The Marc Steiner Show

Prisons and Prisoners

Debating Marijuana Law Reform: Looking Through Lens Of Race, Our Prison Population & Our Communities

Debating legalizationApril 20, 2015 – Segment 3

Listen to a debate and discussion around marijuana law reform, with: Retired Major Neill Franklin, former Baltimore and Maryland State Police officer and Executive Director of LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition); Lawrence Grandpre, Assistant Director of Research and Public Policy for Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle; and Will Jones III, chairperson of TIE DC (Two is Enough DC), an organization opposed to legalization.

Annapolis Update: Pre-Trial Issues & Bail Reform In Maryland

Senate President Mike MillerApril 10, 2015 – Segment 2

The Maryland Legislative Session wraps up next week, and we examine a number of the issues covered during the session. Our guests include: Charles Robinson, political and business correspondent for Maryland Public Television, who will discuss the Session in general; and Doug Colbert, Professor of Law at University of Maryland Carey School of Law, who will discuss pre-trial issues and bail reform.

Billie Holiday and the War of Drugs

billieApril 7, 2015 – Segment 1

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of Billie Holiday. In honor of her birth, we speak to Johann Hari, author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the American Drug War, the centerpiece of which tells the tale of Harry Anslinger, the first head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and his personal war to destroy Billie Holiday. Holiday struggled with heroin addiction but was also emblematic of the fearlessness of standing up against racism. Anslinger was a racist and he hated jazz, so Billie Holiday embodied all that he loathed.

Annapolis Update: Reforming Parole For Persons Serving Life Sentences In Maryland

Maryland parole reformMarch 9, 2015 – Segment 3

We look at the issue of parole reform, in light of a proposed bill that would end the requirement that the governor (and not the parole board) make the final decision in cases involving persons serving life sentences. With: Delegate Jill Carter (Democrat-District 41); Delegate Kathy Szeliga (Republican-District 7); Walter Lomax, Project Director of the Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative, a program of Fusion Partnerships; and Delegate John Cluster (Republican-District 8).

Annapolis Update: Voting Rights For Ex-Offenders

Voting rights for ex-offendersMarch 9, 2015 – Segment 2

We focus on a number of issues currently facing the Maryland General Assembly. Our panelists debate whether voting rights for ex-felons should be restored. With: Delegate Cory McCray (Democrat-Baltimore City); and Senator Justin Ready (Republican-Carroll County).

Local Action Against Wrongful Arrests of Young People

babybookingMarch 4, 2015 – Segment 3

We are joined by Charnell D. Cobb-El, Site Director of The Baltimore Algebra Project at Patterson High School and Executive Director and Founder of Convert Consulting, who tells us about an action on Thursday, March 5th on the wrongful arrests by Baltimore City Police against young people of color as well as the school funding crisis.

Sound Bites: Radical Farmers Use Fresh Food to Fight Racial Injustice | Debating The Maryland Farmers’ Rights Act | Tribute To Juanita Ewell Of Cherry Hill Urban Garden

Juanita Ewell, Cherry Hill Urban GardenMarch 3, 2015 – Segment 3

On Sound Bites, our series about our food and our world, we begin the hour with a story from Yes! Magazine: Radical Farmers Use Fresh Food to Fight Racial Injustice and the New Jim Crow. With: Jalal Sabur, farmer and prison abolitionist, who helped to start the Freedom Food Alliance, a collective of farmers, political prisoners, and organizers in upstate New York committed to incorporating food justice to address racism in the criminal justice system; and Leah Penniman, farmer and educator based in the Albany, NY, area who wrote the article for YES!.

Then, our guests debate proposed legislation before the Maryland General Assembly, the Farmers’ Rights Act. With: Delegate Charles Otto (Republican, District 38A, Somerset & Worcester Counties), Deputy Minority Whip in the Maryland State House, and member of the House Environment and Transportation Committee and the House Natural Resources, Agriculture & Open Space Subcommittee; and Senator Richard Madaleno, Jr. (Democrat, District 18, Montgomery County), Vice-Chair of the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee, Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Subcommittee, and primary sponsor of Senate Bill 0532, or the Farmers’ Rights Act.

We close out the show with a tribute to a local hero, Cherry Hill Urban Garden’s Juanita Ewell, who passed away on February 17th. From the Garden’s Facebook Page:

Juanita started the garden in 2010 with the mission of saving the community. She worked tirelessly to spread her love of gardening and healthy eating, and her energy and passion touched the hearts of so many. She will be dearly missed by her family, friends, and the entire Cherry Hill community.”

We remember this amazing person, an agent for change in her community, by listening back to an excerpt from our interview with her from last summer.

What The Prison Uprising In South Texas Says About Immigration & For-Profit Prisons In The United States

Willacy PrisonMarch 2, 2015 – Segment 4

We look at the inmate uprising that happened last week at Willacy County Correctional Center in Raymondville, Texas, known as “Ritmo,” over inadequate medical conditions at this overcrowded for-profit facility.

Our guests are: Bob Libal, Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership, an organization that fights to end for-profit incarceration; and Carl Takei, Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s National Prison Project and co-author of a report on Texas’s CAR (Criminal Alien Requirement) prisons, Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison System.

Talking About Race With Bryan Stevenson Of The Equal Justice Initiative

Bryan StevensonFebruary 25, 2015 – Segment 2

We preview of the newest lecture in Open Society Institute-Baltimore’s Talking About Race series, taking place Thursday night. I will talk with Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of Equal Justice Initiative, a law practice dedicated to defending some of America’s most rejected and marginalized people, about his new book Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. The book details one of the first cases Stevenson took on, that of Walter McMillan, a Black man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit.

Bryan Stevenson will give his talk Thursday night, February 26th at 7pm in the Wheeler Auditorium at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. This event is open to the public and is part of OSI-Baltimore’s Talking About Race Series, co-sponsored by the Enoch Pratt Free Library. 

National News Roundup: CIA Torture Memo, The Federal Budget & More

CIA Torture MemoDecember 16, 2014 – Segment 2

On our national roundtable, our panel of guests discusses topics of national importance including the CIA torture memo and the Federal Budget Bill.

With: Lenny McAllister, Republican strategist, former congressional candidate, and host of “NightTalk: Get To The Point” on the Pittsburgh cable news channel and “Get Right with Lenny McAllister” on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA in Pittsburgh; Kevin Zeese, Co-Director at ItsOurEconomy.US and co-host of Clearing The Fog radio show; and Will Marshall, President and Founder of the Progressive Policy Institute.

Lead Up To The Annapolis Summit: Pre-Trial Issues

Thumbnail image Police Criminal Justice Crime Handcuffs Law Enforcement | ANNAPOLIS, MD -- 12/6/08 -- MD GANGS 07 HAIRSTON --Capt. Kevin King, of the Maryland Division of Corrections, Eastern Correctional Institution in Somerset County, holds handcuffs as he listens to his collegue Capt. Walter Holmes, also from Eastern, make his presentation. The two men are founders of a program called "CHOICES...Part of the Solution" and bring the program to young people at the Eastport Community Center. Their talk centers on keeping kids out of gangs and the criminal justice system. KIM HAIRSTON [Sun Photographer] #9085  MANDATORY CREDIT:  Baltimore Examiner and Washington Examiner OUTDecember 12, 2014 – Segment 2

In our Lead Up to the Annapolis Summit, we take a look at pretrial issues that will be on the docket during the 2015 Maryland General Assembly, which opens on January 14. With: Doug Colbert, Professor of Law at University of Maryland Carey School of Law; and Paul DeWolfe, Maryland Public Defender.


From The Archives: Baltimore Jail Growing Food & Flowers

GardenDecember 11, 2014 – Segment 3

We listen back to a special 2010 archive edition of the Steiner Show, part of our Urbanite Stories series. Marc speaks to Correctional Officer Maurice Smith of the Metropolitan Transition Center in Baltimore about a prison garden program he ran where inmates grew food and flowers, creating a serene and welcoming corner in an otherwise stark environment.

