Philandro Castile and the Terror of an Ordinary Day

Philando Castile was shot to death last July on his way home from buying groceries with his girlfriend and her 4-year-old daughter. Last week, the Minnesota police officer who killed him was acquitted by a jury on all counts. I am haunted by how ordinary Mr. Castile’s final moments were. He was just running errands with his family. It’s this denial of the right to simply be — the perpetual state of otherness — that dangerously shadows black people. This is most obvious in our criminal … [Read more...]

The GOP Healthcare Bill Will Doom Millions of People Struggling with Addiction

"You are only as sick as your secrets,” we say. People in recovery from struggles with addiction know this line by heart. To be open and honest about my years of problematic substance use, and my 4 years of recovery, is key to keeping me alive. This morning, after weeks of backroom drafting and repeated calls for information — sometimes from their own party — the Senate released the text of their healthcare bill, an amended version of the Affordable Health Care Act passed recently in the … [Read more...]

When Twisted Justice Stops Prisoners from Starting Over

After Casey Irwin, 37, was released from prison, she worked a string of low-wage jobs that made it nearly impossible for her to pay the rent or put food on the table for herself and her two kids. Irwin's criminal record prevented her from getting affordable housing. She applied for higher-paying jobs, but her lack of education (she dropped out of high school) and history of incarceration limited her work options. Her husband was still in prison on the fraud charges that had gotten them both … [Read more...]

The Mental Health Crisis Facing Women in Prison

A new study shows a striking disparity between incarcerated men and women. More than two-thirds of incarcerated women in America reported having a history of mental health problems — a far higher percentage than their male counterparts, according to a study released Thursday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Although the prevalence of mental health disorders among people in prisons and jails is a well-known problem, the dramatic gender disparity exposed in the new report has been less … [Read more...]

ICE Director To All Undocumented Immigrants: ‘You Need To Be Worried’

The Trump administration will continue arresting undocumented immigrants who haven’t been convicted of crimes and won’t apologize for it, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Tuesday. “If you’re in this country illegally and you committed a crime by entering this country, you should be uncomfortable,” Acting Director Thomas Homan told the House Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee. “You should look over your shoulder, and you need to be … [Read more...]

After Creating Danger, Can Cops Use Force with Impunity?

Imagine police officers enter your home, without permission and without warning, while you’re sleeping. In a daze, you might think they were criminals breaking in. You might even seek to exercise your Second Amendment right to protect yourself and your family. But if the officers shoot you upon seeing that you’ve raised a weapon in self-defense, have they used excessive force? In other words, are police officers allowed to unreasonably provoke a response that will cause them to open fire? A … [Read more...]

What Do Many Mass Shooters Have in Common? A History of Domestic Violence.

Take violence against women seriously. It's a red flag. At first glance, mass shooters like James T. Hodgkinson, who authorities say opened fire Wednesday morning as Republicans practiced for a Congressional Baseball Game, seem like a diverse group. Hodgkinson, whose attack injured House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a congressional aide, a lobbyist and two Capitol Police officers, frequently criticized President Trump and other GOP leaders on social media and in letters to his local … [Read more...]

Religious Liberals Sat Out of Politics for 40 Years: Now They Want in the Game

In Nashville, a crowd of ministers carrying palm fronds occupied the governor’s office during Holy Week, demanding the expansion of Medicaid to cover more of the uninsured. In California and 16 other states, an interfaith network has organized thousands of volunteers to swoop into action when immigrants are arrested or houses of worship are vandalized. Across the country, religious leaders whose politics fall to the left of center, and who used to shun the political arena, are getting … [Read more...]

Philando Castile Verdict Painful Result of Laws Rigged to Protect Cops

Just about a year ago, while riding through his hometown outside of Saint Paul, Minnesota, on the 4th of July, Philando Castile was racially profiled by the local police. It happened to him often. Officer Jeronimo Yanez claimed that as Castile drove past him in his car, the structure of Philando's nose reminded him of the nose of a black man he had seen in an armed robbery video. How well does a cop have to remember the nose from a video and how well did he have to see Philando's nose as he … [Read more...]

Era of Mass Expansion: Why State Officials Should Fight Jail Growth

One out of every three people behind bars is being held in a local jail, yet jails get almost none of the attention that prisons do. Jails are ostensibly locally controlled, but the people held there are generally accused of violating state law, and all too often state policymakers (and state reform advocates) ignore jails. In terms of raw numbers state prison reform is the larger prize, but embracing the myth that jails are only a local matter undermines current and future state-level reforms. … [Read more...]