From a hopeful report about the state of poverty, to a surprise Disney trip, to a jump-rope-twirling dog, here are some good news stories from this week:
Prison reform has become a big topic in the last few months as government officials on both sides of the aisle have been speaking out about the problems with mass incarceration. One big contributor to America’s mass incarceration problem has been strict minimum sentencing for drug offenses, even for nonviolent offenders.
This week, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it will release around 6,000 inmates from federal prisons at the end of October. It will mark one of America’s largest-ever releases of federal inmates.
“Today’s announcement is nothing short of thrilling because it carries justice,” Jesselyn McCurdy, a senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union, told The New York Times. “Far too many people have lost years of their lives to draconian sentencing laws born of the failed drug war. People of color have had to bear the brunt of these misguided and cruel policies. We are overjoyed that some of the people so wronged will get their freedom back.”
The announcement comes a week after a group of senators proposed legislation that would reduce mandatory minimum sentences and secure early release or resentencing for those currently serving overly severe sentences.
It’s yet to be seen if the bill will pass, but it already seems to have a good amount of bipartisan support.
A new report from the World Bank says that by the end of 2015, just 9.6 percent of the world’s population will be living in extreme poverty—down from 12.8 percent of the population in 2012. That comes even as the definition of extreme poverty shifted from living on or below $1.25 a day to $1.90 a day.
“These projections show us that we are the first generation in human history that can end extreme poverty,” said World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.
Ending extreme poverty is one of the new development goals set by the United Nations last month. The U.N. aims to end extreme poverty by 2030, which Kim said is possibly, though there are still many obstacles. So far, we’re doing pretty well—extreme poverty has dropped by more than half since 1990.
Kickstarter has teamed up with UNHCR, the UN’s refugee agency, to crowdfund some help for those fleeing violence in the Middle East. So far, the campaign has raised $1.3 million, enough to provide necessities and shelter for more than 5,000 people in need—and there are still four days left. You can donate here.
Quinn Mitchell turned 10 this month, and her brother Nathan will be 13 in December. But instead of asking for presents for themselves, the siblings decided to have a joint party and get their friends together to make sandwiches for a homeless shelter in Albany, New York, near where they live.
I saw that I had a lot of stuff at home, and I have a good family, Quinn told a local news station. “So I decided I wanted to make sandwiches and give them to the homeless shelter.”
The kids and their friends ended up making almost 900 sandwiches, and they hope they can inspire others to do similar acts of kindness.
Kathryn Thompson has always wanted to take her family on a trip to Disney World—especially her autistic grandson who loves Mickey Mouse. But Thompson, who has worked at an on-campus coffee shop at Elon University for more than a decade, never thought she would be able to afford to do so.
However, during her shifts, Thompson has touched the lives on many students at the school, and when two of them heard of her Disney vacation dreams, they decided to make them come true.
Lucy Smith-Williams and Taylor Zisholtz calculated the cost of a trip for Thompson’s family of five, and launched a GoFundMe asking Elon students to give a few bucks. In less than a month, they had fully funded the trip and then some. And this week, they presented the gift to an emotional Thompson.
Here’s a video of a stray dog helping kids in Brazil jump rope.
Dargan is a former RELEVANT editor turned freelancer. Find her online at darganthompson.com or follow her extremely random train of thought on Twitter @darganthompson.