I recently conducted a training for a group of incarcerated women which outlined what to do if you’re stopped by the police. As we discussed how to file a complaint if treated unfairly by an officer, one woman declared, “No one believes a felon.”
The other women in the room nodded their heads in affirmation.
Many would like to quickly move forward now that a grand jury has decided not to indict the Cleveland police officers involved in the tragic death of Tamir Rice, the 12 year old child who was shot in less than one second while playing in a park.
To vote in the United States, you must be a citizen and 18 years or older. However, in some states citizens are stripped of their right to vote permanently. Luckily, Ohio is not one of those states.
Who are these citizens robbed of their right to participate in democracy?
I recently joined a delegation from the Women of Color Foundation for its first annual Leadership Symposium-Prison Outreach Initiative to participate in a daylong conference with about 250 incarcerated women at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville.
In a large assembly-style room, we were greeted with a beautiful banner and mural that was painted by some resident artists.
Many states impose lifetime voting bans or restrict voting for people who are on parole, probation, or unable to pay court-related fines. The good news is that Ohio is not one of those states, but more on that later.
Now the Bad News
There’s a great deal of voter confusion and misinformation.
This school year, all of Ohio’s public school children now have the same rights and protections when it comes to the use of seclusion and restraints. It’s been three years in the making.
In August 2012, The Columbus Dispatch and StateImpact Ohio, a collaborative of Ohio NPR stations WCPN, WKSU, and WOSU, launched, “Locked Away,” an investigation into restraint and seclusion practices in Ohio schools.
Recently, the oldest judicial membership organization in the country joined other professional juvenile and social justice groups in calling for an end to the automatic shackling of youth in juvenile court.
The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges recently affirmed what many advocates have been saying for years that the automatic use of restraints in juvenile court should stop.
Photo by Raymond Wambsgans through Flickr Creative Commons.
Last month, President Obama took a preliminary step to curb decades of militarized policing in America.
The call for change, however, began a year ago.
Raising the Alarm
The ACLU issued “War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing” in June 2014.
I am a Caribbean woman by way of the Dominican Republic. I wear my hair in a natural, curly afro.
I also work for the ACLU of Ohio. Often, I find myself on the receiving end of the racial profiling that I work to end, and air travel is a good example.
In this country money and votes matter. These two factors determine whether or not the people elected to represent us will listen to us. We may or may not have the money to be heard but many of us do have the right to vote and that scares some people.
This is the fifth in a series of posts on the topic of juvenile shackling.
The automatic shackling or use of restraints on youth in juvenile court does not promote safety. Instead, it actually promotes humiliation, hurts children’s mental and emotional stability, and fails to teach youth the concept of respect.
Imagine that your child is hundreds of miles away and having to ignore their phone calls because you can’t afford to pay the bill. Imagine not being able to wish your father or mother a happy birthday. Imagine not being able to give your condolences following the death of a cousin.
This is the fourth in a series of posts on the topic of juvenile shackling.
More often than not, progress happens in steps. That was certainly true of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) evolving policy on juvenile justice.
In 2014, the ABA passed a resolution urging the “development of trauma-informed, evidence-based approaches and practices on behalf of justice system involved children and youth who have been exposed to violence, including child abuse and neglect or other crimes and those subject to delinquency or status offence proceedings.”
The resolution also noted that, “Some routine juvenile justice practices, such as solitary confinement, isolation, and restraint, can further traumatize youth and cause them additional harm.”
Read What is Shackling?
Should you spend life in prison for something you did as a teenager?
That is the question that was put before the Ohio Supreme Court last Wednesday in Moore v. State of Ohio.
In Mahoning County in 2002, Brandon Moore was tried and convicted as an adult for armed kidnapping, robbery and gang rape.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Photograph courtesy of Rachel Woods
How much do we as a society value the lives and experiences of black women and girls?
On November 13, 2014, Tanisha Anderson was experiencing a medical crisis. Her family did what any caring family would do—they called 911 for help.
The cost of poor policing is difficult to quantify. Some costs can be measured in dollars, but other costs—loss of trust, life, or missed opportunities—are too great to measure.
Loss of Public Dollars
A recent investigative report found that Cleveland taxpayers have paid a minimum of $10.5 million between 2004 and 2014 related to police misconduct settlements.
It happened in a blink of an eye.
On November 22, 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot immediately after Cleveland Police officers pulled up to him at Cudell Recreation Center. Tamir’s is the most recent in a series of deaths caused by Cleveland police.
Update – 12/17/2014: Ohio Senate Bill 266 was amended to House Bill 178 and passed unanimously, extending the seclusion and restraint provisions of rule 3301-35-15 to public charter schools.
Last month the Ohio Department of Education released its first analysis of the use of restraint and seclusion in Ohio schools.
Like many of our nation’s cities, we find Cleveland a teeming cauldron of hostility. The citizens of the Negro community reflect the alienation of the total community, which has constantly ignored their cries for justice and opportunity and responded to their joblessness, poor housing and economic exploitation with crude methods of police repression rather than compassion and creative programming.
Imagine what would happen if people of different walks of life decided that they were done with the insanity of mass incarceration and the War on Drugs. Imagine if people proclaimed that they were tired of:
» Criminalizing people unnecessarily.
» Tough on crime laws that do nothing to improve safety.
The United States is the world’s largest jailer. With only 5 percent of the population, it has 25 percent of the world’s prison population.
In 1926, following a mandate from Congress, the National Prisoners Statistics Program began collecting demographic data voluntarily provided by states about people detained in jails, state, federal, and private prisons in the United States.
This is the third in a series of posts on the topic of juvenile shackling.
This is Nate P. and I’m writing you this letter to let you know that cuffs and shackles make me feel like a criminal, not a “juvenile delinquent.” Shackles hurt and embarrass me most of the time.
This is the second in a series of posts on the topic of juvenile shackling.
“I have worn physical restraints while in the court room and meeting with my attorney. It doesn’t make you feel like anybody really cares about you and you are being treated like an animal.
“The United States will never be able to prosecute or incarcerate its way to being a safer nation,” said last week U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, at a conference held by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.
“We are only 14 years old. We aren’t thinking about lawyers,” a teen declared in the middle of a presentation I was giving at his high school.
The topic of the presentation is based on the ACLU of Ohio’s publication What To Do If You’re Stopped By the Police.
I often refer to Ohio as a “felon factory.” I came up with the term a few years ago to convey how mass incarceration and criminalization has replaced manufacturing as an industry in the Buckeye State.
Ohio, once a major industrial powerhouse, is now among the top 10 prison states in the country.
This is the first in a series of posts on the topic of juvenile shackling.
‘Shackling has made me feel like an animal, and it makes me feel like I can’t express myself. It is a distraction to me because rather than focusing on what I have to say, I’m focused on what other people are thinking of me, and on avoiding body movements that are painful and uncomfortable because of the shackles.
This is the eighth in a series of posts focusing on issues we will be tackling at the 2014 ACLU of Ohio biennial conference, Resist. Reclaim. Restore Your Rights!
We have all heard the saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ I would like to add, ‘It takes a village to fail a child.’
As a society, we are very quick to take credit for any contribution we have made in the life of a successful young person.
The term ‘adultification’ refers to the tough on kids, scare them straight mentality that has pervaded the juvenile justice system for decades, resulting in children getting adult penalties via mandatory minimums and sentencing enhancements.
The juvenile justice system is now beginning to see the error in its ways.