No Grand Jury For California

No Grand Jury For California?

California became the first state in the entire U.S. to prohibit the use of Grand Juries. These secret legal bodies no longer can be used when deciding if police officers should be indicted in cases of deadly force or not. With the many recent cases of police brutality, being a complete abuse of their authority, people firmly marched against Grand Juries as they were helping these cases stay out of the justice they truly deserved.

“Stop killing our boys” states a sign in a protest against a grand jury’s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of an unarmed teenager, Michael Brown. That is but a single case of police brutality that, thanks to a grand jury, that will never see justice.

It is believed that grand juries are a process that incite the refusal to indict and created an atmosphere of great suspicion that completely compromises the justice system. People are getting angrier about it, making everything turn into a delicate situation. Most of last year’s protests were motivated by this issue.

 

The grand juries were also heavily criticized because of their how secretive they are. This is, at first, to protect witnesses, who supposedly will not come forward if the documents were subject to open record. Regardless of that, those who oppose the grand jury firmly state that the secrecy surrounding them only serves as a protection to the police and does absolutely nothing for justice.

 

Also, grand juries do not necessarily need to reveal the reason why a police officer was not indicted. Most people believe that sort of crucial information has to be revealed to everyone, in order to know if justice was properly served or not. We are talking about the lives of young people, who die due to police brutality in a very vicious and satantic way. It is no surprise that so many people rise against grand juries.

 

With the changes of this law, California can now leave the decision up to the prosecutor. Police brutality will now be something easier to judge with a lot more of transparency and accountability.

 

A terrifying number was released by Bowling Green State University, which stated that in seven years, only less than 50 police officers who abused their authority and inflicted excessive force, killing the innocent, were charged with murder for an on-duty action. And, during the same period, the FBI classified over 2,700 police brutality killings as homicides.

 

Take a minute to internalize that last bit of information. This issue is severe and very serious. California made the first step towards erasing the grand juries from the system. People need to feel safe around the police, not feel that their children could get killed at any moment, especially Black children, who seem to be the target of police brutality.

With a grand jury, it is very rare that an officer gets charged with homicide because he is protected by secret White Supremacist groups that have infiltrated the court system and many police departments across the country. So, it is great news for California. And we can only hope that other states take this example and start applying the same law in every region.

Schwarzenegger and Brown’s Plan To Save The Planet

SUNNYVALE, CA - OCTOBER 09:  California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger delivers the keynote address during the TechNet "Growing Green Technology in California" forum at Applied Materials October 9, 2008 in Sunnyvale, California. Schwarzenegger promoted green practices during his speech.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

When California voted Governor Jerry Brown into office, they did so on the heels of predecessor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decidedly Republican platforms. But for all his political flexing to bring bring one of the most notably liberal states in the Union into line, there was one area where the body builder made movie star has always differed greatly from his party – climate change. Schwarzenegger has been speaking up about climate change for years, which is why it was no surprise when he joined current Governor Brown in Paris to talk about a call to action. But just what do the two California governors have in mind?

A Bipartisan Gesture

During their time together, the two didn’t actually lay out much of a cohesive plan in terms of climate change. They’ve each been working on their own toward actual change. Instead, their coming together during the United Nations Summit was an effort to call attention on an international level to a need to work beyond politics to create real strategies.

Schwarzenegger encourages the international community to think about climate change in a non-political way, and instead encouraged consideration of scientific evidence. Brown, for his part, sent a message meant to hit closer to home as he talked about the importance of Republicans and Democrats being able to work together on this issue.

Historically, the Republican Party has been opposed to taking any action regarding climate change, and has often dismissed it as a theory or myth. For the two statesmen to sit down together for a bipartisan call to action, then, is no small deal. The message they’re trying to get across at home and abroad is that regardless of politics, a state does not have to suffer under environmental regulation. They cited their two exceptionally different terms as an example of how environmental regulation doesn’t have to be subject to politics.

What They’re Doing

During his term, Schwarzenegger approved landmark legislation that capped greenhouse gas emissions, cracked down on utilities and corporations working with non-compliant suppliers, and issued an executive order to reduce greenhouse gases to 80% below their 1990 levels by 2050.

For his part, Brown has been a major player in devising the Under 2 Memorandum of Understanding, a sub-national effort seeking an agreement to keep global temperatures from rising more than two degrees Celsius. Brown has also been incredibly vocal about Republican rejection of climate change. Even as the party as a whole starts to warm up to the facts, Brown has been targeting the party in full to draw attention to 2016 frontrunners’ nay-saying about the matter. Brown has also been spearheading efforts increase California consumption of renewable energy and make the state as a whole more energy efficient, signing in new statewide goals in October of 2015.

How the two Governors’ efforts will stand up over time has yet to be seen, but they send out the same clear message that the two tried to send during their Paris meeting – regardless of politics, the time for action is now.

