Tag: Loretta Lynch

THIS WAY FORWARD: Helping Women Rebuild Lives and Family after Prison

Susan Burton at “Becoming Ms. Burton” book event (Photo courtesy of Susan Burton)
by Dena Crowder

“We’re creating throwaway people,” says Susan Burton.  She should know.  She used to be one.

“Six times I had been imprisoned and each time I had hope that it would be the last time, but deep down I knew I wasn’t prepared for life outside,” she writes in her award-winning book, Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women. “The system is set up to prove that “you’re useless.  If you’re useless, you have no value.  You’re a throwaway person.”

Now the founder and executive director of A New Way of Life, which helps formerly incarcerated women successfully re-enter society, and an internationally respected voice and human rights advocate, Susan gives women who find themselves in the same position she was in twenty years ago “a hand up and a means to stand on their own feet.”

“I’d been arrested over and over again for possession of a controlled substance. You’d think someone in the system might have gotten the idea that I needed drug treatment, that I needed therapy. But I was never offered help and I I didn’t know to ask for it because I didn’t know what to ask for,” Susan remembers.

Like many of the women who come to her for help, Susan had a history of trauma, abuse and addiction, and no idea how to break the cycle.  Her mission is deeply rooted in personal experience. “Women are the fastest growing segment of the (American) prison system,” she explains. “Yet, they’re not talked about, resources aren’t put towards them, nor (are there efforts at) stopping the recidivism. ”

Female incarceration was once extremely rare. In fact, in 1970, almost 75% of the nation’s counties held no women in jail. Currently, the rate of imprisonment for women outpaces that of men.  Put another way, the US has 5% of the world’s female population, but houses one-third of the world’s female prisoners. 

As more and more women are “being criminalized and taken away from their families and children,”  Susan encourages us to ask: what’s the cost to communities and the country?  Two years ago, former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch gave her opinion: “We know that when we incarcerate a woman we often are truly incarcerating a family in terms of the far-reaching effect on her children, her community, and her entire family network.”

In the past, a common assumption was that incarcerated people were distinct from everyone else, a realm apart. With upwards of a million women in prison, it’s become increasingly apparent that mass incarceration is inseparable from mainstream society.  We are a nation of prisons and prisoners.  And we are all diminished for it. “So many people with so much to give have been taken away from us.  We need to be working towards supporting all of that wealth and revealing the gifts (that can enhance) our communities instead of keeping them locked away,” Susan asserts.

(Photo courtesy Susan Burton)

A New Way of Life provides a vehicle for harnessing the wealth that often lies untapped and undirected.  Women, many of whom have been sentenced for non-violent drug-related crimes, are given the emotional support to heal and the practical tools to find employment, regain custody of their children, and incorporate healthier habits.

While she’s primarily dedicated to “raising the visibility of women in the context of mass incarceration,” Susan is also on a mission to help all women reclaim their authentic value. Which is why she is hopeful about the positive change that may come as a result of this year’s #MeToo movement. She believes it represents something larger. “Women are saying no more and never again. We are collectively standing up against the containment of women and women’s power.”

I first met Susan nearly twenty years ago after her sixth and final release from prison. She remembers that period vividly: “You offered me a full scholarship to your Essential Woman class.  Six months later, I was able to pay the full tuition of the class. Through that course, I found my own value.”  When we see others as useless “throwaways,” she continues, “it’s because we’ve lost touch with our own value.  And that’s really the core of the prison epidemic in this country. Devaluing ourselves.  Devaluing others.”

In the years since she began A New Way of Life, Susan has helped more than 700 hundred women forge a new path, and has reunited 150 mothers with their children. Her incredible story of success proves that regardless of past mistakes, we’re all human beings with innate value and the capacity for contribution.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

  • You can purchase Susan Burton’s book here
  • To volunteer in your area of expertise for A New Way of Life, please contact http://www.anewwayoflife.org/volunteer/*They’re always looking for lawyers to assist their legal clinic.*
  • To donate, please visit http://www.anewwayoflife.org/donate-3/.
  • Know of a person or organization doing outstanding work that benefits people of color and want us to consider featuring them?  Click here to tell us more.   I’ll be spotlighting individuals and groups who are “doing good” in a monthly editorial here on GBN.

