Prison Blues

Just catching up on my ‘need to blog this’ list…

The NY Times recently ran this article about how 1 in 100 U.S. adults are currently incarcerated.  Even more startling is the racial disparity.

“Incarceration rates are even higher for some groups. One in 36 Hispanic adults is behind bars, based on Justice Department figures for 2006. One in 15 black adults is, too, as is one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34.”

As the article points out, being tough on crime is political glitter used when budgets are fat and little effort is spent on rehabilitation such as counseling, mental health & drug assistance, job training, etc..  Then when budgets start tightening, we see prisons releasing many long-term prisoners with little assistance towards re-adjusting to their lives, thus increasing the chances that they may re-offend. 

We’re starting to see some interesting effects from this at San Francisco General Hospital where I work in the ER.  I’ve had 3 people in the last month who were released from jail after 25-30 years of incarceration.  I’ve witnessed total Shawshank Redemption-esque incapacitation as there isn’t nearly enough case management of the folks who get released & they no longer know how to manage their lives (one diabetic, for example, who had no idea how to administer his own insulin).

I think there’s a clear answer, whether we’re willing to do it or not (and it’s what I’ve said since I was working to develop drug court programs in Georgia) – shorter periods of incarceration with long-term intensive case-management and counseling.  It’s worked amazingly well with repeat drug offenders who show significant decrease in recidivism rates in these types of programs (note page 13 of this study). 

Of course, it would take an incredible overhaul of the system so I’m not terribly optimistic that the idea will ever catch on other than in small pilot programs – which is probably the way it will go if it goes at all. 

It’s time for us as a newly-enlightening society to stop looking to punishment to solve the problem of crime and start looking at the root of why people commit crimes – cycles of poverty, racism, mental health issues, education, & addiction. 


Midwest Teen Sex Show

MTSS209, originally uploaded by nicole903.

I’m really surprised I haven’t blogged about this yet. The Midwest Teen Sex Show is an amazing group of folks who make funny & informative videos geared towards the crowd most in need of sex info these days – adolescents! Especially in the era of increasing abstinence-based sex education, MTSS is like a tall drink of water to the sex-info-parched youths of today fumbling through the world of early sexuality with very little guidance (and very few guides).

Here’s a link to a recent show on oral sex. I love that they acknowledge that teens can understand (and really love) this type of bawdy humor. Adolescents are so much more likely to hear this information presented this way, as opposed to the mind-numbingly-boring sex ed of yesteryear. There are also several forums for teens to ask all their ‘everything you ever wanted to know but…’ questions.

Big applause for Guy, Nikol, Brittany & the rest of the crew! Spread the word to every parent & teen & educator you know about the Midwest Teen Sex Show!

More Music Than You Can Shake A Drumstick At- SXSW2008

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My compilation of clips from my favorite shows at SXSW2008.  Enjoy!

My Muxtape

I just created a new mix on Muxtape – a nifty new music playlist service! I like the super-simple design.

Thanks Scott for the link!

Chicken Shit Bingo – Austin Texas

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Footage taken at Ginny’s Little Longhorn Saloon on our last night of SXSW 2008. The famous Dale Watson & his Lone Stars officiating and Cici the chicken standing center-stage.

SXSW2008 – Music to Feed On


Blitzen Trapper @ the Mohawk

The South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin Texas often feels to me like a crash course in the current state of the indie music scene. In just 4 days I saw 31 bands perform with as many diverse styles as there are BBQ sauces in Texas. Now that I’m home, my mind wanders back over the musical banquet I was fed while there and am starting to crave more of some of the sounds I heard. My musical stomach has now been stretched and I’m left feeling hungrier than before for new sounds (because who can visit Texas and not begin to make food analogies?!).

I’ve made an iMeem playlist of some of my favorites from SXSW2008. The two stand-outs for me were Blitzen Trapper and Liam Finn. You can check out my Flickr photoset from both the interactive, film, and music segments of SXSW here.

Feel free to share your own playlists or recommendations from SXSW2008 in the comments. Help feed this ravenous music glutton!

Art as Meditation

I was stressing out a bit at the hospital today.  So while I was on the phone listening to some heinous hold music, I browsed one of my new favorite blogs, Smarts & Crafts, created by the folks at The Curiosity Shoppe on Valencia. 

Then I found this piece and was reminded of the solace a bit of art can provide in times of chaos.

“An experimental animation in a technique being called “stratastencil” devised by Javan Ivey. Each frame is one piece of 4×6 card stock.”