New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Opening the Box

July 24, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Angola 3 News, Culture, Politics

Sarah Shourd on Herman Wallace, California Hunger Strikers and the Horror of Solitary Confinement

by Angola 3 News

Last month, we were devastated to learn that the Angola 3’s Herman Wallace had been diagnosed with liver cancer, and that he was continuing to be held in isolation in a locked room at Hunt Correctional Center’s prison infirmary. Reflecting on his confinement while battling cancer, Herman said: “My own body has now become a tool of torture against me.”

On July 10, Amnesty International launched a campaign directed at Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, calling for Herman’s immediate release on humanitarian grounds (take action here). “After decades of cruel conditions and a conviction that continues to be challenged by the courts, he should be released immediately to his family so that he can be cared for humanely during his last months,” said Amnesty USA campaigner Tessa Murphy. (more…)

Embedded Racism

July 23, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Time to Build a New System Based on Healing and Inclusion

by Robert C. Koehler

Did the ghosts of our slave-holding and Jim Crow past high-five each other in the Florida courtroom on Saturday? George Zimmerman was acquitted, but does that mean that American history was, too?

The experts who weighed in on the legal battle essentially noted that, in the absence of any witnesses other than Zimmerman, the prosecution couldn’t prove what had happened, or more to the point, couldn’t convincingly counter-argue his version of events — that he was returning to his car when Trayvon Martin assaulted him and threw him to the ground, forcing him to kill the boy in self-defense. Trayvon was dead; that left him, legally, voiceless and out of luck.

Hmm . . . wasn’t that the case anyway? (more…)

Vicious Cycles

June 07, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

A Broken Justice System Perpetuates Itself…

by Robert C. Koehler

“Wheel about and turn about and do just so. Every time I turn about I jump Jim Crow.” — chorus of an 1828 minstrel song

“We have not ended racial caste in America, we have merely redesigned it.” — Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

Yeah, it’s called mass incarceration. Our jails are filled with black and brown men and women. The number of inmates, primarily people of color, has soared sevenfold in the last three decades, according to Alexander, from 300,000 to more than 2 million, the largest number, by far, in the developed world. Many millions more are on probation or parole. And no matter what their crime, the inmates never get their citizenship back. The stigma of being an ex-felon brands someone for life as a second-class human being. (more…)

Facing the Prison Problem

May 31, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Angola 3 News, Family, Politics

An Interview with Author and Former Prisoner Shawn Griffith

by Angola 3 News

If given the attention it deserves, an important new book is certain to make significant contributions to the public discussions of US Facing The Prison Problemprison policy. The author, Shawn Griffith, was released last year from Florida’s prison system at the age of 41, after spending most of his life, almost 24 years, behind bars, including seven in solitary confinement. Facing the US Prison Problem 2.3 Million Strong: An Ex-Con’s View of the Mistakes and the Solution was self-published just months after Griffith was released from what is the third largest state prison system in the US, after California and Texas.

This new book’s thoughtful analysis and chilling reflections on what author Shawn Griffith experienced while incarcerated is a remarkable illustration of why the US public must listen to the voices of current and former prisoners who have stories that only they can tell. Griffith writes that “by integrating my own personal experiences with statistics and examples from different corrections systems around the nation, I am attempting to discredit the general perception that the system is designed to enforce and protect justice for everyone. The U.S. criminal justice system is an economically and politically profitable enterprise for special interest groups in this country. The general taxpayer needs to understand how the abusive policies fostered by these groups worsen the U.S. prison problem and the debt crisis through wasted corrections expenditures.” (more…)

Letting Murderers Go Free

May 22, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Laura L. Finley, Politics

Take Action to Help End the Death Penalty

by Laura L. Finley

Breaking News: In Florida, a murderer has made public his plans to kill three individuals in the next six weeks. If all goes according to his plan, Elmer Carroll will die on May 29th, William Van Poyk will die on June 12th, and Marshal Gore will die on June 24th. And what is more, this murderer has admitted that he has killed before; in fact, he killed three people in 2012 alone.  Clearly this man is a serial killer who has killed and plans to keep doing so.

If this perpetrator were an average person like us, these highly publicized murder plans would be the subject of mass public outrage and the focus of tremendous law enforcement attention. A manhunt would be under way to catch the “evildoer.” Once apprehended, prosecutors would spare nothing to win the case and see this bloodthirsty felon held accountable for his crimes.

But, of course, the perpetrator is not like us. He is Florida Governor Rick Scott, and he has vowed to deplete Florida’s death row as quickly as possible. (more…)

Know-Nothing Security

May 21, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Politics, Robert C. Koehler

No One Is Safe in a Police State

by Robert C. Koehler

Let’s all work together to stop terrorism!

The Palm Beach County, Fla. Sheriff’s Office has a new video out urging local citizens to call them if something smells bad or seems a little weird, like, oh, a tourist is taking a picture of a bridge but there’s no one in the foreground — no spouse, no grinning kids, just . . . a bridge.

If it seems suspicious, call — because, I guess, if everyone is vigilant (“Hello, I want to report two young men carrying backpacks”) and we work with the authorities, America will be safe as pie in no time.

This program is called Community Partners Against Terrorism, though I’m tempted to call it know-nothing security — the kind based on stereotypes, unexamined fears, self-righteousness, external projections and an us-vs.-them social organization. Terrorists are bad people with inscrutable motives. All we need to know is that they’re out to get us. This is the message of the terrorism “experts,” who leverage their authority from their ability to keep us scared and vigilant. (more…)

Unlikely Friends

April 10, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Diane Lefer, Family

When Victims and Perpetrators Meet

by Diane Lefer

A few years back, after I spent an evening at a halfway house for men on parole, Sister Mary Sean Hodges challenged me. She has worked tirelessly through the Office of Restorative Justice, LA Archdiocese, on behalf of incarcerated men and women and those seeking to reenter society. She liked what I’d done advocating for gang members, prisoners, and criminal justice reform, but in her view I had fallen short. “You have to meet the victims, too,” she said.

I did, and soon felt overwhelmed and helpless in the face of so much pain and rage. I wished there could be another way — a better way — to cope with such grief, but when I heard of other ways, I was cynical. I loved Reginald Denny for forgiving the teens who beat him unconscious during LA’s civil unrest, but, hey, with his head injury, he remembered nothing of the attack and I figured that made it easier to forgive. As for other cases I heard about, seriously, would you open your heart to your child’s murderer? I wanted to admire such compassion but it seemed more like delusional naïveté. You’d have to be a saint — or crazy. (more…)