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Human Rights Day: A cause for reflection
December 10th marks the annual celebration of Human Rights Day , a special anniversary in the global fight for human rights.  On that day, in 1948, the United Nations passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) .  The document was born out of the unprecedented violence and dislocation from World War II.  It codified values of human equality, political freedom, and socio-economic dignity.  As such, the UDHR preamble begins: "Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the…
Legalized pot and easing of 'three strikes' law mark unique election
The voters have spoken.  Not only did they re-elect Barack Obama but in two states -- Colorado and Washington  -- possession of small quantities of marijuana was legalized. A clear message to the federal government to back off.   At the same time California voters  sent another message: the current "strike 3 and you're out" law is way too harsh.   The measures I-502 in Washington and Amendment 64 in Colorado was the culmination of about a half century of efforts to bring some sanity to…
Election Day: Criminal justice reform on the ballot
Election Day has arrived and California has 3 ballot initiatives that directly impact our state criminal justice system.  Prop 34: Support California voters reinstated the death penalty in 1978, following the 1972 Supreme Court decision in Furman v. Georgia, which ruled the practice cruel and unusual.  Since 1978, the state has sentenced roughly 900 persons with a death sentence, but only 13 were subsequently executed.  The state presently has a death row population of 724 .  The death…

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