Advancing Abolition Is a Must — Abolition Means Transformative Wellbeing and Prevention
Policing is a settler colonial creation to control native populations and is exported aboard to teach other empires how to do the same. In 2007, the FBI found that cops averaged roughly four hundred “justifiable homicides” every year, whereas nearly eighty cops were murdered in the line of duty. These disparities have only further developed, where since 2014, cops averaged nearly one thousand homicides each year, and the number of cops killed in the line of duty remained around forty-eight. Policing and prison systems are premised on punishment, rather than transformative healing, health, and prevention. Thus, as stated in Decriminalization Is Not Enough, Abolition Is a Must, resources and funding which are currently given to our present system of policing and prisons should be reallocated to tools that actually serve the community, rather than on incarceration.
Justice is a means through which people can discuss, decide, and create environments that encourage them thrive and it involves the people who are most impacted by those conditions. In that vein, abolition will look different in each community. The goal of abolition should be prioritizing the needs of each community by allowing the community control and ultimate decision-making ability. Abolition allows each community to communicate, prioritize, and enact methods and means that will make that community the best environment for its members. As Dereka Purnell wrote in Becoming Abolitionists, “activists or abolition-curious people will often ask me, ‘What does abolition look like to you?’ My answers change all the time during conversation, especially since I believe that the dreaming and practicing should happen together. This is what I’m thinking about today as I’m writing the conclusion to this book. Every neighborhood would have five quality features: a neighborhood council; free twenty-four-hour childcare; art, conflict, and mediation centers; a free health clinic; and a green team.” Upon community needs, discussion, and approval, funds currently spent on police and prison systems should be reallocated to education, housing, health care, and public spaces.
Decriminalization Is Not Enough, Abolition Is a Must
In the United States, since the 1980s, the federal prison population has increased by roughly 790%. Specifically, presently within Illinois, there are approximately 76,000 citizens who are incarcerated. In 2014, Illinois appropriated and spent nearly $1.3 billion on prison budgets. Where even though cannabis is now legal, in Illinois, roughly 90 inmates are still incarcerated for offenses relating to the use, manufacturing, and selling of cannabis. According to the Last Prisoner Project, inmates remain incarcerated even though House Bill 1438 establishes that persons who have been convicted on an offense are granted a pardon because the Bill provides no resentencing or commutation procedures, and the process to have sentences pardoned is slow.
In examining the injustices of carceral punishment, statistics like these show that these injustices are not an anomaly, but rather the norm. Because prisons are premised on punishment, rather than transformative healing, health, and prevention, prisons are a human rights issue, rather than a criminal justice issue. Prisons are premised on punishment, rather than transformative healing and health, and prevention. As a result, resources and funding which are currently given to our present system of policing and prisons should be reallocated to tools that actually serve the community, rather than on incarceration.
The Supreme Court Is Not Protecting Women’s Rights, so Will the 49th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade Be Its Last?
In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that states could not create onerous requirements that interfered with a patient’s right to an abortion up to the point of viability of the fetus, which was around 24 weeks. Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey established and protected patients’ rights to privacy and healthcare autonomy in reproductive health. However, as I previously explained in Abort Texas’ New Abortion Law, Texas’ new law erodes that decision. On January 20, 2022, the Supreme Court was presented with the opportunity to address this issue. The Court denied Texas abortion clinics’ request to immediately return to litigation over the Court’s acceptance of Texas’ six-week abortion law. However, the threat to reproductive health is not isolated to Texas; other states have enacted similar laws.
Treasury’s Proposal Aimed at Limiting Tax Evasion by The Wealthy, May End Up Harming Everyone Else
In May of 2021, the United States Department of Treasury (“Treasury”) introduced its revenue proposals for the 2022 fiscal year. One of the proposals that garnered significant attention was the Comprehensive Financial Account Reporting to Improve Tax Compliance; under this proposal, financial institutions will be required to report to the Treasury the total amount of inflow and outflow on bank, loan, and investment accounts for accounts that hold at least $600 a year. Since its introduction and after serious political push-back, this amount has since been increased to accounts that hold at least $10,000 a year.
If the reporting requirement is implemented, the Biden Administration proposes to raise the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) funding by $80 billion to finance the cost of additional auditors and equipment. However, the Biden Administration, with the proposal’s implementation, expects a payoff of $460 billion over ten years in additional revenue. Although this proposal is intended at limiting wealth tax evasion, this proposal misses the mark. Specifically, it does not adequately address businesses that are able to cheat tax codes by stretching the current law, and instead scrutinizes small businesses and individuals while it exponentially increases the personal data held by the Treasury.
Chicago’s “Decriminalization” of Sex Work
In the United States, according to a HG study, every year, between 70,000 and 80,000 people are arrested for prostitution related offenses, where roughly seventy percent of arrests are made against women sellers, twenty percent of arrests are made against men sellers, and a mere ten percent are made against buyers. In Chicago, the number of arrests are comparable, where according to a Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation study, in 2013, approximately seventy-four percent of prostitution-related arrests were for selling, and in 2017, ninety percent of prostitution-related arrests were for selling.
