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Daniel Nichanian. criminal justice, voting rights, local politics & local elections, pol. theory. Editorial director of @TheAppeal's Political Report.
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2 May
Polls are now closed, in much of Texas on CT. Follow along here as the results come in.
The San Antonio police union referendum? 50/50 in early results.

Austin’s *early voting* give a lead to Prop B, which would re-criminalize some activities tied to homelessness.

First results in #Tx06 have 4 candidates between 10% & 16%, so buckle up for a tight Top 2 race here.
Democrats are at risk of being shut out of the #TX06 runoff based on the results of early voting, which is far worse for them in it was in November.
Read 17 tweets
26 Apr
And it's time: The Census Bureau is about to announce, months late, how many congressional districts (& electoral votes) each state will have for the next decade.
WOW. Rhode Island will not lose a seat.

New York will "only" lose 1 seat.

Texas will gain two seats rather than the earlier-estimated 3.

Florida will gain one seat instead of the earlier-estimated 2.
HOW SEATS WILL SHIFT in the next decade:

+2 seats: TX
+1 seat: CO, FL, MT, NC, OR.

-1 seat: CA, IL, MI, OH, PA, NY, WV
Read 5 tweets
15 Apr
Police *& prosecutors* openly lied about this shooting.

It's being exposed in this case. But how many thousands of people have convictions or are in prison because of tainted testimony & lies, and of prosecutors who are complicit or who look away?
Just last week, the Queens district attorney responded to the revelations of misconduct by her staff that led to a wrongful conviction for 24 years by... shrugging this away as isolated, and not ordering a review of other cases by the same people.
When the Westchester County DA received *recorded tapes* of police officers admitting they were framing people, he reacted by... continuing to rely on these same offiers' testimonies to send people to prison!

Read 6 tweets
14 Apr
Fairly devastating news from Mississippi.

MS sentences people to life without parole for a 3rd felony. 86 people are in prison for life over a drug conviction.

A bill that'd have retroactively reduced their sentence was *so* close to passing, but died in conference. #SB2795
The bill would have made the maximum sentence for a third felony enhancement 15 years, which is still a staggering number especially for a drug offense, but would have brought relief to many.
CORRECTION: SB2795 is another criminal justice bill. The bill I'm describing above, & which didn't pass, is #HB796.
Read 4 tweets
13 Apr
Striking in this @mauraewing story on Philly: just how much the debate has shifted to question the entire war on drugs framework.

The idea a DA should lay down any condition to drop substance use charges (as Krasner still does) is under relentless fire. theappeal.org/politicalrepor…
.@BrookeM_Feldman explains here that mandating attendance to a treatment program, if it comes at the wrong time or is coerced, can backfire.

And a growing number of prosecutors in the country are saying they'll take drug possession out of the criminal legal system.
For instance, Baltimore's chief prosecutor just said she'd make permanent a COVID-era policy of not prosecuting low-level drug possession.

She said: "when we criminalize these minor offenses we expose people to needless interaction with law enforcement

Read 4 tweets
8 Apr
Washington State just restored voting rights to tens of thousands of formerly incarcerated people last night.

behind this big reform: a lawmaker who is formerly incarcerated herself, & fought for this to pass.

I talked to her about why it's so important: theappeal.org/politicalrepor…
I may still do a thread unpacking all @TarraSimmons5 had to say. But mostly I won't do it justice, so I'd urge you to read it yourself.
Of having lost the franchise: “It made me feel like I wasn’t a part of my community... I feel that way still when I can’t rent an apartment or I can’t go on a field trip with my kids, those things that other people take for granted but that convicted people don’t get to enjoy.”
Read 4 tweets
7 Apr
I appreciate conservatives making it explicit that their goal is to target democracy itself only to the extent that it gets to the bottom of what they've already long been doing, and they may as well dispense with the pretense & the constant lies about fraud.
Tragic irony is how the same people who are making this case that some of their neighbors are too unqualified to have a voice (AND are following thru with laws modeled on that idea) wld be incensed if you were to treat them as too elitist & entitled to make engagement worthwhile.
Just as I said: The people who want to argue that some of their neighbors are not intelligent enough for voting, & who argue they deserve having more voice and political power than these excluded, then get very frustrated when you don’t engage *them*. You can’t make this stuff up
Read 4 tweets
7 Apr
JUST NOW: Tishaura Jones WINS mayoral election in St. Louis.

She ran as the most progressive candidate in the primary & the runoff: includes support for ending cash bail, decriminalizing sex work, closing Workhouse jail, & more.

