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Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Prison (HBO)
























Patrick Kevin Day of the LATimes reports, John Oliver swipes 'Sesame Street' format to explain prison problem, on his Sunday Night show Last Week Tonight.  

John Oliver spent the second half of his show on Sunday discussing the woeful state of America's prisons, which have seen a ballooning population even while states are moving to privatize them to save money.

How bad has the incarceration problem gotten in America? Longtime children's TV staple "Sesame Street" recently featured a puppet whose father had been sent to jail. "Sesame Street" has long been a place to tackle the basics of childhood life, like numbers, the alphabet, sharing and even some hard topics such as death of a loved one. But prisons?

To see Oliver's own version of "Sesame Street," covering the problems of prison, including the preponderance of mental illness and rape behind bars, you'll need to sit through his 14-minute buildup.

Here is a plot of America's prison population and the racial breakdown.

 photo Prisonpopulations1401328938390_zpsf7a87b4f.png

American has more prisoners than any other country and the highest percentage of our population in prison of any nation in the world.

About half are drug related crimes. My understanding is that most of these are non-violent. People trying to self-medicate themselves in a nation that does not provide adequote health treatment  - especially mental health.  

I call on President Obama to pardon all non-violent federal drug offenders. Someone here told me the President can not pardon state prisoners, which I find surprising. If it is true than he can not pardon our state's non-violent drug offender, he should use the bully pulpit to call on state governors to do the same.

Having 2.2 million prisoners is disgraceful.  

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (39+ / 0-)

    Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

    by HoundDog on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 05:35:07 PM PDT

  •  Another bit of awesome from the Daily Show (11+ / 0-)

    Damn, Comedy Central is acting like they're the best damn journalism school in the country.

    GOP 2014 strategy -- Hire clowns, elephants, and a ringmaster and say "a media circus" has emerged and blame Democrats for lack of progress. Have pundits agree that "both sides are to blame" and hope the public will stay home on election day.

    by ontheleftcoast on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 06:08:45 PM PDT

    •  Not the Daily Show. (0+ / 0-)

      That's from John Oliver's HBO show, Last Week Tonight.

      Former libertarian...who grew up.

      by RevBobMIB on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 12:28:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, duh. I know it's his show but I was (0+ / 0-)

        drawing attention to the fact he got here thanks to the Daily Show. Like Stephen Colbert before him. Jon Stewart has done as much to promote journalism on TV as any of the schools of journalism seem to have in the last decade or so. Maybe more, his take down of Crossfire was legendary.

        GOP 2014 strategy -- Hire clowns, elephants, and a ringmaster and say "a media circus" has emerged and blame Democrats for lack of progress. Have pundits agree that "both sides are to blame" and hope the public will stay home on election day.

        by ontheleftcoast on Tue Jul 22, 2014 at 01:24:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  All the same... (0+ / 0-)

          ...it's disrespectful to the writers. None of these are one-man shows, and TDS, TCR, and LWT all have different writing teams. Praising the Daily Show team for brilliance by the Last Week Tonight team is kind of like reading Joe Hill's new book and saying what a masterpiece Stephen King wrote.

          Yes, John Oliver and Stephen Colbert both got their starts on The Daily Show. Very true. They're still different people with different shows.

          Former libertarian...who grew up.

          by RevBobMIB on Wed Jul 23, 2014 at 12:45:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I'm surprised you are surprised (7+ / 0-)
    Someone here told me the President can not pardon state prisoners, which I find surprising.
    Perhaps this sort of misunderstanding over what the President of the US can actually do explains much of the disappointment some folks express over his failures to "do" certain things?

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 06:09:30 PM PDT

    •  Absolutely (0+ / 0-)

      People think he can bend Congress to his will and chide him for not doing that.  Putin can do that with his legislature!  Of course, Putin is a dictator, but, gosh,  he looks so good wrestling bears bare-chested and enabling rebels to shoot down civilian planes in a neighboring country's airspace.

      There are a lot of people on both the left and the right who blame Obama for not having some sort of magic pixie dust he is supposed it be able to wave in the air in Washington that magically gets things done without issuing Executive orders and somehow convinces Republicans who have publicly stated they want him to fail to go along with whatever he proposes.  Funny, no one ever says what the magic words are that will accomplish this.  It's his job to somehow know what those magical words are, dammit!  Presidential fail!

