faith

Twenty Years Later: A Reflection

As I reflect on the last 20 years, I am more than disheartened and ashamed about what our nation has become. The moment that the first plane hit, what we thought as our worst fear occurred. Attack from the outside. An attack by those that have, for years, screamed “Death to America”. The attack was meant for the three biggest symbols of American Superiority in the world: our financial status, our military strength, and our seat of freedom. Two of those got hit. The latter was saved by brave American citizens that said “not on my watch”. True American domestic heroes lost their lives, along with the innocent that day. But what came from it in the terms of American brotherhood, love of neighbor, and the American Spirit only lasted for a moment.

President Bush did the right thing in going after those that were committed to bring America to her knees. As well as those that aided them. But in doing so, he placed this nation into the same category as those we have always sworn to fight and defeat. He curtailed civil liberty for a sense of protection. Founding father Benjamin Franklin said that a person who gives up civil liberty for security, deserve neither. How prophetic that statement was.

Both Patriot Acts diminished civil liberties. It brought an allowance to the NSA to eavesdrop without warrants on whom they wished, created free speech zones, and allowed some forms of non-allowance of Constitutional protections. All in the name of security. He then allowed the CIA to run black ops detainment, transferred captives to foreign nations for torture, and failed to conform to the Geneva Convention and international law. We have seen this in Abu Grhaib prison and Gitmo. For those who do not know about the Geneva Convention or international law during war: enemy combatants (the enemy) when captured are to be given quarter, treated with human rights, and not tortured. We became that which have always fought.

President Obama fared little better. Promise after promise were broken on the war front. His failure to approval to close Gitmo and transfer those held into any type of court. And because of his judgments and the end of the Iraq war, Al Qaeda came back stronger as the Islamic State. He did keep the promise to eliminate the 9/11 mastermind.

On the home front, he helped the nation weather the financial crash. Many did not agree with how it was done, but by the end of his term, the economy was back on an upswing. A big issue in his administration was domestically. While anti-Islam sentiment started because of 9/11, he also ended up feeling the bite of it. He suffered for two reason from those that opposed him. The first was his name and the fact he was raised in a predominately Muslim nation. But that needs to be placed where it was rightful to do so, his mother’s love for the men she married. The second was the color of his skin. From the beginning of his campaign and through the end of his second term, he face faced some rightful criticism. But he also faced a hatred no other president had. Solely, because of these two things.

In comes President Trump. A businessman that had no business in the top elected position of this nation. His decisions only inflamed the nation. For those on the liberal side of political thought, he placed a ban on all Muslims and Islamic nation from US entry. Including Muslim Americans, Middle Eastern Americans, refugees, etc. He then further inflamed the liberal society by attacking immigrants that weren’t predominately European. Going so far as calling all Latinos as murders, drug dealers and rapists. And yes, while a few may have slipped through the cracks, the majority were seeking what all those that have come to this nation have sought: freedom from fear and death. He even attacked DACA recipients. You know, those that were either born or brought here without proper paperwork through no real choice of their own.

He also inflamed the right. he brought out underlying prejudices and hates that, while always present, were kept dormant for the most part. But his rhetoric of distrust of the minority communities brought to a head, clashes between the left and the right of our society in ways that have not been seen since the civil rights marches. He called members of extreme militias and white power racists good people. Seriously? His four years became more of a dystopian surrealistic nightmare that even George Orwell hadn’t seen coming. His rhetoric (speeches, tweets, etc) had brought back in force, what we as a nation thought was about gone.

I do not condone the extreme riots of places like Ferguson, Seattle, and Minneapolis. Nor do I condone the violence of places like Baltimore. The extremes on both sides were fed one way or the other into becoming what they did. Violent and extreme radical terrorists. Those communities had a reason for their discontent, a desire to see the end of an oppressive system that saw their members getting wrongly executed. And yes, before you crucify me for being ‘woke’ (I’m a realist with a brain and the ability to research), I believe that a person has a right to plead their case in court for any alleged crime. And a non-violent traffic stop or a non-confrontational issue is NOT a reason for someone to lose their life. Different minorities still face oppressive issues that will not be dealt with until two things happen. The first is this, both sides need to learn to shut up and listen to the reasons for discontent. The second is that the violent actions need to cease because the message gets lost in the violence. And while it was starting to rear its head in the Obama administration, that dragon came full force and spewing fire in the Trump administration. Why? Because Trump was, and is, an opportunist that has the ability to read people and play them for his benefit. It worked in business, it worked in television, and the last few years has shown that it worked in politics.

From calling the election as stolen, before the election had even occurred, to the speech that fired up the crowd just before they did the unthinkable. They listened to his rhetoric, used it to boost their own inaccuracies and prejudices and attacked the seat of the political process. Even, at times, calling for Vice President to be brought out to be executed. Like I said, even Orwell didn’t see it this bad. We won’t even talk about his actions and coercion of the masses, or their inability to actually research the science of the pandemic themselves. And we continually fight this ignorance even now.

President Biden, in his first year (so far) has made an error or two. The issues of mandates and vaccinations to curb the virus isn’t once of them. The biggest is without doubt, the ending of the war in Afghanistan. I’ll put this out there, we needed out of that situation. In withdraws, he made the right decision in deciding to leave. How he did it, is properly in question. However, not all of it is his fault. Trump, in his last year of office, negotiated with the enemy Taliban leadership. Going as far as to push other nations into releasing certain key members of the ruling Taliban cadre. He set an inoperable time frame for with draw that Biden had to extend. Yes, mistakes were made. Horrible ones. But, Biden allowed the blame of it all to rest squarely on his shoulders. Something his predecessor never would have done.

The last two decades have brought out the best and the worst in this nation. But the worst has steamrolled the best into a small speck of time. I love my country. And most of the citizenry here are honest, hard working, and generally speaking are honorable. But those that aren’t get the media coverage and the rhetoric. We are better than this. While we still have a way to go on many issues, given the chance, we will get those dealt with as well.

May the souls of those lost on 9/11 and since find the peace they didn’t find on this rock. To the heroes that lived and those that sacrificed all on that dark day 20 years ago……Thank you for showing what the American Spirit is about. For those that fought and those who never made it home, our nation owes you so much for answering the call to duty.

May God once again bless this nation.

Standard
faith

CHRISTIANS AND NON-CHRISTIANS, WE NEED TO DO BETTER

Time to possibly upset a few folks. And that’s fine. While watching a few YouTube videos today, I was amazed at a few things. I’ll address each and then put some finally things I would enjoy seeing within the Christian community.

Television’s Prosperity Preachers have long been a mainstay for religious programming. From the Bakers to Kenneth Copeland and Price to one of my old favorites, Parsley. While some truth may be in their messages, the way they go about business is sinful in itself. This whole “send me your seed (money) and God will work wonders in your life”. How about this one? Kenneth Copeland said last year, since he spoke from the office of a prophet, HE not God, eradicated Covid. Mr. Copeland, seems to me that you placed yourself on the level of God himself. That is a no-no. And to prove it, Covid is still here.

Another thing I found was a Tik Tok of a woman that says White Christianity promotes a rape culture. She used the Blessed Virgin Mary as an example. Her statement was that God raped Mary because Mary didn’t give permission. I truly hope nobody listened to that to closely. Here’s why. 30And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

33And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

34Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

38And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.  Luke 1:30-35,38

She DID give permission. So much for the rape allegation.

Another issue I have is speaking in tongues. While I believe it does occur “To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:” 1 Corinthians 12:10, it doesn’t happen like most churches and television preaching that have, portray it. “But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God” 1 Corinthians 14:28.

Another issue I have is this. Christians…..nobody likes being yelled at, talked down to, or treated like a child. So stop it. You know why church attendance doesn’t gain new people? You either scare them, bully them, or show no respect. I have found myself from time to time doing the same thing until I realized  that Jesus the Christ didn’t do it that way. He didn’t say to be perfect to come to him. He said come. He allowed the freedom of joy to accept or reject the message. As did the Apostles after His going up. Problem today is that Christians have become vehement and hateful. Did you ever hear the adage ‘you get more flies with honey than with vinegar’? Be nice. You’ll get farther. Will they make a decision to follow Jesus through the pearly gates? I don’t know, that’s up to them. But they will be more willing to listen to the message if you’re nice and treat them with the respect they deserve as a human being. Just food for thought. Remember, you have the order to hate the sin, but are commanded to love the sinner. “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:” James 2:8

Now, Catholic and Protestant parishioners. Hear is something to think about. Get your ‘I’m gonna be mad’ hat on. This is for you.

I am a convert to the Catholic Church. I didn’t say to the faith of Christianity. Why? Simple. I’m a Christian first, Catholic second. This is how we all should be as followers of the Christ. The sign outside the building isn’t going to get you into heaven. God isn’t going to give one ounce of thought of what your religion is. He will base it on your Christian FAITH. Religion has a tendency to get in the way of faith. Church rules and politics play a central part in Wesleyan, Baptist, Catholic, or Orthodox. BUT, it’s your faith that truly makes you follow the Christ and do the will of the Father.

As I said, I am a convert to the Catholic Church. I made that step in 1999. Here’s something most Catholics get wrong……….the Pope (as much as I love and admire him), isn’t God. Like Billy Graham for the Protestant church, the Pope is an authority on the faith. That’s it. He does get things wrong (Pachamama). We are to check the teachings and direction of our leaders of the faith with Scripture.

Now, quite yelling back and forth about the veneration of the saints and Mary. Even the Protestant bible speaks of both. For taking Mary, the Blessed Virgin, in as our mother “When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son!Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.” John 19:26-27

We ask our earthly mothers for advice, guidance, and help. Why wouldn’t you ask the mother of Jesus the Christ, as our spiritual mother the same?

Now for the saints. The saints are those that have gone on and left this rock. Even Jesus sought them for guidance. Don’t believe me? “And after six days Jesus taketh with him Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them. And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them. And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.” Mark 9:2-5

If Jesus can get guidance from those that have moved on, why can’t we. For the saints and the Blessed Mother, it is NOT worship but guidance, aid, and veneration. These men and women who led lives that mirrored Jesus and the Apostles need to be looked up to and venerated. They are examples of how we should live.

Now, Catholics it’s your turn. Coming up Protestant and being that way until I was 29. I listened to and watched preachers like Billy Graham and my pastor, Richard Diesler. I attended church not caring about the sign that divided the faithful into Wesleyan, Baptist, or Lutheran. I cared about the message I was suppose to hear for that sermon. I studied the messages of people like Charles Finney and John Wesley. And listened to old radio sermons from people like Billy Sunday, William Branahm and yes, Bishop Fulton Sheen. Even as a Protestant, I admired the Pope (PJP2) on an even scale as Billy Graham. I understood that both of these men were inspired and led by God.

I feel comfortable going to a Protestant church (although I will not take communion there) but the Catholic Church is my home because of the Eucharist. And no need to debate the bread and wine of communion, it is what it always has been, the Body and Blood of the Christ. I do see the need for Protestants to start understanding a few things like confession. Christ gave that ability to His Apostles to forgive or retain sins. It’s biblical, and since those men holding Holy Orders are the physical and spiritual descendants of the Apostles, they have that ability. BUT, I don’t always go to confession with a priest. Why? Simple. I have no issue with asking God directly for forgiveness. I do go to confession from time to time. Usually around Christmas and Easter. But I don’t feel the need to always go when I can speak to the manager (that’s for all the Kares).

But, I also see a few things that the Catholic Church could incorporate into the Mass. We will not debate Novous Ordo vs Traditional here. I fully believe that both have their place in the Church, that both are valis, and there should be no restrictions on either.

I feel that healing services should be held if needed. I have seen the power of the laying on of hands. Christ and the Apostles did it, and it works. I have seen the healing of body and soul with that touch in faith.

Another thing that would benefit the Catholic Church is a bit of Hellfire and Brimstone preaching for the homily. Catholics don’t like the emotionalism that goes with it, but  getting in that spirit of Pentecost and knowing you’re being healed, saved, and/or guided by the Holy Spirit is an emotional thing.

