Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Unfair US Justice System,

The justice system in the US, needs to be update, there re needs to be a reformed, it needs less paper and more technology. Most of the Justice System is well begin same with other government organizations such as the FAA.
It’s not working, The US is putting more individuals behind bars that any other country in the World, critics argue, that’s why this is maybe the best country in the world, where most people follow the rules. While this approach has not made our communities or neighborhood safer it has let to the overcrowded prisons in the US.

               “The federal government has added over 2,000 federal offenses in the past 25 years alone. Between 1980 and 2013, the federal imprisonment rate jumped 518%.  During the same period, prison spending rose 595 percent. Taxpayers now spend nearly as much on federal prisons as they spent on the entire Justice Department in 1980 – a whopping $6.9 billion.  Justice has no price tag, but emptying our wallets to incarcerate for the sake of incarceration is a disservice to the American taxpayer and society at large. Paying these rising prison costs means shortchanging other public safety priorities, like funding federal prosecutors and public defenders. In 1980, the Bureau of Prisons consumed just 14 percent of the Justice Department budget. Since then, that proportion has nearly doubled, to 23 percent, and that number continues to rise. Unless we address this issue, continued growth in prison spending will further erode support for law enforcement, state and local justice grants, and services aimed at minimizing recidivism rates.”(1)

The website Renaissance Universal published a great article by an activist named Bo Lozoff makes a great point, we should make some of the drug offences a health problem instead of criminal problem.
He states that “We need to address these issues in ourselves, our families, and our communities. At the same time, we must press for changes in drug laws. I'm not advocating that we "legalize" all drugs, because it's not that simple. But we do have to "decriminalize" their use, treating the problem as the public-health issue it is. Doing so would have tremendous benefits. Without drug offenders, our prisons would have more than enough room to hold all the dangerous criminals. As a result, we wouldn't need to build a single new prison, saving us some $5 billion a year. And if we spent a fraction of that money on rehabilitation centers and community revitalization programs, we'd begin to put drug dealers out of business in the only way that will last -by drying up their market.” (2)
Please visit https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials
Let’s be part of the solution.



He also states that violent offender should be separated from non-violent offenders. We teach nonviolent offender be violent. Most nonviolent offenders do in fact learn a lesson: how to be violent. Ironically; we spend an average of $20,000 per year, per inmate, teaching them this. For less than that we could be sending every nonviolent offender to college.

Allow transformation and rehabilitation, Our ideas of rehabilitation usually revolve around education, job skills, and counseling. But many ex-cons have told me they left prison merely better-educated and -skilled criminals. Until they felt their connection and value to others, nothing ever reached into their hearts. Take this letter from a former inmate, for example:
Dear Bo, Man, I went through a time of hating you and Sita before I came to my senses. Let me explain: When you met me in prison and looked into my eyes, you didn't buy the evil son of a bitch that I portrayed to the world. I believed it myself. But you two looked at me with respect. Man, I hated your guts for that. I'm serious, I have never felt a worse punishment than your respect. Cops and cons could beat on me all day long, I was used to that from the time I was a kid But for somebody to see the good in me--man, that was unbearable. It took a long time, but it finally wore me down and I had to admit that I'm basically a good person. I've been out for three years now. Not even close to a life of crime anymore. Thanks seems puny but thanks.
If we forget that in every criminal there is a potential saint, we are dishonoring all of the great spiritual traditions. Saul of Tarsus persecuted and killed Christians before becoming Saint Paul, author of much of the New Testament. Valmiki, the revealer of the Ramayana, was a highwayman, a robber, and a murderer. Milarepa, one of the greatest Tibetan Buddhist gurus, killed thirty- seven people before he became a saint. Moses, who led the Jews out of bondage in Egypt, began his spiritual career by killing an Egyptian. If we forget that Charles Manson is capable of transformation, that doesn't reveal our lack of confidence in Manson, it shows our lack of confidence in our own scriptures. We must remember that even the worst of us can change.
Over the past twenty years I've had the privilege of knowing thousands of people who did horrible things and yet were able to transform their lives. They may not have become saints, but I have seen murderous rage gradually humbled into compassion, lifelong racial bigotry replaced by true brotherhood, and chronic selfishness transformed into committed altruism. The promises of every great spiritual tradition are indeed true: Our deepest nature is good, not evil. (2)

"Mass incarceration makes our country worse off, and we need to do something about it," Obama
President Obama wants to for nonviolent crimes make lower long mandatory minimum sentences or get rid of them. Some inmates spend or rather waste many years in prison when they should have been there for a few months.