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Dena Crowder is a strategist specializing in power.  She helps creators and influencers increase their capacity and cultivate “pure power” so that they leave a positive impact.
Her approach combines spiritual training with pragmatic action. To visit Dena Crowder’s website, click here.
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U.S. Justice Department Sues Ferguson, Mo., to Force Police Reform

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch ce Department (Photo via newsweek.com)
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (Photo via newsweek.com)

article by Stephan A. Crockett, Jr. via theroot.com

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Wednesday that the Department of Justice has filed a federal lawsuit against Ferguson, Mo., after the City Council voted Tuesday to change the terms of a deal that would have brought sweeping changes to the city’s embattled Police Department.

“The residents of Ferguson have waited nearly a year for their city to adopt an agreement that would protect their rights and keep them safe,” Lynch said, according to ABC News. “They have waited nearly a year for their Police Department to accept rules that would ensure their constitutional rights. … They have waited decades for justice. They should not be forced to wait any longer.”

The Justice Department launched an investigation into the Ferguson Police Department last year after the shooting of unarmed teen Michael Brown by Police Officer Darren Wilson in August 2014. Wilson was not charged in the shooting, but the Justice Department investigation found “systemic and systematic racial bias within the force’s policing practices,” ABC reports.

The findings of the investigation were announced last year, and the city of Ferguson and the Justice Department began negotiations that ABC notes lasted 26 weeks, seeking an agreement that would address the Justice Department’s findings.

In January it was announced that the two sides had reached a tentative agreement that was set to include a complete overhaul of basic policing practices, including “how officers conduct stops, searches and arrests, use their firearms and respond to demonstrations,” among other significant changes, the Associated Press reports.

ABC notes that Ferguson leaders, however, had always balked at the tentative agreement, which they estimated would cost the city $3.7 million during the first year alone.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch Vows to Investigate John Crawford’s Shooting Death in Walmart

John Crawford's parents met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch (Photo:
John Crawford’s parents met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on May 19, 2015 (Photo: WLWT TV)

Loretta Lynch will investigate the death of John Crawford III, 22, who was shot last summer as he held an air rifle inside a Walmart in Ohio, according to WLWT TV.

Lynch, who was confirmed as the U.S. Attorney earlier this month, met with Crawford’s family Tuesday during a visit to Cincinnati to discuss police reform, reports the television news station.

Crawford’s parents tell the station that Lynch met with them for about 15 minutes, and pledged to investigate the shooting, which drew protests over the killing of young Black men by police around the country.

The family has filed a suit against the city of Beavercreek, the two Beavercreek officers involved, the police chief, and Walmart Stores Inc., charging negligence and violation of Crawford’s civil rights.

The officer who shot Crawford claims he failed to respond to repeated orders to drop the weapon and allegedly turned towards him in an aggressive manner.

From WLWT TV:

Crawford’s family said they appreciate the support from the community. They said Lynch told them it’s going to take time, but she will investigate their son’s death.

“She was just making sure that we understood that it was a process and we understand that. She said it would move. The process will move and that she will make sure,” John Crawford Jr. said.

Crawford’s mother, Tressa Sherrod, says she appreciated having the opportunity to meet with Lynch privately.

The DOJ launched a preliminary investigation into the shooting last fall to determine whether Crawford’s civil rights were violated, reports say.

article by Lynette Holloway via newsone.com

U.S. Justice Department Officially Launches Baltimore Police Investigation

U.S. Attorney General Officially announces investigation of Baltimore Police Department (Photo via newsweek.com)
U.S. Attorney General Officially announces investigation of Baltimore Police Department (Photo via newsweek.com)

Washington (CNN) The Justice Department launched on Friday a pattern or practice investigation into the methods of the Baltimore Police Department, weeks after the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

Calling police-community relations “one of the most challenging issues of our time,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced Friday the investigation, which will look into whether the police department has used excessive force and conducted unlawful searches, seizures and arrests, and discriminatory policing practices through the lens of civil rights and constitutional violations.

She said she launched the investigation at the urging of Baltimore officials and community leaders, and with the support of the Baltimore police union.  “Our goal is to work with the community, public officials, and law enforcement alike to create a stronger, better Baltimore,” Lynch said at a press conference Friday.

If violations are found, the investigation will result in a “court-enforceable agreement” to change the practices of the Baltimore Police Department.

Attorneys and investigators with the Justice Department’s civil rights division will meet with Baltimore law enforcement officials and community members in the coming days and weeks, Lynch said.

