An Offer You Can’t Refuse: How US Federal Prosecutors Force Drug Defendants to Plead Guilty
Source: Human Rights Watch
The 126-page report details how prosecutors throughout the United States extract guilty pleas from federal drug defendants by charging or threatening to charge them with offenses carrying harsh mandatory sentences and by seeking additional mandatory increases to those sentences. Prosecutors offer defendants a much lower sentence in exchange for pleading guilty. Since drug defendants rarely prevail at trial, it is not surprising that 97 percent of them decide to plead guilty.
Caring for LGBTQ Children and Youth: A Guide for Child Welfare Providers
Source: Human Rights Campaign
This booklet was developed to provide you with information about the care and support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning children and youth. Chances are you picked up this guide because you believe, just as Bryan Samuels, the former commissioner of the U.S. Administration on Children, Youth and Families said, “every child and youth who is unable to live with his or her parents is entitled to a safe, loving and affirming foster care placement, irrespective of the young person’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” Unfortunately, we know LGBTQ youth are disproportionately represented in the child welfare system and often face discrimination and mistreatment in out-of-home care.
This guide includes information on terminology and several basic, but key, tips on how to best support and care for LGBTQ children and youth. We’ve also provided some data from the Human Rights Campaign’s study of more than 10,000 LGBTQ youth as a glimpse into their experiences. Also, you will find resources and helpful websites for more information to competently serve all children and youth in your care, including those who may identify as or be perceived as LGBTQ.
Reform the Research Tax Credit — Or Let It Die
Source: Citizens for Tax Justice
Business lobbyists are pushing Congress to enact tax “extenders” — a bill to extend several temporary tax breaks for business that expire at the end of this year. A new report from Citizens for Tax Justice examines the largest of those provisions, the federal research and experimentation tax credit, a tax subsidy that is supposed to encourage businesses to perform research that benefits society. The report explains that the research credit is riddled with problems and should be either reformed dramatically or allowed to expire.
Active Shooter in a House of Worship (PDF)
Source: National Disaster Interfaiths Network
Recent shootings at houses of worship and religious schools have led religious leaders to question wha t they can do to protect their congregations. This emerging need poses a challenge to religious leaders who want to provide safety without sacrificing the welcoming atmosphere of their houses of worship. These incidents may occur at any time, during virtually any size gathering or age range of people on the premises; they may be hate crimes, terrorist acts, acts of retribution, or simply random violence. Nevertheless, religious leaders can take steps to reduce the likelihood and the impact of an active shooter in a house of worship, religious school or other religious events, sites or facilities.
Average Student Debt Climbing: $29,400 for Class of 2012 (PDF)
Source: Institute for College Access & Success
College graduates who borrowed for bachelor’s degrees granted in 2012 had an average student loan debt of $29,400, according to a new report from the Project on Student Debt at The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS). Seven in 10 college seniors (71%) who graduated last year had student loan debt. Even though the financial crisis caused a steep decline in private education lending while these borrowers were in school, one-fifth of their debt was in private loans, which are typically more costly and provide fewer consumer protections and repayment options than safer federal loans. From 2008 to 2012, average debt (federal and private loans combined) increased an average of six percent each year.
Study Shows Driving Decline in America’s Cities
Source: U.S. Public Interest Research Group
A first-of-its-kind report by U.S.PIRG Education Fund details reduced driving miles and rates of car commuting in America’s most populous urbanized areas, as well as greater use of public transit and biking in most cities.
The report, “Transportation in Transition: A Look at Changing Travel Patterns in America’s Biggest Cities,” is based on the most current available government data. It is the first ever national study to compare transportation trends for America’s largest cities and lists results for each. Among its national findings:
- The proportion of workers commuting by private vehicle—either alone or in a carpool—declined in 99 out of 100 of America’s most populous urbanized areas between 2000 and the 2007-2011 period averaged in U.S. Census data.
- From 2006 to 2011, the average number of miles driven per resident fell in almost three-quarters of America’s largest urbanized areas for which up-to-date and accurate Federal Highway Administration data are available (54 out of 74 urban areas).
- The proportion of households without cars increased in 84 out of the 100 largest urbanized areas from 2006 to 2011. The proportion of households with two cars or more cars decreased in 86 out of the 100 of these areas during that period.
- The proportion of residents bicycling to work increased in 85 out of 100 of America’s largest urbanized areas between 2000 and 2007-2011.
The number of passenger-miles traveled per capita on transit increased in 60 out of 98 of America’s large urbanized areas whose trends could be analyzed between 2005 and 2010.
