Christianity, faith, Uncategorized

Ghosts, Spirits, and Demons, OH MY!

Over the last few decades, ghost hunting has been a huge event worldwide. Shows like Ghost Hunters have elevated it to the point groups around the country have formed. I will admit, I like going out from time to time when something feels off. However, despite what is thought, is not actually the case.

I will not say that entities do not exist. They do and there has been quite a bit of evidence scientifically. The issue is not whether or not there are entities, the issue is what is actually being found. Whether the evidence is caught on video, in an EVP, a ghost box, through a Ouija board/witch board, or even through the medium you visited in New Orleans, it is not your dear granny, the lady that died mysteriously, or Johnny Cash. What you are capturing is demonic.

The Bible gives clear instruction on the dead in many places. And in revealing the scriptures, it will also bring to view the idea that death does not immediately mean Heaven  or Hell for the recently departed. And as you know, most preachers when giving the funeral services, more than not he will say that Mr. So and So is now in heaven. You never hear they went to hell, no matter how evil the person was. Nor do they go to a place of limbo (Purgatory for Catholics) to be cleansed of any remaining sin that was not bad enough to go to Hell. And Hell itself will be dealt with in another article.

The writers of the Old Testament tells us that the dead have no knowledge, memory, or ability. For there is no mention of You in death; In Sheol who will give You thanks? (Psalms 6:5). Will Your wonders be made known in the darkness? And Your righteousness in the land of forgetfulness? (Psalms 88:12). Will You perform wonders for the dead? Will the departed spirits rise and praise You? Selah. Will Your loving kindness be declared in the grave, Your faithfulness in Abaddon? (Psalms 88:10-11). The dead do not praise the Lord, Nor do any who go down into silence; (Psalms 115:17).

In other Old Testament books we find more writings of the dead. For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten (Eccl 9:5). Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going (Eccl 9:10). 

Other scriptures in the Old Testament speak of death as sleep. But as for you, go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age (Daniel 12:13). And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2).

The bible makes it clear that a person dies, that is it it until the resurrection of the dead. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return (Genesis 3:19).Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead (Isaiah 26:19). And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2).For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first (1st Thess 4:16).

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years (Rev 20:4-6).

Now, there are two terms, Sheol (Hebrew) from the Old Testament and Hades (Greek) from the New Testament. Both of these terms simply mean the grave. So all that die are headed to Sheol/Hades. It is that 6×6 hole in the ground.

The Bible is clear that the dead are just that, DEAD, until the resurrection. Now, you hear this verse often, Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it (Eccl 12:7). Most think that when term spirit is used in this verse, that is the person’s essence (being) going to Heaven. This can’t be the way the term means because it does not differentiate saved and non-saved. That would mean that all go to Heaven, and we know by Scripture that only those who believe in Christ and follow His commandments are saved and go to Heaven. The spirit spoke of here is strictly the breathe of life, Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being (Genesis 2:7).

Since ghosts and haunts are not those that have passed, what are they? They are demons, or more correctly, Lucifer (Satan) and the third of the angels that followed him. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (6:12). Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you (1 Peter 5:8-10). Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time (Rev 12:12).And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him (Rev 12:9).

So the next time you hear that disembodied voice that sounds like a loved one, a friend, someone you don’t know from the past, or Michael Jackson remember that the dead are dead until resurrection and that they know nothing because their is no type of life within or from them, pray to the Lord for aid and send the entity from you pleading the blood of Christ. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you (James 4:7).

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Christianity, faith, Uncategorized

Commandment 2: No Graven Images

You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:4-6 (NIV)

While most know the first part of this commandment but don’t go on to read the second part. This has led to various concepts of the verses and the commandment. The Amish have no images (pictures, faced dolls, statuary, etc) because they believe that these can lead to false worship and ego. But then you have the Catholic Church which allow it in certain ways.

The Catholic Church has combined the 1st and 2nd commandments and split the 10th commandment into two commandments. This allows them the use of statuary in private and parish worship. So in this concept, we will look at how not every man made image is an idol or god and how some are within Christendom.

