Rachel Robison-Greene

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Rachel works in metaethics, normative ethics, and applied ethics. She is heavily involved with the Ethics Bowl debate organization and loves working out ethical issues with students. When she isn't teaching or writing, she loves to travel and read about British history.

"Car Seat Safety Check" by Brittany Barker is licensed under CC0 Public Domain (via Moody Air Force Base)

Every year, an average of 37 children die from heatstroke as a result of having been trapped in hot vehicles. Statistically, most of these children are under the age of three. These very young children lack either the ability or the knowledge to operate car door handles or to unlock doors. Many of them die in a desperate attempt to escape from the vehicle.  This year, deaths due to children stuck in hot cars reached an all-time high for this point in the year, according to a CNN report, with 29 deaths reported so far.

"Long Border Fence" by Steve Hillebrand is licensed under CC0 Public Domain (via Wikimedia Commons)

On July 23, 10 people were found dead in the bed of a swelteringly hot tractor-trailer found in a WalMart parking lot in San Antonio, Texas. Authorities found 39 people in the vehicle, but had reason to believe that there had at one time been as many as 100 in the small space.  All of the individuals appeared to be suffering from heatstroke, and many will likely have related injuries and other health problems from which they will suffer for the rest of their lives.  It appears that the individuals involved were undocumented immigrants, seeking to gain access into the country illegally.

"Isolation" by Derek Key is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)"

In prisons throughout the United States, a total of somewhere around 80,000 prisoners are isolated from human contact for 22 to 24 hours a day. These prisoners are kept in very small cells—spaces of roughly 80 square feet.  In the cell is a bed, a toilet, and very little else.  Prisoners in solitary are fed three meals a day and are often allowed outside every day for an hour, with no contact with other prisoners.  The practice, commonly known as “solitary confinement” has come to be known by a number of euphemisms, including “restrictive housing” and “segregation.”

"Silent Parking Lot" by Thomas Sorenes is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

In 2014, Conrad Roy III, an eighteen-year-old resident of Fairhaven, Massachusetts, committed suicide. Roy placed a generator inside the cab of his pickup truck to facilitate the production and inhalation of a lethal amount of carbon monoxide.

In recent months, Roy had expressed to friends and family that he was in a low place mentally.  He shared details about his psychological state with his girlfriend, Michelle Carter.  In a series of text messages and Facebook correspondence over the course of a few weeks, Carter encouraged Roy to end his own life. “I thought you wanted to do this,” she told him, “The time is right and you’re ready, you just need to do it! You can’t keep living this way. You just need to do it like you did last time and not think about it and just do it babe. You can’t keep doing this every day.” When he expressed reservations about going through with it, Carter insisted, “You’re just making it harder on yourself by pushing it off, you just have to do it.”  

"Example of Single-Use Zoning Regulations" is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Wikipedia)

As part of a legal settlement, Bernards Township, a small, affluent town in central New Jersey, will pay a 3.25-million-dollar settlement to a local Islamic group.  The Justice Department filed suit. Together with the Islamic group, the department alleged that the township had changed their zoning laws to prevent a mosque from being built to service the area’s Muslim population.  

"Serial Podcast" by Casey Fiesler is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

In late 2016, Up and Vanished, a podcast produced and hosted by independent filmmaker-turned-podcaster Payne Lindsey, released its first episode.  The topic of the podcast is the until recently cold murder case of Georgia eleventh-grade history teacher Tara Grinstead.  Grinstead went missing, presumably from her home in Ocilla, Georgia, in October 2005.  

"Facebook" by Geralt is licensed under CC0 Public Domain (via Pixabay)

On the evening of Easter Sunday, 74-year-old Pennsylvania resident Robert Godwin was enjoying a walk through his neighborhood after a holiday meal with his family when he was approached, at random, by self-described “monster” Steve Stephens.  Stephens, who was given the moniker “The Facebook Killer” by the media, blamed what was about to happen to Godwin on his broken relationship with his girlfriend, before shooting Godwin in the head, killing him instantly.  

"Breathalyzer" by Jaeda Waffer is licensed under CC0 Public Domain (via scott.af.mil)

The United States has long struggled with a set of deeply divided attitudes toward alcohol.  To be sure, alcohol can be quite dangerous, so it is certainly reasonable to be cautious and concerned about its use in certain contexts.  On the other hand, one of the clear lessons taught by our experiment with Prohibition is that individuals feel that restrictive alcohol policies constitute unwarranted violations of their autonomy.

"Homeless Shetler Stays Open in Preparation for Storm" by KOMUnews is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (via Flickr)

For more than 60 years, the sprawling Utah State Prison sat nestled at the base of the Wasatch Mountain range in Draper, Utah.  The prison was home to such notorious inmates as serial killers Ted Bundy and Gary Gilmore, and serial pedophile and cult leader Warren Jeffs.  Utah was the first state to reinstitute the death penalty after the Supreme Court’s moratorium ended in 1973, and the state has since executed 51 people.  In 2015, the Utah legislature made the decision to relocate the prison to West Salt Lake City.  In its place, Draper Mayor Troy Walker proposed to house something that, as it turns out, struck Draper citizens as far more distasteful than even the prison—a shelter for the homeless.

"Execution chamber, Florida" by Florida Dept. of Corrections/Doug Smith is licensed under CC0 Public Domain (via Wikimedia Commons)

In March and April of this year, the state of Arkansas made national headlines for its plan to execute eight prisoners over the course of 11 days.  The speed involved is striking, especially when compared with national annual execution averages; only 20 people were executed nationwide in 2016.  

The truth is, Arkansas is racing against the clock.  Like most states, the primary method of execution in Arkansas is lethal injection.  Death by lethal injection is typically accomplished using a three-drug cocktail.  In Arkansas, midazolam is used as an anesthetic, ideally ensuring that the prisoner does not experience any pain.  Vecuronium bromide is used to cause paralysis before potassium chloride is used to stop the heart.  The trouble is, the remaining midazolam that Arkansas possesses is about to reach its expiration date, and it looks like they won’t have access to more any time soon.