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News of the Week: Marijuana Arrests, Urban Youth Farms, and Sociology of Death & Medicine


Crimcast is a virtual resource devoted to critical conversations about criminology and criminal justice issues. Our blogposts, twitter feeds, podcasts and other content provide an overview of trends, research, commentary and events of interest to criminal justice practitioners, academics and the general public. CrimCast is sponsored by The Center for Crime and Popular Culture, St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.

News of the Week: Marijuana Arrests, Urban Youth Farms, and Sociology of Death & Medicine

Nickie Phillips

This is our latest installment of Dr. Demetra M. Pappas' "News of the Week" in which she uses short topics as a teaching tool to stimulate conversation in her sociology, anthropology, criminology and legal studies course.

  1. DEVIANCE AND CONFORMITY/DECRIMINALIZATION AND LEGALIZATION/POLICING/SOCIOLOGY OF LAW:  On Friday, November 23, 2012, on p. A34,  The New York Times has an Op-Ed piece entitled, “An Ineffective Way to Fight Crime:  Arrests for Small Amounts of Marijuana Don’t Serve Public Interest.”  The questions is whether or not NYPD officers should or should not follow instructions by PC Ray Kelly  to follow a 1977 law that bars police officers from arresting people for small amounts of marijuana unless publicly displayed (NB there was an infamous case of a Kings County ADA who refused to ditch his joint when asked to by police in front of Madison Square Garden a few years ago, and there is a legally pathbreaking case, People v. Taveras, Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, First Department, 155 A.D.2d 131; 553 N.Y.S.2d 305; 1990 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 2945, March 22, 1990 ,  Leave to appeal granted May 7, 1990, a controversial case which established the “law of the crotch” (geographically specific bulge cases for those of you who are Fourth Amendment mavens) in regard to drug cases, and which was protested by some women because five male judges sat on the case – the punch line is that a 30 year old woman researched and wrote the decision, which admittedly has some unintentionally entertaining aspects).  On Monday, November 26, on The View’( “Hot Topics” segment, Whoppi Goldberg et al. argued very persuasively – socially, as well as legally, as concerns DWI and other issues – that recreational marijuana should, like Colorado, be legal.
  2. EXPERIENTIAL EDUCATION/SOCIOLOGY OF EDUCATION/URBAN YOUTH FARMS/SLOW FOODS MOVEMNT (SEED TO PLATE):  On November 24, Lisa Foderaro posted an article online for The New York Times,  “Schools Add In House Farms as Teaching Tools in New York City,” Educational gardens provide an opportunity to “explore culinary culture and travel, easy entrees to compare cultures,” as I wrote in “ Shreveport , Louisiana ’s Educational Responses to a Food Desert : The Stoner Hill Youth Garden and Urban Farm,” The New York Resident, August 2012, p. 121 (you may find this at, by searching the August 2012 archive and paging through to p. 121). How might they also provide suggestions for alternative routes out of poverty, other than deviance and illegal subcultures, and promoted pursuing higher educational or military options?
  3. SOCIOLOGY OF DEATH AND MEDICINE /SOCIOLOGY OF MEDICINE/EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES:  This weekend, a Florida woman died after spending over 40 years in a coma. Edwarda O’Bara was a 16-year-old girl in 1970 when she got sick from diabetes medication and lapsed into a coma. She was maintained for all these years by virtue of medical technology. NOTE:  THIS MEDICAL CASE HAPPENED 3 YEARS BEFORE THE KAREN ANN QUINLAN CASE WENT TO THE SUPREME COURT OF NEW JERSEY.  In view of our readings on family, the changes in sociology of death, sociology of health and medicine, how might O’Bara’s treatment be different (or not) today. NB: see also this NBC News article.

For more information on Dr. Pappas' pedagogical approach, see her article, "Creating an Antidote to Student Apathy: The News of the Week," in Teacher Scholar:  The Journal of the State Comprehensive University, Volume 3, Number 1 pp. 45-51.