The first part of the commandment leads directly into the second part. What makes a man made image a sin is the person’s giving it adoration given only to God. So the pictures of your kids, a concert poster, an star’s autographed picture, the garden gnome are NOT what the commandment is referring to. These are just images UNLESS you bow down to them and give them the adoration and praise allowed only to God.

The Catholic Church has statuary, prints, reliefs, etc that correspond to those they deem saints, the blessed mother of Christ, the walk to the cross, etc. What makes them sin is the prayers and adoration given them. The catechism states that worship is given only to God (which is true). The part that is in defiance of the 2nd commandment is giving prayers to the saints that these statues and prints that represent them. No where in the Holy Scriptures does it say to pray to the dead (which the saints and mother of Christ are).

It actually says not to pray to them because they can’t hear prayer. For the living know that they will die,but the dead know nothing;they have no further reward,and even their name is forgotten.Their love, their hateand their jealousy have long since vanished;never again will they have a partin anything that happens under the sun. Eccl 9:5-6 (NIV)

Now, they will bring up Moses and the making of the image of a serpent. But as you will see, that image was ordered by God and not worshiped, but only looked upon.  They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way;they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. Numbers 21:4-9 (NIV). Jesus later told what this action actually was.Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. John 3:14 (NIV).Prayer is a form of worship (https://www.thomasnelsonbibles.com/blog/prayer-is-an-act-of-worship/). Worship is to God alone. So not matter what you pray to or worship, if it is NOT God alone it is a violation of the commandment of God. This would include pagan gods and deities. As well as the saints, the mother of Jesus, and any image of them.

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The Commandments: No Other Gods

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” Exodus 20:3

This verse starts what are known as the 10 commandments of God. Given to Moses on Mt. Sinai after being brought out  of Egyptian captivity and going across the Red Sea. But what is the meaning of this verse? Many believe it says that only God Jehovah is the only god. But as you go down through history, there are three types of gods that can be seen in this quote.

The definition of a god is simply something a person worships. There are three classifications to this: spiritual gods, men who are seen as gods, and inanimate objects. All three will be discussed and to show why the GOD of the Abrahamic faiths is the one that is the one true God.

Spiritual Gods

Spiritual gods in this article are referring to the multitude of pantheon gods of bygone cultures and civilizations. I will not say that this entities had no abilities. The bible proves they did at some point. After all, the bible tells us in Exodus that the priests (magicians) of the the Pharaoh could perform certain things like Moses and Aaron. And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent. And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the Lord had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the Lord had said.” (Exodus 7:8-13)

The actions of Aaron’s ‘serpent’ show that God Jehovah was superior. Later, when it was time for the Israelites to leave God used some of the Egyptian gods to plague the Egyptians and proved He alone was almighty. (http://www.stat.rice.edu/~dobelman/Dinotech/10_Eqyptian_gods_10_Plagues.pdf) Look through Exodus 7:1-12:36 and study the hyperlinked pdf.

Then we move to areas like Babylon. Where there gods were put to the test. So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel.And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the Lord, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men.Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it.And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the Lord, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.”Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.”And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made.And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.”And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them.And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the Lord that had been thrown down.Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the Lord came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,”and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the Lord. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs[a] of seed.And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.”And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time.And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word.Answer me, O Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The Lord, he is God; the Lord, he is God.”And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.” (1 Kings 18:20-40)

As we move through the points of history, the gods and goddesses of every pantheon have fallen. From Medo-Persian and Roman of the ancient world to Celtic, Viking/German, African, and Meso-American. In the end, all of these pantheons fell to the Judeo-Christian God. And were left buried in antiquity until modern times. Now these pantheons are making a comeback. But like then, they will again fall.

