Molly Redden

Molly Redden

Reporter

Molly Redden is a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. Previously, she worked for The New Republic, covering energy and the environment and politics, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her work has also appeared in Salon, Washington City Paper, and Slate. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and watching too much television. She tweets at @mtredden.

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Molly Redden is a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. Previously, she worked for The New Republic, covering energy and the environment and politics, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her work has also appeared in Salon, Washington City Paper, and Slate. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and watching too much television. She tweets at @mtredden.

The Outrage Continues: An Alabama Man Who Raped a Teen Still Won't Do Prison Time Under His New Sentence

| Fri Dec. 27, 2013 7:00 AM EST

The Alabama man who was allowed to walk free after being convicted of rape has had his probation extended by two years, but he still won't have to serve prison time under a new, supposedly stiffer sentence handed down this week.

In September, a jury in Limestone County, Alabama found 25-year-old Austin Smith Clem guilty of raping his teenaged neighbor, Courtney Andrews, three times—twice when she was 14, and once when was she was 18. County Judge James Woodroof theoretically sentenced Clem to 40 years in prison. But Woodroof structured the sentence so that Clem would only serve three years probation, plus two years in the Limestone County corrections program for nonviolent criminals, which would allow Clem to work and live in the community. Only if Clem violated his probation would he be required to serve the prison time.

Clem's lenient sentence touched off a national outcry, and Andrews eventually appeared on Melissa Harris-Perry's MSNBC show to call for tougher punishment. In early December, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals found that the sentence was illegal and ordered Woodroof to mete out a stiffer penalty. But Clem's new sentence, which Woodroof handed down Monday, only extends Clem's probation from three to five years. And if Clem violates the terms of his probation, he will only have to serve 35 years in prison—less than he would have under his initial sentence.

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Rand Paul Doubles Down on Support for GOP Senate Candidate Who Rallied With Secessionists

| Tue Dec. 17, 2013 8:48 PM EST

On Monday, Mother Jones profiled North Carolina Senate hopeful Greg Brannon—a Republican primary candidate who believes public education is dehumanizing and Marxist, and who recently cosponsored a rally with a secessionist group, the League of the South, which seeks "a free and independent Southern republic." Brannon feels bipartisan compromises in Washington "enslave" Americans. He prefers the governing style of his "modern hero" Jesse Helms—a North Carolina senator of 30 years best known for refusing, even until the day he died in 2008, to renounce his support for racial segregation.

Sen. Rand Paul, among other big-name conservatives, has endorsed Brannon as the best candidate to challenge vulnerable Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan next fall. And while Paul's office didn't respond to requests for comment for that profile, a photo posted on Paul's Facebook page Monday evening reiterated Paul's support for Brannon and his campaign.

"Greg Brannon is the type of 100% fight to repeal ObamaCare conservative I need in the U.S. Senate," read the caption, under a composite photograph that showed a smiling Paul next to Brannon. "Support his 'Retreat is NOT an Option Money Bomb' by clicking the link below." The caption linked to a page on Brannon's website where supporters could donate to Brannon's ten-day "Money Bomb" campaign. The fundraiser, which ended Monday night, aimed "to fight back against Karl Rove and the DC Insiders who are determined to silence grassroots conservatives," a reference to Rove's work for one of Brannon's primary opponents.

In a recent survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, Brannon was the only Republican who beat Hagan in a head-to-head matchup. When PPP polled Republican primary voters on the four GOP candidates, North Carolina Speaker of the House Thom Tillis ran 9 points ahead of Brannon—but nearly half of those voters said they were undecided.

Report: Aggressive Police Tactics Contributing to New Orleans' Staggering HIV/AIDS Rate

| Mon Dec. 16, 2013 9:02 AM EST

A new report from Human Rights Watch finds that Louisiana's AIDS death rate is more than double the national average—and it places a large share of the blame with the New Orleans Police Department. The report, "In Harm's Way," accuses New Orleans police of harassing suspected sex workers so aggressively that they have undermined efforts by public health workers to treat HIV/AIDS patients.

The problem stems from the police force's arbitrary enforcement of the crime of "loitering for prostitution," an offense so vaguely defined, the report says, "that it permits police to consider a wide range of behavior to be grounds for arrest, including where people are, what they are wearing, and what they may have done in the past."

Because of how New Orleans police enforce the loitering statute, Human Rights Watch reports, sex workers have become susceptible to losing access to HIV/AIDS treatment due to arrest and have grown wary of carrying condoms—which police use as evidence of prostitution even when they don't witness the commission of an actual crime.

From the report:

In recent years, state and local health officials have significantly increased the number of people with HIV who are in treatment. Unfortunately, their work is undermined by state and local laws and policies, as well as police practices, that not only fail to reduce the risk of harm but exacerbate a high-risk environment where it is difficult for people to avoid HIV infection and to access life-saving treatment and support…

Sex workers and people suspected by police of engaging in sex work also reported that police use condoms as evidence of prostitution. In stops and searches related to possible prostitution, officers frequently commented on, confiscated, or threatened arrest on the basis of how many condoms someone was carrying. There is no indication that condoms have been used in prosecutions for prostitution; nonetheless, this practice has an alarming consequence for public health.

Sex workers, transgender women and others at high risk of HIV infection told us that they were afraid to carry condoms and that they sometimes had to engage in sex without protection out of fear of police harassment…

In New Orleans, the NO/AIDS Task Force visits every prisoner who tests positive for HIV at the Orleans Parish Prison and arranges a medical appointment upon release. However, their clients are often arrested again before they can make it in to see the doctor; one transgender woman was arrested for prostitution 10 times in three years, and has yet to keep her appointment with the clinic.

Jail inevitably interrupts the ability to take one’s HIV medications on a regular basis. Reports from the Orleans Parish Prison indicated delays ranging from two weeks to three months in commencing or resuming HIV treatment.

Human Rights Watch notes that transgender women in particular, a group at high risk for HIV/AIDS, find themselves "under siege"—"subject to constant harassment, verbal abuse, stops for suspicion of prostitution, and demands for sex in exchange for leniency" by New Orleans cops who suspect they are sex workers.

The report calls for the New Orleans Police Department to stop considering the possession of condoms a reason to question, arrest, or detain suspected sex workers and to improve its enforcement of existing policies that prohibit officers from targeting LGBT people. It also calls for city officials to repeal the loitering for prostitution statute.

On Thursday, a New Orleans police department representative told local media that these complaints of systemic harassment were unfounded, saying, "To date, we have no record of the allegations made in this report."

Along with aggressive police tactics, the report blames Louisiana's high HIV/AIDS rates on the state's criminalizing of syringes as illegal drug paraphernalia. "Syringe access programs and other effective harm reduction measures have made injection drug use the only mode of HIV transmission that has been in consistent decline since the epidemic began in the US," HRW notes. But because the state has criminalized syringes, effectively criminalizes needle exchange programs, "Neither Louisiana nor New Orleans has been able to reduce its rate of HIV infection among injection drug users in the last five years."

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