On this week’s episode of Real Talk, we explore whether media bias plays a role in how crime gets reported and whether crimes committed by whites are treated differently in the media than crimes committed by people of color. My special guests include Professor Mark Osler, criminal law professor at the University of St. Thomas Law School and Michaela Lovegood, Senior Consulting Associate at The Morten Group. Join the conversation.
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Professor Mark Osler’s work advocates for sentencing and clemency policies rooted in principles of human dignity. In 2013, he was awarded the Outstanding Teaching award by the University of St. Thomas School of Law.
In 2014-15, Osler’s writing on clemency, sentencing and narcotics policy has appeared or will appear in The New York Times and law journals at Harvard, Stanford, Rutgers, Northwestern, Wayne State, DePaul and the University of Chicago. His University of Chicago Law Review article (with Rachel Barkow) was highlighted in a lead editorial in The New York Times, in which the Times’ Editorial Board expressly embraced Barkow and Osler’s argument for clemency reform.
A former federal prosecutor, he played a role in striking down the mandatory 100-to-1 ratio between crack and powder cocaine in the federal sentencing guidelines by winning the case of Spears v. United States in the U.S. Supreme Court, with the Court ruling that judges could categorically reject that ratio. He has testified as an expert before the United States Sentencing Commission and the United States House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. Much of his work has been in collaboration with other academics, commentators and judges, including Tom Ashbrook, Rachel Barkow, Amy Baron-Evans, Judge Mark W. Bennett, Douglas Berman, Jeanne Bishop, Graham Boyd, Judge Avern Cohn, Randall O’Brien, Randy Roberts Potts, Nkechi Taifa and Bill Underwood.
Osler’s 2009 book Jesus on Death Row (Abingdon Press) critiqued the American death penalty through the lens of Jesus’ trial, and led to an improvised performance of that trial that has been conducted in 11 states, with Osler serving as the prosecutor. He serves as the head of the association of Religiously Affiliated Law Schools, and held the Byrd Preaching Chair at St. Martin’s-by-the-Lake Episcopal Church in 2012. He has given sermons in five states and for three different denominations. His current work on clemency and mercy is rooted in ideals of the Christian faith. In 2011, he founded the first law school clinic specializing in federal commutations, and he trained hundreds of pro bono lawyers for Clemency Project 2014.
The character of Professor Joe Fisher in the Samuel Goldwyn film American Violet was based on Osler, and in 2014 he was the subject of profiles in Rolling Stone and The American Prospect. He is a graduate of the College of William and Mary and Yale Law School.
Michaela Lovegood brings almost 20 years of experience in the areas of anti-oppression training facilitation, local, national and international grassroots community organizing, and organizational effectiveness consultation. For the last 13 years Michaela has worked as a professional community organizer, organizing grassroots groups around issue- and constituency-based social justice issues, including human rights, LGBT and youth rights, police brutality, criminal justice, violence against women, access to affordable housing, hunger, and education. Michaela has provided organizational effectiveness consultations to nonprofits, including developing fundraising plans, grant writing, and individual donor development; board and membership development, training curriculum development, and retreat and meeting facilitation. She has worked for organizations like Amnesty International USA, and Jewish Council on Urban Affairs (JCUA); and has consulted for organizations such as National People’s Action, De Paul University, AVODAH: the Jewish Services Corp – Chicago, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice. For more than 18 years, she has facilitated anti-oppression classes and workshops with a focus on eliminating the division, scarcity and disconnection between and among all people that is caused by systemic oppression and mistreatment. Currently Michaela is a senior consulting associate for Morten Group, a Chicago-based consulting firm. She earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education and Social Policy, both at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.