01-20-2022  5:15 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Blumenauer Boosts Efforts to Put Three Black History Landmarks on National List

Congressman makes case for Mt. Olivet Baptist Church, Dean’s Beauty Salon and Barber Shop, and the Golden West Hotel’s importance to city history and heritage.

PHOTOS: The Skanner Foundation 2022 Scholarship Recipients

Scholarships were awarded to an impressive group of 28 students at The Skanner Foundation 36th Annaul Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast

Lawsuit Says New Majority Latino District in WA a 'Facade'

A Latino civil rights organization and others filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday that says new political maps in Washington state approved by a bipartisan redistricting panel intentionally dilute Hispanic voters' influence.

Washington Students' Test Scores Drop Significantly

Reports show that between 2019 and 2021, the overall percentage of students who met state standards on the math portion of the exam fell by 20 percentage points.

NEWS BRIEFS

PassinArt Introduces ‘Play Reading Mondays’

The Spanish Jade and The Learning Curve, both directed by William Earl Ray premiere in February ...

Revamped TriMet Website Makes Planning Trips Easier With Map-Based Tools

Riders can now track real-time locations of buses and trains on their smartphone ...

PHOTOS: Founder of The American History Traveling Museum: The Unspoken Truths Honored

Delbert Richardson's Alpha Phi Alpha, Alpha XI Chapter fraternity brothers presented him a plaque that reads “Your commitment to...

St. Andrew Parish Announces 2022 Martin Luther King, Jr. Awards

Tony Jones was honored with the 2022 Parish Service Award, and the award for Community Service went to Terrance Moses ...

Culture + Trauma: An Artist Comes Home

An installation at the Alberta Arts Salon curated by Bobby Fouther is a visioning of the uncensored Black life. ...

Oregon residents decry proposed 'permanent' mask mandate

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Hundreds of Oregon residents claimed government overreach on Thursday, as officials at the state’s health authority consider indefinitely extending the current indoor mask requirement due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Oregon Health Authority held a public...

Energy entities eye clean-energy strategy for western states

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Two electric utilities and a federal energy agency with millions of customers in eight western states have reached a tentative agreement centered on a new energy transmission line connecting their power grids. Idaho Power, PacifiCorp and the Bonneville Power...

UNLV promotes interim AD Harper to full-time job

LAS VEGAS (AP) — UNLV has promoted interim athletic director Erick Harper to serve in the job full time. Harper's hiring, announced on Monday, was effective Jan. 1. He had served as interim athletic director since Desiree Reed-Francois left UNLV for Missouri in August. ...

Army stuns Missouri in Armed Forces Bowl on last-second FG

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Cole Talley kicked a 41-yard field goal as time expired and Army rallied to beat Missouri 24-22 in the Armed Forces Bowl on Wednesday night. After the Tigers took a 22-21 lead on a touchdown with 1:11 to play, third-string quarterback Jabari Laws led Army...

OPINION

OP-ED: A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand

January 6th, Voting Rights and the Tyranny Threatening America ...

Support Nikole Hannah-Jones and The 1619 Project

This important and ambitious project pulled back the curtain of euphemistic rhetoric composing American historiography that points only to the good in our history and sweeps under the rug the evil deeds perpetrated against people of color ...

In 2021, Organized Labor is Again Flexing its Muscles

We have seen dramatic change in the makeup of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) under President Biden. ...

Study Reveals Racial Pay Gap for Social Media Influencers

The racial pay gap has long presented issues for African Americans in Corporate America and other industries. It’s now filtered to social media. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

'Sanford and Son' at 50, 'double-edged' Black sitcom pioneer

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When Demond Wilson heard that Redd Foxx was going to star in a TV sitcom, the actor brushed it off as a joke. Foxx was a killer stand-up comic, with a trademark raunchiness that Wilson figured to be a nonstarter for the timid broadcast networks that were...

Democrats eye new strategy after failure of voting bill

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats were picking up the pieces Thursday following the collapse of their top-priority voting rights legislation, with some shifting their focus to a narrower bipartisan effort to repair laws Donald Trump exploited in his bid to overturn the 2020 election. ...