From The Archives: Baltimore’s Dr. Mark Kleiman On Reducing Drugs, Violence & The Prison Population

Dr. Mark KleimanNovember 28, 2014 – Segment 3

Listen to a special archive edition of The Marc Steiner Show, looking at ideas for reducing violence, drug consumption and incarceration, with Dr. Mark Kleiman, Professor of Public Policy in the UCLA School of Public Affairs and one of the leading thinkers on refining drug enforcement policy to reduce violence and drug abuse without overloading our law enforcement and treatment systems.

This segment originally aired March 21, 2011.


Piper Kerman, Author of ‘Orange Is The New Black’

Piper Kerman, Orange is the New BlackOctober 24, 2014 – Segment 2

Listen to my live interview with Piper Kerman, whose best-selling memoir of her time in prison, Orange is the New Black, is the basis for the popular television series of the same name. Kerman will be speaking at Center Stage in Baltimore on Monday as part of the Open Society Institute-Baltimore’s Big Change event.



Michelle Alexander On Mass Incarceration and African Americans

Michelle AlexanderOctober 23, 2014 – Segment 5

We close out the show with a special archive edition of The Marc Steiner Show, our conversation with civil rights litigator and legal scholar Michelle Alexander about mass incarceration and African Americans. Alexander is the author of the highly-acclaimed book The New Jim Crow.



Marshall “Eddie” Conway: Life After Prison & The Future of Baltimore

Eddie ConwayOctober 14, 2014 – Segment 1

It’s WEAA’s fund drive week, and we have a bundle of interesting shows and premiums for you! Please call in to 410-319-8888 from 10-noon and help us meet our goal! You can also pledge online at:

We have a conversation with former Black Panther Marshall “Eddie” Conway, who was released from prison earlier this year after being incarcerated for 44 years. We talk about his time in prison, his work with young men inside and outside prison, and Friend of a Friend, a mentoring project he started with American Friends Service Committee.

The premium for this hour is a copy of Eddie Conway’s autobiography, Marshall Law: The Life & Times of a Baltimore Black Panther. And also in-studio is Dr. Lester Spence!


Descamps v. United States: SCOTUS Decision Opens Way For Reduced Sentences For Violent Offenders

Career criminals and reduced sentencesJuly 15, 2014 – Segment 2

We examine the impact of a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Descamps v. United States, which has opened the way for dozens of federal inmates from Maryland who are currently serving long-term sentences to seek reduced sentences. Our panel of guests includes: Judge Andre Davis, Senior Judge in the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth CircuitSujit Raman, Appellate Chief for the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office; and Mary Price, General Counsel of Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) and Director of the FAMM Litigation Project.


Conversation With Eddie Conway

conwayMay 26, 2014 – Segment 2

We listen to tape from a special evening Marc hosted with Eddie Conway last week at Red Emma’s. Eddie Conway is a former Black Panther who was released from prison earlier this year after being incarcerated for 44 years. He discusses his time in prison, his work with young men inside and outside prison, and Friend of a Friend, a mentoring project he started with American Friends Service Committee.  Friend of a Friend works to reduce institutional violence by providing tools that build healthy relationships, create support structures, and develop effective communication skills. We also hear from Green Bay, one of the young men Eddie mentored who is part of Friend of a Friend.


This Week In City Paper with Baynard Woods

A prison philosophy program tells us what we can learn about life from lifersApril 30, 2014 – Segment 5

We close the show with This Week in the City Paper, with Senior Editor Baynard Woods. He talks about this week’s issue, which includes Baynard’s feature “Heart of Darkness: A prison philosophy program tells us what we can learn from lifers.”



Mother To Mother: Ending the Murder and Violence in Our Communities

The House I Live InApril 30, 2014 – Segment 4

We discuss Mother To Mother: Let the Healing Begin: Ending the Murder and Violence in Our Communities, an event hosted by Institute of the Black World 21st Century. The event will take place Friday, May 2, at 7:00pm at the Real News Media Center, 235 Holliday Street, Baltimore. It will include a screening of the documentary “The House I Live In” and town hall meeting featuring a panel moderated by WEAA’s Sandi Mallory.

Joining us to talk about the event are: panelist Mildred Damy, Co-Founder of M.O.M.S. (Mothers of Murdered Sons and Daughters) Maryland, who lost her son to violence in 2007; and Rosaline Preudhomme, Director of the Institute of the Black World’s (IBW) Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Reform Program and a member of the IBW board of directors.


NAACP Criminal Justice Director Dr. Niaz Kasravi

niazApril 28, 2014 – Segment 2

We have a conversation with NAACP Criminal Justice Director Dr. Niaz Kasravi about mass incarceration and the war on drugs.




Fleet Maull: From Prison to Meditation

Fleet MaullApril 25, 2014 – Segment 2

We meet Fleet Maull, meditation teacher, who founded the nonprofit organizations Prison Dharma Network, Peacemaker Institute, National Prison Hospice Organization and, while teaching at Naropa Institute, the Center for Contemplative End of Life Care. He is the author of Dharma in Hell: Prison Writings of Fleet Maull.
Fleet will be leading a workshop this weekend at Morgan State University called: Awakened Leadership: Community Engagement Practices for Creating Enlightened Society. For more information visit


Hunger Strike Inside U.S. Immigration Detainment Center

three people who are on a hunger strike to protest conditions at the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, one of the largest immigration detainment centers in the US.March 21, 2014 – Segment 3

We talk with Maru Mora Villalpando, CEO of the nonprofit organization Latino Advocacy. Villalpando is the spokesperson for three people who are on a hunger strike to protest conditions at the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, one of the largest immigration detainment centers in the US.


A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran

Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal

March 19, 2014 – Segment 4

We meet Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd, and Josh Fattal. They were arrested along the border between Iraq and Iran in 2009. They were accused by the Iranian authorities of being spies, though no evidence was ever presented to support that claim. Sarah Shourd was released 14 months later, and Bauer and Fattal were released in September 2011.

The three hikers have just published a new book, A Sliver of Light: Three Americans Imprisoned in Iran, and will speak Saturday night at 7:30 at Red Emma’s, 30 W. North Avenue in Baltimore. For more information, visit


Re-Entry For The Formerly Incarcerated

Ban the BoxFebruary 26, 2014 – Segment 2

We turn to the subject of post-incarceration re-entry, with: Maryland State Senator Verna Jones-Rodwell; Baltimore Councilman Nick Mosby; and Jacqueline Robarge, Founder and Director of Power Inside.

Our show leads up to the Second Bi-Annual Statewide Community Re-Entry Symposium “Maximizing Regional Connections,” to be held on Monday, March 3, at the Miller Senate Office Building in Annapolis. Due to inclement weather, this event has been postponed to a further date. For further inquiries, please contact Aviana Cooper at 410-841-3612 or by email at



Damien Echols Of The West Memphis Three

echolsFebruary 20, 2014 – Segment 4

We speak with Damien Echols, who was part of the West Memphis Three. This group of three young men was falsely accused of the murders of three young boys in Arkansas in 1993. They were tried and convicted in 1994; Damien Echols was sentenced to death. After a new trial was called, all three men were released in 2011. We spoke to Echols about his book, Life After Death.



CeCe McDonald, Trans Woman & Activist, Released From Prison

CeCe McDonaldFebruary 20, 2014 – Segment 3

Listen to our interview with CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman and activist from Minneapolis, and Katie Burgess, Executive Director of Trans Youth Support Network in Minneapolis.  McDonald was released from prison on January 13th after serving 19 months for her alleged involvement in stabbing a man with scissors. Supporters of McDonald say that she was defending herself against a group of people who came at her and her friends with a bar glass, in a racist and trans-phobic attack. She was held in a men’s prison, even though she identifies as a trans woman.



