This week's collection of #StateReads stories takes a closer look at ‘stand your ground' gun laws, dangers to jockeys and horses at racetracks and growing disparities around the country in high-speed Internet access.
“Tally of ‘stand your ground' cases rises as legislators rethink law” — Tampa Bay Times
The Tampa Bay Times offers new insight into the effect of “stand your ground” gun laws, like Florida's, that have been under the microscope since the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last month. The law gives citizens the right to use deadly force in cases where they “reasonably” feel threatened, which makes it more difficult for prosecutors to bring charges in killings. Reporters Ben Montgomery (@gangrey) and Connie Humburg showed the law was invoked in 130 cases since it took effect in 2005, and that 70 percent of those cases involved a fatality. In 50 of those incidents, charges were never filed.
“Mangled horses, maimed jockeys” — The New York Times
Two dozen horses die every week at racetracks, and a horse's demise also can have a devastating impact on the jockey riding it, including injury or death, reports The New York Times. The newspaper's team of four reporters concluded the evidence “shows an industry still mired in a culture of drugs and lax regulation and a fatal breakdown rate that remains far worse than in most of the world.” The paper cites dangerous conditions in many states, but it is especially critical of New Mexico, which has five of the country's top seven tracks for breakdowns and injury.
“HIV prevention cuts raise fears” — Iowa Watch
Iowa officials expect the state's HIV infection rate to increase, because of funding cuts made by both the state and federal governments, reports IowaWatch. The state reduced its spending on disease prevention from $1.6 million to $750,000. At the same time, the federal government decided it would spend less money on states with low HIV infection rates, to focus on areas with greater need. The policy, writes MacKenzie Elmer, “in effect, penalized Iowa and the other 12 states that have been successful in holding down the prevalence of HIV/AIDS within their borders.”
“Poverty stretches the digital divide” — Center for Public Integrity
Whether residents, particularly of rural areas, can get access to high-speed Internet connections is increasingly a question of what region of the country they live in, reports the Center for Public Integrity. In rural areas, for example, Western states have rapidly increased availability, while Southern states trail the rest of the country. In fact, managing editor John Dunbar points out, the country's lowest rates of broadband subscription are in Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee and West Virginia.