2014-11-20 15:46:04

Democracy Now! - November 20, 2014

Record cold temperatures have been recorded across the country this week. The most extreme weather is hitting western New York, where at least seven people have died. At least six feet of snow has already fallen on parts of Buffalo, and another two to three feet is expected today. Tuesday was the coldest November morning in the country since 1976. Temperatures dropped below freezing in every state including parts of Hawaii on Tuesday and Wednesday. This comes just days after NASA reported last month was the warmest October on record. We look at the link between extreme weather and climate change with Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist who writes about weather and climate for Slate.

We look at the shocking case of Mark DeFriest, known as the Houdini of Florida prisons because he has tried to escape 13 times — seven of them successfully. In 1979, DeFriest’s father died and left him a set of tools. He picked them up before they were probated. The teenager was arrested for stealing and sentenced to four years in prison. Thirty-four years later he is still there, having spent 27 of those years in solitary. He spent much of it in the notorious “X wing” of Florida State Prison, where he went for years without seeing the sun. We are joined by Gabriel London, director of the new film about the case, "The Life and Mind of Mark DeFriest."

As Ferguson awaits the grand jury’s decision in the Michael Brown shooting in Missouri, we speak to attorney Bryan Stevenson, author of the new book, "Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption." With growing focus on the failures of the criminal justice system, Stevenson has been fighting those injustices case by case. He is founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, a group based in Alabama that represents some of this country’s most marginalized people — the poor and the wrongfully convicted. Stevenson has won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners and argued before the U.S. Supreme Court six times. In 2012, he won a landmark Supreme Court case that barred states from giving mandatory life sentences without parole to children. The Nobel Prize-winning South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called Stevenson "America’s young Mandela." Others have compared him to Atticus Finch, the fearless, fictional hero of Harper Lee’s seminal novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird." Stevenson’s book tells many stories, but focuses in particular on his battle to free an African-American man named Walter McMillian, who was falsely convicted and condemned to die for killing a white woman in Harper Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. Stevenson joins us to discuss his work, the situation in Ferguson, and why he argues that the opposite of poverty is not wealth, but justice.

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