Also, I enjoy the liturgical music and Benedictine chants, and that is beautiful during the Eucharist. But for the style of hymns at the beginning and end of service, not so much. Hearing hymns like ‘Leaning on the Ever Lasting Arms, Power in the Blood, Gather at the River, and In the Sweet By and By’ bring tears to my eyes. Because they fill me with a spirit of knowing I’m going home someday. The worst for me is ‘A Sinner Saved by Grace’. It reminds me that ‘But for the grace of God, there go I’. We need that in the Catholic Church.

These are a few things to think about. My opinions, but backed by the Holy Scriptures. We have to do better as children of Almighty God.  If we fight and don’t listen to each other as Christians, yell and scream at the non-Christian, and blindly follow a teacher, preacher, prophet, or priest then we have already lost the battle of the righteous King.

Standard
Uncategorized

Finance in Ethical Social Change

Finance in Ethical Social Change

Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) started in 2007 and gave six principles in finance that can help with positive societal change (Six Principles, 2007). These six principles were developed in conjunction with the United Nations Global Compact. They include: Purpose, Values, Method, Research, Partnership, and Dialogue. The group was initially formed by the top leaders in financial education.

The first step in this global change is education. Without today’s and tomorrow’s students being properly trained in how to use finance for this endeavor, the sought change will not occur. Aflatoun International did a study on how to make societal changes through education (Kaat & Sulava, 2015). They made these points:

Many see finance and investment as an enemy to real social change and progress (Harries, 2015). Despite unease in the social change community, there is a place for social investment. Besides the capital investments made, those investing have a wealth of knowledge to impart. They understand the policy process and have worked with decision makers. This is an open doorway that social change leaders should work with.

There are many cases of where finance has aided in social change throughout the world (Trahant, 2016). In 2012, the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment showed #3.31 Trillion dollars in US assets were handled by 443 investors and 272 market managers. There were also 1,043 community investment institutions that used the Environmental, Social, and Governance criteria (ESG) in their investment portfolios. By 2015, sustainable investment funds exceed the median returns of the traditional equity funds. Since 1990, the MSCI KLD 4000 Social Index fund outperformed the Standard and Poor 500.

Millennials that invest are growing and investing more. Ninety percent have stated they would change brands from their mom and dad era favorites to those that had a social cause attached. These investments aid people like:

Better Ventures – They invest $100,000 or more to tech firm startups that have a priority in social and environmental change.

Acumen & Root Capital – They invest in local communities, leaders, and citizens in the world’s poorest areas.

United Nations Social Impact Fund – This group brings together private donators and commerce capital to aid innovation in the world’s toughest socio-economic and ecological issues.

With the proper education in finance and the training in social equity and equality, the financial sector can make huge impacts in leveling the playing fields the world over. Louisville, Kentucky is a city that has seen the mix of community change and finance (Fischer, 2018). The administration recognized that every person mattered and was connected. The mayor stated that all health (mental, physical, environmental, and financial) is imperative for social change. He also said that continual learning is needed for society to succeed. The mayor started his 2nd term in 2015. He was awarded with the 2013 Public Official of the Year by Governing Magazine. He has been the only US mayor to earn the award.The Dali Lama said, “It is not enough to be compassionate. You must act.” (15 Inspirational Quotes for a Social Worker, 2018). To act a person, group, or government must be willing to invest in the future. This means finance for change. The heart may be willing, but without any financial support for social programs, the programs are doomed to failure.

15 Inspirational Quotes for Social Workers. (2018). Tulane University. Retrieved from https://socialwork.tulane.edu/blog/15-inspirational-quotes-for-social-workers 

Fischer, G. (2018). Louisville’s “Culture of Compassion”: A Model for Community-based Financial Empowerment. What It’s Worth. Retrieved from http://www.strongfinancialfuture.org/essays/model-for-community-based-financial-empowerment/

Harries, R. (2015). Supporting Social Change: The Role Of Social Investment (December Report). Retrieved from Collaborate CIC : https://www.scrt.scot/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/Supporting-Social-Change-_-The-Role-of-Social-Investment-Dec-15.pdf 

Kaat, A. & Sulava, K. (2016). Inspiring Change in Children and Youth through Social and Financial Education Globally. Together with Roma, We will Achieve More, p 44-52. Retrieved from https://www.aflatoun.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Inspiring-Change-in-Children-and-Youth-through-Social-and-Financial-Education-Globally-EN.pdf 

Six Principles. (2007). PRME. Retrieved from http://www.unprme.org/about-prme/the-six-principles.php Trahant, G. (2016). 24 Financial Ventures Changing the World Through Social Impact Investing. Cause. Retrieved from http://www.causeartist.com/changing-the-world-through-social-impact-investing/

Standard
Uncategorized

Critical Race Theory, My Interpretation

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

How de-evolved has society and humanity gotten? Seriously. While going over news reports today, I keep running into one story after another that makes me wonder how we ever survived until this point in history. When are people, both left and right, going to grow the hell up and act like adults.

All of this fighting over ideological differences, instead of acting like the adults you are suppose to be, does three things: continually disenfranchises different social groups and communities, destroys economic ability to make things better in those communities, and drives our society further into another dark age.

Buckle up cupcake. It’s going to be a bumpy ride through my assessment.

Critical Race Theory. This is NOT new. The original CRT was written in the 1970s. Why are we just now hearing about it? Simple. It is time to open the wounds of a nation’s sins to light. Are those sins real? Yes they are. From the founding of our nation where a person of color was labeled as 2/3 of a person to emancipation releasing the ownership and forced labor of slaves to the introduction of forced labor within the prison system (mostly former slaves) to lynchings across the nation.

Now, I understand I’ll be labeled many derogatory things for my views, and that’s fine. Because only someone with no heart, no intelligence, and a whole lot of self loving arrogance will use vehement wording and emotion to counter a truth they don’t like. Let’s dive in and let the hate begin.

CRT has areas of contention against the status quo. And while most understand this to be about the black community, it also represents the arrogance of all members and communities of our society that have felt the rage, control, and hatred of the powers that have always been.

The idea that racism is ordinary not aberrational. By ordinary, the concept means built within the system of governance in the forms of redlining, education, social services, medical and legal services, to mention just a few. Guess what, the writer was right. All of these areas were (and still are) issues that need addressed and eradicated.

Redlining, for those that don’t know, is the process of mapping areas that separate certain social groups and social communities from being able to receive the same benefits as others. Termed redlining, this separation was mapped with a red line of ‘they don’t belong this side of the stop line’ mentality. This started with housing and financial ability to keep the black community away fro those that wrote the rules. While we still see it today in housing and financial sectors, we now see it in the redistricting of voting ability.

Minorities (not just the black community) feel this in other areas as well. Minority schools and educational districts are highly underfunded in both educational material and infrastructure. They also have worse education, employment, and medical ability rates than their white counterparts.

The idea of interest convergence. Convergence means when to things come together. This part of CRT is simple. Minority communities only get their protected rights when the interest of the white controlling powers meets up with the interest of the minority community. Using that idea with the 1960s and the Civil Rights movement and Civil Right Act, this is pretty accurate. Post WWII, despite helping to end the madmen of the Axis powers, white soldiers cam back to abilities in housing, education, and work. Minority soldiers (despite being hailed as heroes by people like the French) came back to the same old same old. Back of the bus, can’t live in this area, and lynched for actions against the white majority. The Montgomery Bus Boycott started the ball rolling (a small bit) by shutting down a public transit system. Men Like MLK, Medgar Evers, and John Lewis put their lives on the line to end the white only/black only segregation. Selma, Birmingham, Greensboro. These names and places are equated with the Civil Rights movement. So are groups like the Black Panthers. What won these rights in 1964? The fact that white America was financially draining itself fighting these battles. The convergence? The rights of education, riding in the front, eating at the counter, and voting converged with the semblance of a peaceful period that allowed the white powers of government to say, see, we did it.

Social construction of race. This one is easy. The term colorblind doesn’t help any issues. Here’s why. To be colorblind, two things need to occur. The first is recognition of color. Second, the misunderstanding that color equates to a person’s humanity and ability. Both of these ideas mean one thing to those that use the term, color does matter. Being that color is just pigmentation (melanin levels) that has evolved depending on the part of the world a person or a group of people live in, what needs to be seen is the value of the person or people. So, someone is black, brown, olive, white, etc should be the last thing seen. Here’s why. Each ethnic group, each country of citizens not only have worth (which for some is a foreign concept) but their diversity adds flavor to a society and culture that would be drab without it. Think of it this way. Non-European peoples gave us things we take for granted every day. From the stop light and medicines to food, music, art, literature. There is not one facet of American life that hasn’t been forged, incorporated, enjoyed, or treasured by those original people’s  brought it. The diversity that each culture has brought to these shores (and those already here) should be honored and celebrated. But, because those that brought these things to our culture and made our lives better are of a different nationality, different skin tone, different language, different faith, we see the product as great but the producer as less. And because they are thought of as less, people treat their pets better than they treat another human being. To see them as human and worthy of respect, means those that don’t (those in power) would have to look at themselves and the system and admit it’s wrong, it harms, and needs changed.

Story telling and counter-story telling. This part is easy to figure out. Each side has a story. The side of the minority communities is simple. The oppression through the time of the nation (colonial to now) has been one of oppression of the controlling power over the other. From indentured servitude and slavery to attempted genocide and lack of protected rights. The minority has tried to tell its story to closed ears of those that make law and policy. The counter-story is the one spoke of in the history books and permeating through the halls of political power. This side of the story is rather arrogant and self-promoting. it goes in stages. Emancipation was stage one. Look, we made them a free people, yeah for us. 1964 was stage two. Look, we made them equals on the surface, yeah for us. The Obama presidency was stage three. Look, we elected the first black president. Yeah for us, look how far we have come. What this story doesn’t say is that the majority of legislation is only window dressing. No real substance for these stories because, while legal, they do not present the unseen.

White Power. This is one area that combines a few things. It combines a white superiority complex and institutionalized white supremacy. The prior is the reason for the latter. As already mentioned above, when the nation was founded, the black community was denied its right to humanity by being classified as only 2/3 human. This allowed the concept of property over humanity. And amazingly enough, Jewish-Christian ideology played into this. Misunderstanding of some scripture equated black with sin and unrighteousness. Meaning unworthiness. And since Jesus didn’t specifically say to end slavery, but said for the master to treat the slave properly and the slave to obey his master, those claiming Christianity used those concepts to commit genocide of the ‘heathens’ and enslavement of those deemed unworthy to be counted as human. This superiority complex lead to inherent and institutionalized dogma within governmental and business operations. From redlining in housing while districting communities, to dis-allowance of basic rights and protections. From white only seats and water fountains to sundown towns (officially ended in the 60s but unofficially hasn’t ended). From the slave fields to overused incarcerations.

There would be no need of special education weeks and/or months for minority groups if history was properly taught. Meaning the whole truth no matter how brilliant or ugly it is. Marches and protests wouldn’t required if the powers that be would have listened and since our founding and had not labeled the black community as 2/3 human. Less non-violent incarcerated and less police involved shootings would occur if the powers that be would not always see the members of the black community the same way that they always have.

I don’t agree with the forced removal of monuments or logo icons. I don’t agree with the burning of cities. I don’t see every police shooting as justified (most aren’t when perpetrated against minorities). I see issues with both sides of the discussion. What I do understand is this. People will only redress grievances peacefully as long as they are being heard. And at a point when that isn’t being heard, more has to be done to draw attention to those grievances. We saw this the uprisings around the Middle East when the people were tired of their oppressive governments. We see it in places like France when the agricultural community needed to be heard. It was only a fallacy to think it wouldn’t eventually happen here.

Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tamir Rice didn’t deserve the end of their lives that they received. These lives, and countless others, fell to a highly flawed system of bad training, lack of humanity, and the inherent ideas of superiority. While groups like the Proud Bois are allowed to to do as they will, a group like the NFAC was condemned for using their Constitutional protections of the 1st and 2nd Amendments.