Lynch said the protests in Baltimore in recent weeks revealed that the trust between the community and Baltimore police officers “is even worse and has been severed” and said she hopes the investigation can lead to reforms to “create a stronger, a safer and a more unified city.”

She also emphasized that the turmoil in Baltimore — from Gray’s death in police custody to the ensuing protests and rioting — should not define the city.

“Earlier this week I visited with members of the community who took to the streets in the days following the unrest to pick up trash to clear the debris and they are Baltimore,” Lynch said, adding that youth leaders and tireless police officers focused on protecting the community “they too are Baltimore.”

Continue reading “U.S. Justice Department Officially Launches Baltimore Police Investigation”

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake Calls For Department Of Justice To Investigate Police Department

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

A day after U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch visited Baltimore in the wake of unrest after Freddie Gray died of fatal injuries received in police custody, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake called for the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the city’s embattled police department, according to a live report on CNN.

Lynch visited the city on Tuesday and attended a series of meetings with the mayor, embattled Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, and members of Gray’s family, reports The Baltimore Sun. Gray’s death reinflamed nationwide tensions over police brutality in Black communities, sparking sometimes violent protests last week.

Justice Department spokesperson Dena Iverson released a statement Wednesday regarding the possible DOJ investigation:

“The Attorney General has received Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s request for a Civil Rights Division ‘pattern or practice’ investigation into the Baltimore Police Department.  The Attorney General is actively considering that option in light of what she heard from law enforcement, city officials, and community, faith and youth leaders in Baltimore yesterday.”

Rawlings-Blake’s announcement follows a bold move last week by Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to bring charges against six police officers in Gray’s death, which has been ruled a homicide.

article by Lynette Holloway via newsone.com

Loretta Lynch Confirmed by Senate as United States Attorney General

Loretta Lynch confirmed by Senate as new U.S. Attorney General (Photo via eurweb.com)
Loretta Lynch confirmed by Senate as new U.S. Attorney General (Photo via eurweb.com)

Loretta Lynch was confirmed Thursday as attorney general, the first black woman in American history to hold the country’s top law enforcement post.

The Senate approved Lynch, a federal prosecutor from New York, on a 56-43 vote after an unusually lengthy confirmation delay. President Barack Obama nominated Lynch as the successor to Eric Holder in November.

Lynch’s path to becoming the first African American woman to serve as attorney general was fraught with partisan bickering — fighting that continued on Thursday.  Obama said the Justice Department would benefit from Lynch’s experience as a “a tough, independent, and well-respected prosecutor.”

“Loretta has spent her life fighting for the fair and equal justice that is the foundation of our democracy,” the president said in a statement on Thursday. “As head of the Justice Department, she will oversee a vast portfolio of cases, including counterterrorism and voting rights; public corruption and white-collar crime; judicial recommendations and policy reviews – all of which matter to the lives of every American, and shape the story of our country.”

Holder said he was pleased the Senate recognized “her clear qualifications.”

“I have known and worked closely with Loretta for many years, and I know that she will continue the vital work that this Administration has set in motion and leave her own innovative mark on the Department in which we have both been privileged to serve,” Holder said in a statement. “I am confident that Loretta will be an outstanding Attorney General, a dedicated guardian of the Constitution, and a devoted champion of all those whom the law protects and empowers.”

Continue reading “Loretta Lynch Confirmed by Senate as United States Attorney General”

Loretta Lynch Wins Senate Panel Approval to be Attorney General

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be the 83rd U.S. attorney general and the first African American woman to hold the post.

The vote was 12 to 8, with 3 Republicans voting in favor of Lynch, who is the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn.

Lynch’s nomination now goes to the Senate floor, where she seems assured of eventual approval. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has so far been noncommittal about when he will schedule the vote. Democrats have complained that Lynch’s nomination has been pending for more than three months.

Republican opponents of Lynch have mostly not criticized her, but have used the nomination as a proxy for their opposition to President Obama’s executive action that would shield from deportation several million immigrants in the country illegally.

Lynch has testified that the legal underpinning for that directive was “reasonable.”

The committee debate also featured a spirited disagreement about the constitutional role of senators in confirming nominees, one that did not stricly follow party lines.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the committee chair and a Lynch supporter, excoriated fellow Republicans in the House who said in a letter that voting for Lynch was a vote in favor of “lawlessness” on the part of President Obama.

