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Watch This I’m the proud daughter of Oaxacan immigrants
Isabel Cortes is a law student at UC Berkeley Law and a 2019 ChangeLawyers℠ Scholar.
More of This Border Patrol tried to separate a newborn from his 19-year old mother, until lawyers intervened
Al Otro Lado is a transnational immigrant rights non profit funded by ChangeLawyers℠
A 19-year-old mother from Honduras who gave birth Friday at Scripps-Mercy Hospital in Chula Vista while being detained by Border Patrol agents has been paroled following pressure from human rights advocates, her attorney said Monday.
She may get to remain in the San Diego area with her baby after pressure from lawyers and advocates, according to Hugo Ivan Salazar Gonzalez, one of her immigration attorneys.
The Honduran mother crossed the border Friday and turned herself over to Border Patrol agents, stating she was in labor and in need of medical assistance, which she could not get in Tijuana, her attorney said.
Agents took the pregnant woman to Scripps where she gave birth to an infant who had complications and needed to be placed in the Intensive Care Unit, Salazar said.
While she was visiting her baby in the ICU, she asked a Border Patrol agent when she could be released with her child and that’s when an agent told her she would be either going back to detention or returned to Mexico under the Migrant Protections Protocol program, her attorney said.
Under MPP, also known as Remain in Mexico, asylum-seekers are returned to Mexico to wait while their U.S. immigration cases are decided. Her attorney said she was seeking asylum but it was not clear under what circumstances the Honduran mother was making that claim.
Family members frantically called attorneys with Al Otro Lado, a pro-migrant legal services nonprofit, over the weekend claiming Border Patrol agents told the mother they planned to place her newborn child in the custody of Child Protective Services and then return her to Mexico without her baby.
Other sources from within the hospital were also communicating with the San Diego Union-Tribune that Border Patrol agents said they planned to separate the mother and the newborn baby.
A CBP spokesperson said “the mother and newborn were never separated by CBP.” This afternoon, the mother was provided a Notice to Appear in immigration court and released from CBP custody, the spokesperson said.
Attorneys with Al Otro Lado said they have been fighting to get access to the mother all weekend to provide her with legal counsel. Until Monday afternoon, they were not allowed to speak with her.
The woman and her attorneys asked she not be named to protect her and her baby’s medical privacy.
Read Story on San Diego Union Tribune
More of This Too He was tried 6 times for the same crime, until the Supreme Court overturned his conviction
Mississippi man Curtis Flowers was tried for the same crime six times: the murder of four people at a furniture store in 1996. He was convicted four times — but each was overturned. Two others ended in mistrials.
Earlier this year, the conviction in the sixth trial was reversed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which found that prosecutors had shown an unconstitutional pattern of excluding black jurors from Flowers' trials.
Now Flowers, who is African American, is allowed to post bail, after 22 years in custody. In a hearing on Monday, a judge granted his request and set bail at $250,000, The Associated Press reports. Flowers will be required to wear an electronic monitor.
"This case is unprecedented in the history of the American legal system," Flowers' attorney Rob McDuff, of the Mississippi Center for Justice, told the judge, according to the AP. He said Flowers had spent more than two decades in prison "without a lawful conviction to justify his incarceration." An anonymous donor contributed the bail money to allow his release, McDuff said.
"Given the evidence of his innocence that continues to surface as time goes by, as well as his excellent prison conduct and the fact that he has no criminal record, bail was required by the law under the unusual circumstances of this case," McDuff said in a statement Monday. "This has been a long and costly process, and there is no need to continue wasting taxpayer money on this misguided prosecution that has been plagued by misconduct and racial discrimination.”
The 4,500-person town of Winona, Miss., the site of the murders and subsequent trials, is about 48% black and 44% white. Flowers, who worked at the furniture store for only three days and had no prior criminal record, was arrested months after the murders.
Flowers' legal saga shines a harsh light on the practice of some prosecutors using race to block black people from being on juries, particularly in cases where the defendant is black.
Read the story on NPR
Speaking Of… Kentucky’s new governor (a progressive lawyer) just gave the right to vote back to 140,000 formerly incarcerated people
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) signed an executive order on Thursday restoring the voting rights of more than 140,000 people with felony convictions.
The order restores the voting rights for people convicted of certain felonies who have completed their sentences. That still leaves as many as hundreds of thousands of people who have felony convictions without their right to vote, but it’s a step forward in a state that has historically taken a very hard stance toward former felons voting.
Beshear’s father, former Gov. Steve Beshear (D), signed a similar executive order. But it was overturned by former Gov. Matt Bevin (R), whom the younger Beshear defeated in an election last month.
Kentucky has one of the strictest laws disenfranchising people with felony records, banning ex-felons from voting for life — unless they get a special reprieve from the state government — even after they finish serving out their prison sentences, parole, or probation. It was only one of two states, along with Iowa, with a strict, enforced lifetime ban.
Based on the Sentencing Project’s 2016 estimates, Kentucky’s ban blocked more than 300,000 people from voting — over 9 percent of the voting-age population. More than 240,000 of those barred from voting had completed their sentences. Due to racial disparities in the criminal justice system, the ban disproportionately affects black voters, with more than a quarter of the black voting age population in Kentucky prohibited from voting.
Florida previously had a lifetime ban for people with felony records, but voters struck it down in 2016. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) is pushing to eliminate her state’s ban through a constitutional amendment. If Reynolds is successful, no state would still have and enforce a strict lifetime ban.
