Blog of Rights

Jennifer
Bellamy
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Getting the Scoop on Youth PROMISE on Capitol Hill

By Jennifer Bellamy, Washington Legislative Office at 8:59pm
On Thursday, the ACLU, in conjunction with the Peace Alliance, the Student Peace Alliance, the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, GlobalGrind.com and Ben & Jerry’s, held an event on Capitol Hill to press the case for congressional passage of the Youth PROMISE Act (Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support, and Education) – H.R. 1064/S. 435. This bipartisan legislation would address problems of gang involvement and youth violence through innovative and evidence-based community approaches, as opposed to the tired old routine of harsh sentences and long stints behind bars.

With the Stroke of a Pen, a Fairer Criminal Justice System

By Jennifer Bellamy, Washington Legislative Office at 4:44pm

Earlier this morning, President Obama signed the Fair Sentencing Act into law. This legislation will vastly reduce the infamous and discriminatory 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, and, for the first time since the…

Youth PROMISE — Going Viral with Robin Wright!

By Jennifer Bellamy, Washington Legislative Office at 5:04pm

Earlier this week, acclaimed actress Robin Wright was in Washington, D.C., for the premiere of a new video that supports the Youth PROMISE Act. This legislation, which is currently pending in Congress, seeks to address youth violence by providing resources…

Youth PROMISE Act: Recognition That it Takes a Village to Raise a Child

By Jennifer Bellamy, Washington Legislative Office at 4:59pm

(Originally posted on The Hill's Congress Blog.)

We know how to stop the violence.

And the full name of the solution says it all: the Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support and Education Act, otherwise known as the Youth PROMISE Act.

This legislation breaks the cycle of violence by getting at its root causes. It will help to curb youth violence and gang activity by investing in proven, evidence-based prevention and intervention strategies that localities develop in partnership with the modern day village, namely our schools, nonprofits, community centers, parents and young people.

For too long, many of our communities have suffered the consequence of crime and gang activities. For too long, we have pursued policies that are neither smart nor effective. For too long, we have given up hope that young people caught up in the vicious cycle known as the school-to-prison pipeline will ever become productive members of society.

That needs to stop. We don’t have to continue to turn our backs on disadvantaged communities or the young people living within them.

Presidential Pardons Highlight the Need to Return Common Sense to Federal Sentencing

By Jennifer Bellamy, Washington Legislative Office at 2:23pm

Mandatory minimum sentencing relies on an inflexible formula to determine the required minimum sentencing, regardless of the individual circumstances of the case. At a time when our prisons are practically bursting at the seams, mandatory sentencing…

No More Frogs in a Pot — Mr. President, Sign the Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act

By Jennifer Bellamy, Washington Legislative Office at 4:13pm

If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will leap out right away to escape the danger. But if you put a frog in a pot of water that is cool and gradually heat until boiling, the frog will not be aware of the danger until it is too late.…

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