Court Rules Against Obama on Immigration

A federal appeals court ruled against President Obama on immigration last week. The ruling deals a blow to the President’s efforts to bypass an unfriendly Congress and reform the nation’s immigration system through executive channels.

Last November, President Obama announced that he would use his executive authority to stop deporting the undocumented parents of children who came to the US at a young age or who were born on US soil. Obama coined the program the “Deferred Action for Parents of Americans.” It would have also allowed those individuals that applied for the program to work lawfully in the United States. Obama justified the move by calling it an executive action to prioritize certain deportations over others. The ability to do so has long been a part of the executive branch’s authority. However, the second part of the plan, granting work authorization to parents of US born children, faced a greater challenge. Such a move had less precedent in history and encroached on territory traditionally associated with Congress.

Several states challenges Obama’s action on the grounds that the move would place a substantial and costly burden on their agencies to implement the action. The Obama administration, on the other hands, argued that states do not have a say in policy concerning the administration of the immigration system. Furthermore, Obama argued that the states lack standing to bring suit.

The lower court in the Federal District Court in Texas ruled against Obama, writing that the move would be too costly to Texas, the lead plaintiff. Furthermore, the judge declared that the Obama administration did not follow the proper process to implement the new program. The administration swiftly filed a motion with the appellate court after the ruling to let the program proceed. Now, the appellate court has issued a ruling that affirms the District Court’s decision and continues the hold placed on the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans plan.

In a 2-1 decision, Judge Jerry E. Smith, who was nominated to the bench by Ronald Reagan in 1987, wrote “Congress did not intend to make immune from judicial review an agency action that reclassifies millions of illegal aliens in a way that imposes substantial costs on states.” The 2 judge majority rejected the Obama administration’s argument that the program was a legitimate reorientation of federal priorities intended to prioritize deportation in the most efficient and effective manner. In a scathing dissent, Judge Carolyn King noted that the two judges writing for the majority, as well as the lower court Judge Andrew S. Hanen, mischaracterized the nature of the case. Furthermore, Hanen argued that the judges have carved out an entirely new theory of state standing that did not exist prior to the ruling. According to the dissent, states would now have a precedent to challenge any federal action that places any kind of administrative burden on its or their departments and agencies.

The Obama administration has vowed to appeal the ruling. According to Marielena Hincapie of the National Immigration Law Center, “the silver lining is that this is just in the nick of time for the administration to go to the Supreme Court.

Why Immigrants Are On Strike In CA Prison

Adelanto is a small town in California’s high desert, the kind that doesn’t get much attention outside local news sources. At least 20 and as many as 300 men within the town’s prison are reportedly on a mission to change that, though, launching a hunger strike in the immigrant detention facility, starting to refuse food as of Oct. 30 in order to protest the center’s conditions. Prison complexes and detention centers have received a fair amount of attention recently for lack of adequate conditions for detainees, but just what about Adelanto is causing the men to strike?

The Private Detention Facility

Adelanto is a privately operated facility, run by the Florida-based GEO Group. The Geo Group has a long list of allegations stacking up against their centers, from claims of sexual harassment at one Arizona facility to forcing immigrant detainees to work for little or no pay at a facility in Colorado. In Adelanto, though, it all comes down to basic human rights..

Detainees at the center were already facing major concerns regarding poor conditions, neglectful and malicious treatment by center staff, and a lack of medical care since the center opened in 2011. When the GEO Group announced it would add another 650 beds to the already overcrowded, underserviced facility, the thought of even more systematic neglect was too much for the detainees. Even after the House called for an immediate cessation of the expansion, those in the center were unimpressed by the medical care, visitation hours, and treatment they received.

That’s when they began refusing meals. One of the primary demands from the detainees was to be able to lodge complaints with a grievance coordinator who does not work for GEO. With 4 allegations of extreme physical abuse at Adelanto in the past 15 months, detainees are desperate for some means of representation and protection from a system that is controlled by a private organization.

The issue there is that private detention and corrections contractors are in it for the profit, not the people. They cut costs by undertraining staff, underfeeding and undercaring for those within the facilities, and outright ignoring detainees’ rights to the point of abuse. The problem is worse in prisons, where companies like GEO set up their program to encourage recidivism simply to bulk their bottom line.

The Adelanto Outcome

Not all detainees have continued on with the hunger strike, but the concerns regarding GEO’s operation of Adelanto remain. Other such strikes at facilities in Austin and El Paso, TX are helping draw attention to the matter, putting further pressure on the issue of immigrants’ rights as the 2016 election cycle draws nearer.

GEO has released no information regarding plans to improve care for detainees at the center, though, leaving the detainees in a vulnerable spot after having shined a light on the center’s poor facilities and care. Even so, the strikes continue to spread from center to center as a means of peaceful protest and raised awareness that one can only hope results in change with respect for the human rights of the affected detainees.