Midday | WYPR


There are about 2.2 million people who are incarcerated in the United States, many more than are imprisoned anywhere else in the world, equal to the combined prison population of both China and Russia. 

In a new book, a law professor from California writes about the more than 81,000 inmates who are kept in isolation from other prisoners, with almost no access to sunlight, activities, or other human beings.  These are the people imprisoned in a “SHU,” the Security Housing Unit.  They are there for a variety of reasons, and some of them are kept there for years, even decades at a time.  Author and criminal justice scholar Keramet Reiter’s new book examines the reasons that so many people are kept completely segregated while in prison.  It’s called 23/7: Pelican Bay Prison and the Rise of Long-Term Solitary Confinement.  Keramet Reiter is Tom's sole guest for the show, and we invite listeners to join their conversation.

Keramet Reiter will be discussing her book at Red Emma's Bookstore & Coffeehouse Friday night at 7:30pm. Details and directions here.

Tom closes the show today with a special musical appreciation of Leonard Cohen, the legendary Canadian-born poet, songwriter and singer who died Monday at his home in Los Angeles, at the age of 82.  

Two days after the election, we continue the conversation about what a Donald Trump presidency will mean going forward.

Tom is joined in the studio by Michael Fletcher, a senior writer for ESPN’s The Undefeated, and the co-author of Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas.

Joining on the phone is Sheri Parks. She's an Associate Dean for Research, Interdisciplinary Scholarship and Programming at the College of Arts and Humanities at the University of MD College Park, where she is also an Associate Professor in the Department of American Studies. Dr. Parks is the author of Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman.

Photo by Stan Barouh

Up-and-coming playwright Jen Silverman's The Roommate, which opened November 6th at Baltimore's Everyman Theatre, is described in the theater notes as "a mash-up between 'Thelma and Louise' and 'the Odd Couple.'"  If you're too young to get those cultural references, let's just say The Roommate -- set in a "big old house" in Iowa City -- is a funny play about two very different middle-aged mothers, played by Everyman's Deborah Hazlett and Beth Hylton, who wind up living as roommates, and whose close-quartered experience yields both friendship and self-discovery.  Silverman's wry comedy is directed by Johanna Gruenhut, with set design by Timothy Mackabee, lighting by Jesse Belsky, and costume design by Sarah Cubbage.  

As she does most every Thursday here on Midday, theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck joins Tom in the studio today with her review of The Roommate.

The Roommate continues at Everyman Theatre through Sunday, Nov. 27th.

Photo by Nicholas Griner

It’s Election Day, and we'll start with a check on how voting is proceeding in some precincts around the region, where long lines at polling centers this morning suggest a healthy turnout.  Then we’ll turn our attention to public health, and to the everyday things that have made a big difference, for good or ill, in our wellness and the quality of our lives.  A fascinating list, compiled online by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health to mark its centennial, identifies 100 objects that have had a major influence on public health over the past century, from spittoons and toilets to vaccines and window screens.  You can check out the list by clicking here. From mundane appliances to medical innovations, these common things have had an uncommon impact on our health and well-being, and we’ll talk about some of them with a man who’s had quite an impact himself on public health in Maryland -- Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, Associate Dean of the Bloomberg School. He’s Tom's guest for the hour, and listeners are invited  to join the conversation with their own suggestions for the list. 

In every election politicians on the local and national levels make it a point to discuss the treatment of veterans. Lawmakers and candidates on both sides of the aisle often highlight the challenges vets face like homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse, and promise to address the problems. 

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, vets comprise 11% of the total homeless population in the United States. On any given night, there are more than 39,000 veterans who are homeless. 


In 2015, it was “Oscars So White.”  But 2016 is shaping up to be a banner year for film artists of color.  In a recent essay in the Washington Post, film critic Ann Hornaday asks “Is the term, ‘black film’ obsolete?”

For our monthly Movie Mayhem show, Ann Hornaday joins Tom in the studio, along with Jed Dietz, the director of the Maryland Film Festival, to talk about movies like Moonlight, the critically acclaimed new coming-of-age film by Barry Jenkins.  Is it part of what some are calling a revolution in black cinema? 

The movie mavens will also be sizing up some of the many Oscar-worthy new films opening in area theaters this fall.

