Nuns battle the Vatican, the failure of for-profit colleges, private prison firms push for longer sentences, and more in Weekend Reading. (More)


For this weekend’s reading list, we have reports on the battle between nuns and the Vatican over the meaning of Catholicism, how to improve elections through better ballot design, the failures of for-profit colleges, private prison companies pushing for laws that increase and lengthen prison sentences, and how a small wealthy elite are trying to use SuperPACs to buy our democracy.

American Sisters Haven’t Strayed. The Vatican Has – an argument that it is the increasingly conservative aging bishops in the Vatican who are straying from Catholic teachings far more than American nuns who are fighting for social justice have.

Better Design, Better Elections – a report from the Brennan Center for Justice on how better design of ballots, voter instructions, and voting machines could help reduce the nearly 400,000 votes that were discarded in the 2008 and 2010 elections combined due to technical errors.

For Profit Higher Education: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student Success – the report on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions’ two year investigation into for-profit colleges, and how they are shortchanging their students even as they received nearly $32 billion in federal aid in 2011.

Gaming the System: How the Political Strategies of Private Prison Companies Promote Ineffective Incarceration Policies – a report on how private, for-profit prison companies are using campaign contributions and millions of dollars in lobbying to support policies that will lead to more and longer prison sentences and, therefore, more profit for private prison companies.

Million-Dollar Megaphones: SuperPACs and Unlimited Outside Spending in the 2012 Elections – an in-depth look at the tens to hundreds of millions of dollars of secret outside cash is being funneled by a small number of obscenely wealthy people through SuperPACs in an attempt to buy our democracy.