Sex Trafficking Presentation in Newport on Friday, October 21, 2016

From: Human Trafficking Committee <>

This Friday, October 21, we are having an educational presentation about Sex Trafficking   While this presentation will focus on the hospitality industry, the general public is welcome as it will be a good overall review of Human/Sex Trafficking; what it is, how to identify activity and how to respond.  You will learn how to protect children in the community and how Sex Trafficking impacts your business.
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The Training will be provided by Officer Mike Gallagher and Officer Ariana Ridgeley from the Sex Trafficking Unit at the Portland Police Bureau.
There are two training events, one in Lincoln City and one in Newport on Friday the 21st.
10:00 AM to Noon, at:
Chapel By The Sea Presbyterian Church
2125 SE Lee St
Lincoln City, Or
And, 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM, at
The Hallmark Resort
744 SW Elizabeth St.
Newport, Or
For your convenience I have attached a copy of the invitation.  Your pre-registration is very much appreciated.  We welcome your staff and any other guests you would like to bring.  Space is Limited.  Please RSVP with your preferred location to saveourchildrenrotary@gmail.comI
This training is part of The Newport Rotary Club’s Sex Trafficking Committee, and is made possible by the generous donations of the two facilities, The Hallmark Resort and The Chapel By The Sea Presbyterian Church, and our speakers, Officers Gallagher and Ridgeley.
Please join us for this important information, together we can fight sex trafficking of our children in Lincoln County.

Human Trafficking and the Hospitality Industry

Our Speakers are members of the Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct Sex Trafficking Team;  Officer Michael Gallagher and Officer Ariana Ridgely


·         Dynamics of Human Trafficking

·         Signs of someone being trafficked

·         Steps to take if you believe someone is being trafficked at your establishment

·         How to prevent trafficking at your property

·         Additional training resources for staff

Gae Linfoot
Chair, Human Trafficking Committee
The Rotary Club of Newport

Sentences Full of Errors


Inmates going to a Sunday morning service at the Jester State Prison Farm, near Richmond, Tex. Credit Charles Ommanney/Contact Press Images

Washington — As a college student in Virginia, Corey Jacobs started selling drugs with the help of a group of friends to make some extra money. A Bronx native, Mr. Jacobs was no kingpin, and no aspect of their drug conspiracy involved violence. Now age 46, Mr. Jacobs has served 16 years of a sentence of life without parole in the federal system.

 No question, Corey Jacobs should have gone to prison for his felony. But does he deserve to die there?

His sentencing judge does not think so. Judge Henry Coke Morgan Jr. wrote in a letter supporting clemency for Mr. Jacobs that had the law not mandated a life sentence, he would not have imposed one for a first felony conviction.

Sadly, Mr. Jacobs is no anomaly. There are thousands like him serving sentences in our federal and state systems that are disproportionate to their crimes. The financial cost of our current incarceration policy is straining government budgets; the human and community costs are incalculable.

 Today, a rare bipartisan consensus in favor of changing drug-sentencing laws presents an opportunity to improve the fairness and efficiency of America’s criminal justice system. But to build on this coalition for reform, which includes senior law enforcement officials, we need action in Congress.

In February 2015, President Obama convened a group of lawmakers — including the Republican senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Rand Paul of Kentucky and the Democratic senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Cory Booker of New Jersey — to build support for sweeping reforms. But the momentum has slowed thanks to opposition from a small group of Republican congressmen using language dredged from the past. One, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, even claimed recently that “we have an under-incarceration problem.”

The Republican presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump, is now fanning fears about the level of crime in America, which is actually at historic lows. Such pandering is a reminder of how we got here in the first place.

A few numbers help to illustrate the scale of the problem. From the late 1970s, America’s incarceration rate more than quadrupled, to over 700 per 100,000 people from about 130; compare that with Russia, for example, which imprisons about 450 people per 100,000. Between 1970 and 2005, America’s prison and jail population increased sevenfold, to approximately 2.2 million from about 300,000.

The United States has about 5 percent of the world’s population, yet about 22 percent of its known prisoner population. In 2010, it cost about $80 billion per year to house these people in our prisons and jails.

Some more numbers: Controlling for other factors, the United States Sentencing Commission found that between December 2007 and September 2011, black male defendants received sentences 20 percent longer than their white counterparts. From 1983 to 1997, the number of African-Americans sent to prison for drug offenses went up more than 26-fold, compared with a sevenfold increase for whites. By the early 2000s, more than twice as many African-Americans as whites were in state prisons for drug offenses.

Individual responsibility must always be a primary consideration in deciding sentences, but we must also acknowledge that there is racial bias in the criminal justice system. The disparity in incarceration rates has bred distrust, alienating communities of color from those who serve valiantly in law enforcement.

The Justice Department has pioneered reform. Three years ago, as attorney general, I established the Smart on Crime initiative to reduce draconian mandatory minimum sentencing for low-level drug offenses and encourage more investment in rehabilitation programs to tackle recidivism.

The preliminary results are very encouraging. Over the last two years, federal prosecutors went from seeking a mandatory minimum penalty for drug trafficking in two-thirds of cases to doing so in less than half of them — the lowest rate on record. The initiative may not be solely responsible, but 2014 saw the first consecutive drop in the federal prison population in more than three decades, coinciding with a falling crime rate.

Those who argue that without the hammer of a mandatory minimum sentence defendants won’t cooperate are wrong — in fact, the rate of cooperation held steady under the initiative, and the rate of guilty pleas remained constant. The system remained effective and became fairer. Reform has not made us less safe.

