TIME Law

California Loosens a Blanket Ban on Sex Offenders Living Near Schools

Low-risk offenders will now be given more freedom to live where they choose

A key provision of a Californian law that prohibits all registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 ft. of a school or park is to be revised.

The so-called Jessica’s Law was approved nine years ago and enforced a blanket restriction on where all sex offenders could live, whether or not their crimes involved children, reports the Los Angeles Times.

However, on March 2 the California supreme court ruled that the law was unconstitutional. Parolees in San Diego argued that Jessica’s Law made it difficult for them to find places to live and many were made homeless with a lack of access to health care, rehabilitation services and psychological counseling.

Parole officers will now be given more freedom to decide whether offenders pose a risk on a case-by-case basis.

The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said those offenders who were high risk, or whose crimes involved children under 14, would still be barred from living within half a mile from a school.

Jessica’s Law was named after Jessica Lunsford, a child who was abducted from her house in Florida, and raped and murdered by a sex offender living nearby.

[L.A. Times]

TIME Management

6 Charts Showing Tech’s Gender Gap Is More Complicated Than You Think

See why it's so hard to break the glass ceiling in Silicon Valley

 

Several of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies have released a series of diversity reports revealing how few women held the companies’ top jobs — or jobs in general. Now a recent string of lawsuits is suggesting that the fix isn’t simply to recruit more women — what about the women who are already employed? Are they being held back from rising up?

That’s the key question in investing partner-turned-Reddit CEO Ellen Pao’s ongoing lawsuit against her former employer, Kleiner Perkins, a highly-established venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, California. The jury in Pao’s case began hearing closing arguments this week, and will soon decide whether it was gender bias that prevented Pao from being promoted to a higher-ranking partner, or, as Kleiner Perkins’ lawyer argued, whether Pao is simply “[blaming] others for her own failures.”

Adding to the scrutiny of Silicon Valley’s treatment of women are two other high-profile gender discrimination lawsuits against Twitter and Facebook, both recently filed by former female employees.

A gender gap in the workplace, particularly in Silicon Valley, is old news. But Kleiner Perkins isn’t kind of Silicon Valley company we’re used to hearing about. By suing a venture capital firm, Pao raises a important point — the gender gap could be a problem at the firms that are often funding Valley companies, too. (In addressing this claim, Kleiner Perkins said in a trial brief last month it has “long been a supporter of women entrepreneurs.”)

According to a report by Babson College in 2013, gender bias reveals itself in the patterns of venture capital investments. (The study was sponsored by Ernst & Young and the Diana Project, both of which prioritize workforce diversity.) Upon analyzing these patterns, the study found that businesses with all-male leadership teams are four times as likely to receive venture capital funding as teams with even one woman.

That apparent gender bias might explain why only 3% of venture-funded businesses are led by women, according to Babson College’s report, which surveyed 6,517 of these businesses. About one-third of all U.S. businesses are led by women, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration:

 

Curiously, the percentage of female venture capital investors (11%) is almost equal to the percentage of female executives among Silicon Valley’s Top 150 companies (10.8%) — though this is merely a correlation. (These data points come respectively from the latest Venture Census and a 2014 report by Fenwick & West LLP, a global law firm with clients including Facebook and Google.)

Even if these two gender gaps are wholly unrelated, it’s still worth noting that Silicon Valley appears to have an especially pronounced gender diversity problem when compared to the S&P 100. The S&P 100 is a non-industry specific stock index comprised of companies with the 100 leading U.S. stocks, many of which are outside Silicon Valley:

 

So it’s an undeniable truth that Silicon Valley has a gender diversity problem. But the question of whether the gap has started to close is a bit trickier.

