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Machon Kaplan Participant

As the global refugee crisis escalated, fear and misunderstanding of who refugees are inhibited refugee resettlement in the United States. These false perceptions of refugees mask the reality: refugees want to start a new life in a place where they feel safe. Most of them want the same things out of life that we want: to be safe, healthy and happy.

This summer, I have been interning with HIAS, the only Jewish organization solely focused on refugee resettlement and protection, in their community engagement department. HIAS has been around for over 135 years and began by resettling...

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mental illness, silhouette of head made by threadds

When my younger brother was about eleven, he decided he did not believe in God. My mother, being the supportive, inquisitive person that she is said, “Okay, that is fine, but out of curiosity, why don’t you?”

Jacob responded, in the plainest terms, “I cannot see God and you can’t prove that He exists.”

While it is certainly shocking for an eleven-year-old to make such a profound statement about his philosophical view of the world, what is not surprising is his reasoning. Many people share his skepticism of intangible, often inscrutable topics. Mental illness, being one of...

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The United States has the world’s largest prison population: 2.2 million Americans are currently serving time in our nation’s over 5,000 jails and prisons. That means that there are fewer college campuses in this country than prison yards. It also means that the U.S. has the second highest prison rate in the world. The number of inmates in federal prisons has quadrupled since 1980, as a result of mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which particularly target non-violent drug offenders. Mandatory minimums call for a minimum required sentencing length for a given crime type – one size fits all...

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We have all heard the horrifying truth: 1 in 5 women will experience sexual assault during their time in college.

In April of 2014, the White House released this statistic as part of their “Not Alone” campaign. In addition to laying the foundation for prevention and response strategies, “Not Alone” launched a support system for those who have experienced sexual assault in the past.

"Perhaps most important, we need to keep saying to anyone out there who has ever been assaulted: you are not alone. We have your back. I’ve got your back,” said President Barack Obama.


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Jason Taper outside NAACP holding Machon Kaplan is sign

“Equal Justice Under Law”

This phrase, carved into the façade of the Supreme Court, is avalue towards which our justice system aspires, especially when it comes to criminal justice. For example, we know that Black males serve prison sentences 20% longer than white males who commit nearly the same crimes. Even in cases in which they have similar criminal histories, white men are sentenced less harshly than their African-American counterparts. From the smallest drug offense to the most egregious capital murder, the evidence shows that racial bias pervades sentencing within the...

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