Adult Sunday School Class

Adult Sunday School Class
Congregational Church of Austin
United Church of Christ
2017-2018
10:00 AM Sunday Mornings
Location: Upstairs in Education Wing

Featured Subject: November 11, 2018
“Election and Its Impact on Social Reforms”

Poverty Links:

A. Poverty in America
B. Anti-Poverty Programs 

 

September 9, 2018-Poverty in America

In March 3, 2014, as Chairman of the Budget Committee of the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan released his “The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later” report, asserting that some of 92 federal programs designed to help lower-income Americans have not provided the relief intended and that there is little evidence that these efforts have been successful. At the core of the report are recommendations to enact cuts to welfare, child care, college Pell grants and several other federal assistance programs. In the appendix titled “Measures of Poverty”, when the poverty rate is measured by including non-cash assistance from food stamps, housing aid and other federal programs, the report states that these measurements have “implications for both conservatives and liberals. For conservatives, this suggests that federal programs have actually decreased poverty. For liberals, it lessens the supposed need to expand existing programs or to create new ones.” Several economists and social scientists whose work had been referenced in the report said that Ryan either misunderstood or misrepresented their research. It is clear to most today that the promise that tax policies and financial policy, while providing a growing economy since the 1960s, the promise that the “rising water will lift all boats has not happened.” As the links above reveal and the daily news reports state: poverty, homelessness, starvation and financially struggling lower and middlle class are serious problems in our society and are growing with little indication of any relief.


Previous Sunday School Topics of Study:

Reforming the Justice System (November 12, 2017–September 2, 2018)

 

The recent presidential election, tweets by the President, presidential appointments, actions by the administration and racially motivated events around the country have generated a national dialogue on race relations. The CCA Adult Sunday School Class, wishing to be a constructive participant in this dialogue, has initiated a program of study to inform its members of the many problems of race relations in America today. The program is an outgrowth of a study of the concept of “Civil Religion” initiated by Ruth Koenig. During the course of this study, several topics kept rising to the top: police treatment of minorities, mass incareration, disparities in the administration of justice, particularly drug related crimes. The class wished to know more about these problems and efforts to address them. The members are seeking ways that the church and its members can promote reform of our justice system.

Those who have or are participating are Dave and Sara Ross, Whit Bodman, John Moore, Dennis and Nodie Murphy. Cathy Hubbs, Mel and Pat Oakes, Bill and Joan Mueller, Joy Penticuff, Barbara Watson (deceased), Caroline Tucker. Abigail Lundberg and Rene Slataper. The class welcomes others who would like to join the discusssion.

An introduction to the problem of mass incarceration was provided by the book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. The book, recommended by previous church member, Beth Oakes, was written by Michelle Alexander (at right), a longtime civil rights advocate and litigator, winner of a 2005 Soros Justice Fellowship and holder of a joint appointment at the Moritz College of Law and the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University. Alexander served for several years as the director of the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU of Northern California, which spearheaded the national campaign against racial profiling. At the beginning of her career she served as a law clerk on the United States Supreme Court for Justice Harry Blackmun. She lives outside Columbus, Ohio.

This book provided a powerful and detailed indictment of the “War on Drugs.” Here is a quote from the many positive reviews of this book, “Michelle Alexander’s brave and bold new book paints a haunting picture in which dreary felon garb, post-prison joblessness, and loss of voting rights now do the stigmatizing work once done by colored-only water fountains and legally segregated schools. With dazzling candor, Alexander argues that we all pay the cost of the new Jim Crow.“
—Lani Guinier, professor at Harvard Law School and author of Lift Every Voice: Turning a Civil Rights Setback into a New Vision of Social Justice and The Miner’s Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy

Following the completion of the book, the class wished to learn what justice reforms are being recommended and what groups are actively seeking those reforms. John Moore, a church member, recommended a study, Reforming Criminal Justice a four-volume report meant to enlighten reform efforts in the United States with the research and analysis of leading academics, judges, etc. Broken down into individual chapters—each authored by a top scholar in the relevant field—the report covers dozens of topics within the areas of criminalization, policing, pretrial and trial processes, punishment, incarceration, and release. The chapters seek to enhance both professional and public understanding of the subject matter, to facilitate an appreciation of the relevant scholarly literature and the need for reform, and to offer potential solutions. The ultimate goal is to increase the likelihood of success when worthwhile reforms are debated, put to a vote or otherwise considered for action, and implemented in the criminal justice system.