CeCe McDonald, Trans Woman & Activist, Released From Prison

CeCe McDonaldJanuary 31, 2014 – Segment 3

Listen to our interview with CeCe McDonald, a transgender woman and activist from Minneapolis, and Katie Burgess, Executive Director of Trans Youth Support Network in Minneapolis.  McDonald was released from prison on January 13th after serving 19 months for her alleged involvement in stabbing a man with scissors. Supporters of McDonald say that she was defending herself against a group of people who came at her and her friends with a bar glass, in a racist and trans-phobic attack. She was held in a men’s prison, even though she identifies as a trans woman.


Race, Justice & Culture: Renisha McBride, Marissa Alexander and “Knockout”

Renisha McBrideNovember 18, 2013 – Segment 2

We begin our show Monday morning with a look at a number of current stories that reflect upon issues of race, justice, and our culture. Topics include: the case of Renisha McBride, the 19-year old Michigan woman who was fatally shot in the face by a homeowner after her car broke down and she walked onto his porch seeking help; the case of Marissa Alexander, the Florida woman who fired a warning shot into the air to ward off her abusive husband and is now awaiting a new trial while serving a 20-year sentence; and the game of “knockout,” which is played by attacking an innocent pedestrian in an attempt to knock him or her unconscious with one punch. Our guests include:

  • Jamilah King, News Editor at;
  • Nicole Glass-Brice, Deputy Director of the Community Conferencing Center in Baltimore;
  • Victoria Law, photographer, author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women and Editor of the zine Tenacious: Writings from Women in Prison;
  • and Dr. Raymond Winbush, Director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University.


Jarvis Tyner on “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners”

Angela DavisNovember 14, 2013 – Segment 4

We close out our show at 10:30 with a discussion on an important movie that will be shown Thursday night at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), Free Angela and All Political Prisoners. We will talk with Jarvis Tyner, long time friend of Angela Davis, Executive Vice-Chair of the Communist Party USA and founding member of the Black Radical Congress.


Daniel Ellsberg: The Most Dangerous Man In America

Daniel EllsbergNovember 8, 2013 – Segment 4

Daniel Ellsberg joined Marc to discuss the new film about his life: The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. In 1970, Ellsberg was responsible for releasing the secret U.S.government report that documented illegal US involvement in Vietnam, documents that have become known as the Pentagon Papers.  He discusses why he risked life in prison to publicize the papers, and why his story is still relevant today.

This podcast originally aired March 1, 2010. 


Failed War On Drugs: Solutions For The United States & Latin America

War on DrugsNovember 7, 2013 – Segment 3

We turn our focus to the failed War on Drugs. Our guests will be:


Read More→

OSI-Baltimore Celebrates Its 15-Year Anniversary

OSI BaltimoreOctober 28, 2013 – Segment 4

We acknowledge the 15th Anniversary of Open Society Institute-Baltimore, with: Diana Morris, Director of OSI-Baltimore; and Judge Andre Davis, who sits on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and is an OSI-Baltimore board member.

On Tuesday the organization will celebrate with a forum of ideas, featuring speakers such as Van Jones and Sherrilyn Ifill.


MD Court of Appeals Ensures Poor Suspects Have Counsel At First Bail Hearing

Maryland State House

September 30, 2013 – Segment 2

Doug Colbert, University of Maryland Carey School of Law Professor, and Maryland State Senator Brian Frosh, discuss an important Maryland Court of Appeals decision mandating that poor suspects have access to counsel at all bail hearings.


What The Unger Decision Means For Those Released

Unger DecisionSeptember 26, 2013 – Segment 3

Walter Lomax joins us to talk about an upcoming town hall meeting focusing on juveniles convicted under the felony murder law, September 28 at Morgan State University. Lomax is Project Director of the Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative, a program of Fusion Partnerships.

Also joining us is Kareem Hasan, someone released under the Unger decision.


MD Court Of Appeals Questions Fairness Of Jury Convictions Before 1980

Baltimore, Md--7/25/13--Left, Alexander Mustafa embraces (facing camera) Saleem El-Amin outside Courthouse East after El-Amin and several inmates convicted of murder are released. Mustafa, who had been in prison, but has been out for 17 years, met El-Amin while they were incarcerated.  The men just released were convicted before 1980 and the Court of Appeals ruled jurors had been given improper instructions.  Kim Hairston/The Baltimore Sun--#1841August 27, 2013 – Segment 1

We begin our show with a discussion on a Maryland Court of Appeals ruling last year that called into question the fairness of jury convictions before 1980, and led to the release from prison last week of five men who had been convicted of murder. Joining us are:

  • Michael Millemann, Jacob A. France Professor of Public Interest Law at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law and Director of the Leadership, Ethics & Democracy Initiative;
  • Russell Butler, Executive Director of Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center;
  • and Walter Lomax, founder of the Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative and a former prisoner who was exonerated after serving many years in prison.


Trans & Incarcerated: Chelsea Manning and “Orange Is The New Black”

Chelsea Manning

August 26, 2013 – Segment 1

We begin the week with a conversation about transgender people who are incarcerated, in light of Bradley Manning’s announcement last week that she identifies as a woman named Chelsea. We speak to:

  • Lauren McNamara, marketing writer who lives in Orlando who was called to testify at the Chelsea Manning trial because of online chats she had with Manning, and author of “The Humanity of Private Manning”;
  • Cecilia Chung, senior strategist at the Transgender Law Center;
  • and Monica Stevens, local activist.


Shane Bauer On Solitary Confinement

Shane BauerJuly 24, 2013 – Segment 2

We sit down with Shane Bauer, an independent journalist based in Oakland who wrote an article about solitary confinement for Mother Jones titled “Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside American Prisons.”

Bauer was one of three hikers detained by Iranian authorities at the Iraq-Iran border in 2009 and held for over two years, with four months in solitary confinement.



Philosophers’ Roundtable On Violence In USA

tankJuly 24, 2013 – Segment 1

We speak with religious, ethical, and philosophical thinkers about violence in our country. Why is violence so omnipresent in our daily lives? Is the United States an exceptionally violent nation? What does it mean to create a more humane and just society?  Can it be done?  And how do we do it here? Our guests include

  • Rev. Dr. Brad Braxton, Senior Pastor at the Open Church in Baltimore and Lois Craddock Perkins Professor of Homiletics at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas;
  • Brendan Walsh, a former priest who helps run Viva House, a Catholic Worker soup kitchen;
  • E.R. Shipp,  Journalist-in-Residence and Associate Professor of Journalism at Morgan State University, and
  • Latonia Valincia, playwright, director, author and motivational speaker.


National News Roundtable: California Prison Hunger Strike, Sterilization Of Women Prisoners, And Anti-Abortion Laws In TX & NC

California Prison Hunger StrikeJuly 12, 2013 – Segment 1

We begin our show with a national news roundtable. Among other issues, we will discuss the hunger strike taking place and the sterilization of women prisoners in the California prison system, and the recently passed anti-abortion laws in Texas and North Carolina. Our guests will be: Crystal Hayes, human rights activist and clinical assistant social work professor in North Carolina; and E. R. Shipp, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and Journalist in Residence at Morgan State University.



Solitary Confinement

solitaryJune 26, 2013 – Segment 3

Sarah Childress, reporter for the PBS investigative series Frontline, talks about her recent article on solitary confinement in the United States.  Called Trapped in the Hole: America’s Solitary Problem, it tells the story of solitary confinement at Cresson state penitentiary in Pennsylvania, as well as analyzes the ways that solitary confinement is used nationwide.


Local News & Politics Roundup: Baltimore Police Vacancies, Statewide Corruption Investigation, And Homicides

baltimore police vacanciesJune 20, 2013 – Segment 4

A roundtable of guests analyzes local news and politics, including vacancies in the Baltimore police department, a statewide investigation into the corruption at the Baltimore City Detention Center, and homicides in the city. Joining us are:
  • Jason Rodriguez, contributor to DMVDAILY.COM;
  • Julius Colon, President and CEO of Park Heights Renaissance;
  • and John Bullock, professor of Political Science at Towson University.




