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US-POLITICS

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Obama Bans Solitary Confinement For Juveniles In Federal Prison
In an attempt to redouble his efforts on criminal justice reform, President Obama has announced his plan to ban solitary confinement for juveniles under 18 and low-level offenders in federal prisons. In an op-ed, he wrote that solitary confinement is “increasingly overused” and has long term “heartbreaking” consequences that affect an inmates ability to be reintroduced into society. Obama wrote, “Those who do make it out often have trouble holding down jobs, reuniting with family and becoming productive members of society. Imagine having served your time and then being unable to hand change over to a customer or look your wife in the eye or hug your children.” He says solitary confinement should only be used in extenuating circumstances when the inmate poses a danger to themselves or others. Washington Post

Chicago Mayor Refuses To Discontinue Red Light Cameras Funded With Bribe Money
Many cities throughout the nation have red light cameras installed on top their traffic lights which sends a ticket and a fine to drivers who speed past the changing light. How many cities had the equipment paid for through bribery money? Chicago Department of Transportation official John Bills was fired and Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems was replaced after it was uncovered that the two parties were at the center of a $2 million bribery scandal. While Mayor Rahm Emanuel removed 50 cameras when he was seeking re-election, he’s adamant about keeping the system in place. Since the cameras have been installed, over 2 million tickets have been generated resulting in nearly $300 million in revenue for the city, which hasn’t figured out a way to replace those funds. Emanuel believes that the cameras aren’t the problem, it was the people that were in charge of the operation which according to him, have since been replaced. “The corruption is about how the firm got this contract, and we’ve made changes in the firm and in the operations of that contract,” the mayor said.“It still plays a role in safety on our streets as it relates to side crashes” he added. Chicago Sun Times

Special Needs Staff Cut To Make Up For Deficit
Chicago Public School District (CPS) is facing a nearly $500 million budget gap, in response the district is in the midst of layoffs; the bulk of which will affect the special education department. Of the 227 people that will be laid off, 80 of them will be from the special education sector and 29 of the 180 districtwide special education vacancies will be eliminated. CPS says that 19 special education managers will be rehired — out of 32 cut — once the district figures out how to “reorganize” the program. Educators say the cuts are doing a disservice to the students that need comprehensive care. “Those people are critical,” said Education Policy Analyst, Rod Estvan of Access Living. “The school itself isn’t an island for special ed…These kids have evolving needs. They may need more support like an aide, they may need more technology” he added. Chicago Sun Times

Local Politicians Leave City With Major Bills 
There’s currently an ongoing audit into the spending habits of many City Council members in Dallas, TX. While several of the elected officials received steep discounts on high en office furniture and supplies, many of these expenses where charged to the city who now wants to collect on the council members debts. “The City continues to have difficulties consistently following appropriate procedures,” said City Auditor Craig Kinton. “As a result, certain City policies and procedures were not always follows, outstanding debts were owed to the City, and compliance exceptions reported in prior Special Audits still exist.” Debt accumulated by City Council members also includes unpaid water bills, parking tickets as well as iPads and iPhones which were supposed to be used for work purposes. The city says it plans to do a better job of keeping tabs on outgoing council members which is one of the chief responsibilities of the human resources department. Dallas Morning News

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