Five at 8 – 1/28/10: When the problem is the solution

1) MPR reporter Brandt Williams’ story on why there’s been a jump in murders in Minneapolis in 2010 shows the hopelessness of the “simple” solution.

And (Gary) Cunningham says this tragic cycle can also lead to periods of relative calm. He says sometimes so many young men aged 18-30 are in prison, there are few left in the community to cause trouble. Plus, he says various studies show that as men get older, they tend to change their attitudes.

“After men get to a certain age, over 35, their participation in the criminal justice system drops off significantly — meaning they don’t commit additional crimes,” Cunningham said.

It’s not the first time we’ve heard this, of course. In 2004, then Attorney General John Ashcroft claimed that violent crime was at a 30 year low for the same reason — more people were locked up.

Here’s the problem with that. The more people are sent to prison, the more people get out of prison, as The Nation reported in a 2008 story:

But the prison boom has come home to roost. The more people we send into prison, the more people come out of prison each year. This year, between 600,000 and 700,000 prisoners will be released–without the skills or resources to get their lives back in order.

Williams’ story, again citing Cunningham, also notes:

“Further exacerbating this is men that have gotten out of prison and come back into the community — they have a higher rate of violence than other groups that haven’t been to prison,” he said.

So the problem of violence decreases when men are sent to prison, but increases because at some point they get out, without any real skills to survive. In solving the problem, we increase the problem. If you want a definition of a hopeless cycle, that’s it. But who’s got another — proven — solution? Discuss.

2) An outstanding application to review last night’s State of the Union address is provided here by the New York Times. Scroll along a time line of the speech, see annotated stories about the content. Well done.

3) A new documentary film is out celebrating the most famous person to come out of Cherry Grove, Minnesota — Bernard Pietenpol. (h/t: Boing Boing)

Finding Flight Trailer from Jesse Roesler on Vimeo.

More aviation as art. Paul Schmelzer , editor of the Minnesota Independent and writer of the Eyeteeth blog, posts this excellent film of the raising of Flight 1549.

Posted on – [Flight 1549] from David Martin on Vimeo.

4) Here it is, your moment of (Howard) Zinn.

Zinn died yesterday.

5) Good news for runners. You won’t need those expensive shoes anymore.

Bonus: How would you spend your 65th birthday?


Last night, President Obama addressed the nation and laid out his agenda, including plans for cutting the deficit and boosting job creation. What was your reaction to the President’s speech?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Reaction to last night’s State of the Union address.

Second hour: Shawn Colvin’s storytelling through song.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – Both hours: Twenty gubernatorial candidates debated the issues in a forum sponsored Wednesday night by the Minnesota News Council and the League of Women Voters. Gary Eichten moderated, with Lori Sturdevant and Al Edenloff .

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Rebroadcast of the State of the Union speech.

Second hour: Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong.

File it under “humor that doesn’t stand up well to the test of time.”

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Gay teens are more likely to be homeless than their straight peers. In the next story in MPR’s Youth Radio series, Roy Lee Spearman Jones of Minneapolis tells his story of being gay and on his own when his mother moved away.

NPR will look at the changing tastes of music fans. The Grammy Awards ceremony takes place Sunday night. And that showcase for the music industry faces fans who may care less about industry-bestowed awards, and more about American Idol winners. The Grammies versus American Idol