Every single American tax payer should know what President Obama say and think about and urge our legislator to do much about it. Here is what he say:
               "Every year we spend $80 billion to keep folks incarcerated – $80 billion. Just to put that in perspective, for $80 billion we could have universal preschool for every 3-year-old and 4-year-old in America. That's what $80 billion buys. For $80 billion, we could double the salary of every high school teacher in America. For $80 billion, we could finance new roads and new bridges and new airports, job-training programs, research and development. For what we spend to keep everyone locked up for one year, we could eliminate tuition at every single one of our public colleges and universities."

If we put that into perpective he has a very valid point, the question is are we going to put actions to our words?

Here is the rest of what Mr. Obama was taking about.
 On racial disparities in prisons and jails:
"And then, of course, there are the costs that can't be measured in dollars and cents because the statistics on who gets incarcerated show that by a wide margin,it disproportionately impacts communities of color. African-Americans and Latinos make up 30 percent of our population. They make up 60 percent of our inmates. About one in every 35 African-American men, and one in every 88 Latino men, is serving time right now. Among white men, that number is one in 214. The bottom line is, in too many places black boys and black men, Latino boys and Latino men, experience being treated differently under the law. This is not just barbershop talk."
"A growing body of research shows that people of color are more likely to be stopped, questioned, frisked, charged, detained. African-Americans are more likely to be arrested. They are more likely to be sentenced to more time for the same crime."
On the impacts of over-incarceration on black families and communities:
"One of the consequences of this is that one million fathers are behind bars. Around one in nine African-American kids has a parent in prison. What is that doing to our communities? What's that doing to those children? Our nation's being robbed of men and women who could be workers, and taxpayers, could be more actively involved with their children. They could be role models, could be community leaders, and right now they're locked up for a non-violent offense."
On investing in opportunity instead of incarceration:
"If we make investments early in our children, we will reduce the need to incarcerate those kids. One study found that for every dollar we invest in pre-K, we save at least twice that down the road in reduced crime. Getting a teenager a job for the summer costs a fraction of what it costs to lock him up for 15 years. Investing in our communities makes sense."
"What doesn't make sense is treating entire neighborhoods as little more than danger zones where we just surround them, where we ask police to go in there and do the tough job of trying to contain the hopelessness, when we are not willing to make the investments to help lift those communities out of hopelessness."
On the school-to-prison pipeline:
"If you are a parent, you know that there are times where boys and girls are going to act out in school. And the question is, are we letting principals and parents deal with one set of kids, [while] we call the police on another set of kids? That's not the right thing to do. We've got to make sure our juvenile justice system remembers that kids are different. Don't just tag them as future criminals. Reach out to them as future citizens."
"[I]n too many cases, our criminal justice system ends up being a pipeline from underfunded inadequate schools to overcrowded jails.
On improving conditions behind bars:
"The people in our prisons have made some mistakes, and sometimes big mistakes. They are also Americans, and we have to make sure that as they do their time and pay back their debt to society, that we are increasing the possibility that they can turn their lives around…and that's why we should not tolerate conditions in prison that have no place in any civilized country. We should not be tolerating overcrowding in prison. We should not be tolerating gang activity in prison. We should not be tolerating rape in prison and we should not be making jokes about it in our popular culture. That's no joke. These things are unacceptable."
"What's more, I've asked my attorney general to start a review of the overuse of solitary confinement across American prisons. The social science shows that an environment like this is often more likely to make inmates more alienated, more hostile, potentially more violent. Do we really think it makes sense to lock so many people alone in tiny cells for 23 hours a day, for months, sometimes for years, at a time? That is not going to make us safer. That is not going to make us stronger."
On re-entry into society:
"And if those individuals are ultimately released, how are they ever going to adapt? It's not smart. Our prisons should be a place where we can train people for skills that can help them find a job, not train them to become more hardened criminals."
"All the people incarcerated in our prisons will eventually someday be released….So on Thursday, I will be the first sitting president to visit a federal prison."
"Let's reward prisoners with reduced sentences if they complete programs that make them less likely to commit a repeat offense. Let's invest in innovative new approaches to link former prisoners with employers, help them stay on track."
"Let's follow the growing number of our states and cities and private companies who've decided to ban the box on job applications so that former prisoners who have done their time and are now trying to get straight with society have a decent shot in a job interview. And if folks have served their time, and they've reentered society, they should be able to vote."
On equal opportunity and justice for all:
"Justice is not only the absence of oppression. It is the presence of opportunity."
"Justice is…making sure every young person knows they are special, and that they are important and their lives matter. Not because they heard it in a hashtag, but because of the love they feel every single day."
"In the immigrant tradition of remaking ourselves, in the Christian tradition that says none of us is without sin and all of us need redemption, justice and redemption go hand in hand."

