WASHINGTON (AP) - Attorney General Eric Holder called on a group of states Tuesday to restore voting rights to ex-felons, part of a push to fix what he sees as flaws in the criminal justice system that have a disparate impact on racial minorities.
“It is time to fundamentally rethink laws that permanently disenfranchise people who are no longer under federal or state supervision,” Holder said, targeting 11 states that he said continue to restrict voting rights for former inmates, even after they’ve finished their prison terms.
“Across this country today, an estimated 5.8 million Americans - 5.8 million of our fellow citizens - are prohibited from voting because of current or previous felony convictions,” Holder told a symposium on criminal justice at Georgetown University.
Now into his fifth year as attorney general and hinting that this year might be his last, Holder survived political controversies that, early on, placed him on the defensive. Now, he is doubling down on the kinds of issues that have long held his interest during a career in law enforcement - prison overcrowding, overly harsh mandatory drug sentences and school disciplinary policies that he says push kids into street crime.
Congress used to be the place that highlighted Holder’s problems, including a plan to try terrorists in New York City and the failed Justice Department investigation of gun smuggling in Arizona that ended in the death of a border patrol agent.
Belgium set to extend right-to-die law to children, arousing intense opposition from some
BRUSSELS (AP) - Belgium, one of the very few countries where euthanasia is legal, is expected to take the unprecedented step this week of abolishing age restrictions on who can ask to be put to death - extending the right to children for the first time.
The legislation appears to have wide support in the largely liberal country. But it has also aroused intense opposition from foes - including a list of pediatricians - and everyday people who have staged noisy street protests, fearing that vulnerable children will be talked into making a final, irreversible choice.
Backers like Dr. Gerland van Berlaer, a prominent Brussels pediatrician, believe it is the merciful thing to do. The law will be specific enough that it will only apply to the handful of teenage boys and girls who are in advanced stages of cancer or other terminal illnesses and suffering unbearable pain, he said.
Under current law, they must let nature take its course or wait until they turn 18 and can ask to be euthanized.
“We are talking about children that are really at the end of their life. It’s not that they have months or years to go. Their life will end anyway,” said Van Berlaer, chief of clinic in the pediatric critical care unit of University Hospital Brussels. “The question they ask us is: ‘Don’t make me go in a terrible, horrifying way, let me go now while I am still a human being and while I still have my dignity.’”
Defense ministry: Algerian military plane crash kills 77 people but 1 soldier survives
ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) - An Algerian military transport plane slammed into a mountain Tuesday in the country’s rugged eastern region, killing 77 people and leaving just one survivor, the defense ministry said.