Dear Advocates, service providers, and allies: Please sign this letter in support of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) put together by the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (NTF). The NTF is comprised of a large and diverse group of national, tribal, state, territorial and local organizations, as well as individuals, committed to securing an end to violence against women. Included are civil rights organizations, labor unions, advocates for children and youth, anti‐poverty groups, immigrant and refugee rights organizations, women’s rights leaders, education groups, and others focusing on a wide range of social, economic and racial justice issues. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact reauthorizeVAWA@gmail.com.
Monthly Archives: July 2012
The NCAA actually did something right in hammering Penn State, Jason Whitlock says.
Penn State football, a longtime powerhouse that was once one of the cleanest, most admired programs in college sports, escaped the so-called death penalty from the NCAA on Monday but was dealt a heavy blow that will cripple it for years to come.
The university agreed to an unprecedented $60 million fine, a four-year ban from postseason play and a cut in the number of football scholarships it can award – the price it will pay for having looked the other way while Jerry Sandusky brought boys onto campus and molested them.
The NCAA also erased 14 years of victories, wiping out 111 of Paterno’s wins and stripping him of his standing as the most successful coach in the history of big-time college football.
”Football will never again be placed ahead of educating, nurturing and protecting young people,” NCAA President Mark Emmert declared.
Penn State meekly accepted its punishment, pledging to hold itself to high standards of honesty and integrity.
Penn State spokesman David La Torre said university President Rodney Erickson had no choice but to acquiesce, given the threat of a total shutdown of the football program.
”It was clear Penn State faced an alternative – a long-term death penalty and additional sanctions for the program, university and whole community. Given the situation, he believed the sanctions offered and accepted was the appropriate and course of action,” La Torre said.
At a student union on campus, several dozen alumni and students gasped, groaned and whistled as they watched Emmert’s news conference. The news was a crushing blow to many students.
Nicole Lord, a senior, questioned why Penn State’s student body, and especially its athletes, should be punished ”for the wrongs of three men and a monster.”
”They keep breaking our hearts and breaking our hearts and breaking our hearts,” she said.
Sandusky, a former member of Paterno’s coaching staff, was found guilty in June of sexually abusing 10 boys over 15 years, sometimes on campus. An investigation commissioned by the school and released July 12 found that Paterno, who died of lung cancer in January at age 85, and three other top officials at Penn State concealed accusations against Sandusky for fear of bad publicity.
The NCAA’s punishment was announced a day after the school took down a statue of Paterno that stood outside Beaver Stadium.
The sanctions will make it difficult for the Nittany Lions to compete at the sport’s highest level. Raising the specter of an exodus of athletes, the NCAA said current or incoming football players are free to immediately transfer and compete at another school.
For a university that always claimed to hold itself to a higher standard – for decades, Paterno preached ”success with honor” – Monday’s announcement completed a stunning fall from grace.
Paterno’s family said in a statement that the sanctions ”defame the legacy and contributions of a great coach and educator.”
”This is not a fair or thoughtful action; it is a panicked response to the public’s understandable revulsion at what Sandusky did,” the family said.
Emmert said the penalties reflect ”the magnitude of these terrible acts” and also ”ensure that Penn State will rebuild an athletic culture that went horribly awry.”
He said the NCAA considered imposing the death penalty, or a complete shutdown of football for a season or more, but worried about the collateral damage.
”Suspension of the football program would bring with it significant unintended harm to many who had nothing to do with this case,” Emmert said. ”The sanctions we have crafted are more focused and impactful than that blanket penalty.”
Once a beacon of what was good about college athletics, Joe Paterno’s statue was removed from the Penn State campus before 100-150 people. Get a firsthand look.
Gov. Tom Corbett expressed gratitude that Penn State escaped the death penalty, saying it would have had a ”severe detrimental impact on the citizens of State College, Centre County and the entire commonwealth of Pennsylvania.”
A drop-off in attendance and revenue could damage both the university, where the football team is a moneymaker that subsidizes other sports, and much of central Pennsylvania, where Saturday afternoon football at Penn State is an important part of the economy.
But given Penn State’s famously ardent fans and generous benefactors, the precise economic impact on Penn State and Happy Valley, as the surrounding area is known, remains unclear.
