Print Print |

Weighing In

Amnesty International Reports Harmful Prison Conditions in Arizona

A just released report from Amnesty International (AI) reveals the “Cruel Isolation” practices for the youth prosecuted as adults and sentenced to adult prison. Amnesty’s report found that 14 children, ages 14 to 17, had been held in maximum custody at the Rincon unit in the Tucson state adult prison. Maximum custody refers to extreme conditions where the youth were required to remain in their cells 22 to 24 hours a day, had their exercise limited to the confines of a small cage and no recreational activities. The report cites studies that children and adolescents are less equipped to tolerate the effects of this isolation and recommends that Arizona should “Introduce a policy to prohibit solitary confinement in the case of the prisoners under 18 and ensure that all youth offenders are provided with appropriate educational, recreational and rehabilitation programs as required under international standards.”

Read the report, Cruel Isolation – Amnesty International’s Concerns about conditions in Arizona Maximum Security Prisons.

Low-Income Kids Most Vulnerable to Federal Spending Cuts

A new analysis concludes that cuts in federal spending, like those proposed in the Ryan Budget, would hit children in low-income families the hardest.

How Targeted Are Federal Expenditures on Children? A Kids’ Share Analysis of Expenditures by Income in 2009” was produced by the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. The publication analyzed nearly 100 programs and tax provisions in nine broad categories: health, refundable tax credits, tax reductions, education, income security, nutrition, social services, housing, and training.

Their research shows that state and local governments allocated resources to better-off children at about the same level as low-income children, largely due to spending on public education. The federal government however, targets more resources to disadvantaged children by investing in programs like Medicaid, food stamps and Head Start. Without the federal investment in these programs, many children in low-income families would be denied opportunities to succeed and fall further behind their peers.

U.S. House of Representatives Passes Bad Budget for Kids

Recently, all but 10 Republicans and no Democrats voted to pass Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget in the U.S. House of Representatives. This budget does not have much of a chance to pass the Senate before the November elections, but the likely Republican nominee for President, Mitt Romney, has already endorsed the plan and would likely sign it into law if it passed Congress and he was President.

The budget would dramatically reduce our national debt over the next ten years, but it would do it by severely weakening the already thin safety net used to help struggling families transition from difficult economic times to a more prosperous future.

Among other things, the Ryan budget targets funding cuts to job training programs that help put parents back to work and places over 1 million Arizonans at risk of losing assistance to pay for food. According to the Center on Budget Policies and Priorities, the Ryan budget would focus 62% of its non-defense spending cuts on programs that help low income families. While at the same time, it would enact new tax cuts that would provide huge windfalls to households at the top of the income scale.