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Over the past several decades, a ‘tough-on-crime’ agenda has come to dominate local, state and national politics, resulting in an unprecedented rise in American incarceration. Today, almost one out of every one hundred adults in America is detained in either a jail or prison. Across the country, correctional facilities are now overcrowded, where lower level drug, property and immigration offenders constitute much of the newly incarcerated population. Rather than representing an abnormal spike in crime, much of the historic growth in the imprisoned population is directly due to increased severity in the administration of justice. Tougher prosecution and judicial sentencing have caused a rise in prison commitments per arrests while mandatory minimum sentencing and restrictions on parole have led to longer time served per offense. It is easy to feel overwhelmed when thinking about the large and complex issue of crime. Restorative justice programs are an alternative to our current criminal justice approach that involve conferencing sessions with participation of the offender, victim, community members, and a trained facilitator. This process focuses on the needs and interests of each stakeholder instead of simply punishing the offender while hoping the rest can cope. All of the participants work actively to create a resolution that will fill the loss experienced by the victim and help reintegrate the offender into the community.
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Environmental Justice (EJ) regards the distribution of environmental problems in our communities with special attention paid to the role of race and class. For all the progress of industry, we have created pollution in our air, water, and soil, and this pollution is not spread fairly. In EJ the “environment” is defined as the place you live, work, play and pray. Everyone has a right to a healthy environment. Those who have historically been targets of racism are frequently victims of environmental injustice, and for this reason, EJ is often referred to as environmental racism. Poor communities in WA State are consistently subject to more pollution then wealthier citizens. Seattle’s history, like America’s, has been influenced by racism. Although reports of cooperation between settlers and Native Americans can be found early on, eventually natives were driven off their lands that historically provided them with subsistence. Natives continue to be marginalized today, and play a part of many of the issues we highlight in this magazine. Seattle also upheld zoning laws that required property to be sold and distributed on the basis of race until the 1970s, limiting nonwhites to particular parts of the city. Today, Natives, Blacks, and Latin Americans have the greatest percentage of poor individuals within their demographic (20,19, and 18% respectively). In Washington State as a whole, nonwhites and low-income persons live in the most polluted environments as well. Nonwhites are 33% of the population, yet live with 36% of polluting facilities. 39% are low?income, and are living with 47% of the total facilities. Conversely, medium?to?high?income whites make up 49% of the population yet only have to live with 41% of the toxic facilities. Six of Washington’s 8 biggest counties follow this same, unjust trend. As OAG explored the history of the Environmental Justice close to home, we found a vibrant movement of dedicated organizations across WA State fighting for environmental justice in their communities. This magazine highlights a few of these organizations, introduces the communities and offers ways to get involved.
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…Every so often, but perhaps more minutely than we perceive, we are reminded of the state of homelessness in our communities. We may walk down the street and encounter a few people asking for money, we may watch the news and hear the latest string of violence erupt against the homeless, we may have driven by homeless shelters, soup kitchens, or free clinics, and see the lines stretch around blocks with countless individuals patiently waiting for someone to care, and yet, even though we are apparently surrounded by it, many perceive homelessness as a choice; to live on the street, to live against the status quo. For some individuals, this is most certainly the case. I have talked to, interviewed, and questioned homeless individuals who, ‘wanted to take control of their own life for once,’ or ‘live free of commitment and expectations,’ or even those who thought living on the street would be ‘fun.’ However, these individuals are few and only represent a minority of the homeless. For most, homelessness was not a choice, and their story is what I have to share.”…
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- The Open Veins of Washington’s Low-Income Communities by Francys Gaze
- A Shortcut for the Hungry or Corporate Interest at Work? by Michelle Venetucci Harvey
- Quality Over Quantity by Scott Davis
- The “Ground Zero Mosque” and Islamophobia in America by Jane Kim
- The Death Penalty: Still? For Real? Really?! by Sam Withers
- A Redefinition Takeover: poverty by Alden Remington
The Takeover Volume 2 includes the following articles:
- Stand up for your Education by Madeleine McKenna
- Wasting your vote on a 3rd Party by Andrew Thornton
- Let’s Arrest the Police by Sam Withers & Scott Davis
- ‘Leapfrogging’ to the Heart of the World by Alden Remington
- Buddhist Economics by Matt Ryan
- Ideological Views Affecting Our Access to Healthcare by Noel Eve