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Add reforming the country’s criminal justice system to the list of things that make strange bedfellows.

In an announcement expected today, the Center for American Progress and Koch Industries — arch enemies in the political arena — will disclose their backing of the newly-formed Coalition for Public Safety, an organization designed to launch “a multimillion-dollar campaign on behalf of emerging proposals to reduce prison populations, overhaul sentencing, reduce recidivism and take on similar initiatives,” according to the New York Times.

Others getting behind the coalition include the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for Tax Reform, the Tea Party-oriented FreedomWorks, the Faith and Freedom Coalition, and the Leadership Conference Education Fund.

The coalition starts out with $5 million in funding from Koch Industries,  the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Ford Foundation and the John D. and Catherine MacArthur Foundation, which it will use to jump start the work it describes on its website:

The Coalition will work across the political spectrum to pursue a comprehensive set of federal, state, and local criminal justice reforms to reduce our jail and prison populations and associated costs; end the systemic problems of overcriminalization and overincarceration — particularly of low-income communities and communities of color; ensure swift and fair outcomes for both the accused and the victim; and make communities safe by reducing recidivism and breaking down barriers faced by those returning home after detention or incarceration.

As described in the Times, the coalition’s goal is “to leverage the broad reach of the group’s partners and financial backers to build public support for overhaul efforts through research and education campaigns, among other initiatives. The ideological spread should also allow them to reach out credibly to lawmakers of both parties.”

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Michele Jawando, Vice President of the Legal Progress project at the D.C.-based Center for American Progress, faxed a letter to the North Carolina State Board of Elections this afternoon voicing concern over “barriers to voting that need to be immediately addressed.” This is from the letter:

Today, however, there is evidence of barriers to voting in North Carolina that need to be immediately addressed. For example, there are reports that voting machines in Guilford County have registered incorrect votes; polling places in predominantly African American neighborhoods have been down; a polling place near Bennett College, a historically black college, having incorrect voter rolls; and another polling place missing essential thumb drives. Finally, around the Charlotte metropolitan area, voters have been confused about their precinct location. This is particularly troubling, as this is the first election that voters will not be permitted to cast provisional ballots in an incorrect precinct.

These examples of failed vote tabulation, incorrect voter rolls, and precinct confusion make it clear that voters in North Carolina are not freely able to exercise this most cherished right. We call upon the state board of elections to investigate and address these issues immediately to ensure that North Carolinians can exercise their legal right to vote.

Read the entire letter by clicking here.

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Ian MillhiserIt looks like we’ll have a sizable crowd, but some seats still remain for Thursday’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation luncheon: The State of the U.S. Supreme Court with Ian Millhiser of the Center for American Progress.

Millhiser is the Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst for the Center for American Progress and the Justice Editor for the Center for American Progress Action Fund. His work focuses on the Constitution and the judiciary. Ian previously was a Policy Analyst and Blogger for ThinkProgress, held the open government portfolio for CAP’s Doing What Works project, and was a Legal Research Analyst with ThinkProgress during the nomination and confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from this knowledgeable and important voice at this critical time.

When: Thursday, August 21, at noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: *(NOTE—NEW LOCATION)* The North Carolina Association of Educators Building, 700 S. Salisbury St. in Raleigh. This location features on-site parking.

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch.

Click here to register

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com

– See more at: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2014/08/11/crucial-conversation-the-state-of-the-u-s-supreme-court-with-ian-millhiser-of-the-center-for-american-progress/#sthash.TdgPmivj.dpuf
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Ian MillhiserSeats are going fast for next week’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation – “The state of the U.S. Supreme Court with Ian Millhiser of the Center for American Progress.”

Where do things stand in the after math of the disastrous Hobby Lobby decision? What’s is on the Supreme Court docket for the fall? What can progressives do help repopulate the courts with fair and qualified judges?

Join us as we pose these questions and others to Ian Millhiser. Millhiser is the Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst for the Center for American Progress and the Justice Editor for the Center for American Progress Action Fund. His work focuses on the Constitution and the judiciary. Ian previously was a Policy Analyst and Blogger for ThinkProgress, held the open government portfolio for CAP’s Doing What Works project, and was a Legal Research Analyst with ThinkProgress during the nomination and confirmation of Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the United States Supreme Court.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hear from this knowledgeable and important voice at this important time.

Click here to register

When: Thursday, August 21 at 12 noon – Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: *(NOTE—NEW LOCATION)* The North Carolina Association of Educators Building, 700 S. Salisbury St. in Raleigh. This location features on-site parking.

Cost: $10

Admission includes a box lunch.

Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com.

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Senator Richard Burr’s secret filibuster of U.S. District Court nominee Jennifer May-Parker  for North Carolina’s Eastern District is not the only judicial obstructionism going on in the U.S. Senate. Republican senators have also been blockading President Obama’s nominees to the nation’s second most important court — the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit — as well.

As Ian Millhiser explained in a post this morning at Think Progress entitled “Get Ready for the Filibuster Wars to Resume This Week in the Senate” the blockade is back on the front burner:

“Last July, Senate Democrats backed off their plan to invoke the so-called “nuclear option” and abolish the filibuster on executive branch nominees — but only after their Republican counterparts caved and agreed to fill seven key government jobs they previously held open with filibusters. Since then, the two parties have maintained an uneasy détente in the confirmation wars. A small group of Republicans supplied the exact minimum number of votes required to break a filibuster on Secretary of Labor Tom Perez’s nomination, for example, even though many Republicans bitterly object to the steps Perez took to fight housing discrimination and to protect the right to vote.

That détente is likely to break down as soon as this week, however. Read More