Posts tagged ‘Prison’

August 31, 2011

In Limbo At Gitmo

by Vince

If you are told that everyone in Guantanamo Bay’s U.S. prison is the same as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, read this story:

It is a strange population, the 171 men still left at Guantánamo. There is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and another two dozen hardened militants, who will never be released. This class of prisoner represents a small minority of the population. Then there are the others — about a hundred men, mostly Yemeni, who have been cleared to leave but have no place to go, as no country will take them. And there are another thirty-five or so like Noor. They are nameless, low-level operatives, or hapless men who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are the detritus of a decade-long war.

They can’t simply be released. That would be admitting that they aren’t as bad as the government once said they were. And most can’t be tried, either, because much of the evidence against them — if there is any — is too fraught, as it was gotten by torture, and would never have even been considered to be evidence in any American judicial proceeding before September 11, 2001. And no serious person would have ever argued for it as such.

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June 5, 2011

America is Exceptional and Hypocritical

by Vince

The first point is a horse beaten to death. Get your fill in the “sermon” by Tim Pawlenty above.

As for the second point, this deals not with politics but with agricultural work. I read this article in a different lens after working on the farm the past week. I have grown up working hard with my dad (who has been a landscaper for 30 years), with my Boy Scout troop creating 13+ feet high campfires and completing maintenance tasks, and now pulling out malta flora rose bushes that are entangled with vines overgrown for the past 10 years.

I take back my part about politics being out of this topic. It is at the center of it. Barack Obama is taking action by requiring all ag workers to be cleared as U.S. citizens before they can work. This sounds pragmatic, but troubling for a few sectors. 80% of the labor force in the ag field is made up of illegal immigrants.  An easy response to that glaring labor need is to hire Americans. The ironic point in all of this is that for as exceptional and great America is, how far advanced, smug, and pompous we are, we (to some large degree) refuse to do this kind of available work:

“We are headed toward a train wreck,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat whose district includes agriculture-rich areas. “The stepped up (workplace) enforcement has brought this to a head.”

Lofgren said farmers are worried that their work force is about to disappear. They say they want to hire legal workers and U.S. citizens, but that it’s nearly impossible, given the relatively low wages and back-breaking work.

“Few citizens express interest, in large part because this is hard, tough work,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsak said this past week. “Our broken immigration system offers little hope for producers to do the right thing.”

Arturo S. Rodriguez, president of United Farm Workers, said migrant farm workers are exposed to blistering heat with little or no shade and few water breaks. It’s skilled work, he said, requiring produce pickers to be exact and quick. While the best mushroom pickers can earn about $35,000 to $40,000 a year for piece work, there’s little chance for a good living and American workers don’t seem interested in farm jobs.

“It is extremely difficult, hard, dangerous work,” Rodriguez said.

Last year Rodriguez’s group started the “Take Our Jobs” campaign to entice American workers to take the fields. He said of about 86,000 inquiries the group got about the offer, only 11 workers took jobs.

“That really was thought up by farm workers trying to figure out what is it we needed to do to show that we are not trying to take away anyone’s job,” Rodriguez said.

Several times in those sections Americans are hinted to be unwilling to take some of these available jobs. If such a glaring gap in inquiry and taking a job (86,000 inquiries the group got about the offer, only 11 workers took jobs) is present, can anyone then blame the President and the crummy economy and not their own unemployed self?

Straying away from open jobs has pushed our country to strongly desire comfy, cozy work and benefits that are unsustainable in the long term.Yes, this may be a larger problem in the educational sector than many other jobs, but much of our IT work has too been outsourced.

America the great. America the exceptional. Figure this out (along with our huge prison issue) or continue to sound hypocritical.

May 31, 2011

A Prison Nation

by Vince

KT provides some interesting points for those willing to discuss America’s prison system:

In the twenty-seven nations of the European Union, whose combined population exceeds ours by nearly two hundred million, the total prison population for all crimes combined is around six hundred thousand.  In the US, we’ve got almost that number of people – five hundred thousand to be precise — in prison for drug related crimes alone.  And many of these crimes involve no violence whatsoever.

