Domestic (In)justice Activism Opportunities

  • Support Bipartisan #JusticeReformNOW via @cut_50 — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Support Bipartisan #JusticeReformNOW.

    1 out of every 100 Americans is behind bars. The U.S. spends $80 billion a year on incarceration. 70 million Americans have a criminal record. In too many neighborhoods, young people of color are more likely to go to prison than college.

    Over the course of this year, those stats — straight out of Cut50’s campaign supporting bipartisan criminal justice reform — have lead to an unlikely alliance of traditional ideological adversaries like The ACLU and Koch Industries. With the left and the right backing a reduction in the inmate population, legislation has actually been introduced in the House and Senate.

    As reported in NPR, Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Project, is behind the bill because: "The Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act is the most substantial criminal justice reform legislation introduced since the inception of the 'tough on crime' movement and is the best indication we have that those days are over.”

    Families Against Mandatory Minimums is also supporting the legislation. President Julie Stewart acknowledges that it isn’t perfect, but says "it is a substantial improvement over the status quo and will fix some of the worst injustices.”

    The House bill — the SAFE Justice Act — and the Senate bill — the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act — propose system-wide reforms to reduce over-criminalization, enhance rehabilitation, support individuals’ rebuilding after prison terms, reform federal prison sentencing, and reduce automatic and harsh punishments like “three strikes” laws.

    Visit to sign the Cut50 petition, which is approaching 200,000 signatures — it turns out criminal justice reform is also popular with celebrity activists and the general public! You can also join in demanding that Congress take action to roll back the incarceration industry in America by following the #JusticeReformNOW & #Cut50 hashtags.

    We already know this Congress is loathe to do anything besides push deadlines on the budget and investigate Planned Parenthood without a public outcry. Let’s make sure they can hear us loud and clear.


    SIGN: "Demand that Congress take action to roll back the incarceration industry in America” via #cut50

    Sources/further reading:

    "FAMM: House Sentencing Reform Compromise Another Step in Right Direction” via Families Against Mandatory Minimums

    “Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act” — the full legislation

    "Here's One Thing Washington Agreed On This Week: Sentencing Reform” via NPR

    "Senators Announce Bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act” — announcement from the Judiciary Committee

    "Senate Introduces ‘Gamechanger’ Criminal Justice Reform Bill” via Time

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #959 "The need to do better (Mass Incarceration)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • .@POTUS: Free Victims of the Drug War via @DrugPolicyOrg — Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: "Free Victims of the Drug War" with the Drug Policy Alliance.

    President Obama stepped up his pardons earlier this year by commuting the sentences of 22 federal prisoners convicted of nonviolent drug offenses being served “under an outdated sentencing regime,” according to the administration. As Trymaine Lee reported for, the president described the power of commutation as embodying “the basic belief in our democracy that people deserve a second chance.”

    For what are most certainly widely varying reasons, bipartisan conversations have begun seeking to tackle the injustices of decades-old mandatory minimum and three-strikes laws which have lead to the overcrowding of our nation’s prisons and the fulfilling of the greedy dreams of private prison company CEOs. In his statement on the commutations, the president acknowledged both the social good and the financial imperative of fixing the broken system.

    “Well, here’s the good news,” the president said. "There is an increasing realization on the left, but also on the right politically, that what we’re doing is counterproductive. We’re all responsible for at least a solution to this.”

    As the predictably slow wheels of potential Congressional action turn, there is good news: this is another situation where the White House holds significant unilateral power. The Drug Policy Alliance is campaigning to pressure the president on additional commutations — which should be an easy sell as he has already established a clemency initiative to encourage individuals sentenced under the draconian drug laws to petition for commutation.

    You can join with the Drug Policy Alliance by visiting and contacting the White House through their "Free Victims of the Drug War” page. You can also follow their hashtag #NoMoreDrugWar and use it to publicly share that you’re participating in the campaign to free those wrongly and cruelly incarcerated.

    As the Drug Policy Alliance letter-writing page explains, the White House is starting to listen on this issue; now is the time to build momentum by asking the president to continue a process he began and not leave the work unfinished for an incoming administration. The time is now.