Changes need to be made in every facet of American life and some systems need to be restructured. But the first thing that truly needs to happen is simple. The powers that be on all levels, from the federal government to the local business need to finally SHUT UP AND LISTEN!

Minority communities have valid grievances. They have for centuries. It’s time to listen. CRT was developed to announce those grievances, define them, and work toward fixing them (truly fixing them). Hatred is a learned and taught trait. The teaching of CRT to the next generation tries to change that trait. Tries to fix it.

Standard
Uncategorized

BS Aside

Stop The BS and Become A Great Nation.

This post is going to be more personal and less informative. I have to get a few things off my chest. If it upsets you, pisses you off, or makes you think different of me, so be it.

While I was brought up Protestant and converted to Roman Catholic, I have had issues with church law over the years. I don’t condemn anyone’s faith or belief system for a few reasons. The first being, believe as you feel is right for you. Nobody knows what truly happens at death of this body. We can all have ideas based on our individual belief systems. But in reality, all faiths tend to borrow from others. And what happens in the next phase of life is truly open to interpretation.

So, let’s get to the meat of the meal. I have people I talk to from all demographics. Some I consider family. So let’s talk about faith for a minute. I have friends that are all manners of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, etc. A couple of these I consider family. And if anyone knows me, knows if you mess with family I get dark. I have no issue going after someone who has hurt my family. And you must remember, family isn’t always blood. And neither of the three Abrahamic faiths are without blood. There are extremists in every faith. I choose those I accept and deny those I don’t. Whether you wear a cross, crucifix, yamaka, or hijab, if you are close enough to me to have my loyalty, then you are family.

Next on the agenda is the war on the LGTBQIA. I fought against it for quite a while. Never denying a friendship but following the edicts of faith. Until I saw what that was doing to my child. I have a transdaughter and proudly say it. My ignorance and blind faith led her to being so alienated that she wanted to end it. It was then that I knew the protection and happiness of my child came first. And if the judgment day has me facing charges for that, I will smile and say I did what I had to do.

Too many of our youth are being alienated to the point of suicide. For what? For a political structure that is hateful? For the ‘loving faithful’ that sooner condemns than loves? Here’s a hint. Come after mine or let her tell me someone hurt her because of her identity, and not even God will find all the pieces.

Cancel Culture. While I do not agree nor condone the removal of statues and names, the burning of cities, etc., I do understand the concept of being pushed to far. When things get to that point and those grievances are denied or scoffed, people react. And for those who still say things like racism doesn’t exist at a systematic level, one of two things are to be said. The person saying it wants the status quo or they are ignorant. One only has to look through history in this nation. From the genocide against the indigenous to slavery and Jim Crow to Japanese internment camps, the evidence is there. It takes a hell of a set of blinders not to see something is seriously wrong.

Call me a liberal or a snowflake. No biggie. I’m conservative on some things, liberal on some things, and a moderate most of the time. Just like burning down city blocks in protest, the run on the Capitol needs dealt with. Quickly and harshly. And for those MAGA wearing, Trump butt plugs that think the Don is God, Take a Valium and get some sleep, you’re delusional. He was a crook as a business man, a buffoon as a tv star, and except for a couple good things economy wise, a failure in the office.

I believe in Constitutional protections. FOR EVERYBODY, whether you agree with them or not. I believe everyone from the student and teacher, klan and panthers, to the liberal and conservative have the full right to speak their peace. Same with assembly and protest. Time honored traditions. I believe in both parts of the second amendment. But as for a free for all mentality, its bullshit. Military style weapons aren’t needed for the street. I do well with what I have because I can hit a target. I believe in universal background checks because not everyone has the mental capacity to own a firearm. But I also believe in the need for protection of life.

I don’t believe in abolishing the PD across the country. They are needed because not every situation can be stopped with a ‘please don’t do that’. I do believe in rerouting some funding, better de-escalation training, mental health training, Human Rights and Constitutional law training for officers. And before you yell and scream, read over my ‘Numbers Don’t Tell the Whole Story’ article on police shootings.

The whole criminal justice system needs reworked. From better sentencing that is more equal for the crimes committed, not using prison and jail as a mental health warehouse, to elimination of incarceration for low level non-violent crimes, and better community programs that help educate, train, counsel, individuals so they can be in society. The recidivism rates are high because once released, former inmates are left to fend for themselves in a society that doesn’t give them opportunities upon release.

Last point is immigration. This one is simple. Read the poem on the Statue of Liberty. It is the beckoning to the hopeless, homeless, and displaced. We are all immigrants that came here somehow. The whole assimilate into society is a fallicy. If you don’t believe me, look at major cities. Chinatown, Koreatown, Little Italy, Little Havana, etc. The thing that will make this failing nation great is to see the strengths of our diversity. A single culture is never perfect or has strength in everything. What one part of our culture lacks in, another group has strength.

Here is my last piece of advice. Start learning from each other. Start helping each other. Start loving each other. We are stronger, better, and happier when we work, live and play together.

Standard
Uncategorized

Christian Misunderstood History and Arrogance.

I’ll start out by saying this. I grew up in the protestant church (not faith) until 1996 when I was saved. In 1998 I became Roman Catholic. I still am. And over time, I learned that Christians can be some of the most hateful, hurtful, and unloving people on the planet. Unusual since the whole concept is love for God and mankind. I’ll be showing history, misconception, and how the followers of Christ have forgotten the only commands that Jesus the Christ actually gave.

This is not written with the intent of causing a hellfire and brimstone debate, but it probably will. But facts are facts and should not be ignored. I’ll present the facts as I always do. You interpret however you so choose.

Issues in Christian Teachings

Creation

Everyone who has read the Old Testament or the Torah, knows that there are two creation stories. The first tells of Adam and his wife (not named until the Jewish writer of the Alphabet of Ben Sira called her Lilith) being made from the dirt of the ground and being placed in the Garden of Eden. This creation shows man and woman as equals. The second story of creation has Adam being put to sleep, a bone being removed, and his wife being made from it. She was named Eve. The forming of Eve from Adam shows woman subservient to man. These were not parts of the same story. They were two different creations of man and woman.

The reason this is mentioned here is to show that by the time Cain was sent from his home, there were already people on the Earth. And since their were only four recorded people (Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel) at that point (Abel already being killed), where did the others come from? They would have been the offspring of Adam’s first wife. “If thou castest me out this day from the face of the earth, and I shall be hidden from thy presence, and I shall be groaning and trembling upon the earth, then it will be that any one that finds me shall slay meAnd the Lord God said to him, Not so, any one that slays Cain shall suffer seven-fold vengeance; and the Lord God set a mark upon Cain that no one that found him might slay him.” (Genesis 4:14-15) 

Multiple Gods

Most Christians believe in one god. In fact, all three faiths that come from Abraham have this belief. However, that is never told in the scripture used by the Christian believer. The scriptures say God is the one true god “Now this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God” (John 17:3). But nowhere does it say that He is the ONLY god. In fact, the Old Testament makes clear that there was more than one. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:2-3). Now, many will say that what was meant were idols used by pagans. However, Exodus 20:4-6 covers idols. The scriptures also talk about other gods. “Now therefore, summon to me all the prophets of Ba’al, all his servants, and all his priests” (2 Kings 10:19).

Virgin Birth

We know the Christian story of the birth of Jesus. Virgin birth. However, when looking into antiquity, Virgin births were mentioned in many theistic societies. Rome had Remus and Romulus born of the Virgin Rhea Silvia. Egypt had Ra, the sun  god was born from the virgin Net, Horus of the virgin Isis. The Phrygo-Roman god Attis was born of the virgin Nana (December 25). Interesting enough, Attis was put to death and resurrected. Greece had a few. Dionysos was born to a virgin (two different names given), Jason was born to the virgin Persephone, and Plato to virgin Perictione. Almost every faith system has a virgin birth.

Reincarnation 

When you say reincarnation, the thought is of Hindu or Buddhism. But in fact the Jewish people believed in reincarnation. It is spoke of in the Jewish Kabbalah. And in the New Testament, that belief can be seen in the story of John the Baptist. After asking if John was the Messiah, he said no. “And they asked him: What then? Art thou Elijah, he said no.” (John 1:21). By asking if he was Elijah, they were determining if John was Elijah reincarnated. It isn’t logical if they were asking if he was a ghost of the prophet.

Attitudes of the Modern Christian

The arrogance of the Christian has been seen throughout history. From the Inquisitions and witch hunts, to the assaults against scientific endeavors, and to the Catholic schools for the Indigenous children. Christians have forced their faith upon those not wanting it or the Catholic Church forcing Church doctrine of non-Catholic Christians. And before anyone screams, yes other faiths have done the same. Doesn’t make it right or moral.

The Christ gave two commandments and a mission. He also abolished the law by taking all of its punishments onto Himself. And with these, the arrogance of Christians can be seen. The abolishment of the law leads to the new mission presented by the Christ. Instead of the Jewish belief of following all the laws (the 10 Commandments and Levitical law) the Christ told his followers to preach one thing. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20). What is not mentioned is making everybody follow the laws nor shaming them or condemning them. And we see all of these. We are to judge in love, not condemn in righteous fury. Another statement made by the Christ needs to be inserted here. “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Matthew 7:1-3).

The two commandments he gave are these. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31).

Were are to preach Christ crucified and resurrected, speak of the teachings and miracles, and nothing else. Not once did He mention how to dress, whom to love, tattoos, or many other issues that Christians seem to have. My grandmother used to say that you get more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. In other words, speak nicely. What gives any right for a Christian to tell anyone that they will go to Hell and burn. Do you have that authority? Do you have the ability to see someone’s soul? If you do, then you should be in heaven at this point, not walking the earth.

Yes we are to call them to repentance. But lovingly. And without arrogance and malice. That woman you scream at for abortion (and yes I believe abortion to be murder) should be loved, not hated. First we don’t know the reason. And despite the reason, they will need a loving person to talk to. That biker with all the tattoos, his body will be perfected when the time comes. That member of the LGTBQ+ community, can’t just shut off what they believe is true. They need someone to understand and love them. This I know through experience. Not being accepted cause severe depression, self harm, and suicide. Telling them they are going to burn in hell, doesn’t help and pushes the farther over the edge. Especially if it comes from family (the ones who are suppose to love them unconditionally). And as Christians, we are to show the love of Christ. The love that nailed Him to the Cross. The love that understood and had compassion for all mankind despite them being unworthy of that love.

Christians today, want someone to become what they think someone needs to be. Doesn’t work that way. Because if it did 2000 years ago, we’d all be screwed.Not everything is as you think and not everyone is how you see them.

I truly believe that we will be judged on how we love. How we love God and how we love each other. Remember, you aren’t nor have been perfect. Act like a child of God, not His hammer. And also remember this, many on the amen pew or at Eucharist will be walked through the gates of Hell.

Standard
Uncategorized

A Failure to Care

In recent weeks, it has been seen in the news that multiple indigenous child graves have been found in Canada. These graves are the result of forced removal of indigenous children from their homes and placement in religious (usually Catholic) boarding schools. This article will touch on four categories of injustice forced upon indigenous peoples by those of European heritage that persists even now.

This article will highlight broken treaties, forced removal of children, biological warfare against the indigenous, and the lack of consideration for modern missing and murdered indigenous. The evils of these are coming to light, and the ones that aren’t on current radar nationally, will be highlighted and noted so they can be seen, understood, and humanity rise to the occasion and help change the status quo.

Let me make this straight at the beginning. If it gets heralded in any way, that means the article hits where it should in truth. And in doing so, it will get hate as well. Hate from those that feel as if they are being railed against. Some call that hatred white privilege. Some call it extremism. I cal it for what it is. A grand desire to not see the truth because it makes you question yourself, your beliefs, and your place in our society. But the truth always has been, and will always be, ugly to those that choose not to see it as it is.

