Archive | Higher Ground

Bishop Barber to meet with Pope Francis

Remember his speech at the DNC? His leadership of North Carolina’s Moral Mondays?
This is good news:

In an exclusive interview, Bishop Dr. William J. Barber II, currently president of Repairers of the Breach, a nonpartisan, nonprofit social advocacy group, has confirmed that he and a delegation of “moral, workers rights, anti-poverty and ecological justice advocates” will be meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thanksgiving Day.

Dr. Barber gave his permission Sunday for the news of his Vatican visit to be released now. He received the invitation from the Vatican last September, along with invitations to visit England and Africa to join other labor and workers’ rights advocates.

“[The Pope] wants to bless this movement, and meet with other activists from around the world who are fighting against poverty,” Barber said then, indicating that he would give his permission for it to be revealed in November.

Dr. Barber, who officially stepped down in October after 12 years as president of the N.C. NAACP, will be part of a two-day conference attended by social justice advocates from countries like Canada, Senegal, Italy, Ireland, Tunisia, Ghana, Brazil, and the United States, among others.

It’s no doubt that Dr. Barber’s involvement in the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign caught the attention of not only national, but international social justice leadership, like Pope Francis, who is world renowned for his personal and official advocacy for the poor.

Just last Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, celebrated a special Mass for poor people on the first World Day of the Poor, eating with 1,500 from Italy, Poland and France.

The pope also denounced those who express indifference to the plight of the poor, calling such behavior “a great sin.”

Ex-wife helps new wife raise money for cancer treatment

A #cancer misdiagnosis can severely limit treatment options for patients

Divorce can be a messy affair, and dealing with an ex’s new significant other can be even worse – but after she was given a terminal cancer diagnosis earlier this year, a mother of two has been given a second chance thanks to a financial windfall from her ex-husband’s new wife. 41-year-old Nicola “Niki” Hitchen was first admitted to the hospital with severe abdominal pain back in March. Continue Reading →

Joel Osteen shamed into acting like a Christian

Joel Osteen Height, Weight, Age, Bio, Affairs, Net Worth & Wiki

Houston megachurch pastor and “prosperity gospel” purveyor Joel Osteen wants everyone to know he is praying for Hurricane Harvey’s victims. But until he was shamed online, he had no plans to actually open the church doors and welcome the needy in. Now, that has changed. Lakewood Church apparently bought countless air mattresses and are prepping to… Continue Reading →

You can donate to these groups for Harvey victims

Harvey Flooding Rescue

I logged onto Facebook this morning to this rather horrifying picture of senior citizens sitting waist deep in flood waters at a nursing home in Dickinson, Texas. In attempting to verify the authenticity of the photograph, I was gratified to learn that the seniors have been airlifted out to safety. But you and I know that… Continue Reading →

Governor Malloy’s ground-breaking bail reform bill helps indigent Connecticut defendants

Goshen Fair 2015

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy recently signed a groundbreaking bill to reform bail in Connecticut.   As a result, hundreds of impoverished defendants will no longer stay in jail as they await trial merely because they cannot afford bail.

The bill was widely supported by the State’s Republicans and Democrats and passed with ease in June.

At the bill’s signing, Gov. Malloy noted that the bail reform bill would focus on the “unintended consequences” of a justice system that has had a harmful impact on public safety pretrial.

The Governor noted that the impact of bail laws can be devastating to people who are jailed for even a couple of days who have been accused of crimes and cannot make bail.  They could lose their housing or employment, which can only aggravate the flux in an already stressed life that could lead to committing crime.

For years, and led by Malloy’s criminal reform efforts, Connecticut has been focused on lowering crime rates.

The bail reform law became effective in July of 2017.

It stops courts from ordering bonds on misdemeanor defendants, with exceptions including family violence; or where someone is considered a flight risk, may obstruct the legal system, or harm someone else or themselves.

The Pretrial Justice Institute, which advocates for bail reform expects this bill to have a major impact on the Connecticut justice system, as 75 percent of criminal cases in Connecticut are misdemeanors.

No More Cash Bonds in Connecticut

It also bars judges from assigning cash-only bail, where defendants must pay the entire amount of the bond to be released jail. Now, defendants will have a choice to secure their release by paying part of the bail, while some will be released without any bail at all – just a promise to appear (called “PTAs”) in court for their future court dates.

Bail / Bond Changes in Misdemeanor Cases

The law requires that a defendant alleged to have committed a misdemeanor who stays in jail because they cannot pay bail must have a bail review hearing within two weeks of their arraignment, which was shortened from 30 days.

At later bail hearings, Connecticut courts must remove the financial conditions of a defendant’s release unless the prosecution successfully argues that the defendant is either a danger to the community or has the risk of flight.

At the request of the bail bond industry, there will also be a study exploring the feasibility to impose an additional fee on defendants who can afford bail.

Bail Now Not Only for the Wealthy

Many local and states jurisdictions have passed bail reforms recently supported in part by civil rights groups that have challenged the constitutionality “wealth-based bail practices.”

Daily, across the U.S., 450,000 individuals are in jail pretrial. Many are charged with low-level crimes and are incarcerated only because they cannot afford bail.

This costs taxpayers $14 billion yearly, or $38 million daily.

Connecticut thinks it will save $30 million by 2019 by shrinking the incarcerated population.

Stamford-based criminal attorney Mark Sherman noted, “The new bail reform law helps defendants, especially low-income families, by doing away with a unilateral approach and safely releasing people who are no harm to the community.”

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