    SIGN to tell the president to Free Victims of the Drug War via the Drug Policy Alliance

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    FOLLOW the hashtag: #NoMoreDrugWar

    For those who want to get more involved, it’s early registration for the International Drug Policy Reform Conference (11/18-11/21/2015)

    Sources/further reading:

    "President Obama commutes prison sentences of 22 drug offenders” by Trymaine Lee at

    "Prolific Pardoner? Obama Grants Clemency to 22 Prisoners Last Week, but Has Denied Thousands” by Annie Waldman for ProPublica via Truthout

    "Will the U.S. Senate Finally Reform Harsh Mandatory Minimum Sentences for Drugs?”> via Drug Policy Alliance

    "The Nation's Shame: The Injustice of Mandatory Minimums" by Andrea Jones at RollingStone

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #929 "Looking to avert further tragedy (War on Drugs™)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

  • #KeepHousingFair via @natfairhouse - Best of the Left Activism

    You’ve reached the activism portion of today’s show. Now that you’re informed and angry, here’s what you can do about it. Today’s activism: Keep Housing Fair.

    Since the Supreme Court did the unthinkable two years ago and gutted the Voting Rights Act, social justice advocates can no longer assume decisions on longstanding affirmative laws and policies put to SCOTUS will go their way. Next up on the chopping block to have the enforcement provisions stripped is the Fair Housing Act.

    The court heard arguments in January on Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project, which challenges a key aspect of the Fair Housing Act known as the "disparate impact.” In a time where increasing attention is being drawn to the long-term impact of redlining and gentrification and cities like Chicago are tearing down housing projects while failing to build the promised “mixed income” buildings, it seems impossible that the Supreme Court would take away this vital tool for fighting discrimination.

    Senator Elizabeth Warren explained in a Washington Post op ed that stripping out “disparate impact” would affect more than just those who are directly discriminated against.

    "As with the voting rights decision, a decision limiting the scope of the housing laws would ignore the will of Congress and undermine basic principles of racial equality. But there is even more at stake in the fair housing case, because the wrong decision would reduce economic opportunities for working families and raise the risk of another financial crisis.”

    As this is an issue of racial justice and economic justice, many organizations and elected officials have spoken out over the past few months. The National Fair Housing Alliance and other social justice groups created a hashtag — #KeepHousingFair — to spearhead an awareness campaign with events, speeches, shareable graphics and more. You can follow the latest via their Twitter and Facebook feeds. As always, proactively letting your representatives know that fair access to housing matters to you through is a valuable action should the court make an unfortunate ruling.

    Also, a reminder for Chicago listeners: your current mayor has been no champion of fair housing, mainly continuing the broken promises policies of the Daley dynasty. Rahm Emanuel is facing Jesus "Chuy” Garcia April 4th in a runoff election. You can find your polling place at ChicagoElections.Com.

    Fair housing needs to be on the radar ahead of the 2016 primaries. ProPublica writer Nikole Hannah-Jones has a series of articles as well as a book — a $1.99 Kindle download — "Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Law” that’s a must read for anyone who wants more of the history on unfair housing practices in the U.S. so that they’re prepared to be part of the effort to ensure it’s a an issue next year. The thought of such a long election season may be exhausting, but with republicans already announcing, it’s never too early to raise public consciousness on vital issues that should be part of debates, platforms and campaigns.


    Follow #KeepHousingFair through The National Fair Housing Alliance on Facebook and Twitter

    Additional Activism/Resources:

    CHICAGO VOTERS: the mayoral runoff election is APRIL 7. Rahm has continued harmful Daley policies, so Find Your Polling Place

    READ: "Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Law” — a $1.99 Kindle Single by Nikole Hannah-Jones

    Sources/further reading:

    "Supreme Court’s Latest Race Case: Housing Discrimination” by Nikole Hannah-Jones at ProPublica

    "Segregation Now: Investigating America's Racial Divide” by Nikole Hannah-Jones at ProPublica

    "Housing Discrimination, Gentrification and Black Lives: We Call These Projects Home” by Monique "Mo” George at The Huffington Post

    "After SCOTUS Gutted Voting Rights Act, Is Fair Housing Act Next?" by Jon Queally at Common Dreams

    "African-American vote could be key to Chicago mayoral election” by Rick Pearson, Cynthia Dizikes and Juan Perez Jr. at The Chicago Tribune

    "Elizabeth Warren: Supreme Court housing decision could put our financial well-being at risk” by Senator Elizabeth Warren at The Washington Post

    Hear the segment in context:

    Episode #908 "Unfair housing, unfair society (Racism)"

    Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich

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