FSRN Weekly Edition – January 29, 2016
- Armed takeover of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge winds down
- Obama slashes solitary confinement in federal prisons
- SCOTUS ruling gives second chance to prisoners sentenced to life as juveniles
- Florida legislature takes up several bills to restrict abortion, including measures before Supreme Court
- Chilean activists protest the TPP ahead of next week’s signing
- Dalit grad student’s suicide sparks protests against caste system across India
- New Danish law permits authorities to seize valuables from asylum seekers
- International Holocaust Remembrance Day: preserving history in the face of revisionist narratives
A nearly month-long takeover of a wildlife refuge in Oregon appears to be coming to an end, with just four people remaining at the site Friday morning, eleven of the group’s members now in federal custody, and 1 of their leaders dead. Jenka Soderberg has more from Portland.
President Obama announced some major policy changes this week that could bring more humanity to the criminal justice system. Tanya Snyder has more.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court also took action that could bring relief — and even freedom — to thousands of people sentenced as juveniles to spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
In 2012, the court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that sentencing adolescents to life without parole is unconstitutional. This week’s decision in Montgomery v. Louisiana applies Miller retroactively to juvenile lifers nationwide.
According to the Environmental Justice Initiative, nearly 3000 people in U.S. prisons were sentenced as juveniles to life without parole. One of them is Kerry Shakaboona Marshall. He’s among about 500 juvenile lifers serving sentences in Pennsylvania prisons.
“Pennsylvania, they really don’t want to carry out the spirit of the Miller decision and let the child offenders who are serving life without parole imprisonment to be released into society. Some of the children who have went down to court to be re-sentenced under Miller have already received life without parole sentences all over again. They want child lifers to die in prison,” Marshall told Prison Radio by phone. “Even though the Supreme Court has just ruled that Miller must be retroactively applied to child lifers, Pennsylvania courts is going to try to stonewall that. So, we’re going to need people in society to really put the pressure on Pennsylvania’s court system to make sure that the children who have been sentenced to life without parole get the opportunity to actually return to society again.”
Marshall was 17 when convicted in the 1988 shooting death of Philadelphia fish vendor Suzette Richardson. He’s an editor of the magazine The Movement, is on the advisory board of the Real Costs of Prisons Project and is a contributor to Prison Radio. After more than 25 years in prison, Shakaboona Marshall will now be eligible for case review and possible parole.
This week the U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider reviving what would have been the most restrictive abortion law in the country: North Dakota’s so-called “Fetal Heartbeat Law.” The law would have banned abortions so early in gestation that many women would not even know they were pregnant yet.
But that didn’t stop Florida lawmakers from advancing an even stricter measure this week. And as FSRN’s Seán Kinane reports, it’s just one of several abortion-related bills state legislators are considering, including measures which look a lot like a Texas law currently on the Supreme Court’s docket.
Demonstrations against the Trans Pacific Partnership are growing as leaders of twelve Pacific rim nations, including the United States, are poised to sign the deal next week. Once signed, the agreement must then be ratified by all twelve to take effect. Joshua Tucker brings us more from Santiago, Chile.
In India, six hunger strikers are hospitalized and protests are growing across the country after a Dalit graduate student committed suicide in the southern city of Hyderabad. FSRN’s Jasvinder Sehgal reports.
As the refugee crisis continues unabated across Europe, Sweden and Finland announced this week that between the two countries they expect to reject at least 100,000 asylum seekers and deport them in a process that could take several years. And in Denmark, lawmakers approved new laws allowing the government to seize migrants’ valuables — reportedly to offset the host country’s expenses. Tom Carstensen reports from Copenhagen.
Wednesday marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The date coincides with the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camp. The Holocaust refers to the systematic mass murder of more than six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators during the Second World War. In total, 11 million people were murdered during the Holocaust, including ethnic Poles, gypsies, Soviet POWs, communists, political opponents to Nazism, homosexuals and the physically and mentally disabled. FSRN’s Filip Warwick has more from Warsaw.