COMMUNITY LIFESTYLE INSTITUTE
Social Justice Blog
Social Justice Blog
We will continue researching and commenting on social injustices and how it affects those persons sincerely seeking a second chance for success in a free society.
|Posted on September 30, 2020 at 12:40 AM|
Formerly incarcerated firefighters deserve to be hired
How much more Catch-22 can you get than to train a prisoner to fight forest fires, to get pay of $1.90 a day, then when he gets out to say, “Sorry you were a criminal so you can not get an EMT certificate. You don’t deserve that.”
Governor Gavin Newsom of California recently signed bill AB 2147 which is a step forward in reducing recidivism and making for a safer California by removing roadblocks for the formerly incarcerated to attain EMT certificate. Fire fighters on the many California fires are incarcerated persons actively working to save lives. The bill would allow them to pretition the courts to clear their records thereby making them eligible to get an EMT certification.
Incredibly, “Law enforcement groups and prosecutors opposed the bill saying the former inmates pose a danger to the public.” The only prisoners allowed on the prison forest fighting crews are the ones who were not guilty of violent felonies, such as murder, kidnapping and sex offenses. Prisoners with these types of offenses are ineligible to fight fires.
Without an EMT certification the now free prisoners have limited job opportunities as firefighters. Typically, California employees 200 prisoner fire crews but this year because of early release of nonviolent offenders due to covid-19 only 113 crews were available to be used.
AB 2147 discontinued the punishment previous employed by the California Justice System and put rehabilitation options back into the "correctional" system. Formerly incarcerated persons can petition the courts to expunge their records thus clearing the way for them to hold EMT certification. The forest fighting prisoners wins and so thereby does society as a whole in numerous ways.
Guy R. Grant
|Posted on September 23, 2020 at 9:25 PM|
WE HUMANS ARE GIVEN FREE WILL; THE ACT OF CHOOSING GOOD OR EVIL. UNFORTUNATELY, THE CORONA-VIRUS HAS UNLEASHED A VOLUMINOUS AMOUNT OF HUMANS WITH HIDDEN EVIL INTENT. COVERT HOSTILITY RULES THE DAY AND THE TIMES. SUCH EVILS ARE OFTEN PURVEYED WITHOUT ANY REGARD TO THE OVERALL EFFECT OR THE LEGALLY OF SUCH ACTIONS. COVERT HOSTILITY AGAINST ONE'S FELLOW MAN ONLY ADD DESPERATION, CONFUSION AND THE PERPETUATION OF DISCORD AMONG MEN. DURING THESE TROUBLING TIMES, AN UNBELIEVABLE AMOUNT OF MACHIAVELLIAN LITERATURE IS BEING SOLD AS AN APPROPRIATE ACTIONS TO GAIN POWER AND MONEY. EVIL KNOWLEDGE ARE BEING OFFERED WAYS TO STEAL, KILL, AND DESTROY ONES NEIGHBOR EITHER MATERIALLY OR PHYSICALLY. OFTEN THEY SALE SUCH ACTIONS AS WAYS TO TAKE ADVANTAGE WITHOUT RECOURSE. THOSE GULLIBLE ENOUGH TO THINK THEY CAN DEHUMANIZE OTHERS WITHOUT THE CONSEQUENCE OF DEHUMANIZING THEMSELVES ARE DELUSIONAL.
2 Chronicles 7:14
14 if then my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land.
|Posted on November 17, 2018 at 9:30 AM|
Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled ‘This could change your life’.” ― Helen Exley
In the US prison system, they totally believe the first sentence of the quote and totally discount second sentence in the quote. In Brazil they appear to read the whole quote, since there you can get four days off your sentence if you read a book and then write a paper about it (Reeves, 2017).
Why would you want to 'coddle' prisoners like this? A couple of reasons, first it saves the taxpayers money and secondly, it helps to saves people from returning to prisons. According to Livni (2016) reading books reduced recidivism from 45 per cent to 19 per cent
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) seems to have decided that books are just plain dangerous. They now require that any prisoner who wants books must first buy a $147 tablet so they can get books from a single company; prison telecommunications giant GTL (Lincoln, 2016) According to Lincoln, Prisoners make less than $1 an hour. So they would have to work all most a month before they could buy a tablet. In such case, they would have to be able to devote all of their time and money to reading books.
Of the 8500 titles on the prison book list many of them are already free from the Project Gutenberg. Yet even the free books are not free to prisoners. The prisoners still get charged for them. Unbelievable suppression of learning is demonstrated by the policy. Book prices may range from $2.99 to $8.99. For non-public domain books the prices are higher than one would pay for them at a bookstore.
GTL like other prison companies get such deals by lobby of state and federal legislators and by contributing to government office holders at the Federal, State and Local. Direct campaign contributions are received by government officers from companies that provide prison services or provide private prisons. Those same companies are big supporters of Professional corrections associations providing those organizations with: sponsorship, vendor fees, advertisements and general support contributions.
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania is not the only state which restricts books in prisons. Texas bans some 11,000 titles including works by William Shakespeare, Harriet Beecher Stowe and Sojourner Truth If you don’t believe in redemption or that people can change their lives, then you want to keep prisoners returning to prison. Prisoners already suffer from lower literacy rates then the general public Prisons have the authority to ban books because of federal regulations allow the use of the code not to make prisons safer but simply to reduce access of prisoners to books because they have the power to do so.
So what can you do? Keep an eye out for laws requiring prisoners must buy electronic equipment to read books and oppose such a mandate. Donate to agencies that give books to prisoners.
