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Celebrities, activists urge criminal justice reform at ‘Day of Empathy’

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Celebrities, activists urge criminal justice reform at 'Day of Empathy'

Actor David Arquette and his wife, TV personality Christina McLarty Arquette, were among a crowd of activists in Arkansas on Tuesday calling for lawmakers to implement criminal justice reform laws like the ones President Trump signed into law in December.

“People that are re-entering society, we want them to have a fair shake,” David Arquette told The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. “We want to end the dismantling of communities.”

Protesters rallied at the Arkansas Capitol against what they’ve called unjust criminal justice laws, encouraging lawmakers to consider reforms. Tuesday’s protests were part of a national “Day of Empathy” organized by #cut50, a national bipartisan initiative to reform criminal justice. The goal is to generate empathy for those affected in some way by the criminal justice system.

National Director of #cut50 Jessica Jackson, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and David and Christina Arquette met to discuss judicial reform during the "Day of Empathy" in Little Rock.

National Director of #cut50 Jessica Jackson, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and David and Christina Arquette met to discuss judicial reform during the “Day of Empathy” in Little Rock.
(Jessica Jackson)

Tuesday marks the event’s third year.

“Politics aside, this is a bipartisan issue,” McLarty Arquette, an Arkansas native, told the Arkansas newspaper. “This is an issue about human beings on the level of, like, loving each other and kindness.”

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Many of the protesters advocated for reforms for incarcerated women, who they say have trouble accessing feminine hygiene products or are restrained during childbirth.

The topic of criminal justice reform continues to be an important issue among both Democrats and Republicans.

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The president signed the First Step Act into law in December. It aims to keep people out of prison after they have served time and reduces sentences for nonviolent offenders, among other things.

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Trump says he does not mind if public sees Mueller’s Russia probe report

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Trump says he does not mind if public sees Mueller's Russia probe report

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he does not mind if the public is allowed to see the report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing about his investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any possible links to the Trump campaign.

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs on travel to Ohio at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

“Let it come out, let people see it, that’s up to the attorney general … and we’ll see what happens,” Trump told reporters at the White House.

“We’ll see if it’s fair,” he added.

Mueller is preparing to submit a report to U.S. Attorney General William Barr on his findings, including Russia’s role in the election and whether Trump unlawfully sought to obstruct the probe. Trump has denied collusion and obstruction. Russia has denied interfering in the election.

Barr already is coming under pressure from lawmakers to make the entire document public quickly, though he has wide latitude in what to release.

The U.S. House of Representatives voted 420-0 last week on a non-binding resolution calling for Mueller’s report to be released both to Congress and to the public, but it is not clear how the measure will fare in the Senate.

Asked if the public should be allowed to see the report, Trump said: “I don’t mind.” He said he had no idea when it would be released.

As he has before, Trump questioned the legitimacy of Mueller’s investigation.

“I had the greatest electoral victory – one of them – in the history of our country, tremendous success, tens of millions of voters and now somebody’s going to write a report who never got a vote,” he said.

Mueller was appointed to handle the Russia investigation in May 2017 after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been overseeing the effort. Mueller has previously held several senior positions in the Justice Department, including FBI Director.

Reporting by Steve Holland; writing by David Alexander and Andy Sullivan; editing by Tim Ahmann and Jonathan Oatis

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Clarence Thomas makes rare intervention during Supreme Court arguments

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Clarence Thomas makes rare intervention during Supreme Court arguments

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas surprised court watchers on Wednesday when he made a rare intervention in court arguments — asking a question in a case where a death row inmate is challenging his conviction and sentence.

Thomas, who is the only African-American and the only Southerner on the court, asked his rare question toward the end of arguments in a case involving a black Mississippi death row inmate, Curtis Flowers, who was tried six different times for the 1996 murders of four people in a furniture store.

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Flowers’ lawyers claims a white prosecutor had a history of impermissibly using jury strikes to exclude African-Americans from the jury.

The Associated Press reported that a clear majority of the court appeared “troubled” by the actions of the prosecutor — District Attorney Doug Evans — in the prosecution of Flowers.

Thomas asked if Flowers’ lawyers in the case had made similar decisions, and the race of any struck jurors. Lawyer Sheri Lynn Johnson said three white jurors were excused by Flowers’ lawyer.

According to The Washington Post, two of Flowers’ trials were hung, and convictions in three others were overturned because of misconduct by Evans.

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But the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld his 2010 conviction, despite Evans striking five of six black jurors, arguing that Evans had race-neutral reasons for the strikes.

Thomas’ last questions in a case  were in 2016, and that was his first intervention in a decade. He has said previously that he relies on the written briefs and believes his colleagues interrupt too much.

Fox News’ Bill Mears and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Trump says he doesn’t mind if public sees Mueller’s Russia probe report

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Trump says he doesn't mind if public sees Mueller's Russia probe report

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to reporters as he departs on travel to Ohio at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he does not mind if the public is allowed to see the report that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is preparing about his investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and any possible links to the Trump campaign.

Mueller is expected to send his report to Attorney General William Barr soon.

Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Tim Ahmann

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