The Sunday School Class has decided to undertake a study of a number of the articles presented in this report. While the articles are written by scholars, each has made an attempt to avoid legal jargon and to focus on the larger issues.

Links to each of the four volumes are included here.

Volume !: Introduction and Criminalization

Volume 2: Policing

Volume 3: Pretrial and Trial Processes

Volume 4: Punishment, Incarceration and Release

Each week the class will read a selected article for discussion. This web site will announce the article and provide a link.

Schedule:

November 12, 2017: Mass Incarceration by Todd R. Clear and James Austin, 20 pages

This chapter addresses a fundamental challenge for criminal justice reform in America: mass incarceration. Using the framework of the “Iron Law of Prison Populations,” we show that the most commonly proposed strategies have limited capacity to make major reductions in the number of people in prison. Diversion strategies are unlikely to target people who would have served much prison time, anyway. Early release for people convicted of less serious crimes likewise misses those who use the greatest number of prison cells. Strategies designed to reduce recidivism rates do not have the proven power to reduce numbers on a large scale. In short, meaningful reductions in prison populations cannot happen without substantial reductions in prison time served for people convicted of violent crimes. Evidence suggests that a prison-population reduction program that includes shorter prison stays for people convicted of violent crimes can be done without endangering public safety.

November 19, 2017: Overfederalization by Stephen F. Smith 41 pages of large print with many footnotes.

Since the 1960s, Congress has steadily expanded the crime- ghting reach of the federal government. Unfortunately, the constant drumbeat to “federalize” criminal law by passing more federal statutes, ratcheting up already severe federal punishments, and expanding the federal prison population has accomplished precious little in terms of public safety. The failed drug war proves as much. Worst still, the virtually limitless and unchecked charging authority of federal prosecutors undermines the effectiveness of American criminal justice. Instead of complementing state efforts by focusing on areas of federal comparative advantage, federal prosecutors waste scarce resources “playing district attorney”—that is to say, pursing the same kinds of crimes that state prosecutors do. The result is a federal prison population that is bursting at the seams, and a national drug problem that has never been worse. The solution is for Congress to undertake a major overhaul of federal criminal law. The number and scope of federal criminal statutes should be drastically reduced, and the de nition of federal crimes tightened and modernized, to limit federal enforcement to offenses that are of peculiar concern to the federal government and offenses that defy adequate response within the state system. Sentencing policies that generate unusually severe punishment in federal court, such as harsh statutory mandatory minimums for drug and nonviolent weapons offenses, and overbroad asset forfeiture laws, should be repealed or at least reformed to eliminate incentives for prosecutors to pursue garden-variety criminal matters in federal court. In this context, as in many others, “less is more”: a streamlined federal criminal code limited to the nation’s worst offenses, which reserves major penalties for major crimes, will better protect the public than our costly and ineffective current system of overfederalization.

November 26, 2017: Drug Prohibition and Violence by Jeffrey A. Miron 15 pages.

This chapter reviews the literature on the relation between drugs and violence. Drugs and violence might be related because drug use causes violent behavior, because drug traf cking is inherently violent, or because prohibition creates violence by forcing the drug market underground. The report concludes that the main reason for a drugs-violence connection is the third of these three possibilities: Enforcement of drug prohibition increases violence. The policy implication is that countries can save criminal justice resources and reduce violence by scaling back attempts to enforce drug prohibition.

December 3, 2017: Racial Profiling by David A. Harris 23 pages.

This chapter will explore the topic of racial profiling by police. First, the chapter defines the term racial profiling for purposes of the discussion. Next, the chapter describes the points at which racial profiling arises in law enforcement, and the legal tools and incentives that drive it. It then describes the harm that racial profiling does to people, and to the criminal justice system as a whole. The chapter explores the cost to public safety that racial profiling entails, and closes with five concrete suggestions for combatting this long-term problem.