Following the enactment of similar laws in other states, in 2014, Illinois passed Public Act 98-1013 which creates a financial incentive for the enforcement of prostitution laws against buyers and traffickers, rather than sellers. However, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) continues to prioritize arrests of sex sellers over buyers. Criminalization of sex work disproportionately harms LGBTQ people, communities of color, and immigrants. At a local level, Chicago needs to decriminalize sex work and reallocate CPD’s enforcement budget to social welfare services.
Abort Texas’ New Abortion Law
Under Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court found that states could not create onerous requirements which interfered with a patient’s right to an abortion up to the point of viability of the fetus, which was around 24 weeks. However, Texas’ new law erodes that decision. On May 9, 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Texas’ new abortion law commonly known as the fetal “heartbeat” bill, and on September 1, 2021, the Supreme Court refused to block Texas’ “heartbeat” bill. The new law bans abortions as soon as cardiac motion can be detected in the embryo, roughly six weeks into a pregnancy.
The “heartbeat” bill contradicts the purpose of standing and adversely impacts not only the patients but people working in the medical field, families and friends of the patients, people who support a person’s right to choose, and society as a whole. Congress cannot continue to idly sit by. Congress must codify the principles of Roe v. Wade to protect an individual’s right to health care.
The United Nations Response to the Killings in Myanmar is Not Enough
On Saturday, March 27, 2021, as the Myanmar military celebrated the 76th annual Armed Forces Day with a parade, Myanmar police and soldiers killed dozens of citizens. Within the last two months, over 100 civilian pro-democracy protesters have been killed by the Myanmar military.
When the coup started in February, the United Nations (“UN”) condemned the junta. Since then, the UN has taken no action. The UN needs to interject and end the killing and violence against civilians. The UN Security Council or an emergency summit should deny recognition of the Myanmar military as a legitimate government, act to cut off the Myanmar military from funding and access to weapons, and then the International Criminal Court should investigate the killings of civilians.
COVID-19’s Gender Impact
As March starts and we enter Women’s History Month, Time Magazine, The New York Times, National Public Radio, CNBC, The Washington Post, and more wrote articles on the unique and disproportionate effects that COVID-19 has had on women. However, by focusing exclusively on the effect of COVID-19 on women, we ignore the impacts faced by gender non-binary people. This approach leaves many people to continue to be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic, as economic impacts cannot be addressed and answered, if they are not first acknowledged.
The United States’ current systems and its response to COVID-19 has failed to serve many people, in fact, the pandemic has amplified existing economic and social inequalities. If we are to resolve these inequalities, instead of focusing on the disproportionate effects experienced by cis-gender women, the focus should shift towards marginalized people, such as, cis and transgender women, and non-binary individuals. This article takes a limited approach due to its length, and it focuses on the effects COVID-19 has had on women, and the transgender and non-binary community, where the United States needs to acknowledge the economic inequalities these people face and change the current systems.
CPS’ Covid Priorities: 1) Punish Teachers and 2) Deny Students a FAPE
On November 17, 2020, Chicago Public School (“CPS”) announced that in January 2021, CPS would have its first week of in-person learning since March of 2020. Upon the announcement, CPS parents had mixed reactions to the district’s plan to bring some students back, where some expressed excitement about the positive effect of in-person learning on their kids social and mental health, while others like the Grassroots Education Movement voiced concerns that the district had not done enough to make schools COVID-19 safe.
The return to in-person learning has been controversial and filled with conflict between teachers and the Chicago Teachers Union (“CTU”) versus the district. CTU expressed that it does not trust the district to keep the teachers and students safe, and the CTU released a statement that 71 percent of its teachers voted to continue remote learning instruction. Even with these concerns, CPS made the return by teachers mandatory. During its first week in-person, over 150 educators have been AWOL, having not shown up to school. Since then, the teachers’ protest has only become louder. CPS responded by docking the pay and locking teachers out of their remote learning platforms. Intense debate surrounds the topic, but the underlying legal principle remains, CPS cannot deny students a Free Appropriate Public Education (“FAPE”), guaranteed by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), while CPS engages in a labor dispute with the CTU.
The War on Drug (Prices)
Prescription medications are one of the most common forms of health care intervention, with approximately sixty-six percent (66%) of adults in the United States using prescription drugs. Prescription drugs can provide major benefits to an individual as well as the general population’s health; if successful, prescription drugs can lead to longer and higher-quality lives. However, as drug prices rise unnecessarily, nearly a fourth of American patients experience difficulty affording their medications. A majority of these patients are people with lower incomes and those who are nearing Medicare age.
The United States has higher drug prices than all other developed nations, where in 2010 the average post-rebate medication price was fifteen percent (15%) higher in the United States than in Canada, France, and Germany. Domestic drug companies argue that the price is due to the cost of research and development, however it is the lack of market regulation by the United States government that allows these exorbitant prices. In response to the outcry against high drug prices, on September 13, 2020, President Trump signed an Executive Order on Lowering Drug Prices by Putting America First. The Order includes a “most favored nations” pricing scheme that includes both Medicare Parts B and D, meaning that Medicare now is able to refuse to pay more for drugs than other developed nations. However, this is not enough. The United States needs to take action at both the state and federal level to ensure that prescription drugs are accessible and affordable to all Americans.