Broken Promises

From two years after the American colonies voted to end rule by England until six years after thw end of the Civil War, Treaties have been made and broken by the US government to the Nations that lived here upon European arrivals. The list will be in the links listed at the end of the post. The first official treaty was in 1778 with the Lenape (Delaware) People. Despite the treaty (used for protection against the British), US militiamen killed almost 100 of the Lenape in 1872. More European descendants moved in, and with the Greeneville Treay of 1795, the Lenape were forced to cede the majority of their land.

This is only once instance of forced removal. Other broken treaties not only removed the Nations to small areas of land, but with it removed some people from recognition. Here in Indiana, despite the tradition of new Chiefs, the only recognized Myaamiaki (Miami) people are located in Oklahoma. The Indiana Myaamiaki were recognized until 1897. At that time, they were stripped of federal recognition. And in Kekionga was renamed Fort Wayne in honor of General ‘Mad’ Anthony Wayne around 1794.

We are reminded from time to time in history classes about the Trail of Tear,and Wounded Knee (where babies were bashed with boots and rifle stocks, and the tribe decimated). In Marion Indiana, they celebrate the War of 1812, the last attempt of the Myaamiaki to run settlers from the area. In Marion is a statue titled ‘A Journey Began’, celebrating the the removal of natives to Ohio.

Every treaty of trust by the Nations resulted in death, starvation, and removal to small land sections.

Biological Warfare

Today we cry against the uses of biological warfare. But yesteryear, it was used against the peoples of the Nations. While smallpox, for the most part, has been eradicated in modern society. The first known use of this as a weapon was in 1763. At Fort Pitt, during Pontiac’s Rebellion, emissaries from the Lenape tribe were given two blankets and a handkerchief. These items came from the smallpox section of the fort’s hospital. Trader William Trent wrote that he hoped it had the desired effect. General Amherst was recorded as approving this biological warfare to ‘extripate this execreble race’.

President George Washington used it through General Sullivan against the Iriquois in 1779. President Andrew Jackson used it against the Seminole 60 years later. So the nation that decides to help shut down bio-warfare, seemingly had no qualms about its use when it was to take land they wanted.

White Native Schools

The Jesuits (or known as The Society of Jesus), other Catholic, and non-Catholic Christian groups decided that the heathens of North America needed Jesus in their lives. The easiest way to eradicate a thought from a people is to force that change in the youth. That’s what they did. They set up boarding schools. Registration was easy, kidnap and force the children from their families. 

They would use military discipline, cut their hair, make them wear ‘civilized’ clothes, and banned the use of their native language and religious practice. All in the concept of saving their souls. And in keeping with non-native concepts, beyong regular school lessons came housekeeping and on hands occupations (instead of the traditional duties of their individual tribes).

Over the last few weeks especially, we have seen a horrific end result of this forced re-education. Hundreds of mass graves of children have been found at former school sites. No names, no ages, no identity at all of these children. Just small skeletal remains of children forced from their home, families, and communities. Forced into lives they didn’t want or need. And left in holes. All in the name of Jesus (whom by the way told us to love each other and never forced anyone to follow him). Most of these children will more than likely forever remain nameless. Their spirits looking for an answer that will never come.

Names of the Wind

We remember the names of George Floyd, Tamir Rice and Breonna Taylor because of how they died and the news coverage they received. And we should remember their names. All of those taken before their time and through senseless actions should be remembered. That brings me to a huge problem. In Canada and America, Indigenous women are being murdered or have gone missing with very little fanfare outside of their own communities. While we remember Lacey Peterson and Calylee Anothony because of press coverage, have you heard the names Leona Kinsey from Oregon, Laverne John of Arizona, or Jayda John & Jaylee Spenser from the Navajo Nation? No. And neither have I. Not until I came across ‘Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’ site.  

In the US, in 2016, there were a reported 5,712 missing Indigenous females missing. And in Canada, from 2016 to 2019 the numbers were 3 a month for 48 months in that recorded period. That is on top of the years before and since. With these numbers, why is it not making many national headlines? Lacey Peterson and others were all over the news for long periods of time. Why not these girls and women? What made their lives so inconsequential that they didn’t (and don’t) warranted the media attention and outrage? Did the missing get murdered or are they now within sex slavery rings? Can it be a serial killer or killers that have been operating in these various areas?

When government fails, indigenous women take their search for missing loved  ones online | Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women | billingsgazette.com

It is time we remember the injustices to this land’s longest owners. Remember the evils of war. The lives of the forgotten. The names of the missing and murdered.

https://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/addressing-epidemic-missing-murdered-indigenous-women-and-girls

https://www.nativewomenswilderness.org/mmiw

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/canada-indigenous-children-school-bodies-unmarked-graves-2021-06-30/

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/751-unmarked-graves-discovered-near-former-indigenous-school-canada-180978064/

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/stories/articles/2020/4/13/early-years-american-indian-boarding-schools

https://www.history.com/news/native-american-broken-treaties

Standard
Uncategorized

Israel’s Biggest Crime

Let me make this clear from the beginning. I support both, the people of Israel and the Palestinian lands. And yes, it is possible to support both. I fully support Israel’s right to exist. That will never be in question. And God gave that land to His chosen people. But, 1948 brought about the borders to which Israel would exist. They lost the lands of Judah and for centuries, lost they land they now call home. But as God had said, there would be a return of His people. 

But, for those screaming that Israel does not commit genocide, that is a fallacy. Israel was originally taken through genocide. God commanded that they take the land by killing everyone within the borders of the promised land. And when they failed to, by taking women and children and the possibility of slaves from those that lived there, a prophet said that they defied the order and killed the survivors. They also killed most Midianites for the crimes of the Moabites. The Old Testament shows vengeance equal to today’s genocidal crimes around the world. 

The boundaries were set for Israel in the 20th century. The country needs to stay within its prescribed borders (not just Israel but all countries have no right to consume land not theirs). The 3 main Abrahamic faiths can live peacefully (many do). And while I accept Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, there is no reason that it cannot also be the capital of the Palestinian people. Many cities over the centuries have held dual capital roles. 

And before anyone says that there is no Palestine, history has already refuted that statement. It won’t be argued here. Read a history book. 

Now, to the point of Israel and the Palestinian people. Outside of the 1948 borders are the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Both have the ability, if given the chance and aid, can become fully operable autonomous nations in their own rights. Whether we agree with those that have the controlling power or not, they have the infrastructure to become self sufficient. The blockades that limit their ability for resources and trade have to be lifted and their representative governments recognized. 

With the illegal encroachment upon these lands by the domineering forces of Israeli squatters (and yes, that’s what they are), it is no surprise that the people of these areas fight back. We have seen this scenario play out throughout history. The IRA fighting for freedom from English rule, the colonists here doing the same. The ethnic cleansing in places like Bosnia. And the European determination at eradication of indeginous tribes and peoples within our own borders. 

Every man has 2 main rights. The right to live free and the right to aspire to the dreams of success. What one side calls a terrorist, the other calls a freedom fighter. Instead of subjecting the Palestinian people to illegal Israeli communities, the nation of Israel has the ability and means to aid these two areas to become fully operational independent states. Israel made them enemies instead of helping them become what they so desire, recognized autonomous peoples. If you look at this situation in the way it should be seen, you wouldn’t want an intruder taking up residence in your backyard. Neither do they. 

Israel, and countries like the US call these people terrorists. Condemn their actions. But in reality, it is Israel, with backing from the US, that has made them become that. 

Standard
Uncategorized

Possibility of Wrongful Conviction

In 2007, Matthew Colzie was arrested by local authorities in Georgia for the attempted armed robbery, possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony and the murder of Torrence Brown. He went to trial in 2008 and was convicted on all three counts. He received life for the murder, a concurrent 5 years for attempted armed robbery, and a consecutive 5 year sentence for the firearms charge.

Here is where the research gets to a slight impasse. While researching this case, all I have seen is one of the attempted appeals. In this appeal, Mr. Colzie states that the only evidence presented were 4 statements. According to the appeal, Mr. Colzie believes that by the courts disallowing a De Novo hearing, he was deprived of his 5th and 14th Amendment rights. He claims this in this appeal 7 things:

  1. He attacked the witness statements, claims that there was no hard evidence such as: dna, fingerprints, the firearm remained uncovered, and no GSR.
  2. The the court made a mistake by allowing the case detective to testify as to the contents of statements made outside of the court setting.
  3. An objection to what he called hearsay, as it pertained to the witness statements, was overruled and bolstered the their credibility.
  4. One of the statements allowed was not presented as a prior consistent statement.
  5. That a witness’s statement to his attorney was not consistent with the trial testimony given.
  6. That the court erred by not allowing his defense to present the fact that a witness had a pending felony charge and thereby did not allow for his lawyer the ability to cross examine on this information.
  7. That the prosecution, because of errors and lack of physical evidence, failed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

He also stated, that while in Macon State Prison, he was not allowed medical attention that he needed and that by not fixing a water issue in his cell it caused issues in not being able to flush his commode.

A new appeal is in the process but Mr. Colzie is having issues find an attorney. A petition has been set up to help get the appeal heard and aid in his defense. If anyone has reports (newsprint or televised), court papers, or links that would provide further information on this case, please submit them in the comments.

A small hope may be on the horizon for Mr. Colzie. A letter was received by someone (will remain unnamed) that states it is from the Fulton County Superior Court. It states that it is an order for release. The reason for this are listed as:

  1. The conviction for the attempted armed robbery and the possession of the firearm by a convicted felon were properly proven.
  2. The conviction of felony murder, however, was in error.

Since the system at the time of the document was apparently closed because of the pandemic, Mr. Colzie was ordered to be brought to the court when it reopens. At that point, Mr. Colzie will then be released to his residence to move on with his life. And that the murder conviction be stricken from his record.

I can not however, determine the validity of this document as it presents no case or file number, no signature, and no date except for the year of 2020.

I can not say whether this gentleman is guilty or innocent of any of the charges presented at trial and convicted of. Nor will I place my opinion having not seen the trial transcripts, list of evidence presented, nor being present at the proceedings.

What I will say is this. Witness testimony is not perfect. Their view depends on many factors including: proximity to the crime, lighting, perceptions (and prejudices) of the individual that have formed over their lifetime and etc. And if these were the only pieces of evidence presented in a trial that involved murder, and there was no corroborating evidence (dna, prints, video, gsr, weapon, etc), then this case questions what should be allowable without anything concrete and definitive to make a conviction.

You decide for yourself.

Standard
Uncategorized

The Crime of Solitary Confinement

The following article is a Thesis I wrote a couple years ago on the psychological effects of solitary confinement or Administrative Segregation. Since this thesis was written and presented, very little has truly changed in this area of the criminal justice system. There has to be an overhaul of the whole system, from law enforcement to release (including community corrections or parole and probation). This article centers on the prison inside of the prison, or in cases of the supermax, the prison itself.

For crimes befitting punishment other than probation or house arrest, two things have to be remembered. The original system set up in this nation was meant for rehabilitation through things like work. Not places like the Tower of London or the French Bastille. The second thing to remember is this, a caged animal becomes one of two things, dead or dangerous. Another article will present better methods of punishment, rehabilitation, and the hopeful end of recidivism.

This is solely to try to enlighten and educate about the barbaric and tortuous treatment of forced solitude. If this pandemic has taught one thing, it has been that human interaction is a requirement for man. Like air to breathe and food/water to survive, human interaction is required for the mind to survive.

“Proximity has taught me some basic and humbling truths, including this vital lesson: Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice. Finally, I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.”
― Bryan Stevenson

Solitary and Mental Health

Abstract

Because of the closing of and increasing cost of mental health care in facilities (Levit & et al, 2008) and offender status while having mental health issues (Wachtler & Bagala, 2014), the prison system has become a warehouse for the mentally ill offender despite the increasing proof of harm caused by solitary confinement. Understandably, those with mental illness have a tendency to get into trouble. They are assessed, tried, convicted, sentenced, and then placed into a draconian system. In this system they get the bare minimum of aid or they get none at all.