Here’s where these false gods came from. They created nothing. They can’t save the soul of their believer. And they must bow down and forfeit to the one true God because they came from him. They are nothing more than the fallen that sided with Lucifer against the Creator himself. Because of lust of self and power, Lucifer and one third of the angels were cast from heaven. Where did they go? Here. “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit” (Isaiah 14:12-15). Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him” (Revelation 12:7-9). “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Men who place themselves as gods

Throughout man’s history, there are men who have placed themselves as god on earth. Pharaoh was believed to be the sun god Ra walking on earth. In more modern times, people like Jim Jones and David Koresh have led followers to their deaths with these claims. Most of these are demigods of man’s making. Take how people flocked and followed to Donald Trump over the last few years. They have been blinded by his words and emotional influence. Much like men throughout history: Julius Caesar, Adolph Hitler, and quite a few television evangelists/prosperity preachers (such as Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland). But one seems to be set above all others. The Pope of Roman Catholicism. Over his reign, the pope has commanded countries who bowed, armies who fought (inquisitions and crusades), and placed himself as god on earth.

The Catholic church believes they have the ability to forgive sin, According to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church,” confession involves either “venial” (minor sins) which are confessed to God and “mortal” (major sins) which must be confessed through a priest. This means the priest (or above) acts as mediator between man and God. But we are told in Scripture that not understanding that Jesus was God in flesh (John 1:1-14) they made the statement Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” (Luke 5:21). The Catholic also tends to forget that there is only one mediator between man and God, and the priest is not it.For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).

In Pope Leo XIII’s 1885 Encyclical ‘The Reunion of Christendom’ he states, “the pope holds upon this earth the place of Almighty God”. His title is, besides Pope and Bishop of Rome, is Vicarious Filii Dei ‘Vicar (replacement or agent) of God on Earth’. So, by the Church’s own admission, the seat of the papacy is the thrown of a man that is seen as a god. The power and influence of the papacy have grown majorly, especially since the Francis became Pope. We see the spiritual and political influence this man has throughout the world.

Inanimate objects

Everything else that can be worshiped falls within this category. Money, power, and position are the main points of this category. This are tangibles that man seeks for. Now, these things may be needed (try buying groceries without financial ability or having a business operate without a person in the lead). BUT when the desire for these become the main component of one’s life and ambition, that is when they become a god to that person. For these things when they reach that level of importance, mankind has killed, cheated, lied, warred, and stolen to get them. They have taken precedents over his soul and his compassion for his fellowman.

Conclusion

There is one reason that the first commandment is what it is. With all of these categories of false gods, we need reminded that there is only one God over all. He is the Creator of all things. He is the spoken word that became flesh in Jesus the Christ. HE IS GOD ALONE. Because we fell for the great satan, the liar and deceiver, the once great Lucifer, we need to be reminded who our Father really is.

Take a moment and ask the Father, the one true God to help you always remember who He is and to have the strength through him to turn away from these false gods. We all need that repentance and forgiveness. As an earthly parent may chastise his children, he will also have their back when they need him. How much greater will the Father that created all protect His children. As time draws near to the end of all things and the return of Christ the King, please remember who the true God is, and seek His protection and salvation.

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Today’s Preacher are Cowards

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5

America has gone from the Great Awakening to Woke generation. And the one entity that, up until the last few decades has turned to apostasy. The church was the guardian of morality and the American conscience. The church pews are full of those that ask ‘why is there no revival’ while subverting, demonizing, and denying the edicts of our Creator. Like my grandmother used to say ‘you can’t guard the hen house by letting in the fox’, which is exactly what the men behind the pulpit has done.

The first Great Awakening during the Colonial Era of our nation was brought into a complacent church. Men like George Whitfield, who had a voice that Ben Franklin said he could hear a half mile away. And probably the greatest preacher of that revival time, Jonathan Edwards. He preached a sermon that came to be know as the greatest sermon ever given. It was called ‘Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God’. It was based on the scripture of Deuteronomy 32:35 “Their foot shall slide in due time”. (https://www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/sermons.sinners.html)

The first Great Awakening had 5 major points of discussion:

  • All people are born sinners
  • Sin without salvation will send a person to hell
  • All people can be saved if they confess their sins to God, seek forgiveness and accept God’s grace
  • All people can have a direct and emotional connection with God
  • Religion should not be formal and institutionalized, but rather casual and personal

(https://www.history.com/topics/british-history/great-awakening)

The second Great Awakening came post American Revolution and lasted until about 1830. It brought with it Camp Meeting. In 1802 Kentucky the camp meeting counted 20,000. (https://www.ushistory.org/us/22c.asp) The best known concept to come from this revival movement was the concept that freewill prevailed. The idea that one could choose to be saved, and salvation was for everyone. It also had greater roles for women and the black community.

