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America's 'Radical Elders' continue their work for fairness, justice; SCOTUS upholds law disarming domestic abusers; Workplace adoption benefits help families, communities; Report examines barriers to successful post-prison re-entry in NC.

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A congresswoman celebrates Biden protections for mixed status families, Louisiana's Ten Commandments law faces an inevitable legal challenge, and a senator moves to repeal the strict 19th century anti-obscenity and anti-abortion Comstock Act.

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Rural educators say they need support to teach kids social issues, rural businesses can suffer when dollar stores come to town, prairie states like South Dakota are getting help to protect grasslands and a Minnesota town claims the oldest rural Pride Festival.

OR Bill Would Overhaul Community Safety, Policing

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Friday, June 18, 2021   

UPDATE: HB 2002 has died in the Legislature. "This is a profoundly disappointing setback for Oregonians who value and have called for racial justice and changes in our approach to community safety," groups supporting the measure said in a joint statement. "Particularly people and communities who are over-policed and who have historically been left out of policymaking." (4:42 p.m. PDT, June 18, 2021)

SALEM, Ore. -- A bill that would bring sweeping changes to criminal justice is in front of Oregon lawmakers.

Supporters hope it gets past the finish line before the session ends.

House Bill 2002 covers a range of issues, such as ending supervision fees for people who have finished their prison sentences.

Danita Harris, metro campaigns coordinator for the Oregon Food Bank, said it also makes changes to policing so law-enforcement officers don't pull people over for low-level offenses, such as broken taillights.

"What that does, is serve to lessen the encounters that folks are having with the police and the fewer encounters, the fewer negative encounters," Harris asserted. "It also gives the police the opportunity to focus on policing as opposed to traffic violations."

Harris added the bill makes major investments, such as an $8 million increase in victim services, with dedicating funding for culturally specific organizations. They pointed out the measure is the culmination of decades of activism, and the racial-justice reckoning over the past year has catapulted the issue onto the desks of decision makers.

Julianne Jackson, director of movement building at the Partnership for Safety and Justice, said a large coalition of groups made the bill a priority, and the communities most affected by the criminal-justice system put the bill together.

"These are the folks that are closest to the trauma, closest to the issues," Jackson observed. "They're the closest to addiction, poverty, racial disparities, over-policing, all of those things, and these are the folks that drafted this legislation."

Harris said House Bill 2002 is one of Oregon Food Bank's main priorities this legislative session, noting the measure addresses issues that are deeply intertwined with hunger. They say hunger doesn't exist in a vacuum, and policies also have to lift up marginalized groups, such as communities of color, trans and gender non-conforming people, and people with disabilities, to tackle the issue.

"We know that if we really want to challenge the systems that create the need of food services, we have to be willing to do that work through policy... policy like House Bill 2002 that's really focused on the marginalized groups that we work with," Harris explained.

The legislative session is scheduled to end June 27.

Disclosure: Oregon Food Bank contributes to our fund for reporting on Community Issues and Volunteering, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Poverty Issues, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

References:  
House Bill 2002

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