Supplemental material, Examples of ads the Church have used or considered over the years. We might consider a mass incarceration ad on the first page of the Church’s web site : Church Ads

December 10, 2017, Police Use of Force by L. Song Richardson 23 pages

Racial disparities in police uses of force persist. Two competing explanations are often given for these disparities. One is that these disparities are justified because police are simply responding to objectively threatening conduct. The other is that these disparities are the result of police racism. While both accounts are accurate some of the time, this chapter illuminates how “racial anxiety” can also enable racial disparities in police uses of force even in the absence of racial animus and even when people of color are acting identically to their white counterparts. The term racial anxiety references how concerns about police racism can influence the behaviors and perceptions of officers and people of color in ways that increase the potential for violence. Consideration of racial anxiety highlights the necessity of transforming policing in order to build community-police trust. Policymakers can aid in this endeavor by supporting programs, initiatives and legislation that will facilitate this transformation.

December 17, 2017, Race and the Fourth Admendment by Devon W. Carbado 31 pages

This chapter employs “real life” scenarios to highlight how Fourth Amendment law works on the ground. Few people, including lawyers, journalists, legislators, educators, and community organizers, understand the enormously important role Fourth Amendment law plays in enabling the very thing it ought to prevent: racial profiling and police violence. This chapter does not tell the full story of Fourth Amendment law along the preceding lines. Rather, my purpose here is to zone in on the specific body of Fourth Amendment law that determines whether the Fourth Amendment will even apply to the police conduct in question or whether that conduct will escape Fourth Amendment scrutiny altogether. I have two hopes for the chapter. One is that, whatever your views about policing, you will leave the chapter feeling like you have had a “teachable moment” about the range of investigation tactics police officers can employ without triggering the Fourth Amendment. My second hope is that you will employ the chapter as a tool to educate others in the conduct of the work you do, whether that work takes the form of “street law” sessions, public forums, know-your-rights campaigns, legislative decision- making, media education projects, community organizing, op- eds, classroom teaching, or conversations with friends and family.

December 24, 2017, Mandatory Sentences by Erik Luna 27 pages

Mandatory minimum sentencing laws eliminate judicial discretion to impose sentences below the statutory minimum. These laws, known as “mandatory minimums,” can produce punishment that is unjust in its disproportionality. Studies have also shown that mandatory minimums are unlikely to reduce future crime. As a practical matter, mandatory minimums transfer sentencing power from judges to prosecutors, who may place unfair pressures on defendants to plead guilty while also distorting the legal framework of separated powers. The laws tend to create sentencing disparities by treating similar offenders differently and different offenders the same. Because of their inflexible nature, mandatory minimums encourage manipulations of the system and even outright deceit. The laws have helped make the United States the most punitive nation in the Western world. For these and other reasons, mandatory minimums should be reformed.

December 31, 2017, No Discussion

January 7, 2018, Pretrial Detention and Bail, by Megan Stevenson and Sandra G. Mayson, 26 pages

Our current pretrial system imposes high costs on both the people who are detained pretrial and the taxpayers who foot the bill. These costs have prompted a surge of bail reform around the country. Reformers seek to reduce pretrial detention rates, as well as racial and socioeconomic disparities in the pretrial system, while simultaneously improving appearance rates and reducing pretrial crime. The current state of pretrial practice suggests that there is ample room for improvement. Bail hearings are often cursory, taking little time to evaluate a defendant’s risks, needs, or ability to pay. Money-bail practices lead to high rates of detention even among misdemeanor defendants and those who pose no serious risk of crime or ight. Infrequent evaluation means that the judges and magistrates who set bail have little information about how their bail-setting practices affect detention, appearance, and crime rates. Practical and low-cost interventions, such as court reminder systems, are underutilized. To promote lasting reform, this chapter identi es pretrial strategies that are both within the state’s authority and supported by empirical research. These interventions should be designed with input from stakeholders, and carefully evaluated to ensure that the desired improvements are achieved.

Below is an article shared by Suzanne Bradford and John Moore

Lawsuit: Bail rule unfair

Nonprofits sue over cash system that keeps poor jailed longer; reforms planned

By CARY ASPINWALL and NAOMI MARTIN Staff Writers
DALLAS COUNTY JAIL
The day that Dallas County leaders have been dreading for years finally arrived on Sunday: Four nonprofits filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging the jail’s cash bail system unfairly harms poor people and violates the Texas and U.S. constitutions.

