Witness LA

U.S. PoliticsPosted by
Witness LA

How Federal policy has failed to protect Indigenous women

Lawmakers in the nation’s capital have an opportunity to fix a longstanding problem with the landmark legislation to prevent domestic violence: its failure to protect Indigenous women. The 1994 Violence Against Women Act, or what is commonly called “VAWA,” was the first federal law criminalizing domestic violence. VAWA aimed to...
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MusicPosted by
Witness LA

Happy Juneteenth!

Traditionally WitnessLA likes to celebrate holidays and special occasions with music…and often poetry. So on this first Juneteenth since it officially became a federal holiday, we chose the irreplaceable writer and poet Maya Angelou reciting her pain and power-drenched, and always gorgeous, Still I Rise. And, for music, Pharrell Williams’...
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Oakland, CAPosted by
Witness LA

Op-Ed: The Case for Defunding the Police & What That Really Means

The phrase “defund the police” has become a rallying cry in the wake of last summer’s uprising for racial justice and a radical reimagining of policing and public safety. While the concept has been on the minds of racial justice advocates since at least 2016, it has raised some concerns and confusion for those less familiar with the movement.
Congress & CourtsPosted by
Witness LA

AG Merrick Garland Restores Asylum for Women, Families, and others Facing Domestic Violence, Gangs, & Similar Threats

On Wednesday, June 16, Attorney General Merrick Garland took what justice advocates are calling “another critical step towards restoring access to asylum and welcoming refugees with dignity.”. In a decision that will affect tens of thousands of cases moving through the badly backlogged immigration courts, Garland vacated three Trump-era Attorney...
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Witness LA

Justice Wins Big at the Pulitzers

The Pulitzer Prizes were announced on Friday, June 11, at 1 p.m. Eastern, and for those who were not obsessively tuned to the announcement of the prizes, we thought you’d enjoy hearing that although all the winners were people who did stellar and essential work last year, when it came to awards for journalism, reporting and commentary that covered issues of justice and injustice was deservedly high on judges’ lists.
California StatePosted by
Witness LA

CA’s Jail & Prison populations went down during COVID, but now the jail numbers have crept back up

When the COVID-19 pandemic began its frightening rise in the United States, justice advocates were quick to call for prison and jail releases, for obvious reasons of health and safety, and the jail and prison populations indeed began to fall. Yet, a little more than a year later, the much needed decarceration appears to have stalled, according to a new report published Monday by the Vera Institute of Justice.
California StatePosted by
Witness LA

An important new study looks at the relationship between prosecutors & politics, including the actions of California’s lobbyist district attorneys

A new study by the “Prosecutors and Politics Project,” a research initiative at the University of North Carolina School of Law, looks at the role of prosecutors in the nation’s state criminal justice systems, with a focus on their their “political power,” specifically the power of DAs as lobbyists pushing for or against proposed legislation.
Los Angeles, CAPosted by
Witness LA

More states expand the right to vote to previously incarcerated, while 11 states still permanently disenfranchise

When Clifton Gibson was released from prison in 2019, he still felt the same disconnection from society that he internalized for the 25 years of his incarceration. Among the many challenges he faced: He wasn’t allowed to vote. At that time, California, like several other states, did not allow people on parole with felony convictions to cast a ballot.
PoliticsPosted by
Witness LA

Op-Ed: A Case for Better Funding of California’s Community Alternatives to Juvenile Detention and Probation

Supporters of the juvenile justice status quo wrongly claim that community-based organizations are not yet strong enough to serve all youth who may otherwise cycle through juvenile courts, detention centers and on and off parole rosters. Ideally, opponents to reform say, youth would be served by nonprofits close to home, but that cannot happen until enough suitable nonprofits are available. This line of thinking ignores the community-based direct services already offered in many areas, from life coaching in Oakland to legal support in Los Angeles. Failing to adequately support these existing community services keeps us stuck in a cycle of waiting.
Congress & CourtsPosted by
Witness LA

U.S. Supremes unanimously reject “racist precedents” in ruling that tribes can police non-Indians who are suspected of crimes on tribal lands

In a critically important ruling by the U.S. Supreme court on Tuesday, June 2, the nation’s highest court addressed the issue of whether Indian tribes can police non-Indians whose actions threaten the health or welfare of the tribe and/or its members. Tuesday’s opinion, pointed out SCOTUSBlog, is the court’s first...
Public SafetyPosted by
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Much Watched Bill to Decertify Police for Misconduct and Killings Makes it Out of the Suspense File and is Passed in the Senate

On May 26, the California Senate passed SB 2, a bill intended to keep officers found to have committed misconduct out of the profession . Just a few days earlier, on May 21, the California Assembly and Senate’s fiscal committees decided the fate of more than 1,000 bills packed into their “suspense files,” sending some, including SB 2, onto the Senate and Assembly floors. Others, lawmakers quietly killed or left to marinate in the suspense file until next year’s legislative session.
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Memorial Day: With Deep Gratitude, Sorrow, & Love: For Our Fallen Sons And Daughters, Mothers, Fathers, Wives, Husbands, Brothers And Sisters

When it comes to the variety of thoughts and emotions that Memorial Day brings forth, often music can express what speeches cannot. For example, although he has never been in the military, Jason Isbell has written two songs that reach out to veterans, and to those who have lost family members to war. The songs are Tour of Duty, and Dress Blues. You’l find the latter below.
California StatePosted by
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New CA OIG report shows CDCR’s investigation of employee misconduct “Poor, ” including in case where 2 officers failed to notice a beheading

The semi-annual report from the California Office of the Inspector General on the topic of “Internal Investigations and the Employee Disciplinary Process of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation,” came out on May 19, 2021, and it is disturbing, especially for those who have loved ones in any of the state’s prisons.
Los Angeles County, CAPosted by
Witness LA

District Attorney George Gascón is not an outlier say AGs and DAs around the nation. He is the popularly elected wave of the future

Last Friday, May 14, nearly 70 current and former elected prosecutors and Attorneys General filed an amicus letter brief in support of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón and his ability to set his own prosecutorial policies within the law. The brief, addressed to the California Supreme Court, which...