Ava DuVernay’s new Netflix series sheds light on the horrors of wrongful incarceration

“The time that we lost, we can’t get that back,” Kevin Richardson told NBC’s Lester Holt in an interview along with the group. “We lost our youth, our youthful years.”Their stories are profiled in the upcoming Netflix series “When They See Us,” a four-episode drama which was directed and co-written by Ava DuVernay. The limited series chronicles the journeys of the five men over the course of 25 years through their trials to their release from prison.“I always go back to whose story am I telling and is this choice helping to tell their story, in the most dynamic way, the most truthful way, for them,”

DuVernay told Holt.DuVernay, known for directing social justice films like “Selma” and big budget movies like “A Wrinkle in Time,” felt it was critical to tell the story of how false confessions landed the five teenagers in prison for crimes they did not commit.

Source: Ava DuVernay’s new Netflix series sheds light on the horrors of wrongful incarceration

Psychiatry, Racism, and the Birth of ‘Sesame Street’

IN THE WAKE of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968, a newly formed group called the Black Psychiatrists of America began to challenge their white colleagues to think about racism in a new way. Its members had been discussing for some time the possibility of creating an organization that would address their lack of representation within the key bodies of American psychiatry. But now, as one of these men, Dr. Chester Pierce, later put it ”we anguished in our grief for a great moderate leader,” and it seemed that the time for moderation on their side was also over. In Pierce’s words: “As we listened to radio reports and called to various sections of the country for the on-the spot reports in inner cities, our moderation weakened and our alarm hardened.”

Source: Psychiatry, Racism, and the Birth of ‘Sesame Street’

‘When They See Us’ Shows a Case’s Impact on U.S. Policy – The Atlantic

When They See Us is primarily focused on the racist logic of the policing, court, and prison systems that cost the five defendants their childhood. The series also profoundly illuminates some inherent problems in American criminal justice from a range of perspectives. Viewers get an intimate glimpse of mothers, fathers, and siblings fighting for the freedom of their loved ones; law-enforcement authorities classifying these same boys as “animals”; and protesters on both sides holding signs, declaring “it’s not open season on women” or the real rapist in court today is the New York police and the D.A.

Ultimately, the hysteria surrounding the Central Park Jogger case gave rise to new language about black-youth crime, and to new laws that caused more children to stand trial as adults than at any other time in American history.

When They See Us gets the audience closer to understanding why juvenile and adult prison populations exploded through the 1990s, and how the United States became home to the largest incarceration system in the world.

Source: ‘When They See Us’ Shows a Case’s Impact on U.S. Policy – The Atlantic

Read: Ava DuVernay does true crime differently in ‘When They See Us’

The Central Park Five, Criminal Justice, and Donald Trump | The New Yorker

In two trials, in 1990, Santana, Wise, Richardson, McCray, and Salaam were convicted of the attack, even though there was no physical evidence tying them to it, only their supposed confessions, which contradicted one another. They were sentenced to terms of between five and fifteen years. The accused came to be known as the Central Park Five, but that, too, was a linguistic dodge. Better to identify them by their number and the scene of their alleged crime than by the brutality visited upon them by an arbitrary justice system and the public opinion that abetted it. In 2002, Matias Reyes, a convicted rapist, confessed to the crime, and, based on DNA evidence, the charges against the five were vacated. In 2014, the city paid them forty-one million dollars, to settle a federal civil-rights lawsuit.

Source: The Central Park Five, Criminal Justice, and Donald Trump | The New Yorker

How the dream of cheap streaming television became a pricey, complicated mess – The Washington Post

“But there is no real debate about the outcome: The dreams of cord cutters are largely unfulfilled. A transition that some hoped would provide more choice, lower prices and more simplicity instead has delivered frustrating levels of complexity. There still may be more choice, but each choice comes with price tags that, taken together, may well approach the cable bills of old.“It’s not going to come for free,” said Michael Powell, president of trade group NCTA, representing pay television and broadband providers. “People want to watch their ‘True Detective,’ ‘Breaking Bad,’ ‘Mad Men,’ and that stuff costs a fortune.”

Source: How the dream of cheap streaming television became a pricey, complicated mess – The Washington Post

The Coming Collapse [TruthDig]

The Coming Collapse

Chris Hedges, TruthDig
Mr. Fish / Truthdig

“The Trump administration did not rise, prima facie, like Venus on a half shell from the sea. Donald Trump is the result of a long process of political, cultural and social decay. He is a product of our failed democracy. The longer we perpetuate the fiction that we live in a functioning democracy, that Trump and the political mutations around him are somehow an aberrant deviation that can be vanquished in the next election, the more we will hurtle toward tyranny. The problem is not Trump. It is a political system, dominated by corporate power and the mandarins of the two major political parties, in which we don’t count. We will wrest back political control by dismantling the corporate state, and this means massive and sustained civil disobedience, like that demonstrated by teachers around the country this year. If we do not stand up we will enter a new dark age . . .