But there’s a limit to what the Justice Department can accomplish on its own. Both the Senate and House are now considering comprehensive criminal justice reform bills that could limit the use of mandatory minimum sentences and give judges more power to not impose them. This would be a promising start, but reform must go much further.

Mandatory minimum sentences should be eliminated for many offenses, and where they are still applied, their length should be reduced. The legislative proposals necessarily reflect a compromise, but we must ensure that they go far enough: The judiciary needs greater discretion in imposing mandatory minimums, as do our prosecutors in seeking them.

Given the absence of parole in the federal system, we should increase the amount of sentence-reduction credit available to inmates with records of good conduct. And all offenders, regardless of their designated risk level, should get credit for participating in rehabilitation programs.

Federal drug courts provide proven alternatives to incarceration for men and women willing to do the hard work of recovery. We should increase investment in these programs, with a target of a court in every federal district within five years.

There is still a disparity in sentencing for offenses relating to crack and powder cocaine, chemically identical substances. Given the policy’s differential racial impact, which erodes confidence in the justice system, this disparity must go. In the light of recent events, we can’t afford criminal justice policies that reduce the already fragile trust between minority communities and law enforcement agencies.

The recidivism rate remains too high. We must remember that at least 95 percent of prisoners in state jails will eventually be released. They should have more support for their return to society, and we can increase their chances of making a successful transition by offering them the tools they need.

Mere familiarity is not a good reason to prolong a policy that’s not working. There can be no compromise on public safety, but we need a new approach: About a third of the Justice Department’s budget now goes to the Bureau of Prisons — and in the absence of change, that proportion will grow. Reform would bring not only more fairness, but also fiscal benefits. Today, the rate and length of incarceration in this country is unprecedented and unsustainable. The success of the Smart on Crime initiative proves we can be safely bold about reform.

Whatever the outcomes of the bills before Congress and the presidential election, the Justice Department existing reforms must be preserved. Important as they are, all these initiatives have a bearing only on the federal justice system, which houses about 10 percent of the prison population. For the federal effort to be a template for reform in the states, where most prisoners are detained, Congress must lead.

The nation’s lawmakers must stiffen their spines, ignore divisive language and schedule votes in this congressional session on reform legislation. An opportunity like this comes once in a generation. We must not miss it.

The over-reliance on mandatory minimum sentences must come to an end. Corey Jacobs — and others like him — have paid their debt to society.

Law enforcement groups petition Clinton, Trump

David M Jackson, USA TODAY 8:53 a.m. EDT July 13, 2016


Law enforcement organizations are calling on presidential candidates — particularly Donald Trump — to endorse an overhaul of the criminal justice system that can help reduce crime and improve relations between police and the communities they serve.

“We believe there is an urgent need for the next Administration to help promote the public safety of this country, reduce recidivism, and reform sentencing policies,” said an open letter to the candidates from representatives of nationwide police chief and prosecutor organizations.

The groups said that overly harsh drug sentencing laws have swelled prison populations to the point where other aspects of law enforcement are being undercut.

“Though this may seem counter-intuitive, we know from our experience as law enforcement officials that over-relying on incarceration does not deter crime,” the groups said in the letter. “As prison budgets have continued to rise, funding for state and local law enforcement has been slashed, negatively impacting innovative work in the field including diversion programs, updating information-sharing systems, and smart policing tactics.”

Ronal Serpas, chairman of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, said the need for reform is critical in light of last week’s police-related shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Texas.

“Ending unnecessary arrests and incarceration, moving police resources away from petty crimes and toward violent ones, and strengthening relationships between law enforcement and communities are practical and realistic changes that can happen right now,” Serpas said. “All Americans want a safe place to live. These are concrete steps we can take to help us all move forward together in this challenging time.”

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton supports most of the organization’s goals, including federal sentencing reform.

Trump, who is fleshing out his law enforcement and criminal justice programs, proclaimed himself the “law and order” candidate and pledged support for the police in the wake of the recent killings of five officers in Dallas.

“America’s police and law enforcement personnel are what separates civilization from total chaos and the destruction of our country as we know it,” Trump said.

The letter to the candidates was signed by the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, Major Cities Chiefs Association, National District Attorneys Association and the Police Foundation.

“Collectively our membership includes more than 30,000 law enforcement professionals — current and former police chiefs, sheriffs, district and assistant district attorneys, attorneys’ general and U.S.Attorneys from all 50 states,” it said.

Frequently Asked Questions (And Answers!) for Crime Victims and Advocates

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  1. What is a DNA profile? Can anyone learn about my medical and genetic history from this profile?

    DNA profiles created for criminal justice purposes contain a certain set of identifiers or characteristics, which are found at specific points–called loci–on the DNA molecule. Information from 13 of these loci makes a DNA profile, and, much like a fingerprint, the features of DNA profiles can be compared to other DNA profiles for genetic matches. When the DNA profile is entered into the national DNA database (see #2 below), it appears as a series of numbers. DNA profiles do not reveal information about a person’s physical traits such as race, age, or medical conditions.

  2. What is CODIS and what information does it contain?

    The Combined DNA Index System, or CODIS, is an FBI-managed system of national, state, and local databases that allows crime laboratory personnel across the country to compare DNA profiles from known criminal offenders (and arrestees where required by statute) with biological evidence from crime scenes.

    CODIS has proven crucial to solving crimes in which the offender’s identity is unknown. By matching DNA profiles from different crimes, CODIS can link crimes to each other and identify serial offenders. CODIS can also match DNA profiles of unidentified human remains to DNA profiles from missing persons or their close family members and thus help identify the remains.

