Re: Guest Post - The Normalization of Prison

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Massive link formatting lossage--Looks like some <br/>'s got in to them.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 7:13 AM
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Sesame Street
Reason link
Atlantic article on funding


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 7:16 AM
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Whoops. Fixed. Let me know if it reverts.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 7:19 AM
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But this is how things work now. We have a great, disgusting injustice (like Guantanamo or the various over-the-top responses to whistleblowers) and the way that the military-industrial complex deals with it isn't to hide it or to massage what's going on, but just to say "yes, that's the way it works, that's what we're doing". It's certainly a response to the internet, since it's much harder to hide prison statistics or the grotesque treatment of Bradley Manning (who, however you feel about the kid, is certainly being treated in a pretty gross way). And of course, no one in power wants actually to change those things, but they have to respond in some way since they can't keep stuff secret as effectively any more.

Come to think of it, the only rational response to the great availability of unease-making information via the internet is to assert harder than ever that the current world order is correct and immutable - we can't have fair trials because historical evidence suggests that we have not had them in the past, everyone has torture prisons and the US has always - look at the evidence! - had torture prisons, men are like this and women are like that and thus it has always been, etc. We have to use the existence of great injustices across history to legitimate actively continuing the great injustices of today.

And there's something here too about therapy as social tool. It's really grotesque - that you must turn to the very arm of capital/state that destroys your family and torments you for comfort. It's like you have to accept the legitimacy of your own abuse in order to access resources. (This is biopower, right? That "health" (in this case mental and family health) is used to cement the power of the state over the abused.)

Ugh. This makes me want to move to the woods and live in an all-season tent, feeding only on roots, berries and such small animals as I can catch and mutating into a freakish para-human.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 7:26 AM
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And there's something here too about therapy as social tool. It's really grotesque - that you must turn to the very arm of capital/state that destroys your family and torments you for comfort.

I've quoted Smearcase on this before, when he's said something to the effect of "It feels pretty hopeless to be prescribing therapy to all these people whose biggest problem is being collateral damage of capitalism."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 7:31 AM
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4: I probably have bad news about the forests and roots and berries, but now I'm too depressed to think about it.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 7:44 AM
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Witt, thanks very much for #1. I'm starting to look at it and have shared it in some foster parent groups where I know it will be welcome.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 8:10 AM
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And I did read the links and am not (yet) as drawn to the Ewwww side in response as Witt was. I mean, I'm no fan of prisons but I also do think that it's worth normalizing incarceration for children whose parents are going through it!

As far as the funding for the initiative, I'm not seeing any sleazy undercurrents in what's actually being presented and it fits pretty well with how our household deals with the issue of parents who are inaccessible for whatever reason. I mean, maybe it's in the prison's best interests to make visits go as smoothly as possible and this is a way to help with that, but it doesn't seem to be breeding a generation who will think of prison as the place to be or anything like that. I don't know any details about how BAE runs its prisons and how awful they are in the scheme of things, but I'm not finding an obvious way to be disgusted in their involvement here. Being disgusted they run for-profit prisons and that our country allows for-profit prisons is something I can emotionally and morally separate, I guess.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 8:39 AM
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5: I was called out by Shearer for this, and though I guess that was to be expected, it suggests I shouldn't assume such a statement needs no unpacking. In case Shearer or anyone else finds it facile, here's an example:

[or not. It got really long and mopey.]

A friend posted on the other place today that her kid has a toy prison transfer bus. It is, yeah, a real alarm bell that this kind of normalization has to be happening, but Thorn is right. Not bothering to normalize it won't make the problem go away and will be lousy for a lot of kids.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 9:03 AM
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her kid has a toy prison transfer bus

Now there's some fun kid play to overhear. "Look out Jimmy, Chuco's keestered a shiv!"


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 9:16 AM
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keestered

Please tell me this doesn't mean what it obviously means.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 9:18 AM
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Nouns get changed into verbs all too often for my taste also.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 9:21 AM
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Please tell me this doesn't mean what it obviously means.

Too late, you can't unknow that.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 9:28 AM
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4.2 articulates better than I could one of the most infuriating things about political discourse today. People like that should be stabbed. Fortunately, people like that have always been stabbed, so it's okay.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 9:32 AM
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Stabbed with something that's been keestered, for infectious good times.