New approach to teaching race in school divides New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — A proposal to overhaul New Mexico’s social studies standards has stirred debate over how race should be taught in schools, with thousands of parents and teachers weighing in on changes that would dramatically increase instruction related to racial and social identity...

ENTERTAINMENT

The Sundance Film Festival is back and online once more

The lights may be dim at the Eccles Theater and Park City's Main Street will have fewer cinephiles packing the snowy sidewalks when the Sundance Film Festival begins its 44th edition Thursday night. But if 2021 proved anything, it's that the world's premier independent film festival is more than...

Review: 'Yinka, Where is Your Huzband' funny and big-hearted

NEW YORK (AP) — “Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband” by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn (Pamela Dorman Books) Yinka Oladeji is a 30-year-old, Oxford educated, British Nigerian woman with a good job, living in London who happens to be single. Her accomplishments should carry weight within...

Spears case drives California bid to limit conservatorships

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Disability rights activists and advocates for Britney Spears backed a California proposal Wednesday to provide more protections for those under court-ordered conservatorships, while promoting less-restrictive alternatives. Their move came as the volatile...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Austrian parliament approves vaccine mandate for adults

VIENNA (AP) — Austria’s parliament voted Thursday to introduce a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for adults from Feb....

Biden issues new warning to Russia over invading Ukraine

GENEVA (AP) — U.S. President Joe Biden said Thursday that any Russian troop movements across Ukraine’s border...

Georgia DA asks for special grand jury in election probe

ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia prosecutor looking into possible attempts to interfere in the 2020 general election...

Montenegro government urges early vote to resolve crisis

PODGORICA, Montenegro (AP) — Faced with a no-confidence motion, Montenegro's embattled government on Thursday...

Police: Road accident in Ghana causes huge explosion, deaths

ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — A vehicle carrying explosives used in mining collided with a motorcycle and blew up in...

Maduro, Putin talk after diplomat hints at military activity

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro on Thursday said he spoke by phone with Russian...

Jasmin K. Williams Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News

Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson



Education over incarceration is the message of a report released by the NAACP.  The nation's oldest civil rights organization is challenging America to re-evaluate its spending priorities in the report, titled "Misplaced Priorities: Under Educate, Over Incarcerate," which was introduced at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.  In it, the NAACP calls attention to the proven fact that excessive spending on housing prisoners undermines education and public safety.

This message will be reiterated in a forthcoming billboard campaign (see below) calling out the fact that one-fourth of the world's prisons are located in America, while the country accounts for just five percent of the world's population overall.  In short, America's "tough on crime" policies have failed.

Not surprisingly, most of those housed in the prison system—some 2.3 million—are people of color.  Half of all state and federal prisoners meet the criteria for drug abuse or dependency. These inmates would be better served with treatment programs, a more successful and economical alternative to incarceration.  It costs money to sustain the prison system—lots of it. The NAACP says that this money can and must be better spent.

Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson said, "I have always been of the mind that, in the long run, if we want to get a handle on crime, we must commit to improving education and job opportunities.  Prevention and rehabilitation have to go hand in hand with deterrence."

Here are some facts from the report:



•In 2009, as the nation's economy collapsed into depression, funding for K-12 and higher education fell while 33 states put more money into prisons than they had the previous year.



•The Pew Center on the States found that five states spent as much or more on prisons as they did on education, and that 28 states were spending 50 cents on prisons for every dollar spent on education.



•The cost of just two years of incarceration is staggering; by 2010, taxpayers in Texas will spend $175 million on prisoners sentenced in 2008 from 10 of Houston's 75 neighborhoods, 10 percent of the city's population.  In Pennsylvania, the cost is $290 million to imprison residents from 11 neighborhoods. New York will spend more than half a billion dollars—$539 million—to imprison residents from 24 neighborhoods.  While these inmates represent a mere 16 percent of the city's adult population, the state will exhaust nearly half of its $1.1 billion budget to incarcerate them.



•These high levels of incarceration have a direct impact on education performance in these communities; in Los Angeles, 67 percent of the lowest-performing schools are in neighborhoods with high incarceration rates.  In Texas, the rate is 83 percent while in Philadelphia the rate is 66 percent.



