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Archive for August 20th, 2014

NAACP Returns to United Nations for CERD to Discuss Critical Civil Rights Issues

Posted by Admin On August - 20 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

NAACP leaders return to Geneva for the United Nations review of the United States’ progress on its obligations to reduce racial discrimination and disparities under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). CERD obligates member nations to take steps to reduce racial and ethnic discrimination and disparities within their borders.

Those who will attend are: Leon Russell, Vice Chairman, NAACP National Board of Directors; Hilary O. Shelton; Senior VP Policy and Advocacy and Director of Washington Bureau, NAACP; Jotaka Eaddy, Sr. Director of Voting Rights and Senior Advisor to President and CEO & NAACP

From Leon Russell, Vice Chairman, NAACP Board of Directors:
“The struggle to reduce all forms of racial discrimination cannot be fought in isolation. It must extend to every corner of the earth. Our time at the United Nation’s this week has amplified our efforts to advance human and civil rights for all people, no matter their nationality, race, color or creed.”

From Hilary O. Shelton, Sr. Vice President for Policy and Advocacy; Washington Bureau Director:
“The NAACP is honored to join the international NGO community in taking meaningful steps toward reducing racial discrimination and racial disparities particularly as they impact the communities we serve. Our participation in this proven process is one pioneered by NAACP founding member Dr. W.E.B. Dubois, who recognized the power of shining an international bright light on the many challenges of racial and ethnic discrimination in America.  Dr. Dubois understood then, as we recognize now, that racial and ethnic disparities which permeate our criminal justice system, our education systems, our economic system and our access to the ballot box is of crucial importance and must eradicated. We are further gratified with the selection of long time civil, native and human rights advocate Keith Harper, newly confirmed as U.S. Ambassador to the Human Rights Council, leading the official US government delegation through this crucial review process.  The NAACP and our coalition partners are confident that the U.S. delegation will fully recognize the need for our country to continue the process of eliminate these racist and deadly equations and advance or Nation forward in fulfilling the Constitutional promises of our country for all Americans.

From Jotaka Eaddy, NAACP Sr. Director for Voting Rights and Sr. Advisor to the President and CEO:
“We are pleased that UN CERD Committee raised serious questions regarding the continual denial of voting rights to citizens in the U.S., specifically the continued practice of baring people with felony convictions to vote. Furthermore, we are encouraged by the UN CERD Committee’s expressed concern with the discriminatory nature of voting laws implemented in the aftermath of Shelby County vs. Holder. These failings continue to diminish our democracy and violate the principles within the CERD Treaty. They must be addressed immediately. We will continue to work with the UN and the US Government to address these concerns.”

Read the NAACP shadow reports to the United Nations Committee here:


The Family of 19-Year-Old Keith Warren Found Hung on a Tree 29 Years Ago in 1986 Seek to Have Case Re-Opened

Posted by Admin On August - 20 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Keith Warren

Washington, DC (BlackNews.com) — Sean Bell. Amadou Diallo. Trayvon Martin. Keith Warren. These four men and countless others have no familial or formal relationships, but their lives are interconnected as they each were victims of a grave miscarriage of justice by those who were to protect and serve their communities.

On July 30, 1986, the lives of the Warren Family, their friends, and Montgomery County Maryland community would be impacted forever as they were informed of tragic news that Keith Warren – their ambitious 19-year old son, brother, cousin, and friend – was found hung on a tree. After a brief (less than 24 hours) and “reckless” investigation, Keiths death was ruled a suicide by the Montgomery Police Department.

Because of the amount of neglect and unanswered questions surrounding Keiths death, his mother Mary spent the remainder of her life seeking “justice for Keith”. After her death, the torch was passed to his sister Sherri. Now, 29 years later, the family is asking the Montgomery Police Department to re-open the case to seek accountability and justice into the death of Keith.

On the family’s web site at www.KeithWarrenJusticeSite.com, there are documents/texts which outline some of the pressing issues still left unanswered and unproven. For example, how can a man nearly 6 feet and 5 inches tall suspend himself in a tree that was double-bent twice his weight? Why was the same tree that his body was found on cut down shortly thereafter? Why? Furthermore, and the question that has caused them to really raise their voices again on behalf of Keith is; how is an official investigation and ruling found legitimate if it is based on falsified allegations and hearsay? In short, the family says that the investigating detective used information from unnamed, unrelated, and unverified sources to rule Keith’s death a suicide 5 hours prior to notification of next of kin.

