Will North Carolina’s Supreme Court Allow Racism to Remain a Persistent Factor in its Death Penalty? | American Civil Liberties Union

In 2009, North Carolina passed the Racial Justice Act (RJA), which allowed defendants to strike the death penalty from their cases if they could show that racial discrimination was a factor in their prosecution. The law came as a response to a series of exonerations of Black people who were falsely convicted of crimes they did not commit by all-white or nearly all-white juries. The legislature took a bold step to address was what suspected to be deeply troubling evidence of racism infecting the death penalty—but no one knew for sure what evidence uncovered by the RJA would find.

via Will North Carolina’s Supreme Court Allow Racism to Remain a Persistent Factor in its Death Penalty? | American Civil Liberties Union

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Report: Facebook Content Mods Say Company Therapists Were Pressured to Share Session Details

Adding to an already ridiculously long list of complaints, now Facebook’s content moderators say a higher-up asked company-appointed counselors to share information from their sessions, according to a new report from the Intercept.

Numerous investigations have described this workforce as notoriously underpaid and overworked in crappy working conditions that require them to scan through some of the most disturbing posts the internet can offer. You know, all the things it might behoove someone to see a therapist about.

This most recent criticism comes from a site in Austin, Texas, led by Accenture, an independent contractor Facebook hired to oversee 1,500 of its content moderators. Accenture and Facebook also employ trauma counselors, a.k.a. “wellness coaches,” to help staff cope after screening all that potentially graphic content to judge whether it violates the company’s terms of service.

via Report: Facebook Content Mods Say Company Therapists Were Pressured to Share Session Details

The Challenges of Breastfeeding as a Black Person | American Civil Liberties Union

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Inequities in access to health care put breastfeeding out of reach for many Black people (iStock)
The fight to protect individual choices about reproductive care, including breastfeeding, is an ongoing battle. The central lesson of the reproductive justice movement is that choice means little without access. That lesson applies equally to breastfeeding.

Though laws, in the workplace and other contexts, are in place to protect the right to breastfeed, many low-income women and women of color face entrenched structural barriers that hinder their ability to breastfeed before they can even consider if it is the right choice for them. This problem is particularly acute for Black women, who have the lowest breastfeeding initiation rate of all racial groups at 69.4 percent, compared with 85.9 percent of white women, and 83.2 percent of women overall. They also have the shortest breastfeeding duration, with 44.7 percent of black women breastfeeding at 6 months compared with 62 percent of white women and 57.6 percent of women overall.

via The Challenges of Breastfeeding as a Black Person | American Civil Liberties Union

William Barr is Stuck in the ’90s — But Americans Have Moved Forward When it Comes to Criminal Justice Reform | American Civil Liberties Union

Almost five years to the day of the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Attorney General William Barr descended on New Orleans to deliver a major policy address. His speech dismissed police violence and espoused a dangerous vision for America — one in which ‘90s era tough-on-crime politics shape policies and pro-civil rights attitudes are derided as “anti-police.”

Speaking to the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Barr used war analogies to describe the work of police officers, painting opponents of police brutality as a “vocal minority that regularly attacks the police.” He minimized the type of police violence and racism — like that which took Michael Brown’s life — as being the result of “a few bad apples.” This phrase has been used as code to distract from deeply systemic issues that protect and perpetuate the devaluing of Black and brown lives in the criminal legal system.

via William Barr is Stuck in the ’90s — But Americans Have Moved Forward When it Comes to Criminal Justice Reform | American Civil Liberties Union

Expanding Involuntary Confinement is Not the Answer to Solve Gun Violence | American Civil Liberties Union

In the wake of last weekend’s tragic shootings, President Trump did what he does best: stoked fear and cast blame. He proclaimed that  “we must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people, not only get treatment, but when necessary, involuntary confinement.”

There are two things wrong with the idea of involuntary commitment as a solution to gun violence. First, focusing on people with identifiable mental disabilities won’t help. The data is clear: mental disability is not the primary cause of gun violence. Second, making it easier to commit people against their will would repeat one of the great wrongs of the last 150 years. It will rob innocent people of their most basic civil liberty: the day-to-day freedom to live on your own and make your own decisions about whether and what kind of medical treatment to receive.

via Expanding Involuntary Confinement is Not the Answer to Solve Gun Violence | American Civil Liberties Union

Websites Can Discriminate Against You Even If You Don’t Use Them, California Supreme Court Rules

Nearly four years ago, a lone bankruptcy lawyer sued Square, the payment processor run by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, challenging the app’s terms of use—despite never signing up. As of yesterday, the case will proceed, thanks to an opinion issued by the California Supreme Court that could have wide-reaching implications for online businesses.

