Where the Death Penalty Still Lives. In the U.S., 20 states and the District of Columbia have abolished capital punishment and four others have imposed a moratorium on executions. Of the 26 states that remain, only 14 handed down death sentences last year for a total of 50 across the country — less than half the number six years before. California, which issued more than one-quarter of last year’s death sentences, hasn’t actually executed anyone since 2006. A new geography of capital punishment is taking shape, with just two percent of the nation’s counties now accounting for a majority of the people sitting on death row. [more inside]
In 2007, the Pinellas County, Florida School Board abandoned integration, joining hundreds of US school districts in former Confederacy states that have resegregated since 2000. The Board justified the vote with bold promises: Schools in poor, black neighborhoods would get more money, more staff, more resources -- none of which happened. This past August, the Tampa Bay Times published an exposé, revealing how district leaders turned five once-average schools into Failure Factories. [more inside]
After seeing a young friend struggle with body image and depression, Florida-based photographer Natalie McCain was inspired to start the Honest Body Project, a series of portraits of mothers showing their beauty and imperfections to their children, paired with their stories in their own words. “My goal with this project is to help mothers everywhere learn to love their bodies and wear them proudly in front of their daughters,” McCain says. “Stop calling yourself fat. Stop shying away from being in photos. Stop body-shaming. Learn to love your body, and in turn, set a good example and start conversations with your children about how women really look.” A small number of images may be NSFW or triggering. Further details within. [more inside]
The Equal Justice Initiative has released a report (pdf) on the history of lynchings in the United States, the result of five years of research. The authors compiled an inventory of 3,959 victims of “racial terror lynchings” in 12 Southern states from 1877 to 1950 -- documenting more than 700 additional victims, which places the number of murders more than 20 percent higher than previously reported. "The process is intended... to force people to reckon with the narrative through-line of the country’s vicious racial history, rather than thinking of that history in a short-range, piecemeal way." Map. [more inside]
"There's something different about being told you’re dying when you’re 10 years old: You’re not a grown-up, but you’ve thought about what you’ll be like when you’re 30, when you’re old. You’re not a baby anymore — you know what cancer is. People start feeding you pills and poking you with needles. You make a bucket list your mother worries she won’t be able to help you complete. You want to get your ear pierced, but you can’t risk the infection. You know what sex is, but you’re told you’re not ready. You want to try new things, but you need permission first. You never lose hope for a miracle, because you’re still a kid, and kids aren’t supposed to die." Ethan Alexander Arbelo-Maldonado: Little Man and the Pursuit of Happiness [more inside]
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune newspaper published a special project recently: The Stolen Ones investigates the local child sex trafficking industry, and documents stories from survivors and their families. (SFW, but some readers may find the content disturbing.) [more inside]
"Premature babies born at the edge of viability force us to debate the most difficult questions in medicine and in life. After just 23 weeks of pregnancy, Kelley Benham found herself in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) with a daughter born so early neonatologist doctors would call her a "micro preemie." New technologies can sometimes keep micro preemies alive, but many end up disabled, some catastrophically so. Whether to provide care to these infants is one of the fundamental controversies in neonatology. This is the story of how Benham and her husband, Tom French, made the difficult choice: Fight for the life of their micro preemie baby or let her go?" [more inside]
If I Die Young: Struggling with Addiction and Recovery. "Last year, 249 people died of prescription drug overdoses in Pinellas County, FL. Just about everybody who knew Stacy Nicholson figured she was next. Then an empathetic judge gave her a choice: recovery, or the coffin." [more inside]
"We dream that one day Walt Bogdanich will have to say: 'I can’t believe the Sarasota Whatever-Tribune cost me my 20th Pulitzer.'"
Sarasota Herald-Tribune Reporter Matt Doig is looking for investigative journalists....