06-18-2018  8:30 am      •     
The Skanner Report
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The Honorable Willie L. Brown to Receive NAACP Spingarn Medal

The award recognizes Brown’s lifelong commitment to the community, equality and civil rights ...

Watching Oprah: The Oprah Winfrey Show and American Culture

New Smithsonian exhibit looks at how Oprah Winfrey shaped American culture and vice versa ...

Oregon Historical Society, Oregon Black Pioneers Host ‘Celebrate History and Make a Difference Now!’ Event June 9

Representatives from local organizations will talk about how individuals can get involved in promoting social change ...

Genealogical Forum of Oregon Hosts ‘Starting Your Genealogy’ Workshop

Free forum offers assistance for those just getting started ...

Literary Arts Offers Writers of Color Fellowship

Deadline to apply is July 9, 2018 ...

Oregon dog that survived 2 gunshot wounds finds new home

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A dog that was shot twice and left for dead in a rugged area of northeast Oregon has been given a new home.KATU-TV reports the dog named Rez was found in the mountains near Pendleton, Oregon, in February covered in blood from two bullet wounds in the head, causing him...

Man found shot to death at high school track in Portland

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Portland police say a man was found shot to death on a high school track.Officers responded before 5 a.m. Sunday to the temporary site of Grant High School. The school is using the former Marshall High School campus as it undergoes a renovation.Authorities did not...

Old farm warehouse may be saved as part of Hanford history

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — One of Washington state's most endangered historic places is located on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland. That's according to the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation.The long warehouse along the Columbia River was once owned by farmers Paul and Mary...

Oregon dog that survived 2 gunshot wounds finds new home

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A dog that was shot twice and left for dead in a rugged area of northeast Oregon has been given a new home.KATU-TV reports the dog named Rez was found in the mountains near Pendleton, Oregon, in February covered in blood from two bullet wounds in the head, causing him...


Redlining Settlement Fails to Provide Strong Penalties

A recent settlement of a federal redlining lawsuit is yet another sign that justice is still being denied ...

5 Lessons on Peace I Learned from My Cat Soleil

Dr. Jasmine Streeter takes some cues on comfort from her cat ...

Research Suggests Suicides By Racial and Ethnic Minorities are Undercounted

Sociologist Dr. Kimya Dennis describes barriers to culturally-specific suicide research and treatment ...

Black Women Are Changing the Tide of American Politics

Black women voters will make the difference in the midterm elections and the future of American politics ...


Celeb chef Samuelsson to open restaurant in Miami's Overtown

OVERTOWN, Fla. (AP) — Chef Marcus Samuelsson has bought a former pool hall in Overtown, a historic black neighborhood in Miami, with plans to open a restaurant.He hopes his project will contribute to a multimillion-dollar revitalization effort already under way.Samuelsson, a James Beard...

The Latest: Top teams have trouble winning at World Cup

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Sunday at the World Cup (all times local):11:35 p.m.Parity has come to the World Cup.Five of the top six nations in the FIFA rankings have played, and none has won. Only two of the top dozen teams have victories.Top-ranked Germany lost to No. 15 Mexico,...

Maryland Democratic primary has 2 black candidates leading

BALTIMORE (AP) — With two leading candidates who have a shot at becoming Maryland's first black governor, the crowded Democratic gubernatorial primary reflects the state's changing demographics and the party's efforts to harness the energy of an increasingly diverse electorate around the...


Warner Bros. crackdown puts Dark Mark over Potter festivals

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Warner Bros. is cracking down on local Harry Potter fan festivals around the country, saying it's necessary to halt unauthorized commercial activity. Fans, however, liken the move to Dementors sucking the joy out of homegrown fun, while festival directors say they'll...

Cornell's daughter pays tribute to late rocker with duet

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chris Cornell's daughter has released a recording of a duet with her late father as part of an emotional tribute to the late rocker on Father's Day.Toni Cornell released the duet of Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 U" on Sunday along with a note thanking her dad for his...

Jay-Z, Beyonce release surprise album 'Everything Is Love'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jay-Z and Beyonce are keeping up a family tradition, dropping a surprise album before anyone knew it was coming.The couple released a joint album that touches on the rapper's disgust at this year's Grammy Awards and features a shout out from their daughter Blue Ivy to her...


Thomas Markle says Prince Harry said to give Trump a chance

LONDON (AP) — The father of the former Meghan Markle says he talked politics with Prince Harry over the...

Global warming cooks up 'a different world' over 3 decades

SALIDA, Colo. (AP) — We were warned.On June 23, 1988, a sultry day in Washington, James Hansen told...

Trump adviser Roger Stone reveals new meeting with Russian

WASHINGTON (AP) — Special counsel Robert Mueller is examining a previously undisclosed meeting between...