She's the 1st black woman elected as mayor here.
This was a big election that saw activists focused on housing & policing demands, among other issues.

@megoconnor13's explains below. Also see her reporting for the stakes on:
—housing: theappeal.org/st-louis-mayor…
—& criminal justice: theappeal.org/politicalrepor…

Since Ferguson & all the activism that followed, elections in St. Louis region have been transfomative.

This is at least 4th win for ppl who ran on changing status quo on criminal justice:

Cori Bush’s primary
St Louis Co. prosecutor
St Louis City prosecutor
this mayor’s race
Read 5 tweets
7 Apr
Results are coming in from St. Louis: In the mayoral election, absentee ballots have Tishaura Jones (who ran as the most progressive candidate in the first round, & now in the runoff) *way* ahead -- 60% to 39%.
while we wait: Jones & runoff opponent Cara Spencer moved on to the runoff after taking the first 2 spots last month via a new election process here called *approval voting*. (i.e.: voters were asked to vote for as many people as they approved of.)
Polls are now also closed in the Omaha mayoral election & Wisconsin's statewide superintendent of education election (a major showdown between Scott Walker and unions/progressives) & a bunch of legislative elections. [Details here as always: whatsontheballot.com/2021-primaries]
Read 4 tweets
5 Apr
There are two imported mayoral elections taking place this Tuesday — both of which bear the clear mark of the recent BLM protests & all the activism around policing.

A brief thread on both, as we enter the stretch of the year where Tuesday nights will be more intense again.
1️⃣ ST LOUIS: 2 most progressive candidates moved to the runoff, in context of years of organizing since Ferguson. Now they face off on Tuesday.

At stake: closing the notorious Workhouse jail; cash bail; and more. @megoconnor13 previewed field in Feb: theappeal.org/politicalrepor…
2️⃣ OMAHA: In one of bigger cities with a GOP mayor, who raised police budget last year & now faces Dem challengers who are proposing reforms of various degrees. Tuesday is the 1st round.

@TheWayWithAnoa reports on all the build-up in the organizing: ow.ly/d2mA30rCO7J
Read 4 tweets
4 Apr
It keeps being remarkable to see analyses of the Georgia law treat it as a set of good-faith provisions that can be assessed independently from how voting rules have been used in Georgia to intimidate & scare — not decades ago, but continually, recently:
These provisions below are some of the most important. Because has been the heart of this playbook — and continues to be:
And to frame concerns about criminalization, intimidation, & suppression in Georgia as something “Democrats are concerned about” packs such disregard for history and historical reality.
Read 4 tweets
1 Apr
Andrew Cuomo has just two more minutes to sign or veto a historic bill against solitary confinement in New York. (My understanding is the bill becomes law if he does nothing.) 👀
Midnight passed. It would appear Cuomo’s office will make no news tonight; this could mean the #HALTsolitary bill is now law without his signature, but it may also be he issued a veto he’ll publicize tmrw.

Bill would get NY in line with not doing what the UN defines as torture.
UPDATE: Cuomo signed the #HALTsolitary bill tonight — & advocates are now celebrating it becoming law.

A caution that signature came with amendments (typically discussed with leg leaders) — & important to see just what those are to understand final shape.
Read 4 tweets
31 Mar
JUST IN: Gov. Cuomo has signed into law the bill legalizing marijuana in New York. It had passed legislature yesterday.

NY is 16th state to pass a law or initiative to legalize.

NY will automatically expunge convictions, & bar police from stopping cars based on smelling weed.
Virginia is on track to be the 17th. (And New Mexico seems poised to be next.)
Here’s a rundown of the bill’s many provisions. Note: legalization of marijuana possession is immediate.
Read 4 tweets
27 Mar
The people who collected national applause for 🙄-ing at Trump’s fabulations wasted no time turning their platform into calls to make access to the ballot more restrictive.

See also: SoS office making a case for making mail ballots harder in name of “trust” in December already.
This was Raffensperger’s office in December. He was saying there was no actual fraud to overturn 2020 — but his office was talking about broken trust (fueled by those same lies) as reason enough to change rules for 2022.

Do read that quote above: it’s a deputy in GA’s SoS office saying the election rules have to be changed so future candidates don’t make same lies as Trump. Effectively: Let’s act as if he’s right (even if we say he’s not) so he doesn’t have anything to complain about next time.
Read 4 tweets
26 Mar
Virginia Dems took control of the state government for the first time in decades last year, & have since passed a big slate of progressive goals.

Here's a thread capturing 13 big laws that have passed in that time. 

