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Justice for Breonna Taylor
Louisville city officials announced a $12 million settlement for Breonna Taylor’s family, including changes to Louisville Metro Police policy and practices “designed to strengthen officers’ connections to the community, reform the search warrant process and make officers more accountable and their actions more transparent.” The settlement ends a civil lawsuit filed by Breonna Taylor’s mother against the three officers who shot her while she slept in her own apartment, but it admits no wrongdoing on behalf of the city or police and prevents future lawsuits on behalf of the Taylor family. Officer Brett Hankison, one of the officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death, has been fired from the police department. However, the remaining officers still have their jobs and the criminal investigation continues. Writing for CNN, Jill Filipovic says the settlement is not close to justice for Breonna Taylor: “Taylor’s family deserves that money. But it should be coming from the officers whose negligence, carelessness, and cowardice caused her death, not just the people of Louisville, to whom they are supposed to be accountable.”
According to a whistleblower complaint, Irwin County Detention Center has been “performing a staggering number of hysterectomies on immigrant women, as well as failing to follow procedures” to keep detained immigrants and employees safe from COVID-19. A nurse who worked at the facility said she’s spoken to multiple women who didn’t know why they had hysterectomies. Moreover, the complaint detailed that multiple units in the facility exhibited COVID-19 symptoms but were not tested for weeks and that immigrants continued to be transferred in and out of the facility in spite of guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control indicating the health risks of such practices.
A new issue brief from the Center for Reproductive Rights highlights the inhuman treatment of pregnant immigrants and asylum seekers along the U.S.-Mexico border during COVID-19, recommending the urgent release of pregnant and postpartum migrants and asylum seekers, prohibiting Immigration and Customs Enforcement from detaining pregnant or postpartum individuals, minimizing the time pregnant people and their families spend in Customs and Border Protection custody, allowing third party monitoring and government oversight of pregnant people in ICE or CBP custody, and the withdrawal of the Department of Homeland Security and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order that’s been used “to block and expel more than 109,000 migrants and people seeking asylum.”
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, COVID-19 was also used to justify the separation of pregnant Native American women from their newborns “without adequate consent” according to a federal investigation into Lovelace Women’s Hospital. The investigation was launched after ProPublica reported that “the hospital had targeted Native American mothers for COVID-19 testing based on their tribal-area ZIP codes, then separated them from their newborns while awaiting test results.” The hospital failed to admit wrongdoing, but claims the practice was halted in late May.
Back to School
As the school year starts back up amidst an ongoing pandemic, many schools are opting online. However, “a stunning number of young people are locked out of virtual classes because they lack high-speed Internet service at home.” This lack of access disproportionately impacts Black, Latinx, and Indigenous children as well as students in Southern and rural communities. Internet access is just one of many barriers and stressors students are dealing with this fall. Many students who are differently-abled are uniquely impacted by the return to the classroom – whether it’s in-person or virtual. “Many children with disabilities also rely on special education teachers who are specifically trained to help children with extra needs,” services they may not be able to get remotely. However, recent studies show that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities may be at higher risk of contracting coronavirus.
In New York, where school bus contracts are still up in the air and the start of the school year continues to be pushed back, advocates and parents are concerned about how the lack of transportation plans will impact students in foster care: “The transportation uncertainty places a particular strain on foster families. Foster youth have a legal right to remain in their school of origin, no matter where their foster home is. They are often dependent on foster parents getting them to school if schools can’t reroute school buses and the city’s foster care department doesn’t step up. Foster parents, in turn, rely on getting kids off to school so they can go to work or simply regroup.”
For students who identify as trans or nonbinary, schools struggling to adjust to the pandemic are creating uncertainty: “they’re really more focused on the pandemic, which, yeah, that’s important, but you also have to keep in mind the mental health and safety of your students,” one student said.
Many students aren’t just working through the new realities COVID-19 has brought as they return to school, 3.8 million student parents are also juggling childcare, work, and their young children’s virtual or in-person learning. “When there’s academic demands on her and there’s seventh grade and things may seem harder, how much time am I going to have to help her with homework, do my homework, take a shower, make dinner and make sure everyone eats?” said one young mother.
Five students from across the country spoke to Teen Vogue about their first days back at school during the COVID-19 pandemic – from missing out on traditional milestones, to dealing with food insecurity and mental health.
In a blog for the Coalition for Juvenile Justice, Katie Dodds writes about Grace, who served 78 days for violating her probation by not keeping up with her online schoolwork: “Grace’s story should serve as an important reminder that detention of young people should always be a last resort.” But Grace is not alone – each year, thousands of teens on probation are incarcerated for status offenses and technical violations. A research study conducted by The Council of State Governments Justice Center is summarized in the new report, Rethinking the Role of the Juvenile Justice System: Improving Youth’s School Attendance and Educational Outcomes. The report focuses specifically on the impact of probation on school attendance in South Carolina and challenges the idea that system involvement is an appropriate or effective way to improve student achievement and outcomes.
Coronavirus cases continue to increase in prisons across the country, as well as in juvenile facilities. According to The Sentencing Project, there were 1,735 known coronavirus cases among youth and 2,243 staff cases among staff as of September 4th. Keiana Aldrich, a 25-year-old sex trafficking survivor detained at the California Institution for Women amid coronavirus is struggling with her mental health amid COVID-19 and petitioning Governor Gavin Newsom for clemency.
A new report from Alianza for Youth Justice and UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative highlights the ways in which the juvenile justice system invisiblizes Latinx youth by inconsistently tracking and reporting racial and ethnic data at the state level. According to the report findings, not all reports on arrests, probation, and detention include racial and/or ethnic information, and those that do have confusing and inconsistent categories that don’t always distinguish between race and ethnicity. The report also includes recommendations for the youth justice system, policymakers, researchers, and advocates.
As part of the Oregon Foster Youth Connection Policy Conference, a group of 26 foster youth developed a set of recommendations the system should take to address trauma, racism, and mental health. Their recommendations include mandatory financial and training workshops for foster youth, requiring the Department of Human Services to work with providers in compiling county-level data on mental health services for LGBTQ+ youth, and passing a law to ensure that foster parents who commit abuse can no longer be foster parents. In an op-ed for Youth Today, Meghan Bishop writes about the many failures of the child welfare system: “As society longs to move back toward normalcy, we must remember that “normal,” for the child welfare system, is not the goal we should be striving toward.”
A new report filed in federal court shows a 20% COVID-19 positivity rate among youth in long-term foster care in Texas. The pandemic has also “left more than five dozen kids without a bed to sleep in.”
The Washington Supreme Court ruled “that courts use a “broad interpretation” in determining whether children facing removal from their parents have American Indian heritage” – a move that strengthens protective state and federal standards for keeping Native families and communities together.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that looks at coronavirus deaths among youth and children under 21 finds that 78% of COVID-19 deaths in this age group are among Black, Hispanic, and Native American youth. This disproportionality falls in line with disparities found in adult populations as well, with the death toll for people of color twice as high as that for white adults under 65.
- Protecting Our Children: COVID-19’s Impact on Early Childhood and ACEs – a webinar from the National Institute of Health Care Management (NIHCM)
The Black Girl Freedom Fund – a new philanthropic initiative of Grantmakers for Girls of Color (G4GC) in partnership with A Long Walk Home, Girls for Gender Equity, the ‘me too.’ Movement, the Ms. Foundation for Women, National Women’s Law Center, and the Southern Black Girls and Women’s Consortium calling for a $1 billion investment in black girls and young women over the next decade.
Sustaining Police-Free Schools Through Practice: A Toolkit for New York City School Communities – a resource created by Girls for Gender Equity to help communities mobilize around the fight for police free schools.
- …and they cared: How to Create Better, Safer Learning Environments for Girls of Color – a guide and checklist by National Women’s Law Center and The Education Trust highlighting work done to improve school environments for girls of color in Oakland, Chicago, and Massachusetts.
Girls for Gender Equity is combining its Sisters in Strength and Young Women’s Advisory Council programs in a collaboration called “A Liberation Legacy.” Applications are now open for the virtual programming, which will take place October 28th. Deadline to apply is September 28, 2020.
The Aspen Institute Forum on Women and Girls and the Aspen Institute Women of Color Affinity Group are hosting a virtual conversation with Cecilia Muñoz about her new book, More than Ready: Be Strong and Be You…and Other Lessons for Women of Color on the Rise on September 30th, 2020. Register here.
- Registration is open for the Survivor’s Agenda Summit, “a three-day virtual convening of survivors, movement-makers, healers, and activists where we will imagine what a world free of violence looks like and how we want to use our collective voices, strength, and power to make it possible.” The summit will take place September 24-26, 2020.
- I Am One of the ‘Good Trouble 65’– Ayaana Sabb, Colorlines
Black Funding Denied: Community Foundations Support for Black Communities [Report] – Ben Barge, Brandi Collins-Calhoun, Elbert Garcia, Jeanné Lewis, Janay Richmond, Ryan Schlegel, Spencer Ozer, Stephanie Peng
Survey Shows Black Teens Want More Joy on Social Media – Brittney McNamara, Teen Vogue
A Private Security Company is Detaining Migrant Children at Hotels – Caitlin Dickerson, The New York Times
ICE Deported a Key Witness in Investigation of Sexual Assault and Harassment at El Paso Detention Center – Lomi Kriel, Texas Tribune
Federal Judge Says Idaho Cannot Ban Transgender Athletes from Women’s Sports Teams – Madeline Holcombe, CNN
Trump Writes Racist Memo Telling Federal Agencies to End Racial Sensitivity Trainings – Shani Saxon, Colorlines
Toward a Cure: Cities Declare Racism a Public Health Crisis – Tamara E. Holmes, Colorlines
- It’s Time to Listen to Black Disabled People – Vilissa K. Thompson, Essence
“I want adults to understand that we’re the kids that have to go back into this. We’re the teens and college students that have to go through what you’re making a decision about. I want to have a choice and say in my decision process.”
Source: Taylor, “Fear, Hope, and Zoom Fatigue: Back to School During COVID-19,” Teen Vogue
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