Epstein Issue Is Common Among Jails But Ignored

There has been so much emphasis in news coverage of Jeffrey Epstein that one would perhaps think that he was the most wanted terrorist on American soil. However, that was not the case. Epstein didn’t decide his criminal conviction. Politics played its part in its decision making. However, the general public chose to weigh in well after the fact because of the politicized connectivity. Now that Epstein has died in the custody of an agency that has a duty to protect communities and provide structure to ensure such tragic events never occur. The fact is that Epstein died at the hands of government officials, which should send a scary chill down the spines of every American – especially when such a high profile individual was recently in the news for allegedly attempting to take his own life.

Perhaps a better question to ask one another is, “should have Jeffrey Epstein with a condition of potential suicide been relocated to a psychiatric facility for assessment and medical self-harm concerns?” Instead, the emphasis of the government and a judge was to keep Mr. Epstein in custody without bail. Naturally, the government side of the case deemed that Mr. Epstein met certain conditions that could place his safety at risk. But today we see that the government was extremely negligent in its duty to the American people.

There will of course by opposition or noise to inject that Epstein got what he deserved. To any human being, the notion of wishing death upon others may be an emotional reaction but is harmful. But it rings similarities to the death of Jeffrey Dahmer while he was imprisoned. It is bad enough that the sex offender registry is a tool to create public shaming on the outside world but its even more disturbing that American culture has instilled that prison life is a world filled with a retributive prisoner on prisoner punishment.

While there may be a blame assessment of Epstein died at the hands of the government, I would inject that the media played a significant part in allowing the Epstein story to become similar to the Princess Diana story where the press ultimately played a role in his death. The recent release of the Epstein report naming celebrity and other high profile names is not only entertainment value but brings additional harm in the allegation game. Nevermind how many people use the famed Nevada bunny ranch for paid sex or hookup apps such as Tinder, Grindr, Chaturbate or the now-defunct personals of BackPages and Craigslist. It will only be a matter of time before these apps catch up with mainstream media and sex scandals now or later. Eventually, this became a war on sexuality and power.

The media has shifted from reporting the news towards a talk show format to discuss how our culture and behaviors should be normalized. The innermost decisions made at home are now outsourcing to media and its commentary. No longer are we a society free of our own choosings or preferences. We are dictated to a degree how to engage with others. The media and society is no longer a culture of forgiveness, redemption, and a format of discussion. Instead, we are indoctrinated into a culture of entertainment where a life that ended, taken, or humiliated somehow becomes a celebrated moment? To me, that is a sick and demented society.

Are the alleged crimes of Epstein wrong? Of course! But society and the media had placed a shaming and entertainment value of this reporting well ahead of the economic and global outlook and survivability of mass murders and global threats. To me, that is more seriously important than a rich person engaging in sexual improprieties.

But finally, I leave with this valuable lessons learned moment. Did anyone come to the defense of Jeffery Epstein? I am not suggesting that Epstein be defended for his actions. Did anyone come to the rescue of Epstein for being listed on a national or state registries? Certainly not. In fact many advocates either remained silent or kept a safe distance not to become consumed with the rhetoric or grouping. But that is where I beg to question if anti-registry advocates are indeed advocates of ridding of the registry when why didn’t they create a momentum that Epstein is no different than any other registrant? Until the registry community learns to tackle the most difficult questions or situations, then all registrants risk being stuck in the mud for a very long time. Registry advocates must begin to take the Epstein moment to discuss how the registry, allegations, the judicial system, politics, and all the touchpoints affect all families and registrants. Do not avoid this topic because that is what the opposition desires. Epstein was a registrant and deserved equal treatment among fellow registrants to bring a cause that harm is always around the corner. Epstein situations happen all the time in the registry community. However, I will assume that there will be a few firings, and this will be swept under the rug just like all the rest.

It is an unfortunate day for our judicial and pretrial systems all across America.

