Summer/Fall 2014

Enacting Legislation for the Protection and Advancement of our Youth


Education equality, criminal sentencing reform, and increasing opportunities for Black and Latino boys and young men are issues that many state legislatures and the federal government are debating daily. NBCSL and its members have been at the forefront of debate and action—developing and often leading the passage of legislative solutions to problems confronting their constituents. Here, we recognize legislators who have made a difference in their states and share solutions for others to adopt.

13-01-Bradford LHAssembly Member Steve Bradford (CA)

Chairs the Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color

In early 2013, Assembly Member Bradford was named Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color. The Select Committee is a bipartisan panel of legislators from throughout California tasked with finding facts and making recommendations to address various issues faced by young men in the state, particularly Black and Latino boys.

In February 2014, Assembly Member Bradford accepted an invitation from the White House to attend President Obama’s announcement of “My Brother’s Keeper,” his initiative to invest in the lives of boys and men of color. The program closely mirrors the work that Assembly Member Bradford’s Select Committee has done to help young Latino and Black men become successful while eliminating injustices that pose a threat to their success. 

13-02-Pettigrew LHRepresentative Eric Pettigrew (WA)

Introduced Achievement Gap Oversight and Advisory Committee Legislation

Washington State Representative Eric Pettigrew introduced legislation to close the achievement gap for African American students in the public schools. The legislation would have created a state-wide Achievement Gap Advisory Committee to develop policies, guide expectations, and provide the resources to support implementation of its plan. If passed, the Committee would have four key goals to close the achievement gap to be completed over 15 years centered on teacher quality, which includes training; early learning from birth to five years old; 100% graduation rates; and post-secondary and job training.

13-03-Pryor LHRepresentative Cherrish Pryor (IN)

Passed legislation to create a dropout prevention fund in Indiana

Representative Pryor guided the passage of House Bill 1343, which created a dropout prevention fund to be administered by the Department of Education to provide money for school corporation programs that identify students who are at risk for dropping out of high school. It also provides funds for appropriate interventions for the students. The fund consists of gifts, donations, and bequests; appropriations from the Indiana General Assembly, including federal grants; and grants from private entities.

13-04-Chesterfield LHRepresentative Linda Chesterfield (AR)

Led Public Safety Improvement Act in 2011

Arkansas Representative Linda Chesterfield led lawmakers to pass The Public Safety Act in 2011, designed to reduce the number of non-violent offenders incarcerated statewide by lessening the sentences for certain low-level drug offenses. 

Specific to the enforcement of marijuana infractions, the law amends cannabis penalties so that the possession of up to four ounces of pot is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine. For first-time offenders, the court may defer further proceedings and place the defendant on probation for a period of not less than one year. Under the previous law, the possession of any amount of marijuana above one ounce was a felony offense punishable by between four and ten years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine.

Additionally, the new law reduces criminal penalties for the possession of small quantities of marijuana with the intent to deliver from a felony offense to a misdemeanor. It also reduces subsequent possession offenses from felonies to misdemeanors.

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