These are all great points that we need to consider and take action on, here is how we can contact our legislators


References
1.    Collins, Doug, and Cedric Richmond. "Criminal Justice System Needs to Change." Thehill.com. The Hill, 15 July 2015. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.
2.    Lozoff, Bo. "Seven Ways to Fix the Criminal Justice System." New Renaissance. The New Age Journal. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.

3.    Gwynne, Kristen. "10 Ways Obama Wants Our Unfair Criminal Justice System to Change." Rolling Stone - RS Country. Rolling Stone, 15 July 2015. Web. 12 Dec. 2015.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Divorce

Divorce in America is breaking families and the lives of children; Parent should think more than twice about this and give very deep though regarding the decision of breaking the relationship. Divorce has many negative consequences not only in the lives of those that break the relationship but also in the children especially when they are at a young age.  Divorcing with kids is like cutting children in half. But before getting deeper in this topic, first I would like you to allow me to talk a little bit about how to avoid divorce.
There are so many resources available to get wisdom in how to deal with marriage to avoid divorce, many individuals just think on divorce, and don’t even think on making it work.
I have included a list of great books at the end of this article.
One of the main problems is that we believe that it is over and that there is nothing else to do, we also think that the other person will not change, secondly we are lazy and we don’t want to work on our marriage; because of these reasons we regret knowledge by not reading good books on marriage and by not going to counseling sections that can drastically change the way our marriage is headed. Divorce in most marriages can be avoidable, if we only do our part and play our roles. Staying married is not easy, it is easier to give up and run from its problems. We need to understand that in order to enjoy the benefits of having a healthy marriage we need to work hard at it. Don’t let marriage get to the point where you don’t want to live with your spouse anymore. Take the complaints of your spouse seriously at an early stage and look for ways to resolve them before it gets too late. An alternative to marriage is a brief separation to think things over.
If you are not married consider delaying marriage a few months or years to make sure that that is the right person for you and educate yourself on how marriage functions and what is expected from you. Don’t ever rush into this important decision, try not to let your emotions control you.
To some getting divorce is the norm, they saw it in their parents so they opt out in marriage because what they think this is the only way out. That’s why so many young couples cohabitate fearing divorce. Now there are some that get “married” and sadly before getting married they sign a postnuptial agreement in case they get divorce, this agreement usually states, you are not getting my stuff. In a sense there is a mistrust included even before the marriage has begun. Studies show that couples that have a pre-nuptial agreement are more likely to give up on the relationship. (1)
A recent study show that cohabitating couples have not intention on getting married, many couples pointed to financial reasons, another study suggests that these couple experience more problems, negative communication and including physical aggression. (2)
Divorce affects you and also your generation, Children many times blame themselves, and they think that they were the problem that they were not good enough to get their parents to stay together. As they grow there is a void in their lives that needs to be filled. They feel confused and afraid, they usually don’t want to talk about it.
Now in many states of the US we have “not fault divorce” meaning the court will not assign fault to either party for the divorce, and for the simple fact that if you are not getting alone, then you can get divorce. In the state of Massachusetts not fault divorce became effective in 1975, before this couples there was Fault Divorce and it was needed to show there was abuse in the relationship or that one of the parties was being unfaithful to the marriage commitment. Even though there is no fault divorce, many individuals that married knowing that there is a greater commitment, and do not take marriage commitment likely.
Lawyers had to change from fault divorce to no-fault divorce because there were a lot of individuals lying about why they needed to divorce. The first state to introduce no-fault divorce was the state of California in 1970. The only state that does not have no-fault divorce in the US is the state of New York.
