Americans’ Complicity in the Prison Rape Crisis

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Rape and sexual assault are as basic to the prison experience as bars and bunk beds. When did rape become a laughing matter?  More in Al Jazeera America.

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Spying on Muslims is Legal?


I published a column last week with CNN Opinion on religious surveillance.  Since 9/11, the NYPD has used community mapping, video surveillance, photography and confidential informants to map Muslim life in and around New York.  No detail has proved too remote for the prying eyes of the NYPD.  Mosques, student groups, restaurants, even grade schools, have all been surveilled, absent any evidence of wrongdoing.  Regrettably, a New Jersey court recently ruled that the spying program is legal, and found that monitoring Muslims was the only way to stop terrorism arising from the Muslim community.  I believe the decision is shameful and diminishes the Bill of Rights.  You can read more at CNN Opinion.

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Tipped Workers Haven’t Had A Raise Since 1991

A waiter carrying a tray of tea

Last Thursday, February 13 (2/13), advocates rallied, organized, and spoke out in support of raising the US tipped minimum wage of $2.13.  Tipped workers include parking lot attendants, bellhops, baggage porters, waiters, waitresses, and food deliverers.  They haven’t seen a raise since 1991.  In real terms, $2.13 in 1991 is worth $1.24 today.  I’m a member of the National Coalition to Raise the Minimum Wage, and am particularly pleased to support this issue.  You can read more in the Guardian.  

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Private Prisons Profiting From Mass Incarceration

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The United States is the prison capital of the world.  Despite having 5% of the world’s total population, the U.S. houses roughly a quarter of the world’s prisoners. The majority live in cramped, shameful squalor.

In their efforts to curb prison overcrowding, some states are sending inmates to private out-of-state prisons hundreds or even thousands of miles away from home.  This policy impedes rehabilitation, hurts families, and rewards rent-seeking prisons.  I co-authored this piece with Holly Kirby, a researcher and organizer with Grassroots Leadership.  I currently serve on Grassroots’ Board of Directors.  You can read more in Al Jazeera America.

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Compensating Victims of Child Pornography

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Catching up, in late January, I had a column in The Washington Post on compensating victims of child pornography.  This is an issue that has divided courts nationwide, and now, the Supreme Court is weighing in.  The case is Paroline v. United States, and a ruling is expected in June 2014.

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Tent Cities in America

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“In 1964, a group of researchers famously roamed the parks of New York City and found only one homeless man. Fifty years later, homelessness in New York City has reached a record high. The same can be said for much of America: Homelessness has doubled since the 1980s.”  How did we get here?  Read more from my column in CNN Opinion.

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Second Class Citizenship at US Airports

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For Sikh Americans, humiliation is a prerequisite to air travel.  Enough said.  You can read more in The Washington Post.

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