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July 18 2013

17:43

430: Very Tough Love – This American Life


This week: A drug court program that we believe is run differently from every other drug court in the country, doing some things that are contrary to the very philosophy of drug court. The result? People with offenses that would get minimal or no sentences elsewhere sometimes end up in the system five to ten years.

March 25, 2011


On 4/15/2011, Ira Glass responded to a press release issued by Judge Williams' lawyer.

On 4/12/2011, We posted a clarification and a correction regarding this story.

On 11/10/2011, it was announced that Georgia's Judicial Qualifications Commission had filed 12 charges of misconduct against Judge Williams.

On 12/19/2011, it was reported that Judge Williams will step down from the bench.


    Ira reports from Glynn County Georgia on Superior Court Judge Amanda Williams and how she runs the drug courts in Glynn, Camden and Wayne counties. We hear the story of Lindsey Dills, who forges two checks on her parents' checking account when she's 17, one for $40 and one for $60, and ends up in drug court for five and a half years, including 14 months behind bars, and then she serves another five years after that - six months of it in Arrendale State Prison, the other four and a half on probation. The average drug court program in the U.S. lasts 15 months. But one main way that Judge Williams' drug court is different from most is how punitive it is. Such long jail sentences are contrary to the philosophy of drug court, as well as the guidelines of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. For violating drug court rules, Lindsey not only does jail terms of 51 days, 90 days and 104 days, Judge Williams sends her on what she calls an "indefinite sentence," where she did not specify when Lindsey would get out. (30 minutes)

    We hear about how Brandi Byrd and many other offenders end up in Judge Williams' drug court. One reason drug courts were created was to save money by incarcerating fewer people. But in Judge Williams' program, people like Brandi end up in drug court - at a cost of $350 per month - who would've simply gotten probation in most other Georgia counties. When offenders like Brandi are kicked out of the program - and half of participants in Judge Williams' drug court program don't successfully complete it - they go into detention, at a cost of $17,000 per year. Brandi did two years.

    We also hear how one model drug court participant, Charlie McCullough, was treated by Judge Williams. (25 minutes)

July 13 2013

07:58

61: Fiasco! – This American Life


Stories of when things go wrong. Really wrong. When you leave the normal realm of human error, fumble, mishap, and mistake and enter the territory of really huge breakdowns. Fiascos. Things go so awry that normal social order collapses. This week's show is a philosophical inquiry in the nature of fiascos - perhaps the first ever.

April 25, 1997


    <!-- <il> <b>PROLOGUE</b> <p> Ira tells the story about how Scott first got into radio. He was listening to a story on the radio one day, thought "I can do that," and promptly hitchhiked across the country to Washington, to the headquarters of NPR. (3 minutes) </p> </il> --> ACT ONE: Opening Night.

    Writer Jack Hitt tells the story of a small town production of Peter Pan, in which the flying apparatus smacks the actors into the furniture, and Captain Hook's hook flies off his arm and hits an old woman in the stomach. By the end of the evening, firemen have arrived and all the normal boundaries between audience and actors have completely dissolved. (23 minutes)

    ACT TWO: What We Were Trying To Do.

    A medieval village, a 1900-pound brass kettle, marauding visigoths, and a plan to drench invaders with boiling oil that goes awry. From Ron Carlson's book

07:51

181: The Friendly Man – This American Life


A special show, composed entirely of stories from just one This American Life contributor: Scott Carrier, whose strange and compelling stories sound like nothing else on the radio.

April 6, 2001


    PROLOGUE

    Ira tells the story about how Scott first got into radio. He was listening to a story on the radio one day, thought "I can do that," and promptly hitchhiked across the country to Washington, to the headquarters of NPR. (3 minutes)

    ACT ONE: The Test.

    At a fairly bleak time in his life, Scott took a job driving all over the state of Utah, interviewing people who were diagnosed with schizophrenia. His job was to administer a standard test, which measured mental health. The more interviews he conducted and the more familiar he became with the questions on the test, the more he began to wonder about his own sanity. (15 minutes)

    ACT TWO: The Friendly Man.

    It's another not-so-great period in Scott's life. This time he takes a job inside his profession, as a producer for a national commercial radio program. His boss is a nationally recognized host who Scott refers to only as "The Friendly Man." Again, things don't go so well. (16 minutes)

    ACT THREE: Who Am I? What Am I Doing Here?

    Scott goes on a quest to discover if the amnesia in the movies-where someone gets bonked on the head and forgets everything-ever happens in real life. And if so, could he, somehow, get it to happen to him? (13 minutes)

    ACT FOUR: The Day Mom And Dad Fell In Love.

    Scott interviews his 11-year-old daughter about his marriage. She sheds light on the previous three stories in the show. (7 minutes)

December 04 2011

04:30

This American Life: #451: Back to Penn State

In the wake of the recent news, listeners have contacted us and tweeted about the show we did two years ago at Penn State, #1 Party School. We listen again to some of those stories, with new interviews recorded this past week, as Penn State fans and loyalists try to make sense of the actions of Coach Joe Paterno and school officials.
Tags: tal
04:28

This American Life: #450: So Crazy It Just Might Work

A few years ago a cancer researcher named Jonathan Brody gave a speech at his alma mater saying that people in his field really needed to think outside the box to find a cure. Afterward he was approached by his old orchestra teacher, who had something way out of the box—a theory that he could kill cancer cells with electromagnetic waves. And other stories.
Tags: tal
04:26

This American Life: #448: Adventure!

Sometimes you choose the adventure and sometimes the adventure chooses you. This week, stories that pinpoint when people's boring old lives turn into something wildly unfamiliar. Including a story of one young man's time served in a Chinese prison, and a handful of adventure stories from some of our favorite writers.
Tags: tal

May 02 2011

20:06

It's Showtime for Ira Glass, 'This American Life'

Ira Glass is the host of the popular public radio program This American Life. A TV version of his show will premiere on Showtime in March. What will it be like to make the transition?

July 10 2010

15:07

#178: Superpowers

We answer the following questions about superpowers: Can superheroes be real people? (No.) Can real people become superheroes? (Maybe.) And which is better: flight or invisibility? (Depends who you ask.)

June 29 2010

09:37

406: True Urban Legends

Can a rat crawl through your plumbing and end up in your toilet? Can your cell phone give you a brain tumor? Download a transcript or read much more information about our Steve Poizner story. Christopher Ketcham's GQ cell article is here.
09:37

354: Mistakes Were Made

It's the late 1960s, and in the new technology of cryonics, a California TV repairman named Bob sees an opportunity to help people cheat death.
09:36

304: Heretics

The story of Reverend Carlton Pearson, a renowned evangelical pastor in Tulsa, Oklahoma, who cast aside the idea of Hell, and with it everything he'd worked for over his entire life.

June 27 2010

19:54

352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

In 1912 a four year-old boy named Bobby Dunbar went missing in a swamp in Louisiana. Eight months later, he was found in the hands of a wandering handyman in Mississippi. (The picture at left was taken just days later.)
19:53

252: Poultry Slam '03

During the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's — the highest turkey consumption period of the year — we bring you an annual This American Life tradition: stories of turkeys, chickens, geese, ducks, fowl of all kinds, real and imagined, and their mysterious hold over us.
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