Take, for example, the following chart from Fenwick’s report. It shows the percentage of women in the highest-ranking positions in Valley’s top 150 companies (“SV 150″) between 1996 and 2014. By looking at the upward trends, you could say that gender diversity in Silicon Valley has improved:

But don’t jump to any conclusions. Once again, when you compare the SV 150 to the S&P 100 benchmark, gender diversity in the Valley appears to be problematic. Take a look at the following chart, which shows the top Valley companies had lower percentages of women than the S&P 100 in every single leadership position except President/COO and General Counsel in 2014:

There’s yet another caveat: If you examine only the very top Valley companies, the gender diversity problem is cast in a much better light. After all, Google just named a female CFO this week, while Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman are proof of change among tech titans.

The chart below shows gender diversity in the Valley’s top 15 companies (“SV15″), like Google and HP, has rapidly improved. Female representation was remarkably strong in a several positions in 2014, including President/COO and CFO. But other positions, like Chair, were still entirely male in 2014 — just like in 1996:

These mixed messages regarding the depth of Silicon Valley’s gender problem are surfacing on both sides of Pao’s trial. Kleiner Perkins’ lawyers, for example, argued that 20% of its partners are women. That’s much higher than the average of 6%, according to Babson College’s report, which surveyed 139 venture capital firms’ partners in 2013. Kleiner Perkins’ top ranking female partner, Mary Meeker, even testified against Pao, arguing the company promoted women based on their merits.

But Pao, too, had an arsenal of numbers at the ready. In addition to qualitative evidence of gender bias — like claims of all-male dinner parties — Pao’s legal team also cited the superior performance of investments made by the company’s female investors, including Pao. A female partner at Kleiner Perkins once reportedly even constructed a matrix comparing women’s and men’s investments to drive this point home.

The jury in Pao’s trial will soon put an end to these arguments — but the gender gap debate will surely continue outside the courtroom. Even if the jury sides with Kleiner Perkins, Pao’s closely watched trial remains a warning for the larger, male-dominated business industry to reevaluate the treatment of women in their companies. There’s a business incentive at play here, too: Companies with female leaders appear to be performing unusually well, according to a recent study of women-led companies by Karen Rubin, director of product management at the algorithm development site Quantopian. In her study, Rubin showed how the women-led Fortune 1000 companies — there are only 27 currently — posted greater cumulative returns than those of SPY, a tracker of the S&P 500 stock index, which Rubin used as a benchmark:

Women Leader Fortune 1000

In fact, it seems that these female-run companies have outperformed the male-dominated benchmark even more often since the financial crisis of 2008-09. That’s a gender gap to be proud of — and one that can’t be ignored.

Read next: 5 Best Ways Men Can #LeanInTogether to Help Women Get Ahead

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME health

Why ‘Dr. Death’ Wanted to Be Charged with Murder

Euthanasia crusader Dr. Jack Kevorkian talks with
Jeff Kowalsky—AFP/Getty Images Dr. Jack Kevorkian talks with jury consultant Ruth Holmes (R) as Brad Feldman, one of his legal advisors, listens after Kevorkian's arraignment in Oakland County Circuit Court, Dec. 16, 1998

March 26, 1999: Dr. Jack Kevorkian is convicted of murder for administering a lethal injection to a terminally ill man

It was an unusual murder trial, given that the victim’s wife and relatives were the killer’s staunchest defenders. But the support of Thomas Youk’s family was not enough to keep Jack Kevorkian out of prison. On this day, March 26, in 1999, the pathologist and highly public euthanasia proponent, whom TIME had called “Dr. Death” in a 1993 cover story, was convicted of murder for giving Youk a lethal injection to end his suffering from advanced Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Kevorkian was prepared to go to prison if it meant raising awareness of what he considered to be our nation’s backward, oppressive euthanasia laws. By the time of his trial, he had participated in more than 130 assisted suicides or, as in Youk’s case, mercy killings. For years he had dodged prosecution on the technicality that it wasn’t him who administered the fatal dose — it was always his terminally-ill patients, although he made the job easier for them.

Youk’s case was different. This time it was Kevorkian who injected the deadly drugs — while videotaping himself doing it. Then he gave the tape to the staff of the CBS news show “60 Minutes,” who broadcast it to a national audience.