It was at this time, men like Charles Finney found his salvation. In 1821 he said he was going to the woods in New York to determine the reality of his soul’s salvation. He is quoted as saying “I will give my heart to God or I never will come down from there”.  In 1824 he was ordained. He had a unique way of reaching those that heard him and a message that didn’t tickle the ears. Ending one of his sermons he told the listeners, “You who have made up your minds to become Christians, and will give your pledge to make your peace with God immediately, should rise up”. The congregation sat still. His reply was “You have rejected Christ and his gospel”. This made the congregation, and the community angry. To the point of anger, the next evening a gentleman was intent upon killing him.

The next evening he preached again. This time, those present at the end of the message stood up to give their pledge. While others fell down groaning and bellowing. Sorrow for their sins and the understood need for repentance took over the congregation. (https://www.christianitytoday.com/history/people/evangelistsandapologists/charles-finney.html).

Other great revivals have hit our nation when needed through the ages since then.

  • The Great Prayer Meeting Revival 1857 (at least 1 million were converted)
  • Civil War Revival (an estimated 300,000 converted, both USA and CSA)
  • The Urban Revivals  1875-1885 (DL Moody saw the conversion of hundreds of thousands)
  • The Welsh Revival of 1904-1905 came to America (Billy Sunday preached to the conversion of at least a million)
  • Azusa Street 1906 started as a home prayer service (lasted for 3 straight years, everyday all day and night)
  • From WW2 to the 90s , America saw great preachers like Henry Blackaby, William Branham, and Billy Graham.

These men (and women) planted the seeds that converted millions in the US alone. They preached the recognition of sin and need for salvation through Christ. The bible was their only used material. God said it, the writer’s wrote it, so these preachers preached it. They gave no quarter and did not worry themselves about what people thought  about them or their message. They understood that God’s message of sin and repentance was like a sword, not cotton candy.

Today we have weak preachers that seek to fill the pews and not offend. They want to be liked not hated. They want to be seen as friend to the masses not the continuance of the Apostles. Because of the loss of power in the pulpit message and compromise of the Word of God, Christian churches have become social clubs where sin and repentance is not discussed, and the love of God requires nothing but to be kind. And we are warned of these types of preachers. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away’. (2 Timothy 3:5)

The men praised today and almost worshiped are men like Kenneth Copeland, Joel Olsteen, and Creflo Dollar. These types are called prosperity preachers. Their message is simple. If you are not healthy and wealthy you lack faith. If people hate you, you are preaching wrong. Send us your money as a seed (many have lost all they have to these charlatans) and God will bless you. No call to repentance, no calling out of sin, and no need to go into the prayer closet.

Churches today allow homosexuality to flourish because the rules of God’s morality does not matter, just love each other. Go ahead and commit abortion because the command to not kill (murder) does not apply, just be nice. The use the verses that say do not judge and sliver in the eye to justify a weak worldly message. They care more about tickling the ear than the state of the soul.

Of course Christians are not perfect. However many claim to be so or have given in to the concept is love is all that matters. A true Christian will search his /her heart, see where the sin is, repent, ask for forgiveness and grace from God. A person who only claims to be a Christian says there is no need to because “God loves me and I said one time I believe so I’m good to go”.

Christ and the apostles answered this question. If you love me, you will keep my commandments’ (John 14:15). ‘Whoever has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me. The one who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.’ (John 14:21). I am amazed how quickly you are deserting the One who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel–‘ (Gal 1:6). ‘But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea’ (Matthew 18:6).

Today we are seeing the Church of Laodicea. To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev. 3:14-22).

The church is ineffective because it is dead. It is dead because it has compromised the teachings of the prophets, the apostles, and Jesus the Christ himself. This compromise has happened because of the weakness of the message from the pulpit. The message is weak because those preaching have decided that being popular is more important than the souls of the sheep they are suppose to tend. In nations of Africa and the Middle East, Christians die for their unwavering faith in the the message of Christ. The apostles were jailed, beat, killed, and banished for their faith in Christ. In America, these preachers fear mocking and ridicule. Imagine what will happen when Christ makes his glorious return and sees the church in America.

