On the Hard Path to Prison Reform: An Interview with Heather Ann Thompson, November 2017
Photo by Cole Patrick.
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 interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
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…
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.