Guy R. Grant
Lincoln, J. (2018) https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/incarcerated-pennsylvanians-now-have-to-pay-150-to-read-we-should-all-be-outraged/2018/10/11/51f548b8-cbd9-11e8-a85c-0bbe30c19e8f_story.html?utm_term=.d3c674ee8481)
Rampey, et. al. (2016) Table 1.2 on page 6 of https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2016/2016040.pdf
|Posted on May 18, 2018 at 10:20 AM|
Courtesy of Pixabay
By Adam Cook,*
Recovery from addiction does, in a real sense, give one a new lease on life. Having found the strength to fight addiction, it is tempting to jump back into life with both feet, ready to resume old relationships and interests (Edwards, 2016). Unfortunately, jumping too earnestly and too soon can lead the recovering addict back into old negative behaviors, which may lead directly to relapse and its deadly consequences. People often err in thinking that recovery means it’s okay to resume an old lifestyle. Until you accept that your life will never be quite the same again, it’s dangerous to try to return to the same old you.
If you return to past self-destructive behaviors, then recovery has no more meaning to you. It’s important that you go slowly, taking one step at a time, along the way embracing what you learned during treatment. You have everything to live for - go at your own pace as you adjust to a new reality.
Recovering addicts often leave a trail of broken relationships in their wake. Repairing those relationships means making amends with family members, some of whom may not want to hear it. Even relatives who celebrate your progress and commitment may question your sincerity and harbor resentments, which may surface in their speech and actions from time to time. Make clear to your loved ones how dedicated you are to proving yourself. Ask what they expect from you. It’s a good way of showing them that you’re serious about reestablishing a relationship and about changing old, manipulative forms of behavior. It’s important to try to come to terms with feelings of guilt, which only complicate your efforts to rebuild old bridges.
Reject enabling friendships
One of the cardinal rules for recovering addicts is to avoid resuming or entering into relationships that feed your addiction. In other words, you need to move away from people who take drugs or alcohol, who represent a great temptation and a serious threat to your sobriety. Enabling actions are quite often unintentional and may even be well-meaning efforts to help an addict in their recovery (Plattor, 2014). To a great degree, recovery depends on making acquaintances with individuals who do not constitute temptation. Being a recovering addict requires you to become part of, and find support from, a sober community of like-minded people who will allow you to continuously work on your recovery (Jordan, 2017) and (Drughub.org 2018 )
It’s essential that you eliminate all triggers from your home environment. This is one area where you can ask for active support from someone you trust and feel comfortable with. Start by asking a friend, relative, or professional to assist you in removing everything that you associate with your previous lifestyle. This includes any remaining drugs or alcohol, as well as any paraphernalia. Then, give the space a good cleaning. Scent can be a powerful trigger, so wash all linens, window coverings, and clothes in a new laundry detergent with a different scent than you’re used to.
Most therapists advise recovering addicts to steer clear of romantic relationships within the first year of sobriety. The complications associated with such a relationship often contribute to a relapse, particularly in the early stages of sobriety as you’re attempting to make a new life. This isn’t to suggest that a recovering addict can never find love again, just that an intense emotional relationship can make recovery more difficult just when you’ve found the strength to avoid old and dangerous tendencies.
An ongoing process
Addiction recovery is an ongoing process, one that never truly ends. It’s a day-to-day struggle that requires strength and support from people who understand what’s at stake. The initial stages of sobriety should be dedicated to establishing a new life, with relationships that bolster your resolve and help prevent a relapse.
Edwards, D.(2016). “Rebuilding Relationships in Early Recovery.” Psych Central, 17 July 2016, psychcentral.com/lib/rebuilding-relationships-in-early-recovery.
Plattor, C.(2014). “When You Enable an Addict You're Not Helping, You're Hurting.” HuffPost Canada, HuffPost Canada, 15 Sept. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.ca/candace-plattor/enabling-an-addict_b_5589340.html.
Jordan, D. (2017). “Finding Friends After Addiction Rehabilitation.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 10 Feb. 2017, health.usnews.com/health-care/for-better/articles/2017-02-10/finding-friends-after-addiction-rehabilitation.
“Inpatient Drug Rehab.” DrugRehab.org, 23 Apr. 2018, www.drugrehab.org/inpatient-drug-rehab/#contribute-to-recovery.
*About the Author: Adam Cook is the founder of Addiction Hub, which locates and catalogs addiction resources.He is very much interested in helping people find the necessary resources to save their lives from addiction. His mission is to provide people struggling with substance abuse with resources to help them recover.
|Posted on December 20, 2017 at 8:15 PM|
Guy R. Grant
Since fireman unemployment is extremely low, why would a trained firemen not be able to find work? Amika Sergejev, who worked for two and a half years as a firefighter and lead engineer shared her story of employment denials based on her prison experience. Current rules prohibit her from being hired at any firehouse because her work at a firehouse was the last part of her prison sentence (Sergejev, 2017). Which means that she is barred from gainful employment using the skill she was trained for at the prison. One of the 5000, Catch 22, type of restrictions that are placed on the formerly incarcerated. Such rules eliminate the chance of the formerly incarcerated entering a productive life after their release. Conversely, the prisons mission statement is pro-reemployment based on the skills taught to the formerly incarcerated while in prison.
According to CoreCivic Corporation, "Most former inmates have completed programs designed to help them develop the skills needed to achieve success in the "world of work." Many have had employment and training in Federal Prison Industries (tradename: UNICOR), and/or in vocational and occupational training programs. Some have valuable skills which are hard to find in the job market."
While some restrictions which make sense for the formerly incarcerated many of the restrictions seem only to meant to further punish and impoverish those who have gone through the justice system. Many of those restrictions do not serve the public good but only make the formerly incarcerated more likely to be sent back to jail. However, these types of restrictions on employment are intended to keep the prisons population high and profits higher. After all, some states profit prisons from having a high prison population.
