Why is the Blackstone Foundation Funding Social Enterprise in Rhode Island? – Workforce Development – Inside Philanthropy

Memo to development officers: It’s always good to have a U.S. Senator in your corner. Case in point: $200,000 in funding for two nonprofits in Rhode Island doing workforce development.

Through the Blackstone Foundation’s Innovation Grants Initiative, the Founders League and the Social Enterprise Greenhouse (SEG) were selected to receive funding to support startups located in Rhode Island. Blackstone gave out $3 million in gifts this year to organizations around the country doing work to improve local economies and support business activity. Now in its third year, the Blackstone Innovation Grants program is a big piece of the foundation’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurship in the U.S. and abroad.

via Why is the Blackstone Foundation Funding Social Enterprise in Rhode Island? – Workforce | Labor | Grants – Inside Philanthropy.

A Reformed Peddler of Cigarettes Coughs Up $5 Million to Make the Next Gen Tobacco Free – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence

Last year, CVS made a landmark commitment to end sales of cigarette and other tobacco products at its more than 7,800 retail stores. CVS was the first national pharmacy chain to do so, so that was a big deal.

Apparently, though, the company feels guilty for all the years that it did sell cigarettes. After all, what the heck was a pharmacy doing selling products that can kill people?

via A Reformed Peddler of Cigarettes Coughs Up $5 Million to Make the Next Gen Tobacco Free – Inside Philanthropy: Fundraising Intelligence – Inside Philanthropy.

Whitehouse and Cornyn Meet with Obama on Criminal Justice

From the Whitehouse Press office:

Washington, DC – Today President Obama and Vice President Biden convened a meeting at the White House to discuss criminal justice reform efforts with key members of Congress, including U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Whitehouse, a lead sponsor of the CORRECTIONS Act along with Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), released the statement below regarding the meeting:

“Both Republican and Democratic leaders agree we can pass meaningful criminal justice reform measures this year, and I was grateful for the opportunity to discuss how to best move forward. Senator Cornyn and I have already built a strong bipartisan consensus around our legislation to better prepare inmates for re-entering society and reduce the risk that they’ll commit future crimes, and I strongly support the effort led by other Senators to reform our sentencing laws. I’m hopeful that we will be able to achieve both prison and sentencing reform this year, and I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership on this important issue.”

According to the White House, other Senators attending today’s meeting included Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Mike Lee (R-UT).

The CORRECTIONS Act would improve public safety and save taxpayer money by requiring prisoners to participate in recidivism reduction programs and allowing certain eligible prisoners to earn up to 25 percent of their sentence in prerelease custody for successful completion of these programs. The programs, which can include things like vocational training and substance abuse treatment, have been proven to help former prisoners successfully re-acclimate to society upon release and to reduce the risk that they will commit future crimes.

This Funder is Supporting the Data to Make Big Juvenile Justice Policy Changes – Inside Philanthropy

Youth advocates and their funders are hoping that 2015 is going to be a very good year for juvenile justice reform. The year is starting with bipartisan legislation submitted to congress by senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) which would overhaul outdated juvenile justice laws nationally, with a particular focus on ending imprisonment for status offenses, such as children who are truant, runaway, or violate curfew, alcohol, and tobacco laws. The new law also provides clear direction to state and local governments on how to stop racial profiling and reduce levels of imprisonment for young people of color.

via This Funder is Supporting the Data to Make Big Juvenile Justice Policy Changes – Children | Youth | Grants – Inside Philanthropy.

Bipartisan Prison Reform Bill Introduced, Based on RI and Texas

From the Whitehouse Press Office:

Sens. Whitehouse, Cornyn Introduce Prison Reform Legislation

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and John Cornyn (R-TX) today announced their plans to introduce the Corrections Oversight, Recidivism Reduction, and Eliminating Costs for Taxpayers in Our National System (CORRECTIONS) Act.