Justice Reform Must Include Mental Health Reforms

Recently there has been an increased awareness of Justice Reforms in America. According to the Brookings Institution, it reports that we are spending $80 billion a year on incarceration. However, according to the U.S. government, we spend on average $3.5 trillion on health care annually. I raise the two separate issues to pinpoint a severe flaw that both systems are broken and in disrepair.

To help find a solution, some lawmakers have introduced policy allowing the privatization of prisons systems suggesting a reduction burdening taxpayers. Yet, these private prisons profit $7.4 billion annually. Let that sink in for a minute. If a private prison can turn a profit, then why isn’t our national corrections system rolling in surplus? Trillions of dollars on health care spending or roughly $10K per person and we should be the most mentally and physically fit people in the world? But that is not even an actuality in comparison to other nations with free health care. But it’s more complicated than that – because we choose to make it complicated.

Some could argue that jails and prisons provide health care, mental health assessments, and medication to inmates. While true, it holds two temporary but critical flaws. First, the inmate must volunteer and often establish a co-pay payment while incarcerated leaving many in additional debt when released. Second, once an inmate has been set free, there is no continuation of health services of any kind. While there may be low-cost municipal services to the formerly incarcerated the stigma of finding a job, housing, transportation, food, and reassimilation into a skeptic and often hostile community serves no real purpose or plan for successful outcomes. A practical reason for high recidivism rates is that the mentally ill are the most likely to return to jail or prison because they will have housing, food, reassimilation of structure, and medicine. However, somewhat like the perception of registered sex offenders is viewed as all-encompassing violent criminals. The same could be said in how we label those in the mental health community as criminals when in the judicial system.

The reality is that for justice reforms to deliver a sustainable solution the legal system it must collaborate and establish a strategy. A part of that strategy is to include health care and free easy to access proven mental health programs. A reason our health care system is broken because of the lack of accessibility and wage to pay for preventative health services. That same argument extends towards mental health both post and preventative. When an individual pleads for help, but no resources are readily available then there begins the problem in how we should be addressing it. However, if that same individual commits a crime because the bureaucracy fails to establish relationships with health care providers, then it will always be a win-win for prisons and recidivism.

Nobody will claim that justice reform is an easy task. Ultimately, it will be an expensive endeavor both politically, financially, and with strong emotional discourse. But if we make an attempt to focus on a long term strategy regulated by nonpartisan individuals its success may be achievable and results driven. If American society can experience sizable shifts in capitalism where factories that once monopolized the world were replaced with higher skilled and improved conditions why can’t we create and collaborate a rational plan to reduce incarcerations and a clogged judicial system with health organizations that understand data proven methods that will deliver immediate results? If we can invest in soldiers to train them to be leaders on a battlefield, train college students to create inventions to change the world then we can certainly change the dynamic of our outdated judicial and prison systems by reinvesting in proven and life-saving methodologies with long-term cost savings visible in the horizon.

We Are Pontius Pilate

Since the first of the year, I have been going to the gym 3 to 4 times a week to rediscover how to get my body back in shape and to fit in reasonably sized clothing choices once again. I attend a wellness center filled with many people, usually mature or older, seeking to either get in shape or highlight therapy towards injuries and such. After a vigorous swim, I decided to enter the hot tub. For some reason, the hot tub at this wellness center has jokingly become the informal roundtable pool

Todays topic began with the R.Kelly grand jury indictment. I carefully listed to all the various unscholarly noise and gut assumptions. After nearly five or so minutes of listening I felt as if the conversation had become judge, jury, and executioner well before evidence or trial can present its arugment. 

What ended the conversation quickly is when an older lady looked over and asked me directly, “do you think he is guilty?”  I replied with, “I have no formal opinion on the matter because I don’t know R. Kelly nor do I live in the Chicago metro area.”  The hot tub quickly became quiet. The facial expressions snapped over to glare at me to suggest I am the onion in the soup. She then said in a careful tone, “but there are perverts like him out there harming kids.”   I said, “yes, but R. Kelly’s issues don’t affect me directly. However, what I am most concerned about our citizens that may be called to be potential jurors claiming to not know anything about R. Kelly but do and want to spread bias while affirming an oath to a judge and God then they will be fair an impartial. Now, that does affect all of us.”  Quickly the hot tub emptied. I knew that I hit a raw nerve. But instead of listening there is cult or gang-like atmosphere that people insist that we agree with fears and affirm everyone is out to get us or do harm despite the fact that it is thousands of miles away or next door.