The private owned Corrections Corporation of America, renamed recently to Core Civic (CCA) in their annual report stated, "The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws." This statement is a open admission that keeping persons imprisoned results in more profit for prison-for-profit institutions. Under the gauze of public service CCA owns and operates over 90 for profit prison throughout the USA.
Hopefully, humanitarians in our society will work to remove barriers for the formerly incarcerated to break the cycle of recidivism and bring the people back into society as productive citizens rather than a society aimed at increasingly producing more criminals. Exposing the hypocrisy of private prisons is the first step to ending legalized slavery. Unfortunately, this dilemma remains unnoticed while the population of prisoners and for-profit prisons continues to increase (Cohen, M., 2015).
Cohen, M. (2015). How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about: Sen. Marco Rubio is one of the biggest beneficiaries. The Washington Post. April 28, 2015
Sergejev, Amika (2017) Opinion: A skilled Cal Fire firefighter as an inmate, she's barred from career now that she's free. The Mercury News. San Jose, CA. November 21, 2017
Available at: www.mercurynews.com/2017/11/21/opinion-a-skilled-cal-fire-firefighter-as-an-inmate-shes-barred-from-career-now-that-shes-free/
|Posted on August 13, 2016 at 3:05 PM|
by Guy R. Grant
Whenever we see young unkempt men standing by the roadside holding a sign asking a dollar, a meal or a work; we might wonder what happened in their lives that they should be in such a dire need. Most people think of these men as panhandlers or freeloaders who do not want a steady job or any institutional boundaries that would provide income for them to pay their fair share of fostering a productive society. Few people, if any, ever stop to ask them how they got in such predicament. We assume that they really did not try to get a job, they are drug or alcohol abusers, or they are just lazy men trying to take the easy way out. So, we roll up our car windows, turn the radio on louder, or just turn our heads in the other direction. We think, “it’s not my problem” let the city solve the nuisance of vagrants standing on corners and freeway entrances.
This is a common attitude since we do not realize that panhandling is the evidence of a much deeper breach in our institutions. Many cities fight panhandling by banning panhandling, arresting them or placing restrictions or where someone can panhandle (Lauriello, 2016). City leaders think the solution is to hide the problem since the problem of homelessness is too great to solve. The constitutionality of the freedom to panhandler or the laws to regulate their existence have been adjudicated in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Fort Lauderdale and Seattle (Scott, 2003, Laureillo, 2016) .
Taking a more merciful and humane approach to this problem, Mayor Richard Berry of Albuquerque communicated with the panhandlers to find out what the panhandlers’ needed and whether they were willing to work ( Washington Post, 2016 ). Most panhandlers’ were eager to work and in fact the demand for work out stripped the funding of the program. In doing so, it was brought to light that some panhandlers were recently released from prison and had little success in getting gainful employment.
Some panhandlers do not know the systems in place to help them re-enter society. The fact that they did not know where to go to get proper assistance is evidence of a lack of communication between our correctional systems, social systems, and other familiar system such a faith and community based organization. So the next time you see a panhandler, there of speaking to the mayor of your city avout a program similare to Mayor Berry's. As a random act of kindness and mercy give the panhandler a buck.
Community Oriented Policing Services (2015). Law Enforcement is a Critical Component of the Coordinated Effort to End Homelessness. The e-newsletter of the COPS Office | Volume 8 | Issue 12 | December 2015. Available at: http://cops.usdoj.gov/html/dispatch/12-2015/le_critical_to_end_homelessness.asp
Itkowitz, C. (2016). This Republican mayor has an incredibly simple idea to help the homeless. And it seems to be working. Available at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/08/11/this-republican-mayor-has-an-incredibly-simple-idea-to-help-the-homeless-and-it-seems-to-be-working/
Lauriello, A, (2016). Regulation of Expression in Times Square and the First Amendment (July 13, 2016). Available at SSRN: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2809427
Lauriello, A. (2016). Panhandling Regulation After Reed v. Town of Gilbert (April 9, 2016). Columbia Law Review, Vol. 116, No. 3, 2016 Available at SSRN: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2666679
Scott, M. (2003) Panhandling.Problem-Oriented Guides for Police Problem-Specific Gudes Series No. 13. office of Community Oriented Policing Services. UlS. Department of Justice. Available at: http/www.cops.usdoj.gov/html/cd_rom/inaction1/pubs/Panhandling.pdf
Wiltz, T. (2015). Anti-Panhandling Laws Spread, Face Legal Challenges. The Pew Charitable Trust. Stateline. November 12, 2015. Available at:http://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2015/11/12/anti-panhandling-laws-spread-face-legal-challenges
|Posted on April 28, 2016 at 8:30 AM|
by Lucia Lacey Nevitt
The discussion takes a brief look at female population within the U.S. prison system. Women now represent one of the fastest rising segments within the American prison system. Since 1977-2009, the number of women within the prison system are staggering nearly 200,000 women are behind bars (Beck, Kerberg & Harrison, 2002; Paltrow, 2013). The departments of corrections are slow in response to the growing numbers of women who are incarcerated.
Crimes that most women inmates commit are quantitatively different from their male counterpart (Jiang & Winfree, 2006). Even now, the prison system is built for male offenders and insensitive to the gender differences of the growing female population (Abrifor, Atere, & Muoghalu, 2012). In understanding the different reasons women go to prison and reorienting prison programs towards rehabilitation. The position here is that prisons and correctional facilities could be more responsive to the needs of female prisoners.
The difference between male and female inmates starts before imprisonment. For many women inmates, the seeds are sown in childhood, as a significantly larger percentage of women than men reported being sexually, mentally or emotionally abused during their childhood (Aijinkya, 2012). For men, this vulnerability of abuse decreases once a male reaches adulthood. In contrast, the proportion of women who suffer victimization rises when a female reaches adulthood. Women who are incarcerated are thus more likely to suffer from mental an emotional instability, which leads to chronic depression. Thereby, women who suffer from chronic depression are even more prone in attempting suicide (James & Glaze, 2006; Zaitzow, 2010).