(I was trying to countdown to a top 10, but gave up on that.)
1️⃣ Virginia has now abolished the death penalty.

A really huge national milestone given the history of capital punishment in this state. theappeal.org/politicalrepor…
2️⃣ Virginia ended prison gerrymandering.

This is the practice that counts incarcerated people where they're detained for purposes of redistricting, skewing political power toward more white areas. theappeal.org/politicalrepor…
Read 14 tweets
20 Mar
Since 2021 began, New Orleans has been offering such a powerful illustration of why local elections matter.

A short thread.
Act 1: In fall of 2020, local activists in New Orleans worked to "flip the bench," i.e. get public defenders intent on fighting mass incarceration elected as judge.

In November, they scored some wins, including with candidate Angel Harris. [stay tuned]

Act 2: a DA with exceptionally carceral politics retired in 2020. And in a hotly-contested December runoff, the candidate who won (Jason Williams) had ran on vowing to unleash progressive reforms to decrease incarceration.


And then this week...
Read 4 tweets
18 Mar
just a mid-week reminder of things we do as a country ImageImage
when a 6-year old is dragged to court for picking a tulip

read the North Carolina story: journalnow.com/north-carolina… Image
7,300 complaints were filed against children YOUNGER THAN 11 in North Carolina, between 2015 & 2018.

47% of the complaints were against Black children. (22% of the state's population is Black.)

journalnow.com/north-carolina… Image
Read 7 tweets
17 Mar
There's a newly empowered progressive majority on the Washington Supreme Court. And it issued 2 sweeping decisions on youth sentences & war on drugs.

I wrote on how the rulings show off a blueprint of how state courts can do more to advance civil rights: theappeal.org/politicalrepor…
Over the past 3 weeks, narrow majorities on the Washington Supreme Court pointed to the state constitution to:

1/ extend protections against life without parole, and
2/ strike down the state statute criminalizing drug possession, effectively legalizing it (for now?).
The first decision is a judicial milestone in extending the U.S. Supreme Court's jurisprudence on life without parole beyond age 18.

The 2nd decision is especially striking in its willingness to rock the boat whatever the concerns it's impractical to address rights violations.
Read 6 tweets
16 Mar
A big share of the debate on voting rights was long focused on getting people’s rights restored once they finish whole sentence. But many activists were pushing loudly to get rid of disenfranchisement altogether. And in just a few years, they’ve changed the landscape so much.
Still only DC has outright abolished it (joining ME & VT).

But push helped move default Dem position further to universal suffrage — at least to idea anyone not incarcerated should vote. States getting that done since 2019 unthinkable 26 months ago — CA, NJ, CO, harsh NV...
And today, the most shocking shoe dropped Virginia. The Gov said he’d enfranchise anyone not in prison via EOs.

When the Gov in 2017 did a weaker EO, *Dem* prosecutors fought him.

But then, they lost primaries. Activists demanded full abolition. Today we got a far stronger EO.
Read 4 tweets
16 Mar
big Virginia news: Gov. Northam will be issuing an executive action today to restore the voting rights of anyone who is formerly incarcerated.

This is a big extension of rights in VA, and an extension of what governors here have been doing.

CNN reports: cnn.com/2021/03/16/pol…
To recap:

1/ Virginia law imposes LIFETIME bans on voting for any felony.

2/ in recent years, McAuliffe & then Northam have been restoring the voting rights of ppl who complete their full sentence (including probation, etc.)

3/ New order extends that to anyone not in prison.
A wave of states have been enfranchising anyone not in prison (NJ, CA, CO, NV., now 19 total) legislatively or via initiative.

This is 1st time I'm aware of a governor getting a state to this stage. (VA's legislature did pass a similar measure, but needs to pass again in 2022.)
Read 7 tweets
12 Mar
Four Democratic U.S. representatives from NY all called on Governor Cuomo to resign within minutes just now: Reps. Jerry Nadler, Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
UPDATE: 8 Dem representatives from NY just called on Cuomo to resign in statements issued within minutes:

Reps. Jerry Nadler, Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Carolyn Maloney, Yvette Clarke, Nydia Velazquez, Grace Meng

(Kathleen Rice had already done so)
UPDATE: 9 Dem representatives from NY called on Cuomo to resign in statements within minutes:

Jerry Nadler, Jamaal Bowman, Mondaire Jones, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Carolyn Maloney, Yvette Clarke, Nydia Velazquez, Grace Meng, Adriano Espaillat

Kathleen Rice had already done so.
Read 9 tweets