Top-down urgency for criminal-justice reform

first_imgWith the United States incarcerating people at a higher rate than any other nation on earth, a prison population that is larger than at any time in our history, and vast racial disparities in incarceration rates for African-Americans and whites, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch ’81, J.D. ’84, called criminal-justice reform “a transformative issue of our generation” in a talk Wednesday at Harvard Law School (HLS).The system is not only about litigating cases, but “just as important, how do we prevent people from interacting with the criminal-justice system? How do we stop them from making the mistakes that lead them into our system? And then, when individuals have served their debt to society, how do we make sure that they have a way to go home to their families, to their communities, to become productive citizens?” Lynch said during a conversation with Carol Steiker, the Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law and Special Adviser for Public Service at HLS.Because the United States takes in and releases so many people each year — 600,000 federal inmates and another 1 million from state prisons — Lynch said the DOJ has an “obligation” to care for those in its charge.“All of us in the administration have looked at the issue of the criminal justice system in a larger way than simply prosecutions,” she said, “because so much happens before a case file ever hits your desk.”The granddaughter of a North Carolina sharecropper, Lynch, the first African-American woman attorney general, described how she found her way from a student who thought she would be happy limiting her career to communications law, through two appointments as head of the U.S. Attorney’s office in Brooklyn, N.Y., to her post as the country’s chief law enforcement officer and head of the Department of Justice (DOJ).She urged students to use their time at HLS to explore different areas of law to discover what they are passionate about and consider the many ways they can participate in reform or public service without necessarily pursuing a career as a federal prosecutor.“Sometimes it gets hard to leave the accepted path, particularly when you come from a place like Harvard Law School, because there are people who have expectations of what you should and should not do,” she said. “I remember vividly the night before I started as a federal prosecutor, my dad called me up and said, ‘You know, I bet if you called your law firm, they’d take you back!’”Since being sworn into office in April following a politically contentious five-month delay, Lynch has been the driving force behind a number of high-profile cases involving policing and corruption, including an inquiry into the practices of the Baltimore Police Department following unrest last summer; the global bribery and money-laundering scandal within FIFA, soccer’s top body; and the federal hate-crimes prosecution of Dylann Roof, accused of murdering nine African-Americans in a Charleston, S.C., church in June. Just last month, following revelations around the 2014 death of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager shot 16 times by a white police officer, Lynch initiated a DOJ investigation into whether the Chicago Police Department routinely violates the constitutional and federal rights of citizens.Lynch was in Boston supporting President Obama’s ongoing push to reform the criminal-justice system, an issue he highlighted during the State of the Union address on Tuesday. Before her stop at HLS, Lynch visited the South Bay House of Correction to talk with inmates and staff involved in a trio of innovative re-entry and recidivism programs that help prisoners improve their education, parenting skills, and job prospects.She said many inmates told her the programs’ effectiveness stems largely from the fact that, for the first time, someone is helping them focus on who they are and could be and what they have to offer as parents and as community members.“And when you think about it, all of us, no matter where we’re from … whether we are at Harvard Law School or whether we’re working or whether we in fact may be behind bars, all of us need a helping hand at some time or another. All of us have gotten to where we are because someone saw something in us and gave us that hand and gave us that help,” Lynch said. “And so, to be able to use the resources of the Department of Justice to expand on that and provide support for these programs is tremendously, tremendously gratifying.”So far, there has been “very productive” discussion on Capitol Hill around several pending bills that largely limit or further reduce mandatory minimum sentences, as well as efforts to make retroactive many of the recent changes to narcotic sentencing guidelines, Lynch said. She also cited state-run reform initiatives that appear to be reducing violent crime and cutting prison costs.Despite the increased political rancor between Congress and the Obama administration over the past year, Lynch said strong bipartisan support for reform in Washington “still exists” and that she’s “very hopeful” Congress will move forward on some measures this spring.last_img read more