“That is ridiculous on its face,” Hatch said angrily.

“The case against her nomination, as far as I can tell, essentially ignores her professional career and focuses solely on about six hours that she spent before this committee on Jan. 28,” Hatch said.

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) joined Hatch in siding with all nine Democrats on the committee.

“To those who really believe this is a constitutional overreach of historic proportions, you have impeachment available to you,” Graham said, referring to the immigration controversy.

Noting the near-constant complaints among Republicans on the committee about the current attorney general, Eric H. Holder Jr., Graham said wryly that “Eric Holder’s ready to go, and I wish him well. He’s about to make a lot of money. Republicans are into that.”

Conservatives led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) say Lynch would not be independent of President Obama on immigration and other issues and would not depart from Holder’s policies.

Cruz, a potential candidate for president, said Lynch had refused to answer crucial questions in her confirmation hearing.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who has led opposition to Obama’s immigration plans, denounced Lynch.

“The Senate cannot confirm someone to this post who is going to support and advance a scheme that violates our Constitution and eviscerates congressional authority,” Sessions said. “Congress makes the laws, not the president—as every schoolchild knows.”

Lynch has twice been U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, the top federal prosecutor in a district that includes all of Long Island and most of New York City outside of Manhattan and the Bronx.

She has been a federal prosecutor much of her career and earned the endorsement of a number of top law enforcement officials and organizations. She has extensive experience in terrorism and public corruption cases.

Lynch also has international experience, volunteering over several years with the International Criminal Tribune for Rwanda training lawyers and conducting an investigation.

article by Timothy Phelps via latimes.com

Loretta Lynch’s #DeltaSigmaTheta Sorority Sisters Came to Support Her Attorney General Confirmation Hearing

Loretta Lynch Howard Sorority Sisters
Congresswoman Alma S. Adams posted this photo on Jan. 28, 2014. “Supporting Greensboro native, Loretta Lynch, in her confirmation hearing for U.S. Attorney General. #NC12” Alma S. Adams (@RepAdams) via Twitter

Women of the storied African-American sorority Delta Sigma Theta flooded a Senate hearing room on Wednesday to support their fellow sorority sister and Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch.

Lynch, who is set to face a tough hearing for the post, started a chapter of the sorority at Harvard with current Attorney General Eric Holder’s wife, Sharon Malone. Though the connection was seen as controversial to members of the right-wing media, her sorority sisters proudly donned the organization’s signature colors—crimson and cream—in the hearing room.

https://twitter.com/RepBeatty/status/560457534004531200/photo/1

The sorority was founded in 1913 at Washington, D.C.’s Howard University on tenets of empowerment, justice, and community service. Several current and former members of Congress are members, including Reps. Joyce Beatty and Marcia Fudge of Ohio, Rep. Yvette Clark of New York, and former Congresswomen Barbara Jordan and Shirley Chisholm.

Brooklyn Prosecutor Loretta Lynch to be Nominated U.S. Attorney General

President Obama on Saturday will name Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, to replace Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr., according to a source familiar with the process. Lynch would be the first African-American woman to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official.  She would follow Holder, the first African-American attorney general. Holder has said he will stay on until his successor is confirmed.

Lynch, 55, is a longtime federal prosecutor who has the unusual distinction of serving in her current job twice: She was U.S. attorney for two years under President Clinton, and was disappointed that she was not reappointed by President George W. Bush. Obama reappointed her in 2010.

In contrast to other U.S. attorneys in New York, Lynch has shunned the limelight, rarely giving news conferences or interviews.

For that reason she is a relative unknown outside her district. But she came to prominence in New York in the late 1990s as the supervisor of the team that successfully prosecuted two police officers for the sexual assault with a broomstick of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. Three other officers were acquitted.

Lynch grew up in Greensboro, N.C., the daughter of a Baptist minister and a school librarian. She graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School.  Lynch has solid liberal credentials, having been associated with the Legal Aid Society in New York and the Brennan Center for Justice, named for former Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr., a liberal lion.

But she has establishment credentials as well, including serving on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Her low profile should make her potential confirmation easier than for some other candidates for the job, such as Labor Secretary Tom Perez, who drew repeated criticism from Republicans when he ran the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

article by Timothy M. Phelps and Michael A. Memoli via latimes.com