In 2004, Egyptian immigrant Mohamed Nour and his wife, Heba, decided they could do better than their cramped two-bedroom apartment in Boston. They were expecting their second child, and rent was more expensive each year. They found a two-story, three-bedroom home on a tree-lined block in suburban Revere.
Nour, now 41, bought the house for $337,000. In 2007, the interest on his original adjustable-rate-mortgage loan shot up by 3 percentage points. He was able to refinance at a more favorable rate, but then in 2008, his 4-year-old son, Pheras, was diagnosed with a glioma, a malignant brain tumor. Nour, a limo driver, began missing work shifts to bring his son to chemotherapy treatments.
Today, nearly 1 percent of the American adult population is imprisoned -- a rate unprece-dented in this country's history. A staggering $68 billion is spent annually on the country's local, state, and federal corrections systems. This "investment" in public safety has fundamentally transformed American society, removing a disproportionate number of nonviolent minority offenders from their communities while diverting much-needed taxpayer money from critical social programs. Most of these offenders will be released only to return to prison because of anemic re-entry efforts and policies.
Being a child-care provider in the U.S. often means living at the edges of poverty. The average salary for the nation's 2.3 million child-care workers is $19,605, according to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbying organization. That's just a hair above the poverty level for a family of three.