New Proposal: Reforming Funding to Reduce Mass Incarceration
Source: Brennan Center for Justice
A leading law and policy institute unveiled a new proposal to reform the federal government’s largest criminal justice funding program. The Brennan Center for Justice’s new proposal, Reforming Funding to Reduce Mass Incarceration, sets out a plan to link federal grant money to modern criminal justice goals – as a tool to promote innovative crime-reduction policies nationwide.
The proposal, dubbed by the authors “Success-Oriented Funding,” would recast the federal government’s $352 million Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, by changing the measures used to determine success of its grants. It reflects a broader proposed shift in criminal justice programs at all levels of government. The proposal could be implemented without legislation by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Taxes on Corporate Profits Not Tied to Job Creation, New Study Finds
Source: Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch)
Washington D.C. is abuzz with the possibility of corporate tax reform. Years of intense lobbying from corporate executives have convinced many in Congress and the White House that a 35 percent tax on corporate profits represents a competitive threat to American businesses and to the economy. Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), respective chairs of the two powerful congressional tax writing committees, have joined President Obama in calling for closing corporate tax loopholes and using the proceeds to reduce the tax rate on corporate profits. But a study just released by the Center for Effective Government shows that the taxes corporations pay on profits are historically quite low. Moreover, there is no evidence that lowering taxes on corporate profits will lead to more job creation in the U.S.
Trends in Walking and Bicycling to School from 2007 to 2012
Source: National Center for Safe Routes to Schools
Soon after the establishment of the Federal SRTS Program in 2006, the National Center for Safe Routes to School launched a data collection system to support local program planning and evaluation and to monitor student commute patterns nationwide. Seven years after the start of the Federal program, the National Center analyzed more than 525,000 parent surveys from nearly 4,700 schools to look for changes in travel patterns and parent perceptions about walking to school.
Two key findings from the analyses include:
- Walking to and from school increased significantly between 2007 and 2012, from 12.4% to 15.7% in the morning and from 15.8% to 19.7% in the afternoon.
- The percentage of parents who reported that their child’s school supported walking and bicycling for the school commute rose from 24.9% to 33%. Parents who felt that their child’s school supported walking and bicycling were more likely to have children who used these modes.
National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Releases Life-Saving Juvenile Justice System Resources
National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention Releases Life-Saving Juvenile Justice System Resources (PDF)
Source: National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention ( Action Alliance) today released a set of comprehensive suicide prevention resources to support professionals who work with youth in the juvenile justice system. The newly developed educational tools advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, which guides efforts to prevent suicide across the nation. Online versions of the nine resources are now available to the juvenile justice workforce and the general public…
Universal Postal Service in Major Economies
Source: U.S. Consumer Postal Council
Faced with a changing global marketplace with new technologies and enhanced world-wide connectivity, postal operators are adapting their business models. Where this often uneven evolution has been successful, it is characterized by three primary strategies: 1) liberalization, 2) diversification of revenue sources and 3) rethinking universal service requirements. These three best practices have allowed the world’s largest national posts to remain both relevant and fiscally solvent despite declining service demands and global economic recession.
Declining mail volume, independent of economic growth, has driven changes in business models. One study noted a 5.6 percent annual decline globally in mail volume since 2009, although declines have been uneven across different markets. The United States Postal Service has observed a 38 percent reduction in single-piece first class mail, its highest-profit offering, over the past five years, forcing lawmakers and the Service’s management to reconsider its business plans and look at universal service obligations from a different perspective.
This report outlines major dynamics and strategies characterizing universal service across the world’s largest postal markets, comprising 96 percent of global postal revenues, and 70 percent of domestic mail volume, with an emphasis on how they can be expected to impact consumers.
Every national post faces unique demands, obligations and challenges — and so there is no “silver bullet” for restoring postal financial stability. Some countries are enacting tighter regulations and fees in response to changing mail trends, while others are relaxing regulations and fees. But as this report demonstrates, the experience of other national posts can inform decisions going forward, so that countries can build on past successes and avoid missteps.
AAA projects 43.4 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decrease of 1.5 percent from the 44 million people who traveled last year. This decrease falls just shy of last Thanksgiving’s four-year peak since the recession-driven declines in 2008-2009 when Thanksgiving travel fell by 25 percent. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 27 to Sunday, Dec. 1.
A Regulator’s Guidebook: Calculating the Benefits and Costs of Distributed Solar Generation (PDF)
Source: Interstate Renewable Energy Council
There is an acute need for a standardized approach to determining the benefits and costs associated with distributed solar generation (DSG). This report offers lessons learned from 16 regional and utility-specific DSG studies summarized in a recent review by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), and then proposes a standardized valuation methodology for public utility commissions to consider implementing in future studies.