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Jacob Kraus

President Obama Signs a Bill

On Tuesday, December 13, President Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act into law. This bill, which passed with broad bipartisan support, contains many provisions related to medical research, including a cancer research program named for Vice President Biden’s late son, Beau Biden. It also included much-needed changes to the way our criminal justice system treats those with mental illness.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 56% of state prisoners, 45% of federal prisoners and 64% of those in local jails suffer from mental health problems. In total, over half of...

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2016 Election Protection Volunteers

While the 2016 presidential election may feel like it took place ages ago, it has been less than two months since November 8 and some states only recently certified their results, giving all of us a more accurate picture of how many Americans turned out to vote this year. According to data from the United States Election Project, about 55% of those old enough to vote cast ballots for president this fall. About 9.5 million eligible voters, according to this data, did not vote at all. By some estimates, this turnout rate is the lowest in a presidential election in 20 years (53.5% of voting-...

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Voting rights signs at Capitol

Across the country, it is difficult not to notice that we are swiftly approaching another general election. Political ads are appearing more frequently on our televisions and news feeds, the presidential debates are over and Election Day is just around the corner.

The importance of electing our leaders was stated clearly and simply over 2000 years ago by Rabbi Yitzhak. who taught that “A ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted” (Babylonian Talmud Berachot 55a). As we approach this election, we wonder: Who is included in the “community” that is the...

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At the end of last month, the Pew Research Center released new data from a poll of white and black Americans on their confidence in the police serving their community. This comes after a summer marked by the deaths of Keith Lamont Scott, Terence Crutcher, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Tyre King and many other black Americans in interactions with law enforcement, as well as the deaths of five police officers in Dallas, Texas. During these tense moments, when Americans of all races are struggling to make sense of the ongoing pattern of violence and mistrust, these five takeaways from Pew...

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Each day in this country, we are faced with harrowing truths about how our criminal justice system operates. Though Americans comprise only 5% of the world’s population, 25% of the world’s prisoners are here in the U.S. After a rapid expansion in the prison population over the last 40 years, our country now incarcerates more people than any other country.

Such statistics raise important questions about how our government pursues justice. Is imprisonment the best tool to create safer communities? With incarceration rates for black people at nearly six times the rate for white people...

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