California Bar Foundation's curated briefing on what's driving the social justice conversation
in California and across the country.
California Bar Foundation's curated briefing on what's driving the social justice conversation
in California and across the country.
TOP NEWS Civil Rights lawyer and Black Lives Matter activist wins DA race in Philadelphia.
Civil rights attorney Larry Krasner once joked that he was “completely unelectable.” But on Tuesday, he blew those expectations away: Despite opposition from much of the local criminal justice establishment, he won the race for Philadelphia’s district attorney.
The victory is a big deal not just because Krasner is a very progressive attorney that will shape local policy. It also signifies the exact kind of action that voters will have to take in the next few years and decades if they want to unravel mass incarceration.
The other candidates in the primary race ran on relatively progressive platforms, but Krasner had the strongest progressive record on criminal justice issues. He has sued law enforcement and government agencies more than 75 times, and he had worked for Black Lives Matter, Occupy Philly, and protesters at the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.
It’s exactly these types of elections that will decide the future of incarceration. While much media attention has gone to reforming the federal system, the great majority of incarceration occurs at the local and state level: The latest data by the US Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that about 87 percent of US inmates are held in state prisons.
Local prosecutors are very powerful in these systems. They effectively decide who goes to prison and who doesn’t, and how long someone will go to prison for — by unilaterally choosing what charges to bring against anyone.
John Pfaff, a criminal justice expert at Fordham University, has found evidence that prosecutors have been the key drivers of mass incarceration in the past couple of decades. Analyzing data from state judiciaries, he compared the number of crimes, arrests, and prosecutions from 1994 to 2008. He found that reported violent and property crime fell, and arrests for almost all crimes also fell. But one thing went up: the number of felony cases filed in court.
Prosecutors were filing more charges even as crime and arrests dropped, throwing more people into the prison system. Prosecutors were driving mass incarceration.
Criminal justice reform, then, is going to fall almost wholly to cities and states. That’s why Krasner’s victory is such a big deal: In the age of Trump, it shows criminal justice reform still has a lot of room for victory where these kinds of wins can matter most.
Article by Vox. Read More Here>>>
Speaking of… Prosecutor apologizes to man he locked up 40 years ago at age 15
Gerald Dugan tried to remain calm as the elevator doors opened and the man at the center of a case that’s haunted him for 40 years stepped into his 14th-floor law office.
Kevin Brinkley — who came home on parole last week after four decades in prison — was there at Dugan’s invitation. Brinkley was just 15 in 1977 when he was charged with the murder of Charles Haag, an egg deliveryman, in North Philadelphia. Years ago, when Dugan was an assistant district attorney, the Brinkley family had come forward insisting that Kevin’s brother Ronald was the one who committed the crime.
Dugan has come to believe they’re likely telling the truth. He wanted to ask Kevin in person for his forgiveness.
“You never saw a sunrise; you never saw a sunset,” Dugan told him. “You never drove a car. You never fell in love with somebody. You never had any of the things that all of us take for granted. And I want you to know I am responsible for that — because I told the jury what they should do, and they did it.”
Kevin Brinkley said he did not hate Dugan. He accepted his apology.
“My being angry ain’t going to change the fact that I did 40 years,” he said.
Nor does Dugan’s remorse change the fact that Brinkley has not been exonerated, and the District Attorney’s Office has not taken up his case for review. Brinkley was released only because a U.S. Supreme Court decision found automatic life-without-parole sentences for juveniles to be unconstitutional, leading to the resentencing of more than 300 men and women from Philadelphia serving life sentences since they were teens.
He said the meeting with Dugan provided some measure of relief. Dugan urged him to ask for help whenever he might need it; if he could help him find work, for instance, he said, he would try.
The phrase that’s been knocking around in his head lately, Dugan said, is, “Justice delayed, justice denied.” He’s been hearing a lot from colleagues and strangers since he came forward in the case.
“I got an anonymous note that said, ‘What took you so long?’ That’s one that I’ll never forget.”
Article by Philly.com. Read More Here>>
Perspective Prisoners risked their lives fighting CA wildfires. They shouldn’t be shut out of the profession.