Read the story on Vox
Less of This The surging population in rural jails
The Hamblen County Jail has been described as a dangerously overcrowded “cesspool of a dungeon,” with inmates sleeping on mats in the hallways, lawyers forced to meet their clients in a supply closet and the people inside subjected to “horrible conditions” every day.
And that’s the county sheriff talking.
Jail populations used to be concentrated in big cities. But since 2013, the number of people locked up in rural, conservative counties such as Hamblen has skyrocketed, driven by the nation’s drug crisis.
Like a lot of Appalachia, Morristown, Tenn., about an hour east of Knoxville, has been devastated by methamphetamine and opioid use. Residents who commit crimes to support their addiction pack the 255-bed jail, which had 439 inmates at the end of October, according to the latest state data.
Many cities have invested in treatment options and diversion programs to help drug users. But those alternatives aren’t available in a lot of small towns.
“In the big city, you get a ticket and a trip to the clinic,” said Jacob Kang-Brown, a senior research associate at the Vera Institute of Justice, which released a report on Friday analyzing jail populations. “But in a smaller area, you might get three months in jail.”
The disparity has meant that while jail populations have dropped 18 percent in urban areas since 2013, they have climbed 27 percent in rural areas during that same period, according to estimates in the report from Vera, a nonprofit group that works to improve justice systems. The estimates are drawn from a sample of data from about 850 counties across the country.
There are now about 167,000 inmates in urban jails and 184,000 in rural ones, Vera said. Suburban jail populations have remained about the same since 2013, while small and midsize cities saw a 7 percent increase.
Rural jails now lock up people at a rate more than double that of urban areas. And increasingly, those inmates are women. Hamblen County officials said the number of female inmates in their jail has doubled in the past decade.
Read the story on NY Times
Perspective Would you open your home to a formerly incarcerated person?
In the beginning, Sabina Crocette struggled with the best way to introduce London DeLora Croudy to her family and friends. “Should I introduce her as my roommate? My renter? A new family member?” Ms. Crocette was also questioning how much to get involved in her guest’s life: “I wanted to embrace her but not smother her.”
That is because their relationship has no precedent.
Ms. Crocette, 52, took in Ms. Croudy, 32, just before Christmas last year through the Homecoming Project, an effort by the nonprofit Impact Justice in Alameda County, Calif. According to the Prison Policy Initiative, a public policy think tank, people who have been released from prison are 10 times more likely than the general public to become homeless. Few can afford astronomical rents in California’s Bay Area, and the stigma against the formerly incarcerated is persistent. But when ex-prisoners end up homeless, the recidivism rates increase.
“We looked at the success of Airbnb and the sharing economy, and saw a model that could be adapted to meet this need,” Terah Lawyer, the program manager, said. “Some are offering shared housing for college students or refugees. We are the first to offer it for the re-entry population.”
“This is a very sensitive ask,” she continued, “but we found it appeals to people who have strong social values and are called to helping that population.”
Since it began in August 2018, the Homecoming Project has matched 15 newly released prisoners with hosts. “We prioritize people who are homeless and who have been in jail for more than 10 years,” Ms. Lawyer said. Perhaps surprisingly, these prisoners are unlikely to reoffend. So far, all the participants and alumni have steady jobs or are pursuing degrees, Ms. Lawyer said. None is on the streets or jobless. Nobody has gotten in any trouble with the law. The Homecoming Project would be prepared to hold a conflict resolution session “to break through communication barriers if there are any,” Ms. Lawyer said, but so far there haven’t been.
Read the story on NY Times
Work for ChangeLawyers℠!
We seek a highly-organized, fearless, forward-thinker to be our next Development Officer. The Development Officer will support current development programs with a focus on individual and corporate donors and periodically work with the organization’s new for-profit subsidiary, Cal Bar Affinity, as it markets corporate affinity and insurance programs to California lawyers.
Liberation Series co-hosted by ChangeLawyers℠
Featuring ChangeLawyers℠ ED, Chris Punongbayan, and ChangeLawyers℠ Chief Content Director, Carlos Aguilar.
Have you ever been a room full of people who don’t look like you? Do you code switch at work because you know you can’t be real in certain environments? You’re not alone. This is a two-part fireside chat that will dig into some hard truths about the challenges we face when we try to liberate philanthropy.
Liberate Yourself, January 14, 2020. Register here >
Liberate Foundation, February 4, 2020. Register here >
2020 MTO Fellowship Now Open
Applications are now open for the 2020 MTO Fellows Program. This program it is an amazing opportunity for prospective law students to learn more about the law school application process, get tips for law school and beyond, meet lawyers across a variety of practice areas, and participate in a free LSAT course. The program is intended for individuals seeking to start law school in fall 2021 (college juniors or seniors as of spring 2020, or individuals who have already graduated).
Apply here, by January 6, 2020 by 12:00 p.m. PST.
Job Opportunity at CHIRLA
The Removal Defense Staff Attorney will provide affirmative immigration relief services, provide representation of clients in removal proceedings and pursue community-based systemic reform and advocacy aimed at reforming unforgiving federal immigration laws.
Apply here >
Law School Admissions Conference at Berkeley Law
This event will provide attendees with a comprehensive overview of the law school application process. Current law students and administrators will provide advice on how best to navigate the law school application process. Continental breakfast and lunch will be provided.
February 1, 2020. Register here >