With these facts on the table, the NAACP has called for a downsizing of the prison system and for those funds to be reinvested in education.



"The first stage is to move beyond 'tough-on-crime policies' that have been a proven failure and adopt 'smarter crime' policies that have been a proven success," said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous.  "The state of New York has been going down this road for a while, most recently with the evisceration of the Rockefeller Drug Laws last year.  But, it's a trend that's needed in states throughout the country.

"Over the past decade, New York's prison population has fallen and crime has gone down about 16 percent, while in Florida the prison population has continued to rise precipitously during that same time and crime has gone up about 16 percent.  You can find experiences like that across the country that really debunk this myth that took hold in the '90s that the best way to reduce crime was to warehouse criminals and law violators, no matter how small the infraction, or how nonviolent the crime," Jealous told the Amsterdam News.  "The first goal is to shift states from failed policies that have resulted in the mass incarceration of citizens toward proven policies that tend to incarcerate less, cost less, and make us safer. We call those smarter crime policies.

"The second is to send the savings to the public university system and the public education system more generally," he said.

"As you look across the country at various states over the past three to four decades, state prison systems developed these 'tough-on-crime' policies that resulted in over incarceration.  You see the percentage of the state budget devoted to prisons go up and the percentage devoted to paying for public higher education go down.

"In California, where I grew up in the 1970s, the state spent 3 percent of its budget on incarceration and 11 percent on education.  Last year, the state spent 11 percent on incarceration and only 7.5 percent on public higher education.  That trend is repeated across the country.  When Pennsylvania was faced with a budget crisis, the state took $300 million out of its public education budget and added $300 million to its budget for jails and prisons in a single budget year," said Jealous.

"Georgia has the fifth largest penal system in the country, three-quarters of whom are low-level, nonviolent drug offenders—the No. 1 source of the prison population, both in growth rate and size over the last three decades.  This is why states like New York and others are shifting the priority from incarceration to treatment.  South Carolina took that step last year.  For example, people convicted for possessing crack are treated the same as those convicted of possessing powdered cocaine, something that the U.S. Congress hasn't even been able to do," he continued.

"This moment is exciting for a few reasons.  There's a lot of financial pressure on states.  Every decision is a tough one and every decision related to the criminal justice system is now getting full attention in a way that they often don't.  This comes from people on both sides of the aisle as officials look for ways to creatively cut budgets and are willing to do tough things to accomplish that," said Jealous.

"It's also exciting because we've reached a point where we've tried so many ways to deal with the increase of drug abuse in the country and the perceived increase in crime although, in actual terms, crime has fallen in many places.  It's the consensus that these things have failed.  People on both sides of the aisle are now willing to look at the evidence and really embrace what works. It worked in New York.  It worked in South Carolina.  It worked in Virginia, where the governor actually shrank down the number of prisons and increased a portion of his budget devoted to historically Black colleges.  In these times when there is so much partisanship, this is a place where bipartisanship is really possible," Jealous said.

On the implementation of this plan, Jealous said: "If you have a state that is taking this on for the first time, like Georgia is right now, the first thing to do is to impanel a commission to look at the state's criminal justice system from top to bottom—law enforcement strategies, sentencing strategies and re-entry strategies—and to prioritize writing legislation to replace failed policies with ones that are proven to make us safer.  That tends to result in policies that cost less in the way that rehab costs less than incarceration, or in the way that a halfway house, as a first step to re-entry, costs less than incarceration."

"For decades, law enforcement has been operating on a broken window theory: The best way to stop a more serious crime from occurring is to focus on the smallest infractions in a community. It ultimately is inefficient and ineffective," he explained.

"The city of Los Angeles is notorious for its aggressive police practices—anything from jaywalking on up.  Last year, it was revealed that they had 12,000 unopened rape kits that hadn't even been processed.  There is a need for the public to take an interest in this.  Catching violent criminals should be job one, and in many instances that's just not the case in most departments. The ideal is to focus on what works and what makes us safe.  We are calling on states to put together commissions to focus on what works and propose a series of reforms," Jealous concluded.



Billboards are planned for New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles.

The Skanner Foundation's Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast

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