While the solitary system was the correctional disposition at the beginning of the nation, it soon fell out of favor as a mainstay of the corrections system. It was not until the late 20th Century that solitary was once again the main way to deal with those that caused issues within the system. That is changing in some areas. Research is showing that mental health for those already with mental illness deteriorates further. It also is showing that those placed into solitary with no mental health issues are coming out of solitary with DSM-V qualified problems.

Policies are slowly being changed. But they have not changed with enough haste. The dignity of the offender with mental health issues is paramount to their recovery.

Keywords:  solitary, offender, confinement, administrative segregation, mental health, Pennsylvania Prison style, mental health facility, ethics, rights.

Background

Historical American Solitary Confinement Overview: Eastern State Penitentiary was conceived by the Pennsylvania Prison Society because of the harsh and crowded conditions at the Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia (Woodham, 2008). The original concept of reform in the Pennsylvania system was set by the Quaker, William Penn who thought that imprisonment and hard labor would correct faulty thinking and action. After Penn had died, the system went from reform back to the punishments imposed by British rule. Changes to the Pennsylvania system were championed by Dr. Benjamin Rush, who became known as the father of American psychiatry (Leitch, 1978). His idea was that compassion and kindness should be used to aid those with mental illness.

The design of the prison was commissioned in 1829 by the architect John Haviland (Carr et al, 2002). He used Penn’s Quaker approach. The cell rows extended from a rounded central hub. It row consisted of 8’ by 10’ cells. It was built so that inmates had no contact and a reminder of God’s watchful eye, a skylight in the ceiling. The recreation yard was also designed to keep inmates from contact.

In some form or fashion, solitary has remained in the U.S. prison system. While strides have been made in reform through the two centuries of the prison system, solitary is still a recommended punishment for those deemed not able to be placed in general population. Today, most local jails, as well as state and federal prisons have a form of solitary confinement. The Supermax was born in 1983 (Smith, 2006). Started in the Marion Penitentiary of Illinois. In 1979, the prison was labeled a level 6 facility. After the murder of two correction officers in 1983, the prison went into lockdown and stayed there.

With the rise of hardline crimes and the drug culture starting in the 1980’s, the idea of get tough on crime became the cry of the masses. It was at this point that solitary confinement became normal for jails and prisons (Walker, 2016). Using the concept of William Penn combined with the supermax long term control of Marion, solitary confinement became the frontline of control for offenders that didn’t follow the rules. 

The latest numbers for the corrections system is based on 2011-2012 statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics (2015). Through data gathering, it was determined that 20% of prison inmates and 18% of jail inmates have spent a period of time (30 days or more) in solitary confinement. Those assigned to solitary confinement (segregation) were more likely young, educated with high school diploma or less, in need of mental health aid, or of a non-straight sexual persuasion. Most of the cases that rendered this punishment (25% in prisons and 28% in jails) were offenders that committed non-sexual violent offenses while in general population.

Historical Mental Health and Offending Overview: To understand the criminal element of a person, one concept is at the forefront of any discussion: Mens Rea. The full statement is ‘Actus non facit reum, nisi mens sit rea’, which is Latin for ‘An act does not make the person guilty, unless the mind be guilty’ (Jackson, 2015).  Mental health at the time of criminal action creates a link between legal concept and psychology (Taslitz, 2007). 

One of the psychological school of crime causation believes that crime is the result of inappropriate conditioning or from issues of mental malfunctions (Schmalleger, 2009). Followers of Freud determined that there are three ways the human psyche are precursors to criminal activity. The first is the superego (Lapsley & Stey, 2011). Since the superego keeps the person in check, the person with a faulty or weakened superego does not have the ability to stop his drive or impulses. 

The second comes from Freud’s theory of displacement (McLeod, 2009). This is the transference of one thing to another. In the television show ‘Bates Motel’, Norman Bates has issues with the manipulation of his mother. He transfers those feels to other females allowing him to become a serial killer. With every victim, he sees his actions against his mother not the victim.

The third is based on Thanatos the death instinct. Freud believed that the animate (human) desired to become inanimate (back to organic form). This leads people to perform self-destructive and illegal activity (Winer, 2011). Thanatos is of Greek origin (Thanatos, 2001). He is the opposite of Eros (life). 

Studies show that there are correlations between mental health issues and criminal activity. This found to be the case in poverty stricken areas (Draine et al, 2002). Poverty has been link to criminal activity and mental health issues. Although there seems to be a rise in offenders with mental health issues, this can be partially attributed to increasing arrest rates due to get tough legislation.  It must be noted that despite research initiatives, the link between mental health and crime is hair thin (Peterson, 2014). A study reported in Law and Human Behavior (2014) show that of 143 offenders with mental illness that were studied, only 17% of the 429 crimes committed by these individuals could be directly linked to their mental issues.

Current Link between Mental Health and Solitary Confinement: According to a report by the Treatment Advocacy Center (2012), from 2005 to 2010 there was a 14% reduction in beds for those with mental health issues. This placed hospital availability to the levels in 1850. In 13 states, the reduction was a closing of 25% or more of the facilities. This has correlated to higher incarceration rates of the mentally ill. The L.A. County Jail and New York’s Rikers Island have become the two largest inpatient mental health facilities (Panero, 2012).

In 1997, the PBS show Frontline did a report on the increased warehousing of the mentally ill in jails and prisons (Torrey, 1997). They determined that since the closing of mental health facilities, the new hospitals would be the corrections system. They found that recidivism rates among the mentally ill grew. Using the example of George Wooten from Denver, they found that he was a schizophrenic patient. Because of the lack of normal facilities, Mr. Wooten had been jailed over 100 times. 

According to a study by Shira Gordon (2014), it was found that a disproportionate number of mentally ill offenders are placed into solitary confinement because of a difficulty in understand or lack of ability to follow the rules of incarceration. In Washington, it was found that those with mental illness would be more likely to be placed into solitary by four times the rate than the regular population. 

Studies by the American Friends Service Committee (2012) show 2 things. The first is that Dr. Terry Kupers has placed the population of solitary confinement offenders with mental health issues at 50% or more. The second uses Arizona as a reference point. In Arizona they found that 26% of the male supermax inmates had mental health issues compared to less than 17% of general population facilities. They also found that mental illness actions tend to be misunderstood by correctional staff and lead to higher solitary confinement entries.

International Research: Because the mental health issue of offenders is not a sole American system issue, there have been many nations start to research the effects of solitary confinement on offenders with mental health issues. A study by the Irish Penal reform Trust has shown that the majority of those placed into solitary confinement may be deemed as having mental illness and be placed in solitary for an undetermined length of time (Bresnihan, 2002).

In contrast to most studies that show problems with solitary confinement, as study done in Sweden shows that solitary confinement as become a societal norm. Roddy Nilsson (2003) shows that Sweden determined to use solitary as the model of corrections. Although no statistics were included in the study as to mental health, he showed that solitary works in conjunction with social programming (parole). He shows that when solitary has been set to a control issue, incarceration has less issues of problems. This combined with the parole system, allows the punishment and reintegration as possible. 

A research project on solitary confinement was conducted by the Correctional Service of Canada (Zinger et al, 2001). In the study, a use of three facilities lasted sixty days with assessments at day one, day 30, and day 60. They found that while all of the participants in the study had mental health issues, there seemed to be no increase in those issues within the sixty day period.

Conditions of solitary confinement and the mentally ill

Treatment in Solitary Confinement: An article by Craig Haney (2003) showed how treatment happened for those placed into supermax and solitary confinement. In the facilities he researched he found two type of therapy treatment. The first is called cell frontal therapy. This is when the therapist counsels the inmate through the unopened door. 

The second is a face to face therapy session but has demeaning qualities. For those that choose this option, they undergo a strip search, are placed in multiple restraints and taken to the counselor’s office or a room designed with a cage. A third, but not frequently used technique, is called tele-psychiatry. This entails the use of images to assess and address the problems of the inmates from distant locations. Because these types of sessions are demeaning and show no help for the inmate, many do not ask for help or reject it when offered. These treatments also eliminate therapist/patient confidentiality.

An article by Patrick Dunne (2016) showed how inmates in solitary confinement are aided with mental health issues. One of the inmates at Valley State for Women shared that she was refused for PTSD and depression despite being required to take the medication. These inmates are also refused daily showers and general medical help. 

In a report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2006) the levels of mental health treatment are low and vary. At the time of the report state inmates had a rate of 34% of mental health inmates getting some type of help. In the federal system that number fell to 24%. And the local level came in at just 17%. 

During incarceration, medication numbers for mental health issues are lower than the rates of overall, non-medicated aid. The state system had a medication rate of 27%. The federal rate was at 19%, and the local rate was 15%. In 2004, the rate of mental health prescriptions rose to 15%, up from 12% in 1997. The rates of mental health inmates is growing a more rapid pace than the treatments. This lag of aid to need ratio helps increase the numbers of solitary confinement for mental health related issues.

The majority of aid for mental health issues in confinement are medications, a quick ‘how are you feeling’ stop in front of the cell, or in some cases a quick one on one with a clinician (Metzner & Fellner, 2016). Psychologist lament at the lack of therapy, as most therapy style interventions have been lost through cost control measures and laws that require the inmate to be continuously locked up. The lack of funding for these interventions come from budgetary constraints of legislatures as well as the public outcry for punishment over rehabilitation.

A 2013 article by Christine Sarteschi mentions a couple of studies that mention problem areas in the corrections system. He noted that in a 2003 Human Rights Watch study, it was shown that inmates with mental health issues were neglected and were considered to be malingering. She also noted that a 2006 study from the Department of Justice looked into Taycheedah Correctional Facility for Women. They determined that the facility was understaffed in the mental health department. They found that there were only two part time psychiatrists for the whole facility population. Another study mentioned was done in a Michigan facility. They found that of the 618 inmates diagnosed with mental health issues, only 65% received any type of aid.

Rates of Mental Health Issues Higher in Solitary: A report in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavia shows research resulted in finding higher mental health issue rates of inmates in solitary confinement than those in general population (Anderson et al, 2000). The study shows that psychiatric disorders were at 28% of inmates while general population rates were at 15%. While psychotic disorders were rare, adjustment and depressive disorders were the two highest issues recorded. The conclusion of the study determined that different stress levels gave different risers to different rates. This led the research team to conclude that solitary confinement caused more mental health hazards than did general population. 

While only 60% of those with mental health issues receive treatment while in the prison population, the rate for treatment while in solitary is even lower (Lee & Prabhu, 2015). Time spent in solitary can induce a type of psychiatric syndrome when none was present before. In the Rikers Island facility, between 2010 and 2013, 7.3% of the inmate population was placed into solitary confinement. 

While that is a small percentage of the full population count at the facility, it is overshadowed by the numbers of reported issues of self-harm. One-thousand acts of self-harm had occurred in that time period. The majority (53.3%) of those acts were committed by an individual within the solitary system. Offenders placed into solitary confinement, even once, are 6.9 times more likely to commit self-harm than the general population offenders (Kaba et al, 2014).

Another interesting note is the juvenile rates within the research. The highest growing demographics of incarceration and solitary is the juvenile rate for both male and female offenders. Many mental health issues occur in the earlier years for males (17-21) than in females (25-29). Since their minds are still learning to work appropriately, it is no surprise to find that in 2012, 14.4% of the 16-18 year old group were placed in solitary at the Rikers facility. 

A study done by Scandinavian researchers (2000) shows that mental disorders develop more frequently during periods of solitary than in general population. They used various tools and multiple styles to assess the inmates. Included in the study were Present State Examination – 10, Hamilton Anxiety and Depression Scale, as well as the Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale and the Eysenck Health Questionnaire. They also conduct multiple interviews among the inmates. Included in the background investigations were criminal and psychiatric/psychological records.

They concluded that time spent in solitary confinement is a large factor in the production of psychological issues among inmates. They found that incarceration itself becomes a stressor and leads to mental health issues in the full prison population. They found in the British inmates, the following psychiatric morbidity percentages: General population was 42% and Solitary Confinement was 46%. The also noted that prior to incarceration the prevalence rates were higher for inmates later placed into general population than those that would be placed into solitary. The rates were general population had 31% while those later assigned to solitary had a pre-incarceration rate of 26%. These results show that, while those placed into solitary had a lower mental health issue rate lower than those placed into general population prior to incarceration, those in solitary had a higher in-house rate of mental health issues because of solitary confinement.

