Sometimes as little as “pennies per hour.”

By Ashley Dejean

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ChrisGorgio/Getty Images Plus

Chris Wilson is 33 years old and has Down syndrome. For the last three years, he’s worked at Kandu Industries, a packaging and assembly factory in Janesville, Wisconsin. He usually makes between $2 and $3 an hour, depending on whether he is packing brackets used in playground equipment or packaging food.

“He works a full day on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays,” says his father, Rick Wilson. “We’ve set this up because it’s what he wants. We don’t want him to get burned out with working every day.”

Kandu Industries can pay Chris and roughly 150 other workers substantially below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour because of a 1938 provision in the Fair Labor Standards Act that permits employers, who apply to the Department of Labor for a waiver, to pay lower wages to people with disabilities. According to the department, about 20 percent of people with disabilities participate in the workforce, and of that group, about 3 percent, or approximately 195,000 workers, are being paid subminimum wages. These workers typically make well below the minimum wage, sometimes as low as “pennies per hour,” according to the Department of Justice.


North Dakota takes a cue from Norway‘s prison system.

By Dashka Slater

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Photo credit: Andy Richter

Late one night in October 2015, North Dakota prisons chief Leann Bertsch met Karianne Jackson, one of her deputies, for a drink in a hotel bar in Oslo, Norway. They had just spent an exhausting day touring Halden, the maximum-security facility Time has dubbed “the world’s most humane prison,” yet neither of them could sleep.

Halden is situated in a remote forest of birch, pine, and spruce with an understory of blueberry shrubs. The prison is surrounded by a single wall. It has no barbed wire, guard towers, or electric fences. Prisoners stay in private rooms with en suite bathrooms and can cook for themselves in kitchens equipped with stainless-steel flatware and porcelain dishes. Guards and inmates mingle freely, eating and playing games and sports together. Violence is rare and assaults on guards are unheard of. …


NaProTechnology promises miraculous results and has received the blessing of Medicaid, insurance companies, and the Catholic Church. Can it really deliver?

By Kiera Butler

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Hanna Barczyk

When Catherine was in her late 20s, she and her husband decided to start a family. She had always assumed it would be easy — her friends seemed to get pregnant without even trying. But after three years, she still didn’t have a baby. A fertility specialist prescribed medications. They didn’t work, so the doctor tried inserting Catherine’s husband’s sperm directly into her uterus, a procedure called intrauterine insemination. Still no luck. “I felt like a failure,” she later wrote on her blog. “Even with medical assistance I couldn’t complete the one task that my body was created for. …


The freshman senator is determined not to let criminal justice reform die on the vine.

By Jamilah King

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Tom Williams/ CQ Roll Call/Newscom via ZUMA

Democratic up-and-comer Kamala Harris visited just about every corner of California during her successful 2016 campaign to take over Barbara Boxer’s seat in the US Senate, and she’s kept it up somewhat since taking office. But on a recent, sweltering July afternoon, I accompanied Harris to a place where no senator has set foot for at least a decade.

The Central California Women’s Facility, which houses nearly 3,000 inmates, is tucked amid the farmlands of Chowchilla, about three hours from San Francisco — where Harris was elected district attorney in 2003. The first black woman in that role, Harris was keenly attentive to iniquities in the prison system. Now, despite the near-daily scandals roiling Washington, criminal justice reform remains her top legislative priority — hence the field trip. “I like to go to the scene,” Harris tells me. …


He turns it into a great story — about them.

By Michael Mechanic

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Portia Wiggins Portraiture

When Kwame Alexander talks, you can sense something irrepressible just under the surface — laughter, maybe, or swagger — dying to burst forth. It’s the same vibe the 12-year-old protagonist of his Newbery Medal-winning 2014 novel-in-verse, The Crossover, exudes on the basketball court. Alexander, 48, was a baller himself: “I was №1 on the tennis team,” he says. “I beat everybody.”

Raised in New York City and later Virginia by literary types — publisher dad, English teacher mom — Alexander has produced two dozen titles to date, from a collection of Tupac essays he edited to poetry volumes and children’s picture books. Solo, out August 1, is a young-adult novel co-written with the children’s author and editor Mary Rand Hess. Using poems as their vehicle, Alexander and Hess follow the travails of 17-year-old Blade Morrison, the scion of a profligate Los Angeles rock star, as he stumbles along a path of self-discovery that takes him to Ghana — to the same remote village, in fact, where Alexander co-founded a real-life nonprofit that provides books, teacher training, and literacy programs for children. …


And is it safe?