The lawsuit, which officials feared due to its potentially hefty price tag, alleges Dallas County’s cash bail system fails to consider a jailed defendant’s ability to pay to post bond, resulting in disparate treatment in the criminal justice system. Poorer citizens remain jailed for weeks — even months — because they can’t afford to pay their way out, while wealthier people can quickly purchase their freedom, states the lawsuit. It was filed on behalf of six Dallas County inmates, jailed on bond from $500 to $50,000. “The situation in Dallas County is really a crisis,” said Trisha Trigilio, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas, one of the groups filing the lawsuit Sunday. “The system is unfair and obviously unconstitutional, and we think it’s time for county officials to treat this problem with the urgency it deserves.”

Though inmates are entitled to the presumption of innocence, the cash bail system effectively coerces guilty pleas and results in longer jail and prison sentences for poor people, according to lawyers for the ACLU, Civil Rights Corps and Texas Fair Defense Project, who filed the suit in northern district of Texas federal court. This system of pretrial detention causes people who are already struggling financially to lose their jobs and housing, and separates parents and children, the lawsuit alleges. Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price said the county has long expected this lawsuit, but he was still disappointed. He said the county is working toward implementing a risk assessment tool that “works for the benefit of all.” “I recognize the tenets of the lawsuit,” Price said. “You’ve got to have the instruments to talk about the issue of public safety, which is first and foremost, and not to indenture yourself to a debtors’ prison.”

County Judge Clay Jenkins said he generally supports bail reform. “Some low-risk suspects that don’t need to be there are held in Texas jails at taxpayer expense simply because they can’t afford to bond out,” Jenkins said. “That’s bad for everyone, and it’s why Dallas County is working to put a risk assessment tool in place and improve our system.” Sheriff Marian Brown, who was also named as a defendant, declined to comment. Presiding State District Judge Brandon Birmingham declined to comment.

Last year, officials promised to reform Dallas County’s system after The Dallas Morning News published a story about Angela Jessie, a grandmother jailed for two months after she was caught shoplifting two school uniforms, a $105 crime.
She could not afford to pay her $150,000 bail. But while county officials study alternatives to cash bail, such as pretrial risk assessment tools, poor arrestees continue languishing in the jail. The plaintiffs calculate this costs taxpayers about $225,321 per day— or $82.2 million per year.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of several inmates, seeks class action status, claiming about 70 percent of the jail population are presumptively innocent people who simply cannot afford bail. One-third of the Dallas County Jail population has a mental illness, the lawsuit alleges.

One of the inmates named as a plaintiff in the lawsuit is Des-tinee Tovar, a 19-year-old woman jailed for theft of property between $100 and $750.
Her bail is set at $1,500. A handwritten affidavit filed with the lawsuit states she struggles to find stable housing, doesn’t have a job and can’t pay for the basic necessities of life — but none of the judges who set her bail amount asked if she could afford it.
Bail is the money people accused but not convicted of crimes pay to get out of jail until their cases go to trial or are resolved.
It’s essentially a promise to show up for court, in cash. Dallas, Harris and several other counties in Texas have for years relied on fixed “schedules” to set bond for jailed defendants, without considering someone’s ability to pay or risk to public safety. The same groups that are suing Dallas County have already had some success in Harris County. Last year, a federal judge there ruled that the bail system was unconstitutional and ordered the release of nearly all misdemeanor defendants from jail within 24 hours of their arrest, regardless of their ability to pay bail. Harris County appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has not yet ruled on the case. That order could dramatically impact Texas’ entire criminal justice system.