    Each record in CODIS contains information about the lab that entered the profile, an identifier for the DNA specimen, and the results of the DNA testing or the DNA profile. Other than the DNA profile, CODIS does not contain any other information that identifies the source of the profile. In other words, the CODIS database does not contain names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, or any other personal identifier. CODIS follows strict rules that protect individual privacy and does not contain DNA profiles of crime victims.

  3. What is the purpose of a sexual assault medical forensic exam?

    Sexual assault victims who report the crime to the police or go to the hospital after an assault may be asked if they would like to have a medical forensic examination. One component of this examination is the collection of evidence, which may be analyzed to determine if DNA from the assailant is present on the victim’s body, clothes, or other items the perpetrator may have touched. In cases in which the offender’s identity is unknown to the victim, crime labs may be able to create a DNA profile of the offender and enter it into the national DNA database to help identify a suspect. During the examination, medical professionals will also document and photograph physical trauma and injuries that may have been inflicted at the time of the assault. This type of evidence may be helpful in cases where the perpetrator is known to the victim. Victims may also have been exposed to sexually transmitted infections as a result of the assault. These medical professionals–often specially trained nurses called Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners (SAFE) or Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE)–can administer or prescribe medications that may help protect a victim from a sexually transmitted infection and pregnancy. SAFEs and SANEs are trained to provide compassionate care to survivors while collecting evidence during a sexual assault forensic exam to minimize the trauma associated with the process.

  4. Why do victims need to provide DNA samples?

    Investigators may ask victims and others present at the crime scene to provide a DNA sample, called a “reference sample.” These samples are used to determine if DNA found at the crime scene belongs to the victim or anyone else who was legitimately at the scene, or if it might belong to the perpetrator. In sexual assault cases, reference samples may be needed from any individual with whom the victim had consensual sex during the previous days (the number of days varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction). The victim’s DNA profile is used only to distinguish it from the DNA profile of the perpetrator. Victims’ DNA profiles and other DNA profiles taken for exclusion (such as those from the victim’s consensual sex partner) are not uploaded into CODIS.

  5. What happens to the DNA of a victim and other reference samples after they are collected?

    There currently is no uniform practice regarding what crime labs do with victim and reference samples after testing. Some public labs do retain victims’ and other reference samples indefinitely. Many return the sample to the law enforcement agency that submitted it for testing, but retain the digitalized DNA profile. In many instances, the evidence becomes the property of the jurisdiction investigating the case.

  6. How much does DNA testing cost?

    DNA testing costs vary from case to case. These costs depend on many factors, including whether the testing is done by a private or public lab, how many potential perpetrators are involved, how many pieces of evidence are being tested, and what type of evidence is being analyzed. A sexual assault evidence kit can cost between $500 and $1,200 to analyze. Sexual assault evidence kits can be more expensive than other types of evidence to analyze because the victim’s and the offender’s DNA may get mixed together and must first be separated in order to analyze the offender’s DNA profile. Testing bed linens, clothing, and other items incur additional costs.

  7. Victim service providers sometimes work with victims who were raped a number of years ago and then suddenly find out from law enforcement that the perpetrator in their cases has now been identified through DNA. What kinds of emotions might these victims be feeling and how can they be helped?

    Reopening an old case can bring out many different emotions in victims. Some victims will be relieved that a DNA match has resulted in identifying the assailant in the case. A victim may feel grateful that law enforcement has not forgotten about the case, and may fully participate in the criminal justice process. Victims in other cases may view the news as an unwelcome intrusion that feels like ripping open an old wound, and they may feel angry. Some victims have moved forward with their lives, gotten married, had children, moved, and experienced many other changes that make them unwilling to revisit the crime. A survivor may also be fearful of the criminal justice system. Victim service providers should be prepared to provide information about available services, counseling, victims’ rights, and applying for victim compensation (many states will now provide compensation in past cases which have been reopened). For the most part, supporting a victim in these types of cases requires the same skills and information that victim services providers use in their daily work with survivors in current cases.

  8. How can victim service providers support a victim whose convicted offenders were exonerated by post-conviction DNA testing?

    Learning about an exoneration in their cases can be very traumatic for victims. Those working with victims or loved ones and friends should be prepared for a variety of responses. Most victims will react to this news with shock and disbelief. They may feel a strong sense of guilt and anguish over their part in the process. They may be angry, fearful, frustrated, and feel as if they are being re-victimized. Victim service providers should be prepared to provide support, referrals, and information about victims’ rights. Victims will often have many questions and need a lot of information. To learn more about working with these victims, please visit our full-length brochure on this topic at

  9. How can victim service providers explain to victims why DNA testing takes so long?

    Many factors contribute to the amount of time it takes to test DNA in a criminal case. Crime laboratories that perform DNA testing may be underfunded and have large caseloads and limited trained personnel to perform the testing. So, the labs must prioritize cases. Labs generally analyze evidence from cases that are about to go to court first because the information is needed for trial. DNA testing in cases that have a known suspect, such as acquaintance rape cases, often falls to the bottom of the pile because DNA is not needed to discover the perpetrator’s identity. Another factor that may contribute to delays is that DNA testing, especially in sexual assault cases, may be complicated and takes time to conduct.

    Victims may feel understandably angry that DNA testing is taking a long time, but knowing the reason for the delay may help alleviate some frustration and confusion. It may also help to make the delay feel less personal.