      Take the massing of children on the US border.  The House demands he do something.  He comes back with a program and the House says, "No, we won't fund that."  They don't counter propose anything of course, and then they blame Obama for "not doing anything."  I guess they just want Obama to use his vast powers of telekinesis to transport these children back to their home countries, which with his other powers, he has made safe, clean and prosperous.  Of course, if he actually did that, he'd be criticized for being too powerful and why didn't he use those powers for Muricans first?

      Things have become idiotic.

      •  Does what they want, then chide him for doing it!! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        briefal

        In the beginning, they want him to extend the deadline for Employers to institute Obamacare, but then when he does, they complain, because he did!  President Obama can never do anything right, according to Congress, because they want him to fail. Instead of doing their job, which the people elected them for, they spend all their time and the taxpayer's money trying to make him fail.  They complain about the money "Big Government" wastes, but don't look at all of the money they wasted and caused to be wasted, with all their investigations and law suits.

    •  What he can "do" is talk about it - like an adult (0+ / 0-)

      ... but politicians have made a lot of hay pandering to people on this front.  So it is a tall ask.

  •  Nice post HoundDog (6+ / 0-)

    Oh hey, did you see the news out there about India doubling its Coal Tax in order to fund solar/wind investments?

    Sorry.. didn't intend a diary de-rail.  

    Prison/ Drug Policy Reform!  I still think the best thing I've seen on this topic was The House I Live In.   Eugene Jarecki is one hell of a documentarian.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 06:11:04 PM PDT

    •  I missed the India thing. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rl en france

      Hey Wisper don' ever worry about "derailing" any of my posts.

      I'll take any comments I can get.  

      Anyhow, it's hard to derail a comment stream with only three comments.

      You account for 33% of all the substantive comments in this post.

      If anyone comments on the John Oliver prison thing you'd be within rights to accuse them of derailing our conversation about the India Coal tax.  lol

      Hey, maybe this could be a good strategy to gin up some interest?

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 06:37:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for posting this. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, blueoasis, rl en france

    Nice to see stats by American Friends Society quoted.

    Quakers are paying attention.

    Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature. I scroll with my middle finger.

    by ZenTrainer on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 06:38:03 PM PDT

    •  We are lucky to have the Quakers as a moral (4+ / 0-)

      anchor for our country.

      I particularly appreciate their support for non-violent chance.

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 06:39:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Saw it last night and (3+ / 0-)

    was just blown away by it. It was funny, informative, and absolutely brilliant!

    Nothing matters but the song.

    by 47songs on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 07:10:06 PM PDT

  •  imo the war on drugs began the trashing (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, HoundDog, rl en france

    of our constitution and now we have nothing left of the bill of rights except for the 2nd amendment.

    ALL of our institutions have been hollowed out by the greed ethos. There are none left with heart intact or souls for that matter. So the zombie is all around us - me

    by glitterscale on Mon Jul 21, 2014 at 07:55:47 PM PDT

  •  "Privitization" works, so save Social Security! (0+ / 0-)

    "Privitization" works!  As can be seen by doing it to the Prison System.  Just think how great it will work, for Social Security!  All in saving the "all mighty dollar" so the Repubs can spend it on filing frivolous lawsuits.  How many times have they tried to repeal Obamacare, how much time have they wasted on it, instead of doing the job they were elected for.  How much tax payer money have they squandered doing it, but heck they are trying to make the government smaller and save money!  Seems they could save a heck of a lot of time, doing their job and passing legislation that tackles more important problems.  They want so bad to make Obama fail, they just cannot let up.  Like someone on Daily KOS had said before, will they refer to Obamacare as Obamacare, when they see how much good it does and how thankful the people are for it?  Do they think the people will let them take away all the good things they have gotten because of President Obama?  I enjoy watching and listening to John Oliver, thanks HoundDog!  I also like the Daily Show and Colbert Report Bruinkid posts!  Keep up the great work.  This is a great way to see what is actually going on in our country and how ignorant many of the people are, who were elected to represent us!

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