His sister, Sherri Warren, has this to say: “From the perspective of American history; Keiths story is not unfamiliar. In fact, it hits home almost daily. If in our society, social justice is defined as an ‘act’ or ‘set of institutions’ that are implemented in order to ensure that individuals are both fulfilled in their societal roles and receive what is due from society; America, we have fallen short. This does not mean that positive change and transgression in social justice is unattainable. We merely must take it one step; one victory at a time. Hopefully, with your support, Keiths story and re-opening his case will be one step in the right direction. And even when this fight is won; we still have much work to do. Simply put, time is overdue in putting real closure to this case.”

For more information and/or documentation about the case, please visit www.KeithWarrenJusticeSite.com or contact Sherri Warren of The Keith Warren Justice Foundation at (202) 643-6233 or sherri.warren1@gmail.com.

Photo Caption: Keith Warren of Montgomery County, Maryland was found hung on a tree 29 years ago in 1986

Yet Another Sore Spot

Posted by Admin On August - 20 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS
By Dr. William E. Spriggs

On Aug. 9, police in Ferguson, Missouri shot Michael Brown to death, an unarmed Black teenager. The closed way in which the police responded to request for information on the shooting, and their aggressive actions against peaceful protestors in the after math of the shooting have opened yet another sore spot in a nation that is splintering from all levels of gross inequality. The fissures ripping at the nation come from race and class, as we struggle to regain our economic footing; the simple ability of Americans to hold a job, feed, shelter, cloth and provide for the health of their families. It boils down to the simple word: Dignity.

A problem with America is the paradox that it can be a nation with high compassion, but also a nation with no empathy. Central American children fleeing violence and in desperation making a long and dangerous journey to the land they think is full of milk and honey, with streets lined with gold, are greeted by angry mobs as their buses take them to detention centers. Cuban children who drifted across the Florida Straits, on the other hand, were once greeted with open arms. African American children facing gang violence in their neighborhoods, like Chicago, elicit a litany of epithets accusing them of different pathological maladies. And, as in the case of Ferguson, a criminalization that can end in being the victim of police violence.

The interpretation people are giving to the incident in Ferguson highlights the racial inequality in our nation, and the disappearance of empathy once the real race card is played. The police chief of Ferguson Thomas Jackson fueled that divide by releasing a prejudicial video of Brown having a confrontation with a convenience store clerk over $42 worth of cigars. We hope we live in a land in which every suspected petty thief is not summarily shot-or at least we have sent thousands of our troops to protect Afghanistan from fanatical Taliban fighters who think shooting unarmed suspects is justice. Yet, Jackson reveals his clear prejudice in reviewing this tragedy by equating petty theft with shooting unarmed people, if the thief is a black man.

Fortunately, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon realized how badly Jackson was handling the situation and sent in the Missouri State Troopers to retain order in Ferguson. The Missouri State Trooper Nixon placed in charge was Captain Ron Johnson, who also happens to be African American. The stark difference to Captain Johnson maintaining peace and allowing for citizens to exercise their constitutional rights to voice their concerns, and Jackson’s ineffective tactics to intimidate peaceful demonstrators and further flame the conflict show both the importance of diversity in leadership, and more importantly that, in this case, the poorer performance was by the white police chief.

Captain Johnson’s professionalism and success in handling a very tense situation could help to turn the event into a moment when empathy could re-enter the conversation about Brown’s death. The juxtaposition of a highly competent African American law officer and Brown’s tragedy, might get some people to think about Brown as a human, and wonder about our sense of justice in a color-blind way. It could make the whole of the country say, this isn’t about race, this is about justice, trials-by-jury and a nation of laws; not lynching.

