Joshua Russell Archive

Where have all the voters gone?

November 4, 2016 Joshua Russell

By Joshua Russell When the U.S. holds their 2016 election next week, many people will be unable to vote. Unlike most countries, many felons in the United States are stripped of their right to vote. An estimated 6.1 million people are currently banned from voting due to their criminal history–people who otherwise would be allowed to express their voice and participate in the political process. While the sheer number of people who are not allowed to vote is astonishing, even more disconcerting is who these people are. Disenfranchised voters are not spread evenly across the United States. Many states do […]

Make your voice heard this election season

September 2, 2016 Joshua Russell

As Election Day approaches in the U.S., many people have expressed dissatisfaction with all of the candidates on the ballot. While this sentiment is mostly centered on the presidential race here, it can also be found regarding candidates for state and local offices. Some may ask if there is any point in voting. Why should we engage with public officials who we feel do not represent us well? In the Bible, 1 Timothy 2:2 reminds us to pray for our leaders, and many of us do. However, we have the ability to do more than pray for the men and […]

Locking up children is not the solution

April 29, 2016 Joshua Russell

The United States has become infamous for having the largest prison population in the world. Our “justice” system is, in reality, unjust. Many of these injustices start with how young people are treated. Crimes committed by juveniles are overwhelmingly non-violent, and overall juvenile crime has actually declined over the past decade. Despite this, our country continues to operate a system that too often treats children as adults, and imprisons far too many children overall. Roughly 500,000 juveniles enter or are a part of the criminal justice system each year, and 200,000 will enter the adult system. On any given day, […]

Race and mass incarceration

January 19, 2016 Joshua Russell

Race and mass incarceration By Joshua Russell There are a plethora of injustices that need to be reformed in the U.S. criminal justice system. From harsh mandatory minimums to the many restrictions that are placed on people after their return from prison, reforms are desperately needed at every level. But it would be foolish and dangerous to undertake these reforms without considering the racial element of mass incarceration. White men in this country stand a 1 in 17 chance of going to prison during their lifetime, while for African-American men the rate is an astounding 1 in 3. Why are […]

A question of priorities

October 19, 2015 Joshua Russell

By Joshua Russell How a country spends its money says a great deal about the direction it is going, the values it embraces, and which citizens are exercising the greatest influence. One way to determine a country’s priorities is to examine how it spends its money. In the United States, one of the largest and longest-standing budget priorities is the military. U.S. military spending is projected to come close to $600 billion in the 2015 fiscal year, which is by far the most of any country in the world. The United States spends almost three times more than China, the second-highest […]

Profiting from prisons

September 1, 2015 Joshua Russell

By Joshua Russell The United States considers itself to be a leader in many areas. One of the areas that we lead in, however, is a shameful one. The United States incarcerates more people (currently 2.2 million) at a higher rate than any other country in the world. Misguided policies and laws, including mandatory minimum sentences, are one of the main reasons for this high incarceration rate. The past few decades have seen an unprecedented growth in the prison population in this country, followed by a huge growth in prison construction. This led to the development of private, for-profit prisons. […]

Mapping racism

May 15, 2015 Joshua Russell

By Joshua Russell A recent article in the Washington Post showed a map of “the most racist parts” of the United States. This map was determined by data from Google, who had tracked the frequency of searches for a particular racial slur in media markets across the country. Markets that had a higher search rate were classified as more racist than those that had a lower search rate. The map classified Baltimore as less racist than average. If this methodology is taken at face value, then apparently the recent protests over the death of Freddie Gray were mistaken. In reality, […]