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NORTHWEST NEWS

Seattle City Council Overrides Mayor's Veto of Policing Cuts

Seattle will reduce the police department’s budget and reallocate some money to community programs

US Judge Blocks Postal Service Changes That Slowed Mail

The Yakima, Washington judge called the changes “a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service” before the November election.

Black and Jewish Community Join to Revive Historic Partnership

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Feds Explored Possibly Charging Portland Officials in Unrest

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NEWS BRIEFS

Black Leaders Endorse Sarah Iannarone for Portland Mayor

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Free Masks and Gloves Now Available for Small Businesses

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Forest Service Explains 'Containment'

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Oregon Receives Approval of Federal Disaster Declaration for Wildfires

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Police arrest 13 during Seattle protests

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Molotov cocktails hurled at Portland police by protesters

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Mizzou's Drinkwitz: transparency trumps competitive edge

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Eli Drinkwitz could have kept private the COVID-19 testing numbers within the Missouri football program.The new coach of the Tigers could have pleaded ignorance when it came to the number of positive results, or the amount of contact tracing that has been done. He...

College Football Picks: SEC start in most unusual season

The Southeastern Conference is set to kick off its 10-game, league-only schedule, making this Saturday the most normal-feeling yet of a most unusual season. As of Wednesday, all the SEC openers were still on. The Big 12 and Atlantic Coast Conference were also scheduled to have all their teams...

OPINION

All Officers Responsible for Breonna Taylor’s Murder Must Be Held Accountable

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ACLU Statement on Breonna Taylor Grand Jury Verdict

Carl Takei, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Criminal Law Reform Project, issued a statement about today's charges ...

True Justice Denied to Police Murder Victim Breonna Taylor, Greenlining Institute Says

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Defeating a Demagogue: A Reminder from History

Mel Gurtov dedicates this column to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whom he calls "a warrior for human rights, decency, and the rule of law" ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Lawyer: Case of Black inmate set to die reveals racial bias

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — The lawyer for the first Black inmate scheduled to die this year as part of the Trump administration’s resumption of federal executions says race played a central role in landing her client on death row for slaying a young white Iowa couple and burning them in...

Ginsburg's empathy born of Jewish history and discrimination

In the Jewish tradition, burials usually take place within 24 hours of death. But Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Sept. 18, was lying in state nearly a week later Thursday at the Supreme Court where she served as justice for 27 years, and Friday at the U.S. Capitol. “Even though it generally...

The Latest: Black women address rally in downtown Portland

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — The Latest on a grand jury's decision not to indict police officers on criminal charges directly related to Breonna Taylor's death: (all times EDT)1:30 a.m.In downtown Portland, Oregon, the site of months of demonstrations against police brutality, several hundred...

ENTERTAINMENT

New Year's Eve in Times Square incorporates virtual elements

NEW YORK (AP) — New Year's Eve in Times Square will incorporate virtual elements, organizers said Wednesday as they gear up for a celebration that will have to be scaled down and socially distant in response to the coronavirus.Details are still coming together, but the Times Square Alliance,...

Annual Lennon tribute, in 40th year, goes online

NEW YORK (AP) — Like many other events, an annual John Lennon tribute concert that takes place in his adopted city of New York on his Oct. 9 birthday has been forced online because of the coronavirus pandemic.There was no way it was being canceled, not on what would have been Lennon's 80th...

Disney delays 'Black Widow,' Spielberg's 'West Side Story'

NEW YORK (AP) — The Walt Disney Co. has further postponed its next mega-movies from Marvel, including “Black Widow,” while also postponing Steven Spielberg's “West Side Story” a full year in the company's latest recalibration due to the pandemic.Ten of Disney's...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Records: Mail delivery lags behind targets as election nears

The slice of Michigan that covers Detroit, its suburbs and towns dependent on the auto industry is coveted...

