Lupe Partida/Bareerah Zafar, UO Ethnic Studies students

Hurricane Maria's devastation of Puerto Rico was hard to watch from afar.  Especially for people with a connection to the region, like Alaí Reyes-Santos, an associate professor of ethnic studies at the University of Oregon and Puerto Rico native. 

She wanted to help out her homeland, but also so an opportunity to help her students understand the uneven distribution of economics and justice across ethnic groups.  So students studied the situation in Eugene, and a group of them traveled to Puerto Rico to bring relief supplies. 

The UO Puerto Rico Project is the focus of this month's edition of Curious: Research Meets Radio. 

Public Domain

Getting out of jury duty is as American as apple pie.  And maybe that's part of the reason that jury trials are becoming rare. 

But since they are a cornerstone of our legal system, it's not necessarily a good thing that so few cases now go to a jury trial.  Drury Sherrod, a psychologist who studies juries and jury behavior, wrote a book about the situation, The Jury Crisis: What’s Wrong with Jury Trials and How We Can Save Them

Brian Turner via Flickr

Our society oscillates in our approach to criminal justice, between punishment and rehabilitation. 

The concept of "restorative justice" takes rehabilitation a step further.  It involves healing the harm done by crime, when possible, and re-integrating offenders into society, sometimes with face-to-face meetings between people on both ends of a criminal act. 

The Resolve Center for Dispute Resolution and Restorative Justice in Medford (formerly Mediation Works) organized the upcoming Northwest Justice Forum.  Restorative justice is central to the mission of the forum. 

ESO/B. Tafreshi (twanight.org), CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=21595070

The decades-long slide in church attendance prompts some people to think that we're not as moral as we once were. 

Michael Shermer, professional skeptic, begs to differ.  He says we're living in the most moral period in human history... and it's guided by science and reason, not religion. 

Shermer makes the case in his book The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom

Yurok Tribe

We're often warned not to take the law into our own hands.  But it seemed appropriate to many Native American tribes to establish legal systems more tailored to tribal culture. 

The Yurok Tribal Court is one example of these efforts, several of which will are featured in a PBS documentary

Judge Abby Abinanti is the chief judge of the Yurok court. 

Discussions of reproductive rights for women in America often quickly devolve and divide into "pro-choice" and "pro-life" sides. 

The concept of "reproductive justice" is meant to be much bigger than abortion, focusing on a whole range of issues facing women, minorities, and otherwise marginalized people. 

Loretta Ross and Toni M. Bond Leonard were present to create the term Reproductive Justice.  Ross is co-founder of the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective

Leonard is Past Board President of SisterSong, also Co-founder/former President-CEO of Black Women for Reproductive Justice.

They arrive in Ashland this week for a Friday session at the Shakespeare Festival, discussing and explaining the many concepts wrapped up in the term. 

Looking To True North For Guidance

Jul 21, 2016

People seeking justice--economic, social, environmental--have a place on the compass on the North Coast of California. 

True North Organizing Network brings together people who feel marginalized in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. 

Tribal members, immigrants and more have allies in True North. 

How California Compensates Crime Victims

Apr 5, 2016

It is National Crime Victims' Rights Week next week (April 10-16), providing a chance to catch up on what society does for the victims of crimes. Reports by JPR's Emily Cureton about domestic violence in far Northern California found that violent crime victims there are getting much less support than previously.

This may be an outreach problem, not a budget one, since California provides a stable Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) to give money to the victims of some violent crimes. 

Claims range from medical payments to home security installations. 

JPR News

Telling and hearing experiences that acknowledge real cases of bias in our communities, both contemporary and historical, can feel at once empowering and uncomfortable.

How do we talk about personal experiences and learned stories in ways that emphasize individual empowerment and collective progress? What role may those stories serve for personal growth, shared justice, and societal advancement? 

Bias and its undoing is a theme running through this weekend's Social Justice Conference at Southern Oregon University. 

Professor and award-winning writer Robert Arellano and students Ahsante Foree (SOU) and Grace Pruitt (Ashland High School) take up the story task in a session called "Telling Stories to Transform Communities." 

Seeing Our Blind Spots

Feb 12, 2016
Christian LInder/Wikimedia

  We try and try to be as fair as possible to our fellow humans, but darn it, our primitive brains continue to hold onto some biases. 

Law professor Erik Girvan at the University of Oregon says implicit biases are nothing to be ashamed of, but certainly to be aware of. 

He plans a pair of workshops this week on the role of implicit bias in decision making. 

Justice For Workers And Environment

Sep 22, 2015
kcmckell/Live Aloha

Hypothetical: if we all have the same opportunity for success in society, but some of us live in environmentally degraded areas, are we all receiving justice?  Under the concept of environmental justice, the answer is no. 

It's not a new concept; the Oregon Legislature created an Environmental Justice Task Force nearly a decade ago. 

The task force meets in Medford this week (September 25th) with the heading "Fairness For the Land and the Worker." 

The Northwest Forest Worker Center and the farmworker group PCUN are among the sponsors.

Lawyers for Little Money

Sep 12, 2013

When we get stuck in a legal bind, we call a lawyer.  If we can afford one.

And if not?  The Center for NonProfit Legal Services is often the answer to that question in Jackson County.  The Center formed more than 40 years ago to help poorer residents with issues like housing, public benefits, and family dispute resolution.  You'll hear how the Center can afford to do its work... and how many people it can help.