"Feces infused blade", worst D&D weapon ever.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 9:55 AM
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We have a great, disgusting injustice (like Guantanamo or the various over-the-top responses to whistleblowers) and the way that the military-industrial complex deals with it isn't to hide it or to massage what's going on, but just to say "yes, that's the way it works, that's what we're doing"

AND THEN everyone just accepts that that is the way it works and that's that, so get used to it and you're a naïf or a moron or something if you expect better or different.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 9:59 AM
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I don't know any details about how BAE runs its prisons and how awful they are in the scheme of things

As far as I know BAE doesn't run prisons itself; it just uses prison labour to build weapons. (As most US weapons companies do, it seems.)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 10:00 AM
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That's an inherent problem with our overvaluing of what's "Constitutional", of course -- people talk as if the Bill of Rights covers everything important, so if something's an important right, it's got to be in the Bill of Rights somewhere, and conversely if some practice isn't barred by the Bill of Rights, it must be perfectly okay. And of course all sorts of horrible things were and are constitutional. That doesn't mean they're not horrible and shouldn't be prohibited, it just means that turning to the Constitution for help isn't the way to go.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 10:02 AM
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"Feces infused blade", worst D&D weapon ever.

No, no, that sounds wrong. It would be something like "+3 blade of feces." Or, maybe, "Feces of Vecna" (which would, of course, require a fecal transplant to be used).

Sorry, everybody.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 10:06 AM
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18 is right, and while I stand by my assertion in the other thread about needing a revolution to get the Fourth Amendment back, nothing prevents a coalition of diverse interests in Congress from paring back the national security state. Too bad the whole Tea Party thing is fake.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 10:11 AM
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18: shouldn't the ninth amendment somewhat mitigate the "it must be in the bill of rights" line of thought? But I suppose it's often swept under the rug.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 10:14 AM
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In fact, there are no judicial/constitutional revolutions without changes in the dominant politics of the executive and judicial branches, so the two are not alternatives but complements.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 10:18 AM
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But I suppose it's often swept under the rug.

I believe there have been survey's about people's "folk wisdom" about what is or isn't included in the Bill of Rights and that it isn't tied particularly closely to the actual text.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 10:18 AM
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The second "judicial" there should be legislative. Anyhow, judicial politics is an extension of dominant coalition politics in the other branches, albeit with time lags and particular features unique to the judiciary. There's not (much) of a separate "bill of rights" that exists outside of the political universe.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 10:23 AM
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So, you guys like to tell jokes, huh? Gigglin' and laughin' like a bunch of young broads sittin' in a schoolyard. Well, let me tell a joke. Five guys, sittin' in a bullpen, in San Quentin. All wondering how the fuck they got there. What should we have done, what didn't we do, who's fault is it, is it my fault, your fault, his fault, all that bullshit. Then one of them says, hey. Wait a minute. When we were planning this caper, all we did was sit around tellin' fuckin' jokes!


Posted by: OPINIONATED JOE CABOT | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 10:27 AM
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17: Thanks, yes. Apparently I could neither read nor write this morning.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 10:46 AM
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17: Isn't that how Iron Man got his start? This seems like it could go wrong.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 10:55 AM
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22/24 -- I agree with this, as a general matter. There are odd little features -- justices turning out different than advertised, the US Senate -- that keep the correlations from being 100%.

The GTMO prosecutor's observation yesterday (today?) that they'll be putting many fewer men on Commission trial than previously expected seemingly came because he thinks the government is going to lose the DC Circuit en banc review in Bahlul, and doesn't expect to get cert and reversal if they do. The particular provisions at issue would command supermajorities in each house, and have had all the support from the Exec (in 2006 and now) you could ask for.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 11:26 AM
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Cf. Scalia's dismissal, at oral argument, of the votes to re-authorize the Voting Rights Act.

