A victory for ending cash bail, on the Ed Secretary pick, and new research on schools + COVID

and, well, the insurrection

Well this has already been quite the week.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the horrifying riot at the Capitol yesterday. I was not down there covering it, but glued to my computer following those who were. All D.C residents were put under a 12-hour curfew, and late last night our mayor ordered a 2-week public emergency until Biden is inaugurated. I have extremely little patience for the Trump officials who are deciding to resign now in a last-ditch effort to salvage their reputations. And the GOP leaders acting surprised by the violence that they actively fomented. It’s just a mess, and I hope the next administration does not avoid holding people accountable in the name of “moving forward.”

On the other hand, the wins in Georgia on Tuesday are pretty remarkable, and I think everyone is rightfully recalibrating their political expectations of what might be possible over the next two years. It’s a really big deal. Major questions remain around things like the filibuster, but it does mean Mitch McConnell will be far less capable of sabotage just to make a Biden presidency look bad.

I have three new stories to share:

  • Over the last several years, there’s been a growing movement to end to cash bail. Mass incarceration is fueled by the hundreds of thousands of people who languish in jail pre-trial, often because they can’t afford to pay for their own release. It’s a glaringly unfair system and there’s been a lot of research over the years about how even short stints in jail can have long-term negative impacts on things like job and housing prospects. And those who have to sit in jail pretrial are also more likely to plead guilty.

    In 2016, 2017, and 2018 a handful of new prosecutors across the country ran for office on platforms that called to reduce the use of cash bail, especially for low-level offenses. Prosecutors don’t set bail themselves, but their recommendations weigh heavily on what judges ultimately order. Then in 2020, for the first time, four chief prosecutors announced they will no longer seek cash bail at all. (Chesa Boudin in San Francisco, Sarah George in Chittenden County, Vermont, George Gascón in Los Angeles, and Steve Descano in Fairfax, Virginia.)

    My story in The Appeal is on the 5th new prosecutor, Eli Savit, to announce this week they’ll no longer seek cash bail under any circumstance. I also wrote about how advocates are worried the system will find new back doors to incarcerate low-income defendants. You can read that here.

  • In The American Prospect I wrote about Biden’s new pick for Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona. I looked at his time involved in a pretty unique labor-management partnership while a school district administrator in Connecticut. Cardona is someone teacher unions are feeling encouraged by, and I tried to explain why.

  • And lastly in The Intercept I had a story on new research studies that have come out over the last two weeks which give us a new picture of how U.S school re-openings this fall affected hospitalization rates and community transmission. I tried to put these new studies in context of where things stand today with the surging virus and reopening debates.

Thanks for reading. And since I haven’t said this in a while, please always feel free to send me tips or story ideas! Stay safe.


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