"You judge the character of a society not by how it treats its rich, powerful and privileged, but by how it treats its poor, [oppressed] and incarcerated. It's in that nexus that we begin to understand profound ideas about who we are." Bryan Stevenson
HPJC endorses the blockade of the Keystone XL pipeline and the valiant, nonviolent direct actions by the Tar Sands Blockade.
TransCanada, a multinational corporation, intends to use its newly granted permits to construct the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline through Texas to the Gulf. This is no ordinary pipeline. It would pump toxic tar sands, extremely dirty and dangerous from extraction to combustion. If burned, tar sands spells “game over” for a livable climate and would harm community drinking water and farmers’ livelihoods across the region. From day one TransCanada has lied and trampled on the rights of honest landowners trying to defend their homes.
"The universalization of access to knowledge is the single most important force available for increasing innovation and human welfare on the planet."
[CLT ed. note: Pilfered flagrantly from Cory Doctorow's BoingBoing.net: http://boingboing.net/2012/05/27/innovation-under-austerity-eb.html#more-163339]
This past week, Connecticut became the 17th state in the Nation to abolish the death penalty. Of the 33 states that still have the death penalty as a possible punishment for capital murder, 23 never or rarely carry out an execution. Thus, in effect, the death penalty is only used as a punishment in 10 states, most of them being in the deep South where slavery once existed.
So, it appears that the death penalty is slowly disappearing in the USA. That is good news as it indicates an "evolving standard of decency" in the U.S. Our nation is the only western, industrialized nation to use this punishment. We are in the company of such countries as China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia when it comes to exacting an eye for an eye.
In Texas, both death sentences and executions continue to decrease. One reason for this is that more and more citizens are becoming aware that our criminal justice system is not perfect and innocent people have been sent to death row. In Texas, 12 people have been exonerated and released from death row in the past 30 years, the latest being Anthony Graves who was released in 2010. Nationwide, approximately 140 people have been exonerated and released from death row. It is also true that several people with strong claims of innocence have been executed in Texas, people like Cameron Todd Willingham, Claude Jones, Ruben Cantu and Carlos Deluna.
On February 9, 2012, my wife, Priscilla and I participated in a program sponsored by the Center for the Healing of Racism which focused on a new book by Michelle Alexander titled The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. I thought I knew a lot about the criminal justice system having worked on the death penalty issue for many years. However, I was shocked by what I learned in this program.
If you want to understand why the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world, I recommend that you read Michelle Alexander’s book. After reading this book, you will come to understand why we have over 2 million people incarcerated and another 5 million under court-supervised probation or parole. You will also come to understand why our prison population is overwhelmingly people of color – it is because they have been targeted in the so-called “war on drugs” that started during the Reagan Administration. The purpose of the drug war was not so much to fight drugs, but to woo white voters in the south from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. Unfortunately, when Bill Clinton became President, he strengthened the war on drugs in an effort to woo voters back to the Democratic Party. The “tough on crime” policies of the Clinton Administration resulted in the largest increase in incarceration of any U.S. President according to the Justice Policy Institute. It is an amazing statistic that more African American adults are under court supervision today than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.
In a world that settles differences by armed violence or the threat of it, Pax Christi offers a nonviolent alternative. In a world that too often defines "revenge" as "justice", Pax Christi breaks the cycle of violence by fostering reconciliation. In a world where countries invest more money in weapons than in the well-being of their people, Pax Christi calls individuals to disarm their hearts and create
Nov. 30, 2011 On the eve of Occupy DC’s two month anniversary, the General Assembly of McPherson Square reached consensus on a Declaration representing the foundational grievances of the occupiers encamped there and their many supporters.
The principles of the Declaration are largely based upon a range of over 200 submissions to a box made available to the public over the first few weeks of the McPherson Square occupation. Occupy DC’s Declaration Committee, open to the public and consisting of several dozen people, met nearly every night for more than a month to draft this document. As part of a highly democratic process, the Declaration went before General Assembly three times, incorporating new language desired by the community on each occasion before reaching consensus last night.
Read Occupy DC’s Declaration:
The Disuniting of America
By Jim Hightower
In the Bible, Paul doesn't say that money is the root of all evil — rather, it is the love of money that he warns against.