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Reclaiming Histories with Feminist Digitisation Practices: Researching Millicent Garrett Fawcett: Selected Writings

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/06/2022 - 7:00pm in

In 2018, to mark the centenary of partial suffrage in Britain, the Towers at Clement’s Inn on LSE campus were renamed Pankhurst House, Fawcett House and Pethick-Lawrence House after three key suffrage campaigners with specific connections to LSE. In this post, Melissa Terras and Elizabeth Crawford reflect on the importance of feminist digitisation practices for editing Millicent Garrett Fawcett – available open access from … Continued

When a Missed Piece of Mail Sends Someone to Jail

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 06/06/2022 - 6:00pm in

This story was originally published by Next City

Early this year, George Harris (not his real name) had two pending court cases in St. Louis County. He was unaware of one of those cases due to a common error: The notice was sent to an address he no longer resides at. He missed his court date and the county issued him a warrant for failing to appear.

An open warrant meant that if Harris had any encounter with the police, he would be arrested and incarcerated at the St. Louis County jail — all because of a wrong address and a missed court appearance. But this February, Harris visited the Tap In Center, a resource designed to address this very problem. Inside a local library, he worked with a volunteer attorney who heard out his issue and relayed it to the county prosecutor, who ultimately recalled Harris’s warrant.

“They helped me stay in the community, stay with my family and take care of my kids,” Harris says of the service. “I could have been locked up on that warrant.”

The Tap In Center is an experimental service that launched at the Florissant Valley Branch of the St. Louis County Library in fall 2020. At the center, volunteer attorneys work with people who have open warrants with the goal of recalling them. In 17 months, nearly 300 residents were served and more than 300 warrants were recalled. This April, a second Tap In Center opened at the Lewis and Clark Branch of the St. Louis County Library to increase the impact.

The Tap In Center is one result of years of community organizing with the goal of reducing racial disparities in St. Louis’ justice system and lowering the jail population. One major player has been The Bail Project, which in 2018 began providing free bail assistance and community-based pretrial support.

tap inVolunteer attorneys work with people who have open warrants with the goal of recalling them. Credit: Tap In Center

The Bail Project has served over 3,000 people and gotten the jail population low enough to lead to the passage of a 2020 bill to close the city’s medium-security jail. In this work, bail advocates realized that much of the jail overcrowding was caused by people incarcerated due to open warrants. This isn’t unique to St. Louis — around the country, the most common type of warrant is issued by the court when someone fails to appear for their court date.

The Bail Project’s work intersected with the St. Louis County Safety and Justice Challenge, which began in 2015 following the police murder of Michael Brown. In response to the DOJ investigation into the Ferguson Police Department, which found that municipal court practices exacerbated racial inequities in the St. Louis County justice system, members of the Safety and Justice Challenge prioritized the courts in their larger goal of keeping people out of jail.

In 2020, the groups came together to focus on the bench warrants issued due to failing to appear at a scheduled court date. “We started talking about what amnesty, or warrant forgiveness, could look like and who would need to be involved,” says Miranda Gibson, a grant manager at the St. Louis County Department of Justice Services who now coordinates the Tap In Center.

“There’s a common misconception that if someone doesn’t show up to court, they are flagrantly evading prosecution, running from the court or committing crimes,” she continues. “Usually it’s very benign, or just a misunderstanding — anecdotally, most people just don’t know they have a court case or a court date.” Court notices are sent to the address listed on someone’s identification card, which is frequently outdated.

To assess feasibility, the groups started talking with public defenders and judges who participated in the Safety and Justice Challenge. “We wanted to do it where we’d have the most buy-in possible,” Gibson says. The goal was to convince county prosecutors, who’d make the final decision to recall warrants. “The program could not live without the prosecutors,” notes Gibson. “Ultimately it helps their caseload. They don’t want people out in the world with a bunch of warrants either.”

As they pushed for buy-in, they discussed potential locations. “The Bail Project was really good in framing why we’re doing this and pushing that it should not be at a government building like a jail or courthouse,” Gibson says. William Newsome, a client support specialist for The Bail Project who now helps with the Tap In Center, notes that police departments across the country advertise “warrant recalls” only to arrest the people who come seeking support. “The issue was that no one was going to believe that they could access this service and not get arrested,” Newsome says.

