On Religious Freedom

A military chaplain, the Rev Ronald Apollo, sued the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to be able to practice his religious beliefs and won. BOP wanted all personnel to carry pepper spray, including chaplains, so that if attacked by an inmate they could protect themselves. Apollo challenged the rule and now prison chaplains will no longer have to carry pepper spray. That to some may be just another example of how the Christian right asserts its values on the society, but it is more than that. First of Continue reading “On Religious Freedom”

Private Prison Boom

I found a small article in der Spiegel magazine disturbing although I know there are those who will find in it a good tip, or a good move. I had already read that the Trump administration, in this case the Justice Department under Jeff Sessions, was undoing the phasing out of private prisons begun under the Obama administration.  But this article went further. It took notice of this action because Deutsche Bank issued a report saying Continue reading “Private Prison Boom”

Going To Jail as a Civic Duty

I was struck by an op-ed in the L.A. Times by novelist Jesse Ball in which he suggests that serving on jury duty may not be enough to fulfill our civic duty. His idea is that every 10 years we would be called to serve time at a prison. Just like most prisoners today we would not know which prison or for how long. He says anywhere from 3 to 90 days. Our lives would be disrupted just as that of those being incarcerated. We would be subject to all the prison’s regulations and to the way guards treat inmates. In short for that indeterminate period of time we would be just as any other Continue reading “Going To Jail as a Civic Duty”

Implicit Bias

Implicit bias refers to beliefs that unconsciously drive decisions and behavior. They obviously become part of what lies behind racism. As far as the judicial system goes, racist behavior has been studied with juries, judges and prosecutors, those who put people away. Now there is growing awareness that this can be extended to public defenders as well. They apparently spend less time with defendants of color. Implicit bias is exacerbated by stress, exhaustion and speed, three of the things that affect public defenders. It’s not only the amount of time a public defender may spend with a defendant, implicit bias can affect Continue reading “Implicit Bias”