. . . “The leadership of the party, the Clintons, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Tom Perez, are creations of corporate America. In an open and democratic political process, one not dominated by party elites and corporate money, these people would not hold political power. They know this. They would rather implode the entire system than give up their positions of privilege. And that, I fear, is what will happen. The idea that the Democratic Party is in any way a bulwark against despotism defies the last three decades of its political activity. It is the guarantor of despotism.” . . .

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Chris Hedges
Columnist
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, New York Times best selling author, former professor at Princeton University, activist and ordained Presbyterian minister. He has written 11 books,…
Mr. Fish
Cartoonist
Mr. Fish, also known as Dwayne Booth, is a cartoonist who primarily creates for Truthdig.com and Harpers.com. Mr. Fish’s work has also appeared nationally in The Los Angeles Times, The Village Voice, Vanity…

Trump’s Ever More Powerful Weapons Against Journalism

President Donald Trump greets military families at the White House for the Fourth of July. (Alex Brandon / AP)
Jacob Sugarman

Shortly after five staffers at the Capital Gazette were gunned down in their Annapolis, Md., office, President Donald Trump refused a request from the city’s mayor, Gavin Buckley, to lower American flags on federal property to half-staff. The White House eventually reversed its decision, but the episode underscores the contempt that this administration holds for the press.

Last month, after spending the better part of two years railing against purveyors of “fake news,” the president called the media the “enemy of the American people.” Now the Department of Homeland Security is reportedly compiling a database of journalists, editors, correspondents and bloggers to identify the leading voices in their respective fields.

According to an April 5 report in Bloomberg Government, DHS was searching for a contractor to help it monitor more than 290,000 global news sources in over 100 languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Russian, all of which will be translated to English in real time. These outlets would include newspapers and magazines, television and radio, podcasts and social media.

“The DHS request says the selected vendor will set up an online ‘media influence database’ giving users the ability to browse based on location, beat, and type of influence,” Bloomberg’s Cary O’Reilly reveals. The database would include, “[f]or each influencer found, present contact details and any other information that could be relevant, including publications this influencer writes for, and an overview of the previous coverage published by the media influencer.”

If the project sounds like a First Amendment violation waiting to happen, that’s because it is. While DHS insists that the database will “protect and enhance the resilience of the nation’s physical and cyberinfrastructure,” perhaps against foreign interference in future elections, the potential for censorship and other abuses of power is virtually limitless.“Unfortunately, increasing government encroachment on the freedom of the press is the sinister backdrop to all of this,” writes Forbes’ Michelle Fabio. “Freedom House, which has monitored the status of the press for nearly 40 years, recently concluded that global media freedom has reached its lowest level in the past 13 years.”

The independent watchdog blames “crackdowns on independent media in authoritarian countries like Russia and China,” but it also cites “new threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies”—Trump chief among them.

If the project sounds like a First Amendment violation waiting to happen, that’s because it is. While DHS insists that the database will “protect and enhance the resilience of the nation’s physical and cyberinfrastructure,” perhaps against foreign interference in future elections, the potential for censorship and other abuses of power is virtually limitless.

“Unfortunately, increasing government encroachment on the freedom of the press is the sinister backdrop to all of this,” writes Forbes’ Michelle Fabio. “Freedom House, which has monitored the status of the press for nearly 40 years, recently concluded that global media freedom has reached its lowest level in the past 13 years.”

The independent watchdog blames “crackdowns on independent media in authoritarian countries like Russia and China,” but it also cites “new threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies”—Trump chief among them.

“No U.S. president in recent memory has shown greater contempt for the press than Trump in his first months in office,” reads Freedom House’s 2017 report. “He has repeatedly ridiculed reporters. … Such comments suggest a hostility toward the fundamental principles and purposes of press freedom, especially the news media’s role in holding governments to account for their words and actions—as opposed to the government holding the media to account.”

Barack Obama’s eight years in office were marked by an overt hostility toward leakers and whistleblowers; Leonard Downie’s report for the Committee to Protect Journalists in 2013 called the White House’s treatment of the press “the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in the Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate.”

The DHS’ latest venture reveals where disdain for journalists can lead, and the extent to which it can be weaponized.

Jacob Sugarman
Jacob Sugarman is a graduate of the Arthur L. Carter Institute of Journalism whose writing has appeared in Salon, AlterNet and Tablet, among other…

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