  10. How can a victim find out the status of a sexual assault evidence kit?

    A victim should start by calling the police precinct where the crime was reported, beginning with the detective who handled the case, especially if the survivor has a prior relationship with him or her. If the case has been assigned to a new detective, the victim can call and establish a relationship with the new investigator. Victims can also connect with a victim advocate in the department to request help in finding out about the status of a sexual assault kit. Another option is contacting a community-based advocate in a local rape crisis center. Local rape crisis centers often have a working relationship with the detectives who investigate sexually related crimes and can help pave the way. Victims may also consider calling the district attorney’s office and talking to a victim witness coordinator in that office.

  11. Why are there times when the police cannot find a victim’s sexual assault evidence kit?

    Law enforcement agencies may not be able to locate a rape kit for many reasons that vary from place to place. Most jurisdictions across the country do not have easy and efficient tracking systems for all of their evidence. In many cases, evidence is logged into simple paper notebooks that have to be manually searched to locate a piece of evidence. In some jurisdictions, evidence storage units may be full of old evidence that may be piled on floor-to-ceiling shelves. When cases are years old, finding the kit becomes even more complicated. Many states do not have evidence retention laws that cover evidence not connected to an active investigation, and evidence storage is limited. Unfortunately, in some cases, the evidence may have been destroyed. Additionally, if the statute of limitations has expired in the case or the precinct decided not to proceed with a case, the kit may have been destroyed.

  12. Sometimes victims report a crime, but there is no effort to collect DNA evidence. Why not?

    DNA evidence may not be available or useful in every case. If a perpetrator takes certain precautions, he or she may leave behind little or no trace of biological material that could include DNA. The crime scene may have been contaminated so that forensic evidence no longer exists or is not usable. The availability of other evidence in certain cases may make DNA analysis unnecessary. State law or protocols regarding the timing of evidence collection may prelude collection in some instances. In some cases, investigators may simply lack training or resources for DNA collection and testing. However, a lack of resources for testing should not prohibit DNA collection: financial support for analyzing DNA evidence is available through the federal government. See for funding opportunities.

  13. How can victims and victim service providers find out if their states have a sexual assault evidence kit backlog?

    In the United States at this time, there is no state-by-state, up-to-date, comprehensive tracking system for sexual assault evidence kits. The federal government has attempted several times to estimate the number of kits that are awaiting DNA testing; reports from these projects can be found at and Victims or providers can check with their local police departments to find out if their state or local jurisdiction has a backlog of sexual assault evidence kits. Victims or providers can ask the police if they believe they have any kits that have never been sent to the lab for testing in their jurisdiction. They may also want to ask about their police department’s policies on sexual assault evidence kit testing. Depending on the department’s policy, there is a chance that some kits were never forwarded for testing and will be lingering in evidence storage facilities. Victims or providers can also call the local or state crime lab to find out if they have any unanalyzed kits in their possession. Finally, they can search online news sources for stories about untested sexual assault kits or ask local news stations to look into the issue.

  14. What can victims or victim service providers do if the police department will not send a victim’s kit to the crime lab? Is there someone they can contact?

    First, they can talk to the detective in charge of the case and try to get a clear understanding of where the roadblock is and why the case is not moving forward. If the victim feels there is any information that the police do not have that may help advance the case, the victim can ask to meet with the detective to review the facts of the case. A victim or advocate may want to contact the prosecutor’s office, as well. Ultimately, the decision to send evidence to be analyzed is that of law enforcement’s, but a victim or victim service professional can certainly strongly advocate throughout the criminal justice system to have sexual assault evidence kits submitted to the lab.

  15. What happens if a victim did not report a rape but kept the clothes and/or bedding from the night of the crime? Can these items be used as evidence? Why or why not?

    In part, the answer depends on how the evidence has been stored. Evidence that has not been stored correctly may be contaminated or may have deteriorated. However, modern DNA technology now allows for testing of evidence that could not have been analyzed even 10 years ago. The “chain of custody” will also likely need to be addressed. This term refers to the process of documenting how evidence is collected, analyzed, stored, and protected from its initial collection at the crime scene all the way to its introduction as evidence before a court of law. Victims who want to find out if evidence they have kept can be used in a criminal case can call the local precinct and ask to speak to a detective who handles sexual assault crimes. Although law enforcement officer generally determines which evidence may be useful in an investigation, a victim may also want to contact the local prosecutor’s office, as well. Victims who may be interested in pursuing a civil case (suing the perpetrator for damages in civil court) may also want to contact a private attorney to get some answers about the admissibility of such evidence in a civil case. Even in cases where DNA is not available, the items may have other evidentiary value.

This project was developed with funding under cooperative agreement 2009-SZ-B9-K010 awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed herein are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Sex-Abuse-to-Prison Pipeline: How Girls of Color Are Unjustly Arrested and Incarcerated

Your Take: Black and brown girls are first victimized and then punished, often in connection with sexual violence that has been perpetrated against them.

Posted: July 9 2015 3:00 AM
Getty Images

Getty Images

In 2014, President Barack Obama announced My Brother’s Keeper, a desperately needed initiative to create educational and economic opportunities for black and brown boys and men. In addition to My Brother’s Keeper, there has been a new and emerging recognition that mass incarceration must come to an end, along with the school-to-prison pipeline that relegates so many youths of color to the juvenile-justice system.

