This past week, the Pew Research Center released a study of the most liberal and conservative American cities, with San Francisco coming out as the most liberal city, and Mesa, Arizona, (population- 439,000), the most conservative. While the city rankings shouldn’t come as a major surprise, what is interesting is how few conservative cities there are. Of the 77 cities in the survey, only 11 of them were placed on the conservative side of the spectrum.
With powerful wording and heartfelt delivery, Clint Smith makes the case against silence and apathy in just a few minutes. A Desmond Tutu quote comes to mind: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” When it comes to conflict and current events, it is up to us to sift through the grey, find the injustice, and to speak against it. To do otherwise is to take the side of oppression. Complacency and apathy are not acceptable.
Prison populations are booming, and it’s a relatively new trend. Since the year of 1980, the number of people incarcerated has more than quadrupled. The United States has a measly five percent of the world’s population, but a quarter of those jailed. The way we prosecute and sentence for crimes is systemically racist. And if that weren’t troubling enough, the advent of for-profit institutions with a quota for inmates means there are prisons being run for profit from the incarceration of other human beings. Lobbyists for prison corporations put massive pressure on state legislatures to change laws, getting more people arrested and jailed. And recidivism rates are high — too many of those who leave prison end up coming back.
While campaign finance reform and other complicated issues are tied to getting private interest out of the prison business, there are certainly other reforms that, if instituted widely, would aid in lowering recidivism, improving inmate quality and worth of life, and making prisons more useful and less expensive. Through innovation and experience, Dan Pacholke outlines common sense prison reform that the United States should stand up and pay attention to — it’s obvious our current model isn’t working.