Mental Health Month begins across the country on Sunday. The annual awareness campaign is accompanied this year by a city initiative to improve delivery of mental health care services, following the recent news that suicide rates have climbed to a 30 year high. I spoke with Dr. Victoria Arango, a neurobiologist at the Conte Center for Suicide Prevention at Columbia. She says initiatives like these are essential.
At the start of the month, the New York Civil Liberties Union won a class-action lawsuit against the New York State Department of Corrections. It was over reforming the use of solitary confinement in New York State prisons. The 4,000-strong solitary population will now drop by a quarter, and guidelines have been introduced to cap the time a prisoner can stay in solitary to 90 days. But in the eyes of the UN, more than 15 days in solitary is torture. As Oliver Arnoldi reports, many think the lawsuit has not done enough for the thousands remaining in solitary.
In an age saturated with instant messaging, from Messenger to WhatsApp, Oliver Arnoldi has learned about the benefits of a slower method of communication.
Since 2013, the Black Lives Matter movement has placed a spotlight on the volatile relationship between law enforcement and African-Americans across the country. Its nationwide protests have pushed race relations to the top of national conversation, including on the campaign trail. And now, the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn has organized the first teach-in around Black Lives Matter issues.
Oliver Arnoldi reports..
A law passed last fall means businesses in New York City aren’t allowed to ask people whether they have been convicted of a crime when they apply for a job. It’s meant to give those with a criminal record a fairer chance of finding employment. But six months after the law went into effect, Oliver Arnoldi finds many businesses are not complying.
NYU announced yesterday it’s raising the minimum wage for campus workers to $15 an hour. That brings it in line with Mayor De Blasio and Governor Cuomo’s efforts to raise the minimum wage for state and city workers. Oliver Arnoldi headed downtown to ask NYU students what they think about the raise.
The debate over Rikers Island has escalated in the past two weeks. City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito [vee-va-REE-toe] has called for the gradual closure of the city jail on the East River, and Governor Andrew Cuomo has backed her. Mayor Bill De Blasio and New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton have dismissed the idea. But amid the political fights, Oliver Arnoldi finds an emerging group who are leading the conversation from the ground.
Nearly seven-hundred-thousand inmates are released from U.S. prisons and jails each year, but over half of them will be back behind bars within 12 months. One reason why is the difficulty of finding and keeping a job. Refoundry, a furniture company in Brooklyn, helps former inmates do just that. But its model is an unusual one — and it’s growing to six cities across the country this year.