Speaking of which, I love this headline: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-abrams/scalia-signals-he-will-de_b_3412576.html


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 11:30 AM
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Speaking of losing respect for judges, a second PA Supreme Court justice is under investigation. At least this one is in Philly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 11:34 AM
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29: That one has had me in a state of anticipatory dread all week. Maybe they won't, but if Scalia has his way I fear they are going to nail the fucker with some institutional credibility-destroying logic (per CC's link) on the order of Bush v. Gore*. Well, maybe if Congress didn't want judges like Scalia all up in their face they should have not made the law perpetual but rather forced it to be renewed from time to time. Live and learn.

*My favorite latest Scalia quote on that is from last year when he came relatively clean: So the only question in Bush v. Gore was whether the presidency would be decided by the Florida Supreme Court or by the United States Supreme Court. That was the only question, and that's not a hard one.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 12:05 PM
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31.1: I was thinking we could re-animate the "Epic wars between good and evil" thread for that discussion.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 12:06 PM
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20,22,24: Good points all (as well as in the other thread referenced). It is hard to see what in today's climate might ever engender a new Church Committee or its equivalent.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 12:18 PM
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And Wonkette beat me to the Where are the Snowdens of Yesteryear joke(s).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 12:27 PM
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It is hard to see what in today's climate might ever engender a new Church Committee or its equivalent.

I think you'd have to have a clear example of blatant, Nixonian misuse of the data to squelch political opposition. For instance, using PRISM to gain access to emails sent by political consultants. Another possibility would be if the NSA started sharing the data with the IRS, to use in tax audits. Other than that, it's very hard to see a way to either a Church Committee or a more expansive Fourth Amendment or privacy jurisprudence to deal with these issues.

Which goes to my broader point about all of this, which is that few people care very much at all about the non-obtrusive collection of computer data (which is widespread and probably inevitable), but people do care a lot about misuse of that data, whether by government or by a business.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 12:32 PM
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35: I don't think any of that would do it. In 1976 you had a population that was not as cynical, and of which a significant plurality had participated in major anti-government activism. The smoking gun of COINTELPRO was more immediate than anything that's come out of our current mess. And the gov't has become adept at outsourcing the Fred Hampton-type stuff to local cops (under cover of the Drug War) and vigilantes like Zimmerman.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 12:58 PM
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I'm with Nat. The Plame scandal, the DOJ firings. Both used the apparatus of the government to target political enemies, and there were no consequences.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 1:00 PM
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Even if a Democrat abused the NSA's data, I don't think it would gain traction. Republican politicians like these powers. Half the reason they've pushed the IRS scandal is because they want to hamstring the IRS itself. Obama is almost collateral damage. See also BATF scandal.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 1:04 PM
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Libby was fired over Plame. I believe that this firing is the only significant issue on which Cheney and Bush disagreed publicly.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 1:06 PM
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Oh, sure. I was thinking of more extreme examples -- if it came out that Obama was dispatching his staffers to secretly read Reince Priebus's emails (no longer sure if this guy is still the RNC chair, but really Reince Priebus should just be a name every RNC chair assumes upon taking office so that there is a continual line of Reince Priebuses for a thousand years), or if the IRS was routinely trolling people's emails to match them up to their tax returns.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 1:09 PM
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35: Yes, I come an go on my reaction to all of this, and I thought your 194 and 199 in that thread were pretty spot on.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 1:11 PM
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39: And lack of pardon (which Cheney still complains about).)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 1:13 PM
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Anything that pisses off Cheney gladdens my heart, but I don't think a few months jail time for a fall guy is a significant consequence. How many people did they get for Iran-Contra?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 1:20 PM
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The other difference with the Plame affair is that it was a direct assault on the CIA. I'm guessing that didn't go over too well with Bush the Elder's friends.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 1:27 PM
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Nobody is posting on this one! Other parents of little ones, are you going to have your children watch the clip and talk about how sometimes grown-ups need time out too or whatever? I don't think I had to dea with this growing up until my early teens, when one of my parents' friends was accused of murdering his wife and I had to step up as a babysitter because his prevus regulars no longer wanted to. I do think in that case suiceide seems at leadt as likely, but I definitely grew up in a context where prison was not the norm and have deliberately moved to a community where it's more normative becaus it seems unfair to the kids not to give them that. We were able to keep Val and Alex fron being self-conscious about being in foster care or having an incarcerated parent, and it seemed hugely worthwhile to be able to destigmatize those. And yet our neighborhood friends who are fine with our kids playing with theirs from the day they're placed with us still won't send their kids to the schools where they might habe known them already.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 5:33 PM
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have deliberately moved to a community where it's more normative becaus it seems unfair to the kids not to give them that.