Even the racial aspects of incarceration are striking:

African Americans make up roughly twelve percent of our total population, but they make up over forty percent of the prison population.  Latinos make up thirteen percent of the population, but twenty percent of prison inmates.  The prison system is one of the epicenters of racial inequality in America.   If current trends continue, one-third of all black males and one-sixth of all Latino males will go to prison during their lives, as opposed to one in seventeen white males.

As easy as it is to say “fix the broken system!” it is harder than many can fathom. Just spending one day in an in-school suspension room at a middle school will give you a taste of what reformers are up against. We cannot talk to these detained students, yet (healthy) attention is most likely just what they need. We cannot really help them with their work and are to encourage them to figure it out on their own (because they ruined their chance in class to be taught), yet patient help is what they do need.

This may take me off of the original topic, but it has me questioning aspects of the public school system (which I have been for a few months). The system is very much assembly-line-esque with almost a one size fits all approach. The outlier pupils – most notably those who cannot sit still due to ADHD, anxiety, etc. – are disciplined. From my first hand experience, the students I had who exhibited ADHD or anxiety symptoms had issues stemming from their parents (or lack of parental presence). Some of these students became hyper-active due to these home issues and others reticent to the point that I unfortunately might not even notice them on a day to day basis.

I hope this all can emphasize a few things. One, family (supportive, loving, present, active) really does matter. Two, support systems (teachers, tutors, clubs, teams, religious institutions, et al) are strong supplemental systems that in some cases are even the primary support for our younger generation. Third and finally, having the first and second aforementioned points as positive presences in a students life are just what they (and we all) need to move along through the ups and downs in life (whether through discipline issues at school, a lost job, or a string of incarcerations).

May 25, 2011

The Prison Flood Gates Are Opening

by Vince

The California Supreme Court upheld a decision to release 30,000 inmates. Conor Friedersdorf and Mark Kleiman are hoping they use the GPS-type trackers for these released offenders.

I have mixed feelings about this because I know it’s an imperfect solution. On the other hand, I do know that prison costs are (and have been) exploding. Conversely, I don’t think saving money should always point us towards blanket solutions that may jeopardize public safety

September 29, 2010

“How To” with Iran and Human Rights

by Vince

A handbook was created for the Islamic nation whose leader not only denies the Holocaust ever happening but believes 9/11 was an inside job. PBS tracked Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s pernicious lies while recently in NYC for a UN General Assembly:

“Iran is the freest country in the world”:

This is while there are at least 800 political prisoners in Iran whose sole “offense” has been protesting the terrible state of the nation, at least 110 people have been killed since last year during demonstrations and in detention centers, at least two prominent supporters of the Green Movement have been assassinated, and at least eight people have been executed.

Obama reacts here.

July 14, 2010

Reforming Rehabilitation

by Vince

Frum cites a neat article and chimes in on the topic of reforming the prison system:

Currently, approximately 2 out of every 3 former inmates return’ to prison within three years of release. Helping inmates find and sustain employment immediately after release diminishes their chances of recidivism. Working towards a reduction in recidivism is important because keeping offenders from re-entering the penal system means less crime and less tax dollars (which can be saved and/or reinvested by the tax payer).

Most of the aid that offenders receive are through public funds from the federal government and philanthropic organizations which donate monies to non-profits and state agencies to help defray re-entry costs. Ex-convicts are typically placed into low-wage jobs and often quit due to the patience required for delayed gratification through legal work and/or lack of familial support.

Frum:

Past experience with rehabilitation programs has been disheartening. In the 1970s, it became conventional wisdom that “nothing works.” I’m not going to quibble with the success in public safety achieved by incarceration. But if compassionate conservatism means anything, it should mean support for research and experimentation to discover if maybe after all there is something that might work even a little better than writing off as valueless the lives of 3 million fellow-Americans, disproportionately minority and especially disproportionately black.