Fighting Against The Drug War

drug war

June 12, 2013 – Segment 2

We hear from Retired Major Neill Franklin, a 33-year police veteran who led anti-narcotics task forces for the Maryland State Police and ran training for the Baltimore Police Department and current Executive Director of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition; and Don Rojas, Member of the Board for the Institute of the Black World.

They join us to discuss next Monday’s “Day of Direct Action at the White House to Call on President Obama to End the War on Drugs and Mass Incarceration and Invest in America’s ‘Dark Ghettos,'” which is organized by the Institute of the Black World.


Corrections Officers Round Table

June 3, 2013 -Segment 1

In light of the federal indictments of corrections officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center, we will hear the perspectives of retired and active officers who have worked inside correctional institutions across Maryland. We are joined by Jim Dow, former correctional officer and correctional specialist; Sheila Hill, retired correctional officer; Lisa James-Henson, correctional officer.






U.S. Army Soldier Bradley Manning’s Trial Starts Monday

Bradley Manning Trial starts MondayMay 30, 2013 – Segment 2

Jesselyn Radack, Government Accountability Project’s National Security and Human Rights Director, and Kevin Zeese, co-director of ItsOurEconomy.US and member of the Steering Committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network, update us on the trial starting next week for US Army soldier Bradley Manning, who was arrested in 2010 on suspicion of handing over classified Army documents to whistle blower Wikileaks.



Sound Bites: Urban Farming, No SNAP Benefits For Violent Offenders, & A Fermentation Recipe!

Sandor Katz, FermentationMay 28, 2013 – Hour 2

It’s another live episode of Sound Bites!

Denzel Mitchell, founder of Five Seeds Farm & Apiary; Blain  and Reagan Hooton, farmer at the Baltimore Free Farm, join us to talk about urban farming.

Then, we debate the Senate’s amendments to the Farm Bill, which would block SNAP benefits for life to those recipients who have at any time been convicted of one of a Senate-designated list of violent crimes, with Tad DeHaven, state and federal budget analyst for the Cato Institute, and Brentin Mock, New Orleans-based journalist and reporter for Colorlines.

We end this week’s Sound Bites with Sandor Ellix Katz, who shares a fermentation recipe. He is a fermentation revivalist and author of Wild Fermentation, The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved, and The Art of Fermentation.



Higher-Than-Average Rate Of Inmate Abuse In MD Prison: What Would Real Reform Take?

Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in JessupMay 20, 2013 – Segment 1

According to a U.S. Department of Justice study released last week, the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup has higher-than-average rates of inmate abuse. Nearly 13 percent of inmates at that facility reported being abused either by a fellow inmate or staff member. We talk with legislators and prison reform advocates about what real reform means. Our guests include:

  • Delegate Sam Arora, Democrat representing Maryland’s 19th District (Montgomery County) in the Maryland House of Delegates;
  • Delegate Nicholaus Kipke, House Minority Leader for the Maryland House of Delegates and Republican representing Maryland’s 31st District (Anne Arundel County);
  • Tracy Velazquez, former Vice Chair of the Montana Democratic Party and former Director of the Justice Policy Institute in Washington, D.C.;
  • and Chris Daley, Deputy Executive Director of Just Detention International.


Marian House: 30 Women 30 Stories

Marian HouseMay 15, 2013 – Segment 3

We speak about 30 Women, 30 Stories: Journeys of Recovery and Transformation, a new book and exhibit about the courageous women of Marian House, a Baltimore institution that has offered rehabilitative services and housing to homeless women and their children for the past 30 years. Joining us are Marian House Executive Director Katie Allston and Marian House alumnae Paris Turner and Trina Seldon. On May 15, 2013 at 5:30 Marian House will host a community dialogue, The Disease of Addiction: Treatment NOT Incarceration, and reception, at the Central Branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Former Black Panther Assata Shakur Added To The FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List

assataMay 6, 2013 -Segment 3

Peniel E. Joseph, Professor of History at Tufts University and the author of the award-winning Waiting ‘Til the Midnight Hour: A Narrative History of Black Power in America and Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama as well as editor of The Black Power Movement: Rethinking the Civil Rights-Black Power Era and Neighborhood Rebels: Black Power at the Local Level joined us to about the FBI’s decision to add former Black Panther Assata Shakur to their Most Wanted Terrorists list.


Race, Class, and Gender in Prison Culture


Baltimore-City-Detention-CenterApril 25, 2013 -Segment 1 We continue our conversation about the federal indictments naming 25 people including corrections officers at Baltimore City Detention Center and members of the Black Guerilla Family with racketeering, drug and money laundering charges. We’ll speak about the news, and dig a little deeper, asking how issues of race, gender, class, prison culture, and mass incarceration play into this story. Our guests include Maryland State Delegate Jill Carter; Maryland State Senator Lisa GladdenVikki Law, activist and author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women;  Hassan Giordano, columnist for the Baltimore Independent Examiner and publisher of,  Jacqueline Robarge, Director and Founder of Power Inside, and Sue Esty, Director of Legislative and Political Affairs AFSCME Council 3


Immigration Reform

Border wallApril 23, 2013 – Segment 4

Last week, a bipartisan group of Senators proposed immigration reform legislation. We’ll discuss it with The Nation writer Aura Bogado and Charles Lollar of New Day Maryland.


Baltimore City Detention Center Corrections Officers Indicted

Detention CenterApril 23, 2013 – Segment 3

Today, a federal indictment named 25 people, including Baltimore City Detention Center corrections officers and members of the Black Guerilla Family, who face racketeering, drug and money laundering charges. We’ll speak with United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.


Seven Inmates Killed In Seven Months In Baltimore

Spike of deaths inside prisons in BaltimoreApril 17, 2013 – Segment 2

A recent Baltimore Sun article stated that seven prisoners have been killed in Maryland prisons within the past seven months. We’ll discuss that as well as efforts to curb violence in prisons with:


Guantanamo Bay Hunger Strike

GuantanamoApril 16, 2013 – Segment 3

We discuss the Guantanamo Bay hunger strike with Pardiss Kebriaei, senior attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, who represents men detained at Guantanamo.

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Shackling Incarcerated Pregnant Women In Maryland

PregnantApril 16, 2013 – Segment 2

We continue our coverage of a bill that was introduced in the Maryland Legislature this past session, which would have prohibited the shackling of incarcerated pregnant women and women in labor. Joining us to discuss the fate of that bill will be: 43rd District Delegate Mary Washington; Jacqueline Robarge, director and founder of Power Inside; Rick Binetti, Director of Communications for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services; and Sue Esty, AFSCME 3 Legislative Director.

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Ghosts of Jim Crow: Ending Racism In Post-Racial America

Michael HigginbothamApril 11, 2013 – Hour 1

This week is the WEAA Spring Fund Drive, so tune in for compelling topics and wonderful premiums! Now is your opportunity to support the station you have come to love: WEAA, THE Voice of the Community! Call 410-319-8888 to make your pledge of support during the show.

Michael Higginbotham, Wilson H. Elkins Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore School of Law, joins us to speak about his latest book, Ghosts of Jim Crow: Ending Racism in Post-Racial America. The book explores how laws and systemic prejudice have maintained racial hierarchy and separation, both historically and today.

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Karen Houppert’s Chasing Gideon: The Elusive Quest For Poor People’s Justice

Lady Justice, Chasing GideonApril 1, 2013 – Segment 3

Author Karen Houppert talks about her latest book, Chasing Gideon: The Elusive Quest for Poor People’s Justice.  Houppert argues that indigent defendants who rely on public defenders are suffering today despite the intention of the Gideon v. Wainwright decision that guaranteed a criminal defendant’s right to an attorney.

