Mississippi's prison town are in danger of collapse, thanks to tiny reforms in the War on Drugs

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Towns in Mississippi and other Tea Party-ruled states with large (often private) prison industries are totally reliant on state/fed funding transfers to local prisons for cash and jobs, forced prison labor to provide local services for free, and War on Drugs arrests and minimum sentencing to fill those jails. The first tiny steps toward criminal justice reform have eroded the underpinnings of the whole system, leaving the towns facing collapse. Read the rest

Mississippi state rep tells distraught mom to buy kid's lifesaving meds 'with money she earns'

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Nicole Nichols' 8-year-old daughter has diabetes; Nichols and her husband have come to rely on Medicaid to help supply life-saving essential medication for their daughter, because their two salaries are insufficient to cover their medical bills, which run in excess of $2000 month in out-of-pocket expenses. Read the rest

Mayor of Jackson, MS: "I believe we can pray potholes away"

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It's been nearly a year since Tony Yarber, pastor and mayor of Jackson, Mississippi capital and largest city in the state, tweeted that he believed he could pray away potholes, citing Moses's alleged parting of the Red Sea as precedent. Read the rest

Forced laborers sue Mississippi debtors' prison

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If you're poor in Jackson, MS and you get a fine that you can't pay, the City of Jackson will sentence you to a "pay or stay" forced labor farm where you will work off your debts at $58/day literally shoveling shit; the alternative is to sit in an overcrowded, jail notorious for its violent guards and filthy conditions and pay down your fines at $25/day. Read the rest

Donate to free the legal code of Georgia, Idaho and Mississippi!

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "Public.Resource.Org is pleased to announce the launch of the 2014 Official Summer of Code!

We've selected 3 states -- Georgia, Idaho, and Mississippi -- and are raising funds to have the Official Legal Codes sent down to the Internet Archive to be scanned and made available to all. Your tax-deductible contribution can help make the law available to the people! Find out more at: YesWeScan.Org/ Read the rest

Missouri lawmaker wants to redefine science to include "faith-based philosophy," force creationism into science class

A bill introduced in the Missouri legislature by Rick Brattin is a genuinely bizarre attempt to cram religion into the state's science curriculum. In what must have seen to Mr Brattin as a very clever move, the bill redefines what science is to include religion ("'Scientific theory,' an inferred explanation of incompletely understood phenomena about the physical universe based on limited knowledge, whose components are data, logic, and faith-based philosophy.") (emphasis mine). The bill just gets weirder from there.

If scientific theory concerning biological origin is taught in a course of study, biological evolution and biological intelligent design shall be taught. Other scientific theory or theories of origin may be taught. If biological intelligent design is taught, any proposed identity of the intelligence responsible for earth's biology shall be verifiable by present-day observation or experimentation and teachers shall not question, survey, or otherwise influence student belief in a nonverifiable identity within a science course.

In other words, equal time for the leading scientific idea and intelligent design, but never mention who the designer might be. And not just equal time, but equal pages; the bill literally mandates that "course textbooks contain approximately an equal number of pages of relevant material teaching each viewpoint." Brattin is at least aware no textbooks actually have anything on "biological intelligent design," so he wants the state to identify "nine individuals who are knowledgeable of science and intelligent design" to create supplementary materials for use until the textbook publishers get in line.

It's just a bill, not a law, but as John Timmer points out, bills that are very nearly this stupid have already passed in Louisiana and Tennessee. Read the rest