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Jason Silverstein
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Jason Silverstein is writing a book on empathy for Simon & Schuster. He has written on health, justice, and race for The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Playboy, The Nation, and others. He is a teaching fellow and doctoral candidate in anthropology at Harvard University and a research associate in the Science, Religion, and Culture Program at Harvard Divinity School. Contact him via

Entries by Jason Silverstein

The Food Stamp Vaccine

(10) Comments | Posted October 9, 2013 | 2:26 PM

What if there were a vaccine against the harmful effects of hunger? According to researchers at Children's HealthWatch, there is. But these vaccines aren't shots or sprays. They're food stamps.

Unlike other vaccines, these certainly aren't a high priority for many lawmakers. In September, the House of...

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How the War on Drugs Punishes Those Who Suffer

(8) Comments | Posted September 9, 2013 | 10:08 AM

The disparity in available pain medicine between rich and poor countries is the most pronounced health inequity in the world, says Amir Attaran, Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Law, Population Health and Global Development Policy at the University of Ottawa.

In their 2012 PLOS Medicine paper,...

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More Treatment, Less War: The White House Drug Policy Reform

(42) Comments | Posted April 28, 2013 | 6:59 PM

Many people who want substance abuse treatment can't get it. The White House wants to fix this. Can they do it, and will it help?

On Wednesday, April 24, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released its 2013 National Drug Control Strategy. They...

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Racism Passes Health Risk Down Generations

(92) Comments | Posted March 27, 2013 | 12:01 PM

Recently, I wrote a piece for The Atlantic on how racism is bad for the body. For the bulk of the essay, I discuss how racism harms a single person's health directly -- and I link public health research with the NYPD's stop and frisk policy. But at...

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How Mass Incarceration Threatens Public Health

(107) Comments | Posted March 1, 2013 | 4:31 PM

We have a problem, you know, and it's only getting worse. It doesn't strike us equally - it's a problem that mostly affects young men, minorities, and people without high school diplomas. It's worse in the US than anywhere else in the world - and five times as...

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Should Citizens Have the Right to Fire a Police Officer?

(18) Comments | Posted January 11, 2013 | 12:15 PM

In 127 years, they had never done this before. The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission reversed a decision and fired a police officer. The reversal followed a week of protests by community groups and leaders. But why they did it -- to correct themselves in response to public outrage --...

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More Compassion, Less Police Force Against the Mentally Ill

(7) Comments | Posted January 3, 2013 | 5:56 PM

Three years ago, Marva Davis lost two sons in one day. The first, Timothy, died in the morning, at 8 am, in Oregon Health & Science University Hospital. Ten years earlier, he had a heart transplant. But, at 23, his heart and kidneys couldn't hold on any longer....

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Who Will Protect the Students From the Guards?

(29) Comments | Posted January 2, 2013 | 3:26 PM

What good is the protection of guards if we need protection from the guards? Last week, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced a plan to send armed volunteers, including Steven Seagal, to guard Phoenix-area schools. "I think it's the appropriate time to utilize this free resource to try...

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Back to School and the Prison Pipeline

(2) Comments | Posted September 4, 2012 | 4:19 PM

As the school year begins, so does the Dignity in Schools and Opportunity to Learn Campaigns' "Solutions Not Suspensions" initiative to combat the dramatic racial disparities in school punishments. In schools across the country, youth of color are arrested more aggressively, tried more severely, and sentenced more harshly...

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Pro-Life Advocates Should Support Family Planning

(73) Comments | Posted August 15, 2012 | 4:29 PM

Pro-life advocates should hold fundraisers for family planning providers, such as Planned Parenthood, not lobby to defund them. Access to family planning, including effective contraception, has been shown to reduce abortions. This isn't complicated. Increasing family planning services reduces the number of unintended pregnancies, which reduces the number of abortions....

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Stop and Frisk -- and DNA Test?

(105) Comments | Posted June 22, 2012 | 11:12 AM

Taking DNA samples from people arrested, but not convicted of a crime, has the potential to make our already unfair justice system even less fair. Before we expand the preconviction DNA dragnet, we should think hard about what that means in a racially biased system. Currently, 26 states and federal...

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