Some southern states have the higher divorce rates because their laws are very soft on the issue, states like Alabama, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee; another states such as Louisiana, Arkansas and Arizona give the options to couples on which law they would like to apply if they end up divorcing, covenant marriage law or the no-fault law; covenant marriage being more strict to dissolved the marriage. (3)
Divorce often times comes with child support debates, many court battles and relocation and all of these things have a negative affect not only on the individuals that have separated, but also on the children.
Child Support usually goes the person that has the custody of the children and is calculated based on the individual’s income, and the court battle begins many time wearing individuals out and creating more distance between them, Retraining Orders sometimes are in place to keep the separated individuals from having a bad encounter.
Divorce battle are not easy, but know that if you have gotten divorce is not the end of the world, there are also some good books that can help you move forward after making that tough decision.
So when is divorced okay? In my opinion divorce is okay when all the resources have been exhausted. Is the relationship in such a bad shape that is unhealthy for them to continue to be together? Is there constantly physical and verbal abuse? Have your spouse been unfaithful and does not want to restore the marriage? Is your spouse addicted to a drug and is not recognizing it? Is your spouse a gambler and is wasting all the money and not recognizing it?
Then yes, but if they willing to cooperate and work in the marriage to make things better, work at it and make it happen.
Being married is not having a piece of paper is being fully committed to your spouse in whatever life may bring. In marriage many times we need to hold our emotions and use our head. Love is a choice not a feeling. To forgive is a decision we need to make constantly.

Works Cited:
1.    Israel, Esq., Laurie. "Prenup Can Destroy Your Marriage." IVKDLaw. Srael, Van Kooy & Days, LLC, 2010. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.
2.    Kunz, Jenifer. "The Family Variation." Think Marriages & Families. Boston: Pearson, 2013. 154. Print.
3.    Meyer, Cathy. "The Issue of No-Fault Divorce." About. About.com, n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2014.

Recommended Books:
o   Making Marriage Work: New Rules for an Old Institution Paperback by Lynn Toler
o   The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert by John M. Gottman

o   Making Marriage Work by Joyce Meyer

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Is the media influencing you?

The influence of Media in today’s world is in the rise, as we include tablets and phones we become media transporters, there is not secret, that main stream media has a great influence in our lives, it can be so powerful that it could change our views and it could change the way we think. It depicts the real image of many aspects of our lives. The media tells us how we should dress and the way should act. Also depicts what a successful person is.
Television is one of the most influential venues in the US (1), in average teens spends about 3-4 hours a day watching TV (2). Video Games are another trap where many young people are restrain people from exercising outside and interacting with one another.

When we watch and hear we are able to retain more, in a subtle way it changes the way think and act. Individuals sometimes do not realized that they are even being influenced by the mass media. It limits our self-awareness and instinct.  In the US the left wing owns most of the cable networks making it easier for them to shape the way of thinking in the direction that they want. When it comes to sexual behavior TV stations, present as promiscuous behavior as normal and put not value on abstinence, commitment and unconditional love.
The glorification of risky sex, drugs, alcohol consumption and violent behaviors, makes young individuals make decisions that leads them in a path of destruction and irresponsibility. The media should not take all the blame, parents are still the most influential persons in the lives of the children. The issue here is that many parents are “absent parents” not engaging with their children and not investing quality time with them. Parents should monitor and control their children’s viewing habits.
“True, media violence is not likely to turn an otherwise fine child into a violent criminal. But, just as every cigarette one smokes increases a little bit the likelihood of a lung tumor someday, every violent show one watches increases just a little bit the likelihood of behaving more aggressively in some situation.” —Psychologists Brad Bushman and L. Rowell Huesmann (3)