This is striking me oddly. There shouldn't be a community where incarceration is normative, obviously, and the fact that there are such communities means there's something really wrong with our society. Given that such communities exist, it seems weird to me to think of not raising your kids in one as depriving them of anything but damage.

I feel as though I'm being a bit inconsistent here -- I'm happy that my kids aren't in an ethnically and economically segregrated upper-middle-class school, and I chose that deliberately. But seeking out a community where incarceration is a norm seems different to me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 5:39 PM
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I assume what Thorn is saying is that for her kids, specifically, it would be a burden for them to be in a community where incarceration is a total taboo, since they have relatives who are incarcerated. So they wanted to avoid a neighborhood where the kids would immediately be shamed for having incarcerated relatives. Makes sense to me, but I could be wrong.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 5:54 PM
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As for me, I don't think that the kid and I know anyone in RL who has an incarcerated family member. I'm probably wrong but who knows.

My kid is pretty obsessed with prison, though. For a long time she used to sing, loudly, "WE ARE GOING WE ARE GOING WE ARE GOING OFF TO JAIL" to the tune of "Oh my darling Clementine."

In talking about prison, I guess what I've said is that people who are in prison are there to change and get better and make their lives better so that they can be better people even though they've done bad things, which is kind of bullshit but I don't think we're really ready for a full on realistic discussion of the US prison system.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 5:55 PM
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I was trying to think of a better way to put it, too, and failed. I mean, there's a support group here for kids K-2nd grade with incarcerated parents and thank you, heroin, but that's not what I mean. If Alex had let slip at preschool that a parent was in jail, well, someone else would have had an uncle who'd been there or something and Nia is still willing to believe the parent who claims to have been arrested in front of her as having bern a victim of mistaken identity.... There's some midfle ground between positive norms and unheard-of, and I'm mych more comfortable with the kids having it be within the svope of possibilities --if far from ideal -- than with jail/prison being taboo. Same with not having a dad in the home. It's not a source of shame because it's not rare, even though two-mom homes here are.

But also planning a hypothetical home and community for kids whose life circumstances you don't know yet is hard. I have a bad feeling Rowan will end up wanting/needing to move in and I've been working on my mental house rules for 19-year-olds because of that. Lee isn't, and certainly people in more standard families are not. I'm not suggesting anyone here hould generalize from me, just urious how we intersect. (And I turn one block before the county jail when I take Nia to school every day. A well-off high school classmate is there -- heroin -- and various relatives of the kids we've had have been too, at times. I try to keep it an active reminder for me but not them.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 6:01 PM
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47: Yes.

48.last: We totally talk about incarceration that way. It's not entirely true and they get different nuances given their different experiences (and it blows my mind and breaks my heart that a preschooler can grasp the no-guns-for-felons rule but the felon is willing to risk it, I admit) but it's all abiut kerping peopke safe and we'll talk more about the disparities and other problems as they get older. For that part, it was nice to have dealt with teens first!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 6:05 PM
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||

Bleg: How long would it take to drive from Princeton, NJ to Boston? Google Maps says 4.5 hours. That's way off, isn't it?

|>


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 6:06 PM
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51: I think about 5 hours, if there are no huge delays.


Posted by: Kreskin | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 6:22 PM
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To tie together LB and Thorn's comments, I wonder if one of the reasons that people aren't talking about this is that prison -- despite our sky-high incarceration rate -- is still an very socially limited phenomenon in our society. It saturates some communities (mostly poor ones) and leaves others nearly untouched.

Virtually no one in my family or work or neighborhood social circle has connections to prison or an incarcerated person, except occasionally through their work.

That *includes* people with some egregious teenage history and adult substance-abuse disasters (which because of money and social class never ended up as prison time).

In contrast, in the elementary school where I used to tutor, kindergartners took the blocks I gave them and made courts as quickly and naturally as other kids would make houses. In their world, not just one but dozens and dozens of people are in some way connected with the prison system.

