Federal Appeals Court to Hear Birmingham School Pepper Spray Case

A case that alleges chemical spray is overused in Birmingham, Ala., schools is headed to federal appeals court and will probably not re-emerge for at least a year. Attorneys for the school officials, resource officers and city police officers named as defendants have asked the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to hear two questions. First, if the case go forward as a class action; and second, if they have any official immunity. If the court decides to hear the questions, no ruling is likely for at least a year, said Ebony Howard, an attorney with the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center. She is lead attorney representing six youths who say officers on campus sprayed them with a chemical called Freeze+P for minor school-based infractions, including in one case, uncontrollable crying over being bullied.

NAACP Blasts Mace in Birmingham Schools

The NAACP launched an online petition this week, inviting people to lend their names to a campaign to end the use of pepper spray on students in Birmingham, Al. public schools. “As long as we continue to treat students like criminals, they will grow up to become criminals,” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, in a written statement. The NAACP argues that Mace and pepper spray may be legitimate parts of an adult or crowd policing strategy, but are not acceptable for use on school children. Birmingham’s public school population is overwhelmingly African-American.

Immigrant Voices: Young, Ambitious, Proud of the Nation and Illegal

Immigration is an explosive topic in this nation. It has deep implications for the economy and the social and cultural landscape of the country. It has and will continue to have a huge impact on politics, especially for the presidential election. We know all that, of course. Anyone who follows the news the least bit, knows that.

U.S. Immigration System is Broken, Says Latino Community Leader

The U.S. immigration system is broken and not in line with the nation’s values, said Jerry Gonzalez, executive director of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO), at an event Wednesday night. GALEO is a nonprofit organization seeking to increase Latino civic engagement. “We need to have a workable system that moves us forward and upholds our values,” he said. Addressing a small crowd of mostly Latino students at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta, Gonzalez said a top priority should be keeping families together. Under the current immigration system “some families have to wait 20 years to be reunited,” he said.

Leonard Witt

Show Me Your Papers, It’s Not Kids Play, It’s UnAmerican

Martin Castro, chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, while giving a talk recently in Lawrenceville, Ga., made a little joke. He said one in six Americans is a Latino -- he paused and then added that the other five out of six Americans soon will be related to that one. He is correct. Your neighbors and co-workers today will likely become your in-laws tomorrow. Hence, I, and lots of others folks, would argue that any political group that angers the Latino community does so at its own peril.

Alabama’s DCANP Budget Cuts by District

Alabama's Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention (DCANP) has been hosting a series of Sustainability Meetings with community-based program leaders around the state. When the FY 2012 budget takes effect Oct. 1, the DCANP will be forced to cut 74 of the 175 community-based programs the department funds. Read the full story. The slides below were compiled by the DCANP and outline affected programs by district:

District 1

District 2

District 3

District 4

District 5

District 6

District 7

Opening slide to DCANP Sustainability Meetings

One Agency’s Budget Struggles Typical of Nation

Alabama’s only agency designated to prevent child abuse and neglect, among the many juvenile justice departments around the nation grappling with a smaller budget, will serve nearly half the number of kids in 2012 as they did in 2011. The Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention (DCANP) is preparing to cut 74 community-based programs around the state when the new budget takes effect October 1. The cuts bring the total number of programs to just 101 for FY 2012, compared to 227 funded in FY 2005. The reduction in services represents roughly 14,000 kids that will no longer have access to community-based prevention programs.

“I’m really concerned with the burden of the system as a whole,” says Kelley Parris-Barnes, director of the DCANP. “When you take the community-level programs out you don’t have the capacity in the state to do it.”

The DCANP doesn’t deliver services directly.