Rather than engaging in an argument I quickly became the advocate of reason. Did I obtain any winners or sway people? Perhaps not. But what I did convey is pushback towards normative behaviors that we must agree or nod to keep the peace when in fact we are just reinforcing a bad behavior. 

I managed to get out of the hot tub and go to the locker room to change ending a workout. In the locker room I saw a few men from the pool area. As I was changing, one leaned over and said, “you know that woman is a preachers wife?”  I looked back with a smile and said, “I could tell with all those virtuous Christian values pouring out.”  Everyone in the locker room laughed with agreement. The men began suggesting I was the only person that ever stood up to disagree with her. I tried to explain that as a Christian my beliefs are to seek justice, then mercy, and forgiveness. I said, “People have a choice to either be more like Jesus or become like Pontius Pilate.”  That alone cemented that we are often quick to adjudicate before weighing evidence.  It is not my intentions to sound overly biblical or born-again. Instead it is important that people claiming to be Christians practice what they preach. 

On that note, there are many people not only entering correctional facilities today but a large number are let out and attempting to reintegrate into society. In my eyes those exiting the legal system in America have paid their price and should be treated as paying that debt to society. If our culture has no planning towards atonement and reentry into society then we have no reason to provide love, worth, or ambition in excelling as life continues by those affected or connected to incarceration or registry requirement.  It is fine to dislike the crime, but our energy shouldn’t be consumed with hating the person. Disappointment should be brief lapses over time. Instead, we live in a world today where we want to lock people up and throw away the key. Eventually that place too will become overcrowded and bursting with no room to reform and teach others because a person influenced others to think like them. It’s not gangs we should be worried about. It is the ganglike mentality that fails to separate between the street gang and the hypocrites that appear ganglike we should worry about. 

Private Prisons: Bad Idea

Recently the Trump administration decided to return funding back into private prisons. If you want a glimpse into what a private prison operation looks like, then you may want to watch a few seasons of Orange Is The New Black. Of course, television shows depict a Hollywood styled message, but we should be mindful that this is neither Oz nor Prison Break. Prisons and jails house real people that were found guilty of crimes ranging from failure to pay child support to murder. It has been documented that prisons are now the new mental health facilities yet many in prison cannot seek help because of budget cuts or constraints. Therefore, it’s doing time. Privatization of prisons is nothing more than a false sense of money savings scam combined with corruption and injustice. You cannot build a discount Supermax prison facility and purchase electricity, water, and security at a reduced rate. Private prisons are a fraud providing a sense of fiscal responsibility.

 

I remember a time where prisons were called the Department of Corrections. This fancy title doesn’t seem to carry much weight if prisons and jails are considered a revolving door. I am skeptical when someone calls a correctional facility a revolving door especially when those terms originate from the very people that administer prisons. Why not reintroduce education, job skills, and mental health requirements back into prisons? Yes, it is costly. But failing to provide that very funding is why prison populations grow and sometimes spiral out of control. Funding is not about building more jails and prisons. Funding should be about investment so that jails and prisons don’t become overpopulated. It appears the counties and states are spending in technological requirements that federal grants already contribute or pay for rather than spending on health care, education, and programs to reduce repeat offenders. Prisons also want to keep matters quiet and private as not to require oversight. This is perhaps why prison and jail administrators don’t want outsiders that could raise or report issues such as abuses or the lack of programs.

 

Prison privatization may save a few dollars here and there, but the bureaucracy continues. I would suggest that if private prisons are going to facilitate and house inmates to save money, then state and federal agencies should be responsible for providing mental health care. There should be some form of oversight so that the revolving door mentality is reduced. I would also suggest that prison population census begins showing the numbers of inmates returning the system within a two year period. That way we the public can determine if we are not just saving money, but reducing our recidivism rate. However, if the general public wishes to throw money at a revolving door prison system thinking that cutting individual funding may save money, resources, and create deterrent conditions then perhaps the public should spend a few days in prison or jail to understand its overall impact.