Against the backdrop of these efforts, there seems to be a common trope that girls of color are fine. Unlike black and brown boys, they are not endangered by punitive school policies that push them out, or a systematic criminalization of their behavior that pipelines them into the juvenile-justice system. Black and brown girls are not fine, and their struggles are being dangerously left out of the discursive spaces on criminal-justice reform.

My organization, the Human Rights Project for Girls, along with the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality and the Ms. Foundation for Women, just released “The Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline: The Girls’ Story” (pdf), a report that exposes how girls, specifically girls of color, are arrested and incarcerated as a result of sexual abuse.

One in 3 juveniles arrested (pdf) is a girl. Girls tend to be arrested at younger ages than boys, usually entering the system at age 13 or 14. And while girls are only 14 percent of incarcerated youths, they make up the fastest-growing segment of the juvenile-justice system.

Sexual abuse is one of the primary predictors (pdf) of girls’ detention. Girls are rarely arrested for violent crimes. They are arrested for nonviolent behaviors that are correlative with enduring and escaping from abusive environments—offenses such as truancy and running away. Many girls run away from abusive homes or foster-care placements, only to then be arrested for the status offense of running away. Whereas abused women are told to run from their batterers, when girls run from abuse, they are locked up.

There is also the grim example of how girls are criminalized when they are trafficked for sex as children. When poor black and brown girls are bought and sold for sex, they are rarely regarded or treated as victims of trafficking. Instead, they are children jailed for prostitution. According to the FBI, African-American children make up 59 percent (pdf) of all prostitution-related arrests under the age of 18 in the U.S., and girls make up 76 percent (pdf) of all prostitution-related arrests under the age of 18 in the U.S.

Another lens through which to understand the degree of sexual violence and trauma endured by justice-involved girls is their own histories. The younger a girl’s age when she enters the juvenile-justice system, the more likely she is (pdf) to have been sexually assaulted and/or seriously physically injured. One California study found that 60 percent (pdf) of girls in the state’s jails had been raped or were in danger of being raped at some point in their lives. Similarly, a study of delinquent girls in South Carolina found that 81 percent (pdf) reported a history of sexual violence: Sixty-nine percent had experienced violence by their caregiver, and 42 percent reported dating violence.

It has to be pointed out, as the “Sexual Abuse to Prison Pipeline” report does, that this is, distinctly, a pipeline for girls of color. Youths of color account for 45 percent of the general youth population, but girls of color—who are approximately half of all youths of color—make up approximately two-thirds of girls who are incarcerated.

There must be real questions raised about why girls of color are being imprisoned for their victimization. Why is the status of victim or survivor denied to girls of color at the margins? Why are they not contemplated as victims, and do entrenched racial mythologies that frame black and brown girls as oversexualized, promiscuous and sexually loose contribute to the denied status?

We must surface the hidden and disregarded realities of how vulnerable black and brown girls are treated differently, and indeed punished, for their experiences of sexual and physical abuse. We cannot continue to leave them behind. Because their lives matter.

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

Malika Saada Saar is executive director of the Human Rights Project for Girls and special counsel on human rights for the Raben Group.

GENDER INJUSTICE – System-Level Juvenile Justice Reforms for Girls

Cover of Gender Injustice: System-Level Juvenile Justice Reforms for Girls

A new ground-breaking and comprehensive report on girls in the juvenile justice system underscores deeply rooted, systemic gender injustice. The report’s troubling findings confirm that despite progress in juvenile justice, girls are locked up and left behind because of the lack of intentional focus on girls.

Girls are now making up a larger share of the juvenile justice population at every stage of the process. The study shows that over the past two decades, girls share of the juvenile justice system from courts through incarceration saw sizeable increases: arrests increased 45%, court caseloads 40%, detentions jumped 40%, while post-adjudication placement rose by 42%.

Executive Summary (Full Report available from National Women’s Law Center)

Authors: Francine T. Sherman and Annie Balck, In partnership with: The National Crittenton Foundation and National Women’s Law Center

Every day in the U.S., abused and traumatized girls enter and are pushed through the justice system. Despite decades of attention, the proportion of girls in the juvenile justice system has increased and their challenges have remained remarkably consistent, resulting in deeply rooted, systemic gender injustice. Even in the midst of the current “developmental era” of reform, juvenile justice systems are routinely failing to modify promising system reforms for girls or even to collect data on how girls are affected by the problems systems seek to remedy.

Despite overall declining juvenile arrest rates, in the last two decades, girls’ share of the juvenile justice system increased at all stages of the juvenile justice process:

  • Arrests increased 45 percent (from 20 to 29 percent);
  • Court caseload increased 40 percent (from 20 to 28 percent);
  • Detentions increased 40 percent (from 15 to 21 percent);
  • Post-adjudication probation increased 44 percent (from 16 to 23 percent); and
  • Post-adjudication placement increased 42 percent (from 12 to 17 percent).

The traumatic and unhealthy social environments in which many girls live result in behaviors that are criminalized or are mishandled by other systems, resulting in girls’ entry into the juvenile justice system. Once girls are there, misguided processes pull them deeper into a system that is not built to help, heal, or respond to girls’ developmental needs, and often actually worsens girls’ situations.

This process is built on structural gender inequality and is particularly harsh on girls of color and LBQ/GNCT (lesbian, bisexual, questioning/gender non-conforming, transgender) girls.

