Tag Archives: technology

Let Convicts Make Calls, They Break Fewer Laws

26 May

Not someone you want calling you. Photo: Wired

Last year I did a piece for Wired about cell phones in prisons – how they’re being smuggled in by the thousands and are being used for literally everything from calling Mom to ordering murders. Prison reformers opined that the best way to beat the problem is to make it easier for inmates to call their loved ones more easily. In most lockups, their only option is artificially overpriced collect calls. Cheaper legit calls would reduce demand for smuggled mobiles, goes the thinking, and the result would be fewer handsets floating around for bad guys to use for evil ends. Well, according to Nebraska correctional authorities, it’s true. As the Omaha World-Herald reports,

State Corrections Director Bob Houston said Nebraska has made it so cheap for prisoners to use the regular prison phone system that there’s no monetary incentive to smuggle in phones.

Only six cell phones were confiscated from Nebraska inmates during the past year, Houston said. He attributes the low number to a decision made years ago not to seek profit from inmate phone calls.

In Nebraska, inmates pay only 50 cents for a local telephone call on the regular prison lines….By contrast, Iowa charges $2 per local call.

Safer prisons, happier moms – but sad news for phone companies, which rake in millions from overpriced inmate calls.

Sensory Overloader

26 May

Eye candy in the form of a short piece I’ve got in the new Wired. When you really need a good look at the interior of a 30-foot-high human brain,¬† or to watch the movements of subatomic particles blown up to the size of Volkswagens, you need the Allosphere, a three-story-tall aluminum sphere with a catwalk running through the center and six hi-def 3-D video projectors that spray 360-degree images onto a spherical screen. Worth checking out just for the visuals.

This is your brain in the Allosphere. Courtesy UC Santa Barbara.

Welcome to Undercovered!

9 May

And this is what I look like.

Hello, and thanks for stopping by. Yes, I’m taking a bold leap into the last decade by finally launching a blog. I believe that makes me the last journalist on Earth to have done so, a distinction I will try to be worthy of. The idea is to provide a place for people to find, discuss and share news about important or at least interesting issues from around the world that are generally overlooked and undercovered by the big-time media. In particular, we’re talking crime and justice in their many forms, international news and how technology is changing everything.Please check it out, and by all means, chime in!

Me? I’m an award-winning magazine writer based in Los Angeles, and have spent nearly 20 years writing about such stuff. I’ve ridden along with emergency first responders in the days after Haiti’s earthquake, exposed conditions in California’s harshest prisons, spent quality time with a Las Vegas billionaire building inflatable hotels in outer space and hunted down other stories from around the world for publications including The Los Angeles Times Magazine, Harper’s, The Atlantic, Wired, The Village Voice, The New Republic, The Nation, Mother Jones and Rolling Stone. You can find out more¬† here.