Indiana Lt. Governor, ag leaders talk NAFTA

first_imgIndianapolis, In. — Americans for Farmers & Families met with key Indiana agriculture leaders at a roundtable event to discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the positive impact it has had on the state’s economy and the importance of strengthening the deal. Those in attendance included Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, State Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler, Amy Cornell of the Agribusiness Council of Indiana, Mike Beard of the Indiana Corn Growers Association, Angie Steinbarger of the Indiana Soybean Alliance, among others. The discussion comes after the Trump Administration’s announcement to impose increased tariffs on steel and aluminum.Lt. Governor Crouch helped lead the discussion, stating “NAFTA is important to Indiana’s agricultural industry, so we want to make sure attempts to modernize NAFTA are done so in a way that continues to benefit Indiana farmers, workers, and businesses”. Both the agricultural and manufacturing communities at the roundtable shared further comments in support of NAFTA, with Shannon Kiely-Heider from Cummins, Inc. stating “No agreement is more important to Cummins than NAFTA”.The food and agriculture sector raises a significant source of income for Indiana’s residents. In 2016, $1.4 billion worth of food and agriculture products were exported, with $573 million going to Canada and Mexico. Indiana’s food and agriculture sectors support over 870,000 jobs and $37 billion in wages. Closing access to these foreign markets will reduce a major source of income for the Hoosier state.Americans for Farmers & Families is a broad-based coalition of over 100 growers, refiners, producers, transporters, retailers and consumers working to ensure President Trump and Congressional leaders understand the importance of preserving and modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to America’s agricultural and retail economies.last_img read more

It’s all about Mee at Chelsea

first_img Branislav Ivanovic was booked during the same flashpoint for attempting to prevent Atkinson withdrawing the red card from his pocket. Chelsea had been coasting until Matic’s dismissal with Ivanovic firing them into a 14th minute lead, but the melee sparked a revival from Burnley who saw Barnes go close before Ben Mee headed in the equaliser. The eventful final 21 minutes at Stamford Bridge concluded a miserable week for the Blues, who have been desperate to repair the damage caused when footage emerged of a small group of their fans racially abusing a black man on the Paris Metro on Tuesday night. Once again they expressed their anger after a commuter was prevented from boarding a train amid chants of ”we’re racist, we’re racist and that’s the way we like it”. John Terry used his captain’s notes in the matchday programme for Chelsea’s annual ‘Game for Equality’ to describe the incident as “unacceptable”, while chairman Bruce Buck admitted the event had placed the club at a “crossroads” in their fight to stamp out discrimination. Another potential storm looms on the horizon, however, after police confirmed on Saturday morning they are seeking a gang of men – believed to be Chelsea fans – who were heard shouting racist chants at London St Pancras on Wednesday night. It was against this backdrop that the Premier League leaders met relegation-threatened Burnley and the relief from controversy they sought appeared imminent as they poured forward in search of a second, but it was the visitors who finished the stronger team. The match had barely started when Juan Cuadrado looped a header that keeper Tom Heaton parried to safety with his fingertips, but by the 14th minute Chelsea were ahead. Matic was shown a straight red card by referee Martin Atkinson for pushing over Ashley Barnes after taking exception to a nasty one-footed lunge from the forward. John Terry and Kurt Zouma restrained Matic as he seethed at the tackle, before the Serbian eventually left the pitch knowing he now faces a three-match ban for violent conduct. Chelsea’s troubled week ended in further controversy when Nemanja Matic was sent off as Burnley plundered a late 1-1 Barclays Premier League draw at Stamford Bridge. Burnley’s defence was caught dithering and Eden Hazard capitalised, weaving a seemingly impossible path to the byline before pulling back to Ivanovic who drilled the ball home from close range. The sublime interchange that followed moments later between Hazard, Diego Costa and Oscar was worthy of a second, but they were guilty of over-elaboration when the trigger needed to be pulled. Ivanovic had a penalty appeal for handball rejected by referee Atkinson and apart from a smart save by Thibaut Courtois, it largely remained one way traffic. Atkinson had a bigger call to make on the stroke of half-time when Jason Shackell appeared to push Costa over, but the official waved play on and was met with jeers from home fans. Stood in the technical area, an incredulous Mourinho shook his head with his face breaking out into a wry smile. Barnes tried his luck from long range with a dipping shot and would have been successful but for the reflexes of Courtois. Chelsea were quickly back on to the offensive, Oscar playing a beautiful ball through to Costa who ghosted into a strong position only for his shot to lack power, enabling Heaton to deny the Spaniard. The Blues were pushing hard for a second as Costa almost connected with a fine cross by Ivanovic before scrambling defence stopped another attack at the crucial moment. Matic was dismissed and Barnes almost beat Courtois, before Burnley plundered the equaliser when Ben Mee leaped high between two defenders to nod home at the far post. Press Associationlast_img read more