There is also a dearth of substance abuse counseling to address the drug and alcohol problems that plague a majority of female inmates. Few female inmates have access to counseling programs that help with depression. Very few female prisoners receive needed medication for psychiatric and medical conditions (TACReports.org, 2014). The focus on prison as a punitive approach overrides the rehabilitative approach. To be truly responsive to the female inmate population, the prison system must take into account their different needs.
Practitioners within the criminal justice may agree that an empowerment-based approach that addresses the victimhood and substance abuse issues that, for many women, are the main causes of incarceration. Instead, the criminal-justice system continues to subject female inmates to facilities and programs that were designed for men.
The justice system as a whole should initiate policy changes that address the different needs of women, especially for psychiatric and medical. By reducing recidivism and helping incarcerated mothers to become a better person, a better parent and a productive society members, the empowerment-base approach will better address the rehabilitative needs of the inmates and, by extension, society in general.
Beck, A., Karberg, J., & Harrison, P. (2002). Prison and jail inmates at midyear 2001. Washington D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Paltrow, L. M. (2013). Roe v Wade and the New Jane Crow: Reproductive Rights in the Age of Mass Incarceration. American Journal of Public Health, 103(1), 17–21. http://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2012.301104
Abrifor, C. A., Atere, A. A., & Muoghalu, C. O. (2012). Gender differences, trends and pattern recidivism among inmates in selected Nigerian prisons. European Scientific Journal, 8(24), 1-20.
Jiang, S., & Winfree, L., Jr. (2006). Social support, gender, and inmate adjustment to prison life: Insight from a national sample. The Prison Journal, 86(1), 32-55.
Ajinkya, J. (2012, March 7). The Top 5 Facts About Women in Our Criminal Justice System. Retrieved from https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/women/news/2012/03/07/11219/the-top-5-facts-about-women-in-our-criminal-justice-system/
Zaitzow, B. H. (2010.). Psychotropic Control of Women Prisoners: The Perpetuation of Abuse of Imprisoned Women. Retrieved from http://www.cjcj.org/uploads/cjcj/documents/Psychotropic_Control.pdf
James, O. J., & Glaze, L. E. (2006.). Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates. Retrieved from http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/mhppji.pdf
The Treatment Advocacy Center. (2014, April 8). The Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness in Prisons and Jails: A State Survey. Retrieved from http://tacreports.org/storage/documents/treatment-behind-bars/treatment-behind-bars.pdf
|Posted on November 16, 2015 at 9:15 PM|
The mere existence of substantive measures of administering faith based methods of rehabilitation to prisoners promotes the belief that prisoners may become more social being if they attend religious services. Currently the primary form of rehabilitation in prison is through faith based ministries (Gerace and Day, 2010). Faith based programs often emphasize the values of compassion, forgiveness and positive contributions to society (Gerace and Day, 2010). The paradigm of prisoners changing to embrace a prosocial stance is a belief that prisoners can be rehabilitated. The paradigm that prisoners can serve their time and return ready to accept the duties and responsibility was the world view during the 50’s through the 70’s (Phelps, 2011). The pre 70’s stance was based on New Testament virtues and the great commandment of Love and forgiveness. Unfortunately, such virtues are not accepted practices in today non-sectarian world. Of course there is justification under the law to prosecute and penalize criminals. This is not the intent of this statement to expect criminals to go free. Education and evangelism tools to re-socialize criminals are based on the beatitudes and basic Christianity beliefs. Reform through faith depends on the ability of the offender to internalize Christian values and act or react based on those values. One in every three female inmates attend faith based services which provides a sense of being able to cope with their incarceration (Levitt and Loper, 2009).
All rights reserved Copyright © 2015 Jamillah Grant PhD
|Posted on October 15, 2015 at 8:20 AM|
Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good (Romans 12:21)
The thematic take-away from the recent visit of Pope Francis to USA and Cuba is that we should diligently exercise God’s greatest commandment, Love. We do this by being the bearers of good spirit in good works. This is a tall order given the worldly news which vividly remind us of the worse of this immoral world and leaves many of us fearful of everything and everyone. Yet, we are called to not be afraid of those who may kill the body but to be afraid of the one who kills the spirit (Matthews 10:28). As we listen and look at media that proclaim these times of terror and horrific criminal acts; we are softly killing our spirit and our ability to love our neighbor and one another. Our faith that good conquers evil is diminished with every report of evil. Therefore, we attempt to irradiate evil in our belief that it is right to revenge the avenger by taking a life for a life (Leviticus 24:17—21). It seems a logical consequence and is based on Leviticus Old Testament stance which provides that evil should be returned when evil is received. This philosophy does not follow Christ’s greatest commandment of Love rather it opens the door to perpetuation of evil acts. The entitlement of retribution is delivered under the right of principalities to administer penalties for crimes against citizens of the State. Therefore, the State can proclaim the right to execute penalties for particular crimes. The State does this, NOT as a stance on morality but to provide retribution; vengeance for victims; deterrence from future crime; and prevent recidivism. Why is it not working? What is the price of justice?
All rights reserved Copyright © 2015 Jamillah Grant PhD
|Posted on June 15, 2015 at 8:40 AM|
Goodwill Changing Lives
Goodwill a nationally known retail thrift shop is “more than meets the eye.” Recently I learned that the chain is actively engaged in changing lives through its Goodwill Re-Integration Program (GRIP). In doing so, it provides reentry support for those returning citizens who need employment; job search assistance. Goodwill provides education in computer and culinary skills. Their employment assistance services include many of the same services we offer at CLI such as resume writing, interview appearance, computer skills, job search support and job placement assistance. Requirements vary per program, but some of their programs require returnee to be homeless; live in transitional or supportive housing; meet low income guidelines; have functional literacy skills; clear criminal record (no outstanding warrants); and be over 17 years old in good health.
