10-20-2019  4:13 am   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

NORTHWEST NEWS

Washington State to Vote on Affirmative Action Referendum

More than two decades after voters banned affirmative action, the question of whether one's minority status should be considered in state employment, contracting, colleges admissions is back on the ballot

Merkley Introduces Legislation that Protects Access to Health Care for Those Who Cannot Afford Bail

Under current law, individuals in custody who have not been convicted of a crime are denied Medicare, Medicaid, and veterans’ benefits

New County Hire Aims to Build Trust, Transparency Between Community and Public Safety Officials

Leneice Rice will serve as a liaison focused on documenting and reporting feedback from a community whose faith in law enforcement has been tested

Hank Willis Thomas Exhibit Opens at Portland Art Museum

One of the most important conceptual artists of our time, his works examine the representation of race and the politics of visual culture

NEWS BRIEFS

GFO Offers African Americans Help in Solving Family Mysteries

The Genealogical Forum of Oregon is holding an African American Special Interest Group Saturday, Oct. 19 ...

Third Annual NAMC-WA Gala Features Leader on Minority Business Development

The topic of the Washington Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors' event was 'Community and Collaboration' ...

Building Bridges Event Aims to Strengthen Trust Between Communities

The 4th Annual Building Bridges of Understanding in Our Communities: Confronting Hate will be held in Tigard on...

The Black Man Project Kicks Off National Tour in Seattle

The first in a series of interactive conversations focused on Black men and vulnerability takes place in Seattle on October 25 ...

Protesters Rally in Ashland to Demand 'Impeach Trump Now'

Activists are rallying in Ashland Sunday Oct, 13 to demand impeachment proceedings ...

Video shows coach disarming, embracing Oregon student

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Authorities have released a video that shows part of a former Oregon football star's successful effort to disarm a student who brought a shotgun to a Portland high school.The video released Friday by the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office shows Keanon Lowe and...

Parents guilty of starving 5-year-old daughter to death

BEND, Ore. (AP) — A jury has convicted a Redmond couple of starving their 5-year-old adopted daughter to death.The Bulletin reports by unanimous jury verdicts Friday after a weekslong trial, Sacora Horn-Garcia and Estevan Garcia were found guilty of murder by abuse and criminal...

Vaughn scores twice, Vandy upsets No. 22 Missouri 21-14

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Derek Mason wants it known he's the best coach for the Vanderbilt Commodores.Riley Neal came off the bench and threw a 21-yard touchdown to Cam Johnson with 8:57 left, and Vanderbilt upset No. 22 Missouri 21-14 on Saturday with a stifling defensive...

No. 22 Missouri heads to Vandy, 1st road trip since opener

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Missouri coach Barry Odom knows only too well the dangers of going on the road and how a few mistakes can prove very costly.While some of his players my not remember that stunning loss at Wyoming to open this season, Odom hasn't forgotten."We're going to treat it just...

OPINION

Atatiana Jefferson, Killed by Police Officer in Her Own Home

Atatiana Jefferson, a biology graduate who worked in the pharmaceutical industry and was contemplating becoming a doctor, lived a life of purpose that mattered ...

“Hell No!” That Is My Message to Those Who Would Divide Us 

Upon release from the South African jail, Nelson Mandela told UAW Local 600 members “It is you who have made the United States of America a superpower, a leader of the world" ...

Rep. Janelle Bynum Issues Response to the Latest Statement from Clackamas Town Center

State legislator questions official response after daughter questioned for ‘loitering’ in parking lot ...

Why Would HUD Gut Its Own Disparate Impact Rule?

"You can’t expand housing rights by limiting civil protections. The ’D’ in HUD doesn’t stand for ‘Discrimination’" ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

New Emmett Till marker dedicated to replace vandalized sign

GLENDORA, Miss. (AP) — A new bulletproof memorial to Emmett Till was dedicated Saturday in Mississippi after previous historical markers were repeatedly vandalized.The brutal slaying of the 14-year-old black teenager helped spur the civil rights movement more than 60 years ago.The...

Parents sue Virginia school district over racist 2017 video

HENRICO, Va. (AP) — The parents of a Virginia student who say their son was assaulted and bullied by his middle school football teammates in an incident captured on video two years ago are suing the school system.The video, which showed football players simulating sex acts on black students...