Systems fail across the board to understand and address the needs of girls as part of juvenile justice reforms, but the needs of certain groups of girls warrant particular focus—pregnant and parenting girls, girls who run away, girls who are victims of sex trafficking, and the very many girls who are victims of in-home and community violence and abuse. For too many girls, adversity in their homes, communities, and in the way they experience society is traumatizing. This trauma, with its attendant psychological, emotional, and physical difficulties, long-term health complications, and adversity in adulthood, plays a particularly powerful role for girls and young women:

  • 45 percent of girls in an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) study of justice-involved youth had experienced 5 or more ACEs;
  • 31 percent of girls had experienced in-home sexual abuse;
  • 84 percent had experienced family violence; and
  • girls reported sexual abuse at 4.4 times the rate of boys.

Yet for these girls and others, the current justice system responds to behaviors caused by trauma and abuse with punishment and fails to offer girls effective solutions and a healthy path forward.

Developmental System Reform Recommendations for Girls

In jurisdictions around the country, a developmental approach to juvenile justice reform is taking hold. If jurisdictions intentionally apply this developmental approach to girls, justice systems will meet girls’ needs, treat them fairly, and reduce their justice system involvement—finally moving girls off of the sidelines of reform so they can truly benefit from change.

Recommendation 1 Stop Criminalizing Behavior Caused by Damaging Environments that Are Out of Girls’ Control

• Decriminalize offenses common to girls living in traumatic social contexts to prevent girls from entering the justice system.

• Train law enforcement to respond supportively to girls in need and avoid arrest.

• Use a child welfare—not juvenile justice—approach by retaining crossover girls in the child welfare system whenever possible and encouraging cross-system collaboration.

• Stop punishing girls for living in chaotic and violent homes by reforming mandatory and pro-arrest domestic violence laws and diverting girls involved in domestic violence.

• Treat sexually exploited girls as victims by decriminalizing “prostitution” for minors and diverting sexually exploited girls from the juvenile justice system.

• Prohibit detention of girls for status offenses and eliminate the valid court order (VCO) exception.

• Revise school policies to support girls in need, eliminating zero tolerance policies, revising truancy policies, and limiting school-based arrests and court referrals.

Recommendation 2 Engage Girls’ Families throughout the Juvenile Justice Process

• Use family engagement strategies as tools for both prevention and intervention, working to resolve girls’ family issues that often result in delinquency and status offenses.

• Incorporate Family Team Meetings and other family engagement tools into targeted diversion for girls.

• Ensure family engagement strategies are used with girls in the justice system who are pregnant and parenting, for whom family engagement is particularly critical.

Recommendation 3 Use Pre-Petition Diversion to Provide “Off-Ramps” from the Formal Justice System for Girls Living in Traumatic Social Contexts

• Increase utilization of diversion as a way to assist struggling girls and prevent deeper justice involvement.

• Target diversion to offense categories common to girls and ensure it is pre-petition and short-term.

• Design diversion programs so they offer a realistic opportunity to address the immediate issue raised by the offense.

• Ensure diversion does not net-widen, pulling girls into the system who would otherwise be left alone and whose issues would be best resolved without formal system involvement.

Recommendation 4 Don’t Securely Detain Girls for Offenses and Technical Violations that Pose No Public Safety Threat and Are Environmentally-Driven

• Analyze data to assess how girls enter and move through detention in order to understand the processes that result in unnecessary detention of girls.

• Target reforms at deeply embedded juvenile justice practices that affect high numbers of girls—warrants and technical violations of probation, for example—and recognize that detention is often triggered by behaviors that are directly connected to girls’ experiences of trauma, such as running away and rules violations.

• Implement specific practice innovations that reduce detention for girls, such as reception centers, respite care, cross-system collaboration to expand placement and service options, and reduction of lengths of stay.

Recommendation 5 Attorneys, Judges, and Probation Should Use TraumaInformed Approaches to Improve Court Culture for Girls

• Train judges, attorneys, and all court personnel as to girls’ traumatic social contexts and the corresponding impact on girls’ behavior.

• Recognize that court processes can trigger reactions to trauma, including behaviors that may be perceived as disrespectful, defiant, or antisocial.

• Provide girls with consistent legal representation across the many legal issues that highneed girls confront, including post-disposition representation.

• End the widespread practice of shacking youth in court, which can re-traumatize and dehumanize vulnerable girls.

Recommendation 6 Adopt a Strengths-Based, Objective Approach to Girls Probation Services

• Close secure institutions for girls and reduce lengths of stay for girls who must be incarcerated.

• Use legislation to prohibit secure confinement for first offenses or low-level offenses typical of girls.

• Comply with the Prison Rape Elimination Act’s (PREA) standards for juvenile facilities and, consistent with the U.S. Department of Justice guidance, remove girls under 18 from adult prisons and jails.

Recommendation 9 Support Emerging Adulthood for Young Women with Justice System Histories

• Provide programming and reentry planning for older girls that facilitate independent living, ensuring that young women are provided with adequate housing, health care, education, employment, and child care supports upon release.

• Utilize child welfare and health care resources that are increasingly available to young adults in order to help young women—and their children—obtain stable housing, education, and employment.

• Amend the federal Fostering Connections Act to reimburse states for young adults living in juvenile justice placements at age 18 and encourage integration among systems.

• Support young mothers with justice system histories, recognizing that motherhood has the potential to be a positive and transformative experience for justice-involved young women.

Supported by: The Public Welfare Foundation and NoVo Foundation Layout & Design: Jason Killinger Photograph: Richard Ross © Francine T. Sherman and Annie Balck, 2015

130 Top Police Chiefs and Prosecutors Urge End to Mass Incarceration

October 21, 2015
law enforcement leaders

New group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, will meet with President Obama to urge him to take action to reform our criminal justice system

Today 130 police chiefs, sheriffs, prosecutors, and attorneys general from all 50 states join together as a surprising new voice calling for the end to unnecessary incarceration in the U.S. — while maintaining public safety.