According to Margaret J. Meeker “Over the last forty-five years, the amount of time kids spend with their parents has gone down by ten to twenty hours we week. At the high end, that’s almost three hours a day gone from your relationship with your children.” (4)
Fathers talk WITH their children for eight minutes a day, while working mothers talk for 11 minutes. (5)
That’s way is so important that parents be involved in the lives of their kids as they are grow parents can shape and in most instances raise a child that can have a good influence in society and not be a headache to them.
This is one of the reasons that many of the millennials do not know what is happening around them in regards to many important issues in this nation and mayor events that occurs around the world. The vast majority of entertainment draws them to steal their time, and most of them stare a screen that in many cases does not add any valuable knowledge to them.
Another big issue, is obesity and eating disorders are a contribution of media, not only because it prevents us from exercising but because it promotes a lot of junk food; teenagers are bombarded with 4400- 7600 junk food ads a year on TV alone. (6)
The media plays a crucial role in the formation of body self-image affecting females causing them to suffer from distorted body image and eating disorders (7)
We are constantly being attacked by the media telling us what we should wear, how our body should look. This type mentality of great body image is everywhere; Barbie dolls reinforce the unrealistic body size and has a focus on beauty and an expectation that girls should look like them.
Teenagers need to realize that society’s ideal body image is not achievable. The photos we see in magazines are not real either. Many people don’t realize that those photos have gone through many touch ups and have been air-brushed to make the models look perfect. Teenagers striving to attain society’s unattainable ideal image will just end up increasing their feelings of inadequacy.
Media uses repetition; Hitler said: 'If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed” Individuals will accept as true and right, ideas that are contrary to our own moral values, and yet we know that aren’t right at all, and we embraced because it becomes politically incorrect if we do go with it.
Media constantly uses celebrities because we tend to uphold these individuals at a higher standard. Many times not knowing that their life is not worth following because they are not good role models, this is not in all cases, but the vast majority are not happy with themselves because of the strains that fame brings.(8)
Sources:

1.     "Mass Media Influence on Society." Mass Media Influence on Society. University of North Carolina at Pembroke, n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2014.
2.     "TV and Your Teen." Education.com. National Institute on Media and the Family, 30 Sept. 2009. Web. 24 Oct. 2014.
3.     Bushman BJ, Huesmann LR. Effects of televised violence on aggression. In: Singer DG, Singer JL eds. Handbook of Children and the Media. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage; 2001: 223–254
4.     Meeker, Margaret J. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know. New York: Ballantine, 2007. Print.
5.     Pednekar, Puja. "Parents Too Busy to Talk to Their Kids, Finds Study | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis." Dna. N.p., 25 Apr. 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2014.
6.     Tiller, Joel. "How Much Is Too Much? Exploring Children's Use of Media." - AboutKidsHealth. N.p., 05 June 2012. Web. 24 Oct. 2014.
7.     "Society and Eating Disorders." Eating Disorders. Mirror and Mirror, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2014.
8.     "The Media Influence Our Decisions in Many Ways. Understand How They Do It." Decision-making-confidence.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2014.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Teenagers in US Prisons

