The key to happiness is in this post (among other things)…

When Discretion Means Denial: A National Perspective on Criminal Records Barriers to Federally Subsidized Housing

Although the Department of Housing and Urban Development has given wide discretion to public housing authorities and federally subsidized project owners to admit low-income tenants with criminal records, many continue to deny housing to these individuals. Overly restrictive policies against people with criminal records can violate civil rights laws, increase homelessness, and otherwise impede a person’s chance to reintegrate into society.

A new report from the Shriver Center, When Discretion Means Denial: A National Perspective on Criminal Records Barriers to Federally Subsidized Housing, urges the Department of Housing and Urban Development to take active steps to eliminate barriers to housing for persons who have had contact with the criminal justice system.

Based on a review of over 300 written admissions policies from across the country, the report finds that the wide discretion given housing providers has resulted in broad screening criteria that deny individuals admission to housing for mere arrests and decades-old convictions, among other problems. The report identifies four areas where criminal records policies tend to be overly restrictive.

Learn more and download the report.

How laws around the world do and do not protect women from violence by David L. Richards & Jillienne Haglund

This article and accompanying photo is from The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog. 

In 1999, Jessica Lenahan-Gonzales’s estranged husband took her three girls in violation of a permanent restraining order requiring him to remain at least 100 yards from her and her children. The police of Castle Rock, Colo., failed to enforce the restraining order — after multiple requests — and the three girls were murdered by the estranged husband. A legal case against the police force reached the Supreme Court and, in a 7-to-2 decision, the court ruled that Castle Rock and its police could not be sued for failing to enforce a restraining order. In 2011, the case reached the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which found that the United States failed both to protect Lenahan and her daughters from domestic violence and to provide equal protection before the law. Further, said the IACHR, “all States have a legal obligation to protect women from domestic violence,” and this is “a problem widely recognized by the international community as a serious human rights violation and an extreme form of discrimination.”

Violence against women (VAW) is a pandemic, by any measure, and the repeated failures on the part of nations to provide meaningful recourse for victims of entrenched gender violence has led to growing calls by national and transnational actors alike for the adoption of stronger gender-violence legislation in all countries. Consequently, several important questions arise regarding the adoption and strength of domestic gender-violence laws, including:

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10th Annual Human Rights Institute – Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center (Co-sponsored by the US Human Rights Network)

May 7-9, 2015 | New York City

The Human Rights Project at the Urban Justice Center, in partnership with the US Human Rights Network, is pleased to announce that applications for its 10th annual Human Rights Institute (HRI) are currently available. The institute is a three-day professional development opportunity that promotes good governance and social change. It trains a select group of participants to strengthen their local efforts by using a human rights frame. Alumni become part of a nationwide community of advocates and have access to ongoing education, technical support and dialogue.

 Apply TodayScholarships are available to applicants with demonstrable need.

  • Scholarship Application Deadline – February 23, 2015
  • Regular Application Deadline – February 27, 2015

7 Essential Habits of Happier People (How Many Do You Possess?) by Jeff Haden

Happiness: everyone wants it, yet relatively few seem to get enough of it, especially those in their early forties. (That’s about the time many of us start thinking, “Is this all there is?”)

Maybe that’s because approximately 50% of your “happiness set-point” is determined by personality traits that are largely hereditary. In short, half of how happy you feel is basically outside your control. (Bummer.)

But that also means 50% of your level of happiness is totally within your control: relationships, health, career, etc. So even if you’re genetically disposed to be somewhat gloomy, you can still do things to make yourself a lot happier.

Like these:

1. Make good friends.

It’s easy to focus on building a professional network of partners, customers, employees, connections, etc, because there is (hopefully) a payoff.

But there’s a definite payoff to making real (not just professional or social media) friends. Increasing your number of friends correlates to higher subjective wellbeing. In terms of how happy you feel, doubling your number of friends is like increasing your income by 50%.

And if that’s not enough, people who don’t have strong social relationships are 50% less likely to survive at any given time than those who do. (That’s a scary thought for relative loners like me.)

Make friends outside of work. Make friends at work. Make friends everywhere.

But above all, make real friends. You’ll live a happier and longer life.

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Inmates re-entering society should not face lifetime barriers to work by Dan Satterberg & Brady Walkinshaw

Originally appeared as an “Opinion” piece in The Seattle Times

MORE than 7,000 people will finish their prison sentences and return to the community this year in Washington state. On the day of their release, each inmate is highly motivated never to return to prison, but more than half will be arrested within their first year back in the community. Why?

One reason is the hidden barriers that limit successful re-entry into our society. Former inmates don’t have access to many educational and job opportunities and are prohibited from applying for professional licenses that could lead to stable incomes.

Most of us are familiar with the direct consequences of committing a crime — jail or prison time, fines, community service, probation and treatment, but it’s the lesser-known indirect consequences that play a large part in why former inmates return to prison. These are known as “collateral consequences” because they have been imposed, not by judges or the criminal law, but by legislative bodies as additional hidden punishments.

While the terms of the sentence are measured in months or years, collateral consequences can last a lifetime. Is it fair to impose lifetime disabilities long after the debt has been paid to society? We don’t think so.

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