Jail Hires Imam, New Jersey Death Penalty

Farai Chideya scans the day's headlines for news affecting black life and culture. Friday's topics include New York's Rockland County jail hiring its first imam for inmates, and whether New Jersey will abolish the death penalty.

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FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

From NPR News, this is NEWS & NOTES. I'm Farai Chideya.

If you were like me, sitting around your room at home singing, "This is for the Lover in You," well we've got something coming up for you: Howard Hewett of the group Shalamar. I know you guys don't want to hear me sing. But anyway, we've also got our yoga mom from Iraq. She has returned home in time for Mother's Day.

First we've got a few headlines. Let's start in Rockland County, New York. A Christian minister at the county jail was suspended last month for giving anti-Islam pamphlets to inmates. They contained cartoons denouncing Mohammed and showed the conversion of Muslims to Christianity.

Now, according to the Associated Press, the jail is hiring an imam for its Muslim prisoners. The minister remains suspended with pay, and the jail also has a priest and a rabbi on staff.

New Jersey could soon become the first state to abolish capital punishment. According to Reuters, the New Jersey Senate's Judiciary Committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of the ban. Now it heads to the democratically controlled legislature for a full vote. If the bill passes, new sentences will top out at life without parole. In 2006, states executed 53 inmates. That's the lowest capital tally in 10 years.

And our last headline takes us into the frontline of a modern military crisis right here in the U.S., maybe in your neighborhood. We're talking about recruitment. As the Iraq and Afghanistan wars continue, the military has offered more perks for enlisting and raised the age requirements. But still the military has extended tours of duty in Iraq in an effort to fill its needs.

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