Weekend Open Thread: I Don’t Want to See You ‘Til You Know the Cost of Love

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Because being poor and having your parent or spouse being behind bars isn’t already traumatic enough….

Here’s an accompanying message from the ACLU (which has the footnotes and action item):

Today, 2.7 million children have a parent behind bars. For these kids, losing a parent to incarceration can be as traumatic as losing a parent to death or divorce.(1) Prisoners are often housed hundreds of miles from their families, making phone the only way to connect on a routine basis.

But for-profit prison phone companies like Global Tel*Link have gotten away with charging sky-high rates to prisoners and their families, making it too expensive for families to stay connected. Prisoners are charged up to $17 for a 15-minute phone call—a call that might cost $2 outside of prison.

Phone companies shouldn’t be able to profit off prisoners trying to be good parents and good family members. Steep prices mean many prisoners won’t be able to call home as often, and that’s bad for public safety—when prisoners keep in touch with their families, they are less likely to reoffend and wind up back behind bars.(2)

The Federal Communications Commission took an important first step in August by capping the price of prisoner phone calls made from one state to another at 25 cents per minute. But most prisoners are serving time in their home state. Tell the FCC to finish the job and end this predatory practice for all prison phone calls.

“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons”  –Dostoyevsky.  And, perhaps, by the price list for the relatives of prisoners to stay in touch with them.

Prison Profiteers

Image taken from the video at the above link.

This is your Weekend Open Thread.  Talk about this or whatever else you’d like, within reasonable bounds of decency and decorum (because unlike a City Council we are not subject to the First Amendment.)

The Dearthwatch may or may not follow today or tomorrow.  Check in constantly to see.  WAIT!  THERE IT IS!

Dearthwatch - 20131004

Checking in one half-year after the Wall went up!

I’ve been forming the hypothesis that the TV News sites are going to be the ones to fill in the gap as the “go to” places for local news because (1) they have videos, (2) they have deep pockets, and (3) having a good online news blog pulls people into, rather than detracts from, their main product.  So the most important number in this chart may be NBC’s local site cutting its ranking in half.  Radio, by contrast, hasn’t moved much.

Up to the top:  The Register continued coming back, but so far it’s only half-way returned from its previous hemorrhage of status.  We can easily explain the drop; what explains the gain?  Are they offering more workarounds?  Cheaper prices?  This is just a guess, but I’m wondering if it has something to do with their move into Long Beach — or otherwise simply pumping up the rankings by adding more money to the marketing budget.

OC Weekly also improved in the past month, and is clearly a big recipient of readers who have left the Register in their search for local news.  Voiceof OC has also resumed its climb — and also still stands as one of the main beneficiaries of the Orange Lady’s lost readership.  The Huntington Beach Independent is still probably the biggest winner in the past six months of all — leading me to wonder if maybe their website was just broken or something back in March and April and they really should have been ranked not that far behind the Daily Pilot in the first place.  (No one has suggested as much to me; assuming that it’s a real rise, it’s a real accomplishment.)

The Orange Juice Blog continues sailing along as an island of relative consistency.  With all of the turmoil of day to day life here, it’s odd to think that our rank has rarely gotten below 700,000 or above 800,000.  We can live with that — especially since we do it without “click three links to get to see the full story” tricks, etc.  The other blogs are just all over the place — making me wonder if there’s a wrench in Alexa’s works.  New Santa Ana has done great while OC Politics has plummeted — does that makes sense to anyone who reads both?  (What makes sense to me is that make some of the latter’s readers are someone getting lumped in with the former’s, but I don’t feel like asking.)  The Lib OC has suffered with Prevatt on the sidelines, and OC Political — yikes!  I still like much of their stuff (though getting into the campaign season looks a little dismal), so I can’t see why we’d see this sort of fall.

So that’s it — see you next month, or next season, or next six months — or maybe even next week!  You never know when the Dearthwatch is going to pop up and say: “San Bernadino Sun, is something going wrong this month?”

About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)