Richard Jackson’s Long Reads this week focuses on the first step out of prison, LA race battles and the world’s most eccentric mathematician.
Peer mentoring plays an important role in rehabilitating prisoners. It works like Alcoholics Anonymous in that an ex-offender can help you make that transition back into the real world. They sit by your side teaching the ways of this new world and your role in it, they show you how to get transport to places, how to get secure accommodation, where to find work, how to stay clean from drugs and alcohol, all things that can lead to reoffending. This article follows two ex-offenders in Los Angles who pick up offenders walking through the gates of the prison just freed. Carlos and Roby try to be a friendly face, the first point of contact with the new world for many people. The importance of articles like this though is that it personalises the ex-offender and de-stigmatises who they are, which is one of the biggest challenges that ex-offenders face: changing who they are in our eyes.
I know the phrase “black Beverly Hills” from the song Sweet Life by Frank Ocean, from the album Orange, which is a fantastic record. It’s usually a chill out album for me. Now, thanks to this article, every time I hear the track I’ll gaze into the distance and mutter “that term refers to the class system and history of racism in America, centred in a neighborhood of LA.”
I love eccentricity. I love people who embrace their weirdness and just wear the thing that they are or like upfront, as it deflects any cynicism or negativity from others and forces people to accept them. This article about mathematician John Conway is just so funny because of the man’s rejection of conformity. While working as a lecturer at King’s College, Cambridge, he would use a turnip as a tool for a lesson on symmetry and Platonic Solids. He would take a knife and slice the turnip, eating the peels as he went, transforming the vegetable into an icosahedron, which is a 3D shape with 20 sides. So he’s smart, and handy with a blade.