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Electronic monitoring incarcerates people who might otherwise be on probation — and makes them pay for it themselves

Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images

The “crime” Patricia, mother of five, committed was an odd one: She climbed through her best friend’s window to retrieve a bottle of her own medication. She and her friend had “open-door policies” and visited each other’s Indiana homes daily, including when the other wasn’t present — but her friend’s husband was not on friendly terms with Patricia, and one day he called the cops on her. Though all theft and drug charges were dropped (since the medication she took was her…

Life in the Time of Coronavirus

A new series about how this pandemic affects our lives, our loved ones, our work, and our way of life

Photo illustration. Image: Aitor Diago/Getty Images, 4x-image/Getty Images

Life in the Time of Coronavirus is a new GEN series where we are interviewing people across the country who have had their lives upended or who are experiencing the stress of the unknown.

This incarcerated person, who wishes to remain anonymous, is serving a 15-year sentence at a federal penitentiary in a southern U.S. state. The facility in which he is housed operates beyond capacity and has scarce medical care.

A couple of months ago about 300 of us got sick. They took everybody 50 years old and over and moved them permanently to their own dorm. Whatever that…


Walking in my father’s footsteps, and trying to find a new path

Credit: epicurean/E+/Getty Images

As I entered Bridges Juvenile Detention Center, otherwise known as Spofford, I was deathly afraid. I’d been shuffled through its barbed-wire fences in handcuffs and shackles, and so far, I could see little that distinguished my new home from an adult jail — the kind I’d seen on television programs like Lockup or Scared Straight. To me, the place looked more like Alcatraz than a residence for misbehaving children.

A short African man, the color of a ripe, unbitten plum, stood before me, giving instructions. He had a relentless gut that threatened the nerve of his belt, and I remember…


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