Editor's note

In the U.S., more than half of people who are released from prison return behind bars within five years. Researchers Shawn Bushway and David Harding of the University at Albany (SUNY) set out to understand why by following the paths of 100,000 convicted felons in Michigan from sentencing onward. The unique design of their natural experiment lends power to the study’s findings – that parole, above all else, plays a key role in driving prison’s revolving door.

As researchers push ever closer to putting autonomous vehicles on the road in large numbers, Texas A&M mechanical engineer Srikanth Saripalli explains how their designers will need to figure out how to make computers the ultimate defensive drivers.

In the wake of foreign interference in the 2016 election, some have said government should clamp down on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Not so fast, media scholar Paul Levinson argues. He argues that any sort of government encroachment on these sites would be a slippery slope.

And finally, if you value the evidence-based journalism and expert insights you get in your inbox everyday from The Conversation, please consider a tax-deductible donation to us on this #GivingTuesday. Your support will enable us to grow and improve the free service that we offer you, the public. Donate today to fight for truth in journalism. Thank you!

Danielle Douez

Associate Editor, Politics + Society

Top stories

Prison inmates in Santa Rosa, California. REUTERS/Heather Somerville

Parole violations are driving prison’s revolving door

Shawn D. Bushway, University at Albany, State University of New York; David J. Harding, University of California, Berkeley

A study of 100,000 convicted felons shows why rethinking parole may be the key to reversing mass incarceration.

When self-driving cars get in crashes, who’s to blame? Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority via AP

Redefining 'safety' for self-driving cars

Srikanth Saripalli, Texas A&M University

If autonomous vehicles are going to be safer than human drivers, they'll need to improve their ability to perceive and understand their surroundings – and become the ultimate defensive drivers.


Government regulation of social media would be a 'cure' far worse than the disease

Paul Levinson, Fordham University

Many are calling for government to step in to stop bots and the spread of fake news on sites like Facebook and Twitter. A media expert explains why this is a slippery slope.

Economy + Business

Ethics + Religion

  • Why faith inspires people to give

    David King, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

    As Americans make decisions about year-end giving, how much of it will be influenced by their faith?

Politics + Society

From our international editions

Today’s quote

Religious contributions, narrowly defined as giving to houses of worship, denominations, missionary societies and religious media, made up 32 percent of all giving in America in 2016.


Why faith inspires people to give

David King

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

David King