Feb 12


Monday Morning Read

Prison can be dangerous place. And really boring. ICE detention centers have their problems, too. These recommended reads, plus a take on the future of journalism. Hint: corporate owners aren't the solution.

Imagine what it’s like to be imprisoned for years on end. Or, read this compelling essay written by an inmate and published by The Marshall Project.

The inmate in question, Jy’aire Smith-Pennick, is serving a 27-year sentence for murder in Pennsylvania. The biggest challenge, he writes, is boredom.

In an attempt to disrupt the monotony of prison, we try to create our own personal routines filled with exercise, enrichment programs and constant work. Some of us play cards, watch sports or participate in hobbies such as sewing. But sooner or later, these routines also become monotonous.

This is the part of prison the media doesn’t talk about — the boredom and stagnation. There is just no escaping this perpetual state of sameness because every aspect of it invades your space and overloads your senses.

To people who are free, our collective boredom may seem minute. But life on the inside isn’t so much a physical battle as it is a mental one. It’s the little things that begin to chip away at your humanity and take a toll on your psyche.

Smith-Pennick offers further insights. Like I said, a compelling read. Yes, he committed a terrible crime that demands punishment, but I can’t help but think there are more humane, constructive ways of administering it. After all, most inmates return to society, many of them ill-equipped to function in part because of the life they lived on the inside.

Elsewhere on the criminal justice front, The Intercept reports on a study that found ICE has stepped up its use of solitary confinement at its detention centers.

The investigation found that solitary confinement was used to punish some detainees for offenses as minor as consensual kissing or giving haircuts to one another. ICE also segregated hunger strikers, LGBTQ+ people, and people with disabilities.

We’ve reported in the past about inhumane treatment of detainees at the ICE detention center in Batavia.

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The Buffalo News reported headway in the effort to revitalize the Central Terminal. It’s a big job, estimated at $300 million. I hope everything comes off according to plan, but I remain a little skeptical given the enormity of the task.

Yet another audit found more problems with the way the Erie County Clerk manages the public’s money. Or shall I say, mismanages. Mickey Kearns isn’t looking too competent. 

Employment is down at the Tesla plant in South Buffalo.

Two environmental stories: New York is going to be hard pressed to meet its energy climate goals, and bitcoin mining is consuming a lot of electricity.

The CEO of Mother Jones talks about the future of  journalism, declaring nonprofit newsrooms are “the only future. I don’t see a future for high-quality journalism in a corporate for-profit setting.”

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, then and now.

Investigative Post

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