How the Pandemic Changed My Time in Prison

An Inmate Reflects on Nearly Three Years of Shifting Health Protocols and Halted Rehabilitation Efforts

Intense debates about the role of government interventions in public health became the norm during the pandemic. When do the benefits of prevention and containment policies aimed at stopping COVID’s spread outweigh the costs to individual rights?

I watched these debates from behind prison walls, where the rights of inmates are secondary to safety concerns. Here inside Ironwood State Prison, like every other correctional facility in California, prisoners are afforded a narrow range of “rights,” which are mostly privileges that can be suspended to preserve institutional security.

This principle meant that beginning …

More In: Essays

How Germany Developed a ‘Policy on the Past’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

How Germany Developed a ‘Policy on the Past’

A Constellation of Days Has Emerged to Remember the Holocaust and Its Victims

Germany does not have a traditional, centuries-old national holiday, such as July 14 in France or July 4 in the United States.

But Germany is carefully attuned to dates, and how …

We Can Tell New Thanksgiving Stories | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

We Can Tell New Thanksgiving Stories

For Centuries, Indigenous Thinkers Like William Apess Have Urged Americans to Reimagine the National Narrative

In November 1620 the Mayflower deposited about 100 Pilgrims at the Wampanoag community of Patuxet, which the newcomers renamed New Plymouth. A year later, the English and Wampanoags enjoyed a …

How Valley Fever Brings People Together

Scientific Research Is Famously Siloed, But a Collaborative Community Has Emerged Around This California Disease

For the last five years, I’ve researched Valley fever at a multidisciplinary lab at the University of California, Merced. This experience has convinced me that for my work to pay …

Uncovering a Life Deemed ‘Unworthy of Life’ | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Uncovering a Life Deemed ‘Unworthy of Life’

Why the Story of Hans Heinrich Festersen—Gay, Disabled, and Murdered by the Nazis—Matters

On September 8, 1943, Hans Heinrich Festersen was hanged at Berlin’s Plötzensee prison. Festersen, 35, had been arrested almost a year earlier, on October 12, 1942, for violating Paragraph 175, …

| Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Keeping the Kids’ Faith

Studies Suggest Religion Provides a Ballast Against Depression and Other Adolescent Mental Health Struggles

The school year is under way and the kids, we are told, are not all right.

America’s families are suffering through what a recent front-page story in the New York Times …