On the tape, as CNN later reported, Kevorkian goaded prosecutors into coming after him so that the legality of assisted suicide and euthanasia could have a full airing in court — and in the news media. The law was not on his side, of course, and his decision to represent himself on the ensuing murder charges did not help him avoid prison. The jury found him guilty of second-degree murder, with a sentence of 10 to 25 years, rather than first-degree murder, which might have carried a life sentence.

Kevorkian was given early release in 2007, after serving only eight years, in part because he himself was then terminally ill with Hepatitis C. His sacrifice — or his flagrancy, depending on whom you ask — did succeed in bringing assisted suicide into the public spotlight, as he’d hoped. At the time of his death, Oregon, Washington and Montana had come to allow assisted suicide. Since then, Vermont and New Mexico have followed suit.

Part of what made Kevorkian such a prominent public figure was his zany personality, coupled with a dramatic flair that “brought a certain approachability to a grim subject,” as TIME wrote in Kevorkian’s 2011 obituary. He gave his two “suicide machines” names better suited to carnival rides or sinister sci-fi robots: Thanatron (which delivered lethal levels of narcotics) and Mercitron (which used carbon monoxide).

In 1993, a man dying from bone and lung cancer used Kevorkian’s carbon monoxide machine to kill himself. A friend of the deceased told TIME, “I know that when he put that mask on his face he had his finger sticking up in the air to say screw you all for the laws that made me suffer like this.”

It was, as TIME concluded then, “a gesture familiar to Dr. Kevorkian, who has made defiance of the law a passion second only to suicide.”

Read the 1993 cover story, here in the TIME Vault: Doctor Death

TIME Law

Watch Brittany Maynard’s Video in Support of Right-to-Die Legislation

Maynard was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2014

Brittany Maynard’s family has released a video of her testimony for a right-to-die bill, currently being considered in California, almost four months after her death. Advocates presented the video to the California legislature Wednesday ahead of a state Senate committee vote on the issue.

Maynard was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2014. The 29-year-old moved to Oregon, where she had the legal right to end her own life. California and New York are considering joining the handful of states where it is legal for terminal patients to obtain a prescription that will allow them to die in their sleep. Though two such death with dignity bills have failed in the state before, Maynard’s case has brought new attention to the controversial issue.

MORE: More States Considering Right-to-Die Laws After Brittany Maynard

“I am heartbroken that I had to leave behind my home, my community, and my friends in California, but I am dying and I refuse to lose my dignity,” she says in the video, filmed weeks before her death on Nov. 1. “I refuse to subject myself and my family to purposeless, prolonged pain and suffering at the hands of an incurable disease.”

But others testified that such a law could be dangerous. “Where assisted suicide is legal, some people’s lives will be ended without their consent through mistakes and abuse,” said Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst with the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Read next: See Which States Allow End-of-Life Treatment

TIME Law

Texas Moves Closer to Allowing Guns on College Campuses

UT Chancellor William McRaven, a retired Navy admiral, opposes the measure

The Texas Senate approved a bill on Thursday that would allow people to carry concealed handguns on college campuses.

Supporters say the measure, which has the backing of gun rights groups, will help licensed students over 21 better protect themselves. The Senate voted on the measure along party lines, and the Republican-controlled House is taking it up next week.

But the move to legalize licensed weapons on campuses has prompted opposition from law enforcement and university leaders, including University of Texas System Chancellor William McRaven, a retired Navy admiral who oversaw the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.

“I continue to remain apprehensive about the effects of this legislation on UT System institutions and our students, staff, patients and visitors,” McRaven said in a statement to TIME. “I continue to hear from students, parents, staff and faculty about their uneasiness related to this legislation. In light of this, it is my responsibility to continue to express our concerns as the Senate bill goes to the House and the House bill goes through the process.”

While most states either ban concealed arms on campus or leave the decision to colleges and universities individually, seven states have provisions that allow for concealed weapons on public post-secondary campuses, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Several Republican-held legislatures, including in Florida and Montana, are also considering easing their restrictions on weapons on campuses.

While the Texas legislature has failed to pass similar bills three times since 2009, this bill has strong backing in the House and Governor Greg Abbott has expressed his support.

