Settlement Reached in Class Action Case Involving Detainee Abuse at Franklin County Correctional Center

The Flint Water Crisis is a Human Rights Crisis

flint_river_in_flint_michiganMEDIA ADVISORY FOR RELEASE: February 16, 2016

NATIONAL COALITION: THE FLINT WATER CRISIS IS A HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS

The US Human Rights Network’s National Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Coalition, comprised of over 100 organizations and individuals from across the United States, wishes to call attention to the Flint water crisis as a human rights crisis in-and-of itself, as well as connected to a larger national crisis for the human rights to water and sanitation. In response to the failing of federal, state, and local governments to ensure the human rights to water and sanitation for every resident, the National Human Rights to Water and Sanitation formed to center people and communities directly impacted, connect across region and issue, and push for comprehensive action to be taken to ensure that the human rights to water and sanitation are upheld for every person who resides in the US. The coalition consists of grassroots, local, national, and faith-based organizations as well as law clinics and educational institutions; with expertise from directly-impacted community members as well as lawyers and experts on water policy, utilities, legislation, and human rights.

In Flint, MI, a city that is more than 50 percent black, and 40 percent of the residents are living below the poverty line, over 99,000 people, including over 17,000 children, have been impacted by lead poisoning after the emergency manager appointed by Gov. Snyder switched the water source from Detroit to the notoriously polluted Flint River in April of 2014 under the guise of saving the city money. The State did not recognize there was water contamination until October of 2015, despite pleas and organizing on the part of Flint residents. During that time and through the present, Flint residents were paying expensive water bills with the threat of water shutoffs if bills were unpaid. First and foremost, the National Human Rights to Water and Sanitation Coalition wants to support the demands coming from Flint residents (see Flint Water Study; NAACP), including immediate accountability through the resignation of Gov. Snyder, among others.

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Democratic Lawmakers Want Kids In Immigration Proceedings To Get a Fair Shot

er after she turned themselves in to Border Patrol agents on DecemberWASHINGTON — It’s not what most people would picture when they think about courts: toddlers, children and teenagers arguing against government lawyers for deportation reprieve that could, according to advocates, save their lives.

But it happens all the time in immigration courts, where there’s no guarantee of legal counsel. And it has a huge effect. Minors without representation are more likely to lose and more likely to get deported.

Democratic senators — led by Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Patty Murray of Washington and Dick Durbin of Illinois — launched another effort on Thursday to change that.

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2016 EQUAL JUSTICE WORKS PUBLIC INTEREST AWARDS

equal_justice_works_logoThis year, Equal Justice Works’ National Advisory Committee is presenting awards to law students at Equal Justice Works member schools in eight regions who have a demonstrated commitment to public interest law and pro bono work.

The Equal Justice Works Public Interest Awards seek to identify and honor law students who have provided extraordinary service through law school clinics, volunteer work, internships, and/or extracurricular projects. Recipients will be honored during an Award Ceremony with a commemorative plaque and $250.

Applications are currently open through March 1, 2016. Please find the application here as well as a list of our member schools divided into eight regions. If you have any questions, please email us at students@equaljusticeworks.org.

SUMMER FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES WITH EQUAL JUSTICE WORKS

bhfdt7pcuaabqslTuesday, February 16 at 2 p.m. ET

This webinar will introduce participants to AmeriCorps JD and the new Rural Summer Legal Corps program for law students with Equal Justice Works. Learn about the opportunity to earn up to $4,000 this summer working with legal aid organizations nationwide in underserved and rural communities. Topics discussed will include eligibility, program requirements, application process and timeline directly from Equal Justice Works staff.

RURAL SUMMER LEGAL CORPS

Rural Summer Legal Corps connects public interest law students with LSC-funded civil legal aid organizations to address pressing legal issues facing rural communities. Participants earn a $4,000 stipend for their summer service. Applications must be submitted by February 29 for the 31 positions open nationwide.

More information can be found at www.rurallegalcorps.org and questions can be directed to ruralcorps@equaljusticeworks.org.

AMERICORPS JD

AmeriCorps JD provides a $1,212 education award to law students who deliver critically needed legal assistance in underserved communities across the country. Our spring application deadline is April 15.

Learn more about the program and application by reviewing our website and guide. Questions can be directed to americorpsjd@equaljusticeworks.org.

Settlement Reached in Class Action Case Involving Detainee Abuse at Franklin County Correctional Center

columbia20legal20servicesA settlement has been reached in a federal class action lawsuit brought by detainees at the Franklin County Correctional Center (Jail) against Franklin County and the Jail’s administrators. The Franklin County Correctional Center is a county jail located in Pasco that houses roughly 185 people nightly who are either charged with crimes and awaiting trial or sitting out criminal sentences for low level offenses.

The Plaintiffs brought suit in July 2014 following an investigation that revealed that detainees were being abused on a regular basis. The Complaint alleges that suicidal people and people with severe mental illness were regularly chained to a fence in the Jail booking area and left there for days on end on mats on the floor. All detainees regardless of behavior were locked in their cells for 23 hours every day and were rarely allowed outside. Medical and mental health care were inadequate or non-existent and the Jail failed to follow basic procedures designed to protect the health and safety of the people under its charge.

Correctional officers lacked basic training on how to work with people with mental illness or those withdrawing from drugs or alcohol. With few alternative ways to manage the Jail, staff relied upon chemical spray and metal shackles to try and control detainees. One Jail practice involved chaining people by their hands and feet to walls and stretching them out on a concrete pad in one of the holding cells.

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