For a small fee, returning citizens can learn computer basics such as Windows Operating System, Internet and email basics, as well as Microsoft Excel. These skills can alleviate the Rip Van Winkle effect of returning to the world outside of prison walls. Training is offered in culinary arts which is an asset in tourist industry cities such as New Orleans. Classes in culinary arts are offered through the American Culinary Federation to homeless or recently released incarcerated individuals. The course training covers rules and regulations of food handling and preparation; proper storage and sanitation techniques and principles; knowledge of meat cuts and butchery; large scale food production techniques; soup, sauces, baking, breakfast cookery and regional cuisine.
Goodwill claims that over 700 have graduated from their culinary arts program. Their graduates are placed in restaurants, hotels, casinos, hospitals, colleges and offshore vessels. More information about enrolling in Goodwill Re-Integration Programs should be directed to Goodwill 3400 Tulane Avenue, Suite 1000; New Orleans, LA 70119
All rights reserved Copyright © 2015 Jamillah Grant PhD
|Posted on May 17, 2015 at 4:00 PM|
By Ishmael Amin
John Legend has initiated Free America, a new campaign to reform the U.S. prison system. In John Legend’s words, "We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country... It's destroying families, it's destroying communities and we're the most incarcerated country in the world... We as a society made some choices politically and legislatively, culturally to deal with poverty, deal with mental illness in a certain way and that way usually involves using incarceration.” Free America tour of America will bring awareness to this issue and a call to end mass incarceration, while promoting alternatives to incarceration. More over, John Legend lends his voice to the opportunities to end mass incarceration, save spending on the corrections system, and to reinvest those savings into smarter policies and legislation that will proactively reduce mass incarceration.
Free America tour includes states like Texas that implemented correction system reform in 2007 that reduced felonies to misdemeanors and the state has reaped billions of dollars in savings while seeing crime drop to rates last seen in the 1960s. [video] John Legend supports California’s has recently passed proposition 47 in November, 2014, “which calls for treating shoplifting, forgery, fraud, petty theft and possession of small amounts of drugs — including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines — as misdemeanors instead of felonies.”
Even small local government agencies have picked up the baton to end mass incarceration as well to reduce recidivism. For example, police in the small town of Gloucester, Massachusetts have chosen to “stop arresting addicts who choose to seek rehabilitation.” Orleans Parish Public Defender’s Office has recently initiated an alternative to incarceration coalition. https://www.whitehouse.gov/ondcp/alternatives-to-incarceration" target="_blank"> Alternatives to Incarceration listed by the Office of National Drug Control Policy is a call for a smarter corrections system. John Legend has spoken at the White House and lawmakers seem to be listening. He recently performed a Politico event where he spoke with the spirit of Bob Marley as he sang “Redemption Songs.”
Mr. John Legend’s stand on the issue of ending mass incarceration is a fiscally and socially responsible stance. As a society we must become smarter about how we chose to address undesirable behavior. The fabric of our society is dependent upon us making smarter decisions that will free America from the course of becoming a prison state versus that of an enlighten state. Our mission to increase awareness for mass incarceration and prevention of high percentages of recidivism began in 2011. Community Lifestyle Institute is excited to see that Mr. Legend has picked up the baton on a grand scale.
|Posted on April 3, 2015 at 10:15 PM|
Society's response to the convicted criminal seems to be to lock them up and throw away the key. I see a certain amount of righteousness about this attitude especially among the politicians. But there is also a lot of fear in society that I think the politicians have fed on that fear as well as feed the fear (Alexander, 2012). Too often the laws on criminality seem to be written in mind for the profit which can be generated from prisoners. One only has to look at the for profit jails. Many of these for-profit prisons go into rural communities promising jobs. Based on these promises the rural counties or small towns will often help build the prison for the private for-profit companies.
What does building an economy based on prisons do for a society? It forces them to find more prisoners and criminals.
What happens when that prison closes? The city or county is often left on the hook for bigger bills because the county or towns floated bonds to pay for the building. These additional debts now prevent the local government from being able to maintain their daily operation.
When society pays for warehousing prisoners in these for-profit prisons, they help them maximize their profits. They maximize profits by cutting services such as lowering the amount guards, medical care, and food quality and/or quantity.
I wonder what would happen, if instead of paying the for-profit prisons for how many beds they filled, we paid them based on their lack of recidivism rate? The lower the rate of recidivism the more the prison would get paid. Or we could pay the prisons for the number of prisoners who earned GED or receive certificates in the trades. Again Jon Oliver's program points this out very well where he notes that a for profit prison, promotes the reason to invest in their company stock is because of their high recidivism rate.
Society needs to ask itself what it wants to see when a prisoner is released. Are they going to see a person who is better trained to be a criminal when released from jail or are they going to see someone who has some pride in himself because he now has a GED or certificate in a trade. Who would you feel safer to have returned to your town?
Alexander, M. (2010). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color blindness. New York, NY: The New Press.
All rights reserved Copyright © 2015 Guy R. Grant
|Posted on March 13, 2015 at 12:15 AM|
Over 2.3 million people are incarcerated, 7 million are on probation or parole, and almost every family in America has been touched in some way by mass incarceration. Just as anger over mass incarceration has spread, turmoil over the police arrests which lead to fatalities have permeated the news media.
Rather than increasing the to the point of racial warfare,community conscience citizen groups have turned to police authorities to gather the truth, Thus attempting to avert anger based manipulation of facts from merchants of chaos and hate-based organizations in all forms of media to a disposition of inquiry and community building.
