On today's BradCast, we celebrate The BRAD BLOG's 14th anniversary of independent investigative blogging, journalism, broadcasting, trouble-making and muck-raking! Thanks to those who've stopped by BradBlog.com/Donate to help us continue into our 15th year! If you haven't done so yet, what's stopping you? We really need your help! [Audio link to today's show follow below.]
Beyond that, on today's program, we've got some encouraging news on voting rights in the state of Florida, believe it or not. A citizen initiative to allow former felons to vote has officially qualified for the state's November ballot, after an herculean effort to gather more than 800,000 qualified signatures by proponents who hope to help re-enfranchise some 1.7 million Floridians who have completed their sentences, many of them years ago.
While the grassroots effort has already been monumental --- as a segment from Sam Bee's Full Frontal highlighted last year --- the measure must still receive more than 60% approval from voters this November in order to amend the state's constitution. More former felons --- who are disproportionately African-American in FL --- are disqualified from voting in the Sunshine State than any other. Only they, Kentucky, Virginia and Iowa currently ban such citizens from voting for life. "Florida accounts for nearly 25 percent, or 1.6 million, of the people who have lost their right to vote" in the U.S., according to the ACLU. "As a result, one in ten Floridians are shut out of our democracy."
But, if it was up to the Trump Administration, there would be many more such felons in FL and everywhere else. We're joined today by criminal justice journalist JUSTIN GEORGE of The Marshall Project, to discuss his recent article looking at "Trump Justice, Year One: The Demolition Derby", in which he examines "nine ways Trump has transformed the landscape of criminal justice, just one tumultuous year into his presidency."
We discuss the many changes made by Trump's Department of Justice and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as they attempt to "demolish" the legacy of the Obama Administration. From their rhetoric and tone on crime, the "drug war" and immigration, to policy changes on policing, sentencing, mass incarceration, the private prison industry, and in stacking the federal bench with rightwingers, Team Trump is hoping to unwind many of the criminal justice reforms successfully enacted by Obama and his DoJ, particularly in the later years of his Presidency.
But have Trump and Sessions' attempts to rollback Obama's criminal justice legacy, to date, been particularly effective? And, for that matter, why did Obama's efforts at reform come so late in his Presidency?
We cover a lot of ground in my conversation with George today, before somewhat departing from our usual beat to close with a bit of dirty laundry, sleaze, speculation and rumor mongering concerning Donald and Melania Trump --- though we've got a reasonable justification for doing so today...mostly...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)