Nationally, some cities and states have chosen to abolish the practice in recent years. In other communities, civil rights groups have won several lawsuits alleging cash bail systems violate inmates’ rights to equal protection and due process under the law. Experts say Texas’ current system is particularly tough on women, who usually make less money than men and account for a growing number of inmates. The number of women awaiting trial in Texas county jails has risen by 48 percent since 2011. Earlier this month, Dallas County officials publicly pledged to focus new attention on locking up fewer women pretrial, especially those deemed low-risk to the public, following several months of reporting by The News that revealed this trend — and its consequences for women and their children. People arrested by agencies other than the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office or Dallas Police Department typically wait in jail even longer, the lawsuit alleges. Most sit in municipal jails in the city of their arrest first, and often wait several days to be transferred to the larger county jail. If an inmate is physically or mentally ill, or doesn’t speak English, the process can take even longer.

caspinwall@dallasnews.com; nmartin@dallasnews.com Twitter: @caryaspinwall, @NaomiMartin

January 14, 2018, Risk Assessment in Sentencing, by John Monahan, 22 pages

One way to reduce mass incarceration and the scal and human sufferings intrinsic to it is to engage in a morally constrained form of risk assessment in sentencing offenders. The assessment of an offender’s risk of recidivism was once a central component of criminal sentencing in the United States. In the mid-1970s, however, sentencing based on forward-looking assessments of offender risk was abolished in many jurisdictions in favor of set periods of con nement based solely on backward-looking appraisals of offender blameworthiness. This situation is rapidly changing, however. After a hiatus of 40 years, there has been a resurgence of interest in risk assessment in criminal sentencing. Across the political spectrum, advocates have proposed that mass incarceration can be shrunk without simultaneously jeopardizing the historically low crime rate if we put a morally constrained form of risk assessment back into sentencing.

January 21, 2018, Plea Bargaining, by Jenia I. Turner, 26 pages

Plea bargaining dominates the criminal process in the United States today, yet it remains highly controversial. Supporters defend it on the grounds that it expedites cases, reduces processing costs, and helps authorities obtain cooperation from defendants. But critics contend that it can generate arbitrary sentencing disparities, obscure the true facts, and even lead innocent defendants to plead guilty. Lack of transparency and limited judicial involvement frustrate attempts to correct flaws in the process. As policymakers and legislators prepare to tackle reform of sentencing laws and prosecutorial discretion, they should also consider reforms to plea bargaining that would make the practice fairer, more transparent, and more honest.

January 28, 2018, Correctional Rehabilitation by Francis T. Cullen, 25 pages

Beginning in the late 1960s, the rehabilitative ideal suffered a stunning decline, sharply criticized for permitting inequality in sentencing, coercion inside prisons, and treatment programs that did not work to reduce recidivism. The get-tough era that ensued proved to be a policy nightmare, marked by mass imprisonment, the intentional in iction of pain on offenders, and ineffective interventions. Elected of cials of both political parties have reached a consensus that reforms are needed that take a more balanced crime-control approach that includes efforts to improve offenders’ lives. Conditions are conducive for this policy turning point to occur. Thus, opinion polls are clear in showing that the American public supports offender rehabilitation as a core correctional goal. Scienti c advances also have been achieved that identify a treatment paradigm— the risk-need-responsivity (RNR) model—capable of lowering reoffending. The challenge remains to implement evidence- based treatment practices and, more broadly, to create legal processes that afford offenders the opportunity to earn true redemption and thus escape the burdens of a criminal record.

February 4, 2018, Clemency by Mark Osler, 20 pages

American clemency systems are as varied as the jurisdictions themselves. While the contemporary federal system is a poor exemplar, there are worthwhile examples to be found in the states and in a federal experiment in the wake of the Vietnam War. Commonalities exist between the higher-functioning processes, including the use of a horizontal and deliberative process rather than one that is vertical and rooted in sequential review. Here, those better systems are described with an eye to the improvement of the others and the continuing vitality of a tool that is deeply rooted in the history of Western Civilization.

February 11, 2018 Texas Reforms

Here are some links that describe actions Texas has taken. The first link is an article from the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation:

http://rightoncrime.com/2017/08/ten-years-of-criminal-justice-reform-in-texas/

http://www.businessinsider.com/texas-criminal-justice-reform-conservatives-liberals-bipartisan-alliance-2017-7

Here is a summary of reforms in Texas from the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition

https://www.texascjc.org/adult-juvenile-justice-system-reforms-texas

March 4, 2018, Releasing Older Prisoners by Michael Millemann, Rebecca Bowman-Rivas, and Elizabeth Smith. 14 pages

