Posts Tagged ‘NPR’

UPDATE: Parts two and three of the series.  Treads similar ground but definitely worth a listen, just about 5 minutes each.


While the title may lead you to believe this is a baseball post, it is not.  I will leave those inane ramblings about “the nations pastime” to Elijah.

Instead. this post is to direct your attention to a 3-part series that just begun last night on NPR by Ina Jaffe about California’s three-strike law.  It’s a thought-provoking, and I think, an even-handed approach to the topic.  Three Strikes (if you don’t know, or don’t want to follow the earlier link) is a law that basically states that if you’ve been previously convicted of two crimes, then if you are convicted of a third act your minimum sentence will be 25-years to life.  It is a law that was designed to keep repeat offenders off the streets… and it certainly does that.  The critique is that there are many cases where the three crimes are petty and certainly not violent.  The NPR segment documents an instance where a mother, intent on giving “tough love” to her son, pressed charges against him for stealing some of her jewelry which became his first two strikes, only to see him get a third strike and go off to jail for 25 years.

I personally find this a tricky situation.  I definitely want to see criminals go to jail, but I also think it should apply more towards violent crimes then smaller ones.  But I also see logic in what Mike Reynolds, the citizen behind the original initiative for the law, who says:

All they have to do is stop doing crime.  That’s all we ask. And they’ll never be charged under three strikes. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

It does make sense.  It’s not really an oppressive law, we all have the ability to avoid it.  And the fact of the matter is that we all have the choice to be criminals or not and three opportunites to decide if that is what you want to do with your life seems enough.  Do some people have tougher lives or situations that make that choice seemingly harder than others?  Yes.  Does that mean the law is unfair?  No.  The question I think is compelling is whether it is just or not.

The Department of Justice estimated that the average sentence for a convicted rapist is 11.8 years, and actual time served amounts to around 5.4 years.  Does it seem just that a person who stole items from a retailer on three occasions could get 25 years, whereas someone who only once had been convicted of rape serves just over 5?  It doesn’t seem just to me, but I think that is a reflection of our poor sentencing on rape crimes rather than injustice in the three strikes law.  Three strikes is a merciless statute in the midst of a system that is riddled with arbitrary guidelines and favorable sentences for celebrities and such… so maybe we need more merciless statutes.  The NPR segment pointed out that prosecutors have the ability to decide on some cases whether a crime should be classified as eligible for a third strike.  But that just leaves it up to the whim of the individual prosecutor, which again shows the subjective nature of our system.  Perhaps if we had less ability to be flexible it would make for more just sentencing, but at the expense of mercy.

But what about mercy, and forgiveness and things of that spiritual realm?  Is there room in our legal system for that?  How can our faiths play out in that way?  My short short answer would be that I don’t think mercy and forgiveness are implicitly tied to lack of punishment or consequences.  Christ forgave the sinner on the cross next to him… the man still ended up crucified and dead though.  And in this world my view would be that we have a compassionate-less legal system where punishment is measured out despite whether the victims or others desire mercy to be given.  The task then would be to make sure our laws are just, and not leave that up to the sentencing process.

I look forward to the rest of the series, and invite you to check it out and chime in with your thoughts.

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Thought I’d turn your attention to a bit I heard on NPR last night about new technology that tracks down taggers as they are in the process of vandalism.  I hate graffiti… hate taggers… hate vandalism.  Here’s hoping this technology works and the criminals pay their dues.

–Too bad we can’t have the wall that sprays paint on the taggers like shown in the movie The Naked Gun.

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Greg has done an excellent job of raking in this year’s best (at least in his highly-informed opinion) albums.  That’s great stuff (I’m only speaking generally because I actually have a more negative review for Coldplay’s Viva La Vida), but how much of it will we be listening to in two years?  Because music is in-and-out so frequently I’ve composed what I consider the best albums of 2008, though none of them were released this year.  Lend me your ear eye.

If you or I were to look at a list of our favorite albums from two years ago it would probably be different than the list we would make today.  I’m suspecting a lot of the albums that I considered my favorite from two years ago have lost ground in my personal rating and that is not to say that the latest albums have replaced them.  What I’ve found is that through recycling the music I listen to I sit with an album longer and it really grows on me.  For instance, I first heard Elliott Smith’s Figure 8 in 2001.  Since then this album has been climbing its way up my list and I considered it my favorite album of 2005 (even better than Come on Feel the Illinoise!, the quintessential indie-folk hit that year).  If Greg’s picks were subjective, mine will likely be hyper-subjective.  This whole thing also has to do with the fact that the music I listen to usually gets to my ears one of three ways: by way of NPR/KCRW, by way of associated acts (i.e. I heard of Sufjan Stevens because he once played in Danielson, an earlier favorite of mine), or by way of a highly sophisticated (and elitist) filtration system consisting largely of Greg Stump.

With all of that said, I must also add that I have not purchased much new music from this year.  In fact, as I look at my computer the only albums I see in my iTunes library from 2008 are Ratatat’s LP3, Danielson’s Danielson Alive EP (free online), and Danielson’s Trying Hartz.  I’m not against new music, but I suppose that after sampling I wasn’t compelled to buy many new full albums this year.  That is not to say that I’ve not grown in my musical breadth: according to my “date added” information in my iTunes library I’ve added more than forty albums to my iTunes this year (and it’s not over), thus I’ve purchased more than forty albums this year (buying used music on Amazon is incredible).  So out of the albums that I’ve purchased this year here are my top ten.



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