The first thing you need to know is that, for whatever reason, Square’s Prohibited Goods and Services policies include “bankruptcy attorneys or collection agencies,” which you’ll recall is plaintiff Robert White’s line of work. California, where this case was tried and where a plurality of online services are headquartered, is also home to a state law—the Unruh Civil Rights Act—which provides broad protections against discrimination of many kinds, including occupation. But the question remained as to whether White needed to have entered into an agreement with Square (by agreeing to the terms of service) in order to have experienced said discrimination barring his “full and equal access” to the service.

via Websites Can Discriminate Against You Even If You Don’t Use Them, California Supreme Court Rules

Here’s How A Christian Group Prevents Same Sex Couples From Adopting, In the Name of ‘Religious Freedom’

Republicans across the country, now bolstered by the Trump administration, have been working very hard to enable healthcare providers, adoption agencies, and other organizations to deny services to LGBTQ people in the name of religious freedom. A disturbing new report by USA Today, the Arizona Republic and the Center for Public Integrity has traced hundreds of so-called “religious freedom” bills back to a non-profit Christian organization that has created an influential playbook which Republicans are copying into bills across the country. So far, more than 60 have been signed into law.

The playbook is called “Project Blitz,” and it was created in 2017 by the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, a Christian non-profit organization whose membership includes “hundreds” of lawmakers nationwide, including from Congress.

via Here’s How A Christian Group Prevents Same Sex Couples From Adopting, In the Name of ‘Religious Freedom’

Kesha Drops ‘Rich, White, Straight Men’: Listen

Has anyone talked to Kesha about the 2020 election recently? Based on the new track she dropped on Monday, she is mad as hell and ready for change. “Rich, White, Straight Men” is a droll, tongue-in-cheek critique of the United States’ treatment of women, immigrants, and same-sex couples who want to get married. Kesha also takes serious issue with the country’s reluctance to adopt universal healthcare and free college for all. The message is clear! (Is she voting Warren?)

Sonically, this song is unlike any other Kesha’s ever released; there are no thumping club beats or glittery opening chords. This is far from the perfectly manicured pop songs that were once her calling card. “Rich, White, Straight Men” opens with the unsettling sound of cashiers opening and coins falling, and then Kesha begins to dryly check off a list of policies that would materially improve our lives, if only the people in power would enact them. The best part, though, is the song’s literal chorus of voices demanding to know “What if the rich, white, straight men didn’t rule the world anymore?” The melody is almost… swashbuckling? Burlesque? Kesha’s voice uncharacteristically slides up and down as she sings “Guess what, God is a woman, I know her.” The whole thing feels slightly uncomfortable, I guess rather like the political climate. It’s an unprecedented and ultimately enjoyable change for her; what would it sound like if this Kesha made a whole album? I look forward to finding out.

via Kesha Drops ‘Rich, White, Straight Men’: Listen

UK Police Want Rape Victims to Hand Over Their Phones

In the U.K.—like in the U.S.—rape is a dramatically underreported crime, and, once reported, few cases go to trial. In 2018, only 1.9 percent of reported rapes in the UK were prosecuted, and a figure that in 2019 fell to a five-year low. So now, police in the United Kingdom have introduced a measure that they believe will improve the likelihood of these cases going to trial: a national consent form, requiring anyone reporting sexual assault hand over all of their text messages, emails, photos, social media accounts, and from their phones, laptops, or smart watches.

via UK Police Want Rape Victims to Hand Over Their Phones

Ethics committee raises alarm over ‘predictive policing’ tool | UK news | The Guardian

A computer tool used by police to predict which people are likely to reoffend has come under scrutiny from one force’s ethics committee, who said there were a lot of “unanswered questions” and concerns about potential bias.

Amid mounting financial pressure, at least a dozen police forces are using or considering predictive analytics, despite warnings from campaigners that use of algorithms and “predictive policing” models risks locking discrimination into the criminal justice system.

West Midlands police are at the forefront, leading on a £4.5m project funded by the Home Office called National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS).

via Ethics committee raises alarm over ‘predictive policing’ tool | UK news | The Guardian