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August 31, 2015; Vol. 14 No. 08

Nation's Criminal Defense Bar Applauds Department of Justice Stand against the Criminalization of Homelessness

On August 6, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a landmark statement of interest in Idaho federal court arguing that when there is insufficient shelter space in a city, making it a crime for the homeless to sleep in public spaces is unconstitutional under the Eighth Amendment. The case, Bell v. City of Boise, et al., was brought by homeless individuals who were convicted under Boise city ordinances criminalizing sleeping or camping in public.

"Homelessness should not be a crime, and those without shelter should never be punished as criminals. It is an unmitigated tragedy that the scourge of overcriminalization in America has reached a point where we have jurisdictions, such as the city of Boise, Idaho, that are prosecuting the circumstance of homelessness as a crime," said National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) President E.G. "Gerry" Morris. "In another sign that the nation and its leaders have grown weary with the failed, decades-long experiment criminalizing all manner of human conduct, it is groundbreaking that the Department of Justice today filed an elegant statement of interest essentially making the case that criminalizing homeless people who have nowhere to seek shelter constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Of course, as a society, our better instincts should have never allowed us to reach this point where we are punishing people for the very circumstance that calls out for us to be helping them."

To learn more about NACDL's extensive efforts to combat overcriminalization in America, visit www.nacdl.org/overcrim. You can also keep up with news and information on this important topic at www.facebook.com/endovercrim and www.twitter.com/endovercrim.

Read more here.


Clemency Project 2014: Call for Volunteers

Clemency Project 2014 is a working group composed of lawyers and advocates including the Federal Defenders, the American Civil Liberties Union, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, the American Bar Association, and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, as well as individuals active within those organizations. It launched in 2014, after Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole called on the legal profession to provide pro bono assistance to federal prisoners who would likely have received a shorter sentence if they had been sentenced today.

Since its conception, Clemency Project 2014 has organized an army of volunteer lawyers who are diligently working on behalf of thousands of prisoners who have requested free legal assistance in drafting and submitting clemency petitions. In this time, Clemency Project 2014 has created a training and case management infrastructure to prepare and support the diverse set of lawyers now engaged in the project.

In each of the last two rounds of clemency grants, President Obama doubled the number of petitions granted. Clemency Project 2014 needs your help to continue this trend and ensure that these prisoners can access every available opportunity.

Please join this historic opportunity to reverse the unduly harsh prison sentences that were imposed upon so many. To volunteer, please visit www.clemencyproject2014.org. (See also: this article in the Florida Bar News.)


Employment Opportunity at NACDL

NACDL is currently accepting applications for the position of White Collar Crime Policy Counsel.

More information is available here.


Group Admission to the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court

NACDL is once again pleased to sponsor an opportunity for up to 12 members to participate in a group admission ceremony to the Bar of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, DC.

Participation in this ceremony, in which admittees are administered the oath of admission by the Chief Justice of the United States in the well of the Supreme Court, will be available to the first 12 qualified members on a first-come, first-served basis and will take place on the morning of January 19, 2016. Members will be responsible for their own travel arrangements, must be in good standing with a state bar for a minimum of three years, and must submit their completed application materials to NACDL by November 13, 2015.

Interested members should contact Lisa Ama Schrade, NACDL’s National Affairs Assistant, at (202) 465-7638 or lschrade@nacdl.org, for further instructions.


Become a Life Member of NACDL

There will never be a better time to become a Life Member of NACDL! Effective January 7, 2016, the cost of Life Membership will increase to $6,500. You can lock in the current rate with five yearly installments of $1,000 each, or a one-time payment of $5,000. If you have ever thought of upgrading your membership…2015 is the year to do it. 

CALL: The membership hotline now to upgrade your membership! (202) 872-4001

QUESTIONS: Contact Michael Connor at (202) 465-7654 or mconnor@nacdl.org 

VISIT: http://www.nacdl.org/lifememberupgrade for more information, or to download the Life Membership Form.


New Affinity Partners

Office Depot/OfficeMax 

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Red Roof Inn 

NACDL members save 15% at over 350 Red Roof Inns in 41 states. Guests receive complimentary WiFi and pets stay free. There are three (3) ways to book: Call (800)-RED-ROOF and use code "619952" or “NACDL“ at check-in or online through the NACDL Red Roof Inn website. More>>  


In Other News

Upcoming CLE Events
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Recent Updates to Restoration of Rights Project
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Employment Opportunities
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