Pew Trusts: Van Jones and Newt Gingrich on reducing the prison population

On November 17-19, 2014, policy makers, experts, and other key decision makers from more than 30 states met to discuss the past, present, and future of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI). The event was co-hosted by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the Council of State Governments’ Justice Center. Click here to read more.

 

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CNN: Seize the moment to reform our failed prison system

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With Republican majorities coming in both houses of Congress and a Democrat in the White House, many people in Washington believe nothing will get done. We'd like to nominate an exception to that expectation: Criminal justice reform.

Newt has talked about the need for "confidence-building measures" between the President and Republicans in Congress. The idea is that we should work on easier things first, so that we can work on harder things next.

Transforming our nation's failed prison system looks like it could be easier now than anyone expected. Leaders in both parties agree on the need and direction for reform.

They recognize that locking up millions of people for very long periods of time at ballooning costs is not a wise response to nonviolent crime. Warehousing nonviolent offenders for years behind bars has been an economic, moral and human catastrophe. Click here to read more.

 

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USA Today: #YesWeCode as a diversity pipeline for high-tech


USA TODAYOAKLAND, Calif. -- There are a dozen reasons why Jahmil Eady was an unlikely computer coder.

In college, Eady was a media studies major with a concentration in film. Her loves were "history and art and English," as she told the New York Times. She didn't attend a university like MIT or Stanford, with a powerhouse reputation in the computer sciences.

Perhaps most notably: in a technology industry dominated by white men, she is an African-American woman.

But her life was changed forever by a modest fellowship to attend a little-known computer training program. And thanks to a bold move by New York City's new mayor, that fellowship program is set to grow -- significantly.

Today, Eady works as a junior applications developer at Fox News. More importantly, she has gone from being yet another underemployed young person to a full-time employee with a good salary, health insurance and a 401(k).

Christine Beaubrun, a graduate who went from working at the front desk to front-end engineering at Intel, has a similar story. So does Lavoisier Cornerstone, a rapper turned developer who now works as a developer at a start-up, and teaches kids to code on the weekends.

How did Eady, Beaubrun, and Cornerstone beat the odds? How can others like her do the same? Click here to read more.

 

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CNN: 'Hunger Games,' a mirror of America's inequality

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The latest installment of the epic "Hunger Games" series hit theaters this Friday, and it promises to be the year's biggest blockbuster yet.

You can chalk up a lot of these films' popularity to the star power of leading actress Jennifer Lawrence. Certainly, the great action scenes and special effects do not hurt, either. But the real reason "Hunger Games" has captured public imagination is that its fictional world of Panem is, in so many ways, an extreme version of our own America.

For those who have not seen the movies or read the books, the "Hunger Games" tells the story of a young woman -- Lawrence's Katniss Everdeen -- and her defiance of her society's wealthy, exploitative ruling elite. These elite, the dastardly "Capitol," reinforce their power by making the children of oppressed regions battle to the death in what are called "Hunger Games."

It is a far-fetched fairy tale. But if you get caught up in the details of the story, you might miss themes -- crushing inequality, unaccountable governance, violence against children -- that resonate with the daily lives of millions of Americans.

These books and films are not popular because we want to escape to Katniss Everdeen's world. They are a phenomenon because we suspect her world is our own. Click here to read more.

 

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Huffington Post: This is how we diversify Silicon Valley

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Morehouse College was founded just two years after the Civil War. The Atlanta, Georgia historically black college would go on to be one of only two to produce Rhodes Scholars, and count among its alumni none other than Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Oct. 24-26, its historic grounds will be the setting for a one-of-a-kind event: The Platform Summit. Luminaries from the arts, business, and politics will join together with young people and future luminaries to produce powerful solutions to diversify the innovation economy.

Today, Dr. King's dream feels in jeopardy. It is harder than ever to get a good job that pays a fair wage. Technology is transforming the economy in ways we cannot yet predict. Blacks, Latinos, and women are horribly underrepresented in Silicon Valley and across the information economy. If you see a black kid walking down the street wearing a hoodie, you are more likely to think of Trayvon Martin than Mark Zuckerberg.

All the more tragic is that the technology sector is crying out for talent. By some reports, there is a shortfall of more than one million high-tech jobs -- while meanwhile, a kid in Oakland has no idea and no access to the help he needs to get himself into one of those high-tech jobs just down the road in Silicon Valley.

Diversity in the tech sector is a problem for all of us. And initiatives like the Platform Summit are the answer. Click here to read more. 

 

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