New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Children Matter

December 11, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Diane Lefer, Family

Coping with the Trauma of Incarcerated Parents

by Diane Lefer

Imagine that as you read these words, someone bursts into the room and holds a gun to your head. Your body and brain react instantly to the threat in ways that can be measured scientifically as cortisol floods your system.

Children with Incarcerated ParentsThe same level of cortisol is found in young children when separated from a primary caregiver. That absence feels as life-threatening as a loaded gun, explained Ann Adalist Estrin, currently the Director of National Resource Center on Children of Incarcerated Parents.

The adult calms down, she continued, when the threat is ended. Dopamine floods the system with relief. But in a young child, the dopamine response comes from contact with the caregiver. So what happens if the caregiver is gone? Toxic stress can change the chemistry and actual architecture of the developing brain, potentially with lifelong consequences.

Today, approximately 2.7 million American children are separated from a parent because of arrest and lockup in prison or jail. Do we simply accept that these kids will be collateral damage in our culture of mass incarceration? (more…)

Trivializing Peace

November 28, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Culture, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

We Lose Every War We Fight…

by Robert C. Koehler

What goes around comes around . . . and around, and around.

Last month, the day after I left Santa Rosa, Calif., a 13-year-old boy carrying a toy replica of an AK-47 was shot and killed on the outskirts of that town by a Sonoma County deputy sheriff with a reputation for being trigger-happy. The officer had ordered the boy to drop the “gun,” then in a matter of two or three seconds opened fire, giving him no chance to comply.

This is not an isolated incident, which is why it’s yet one more tragedy I can’t get out of my mind — one more logical consequence of the simplistic militarism and mission creep that’s eating us alive. This is gun culture running unchecked from boyhood to manhood, permeating national policy both geopolitically and domestically. This is the trivialization of peace. It results in the ongoing murder of the innocent, both at home and abroad, at the hands of government as well as criminals and terrorists. (more…)

Stop Stop-and-Frisk

August 20, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

From Outside Occupation to Community Engagement

by Robert C. Koehler

Stopping crime before it happens is a great idea, but stopping young men for “walking while black” — touted by true believers as the same thing — is a game played by an occupying army.

The tactic is called stop-and-frisk. As practiced by many police departments, including New York’s, it amounts to blatant racial profiling. Stop-and-frisk makes it impossible for young men of color to lead normal lives, to walk outside without fear of preemptive police harassment. The long-term hatred and tension it engenders does far more harm to a community than all the questionable good that proponents ascribe to it. Security based on racism is a sham. (more…)

Things Have to Change

July 12, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Ecology, Economy, Jan Lundberg, Politics

Understanding the Worsening Vibe of Violence in the U.S.

by Jan Lundberg

It certainly feels to me more peaceful and convivial in Germany and Holland, for example, than in the U.S. Aside from the oft-heard complaint of the U.S. as a crime-ridden and crazy place, here are three factors out of several offered in this article that contribute to significant cultural and physical-environment differences:

Image* The threat of physical violence posed by police and associated agencies that can instill fear without even making direct contact with civilians. * Job-insecurity and obsession about money for survival and self-image. * The car-oriented infrastructure that makes most streets potential death zones for pedestrians and bicyclists, not to mention creating ugly urban blight. (Not necessarily listed in order of importance.)

There appears to be more shocking police brutality in the U.S. than before, with more focus by alternative media outlets. Conventional news reporters tend to downplay police crimes because the police are important sources for news stories. But regardless, violence by police, sociopaths killing random crowds, and rising suicides are but symptoms of a society looking more like a madhouse than anywhere else besides war zones. (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…)

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…)

Paying for Detention

February 16, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Pat LaMarche, Politics

Interview with Sheriff Arpaio Casts Light on Kids, Poverty, and More

by Pat LaMarche

{Editor’s Note: NCV Contributor Pat LaMarche is on a journey to explore homelessness and poverty in the U.S. NCV will post updates from her travels…}

I met with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio this week. (You can read the full transcript of our conversation on my Facebook page.) I was excited to meet with him for many reasons. I was hoping against hope that he could clear up something about the role the criminal justice system plays in the lives of the poor. But all that aside, I thought he might answer some questions that were planted in my brain earlier on our Babes of Wrath EPIC Journey: why in the world kids in Arizona get charged a per diem for their incarceration.

Short answer? He didn’t know. No, it’s not that he didn’t know why, he just didn’t know they were charged at all. The kids are charged in Coconino County, Arizona — but it appears not in Maricopa County. It must be subjective. After all, Sheriff Arpaio decides what the kids in his jails have, including a chain gang. When we spoke, the Sheriff was boasting about his equal opportunity chain gangs. (more…)