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Monday, June 2, 2014

Stories you usually do not see in the news!

To the credit of these media organizations, they are focusing, finally, on criminal justice issues that have long deserved our attention. For example:

End Mass Incarceration Now (NY Times)

In this op-ed, the editors argue that imprisonment does not work to reduce crime, that it is too financially costly, and that it imposes other costs to society (including racial biases).

Related to this op-ed is this story:

A Modern Day Slave Plantation Exists, and It's Thriving in the Heart of America (PolicyMic)

This article shows how race continues to impact criminal justice practice.

From the article:

"Angola sits 50 miles northwest of Baton Rouge. It's the largest maximum-security facility in the United States and one of the country's most notorious prisons. In the book The Life and Legend of Leadbelly, the authors wrote, 'Tough criminals allegedly broke down when they received a sentence to Angola. ... None of them wanted to be sent to a prison where 1 of every 10 inmates annually received stab wounds and which routinely seethed with black-white confrontations.'

"Angola's expanse covers a vast 28 square miles — larger than the size of Manhattan. Tucked away in a bend of the Mississippi River, it's surrounded by water and swamp on three sides. It's an isolated penal village — the nearest town 30 miles away — and it's the only penitentiary in the country where staff members live on site. Generation after generation grow up, live and die on Angola's land.

...Of about 6,000 inmates currently in custody, roughly 70% are black and 30% are white. In October 2008, NPR reported, 'In the distance on this day, 100 black men toil, bent over in the field, while a single white officer on a horse sits above them, a shotgun in his lap.'"

It looks like this:

And then there is this gem:

How to Stop Violence (Slate)

In this article, the author suggests that it is not mental illness that produces mass violence. Instead, it is emotion, and especially anger:

"In a summary of studies on murder and prior record of violence, Don Kates and Gary Mauser found that 80 to 90 percent of murderers had prior police records, in contrast to 15 percent of American adults overall. In a study of domestic murderers, 46 percent of the perpetrators had had a restraining order against them at some time. Family murders are preceded by prior domestic violence more than 90 percent of the time. Violent crimes are committed by people who lack the skills to modulate anger, express it constructively, and move beyond it."

How refreshing to see stories of real import in the news media!

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