But, this is also about dignity. When the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the employment situation for July on August 1, it reported that for out-of-school youth (those under 24), the unemployment rate for whites was 12.4 percent while it was 27.4 percent for African Americans. The unemployment rate for white high school dropouts in that group was 20.8 percent, a figure lower than blacks as a whole, and almost equal to the unemployment rate for African American college graduates in that group of 20.4 percent. But, really, is there little wonder at such a disparity when the death of Brown, a recent high school graduate due to start college in a few weeks, elicits such painful indifference from so many? And, when a police chief clearly sees the race of the victim more than the circumstances of the situation? If Brown’s family lacks our empathy, and in his death the dignity for us to deeply question the Ferguson Police, how do we imagine there is an equal playing field when someone just asks for a job so they can feed their family and cloth their children? Really?

William E. Spriggs, Ph.D. is a Professor in the  Department of Economics at Howard University.

Prosecutors Secure 40-Year Sentence in 2011 Maywood Murder

Posted by Admin On August - 20 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

A Broadview man convicted in the 2011 murder of another man during a dispute in the drive-thru of a fast food restaurant was sentenced to 40 years in prison, according to the Office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.

Gregory Coppage, 56, was convicted in the November, 2011 murder of Tyrone Carter in front of a Popeye’s Chicken restaurant, where the two men got into a dispute in the drive-thru that ended with Coppage hitting Carter with his car and running him over twice.

According to prosecutors, on November 19, 2011, Carter drove to the drive-thru of a Popeye’s Chicken restaurant on Roosevelt Road in Maywood.  Coppage drove into the line right behind Carter, cutting off another vehicle.  Carter exited his car and went to Coppage’s car, where they exchanged words. Carter then retrieved a stick from his car, struck Coppage’s car several times and then walked away, heading towards the front of the restaurant. Coppage backed his vehicle out of the drive-thru line and drove towards Carter, striking him with the car, causing him to fall on the hood of Coppage’s car.  Coppage then slammed on his brakes, causing Carter to fall off the hood and onto the sidewalk in front of the restaurant, where Coppage drove over him.  Coppage then drove off the sidewalk, into oncoming traffic, made a U-turn and ran over Carter a second time before fleeing the scene.  Several witnesses at the scene were able to get Coppage’s license plate number and report it to police.

Coppage was convicted in June during a bench trial before Cook County Judge Noreen Love.  Judge Love sentenced Coppage to the 40 year prison sentence during a hearing yesterday at the Maywood Courthouse.

State’s Attorney Alvarez thanked Assistant State’s Attorneys Jennifer Hanus and Sheri Bennet as well as the Maywood Police Department for their work in this case.

IDHS/DRS Helps More Than 5,000 Individuals With Disabilities Find Jobs

Posted by Admin On August - 20 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Program provides necessary tools to earn a living wage and become more independent

SPRINGFIELD, IL – A program operated by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) Division of Rehabilitation Services (DRS) helped 5,155 individuals with significant disabilities find gainful employment last year (fiscal year 2014). This was the third consecutive year of positive growth for the program, with more than 15,000 people with disabilities becoming employed during that time period.

“The Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) program helps people with disabilities find quality employment that pays a living wage and offers a chance for advancement and independence,” said IDHS Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler. “This is just one of the ways we work in partnership with people with disabilities and their families to help them achieve full community participation through employment, education and independent living opportunities.”

Many people with disabilities of working age (16-64 years old) are eligible for VR services. Eligible individuals are those who have a significant physical or mental impairment that impedes their ability to go to work. IDHS provides services in 46 local offices located in communities throughout the state.

DRS, the state’s lead agency for services for people with disabilities, also works with corporate partners and offers training, education and incentives to increase the number of people with disabilities in the workforce.

In addition, the division assists high school students who have disabilities plan for their futures after graduation through our Transition and Secondary Transitional Experience Program (STEP). The Work Incentive Planning and Assistance Program helps people who receive SSDI/SSI benefits understand how working will affect their benefits. The Supported Employment Program (SEP) serves eligible people with significant disabilities who want to go to work and need on-going support services to succeed on the job.

For more information and personal success stories, please visit www.dhs.state.il.us.

Sec’y of State Jesse White Urges Student Readers to Enter “Letters About Literature” Competition

Posted by Admin On August - 20 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Illinois Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White is urging students in grades 4 through 12 to enter the 2015 “Letters About Literature” contest — a national reading and writing competition sponsored by the Illinois Center for the Book.

