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Showing posts from March, 2009

Can we reform our prison system?

Some really ugly statistics:

1. The US has 5% of the world's population, but 25% of the worlds' prison population.

2. 2.38 million Americans are in prison - five times the world's average incarceration rate.

3. 4 times as many mentally ill people are in prisons as are in mental health hospitals.

4. On average, 2 out of every 3 released prisoners will be re-arrested and 1 in 2 will return to prison within 3 years of release.

5. Over the past 20 years, inflation-adjusted state spending on corrections rose 127% while higher education expenditures rose just 21%.

6. Incarcerated drug offenders have soared 1200% since 1980.

7. 47.5% of all the drug arrests in our country in 2007 were for marijuana offenses.

8. Nearly 60% of the people in state prisons serving time for a drug offense had no history of violence or of any significant selling activity.

9. Black males have a 32% chance of serving time in prison at some point in their lives.

10. African Americans make up -

- 12 % of the populati…

Invisible Thinking

I've always been terrible at science - something I blame on my 10th grade biology teacher (that's a whole long boring story). But recently I've been pretty intrigued by what we're learning about how the brain works. It could be that I have just enough knowledge to be dangerous because I pretty much stick to layman's interpretations of this information rather than digging in to the actual science. But I'm more interested in the overview anyway.

The whole distinction between how our left and right brains work is the part that has most fascinated me. From the amazing speech that Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor (video link) gave at a TED conference as well as other sources, I've learned that the right brain is responsible for taking in all of the stimuli that we gather from our senses. And the left brain is responsible for sorting and naming so that we can make sense of it all.

The tricky part is that our senses and our right brains take in way more stimuli than we can sor…