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NORTHWEST NEWS

Merkley Announces Legislation Passed to Ban Export of Crowd Control Munitions to Hong Kong

The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed Senator Merkley's bipartisan legislation, which follows reports that U.S.-made equipment has been used by Hong Kong police to violate the human rights of peaceful protesters

Why the Nation Should Screen All Students for Trauma Like California Does

Surgeon General of California, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is pushing an unprecedented plan to implement universal screenings for childhood trauma within the state’s schools

Veterans and Consumers Fair Credit Act Introduced

In honor of Veterans Day, Monday, Merkley, Brown, Reed, Van Hollen introduced legislation to extend financial protections for servicemembers to veterans and consumers

Home Base Keeps More Than 400 Families in Their Homes in Seattle

The United Way of King County program aims to reduce homelessness by preventing evictions

NEWS BRIEFS

New Oregon Group Is Tackling Opioid Misuse and Addiction

809 Oregonians died as a result of an opioid-related drug overdose between 2015-2017 ...

Rose Festival Opens Label Art Contest to Entire Community

Cash prize for winning submission that best depicts festival theme: 2020 Rose Vision ...

Smithsonian Magazine Announces the 2019 American Ingenuity Awards Honorees

The Annual American Ingenuity Awards honor individuals who are transforming American culture ...

Noodle Dish at Portland Public Schools One of Best School Meals in US

Food Management, a news organization dedicated to noncommercial food service, has named PPS’s yakisoba noodles the nation’s top...

Clark College names new VP for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Rashida Willard leads college equity work supporting students, faculty and staff ...

Police: Hillsboro teen dead in pool after swim practice

HILLSBORO, Ore. (AP) — Police in Hillsboro say a teenager was found dead in a swimming pool after a swim practice.The Oregonian/OregonLive reported Thursday that the girl drowned at the Shute Park Aquatic & Recreation Center on Wednesday night.Lifeguards and emergency responders tried to...

Woman accused of embezzling K from hockey team

MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) — A Medford woman has been arrested and is suspected of stealing ,000 from a youth hockey organization.The Oregonian/OregonLive reports 43-year-old Cara Ruettgers faces charges of second-degree theft, aggravated theft, identity theft and forgery. Police said in a news...

No. 4 Georgia continues playoff chase with another big test

Here are some things to watch during the 13th week of the Southeastern Conference football season.GAME OF THE WEEKNo. 24 Texas A&M (7-3, 4-2 SEC) at No. 4 Georgia (9-1, 6-1, No. 4 College Football Playoff): Georgia already has clinched a berth in the SEC championship game and is seeking to keep...

College Football Picks: Scoreboard watching for CFP hopefuls

Pac-12 powers No. 6 Oregon and No. 7 Utah are on the road this weekend, trying to continue their march to a mega-meeting with huge playoff ramifications in the conference championship game next month.They should also both be keeping an eye on the Big 12, where No. 8 Oklahoma is looming. And, of...

OPINION

Illinois Prison Bans Black History Books

Officials claim the works are ‘racial’ ...

5 Ways Life Would be Better if it Were Always Daylight Saving Time

A Professor from the University of Washington says DST saves lives and energy and prevents crime ...

Importance of Educators of Color for Black and Brown Students

A new report examines the ways that school leaders of color’s experiences and perspectives influence how they build school culture ...

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 ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

AP Interview: Commisso promises to keep Fiorentina ‘forever’

ROME (AP) — Less than six months into his tenure as Fiorentina owner and president, Rocco Commisso is already starting to grapple with Italy’s infamous bureaucracy as he attempts to build a new stadium for the club.First, Commisso’s plan to overhaul the existing Stadio Artemio...

Noose found in Auburn University residence hall

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Auburn University says it’s investigating after an extension cord tied into a noose was found inside a campus residence hall.Tweets sent late Wednesday by the school’s safety and security department say the noose was discovered and removed Wednesday from a...

The Latest: Buttigieg takes hits on issue of his experience

ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on the Democratic presidential debate (all times local):11:20 p.m.In Wednesday night’s Democratic debate, Pete Buttigieg became the focus of several of his Democratic opponents for what they characterized as a lack of experience.After the South Bend, Indiana,...

ENTERTAINMENT

15 Grammy facts: Michelle Obama in, Bruce Springsteen out

Fifteen things worth noting about Wednesday’s nominations for the 2020 Grammy Awards, from snubbed singers to the comeback kids._______SNUBBING SPRINGSTEENBruce Springsteen’s “Western Stars” didn’t shine bright enough for the Grammy Awards.The rock legend’s...

Apple cancels premiere of ‘The Banker’ over ‘concerns’

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple has canceled the premiere of one of the tech company’s first original films, “The Banker” the day before it was to debut at Los Angeles’ AFI Film Festival.In a statement Wednesday, Apple said that last week it learned of “some...