Letters About Literature invites students to read a book of their choice and write a letter to the author about how the book changed their life or view of the world. Students can enter on their own or through their schools, libraries or other youth organizations.

“Every year thousands of students in Illinois enjoy participating in this inspiring competition,” said White.  “Illinois has had more entries than any other state for seven years in a row.  Anyone who has read these letters can see how literature inspires and touches the lives of our young people.  I encourage all our students to take part in Letters About Literature, and I hope their participation leads to a lifetime of reading.”

There are three levels of participation: Level I for grades 4-6, Level II for grades 7-8 and Level III for grades 9-12.  One Illinois winner will be selected for each level and receive a $200 cash award.  Teachers of the winning students will receive a $100 cash award to purchase materials for their school library.  Winners and teachers will be invited to an awards ceremony in Springfield.  The state winners’ letters will be forwarded for national judging.

The deadline to enter the competition is Monday, December 15, 2014, for Level III, and Thursday, January 15, 2015, for Levels I and II. State winners will be announced in April 2015.  For more information about the competition, contact Bonnie Matheis at 217-558-2065 or bmatheis@ilsos.net. Information also is available at http://illinoiscenterforthebook.org.

Illinois Sees Increased Number of College-Ready Students

Posted by Admin On August - 20 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Illinois’ ACT score continues to rank among the best for states that test all students

SPRINGFIELD, IL ‑ The Class of 2014 achieved a composite score of 20.7 on the ACT, giving Illinois the second highest score among the 12 states that tested 100 percent of their graduates. In addition, the percentage of students meeting all four of ACT’s College and Career Readiness Benchmarks increased to 26 percent from 25 percent last year.

“Illinois has been and continues to be a leader in promoting college and career readiness and we’re glad to see this increase in the percentage of students meeting those important benchmarks,” said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. “We will continue to lead as our schools apply standards that emphasize a greater depth of knowledge and real-world application, and we implement a new generation of assessments for college and career readiness with PARCC.”

Illinois high school students will no longer take the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE), which included the ACT, although the state is still making the ACT available to districts this school year.

Instead, new college and career readiness assessments known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) will be administered to high school students as well as third- through eighth-graders.

High school PARCC assessments are aligned to state standards in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. High school students will take tests aligned to standards in ELA III, Algebra II or Integrated Math III this school year. The tests are designed to measure college and career readiness and help target the appropriate remediation or acceleration for students. Under new legislation, all high school students are required to take an assessment that measures college and career readiness in order to receive a high school diploma.

ILLINOIS RANKS SECOND  In 2014, Illinois required all 11th-grade students, unless they were exempt, to take the ACT as part of the PSAE. Illinois students achieved a composite score of 20.7, second only to Utah’s score of 20.8. The 10 other states with 100 percent of 2014 graduates who took the ACT were:  Colorado Kentucky  	Louisiana Michigan Mississippi Montana North Carolina  	North Dakota Tennessee Wyoming  Although the ACT will no longer be required, districts have the option this year of also administering the ACT to all 11th grade students at no cost to the district, in addition to giving students the PARCC exams.

The PARCC high school exams are not, however, tied to a specific grade level but are tied to those specific courses, meaning students in any grade in high school may take one or two of the PARCC “End of Course” exams this year.

The number of Illinois students meeting all four of ACT’s College Readiness Benchmarks has increased steadily over the last five years. Twenty-three percent of graduates hit the benchmarks in 2010, 25 percent in 2013 and 26 percent in 2014.

The benchmark scores indicate a student’s chance of obtaining a “C” or higher in first-year college courses in English composition, college algebra, biology and social sciences. This increase suggests Illinois graduates have a stronger likelihood of achieving college success.

“Illinois continues to show steady progress in preparing students for college and careers,” said State Board Chairman Gery J. Chico. “With the continued implementation of the new Illinois Learning Standards, students are becoming more prepared to compete on a national and international level and to effectively use assessments to demonstrate readiness for their futures.”

The new Illinois Learning Standards are transforming the way teachers engage and challenge their students. These learning benchmarks focus on mastering a greater depth of knowledge, real-world application that emphasize creative problem-solving and critical thinking.  The newly implemented standards for K-12 education in English language arts (ELA) and mathematics set high expectations for what students should know and be able to do in order to succeed in college and careers.

