Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Holder Urges States to Repeal Bans on Felon's Voting

The good folks at the Justice and Accountability Center of Louisiana are working on similar issues locally. One of their projects is a Ban the Box campaign in which employers would not be able to learn of their applicants' recorders until after initial interviews and screens.

From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Tuesday urged states to repeal laws that prohibit felons from voting, a move that would restore the right to vote to millions of people.
The call was mostly symbolic — Mr. Holder has no authority to enact these changes himself — but it marked the attorney general’s latest effort to eliminate laws that he says disproportionately keep minorities from the polls. “It is unwise, it is unjust, and it is not in keeping with our democratic values,” Mr. Holder said at civil rights conference at Georgetown University. These laws deserve to be not only reconsidered, but repealed.”
African-Americans represent more than a third of the estimated 5.8 million people who are prohibited from voting, according to the Sentencing Project, a research group that favors more liberal sentencing policies. And in Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia, more than one in five African-Americans has lost the right to vote.
The United States is unique in the democratic world for barring people from voting in such large numbers. Mr. Holder said the laws stemmed from the late 1800s, when states tried keep blacks from voting.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Internet Policies, Monopoly and Global Positioning

I'm listening to Fresh Air where communication scholar Susan Crawford is talking about Net Neutrality and other policies that allow for communication monopolies, lack of consumer choice and poor but expensive service. One thing she noted that struck me was that Stockholm, South Korea, Japan and a number of other countries (including China) have much faster internet access that carries much more data for a fraction of the cost of what we pay in the US. She noted how this puts the US at a global disadvantage in terms of innovation and creativity and threatens our economic and social standing in the world. She wrote the book Captive Audience: The Telecom Industry and Monopoly Power in the New Gilded Age.

From the book jacket: (see below)