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50th Anniversary of the Gideon v. Wainwright Decision

Clarence Gideon - Anniversary of Gideon v. WainwrightMarch 18, 2013 – Segment 3

In 1963 the United States Supreme Court ruled in Gideon v. Wainwright that state courts are required under the 14th Amendment to provide a lawyer to those facing criminal charges who could otherwise not afford one. According to Douglas Colbert, professor of law at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law, the Gideon ruling “changed the landscape of what a criminal felony trial looked like.”

Iten Naguib, a law student who spent time at Maryland’s Justice Access Clinic speaks of direct experiences working with individuals who could have benefited from the aid of a lawyer at the very beginning of their cases. Both Colbert and Naguib are quoted in a recent New York Times article that discusses the often “empty promise” of this right to a lawyer as well as the exclusion of civil cases from this constitutional right. And fifty years after this landmark decision, Colbert, Ms. Naguib and Debra Gardner, Legal Director of the Public Justice Center, argue that inadequacies and inefficiencies in the justice system still leave those without the lawyer they need.

From the Discussion

Why Having a Lawyer is Crucial:

“It really is such a core issue when it comes to people being arrested. What happens at the initial appearance–it’s critical.” – Iten Naguib

“When you have a lawyer present, our data shows that two and a half times as many people who are charged with non-violent crimes will get released on recognizance. They won’t have to go to a bail bondsman; they won’t have to pay money that they don’t have.” – Douglas Colbert

Why the Promise Has Yet to Be Fulfilled:

“From beginning to end, in criminal proceedings, it’s very difficult for people to get high quality representation […] The office of public defender here in Maryland has seen its staff greatly reduced in recent years, and its case loads are twice what the ABA [American Bar Association] recommends…” – Debra Gardner

What Steps Can Be Taken to Make this Promise Real:

“The answer is that the legal profession has to really step up here. And every principal player: judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers, the Bar itself–has to recognize that what we do as a profession is that we help people. We help people get back on a path again.” – Douglas Colbert

“[…] We need to care about everyone who might be in this situation and we need to make it the social priority that the constitution says it should be.” – Debra Gardner


1000th Day in Captivity for Bradley Manning

Bradley ManningFebruary 25, 2013 – Segment 4

Kevin Zeese, co-director of, co-host of Clearing the FOG on We Act Radio 1840 AM in Washington, DC, and member of the Steering Committee of the Bradley Manning Support Network, joins us to discuss the 1000th day of captivity for Bradley Manning, U.S. military troop accused of allegedly leaking confidential documents through WikiLeaks.

Bill Would End Practice of Shackling Pregnant Inmates in Maryland

The fight to stop shackling pregnant inmatesFebruary 21, 2013 – Hour 1

We discuss a bill that would ban physical restraint of incarcerated Maryland women when they are in their second and third trimester of pregnancy and when they are in labor.

We are joined by the sponsor of HB0829, Delegate Mary Washington, Maryland State Delegate for the 43rd District in Baltimore City; Director and Founder of Power Inside, Jacqueline Robarge; and Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Maryland, Sonia Kumar. We’ll also hear the testimonies of two women who gave birth while shackled, Danielle and Shamira.

To see the Maryland campaign to stop the shackling of women, visit the ACLU of Maryland’s site and read their brief on the issue. To read an article on shackling published in The Baltimore Sun nearly 20 years ago, click here.

Shane Bauer On Solitary Confinement

February 7, 2013 – Segment 1

We sit down with Shane Bauer, an independent journalist based in Oakland who wrote an article about solitary confinement for Mother Jones titled “Solitary in Iran Nearly Broke Me. Then I Went Inside American Prisons.”

Bauer was one of three hikers detained by Iranian authorities at the Iraq-Iran border in 2009 and held for over two years, with four months in solitary confinement.





The Move to Repeal the Death Penalty in Maryland

February 6, 2013 – Segment 3

We discuss the move to repeal the death penalty in Maryland. We’re joined by: 

  • John Bessler, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore; 
  • Jane Henderson, Executive Director of MD CASE;
  • Harford County State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly;
  • Delbert Tibbs,  poet and activist, former deathrow inmate, presently the Assistant Director of the Membership and Communications for Witness to Innocence;
  • and independent journalist Hassan Giordano.

May 7, 2012 – Segment 1

Listen in as Middle East Correspsondent for Real News Network Lia Tarachansky calls in from Israel to discuss the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike.

May 3, 2012 – Hour 1

This afternoon Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Pamela J. White reached a verdict in the trial of the Werdesheim brothers, whose trial for the assault of an African American teenager in their predominantly Orthodox Jewish neighborhood has highlighted tension between the two communities in the city.  The older brother, Eliyahu Werdesheim, was found guilty of false imprisonment and second degree assault Thursday afternoon, and his younger brother Avi, was cleared of all charges.
Anthony McCarthy co-hosts a panel on the verdict and the effects of this case in Baltimore communities.
Joining us are:
Senator Lisa Gladden, who represents Maryland’s 41st district
Hassan Giordano, author of the Baltimore Independent Examiner Column for the Baltimore Examiner Website
Gregg Bernstein, Baltimore City State’s Attorney

March 14, 2012 – Hour 1

Gardnel Carter served almost 20 years in prison for attempted murder and robbery with a deadly weapon. Today, he works with Safe Streets East as a mediator to reduce violence in Baltimore. Lester Spence is an assistant professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University and co-founder of the Baltimore Mixtape Project. John Long has been restoring the environment of historic Bread and Cheese Creek in Dundalk.


This hour, we discuss working for change with these activists, all recognized as change makers in this month’s issue of Urbanite Magazine. Read more here.

November 14, 2011 – Hour 2

Join us for an Urbanite Radio Story about the challenges facing those who leave prison and seek to reenter their communities.  Joining us are:
Brother Bey, Founder and President of the Fraternal Order of Ex-Offenders
Adam Schneider, Coordinator of Community Relations at Health Care for the Homeless
Melissa Broome, Senior Policy Advocate at the Job Opportunities Task Force
Imam Earl El-Amin, Resident Imam at the Muslim Community Cultural Center of Baltimore

You can read Michael Corbin’s article On the Outside in November’s Urbanite Magazine.

October 31, 2011 – Hour 1

Marshall “Eddie” Conway was the Minster of Defense of the Baltimore Chapter of the Black Panther Party, and a United States Postal Service worker, when he was arrested and charged with shooting three Baltimore police officers, killing one of them, in 1970.  He was convicted and has been imprisoned since.  We’ll hear from some of his supporters who believe he was wrongfully convicted and should be free, in advance of Eddie’s parole hearing tomorrow, November 1, 2011.  Our guests are Omari Fatiu, a former inmate who was mentored by Eddie at Jessup prison in the Friend of a Friend program, Dominque Stevenson, from the American Friends Service Committee, Charles Dugger, a Baltimore public school teacher, Doc Cheatham, past President of the Baltimore NAACP, and Reverend Heber Brown.

Click here for info on contacting the parole board.

Click here to sign a petition in support of parole for Eddie Conway.

In the last part of the hour, we speak with Jon Perez, organizer of Occupy the Hood Philadelphia, who are working, along with the Occupy the Hood movement in other cities, to bring more people of color to the Occupy Wall Street Movement.

September 22, 2011 – Hour 2

On September 11, 1973, the Chilean military overthrew the democratically-elected government of President Salvador Allende and established a military dictatorship led by General Augusto Pinochet.


Maria Stella Dabancen and Pedro Alejandro Matta, Chilean student leaders and human rights activists who were imprisoned and tortured by the military government, join us to discuss the atrocity they lived through and their ongoing work in support of human rights.

September 15, 2011 – Hour 2

On September 11, 1973, the Chilean military overthrew the democratically-elected government of President Salvador Allende and established a military dictatorship led by General Augusto Pinochet.


Maria Stella Dabancen and Pedro Alejandro Matta, Chilean student leaders and human rights activists who were imprisoned and tortured by the military government, join us to discuss the atrocity they lived through and their ongoing work in support of human rights.

August 17, 2011 – Segment 3

Join us for an Urbanite Radio story, based on Michael Corbin’s piece The Ultimate Punishment, which asks why Maryland’s death penalty remains in legal limbo.

