The Progressive: On the Hard Path to Prison Reform

The Progressive: On the Hard Path to Prison Reform

On the Hard Path to Prison Reform: An Interview with Heather Ann Thompson, November 2017

 

Dr. Heather Ann Thompson, professor of history and Afroamerican and African studies at University of Michigan.

Published in 2016, University of Michigan historian Heather Ann Thompson’s Pulitzer-prize-winning history of the 1971 Attica Prison Uprising, Blood In the Water, was released in paperback this fall. Thompson was in Milwaukee recently to speak at a series of events spotlighting mass incarceration. She spoke with The Progressive contributor Erik Gunn about the lessons of Attica and the prospects for decarceration in the era of President Donald Trump…

The Progressive: The Case for Mercy

The Progressive: The Case for Mercy

The Case for Mercy: Some of the Unlikeliest People to Oppose the Death Penalty, October 2017

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Late one afternoon in February 2014, ten-year-old Hailey Owens was abducted from a street near her home in Springfield, Missouri. Police say her abductor raped her, then shot her, then wrapped her body in garbage bags and stuffed it in a plastic tote…

 

Milwaukee Magazine: The Long-Lasting Effects of Redistricting in Wisconsin

Milwaukee Magazine: The Long-Lasting Effects of Redistricting in Wisconsin

The Long-Lasting Effects of Redistricting in Wisconsin, October 2017

Following 2010’s Republican-friendly mid-term election and the decennial census, many states, including Wisconsin, rewrote their congressional and legislative boundaries to favor the right wing. Our state is also one in 37 in which legislatures (and by extension political parties) have final control over the maps, as opposed to special bodies. However, it had been decades since a single party had control of state government during decennial redistricting…

There’s a word for drawing districts that give a lopsided advantage to one political party – gerrymandering – and the Supreme Court ruled more than 50 years ago that it can violate the Constitution by making some votes worth less than others. But justices have fallen short of a consensus on how to measure and limit partisan gerrymandering, and attempts to get them to overturn state maps, whether drawn by Republicans or Democrats, have failed.

Isthmus: Can Blue-Collar Progressive Topple Paul Ryan?

Isthmus: Can Blue-Collar Progressive Topple Paul Ryan?

Can Blue-Collar Progressive Randy Bryce Topple Paul Ryan?, September 2017

The video shows Randy Bryce sitting on a porch, chatting with residents, strolling with his arm around his 9-year-old son, then walking onto a construction site, hard hat on his head. The music swells toward a climax, and so does the man’s voiceover: “I decided to run for office because not everybody’s seated at the table. And it’s time to make a bigger table.”

With that video, union ironworker Randy Bryce kicked off his campaign against Ryan for Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District. After just one day, the video helped raise $100,000, mostly in small donations, from around the nation.

Ryan is in his 20th year in Congress with a seemingly indomitable record at the ballot box. But Bryce is unlike anyone who has ever challenged him.

Can Bryce — if he wins the Democratic nomination — succeed in toppling the House Speaker in 2018? Some say no…

The Progressive: Protesters Convicted For ‘Parading’ Against Death Penalty

The Progressive: Protesters Convicted For ‘Parading’ Against Death Penalty

Protesters Convicted For ‘Parading’ Against the Death Penalty at the Supreme Court, June 2017

On an overcast day this past January, eighteen people stood on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court and unfurled a banner that read “STOP EXECUTIONS!”

For that nonviolent act, all those involved were arrested under a law that makes it a crime to “parade, stand or move in processions or assemblages” or to display a “flag, banner or device designed or adapted to bring into public notice a party, organization or movement” on the marble plaza and steps of Supreme Court building.

This week, twelve of those eighteen went on trial in a case presided over by D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert Salerno. On Thursday, June 29, 2017, all twelve were convicted…

The Progressive: Refusing to Make a Monster out of God

The Progressive: Refusing to Make a Monster out of God

Refusing to Make a Monster out of God: Shane Claiborne on the Death Penalty, April 2017

Photo by Brian Yap.

Writer and activist Shane Claiborne spoke with The Progressive about why his faith calls him to the movement to abolish the death penalty—a movement that crosses religious and secular lines and even brings together the families of crime victims and those condemned to die.

Milwaukee Magazine: Can Ald. Ashanti Hamilton Rise to the Challenge?

Milwaukee Magazine: Can Ald. Ashanti Hamilton Rise to the Challenge?

Can Alderman Ashanti Hamilton Rise to the Challenge?, April 2017

A year ago, Hamilton stitched together a tent big enough for a half-dozen African- American council members – and three white South Siders – to elect him Common Council president in an upset that toppled incumbent Ald. Mike Murphy, a council veteran. But more than once since then, their tent has looked ready to blow away. This past summer, the council’s public safety committee, headed by Hamilton’s pick for chair, tough-on-crime Ald. Bob Donovan, fired off a draft plan calling for more cops, more jail and “boot camps” for potential juvenile offenders.

Milwaukee Magazine: The New Crop

Milwaukee Magazine: The New Crop

The New Crop, July 2016

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Photo by Arnaldo Aladana.

Big farms keep getting bigger. Midsized farms keep disappearing. In the shadow of these seismic changes in the rural Wisconsin landscape, tiny farms have proliferated, fed by consumer demand for local eats and healthy choices. A look at what’s driving the supersizing, and microsizing, and what it means for the rest of us.

Isthmus: The Believer

Isthmus: The Believer

The Believer, February 2016

I wrote about Mike McCabe’s “Blue Jean Nation” political reform project for Isthmus in 2016. None of the handful of prospective candidates whom he inspired succeeded in the subsequent fall elections. But McCabe remains active — and he’s now inspired an enthusiastic movement to draft him for the 2018 Wisconsin governor’s race.

Milwaukee Magazine: The Aftermath

Milwaukee Magazine: The Aftermath

The Aftermath, January 2016

What has been lost, teachers say, is their voice.

“We bring a lot to the table,” says Biebel. “Our voice has always been involved in the workday. When you remove that teacher voice, you’re left with people making those decisions that don’t have immediate contact – they’ve forgotten the immediacy of being in the classroom.” Administrators “want what’s best for students,” she continues. “But they’re not the ones in the trenches.”

Membership in a union meant a degree of protection that some teachers say was good for teacher professionalism. In the current environment, “We’re a little unclear,” says Balcerak. “Does disagreement equal insubordination? For that matter, isn’t it healthy within an organization to have dissenting voices, to have some intelligent discourse? But teachers are nervous to disagree…”