Ethical and Legal Rights of Offenders in Solitary

Ethical Issues: One of the main ethical issues in solitary is in the lack of treatment. A prison or Supermax (almost all solitary for those deemed the most dangerous) is meant for punishment. Since they are set up to extract a ‘pound of flesh’ for crimes, the system is meant to make the offender pay in time for their offenses. Treatment is a secondary (at best) course of action. What makes this a major issue is that the United States federal and most state and local facilities have become a dumping ground for offenders with mental health issues. With this mentality, ethical issues arise that would not normally be that prevalent in a secured mental health facility. 

One of the major ethical concerns is during therapy and assessment (Shalev, 2011). In a non-incarceration session, there is total privacy between the therapist/assessor and the client. This is not applicable when done in solitary. In the majority of facilities, those that are placed into solitary do not have the ability to leave their cell. That means confidentiality is non-existent. The session can be overheard by staff and other offenders. This is in direct violation of Guideline 10: Privacy, Confidentiality, and Privilege (AP-LS, 2013). 

Another area that violations have a tendency to show are in the rights and dignity of the offender. While in solitary the offender is enclosed much like a caged animal. If the offender is allowed to be moved, it is while chained and under constant supervision of a correctional officer. This is in violation of Principle E: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity (APA, 2010). 

Since the offender is under the control of a Department of Corrections, the psychology professional is also under the immediate control of the same facility and department. There may arise the ethical dilemma of countering the desires of the department when it is in the best interest of the patient. This is covered under Guidelines 1.02: Conflicts between Ethics and Law, Regulations, or Other Governing Legal Authority and Guideline 1.03: Conflicts between Ethics and Organizational Demands. 

Legal Rights: In recent years, those who chose to try and get policy changes for those placed in solitary are using the courts. The Constitutional rights granted to those not incarcerated are becoming the tools used to determine the rights and protections for offenders in solitary. The 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is used to protect the U.S. citizen from cruel and unusual punishment being imposed by the state (U.S. Const. amend. VIII).

Those that use the 8th amendment to further the cause of ending solitary confinement, use research studies and academic studies that relate the adverse mental effects to cruel and unusual punishment. It is the idea that since solitary creates or enhances mental health issues in offenders that are not as prominent in general population, that is meets the theme of the amendment against cruel and unusual punishment (Hafemeister & George, 2012). The cruel part of the punishment comes from the lack of or minimal treatment for mental health issues. The unusual part of the punishment is that general population inmates, and those not incarcerated, or not subjected by the state to enduring actions that create or enhance mental health issues on a daily basis over extended periods of time. 

The lack of treatment and harsh punishment of mentally ill inmates is like committing human rights violations (Fellner, 2006). International laws for human rights, have been dedicated to treating inmates with mental health issues with dignity. These laws prohibit subjecting inmates to punishments that can be considered torture, cruel, and/or unusual. The United Nations issued Rule 27 in the Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners. It states that punishment must be form, but cannot use more restriction than is needed for safe custody and well-ordered community life (UNOHCHR, 2016).

Rule 22.1 states that proper medical services will include psychiatric services to diagnose and treat mental illness. Rule 22.2 states that sick prisoners who require special treatment are to be transferred to a specialized institution unless the confinement facility has an appropriate staff and facility for treatment. Rules 31 and 32 speak of solitary confinement. Rule 31 says that all cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment (including solitary) shall be completely prohibited as punishment for disciplinary offences. 

Rule 32 has three parts. Part one states that punishment by close confinement is not be used unless the offender is check by the appropriate professional and declared fit for the punishment. This would include mental, as well as, physical fitness. Part two states that Rule 31 applies to any other punishment that may prejudicial to the physical or mental health of a prisoner. Part three states that the appropriate professional is to visit and check the prisoner daily if close confinement is used. The professional also has the obligation to request the end of or an alteration of the punishment if it becomes detrimental to the prisoner.

Rules 62 says that the medical services of the institution shall seek to detect and treat physical or mental illness that may become a problem that interrupts the prisoner’s rehabilitation. The services in the facility are to begin at the beginning of incarceration and last until release. Rule 63 states that there are to be individual and group (if needed) sessions. It has also been determined that the population of the facility is not to exceed the number that allows for individual and proper treatments. Understanding the U.N. Human Rights Laws that are in place for prisoners, it is seeable that facilities on the federal, state, and local levels are in violation of all of these rules. In basic understanding, the mentally ill that are in solitary confinement have had their human rights, as seen internationally, continually violated. 

Various Comments on Solitary by Organizations

The World Medical Association (2014) has stated that solitary confinement has been documented to cause serious psychological and psychiatric issues. These include insomnia, hallucinations, confusion, and psychosis. It also causes higher rates of suicidal actions and may continue after release from solitary confinement. The association also says that prisoners that already suffer from mental illness may show signs of mental deterioration. 

They also say that solitary confinement has a tendency to restrain needed intervention and therapy. With consideration of international human rights laws, they have determined that prolonged solitary confinement, confinement of pretrial and juvenile offenders are regarded as violations of the human rights laws and must be avoided.

The Committee against Torture (CAT) says that the United Nations has said that 15 days or more violates human rights (Cloud, & et al, 2015). CAT has recommended the full abolishment of solitary confinement practices because of the detriment to the prisoner’s mental and physical health. They have noted that U.S. judicial and legal authorities tend to reject international norms for the use or non-use of solitary confinement.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that the U.S. prison system uses unneeded, overused, and overt force on inmates with mental health issues (2015).  They quoted Texas Judge, William Wayne Justice who said, “Whether because of lack of resources, a misconception of the reality of psychological pain, the inherent callousness of the bureaucracy, or officials’ blind faith in their own policies,” are causing an insufficient attention to the needs of mentally ill prisoners. The report goes on to state that there is staff neglect, mistreatment, and cavalier disregard for the wellbeing of mentally ill prisoners. 

Sharon Shalev of Solitary Confinement Org (2008) states that psychological effects are the most prominent for those in solitary confinement. Those with pre-confinement issues are the most vulnerable to deterioration while in solitary. Initial issues may become chronic issues while offender is in solitary for prolonged times. She goes on to list three main points that cause deterioration of the inmate. These are: social isolation, reduced environmental stimulation, and loss of control over most aspects of daily living. Studies have shown that the effects of solitary confinement used without clear limits (periods longer than four weeks) and used for inmates with existing mental health issues and poor social adjustment, are long lasting and can continue after release.

The APA quotes a statement by Dr. Jeffery Metzner in an issue of Monitor on Psychology (Weir, 2012). Dr. Metzner stated, “It’s hard to give a reasonable argument that you can provide adequate treatment to someone with serious mental illness who’s locked up in a cell for 23 hours a day”. It has been determined that solitary confinement is used too much. They also state that the University of Washington found that those released from supermax (full facility solitary) commit crimes faster than those released from general population facilities. 

Solitary Watch (SW) has found that prisoners in solitary have lower EEG activity, which relates to stress and anxiety (Rodriguez, 2011). The found that those in solitary develop psychopathologies at a 28% rate compared to a 15% rate for general population inmates. They present three recommendations from the Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons. They are: Use solitary as a last resort, end conditions of isolation, and protect mentally ill prisoners.

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has found that African Americans in the Michigan system make up 44% of inmates and 70% of those in solitary confinement despite being only 14% of the state’s population (AFSC, 2015). They also found that, at any given time, there are 80,000 inmates in solitary in the U.S. They also estimate that juveniles and those with mental illness comprise 33% of the solitary population. 

Changes in Law for and Perception of Solitary Confinement

Because of grass roots efforts, progressive politics, and more of an adherence to international standards of human rights and dignity, changes are being sought and made for those in solitary confinement. The United States and many states are reviewing and researching their policies for solitary confinement and offenders with mental health issues.  The U.S. Supreme Court has noted that solitary confinement is a form of punishment that is subject to scrutiny under the 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution (Bennion, 2015).

An Article in the William and Mary Law Review (2016) states that twenty-seven states prohibit placing juveniles in solitary confinement for punitive measures for a period longer than twenty-four hours. Eleven states cap solitary at one to four days. Another eleven states limit juveniles from five to ninety days. The issue with these laws on solitary confinement is that they ignore the harmful effects on those placed into solitary and the use of solitary is still used at the discretion of the facility manager. 

In January of 2016, the Department of Justice (DOJ) finished a study and posted a report in March on solitary confinement (USDOJ, 2016). Because of the report, President Obama set about with executive actions. Included in this actions were time limits on offenders in solitary confinement and expanded treatment programs for inmates with mental illness (Lerner, 2016). In all, the DOJ listed more than fifty new guidelines for incarceration. 

One rule is a sixty day limit that an inmate can spend in solitary confinement on a first offense, down from one year. Another is housing should be a least restrictive as possible while still allowing for safety and security. This report and the actions of the President will affect over 100 thousand inmates nationwide.

In 2014, Colorado created a new law affecting inmates that are mentally ill (Lamp, 2014). The new law requires that all inmates in solitary confinement must be tested for mental illness. Those found having a verified mental illness are to be moved from solitary confinement.

A class action lawsuit in Illinois was settled in 2015 that had inmates with mental illness as the focus (Tribune Wire Reporter, 2015). The suit was brought against the Illinois Department of Corrections on behalf of 11,000 mentally ill inmates. The settlement calls for four treatment units to be built. Time in solitary of these inmates will be limited and they will receive appropriate treatment. It also included a provision for inmates with mental illness that commit a minor violation that states they will not be placed into solitary confinement.

Moving Forward

With the few steps that 8th amendment arguments have had, the ending of solitary and mental health improvement are still lagging. A look at this issue was presented in the Denver University Law Review (2012). The article says that it would be possible to use to different laws to fight for those offenders in solitary confinement that have mental health issues. 

The first law mentioned is the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).  The second is the Rehabilitation Act (RA). It is believed that prisoners with mental health issues meet the criteria for falling under these laws. These laws allow challenges as to the conditions of solitary confinement and supermax confinement. The argument is that the denial of privileges or services because of their mental disability may constitute discrimination. This may prove as a valuable tool considering that many offenders are in solitary confinement because of their mental health issues. It seems to be, that their issues create the problem that requires solitary confinement as punishment. 

The first element of these laws falls to the proof that their mental health issues are a disability. Seemingly, under the ADA, most with mental health issues would meet the criteria based on the fact that their mental illness impairs relations, learning, concepts of right/wrong, and do normal daily activities without mind altering medications and other interventions and aids. The second element is the proof that the mentally ill offender is being denied services and programs that they are entitled too. This is easy to prove since their mental illness caused them to be placed into solitary confinement and being in solitary eliminates all but basic services (food, water) and programs (proper therapy, medication). 

The third element, and the hardest to prove, is that the mental disability is the reason for being placed into solitary confinement. The offender must prove that his mental illness caused the actions that were against rule, policy, and safety. The direct link between the mental disability and the punishment must be established. 

There is one issue that may arise once the three elements have been met and the offender has a legitimate discrimination suit. Once the claim has been deemed justified, the facility could claim that any changes based on the ruling of discrimination could fundamentally alter the programs and services for which solitary confinement was set into motion. Simply put, the facility can say that ‘yes he has a disability that caused him to be placed into solitary and we did discriminate against that disability. But, to make changes based on this disability would require the basic destruction of the solitary confinement program used as protection from those that would harm or kill staff or other prisoners’.

An Article from 2008 made recommendations for solitary confinement and offenders with mental health issues that have been placed there (Arrigo & Bullock, 2008). The main recommendation made was placed in the best interest of offenders with mental illness. It is a simple remedy. Do not place inmates with proven mental health issues into solitary confinement as a punitive punishment. Since inmates with proven mental health issues are more vulnerable to deterioration while in solitary confinement, it is believed that these inmates could be better managed in a secured unit where they can get the services that are required as treatment for the mental illness. 

