Social Justice Monday: Envisioning a Different Criminal Justice System

Envisioning a Different Criminal Justice System: Alternatives to Incarceration
Social Justice Monday—Monday, February 8, 2016
Submitted by Jeanna McLellan, Electronic Services Assistant

Part Two of the Criminal Justice Reform Series
Presented by The Human Rights Law Society and Black Law Student Association

While the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners. This puts our incarceration rate as one of the world’s highest, at 716 per 100,000 of our national population.  As mass incarceration plagues our country, so does racial disparity in our criminal justice system.  More than 60% of people in prison are racial and ethnic minorities.  For Black males in their thirties, 1 in every 10 is in prison or jail on any given day.

In 2012, the Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice issued a report on race in Washington’s criminal justice system, stating that racial and ethnic disproportionality in our criminal justice system is indisputable. The task force focused on why disproportionalities exist, examining differential commission rates, facially neutral policies with disparate impacts, and bias as possible contributing causes.

Advocates and law makers across the country have been working toward ending mass incarceration and racial disparity in our criminal justice system – whether through policy changes, legislative fixes, implicit bias education within the legal system, litigation, and alternative approaches to the punitive justice model.

This Social Justice Monday, Shannon Perez-Darby, the Youth Services Program Director at The Northwest Network of Bi, Trans, Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse, discussed the importance of accountable communities. Professor Paul Holland examined the benefits of Problem-Solving Courts and Participatory Defense as alternatives to our current criminal justice system. Afram Ayika advocated the advantages of Restorative Justice, and Professor Deborah Ahrens evaluated the benefits of Restorative Justice and possible issues arising from Problem-Solving Courts.

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Security Precautions

Theft can be a problem in any building on campus and we remind you to never leave personal belongings unattended in the library. Remember to take valuable items with you when you leave or ask a colleague to watch valuables if you will be gone for a very short period of time. Study rooms are no exception.

Be sure to secure your laptop even if you plan to just step away for a moment. There are laptop security devices installed on carrels and tables throughout the library to secure your computer. Security cables can be purchased in the bookstore. The library has a limited supply of security cables available for check-out at the circulation desk.

Banned Books Week

Celebrate the Freedom to Read during Banned Books Week September 27th – October 3rd 2015. For over 30 years libraries, publishers, booksellers, journalists, teachers and readers have been coming together during Banned Book Week to explore the issues and controversies around book challenges and book banning. The American Library Association compiles a yearly list of the most frequently challenged books.

The top five most challenged books for 2014:
1. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
• Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”
• Available in the Lemieux Library collection 5th Floor-Books PS3551 .L35774 A78 2007
2. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
• Reasons: gambling, offensive language, political viewpoint. Additional reasons: “politically, racially, and socially offensive,” “graphic depictions”
• Available in the Lemieux Library collection 4th Floor-Books PN6747 .S245 P4713 2003
3. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
• Reasons: Anti-family, homosexuality, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “promotes the homosexual agenda”
4. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
• Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
• Available in our collection LAW-Culp Collection (3rd Floor-Range 3A) PS3563.O8749B55 1994
5. It’s Perfectly Normal: Changing Bodies Growing Up, Sex, and Sexual Health by Robie Harris
• Reasons: Nudity, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group. Additional reasons: “ it’s child pornography”

Why do we eat hot dogs and watch fireworks?

Everyone knows the 4th of July is Independence Day. Most everyone knows that it is Independence Day because that’s when the Declaration of Independence was signed. But how much do you really know about the Declaration itself? The National Archive houses the Declaration of Independence. It also has an online exhibit that discusses its drafting, preservation and many other fascinating topics related to the document. Law students and lawyers should take a moment to reflect on the Declaration and its relationship to American law . . . and then they should have a hot dog and blow something up.

How do you write a commencement speech? Crowdsource it.

Congratulations to our Seattle University School of Law Graduates and thanks to our wonderful speakers. While many speakers may have peers review their speech prior to the ceremony, a student speaker at Stanford Law School has taken it to the next level – she is crowdsourcing her speech.

Washington State Bicycle Laws

Bike month may be over, but bike laws apply year round. Find out more about bike laws and bicycling in Washington on the Cascade Bicycle Club site.

May

The month is May and “may” is also a word on which many disputes have arisen and many court cases have hinged. One would typically define “may” as permissive. However, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, some courts have interpreted “may” to be synonymous with “shall” or “must” “in an effort to effectuate what is said to be legislative intent.” It seems like that may be stretching a bit.

Courthouse Creepiness

The American Bar Association has featured 9 haunted courthouses! Check it out!

 

Banned Books 2014

Celebrate the Freedom to Read during Banned Books Week 2014. For over 30 years libraries, publishers, booksellers, journalists, teachers and readers have been coming together during Banned Book Week to explore the issues and controversies around book challenges and book banning. The American Library Association compiles a yearly list of the most frequently challenged books.

The top five most challenged books for 2013:
1. Captain Underpants (series), Dav Pilkey
• Reasons: Offensive language, unsuited for age group, violence
2. The Bluest Eye, Toni Morrison
• Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, violence
• In our collection at: LAW-Culp Collection (3rd Floor-Range 3A) PS3563.O8749B55 1994
3. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Sherman Alexie
• Reasons: Drugs/alcohol/smoking, offensive language, racism, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
4. Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James
• Reasons: Nudity, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, unsuited to age group
5. The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins
• Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group

Self Defense Against Robots?

What are the legal implications of shooting down a drone that is trespassing on your property? What about disabling a peeping Tom drone? In their paper “Self Defense Against Robots”, Michael Froomkin and Zak Colangelo examine “when, under U.S. law, humans may use force against robots to protect themselves, their property, and their privacy.”