And with a nod to next Tuesday's presidential election, Ann and Jed discuss how Hollywood has portrayed US presidents over the years.  That's also going to be the focus of a film critics' panel, including Ann Hornaday, Arch Campbell and Bill Newcott, called "Inside Media: Hollywood's White House: the Top Ten Movie Presidents, at The Newseum in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, November 5 at 2:30pm.   For details and directions, click here.

justgrimes via flickr

Early voting in Maryland, which ends Thursday, has been setting a record pace. About 70% more Marylanders voted early this time, compared to 2012, and there are still more than three million registered voters in the state who are eligible to cast their ballots on Election Day next Tuesday.  Once again, Maryland's new voting system will be put to the ultimate test.  Its debut in last April’s primary elections was bumpy, especially in Baltimore, where reports of missing and miscounted ballots led the State Board of Elections to decertify the initial results, before re-certifying them again later on.  Broken ballot scanners, and a shortage of election judges also made voting difficult for many.

Today we’ll examine how Maryland’s new voting system is meeting the challenges the second time out.  We're joined in the studio this afternoon by the man who has been in charge of elections in Baltimore City for ten years.  Armstead Jones came under criticism, including calls for him to resign, after problems at the polls surfaced last spring. 

Nikki Baines Charlson is the Deputy State Administrator for Elections, the number two official in the agency that has overall responsibility for Maryland's statewide voting system.   She joins Tom on the phone from Annapolis.

Also joining the conversation in the studio is  John T. Willis. He is the former Maryland Secretary of State, and the executive in residence at the University of Baltimore School of Public & International. Affairs.  He has studied the history of Maryland elections, and he has trained election judges. 

Photo by Carol Rosegg

The classic fairy-tale of a young woman who's magically transformed from a chambermaid into a princess gets an attractive makeover in this new production of Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella. One of the most beloved of the duo's many legendary collaborations (including  OKLAHOMA!, Carousel, The King and I, South Pacific and The Sound of Music), the touring musical combines the story's iconic elements – glass slippers, pumpkin, and a beautiful ball --  with some contemporary plot twists.  Theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck, a Thursday regular on Midday, caught the show at the Hippodrome, and joins Tom with her review.                                           

Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella was scored by Richard Rodgers, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, a new book by Douglas Carter Beane and original book by Oscar Hammerstein II. Originally directed by Mark Brokaw and choreographed by Josh Rhodes, the tour is directed by Gina Rattan and choreographed by Lee Wilkins. Music adaptation and arrangements are by David Chase and music supervision is by Greg Anthony Rassen. Orchestrations are by Bill Elliott and are adapted from the original Broadway orchestrations by Danny Troob.

First written for television,  Cinderella aired in 1957, starring Julie Andrews. The show's long-anticipated Broadway debut finally happened in 2013.   

Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella  continues at the Hippodrome in Baltimore through Sunday, November 6th.

Style Magazine


Last month, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced sweeping proposals to reform the way police officers who are accused of misconduct are investigated and prosecuted.

During the 2015 Uprising following the death of Freddie Gray, State’s Attorney Mosby announced that she would be filing charges against six of the officers involved. Given the frustration in places like Ferguson, Missouri where charges were not filed against the officer responsible for the death of Michael Brown, Mosby’s announcement was widely credited for bringing an end to the unrest here in Baltimore. However, the trials that followed ended without any convictions.  

This past August, Baltimore County police shot and killed a 23-year old woman named Korryn Gaines. Police went to Ms. Gaines’ apartment to serve a failure-to-appear bench warrant and a warrant for her boyfriend, who fled the scene. Police say that after gaining access to the apartment they found Gaines with her son sitting on the floor pointing a “long gun” in their direction. Officers then barricaded themselves in the hallway and, according to an official statement, “made every effort to talk to the woman and encourage her to surrender peacefully.” These efforts included calling Ms. Gaines’ father to the scene to help to convince her to surrender. 

About six hours into the standoff police say Ms. Gaines pointed her gun at an officer and threatened to shoot. Police said that an fficer fired one shot and missed, prompting Ms. Gaines to fire her weapon twice. Her shots missed the officers. Police then fired three more times, killing Korryn Gaines. Her son was also shot in the melee by an officer. He did not sustain life threatening injuries.  In September, the Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Schellenberger announced that he would not file charges against the officers involved. Ms. Gaines’ family has a pending wrongful death lawsuit against Baltimore County and some of the officers involved in the shooting.