“The Gift Shop of the Dead”: I Visit the Museum of Crime and Punishment

for AmSpec: For the past twelve years I’ve volunteered at a crisis pregnancy center serving mainly low-income women in the District of Columbia, and I’ve noticed something about how our clients talk: Nobody ever says “prison.” Boyfriends, husbands, fathers, sons were never “locked up,” “in jail,” or “serving time”; they were always “incarcerated.” There is an unexpected poignancy to the bureaucratic term—a lacy Latinate word suffused with so much pain, as if standardization and abstraction coul … [Read more...]

From “Infinite Jest”

[Gately's] respected and well-liked by almost all the residents, which the House Manager says causes the veteran Staff some concern, because Gately's job is not to be these people's friend all the time. --from the description of the drug rehab halfway house; it's weird reading this book after having read so much about abusive and just pointless "treatment" at similarly 12-Step-only, non-research-based treatment centers in the real world. It's presented with wry irony here, but that … [Read more...]

Families of Miss. Inmates Pay Protection Money to Gangs and Guards to Keep Their Relatives Safe: Clarion-Ledger

reports: Families have paid thousands of dollars in "protection money" to inmates, gangs and guards to keep their loved ones from being harmed or killed behind bars.Days before last Christmas, Janet Stewart got a telephone call, asking if she wanted to see her son alive again.The caller wanted $400 and identified himself as an inmate at the Wilkinson County Correctional Facility — the same prison where her son was serving time.She took the threat seriously. Gang members had already b … [Read more...]

Good Cop: Radley Balko on Joseph McNamara

here: It’s a sad irony that we’ve lost Joseph McNamara just as the country has become engaged in a productive and overdue discourse about policing. McNamara, who passed away Friday at the age of 79, was an eloquent and engaging critic of the drug war, of reactionary and aggressive policing, and of the militarization of law enforcement long before those positions were popular.McNamara’s voice was particularly important for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, he had 35 years of policing … [Read more...]

“Doctors Say Arizona Prisons Mocked Sick Inmates, Left Stroke Victims in Soiled Diapers for Weeks”

I post these now and then but keep in mind that this is like the fingernail polish on the tip of the iceberg: Arizona’s privatized prison healthcare system routinely abuses and ignores sick and mentally ill inmates, according to newly released confidential reports from doctors who visited prisons and reviewed inmates’ medical records. The experts are serving as witnesses in a class-action lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and expected to go to trial this fall.The phy … [Read more...]

“Hard Questions We’re Not Asking Pope Francis”: John L. Allen, Jr

item #2: Sex abuse is another front. An exception came with an Aug. 24 piece in The New York Times about former Polish Archbishop Joseph Wesolowski, a onetime papal envoy in the Dominican Republic accused of molesting minors. He was recalled in late 2013 and laicized, meaning kicked out of the priesthood, in June.The Times asked whether bringing the former prelate to Rome was a way of evading civil prosecution, forcing the Vatican to clarify that because he’s been stripped of diplomatic s … [Read more...]

No Werewolf But the Class Werewolf: Short movie reviews

The Anniversary: Bette Davis as hell-matriarch in red eyepatch shaped like a teardrop. Swings wildly from ultracamp to the sort of thing you'll instantly recognize if you or a friend had a narcissistic parent. An example of my thing* about how "'Realism' only works for people whose worldviews are already accepted as realistic. The rest of us must make do with genre"--the parent's narcissism distorts the whole family's sense of what is real, so the most outrageous acts and statements seem … [Read more...]


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