Review: ‘Dark Waters’ plunges into ‘forever chemicals’

Todd Haynes’ “Dark Waters,” about the prolonged (and ongoing) legal fight to uncover the environmental damage of cancer-inducing “forever chemicals” and hold their corporate makers accountable, is a sober and ominous docudrama. On its surface, it’s an...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Across Mister Rogers’ actual neighborhoods, his faith echoes

PITTSBURGH (AP) — His TV neighborhood, was, of course, a realm of make believe — a...

Where parents feel like chauffeurs, companies step in

NEW YORK (AP) — When Deb Fink heard about a company that could drive her 9-year-old son to his after-school...

Chinese state media deny torture of ex-UK consulate staff

BEIJING (AP) — China’s ruling Communist Party’s newspaper published surveillance videos...

China demands Trump veto bills on Hong Kong

BEIJING (AP) — China on Thursday demanded President Donald Trump veto legislation aimed at supporting human...

More protesters leave Hong Kong campus ahead of weekend poll

HONG KONG (AP) — More than 20 protesters inside a Hong Kong university campus surrendered to police on...

Pope in Thailand calls for action to protect women, children

BANGKOK (AP) — Pope Francis urged more efforts to combat the “humiliation” of women and...

McMenamins
J. Coyden Palmer Special to the NNPA from the Chicago Crusader

A commission convened to examine the impact of Illinois' drug laws on racial and ethnic groups released its findings Jan. 31st, during a news conference at the James Thompson Center. The results of the study show African Americans in Cook County were eight times more likely than Whites to be sentenced to prison if convicted of a Class 4 possession, low-level drug crime. Statewide, the data also indicated that sentencing was racially disproportionate based on the rate of drug arrests in 62 of the state's 102 counties. The findings of the study prompted several recommendations to close the disparity gap.



"We need to change certain policies and practices so that justice is administered fairly across racial and ethnic lines, said State Sen. Mattie Hunter, of Chicago, who served as co-chair of the commission. "We need to divert non-violent drug offenders from expensive incarceration to rehabilitation programs, such as court-ordered drug treatment." The study also found that Afri- can American families are being affected by the sentencing laws, especially when it comes to Black males. Based on testimony during community hearings from family members and social workers, the study shows that families are affected when their loved ones return from prison and have a hard time finding legitimate employment. "There is a public safety issue here, but we also have to look at the families that are being destroyed because their parents are not in the household," Hunter said.



An unnamed local business owner suggested to the commission the creation of a special class of contracting provisions, similar to current minority- and women-owned business provisions, for employers who hire formerly incarcerated people. Social service providers who testified for the study also said the problem of drug crimes need to be addressed on a more holistic approach. They say there is too much focus on law enforcement and punishment rather than treatment for those struggling with addiction, as was recommended by the commission. Pamela Rodriguez is the president of Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC). She said the yearly cost of incarceration for one inmate is more than $25,000 whereas a drug treatment program for the same time frame is only $7,000. She said with the state being in such a financial crunch, not only is it a more effective and ethical way of looking at the problem, but it is sounder from a financial aspect as well.



"As a community-based agency that has worked with thousands of criminal justice clients since 1976, TASC strongly supports the recommendations presented in this report," she said. "One of those recommendations is that there is a need for better data collecting because we need a more complete picture to see how widespread this problem is. And the solutions need to be as comprehensive as the problems." Rodriguez added the cost savings of alternative sentencing reduce the disproportion of ethnic minorities being sent to prison, in addition to saving money. She believes the current drug laws are ruining Black and Latino communities across the state, but stopped short of blaming any one entity. She said instead it is a "system failure" that needs to be addressed. The commission also recommended that drug seizure monies, which currently go to local law enforcement agencies after the successful prosecution of a bust, have a fixed portion go to support treatment and diversion programs. The Crusader asked Sen. Hunter what amount of money Illinois law enforcement agencies receive from these drug seizures.



"We have no idea," Hunter responded. "That is one of the best kept secrets around. When it comes to those forfeiture funds it's kind of like 'hands off' to us. That is going to be a battle to find out that amount and how it is used. But, we hope to sit down with a lot of people to discuss this report while moving forward and perhaps then we can answer that question." Attorney Standish Willis, who also served on the commission, said there is a direct correlation between the findings in this report and how African Americans are more likely to be sentenced to the death penalty in Illinois. Earlier this month the state legislature voted to abolish the death penalty, but Gov. Pat Quinn has yet to sign the bill.



"African Americans and Latinos are filling the prisons so some of the problems pointed out in this report will address many of those questions of arrest and prosecution in more serious offenses," Willis said. "But we need more data. We cannot fashion policy to address the issues of the death penalty or drug crimes without the right data." Dr. Terry Solomon serves as the executive director for the Illinois African American Family Commission. She said one of the significant recommendations of the commission that needs to be implemented is not using felony drug convictions for employment opportunities. She said by doing so society is not allowing people who paid their debt to reestablish themselves among the working class, thus forcing them back into a life of crime, poverty or both.



"Drug use is a mental health issue so we need to start using mental health approaches to treat these issues as opposed to just incarcerating people," Solomon said.



Illinois State Sen. Mattie Hunter talks to the media about the state commissioned study on how drug sentences are given out based on race.

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