At the Being Human conference last week, David Eagleman laid out the scientific case that ‘human behavior cannot be separated from human biology.’ His argument, which he brilliantly summarizes in a 2011 Atlantic article, applies directly to his work in neurobiology and its role in our current justice system.
The complex interactions of genes and environment mean that all citizens — equal before the law — possess different perspectives, dissimilar personalities, and varied capacities for decision-making. The unique patterns of neurobiology inside each of our heads cannot qualify as choices; these are the cards we’re dealt.
A few facts for perspective:
- There are more than 6,000,000 individuals under ‘correctional supervision’ in the United States, more than the population of Massachusetts.
- In the past two decades our incarceration rates have tripled to 743 individuals per 100,000, the highest rate in the world.
- A Department of Justice study found that 56 percent of state prisoners and 45 percent of federal prisoners have symptoms of serious mental illnesses.
- The money that states spend on prisons has risen at six times the rate of spending on higher education. Specifically in California, the state spends $8,667 per student per year. It spends about $50,000 per inmate per year.
These statistics, along with his neurobiology research, motivated Eagleman to launch the initiative Neuroscience and the Law at Baylor College of Medicine. NeuLaw brings together neurobiologists, legal scholars, ethicists, medical humanists, and policy makers to recommend changes to the legal system that take into account the nuances of biology.
Part Four of the Green Festival Series
One of the original innovators in responsible tourism, Global Exchange’s Reality Tours, runs customizable trips to over 40 locations around the world including many countries rarely visited by tourists such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Iran, Cuba, Palestine and North Korea. Global Exchange is a unique tourism provider because it is first and foremost an international human rights organization. By contextualizing the images often portrayed in the US media for its participants, Reality Tours is able to shine a light on US foreign policy, and the continuing ramifications of that policy over decades in a multitude of locations. Reality Tours promotes peace through citizen diplomacy delegations which create personal engagements while traveling – real people and their personal stories, not just statistics.
Reality Tours takes into account the full system that many sustainable tourism organizations lack by looking at how the ecosystem is affected, how the locals are impacted, the tour’s environmental footprint, and worker rights; its vetting list goes on and on. For the past 15 years, Reality Tours Director Malia Everette has been building a web of local tour guides on the ground managing the programs and partners to ensure that the engagements do create positive impact on local economies. Reality Tours has all of its local coordinators use criteria for picking lodging, food and excursion providers that are local to ensure that the capital flight that plagues the global tourism industry does not happen. Of the tour cost, 70 percent or more stay in the destination’s economy compared to traditional travel packages that average 10-30 percent.
Yesterday, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff kicked off Dreamforce 2011, the largest cloud computing event of the year with over 45,000 in attendance and 35,000 joining online. Benioff took the stage at San Francisco’s Moscone Center to the pulsing sound of Metallica drawing an image of the future of social enterprise with Salesforce at the helm.
Before launching into hard-press sales mode for Salesforce’s Winter 2012 products, Benioff spent quite a while meandering the aisles, pausing to shake the hands of the many CEOs, COOs, CTOs, and even customer Neil Young, that filled the room. He reflected on social enterprise and the historical role social media played this past year in the Arab Spring – revolutionizing the Arab world, overthrowing dictators, and bringing democracy to multiple countries.
During this time of reflection, Benioff went so far as to put CEO’s on notice, saying that a ‘corporate spring’ is next:
Imagine your last memorable vacation. Now imagine your trip if you had known it provided jobs that protect nature, grow local economies, and nourish communities. Makes it feel that much better, right?
Currently, 40% to 80% of each dollar spent by a tourist leaves the area it is spent in. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are ample opportunities to break down local market barriers, allowing more tourist dollars to stay within local economies. Clusters of economic development can be created to support tourism while enhancing local economies. Take a hotel for example: the food in the restaurant can be purchased from local farmers, the artwork in the hotel can be crafted by local artisans, and the tours provided can be led by local guides. These are just a few methods a hotel can use to create competitive advantage, maximize the value chain, and create a unique guest experience.
On Wednesday Moms Clean Air Force (MCAF), an organization created to harness the power of moms, hosted its first Twitter Chat for moms on the disparities in African American asthma rates compared to the general population. As stated on its website; “Our children can’t fight for themselves. We have to fight for them.” Who better to engage on the issue of clean air and asthma rates than moms who have to deal first hand with the fear they have every time their child suffers from an asthma attack, let alone the financial burden created by the high medical bills a child with asthma incurs.
Some frightening statistics led to the Twitter Chat: