Virginia’s lowered prison recidivism rates may be attributed to state policy that bans parole. According to The Pew Center, “Virginia’s 28.3?percent recidivism rate for prisoners in the three years after their release in 2004 is well below the nation’s 43.3 percent rate during the same period.” In 1995 Virginia policy eradicated parole and pushed for initiatives that mandated prisoners serve at least 85 percent of their sentencing. “By keeping prisoners behind bars longer, the effect is to “age them out of their crime-prone years,” said Brian Ostrom, a researcher for the National Center for State Courts. The article also points out shifting demographics: older prisoners and female prisoners are released more than their counterparts, because they are less likely repeat crime. Governor Robert F. McDonnell (R) believes Virginia still needs do more to help offenders be successful upon release. The state is working on programs that allow released prisoners to gain voting rights and other means to help offenders be successful upon release.
Ikea: Workers’ complaints surround Ikea’s U.S. factory
Los Angeles Times
Three years after a once-welcomed Ikea US factory was opened in Virginia, this same factory is charged of racial discrimination, facing union-organizing struggle, and turnovers from mistreated workers. The Ikea factory has hired lawyers to block employees from forming unions; enforced erratic hours; reduced starting wages; and enforced penalties on work rule violations. According to the article, nine black workers have filed a suit against the factory to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, charging that the factory assigns black workers to the lowest-paying departments and least desired shift hours, 11p.m. to 7 a.m.
College Loans Weigh Heavier on Graduates
New York Times
Student loan debt surpassed credit card debt for the first time last year, reaching a trillion dollars this year as more students are borrowing money to pursue higher education. “In the coming years, a lot of people will still be paying off their student loans when it’s time for their kids to go to college,” said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org and Fastweb.com. The article touches on different perspectives on the value of higher education, from Obama’s emphasis on education to the growing concern with for-profit colleges. “About two-thirds of the people I see attended for-profits; most did not complete their program; and no one I have worked with has ever gotten a job in the field they were supposedly trained for,” Ms. Loonin of the National Consumer Law Center said.
Compiled by Leah Bui, Winter/Spring intern