Although Attorney General Holder’s report on Ferguson uncovered some disturbing practices and violation of constitutional rights; he and President Obama proposed, “ a National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice to a historic new Task Force on 21st Century Policing – which will provide strong federal support to law enforcement at every level, on a scale not seen since the Johnson Administration. These aims have also led me to travel throughout the country – to Atlanta, Cleveland, Memphis, Chicago, Philadelphia, Oakland and San Francisco – to convene a series of roundtable discussions dedicated to building trust and engagement between law enforcement, civil rights, youth and community leaders from coast-to-coast.”
In Kenner and Jefferson Parish Louisiana, citizens, civic, community faith-based organizations have the opportunity to learn the positive role of the policing and how they go about in their attempt of protecting the citizens of the communities they serve. Thanks to the wisdom of our local sheriff, building trust in the local policing authority has been systematically offered through a series of courses and seminars. These seminars are open to all citizens and hopefully will be attended by people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds to increase affinity between the law enforcement officers and law abiding citizens. Our local policing authorities may not be perfect, but their realization of opening a dialogue between the public and the police predates the current national attention on the problem. Their model of Citizen’s Academy should be reviewed and modeled as one method to increase public awareness.
All rights reserved Copyright © 2015 Jamillah M. Grant
|Posted on February 8, 2015 at 7:00 PM|
In the President’s State of the Union Address 2015, it was only a fleeting moment that he mentioned crime and incarceration. His statement addressed the issue of citizen unrest because of purported police brutality. In fact he stated, “We may have different takes on the events of Ferguson and New York. But surely we can understand a father who fears his son can’t walk home without being harassed. Surely we can understand the wife who won’t rest until the police officer she married walks through the front door at the end of his shift. Surely we can agree it’s a good thing that for the first time in 40 years, the crime rate and the incarceration rate have come down together, and use that as a starting point for Democrats and Republicans, community leaders and law enforcement, to reform America’s criminal justice system so that it protects and serves us all."
The civil unrest that followed the questionable police procedures that left two young men dead, rather than arrested, has brought a foreboding spirit to every mother of African American sons. Since the result of the Stand Your Ground Law appears to result in persons shooting first and reacting on their phobias without provocation; the advice of reentering society and attempting to become a law-abiding citizen has come under examination. Perhaps the best advice for young men about to be paroled, would be to stay in prison, serve your time and get an education or training to equip you for the future release. After all, at this point in time there is so much unrest on the outside, whatever obstacles are prominent on the inside of the prison walls seem less ominous.
Please support Community Lifestyle Institute by shopping at http://Smile.Amazon.com. Amazon will donate 5% of your total purchase at no cost to you. Enter Community Lifestyle Institute as your charity then continue to shop for yourself or gifts for friends and family.
Thank you for your continued support.
All rights reserved Copyright © 2015 Jamillah Grant PhD
|Posted on December 2, 2014 at 8:55 AM|
One year ago, I began to write about the barriers of reentry. I was unable to discern whether my blog was read by anyone, yet I was compelled to continue writing. Since then, I have had some verbal encouragement and feedback from my readers even though none have written in the comment section. Furthermore, I have learned to analyze the blog outreach. Analytics has shown that Community Lifestyle Institute’s blog has had over 2400 readers since its first blog in December 2013. Our readers are located in major cities within the United States as well as several cities throughout the world. To all those readers, I thank you for taking the time to read my blogs and hope that each blog has been enlightening to you.
Public awareness has become more considerate of what needs to be done to prevent recidivism not only for the re-entering formerly incarcerated but for the greater good of society. America’s shame is that while proclaiming to be the land of the free and the home of the brave; it has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Coupled with this shame is the continued assault on the marginalized citizens of America; immigrants, people of color, the poor and the non-conformists. The assault is legitimized through the use of profiling; poorly written laws that give credibility to violent actions; and unwarranted fear and retaliation before provocation as the rule of action.
Given the barriers to reentry, housing, employment, education (training), and substance abuse; the ability to reverse negative behavior seems impossible. Such an attitude is self-defeating and shows a lack of faith in the power of redemption. Where there is no faith there is no hope of possible rehabilitation. Since no one is an island, reversing criminality and drug dependency cannot happen without faith-based and community programs.
Chart a constructive path for persons who have taken the destructive route. Unfortunately, not everyone will follow a constructive pathway even when given the opportunity but these programs are not for them. It is for those who if given the opportunity would reverse their destructive actions and attitudes. It is for those who had hopes and aspirations but took a wrong turn and are looking for a way back home. In every road there is place for a turnaround when you are going in the wrong direction.
All rights reserved Copyright © 2014 Jamillah M. Grant
|Posted on October 11, 2014 at 5:00 PM|
In my August 17th 2014 blog, I stated that, “Pacholke's talks provides hope that the department of corrections has come to recognize the benefits of positive cultural changes within prisons with the hope of successful rehabilitation of reentry into society.” While the group of Washington State Department of Correction inmates benefitted from participating in university research projects, we have no certainty whether these types of prison experiences have translated into reducing recidivism. Although, Earhart (2014) claimed that changing prison culture would improve the quality of persons being released back into society. Since his concept of prisoner culture reform has not been proven to translate to reducing recidivism, we are uncertain of its probable impact. However, researchers Jancic (1998 ) and Esperian (2014) have proven the positive impact of in prison education programs. For those inmates who participate in educational programs that translate to current employable job skills, prison educational programs have benefit them as well as society. Yet, we still have a high percentage of recidivism even though educational programs have a long history of availably within the prison compound. There are several education-program related factors that contribute to this disparaging outcome. Most educational programs may require voluntary participation, scholarly eligibility, financial resources, as well as inmate’s entitlement to enroll with respect to correctional policies.