As virus surges, critics say UK hasn't learned from mistakes

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Trump-appointed judges under an election-year political lens

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The Latest: Sweden's PM keeps limit on gatherings

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Hong Kong activist Wong arrested over unauthorized assembly

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Mirrored depot will open Dutch museum's storage to public

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Don't Call the Police for domestic disturbances
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Greg Bluestein the Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) -- The nation's largest private prison company made an enticing offer to 48 states that went something like this: We will buy your prison now if you agree to keep it mostly full and promise to pay us for running it over the next two decades.

Despite a need for cash, several states immediately slammed the door on the offer, a sign that privatizing prisons might not be as popular as it once was.

Corrections Corporation of America sent letters to the prison leaders in January, saying it had a pot of $250 million to buy facilities as part of an investment. The company is trying to capitalize on the landmark deal it made with Ohio in the fall by purchasing a facility, the first state prison in the nation to be sold to a private firm.

Prison departments in California, Texas and Georgia all dismissed the idea. Florida's prison system said it doesn't have the authority to make that kind of decision and officials in CCA's home state of Tennessee said they aren't reviewing the proposal. The states refused to say exactly why they were rejecting the offer.

"Knowing the state government, it has to have something to do with the potential political backlash," said Jeanne Stinchcomb, a criminal justice professor at Florida Atlantic University who has written two books on the corrections industry. "Privatization has reaped some negative publicity, so I can only assume that despite the possible benefits, there would be a price to pay for supporting it."

Bruce Bayley, associate professor of criminal justice at Weber State University, said he hoped something other than politics drove the states' decisions.

"It's always hard for politicians to turn down the money," said Bayley. "On the flipside, though, it speaks well to the professionalism of corrections departments of these states who don't want to sell out to companies just to add some money to their bank accounts."

Critics of private prisons called the offer a backdoor way to delay the sentencing reform movements that have sprung up in many states looking to cut prison budgets. Lawmakers in many conservative states that once eagerly passed tough-on-crime laws are now embracing alternative sentences for low-level offenders who would otherwise be locked up.

CCA said selling a prison to a private firm doesn't block states from pursuing sentencing reform. The company also said it was still too early to say whether any state would take them up on the bid.

"It was an outreach letter making them aware of these offers, it's yet another tool in the toolbox," said company spokesman Steve Owen. "We can design and build and own facilities from scratch or manage government facilities, but this is a third business model."

CCA said the offer was inspired by the $72.7 million sale of Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Ohio. CCA and its main competitors, which have said they don't plan to make a similar offer, typically build their own prisons or manage state-owned lockups.

"We want to build on that success and provide our existing or prospective government partners with access to the same opportunity as they manage challenging corrections budgets," Harley Lappin, the company's chief corrections officer, said in the letter to prison leaders.

Eligible facilities must have at least 1,000 beds, must be less than 25 years old and in good condition, and have to maintain at least a 90 percent occupancy rate.

The private prison industry boomed in the late 1980s and 1990s as states sought cheaper ways to jail people and voters began resisting building more prisons. Now companies like CCA and its main rival, Florida-based Geo Group Inc., operate dozens of private prisons throughout the nation.

But efforts to privatize prisons have become highly-charged political debates in many states, partly because a sale often requires legislative approval or an OK by the governor.

In Louisiana, lawmakers last year defeated Gov. Bobby Jindal's proposal to privatize and sell several state prisons to generate $90 million. Relatives of prison employees aggressively fought the move, fearing that they would get lower pay and less benefits working for a private firm.

An effort to privatize a chunk of Florida's prisons also met stiff opposition from lawmakers in February. They blocked what would have been the largest prison privatization in the U.S.

Some critics of CCA's bid said their concerns extend beyond the financial costs of a deal. About two dozen religious groups signed a letter saying that accepting the proposal would be "costly to the moral strength of your state."

"Mr. Lappin's proposal is an invitation to deepening state debt, increased costs to people of color who are disproportionately impacted by mass incarceration as well as their families and communities, and decreased public safety," said the letter, sent by groups including The Episcopal Church and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.



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