US President Barack Obama speaks as he tours the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution in El Reno, Oklahoma, July 16, 2015. Obama is the first sitting US President to visit a federal prison, in a push to reform one of the most expensive and crowded prison systems in the world. (Photo credit:SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Last week, President Obama put a much-needed spotlight on the vicious cycle of mass incarceration. In the past three decades, the prison population in the U.S. has ballooned due to a number of factors that have created a system rife with discrimination and other abuses. And the burden falls disproportionately on low-income people and people of color.
The President made a historic visit on July 16 to a federal prison — the first sitting president to do so. His visit spotlighted the massive overcrowding problem — he was shown one 9-by-10-foot cell that sometimes holds three prisoners — that is the result of a broken criminal justice system.
On December 8, 2014, the Department of Justice released its revised “Guidance on the Use of Race” by law enforcement officials. Just in time for Human Rights Day (and you thought the feds only cared about the Constitution).
The revised guidance expanded the classes protected from discriminatory policing from just race and ethnicity to include gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin and religion. It not only covers federal law enforcement officers performing federal law enforcement activities, including those related to national security and intelligence, but also local and state law enforcement officers who are participating in federal law enforcement task forces. While not providing a private right of action, it does require each agency to collect data on complaints made under the guidelines. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
The media on MLK Day showed us just how far we have to go.
On NBC, The Today Show headlined with contrasting photos of President Obama and….50 Cent. No kidding. Throughout the next hour, they proceeded to offend their thinking viewers by asking who, of the two, has more influence.
NBC insisted on pursuing this nonsense, flashing photos of Obama, walking through the Capitol, meeting with dignitaries, in his suit and tie and 50 Cent, wearing a thin white tank undershirt and rapping surrounded by a partying crowd. They continued their President vs. rapper theme as they welcomed journalist Gwen Ifill for an interview. Today Show host Meredith Vieira tossed her the opening question while moving her hands up and down, like a scale, “So Gwen, Obama or 50 Cent?”
Excuse me? No offense to 50 Cent, but can someone please explain the comparison? As far as I can see, they are both black. And breathing. Beyond that, I’m hard pressed to see the relevance in this comparison that Today wouldn’t let die.
Race no longer an issue? When was the last time a news program compared Bush to Eminem?
Action for Human Rights. Hope for Humanity.