First-year coach Bill O’Brien, who was hired to replace Paterno, will have the daunting task of trying to keep players from fleeing the program while luring new recruits.
”I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead,” O’Brien said.
Already, at least one recruit, Ross Douglas, a defensive back from Avon, Ohio, backed out of his commitment. Douglas told Rivals.com on Monday: ”We prepared ourselves for it, and today was just the icing on the cake. I love Penn State to death, but I have to do what’s best for me, and I’m going to look elsewhere.”
Separately, the Big Ten announced that Penn State will not be allowed to share in the conference’s bowl revenue during the NCAA’s postseason ban, an estimated loss of about $13 million.
Emmert fast-tracked the penalties rather than go through the usual circuitous series of investigations and hearings.
The NCAA said the $60 million fine is equivalent to the annual gross revenue of the football program. The money will go toward outside programs devoted to preventing child sexual abuse or assisting victims.
Penn State said it will pay the fine in five annual installments of $12 million. The governor demanded assurances from Penn State that taxpayer money will not be used to pay the fine; Penn State said it will cover it with its athletics reserve fund and capital maintenance budget and, if necessary, borrow money.
By throwing out all Penn State victories from 1998 to 2011, the NCAA stripped Paterno of the top spot in the record book. The governing body went all the way back to 1998 because, according to the investigative report, that is the year Paterno and other Penn State officials first learned of an allegation against Sandusky.
Former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden will replace Paterno with 377 major-college victories, while Paterno will be credited with 298.
”I didn’t want it to happen like this,” Bowden said. ”Wish I could have earned it, but that’s the way it is.”
Penn State will also be limited to 65 total scholarships a year for four years. Major college football programs are normally allowed 85 scholarship players per year. The program cannot give out more than 15 scholarships in any year during that span, 10 fewer than the usual maximum.
The postseason ban is the longest handed out by the NCAA since it gave a four-year punishment to Indiana football in 1960.
Penn State players left a team meeting on campus in State College without talking to reporters. Penn State’s season starts Sept. 1 at home against Ohio University.
”Our heritage, our legacy has been tainted and damaged,” said Troy Cromwell, a wide receiver on the 1986 team that won the second of Paterno’s two national championships. Cromwell said he felt bad for current and incoming players, ”but at the end of the day, there were still those kids, those poor kids, and those victims, and we have to think about them first in everything that we do.”
The harshest penalty handed out to a football program came in the 1980s, when the NCAA shut down Southern Methodist University’s team for a year. SMU football has never gotten back to the level of success it had before getting the death penalty.
Jim Delany, commissioner of the Big Ten conference, said he believes Penn State is capable of bouncing back. ”I do have a strong sense that many of the ingredients of success are still at Penn State and will be there in future years,” he said.
The fact that we are still tuning in to watch a celebrity who is also a serial batterer is a sign that we don’t give this issue the seriousness it deserves.
By Noliwe M. Rooks
As someone who once worked as a counselor in a shelter for battered women, I am deeply troubled by how lightly we take Sheen’s long history of domestic violence, which dates back to 1994 when a college student sued him for hitting her in the head after she declined his sexual advances (the case was settled out of court). In 1996 he was arrested and pleaded guilty to battering a girlfriend who needed seven stitches to her lip, and in 2009 he pleaded guilty to first choking and then holding a knife to his third wife’s throat. Yes, some of the initial interest in Anger Management has waned, but even the fact that people initially tuned in to see a celebrity who also happens to be a serial batterer is a sign that we don’t give this issue the seriousness it deserves.
And it’s not just Charlie Sheen.
Source: Denver Post Guest Commentary By Amy Miller, Public Policy Director, Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence
The statewide deployment of the Secure Communities program has not rendered moot the concerns surrounding the practice of reporting victims of crime who are arrested as perpetrators to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE), most particularly victims of domestic violence.
Because the Secure Communities program does not exclude domestic violence arrestees from deportation until conviction, the concerns addressed in 2006 by Colorado’s General Assembly through a bipartisan domestic violence arrest exception in Senate Bill 90 once again have statewide implications.
