In February, the MacArthur Foundation launched a $75 million grant initiative to support counties and cities in developing strategies to reduce jail populations. Julia Stasch, MacArthur's president, noted that "jails are where our nation's incarceration problem begins [and] too often serve as warehouses for those too poor to post bail, nonviolent offenders, or people with mental illness." The MacArthur initiative represents a belated awakening to the reality that jails are the local face of mass incarceration and, in many places, the New Jim Crow.
To date, popular knowledge about jails has remained a compendium of scenes from "Cops," MSNBC's "Lockup" or the pics circulated by Mugshots.com on their website and their widely distributed magazine. But the critical lens is widening. Even small Midwestern towns are taking action.
In the "Copper Triangle" of Arizona, the Apache are fighting to protect their sacred land from mining giant Rio Tinto and Arizona Republicans. One major concern among the Apache community is that mining could contaminate the reservation's aquifer.
President Obama's 2016 budget proposal included many education initiatives that would be popular among the US population. But is 2 percent of the total federal budget pie enough, considering how important citizens say education is?