Voluntary enrollment in prison education programs is understandable. Why waste time, energy and resources to educate an unmotivated learner? However, motivation is not the only requirement of spending prison time for constructive educational goals. Beyond aspirations for an education and intellectual aptitude to succeed, is the ability of the prisoner to fund his education. In California, the cost of correctional education is the responsibility of the inmate. Given the demographics of the prison population, it is highly unlikely that a majority of inmates would be able to access this opportunity. Provided that an inmate does have the funds to enroll in the Voluntary Education Program (VEP), their next hurdle is to be eligible (as defined by the prison) for the program. Perhaps, we still have a high percentage of recidivism due to the fact that the program availability in prisons do not correlate to the majority of inmates eligibile to participate in such programs. Despite these hurdles, those inmates who are fortunate enough to enter the a VEP attest to its benefits.
California State Attorney General Kamala D. Harris
expounds on the importance of prison education as well as the other factors that inhibit inmates from becoming productive citizens.
Earhart, J. (2014). Overcoming Isolation: A College Program Challenges Prison Culture through Engagement. St. Louis U. Pub. L. Rev., 33, 329-519.
Esperian, J. H. (2010). The effect of prison education programs on recidivism. Journal of Correctional Education, 316-334.
Jancic, M. (1998. Does correctional education have an effect on recidivism? Journal of Correctional Education, 152-161.
All rights reserved Copyright © 2014 Jamillah M. Grant
As the pendulum swings: Dan Pacholke explains the shifts of prison reform from rehabilitative to punitive to cultural change --
|Posted on August 17, 2014 at 8:00 PM|
Phelps (2011) summarizes the shifts from rehabilitation to punitive prisons as follows: In the 1940’s prisons focused on teaching prisoners to be productive as a means of rehabilitation. Next, during the 1950’s through the 1970’s the trends was to use individualized assessment and treatment to reform prisoners; then return them to society as law abiding citizens. However, Martinson’s Report in 1974 proposed that prison reform did not work; hence the beginning of imposing harsher sentences without the goal of rehabilitation. Martinson’s discredited the goal of rehabilitation of prisoners. In the 1980’s the law and order ‘war on crime’ movement was set into the political agenda. Calling for longer sentences, mandatory time for certain crimes, and drastic penalties for repeat offenders.
http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_pacholke_how_prisons_can_help_inmates_live_meaningful_lives" target="_blank">Pacholke begins his TED Talk summarizing some disparaging facts of the population and demographics of our current prisons. Besides the tremendous numbers of Hispanic and African American imprisoned in today prison system. He also noted that there are more African-Americans imprisoned then there were during slavery in 1850. He briefly provides an overview of the shifts in paradigm from rehabilitating to warehousing of prisoners. He goes on to summarize a university research partnership program which has drastically benefited the prison population in Washington State. This cultural change is reflected in other current prisoner reform programs such as the morality reformation through Bible Study put into effect at Angola State Penitentiary which has resulted in a “85 percent reduction in violence” (Earhart, 2014 p 341). Earhart proposes that “the only way to increase the effectiveness of prisons and the probability of releasing good citizens is to change prison culture” (p 330). Pacholke's talks provides hope that the department of corrections has come to recognize the benefits of positive cultural changes within prisons with the hope of successful rehabilitation of reentry into society.
All rights reserved Copyright © 2014 Jamillah M. Grant
|Posted on July 18, 2014 at 1:55 PM|
Collateral Damage: Guilty by association
Kennedy and Chance (2011) define, “collateral damage is a phrase used to refer to the civilian casualties that inadvertently result from military operations, (p.1)”. The term is also used to refer to the inadvertent damage as a result of mass incarceration which is a result of the war on crime legislation. In military situations causalities to civilians, particularly, women and children are protested by the public. Unfortunately, collateral damage goes unrecognized or unacknowledged by the majority of society when it is associated with incarceration policies. The current carceral system through its unjust sentencing policies not only aggressively multiplies the number of lower income persons (Kennedy and Chance, 2011) but concurrently causes unwarranted stigma and emotional stress to women and children. Gust (2012) found that emotional stress is often felt by the whole family of an incarcerated person due to devious treatment by neighbors, landlords [and employers]. Some landlords refuse to renew lease; some neighbors refuse to interact with you; and [some employers seek reasons to fire you]. Simmons (2011) described this type of occurrences as moral collateral damage. Mothers who are unable to supply funds for basic necessities through Walkenhorst gift packages or payment via J-Pay are financially and emotionally stressed.
In my last blog, I wrote briefly about the collateral damage due to the economic burden of mothers of incarcerated children. In this blog, I highlight only one particular policy that extends stigma and stress. The particular necessity discussed here includes providing stamps, envelopes and paper. The prison will provide stationery, envelopes and a stamp for one letter per month. Stationery for supplied to prisoners are boldly stamped with the words INDIGENT and (Name) STATE PRISON. Otherwise, stationery purchased with the prisoner’s personal funds or supplied by outside sources are discreetly stamped with the name of the institution on the front and/or back of the envelope.
In most neighborhoods, postal personnel often deliver letters to the wrong address. You might discern negative communication has occurred when you observe signs of rejection from the postal personnel and/or neighbors. Your neighbors rush inside and close the door whenever you go outside; children are called into the house if you are gardening; no one speaks to you and invitations to neighborhood parties cease. Gust (2012) explained that families become outcast; lose social capital; acquire inappropriate feelings of guilt; and suffer from depression. Attitudes of the community change from friendliness to hostility. While social stigma is insulting and depressing, the decision of mothers to disconnect from ones offspring in order to be accepted by society is immoral. Disconnection prevents the opportunity of redemption, reformation and recovery.
