How will America, which espouses the virtues of forgiveness and freedom, successfully deal with the thousands of people who leave its prisons every year? As the nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world, the United States has a unique responsibility to chart a different, more humane course towards incarceration. Fifty years after the historic March on Washington helped usher the end of legally sanctioned discrimination, the formerly incarcerated remain stripped of basic rights. In many states they can’t vote, live in public housing or receive public assistance. And so they end up recycled in and out of some of America’s most deplorable institutions.
In the same way that Mississippi or Alabama were vital battlefronts in the struggle for civil rights a half century ago, California, with the country’s largest prison population, is ground zero for what many see as the major social and political issue of today. Like other states in the 1980s and 1990s,
In recent weeks Republican state legislators have decided to thwart the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in “Roe v. Wade,” which gave women the right to have an abortion until the fetus is viable outside the womb, usually around 24 weeks into pregnancy.
Legislators in North Dakota passed a bill banning abortions after six weeks or after a fetal heart beat had been detected, and approved a fall referendum that would ban all abortions by defining human life as beginning with conception. Lawmakers in Arkansas have banned abortions within twelve weeks of conception.
The morality brigade worries about fetuses, but not what happens to children after they’re born. They and other conservatives have been cutting funding for child nutrition, healthcare for infants and their mothers, and schools.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A stitch in time saves nine. One dollar spent on contraception saves three on pregnancy and newborn care, and that is just the beginning.
Nationally, we spend 11 billion taxpayer dollars a year on unintended pregnancies. But who’s counting? Automatic cuts built into the sequester slashed $86 million from family planning and reproductive health care for poor women. But that is not enough for Congressional Republicans, who are trying yet again to roll back the contraceptive mandate. If there ever was an indication that they are more interested in ideology than balanced budgets, this is it.
Research published this fall showed that effective, affordable, accessible contraception dramatically drops the rate of unintended pregnancy and related public health costs. In the study, whose co-author explained that it was essentially designed to mimic what Obamacare would have provided,
The California Dream Act went into effect on Jan. 1, allowing thousands of immigrant students a chance for the first time to apply for state financial aid to help pay tuition at state colleges and universities.
Within hours of going live, the online application system was overwhelmed by applicants and shut down.
“It was the first time the California Dream Act was implemented and we had some bugs,” said Patti Colston, a spokeswoman for the California Student Aid Commission.
“As soon as we found out, we contacted and notified students. To make sure their privacy was protected, we asked about 1,000 students to resubmit their applications,” she said, adding that no applications were lost.
By the March 2 deadline, 20,000 applications were received, said Colston. So far, 3,600 financial awards have been made to Dream Act-eligible students, averaging about $4,000 each. Applications are still being processed.
Janice Slaughter often takes her 19-month-old granddaughter to the Tiny Tots child care center in Jackson, Mississippi, or picks her up in the afternoon so that her daughter, the baby’s mother, can attend school.
Slaughter brought her own children to the same center when they were babies and has known the owner for years.
But, soon, she and her daughter, who receives a federally funded child care subsidy administered by the state, will be required to scan their fingers on a device at Tiny Tots whenever they bring in the baby or pick her up. Everyone else will just walk right in and out.
Susan Williams scans her finger when she picks her daughter up from child care in Jackson, Mississippi. “I don’t mind it, but I really don’t see the point in it, I don’t understand why it’s necessary,” she said. “You have to stand in line and wait for it.”