Two Stories of a Philadelphia School’s Transformation

from Jeff Deeney. First, in July 2013: Last year when American Paradigm Schools took over Philadelphia's infamous, failing John Paul Jones Middle School, they did something a lot of people would find inconceivable. The school was known as "Jones Jail" for its reputation of violence and disorder, and because the building physically resembled a youth correctional facility. Situated in the Kensington section of the city, it drew students from the heart of a desperately poor hub of injection drug … [Read more...]

“Another Mom Thrown in Jail for Letting Kids Play in Park”: Reason

I know I say this all the time, but what really gets to me is the tone of contempt. There's pride in the police chief's condescending dehumanization. Like, he's so pleased that he came up with this super clever way to put down a woman trying to get help for her family. Lenore Skenazy agrees: Ashley, Richardson, a mom of four who went to a food bank while her kids, ages 6-8, played at the park for more than two hours, was arrested and jailed in Winter Haven, Florida. While the park day sounds … [Read more...]

Organizing Anguish: DC’s #NMOS14

Last night DC residents gathered at Malcolm X Park (Meridian Hill Park) for a vigil to honor the memory of those killed by police. My own strongest impression was how raw everything was. This was an outpouring of pain.Various people had various proposed solutions--the Socialist Workers were there, doing what they do best, i.e. holding up well-designed signs ("END MASS INCARCERATION, THE NEW JIM CROW"), and there were some other groups at various points along the spectrum of plausibility. But … [Read more...]

“Civil Rights Group Blasts San Diego County Over Pepper Spray in Juvenile Halls”

actually way worse than that headline makes it sound! The girl sat on the bunk in her cell in one of San Diego County’s female juvenile-detention units as staff members explained that she was being placed on suicide watch. They told her she had to strip naked in front of them—including in front of a male staff member.She refused, twice. So, they sprayed her in the face with pepper spray, then shut the door to her cell.Two minutes later, they asked if she was going to cooperate. She r … [Read more...]

“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 Violence of Prison Searches”

What really stands out is the contempt and dehumanization. Which is how the violence happens, I guess. Any particular stories about what it was like there that you’d like to share?Maybe the best way that I could explain is through describing a search. Our dorm gets randomly searched at least twice a month, more if they want to set an example or if somebody has been smoking in the bathroom or if there have been rumors that somebody had some sort of contraband.They use this space more or l … [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...]


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