Research shows that education plays a major role in reducing recidivism rates. Whether through the GED programs being offered in prisons or the presence of libraries, access to education is an important element of self-development for individuals, including prison inmates.
In an effort to keep prisons “safe” and to decrease drug smuggling, however, correctional department officials in Maryland have deemed it necessary to limit inmates’ access to books. When asked how often drugs were smuggled into Maryland prisons via books, J. Michael Zeigler, a Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services deputy secretary, was unable to report that information. This form of inmate control is nothing new and was implemented recently in New York.
“Books are important for everyone, but access to books is crucial for prisoners. Inmates have no or very limited access to the internet, so reading is a way to stay connected to society, if not to just pass time. Policies on book access for prisoners are widely divergent, and sometimes bafflingly inconsistent, across state, federal, and private prisons.” (Quartz Media)
Prisons have the opportunity to use tax dollars to benefit society as a whole, but instead they want to waste money by decreasing educational opportunities, which will send newly released individuals back to jail (because they’ve gained no other skills) only to start the cycle over again. Currently, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is examining the legal remedies needed to stop this action.
As mentioned in Proverbs 16:27, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” and that same saying can be applied to one’s mind.
Describing a 2014 RAND study on correctional education, Lois Davis, a senior policy researcher and co-author of the comprehensive report, said, “it really, for the first time, dispelled the myths about whether or not education helps inmates when they get out. Education is, by far, such a clear winner.”
Since publicly announcing the tactic of separating children from their parents when detained by ICE (including asylum seekers), the government has seen an increase in the number of unaccompanied children they need to house.
Now, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a public system of records notice (SORN) detailing its intent to modify its system to allow greater sharing between DHS and Health and Human Services, which oversees the placement of unaccompanied children into foster care. Frequently, relatives come forward as sponsors but this measure will discourage family members from doing so. This seemingly dull and bureaucratic measure masks the intention of serving as an immigration check on the sponsor and all members of the sponsor’s household.
Let’s say Johnny has an aunt in the U.S. who is a citizen, but she lives with her sister who is undocumented. Johnny’s aunt knows that if she comes forward as a sponsor for her nephew, her sister will likely be detained and deported. She therefore chooses not to come forward and Johnny remains in a group home…or on a military base.
In short, DHS, HHS, and ICE are using children as bait.
The public comment period on this notice will remain open until June 7. We urge you to comment on the notice and perhaps to politely tell DHS where to shove it.
Just to give a sense of the unrelenting and multi-pronged attack on immigrants being led by the executive branch and likeminded members of Congress, we decided to bring together some stories just from the past few days. It’s dizzying, so I tried to keep commentary to a minimum and let the volume of stories speak for itself.
Jeff Sessions ruled that immigration judges can no longer close cases, opening the door to re-opening 350,000 closed cases, which could “result in the imprisonment and deportation of immigrants who now have a clear path toward legal immigration status,” says Dan Werner of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Steve King (R-IA, the pride of my home state of Iowa) has introduced a Bill to jail sanctuary cities officials (HR 5884) called the Libby Schaaf Act, named after the mayor of Oakland who alerted residents to pending ICE raids.
California is considering extending Medicaid to all adults regardless of immigration status, further flouting Trump’s ongoing attacks against sanctuary cities.
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam will allow the ban on sanctuary cities to become law without his signature (despite law enforcement’s opposition to the bill), saying “it’s time to move on.”
Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn) proposed a bill to crowdfund the border wall (Border Wall Trust Fund Act).
Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, was asked in a hearing with the House Committee on Education and the Workforce whether teachers should report undocumented students. Devos responded with a resounding “I think that’s a school decision,” leading civil rights groups to say, “um… no.”
The House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security held a hearing they called Stopping the Daily Border Caravan: Time to Build a Policy Wall. The policy in question was asylum, which Republican lawmakers described as a “loophole.” Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ) complained that asylum seekers get all the breaks but frequently fail to appear at their asylum hearings “most likely because their claim was unfounded in the first place” (not because they never received their Notice to Appear, or they’re afraid of deportation, or they reunited with family members elsewhere in the country…). Echoing Trump, she characterized minors as “vulnerable to gang recruitment.” Capitol Police were called on to remove peaceful protestors from the room. You can learn more by clicking the link, where you’ll find full video and transcripts.
The Senate Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration held a hearing called TVPRA (Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act) and Exploited Loopholes Affecting Unaccompanied Alien Children. This hearing also addressed MS-13 gang recruitment. Video and transcripts are available here.
The House voted on a prison reform bill cooked up by Jared Kushner, which threatens to make prison slave labor the norm, but prohibits pregnant women from being shackled, unless guards determine that they really, really need to be.
Trump talked immigration on Long Island, doubling down on his use of the word “animals” to describe MS-13 gang members and suggesting that foreign aid be denied to those countries that allow criminal immigrants to come here (a policy that would likely make worse some of the problems that cause people to leave). In this same photo-op, Trump said the following about children crossing the border: “They look so innocent. They are not innocent.”
Also, in a post-game interview with FOX, Trump seemed to suggest that NFL players who kneeled during the anthem be deported…? Or leave voluntarily? It wasn’t clear.