It’s so sad that so many teenagers are being incarcerated, it’s even sadder to know that some of the will be in prison for the rest of their lives. I do understand that they have to pay the consequences of their actions, at the same time I think that one, not the one, but one of the roots of the problem is the lack of higher education. Seems to be a trend when being poor most of the time has a lot to do with not being well educated meaning having a degree, which constitutes on having a job that doesn’t pay much there for not being able to move to a better neighborhood, or give their children a better public or private school or giving them the opportunity to grow in a different environment.
One of them in the video mentioned that not having that male role model, another having their parents divorce and also having their parents to be addicted to drugs in one way or another sets them in a path that when they realized that they are in it sometimes is too late. Higher education, at least in the United States, gives an individual the ability to obtain better jobs and the ability to afford many things that the low income family cannot afford giving the children a low quality of live. More incentives to study should be given.
I admired the many single mothers that are trying to do the best they can, the father being absent many times makes it very difficult for children to grow healthy environment many times causing the child to have a void inside that leads them to drugs, gangs, behavior disorders, to perform poorly in school and anger issues like we saw in the video, not to mention the sex abuse that many girls go through. Tougher punishment should to be implemented.
In the environment that we grew up in has a lot to do in how we are going to end up when we get to be adults. The influence of the parents being negative or positive will most of the time define the path that the child will take as well as his or her peers, also the media, video games has some sort of negative effect in the young children, adolescents and teenagers, nowadays we waste too much time playing video games According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the average American spends 93% of their life indoors.”(a)  
The “System” in my opinion can do a much better job, the cycle can be broken in many more inmates, there can be a better success rate using trainings, and programs like we saw and also “work to eat” should be implemented. The average cost to having an inmate in a US prison is about $31286.00 a year, in New York being around $60000.00;(b) they get 3 free meals a day and medical care. In 2011 an unemployed man in North Carolina “steals” $1.00 from a local bank to go to prison so he can get free medical care.(c) Something is obviously wrong with the system. Each prison should be able to be self-maintained or use those $31286.00 wisely using them in programs that have a very good success rates, in changing the way of thinking of these inmates. In Texas instead of an increase in inmates in the last five years has been a decrease to due to state funded programs.(c) We do know that not everyone is going to change but those that want to change will benefit from these type of programs.
Quote from American Experiment Website:
According to Sheryl Ramstad Hvass, Minnesota's commissioner of corrections, "When it comes to community resources, Teen Challenge is one of the best-kept secrets for helping those who have failed again and again in our system."(d)
Teen Challenge is a religious program that is mostly funded from churches that has a 70% success rate. If that is what is working let’s use it, not as a last resource but at the beginning. Teen Challenge argues that if the state funds it may want to dictate what the program needs to teach. If that’s the case is not going to work, because it hasn’t been working.
So if in the system we implement not only programs, but to make the inmates work for the food and have them to pay for their training to get them ready for when they come out these could look better in a near future. The system is not helping them in at the same time is not helping the taxpayer because we end up paying for a system that is not working. Instead of having the undocumented immigrants doing low paying jobs, these jobs can be done by inmates, if they don’t do it, well they don’t eat.
Now A huge problem that we have is that when the inmates get out they don’t have any training or any aspirations to go to school because most employers if they have a criminal background don’t even give them a chance to work and return to society and prove that they have changed, so they feel inferior and looked down upon, The CORI becomes their greatest barrier, and the ones that have changed cannot get a decent job because of it, so they do the math and say in the streets I was making more money either selling drugs, fire arms etc, so they think to themselves this time I am not going to get caught, so what ends up happening is that they go back to where they came from, they start getting involved again with the same crowd as before, because they cannot get a job that pays them well, And the cycle begins or continues. Change is possible if the system give the inmates an atmosphere to change.

Sources:

(a)    "Brain Post: How Much Time Does the Average American Spend Outdoors?" Snowbrains.com. Snow Brains, 5 June 2014. Web. 12 Aug. 2014.
(b)   Pilkington, Ed. "US Man Stages $1 Bank Robbery to Get State Healthcare." Theguardian.com. The Guardain, 21 June 2011. Web. 12 Aug. 2014.
(c)    Ward, Mike. "Texas Prison Population Shrinks as Rehabilitation Programs Take Root." Statesman.com. Statesman.com/news, 11 Aug. 2012. Web. 12 Aug. 2014.

(d)   Kersten, Katherine. "Teen Challenge Operates on Faith but Then Pays for It." Americanexperiment.org. Center for the American Experiment, 17 Nov. 1999. Web. 12 Aug. 2014.