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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/27/15

Comprehensive Progressive Agenda & Wishlist Report

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10. Prison reform

Implement overral">Prison reform. This">reform should emphasize "individual responsibility and while continuing to call for incarceration, but that amends the frequency and length of prison stays and vastly corrects the internal circumstances and conditions within prison walls". Any rehabilitation regimen, including mental illnesses, alcohol and substance treatment, personality-building, literacy classes, and so forth- provides the best chance of success if it is mandatory.

(A) Impose mandatory 25 hours a week workfare public service and">general education requirements, where classes to be offered to inmates/students who lacked a high school diploma or a high school equivalency certificate.

(B) End incarceration of">juveniles. "The American rate of juvenile incarceration is seven times that of Great Britain, and 18 times that of France. It costs, on average, $88,000 a year to keep a youth locked up -- far more than the U.S. spends on a child's education," wrote Nell Bernstein who authored">Burning Down the House: The End of Juvenile Prison. Even as many states have attempted to alter their adolescent prisons, Bernstein says that incarcerating kids is the wrong strategy to manage most early life wrongdoers. Their detention in those prisons in the future will shape who they are.

(C) Reverse Bill Clinton's cutting funding to 350 college programs in prisons around the country in 1994, as a part of his Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement"> Act, which also imposed draconian measures that included longer jail sentences, expanded financing for prison facilities, put more police in the cities, and honored police with award cash for drug-related arrests that numerous minority groups now see it as a cause for police brutality. (see # 11)

(D) Implement Obama's">Second Chance Pell program to reestablish the federal grant to prisoners looking to enroll in college. A 2013 study by the">Rand Corp, financed by the U.S. Dept of Justice, showed that detainees who got some broad instruction were 43% more averse to re-carry out criminal acts and go back to jail inside of three years than the individuals who didn't get any educating.

(E)">Felony disenfranchisement. Restore">voting rights to former felons. About 6 million American citizens, staggering 1.5 million are in Florida alone, are incapable of voting as a result of a past criminal conviction. Upwards of 4.4 million of these persons live, work, and bring families up in our cities. Every state has its own particular laws on disenfranchisement. While Vermont and Maine permit criminals to vote while in jail, 11 different states permanently limit certain felons from">voting.

These laws, profoundly established in our grieved racial history, have an disproportionate effect on minorities. The nation over, 13 percent of African-American men have lost their entitlement to vote, which is seven times the national normal. (It is believed that nearly 30% of black males in Florida are presently ineligible to vote.)

Defenders of re-enfranchisement say that criminals who have paid their obligation to society by finishing their sentences ought to have the majority of their rights and benefits restored. They contend that efforts to deny ex-criminals from voting are out of line, undemocratic, and politically or racially propelled.

It's time to pass the">Democracy Restoration Act (DRA), bill that has been presented in 2015 in the 114th Congress (H.R.1459) by Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD). It seeks to restore voting rights in federal election to the 4.4 million disenfranchised Americans who have been discharged from jail yet are still denied the right to vote.

11.">Civilian Oversight & Police Accountability">Ta-Nehisi Coates, an author of a new book, titled "Between the World and Me," recently spoke of police misconduct in a way that resonated with a real lived urban life, by saying, "It seems like there's a kind of national conversation going on right now about those who are paid to protect us, who sometimes end up inflicting lethal harm upon us," Coates">said. "But for me, this conversation is old, and I'm sure for many of you the conversation is quite old. It's the cameras that are new. It's not the violence that's new."

Police departments' excessive use of lethal force has become more of a national issue following the highly publicized deaths of">Eric Garner,">Michael Brown,">Sandra Bland, and others, a victimhood that was aided by easily accessible digital technology that has democratized eyewitnesshood. The">Black Lives Matter movement that was the protest message advocated after the exoneration in 2013 of George Zimmerman in the shooting of the unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and the">Mothers Against Police Brutality have effectively brought the protests into">national issue , and is attempting to accomplish social and policy change.

Although numerous urban areas have regular citizen oversight commissions that research cases including improper utilization of power and to consider police responsible and that even the Presidential Task Force on 21st Century Policing">recommends all areas to create oversight procedures to improve police responsibility, such structures are just effective when they have a lawful power, for example, subpoena.

According to Rights Watch/uspohtml/uspo22.htm">Human Rights Watch, most effective review agencies are those who have full authority "to audit police files and reports, and who are able to scrutinize the entire departmental structures, and convince police departments to back more oversight". The most effective citizen boards also have "independence, civilian control, and some role in disciplinary hearings, and have enough public support and engagement to withstand legal challenges and backlash from law enforcement". ("De-militarize Police and settle lawsuits involving police misconduct/ brutality/ murder with Police Union funds instead of taxpayer dollars". (Thanks to NJ Progressive Indie for adding the last comment)

12. War on Terror

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I am an accounting instructor in Iowa. As a progressive, my mentor was the late Sen Paul Wellstone of Minnesota. I worked for him in all his campaigns since 1992 until his death in a plane crash in 2002. In all regards, he was a constant (more...)

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