Colorado state law includes an exception to the reporting of domestic violence arrestees to ICE not only to undermine an effective tool of abuse used by perpetrators, but also because domestic violence is a very complex crime. Perpetrators of domestic violence against immigrants often threaten deportation as a way to silence their victims.
Sometimes victims who appear to be perpetrators are arrested, and sometimes both people are arrested until whoever committed the crime can be later determined. As a result of these dynamics and immigration enforcement laws and programs carried out at the local level, any interaction immigrant victims of domestic violence have with law enforcement carries the risk of apprehension and deportation by ICE. Thus, Secure Communities deters immigrant victims and witnesses — including those with lawful status — from reporting domestic violence, which diminishes law enforcement’s ability to prevent and respond to these crimes.
Glenwood Springs, CO – As Ana (last name withheld) tried to explain to the police why her boyfriends’ chain was ripped, her broken finger served as a way to show the damage she suffered as a result of trying to defend herself from his attacks.
But despite her best efforts and those of her friends to explain her self-defense to local authorities, she was arrested and booked, leading to three months of horrifying ordeals which led to a dismissal of any criminal charges against her. Although innocent, she was still reported to ICE and placed into deportation proceedings; this despite protections under Colorado’s SB-90 which indicate that police should not report domestic violence victims until conviction, in order to give victims a chance to see justice.
SB-90 is the Colorado version of the notorious Arizona SB-1070 law, the majority of which just got struck down by the Supreme Court. While the “show me your papers” portion of SB-1070 in Arizona has yet to go into effect, this provision in Colorado negatively impacts community safety, because people are afraid to go to the cops and report crimes for fear of deportation. And because interactions with law enforcement tend to lead to stories like Ana’s, and Virginia’s before her, stories that spread like wildfire in immigrant communities, causing fear and insecurity.
ACLU document requests recently revealed that most law enforcement agencies in Colorado ignored the protections for domestic violence victims that were part of the SB-90 law, and applied the law too broadly. Most concerning for CIRC and the ACLU is that with the recent implementation of the federal Secure Communities (SCOMM) program across Colorado, even the minor protections that existed under SB-90 have now been erased. Sheriffs all over Colorado have brought up SCOMM as an excuse for ignoring SB-90 protections, showing the same inexcusable laxity as the rampaging bankers – if everyone ignores the law, it must be the right thing to do.
Denise Maes of the ACLU of Colorado adds: “The message from SCOMM is that interactions with law enforcement carry deportation risks. SCOMM deters immigrants—including those with lawful status—from reporting domestic violence, which diminishes law enforcement’s ability to adequately respond to these crimes. Because domestic violence has far reaching public safety implications, unreported crimes affect us all.”
SCOMM is an overbroad dragnet program, which allows law enforcement officers to bring people into jails and automatically check them against ICE databases. Colorado, with both SB-90 and Secure Communities in operation, as well as 287G agreements in some counties, has created one of the most extreme immigration enforcement structures in the nation. And yet there is little to show that this system has done anything other than create fear in immigrant communities.
“Ana’s case is just one example of how programs like SCOMM and ‘show me your papers’ laws like SB-90 can hurt public safety and re-victimize members of our community. She was just reaching out to law enforcement for protection, and in return she spent three months in jail and was placed into deportation proceedings. I just learned today that she was attacked again at the beginning of this year and did not report the attack because of her fear and mistrust of local police,” said Brendan Greene, Director of Campaigns and Membership at the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition, “Having abusers in the street because people are afraid to report crimes doesn’t make anyone safer.”
With both SCOMM and SB-90 operating in Colorado, victims are afraid to come forward and report crimes and local police, no matter how well meaning, can’t do anything to help. This system is unsustainable, damaging to Colorado, and needs to be reviewed and repealed before it damages more lives than it purports to help.
Women’s Justice Center published this article in English and Spanish.
Abogando por víctimas de delitos sexuales durante la investigación policial
“Ya es suficientemente difícil manejar los efectos físicos y emocionales de tener que luchar para protegerte contra la persona que te hizo daño”, dice una mujer. “Pero es demasiado tener también que luchar contra el sistema que se supone que debe protegerte. Ésa es la razón por la cual tantas mujeres dan marcha atrás”.