A second recommendation is based on the conduct of the correctional officers and staff that control solitary confinement. The officers should be highly supervised and trained to deal with the special situations that may and do occur within this special population of the facility. They should also be held fully accountable for any type of abusive treatment that could cause further deterioration or invoke a possible uncontrollable response from the inmate.

The third recommendation is the area and procedure of solitary confinement. Cells should have the ability for natural lighting and allow the inmate to control manufactured light. They should also be areas with enough space for exercise and be allowed better recreation ability. They should also be allowed access to personal belongings. The cells should also be designed so that the inmate is not enclosed in a solid steel box with little natural ventilation and solid doors. 

The fourth recommendation is the allowance of social interaction. This would be one on one with therapists and religious leaders, as well as allowed visits from family. The fifth and final recommendation is a set non-extended time limit for placement in solitary confinement. 

Conclusion

Solitary confinement for a mentally healthy inmate can cause mental issues. The prolonged isolation causes physical and mental deterioration of the inmate. While disruptive and dangerous inmates need to be placed outside of general population for safety of staff and fellow inmates, it is a fact that solitary confinement causes issues that were not there and further the mental illness that is. Solitary confinement causes issues, such as impaired memory, confusion, psychosis, depression, and personality changes (Kelsall, 2014). 

Some states and the federal government officials are starting to make strides in elevating many of the issues surrounding both solitary confinement and mentally ill inmates. The President has issued executive actions and courts have ruled in favor of dignity and aid for the mentally ill in solitary confinement. But there is much work left in the field. More studies must be performed to better educate elected officials, appointees, and those in charge of the correctional services. 

By following recommendations from those that have a vested interest, the researchers that validate the information, and the elected that affect change, eventually the nation may be seen in a less barbaric light. Further assault on the mentally ill in prison can only lead to a generation of high recidivism, more crime, and less aid to those that need it. 

Hubert H Humphrey said in his final speech, “…the moral test of a government is how that government treats those how are in the dawn of life, children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy, and the handicapped.”  The mentally ill in solitary confinement are all three entities in the shadows. How will our nation be remembered?

Resources

American Friends Service Committee. (2015). Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons. Discussion. Retrieved from http://www.afsc.org/recap-solitary 

American Psychological Association. (2010). Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/

American Psychology-Law Society. (2013). Specialty Guidelines for Forensic Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/practice/guidelines/forensic-psychology.aspx 

Anderson, H., Sestoft, D., Lillebaek, T., Gabrielson, G., Hemmingsen, R. & Kramp, P. (2000). A longitudinal study of prisoners on remand: Psychiatric prevalence, incidence and psychopathology in solitary vs. non-solitary confinement. Acta Psychiatr Scandinavia 102, 19-25. Retrieved from http://sfxhosted.exlibrisgroup.com/waldenu?sid=google&auinit=HS&aulast=Andersen&atitle=A+longitudinal+study+of+prisoners+on+remand:+psychiatric+prevalence,+incidence+and+psychopathology+in+solitary+vs.+non%E2%80%90solitary+confinement&id=doi:10.1034/j.1600-0447.2000.102001019.x&title=Acta+psychiatrica+Scandinavica&volume=102&issue=1&date=2000&spage=19

Arrigo, B. & Bullock, J. (2008). The Psychological Effects of Solitary Confinement on Prisoners in Supermax Units. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 52(6), 622-640. doi: 10.1177/0306624X07309720. Retrieved from http://ijo.sagepub.com/content/52/6/622.full.pdf 

Beck, A. (2015). Use of Restrictive Housing in U.S. Prisons and Jails, 2011-2012, [Publication NCJ 249209]. Retrieved from http://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=5433  

Bennion, E. (2015). Banning the Bing: Why Extreme Confinement is Cruel and Far too Unusual. Indiana Law Review, 90(2), 742-786. Retrieved from http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=11149&context=ilj 

Bresnihan, V. (2002). Out of Mind, Out of Sound. European Journal of Health Law, 9 111-120.

Carr, A., Bates, L., & Boisson, S. (2002). Go to jail!. British History, 23(6). 

Cloud, D., Drucker, E., Browne, A., & Parsons, J. (2015). Public Health and Solitary Confinement in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 105(1), 18-26. Retrieved from http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/99983409/public-health-solitary-confinement-united-states 

Draine, J., Salzer, M., Culhane, D. & Hadley, T. (2002). Role of Social Disadvantage in Crime, Joblessness, and Homelessness among Persons with Serious Mental Illness. Psychiatric Services, 53(5) 565-573.

Dunne, P. (2016). How Solitary Confinement Affects People with Mental Illness. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 22, 2016, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2016/02/28/how-solitary-confinement-affects-people-with-mental-illness/ 

Fellner, J. (2006). A Correction Quandary: Mental Illness and Prison Rules. Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, 41(2), 391-412. Retrieved from http://www.law.harvard.edu/students/orgs/crcl/vol41_2/fellner.pdf 

Glidden, B. & Rovner, L. (2012). Requiring the State to Justify Supermax Confinement for Mentally Ill Prisoners: A Disability Discrimination Approach. Denver University Law Review, 90(1), 55-75. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.law.ggu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1739&context=pubs 

Gordon, S. (2014). Solitary Confinement, Public Safety, and Recidivism. University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, 47(2) 495-528. Retrieved from http://repository.law.umich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1035&context=mjlr

Hafemeister, T. & George, J. (2012). The Ninth Circle of Hell: An Eighth Amendment Analysis of Imposing Prolonged Supermax Solitary Confinement on Inmates with a Mental Illness. Denver University Law Review, 90(1). Retrieved from http://www.law.du.edu/documents/denver-university-law-review/v90-1/Hafemeister_FINAL_ToDarby_021913.pdf 

Haney, C. (2003). Mental Health Issues in Long-Term Solitary and “Supermax” Confinement. Crime and Deliquency, 49(1) 124-156. Retrieved from http://cad.sagepub.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/content/49/1/124

Human Rights Watch. (2015). United States: Force against Prisoners with Mental Illness [Report]. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/05/12/callous-and-cruel/use-force-against-inmates-mental-disabilities-us-jails-and 

Jackson, E. (2015). Latin for Lawyers. Clark: Lawbook Exchange. Retrieved from http://www.worldcat.org/title/latin-for-lawyers/oclc/914289028?referer=di&ht=edition

James, D. & Glaze, L. (2006). Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates. Bureau of Justice Statistics [Special report]. Retrieved from http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/mhppji.pdf

Kaba, F., Lewis, A., Kollish, S., Hadler, J., Lee, D., Alper, H., Selling, D., MacDonald, R., Solimo, A., Parsons, A., & Venters, H. (2014). Solitary Confinement and Risk of Self-Harm Among Jail Inmates. American Journal of Public Health, 104(3), 442-447. doi: 10.2105AJPH.2013.301742. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3953781/ 

Kelsall, D. (2014). Cruel and Unusual Punishment: Solitary Confinement in Canadian Prisons. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 186(18), 1345. doi: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/early/2014/11/17/cmaj.141419 

Lamp, M. (2014, June 9). New State Law Aims to Keep Mentally Ill Out of Solitary Confinement. Colorado Public Radio. Retrieved from http://www.cpr.org/news/story/new-state-law-aims-keep-mentally-ill-out-solitary-confinement 

Lapsley, D. & Stey, P. (2011) Id, Ego, and Superego. In V. Ramachandran, Encyclopedia of Human Behavior, 2nd Ed. Amsterdam: Elsevier. Retrieved from https://www3.nd.edu/~dlapsle1/Lab/Articles%20&%20Chapters_files/Entry%20for%20Encyclopedia%20of%20Human%20Behavior(finalized4%20Formatted).pdf 

Lee, B. & Prabhu, M. (2015). A Reflection on the Madness in Prisons. Stanford Law and Policy Review, 26(253) 253-268. Retrieved from https://journals.law.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/stanford-law-policy-review/print/2015/04/lee_prabhu_26_stan_l._poly_rev_253.pdf 

Leitch, A. (1978). Rush, Benjamin. A Princeton Companion. Retrieved from https://etcweb.princeton.edu/CampusWWW/Companion/rush_benjamin.html 

Lerner, K. (2016). Obama Highlights the Destructive Impact of Solitary Confinement while Announcing New Rules. Think Progress. Retrieved from http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2016/01/26/3742821/obama-solitary-confinement/ 

Levit, K., Kassed, C., Coffey, R., Mark, T., Stranges, E., Buck, J., and Vandivort-Warren, R. (2008). Future Funding for Mental Health and Substance Abuse: Increasing Burdens for the Public Sector. Health affairs.

Lowen, M. & Issacs, C. (2012). Lifetime Lockdown. American Friends Service Committee. Retrieved from https://afsc.org/sites/afsc.civicactions.net/files/documents/AFSC-Lifetime-Lockdown-Report_0.pdf 

McLeod, S. (2009). Defense Mechanisms. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/defense-mechanisms.html

Metzner, J. & Fellner, J. (2010). Solitary Confinement and Mental Illness in U.S. Prisons: A Challenge for Medical Ethics. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, 38 104-108. 

Nilsson, R. (2003). The Swedish Prison System in Historical Perspective: a Story of Successful Failure?. Journal of Scandinavian Studies in Criminology and Crime Prevention, 4 1-20.

Panero, J. (2012, December 27). The danger of closing ‘asylums’. The New York daily News. Retrieved from http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/insane-violent-street-article-1.1225716 

Peterson, J. (2014, April 21). Mental Illness not Usually Linked to Crime, Research Finds. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2014/04/mental-illness-crime.aspx

Rademacher, E. (2016). The Beginning of the End: Using Ohio’s Plan to Eliminate Juvenile Solitary Confinement as a Model for Statutory Elimination of Juvenile Solitary Confinement. William and Mary Law Review, 57(3), 1020-1054. Retrieved from http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3632&context=wmlr 

Rodriguez, S. (2011). Psychological Effects of Solitary Confinement. Solitary Watch News. Retrieved from http://solitarywatch.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/fact-sheet-psychological-effects-final.pdf 

Sarteschi, C. (2013). Mentally Ill Offenders Involved with the U.S. Criminal Justice System: A Synthesis. Sage Open, 1-11. Retrieved from http://sgo.sagepub.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/content/spsgo/3/3/2158244013497029.full.pdf

Schmallenger, F. (2009). Mentally Ill and Mentally Deficient Inmates. In V. Anthony. Criminal Justice Today, 536-538. 

Shalev, S. (2011). Solitary Confinement and Supermax Prisons: A Human Rights and Ethical Analysis. Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice, 11(2), 151-183. doi: 10.1080/15228932.2011.537582. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/15228932.2011.537582#.V6JQIfkrLIU 

Shalev, S. (2008). A Sourcebook on Solitary Confinement. London: Mannheim Centre for Criminology, London School of Economics. Retrieved from http://solitaryconfinement.org/uploads/sourcebook_02.pdf 

Smith, P. (2006). The Effects of Solitary Confinement on Prison Inmates: A Brief History and Review of the Literature. Crime and Justice, 34(1) 441-528. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/500626?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Taslitz, A. (2007). Mental Health and Criminal Justice: An Overview. Criminal Justice, 22(3). Retrieved from http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publishing/criminal_justice_section_newsletter/crimjust_cjmag_22_3_mentalhealth_crimjustice.authcheckdam.pdf

Thanatos. 2001. Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved from http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3490900471.html

Treatment Advocacy Center, Office of Research and Public Affairs.(2012). No Room at the Inn. Retrieved from http://www.tacreports.org/bedstudy

Tribune Wire Reporter. (2015, December 24). Illinois Settles Class-Action Suit on Mentally Ill Inmates. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-illinois-lawsuit-mentally-ill-inmates-20151223-story.html 

Torrey, E. (1997). Deinstitutionalization: A Psychiatric Titanic. Out of the Shadows: Confronting America’s Mental Illness Crisis. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Retrieved from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/asylums/special/excerpt.html

United Nations, Office of the High Commissioner Human Rights. (2016). Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners. Retrieved from http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/TreatmentOfPrisoners.aspx 

United States Department of Justice. (2016). Report and Recommendations Concerning the Use of Restrictive Housing [Report]. Retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/dag/file/815551/download  

U.S. Const. amend. VIII. Retrieved from https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/eighth_amendment 

Wachtler, S. & Bagala, K. (2014). From the Asylum to Solitary: Transinstitutionalization. Albany Law Review 77(3). 

