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Aviva Shen

Journalist

about me

I am a freelance writer and editor living in New Orleans via Washington, DC. Mostly interested in criminal justice, climate change, and bikes. My work has appeared in publications including ThinkProgress, The Guardian, Citylab, Scientific American, The Trace, and Smithsonian Magazine. Say hi if you want to work together.

features

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What Happens When a School Stops Arresting Kids for Throwing Skittles

There’s been a fight at Marrero Middle School. Two sixth graders traded insults during football practice, someone threw a punch, and soon enough they were on the ground with a ring of students egging them on. A few years ago, a fight like this might have ended with someone being suspended, or even arrested. But over the past year and a half, the New Orleans-area middle school has rebuilt its entire approach to discipline.

work

A sample of recent articles

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New Ruling May Force Louisiana To Stop Using Poor People To Bankroll Its Courts

A groundbreaking new ruling may force a reckoning over the way the most incarcerated state in the world pays for its criminal justice system. On Thursday, Judge Sarah Vance of the Eastern District of Louisiana found that New Orleans’ criminal district judges are operating their courts with a clear conflict of interest: The judges control the revenue from the fines and fees they levy on poor defendants.

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“Progressive DA” Fights to Put Innocent Man Back in Prison

The evidence connecting Wilbert Jones to the 1974 rape for which he spent 46 years in prison was always weak. He was freed shortly before Thanksgiving due to the revelation that East Baton Rouge prosecutors hid evidence pointing to a different suspect entirely. But thanks to the efforts of East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III, Jones now faces the prospect of returning to prison after less than a month of freedom.

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Louisiana’s death penalty prosecutor takes aim at his legal opponents

The death penalty is costing the cash-strapped state of Louisiana tens of millions of dollars a year. But there’s one state employee who’s massively profiting off its continued existence. Hugo Holland’s fingerprints are on the bulk of Louisiana’s recent death sentences. He’s been hired by over a dozen district attorneys to prosecute death penalty cases at a rate that pays him more than Governor John Bel Edwards.

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