By Jenny Luna

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Photo Credit: Martha Barreno/VW Pics via ZUMA

Recently, some of my colleagues got strangely obsessed with “beer-can chicken.” Since it seemed like no one had actually made the dish, I volunteered to give it a whirl. It’s also called “drunk chicken,” “chicken on a throne,” or “beer butt chicken” and some people swear that this method is the simplest way to get ultra-moist meat. Here’s how it works: You set a dry-rubbed raw chicken carcass on top of a half-full can of beer. (See the recipe at the bottom of this post.) Then you set it on a fired-up grill. The can acts as a stand, keeping the bird upright so it cooks evenly on a covered barbecue. …


And it’s particularly bad news for farmers.

By Tom Philpott

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Joohee Yoon

I n the spring of 2011, Georgia’s fruit and vegetable growers faced a crippling drought. But it wasn’t for lack of rain; rather, their supply of farmworkers had dried up almost overnight. Typically, migrant pickers made their way north from Florida’s winter tomato fields into Georgia to harvest its Vidalia onions, bell peppers, and blueberries. But that year, “they just didn’t come,” says Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. The pickers avoided the state, leaving “crops in the field rotting.”

What happened? Just after taking office that winter, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill that, he vowed, would “crack down on the influx of illegal immigrants into our state.” Known in civil-liberties circles as Georgia’s racial-profiling law, House Bill 87 encouraged local police officers to check the immigration status of anyone suspected of violating any regulation, including traffic rules, and imposed harsh penalties on anyone caught “harboring an illegal alien.” The governor probably didn’t intend for his signature immigration law to cost his state’s farm sector loads of cash. But his timing couldn’t have been worse. A shortfall of 11,000 workers — representing about 85 percent of peak employment — caused $75 million in crop losses that spring alone, with a total hit to the state economy of $103.6 million that season, according to a study by the University of Georgia. Neighboring Alabama passed an even more draconian law later that year, spurring its immigrant farmworkers to exit en masse and costing the state up to 6 percent of its gross domestic product. …


And it’s particularly bad news for farmers.

By Tom Philpott

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Joohee Yoon

I n the spring of 2011, Georgia’s fruit and vegetable growers faced a crippling drought. But it wasn’t for lack of rain; rather, their supply of farmworkers had dried up almost overnight. Typically, migrant pickers made their way north from Florida’s winter tomato fields into Georgia to harvest its Vidalia onions, bell peppers, and blueberries. But that year, “they just didn’t come,” says Charles Hall, executive director of the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. The pickers avoided the state, leaving “crops in the field rotting.”

What happened? Just after taking office that winter, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill that, he vowed, would “crack down on the influx of illegal immigrants into our state.” Known in civil-liberties circles as Georgia’s racial-profiling law, House Bill 87 encouraged local police officers to check the immigration status of anyone suspected of violating any regulation, including traffic rules, and imposed harsh penalties on anyone caught “harboring an illegal alien.” The governor probably didn’t intend for his signature immigration law to cost his state’s farm sector loads of cash. But his timing couldn’t have been worse. A shortfall of 11,000 workers — representing about 85 percent of peak employment — caused $75 million in crop losses that spring alone, with a total hit to the state economy of $103.6 million that season, according to a study by the University of Georgia. Neighboring Alabama passed an even more draconian law later that year, spurring its immigrant farmworkers to exit en masse and costing the state up to 6 percent of its gross domestic product. …


15 years later, the detention camp has become a place where time is lost.

By Noor Zafar

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A guard tower at the US detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, in 2016. Maren Hennemuth/ZUMA

Last month, I took my first trip to the US military detention camp at Guantánamo Bay to visit Sufyian Barhoumi. As a military handler drove me and my colleagues from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) down the winding road from the ferry landing to the camp, I marveled at the lush green hills and sparkling blue water around us. The serenely beautiful setting stands in stark contrast to the detention camp, which is jarringly ugly: Endless rolls of rusty barbed wire, layers of fencing enmeshed with opaque green cloth, cages with peeling paint, gravel pits where grass should be. …


New complaints about a private facility with a record of poor medical care.

By Bryan Schatz.

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Mikel Bilbao Gorostiaga/ VW Pics via ZUMA Wire

“I was close to dying, you know? And for nothing, for nothing,” said Manfred Grimm. When we spoke on the phone, the 51-year-old German national was being held in the Adelanto Detention Center, a Southern California immigration prison run by the private prison company GEO Group. A week and a half earlier, Grimm had suffered a heart attack at the center. He claimed that after he was taken to a nearby hospital he almost bled to death. …

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