Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Incomprehensible ...

"People do a poor job of predicting their preferences in
situations they have never experienced."

Rebecca Dresser, Precommitment: A Misguided Strategy for
Securing Death with Dignity, 81 Tex. L. Rev. 1823 (2003).

(Finding that a line about medical directives -- living wills -- can be basically be applied to the human experience as a whole.)

Monday, August 22, 2011

J.D. ...

just one more year.

Interviewing for a post-graduation job was a pretty good way to celebrate the first official day of the last year of classes. Cross your fingers for me. I won't hear until Oct. 15th at the earliest whether I'm employed or not.

Even though we are on Day 1, I've already pulled a 4 a.m. study night thanks to law review training. I have no doubt this year will keep me as sleep deprived as the rest. But coming back to campus made me realize how much I love the people I'm surrounded by every day and how much I will miss them when this crazy adventure is over. I can't think of a group of people I would have rather done this with.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Kindle killed the radio star ...

... and Borders Bookstore.

We passed Borders on the way home from a wedding today. EVERYTHING MUST GO!! the sign read. And there were big numbers like 25, 40, and 50 in red with percent signs followed by the word "off."

So of course we stopped. And then I walked out without a single book. Because even cut in half a hardcover book is still more expensive than downloading the Kindle version.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Let the convicts go?

Prison reform was already on my mind, but then last week I toured the Utah State Prison. Something needs to happen. And not just of the sake of the convicts.

States who have increased incarceration efforts have actually seen increases in crime rates, not decreases. We cannot continue to keep dumping people who are demonstrating anti-social behavior into such a toxic environment and then expect they will come out "cured." The recidivism rate is staggeringly high. We know what's happening and yet we continue to throw people in, knowing full well they will be more dangerous and more likely to harm more victims upon release.

Perhaps even worse are people who really shouldn't be there in the first place. Since state run mental health institutions were largely shut down (and for good reason) in the 1970s, the U.S. prison system has become the #1 provider for the mentally ill. This is unconscionable. Can you think of a worse place to treat mental illness than prison? Or what about low-level drug addicts?These people need treatment, intervention, and a job. They do not need to be locked away from society for a year or two where they are learning from the lowest and most crime-prone we have to offer at ridiculously high costs to taxpayers. We could be getting these people multiple college degrees for the price we are paying to have them "educated" by thieves, rapists, and dealers. It's a waste of both financial and human resources.

Please don't misunderstand me. There is a place and a need for incarceration. I'm working on two cases right now where it is clear there is just no other solution to keeping the community safe from continued attacks by these people. Serial rapists can't be rehabilitated. Anyone who rapes and beats a 72-year-old woman to death with no remorse and then blames her for the attack deserves life in prison or worse. And how else do you keep white collar criminals from defrauding innocent victims except by locking them away? But the system is broken and when we are locking away people who by and large have committed non-violent crimes and constitute no threat to society except perhaps general stupidity, there has got to be another way.

So here's my list of prison reform reads and listens: In Defense of Flogging. This NPR report about the book by Peter Mosko has many interesting points. It defends corporal punishment as an alternative to incarceration for non-violent crimes. Not necessarily my version of reform, but creative and designed to at least move the discussion forward. Next, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. The former Supreme Court law clerk, ACLU attorney, and now prison reform activist exposes the systematic incarceration of black men. Her main point? Blacks will never have equal voting power in our democracy when so many of them are being unfairly slapped with "felony" status eliminating their right to vote. And the move from the KKK intimidation to poll taxes or literacy tests to keep the black vote out to targeting black men for felonies was purposeful. I'm skeptical of any conspiracy theory. But her numbers are hard to discount. If you don't want to read the book, but are curious/skeptical of what she has to say, a short summary she wrote is here and one of the most interesting NPR reports I've listened to is here. And finally, this piece by Pat Nolan and Newt Gingrich. See? I'm all over the political spectrum today. From ACLU to Gingrich. But I guess that's the point. Prison reform isn't a political issue. It's a safety issue and a humanity issue. Everyone from all parties agrees the system is broken and people from all parties largely agree on how things could be improved. The problem is getting this into the forefront. The people making the decisions (voters like us) aren't in prison so it's not really impacting us. And most of us know so little about how the system works we are afraid that tweaking it will mean more hardened criminals on the streets, not less. Not so, says Gingrich. And finally, this New York Times piece by one of my professors about changing the way we approach parole.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Memories ...

I was greeted yesterday by a beautiful bouquet of flowers on the counter. "Happy Anniversary Week!" the card said. "With love," from my husband. He even remembered that lilies were in my bridal bouquet.

Then today he greeted me at the door with chocolate dipped strawberries. "It's the second day of anniversary week!" he said excitedly.

It definitely has been a week full of wedding reminiscing. Two years later we can finally afford the wedding album we originally passed on. We've spent more than a couple hours trying to narrow down the bzillion shots our photgrapher took down to 36 (and let's be honest, my organizational skills are not the best so we spent at least half that time looking for where I put the darn CDs). I know it's silly, but I am SO excited! I realize this is an entirely vain, useless, expensive purchase. But we're solid now. We were giddy then and oh-so-in-love, very much like today only without quite so much giddiness perhaps. But now I also know we're going to last. And so the pictures are more than the pretty dress or the fancy hair, the slick tux, or the posed positions. It's about the fact that that day means I get today, and tomorrow, and the day after that with the man I love. And now I have the pictures to prove it.

Even better, one of my dearest and closest friends is sealing the deal this weekend, so there has been much wedding talk of a more current nature as well. We have a beautiful dinner to look forward to on Friday, and a sealing and reception on Saturday. I'm taking a little extra pride in this match since I was the one who set them up. What better way to spend your anniversary than celebrating the marriage of friends?

And though I'm always skittish to put up pictures online ... I figured a wedding picture or two isn't going to give too much away. Especially if I chop most of our heads off, right?

Happy Anniversary to us ... and to the other bjillion student-brides and grooms who got married in August to accommodate the start of a new semester. Ah, August. Bringing the world's two greatest pursuits together into one month -- love and higher education.