Posts tagged with "ABCNews.Go"

Landmark criminal justice legislation clears Senate, 82-12

December 20, 2018

In one of the 115th U.S. Congress’s final acts—and surely one of its few bipartisan agreements—on December 17, the Senate overwhelmingly approved, by a vote of 82-12, the most significant and sweeping reform to prison sentencing laws in a generation, according to a report by ABCNews.Go.

U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee—who introduced the First Step Act along with Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island)—commented, “This bill in its entirety has been endorsed by the political spectrum of America. I can’t remember any bill that has this kind of support, left and right, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican.”

The legislation combines prison reform proposals that overwhelmingly passed in the House of Representatives earlier this year with sentencing reform provisions from the broadly bipartisan Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, which was authored by Durbin and Grassley and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in February by a vote of 16-5.

Broadly, the bill allows judges more discretion in sentences offenders for nonviolent crimes (particularly, for drug-related crimes); allows more home confinement of lower-level offenders; expands prison employment programs so that inmates can earn wages; sets up a risk assessment system to determine whether a prisoner is likely to re-offend, if released; and addresses sentencing disparities (particularly, against those of color).

The bill’s approval represents a win for President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who has been a leading advocate for criminal justice reform within the administration, following his own father’s experience behind bars.

And according to ABCNews.Go, Trump’s embrace of the legislation is a departure from his tough-on-crime rhetoric. While the president in the past has gone so far as to call for the death penalty for drug dealers, according to the network news outlet, the president “has gotten on board with a bill that aims to loosen sentencing guidelines for some nonviolent drug offenses.”

Despite receiving bipartisan support, there were some skeptics., the news outlet said. Two Republicans, Senators Tom Cotton of Arkansas and John Kennedy of Louisiana, unsuccessfully introduced amendments to limit which types of offenders would be eligible for early-release programs and were fiercely opposed to the legislation.

This is only the beginning, according to everyone involved. Ergo, the name, First Step Act. ““When it comes to reversing the harms done by mass incarceration, the real work is going to lie with the states and with local jurisdictions,” said Wanda Bertram, a spokeswoman for the Prison Policy Initiative, a Massachusetts-based think tank focused on criminal-justice reform, told MarketWatch.

“What we’re hoping is that states look to this bill as a model for state-based reform, but they also go much further, because this is a first step, but much more is needed,” she said.

Research contact: @MKhan47

Pressure group led by Steve Bannon spends $3 million on ads ahead of midterms

October 16, 2018

Former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon‘s political arm is spending $3 million on digital ads targeted at getting out the Republican vote ahead of the midterms, he told ABCNews.Go on October 14.

The new push, just three weeks before the election, is funded by Bannon’s new outside political group, a 501(c) 4, called Citizens of the American Republic, which he founded in August “in order to advance the ideals of Economic Nationalism and American Sovereignty.”

Groups under 501 (c) 4 are social welfare organizations that must not be organized for profit and “must be operated exclusively to promote social welfare,” according to the IRS.

Bannon will be out on the campaign trail stumping for Republican candidates who are considered vulnerable to what is being called the Blue Wave of Democratic victories in the November midterm elections. His message: Although President Donald Trump isn’t on the ballot in 2018, the midterm election is a referendum on his presidency.

He says he will travel to 10 states—Virginia, New York, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Michigan, Arizona, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas,and Florida—to spread the message that the president is at war with the Democrats, and that the Supreme Court nomination hearings for Justice Brett Kavanaugh was a preview to impeachment hearings that the Democrats will try to hold against Trump.

“Trump has delivered the goods. Now it’s time for the deplorables to deliver the votes,” Steve Bannon told ABC on October 14.

Bannon’s political strategist Sam Nunberg told the network news outlet, “If the president continues to communicate that the ‘Democrat [Nancy] Pelosi Mob’ will impeach him if they are in power, we are highly confident we can hold them at the gates and keep the House in Republican hands. A red wave is rising.”

Research contact: @CitizensAR

Ceding privacy for a paycheck: 78% of companies monitor employees

April 18,2018

Whether you are on the phone or computer, or in the supply closet, at work, chances are that you are being watched or recorded—or both, based on a report this week by ABCNews.Go.

According to new data from an annual workplace survey conducted by the American Management Association, nearly 80% of major companies now monitor employees’ use of e-mail, Internet or phone.

That figure represents a substantial uptick from 1997, when just 35% of businesses kept tabs on their workers—although employees have the same access now to email and the Internet that they had 20 years ago.

The AMA study was conducted among 1,627 large and mid-sized firms that are its members and clients—and  which, cumulatively, employ over 25%r of the U.S. workforce.

The survey also found that companies have increased monitoring across the board within the past couple of decades. Sixty-three percent now watch Internet usage and 47% review e-mails—a significant increase from 54% and 38%, respectively, in 1997.

In addition, more companies today are blocking social media and other sites that they deem inappropriate, in an effort to control employee “offenses”—and fully 25% say that they have fired employees for misuse of business email or the Internet.

“It’s not just a matter of corporate curiosity, but very real worries about productivity and liability that push these policies,” Eric Rolfe Greenberg, director of Management Studies for the AMA, told ABC.

“Personal e-mail can clog a company’s telecommunications system, and sexually explicit or other inappropriate material downloaded from the Internet can lead to claims of a hostile work environment,” he added.

Typically, the larger the company, the more incentive it has to check up on its employees, the survey found.

The financial sector — banks, brokerages, insurance and real estate — was the most vigilant, reporting that 92.1% of firms participate in some form of surveillance.

More than three-quarters of those who work in wholesale and retail, manufacturing, business and professional services and other non-profit organizations also were subjected to surveillance.

Finally, the AMA said that most companies tend to carry out spot checks rather than monitor workers constantly. However, that’s little comfort to employees, for whom the right to privacy has been ceded in exchange for a paycheck.

Research contact: customerservice@amanet.org