New data from the U.S. Census Bureau has revealed that in 2014, more than one in five American children receive food stamps. That comes out to 16 million kids nationwide. The number is a dramatic increase from the economic recession that ended in 2008 when 9 million children received assistance in the form of food stamps. The report also broke down the household make-up of children dependent on food stamps. From Newsday: “The highest percentage of children receiving food stamps lived with their mother only, 47 percent in 2014, up from 33 percent in 2007; followed by two unmarried parents, 39 percent in 2014, up from 22 percent in 2007. The percentage of children living with married parents and receiving food stamps in 2014 was 11 percent, up from 5 percent in 2007” ... Discuss
Last night, officials in Georgia executed inmate Warren Lee Hill, a convicted murderer who his lawyer say was intellectually disabled. Hill was found guilty of killing his girlfriend, as well as, a fellow prisoner. His lawyers say that Hill had an IQ of just 70 and possessed the “emotional capacity” of a child. State and federal courts had previously halted his execution by lethal injection on two different occasions, but last night, the Supreme Court decided to not grant another stay.
The decision to execute Hill has brought Georgia’s controversial standard for proving intellectual disability into new light. U.S. Constitution prohibits intellectually disabled people from being executed. In Georgia, the burden of proof to be classified as intellectually disabled lies with the defendant, but because diagnosis can be subjective in nature proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” is a difficult standard. All three doctors who initially testified in an earlier murder trial in 2000 that Hill was not intellectually disabled, wrote letters to the courts recanting their diagnosis, saying they were rushed. All three of the doctors now say Hill was intellectually disabled ... Discuss
Last year alone, 125 people were exonerated for crimes that the American legal system had once found them guilty of committing. It’s the highest ever number since exoneration rates were first recorded in 1989. According to the National Registry of Exonerations, it’s the first time the number of people found to have been wrongly convicted has ever been in triple digits in one year.
One of the most concerning things that the numbers revealed is that 47 of the individuals freed from prison had pled guilty to the crimes they were charged with, either because of pressure from prosecutors or because they were presented with evidence against them that ended up being inadmissible or incorrect . As The Guardian notes, “Police field drug testing kits are notoriously unreliable, so much so that their results are not accepted as evidence in criminal trials.” Experts believe the soaring number of exonerations for innocent prisoners is largely due to the rise in “conviction integrity units,” teams of legal experts that work to identify when innocent people are wrongfully convicted ... Discuss
Lo, how the mighty have fallen. Not so much fallen as crashed, unable to pull out of a tailspin of their own making. SkyMall, the in-flight shopping catalog you read on the airplane when you forget to bring a copy of RELEVANT magazine along, has filed for bankruptcy. No more lawn ornaments shaped like an African safari. No more ergonomically designed chin lifters to ease the tension on your third vertebrae. No more craft pens shaped like Gandalf's staff. "With the increased use of electronic devices on planes, fewer people browsed the SkyMall in-flight catalog," acting SkyMall CEO Scott Wiley said in court papers, according to the Journal. So, what to do now? You're just gonna have to remember to bring that copy of RELEVANT along, it seems ... Discuss
A measure that would make abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy illegal failed to pass the House of Representatives. Many in leadership felt that a requirement that rape be formally reported to police before the abortion could take place was unfair to victims. In cases of incest, the bill would only allow abortions after the 20-week mark if the victim was a minor. The rally against the mandate was led by Representative Renee Ellmers of North Carolina, who was one of several conservative women to vote against it. Ellmers explained after the vote, “The thing is—I am pro-life. I believe in the sanctity of life. I believe that life begins at the point of conception.” Ellmers said, “Millennials are with us on so many issues. But when we come off as harsh and judgmental, we stop that conversation. We need to do a better job.” Several states already have their own laws banning abortions after 20-weeks. Another bill renewing an existing ban on any federal funds being used for abortion passed instead ... Discuss
It’s no big secret that smoking is terrible for your health, but according to a new study, it’s also really bad for your pocketbook. The financial social network WalletHub looked at the combined cost of insurance increases, healthcare prices and loss of income due to health issues related to smoking, and then added that to the amount of money smokers spend on cigarettes instead of investing. They found that over the course of a lifetime (from 18-69) American smokers lost more than $1 million because of their habit. In some states, where health care and tobacco costs are higher, that number is closer to $2 million. In other words, there's another good reason to go ahead and kick the habit ... Discuss