Gust, L. V. (2012). Can policy reduce the collateral damage caused by the criminal justice system? Strengthening social capital in families and communities. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 82(2), 174-180. doi:10.1111/j.1939-0025.2012.01156.x
Kennedy, J. E. and Chance, M. (2011). Collateral Damage: How Mass Incarceration Increases Poverty and Crime in North Carolina’s Poorest African-American Communities. Trial Briefs. August 2011;15-16
Simmons, M. (2011). Voices on the Outside: Mass Incarceration and the Women Left Behind. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 6(4), 71-83.
Correction on June 18th blog: It was noted that J-Pay electronic fund transfers may be considered misappropriation. The system now allows the purchaser to indicate whether funds should be applied to prisoner’s restitution or prisoner’s spending fund.
All rights reserved Copyright © 2014 Jamillah M. Grant
Collateral Damage: The victimization of mothers of incarcerated children for the profit of entrepreneurial prisons
|Posted on June 18, 2014 at 11:10 AM|
Gust (2009) purports that, “the government has a duty not to harm innocent people,including children of incarcerated parents.” If so, does not this duty apply to parents who are victimized for the crimes of their child? Parents of incarcerated children suffer financial burdens, emotional stress, and ostracism by the policies in place in the penal system (Simmons,2012). Due to the demographics of the prison population as explained in previous blogs, minority mothers are burdened by the judicial system more than any other segment of the population. Added to the burden is their unintentional financial support to a carceral system which is now predominantly run as for profit corporations. This blog will briefly discuss the financial policies that victimizes mothers whose child is in the entrepreneurial carceral system.
One would think that once a child becomes part of thecarceral system their basic needs would be sustained by the carceral system which placed them there. Claims of the unsustainable cost of mass incarceration is becoming more prevalent in the media. Such claims only reports the cost to the government but the undisclosed fact is that whether the prisoner is an adult or under age, mothers are financially burdened. Once incarcerated, children never grow up but rely on their mothers for support to attain their basic needs. Costs deferred to the low income mothers are basic needs such as providing funds for soap, shampoo, deodorant, underwear, socks, coats and shoes. Additionally, the cost of stationary, stamps and envelopes should be included in these basic needs since they establish a means of continual communication between mother and child. Ancillary income for entrepreneurial prisons are established through prison-based commissaries which sell toiletries, junk food, electronics, clothing, coats and shoes. Even gift packages must be purchased through Walkenhorst ,the authorized prison mercantile catalog which offers approved items for purchase depending on the prisoner’s status.
Payments are made to the prisoners' trust account which has been established by the carceral system to accommodate the receipt of funds from mothers,wives, children or other relatives. Since prisoners are not allowed direct access to money, J-Pay an online or on-site banking system provides electronic transfers of funds. The J-Pay system has been established throughout theState, Federal and local prison system. Trust accounts are subject to immediate deduction of retribution payment. This practice ostensibly transfers the cost of retribution to the mothers rather than the prisoner. So, when mothers send funds for their child's basic needs, these needs may not be met. Any monies sent are subject to withdrawal by the prison for payment (an amount determined by the prison) of the prisoner’s debt (retribution). Clearly under the definition of misappropriation, the policies practiced by prisons are an exercise in the misappropriation of funds.
The problem is low income and single-mothers are subsidizing the entrepreneurial imprisonment machine. The government’s duty to do no harm is further circumvented by allowing prisons to charge for sustaining the needs of the mother’s incarcerated child for the profit of an entrepreneurial carceral system.
Gust, L. V. (2012). Can policy reduce the collateral damage caused by the criminal justice system? Strengthening social capital in families and communities. American Journal Of Orthopsychiatry, 82(2), 174-180. doi:10.1111/j.1939-0025.2012.01156.x
Simmons, M. (2011). Voices on the Outside: Mass Incarceration and the Women Left Behind. International Journal Of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 6(4), 71-83.
All rights reserved Copyright © 2014 Jamillah M. Grant
|Posted on May 20, 2014 at 1:15 PM|
Reentry support should include assistance with housing, employment, education,mentoring, substance abuse; and mental health treatments. The concept that, it takes a village to affect change can also be applied to the recidivism dilemma. Governments across the country have formed organizations toaccess the thousands of dollars available through the Second Chance Act. In other words, reentry organizations have been formed by Department of Corrections which offer transitional pre and post release programs.
Collaboration of government and non-profit partners have shown to be effective in several cities across the nation. For example; Minnesota Department of Corrections hasa twelve month pre-release program which includes a six month transition period. Minnesota Department of Corrections works with community agents and community providers to develop a release plan based on risk and needs. Minnesota’s program addresses, pro-social skills development; educational programming mental health and substance abuse; cognitive behavioral treatment interventions job readiness services and motivational interviewing. Oakland,California Comprehensive Community Cross System Reentry Support project partners with community based organizations to assess risk levels and menta lhealth needs. In Oakland, community based case managers rather than correctional organizations provide pre and postrelease. The most successful reentry programs involve community service providers as a component prisoner releaseplans. Michigan has a 13 week training where recently release persons havetraining to prepare for a career in manufacturing. This training also includes soft skills; communication and situational problem-solving. Ohio has three types of community basedorganizations; one to one mentoring, group mentoring and peer mentoring. Theprogram is administered pre and post release. Community mentors act as advocates for their recently released mentees.They communicate with social workers, parole officers, and families on theirbehalf. Responsivity to the program is high with 76 percent maintaining mentoring relationship after the end of the program and their return to the community.
It is evident based on these programs, that community non-profits agencies are instrumental in reducing recidivism and a key component to their success. There are positive results when reentry programs include initiatives that involve pro-social activities, employment, substance abuse treatment and mentoring.
Justice Center: The Council of State Governments. Reentry Matters:Strategies and Successes of Second Chance Act Grantees Across the United States.National Reentry Resource Center. November 2013
All rights reserved Copyright © 2014 Jamillah M. Grant