Organization of the month: Equal Justice Initiative


I first became aware of Equal Justice Initiative when I read Just MercyI had heard other activists speak reverently about this book by Bryan Stevenson. The book chronicles his move to Alabama to start an organization to defend poor people battling a racist justice system and free those who have been wrongfully convicted. It’s a searing indictment of our criminal justice system and a beautiful meditation on the concept of mercy and how it should infuse our culture and our approach to criminal justice.  Continue reading “Organization of the month: Equal Justice Initiative”


We can’t just be against the death penalty when it’s easy


As we hear more and more outrageous stories about wrongly convicted people spending decades in prison, support for the death penalty weakens. According to The Innocence Project, 341 prisoners have been exonerated through DNA evidence in the last 25 years. And these are the ones who are lucky enough to have an organization with resources to investigate their cases. Continue reading “We can’t just be against the death penalty when it’s easy”

Weekend reading


These graphs show the veto power of white men in politics.

Around the world, women are forced to justify their reasons for abortion.

4 damning findings from the investigation into the shooting of Tamir Rice.

Black Americans are killed at 12 times the rate of people in other developed countries.

How Section 8 became a “racial slur.”

Can we release violent criminals from prison without increasing crime? Yes.

Tim Wise on Rachel Dolezal and the creation of antiracist white identity.

What Rachel Dolezal doesn’t understand: being black is about more than how you look.

Ann Friedman asks, how do you know you’re a woman?


Kalief Browder, Timothy Tyrone Foster and the failures of the criminal justice system

Kalief Browder, 1993-2015
Kalief Browder, 1993-2015

This week, Kalief Browder’s all too brief life came to an end when he committed suicide. If I had greater faith in this country’s position as a moral bastion, I wouldn’t be able to believe his tragic story. Kalief, just 22 when he died, was held in jail for three years without trial starting at the age of 16 for stealing a backpack, a charge he vigorously denied. He suffered in jail all that time partly because his family could not afford bail, and after all that his case was dismissed. He spent about two of those years in solitary confinement, a practice that most reasonable people recognize as torture. The conditions he faced were reprehensible:  Continue reading “Kalief Browder, Timothy Tyrone Foster and the failures of the criminal justice system”

Talk about the people, not just the politics


Despite the fact that we’re more than a year away from the 2016 presidential election, we’re already getting inundated with horse race coverage. For candidates and likely candidates, every single moved is parsed for political impact. Every policy statement is assessed for what it signals about a candidates’ intentions or desire to woo a particular demographic.

When Hillary Clinton made a statement about criminal justice reform, a couple of Washington Post columnists attacked her for committing political suicide (apparently confronting a glaring reality turns you into Michael Dukakis). Radley Balko responded by tearing apart their claims that this is not a politically viable position, but then gets to the heart of the matter:  Continue reading “Talk about the people, not just the politics”

Weekend reading


If, like me, you watched a lot of Saved by the Bell as a kid and then grew up to love bell hooks, enjoy.

England just established “yes means yes” guidelines for police investigating rape.

One of many takedowns of Jonathan Chait’s piece bemoaning “political correctness.”

157 hate tweets a feminist faced in one week.

Reasons you were not promoted that are totally unrelated to gender.

A record-breaking number of wrongfully convicted people were released from prison last year.

Karen Hartman on wanting to go beyond being “passively pro-choice.”

Lena Dunham, Kristen Wiig, Mindy Kaling and Jenji Kohan on misogyny in Hollywood and more.

Debunking the myth of the good guy with a gun.

Donate to help a sexual assault survivor return to Paris to testify against her attacker.

What’s at stake in this election


It’s midterm election season, which means an onslaught of frantic emails and late night TV jokes about how no one cares about the midterm elections. Without a presidential race at the top of the ticket (though frighteningly we’re already having the 2016 conversation), a lot of people are content to let this one pass them by. As with most elections, there’s a lot at stake, and the results will directly impact our lives. I could go on about control of the Senate, extremely close gubernatorial races and state legislatures that have passed everything from Stand Your Ground to draconian voter ID laws. For the sake of brevity, I’m going to focus on some of the issues on the ballot around the country, and opportunities we have to beat back offensive laws or proactively be more bold than our governments are willing to be on their own.

Continue reading “What’s at stake in this election”