Still, student groups and higher education leaders are voicing their opposition.

“There is great concern that the presence of handguns, even if limited to licensed individuals age 21 or older, will lead to an increase in both accidental shootings and self-inflicted wounds,” McRaven wrote in an open letter to state leaders in January.

— Charlotte Alter contributed reporting.

TIME Drugs

Police Find More Than a Ton of Marijuana in Frozen Avocado Packages

Cook County Sheriff's Office Marijuana was found hidden inside bags of avocado pulp.

About $10 million of marijuana was found

Police in Illinois seized more than a ton of marijuana that was hidden in packages of frozen avocado pulp, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.

About 2,100 pounds of marijuana, worth an estimated $10 million, was discovered on March 4 in bricks dispersed throughout more than 1,500 boxes of packaged avocado at a cold storage facility in Cook County.

According to the statement from the Sheriff’s Office, police were notified of a suspicious shipment and dispatched a narcotics K9, which detected the drugs inside the pallets.

TIME Utah

Utah Lawmakers Vote to Permit Firing-Squad Executions if Lethal Injection Unavailable

The move still has to be inked by Governor Gary Herbert

Utah legislators on Tuesday passed a bill that, if ratified by Governor Gary Herbert, will allow inmate executions by firing squad in the event that lethal-injection drugs are unavailable.

The bill, passed through the state senate by an 18-10 vote, will make Utah the only state in America with such a provision. Herbert, a Republican, won’t comment on whether he will sign the bill until he has had time to review the final legislation.

But in a statement, the governor’s office told TIME, “Our state, as is the case with states around the country, is finding it increasingly difficult to obtain the substances required to perform a lethal injection … if those substances cannot be obtained, this proposal would make sure that those instructed to carry out the lawful order of the court and the carefully deliberated decision of the jury can do so.”

In 2004, Utah phased out the option of choosing execution by firing squad, but there remains a group of inmates who were sentenced before and so can still be executed in this manner. The last instance was in 2010 when Ronnie Lee Gardner, convicted of murder, was executed.

Wyoming, Oklahoma and Tennessee are also in the process of finding alternative execution methods.

Last year’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma — in which an untested blend of drugs led to a drawn-out and supposedly painful death — brought national scrutiny to the merits of lethal injections.

TIME Law

Civil Libertarians Say Expelling Oklahoma Frat Students May Be Illegal

Free speech at issue

The University of Oklahoma’s decision Tuesday to expel two students who played “a leadership role” in singing a racist chant that went viral after it was caught on video may assuage critics. But civil liberties experts say it could also be unconstitutional.

“The impulse to expel is understandable, but the decision is on constitutionally questionable ground,” said Ken Paulson, the President of the First Amendment Center and Dean of the College of Mass Communication at Middle Tennessee State University. “A public university is subject to the free speech guarantees of the First Amendment and may not punish students because they hold offensive views.”

The University of Oklahoma did not respond to multiple requests for comment Tuesday on the potential legal implications of its decision.

The video, posted online by the OU black student group Unheard, showed Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity members on a bus singing a chant that included a racial epithet, described lynching, and was explicit that people of color would never be accepted into OU’s chapter of SAE. The national Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternal organization took unusually swift action and closed the Oklahoma chapter almost as soon as the video appeared.

In a letter to the expelled students released by the university on Tuesday explaining the reason for their expulsion, University President David Boren faulted the students for creating a “hostile” environment. It seemed like a nod to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits educational institutions that receive federal funds from allowing a “hostile” environment on the basis of race to persist.

“You will be expelled because of your leadership role in leading a racist and exclusionary chant which has created a hostile educational environment for others,” Boren wrote. “If you disagree with this decision you have the right to contact the university Equal Opportunity Officer to be heard by close of business Friday, March 13, 2015.”

The letter advised the students that they could be represented by legal counsel.

“It appears the university is trying to recast free speech as conduct, characterizing it as creating a hostile educational environment,” Paulson said. “If that’s upheld, any politically incorrect statement made on campus and amplified by social media could be punished.”

