On Monday evening I attended a community dialogue with Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck about race, law enforcement and community relations, organized by the NAACP Portland Branch, Green Memorial AME Zion Church and Williams Temple Church of God in Christ. The discussion was a follow-up to a dialogue that took place last month in response to the tragic events that occurred in Ferguson, Missouri.
This morning, I visited three different classes at Portland High School to talk about Maine’s anti-bullying law and how it protects students all across the state. It’s a subject we’ve been devoting a lot of energy towards as the new school year ramps up, and we have some exciting new resources to share as a result.
To start with, we’ve created a brand new video that explains the law to students. It’s quick and straightforward, with all kinds of important information that young people need to protect their rights under the law. Check it out:
I learned about a law this week governing the use of solitary confinement, one that I had never heard of before. To be precise, this isn’t really a law – more like a very strongly worded guideline, albeit one published by an important federal agency. It says that an individual should never be locked in solitary confinement, except as an absolute last resort. It mandates that individuals, when in isolated confinement, must have the ability to socialize, to communicate, and to physically interact with other individuals.
The right to free expression is one of our most cherished rights, yet it seems it is constantly under threat. For all the progress we've made - and there has been much - we still find ourselves stuggling with government censorship both by state governments and local school districts.
Last week, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released a national update on the number of state and federal prisoners in 2013. While the federal prison population declined for the first time since 1980, the number of people incarcerated in state facilities increased by 6,300 – causing an overall increase in the number of people incarcerated in the United States.
As we enter the election season, some GOP candidates are changing the way they talk about reproductive health care – namely, contraceptives. Several anti-abortion candidates are now including support for over-the-counter contraceptives in their campaigns.
Last week, the Global Commission on Drug Policy released a report condemning drug criminalization and prohibitionist policies. The Commission, which includes the former presidents of Portugal, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico and Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, called on world leaders to undertake a fundamental review of current drug control regimes and redirect both national and international drug policies to better fall in line with the UN mandate to “ensure security, human rights and development.”