The group was drawn to the library, and after some cold emails, the St. Louis County Library leadership was quickly on board. “We were looking at where the warrants were coming from, where there was a high area of open warrants, and then talking with the libraries who know their communities well,” says Gibson. They settled on the Florissant Valley Branch, which is accessible to public transit, about a 10-minute drive from Ferguson, and serves patrons who have been impacted by warrants, arrests and over-policing.

The Tap In Center opened there in September 2020. Every Tuesday, between 6 and 8 p.m., volunteer attorneys and a representative from the Bail Project meet with clients who have open warrants. “We’re right downstairs where the kid’s library is; it’s very relaxed,” says Newsome. “The entire staff of the Tap In is making you feel like this is a safe space; no one is calling the police.” He adds that the team even thought out what they’d wear: “We dress comfortably … if you walk in and see a bunch of people in ties, you’ll get leery.”

During the service hours of the Tap In Center, the county prosecutor’s office is on hand to take calls from the volunteer attorneys. The prosecutors have the authority to make decisions on recalling a warrant that same night. “We’re looking at the history of the case, we call the prosecutor, and the prosecutor tells us if they’re able to dismiss the warrant,” says Taylor Burrows, a volunteer Tap In attorney. “If the prosecutor has concerns [about dismissal], we go from there to address those concerns.”

“The answer is not always ‘yes,’” Gibson points out, “But we have had a lot of success.” The client can usually leave the Tap In Center after 20 minutes and know if the warrant is going to be recalled, and if so, know they will have another court date set.

There are 91 municipalities in St. Louis County, all with their own courtroom policies and rules around warrant recalls. “It is byzantine,” Burrows says. Some of the volunteer attorneys put together an exhaustive list of court procedures for each municipality, with the goal of streamlining the process. “We want to understand their policies for warrant recalls, policies for payment plans, where people should direct questions, and what steps they should be taking to deal with their warrants,” Burrows says.

As the attorney addresses the warrants, a Bail Project representative offers wraparound services. “We tap our clients into community partners who do everything they may or may not need,” says Newsome. “It’s all voluntary, you can come to the center and have a substance abuse problem but if you don’t want to deal with it, we won’t force you.” Crucially, the Bail Project helps clients attend their new court date by signing them up for automated reminders and offering transportation.

According to anonymous testimony provided by Tap In clients, recalled warrants have a profound impact on their lives. “It kept me out of jail, which allowed me to continue to work, stay in treatment, and mainly stay out of the system,” one client said. “Once you’re in the system, it’s hard to get out. You get no treatment when you’re in jail, so you guys really saved me from that.”

Another client missed their court date due to confusion. One day after they visited the Tap In Center, the judge recalled the warrant and scheduled a new court date. “I didn’t know what was going on with the case at the time,” the client reported. “There was a miscommunication because of Covid, I didn’t intentionally miss anything, and you guys made it so I didn’t get locked up.”

Visits to the Tap In Center increased as word got out through word of mouth, outreach from all the participating partners, and direct referrals from judges, prosecutors and attorneys. But the team noticed that many of the clients weren’t coming from a neighborhood with a significant percentage of open warrants. So in April, the Tap In Center expanded to the Lewis and Clark Branch to serve that population.

With volunteer support and a free space provided by the library, the team feels this is an easily replicable service — it’s just a matter of getting judges and prosecutors on board. “Just the fact that our prosecutor is open to looking at these cases is huge … I know a lot of prosecutors are not willing to do that, which is why we haven’t expanded beyond St. Louis County,” Gibson says.

“This could work in every community,” says Newsome. “Anywhere there’s over-incarceration, this can help.”

The post When a Missed Piece of Mail Sends Someone to Jail appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Book Review: Narrative Expansions: Interpreting Decolonisation in Academic Libraries edited by Jess Crilly and Regina Everitt

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 21/05/2022 - 7:00pm in

In Narrative Expansions: Interpreting Decolonisation in Academic Libraries, editors Jess Crilly and Regina Everitt bring together contributors to explore the variety of creative initiatives undertaken by academic libraries and archives to open their doors to underrepresented voices. This timely collection is a brilliant effort to unite the thinking behind the movements to decolonise the curriculum, writes Amy Lewontin. This blogpost originally appeared … Continued

New Mexico Offers Free Child Care to Pretty Much Everyone

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 11/05/2022 - 11:33pm in

Three great stories we found on the internet this week.

