Ross Mirkarimi

Reducing phone charges helps inmates connect with families

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OPINION

It's expensive being poor. Families of inmates often live on the edge of insolvency.

I know a mother of two, married to a man doing time in the San Francisco jail, who is trapped between the domino effect of poverty and the desire to maintain her children's relationship with their father. The trouble began when her credit rating dropped due to late bill payments, which triggered the repossession of her car, which put her job at risk because public transit couldn't get her to work on-time.Read more »

Parents, behind bars

New programs acknowledge that strengthening the parent-child bond reduces recidivism

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By Ross Mirkarimi

OPINION Nearly 50 percent of the 2.7 million people incarcerated in US prisons and jails are mothers and fathers. In San Francisco, about 40 percent of the prisoners are parents. For their children, the punishment does not fit the crime.

Federal and state recidivism registers at 78 percent; locally the rate is 65 percent and dropping. If we're serious about breaking the cycle of incarceration, we must get serious about restoring the family ties of the incarcerated.Read more »

How to help Iran without meddling

The U.S. government has no moral or political authority to tell Iranians what they should do. Iranians are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves
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OPINION Two of us, Penn and Erlich, traveled to Iran in 2005 and interviewed numerous ordinary Iranians. People were very friendly toward us as Americans but very hostile to U.S. policy against their country. We visited Friday prayers where 10,000 people chanted, "Death to America." Afterward those same people invited us home for lunch.

That contradiction continues today as Iran goes through its most significant upheaval since the 1979 revolution. Iranians are rising up against an authoritarian system, but they don't want U.S. Read more »