“Four Legal Loopholes That Screw You When You’re Poor”: Cracked

rides again. The usual Cracked-related warnings for language and brain-breaking imagery. You're sitting on your couch one evening, happily working on your latest 90,000-word Spider-Man fan fiction, when your phone rings. It's a collections agency, calling about that anatomically correct Peter Parker love doll you bought for $10,000 back in 2001 and didn't quite pay off. You'd been hoping that the world had forgotten about that debt, just like they forgot about the photos of you and Peter you … [Read more...]

The Martyred Crowd: “Cathedral of the August Heat, A Novel of Haiti”

This is a short, feverish, seamy, painful book from 1987 about a revolutionary upsurge among the poorest people in the Western Hemisphere. It's written by a dissident journalist exiled by the Duvaliers. It's Communist in rhetoric, and there are moments toward the end when the rhetoric and also the optimism feel really flimsy. But most of the book is given over to tales of life at the bottom: sultry dreamscapes and violent nightmares, phantasmagoric beauty and brutal suffering, … [Read more...]

A Criminal Justice System: Link Round-Up

Depending on how you've calibrated your expectations, some of these might be construed as hopeful!Others not so much.1. "Fourteen Years After Decriminalizing All Drugs, Here's What Portugal Looks Like":In 2001, the Portuguese government did something that the United States would find entirely alien. After many years of waging a fierce war on drugs, it decided to flip its strategy entirely: It decriminalized them all. If someone is found in the possession of less than a 10-day supply … [Read more...]

Company That Sells Video Visiting for Prisoners Pushes Jails to Eliminate Face-to-Face Visits

surprise surprise! While Securus is feeling the heat in its phone business, it is moving into new sectors to secure profits. The most lucrative investment appears to be video visiting, a new technological frontier where the company already has a foothold. Video visits from home can be of much benefit to families, especially for those whose loved ones are incarcerated in remote locations, where so many prisons lie. However, as with phones, Securus' main focus is not providing access, but … [Read more...]

“Your Home Is Your Prison”

and charge them for it: Beyond the physical and emotional burdens, those under monitoring often pay for their confinement in the most literal possible fashion. As Marissa Alexander discovered in Florida, private companies often exact fees from the people they're imprisoning. They average around $10-$15 per day -- in addition to installation costs and fees imposed for drug tests or other "services." Those unable to pay may be re-incarcerated in a cycle that harkens back to debtor's prison.By … [Read more...]

“Did the Red Cross Let Its Fear of the Occupy Movement Interfere with Its Disaster Relief?”: Jesse Walker

at Reason: If you paid attention to Superstorm Sandy in 2012, you probably know that some of the centralized institutions charged with disaster relief, such as the Red Cross and FEMA, performed very poorly. You may also have heard about Occupy Sandy, an Occupy Wall Street spinoff devoted to helping people after the storm; by all accounts it performed very well. The latter group's effectiveness was recognized even by the Department of Homeland Security, an organization not ordinarily inclined … [Read more...]

“Will Work for Meaning”: I review “Two Days, One Night”

at AmCon: The most tense scene I saw in any movie this year was Marion Cotillard leaning against a blank wall gulping from a bottle of water.Cotillard is playing Sandra in “Two Days, One Night,” yet another must-see from Belgium’s Dardenne brothers (“The Kid with a Bike,” “Rosetta,” “The Child,” “The Son”). Sandra is waiting for the results of a vote taken by the employees of Solwal, the company where she used to work. When the movie opens she has barely, partially overcome a severe depressi … [Read more...]


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