Syndicate content

Commentary

Florida Juveniles Do Not Belong in Adult Jails

02/17/2012

In 2011, the Florida legislature passed a law that set juvenile justice back 40 years. The law, known as SB 2112, allows sheriffs to house young people in adult jails without the protections developed over the years for children in the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.

With a new year upon us, many state legislatures across the country will be convening. Some may attempt to follow in the steps of Alabama by passing harsh, anti-immigrant legislation. Before they do, they should remember Alabama.

Georgia continues to unjustly target immigrants through shameful and un-American tactics. Those tactics are illuminated by new regulations proposed by the state’s Immigration Enforcement Review Board (IERB) – rules that propel the state further in the wrong direction.

In Jacksonville, Fla., 12-year-old Cristian Fernandez is facing charges of homicide and aggravated child abuse in the adult criminal justice system. If convicted, Cristian will receive the mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

A polarized Congress seems unlikely to come to grips with the nation’s immigration issues in a comprehensive way any time soon, even as states like Alabama, Arizona and Georgia enact their own, unconstitutional laws to punish undocumented immigrants. Meanwhile, though, there is one federal enforcement proposal being floated that will do far more harm than good – by requiring prison time for virtually all immigration offenses. 

The most damning proof that Alabama’s anti-immigrant law was born of xenophobia and vile stereotypes comes straight from the mouths of the lawmakers behind it.

Help Stop the Use of Pepper Spray on Students in Birmingham, Ala., Schools

12/13/2011
Every single day, when students walk into school in Birmingham, Ala., they face the threat of being sprayed with pepper spray. In this school system, pepper spray is routinely used as punishment by police officers stationed in schools.

When George Wallace stood in the "schoolhouse door” to stop African-American students from enrolling in the University of Alabama, it was all for show. With Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, we can only hope that his position is similar political posturing.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has won some encouraging victories in the months since we launched our effort to defeat Alabama’s harsh anti-immigrant law. We’ve also had some disappointments. But this legal battle is far from over. In fact, it’s just getting started.

The Southern Poverty Law Center asked members of Congress today to oppose legislation that would greatly expand one of the nation’s guestworker programs and shred protections for both guestworkers and U.S. workers.