New Clear Vision


constructive commentary for the chronically farsighted


Common Cause

January 29, 2015 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Politics, Robert C. Koehler

Healing the Criminal Justice System

by Robert C. Koehler

“It’d be really hard to have a higher recidivism rate than we have in Cook County.” Maybe this is the place to start a brief meditation on changing the world, or at least Chicago . . . known to some of its residents as “Chiraq.”

commoncauseThe speaker is Elena Quintana, executive director of the Adler Institute on Public Safety and Social Justice, which, in partnership with Roosevelt University’s Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation, recently completed a study on Cook County’s dysfunctional juvenile justice system.

What we’re doing isn’t working, justice-wise, order-wise, sanity-wise. The state of Illinois is bankrupt and yet its jails are full to bursting, at a cost, per occupant, equal to or greater than the cost of luxury suites at its ritziest hotels. And 90 percent of the teenagers who enter the system come back within three years of their release. This is no surprise: The system is a spiral of entrapment, especially for young men of color. (more…)

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…)

Revisiting Reentry

January 07, 2014 By: NCVeditor Category: Family, Politics, Victoria Law

New Books Explore the Challenges of Coming Home from Prison

by Victoria Law

“Reno hadn’t wanted to stay in prison, but she wasn’t ready for the streets. Wasn’t half the way she remembered.” — Sin Soracco, Edge City

California’s prison system has continually made news this past year. Over 30,000 people rocked its prison system with a mass hunger strike that lasted nearly 60 days.  News about coerced sterilizations in its women’s prisons shocked and outraged prisoner rights and reproductive justice activists, leading to legislative hearings. At least two prison sites were found to be toxic. People sentenced under California’s Three Strikes continue to languish in prison and the numbers of prisoners aged 55 or older have increased by over 500% between 1990 and 2009. To top it off, Governor Brown continues to resist the 2011 Supreme Court order to decrease prison overcrowding.  (more…)

Something More

October 14, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Family, Missy Beattie, Politics

What Else Can We Do for the Cause of Freedom?

by Missy Beattie

Sunday, sister Laura and I went to a festival a block from my apartment. We walked past the vendor artists, their booths of pottery, jewelry, paintings, and metalwork, and opened our portable chairs near a stage where musicians performed. An event organizer took the mic and said someone mentioned the strangeness of having a festival when the country’s facing so many problems. She’d responded that art makes the world go ‘round.

I sat there, thinking about Herman Wallace and Alfred Woodfox. Actually, I’ve thought of little else for over a week.

Wallace spent 41 years in solitary confinement at Louisiana’s Angola prison. And so has Woodfox. For Wallace, the torture is over. Diagnosed in June with advanced liver cancer, he was freed by a federal judge on Tuesday, October 1st and died three days later at the home of a friend. (more…)

Life Story

March 13, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Community, Culture, Economy, Pat LaMarche

A Woman Struggles with Poverty, Race, and Education in America

by Pat LaMarche

I had lunch this week with a woman who was homeless for a number of years. She’s in Section 8 housing now with a slumlord who doesn’t fix what breaks and has ignored the cockroaches that move from rental unit to rental unit easier than a breeze on a cool night. No surprise there, as breezes don’t have legs and the ability to seek out moisture and food.

She’s found two prospective places and hopes to move, but the federal housing inspectors haven’t given her the okay yet, so she struggles to tolerate her home. She reached out to me because she’s in a bit of trouble and she needs some help. (more…)

Enmified

February 27, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Current Events, Erin Niemela, Politics

We Could End Up Like Bradley Manning — Marking 1000 Days in Detention

by Erin Niemela

“I wouldn’t want to end up like Bradley Manning.” Those words were the beginning of an outpouring last week by an associate of mine who claimed to have experienced government and corporate corruption that many only read about in alternative media reports.  I sat for hours listening to stories of unbridled corruption on the taxpayer’s dime, conspiratorial advances of arms industries into consumer markets, sexually predatory behaviors deemed an acceptable part of institutional culture, and a resulting pessimistic world perspective that would make a seasoned peace activist cringe.

Having ostensibly had higher security access than common America, yet not nearly as open access as either our high-ranking politicians, our official military personnel, or some war-contracting corporate executives, my associate’s proclaimed experiences were tame in comparison to what’s likely happening at the very top, he explained. Although he felt morally inclined to report the abuses, he insisted he didn’t want to “end up like Bradley Manning.”

Among notable whistleblowers, Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, on suspicion of leaking diplomatic cables, war logs and video footage of civilian murders by American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to Wikileaks, remains a steadfast example of what happens when one blows the whistle on the American government.  So, how did Bradley Manning end up? What would my associate so desperately wish to avoid? (more…)

Frozen Prairie

February 25, 2013 By: NCVeditor Category: Brian Terrell, Community, Family, Politics

Letter from a Drone Protester’s Jail

by Brian Terrell

Greetings from the Federal Prison Camp in Yankton, South Dakota!  As of this writing, I am two months into a six month sentence imposed due to my protest of war crimes committed by remote control from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri against the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Betsy accompanied me here to Yankton on November 29, and that evening the Emmaus House Catholic Worker community, Beth Preheim, Michael Sprong and Dagmar Hoxie, hosted an evening of music, good food and good company to see me off.  Activists from around the Midwest attended, including some sisters from the Benedictine monastery here.

In the morning after a great breakfast and Gospel prayer, Betsy and Dagmar and Michael, along with Renee Espeland and Elton Davis, Catholic Workers from Des Moines, and Jerry Ebner, a Catholic Worker from Omaha, walked a “last mile” with me to the gate of the prison where I expect to remain until the end of May. (more…)