More Inmates Died In 2017; Jackson Soul Food Restaurant; Strauss' Salome Coming To South Florida

Jan 23, 2018

Inmate deaths in the Florida prison system are up 20 percent over previous years. Last Friday, The Florida Department of Corrections released information that 428 inmates died last year. On average, the inmates who died have been younger than in previous years.

Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown covers the prison system extensively. She joined the program to talk about the different issues present in Florida prisons.

The Florida prison system has struggled to provide adequate preventive and medical care for inmates over the years, explained Brown. In addition, the gangs, inmate-on-inmate violence and drugs are pervasive issues that affect the inmate community of Florida’s prisons.

However, there is not a clear answer as to why more inmates died last year. The FDC has begun an internal investigation.

Advocacy groups, Floridians for a Fair Democracy, Florida Rights Restoration Coalition and the American Civil Liberties Union, are leading the initiative to restore voting rights for qualified former felons.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced that the initiative met the required 766,000 signatures to get on the November ballot. For the first time in Florida history, voters can decide to grant to right to vote to more than 1.5 million disenfranchised people.

Florida is one of three states that permanently revoke the civil rights of anyone convicted of a felony.

Overtown Institution

In Overtown, the Jackson family has run successful restaurants since 1946. All began with Mama’s café, a comfort-style soul food restaurant with strong community ties, which served locals and celebrities alike.

For more than 30 years, Jackson Soul Food restaurant, overseen by Shirlene Jackson Ingraham, one of the 12 Jackson children, has continued the legacy set by her parents.

Jackson Soul Food business manager Ayesha Ingraham joined the program to talk about the success of this establishment.

“Soul food is cooking from your soul,” said Ingraham of the food served at the restaurant “We have that season and special touch.”

The menu features many favorites: hand-made biscuits, pork or turkey-laden collard greens, mac’ and cheese, but the fan favorite is the catfish, which can be prepared to the guest’s taste.

“We offer variety,” said Ingraham about catering the food to  customers' needs.

Jackson Soul Food has had continuous support from the community and vice versa. The establishment has thrived mostly because of the Jackson family's constant involvement in the Overtown community, explained Ingraham.

Jackson Soul Food is open seven days a week with locations in Miami at 950 NW Third Ave. and Opa-locka at 14511 NW 27th Ave.

Salome

Shock, gore and infatuation are themes that are prevalent in some Bible stories, theater and opera productions alike. Richard Strauss’ opera "Salome," inspired by the New Testament story of King Herod’s court and all its depravity, has mesmerized audiences since it was first performed in Vienna and London in the early 1900’s. "Salome," with all its gore, debauchery and enthrallment, is ready to spellbind the South Florida audience.

Strauss’ rendition of "Salome" is being presented by the Florida Grand Opera. Soprano Kirsten Chambers sings the title role and tenor John Easterlin plays her stepfather, Herod.

The opera revolves around the enchanting effect of Salome’s beauty.   She catches the attention of King Herod and Narraboth, but fails to enamor prophet Jochanaan (John the Baptist), Salome’s object of infatuation.

The 90-minute opera is set in real time. “It is a very dysfunctional family,” Chambers said about the relations between Herod and Salome and the other characters who are infatuated with her. “It’s a lot of emotion happening at warped speed.”

The opera features a nine-minute dance routine dubbed ‘The Dance of the Seven Veils.’ The dance, possibly shocking or controversial for some audiences, features Salome dancing seductively for Herod, in order that he fulfill any of her desires. The dance concludes with Salome stripped and exposed for Herod. “With Salome, there is no halfway,” Chambers explained. “You either decide if there is going to be a big reveal or no reveal.”

This production of the Strauss opera explores the tropes of the male gaze, appearance and finding love. Salome, who’s ogled by her stepfather and others, is enticed by Jochanaan's reluctance to see her as a sex object, but cannot handle his rejection of her. 

Strauss’ "Salome" is a one act opera based on Hedwig Lachmann's German translation of the French play "Salomé" by Oscar Wilde. It is inspired by the New Testament description of the stepdaughter of Herod II and Herodias, who, prompted by her mother, demanded the head of John the Baptist on a platter after the saint condemned her mother’s marriage.

The name Salome, found engraved in several coins found in the ruins of Herod’s palace, led historians to believe this was his stepdaughter’s name.

Five performances are scheduled Jan. 27-Feb. 3 at the Ziff Opera House at the Adrianne Arsht Center.