 

Trump said in his campaign speeches that he was going to clean up American crime and begin deporting illegal immigrants. Naturally privatized prisons are one suggestion of facilitating that need. But prisons are not a proper answer when it comes to deportation methods. Other nations deport immediately and allow an individual to appeal from their host country. Simply filling up an immigration prison will cost Ameican taxpayers; not illegal visitors. Prisons already endure a stigma of organized crime and accelerating inmates to advance from low-level crimes to dangerous criminal activity. Do we want to encourage an immigration violation to become an escalated criminal? No prisons are needed for deportation. An airline or bus ticket can do that. Our domestic prisons should be to house criminals that rape, murder, steal, or feloniously ruin our society. To clean up American, we must learn to re-educate America about our laws and consequences. Spend money on educating prisoners and buy an airline flight for an immigration problem. I’m sure our private aviation sector would enjoy profiting a bit more money from that idea.  It’s far cheaper than housing an immigrant for over six months or more. Otherwise, the only winners are the prison industry and its stockholders.

Homophobic States of America

A recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health mentions lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) individuals are disproportionately incarcerated, mistreated and sexually victimized in U.S. jails and prisons. Lead study author Ilan Meyer, the Williams Distinguished Senior Scholar for Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law says “The high rate was so shocking, I had to check it three times to make sure we weren’t making any mistakes.” Sadly, the report may be a reflection upon the hidden agenda of prejudice in America when it comes to LGBT relations.

All you have to do is mention gay marriage or lesbian adoptions and the hate nonsense immediately begins. We may also hear garrulous and pointless discussions about LGBT members clandestine maneuvers to “turn” a person gay or fall prey to their sexual innuendos. It is not only absurd but utterly bizarre to think in this manner. But we do hear it and fail as a society to stop this insane way of thinking. There are people out there, perhaps you know a few, that still think there are a gay agenda and plan to disrupt society. Perhaps I was asleep at the wheel, but I missed my copy of that gay agenda. Could someone please send me a copy?

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What bothers me the most about this published report is that it comes hundreds of years too late. We are aware that homosexuality, in general, has been habitually persecuted when it began in the Colony of Virgina and the rest of the world. The people of Virginia before the United States was formed criminalized male sodomy, making it punishable by death. Most notable is when Oscar Wilde in England was sentenced to two years hard labor in prison for gross indecency. The list of persecutions aroud the world went on and somewhat still continue today. It was California that created the modern day sex offender registry. That particular registry was to list every known homosexual even while still incarcerated and alert communities about known homosexuals. Today that registry is a mixed bag of every offense treating and labeling it as a final sum. It’s not a registry; it’s a stigma list. Creating anti-gay laws or lists will eventually bring death in some form or another.

Of course, those practicing law or law enforcement will lean towards being anti-gay. After all, law enforcement is a macho uniformed paramilitary culture while law is a formal dark affair of backroom deals rather than actual justice.  Female police officers must cross genders to be accepted among their peers. Female attorneys do their best to look like men rather than who they are. This is where the shift begins not to identify fairness but to recognize the strong macho identification of emulation. American culture is somewhat vigilante in nature by suggesting sayings to those that will or are incarcerated as, “I hope they become someone’s bitch in prison” or “Soon, Bubba will have a new bunkmate.” These suggestions only confirm that LGBT individuals incarcerated are mistreated and sexually victimized. It further suggests that we as a society are not doing anything to protect LGBT communities nor providing an advocacy of equal justice under the law. As long as politics, judicial prejudice and bigotry occur then, there will always be a disproportion within our jails, schools, and society. I once heard the saying, “This is why homophobia is a terrible evil: it disguises itself as concern while it is inherently hate.” Our society, leadership, and judicial officers are responsible for providing equality to all and immediately discovering ways to stop the disproportioned. How many more hundreds of years must pass before we do something?

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