Entries by Michael Kroll

Michael Kroll

Economic Development At Home: A Moral Imperative

By Michael Kroll, Jan 8, 2010 3:50 PM

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As I listened to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pronounce her world view on why international development is the key to combating terrorism—key to our own domestic security — I was struck by the dramatic disconnect between our official rhetoric about the need for development abroad, which she called a “strategic, economic and moral imperative,” and the political platitudes that define that “moral imperative” at home (“Leave no child behind.”)

Michael Kroll

Salt And Pepper

By Michael Kroll, Dec 17, 2009 2:38 PM

The latest issue of San Quentin News (AUG/SEPT/OCT 2009), a prisoner-run newspaper (that has the Administration’s blessing) is filled with the kind of stories you expect to find in prison publications. The front page features stories that explain the latest federal court ruling regarding overcrowding in California’s prisons (“Taking a Thorough Look at the Federal Court Ruling”), inmates donating money to the fight against breast cancer (“S.Q. Closing on $9,000 Goal For Its Breast Cancer Walk”), the possibility that Willie Nelson might do a concert there next spring (“Willie To Play At S.Q.?”), and a profile of a Bay Area human rights advocate recently fired by the White House (“Van Jones: A Life With Ups and Downs”).

But the two-sentence front-page story that caught my eye — and still has me shaking my head in disbelief — is titled, “SALT & PEPPER.” It’s a simple story: “Salt and Pepper will no longer be provided to inmates in their lunches. Food service officials say that health concerns led to the decision.”

Michael Kroll

Heroes and Inmates: The California Conservation Camp Firefighters

By Michael Kroll, Sep 1, 2009 3:23 PM

Editor's note: As fires raged in Los Angeles this week, what many Californians didn't know was that they were being fought by a community feared and loathed by many: juvenile and adult prisoners.  Michael Kroll, an veteran editor of The Beat Within, offers a closer look at the Conservation Camp program and the positive impact it has both on the fires it fights and the firefighters it employs.  The Beat Within facilitates writing workshops in juvenile halls in the Bay Area, Washington, D.C., Maricopa County, Arizona, and more, and partners with community organizations and individuals to bring resources to youth both inside and outside of detention.

Californians owe a huge debt to a segment of the population routinely demonized by politicians and the press: its juvenile and adult prisoners.

A little more than 20 years ago, I wrote an article about the California Youth Authority (West Magazine, San Jose Mercury News, Feb. 1989). It was a thoroughly depressing exposé, except in one aspect: the Fire Camps. These are camps in the wooded areas of the State where young men and young women are trained to fight fires during the season, and to reduce the fire hazard year-round by clearing brush and other combustible materials from our forests.