The new group, Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration, marks an unprecedented partnership among the nation’s top law enforcement leaders to push reforms to reduce incarceration and strengthen public safety.

At a press conference today in Washington, D.C., police chiefs from six of the largest U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Houston, and New Orleans, will announce their policy agenda, featured in a Statement of Principles.

President Barack Obama will host members of the group at the White House tomorrow, where group leaders will speak on why they believe reducing imprisonment while protecting public safety is a vital national goal.

Speakers at the press conference today include:

  • Charlie Beck, Chief, Los Angeles Police Department
  • William Bratton, Commissioner, New York City Police Department
  • Benjamin David, District Attorney, New Hanover County & Pender County, North Carolina
  • Cathy Lanier, Chief, Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department
  • Garry McCarthy, Superintendent, Chicago Police Department; co-chair, Law Enforcement Leaders
  • Charles McClelland, Chief, Houston Police Department
  • Ronal Serpas, former Superintendent, New Orleans Police Department; co-chair, Law Enforcement Leaders

Additional members of the group include (see a full list of members here):

  • Hassan Aden, Police Director of Research and Programs, International Association of Chiefs of Police
  • Cedric Alexander, former President, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives
  • Kay Chopard Cohen, Executive Director, National District Attorneys Association
  • Alfred Durham, Chief, Richmond Police Department
  • Mark Earley, former Attorney General, Virginia; former President and CEO, Prison Fellowship
  • Sim Gill, District Attorney, Salt Lake County, Utah
  • Heidi Heitkamp, U.S. Senator and former Attorney General, North Dakota
  • Michael Herring, Commonwealth’s Attorney, Richmond, Virginia
  • Walter Holton, former U.S. Attorney, Middle District of North Carolina
  • James E. Johnson, former Undersecretary, U.S. Department of Treasury
  • B. Todd Jones, former Director, U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
  • G. Douglas Jones, former U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Alabama
  • Tom Manger, President, Major Cities Chiefs’ Association
  • Kathleen O’Toole, Chief, Seattle Police Department
  • Melba Pearson, President, National Black Prosecutors Association
  • Timothy Purdon, former U.S. Attorney, District of North Dakota
  • Charles Ramsey, Commissioner, Philadelphia Police Department
  • Eric Schneiderman, Attorney General, New York
  • Rich Stanek, Sheriff, Hennepin County, former President; Major County Sheriffs Association
  • Cy Vance, District Attorney, New York County, New York

“As the public servants working every day to keep our citizens safe, we can say from experience that we can bring down both incarceration and crime together,” said Law Enforcement Leaders Co-Chair Garry McCarthy, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. “Good crime control policy does not involve arresting and imprisoning masses of people. It involves arresting and imprisoning the right people. Arresting and imprisoning low-level offenders prevents us from focusing resources on violent crime. While some may find it counterintuitive, we know that we can reduce crime and reduce unnecessary arrests and incarceration at the same time.”

Members of the group will work within their departments as well as with policymakers to pursue reforms around four policy priorities:

  • Increasing alternatives to arrest and prosecution, especially mental health and drug treatment. Policies within police departments and prosecutor offices should divert people with mental health and drug addiction issues away from arrest, prosecution, and imprisonment and instead into proper treatment.
  • Reducing unnecessary severity of criminal laws by reclassifying some felonies to misdemeanors or removing criminal sanctions, where appropriate.
  • Reducing or eliminating mandatory minimum laws that require overly harsh, arbitrary sentences for crimes.
  • Strengthening ties between law enforcement and communities by promoting strategies that keep the public safe, improve community relations, and increase community engagement.

“Our decision to come together reflects the deep commitment among law enforcement’s ranks to end unnecessary, widespread incarceration,” said Law Enforcement Leaders Co-Chair Ronal Serpas, former Superintendent of the New Orleans Police Department. “As leaders of the law enforcement community, we are committed to building a smarter, stronger, and fairer criminal justice system. We do not want to see families and communities wrecked by our current system. Forming this new organization will allow us to engage policymakers and support changes to federal and state laws, as well as practices, to end unnecessary incarceration.”

Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration is launching at a time when crime in the United States is at its lowest levels in half a century, but our country’s incarceration rate is the highest in the world.

The new organization is being welcomed by other criminal justice reform advocates.

“Too many Americans, particularly low-income communities and communities of color, are being torn apart by our overly punitive justice system,” said Cornell Brooks, President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “Seeing law enforcement officials from across the country come together to address problems in the justice system sends a powerful message. We welcome these leaders to our efforts.”

“There is no validation more important to our efforts to reduce incarceration and enhance public safety than the word of the men and women we entrust to protect our communities,” said Mark Holden, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of Koch Industries. “Today, the nation’s most respected law enforcement leaders declare their support for efforts to reduce incarceration. Our current system is a disservice to them. It requires law enforcement to handle issues that aren’t necessarily criminal in nature and creates friction with the communities they serve. They deserve better than this and so do the Americans they protect and serve.”

Law Enforcement Leaders is a project of the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. “Today, law enforcement joins the growing bipartisan movement of lawmakers, advocacy groups, scholars, and communities of color calling for an end to mass incarceration. Law Enforcement Leaders is a critical, and long needed, addition to our efforts,” said Inimai Chettiar, Director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program.


