Have you been tuning in to Unprisoned: Stories from the System? It's a new podcast from producer Eve Abrams and New Orleans Public Radio, and it's part of Finding America, the national initiative produced by AIR Media. The show shares stories from those who've gone through the criminal justice system in Louisiana, the incarceration capital of the world.
Its website says it'll ask the toughest questions of the state's system, like whether it's actually making its residents safer, what the state has done to become the incarceration capital, and how all of us are actively and passively supporting the status quo. The site also says, "We'll focus in particular on how children -- often from a very young age -- are caught in the system of correctional control with little hope of ever escaping it, a cultural contradiction that at once elevates youth as exceptional and vulnerable while simultaneously criminalizing them at an alarming rate."
They've released five episodes so far, and all of them have done a great job of addressing these issues. Episode four was particularly eye-opening. It describes just how interconnected poverty and incarceration are by taking us into the New Orleans Mission, one of the city's largest homeless shelters that regularly holds Municipal Court sessions in its halls. Eve says that in New Orleans, 85 percent of those arrested live at or below the poverty level.
Episode five, the most recent upload, was also fantastic. It explains the complicated world of bail bonds through Reuben Cain's story. He paid thousands of dollars on multiple bonds for a nonviolent crime that he never actually committed. He says, "They don't give you the benefit of the doubt ... you have to prove yourself innocent, and that shouldn't be the case."
If you haven't checked out this new podcast yet, I'd highly recommend doing so asap. All five episodes are under ten minutes, so catching up before the next one airs on March 2nd shouldn't be a challenge.