Criminal Justice

Lonnie Jones, center, is applauded by Bridgeport residents celebrating his release from prison. Credit:, used with permission

Bridgeport — Seeing Lonnie Jones walk into the basement of Mount Aery Baptist Church was a surreal moment for Tino Negron.

The previous day, Jones had stepped outside the confines of a federal prison for the first time in almost 23 years, a beneficiary of the First Step Act recently passed by the U.S. Congress, which has helped reduce prison time for hundreds of former inmates. Family and friends gathered around him outside of a federal courthouse, hugging him and beaming with happiness.

Jones was treated as a guest of honor the next night at Mount Aery, in Bridgeport. He got a standing ovation from the crowd gathered there, a prodigal son finally returned.

Read the article HERE

Federal judge: Prison Hepatitis C lawsuit will advance

A federal judge has allowed a handful of inmates to pursue a class-action lawsuit that could force Connecticut’s prisons to screen and treat thousands of inmates for the Hepatitis C virus — a measure that could save lives and cost the state millions of dollars.

The suit alleges that the Department of Correction does not adequately care for its prisoners infected with the disease, putting in jeopardy the health of those entrusted to the agency’s care. 

The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys  DeVaughn Ward and Kenneth Krayeske, claim the DOC does not adequately treat or screen inmates for the virus, which is especially prevalent in jails and prisons and can be spread via blood, sex and needles used to inject drugs or create body art like piercings and tattoos.  Read the article HERE.

 Judge claims teen rapist should be given leniency because he ‘comes from a good family.’

A family court judge has continually shown leniency to a 16-year-old boy who raped a 16-year-old girl because he is “from a good family,” who “put him into an excellent school where he is doing extremely well,” according to the New York Times. The judge also said that it should have been explained to the victim that pressing charges would ruin the boy’s life.

The assault happened at a pajama party in New Jersey, where the victim was heavily intoxicated. The boy filmed himself penetrating her from behind, and sent out the video he took as a text with the words, “When your first time having sex was rape.” In the video, the girl’s head is seen hanging down, and her torso exposed.

But Judge James Troiano said this wasn’t rape, claiming rape is something that is reserved for cases where the victim is held at gunpoint. This, he claims, is sexual assault, and should be treated differently. Read more here and here.

100,000 Sisters Making Strides Toward Better Health

GirlTrek logo

GirlTrek brings Black women together for weekly walks in neighborhoods across the country.

By Rebekah Sager

I’ll admit it. I’m not a gym girl. But I am a walking girl. I love to walk. And more than that, I love to walk (and talk) with friends. I also love to walk to stay in shape, and I’ve never been in such great shape as when I was on a roll for about a year and walked an average of five miles every day.

So when I listened to a TED Talk passionately delivered by GirlTrek’s leaders (while I was walking on the treadmill at the gym),I was excited to learn more about this organization that brings Black women together for organized walks in their neighborhoods. I was in.

GirlTrek is planning a million-woman, three-day walk in May 2020, retracing the steps of the historic 54-mile civil rights walk from Selma to Montgomery. Dubbed the “Summer of Selma,” they describe the event as the Woodstock of healing for Black women.

Harriet’s Handbook is a step-by-step guide with 1000 walks and ideas to save your own life and the lives of the women you love. Celebrate your success as you reach milestones by “Claiming the Victory” below.Download NowClaim Your Victory

Read more HERE. Visit the website HERE.  Watch the Tedtalk HERE

Toni Morrison         2/18/ 1931 – 8/5/ 2019


Toni Morrison (Courtesy Alfred A. Knopf)

Toni Morrison was an American novelist, essayist, editor, teacher and professor emeritus at Princeton University. Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. The critically acclaimed Song of Solomon brought her national attention and won the National Book Critics Circle Award. She was the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1993.  She also wrote “Beloved,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988.

In an interview with Sarah Ladipo Manyika and Mario Kaiser for Granta,  she said,  “What people outside this country, particularly in Europe, think about this country, what they like about it is generally something that comes out of black culture. It’s jazz. It’s even language. Think about what this country would be like without us. I wouldn’t even visit! I came with my first book trying to say, ‘Look, racism really and truly hurts. If you really want to be white and you’re not, and you’re young and vulnerable, it can kill you.’ That was when I first began to write, and finally, after all these years of reading books, editing books, working in libraries, I thought, ‘Wait a minute, there’s no book in there about me!’ So if I wanted to read it, I would probably have to write it.”

Read more HERE and HERE and HERE.

America’s Epidemic of Empty Churches

Religious communities often face a choice: Sell off the buildings they can no longer afford, or find a way to fill them with new uses.

NOV 25, 2018  Jonathan Merritt, Contributing writer for The Atlantic

Image result for why are churches closing

 Many of our nation’s churches can no longer afford to maintain their structures—6,000 to 10,000 churches die each year in America—and that number will likely grow. Though more than 70 percent of our citizens still claim to be Christian, congregational participation is less central to many Americans’ faith than it once was. Most denominations are declining as a share of the overall population, and donations to congregations have been falling for decades. Meanwhile, religiously unaffiliated Americans, nicknamed the “nones,” are growing as a share of the U.S. population. Any minister can tell you that the two best predictors of a congregation’s survival are “budgets and butts,” and American churches are struggling by both metrics. As donations and attendance decrease, the cost of maintaining large physical structures that are in use only a few hours a week by a handful of worshippers becomes prohibitive.  A church building is more than just walls and windows; it is also a sacred vessel that stores generations of religious memories.  Read more HERE.

Church of England staring at oblivion as just 2% of young Britons say they identify with it

Chris Baynes    Friday 7 September 2018

The number of people who identify as belonging to the Church of England has dropped to a record low in an “unrelenting decline” that could threaten the denomination’s future, research suggests.

CofE affiliation has fallen to just 2 per cent among adults aged 18 to 24, while the majority of every age group now has no religion, the British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey found.

The number of Britons who describe themselves as part of the church has more than halved since 2002, from 31 per cent to 14 per cent. The number who actually attend sermons is far lower.

The drop comes amid a trend towards a secular society. Fifty-two per cent of people now say they belong to no religion, up from 41 per cent in 2002.

Read more HERE.

Church of the Flying Spagetti Monster 

Image result for flying spaghetti monster church

The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Pastafarianism. Pastafarianism (a portmanteau of pasta and Rastafarianism) is a social movement that promotes a light-hearted view of religion and opposes the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools. According to adherents, Pastafarianism is a “real, legitimate religion, as much as any other”.  The “Flying Spaghetti Monster” was first described in a satirical open letter written by Bobby Henderson in 2005 to protest the Kansas State Board of Education decision to permit teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes. In the letter, Henderson demanded equal time in science classrooms for “Flying Spaghetti Monsterism”, alongside intelligent design and evolution. After Henderson published the letter on his website, the Flying Spaghetti Monster rapidly became an Internet phenomenon and a symbol of opposition to the teaching of intelligent design in public schools.