In addition, newly adopted science benchmarks known as the Next Generation Science Standards, will be implemented in the 2016-17 school year to help students stay on track. New Physical Education goals have also been adopted and are being implemented. The State Board will next address updating Illinois standards for arts and social studies.

The ACT is scored on a scale of 1 to 36, with 36 being the highest possible score. A total of 184 Illinois graduates earned a perfect composite score of 36 based on their most recently submitted ACTs. The number of graduates earning a perfect score increased by more than 50 students compared to last year.

Illinois increased its composite score by 0.1, with a composite of 20.7 in 2014 compared to 20.6 in 2013. Illinois’ ACT composite score is based on the 158,037 students tested in the graduating Class of 2014, compared to 160,066 included in last year’s report. This year’s ACT state report continues to include scores from students who were allowed an extended time allotment in which to complete the test. Additionally, based on the 40,748 Illinois students who opted to take the writing portion of the ACT, Illinois received a combined English/Writing score of 23.7, which is 3.1 points higher than the 2014 national average of 20.6.

Since 2003, Illinois’ composite score has been among the highest for the group of states that annually tested all of their students. This is the second consecutive year Illinois has ranked second.

The average Illinois ACT composite score has remained steady over the last five years, rising slightly from 20.7 in 2010 to 20.9 in 2012 and sliding back to 20.7 in 2014 after ACT changed the process for calculating state composite scores to include students testing with extended time. Illinois’ ACT composite score is just slightly below the national average of 21.0, which is based primarily on the scores of self-selected, college-bound students. The vast majority of states only test students intending to go to college as opposed to Illinois, where every 11th-grader was required to take the ACT last spring as part of the PSAE. The national score, again based on a more selective pool of students, has also remained steady at 21.0 in 2010 and 2014, with minimal variation in between.

Five-Year Trend Composite Scores
2010* 2014* 2014 Total**
Illinois 20.7 21.2 20.7
National 21.0 21.1 21.0

*excludes students testing with extended time
**per ACT, includes students testing with extended time

Year-to-Year Composite Scores
2013* 2014*
Illinois 20.6 20.7
National 20.9 21.0

*includes students with standard and extended time

Illinois students have made significant gains in all four subject areas from 2010 to 2014.

Five-Year Illinois Subject Area Scores

Subject 2010* 2014* 2014 Total**
English 20.3 20.8 20.3
Mathematics 20.7 21.2 20.7
Reading 20.8 21.2 20.8
Science 20.5 20.9 20.5

*excludes students testing with extended time
**per ACT, includes students testing with extended time

Illinois first required all students to take the ACT in 2001 as part of the PSAE during students’ junior year. Today’s results represent the latest scores achieved by all Illinois 2014 graduates in both public and private schools.

Heavy Metal and Asylum Press Join Forces to Create Horror and Sci-fi Extravaganza for Issue #271 of the World’s Greatest Illustrated Magazine

Posted by Admin On August - 20 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Frank Forte, Publisher at Asylum Press, named guest editor for Heavy Metal #271, gathers together a worldwide talent base to create this astounding issue of horror, science fiction humor and erotica

Los Angeles, CA – Heavy Metal and Asylum Press have joined forces to bring you Heavy Metal #271–The Asylum Press Special!–a sci-fi/horror spectacular that is sure to erupt your deviant mind.