Weir, K. (2012). Alone, in ‘the hole’. Monitor on Psychology, 43(5), 54. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/05/solitary.aspx 

Winer, L. (2011, February 28). Explaining Thanatos (The Death Drive). Thoughts from the Middle Seat. Retrieved from https://thoughtsfromthemiddleseat.com/2011/02/28/explaining-thanatos-the-death-drive/

Woodham, C. (2008). Eastern State Penitentiary: A Prison with a Past. Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/eastern-state-penitentiary-a-prison-with-a-past-14274660/?no-ist

World Medical Association. (2014). Statement on Solitary Confinement. World Medical Journal. Retrieved from http://www.wma.net/en/30publications/10policies/s3/ 

Zinger, I. (2001). The Psychological effects of 60 days in administrative segregation. Canadian Journal of Criminology, 47-83. Retrieved https://afsc.org/sites/afsc.civicactions.net/files/documents/AFSC-Lifetime-Lockdown-Report_0.pdf 

Standard
Uncategorized

Numbers do not tell the story

Somewhere in our country, another officer fires his sidearm and kills another person. Most of the time, that story usually refers to a white officer and a black victim. I will not argue the point, that at times it may be necessary for an officer to do so. But one also needs to look at the numbers in respect to police shootings. 

Looking at the numbers however, will not give a full picture of whether there is racism within the ranks of law enforcement. What these numbers will not show are a few things. They will not show incidents such as George Floyd, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/31/us/george-floyd-investigation.html,  or Eric Garner, https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/eric-garner-dies-nypd-chokehold, which were killed because of procedures not involving a firearm. They will not include correction officers at any level, such as Damarius Rodriquez, https://www.cbsnews.com/video/mother-of-5-dies-in-jail-amid-alleged-mental-health-episode/#x, or Christopher Howell, https://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/breaking-news/os-ne-lake-correctional-officer-arrested-murder-blunt-trauma-20201113-pmm66kirzbfandetiephmvsbqe-story.html. Through neglect or physical assault, inmates have died at the hands of corrections officers.

They do include such victims as Breanna Taylor, https://www.nytimes.com/article/breonna-taylor-police.html, Casey Goodson, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/dec/07/casey-goodson-jr-family-black-ohio-man-shot-dead-white-police-officer, and Daniel Shaver, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OflGwyWcft8

So, let’s break down the numbers. If you look at the overall numbers in total, whites have been shot more by police than any other skin tone. Stats from 2020 (as of November) show the numbers as such: white (370), black (192), hispanic (128), other (21), unknown (153) https://www.statista.com/statistics/585152/people-shot-to-death-by-us-police-by-race/.  But breaking the numbers down per capita (per 1 million residents) the numbers change dramatically: white (13), black (33), hispanic (25), other (5) https://www.statista.com/statistics/1123070/police-shootings-rate-ethnicity-us/

By age, the largest group shot by law enforcement are 20-39. By gender, it’s male https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/investigations/police-shootings-database/. And the numbers can be broken down into other various demographics. The numbers aren’t fully accurate since the databases rely on reported statistics. The reporting is varied and not required. So the FBI states that the actual numbers are not accurate because of it not being required of each department in the US.

Another issue is that reports submitted will give the official police view of the shooting. So essentially, these reports are not vetted for accuracy in the account but take the department’s official version (which usually means the victim is always at fault). 

The rule for the private citizen is that for a danger to life to occur: the person must be facing the citizen, act in a threatening manner, and have the possibility at that precise moment to end the citizen’s life. So shooting a person not being threatening, no weapon, and/or back turned truly disallows an officer to say he shot because he was in fear of his life. 

While I do not accept the idea of no law enforcement, I do advocate for change within the system. Five points need to be addressed to start the process of fixing the problem:

  • Better vetting of applicants
  • Continued viewing of complaints against officers in areas of assault, judgments of firing a weapon
  • Training in areas of de-escalation and mental health
  • Civilian oversight
  • Proper punishment for improper conduct at all levels

True considerations of the use of metal health professionals in certain situations, negotiators when appropriate, use of a person’s family or friends, etc. All of these can be used to de-escalate a situation before it comes to the use of gunfire. There also needs to be full accountability if an officer fires his weapon. Too many times, and officer has mistook actions and fired without understanding the situation at the time, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5mRhmFcjs4M, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwHJL5X97Do

I support law enforcement, but agree that the bad need removed and changes truly need to be made. Especially when it comes to minority communities.

Standard
Uncategorized

Criminal Disjustice In The Black Community

Having a Facebook conversation with someone who goes more on emotion instead of logic has been an interesting thing. I’m about data when I research and write. Despite what the emotional content may be (in this case incarcerated population numbers) I prefer going by the numbers using logic to form my opinion. 

I got my numbers for the last year from the Bureau of Prisons which states that the majority of prisoners on hand are white. With black coming in second, latino third, native fourth, and asian last. (https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_race.jsp)

His passion on the subject,and his determination to change my perception, made me decide to dig in and do more research. The numbers fluctuate depending on how the count is done and who does it. This is generally normal. So, I looked up more data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. (https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/p19.pdf

Here is the breakdown of their numbers, which are for 2019 totals. There were a total of 1,430,805 prisoners in the system. The majority of them in state facilities at 1,255,689 and 175,116 in the federal system. Men make up 1,322,850 while women make up 107,995. The last decade shows a drop in incarcerated numbers of over 10% in all categories. The numbers of male v females weren’t the topic of discussion. So let’s break down the numbers by race.

Those incarcerated in 2019 (tried and sent) break down as such: federal (158,498) State (1,221,929), Men (1,279,079) Women (101,348), White (422,800) Black (452,800), Hispanic (320,700). 

Based on per capita numbers of per 100,000, the numbers are as follows: Federal (48) State (371), Male (789) Women (61), White (214) Black (1096) Hispanic (525). 

Incarceration rates have dropped as listed over the last decade: Federal (21%) State (16.2%), Men (17.1%) Women (10%), White (12.5%) Black (29%) Hispanic (24.4%).

Depending on where you look, the numbers vary. The BJS does not include the specific numbers for Indeginous or Asian populations like the BOP does. However, both show a lower rate of those to demographics. 

Looking at the BJS numbers, there are two stories told. The first is that white and black prisoners overall, have about the same numbers of incarcerated with those of the black community slightly higher. But when it is broken down into the per capita ratio, the numbers show a huge difference. 

Taking the current population number (2018 record) of the nearest city to me, Fort Wayne Indiana at 267,633, the totals would be roughly White (approx 500) Black (approx 2500) and Hispanic (approx 1100). 

The breakdown by race in Fort Wayne is listed as: White (73.85%) Black (14.85%) with multi racial and other groups making up the rest. 

There are quite a few factors that go into the arrest and incarceration rates. These would include job availability, education, investments in the varying communities, nature/nurture, etc. And while I will post about these at a later date, the numbers don’t lie. That is why I prefer data to emotion. In this case, the emotion is warranted by minority communities. 

Fort Wayne, like the majority of our cities, needs to do better. Both in equality in sentencing and in programs that aid the black community achieve their goals. Economically, educationally, and within the Criminal Justice system. 

Standard
Uncategorized

Get Over The Election

It’s time to upset people and lose some friends by presenting a truth that needs to be told. Here goes.

All presidents have had success and failure. I’ll state a few. Reagan, while a great orator, had the trickle down theory and it failed. But he had a great desire to end the cold war which happened a year after he left office. Clinton had a great economy and a desire to make the streets safer through tougher sentencing and more officers. Bush 2 made war against a nation he had no right to go against (no WMD, and the attacks came from another place), instituted the Patriot Acts 1 and 2 which eliminated parts of constitutional protections (remember free speech zones), and allowed torture. 

Obama came into an economic freefall and started the economy back on track. And despite what some may say, the Iran Nuclear Deal was working. And to be honest, the only reasons I can think of for not liking him were truly asinine. If it wasn’t for his healthcare act, many would not have been able to get the care they needed and pre-existing issues would not be treated. 

Now to Trump. With him we had the greatest economy on record (highest GDP, best trade on both stocks and the mercantile, lowest unemployment across all demographics). His big problem is his no filter, no diplomacy way of acting and talking. I personally wouldn’t invite him to a cup of coffee. Economically he was great, personally he was a prick. 

The immigration and justice systems need extreme revamping. The justice system is geared toward punishment to those of the lower socioeconomic scale (blacks, low income whites, hispanics, etc). That is because of the failure to aid the urban areas in the nation is becoming self reliant. So more of these are incarcerated at higher rates. 

Immigration needs fixed, not ended. It is the diversity that has made this nation the great melting pot it became. DACA should be protected and entry avenues to green card status and citizenship need to be better worked and applied. And yes, both Obama and Trump need to be called to the hot seat for their internment and separation policies.

Now we come to the populace. The extremes of both the left (Antifa, BLM, Unicorn Riot, etc) and the right (White supremacists, the Proud Boys, etc) have hijacked our country. The moderates and centrists of both parties and messages of unity, equity (not equality) have been lost in the rhetoric and violence on both sides. Our nation has become three camps. The extreme socialist left, the alt right Trump cult, and those that can’t be heard (the ones that try to do what is right). 

Whoever is named to the Oval Office will be everybody’s president for 4 years. And both sides forget how the election process works. Recounts and suits are part of the program and the right of the candidates. BUT, the electoral college will present their decision after everything is done. It may go to the Supreme Court, maybe not. And there is a little used provision that it may end up in the House (U.S. Constitution, Article II, section 1, clause 3). So both sides need to quit acting like 2 preschoolers wanting the same toy. 

If this pissed you off, GOOD. It’s time we start acting like Americans a less like 3rd world tribes. We are better than this.  

Standard
Uncategorized

About This Blog

This first post is so you can get to know me and this blog. At 50, I have witnessed the world go from ‘no nukes’ and ‘hell no we won’t go’ to ‘i can’t breathe’ and ‘defund the police’. From Nixon who resigned for the betterment of the nation to Trump who by refusing to concede has caused an even wider divide.

That being said, this blog is both op/ed and journalistic. It will be how I see things but backed up  by data. 

My history is not unique but does allow me the ability to see things from a perspective of both left and right. Something that is hardly done in today’s political and societal climate. 

I was a journalist and op/ed writer for over a decade. In three types of media I honed my craft. I wrote in the newsprint, as a freelance writer, and with Examiner.com (now defunct). I delved into religion, politics, and current events. At times people agreed and at times I received hate mail. So your opinion is fine if you choose to give it. 

I hold 2 degrees in Criminal Justice with a specialty in Rehabilitative Justice, a Master of Science in Forensic Psychology with specialties in Law and Policy and Data Research. I also hold an MBA with a specialty in Accounting. I also hold several certificates in business, security, analytics, investigation, and community response. 

I have also held positions in retail, management, security, medical, and other labor oriented jobs. I’ve been an EMTA, Security Officer, and trained at the IDOC. So my interests are wide and varied. 

This blog is to give my informed opinion and, with some hope, make things a little better and bring our nation back together. I will, however, piss people off. Both liberal and conservative. Because in the last 20 years, this nation has gone to ruin, much like all great empires of history. I love my country but will not say it is the greatest in the world. Our history and our current infighting has proven that. As do many statistics. I am neither liberal or conservative, but yet I am both, depending on the subject. At the heart of it all, I am a Constitutionalist. I don’t support rights for one side while denying them for the other. 

So if you are reading this, thank you. And if you follow me (not necessarily because you agree), buckle in. It’s going to be a hell of a ride. 

Standard