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.
Ronald Reagan brought supply-side economics to the federal government, the belief that suppliers of goods drive the economy, not the consumers. The supply-siders believe that lower taxes stimulate production and improve the economy. They also favor deregulation of industry. The theory, which acquired the nickname "trickle-down economics," was that economic growth would benefit everyone. That has not happened.
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?