All posts by Rima

Ex-Inmate’s Court Fees Surged 1,000% While He Was In Prison. Now He Struggles To Buy Food

By Robbie Couch

When he was convicted of three drug charges in Washington state and sentenced to prison, he owed $1,800 in court fees — $600 for each charge. Shaw told HuffPost Live on Wednesday that the judge had stated those charges could be paid after he became a free man once again.

Upon his release from prison 14 years later, however, that number had skyrocketed to $21,000 — about a 1,066 percent increase. Shaw had been told during his 10th year behind bars that while he was serving the rules had changed — those charges had been collecting interest at Washington’s staggering rate of 12 percent.

“When I go to apply for a job, when I go to try to get a vehicle, or when I try to do anything where I need to run credit, they see I owe $21,000, and that makes it hard,” Shaw said, also noting he frequently has to choose between basic everyday purchases, like food and gas, or paying off his legal financial obligations (LFOs).

Continue reading Ex-Inmate’s Court Fees Surged 1,000% While He Was In Prison. Now He Struggles To Buy Food

Rachel Jeantel Graduates High School, Chases Her Dreams With The Help Of A Village

By Danielle Cadet

The last few years have been tough for Rachel Jeantel. After the death of her friend, Trayvon Martin, she not only had to serve as a witness at his shooter’s trial, but she was also subjected to public criticism and ridicule. But the young woman refused to be held down, keeping a promise she made to Martin and continuing to achieve success.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, and Jeantel’s story is a perfect example of how true that is. The 20-year-old graduated from high school with the help of a team of individuals who offered their mentorship, advice and support, The Washington Post reports.

Continue reading Rachel Jeantel Graduates High School, Chases Her Dreams With The Help Of A Village

Where’s the Automation in the Productivity Accounts? | Jared Bernstein (@EconJared)|

Yesterday’s productivity report for 2014q1 was predictably negative—we already knew that real GDP fell in the quarter while employment grew apace—but I don’t read much into the noisy quarterly changes.

But then there’s this: year-over-year, productivity growth was up 1% last year and has averaged 0.8% since 2011. The figure below plots the yearly changes, which are themselves pretty noisy. What’s more instructive is the smooth trend through the numbers.

The trend suggests that the pace of productivity growth has decelerated since the first half of the 2000s and this begs an important question. There’s considerable speculation that the pace at which machines are displacing workers has accelerated. I keep hearing about “the end of work” based on the assumption that the pace of labor-saving technology—robots, AI—has accelerated.

Continue reading Where’s the Automation in the Productivity Accounts? | Jared Bernstein (@EconJared)|

Map: The states college kids can’t wait to leave

BY Niraj Chokshi

It’s high school graduation season, which means that young adults across the country will spend the next few months in anticipatory angst over their impending college departure. But some will travel farther than others.

In a new analysis based on user data, education analytics company Niche Ink examines the profile of college-bound students. More than half — 58 percent — of high school graduates go to college within 100 miles of home, they found from their analysis of 350,000 Niche users between 2012 and 2014 who they were able to associate with both a high school and a college. Here are a few of the most interesting takeaways:

But that doesn’t mean they’re necessarily undesirable places. As Niche Ink points out in its analysis, that could be due to income levels, the quality of the K-12 education students receive, college cost and quality, and how close graduates are to nearby colleges. The states in the Northeast are far smaller than the states in the South and West, so leaving is a lot easier. Students across the North of the country also tend to score highly on standardized tests, one criteria colleges use in the acceptance process. (Therefore, more high-scoring students may have more college choices and opportunity to leave.)

Continue reading Map: The states college kids can’t wait to leave