Care package

When it comes to supporting the average parent, no U.S. state has gone as far as New Mexico, which began offering free full-time child care to most of its families this month.

Under the program, families earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level — for a family of four that would be $111,000 per year — are eligible for free child care. The initiative is funded by an endowment sustained by taxes on oil and natural gas production, which is projected to be comfortably flush with $4.3 billion by 2025. Advocates say free child care will help residents get back to work after Covid-related job losses. And some are thinking even bigger, hoping New Mexico’s success could provide a blueprint for other states to finance similar initiatives. 

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“This is the road to a universal child-care system,” said Governor Lujan Grisham. Nationally, the U.S. offers far less support to parents than most wealthy countries. President Biden’s monthly cash payments for parents, part of pandemic relief, dramatically reduced child poverty, but the payments were ended last year by Republican opposition. 

Read more at the Washington Post

Membership’s privileges

Next time you’re checking out a copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn from your local library, you may be able to grab a packet of seeds and grow something yourself. 

libraryCredit: San Jose Public Library

As public libraries reinvent themselves to better serve their communities, some are stocking seeds that members can “check out” to plant in their yards, gardens and pots. The seed offerings sprout from the American Library Association’s charter, which recently added “sustainability” to its list of core values. 

Planting seeds supports that. Native plants are a great way to contribute to biodiversity, and garden vegetables can help combat hunger. “It gets people outside, gets children involved with gardening,” said a librarian at the public library in Mystic, Connecticut, which offers 90 types of seeds that any patron can partake of. “The library has become so much more than just a place to come in and get books.”

Read more at Civil Eats

15 minutes of fame

It finally happened: After years of installing more and more renewable energy, California, the world’s fifth-largest economy, finally — briefly — ran on 100 percent green power.  

The milestone occurred on Saturday, April 30 at 2:45 p.m., at which time the state’s grid was fueled by green energy alone for exactly 15 minutes. About two-thirds of the power was solar, with the rest generated by wind, geothermal and other carbon-free sources. Even after 15 minutes, the grid stayed mostly green, with just three percent non-renewable sources sneaking their way into the mix.

While the event is great news for a state that has pledged (at least informally) to be carbon neutral by 2045, it will take a lot of work before April’s milestone can be achieved year-round. “Now we need to get our state running on 100 percent clean energy for the whole day, the whole week, and the whole year,” said the state director of Environment California.

Read more at Elektrek

The post New Mexico Offers Free Child Care to Pretty Much Everyone appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Fresh audio product: Ukraine, libraries, Cold War fiction

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 25/03/2022 - 7:16am in

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link):

March 24, 2022 Richard Seymour, author of this article, on the cultural politics of the war in Ukraine • Emily Drabinski on the war against libraries • Annie Levin on the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Cold War fiction [info on Current Affairs]

We cannot take library collections at face value. We need to confront the biases that exist within those collections and, often, ourselves

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 21/03/2022 - 10:00pm in

Drawing on his chapter in the collection Narrative Expansions (edited by Jess Crilly and Regina Everitt), LSE Library’s Academic Liaison and Collection Development Manager Kevin Wilson discusses the impact of decolonisation on collection development and issues of bias within library collections. By working with academic staff and students and involving them in developing collections, this can increase inclusivity and representation, whilst encouraging … Continued

Expanding the narrative in libraries and archives

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 19/03/2022 - 9:00pm in

Jess Crilly introduces the new collection Narrative Expansions (Facet Publishing), co-edited with Regina Everitt, which brings together contributors to document recent work to decolonise the library and archive.  This blogpost originally appeared on LSE Review of Books. If you would like to contribute to the series, please contact the managing editor of LSE Review of Books, Dr Rosemary Deller, … Continued

Book Review: Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing by John B. Thompson

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 12/03/2022 - 9:00pm in

In Book Wars: The Digital Revolution in Publishing, John B. Thompson explores the digital transformations that have turned book publishing on its head over the last 30 years. Offering a noteworthy study of recent changes to the publishing world, this work is well worth reading to understand where the book was in the latter part of the twentieth century … Continued