‘Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!…’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

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THE NATION THAT FORGETS GOD

The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.For the needy shall not always be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.Arise, O Lord; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.Put them in fear, O Lord: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah  (Psalms 9:17-20) 

George Washington in his farewell address stated the morality and religious principle are required for a government to operate properly https://www.vindicatingthefounders.com/library/washington-farewell-address.html. Men like William Blackstone, Noah Webster, the authors of our pre-Revolution papers made it clear, the course of our nation’s laws and morality were to be based within the Holy Scriptures https://www1.cbn.com/biblestudy/judge-moore-the-founding-fathers-and-the-ten-commandments. Not the Koran, not philosophy, but the Commandments of God and the faith of Jesus the Christ.

Over the past decades, this nation has forgotten who gives it strength. While the military is one of the best globally, our strength did not come from it. While our economy was once the lead of financial circles our the world, that was not what gave us our strength and position. While we were the beacon of hope for the oppressed, the lowly, those seeking a better life, it was not because of the above mentioned reasons. Yes, they played into the reason, but were not the underlying cause of our hope or theirs.

The main reason was because of our laws, compassion, and moral compass in the world. The Scopes Monkey Trial (as it was named) started the slide from grace for the nation. An Arkansas trial solidified the ability to teach beyond Creation, the alternate view of Evolution https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/monkey-trial-begins . Then came the removal of prayer and the Holy Scripture from schools https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/penny-starr/education-expert-removing-bible-prayer-public-schools-has-caused-decline.

In 1948, multitudes of nations stepped into the UN and signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Eleanor Roosevelt signed for the US. The first Human Right is the Right to Life. God already knew this, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” (Jeremiah 1:5A). For you created my inmost being;you knit me together in my mother’s womb.I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;your works are wonderful,I know that full well.My frame was not hidden from youwhen I was made in the secret place,when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.Your eyes saw my unformed body;all the days ordained for me were written in your bookbefore one of them came to be” (Psalms 139:13-16). But in 1973, a landmark case (Roe vs Wade) disallowed that primary right for human life https://www.britannica.com/event/Roe-v-Wade.

While different aspects of the LGTBQ+ community has existed (illegally) in this nation since it’s founding, the 20th Century brought with it a change for this specific community. From the 1973 decision by the APA to remove homosexuality from its mental defect list to the 2015 case that stated homosexual marriages were protected https://www.lgbtqhistory.org/lgbt-rights-timeline-in-american-history/. These actions, as all of those in support of LGTBQ+, defy the will and laws of God. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet” (Romans 1:26-27).

Since the turning away from the Holy Scripture and faith in God, the divorce rate in rate in America (tied with Gibraltar) ranks as the world’s highest https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/divorce-rates-by-country and crime (while not at its 1990s peak) is increasing in many categories including homicide https://www.bbc.com/news/57581270. The elected of our nation fight over helping other (needy, disabled, homeless, imprisoned, immigrants) but have no qualms about allowing the greed of men run business, finance, industry.

With these, we wonder why out nation has been under attack, the economic failures, as well as the ultra progressive movements and the ultra right movements pulling the nation farther apart. A president and House Speaker who claim to be Catholic Christian but support the murder of innocents at will and national immorality. And worse is a church that has, in the majority of cases, used the preaching of God’s love for man in salvation through His Son, Jesus the Christ’s death and resurrection to welcome all so as not to seem combative or judgmental towards society.

Christians are by no means perfect, as we are sinful man saved through grace not being yet transformed to the full glory of God. But like the Church of Laodicea, the church of today has become lukewarm. To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:14-22).

I will be the first to admit I am imperfect and only a sinner saved by the grace of God by the shed blood of Jesus. But there comes a point when even the those like me, not close to perfect but trying, have the need to say to the people of the nation….

***REPENT***

“The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it,if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it”.

Jeremiah 18:7-8

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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.

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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/

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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

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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.

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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 

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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.

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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. 

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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.  

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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. 

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