Kirk Bloodsworth spent eight years in prison in Maryland – including two on death row – for a crime he did not commit.  At his release in 1993 he became the first person sentenced to death row who was exonerated by the then-new technique of DNA fingerprinting.  He joined us in the studio to discuss the future of the death penalty in Maryland, and his advocacy work for reform of the death penalty.

June 27, 2011 – Segment 1

Duane “Shorty” Davis, artist and former owner of Shorty’s Pit Beef in Lutherville, Md., is being charged by Baltimore County police after putting a toilet outside a Towson courthouse to protest political corruption in the state. His unique form of protest, which he has been demonstrating in the Baltimore metropolitan area since 2007, was interpreted as an attempt to replicate an explosive device after police saw electric devices attached to the toilet. Davis could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Davis joins us to explain this incident and his overall message of social justice.

May 31, 2011 – Segment 2

In 2007, former National Security Agency employee Thomas Drake was indicted on charges of supplying top-secret defense documents to Baltimore Sun reporter Siobhan Gorman, who used the information to write a prize-winning series of articles about financial waste, bureaucratic dysfunction and dubious legal practices in N.S.A. counterterrorism programs. According to the indictment, Drake allegedly violated the Espionage Act, a statute enacted in 1917 to charge intelligence agents with giving out confidential information. If convicted, Drake could face up to 35 years in prison.

But Drake contends that he is simply being targeted by the government for aiding a reporter in writing a story about fraud, abuse and warrantless domestic spying at the N.S.A. As Drake’s June 13 court appearance in Baltimore draws nearer, we take a look at government repression of free speech and how free speech laws should apply to people who deal with top-secret security information.

Joining us for this discussion are:

Jesselyn Radack – Homeland Security and Human Rights Director of the Government Accountability Project

Mark Feldstein - Associate Professor of Media and Public Affairs at the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs


May 16, 2011 – Segment 3

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world.  African Americans make up a disproportionate amount of the US prison population.  The current budget crunch is forcing political leaders around the country to rethink the amount of money spent on incarceration, but law professor and writer Michelle Alexander, who joins us for this segment, urges us to examine the motivations behind the needed push for prison reform closely.  You can read her op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times here.

March 16, 2011 – Segment 3

Kirk Bloodsworth spent eight years in prison in Maryland – including two on death row – for a crime he did not commit.  At his release in 1993 he became the first person sentenced to death row who was exonerated by the then-new technique of DNA fingerprinting.  He joins us in the studio today to discuss the future of the death penalty in Maryland, and his advocacy work for reform of the death penalty.

December 13, 2010 – Hour 2

First, Bruce Dixon of Black Agenda Report joins us to discuss a strike by prisoners in Georgia seeking to improve their conditions.  Click here to read Bruce’s reporting on the strike.

Then, we discuss an ongoing lockdown in the Baltimore jail, after a series of violent incidents last month.  Click here to read more about the lockdown in the Baltimore Sun.

Joining us are:

Tracy Velazquez, Executive Director of the Justice Policy Institute

Rick Binetti, Communications Director of the Department of Public Safety & Correctional Services

Terry Hickey, Founder and Executive Director of Community Law in Action

Jacqueline Robarge, Executive Director of Power Inside

Finally, we wrap up today’s show with an excerpt from Bernie Sanders’ filibuster speech on the Senate floor last Friday.  He took 8 hours and 37 minutes to voice his opposition to the tax compromise between President Obama and congressional Republicans.  Click here for a full transcript of Sanders’ speech.

December 7, 2010 – Segment 1

Mary Joel Davis has worked with women in prison and former prisoners for over thirty years.  She founded Alternative Directions, which provides legal assistance and re-entry support to women.  Recently she founded a new program, Second Chance, to focus on women serving life sentences.  She joins us to discuss why she believes many women should be let out of prison early.

For more about Mary Joel Davis and her work, read Richard O’Mara’s article in the December 2010 issue of Urbanite Magazine.

October 6, 2010 – Hour 1

Laws concerning charging juveniles as adults vary from state to state in the US.  Here in Maryland, juveniles convicted of 33 different offenses are automatically charged as an adult.  This hour, we discuss a report released this week which asserts that trying juveniles as adults is counterproductive.

Our guests are:

Leesa Hatcher – Mother of a juvenile who was incarcerated

"Todd" – Released in prison last March, was incarcerated as a juvenile

Laura Furr – Senior Director of Youth Justice Initiatives for Community Law in Action

John Nethercut – Executive Director of the Public Justice Center



August 23, 2010 – Hour 2

LaMarr Darnell Shields and David C. Miller of the Urban Leadership Institute are known for their innovative programs that help participants build leadership and professional skills.  Their newest workshop focuses on building the self esteem of male inmates, and they join us to discuss their work and conditions inside Baltimore prisons.

July 28, 2010 – Hour 1

Daniel Ellsberg joined Marc to discuss the new film abou this life: TheMost Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. In 1970, Ellsberg was responsible for releasing the secret U.S.government report that documented illegal US involvement in Vietnam, documents that have become known as the Pentagon Papers.  He discusses why he risked life in prison to publicize the papers, and why his story is still relevant today.

 To listen to the audio, click here.

June 14, 2010 – Segment 2

The Justice Policy Institute (JPI) recently released a report outlining steps the city can take to reduce the endemic overcrowding in Baltimore jails.  Citing an abnormally high rate of people incarcerated while awaiting trial, JPI suggests that Baltimore should rely more on citations instead of arrests when dealing with minor offenses, shorten the time between arrests and court dates, and reform bail practices.  
We’re joined by Douglas Colbert, Professor at the University of Maryland School of Law, and Sheryl Goldstein, Director of the Mayor’s Office on Criminal Justice, to discuss how the city can address overcrowding in the prison system.

May 27, 2010 – Hour 2

Oil continues to flood into the gulf, as President Obama held a press conference to defend the US government’s handling of the oil spill today.  We speak with Jackie Savitz, Senior Campaign Director for the pollution campaigns at Oceana, for an update on the disaster and its implications for the future of US energy policy.

Then, Crystal Hayes joins us to compare and contrast the Black Panther Party and the Tea Party.  Read her piece What Really Separates the Tea Party From the Black Panther Party on Race-Talk.  Crystal’s father Robert Seth Hayes has been in prison since 1973.  A member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army, he was convicted of murdering a police officer, a charge he denies.


For more information about Seth Hayes, visit the Free Robert Seth Hayes Facebook Page, or follow Crystal’s Twitter, @MotherJustice

May 11, 2010 – Segment 3

The Creative Alliance’s URBAN/APPALACHIA series traces the connections between the inner city of Baltimore and the rural towns of the Appalachian region.  Tomorrow, Wednesday the 12th at 7pm there will be a free screening of Up the Ridge, a documentary by the Thousand Kites project that traces the connections between Appalachian prisons and the inner city.  Thousand Kites is a national new media project that works to get messages from families of the incarcerated to their loved ones behind bars.  
If you have a loved one in prison far away and want to leave them a message, you can call the toll-free line 877-410-4863 and leave them a greeting.  For more information, watch this video.
We spoke with:
Luisa Bieri, Outreach Coordinator for the Creative Alliance
Mia Frederick, Producer of the Thousand Kites radio program
Nick  Szuberla, founder of Thousand Kites Appalshop
Bashi Rose, director of Hagerstown prison’s D.R.A.M.A. club and founder of NOMMO theater 
Mildred Jackson, whose son is incarcerated in an Appalachian prison, and who is a frequent caller to the Thousand Kites radio show

May 4, 2010 – Segment 3

If it’s spring, it must be time for the Maryland Film Festival!  This week be sure to listen to interview with actors, directors, and producers from just a few of the films in this year’s amazing line up.  Our first highlighted film is Freedom Riders, a documentary about more than 400 Americans who nonviolently resisted Jim Crow laws in 1961.  Black and white protesters rode buses together into the deep South.  Some were imprisoned, and some were brutally beaten.
Marc sat down with writer, director, and producer Stanley Nelson to discuss the events of 1961 and the process of making this inspiring documentary.
Freedom Riders will screen at 5pm on Friday, May 7th at the Brown Center at MICA.  Click here for more information, and to buy tickets

March 30, 2010 – Segment 3

Sandrine Ageorges has been fighting for the abolition of the death penalty since the 1970s, through organizations such as The Lamp of Hope Project, and the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.  She is also married to an inmate on Death Row in a Texas prison.  The Supreme Court recently issued a temporary stay in his execution.  She joined us today to discuss why she believes we need to abolish the death penalty and what she has learned in a lifetime of activism.

