“Get Out of Jail, Inc.”

The New Yorker: On a cold November afternoon, Harriet Cleveland, a forty-nine-year-old mother of three, waved me over from the steps of her pink cottage in Montgomery, Alabama. She was off to her part-time job as a custodian at a local day-care center, looking practical but confectionary: pink lipstick, a pastel yellow-and-pink tunic, and dangly pink earrings. We’d need to start walking soon, she explained. The job, which paid seven dollars and twenty-five cents an hour, was the only one she’d b … [Read more...]

“The Criminalization of Parenthood”: Radley Balko

again some more: A couple of themes we explore here at The Watch are the increasing criminalization of just about everything and the use of the criminal justice system to address problems that were once (and better) handled by families, friends, communities and other institutions. A few examples from recent headlines show those themes intersecting with parenthood.The first story comes from South Carolina, where a mother was jailed and charged with “unlawful conduct toward a child” for . . . … [Read more...]

“The Criminalization of Poverty”: Radley Balko

writes: ...NPR found that in the vast majority of America, defendants can be charged for a public defender, for their own parole and probation, the cost of a jury trial, and their stay in a jail cell. Some jurisdictions have even found ways to charge people “booking fees” after an arrest, even if the arrest never results in a criminal charge, a policy recently upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. My favorite example of this nonsense, though it isn’t in the NPR report, is … [Read more...]

Today’s Themes: Gallows Humor and Vodka

A round-up of what I've been reading."Missouri Considers Lifting Lifetime Food Stamp Ban for Former Drug Felons." Missouri is one of 10 states that currently has a lifetime ban on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for anyone convicted of a drug-related felony, but they could soon be amending their policy.The harsh ban was part of the welfare reform effort of 1996, but most states have since modified or completely removed the lifetime ban. However, the Missouri Senate … [Read more...]

The Dishonorable Poor: “Harakiri”

It's 1630. A desperate, aging ronin arrives at the gates of a big estate and asks permission to commit harakiri in the courtyard. The estate's counselor lets him in and tells him a story: the story of the last samurai who came there, not too long ago, with the same request.This is the arresting opening to Masaki Kobayashi's 1962 Harakiri, a tense, tragic movie which includes the requisite crazy samurai fight scenes and discourses on the nature of bushido, but goes far beyond those elements … [Read more...]

Friday Links: Wal-Mart, Letter to My Freshman Self, Kitchen Tricks, And Much More

What I'm reading. If you follow me on Twitter you've seen some of these--but not all!Radley Balko does an AMA (Ask Me Anything) about his new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop. Tons of interesting q&a about police practices and culture.And more from Balko, "New Study Finds that State Crime Labs Are Paid Per Conviction." I see no way this could go wrong!Megan McArdle: "Why Wal-Mart Will Never Pay Like Costco." Useful reading, important in correcting various economic myths, although … [Read more...]

“Five Insane Laws Written Specifically to Harass Poor People”: Look, It’s Cracked

so it is not exactly a Brookings Institute report, but, well, I wouldn't read a Brookings Institute report and neither should you. … [Read more...]


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