By Clay

Approaching Third World Care: "A new model for rural health care may be needed, said Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn), who co-chairs the panel."

Read the whole thing.

I'm Trying...:  "No one should imagine that rural conditions are somehow vastly improved. On a number of factors, conditions in rural America are tougher, but we have yet to see philanthropic resources mobilized in the way they should be to make progress in reversing rural homelessness, deficiencies in rural healthcare provision, and the persistence of rural poverty."

Rural Education:  "In the 21 years it took for poor, rural school districts to fight the state government in court for more adequate funding, South Carolina saw five governors, four education superintendents and three U.S. presidents."

Is this the modern-day equivalent of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce?  I'm afraid to even ask how much this court case has cost.  I would guess that the state would have been better off just sending the money to these districts as opposed to fighting the case. 

Besides providing an adequate education, this is my greatest concern for my community that was highlighted by the article:  "Rogers said poor, rural areas like his Dillon County district have long struggled to attract professionals, including new teachers. He said people have moved out of Dillon County due to the lack of jobs.  'You can’t get the best and brightest to come to those areas that are so poverty-stricken,' Rogers said. 'There’s just nothing there for them.'"

There is a real need for rural communities to come together and have this discussion.  They need to be asking: "How do we retain what like about our communities, while ensuring we are on a sustainable economic footing?"

Justice?:   "The 2011 study by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers of about 1,600 misdemeanor cases in Florida found over one-third of defendants didn’t have a lawyer at their court arraignment. Of those, 80% pleaded guilty or no contest at that time—two pleas that are effectively identical—compared with 64% of those with court-appointed counsel and 61% of those who hired lawyers. The hearings took less than three minutes to complete, on average, with more than one-third finished within one minute, the study found.  High-volume misdemeanor courts can be chaotic places.  In a Houston courtroom one day recently, defendants—sometimes individually, sometimes in groups of up to nine—approached Judge Michael Fields. Many had lawyers; some didn’t. Some defendants pleaded guilty, received their sentences and got a “good luck” from the judge in less than 30 seconds.  Judge Fields had an average of 68 cases a day on his docket in 2013, according to court records, below the average of 79 for the county’s misdemeanor courts."

The WSJ is reporting that in small counties in Texas there is a significant population of people that don't receive legal representation for misdemeanors.  I haven't looked at the numbers for Georgia, but this appalling.

Even more concerning is this quote from the article:  "Judge Fields ordered her to wear a device around her ankle that can detect alcohol consumption. Ms. Carrion, now working part time on a relative’s food truck, said she had been paying $360 a month to the monitoring company but recently got permission to switch to an $80-per-month device. To save money, Ms. Carrion, her husband and their 2-year-old daughter moved into a trailer behind her in-laws’ house."

A fine for a crime is one thing, but when do the requirements for a guilty plea to a  misdemeanor become economically unrealistic for people and their families?  This was an issue we highlighted back in August (read more here).

SIB News:  "Social impact bonds have several advantages but face challenges to success including complexity, scale and difficulty proving their effectiveness, according to a report commissioned by the Big Lottery Fund."

Good summary of the challenges social entrepreneurs face.

More Players Jumping In:  "The Cheyne Social Property Impact Fund, which was able to start investing on Thursday in Britain, aims to raise about 300 million pounds with target returns of 10 to 12 percent with leverage. It is expected to charge investors about a 1.5 percent management fee and a 10 percent performance fee after it hits a return rate of about 6 percent."

Rural Poverty vs. Urban Poverty:  "Job growth in urban areas has helped to shorten unemployment lines. In rural areas, though, labor force participation dipped from 62.2 percent to 60.2 percent in the last four years.  As a result, rural unemployment rates dropped despite limited employment growth, USDA said. Job growth declined in 779 rural counties between 2012 and 2013, according to the agency.  In addition, the rural median household income hasn’t caught up with its 2007 level; at $41,198, annual income in 2012 was 8.4 percent below its inflation-adjusted, pre-recession peak."

Although the report gives a good and bad news feel--the stabilization of the poor economic conditions is not really good news.

Poverty in Georgia:  "Statewide, the trends are the same or worse. According to the AJC report, disadvantaged students have been the majority in state public schools for the last seven years and now account for 62 percent of total enrollment.  What has been happening, educators and others say, is that student poverty has not only risen alarmingly since the onset of the recession, but it has spread from poor rural and inner city school systems, where it has long been a problem, into more suburban and small-town schools."