Mass Murder in the US

We are the only country where these mass killings happen regularly. Even though some say “How can we prevent this?” the answer is quite clear and has worked in every other country in the world. No way the men who wrote the Second Amendment would stand for this horror. And why on Earth would anyone sanctify the Constitution (which was meant to be amended!) if anyone thought otherwise?


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How mass incarceration harms U.S. health, in 5 charts

Co-author Emily Nagisa Keehn and I just published this piece about the extensive health toll that incarceration exacts.  The AP just picked it up!

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Mental Health Matters–Thinking about Stigma, Parity, and the Obstacles to Obtaining Needed Mental Health Care

Pat Lawrence interviews J. Wesley Boyd., M.D., Ph.D., a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School. They discuss the crisis in mental health care, focusing on difficulty in getting insurance coverage, substance abuse issues, and advances in treatment.  The interview can be found here.


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Our Youth Deserve Better: We Fail Our Youth When They are Most at Risk for Drug and Mental Health Problems.

I co-authored this piece with Sarah Samuelson for Psychology Today.  In the piece we write that transition-age youth (age 18-25) are at high risk for mental health, physical health, and substance use problems, yet they are falling through the cracks due to the lack of services aimed directly at this vulnerable population.

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Reflecting on Behind Bars: Ethics and Human Rights in U.S. Prisons

This is the first of a handful of posts and commentaries that I will post arising out of the Prison Conference called “Behind Bars:  Ethics and Human Rights in US Prisons.”  In it, Gali Katznelson nicely highlights some of the presentations and many of the issues that were raised over the course of the 2 day conference.

Reflecting on Behind Bars: Ethics and Human Rights in U.S. Prisons



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The urgent need to recognize and value academic labor

Two Harvard professors share their thoughts on the latest from the US Republican Party’s tuition waiver tax plan.

The post appears in Nature here:

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What Do Medical Students Know?

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Behind Bars: Ethics and Human Rights in U.S. Prisons

Behind Bars: Ethics and Human Rights in U.S. Prisons
November 30 – December 1, 2017
Harvard Medical School Campus, Boston, MA

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The United States leads the world in incarceration. The “War on Drugs” and prioritizing punishment over rehabilitation has led to mass imprisonment, mainly of the nation’s most vulnerable populations: people of color, the economically disadvantaged and undereducated, and those suffering from mental illness. Although these social disparities are striking, the health discrepancies are even more pronounced. What can be done to address this health and human rights crisis?

This conference will examine various aspects of human rights and health issues in our prisons. In collaboration with educators, health professionals, and those involved in the criminal justice system—including formerly incarcerated people, advocates, and law enforcement—the conference will clarify the issues, explore possible policy and educational responses, and establish avenues for action.

This conference is open to the public. Registration is required to attend. There is a $50 refreshment fee to offset costs for meals during the conference, and to reduce waste. If this fee would prevent you from attending, please contact the Center for Bioethics at 617-432-2570 for assistance with your registration.

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The Difficulties of Obtaining Needed Care if You have Medicaid

I was interviewed by a reporter from Kaiser Health News who wrote this excellent piece about the difficulties of obtaining needed mental health care for those with Medicaid:.

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Vermont Governor is Deciding Whether to Sign on to Legalizing Marijuana

I am in favor of legalizing marijuana–and, in fact, all drugs–and was interviewed for this piece on Vermont Public Radio about my opinion on this issue.

Would decriminalization lead to huge rates of drug abuse?  I doubt it because of what happened in Portugal, where drug use was decriminalized in 2001.  After that, instead of being thrown in jail, drug users were offered access to treatment and rehab. The result was that a decade later, drug abuse was cut in half.  Among Portuguese teens in grades 10 through 12, lifetime prevalence rates of marijuana use decreased from 26% in 2001 to 19% in 2006.  Additionally, the medical problems associated with illicit drug use–such as Hep C and HIV infections–dropped instead of increased.

By legalizing marijuana we would automatically lower the crime rates, lower rates of incarceration (which overwhelmingly affect minorities here in the US–see the documentary 13th (5 star rating by me–must see!)), and could use the tax dollars from drug sales to promote public health programs and drug awareness programs.

I have heard more than once from DEA agents and their surrogates that the war on drugs is a farce, doesn’t work and that they in full support of my call for legalizing drugs.

PS  I think this is where I am supposed to say these opinions are my own and not those of any institution with which I am affiliated.  Done–this is true.


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