Weekly Round Up: March 30-April 3
Posted: April 03, 2015|
This week, we had the pleasure of working with some of the state’s top advocates to discuss women’s issues and gender equality here in Rhode Island. We also had another busy week at the State House where we testified on bills that would protect youth from certain life sentences and would limit out-of-school suspensions. We also have more to share about the ACLU’s work to address mass incarceration and other criminal justice issues.
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Suspensions Aren’t The Answer. We again urged lawmakers to support a bill that would address the overuse of out-of-school suspensions. Suspensions carry a lifetime of consequences and we need to stop the school-to-prison pipeline before it starts. This bill would require that suspensions be served in-school, unless the student poses a physical risk or serious distraction to other students, and require school districts to examine their discipline data annually and come up with plans to mitigate any disproportionate suspension rates that may exist. Check out our cable show with Jim Vincent of the NAACP-Providence Branch and Jordan Seaberry of the Univocal Legislative Minority Advisory Committee this month to learn more about what we all can do to stop the pipeline and address racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
Life Without Parole. Nationwide, more than 2,500 individuals are serving life without the possibility of the parole for crimes they committed as juveniles. While no juveniles are currently serving life without parole in Rhode Island, the option remains on the books. We testified in support of a bill that would ban this sentence for juveniles and ensure that children are not treated as hardened criminals incapable of rehabilitation.
Is This Equality? On Wednesday, The ACLU of Rhode Island was joined by Shandi Hanna of RI NOW, Jamie Rhodes of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, Jenn Steinfeld, executive director of the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, and former state Senator Rhoda Perry for a panel discussion on women’s rights in Rhode Island. Before the panel, we all testified in support important legislation to prevent pregnancy discrimination, an issue that impacts workers across the state and country. The day before, we also stood up for women’s rights by testifying in support of a ban on gender rating in health insurance.
Coming Up: We are excited to welcome ACLU president Susan N. Herman to Rhode Island! Ms. Herman will be speaking on a panel at the University of Rhode Island, Providence Campus about urban policing, surveillance, and mass incarceration on Wednesday, April 8. She’ll be joined by URI professor Leo Carroll, Providence Commissioner of Public Safety Steven Paré, and Roger Williams University professor Yolanda M. Leott. Learn more about the panel here and be sure to RSVP here.