Liliana Segura in The Intercept on death-row inmate Brandon Astor Jones
Earlier this week, the Georgia Department of Corrections executed Brandon Astor Jones, who, at 72, became the oldest death-row inmate put to death in state history. In a close look at Jones’s case, Segura looks at how African Americans haven’t always received fair treatment from the criminal justice system:
In 1979, Jones and an accomplice, Van Roosevelt Solomon, had killed a white man named Roger Tackett, the manager of a convenience store in Cobb County, Georgia. Jones and Solomon, who was also black, robbed the store, then shot Tackett to death, only to be apprehended immediately by a cop on patrol. The forensic evidence showed that both men had recently fired a gun—both denied shooting the fatal bullet. Both were convicted and sentenced to die.
Jones remained on death row—today he is 72. He no longer publishes articles, and some years back, [Michael] Marcum stopped receiving letters from him. Then, earlier this month, Marcum came home to a message I left on his landline. Georgia had set an execution date for Jones—the state planned to kill him on February 2. Marcum was shaken. “I had no idea,” he wrote in an email, agreeing to an interview. He then wrote two letters —one to his old friend, and one to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole in Atlanta, asking it to stop the execution.
Read: A Life on Death Row
Tammy Joyner and Willoughby Mariano in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution on the criminal case against a Jonesboro psychiatrist
On January 14, Drug Enforcement Administration officials arrested Narendra Nagareddy, a Jonesboro psychiatrist who allegedly ran one of Clayton County’s most notorious pill mills. Joyner and Mariano look at a dozen fatal overdoses linked to his work:
Long before he was dubbed “Dr. Death,” Jonesboro psychiatrist Narendra Nagareddy was known across metro Atlanta’s southside as the go-to physician for prescription drug addicts.
The users knew it, court records and interviews show. So did law enforcement, pharmacists, other doctors, state regulators and addiction counselors. The mother of one patient complained to authorities in 2012 that he gave her daughter prescriptions she did not need. Years of state and federal data, available to the public, raised red flags showing that Nagareddy was among the state Medicaid program’s top prescribers of one of the most abused prescription drugs.
Patients were arrested for selling their pills. Patients died. Yet as the death toll mounted, none of the state safeguards designed to protect the public managed to stop Nagareddy[.]
Kim Severson in the New York Times on mental health issues faced by chefs
The recent suicide of world-renown Swiss chef Benoît Violier has shone the spotlight on overlooked mental health issues in the world’s top kitchens. In the restaurant industry, where criticism comes fast and success can be evasive, Atlanta-based Severson writes about Violier’s death and what’s happening to change those conditions:
In the rarefied galaxy of restaurants that have received the Michelin guide’s highest honor, three stars, Benoît Violier’s, in Switzerland, was by one measure the most glittering. Only two months ago his establishment, the Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville in Crissier, near Lausanne, was designated the best restaurant in the world in La Liste, rankings commissioned by the French Foreign Ministry—an honor that only added luster to the glory of French chefs (he was born in France) in the face of competition from plucky foreign rivals.
But on Monday, his friends and associates in the restaurant industry were groping to understand why Mr. Violier, at 44, had apparently shot himself to death over the weekend at his home in Crissier. And they asked whether he was the latest victim of a high-pressure world that demands perfection, shuns signs of weakness and promotes a culture where culinary demigods can be demoted with the stroke of a pen.
Rodney Carmichael in Creative Loafing on Arrested Development’s unsung co-founder
Headliner, the lesser-known cofounder of the Atlanta hip-hop outfit Arrested Development, left the group in the mid ’90s after an acrimonious dispute over songwriting credits dampened his love for the group. Twenty years later, Headliner opens up for the first time to Carmichael about his side of the story:
It’s been 20 years, 11 months, and 21 days since the DJ formerly known as Headliner walked away from Arrested Development, the group he co-founded with Todd “Speech” Thomas. He was so tormented by the experience that he stopped listening to music altogether for years. Wanted nothing to do with it. The thing that had brought him so much joy, even before Arrested Development, became unbearable to his ears.
A friendship that once wrought hip-hop’s last conscious gasp before gangsta rap’s takeover ended with feuds over money, power, and ego. In the band’s wake, Headliner went through a period so dark that drugs became his only light. He shunned media for years, refusing to read press about Arrested Development, while the story of his contributions to the band’s founding success were mostly lost to history. When most of the band’s original lineup participated in TV One’s popular “Behind the Music”-style documentary “Unsung” in 2012, Headliner declined to be interviewed, too busy dealing with his mother who was deathly ill at the time.
His long silence only validated many of the misconceptions regarding his role in the groundbreaking group. To this day, Speech is viewed as both front person and sole architect of the group’s sound and vision. Headliner’s contributions to the band, meanwhile, have gone largely unacknowledged or unknown by the public and the band’s fans. After years of silence, Headliner is ready to address the past.
Read: Headliner’s revival
Olga Khazan and Julie Beck for The Atlantic on the CDC’s new alcohol guidelines for women
This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report that advised millions of women not to drink if they were planning to get pregnant. The warning, though well intentioned, received heavy criticism due to its tone. In a conversation between writers Khazan and Beck, they discuss the problems with the Atlanta-based agency’s message.
Olga: Yeah, the CDC’s job is to promote public health, but an announcement that focuses solely on women smacks of the antiquated view that women shouldn’t drink, period. Men drink far more than women do. They are twice as likely to binge drink. They’re more than twice as likely to become alcoholics. They’re more likely to drink before being in a fatal car accident or before killing themselves. Of course we want to prevent developmental delays among newborns. But if you’re worried about health on a whole-population level, men’s drinking is at least as concerning as women’s, if not more so.
Julie: You’re totally right. An infographic that comes along with the CDC report is headed “Drinking too much can have many risks for women.” Drinking too much can have many risks for everybody! (One thing the graphic lists is “injuries/violence” as one such risk “for any woman,” which is really toeing the line of the “women shouldn’t drink so they don’t get raped” argument.) This focus on women here is only because of their potential as babymakers. Just the potential, it seems, is too risky for the CDC.