Sunday, November 05, 2017

Marsy's law

Ohio and California friends, your input is needed!

Ohio has a ballot measure to amend the state constitution with a version of Marsy's law, a victims' rights measure modeled after a California constitutional amendment with the same name and backed by the same people. My basic instinct is to vote against it and I'm not encountering many reasons to go against that instinct.

The main reason my initial reaction is negative is that the current criminal justice system is basically designed to make it easy to railroad black male defendants. Any expansion of victims' rights will mostly just add to the mass incarceration of black men. And, in fact, one of the major impacts of Marsy's law in California has been to increase the amount of time people spend in prison (

There are some more superficial reasons to distrust the law. It is named after an individual and only refers to them by their first name. It was originally backed by a billionaire philanthropist, a class of person I distrust. (How much of a philanthropist can you be if you are still a billionaire?) The ACLU is opposed to it (, and all but one newspaper in California was opposed to the California version (

Still, many of the specifics of the law seem quite reasonable. It says that victims need to be notified about court proceedings and prosecutors must hear victims' inputs before offering plea deals (

It is also not clear to me how much to look at this through racial justice lens and how much to look at it through a gender violence lens. One of the measures in the law would make it harder for defense council to interview or depose victims, which could make it harder for defense attorneys to slut-shame victims of sex crimes. The law itself was originally developed in response to a case where a woman was stalked and killed by an ex-boyfriend. Changes that increase legal protection for women dealing with violent men are certainly needed. Women should know when their stalkers are up for parole.

In thinking about a law like this, you have to take into account the fact that it will be implemented in a biased way. It probably will make things more fair in cases of white-on-white crime. But as soon as you have a black defendant, everything is going to get worse. Anything that increases jail time goes against a lot of the other activism I am engaged in.

Anyone have any opinions? Come on, you are the internet. I know you have opinions.   

Friday, June 02, 2017

Gov. Kasich, Uphold the Paris Climate Agreement!

Dear Governor Kasich,

Please announce publicly that Ohio will join The United States Climate Alliance in pledging to honor the Paris Agreement. President Trump, by withdrawing the federal government from the agreement, has alienated the rest of the world and put the well being of future generations at risk. The global community needs to know that Ohio cares about its relationship to the rest of the world and the health of the planet.

The Plain Dealer reports that 100,000 Ohioans are now directly employed by the renewable energy industry. As technology shifts, that number is only going to grow, while the number of people employed by coal is only going to shrink. You did a great favor to renewable energy last December by vetoing a freeze on renewable energy standards, allowing mandates to fall back in place this year. More actions like this will help ensure Ohio clean energy companies are competitive in the global economy.

You can also show that Ohio cares about global climate change by reinvesting in public transportation. One of your first actions as governor was to kill a $400 million dollar high speed rail project. Now is the time to undo that mistake.

Let the world know that Ohio does not agree with President Trump's reckless actions on climate change.

J. Robert Loftis

Bay Village, Ohio

Saturday, January 28, 2017

It's starting

Trump's most recent order blocks people with green cards who were abroad when the order was signed from re-entering the US. Green card holders are permanent residents---that was the promise we made when they were given their green cards. Darcy James Argue helpfully provides a picture below of the of the brochure you get welcoming you.

Pro-Publica reports that there are 500,000 permanent residents from the countries that are now banned all of these people have effectively had our promise to them broken.

Colleges and Universities are already recommending that students and faculty from the effected countries cancel plans to travel abroad because they may not be able to return home. A Yale Ph.D. student from Iran has already been stranded. (Chronicle of Higher Ed:, via Meanwhile in higher ed)

Protests are launching!

Cleveland peeps: Emergency Rally and March for Refugees and Sanctuary. Monday January 30, 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm Market Square, West 25th St. and Lorain Ave. (

New York! Today 6PM protest at JFK to support the folks who are now stranded at the airport because of Trump's order:

Finally, Mike Malz of Same Facts has advice for government workers who are ordered to do unethical things. Rachel Ann McKinney suggests academics need similar plans.