The bill, which would improve public safety and save taxpayer money by requiring lower-risk prisoners to participate in recidivism reduction programs to earn up to 25 percent of their sentence in prerelease custody, is based off reform efforts in both Texas and Rhode Island. A similar version of the bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with a 15-2 vote last Congress.

“Texas has been a national leader for prison reform, finding ways to partner with faith-based and community organizations to ensure prisoners can change their lives instead of becoming career criminals,” Sen. Cornyn said. “We can improve our criminal justice system, save money, and make our communities safer all at the same time. I am hopeful Congress will follow our state’s lead in this important area.”

“As a former state and federal prosecutor, I recognize that there are no easy solutions to overflowing prison populations and skyrocketing corrections spending,” said Whitehouse, a former U.S. Attorney and Attorney General for Rhode Island. “But states like Rhode Island have shown that it is possible to cut prison costs while making the public safer. Our bill is built on the simple premise that when inmates are better prepared to re-enter communities, they are less likely to commit crimes after they are released – and that is in all of our interests.”

The federal prison population has expanded rapidly in recent decades, growing from around 24,000 inmates in 1980 to over 210,000 today. Spending on the federal Bureau of Prisons has risen dramatically, rising from $3.1 billion in 1998 to a requested $6.9 billion in fiscal year 2013.

Recidivism has also been proven to be a significant problem, with one study estimating that 68 percent of prisoners from 30 states surveyed were arrested once again within three years of being released.

Background on the Whitehouse-Cornyn Legislation:

– Requires all eligible offenders to undergo regular risk assessments to determine whether an offender has a low, medium, or high-risk of re-offending.

– Excludes all sex offenders, terrorism offenders, violent offenders, repeat offenders, major organized crime offenders, and major fraud offenders from earning credits under the program.

– Encourages participation in recidivism reduction programs and productive activities, like prison jobs.

– Contains no new authorized spending, and requires the Bureau of Prisons to partner with faith-based groups and non-profits.

– Allows earned time credits for low-risk prisoners of up to 10 days for every 30 days that the prisoner is successfully completing a reoffender reduction program or productive activity.

– Allows medium risk prisoners to earn a 5 day for 30 day time credit while successfully completing recidivism reduction programs and productive activities. These offenders would only be able to use these credits if they demonstrate a substantial reduction in their probability of reoffending as a result of participation in programs.

– Does not allow high risk offenders to use any time credits unless they reduce their risk levels to a lower tier.

– Would allow certain low risk offenders who demonstrate exemplary behavior to spend the final portion of their earned credit time on community supervision.

Whitehouse and Cornyn Announce Bipartisan Prison Reform Legislation

From the Whitehouse Press Office:

Washington, DC – Tomorrow at 11:00 a.m., U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) will hold a press conference to announce their plans to introduce bipartisan legislation to reform our nation’s prison system. The legislation would build on reforms that have proven successful at the state level to reduce prison spending and overcrowding, and to help inmates become productive members of society upon re-entry.

Prison reform has been reported to be among the top areas for bipartisan legislative action in this Congress, with Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) recently listing it as one of his top three priorities. Both Cornyn and Whitehouse serve on the committee.

EVENT: Sens. Cornyn and Whitehouse Announce Bipartisan Prison Legislation

WHEN: Tuesday, February 10, 2014
11:00 a.m.

WHERE: Senate Radio-TV Gallery
U.S. Capitol

RI Hospital employees and community allies speak out

More than 500 people crowded into the meeting room of Our Lady of the Rosary Church on Benefit St in Providence for the Worker & Community Speakout for Good Jobs and Quality Care on January 17.  At issue was the contract negotiation between Lifespan/Rhode Island Hospital and General Teamsters Local 251 representing some 2,500 hospital employees.

According to Local 251, “As a non-profit entity, Lifespan and RI Hospital are supposed to put the healthcare needs of the community first. Unfortunately, management has taken cost cutting measures, causing shortages in equipment and staff that undermine patient care.”

via RI Hospital employees and community allies speak out.