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How to cast your vote in Maryland, D.C. and Virginia on or before Nov. 3

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By Rachel Clair, Kaanita Iyer and Jacob Rousseau

With confusion looming over voting amid the coronavirus pandemic, several states have announced plans to make it easier to vote in the upcoming general and local elections on Nov. 3.

Frederick Douglass High School shooting moved three students to take action

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Photo by Wikipedia user Eminonuk.

By Mohan Xu and Mike Revollo
Capital News Service

The three students at Frederick Douglass High School grew up amid the violence and trauma that plague the city, where crime can begin to feel routine. Yet when a shooter fired a gun inside their school on Feb. 8, 2019, they were stunned.

“I did not believe what was going on,” Jaionna Santos said.

“It was surreal,” Bryonna Harris added.

Damani Thomas couldn’t sleep. “Why did that happen to Frederick Douglass? Why did that happen to us in school?”

As they tried to find answers, the students came to see that the violence that they accepted as inevitable should not be considered normal. So on April 10, 2019, they told their stories to the Baltimore City Council. Their effort was a catalyst for the Elijah Cummings Healing City Act.

Nolita Project checks in with teenagers looking for support

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Tanasia Thomas and Larry Thompson, Reach! Partnership High School students, talk with Wesley Hawkins during their weekly session in spring 2020. (Photo by Victoria Daniels/Capital News Service)

By Sydney Clark and Victoria Lorren Daniels
Capital News Service

Larry Thompson, a junior at Reach! Partnership School, in the the Clifton Park area, counts at least nine friends who died in the last two years—shootings, stabbings, a car crash, a drowning.

“I’ve been losing friends back to back,” he said.

These teenagers deal with trauma every day.

Deaths are announced over the school intercom.

Classmates decorate the dead students’ lockers as memorials, grim reminders of the school’s losses.

Baltimore barbershops and salons help neighbors cope with trauma

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Troy Staton heads a network of barbers and beauticians helping clients cope with trauma in Baltimore in May 2020. He owns New Beginnings barbershop in Baltimore’s Hollins Market neighborhood. (Photo courtesy Troy Staton)

By Kaanita Iyer, Jason Fontelieu and Jamal Williams
Capital News Service

In most barbershops, you might find posters that show style trends or magazines stacked on tables. But in New Beginnings barbershop, what stands out are student artwork on the walls and stacks of pamphlets promoting art exhibits and health screenings.

New Beginnings is not just a place for a trim. It’s also a place where you can address health concerns and trauma that stem from violence in Baltimore.

“I had to start doing things to address the issue of senseless violence, starting with myself, as well as others, that brought forth the urgency to unite barbers and beauticians with much more depth,” New Beginnings owner Troy Staton said.

Data reveal lack of minority investors in Maryland cannabis industry

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Photo via Wikimedia Commons

By Meghan Thompson
Capital News Service

Only 10 percent of investors in Maryland’s cannabis industry are people of color, according to data from the Mayland Medical Cannabis Commission.

This figure illustrates the extent to which minorities are excluded from participation in Maryland’s medical cannabis industry, maintaining that those who profit most from medical cannabis do not represent those most often prosecuted for possession both before and after decriminalization.

A decade after Great Recession, home values in some communities remain underwater

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Aerial view of a Baltimore neighborhood. Baltimore City has one of the highest rates of underwater mortgages in the state. Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture.

By Kira Barrett
Capital News Service

The Great Recession that fueled a mortgage and housing crisis more than a decade ago has faded from memory for most Americans. But not for millions of homeowners–mainly in rural and minority communities–who continue to struggle with depressed home values and underwater mortgages.

And now, worries of a new recession brought on by the coronavirus crisis could compound their troubles.

Growing old in prison: How Maryland is working to ease the path to release for a low-risk, high-cost population

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Stanley Mitchell (seated, right) served 37 years in prison, only to be released in 2013. He is now 71 years old and works as a mentor for young kids in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.

By Angela Roberts
Capital News Service

Ask him, and Stanley Mitchell will proudly tell you he works 12 hour days.

Over the last seven years, the 71-year-old Charles County resident has held a sweeping assortment of jobs, sometimes juggling multiple at the same time. It’s a big change after spending close to 40 years ping-ponging around the Maryland prison system, serving time for driving the getaway car in a homicide—a charge he denies to this day.

Mitchell is one of 199 people serving life sentences for violent crimes to have been released on probation since 2012, when Maryland’s highest court ruled them entitled to a new trial in an effort to remedy the flawed instructions given to the juries that convicted them. At the time of their release, members of this group ranged from 51 to 85 years old and had spent an average of 39 years behind bars.

Baltimore’s food waste reduction progress met with challenges

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Photo via Baltimore DPW

By Colleen Curran
Capital News Service

Baltimore City generates more than 430,000 tons of municipal trash annually, most of which is incinerated. But the city hopes to change this by dramatically reducing its food waste by 2040.

The goal is to reduce commercial food waste by 50 percent and residential food waste by 80 percent. When asked if this was feasible, Anne Draddy, the sustainability coordinator in the Baltimore Office of Sustainability, said “I think it might have to be.”

Maryland high school athletes lose vital time during pandemic

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Bishop McNamara shortstop Jade Greene in position during a softball game at Our Lady of Good Counsel on April 11, 2019. (Courtesy photo by Chris Bayes)

By Kevin Brown
Capital News Service

This spring was supposed to be Jade Greene’s time to get noticed.

A shortstop for Bishop McNamara High School since her freshman year, Greene has been waiting for her junior season to gauge the interest of college recruiters.

“I was banking on that because I really need coaches to come see me,” said Greene. “This is the year where I was like, ‘I’m going to get all these coaches to come see me and maybe I can commit this year.’ But it didn’t happen because we had no games for them to watch.”

Cancellation of spring sports a tough call for student-athletes

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Loyola University senior Peter Swindell. Image via LoyolaGreyhounds.com.

By Alex Murphy
Capital News Service

Student-athletes across the college sports landscape are faced with tough realizations and a new challenge amid the current COVID-19 pandemic as seasons have been stripped away and preparations begin for next season, which remains up in the air.

Winter and spring sports came to an end with the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s March 12 decision to cancel any remaining schedules. For winter-sport athletes, that meant their postseasons would be cancelled, and for spring athletes, more than 75 percent of their seasons were wiped away.

“I remember that week of practice,” Loyola Maryland men’s lacrosse senior Peter Swindell told Capital News Service. “Everyone was trying to focus, but their minds were all somewhere else.”

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