Team abandons FA Cup qualifier after racial abuse

LONDON (AP) — An FA Cup qualifier between Haringey Borough and Yeovil was abandoned Saturday when the home team walked off the field after one of its players was racially abused.Haringey, a London-based non-league club, walked off in the 64th minute after claims its Cameroonian goalkeeper...

ENTERTAINMENT

Adam Lambert: Happy to see more LGBTQ artists find success

NEW YORK (AP) — Adam Lambert, who rose on the music scene as the runner-up on "America Idol" in 2009, says he's happy to see more mainstream LGBTQ artists find major success."I think it's less taboo to be queer in the music industry now because there's so many cases you can point to like,...

Jane Fonda returns to civil disobedience for climate change

WASHINGTON (AP) — Inspired by the climate activism of a Swedish teenager, Jane Fonda says she's returning to civil disobedience nearly a half-century after she was last arrested at a protest.Fonda, known for her opposition to the Vietnam War, was one of 17 climate protesters arrested Friday...

Naomi Wolf and publisher part ways amid delay of new book

NEW YORK (AP) — Naomi Wolf and her U.S. publisher have split up amid a dispute over her latest book, "Outrages."Wolf and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt announced separately Friday that they had "mutually and amicably agreed to part company" and that Houghton would not be releasing "Outrages."...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Capital hill: Astros, Nats put World Series eyes on pitching

Gerrit Cole, Max Scherzer and a slew of aces get the World Series started in Houston, then the scene shifts to...

After delay, New Orleans to demolish cranes at hotel site

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — After two days of delays, New Orleans officials are hoping to use a series of controlled...

Where you die can affect your chance of being an organ donor

WASHINGTON (AP) — If Roland Henry had died in a different part of the country, his organs might have been...

Swiss choose new parliament, vote could see Green gains

BERLIN (AP) — Voters in Switzerland are electing a new national parliament, with recent polls suggesting...

Bolivians pick between Evo Morales and change in tight vote

LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) — South America's longest-serving leader is seeking an unprecedented fourth term in...

15 dead after Russian dam collapse floods dormitories

MOSCOW (AP) — At least 15 people are dead after a dam at a small Siberian gold mine collapsed and water...

McMenamins
Joaquin Sapien Propublica

After more than a decade of national legislative efforts to end prison rape, this month was supposed to produce a significant victory: formal audits of prisons and jails around the country that would more reliably chronicle incidents of sex abuse and the consequences for its perpetrators.

But that moment of possible progress has turned out to be more complicated than many had hoped. The first round of audits will be chiefly conducted by the American Correctional Association (ACA), the very organization that has been criticized over the years for failing to identify and address safety problems at prisons across the country.

The ACA, based in Virginia, performs an array of services for the corrections industry: it provides training for guards and other officials, hosts conferences, and lobbies in Washington. But it is perhaps best known for its accreditation service. Prison officials pay the organization to evaluate facilities on issues such as inmate healthcare, sanitation, food service, and personnel training. ACA's blessing is sought, in part, to help prisons defend against inmate lawsuits.

Now, as part of legislation aimed at reducing the incidence of sexual assaults in prison, the ACA will be responsible for helping make sure the state and federal adult prisons and juvenile detention centers it accredits are properly investigating allegations of sexual abuse, disciplining guards and inmates and providing appropriate medical attention to victims.

The development has dismayed some of those involved in improving the safety of the country's prisons.

"If some group were closely tied to the police, would you really go to them to complain about police brutality?" asked Jack Beck, a director of the Correctional Association of New York, a non-profit organization dedicated to prison reform efforts.

"This is a way to manage this whole thing so it's not going to rock the boat too much," Beck said.

The American Correctional Association has yet to respond to questions for this story. If they do, we'll post an update.

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., who helped author the national legislation, known as the Prison Rape Elimination Act, said he is comfortable with ACA handling the work.

"It's the natural organization to do the audits," Scott said. "If they turn out not to be that aggressive, then it will become a problem. But I don't think it's a problem now. These people have a lot invested in their professionalism."

The U.S. Justice Department, which played a critical role in the development of the legislation, sent a four-page statement in response to questions for this story. It said the first group of auditors were "handpicked" but did not address the concerns about the propriety of ACA conducting the sex abuse audits. The department said mandatory training sessions will be required for all auditors, no matter who they work for.