The following is an editorial by staff at Root & Rebound. We’re proud to fund and support R&R’s critical, life-changing legal work.
As some of the deadliest wildfires in California’s history scorched much of the state's northern territory last month, the nation was confronted with photos, videos and stories of devastation. Those of us in Northern California breathed in the smoke.
While most Americans praise the bravery of the incredible firefighters on the front lines, they likely don't know that up to 35% of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's employees are state prisoners, and they are risking their lives and well being for $1 an hour.
Not only is it shocking that the men and women in our state prisons are paid pittance to do lifesaving work, even more alarming is that these same men and women are largely prevented from becoming firefighters, emergency medical technicians or any other emergency services professional after they are released.
In the extremely rare circumstances when a previously-incarcerated person trained as a firefighter can find a job, options for advancement are severely limited. Peace officer positions, such as fire marshals, bar nearly all applicants with a felony conviction, regardless of whether that conviction relates to the job.
Across the country, people re-entering society from prison and jail face more than 48,000 barriers to successful reintegration. How can we expect them to succeed when our system structurally locks them out of opportunity?
In essence, we have designed a system that does the exact opposite of what makes moral and economic sense: Our world pushes people with criminal records, who are disproportionately poor and people of color, out of the legal job market right back into prisons and jails. It is no wonder we have a recidivism rate that hovers around 70% in this country.I think it all boils down to not allowing intersectionality to be an afterthought. When we think about how #MeToo was reignited, and there was no initial discussion on the creator, Tarana Burke, part of privilege is assuming that you're the first one to ever do or say something, or make a campaign out of something. That's why it's important to acknowledge history, and not just assume, if no one else is gonna do it, I'm gonna do it. Well, no, girl — it's just no one else had the same social position that you did when they were trying to lift up these conversations.
Katherine Katcher is the founder and executive director of Root & Rebound, an organization that works to support men, women and families impacted by incarceration. Sonja Tonnesen the group's deputy director of programs, and Neeraj Kumar is a legal fellow for the organization.
Editorial published by USA Today. Read More Here>>
Let Them Lead Women of color have high ambitions, but little help
When Alissa Johnson, one of Xerox ’s most senior minority female executives, mentors women of color, she tells them to forget their comfort zone. With a shortage of female executives—especially in technology roles—she is often the only minority and the only woman in meetings.
When it comes to corporate ambition, women of color are far more likely than white women to say they aspire to a top executive role, according to a new study from LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co., which surveyed 70,000 women and men in North America. Yet black, Latina and Asian women still hold only 3% of C-suite roles, compared with 16.7% of entry-level roles, the study found.
Black women are most likely to say they don’t have interactions with top bosses, and only 23% say managers help them navigate organizational politics, compared with 36% of white women, according to the data. Those figures have remained largely unchanged in the past three years.
One reason for these struggles is blind spots at the management level, says John Rice, founder of Management Leadership for Tomorrow, a nonprofit focused on increasing diversity at the top of the business world.
Some managers don’t realize that minority women often face extra hurdles to succeed, he says. And women of color moving up the ladder generally don’t have the same informal networks as white male counterparts who may meet for a round of golf or a drink after a long day at the office, Mr. Rice says.
Noopur Davis, chief product and information security officer at Comcast , CMCSA -0.12% has met with fellow executives to find ways that male colleagues can take a “collaborator role” in championing women in tech, she says.
That kind of support can help executive women of color with another challenge: They also may be perceived as less competent in their primary roles because of the perceived time commitment of the “second shift” they take on when advocating for diversity, says Joelle Emerson, a San Francisco consultant for diversity and inclusion programs. “The burden shouldn’t be on women of color in leadership roles to be the only ones having this conversation,” she says.
Article by Wall Street Journal. Read More Here>>>
More of This General counsels are the new social justice advocates
The role of general counsel has evolved to the point now where they have “the access, influence, power and resources” to advance social justice causes, Kim Rivera, chief legal officer and general counsel of HP Inc., said Friday at a Harvard Law School bicentennial event.
But that wasn’t always the case.
