Author, Expert & Speaker

Shock

The older we get, the clearer our perspectives on life become. This onset of clarity is wired in us. My theory is this: dormant genes of wisdom kick in at different times in people’s lives. Some people experience the jolt early on; some people never do. I like the Your Dictionary definition of wisdom: “the quality of being wise; power of judging rightly and following the soundest course of action, based on knowledge, experience, understanding, etc.; good judgment; sagacity” (prone to evaluating information before making a decision).… Read the rest

As I write this post, a seventeen-day prison strike is going on in this country. The coordinated actions started on August 21, 2018, and will end on September 9, 2018. The strike brings to the forefront prison reform issues that I, and countless other supporters of change, have been bringing to the attention of the general public and public servants about the pernicious grind of mass incarceration.… Read the rest

Courts routinely appoint a guardian ad litem (GAL) for children whose best interests are to be determined by a court of law. The Latin term ad litem means for the lawsuit. When a child is caught in a highly contentious custody dispute, the courts can appoint an independent attorney or mental health professional to represent the best interests of the child.… Read the rest

The curtain rises for Act 2. As discussed in Act 1, Greenlighting: Jailhouse Snitches, the term greenlighting comes from a lawsuit filed in the Orange County (California) superior court on April 4, 2018, against the Orange County district attorney and the sheriff. The lawsuit does not ask for money; it asks the court to overhaul the Orange County justice system, which is allegedly “in disrepair and disrepute.” See P.E.O.P.L.E.Read the rest

Sometimes allegations in a lawsuit read like banal pulp fiction. Often they ring with the tenor of a dime novel—too contrived to be true. P.E.O.P.L.E. v. Rackauckas, a forty-page civil lawsuit filed in the Orange County (California) superior court on April 4, 2018, distinguishes itself from legal humdrum. Brought by the ACLU Foundation of Southern California on behalf of the plaintiffs, the lawsuit is not about money.… Read the rest

In a previous post, The Loss of Compassion: The Gray Wave—Part 1, I used this definition of compassion: a “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” People without the compassion gene stand out; there’s something missing. I saw it all the time in prison in the interaction between staff and inmates and between inmates themselves.… Read the rest

The heavy hand of unchecked power has gone too far. The indefinite detention of people whom immigration officials have yet to decide whether to admit or deport from the country is out of control. I see policies that affront the constitutional rights of due process and equal protection of the law.… Read the rest

I wonder what the big prison reform issue is going to be in 2018. As I see it, there are three categories of reform issues to watch: preincarceration (bail and sentencing), incarceration (overcrowding and rehabilitation), and postincarceration (reentry and employment). This post focuses on incarceration—more specifically, the retention of inmates in private prisons.… Read the rest

Some laws are oppressive to low-income people facing criminal prosecution. An example is California Penal Code section 1203.016. This law, effective since January 1, 2015, enables California’s fifty-eight counties to deliver poor people to corporations that then profit from the human misery of these people, men and women who are charged with crimes and stuck in jail.… Read the rest

Skin Deep: Looking Beyond the Tattoos is a book you absorb through your eyes and into your heart. This 176-page coffee table book is a thoughtful catalog of stunning photographs of formerly incarcerated people and their self-disclosures about their tattoos. Twenty-seven people are presented in two striking visuals: heavily tattooed and digitally retouched without their prison ink.… Read the rest

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