March 1, 2010 – Hour 1

Daniel Ellsberg joined Marc to discuss the new film abou this life: TheMost Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. In 1970, Ellsberg was responsible for releasing the secret U.S.government report that documented illegal US involvement in Vietnam, documents that have become known as the Pentagon Papers.  He discusses why he risked life in prison to publicize the papers, and why his story is still relevant today.

February 4, 2010 – Hour 2

We talk with Scott Horton, a contributing editor to Harper’s magazine. Horton’s controversial story, "The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle" regarding the "suicides" of three Guantanamo prisoners, was published online last month.

Our final segment feature a conversation with Kwame Kwei-Armah, an associate artist at Center Stage whose play, Let There Be Love, opens February 10. He’ll be part of a panel discussion on Monday about the arts and social change, which Marc will moderate.

December 23, 2009 – Hour 2

Anthony McCarthy and Marc take calls from listeners and discuss topics ranging from prison reform, creative ways to address problems facing Baltimore, and gender bias in the media.

December 23, 2009 – Hour 1

We take a look at current events, and hear what our listeners have to say, as 2009 draws to a close.  Anthony McCarthy co-hosts with Marc, and we’re also joined in the studio by Doni Glover, Publisher of, and Richard Sher, host of Square Off on ABC2.

For more information on Design Recycle Inc., mentioned by our caller James in the last 15 minutes of the segment, click here. The contact number James gave for people interested in his ex-offender program is 202-374-4356



November 17, 2009 – Hour 2

We open the hour with a continuation of our conversation about the new developments in the Dixon Trial. Please see today’s first hour for panel details.

Next, we talk with three fellows working through the Open Society Institute (OSI) about the amazing work they are doing to help our community build toward positive change. We’ll hear from:

  • Rhonda Elsey-Jones, who is working with the National Women’s Prison Project (Office # 410-233-3385) to start a program called WHOLE (Women Healing Our Lives Entirely)
  • Melissa Ruof, who is developing "Jubilee Arts," a center for the arts across  the street from her home in Sandtown, featuring classes in the arts for neighborhood residents
  • Dwayne Hess, who is developing the "Neighborhood Spiritual Center" in a previously vacant building in Southwest Baltimore.

Learning the Hard Way with Michael Corbin

We talk with Michael Corbin, who teaches writing to prisoners in Baltimore. His article "Learning the Hard Way" is available in this month’s Urbanite.

September 24, 2009 – Hour 1

We start out our first hour with a live, in-studio conversation with writers Djelloul Marbrook, who has a new book of poetry called Far from Algiers 
and Kim Jensen, whose new book of poetry, Bread Alone, was just released today. Djelloul and Kim discuss their current writing and read selections from their most recent works. Be sure to check out their reading at the 14th Annual Book Festival this Saturday in the Creative Cafe at 3.

Next, we talk with Michael Corbin, who teaches writing to prisoners in Baltimore. His article "Learning the Hard Way" is available in this month’s Urbanite.

September 15, 2009 – Hour 1

Four our first hour, Marc talks with Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, an Iranian American academic and the director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC.

In December 2006, Dr. Esfandiari was robbed at knifepoint on the way to the airport for a return flight to the US. The three men threated her life and stole all of her valuables, including her travel documentation. When she applied for new documents, she was forbidden to leave Iran and interrogated by authorities from the Iranian Ministry of Intellegence. In May 2007, she was detained in Iran’s Evin Prison, where she was kept in solitary confinement until August 21st.

Dr. Esfandiari talks about her experience and the amazing strength and discipline she demonstrated in surviving this unimaginable ordeal. Her book, My Prison, My Home: One Woman’s Story of Captivity in Iran was published by Harper Collins on September 1st.

September 9, 2009 – Hour 1

What is it like to spend your youth locked behind bars? Today we talked with Dwayne Betts, who at the age of sixteen was tried as an adult in the state of Virginia for a carjacking. His memoir, A Question of Freedom, discusses his eight year prison term at an adult facility and the many ways that the justice system fails young people. He was joined by Laura Furr, Director of Advocacy Programs for Community Law In Action, to talk to Marc about the problems with the juvenile justice system and how we can reform it.

In the second part of the show, we spoke with the director and cast from the Strand Theater’s production of The Mercy Seat. The play, written by Neil LaBute, was one of the first theatre pieces to respond to the September 11th attacks. It’s told from the perspective of a worker at the World Trade Center who was away with his mistress when the towers fell. Danielle Young directed the play, and she joined actors Kasey Arnold and Brett Rohrer to discuss the production. The Mercy Seat opens this weekend.

August 11, 2009 – Hour 1

At the age of 16, Dwayne Betts carjacked a man with a friend.  Under Virginia law, he was tried and sentenced as an adult, and spent 8 years in prison.  Now a free man, he has written A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison. He joins Marc to discuss his book, which confronts profound questions about violence, freedom, race, crime, and the criminal justice system.

Then, we’re joined by performance artist and activist Ron Williams.  You can catch Ron performing at Cyclops Books on August 29th.

August 6th, 2009 – Hour 2

Some people who commit crimes are found "Not  Criminally Responsible" because of mental disorders.  Instead of going to jail, they are sent to a forensic psychiatric hospital where they could face much less time committed than they would if sent to prison.  Some critics allege that the system is allowing some criminals to unfairly avoid jail time using the NCR defense, and want the use of NCR to be closely monitored and reformed.  Marc spoke with:

 Timothy Scully

  • Deputy Chief Attorney in the Mental Health Division of the Public Defender’s Office

Richard Vatz

  • Professor at Towson University
  • Editor for Current Psychology
  • Associate Psychology editor at USA Today Magazine


A First-Person Account From Iran

(WARNING: You may find the images of death and violence contained below disturbing.  Please do not scroll down if you do not wish to see them.)

I received this post from our colleague, William Kern, the Managing Editor of WORLDMEETS.US, last night, before the images hit the newspapers this morning.  It is part of this continuing dialogue with his friend and colleague in Iran.  Below is their very moving and telling conversation via Skype.

While the world of the web, Twitter and Facebook, may be driving this Iranian revolt in ways we could not imagine forty years ago, or even 5 years ago, it is part of a tradition that is much older and deeper.

In my lifetime it is connected to the 1956 revolt in Hungary against the Soviet Union’s domination of their nation.   The world watched in awe, but that is all we did was watch, as the Soviet troops and tanks mowed down the resistance fighters and crushed their revolution.  The same thing happened again in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1968, when lovers of freedom stood up against the Soviets demanding freedom.   At that time it was part of a worldwide revolutionary movement for change that grew out of the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960’s here in America.   We had our own standoffs with the police and the establishment powers of our nation, which used its federal power through efforts like COINTELPRO to intimidate and murder those who stood against the war and racism.

In recent years, we have seen Tiananmen Square and the demonstrations in China in 1989, the bursts of Burmese resistance in 2007 against their own tyranny, and the Tibetans demanding freedom from the Chinese government.   We could see all these as defeats; I suppose in their immediate aftermath they felt like stunning losses.

Having been part of movements like this in my past I understand the intensity, passion and power of those moments.   How quickly events change around you.   How the spirit of resistance kept your spirits high enough to face any response.   Even when you knew the moment was lost, you could not back down to the might around you.