The rising number of older prisoners is a major factor in the nation’s exponential prison growth over the last four decades. There are now over a quarter million people age 50 or older in state and federal prisons. It is estimated that by 2020, older inmates will represent up to one-third of the prison population. Many are serving life sentences with the possibility of parole for violent crimes, especially murder, committed when they were young. Many of them have redeemed their lives in prison, but will die in prison because of restrictive changes in sentencing and corrections laws and policies during the 1980s and ’90s. These are America’s most expensive prisoners, costing up to or more than $60,000 per prisoner a year. The continued incarceration of many serves no public-safety purpose; indeed, it undermines public safety by wasting scarce resources, particularly prison beds. Over the last four years in Maryland, judges have implemented a 2012 appellate court decision by approving the negotiated releases on probation of over 160 long-incarcerated lifers. To date, none of these former inmates has been convicted of a new crime other than driving/ traffic offenses. Policymakers and legislatures should be aware of these experiences in making decisions, including cost-effective decisions, about proposed sentencing and release proposals.

March 11, 2018, Prisoners with Disabilities by Margo Schlanger. 28 pages

The rising number of older prisoners is a major factor in the nation’s exponential prison growth over the last four decades. There are now over a quarter million people age 50 or older in state and federal prisons. It is estimated that by 2020, older inmates will represent up to one-third of the prison population. Many are serving life sentences with the possibility of parole for violent crimes, especially murder, committed when they were young. Many of them have redeemed their lives in prison, but will die in prison because of restrictive changes in sentencing and corrections laws and policies during the 1980s and ’90s. These are America’s most expensive prisoners, costing up to or more than $60,000 per prisoner a year. The continued incarceration of many serves no public-safety purpose; indeed, it undermines public safety by wasting scarce resources, particularly prison beds. Over the last four years in Maryland, judges have implemented a 2012 appellate court decision by approving the negotiated releases on probation of over 160 long-incarcerated lifers. To date, none of these former inmates has been convicted of a new crime other than driving/ traffic offenses. Policymakers and legislatures should be aware of these experiences in making decisions, including cost-effective decisions, about proposed sentencing and release proposals.

March 18, 2018, The Case Against the Death Penalty by ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union believes the death penalty inherently violates the constitutional ban against cruel and unusual punishment and the guarantees of due process of law and of equal protection under the law. Furthermore, they believe that the state should not give itself the right to kill human beings – especially when it kills with premeditation and ceremony, in the name of the law or in the name of its people, and when it does so in an arbitrary and discriminatory fashion.

Capital punishment is an intolerable denial of civil liberties and is inconsistent with the fundamental values of our democratic system.  The death penalty is uncivilized in theory and unfair and inequitable in practice.  Through litigation, legislation, and advocacy against this barbaric and brutal institution, we strive to prevent executions and seek the abolition of capital punishment.

The 58 countries that have the death penalty

  1. Botswana
  2. Chad
  3. Comoros
  4. Democratic Republic of the Congo
  5. Egypt
  6. Equatorial Guinea
  7. Ethiopia
  8. Gambia
  9. Lesotho
  10. Libya
  11. Nigeria
  12. Somalia
  13. Somaliland
  14. South Sudan
  15. Sudan
  16. Uganda
  17. Zimbabwe
  18. Antigua and Barbuda
  19. Bahamas
  20. Barbados
  21. Belize
  22. Cuba
  23. Dominica
  24. Guatemala
  25. Guyana
  26. Jamaica
  27. Saint Kitts and Nevis
  28. Saint Lucia
  29. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  30. Trinidad and Tobago
  31. United States
  32. Afghanistan
  33. Bahrain
  34. Bangladesh
  35. China
  36. India
  37. Indonesia
  38. Iran
  39. Iraq
  40. Japan
  41. Jordan
  42. North Korea
  43. Kuwait
  44. Lebanon
  45. Malaysia
  46. Oman
  47. Pakistan
  48. Palestinian Territories
  49. Qatar
  50. Saudi Arabia
  51. Singapore
  52. Syria
  53. Taiwan
  54. Thailand
  55. UAE
  56. Vietnam
  57. Yemen
  58. Belarus

 

