Category Archives: Economics

California Becomes First State to Abolish Cash Bail

indexBy Free Radical

On Tuesday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the California Money Bail Reform Act which ended the state’s cash bail system.

The new plan, which is set to go into effect in October 2019 will now use an algorithm that weighs if someone should be jailed based on how likely the defendant is to show up for court, the seriousness of the crime, and the chances for recidivism.

“Our path to a more just criminal justice system is not complete, but today it made a transformational shift away from valuing private wealth and toward protecting public safety,” said California Senator Robert Herzberg, a co-author of the bill.

Yet the new legislation has also attracted a slew of opponents. The bail bond industry, which is likely to be devastated is likely to sue for a reversal.

The American Civil Liberties Union of California, which initially backed the bill, eventually withdrew its support as it disputed the level of discretion given to judges whether to jail defendants or not.

“We are concerned that the system that’s being put into place by this bill is too heavily weighted toward detention and does not have sufficient safeguards to ensure that racial justice is provided in the new system,” said Natasha Minsker of the ACLU.

Nonetheless, California’s new system will likely be studied by other legislatures considering alternatives to cash bail.

NYC Becomes First Major City to Make Prison Phone Calls Free

By Free Radicalindex

Inmates in New York City jails will soon be able to make phone calls for free. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio recently passed legislation that will go into effect in a little less than nine months to subsidize this cost that can greatly impact prisoners.

Currently, the city of New York uses Securus which rakes in $2.5 million per year for inmate calls. These costs can limit an incarcerated person’s ability to have much needed conversation with family members and attorneys.

New York’s new legislation makes it the first major city to make such communication free. Prison reform advocates had been pushing for such a measure for years. Nearly 75% of the inmates in New York’s jails have not been convicted of a crime yet are still required to pay phone fees according to Democracy Now.

A contractor will still be commissioned to handle phone calls in New York but now city hall will pick up the tab. Former President Barack Obama capped the price of prison calls in 2015 to stem this burden on inmates. However, a federal court reversed the decision last year, which has not been pursued by President Trump.

It has been a poorly kept secret that phone companies give sizable commissions to states and municipalities for exclusive contacts. Furthermore, inmates who keep consistent contact with famiy members while imprisoned are less likely to return to prison.

Phone companies are just a component of the larger prison industrial complex where prisons and related companies make billions of dollars, often on the back of poorer inmates of color.

Chicago College Follows Research and Recruits Black Male Teachers

By Free Radical

Colleges are following research about the efficacy of Black teachers to its logical conclusion.

Colleges are following research about the efficacy of Black teachers to its logical conclusion.

A number of recent studies have provided empirical support for a much widely held belief among African-Americans: Black students fare better academically when they have teachers who look like them.

The Chicago Tribune profiles a program by the University of Illinois-Chicago that will aggressively recruit Black male teachers for elementary education. It seeks to prize teachers in similar ways that athletes are valued in the current college landscape. The hope is that more students of color will have instructors of a shared identity who can advocate for them.

For more on the program, and the importance of Black males in the classroom, click here.

NFL Halts Anthem Policy

By Free Radical

Tennessee Titans player Jurrell CAsey intends to continue his protests despite the threat of fines.

Tennessee Titans player Jurrell Casey intends to continue his protests despite the threat of fines.

In a joint statement released Thursday, the NFL and the NFL Players Association announced that the league will delay implementation of its controversial policy. The policy would require players to not protest on the field during the US national anthem or remain in the clubhouse until it concluded. Teams who had players that violated the policy would be subject to penalties. However, the teams could also impose their own sanctions on recalcitrant players.

In their about face on Thursday, the NFL said that owners and the union “have come to a standstill agreement on the NFLPA’s grievance and on the NFL’s anthem policy. No new rules relating to the anthem will be issued or enforced for the next several weeks while these confidential discussions are ongoing.”

The announcement came after news leaked earlier in the week that the Miami Dolphins submitted an anthem policy to the NFL that included a four game suspension. The blowback was immediate, causing the league joint agreement and even a capitulation from Dolphins owner Stephen Ross. In an official statement, Ross offered that the policy was a set of rules that he and other owners were required to submit to the league prior to the start of training camp. A final decision however had not been made.

News of the NFL’s new position on the policy attracted the attention of President Donald J. Trump who has been the subject of intense scrutiny over his groveling to Russian leader Vladimir Putin and revelations that he paid money to cover up an extramarital affair. Trump insisted that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell must “make a stand. First time knelling, out for a game. Second time kneeling, out for season/no pay!”

Unbowed, Tennessee Titan defensive lineman, said he would continue to protest regardless of the penalties. “I’m going to protest during the flag. That’s what I’m going to say now,” Casey said while at an NFL promotion event in London last week. “I’m going to take a fine this year, why not?”

Any attempts at the NFL to muzzle protest will likely result in more resistance from players, many of whom still seek criminal justice reform.  There is also still unrest in the league resulting from the blackballing of Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid who remain unsigned after their protests. Many believe that owners have refused to sign both players as retribution. Both Kaepernick and Reid have sued the league for collusion.