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16-year-old Toni J. has faced many hurdles in her life. She lost both of her parents, was raped and was considered at-risk for child prostitution. But now thanks to a collaborative effort between the judicial and social services systems, the tide is finally turning for the California teen. Toni is a beneficiary of Girls Court, a program that uses an all-hands-on-deck approach to helping vulnerable girls, linking them to social service agencies and offering them a team of adults they can trust. Girls Court is part of a national movement to address the sex trafficking of minors domestically.  

Read more via The New York Times.

Most studies find little evidence that the threat of imprisonment deters people from crime, especially in communities where ‘mass imprisonment’ is the norm, and prison carries little stigma. In particular, more severe punishment - long jail terms, as opposed to suspended sentences, for example. has been shown to exert no deterrent effect. Prison is also an obvious failure when it comes to rehabilitation. According to the Department of Corrections, in 2010, 61.9 per cent of prisoners reoffended within two years of release - up from 55.4 per cent in 2005. Prisons can in fact retard the rehabilitation process, because they expose first-time inmates to more hardened criminals, and because excluding people from society may only reinforce the problems that led to the original offending. So while prison is clearly necessary for offenders who are currently beyond rehabilitation and who would otherwise pose a danger to society, for many offenders it is totally ineffective.’

Kim Workman and Tracey McIntosh, “Crime, Imprisonment and Poverty”, Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis, ed. Max Rashbrooke, (2013) pg 122-123 (via shedresseskindaprochoice)

This is why mandatory minimums are actually counterproductive.

(via karethdreams)

Why is Ecuador Treating Rape Victims like Criminals?


When Ecuador’s National Assembly begins debating a draft criminal code reform today, Ecuadoran women will notice a regressive change to the draft debated last year—the law does not eliminate the prohibition of abortion in cases of rape.

This year, a dozen women’s rights groups in Ecuador presented petitions to the Justice Commission, which has been in charge of drafting the criminal code reform. The women’s right advocates called on the commission to make abortion legal in all cases of rape, not just when the womanis “an idiot or demented” as the code currently allows. The response of the commission? To change the wording to be less offensive (now “a woman suffering from a mental disability, rather than “idiot or demented woman”). But these changes do not dramatically alter the substance of the law.

Women with mental disabilities who are pregnant from rape may be able to access legal abortion.

All other women and girl rape victims will not.

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