Criminal Justice Reform: A Solution That Works For All

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It is no secret that the criminal justice system is busting at the seams, and ultimately perpetuating a continuous cycle of mass incarceration. Due to the drastic increase in the national prison population, the country is beginning to carry a heavier financial burden. The public funds required to house and supervise people behind bars could be used more effectively in other areas of society such as education, job training, and diversion programs. In 2011, over 2.2 million people or 1 in 107 adults, were incarcerated in prisons or jails across the U.S. Another 4.8 million, or 1 in 50 adults were under supervision on probation or parole that year 1*. In an estimated total, nearly seven million Americans are under correctional or other criminal justice supervision. The amount of money spent by the United States on correction and community supervision such as parole and probation has almost quadrupled over the last twenty years 2*. The harsh punishment of prison for low-level offenses has proven to be ineffective in rehabilitating offenders. The portion of individuals returning to prison within the three-year period following their release has remained consistently above 40-50% for decades 3*. A greater attempt needs to be made to divert or channel low-level offenders away from the criminal justice system, so as to provide them with an alternative to prosecution. Mass incarceration has become a serious problem for this country, the number of people under correctional or criminal justice supervision in the U.S. far exceeds the entire general population in each of 38 different states 4*. If more preventative measures are not taken to reduce these growing statistics the results could prove to be catastrophic to the outcome of this nation as a whole. In this case, the most plausible solution would be to implement criminal justice programs geared towards re-socializing low level offenders back into society as productive members.

The problem that we are facing as a nation is the socio-economic impact of mass incarceration due to the lack of criminal justice diversion program implementation. According to the Maryland Division of Correction, the average annual cost to house an inmate in one of our state prisons is $38,654. The average yearly cost for an individual to participate in a community diversion program ranges from $2,000 – $5,000. Throughout the United States, these programs have shown to be effective at rehabilitating at risk individuals, reducing the spending of taxpayer dollars, lowering the prison population and increasing public safety 5*. This problem is of great significance to the American public as a whole because 1). The consequence of not having diversion programs means higher taxes being allocated for public safety, 2). The increase in non-rehabilitated individuals being released back into society, and 3). The reduction in quality of life for low-level offenders who will be stigmatized and discriminated against within society because of their convictions. This is not the type of problem that can be ignored or avoided, the effects of mass incarceration spread far and wide among the American public, and the ramifications for not addressing it in an efficient and effective manner will prove to be detrimental to the stability of the nation. So, with this in mind it seems evident that some kind of immediate action must be taken to preserve the well-being and best interests of the American public, or unfortunately suffer the consequences that inaction will surely bring. Mass incarceration is a social and economic strain on the county and must be combated to reduce the negative impact that it has on the nation.

The solution to reducing mass incarceration is simple; take preventative measures to reduce the number of criminal justice populations across the country by developing and implementing diversion programs. The goals of these diversion programs should include and consider public safety, reducing pressure on booking/holding in jail, identifying treatment needs of individuals (substance use disorders/mental health issues), reducing court docket pressure, reducing court and jail expense, maximizing prosecution resources for more serious offenses, addressing the basic needs of individuals reducing recidivism, and supervision with rehabilitation oriented practice. These goals can best be carried out by developing and implementing diversion programs that provide public crisis intervention, immediate diversion to behavioral health services, referrals to community services, individualized conditions for success/failure, justice accountability, and clear rewards/sanctions. These alternative measures are far more cost-effective than those of the traditional criminal justice system 6*.

  • Pre-booking diversion in Seattle’s LEAD program lead to 60% less recidivism in the first 6 months compared to a control group, as well as statistically significant reductions in criminal justice, legal system, and other costs 7*.
  • Pretrial diversion services in Kentucky have saved millions of dollars in incarceration costs and have reduced burden on court docket. The state observed a 71% rate of non-recidivism for its misdemeanor diversion programs and notes that defendants completed tens of thousands of community service hours and paid tens of thousands of dollars in restitution to victims 8*.
  • Testing, sanctioning and treatment are effective at reducing drug use and drug related crime recidivism, and are also cost-effective. A study evaluating “Breaking the Cycle”, a drug court program utilizing these strategies, found the following positive results among participants: reduction of drug use in two of three sites, reduction in drug sales and possession offences, reduction in family problems in all sites. A cost benefit analysis also showed this approach saved $2.30 to $5.70 for every dollar invested 9*.

The United States is currently in the damage control phase and trying to maintain stability in the overwhelming reality of mass incarceration. With the prison population within this country constantly growing at a rapid pace, it is obvious that the issue of maintenance will continue to be a serious problem and continue to have dire effects on the American people. We need to stop waiting by while these kinds of problems arise and focus on how we can prevent them from occurring or spiraling out of control. Criminal Justice Diversion Programs serve as a healthy and productive alternative to incarceration, parole or probation for misdemeanor or other low-level offenses. These programs have proven to be cost-effective and beneficial for all parties involved including the community at large. So why not invest in something that is clearly more conducive to the nation as a whole. If these programs were developed and implemented on a greater scale, the results would have a greater impact on criminal prevention.