“When I was in law school, if you cared about social justice and equality, general counsel was not the role or place you thought to go, said Rivera, a 1994 Harvard law graduate. “That has changed because general counsels are at the intersection of these issues.”
Many major U.S. companies—through their general counsels and HR chiefs—have joined together to press challenges to the Trump administration’s immigration policies, for instance, and others are urging the U.S. Supreme Court to adopt broad protections for LGBT employees in the workplace.
HP made headlines this year when the company said it withholds invoiced fees from firms that do not meet certain diversity requirements.
Rivera said her company had a specific set of plans for creating the most diverse board in technology. Today it has almost 50 percent women and minorities “and sacrificed nothing.” When she began as general counsel, she asked her team how to continue diversity not only in tech but in the legal profession. The team, she said, told her to put a “financial stake in the ground.”
“I sent a letter to firms on why diversity and inclusion matters to us,” she recalled. “I said, ‘If you want to work with us, this is the condition. Give us partners and teams staffed with women and minorities and if you don’t, we’ll withhold 10 percent of your fees until you comply.’ We didn’t lose anybody.”
Article by National Law Journal. Read More Here>>
Less of This Bullying on the rise for Muslim & LGBTQ students
The following survey was conducted by The Council on American-Islamic Relations of California. We’re proud to fund CAIR’s important legal work to protect Muslim communities from hate and discrimination.
One survey recently released by an Islamic civil-rights group, showed that bullying of Muslim students in California rose significantly in 2016-’17, from two years earlier.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations-California, which surveyed 1,041 public- and private-school students, blamed the surge in student-reported assault and harassment on Islamophobic rhetoric that bloomed in the 2016 national presidential campaign.
The CAIR survey found that 19 percent reported being harassed or harmed at school for being Muslim, a rise of 10 percentage points from the previous survey in 2014, and 26 percent said they were harassed online. In addition, 53 percent reported anti-Muslim bullying at their school.
“The change is not surprising,” said Zahra Billoo, executive director of CAIR San Francisco Bay Area “If we consider the overall rise in hate rhetoric around the election, as well as in reported hate crimes, it absolutely is not surprising.”
Reported abuse came not only from peers. In the survey, 38 percent reported that they’ve heard adults at school making offensive comments about Islam, an increase from 20 percent in 2016.
“Last month a kid called me a terrorist. And another kid called my parents refugees. I was called the N-word multiple times,” one child reported.
Another said, “They say that Trump is going to kick us terrorists out because all we do is ‘bomb.’”
Article by Mercury News. Read More Here>>>
Watch This Warrior’s Steve Kerr stand with the LGBTQ community
Free Event MBC Unity Awards
We will be honoring members who have shown dedication to working in a unified manner to advance the cause of diversity in the legal profession.
Tuesday, November 14 at UC Hastings. Register here >>>
Fellowship Opportunity MTO looking for diverse 2017 fellows
This program is an important initiative designed to encourage, promote and support a community of individuals who contribute to the diversity of the legal profession. The program is intended for individuals seeking to start law school in Fall 2019 (college juniors or seniors as of Spring 2018, or individuals who have already graduated).
More info here >>>
Fellowship Opportunity Trial Advocacy Fellow at San Francisco Lawyers Trial Association
The Fellowship Program (the “Program”) will allow selected students to observe the work of trial attorneys as part of a summer-long mentoring program. Fellows will gain exposure to the work of trial attorneys by “shadowing” three mentor law firms, each for a three to four week period.
More info here >>>
Job Opportunity ACLU of Southern California hiring LGBTQ, Gender & Reproductive Justice Attorney
The ACLU SoCal's LGBTQ, Gender & Reproductive Justice Project protects and expands the rights of women and girls, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ), non-binary, and gender nonconforming people, pregnant and parenting workers, and people living with HIV; and we ensure people can make informed, confidential and attainable decisions about childbearing and reproductive and sexual health care.
More info here >>
Job Opportunity Legal Aid of Sonoma hiring Elder Law Attorney
The ELA will be based at LASC’s Santa Rosa office but will primarily provide mobile legal services at outreach sites and senior centers in outlying areas of the county, and via scheduled in-home visits to serve clients with limited mobility or transportation issues.
Send cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org