The immense danger of walking and cycling in Houston

Ghost bike memorial for an adult and child killed by a driver

In the past 16 years, Houston drivers have run over almost 2,000 people walking or biking. Even worse, since 2010, only about 25% of fatal crashes resulted in criminal charges. Maggi Gunnels of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration correctly calls this a “public health crisis”

St. John Barned-Smith and Dug Bedley have the fourth installment of the Out of Control series for Houston Chronicle.

Photo by Flickr user Daniel Lobo (CC-BY 2.0)

New program aims to help more rural Mississippi students enter college

School Buses lined up

Kelsey Davis has a report at Mississippi Today detailing a new partnership between Mississippi Valley State University and Greenville Public Schools. The program is designed to reduce the gap between high school and college, from more engaging, rigorous high school coursework to better bus service. According to a study by the Center for Public Education, only 73% of rural students have access to Advanced Placement courses (PDF link), compared to 95% of suburban students.

[Mississippi Today]

Women prisoners face more disciplinary action than men, including solitary confinement for nonviolent infractions

Two months in solitary confinement. The offense? Working an extra shift in the prison cafeteria. And the prisoner said she had permission to cover the shift. The Chicago Reporter, the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and NPR investigated disciplinary actions in Illinois state prisons and found that women are disciplined at higher rates than men, despite the fact that men are more violent. Women prisoners are often cited for subjective, minor behaviors that aren’t a safety threat to prisoners and prison staff — like playing Scrabble solo. Over-punishment can be a triggering event for women inmates, many of whom are abuse victims, exacerbating the trauma and delaying rehabilitation.

[Chicago Reporter]

Photo by Rostyslav Savchyn on Unsplash

If you want to catch a fish in Philadelphia, bait your hook with…soft pretzels?

Soft pretzels from Philadelphia

You know the old saying, “Teach someone to fish, and they’ll eat for a lifetime.” Well, here’s your chance to eat on the cheap in Philadelphia: storm grate fishing! Stephanie Farr of the Philadelphia Inquirer has the fun story of the professional angler who uses local delicacies like hot dogs & soft pretzels to catch fish under city streets.

[Philadelphia Inquirer]

Image by Flickr user Sam Teigen (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Colorado Attorney General alleges opioid overdoses are driven by Purdue Pharma’s sales practice

stone sculpture hand holding a poppy

The recently launched Colorado Sun reports on the inside story of how Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxyontin, implemented sales tactics leading to hundreds of opioid deaths in Colorado. The story is from recently unsealed court documents filed by the state Attorney General’s office, and details how Purdue Pharma sales representatives pushed for higher dosages of Oxycontin to patients. In 2017, 516 people died of opioid overdoses in Colorado.

Image credit: Flickr user polaristest, with slight cropping to fit. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

[Colorado Sun]

Residents of Hawaiian homeless camp announce ambitious plan for a self-made community

A community of 200 homeless people near Honolulu announced a plan to raise money to lease or buy land to build their own self-made community. Honolulu Civil Beat reporter Natanya Friedheim shares some of the details of the “herculean effort” of raising the money to build a group of houses with communal areas to house the homeless. In 2015, Honolulu Civil Beat produced The Harbor, a 5-part series on the Waianae homeless camp.

[Honolulu Civil Beat]

Registering voters in Smith County, Texas takes a village

People voting in front of an American flag

Texas has one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country. Erica Mansfield reports on efforts to get more people registered to vote in Smith County, Texas. Despite seemingly disparate political views, Mansfield interviews Republicans, Democrats, nonpartisan groups and even a shoe store owner volunteer in service to the same goal: get more people voting on election day.

[Tyler Morning Telegraph]