About Law Enforcement Leaders

Law Enforcement Leaders unites more than 130 current and former police chiefs, sheriffs, federal and state prosecutors, and attorneys general from all 50 states to urge for a reduction in both crime and incarceration. We believe that the country can reduce incarceration while keeping down crime, and we support changes to our criminal justice system to achieve that goal.

Read our Statement of Principles here.

See a full list of members here.

For more information on Law Enforcement Leaders, visit

Family Preservation Project restoration an act of justice

by SR editorial board | 6 Aug 2015

What saved this program was less about budgeting and more about tapping the power of transformation 

A still frame from Brian Lindstrom’s documentary “Mothering Inside,” about the Family Preservation Project for incarcerated mothers.   Photo courtesy of Brian Lindstrom

A still frame from Brian Lindstrom’s documentary “Mothering Inside,” about the Family Preservation Project for incarcerated mothers. Photo courtesy of Brian Lindstrom

It was the little things that meant so much, Nova Sweet recalls. All the little things mothers who aren’t in prison take for granted.

“They would let me have a hairbrush and a comb. I could groom her when she came here,” Sweet says ecstatically of those weekly visits with her young daughter. “Everything you got to do with your kids in the real world, you got to do with them for three hours — from the nervousness of ‘hello’ to playing games to helping with school work. It was major.”

Sweet says it was while she was in the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility that she learned to be a mom. A lesson that would have been lost, she says, if it hadn’t been for the Family Preservation Project that helps mothers like Sweet stay connected with their children during incarceration.

At the end of last year, the state announced it was closing the door on the acclaimed project and using the $300,000 a year expenditure to plug holes in the Department of Corrections’ budget. It was headed for extinction under DOC’s direction.

This week, however, the tide turned. Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill that transfers administration of the program from the DOC to the YWCA, along with $400,000 in general fund money for operations.

What saved this program was less about budgeting — $400,000 barely registers in the expanse of a state budget — and more about a community that saw tangible and positive results in bucking our nation’s archaic stereotypes of felons. This country is winning the race to the bottom when it comes to locking people up — repeatedly and generationally. Where the prevailing image is one of irreparable damage, this program tapped into the power of transformation — and hope.

The program also caught the attention of documentary filmmaker Brian Lindstrom, who directed the edgy “Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse.” An advocate for the cause, Lindstrom went to work on a documentary to raise awareness about the program and the lives it has changed, titled “Mothering Inside.”From the moment the women in the all-female Coffee Creek Correctional Facility learned that the program was going to be phased out, they went into action. They sought approval from their supervisors to start a letter-writing campaign. Sweet was integral in the effort, writing six-page letters, over and over again, she says. They organized, stayed connected with the legislative session through the League of Woman Voters, and got the word out to anyone who would listen, specifically state lawmakers.

Because beyond the little things — the moments between mother and child — is the bigger, essential network. Peer mentoring, workshops, training sessions and an ear to bend when the pressure of doubt or shame becomes too much. Sweet says that the lessons and techniques learned in the program extended beyond those enrolled to others in the prison.

Sweet takes full responsibility for her crimes committed and time served — she was incarcerated for 18 months on a drug-related conviction and burglary. She had a drug problem and she screwed up, she says frankly and often. She made bad decisions and she doesn’t hide from them.

But even before her incarceration, she felt she didn’t measure up to all the expectations of being a mother. And once she was in prison, she knew her children were paying for it. They were ages 5 and 12 when she went inside. The shame was crippling and defeating, compounded by the social isolation of prison. “All the judgment you say about your worst enemy, you put on yourself,” Sweet says.

The Family Preservation Project allowed her to “flip the switch,” she says. She was released on Feb. 26 to her family and that evening attended the premiere of “Mothering Inside.” She is clean and sober and committed to sobriety for life. She lives at home now with her son and daughter, now ages 8 and 15.

FROM OUR ARCHIVES:  Director’s Desk: Inmates need Coffee Creek’s Family Preservation Program

State Sen. Chip Shields, D-Portland, who championed the program’s funding, said it was the voices of the women and children in the program that made the difference.

“I can say without a doubt that FPP would not have been restored were it not for the courageous advocacy of the mothers in the program,” Shields told Street Roots. “FPP participants came down to Salem with little experience in the legislative process, but blew us away with their powerful stories of the program’s positive impact on their families. Many mothers spoke about how the program taught them not only how to be a parent, but how to question the cycle of low self-esteem that threatened their ability to succeed and stay clean after prison. They also brought their children, who told us how FPP was the only time they were able to hug their mom, play and read with them in a child-friendly place.”

And the evidence bore out that this is more than a compassionate gesture to prisoners and their families.

“Programs like FPP can reduce costs associated with the child welfare system, foster care placement, intergenerational involvement in the criminal justice system, and economic consequences of poor school performance and our safety net system,” Shields says. “Programs like FPP turn lives around, and we can’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish when it comes to helping children who have incarcerated parents.”

Sweet’s life was among those turned around.

“Finding out that I could still follow my dream was enourmous to me,” says Sweet, who has master’s degrees in social work and criminal justice.

She might go back into that line of work, but for now, her focus is on how the program — and the attitude that surrounds it — can be expanded. “I want Oregon to be on the map,” she says. “I think our state has the right mentality to have this restorative justice rather than criminal justice. I really feel like I’m restored from the process.”

Well done, Nova Sweet, and your colleagues, and all the people from the State Capitol and beyond who saved this important program. We too agree that Oregon could serve as a national example. When we focus on people’s potential and match it with opportunity, we truly can transform lives.