Featuring all new stories from the Asylum inmates: Steve Mannion (Fearless Dawn, Fear Agent) delivers a nod to Moebius in Prayer… a Fearless Dawn yarn, William Broad gives us Priests of the Black Death where an order of the Templars has become corrupt and power hungry…for satanism and witchcraft! Dwayne Harris (Black Powder, Amnesia) serves up the post apocalyptic action thriller Dangerous Curves. Frank Forte and Tim Vigil (Faust, Gothic Knights) drops a sick and twisted tale entitled Allison, David Hartman (Phantasm V, Transformers:Prime) delivers a short horror story entitled Pond Scum where hillbillies hunt for an illusive bog creature.  Hilary Barta churns up an EC-styled sci-fi/horror piece called Evaluation, Robert S. Rhine (Girls and Corpses) and Frank Forte (Asylum Press) knock out a tale of crazed sideshow freaks tabbed Separation Anxiety, Elizabeth J. Musgrave (Hell Comes to Hollywood, Farmhouse) conjures an erotic robotic thriller LUST, Lingerie and Diodes!.  Mutation is a tale of demented sex in a post-nuke world by Forte and J.C. Wong. Royal McGraw and Adauto Silva invoke Feast, after the zombie apocalypse, cities have been rebuilt… and restaurants have opened. One chef must prepare a very special meal. Comics from a cast of international talent that includes: In The Green Fairy, by Jason Paulos (EEEK!), Struggling artist Anton Goffroy finds heaven and hell in the arms of a mysterious sorceress!, Swamp Girl takes us back to a barbarian era where a young girl finds more than she’s looking for in a watery hole of horrors, by Frank Forte and Fabio Nahon, , Warlash by Nenad Gucunja (Undead Evil), Sacro Profano by Mirka and Mother by Mark Covell (Family Guy, Satan’s Circus of Hell).  Gallery sections include concept artist Ben Olson (The Suffering, Area 51:Blacksite) and fine artist Dave Lebow (La Luz De Jesus Gallery, Dexter TV series).  This issue is sure to please fans of the dark, the psychotic and the horror.  Beautiful cover art by none other than the U.K.’s own Aly Fell (Zombie Terrors, Imagine FX).

“I’m excited to have been able to put together one of my favorite magazines,” explains guest editor Frank Forte, “everyone worked really heard to deliver an issue of Heavy Metal that will be sure to please fans old and new.”

David Hartman took a break from directing Phantasm V: Ravager to complete an all-new 4-page horror story entitled Pond Scum for the issue. David says, “I grew up with Heavy Metal. I would study the art in them for hours upon hours and there was nothing else like it out there. It was a big part of my childhood and I am honored to be a part of the magazine now.”

Dwayne Harris, who recently optioned his graphic novel Amnesia (Arcana) to Sony, completed the short story Dangerous Curves for this issue.  Dwayne explains, “I’m thrilled to be in Heavy Metal.  In “Dangerous Curves”, a Mad-Max flavored story, the twists aren’t just in the road.”

When asked for a quote, the hard working Steve Mannion said only, “I want to be in that book!”

Heavy Metal #271 can be pre-ordered at your local comic store during the month of August. Just use Diamond Ordercode: AUG141519. The issue will be on sale at newsstands early Oct. 2014.

Diamond Comics Previews gave HM #271 a “Staff Pick”

Heavy Metal #271 (Asylum Press Special) can be previewed at the following link:

World’s foremost adult fantasy illustrated magazine.  First published in 1977, Heavy Metal, the Premier Adult Illustrated Fantasy Magazine, explores fantastic and surrealistic worlds, past present and future. Illustrators from around the world take you to places you never dreamed existed.  Heavy Metal magazine is now published six times per year. Most issues feature one serialized graphic novel, several short stories, an artist gallery and artist studio section, a dossier and editorial pages.

Subscribe and enjoy savings up to 64% off newsstand prices!!
Join us at www.heavymetal.com
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Heavy-Metal-Magazine/135356699843416
On Twitter: @HeavyMetalInk

Asylum Press is a Los Angeles-based comic book and graphic novel publisher. The company publishes high-concept books from the industry’s top talent within the horror, fantasy, and action adventure genres via a bold new business model that focuses on digital publishing and new distribution outlets in both the American and international markets. Its flagship titles include Fearless Dawn, The Bomb, Chopper, Black Powder, Warlash, and the popular horror anthologies Zombie Terrors, EEEK!, Asylum of Horrors, and Satan’s 3-Ring Circus of Hell. For more information, visit http://www.asylumpress.com.

State’s Attorney Alvarez Rolls Out Legislative Package at Hearing on Criminal Justice Reform

Posted by Admin On August - 20 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez rolled out several prospective reforms to the county and statewide criminal justice system today while testifying before a bipartisan panel of state lawmakers.  The robust legislative package is aimed at alleviating overcrowding at the Cook County Jail and re-allocating resources in order to more effectively combat gun violence.