Over the years, the ACA's work for the country's prisons and jails has been scrutinized by federal courts and occasionally found wanting.

In January 1999, a U.S. District Court in Texas presided over a lawsuit filed by prisoners who claimed they were abused by guards and other inmates. After a three-week-long fact-finding hearing, the court found that constitutional violations were widespread, this despite the fact that the state's prisons were accredited by the ACA.

The court found that inmates in Texas state prisons lived "under conditions allowing a substantial risk of physical and sexual abuse from other inmates, as well as malicious and sadistic use of force by correctional officers." Further, the court determined that the state "failed to take reasonable measures to protect vulnerable inmates from other, predatory prisoners and overzealous, physically aggressive state employees."

Courts have come to similar conclusions about the conditions in ACA accredited prisons in California and Florida.

Amy Fettig, senior staff counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, said such a track record undercuts the ACA's credibility as an effective agent in the push to truly limit sexual violence in the country's prisons. Fettig and other advocates are now pushing the Justice Department to expand its pool of potential auditors to include options other than the ACA.

Those options could include judges or lawyers or other organizations with expertise in corrections issues. The ACLU, which does not accept government funding, would not be a candidate.

"We have to make sure these audits are part of a meaningful process. Otherwise we're missing an opportunity to create more humane facilities," Fettig said.

The push to address sexual assaults in prison – violence that included inmates and corrections officers as well – began decades ago, and was marked by setbacks and years of delay.

In 1968, an activist named Tom Cahill was arrested at an anti-war protest and sent to a San Antonio jail, where he says he was serially raped and beaten over the course of 24 hours. Afterward, he dedicated his life to ending such violence behind bars. He staged a 60-day hunger strike outside of San Quentin, wrote countless letters to lawmakers, and started a non-profit organization called Stop Prison Rape.

In the 1990s, Cahill gained the attention of Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., who, in partnership with Scott, began work on drafting and adopting legislation.

In 1998, legislation was introduced in Congress seeking a wide range of reforms and requirements, including better training for prison personnel and clear accountability and investigative measures. The legislation never made it to a floor vote.

But in 2003, similar legislation won greater backing and resulted in the formal prison rape act.

The measure called for the establishment of a national commission comprised of advocates and corrections officials. The commission was supposed to examine the problem and recommend a set of standards in two years. It took five.

The commission released a report in 2009, and at that point the Justice Department was supposed to adopt and enforce rules based on the commission's recommendations within a year. It took three.

The final rules were released in June 2012. They called for zero tolerance of sexual abuse in prisons, increased training for corrections staff, and required independent audits for all confinement facilities once every three years.

Still, the requirements apply to all federal facilities. States can choose to abide by them or not, but risk losing federal funding if they do not. The legislation calls for a 5 percent reduction in federal financing for any state found to fall short in the reform effort.

But following the law will cost states money, too. Some prison systems will have to overhaul their surveillance systems, hire more staff, and implement new mechanisms for inmates to report sex abuse. Some governors may decide that, given the expense of reform, they would rather accept the budget reduction instead.

The Justice Department hasn't made public which states have agreed to comply and which haven't. The first audit was conducted last week at a federal prison in West Virginia; the next two will take place at federal facilities in Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Advocates involved in pushing for the legislation are mostly proud of the final outcome, but feel it didn't need to take so long.

"The Prison Rape Elimination Act and standards are both real milestones in the fight to once and for all eliminate sexual abuse in detention. Having said that I feel it's a real shame that we had to fight so long and so hard for the PREA standards," said Lovisa Stannow, who now heads the Los Angeles-based Just Detention International, which evolved out of the non-profit that Cahill started decades ago.

"These standards should have been developed more quickly, and it would've been possible to get them done more quickly if we hadn't been up against really intense corrections opposition for many years."

Stannow and other advocates have pledged to monitor the first round of audits vigilantly for any signs of leniency.

"I think we are cautiously optimistic," said Chris Daley, Just Detention International's representative in Washington, who also pointed out that facilities are given a deadline to correct any flaws identified by the audits. "That's an indication that the audits aren't just about transparency but transforming the environment within a facility so that the regulations aren't just policies but actual practices."

mlkbreakfast2020 tickets 300x180

Pacific University Master in Fine Arts Writing
Calendar

Photo Gallery

Photos and slide shows of local events

Chicken Waffles 2019