It's quite a contrast.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 6:36 PM
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We haven't discussed prison in a "Claire's-daddy-is-there" way, because that's the only real person I can think of off the top of my head who is actually there, and our kids aren't in the same class as Claire or have any reason to have any thought about her daddy. There's plenty of playing jail, but it's light and fun.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 6:43 PM
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53: Yes. We might want to raise objections to the prison-industrial complex that's effectively disenfranchising predominantly blacks, with mainstream political backing, both local and federal.

Among the things that are falling out from Edward Snowden's recent NSA revelations is the extent to which formerly governmental functions are being privatized.

That's not really news, and the prison-industrial complex isn't really news either. Actually, the privatization is just the newest step. I encourage people to look at The Condemnation of Blackness


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 6:50 PM
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51-- it definitely takes 5 hours at non-peak times. That includes 2 stops for drinks/ peeing. Depending on traffic in NYC you can take either the tappen zee or the gw bridge. I prefer the gw if its not totally backed up. I used to make that drive every other week for 5 years. It's not terrible; I recommend stopping at the rest stop near Sturbridge village in mass. It's one of the nicest ones along the way.


Posted by: Miranda | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 8:30 PM
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Bleg: How long would it take to drive from Princeton, NJ to Boston? Google Maps says 4.5 hours. That's way off, isn't it?

Four and a half to five, yeah. I know one person who once claimed to regularly do it in two and a half starting at about 2:30 AM, and he's crazy enough that that may be true, but I wouldn't recommend it.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 8:44 PM
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Or maybe he said three, now that I double-check the distance. I remember it was just on the edge of sounding impossible, but possible for someone who drives like a maniac.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 8:54 PM
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53: Another reason why prison isn't discussed much may be that the popular perception of the criminal justice system focuses on the trial process, not the punishment. So people tend to fixate on the question of guilt or innocence, and not on what happens after. I mean, thanks to jury duty and "Law and Order," lots of people have definite ideas about how a trial should work, but may not have any theory about what prison is supposed to accomplish (punishment? deterrence? reform?), or how it should do those things.

(Certainly I would say that I am ignorant in this respect.)


Posted by: torrey pine (YK) | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 9:11 PM
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Simplicity is key; there are a lot of ways to screw up if you actually go through NYC. Take 287 all the way around New York to 95 or the Merritt Parkway, unless there's a huge backup at the Tappan Zee.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 9:12 PM
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Actually if you take 287 that also gives you the option of avoiding 95 or CT-15 entirely if those are congested too, by crossing the river north of the Tappan Zee.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 9:15 PM
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May all the world regret you ever stood. And may all the world regret you did no good.

Nechayev was mostly right, except for the anti-Semitism.

Imagine if all the boys in jail could get out now together, whaddya think they'd wanna say to us, while we were being clever?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-11-13 10:03 PM
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And the gov't has become adept at outsourcing the Fred Hampton-type stuff to local cops (under cover of the Drug War) and vigilantes like Zimmerman.

Or, police shootings in places like New York are way down and Zimmerman's on trial for murder. Potato, potahto...


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06-12-13 12:07 AM
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I'm not the one making the trip. My BF's Dad's cousins are in the US, and they're visiting some people in Princeton and plan on driving up to Boston, so they're the ones who will be figuring out the route. They were calculating that they could leave in the morning and meet us for lunch and a museum visit. I thought that that was overly optimistic, since they have to drop off their car and things first--unless they were planning on leaving no later than 6:30.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 06-12-13 3:37 AM
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Aren't Canadians known for getting up with the sun each morning and crowing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-12-13 6:00 AM
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I think you're thinking of Peter Pan.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-12-13 6:09 AM
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Related: My eggs tasted really bad this morning.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-12-13 6:16 AM
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Did Peter Pan lay them?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-12-13 6:18 AM
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Free-range Canadians.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-12-13 6:21 AM
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66 made me laugh and laugh.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-12-13 6:24 AM
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64: That's going to be a very late lunch.


Posted by: Benquo | Link to this comment | 06-12-13 6:35 AM
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I believe there have been survey's about people's "folk wisdom" about what is or isn't included in the Bill of Rights and that it isn't tied particularly closely to the actual text.

Obligatory.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 06-12-13 9:35 AM
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