and all tools” to protect the rights of undocumented residents.

Remarks by Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck about his agency not cooperating with any new deportation push garnered the highest praise from the national press and immigrants’ rights advocates.

“We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job,” Beck said on November 14.

The reality of street policing in California is quite different. Police and sheriffs in California — including the LAPD — and across the country have been routinely cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement for years to deport people accused of gang ties. Joint federal-local gang task forces targeting transnational gangs such as Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street were formed during George W. Bush’s presidency as part of Operation Community Shield, and they have continued to operate through Barack Obama’s two terms. Today, the deportation of people accused of gang membership or association is strongly emphasized under the Obama administration’s Priority Enforcement Program, which focuses on identifying and deporting undocumented immigrants with criminal records.

Click here for more from The Intercept.

Applicants said the country's largest state university system discriminated against former prison inmates. Now, the schools have decided to #BanTheBox.

Applicants to State University of New York schools must disclose, in question 20a, if they have committed a felony.  STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK/ THE MARSHALL PROJECT .

Applicants to State University of New York schools must disclose, in question 20a, if they have committed a felony. STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK/THE MARSHALL PROJECT.

As of 2018, students who apply to a two-year or four-year college within the State University System of New York will no longer have to disclose whether they have been convicted of a felony.

SUNY officials, who oversee the nation's largest public university system, voted on Wednesday to "ban the box" on student applications that asks about criminal history. An internal memo outlining SUNY's decision credited a 2015 analysis that found nearly two-thirds of applicants who disclosed having a felony record had dropped out of the application process.

Alan Rosenthal, an attorney with the Syracuse-based Center for Community Alternatives, an advocacy group for former inmates that investigated SUNY's treatment of applicants, said he was elated to learn that his analysis influenced the change.

"This is the first public education system in any state to reverse course, and reject the box," Rosenthal told The Marshall Project. "Hopefully other states will do the same."

SUNY spokeswoman Holly Liapis, however, noted that students will still face criminal background inquiries when applying for on-campus housing, internships and study abroad programs.

Click here to read the rest of the story on The Marshall Project.

Captive Lives: Children of inmates face long odds of success

An estimated 10 million children in the U.S. have parents who have been incarcerated at some point in their lives. According to “Shared Sentence,” arecent report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a child health and welfare organization, such children have a greater chance of experiencing physical and mental health issues, including anxiety and depression. Their families are less likely to be financially stable and more likely to be homeless. At school, they are more likely to be suspended or expelled or drop out.

Many are byproducts of the country’s move toward tough-on-crime policies, which have helped swell the overall jail and prison population to 2.3 millionpeople, more than four times the total imprisoned in 1980.

For every incarcerated parent in San Francisco, there’s a child like Luna. Like Arvaughn Williams, 17, whose father was in and out of jail until he was shot and killed four years ago. Or Leila Soto, 17, who hasn’t seen her father since he was sent to prison when she was 4.

Yet the needs of children like these have been largely ignored. Government efforts to help them are scant. Unlike for children in poverty or English learners, there is no consistent funding designated to aid them.

Click here to learn more from the San Francisco Chronicle.

The US Robbed Itself of $87 Billion in 2014 By Not Hiring Formerly Incarcerated People

Dorsey Nunn shed tears of joy in his California office when President Barack Obama instructed federal employers to delay asking applicants about their criminal records in November. He shared that moment with other Americans who, like him, left a U.S. prison to find that bad policies made it easy for employers to discriminate against them because of their previous convictions.

Nunn is co-founder of All of Us or None, the reentry group that coined the phrase "ban the box," which refers to the question on an application that asks, "Have you ever been convicted by a court?" 

Read more: President Obama to Announce Executive Order Against Criminal Background Checks

"We're making progress," Nunn said in a phone interview from San Francisco. "But we're still only taking incremental steps, rather than seeing it as an entire community [of formerly incarcerated people] demanding their rights."

The country's mammoth criminal justice system disproportionately harms black people and is a drag on the economy, according to new analysis of the latest federal justice and labor statistics.

In 2014, prison-related policies also cost the U.S. economy as much as $87 billion in gross domestic product — the value of all goods produced and service provided by a nation in a given year — according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. Authors of the center's report, released Thursday, reviewed Bureau of Justice Statistics data from 2014, when there were as many as 15.8 million people convicted of felonies who were of working age. Nearly 7 million of them were formerly incarcerated.

Policies allowing employers to unfairly weed out applicants who answer "yes" to the incarceration question amounted to a loss of about 1.9 million potentially qualified workers, according to the CEPR report. It reduced the overall employment rate by an entire percentage point. 

When it comes to race, the breakdown is even more grim. The CEPR report said black men who are formerly incarcerated suffered a 4.7 to 5.4 percentage point reduction in their employment rate in 2014. Latino men saw a reduction of as much as 1.6 percentage points, while the drop was up to 1.3 percentage points for white men. The jobless rate was as high as 6.7% in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Click here to read the full article on Mic.com.

Detaining the Poor: How money bail perpetuates an endless cycle of poverty and jail time

Prison Policy, May 10, 2016, By Bernadette Rabuy and

In addition to the 1.6 million people incarcerated in federal and state prisons, there are 646,000 people locked up in more than 3,000 local jails throughout the U.S.

Seventy percent of these people in local jails are being held pretrial - meaning they have not been convicted of a crime and are legally presumed innocent.

One reason that the unconvicted population in the U.S. is so large is because our country largely has a system of money bail, in which the constitutional principle of innocent until proven guilty only really applies to the well off

With money bail, a defendant is required to pay a certain amount of money as a pledged guarantee he will attend future court hearings. If he is unable to come up with the money either personally or through a commercial bail bondsman, he can be incarcerated from his arrest until his case is resolved or dismissed in court.

While the jail population in the U.S. has grown substantially since the 1980's, the number of convicted people in jails has been flat for the last 15 years. Detention of the legally innocent has been consistently driving jail growth and the criminal justice reform discussion must include a discussion of local jails and the need for pretrial detention reform.

Click here for Prison Policy's report on this important issue.