“Invisible Children” Locked Away in Detention Centers

California Lawyer Refuses to Allow Trump Immigration Policies to Keep Youth ‘Locked in Cages’ In 2014, Holly Cooper received a phone call from an unnamed source warning her about the conditions of the Yolo County Juvenile Detention Center. The Sacramento-area facility was originally built to house youth convicted of crimes, but was now also receiving federal dollars to serve as an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) shelter for undocumented, unaccompanied minors. “Invisible children,” … [Read more...]

When Heroin Hits the White Suburbs

Heroin use and abuse in America has dramatically increased over the past decade. Between 2006 and 2013, federal records reveal, the number of first-time heroin users doubled, from 90,000 to 169,000. Some of those users, no doubt, already are gone. The Center for Disease Control announced last month that the rate of deadly heroin overdoses nearly quadrupled between 2002 and 2013. These troubling figures, and a spate of more recent stories and daunting statistics, have prompted officials across … [Read more...]

Prison Dehumanizes Incarcerated: Prison Project Brings Them Back

In the last 35 years, California has built approximately 22 new prisons, and the state has one of the highest recidivism rates in the country. The US's prison industrial complex has been called America's human rights crisis. So is it possible for prisoners have hope for their future? How do you retain your humanity in an inhumane system? Ten years ago, actor Sabra Williams had an experimental idea: she wanted to bring The Actor's Gang Theatre Company into prisons to work with non-actors, and … [Read more...]

Time to Refocus the Punishment Paradigm

Any parent can tell you that timeouts, groundings, and other punishments only go so far in encouraging good behavior. If kids are scolded over and over again, the reprimands can lose their effect: Walls go up, and cooperation goes down. But throw in a few high-fives or thumbs-ups to recognize a nice job clearing the dishes or picking up after a baby sister, and attitudes may brighten — and actions may begin to improve. It’s basic human behavior, the circuitry of motivation. Everybody needs … [Read more...]

The Essential Role of Medicaid and Criminal Justice

This past month America’s first mental health court celebrated its 20th anniversary. The behind the scenes story, which led to the creation of Broward’s Mental Health Court, is a case-study of the need to preserve and expand Medicaid from a criminal justice perspective; and what happens when people in need of mental health and primary care are left behind. Aaron Wynn, a young man living in South Florida, was preparing to leave for college. According to his family, Aaron loved the ocean, his … [Read more...]

What Sessions Doesn’t Get: Narcotics Trafficking Is a Market

From the moment he was named Attorney General, Jeff Sessions has signaled his intent to re-start the War on Drugs, using massive federal resources to imprison narcotics traffickers for long terms. His May 10 memo to prosecutors directing them to charge crimes and enhancements based on the harshest potential sentence was simply the formal document declaring that mission. Sessions’ plans ignore one crucial thing: that unlike most crimes, narcotics trafficking works within a market, ruled by the … [Read more...]

‘The Grim Sleeper”—South L.A. Serial Killer and the Women Who Were His Victims

The Grim Sleeper,” Christine Pelisek’s painfully relevant new book about the notorious South Central serial killer of perhaps 25 or more women, comes at a time when true crime has been made great again. The agents of that greatness have not been books but, rather, podcasts and television series, of the kind frequently appended with the “prestige” label, lest anyone mistake them for unserious entertainment on par with slasher flicks or the kinds of lurid quasi-documentaries that play on cable … [Read more...]

Number of Fatal Shootings by Police Nearly Identical to Last Year

Police nationwide shot and killed 492 people in the first six months of this year, a number nearly identical to the count for the same period in each of the prior two years. Fatal shootings by police in 2017 have so closely tracked last year’s numbers that on June 16, the tally was the same. Although the number of unarmed people killed by police dropped slightly, the overall pace for 2017 through Friday was on track to approach 1,000 killed for a third year in a row. The Washington Post … [Read more...]

Hangman’s Noose, Symbol of Racial Animus, Keeps Cropping Up

It was the beginning of the night shift last Wednesday at the United States Mint in Philadelphia, a secure facility that manufactures money, when a white male coin maker strode across the factory floor to the workstation of an African-American colleague. He was carrying a piece of rope. The rope had an official purpose: to seal coin bags once they were full. But the worker, who operates the machinery used to make coins, instead looped and twisted it into a hangman’s noose, according to Rhonda … [Read more...]

Color of Justice

An individual’s race and ethnic background determine how he is treated at the “front end” of the criminal justice system, according to a study published this week. The study, which, focused on poor African-American, Latino and white defendants (all male) in San Francisco, found what it called “systematic differences” in outcomes during the preliminary steps of an individual’s involvement in the justice system, from arrest and booking to the pretrial phase. “Defendants of color are more … [Read more...]