Philadelphia Judge Stands Tough Against Domestic Violence
A Philadelphia judge took a stand against domestic violence recently when he sentenced a man to 11-22 years in prison for the all too common crime of assaulting his wife. Common Pleas Court Judge Rayford Means gave Darryl Blackwell the maximum possible sentence for 12 misdemeanors by stacking the penalties for each charge back to back. Typically, misdemeanors such as those of which Blackwell was found guilty garner sentences of no longer than two years. "I think that finally somebody was able to see the big picture," Assistant District Attorney Gina Smith told the Philadelphia Tribune. "If you looked at the entire evolution of this, it represented a very scary situation."
Blackwell began assaulting his wife, Ari Cohen-Blackwell just two months after their wedding. Blackwell allegedly beat Cohen-Blackwell on several occasions - at one point she was admitted to the hospital for compressed vertebrae in her back and swelling on her head - and raped her twice. He also threatened her family and threatened her own life – he even left a body bag in her car. Although arrested several times and given court orders prohibiting him from contacting Cohen-Blackwell, Blackwell repeatedly posted bail and violated the court orders. Finally, after holding Cohen-Blackwell hostage and raping her – Blackwell was arrested and charged with rape and 13 other charges from four prior incidents. This time, Means ordered Blackwell be held on a $50,000 bail. A jury then found Blackwell guilty of the assault charges and not guilty of the rape charges.
Domestic violence and intimate partner violence remain an epidemic in the United States. According to a Department of Justice study released in October 2001, close to one-third of women in the US who are murdered each year are killed by their current or former partners, usually a husband. Approximately 1 million women annually report being stalked. In 1999, more than 85 percent of the 800,000 reports of intimate partner violence were committed against women.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .