Pick 6 (09/18/2015)

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I. READ IT: Who Pays? The True Cost of Incarceration on Families (The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Forward Together, Research Action Design, and partners)

Who Pays? The True Cost of Incarceration on Families proves that the costs of locking up millions of people in jail cells is much deeper than we think – when we lock up individuals we also break apart their families and communities. This new report reveals the overwhelming debt, mental and physical ailments and severed family bonds that are some of the costs families face. The situation is dire, but a better approach is possible according to Who Pays? which suggests critical and achievable family-centered reforms. Read the report now. 

II. WATCH IT: What Happens When a Prisoner is Released? (The Atlantic)

“Just over half of the African American male population in New Orleans is unemployed, partly because of former encounters with the criminal justice system that make it incredibly difficult to find work. In the city, there are a handful of organizations that work to help prisoners upon their release through forms of support like housing and job training. ‘Basically, everybody in my community is in prison,’ says Dianne Jones, who heads one of the first re-entry programs to serve women in New Orleans. ‘As a black mother, I feel as if the system was designed to fail me here.’ In this short documentary, we uncover the processes and pitfalls of re-entering society after being incarcerated.”

III. READ/VIEW IT: ‘So This Is What a Murderer Looks Like’ (The Marshall Project)

“For a continuing project she calls ‘Life After Life Inside,’ Bennett photographed four women— Carol, Evelyn, Keila and Tracy—who re-entered society after serving sentences of between 17 to 35 years at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, New York State’s maximum security prison for women. All had been sentenced to terms of up to life in prison, and all had been denied parole at least once, sometimes repeatedly.”

With photos.

IV. READ/ VIEW IT: Angola Prison and the Shadow of Slavery (The New Yorker)

“The prison farm, which is commonly known as Angola, is the country’s largest maximum-security prison, in a state that imprisons more people per capita than any other in the United States. Situated a hundred and forty miles northwest of New Orleans, the prison was taken over by the state in 1901, having been founded, twenty years before, on land consolidated from several cotton and sugarcane plantations, the largest of which was named Angola, after the country its slaves came from.”

With photos of Angola prison taken between 1980 and 2013.

V. READ IT: Baltimore Will Pay Freddie Gray’s Family $6.4 Million (The Atlantic)

Baltimore has agreed to pay Freddie Gray’s family $6.4 million to settle any civil claims in his death. The criminal trials against the six officers implicated in Gray’s death have not yet begun. It is not unusual for civil settlements to happen separately from criminal trials. “The proposed settlement agreement going before the Board of Estimates should not be interpreted as a judgment on the guilt or innocence of the officers facing trial,” Rawlings-Blake said. “This settlement is being proposed solely because it is in the best interest of the city, and avoids costly and protracted litigation that would only make it more difficult for our city to heal and potentially cost taxpayers many millions more in damages.”

VI. READ IT: Ferguson Panel Outlines Possible Solutions To Community’s Problems (NPR)

“‘We have begun to build a problem-solving machine,’ say the members of a governor-appointed panel that has spent months identifying entrenched issues in Ferguson, Mo., and talking with members of the community about ways to tackle those problems.From eliminating jail time for minor offenses to changing how police are trained and raising the minimum wage, the commission is issuing ‘calls to action’ for Ferguson, for St. Louis and for the state of Missouri that cover broad ground. Several of the policy changes have to do with court fees and fines. For instance, municipal courts should ‘determine a defendant’s ability to pay,’ the commission says. The panel also calls for authorities to withdraw and cancel all ‘failure to appear’ warrants. Those are among the recommendations in the Ferguson Commission’s nearly 200-page final report that is meant to help the Missouri community heal and move forward after the killing of Michael Brown by police sparked rioting that was widely seen as a reaction to years of problematic policies.”

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