MORE Racist Video Not the First Scandal for Troubled Fraternity

Private institutions like private colleges or the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity have wide leeway to discipline or expel students for racist speech if it violates their codes of conduct. But the University of Oklahoma is a public research university, and civil liberties groups say it should be treated as an arm of the government.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a nonprofit organization that focuses on civil liberties in academia set out the difference in a statement: “As a private organization, the SAE national fraternity is free to punish the chapter, as it has done. Other citizens and groups are free to refuse to associate with the fraternity members based on their expression, and students, faculty, and administrators may of course condemn it. If the expression itself is evidence of other unlawful activity, such activity may be investigated. But the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled time and time again that government institutions like the University of Oklahoma may not punish people for expression protected by the First Amendment.”

The video and Oklahoma’s response are part and parcel of a tension between freedom of speech and hostile educational environments that has been mounting in higher education for several months. Last spring, students at Smith, Rutgers and Brandeis succeeded in driving away graduation speakers who had held views students found offensive.

The university’s Student Rights and Responsibilities Code’s section on “abusive conduct” describes it as “unwelcome conduct that is sufficiently severe and pervasive that it alters the conditions of education or employment and creates an environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, harassing or humiliating.” It also says “simple teasing, offhanded comments and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not amount to abusive conduct,” though it doesn’t define “extremely serious.”

“Universities are one of the primary battlegrounds for learning about free speech and understanding how to combat bigotry,” Ryan Kiesel, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Oklahoma, said in a statement that neither condoned nor condemned the expulsion. “The best antidote to hateful speech is the exercise of peaceful speech in return.”

Read next: University of Oklahama President Condemns ‘Disgraceful’ Fraternity After Racist Video

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Canada

Canada Town to Fine Residents for Spitting in Public

Residents will also face fines for shouting and swearing

A Canadian town adopted a measure in late February that would fine residents for unseemly behavior, according to a report.

Residents of Taber, Alberta can now be fined 75 Canadian dollars [$59] for spitting in public or on someone else’s private property, the Lethbridge Herald reports. Shouting and cursing in public could prompt a ticket of 150 Canadian dollars [$119].

Many residents are concerned about another section of the new bylaw, which says that a gathering of three or more people could be fined 250 Canadian dollars [$198] if an officer determines that the group intends to disturb the peace.

Despite controversy, Taber’s mayor, Henk De Vlieger, said he still supports the measure.

“I’m not saying this thing is perfect, but I think we should give it a chance and try it out, and let the police work with it,” he said, according to the Lethbridge Herald. “After a period of time, we might make some adjustments, but let’s see how it works.”

[Lethbridge Herald]

TIME Ferguson

Holder ‘Prepared’ to Dismantle the Ferguson Police Department

Attorney General Eric Holder talks with media as he arrives on Air Force One in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. on March 6, 2015, with President Barack Obama, from Columbia, S.C.
Carolyn Kaster—AP Attorney General Eric Holder talks with media as he arrives on Air Force One in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. on March 6, 2015, with President Barack Obama, from Columbia, S.C.

'We are prepared to use all the powers that we have,' the Attorney General said Friday

Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that he’s “prepared” to dismantle the Ferguson, Mo., police department after a Wednesday Department of Justice report revealed numerous instances of racial discrimination and constitutional violations within the force.

“We are prepared to use all the powers that we have, all the power that we have, to ensure that the situation changes there,” Holder said. “That means everything from working with them to coming up with an entirely new structure … If [dismantling is] what’s necessary, we’re prepared to do that.”

Holder called Ferguson an “anomoly” but hopes other departments around the country are paying close attention to the contents of the Wednesday report, which stated that the Ferguson police valued “revenue rather than public safety needs.”

“The notion that you would use a law enforcement agency or law enforcement generally to generate revenue, and then the callous way in which that was done and the impact that it had on the lives of the ordinary citizens of that municipality, was just appalling,” Holder told reporters at Andrews Air Force Base. “And that is not something that we’re going to tolerate.”

[Washington Post]

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com