New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu on the “Searing Truth” of American Racism

You may have heard about the speech given by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu in relation to the removal of four monuments to white supremacy in the Crescent City. We are providing the full text, in addition to a video clip, because this is a rare speech that deserves be read in its entirety. It stands out because, even now, so few white politicians are willing to speak honestly about the real racial history of these United States. Many in the media observed that the speech was "eloquent," … [Read more...]

Making America’s Failing Prisons Work

A lot is known about how to reform prisoners. Far too little is done Shirley Schmitt is no one’s idea of a dangerous criminal. She lived quietly on a farm in Iowa, raising horses and a daughter, until her husband died in 2006. Depressed and suffering from chronic pain, she started using methamphetamine. Unable to afford her habit, she and a group of friends started to make the drug, for their own personal use. She was arrested in 2012, underwent drug treatment, and has been sober ever since. … [Read more...]

How a Theory of Crime and Policing Was Born, and Went Terribly Wrong

In 1969, Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist from Stanford University, ran an interesting field study. He abandoned two cars in two very different places: one in a mostly poor, crime-ridden section of New York City, and the other in a fairly affluent neighborhood of Palo Alto, Calif. Both cars were left without license plates and parked with their hoods up. After just 10 minutes, passersby in New York City began vandalizing the car. First they stripped it for parts. Then the random destruction … [Read more...]

Hollywood-Style Heroism Latest Trend in Police Videos

Thomas J. Wydra, the police chief of Hamden, Conn., has seen plenty of disturbing body-camera recordings depicting officers committing misconduct. Last month, he decided to throw a more uplifting video into the mix. It showed one of his officers in a heart-pounding act of rescue. Called to a nursing home because of a troubled resident, the officer chased the man up several flights of stairs and onto a sixth-floor balcony. Just as the man hoisted a leg over the edge, the officer pulled him back … [Read more...]

What Inmates Learn in Prison? Not Much

A new survey of 2,000 federal prisoners reveals big gaps in teaching reentry skills. Crocheting. How to play bridge or the game show “Jeopardy.” Tips on reviewing movies. Those are the continuing education options one inmate described in a new survey (Using Time To Reduce Crime) of 2,000 federal inmates that offers an inside look at how U.S. prisons fail to teach useful skills to help ease the path back home. “No one ever fails any class,” said another inmate. “Everyone receives a … [Read more...]

False Claims Stoke Fears about Reforming California’s Bail System

Assemblyman Travis Allen and reality TV star “Dog the Bounty Hunter” have a message: California bail reform is a threat to public safety. In a recent video, Allen insists, “Senate Bill 10 would eliminate the bail system in California.” He’s wrong. “If it passes, criminals would no longer have to post bail and would be free to roam our neighborhoods.” He’s wrong about that, too. “My good friend Duane ‘Dog’ Chapman joined me at the Capitol to fight SB 10 and protect our communities and keep … [Read more...]

The Price of Prisons

Examining State Spending Trends, 2010 - 2015 After decades of a stable rate of incarceration, the U.S. prison population experienced unprecedented growth from the early 1970s into the new millennium —with the number of people confined to state prisons increasing by more than 600 percent, reaching just over 1.4 million people by the end of 2009. The engine driving this growth was the enactment and implementation over time of a broad array of tough-on-crime policies, including the rapid and … [Read more...]

The Justice Dilemma: When the Cure Is Worse Than the Disease

Harm to a patient caused by treatment rather than disease is called “iatrogenic”—coming from the healer. Some iatrogenic harm is caused by medical error—surgery on the wrong patient or at the wrong site on the right patient.   Other iatrogenic harm—some fatal drug interactions— might have been impossible to anticipate. Predictable consequences of treatment—a scar after necessary surgery—could be called iatrogenic too.  Some iatrogenic injuries, such as a toxic needle-stick to a nurse, hurt … [Read more...]

5 Years, or 20? How Sessions’ Get-Tough Order Would Extend Prison Stays

The federal courts in San Diego are full of cases like this: a 22-year-old man caught driving a car loaded with 33 kilograms of hidden methamphetamine — worth hundreds of thousands of dollars — across the Mexican border into California. So, what’s a fair punishment for this crime? In the plainest reading of federal law, a kingpin-size haul like that would be punished with a kingpin-size sentence: from a minimum of 10 years in prison to life without parole. But the drugs were not his — he said … [Read more...]

Sex and Homeland Security

John Kelly, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), sometimes responds to questions about stricter immigration enforcement on the southern U.S. border by suggesting it will deter women who otherwise risk sexual assault when they make the dangerous trip north. “You’ll  probably. . .  have been [sexually] assaulted once—if you’re lucky,” the Secretary said in a typical response. But if Secretary Kelly really wants to prevent, and punish, sexual assault, he can begin much … [Read more...]