If the Iranian rebellion is crushed, it will not be a defeat.  It is a part of a continuum of resistance to tyranny and working to create a culture of justice and human rights in our world.   Every such powerful moment widens the cracks in the weakening walls of oppression.  It sows seeds for the power of change in generations to follow.

Already in Iran we are seeing deep divides, even within the ruling circles of the theocracy.  Who knows how all this will unfold in the days ahead?

The photograph and Skype dialogue below shows us the power of this moment.  The photo itself should sear itself into the consciousness of the world as a symbol of why we stand for freedom.


Read More→

April 6, 2009 – Hour 1

When a parent is sent to prison, how does it affect their children? What are the unique needs of incarcerated women? How could we reform parole and probation in order to reduce recidivism? These questions and more are addressed in Bearing Witness, a new report from the Justice Policy Institute on the state of Maryland’s criminal justice system.  Today on the show we discussed the report with:

Shakti Belway, the author of Bearing Witness.

Glenda Bradford, an ex-convict and recovering drug addict who is featured in the report.

Mikhail Holt, a 17 year old who works with the Youth Ambassadors program run by the Baltimore Safe and Sound Campaign.

Maryland Delegate Gerron S. Levi, who represents District 23A in Prince George’s County and is a member of the Special House Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse. 

Charles Blow on why black children still face enormous challenges

Charles Blow, the visual op-ed columnist for the New York Times, is our guest today to discuss his most recent column titled “No More Excuses.”

From The New York Times:

For the presidential inauguration, blacks descended on Washington in droves with a fanatical, Zacchaeus-like need to catch a glimpse of this M.L.K. 2.0. “Ooo-bama!” For them, he was it — a game changer, soul restorer, dream fulfiller. Everything. Ooo-K.
Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, the majority whip, tapped into the fervor Monday night at the BET Honors awards in Washington when he proclaimed, “Every child has lost every excuse.”
What? That’s where I have to put my foot down. That’s going a bridge too far.
I’m a big proponent of personal responsibility, but children too often don’t have a choice. They are either prisoners of their parentage or privileged by it. Some of their excuses are hollow. But other excuses are legitimate, and they didn’t magically disappear when Obama put his left hand on the Lincoln Bible.
Representative Clyburn and those like him would do well to cool this rhetoric lest the enormous and ingrained obstacles facing black children get swept under the rug as Obama is swept into power. For instance:
• According to Child Trends, a Washington research group, 70 percent of black children are born to single mothers. Also, black children are the most likely to live in unsafe neighborhoods. And, black teenagers, both male and female, were more likely to report having been raped.
• According to reports last year from the National Center for Children in Poverty, 60 percent of black children live in low-income families and a third live in poor families, a higher percentage than any other race.
• A 2006 report from National Center for Juvenile Justice said that black children are twice as likely as white and Hispanic children to be the victims of “maltreatment.” The report defines maltreatment as anything ranging from neglect to physical and sexual abuse.
Most of these kids will rise above their circumstances, but too many will succumb to them. Can we really blame them?
Malcolm Gladwell probably said it best in a November interview with New York magazine about his new book, “Outliers”: “I am explicitly turning my back on, I think, these kind of empty models that say, you know, you can be whatever you want to be. Well, actually, you can’t be whatever you want to be. The world decides what you can and can’t be.”
So black people have to keep their feet on the ground even as their heads are in the clouds. If we want to give these children a fighting chance, we must change the worlds they inhabit. That change requires both better policies and better parenting — a change in our houses as well as the White House.

President Obama is a potent symbol, but he’s no panacea.

Marc reflecting on this historical moment

I have been thinking non-stop, as have many of you, about the Inauguration and coming Presidency of Barack Obama.   Leaving behind for a moment all the political arguments from the left and right, from those who voted for him and those who did not, this is just an amazing moment.   I look at the Obama family and can’t keep from breaking out into a smile.  We are facing the worst of times yet hope is the operative emotion that is coursing through the veins of this nation.   You can read it in the latest polls but more importantly you can feel it when you listen to people, talk to your friends or when people of all stripes discuss this moment.  I have never experienced anything close to this in political annals of our nation.    The closest was JFK, maybe RFK but still, this moment is different.

Over the weekend I could not get Mack Parker out of my head.  Who is Mack Parker?   Fifty years ago he was lynched.   He had been accused of raping a white woman.   Subsequent investigations revealed he was most likely innocent.   But that is not important.   He was lynched by a white mob.   White judges in Mississippi who were part of the White Citizen’s Councils (a refined version of the KKK) refused to do anything about the crime.   His brutalized chained body was found floating on the Pearl River ten days after the mob dragged him from his cell.   I can only imagine the fear and pain he suffered.

When I was almost thirteen years old I opened a Life Magazine.   The picture in the center of the Magazine was of a pair of work boots neatly placed under a cot in a prison cell.   They were Mack Parker’s boots left behind where he put them before a mob dragged him out to be tortured, mutilated and murdered.

I kept that picture on my wall for years.  It haunted me.   It reminded me why I fight for a new America that belongs to all of her citizens, breathing in, and living, the same air of equality.

Now Barack Obama is standing there fifty years later, an African American man about to become President of the United States of America.    Many people have written that just because we have elected an African American President of the United States of America does not mean that racism will end.   They are right, but I deeply believe that it is having and will have a profound effect on American consciousness.

It is an amazing time.    I can’t believe we are here.   The hope is palpable.  Let it be real.

What are you feeling now?


Marc on Mayor Dixon’s Indictment

I hate watching this happen.  It is no small matter for a sitting Mayor to be indicted.

I have known Sheila Dixon for over thirty years.   We are not close friends.   We have not been in a private social setting together in 32 years. We met when we were both counselors and teachers at Baltimore Prep, a program at Westside Shopping Center for street kids who had just come out of prison or had been kicked out of school, whose lives were on the corner instead of the classroom.   Sheila was committed to those kids. She didn’t take any stuff from them and she knew every game they could play, because she came from the same streets that they did.  Baltimore Prep is also where she met Mark Smith, who later became her husband, with whom she raised her nephew Juan Dixon and his brother.   The boys’ parents had died from heroin addiction.  Sheila and Mark saw those boys to manhood.  This is the Sheila Dixon I know.

I knew her a little in the intervening years.  I remember when she was first elected to the city council.   I remember when she banged her shoe on the table exclaiming it was our turn now.   She was committed to working class black folks. She lived and knew their pain, joys and struggles.   A lot of white journalists, politicians and others thought she hated white people.  I don’t know what her innermost thoughts about race were, but I can say that anyone who came up in a certain way who was from a certain place had historical reasons to have a mistrust of white people.  Whatever she thought then, however, she has grown from that place, as did William Donald Schaeffer from his place of not caring about Black folks before he became Mayor.  She bleeds working class blue in her veins.   That is the Sheila Dixon I know.

So, these indictments are just tragic.  If they are true, they show stupidity and sheer greed.  

As I wrote last week, the only difference between the actions of our city officials and indicted power developers, and goings on in Congress between politicians and corrupt corporate leaders, is the thin but sturdy line of legality.  

Politicians are always doing favors for the powerful and their friends.  It is part of human existence.   Nevertheless, it was not the fur coats that bought Ron Lipscomb city contracts, but rather all of his city and corporate contacts.  

I am not excusing anything here.  If Sheila and others broke their sacred trust with us, they have to leave elected office at the very least.   It cannot be tolerated.  

The worst offence would be if she actually took gift certificates that were intended for poor families and children to enjoy Christmas.   I hope that even if the bribery and malfeasance indictments are true, that stealing from street kids and poor families is not true.   That could break a city’s heart.

That would not be the Sheila Dixon I know.   Soon we will know whether she broke the law.  If she did, then the court will decide her fate.  If she is exonerated, she could become one of our greatest Mayors. If not, she will become one of our greatest disappointments and tragedies.


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