Compulsive video-game playing could be mental health problem

GENEVA (AP) — Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health...

Peek at the future: Electric plane cruises skies over Norway

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Norway's transportation minister and the head of the Scandinavian country's...

2 Koreas agree to march together at Asian Games

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Athletes from the rival Koreas will march together under a single flag in the...

Dr. Benjamin Chavis
Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. (NNPA President and CEO)

There is an old adage that posits “The more things appear to change, the more they stay the same.” Once again, millions of Americans are engulfed in what has become a reluctant national debate and dialogue concerning race and the urgency to reform the nation’s criminal justice system. Finding and identifying transformative remedies and solutions are long overdue.

In the wake of the most recent fatal tragedies in Dallas, Minneapolis, and Baton Rouge, there are renewed fervent calls for improving relations between police officers and the communities they are sworn to protect and serve. I believe these calls are being made in earnest, seeking conclusive change.

However, the underlying systemic reasons why these and other tragedies continue to happen are somehow routinely avoided. There is a pervasive fear to speak and articulate the truth about race and the institutionalized devolving impact of racism on all levels of the criminal justice system.

To put it bluntly, there is too much intellectual dishonesty concerning the historical and contemporary role of race in America. In particular we need more intellectual honesty about why and how real reform of the criminal justice system should be achieved.

We need remedies that actually work to enable and to empower people to improve their quality of life without the debilitating and too often death-rendering consequences of a broken criminal justice system. Mass incarceration, prosecutorial misconduct, judicial inequality, racial profiling, and police brutality are all interrelated and interconnected in the counterproductive web of the system named criminal justice.

It is a system that lacks honesty, truth and integrity. Yet, my purpose here is to go beyond merely joining the public chorus that bemoans the prolonged contradictions of this failed social system. I know that there are some preventative programs and initiatives that are producing positive results about which more people should be made aware.

Criminal justice reform requires the coordinated and combined efforts and support of principled leaders in the private sector along with government officials, community organizations, and family members who are impacted. We should also acknowledge that poverty and economic insecurity feeds the pipeline to the jails and prisons in the United States.

Acquiring a good education and training that provide a means of generating a sustainable income are also key factors that are necessary, if reform of our system of justice is to be productive. Last year in Baton Rouge, ironically, I was pleased to be on a panel about criminal justice reform at the 57th national convention of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We discussed the need for re-entry programs for the thousands of ex-offenders who are returning to our communities across the nation.

One such program I want to highlight, Project JumpStart in Baltimore, Md., is an effective and efficient model to reforming an important aspect of the criminal justice system: offender re-entry workforce development. The construction trades are a growing skilled-workers industry in most urban areas where there are high-paying job opportunities.

JumpStart is Baltimore’s premier construction training program. It is a 14-week skills training program in plumbing, carpentry and the electrical trade. Trainees also receive financial literacy coaching as well as practical courses in mathematics as it relates to the construction industry. Most importantly more than 70 percent of the JumpStart trainees actually go on to attain apprenticeships, licenses, and high-wage jobs.

Mark Holden, general counsel and senior vice president at Koch Industries, was on the SCLC panel with me in Baton Rouge. We agreed that bipartisan support of results-oriented criminal justice reform programs is essential. I was also pleased recently to review Mark’s appraisal of Project JumpStart.

Holden emphasized, “Project JumpStart allows ex-offenders to rebuild their lives, providing opportunity and hope. We all have a moral obligation to stop punishing people for their past actions once they have paid their debt to society. We need to build and support a culture of opportunity so that the ex-offender leads a productive and purposeful life – Project JumpStart is essential to that process.”

Maryland, like many of other states, disproportionately incarcerates African Americans. What will happened to our brothers and sisters once they complete their prison sentences? I support President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative as one of a series of programs targeted to keep our young people from entering prison. But we also have to be concerned about the millions of people who are now hopelessly languishing in America’s prisons and jails.

When I was unjustly imprisoned in my home state of North Carolina during most of the 1970’s as a member of the Wilmington Ten, I witnessed firsthand how thousands of young, gifted and talented prison inmates were given no rehabilitative chance to re-enter society with an opportunity to become productive and successful in their respective life journeys.

To that end there should be more programs like JumpStart in every city and state. We need principled national, state and local leadership on all the key reform issues, in particular on overcriminalization, re-entry training, prosecutorial accountability, community policing, and restorative equal justice. Today, across America, we urgently need more intellectual honesty about race and criminal justice reform.

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. is the President and CEO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and can be reached for national advertisement sales and partnership proposals at: dr.bchavis@nnpa.org; and for lectures and other professional consultations at: http://drbenjaminfchavisjr.wix.com/drbfc

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