During her testimony before the Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee, State’s Attorney Alvarez proposed five specific legislative initiatives designed to crack down on repeat gun offenders and also reduce criminal penalties for marijuana and property crimes in an effort to reduce jail populations and divert offenders into cost-saving alternative sentencing programs.

“Today I am proposing a balanced legislative package that would shift resources from lower-risk offenders to those with a higher propensity for gun violence,” Alvarez told legislators.  “I recognize as the Cook County State’s Attorney that a shift in philosophy is in order to ensure that we are properly targeting gun offenders and also making adjustments to reduce the lower risk inmate populations at local jails and state prisons.”

Alvarez proposed penalty enhancements for gun crimes involving convicted felons and known gang members in order to ensure that repeat offenders are sentenced to prison time and serve at least 85% of their sentence.

“Our criminal sentencing policies should target those illegally carrying firearms who pose the greatest public safety threat to our communities and right now our unlawful use of a weapon penalties do not go far enough.” Alvarez said.  “Gang members themselves tell us that our gun laws are ‘a joke.’  They are not a deterrent, and if we do not take action these criminals will continue on the path of gun violence and retaliation that has unfortunately become the norm in too many neighborhoods in Chicago and Cook County.”

In addition to the proposal for increased gun penalties, Alvarez also offered the following initiatives:

~~ House Bill 4091 would propose a comprehensive realignment of sentencing for cannabis offenders.  The proposed changes would make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a petty offense rather than a misdemeanor charge.  In addition, it would lower the felony penalties for mid-level possession and delivery of cannabis.

And in an effort to crack down on high-level cannabis traffickers, the measure would increase penalties for distribution or attempting to distribute more than 2500 grams, or 5.5 pounds of marijuana.

~~ House Bill 3771 would amend the state theft statute in an effort to directly reduce the number of people charged as felons for committing theft of property.  This would include raising the threshold to commit Class 4 felony theft from a value of $500 to $1,000.   As a result, a person who commits theft of property of less than $1,000 would be charged with a misdemeanor rather than a felony under this proposal.  In addition, a person who commits misdemeanor theft would not be eligible for a Class 4 felony penalty enhancement until the third offense.  Under current law, the felony enhancement is applied upon a second misdemeanor theft charge.

~~ House Bill 2897 would enact a pilot program to give local authorities the ability to conduct field tests in lieu of relying on crime lab reports for preliminary hearings.  Cook County is currently the only county in Illinois which relies on analysis from the State Police Crime Lab for preliminary hearings, and the change could result in a 15-day reduction in the amount of time it takes to charge an individual in narcotics cases.  The measure would also alleviate the increasing caseloads at the State Police Crime Lab, according to Alvarez.

~~ House Bill 3773 would amend the factors that a judge may consider when issuing bonds.  The proposal would essentially guarantee that a low-level drug offender with a non-violent background is eligible for an I-bond — when charged with possession of less than 1 gram of cocaine or heroin.

The Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee is an initiative of State Representative Michael  Zalewski and includes a bipartisan panel of legislators.  The committee has scheduled four hearings throughout the summer and fall of 2014 and will submit a report of legislative recommendations by December 1, 2014.

Simon: Skokie School Districts Put Classrooms First

Posted by Admin On August - 20 - 2014 ADD COMMENTS

Intergovernmental agreement adopts efficiency, effectiveness reforms

SKOKIE, IL — Illinois Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will celebrate an education reform milestone today at Niles West High School. School officials will sign a “Classrooms First” agreement, a step toward educational efficiency and effectiveness at Niles Township High School District 219 and Skokie/Morton Grove School District 69.

Beginning this fall, Niles West High School and its largest feeder district will share faculty and instructional tools in order to maximize resources and reduce remediation. The reforms are largely based on the findings of the Classrooms First Commission, which Simon chaired and which issued a report detailing its recommendations in 2012.

Simon will join District 219 and District 69 officials at the signing ceremony, which will feature a series of talks by district instructors and a tour of the high school following the presentation and signing.

TIME: 9:30 a.m.

DATE: Wednesday, Aug. 20

LOCATION: Black Box Theater, Niles West High School, 5701 Oakton St., Skokie

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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