Even if she weren’t my daughter that I’m proud of, I would pay close attention to Silja Talvi’s work. She mainly writes on issues that others rather keep quiet about: social and racial injustice, immigration issues (how quickly we’ve forgotten that we all come from an immigrant background, minus the small and neglected native population!) and seemingly the least popular topic, prisons and inmates. This country has locked more people behind bars than any other ‘civilized’ country, a great portion of them mentally ill or convicted of drug-related crimes. We don’t seem to like the idea of rehabilitation and with the ‘three strikes’ laws in place in many states, people have been put away for life, whereas with rehabilitation most of them could have become productive members of our society. Recently the BBC talked about mental illness and especially schizophrenia which many British doctors feel should be eliminated as a term. In that context an expert said that about one percent of the population suffers from that type of mental illness. Is it just a coincidence that approximately the same percentage of our population is incarcerated or on probation? States provide less and less mental health care and it is no wonder so many of the ill people end up in jails and prisons, not being able to afford to seek help. Presently Silja is working on a book about women behind bars; it should be out next year.
Just last month my daughter won a New America Media Ethnic Media Award, given in a ceremony in