Issue #62: February 2018

Features

Prisons have no incentive to pay inmates better—to the contrary. Unlike workers in the free market, who (theoretically, anyway) can weigh factors like pay, working conditions, and other benefits when deciding where to work, inmates do not have a choice between employers. If they need the money, or the experience, they must take or leave what the prison is offering.

The Death Penalty in America: A Lethal History

In colonial Virginia, authorities could hang settlers for a crime as small as stealing grapes or killing a neighbor's chicken. The penal code in America's first colony was, in fact, so harsh its governor eventually reduced the number of capital offenses out of fear that settlers would refuse to live there. Since then, the number and severity of crimes punishable by death in the United States have fluctuated; today, the death penalty is still legal in 31 states. Here are some of the critical turning points in the history of capital punishment in America.

stevenson-marker

Bryan Stevenson's Quest for Justice

From growing up in rural Delaware to opening the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

bH_derby1

What Demolition Derby Reveals About Small-Town Politics and the Trump Apocalypse

There is no single storyline to demolition derby. Unlike a football game, there is no ground to take, no points to score. There is only mayhem and survival.

0035_8585

Bryan Stevenson on What Well-Meaning White People Need to Know About Race

An interview with Harvard University-trained public defense lawyer Bryan Stevenson on racial trauma, segregation, and listening to marginalized voices.

Terri's husband, Steven.

My Brother's Keeper

When her brother is sentenced to death for a murder he didn't commit, one woman takes on the corrosive culture of capital punishment.

Culture Pages

Demonstrators demanding an increase in pay for fast-food and retail workers protest in the Loop on December 5th, 2013, in Chicago, Illinois.

The Global Uprising Against Poverty Wages

Historian Annelise Orleck traveled to Mexico, Cambodia, and Bangladesh, plus all across America, to interview low-wage workers fighting for better conditions and pay.

Activists hold signs in front of the the United States Supreme Court during the 2018 March for Life on January 19th, 2018, in Washington, D.C.

PS Picks: Katie Watson's 'Scarlet A: The Ethics, Law, and Politics of Ordinary Abortion'

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.

Artist and illustrator Maria Qamar.

Artist Maria Qamar Blends South Asian Sensibilities With Pop Art

We spoke to Maria Qamar about what she recommends reading, watching, and listening to.

jingyi-wang-193838

PS Picks: The 'Art in the Age of the Internet, 1989 to Today' Exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.

4626-hr

Sarah Jones' Theater of Resistance

The playwright and actress' one-woman shows are deeply political—but she isn't here to preach.

GettyImages-450357970 2

PS Picks: The Conversation Around the Gun-Toting Christian Extremists of Ubisoft's 'Far Cry 5'

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.

An illustration of cowboy Paul Zarzyski.

Save American Poetry, Read a Cowboy

At the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, readers and writers celebrate the lyrical beauty of rural existence.

Black Panther.

PS Picks: Black Panther's Hollywood Breakout

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.

The Extreme Gone Mainstream: Commercialization and Far Right Youth Culture in Germany.

Commercialization and Far Right Youth Culture in Germany

Sociologist Cynthia Miller-Idriss argues how brands sneak past German laws against Nazi symbols while building a community among customers.

PS_Final_1

Objects That Matter: Biodegradable Bullets

The Pentagon has paid more than $42 billion to clean up contaminated sites—mostly to private contractors—with little evidence of improvements, a ProPublica investigation found.

GettyImages-57368003 2

How America Uses Digital Tools to Punish Its Poor

A new book argues that America uses digital tools to sequester and punish its poorest citizens. But can we really blame technology?

DSC_5655

The Underground Punks of Yangon

In Myanmar, a thriving punk scene has emerged in response to an authoritarian government.

The Fix

PacificStandard_Hugo&Marie_MVM_Teaching_6,5x4,5_RGB

Teaching the Art of Reading in the Digital Era

As the art of close reading has declined, a cohort of experts has emerged to reverse the trend and encourage stronger reading habits.

PacificStandard_Hugo&Marie_MVM_Alcohol_10,75x6,5_+0,2"-on-top+bottom_RGB

Could Managed Consumption Be a Better Form of Treatment for Alcoholism?

Managed alcohol programs, which provide homeless alcoholics with housing and small amounts of booze, may seem counterintuitive, but they fit squarely within a philosophy of addiction treatment known as harm reduction—and they're working.

Field Notes

GettyImages-664081808

Letter From Qaanaaq, Greenland: The Man Who Listens for Nuclear Tests Above the Arctic

Svend Erik had not intended to spend the last 37-odd years of his life permanently in Qaanaaq, stewarding critical data through decades of changes in computing and communications technologies, but he had fallen in love.

Haji Ali, Iraq: A view of the village—which has been ravaged by battles against ISIS—through one of its destroyed buildings.

Field Notes: Inside a Ravaged Building in Northern Iraq

Haji Ali, Iraq: A view of the village—which has been ravaged by battles against ISIS—through one of its destroyed buildings.

Giant figures sculptured in granite rock on Stone Mountain in Atlanta, Georgia. The figures represent Jefferson Davis, the only president of the Confederate States of America with Confederate Generals Robert E Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

Letter From Stone Mountain, Georgia: Reclaiming Stone Mountain From the Alt-Right

How Stone Mountain—the world's largest and most immovable Confederate monument—could become a battlefield where neo-Confederates from across the country make their last stand.

Dhaka, Bangladesh: Momin Mohammad, a leather worker, brushes his teeth by a canal near his home in the city's polluted Hazaribagh neighborhood. Each day, tanneries dump 22,000 liters of toxic waste into the Buriganga, the capital city's main river and key water supply.

Field Notes: Morning at the Buriganga River in Bangladesh

Dhaka, Bangladesh: Momin Mohammad, a leather worker, brushes his teeth by a canal near his home in the city's polluted Hazaribagh neighborhood. Each day, tanneries dump 22,000 liters of toxic waste into the Buriganga, the capital city's main river and key water supply.

East Usambara Mountains, Tanzania: John Mganga walks through a forest at night near his former workplace, the Amani Hill Research Station. Many of the trees were first planted during German colonial rule as part of a botanical gardens project that was later abandoned.

Field Notes: An Abandoned Forest in Eastern Tanzania

John Mganga walks through a forest at night near his former workplace, the Amani Hill Research Station.

GettyImages-543516448

Letter From Shibuya, Tokyo: When Home Is an Internet Cafe

A 2007 government survey offers a glimpse into the lives of Internet cafe refugees: In Tokyo, 58 percent of them are short-term day laborers, and most of them get just enough part-time work to earn a living.

Siberia, Russia: A winter sunset near Ogoy Island on frozen Lake Baikal. With few passable roads, locals drive cars, jeeps, and even cargo lorries over the ice to shorten their journeys.

Field Notes: Skid Marks on a Frozen Lake in Siberia

Siberia, Russia: A winter sunset near Ogoy Island on frozen Lake Baikal. With few passable roads, locals drive cars, jeeps, and even cargo lorries over the ice to shorten their journeys.

Primer

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan looks on as President Donald Trump speaks about tax reform legislation in the Cabinet Room at the White House on November 2nd, 2017, in Washington, D.C.

Truth, Lies, and Tax Reform

Republicans (and President Donald Trump) say they want to fix the tax code. But their proposals won't do anything like that. Here are a few ways they can do better.