Playing the “Race Card”: A Contradiction in America’s Colorblind Society.

Nikita Srivastava (’19)

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Image from HuffPost.

“You can’t play your race card when discussing this issue. Bringing race into this matter will not get us anywhere. I am telling you now, it won’t be a constructive conversation.” John Doe said this to a woman of color while we were discussing the socio-economic effects of government programs in one of my undergraduate classes. He angrily slammed his hands on the table and began chugging his water. I imagined that he grabbed his water to cool himself down as if there was a fire inside of him that he needed to put out. Another classmate stated that our country was founded on racism and I stated, “these policies are supposedly ‘race-neutral,’ but are not. By not considering race, we are disregarding more than half the people in this country.” (I thought to myself: race is a part of everything in this country, ignoring it only makes it worse.) As silence ensued, my professor quickly turned to another portion of our assigned reading. However, I could not focus on anything else. I called my mother after the class and recalled the event to her. She said, “With each generation, things get better, but then you hear someone say something like that. It makes you think: are we better now?”

Continue reading “Playing the “Race Card”: A Contradiction in America’s Colorblind Society.”

The Hamilton County Domestic Violence Summit: Collaborating for Safer Communities

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Guest Contributor: Professor Kristin Kalsem

Intimate partner abuse is a priority issue for the University of Cincinnati College of Law’s Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice.  Its Domestic Violence and Civil Protection Order Clinic has served more than 1400 survivors and its research and work with community partners has resulted in more than 375 judges and magistrates being trained on best practices in these cases.

Intimate partner abuse is a fact of life in too many homes.  The statistics are staggering.  Domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive more than 20,000 calls on a typical day.  Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime and one in three female murder victims are killed by intimate partners. The cost of domestic violence to the U.S. economy is between $5.8 and $12.6 billion each year.  (Stats provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence).  In Ohio, between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018, there were ninety-one domestic-violence related fatalities.   In 22 percent of those cases, children were involved at the scene and in more than 46 percent of the cases, the victim had ended or was in the process of ending the relationship.  (Ohio stats provided by the Ohio Domestic Violence Network.)

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Issue One: Light At The End of the Tunnel or a Risky Gamble?

Everyone agrees that we need to fight drug addiction in Ohio. The Cincinnati area has had some of the highest opioid overdoses and deaths in the country. There aren’t many local families that haven’t been touched by the opioid crisis in some manner, my own family included.On the ballot in 2018 in Ohio, there is a proposed amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would reduce the crime of possession of personal amounts of illegal substances to misdemeanors not resulting in jail terms. Additionally, the amendment would make it harder to incarcerate drug users on probation or parole for failing drug tests. This proposed amendment on the ballot is known as Issue One, and it has strong proponents and opponents.

Continue reading “Issue One: Light At The End of the Tunnel or a Risky Gamble?”

The Real Problem With Snitches: How Snitch Testimony Leads to Wrongful Convictions

The Karl and Wayne Story

Nikita Srivastava (’19)

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Karl Willis

Honest, kind, and passionate. These are only a few words I can use to describe Karl Willis and Wayne Braddy. Karl is a spiritual man who started a mentoring program called “Leave the Streets Behind.” The goal of this program is to help misguided young adults become healthy and productive citizens. Wayne, on the other hand, is a creative man who performs live music whenever he gets the chance. Both of these men jump at any opportunities to expand their education and help others. Karl and Wayne are warm, humble men who care about their families and communities. They share their joy with their loved ones; they want to help others; but, more importantly, they care about making a difference in their community. Where are they today?

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Wayne Braddy

Karl is currently housed at Allen Correctional Institution in Lima, Ohio, and Wayne is housed at North Central Correctional Complex in Marion, Ohio. Both are serving 23 years to life sentence for a murder they did not commit.

Continue reading “The Real Problem With Snitches: How Snitch Testimony Leads to Wrongful Convictions”

Who Are Those Living In Homelessness in Cincinnati?

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buddy gray, the founder of the Cincinnati Homeless Coalition.

Hamilton County, Ohio, home of Cincinnati, is seeking to ban homeless camps from its county. Its District Attorney argues that the homeless must go into shelters or leave the county.
I spent about twenty months as a live-in, full-time volunteer in a homeless shelter, which was an opportunity that brought me to Cincinnati in the summer of 2014. During that time, I lived as a Catholic Worker, a movement founded by Dorothy Day in the 1930s whose proponents devote their lives to fighting injustice, poverty, and violence. My time there informed my understanding of the plight of those living in homelessness and who it is that makes up that population.

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Grace Place, the homeless shelter in Cincinnati’s College Hill neighborhood where the author served for about two years.

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Innocence March: Recognizing the Wrongfully Convicted

Guest Contributor: Brian Howe

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Attorney Brian Howe with OIP fellow Nikita Srivastava (’19)

On March 24, 2018, more than five hundred men and women marched through Memphis Tennessee.  Most of them had spent a large part of their lives in prison– a combined 3,501 years among them– for crimes they did not commit.

The march was the closing event for the 2018 Innocence Network conference, a gathering of exonorees and lawyers working on behalf of those wrongfully convicted.  Exonorees came from every state in the country and from countries across the globe. They marched with attorneys and advocates and family. They held signs demanding change in the system that had wronged them.  Demanding accountability. Demanding, at least, public recognition that innocent men and women were being arrested and convicted by agents acting on the public’s behalf.

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Ru-El Sailor Exonerated!

Finally home, finally free.

Nikita Srivastava (’19)

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Right after Ru-El Sailor’s release. Andrew Radin (’18), Ru-El Sailor, and Jennifer Bergeron.

Today Ru-El Sailor is a free man, after spending 15 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. Over the years, Sailor continuously maintained and fought to prove his innocence. Then, finally, on March 28, 2018, the Cuyahoga County Court vacated his sentence.

How Sailor got Wrongly Convicted

In November 2002, Sailor was hanging out with his friends at a bar on the East Side of Cleveland. Across town, Nicole and Cordell Hubbard got into a dispute with Omar Clark . The matter got out of hands – threats, guns, and then shots rang out, leaving Clark dead.  Cuyahoga County prosecutors roped in Sailor who Cordell Hubbard’s best friend at the time, wrongly believing that Sailor was the second man in this fatal shooting. Sailor testified that he was not the shooter nor was involved in this violent outburst. However, after a trial that included shady eye witness testimony that could not place Sailor at the scene, a jury still convicted Sailor. The court sentenced him to 28 years to life with the possibility of parole.

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