Iowa Ends Lifetime Voting Ban On People With Felony Convictions

Iowa’s governor signed an executive order ending the state’s lifetime voting ban for anyone with a felony conviction, a historic move because Iowa was the only state in the country enforcing such a severe policy.

The order from Kim Reynolds allows people with felony convictions to vote once they complete their sentences, including parole and probation.

“Today we take a significant step forward in acknowledging the importance of redemption, second chances and the need to address inequalities in our justice system. The right to vote is the cornerstone of society and the free republic in which we live.”

“When someone serves their sentence, they should have their right to vote restored automatically.”

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La Shawn K. Ford Calls Out The Teaching Of White Privilege

State Representative La Shawn Ford said he wants to abolish history classes in Illinois until a new curriculum is developed.

“We’re concerned that current school history teachings lead to white privilege and a racist society,” Ford said.

Ford met with local leaders, calling on school districts to throw out their history books and instead focus on civics and teaching students how to be part of the democratic process.

Ford introduced a bill in the Illinois House amending the school code to require the study of the American Civil Rights Movement.

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The Final Words Of John Lewis

Ordinary people with extraordinary vision can redeem the soul of America by getting in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble. Voting and participating in the democratic process are key.

The vote is the most powerful nonviolent change agent you have in a democratic society. You must use it because it is not guaranteed.

You can lose it.

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Keeda Haynes For Congress

Former public defender Keeda Haynes, who was also formerly incarcerated, is running for Congress in Tennessee, challenging a nearly two-decade Democratic incumbent and hoping to become the first Black woman the state sends to Congress.

After her release, Haynes completed her law degree and practiced as a public defender in Nashville for over six years. Haynes thinks her time in prison — and her experience defending others caught up in the country’s racist criminal justice system — are precisely what would make her a great congresswoman.

“I am running because looking around I can see that people that look like me, that have the same issues I have, we were not being represented in this district.”

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Justice For Black Lives

Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson introduced the “Justice for Black Lives” resolution, which calls on the County Board to redirect money previously spent on Cook County Jail to the Black and Brown communities most harmed by mass incarceration.

While the resolution was being introduced and discussed, hundreds of people rallied outside Cook County Jail.

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Heartbroken World Mourns The Death Of John Lewis

John Lewis, a lion of the civil rights movement whose bloody beating by Alabama state troopers in 1965 helped galvanize opposition to racial segregation, and who went on to a long and celebrated career in Congress, died.

He was 80.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed Lewis’ passing late Friday night, calling him “one of the greatest heroes of American history.”

“All of us were humbled to call Congressman Lewis a colleague, and are heartbroken by his passing,” Pelosi said. “May his memory be an inspiration that moves us all to, in the face of injustice, make good trouble, necessary trouble.”

In a speech the day of the House impeachment vote of Trump, Lewis explained the importance of that vote.

“When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something, to do something. Our children and their children will ask us what did you do? what did you say?” While the vote would be hard for some, he said…

“We have a mission and a mandate to be on the right side of history.”

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They Are Burying Us Alive In Prison By Raul Dorado

There are many ways to come to prison.

You could have been raised in a segregated high-rise ghetto, removed from mainstream society and cut off from participation in the legal economy. Or you could just have been born black.

If you inhabit a black body, you’re nearly six times more likely than whites to be imprisoned, and if you reside in a brown body, you’re three times more likely to be imprisoned.

Covid-19 came to Stateville, undetected, in the bodies of the prison guards who have direct custody of us.

Prisons are long-term care facilities, but without the actual care. Just over four decades ago, Illinois fell in line behind a national trend to abandon the goal of rehabilitation in favor of punitive sentencing practices.

These practices lay the foundation of today’s overcrowded prisons that have not spared the elderly prisoner population bearing the brunt of Covid-19.

Our group is supporting a bill in the Illinois legislature, SB3233: Earned Discretionary Release.

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Raul Dorado Is An Incarcerated Writer & Co-Founder Of Parole Illinois

COVID Crossroads For Prison Abolitionists

The intersection of a pandemic and a public uprising to address police brutality has created a unique moment in history—and a distinct moment for prison abolitionists.

Two arguments now entering the mainstream—that incarceration is an urgent public health crisis and that policing takes needed resources from communities—have long been argued by abolitionist organizers.

“Abolition is about fighting the prison industrial complex as a whole, because these violent systems are interlocking and feed off each other,” explained Mohamed Shehk, national media and communications director for the abolitionist organization Critical Resistance.

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Sandra Bland: 5 Year Anniversary Of Her Death In Police Custody

The recent deaths of Black people either in police custody or due to police officers have led to international outcry.

The deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor evoke memories of the mysterious death of a 28-year-old Black woman who died in a Texas jail five years ago Monday.

Sandra Bland, who died on July 13, 2015, was one of many who sparked the early Black Lives Matter movement, which seeks to find justice in cases of Black people killed or who died in police custody.

Bland was found dead on that day in a Waller County Jail.

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Leesburg Stockade Girls Nominated For Presidential Medal Of Freedom

In 1963 in Americus, Georgia, 15 girls were jailed in a one room stockade with no running water for 45 days for their roles in Civil Rights Movement.

Ages 12 to 15, these girls had marched from Friendship Baptist Church to the Martin Theater on Forsyth Street. Instead of forming a line to enter from the back alley as was customary, the marchers attempted to purchase tickets at the front entrance.

Law enforcement soon arrived and viciously attacked and arrested the girls.

Never formally charged, they were jailed in squalid conditions for forty-five days in the Leesburg Stockade, a Civil War era structure situated in the back woods of Leesburg, Georgia.

Only 20 miles away, parents had no knowledge of where authorities were holding their children. Nor were parents aware of their inhumane treatment.

After they were released, the women didn’t speak of their ordeal for over 50 years.

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