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Life After People (2008)

Life After People is a rather strange documentary that shows what would happen to the Earth if people suddenly disappeared. It begins around 7:30 in the morning in a rather nice house somewhere in the US. The inhabitants disappear (for no given reason) after a few cups of coffee and before the beds are made. The family dog is still there though, looking quite confused and abandoned. The viewer is quite confused, as well, since one would think that any story about the Earth after people would have to begin by telling how the people disappeared.

Life After People (2008)

I shall never forget the African torture victim, a young man no older than I was at the time, who had become mentally ill after all he had endured in his homeland. He trembled uncontrollably as he spoke into a video camera about the brutality inflicted upon him. He was a foot taller than I was, and seemed as fragile as a child. I was given the job of escorting him back to the Underground Station afterwards, and this man whose life had been shattered by cruelty took my hand with exquisite courtesy, and wished me future happiness.

Amnesty mobilises thousands of people who have never been tortured or imprisoned for their beliefs to act on behalf of those who have. The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners. Ordinary people, whose personal well-being and security are assured, join together in huge numbers to save people they do not know, and will never meet. My small participation in that process was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life.

Over 600,000 people make the difficult transition from prisons to the community each year2 and although there are many challenges involved in the transition, the roadblocks to securing a job have particularly severe consequences. Employment helps formerly incarcerated people gain economic stability after release and reduces the likelihood that they return to prison,3 promoting greater public safety to the benefit of everyone. But despite the overwhelming benefits of employment, people who have been to prison are largely shut out of the labor market.4

It is important to note that because this survey was given to people on parole, it is not a perfect tool to measure the employment experiences of all formerly incarcerated people. Some incarcerated people are released without supervision and their ability to attain employment may be different than those on parole. Previous research suggests, however, that parole officers have a minimal effect on post-release employment, far outweighed by the effect of having a criminal record. In a 2008 Urban Institute study, only 20% of formerly incarcerated men found their parole officers helpful in finding a job when surveyed two months after release; after eight months, only 13% thought their parole officers were helpful. Yet 70% of the men believed that their criminal record had negatively affected their job search.34 A more recent study finds that for people on parole in Florida, supervision did not have a significant effect on employment outcomes, although it had a positive effect for those under supervision as part of a split sentence.35 Future research should more closely examine the effect of supervision on employment.

The answer: not as long as you think, and it often has real-life examples of places abandoned by people going "to hell in a handbasket" as the environment proceeds to revert things back into wilderness, sometimes in only a few years.

Despite being entirely about a purely hypothetical and arguably unlikely future rather than being about history (making it more of a nature/ecology program than a history program), the original Life After People special became History Channel's highest rated program ever. Although, of course, one could argue that most of the predicted results are accompanied by historical records of what happened - for example at 20-25 years after people, they showed the ruins of Pripyat, which was abandoned in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster 20-25 years before the show aired. Other accounts of shorter periods also quoted records of pets eating their owners' corpses for survival if they were locked inside and could not get out to find food. However, this is only a small portion of the show, and most of it is still speculative.

To have an "actual" disability (or to have a "record of" a disability) an individual must be (or have been) substantially limited in performing a major life activity as compared to most people in the general population. Consistent with the ADAAA,the final regulations adopt "rules of construction" to use when determining if an individual is substantially limited in performing a major life activity. These rules of construction include the following:

Two Times Square is one of the many famous buildings in Times Square. It stands ___ feet (___ m) tall. The building seems to be very strong, but will it survive in a life after people?1 day after people: The power goes out in New York, plunging Times Square into darkness. The famous signs on the tower go black.1 year after people: The subway station below the building is flooding. With the power out, the pumps are no longer working, allowing the station to fill up.

20 years after people: A massive thunderstorm is rolling in. When the storm reaches Times Square, the wind blows out windows of nearby buildings. The billboards on the tower loosen up, but are still attached to the tower.

150 years after people: The steel tower is weakening. The flooded subway station has caused the ground under the tower to become soft and weak. The weight of the tower above is too much for the ground below and the tower tips over and collapses into the subway tunnels.

Nearly five times the number of people are now serving life sentences in the United States as were in 1984, a rate of growth that has outpaced even the sharp expansion of the overall prison population during this period.

In this report, we reveal for the first time that 30% of the life-sentenced population is 55 or older. The imprisonment of an aging population has become a fiscal and humanitarian crisis the country must confront. The urgency of this crisis grows ever greater as the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately jeopardizes the lives of older Americans in prison. Reoffending by persons released after serving long terms is rare, making the need for expediting releases for older lifers the only humane public health and public safety approach.

Racial and ethnic disparities plague the entire criminal justice system from arrest to conviction and is even more pronounced among those serving life sentences. One in 5 Black men in prison is serving a life sentence and two thirds of all people serving life are people of color. An abundance of scholarship finds evidence of racial and ethnic disparities resulting in harsher sentencing outcomes because of race. Elevated rates of Black and Latinx imprisonment are partly caused by higher levels of engagement in violent crime, but are worsened by the racially disparate impacts of heavy-handed policies initiated during the 1980s and 1990s.

Some states are beginning to address overly long prison terms through second-look legislation. In 2018, California passed a law to allow prosecutors to seek sentence modifications from judges if sentences are believed to be excessive. In 2020, the Council of the District of Columbia passed legislation that provides people who were under 25 at the time of their offense and sentenced to a long term, the chance to petition the court for resentencing and early release after 15 years. At the federal level, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced the Second Look Act in 2019 which would allow a federally incarcerated person to petition the court for a sentence modification after 10 years.

Sentences of life without the possibility of parole (LWOP) are virtually unheard of in the rest of the world. They are considered antithetical to personal transformation, the primary goal of many other corrections systems. Even more, they violate fundamental principles of human dignity. Instead of serving the interests of justice, LWOP unnecessarily burdens systems with the heavy cost of housing, feeding, and providing medical care for the more than 55,000 people. This disproportionately elderly population must live in institutions not well designed to care for them. 041b061a72

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