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Month: December 2015

2016-2017 Go Big Read Theme: Immigrants and Community

Have you read any great books lately? Do you think something you’ve read would make a great Go Big Read selection? Let us know! For the 2016-2017 academic year, we are seeking books with a focus on immigrants and community.

In the press release about the upcoming theme, Chancellor Blank had this to say: “America is a nation of people with roots throughout the world. Immigration is a topic that will lend itself to sharing our own stories of where we come from, as well as sparking a wide range of discussions about how we build community.”

If you’ve recently read something that engages with the theme of inequality in America, we want to hear about it. The deadline to submit books for consideration is January 24, 2016, and we are accepting both fiction and non-fiction nominations. You can use this form to nominate titles, and read more about our selection criteria here, and also see if your favorite title is on our running suggestion list.

We can’t wait to hear from you!

Death Penalty Numbers Continue To Fall In 2015

Nina Totenberg, NPR’s legal affairs corespondent, recently investigated why the death penalty is becoming less common in the United States in the story “Why has the death penalty grown increasingly rare?” So far in 2015 only 27 executions have occurred which is the lowest number in 25 years.

What she found is that many judges are not handing out death penalty sentences, too many cases of death row inmates are found to be flawed, and the resources for execution are not as readily available as people might think.

According to information from the Death Penalty Information Center, all the death penalties this year came from only 21 counties, which is less than 1% of the counties in the country.

Former attorney general of Virginia, conservative Republican Mark Earley, presided over 36 executions between 1998-2001. Having been a part of those executions and working as a part of the criminal justice system he no longer believes the death penalty is justified. He said: “We get it wrong sometimes, and in the death penalty, we just can’t get it wrong.” He is referring to the high number of 156 death penalty inmates who have been exonerated.

Totenberg also showed a side to the death penalty that is often left out: the drug companies. Drug companies don’t morally or economically want to be involved with the death penalty. This makes it difficult for states to actually get the drugs needed for lethal injection.

To read the full article “Why has the death penalty grown increasingly rare?” click here.

To visit the Death Penalty Information Center click here.

#WeAreHere and #JusticeReformNow

Musical artist, Alicia Keys, recently spoke at a Capital Hill briefing about the state of mass incarceration in the United States. She started a new campaign, #WeAreHere for #JusticeReformNow, with her organization, We Are Here, and Cut50, a bipartisan initiative to cut the U.S. prison population by 50% over the next ten years.

According to the Upworthy article “Alicia Keys released a beautiful video to get 1 million signatures for prison reform” by  Erica Williams Simon, Keys and her partner organizations are asking for the reformed laws to do three things. First, send fewer people into a broken system. Second, invest in education, rehabilitation, and treatment, rather than incarceration and punishment. And third, address economic, civil, and social barriers to re-entry.

To raise awareness and bolster action Keys created the video below.

To read the Upworthy article “Alicia Keys released a beautiful video to get 1 million signatures for prison reform” by Erica Williams Simon, click here.

To read about #cut50 click here.

To learn more about the We Are Here organization, click here.