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May 2016

Human Rights – National Trends for April 2016

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Our April Legislative Activity Report shows that 1,014 organizations held 1,920 new meetings for the month of April. Of these 1,920 meetings, 81 agenda items had a Human Rights component including:

Legal Representation of Indigent People

County of Schenectady, NY

April 12,2016

  • Assembly bill number 6202-B and Senate bill number 6341-A authorizes the State to be financially responsible for indigent defense services;
  • Since 1965, the county from which the indigent criminal resides bore the cost of legal representation in the courts.
  • An indigent person is defined as being needy, and unable to provide himself or herself with adequate legal representation in a court of law.
  • The aforesaid legislative bills would shift the financial expense of representation of indigent criminal defendants from a county cost to a State expenditure.
  • New York has no state-wide system for the provision of indigent defense. Like the majority of states in the country, New York leaves the provision of indigent defense in the hands of individual counties.
  • These bills are a direct result of the Hurrell-Harring vs. New York case settled in 2014 in which the lawsuit argued that New York’s failure to provide adequate funding, resources and oversight to the public defense system threatened to deprive these defendants and the class they represent of their constitutional right to meaningful and effective assistance of counsel.
  • The lawsuit led to an internal investigation within the New York public defense system in which such flaws as; a failure to provide representation for some defendants in critical stages, incoherent or excessively restrictive eligibility standards that exclude indigent people from getting counsel, and overwhelming caseloads prohibiting defenders from providing adequate legal counsel.

St. Lawrence Place

Funding Richland County, SC

April 5, 2016

  • St. Lawrence place is a refuge center for homeless/ at-risk families located in Richland County to assist at need families as well as provide a safe haven for at- risk children.
  • Richland County Council is requested to approve an amendment to the FY 14-15 Community Development Block Grant (County Council approved the FY 14-15 budget last July). An action plan is in the works to award $200,000 to St. Lawrence Place/Trinity Housing to use funds for acquisition of homes and other costs for housing to assist families that are at-risk and/or homeless.
  • These homes are a part of a larger “cluster plan” of scattered-site homes to be purchased to assist homeless people. The majority of the people assisted originated from Richland County before becoming homeless. The larger plan also involves applying for SC State Housing funds ($300,000) and City of Columbia funds to complete these efforts.
  • These scattered site homes would supply affordable rental units to house formally at- risk/homeless families. Trinity Housing will own the properties and they provide site and case management. The locations will keep families close to public transportation and a relatively short travel distance to St. Lawrence Place for additional case management assistance. The waiting list for these homes is standing at a current list of 60 families in addition to those who call daily seeking housing.
  • The City of Columbia Community Development Department has awarded HOME Investment Partnership Program funds to Trinity Housing Corporation in the amount of $210,703.00. These funds have been awarded to purchase three single family homes zoned in the City Of Columbia as a part of the Live Oak II Project for affordable rental housing.

Fiscal Impact

  • There is no financial impact to the County. This action is simply a reallocation of   funds with the overall budget for such actions, which amounted to $1,296,072 for that fiscal year.

Thousand Oak (Municipality) California,

The Order of Handling Human Trafficking Cases

April 8, 2016

  • (Bill AB-2498) This bill ensures the confidentiality of victims of human trafficking by providing that their names, addresses, and images, and those of their family members shall be withheld. It also expedites the disposition of human trafficking cases by adding such cases to the list of criminal offenses (abandonment and neglect of children, sexual offenses against minors, incest), which shall be given precedence by the courts over other cases.
  • The bill gives all human trafficking cases the highest priority over all other related criminal offenses.
  • The bill defines human trafficking as; the illegal movement of people, typically for the purposes of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world.
  • There have been 979 reported cases of human trafficking reported in 2015 in California, and 293 of those cases involve minors.
  • In 2005, California enacted the AB 22 California Trafficking Victims Protection Act which established human trafficking for forced labor or services as a felony crime punishable by a sentence of 3, 4 or 5 years in state prison and a sentence of 4, 6 or 8 years for trafficking of a minor. There is no stated penalty for sex trafficking of a minor without force.
  • Under federal law, a convicted sex trafficker receives a sentence of 15 years to life, whereas under California law the same crime receives a sentence ranging from 3 – 8 years.
  • This bill is a part of the ongoing effort of California to strengthen their human trafficking laws.

 

Random Quick Stats for Topic: Drugs

FebruaryApril Change +/- %
 1,014 Organizations 1,014 OrganizationsNo Change
 1,529 New Meetings 1,937 New Meetings+408/27%
 29 Matching Agenda Items 90 Matching Agenda Items-1/4%

 

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Matt Hudson
Matt Hudson
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A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Matt is creative director for voterheads, where he directs all website design, marketing/branding & advertising campaigns. He also serves on the Advisory board for USC's HRSM Alumni Society. Matt is a past recipient of The State newspaper's 20 under 40 award.

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A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Matt is creative director for voterheads, where he directs all website design, marketing/branding & advertising campaigns. He also serves on the Advisory board for USC's HRSM Alumni Society. Matt is a past recipient of The State newspaper's 20 under 40 award.I'm a dude, playin' a dude, disguised as another dude... or more appropriately, busy.

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