March 25, 2018, The Case Against the Death Penalty by ACLU Continued

April 1, 2018, Sex Offender Registration and Notification by Wayne A. Logan

The rising number of older prisoners is a major factor in the nation’s exponential prison growth over the last four decades. There are now over a quarter million people age 50 or older in state and federal prisons. It is estimated that by 2020, older inmates will represent up to one-third of the prison population. Many are serving life sentences with the possibility of parole for violent crimes, especially murder, committed when they were young. Many of them have redeemed their lives in prison, but will die in prison because of restrictive changes in sentencing and corrections laws and policies during the 1980s and ’90s. These are America’s most expensive prisoners, costing up to or more than $60,000 per prisoner a year. The continued incarceration of many serves no public-safety purpose; indeed, it undermines public safety by wasting scarce resources, particularly prison beds. Over the last four years in Maryland, judges have implemented a 2012 appellate court decision by approving the negotiated releases on probation of over 160 long-incarcerated lifers. To date, none of these former inmates has been convicted of a new crime other than driving/ traffic offenses. Policymakers and legislatures should be aware of these experiences in making decisions, including cost-effective decisions, about proposed sentencing and release proposals.

April 8, 2018, Firearms and Violence by Franklin E. Zimring

Questions about firearms ownership and use are significant elements of crime policy and constitutional law in the United States. Two important recent issues involving guns are the distinction between prevalence and incidence effects of gun ownership and the important contrast between private gun rights in households and in public spaces. This chapter attempts to summarize the issues and known facts about firearms and violence, as well as the government strategies toward gun ownership and use in light of the Supreme Court’s recent jurisprudence on the Second Amendment.

April 15, 2018, Speaker Sam Hall will discuss Austin Interfaith’s community policing initiative.

April 22, 2018, City of Austin Report on Community Policing

1. INTRODUCTION AND EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Matrix Consulting Group was retained by the City of Austin to conduct a Community Policing Study. This final report presents the results of this study. This assessment is based on our understanding of policing needs through extensive input from the community and within the Department, extensive analysis of police workloads and service levels in the City, comparisons against industry best practices and peer agencies as well as this project team’s extensive experience working with hundreds of police departments throughout the country.

1. STUDY SCOPE OF WORK As noted above, the major focus of this phase of the study was the staffing and support needs of the Austin Police Department to provide proactive and community oriented law enforcement services to the City. As a result, the scope of this project included the following:
• What is meant by ‘community policing’ in a way that is appropriate and meaningful for Austin? This is critical because all policing flows from this important principle.
• How should ‘community policing’ be supported in the Department in recruitment and training, supervision and management, policies and procedures as well as in the leadership of the Department?
• How should the community be involved in the development, review and accountability of police services in Austin?
• What is the appropriate structure for field services to enable it to effectively anticipate community needs as well as respond to requests for service.
• What is the appropriate amount of proactive or ‘community engagement’ time for field patrol personnel? How does this fit into the wide range of roles which patrol officers should fulfill when they are not responding to calls for service.
• How should the proactive efforts of all field functions be coordinated to ensure that services are maximized to the community?
• What are the most appropriate roles for District Representatives in supporting the community? How many District Representatives are required in community engagement and support? What opportunities exist to civilianize some District Representatives given the breadth of the roles performed? This study is intended to be a foundation for the choices in service delivery that the City and the Police Department have in order to be more effective in providing service to the community.

May 20, 2018, LGBT, Discussion led by René Slataper

May 27, 2018, LGBT, Continued Discussion led by René Slataper

June 3, 2018, Reconciliation: Immigration

In an effort to find some common ground on highly contentious isssue facing the country. The class will look at a different issue each week to clarify out areas of agreement and disagreement. This week the topic is immigration.

June 10, 2018, Healthcare

No where has the disagreement between Republicans and Democrats been more contentious over the past nine years than in the area of healthcare for Americans. We will explore the two sides and try to find any common ground.

July 29, 2018, White Privilege

We will be studying the UCC Curriculum on White Privilege, in particular the section entitled, “Becoming an Ally.” The class is seeking ways to work for racial justice and for reform of the justice system to address the disasterous mass incarceration that has produced such destructive consequences. especially for minorities.

August 5, 2018, White Privilege, “Becoming an Ally” Chapter 4, by John Dorhauer, page 98 in White Privilege UCC Curriculum