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1). Glaze L. E., & Parks, E. (2012). Correctional Population in the United States, 2011 (NCJ239972). Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

2). Henrichson, C., & Delaney, R (2012). The Price of Prisons: What Incarceration Costs Taxpayers. New York: Vera Institute of Justice, Center on Sentencing and Corrections.

3). Langan, P.A., & Levin, D. J. (2002) Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994 (NCJ193427). Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice; And Pew Center on the States. (2011). State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons. Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts.

4). The Long Reach of American Corrections (2009). Data from Bureau of Justice Statistics Correctional Populations in the United States, 2011 and the Census Bureau (2012).

5). Del. Aisha Braveboy, a Democrat, Represents District 25 in Prince Georges County.

6). A national survey of Criminal Justice Diversion Programs and Initiatives.

7). Collins, S., Lonczak, H., & Clifasefi, S. (2015, March), LEAD Program Evaluation: Recidivism Report, Harm Reduction Research and Treatment Lab, University of Washington –Harborview Medical Center.

8). American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section State Policy Implementation Project. Pretrial Release Reform.

9). Harrell, A., Mitchell, O., Merill J., & Marlowe, D. (2003, February). Evaluation of breaking the cycle Retrieved from http://www.urban.org/research/publication/evaluation-breaking-cycle.

No Justice

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Society please listen to my position I really need your attention, there is literally very little justice in the Justice System

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Everyday police kill people like me in the streets and they don’t receive a conviction, before I was sentenced to prison I was also a victim

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A victim to the laws that politician conspicuously designed against me, laws that continuously hinder my potential instead of uplift me

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Meanwhile, my racial profile is depicted as suspicious and infamous, so it’s senseless for me to even plead for forgiveness

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Clearly the judicial system will only extend us extensive sentences, blatantly disregarding our existence or our chance at redemption

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It confines us to the prison industrial complex for economic benefit, sounds less like principal and more like business

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If you ask me I think it’s highly ridiculous that the system doesn’t even consider the conditions that created this ignorance

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Maybe my father’s level of education was extremely limited, my biological mother is a crackhead and my home was broken even before I was born

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Both of my guardians were afflicted by narcotic addiction, now has my poverty-stricken environment diminished my innocence? Kind of sounds like the perfect recipe for a criminal mentality doesn’t it?

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Capitalism within the poor black community breeds criminals not gentlemen, socialized to survived by any means, that means no sentiment

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I am truly collateral damage to the American Government, sadly I’m a product of the very system that claims that I am a threat to the public

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And for that they take away my name, give me a number and a sentence of suffering, Am I perfect? Not at all but I am capable of change so I am changing the subject

No Justice No Peace, No Peace No Justice

I bring awareness to the people who place too much faith in a system that’s corrupted, we are all born innocent but unfortunately different circumstances require that we have this discussion

No Justice No Peace, No Peace No Justice

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Damaged Goods

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More and more relationships and marriages are ending due to infidelity. Why has cheating become socially acceptable and even encouraged everywhere that you turn? Family members turn a blind eye to their love ones indiscretions. Friends accept and often times encourage their friends to “do them” without any care for the person who is getting done wrong. It has gotten so bold that coworkers in the work place inspire and provoke such behavior. Before the 21st century when love and marriages thrived this type of conduct wasn’t accepted or even tolerated but today it’s the new norm. People who believe in love, marriage and monogamy like myself needs to get this conversation started on how it’s not acceptable before people’s ability to truly love becomes nonexistent.

People think that it’s so easy to find a companion and fall in love but all of this lying and cheating has psychologically damaged men and women alike. Trusting and believing in a person’s ability to love you unconditionally is harder than winning the Mega Millions. Everyone is trying to stay one step ahead of one another and this type of mindset is what keeps couples from truly working together and figuring life out.

Men are taught at an early age to not settle down and to play the field. We go from female to female without thinking about how we are messing them up psychologically. I was told by the strongest woman who I know that she expects to be cheated on and in doing my research almost every female expects the same thing out of guys. Being a guy who believes in love and marriage hearing that personal truth made me sick to my stomach. Infidelity and lack of care are the main reasons why women have lost trust in men. We glorify our friends who have multiple women and clown the female that is getting played. If we listen to our women on how they view getting seriously involved with a man it’s sad. They know that the vast majority of men aren’t serious and are only after one thing.

Now woman today are becoming more careless and cold-hearted when it comes to monogamy. They are no longer sitting back waiting to get played. They are going out getting what they want whenever they want. This attitude has taken guys who are serious and who really want to settle down by surprise because now they are the victims to a mindset that men created. Women say if men can do it why can’t we? This is the new independent woman.

We all are becoming damaged goods due to living foul. People have lied and cheated so much that they can’t believe when they have found someone who truly loves them because they are haunted by their past faults. Now this person has to deal with issues and problems that they didn’t even create. We all have been on both sides of the coin in some capacity when it comes to this.

I believe that everyone goes through a phase where they play the field but, when is that type of behavior no longer acceptable. According to a 2017 Yale University study 86% of woman want to get married and 74% of men want to get married regardless of sexual orientation but yet the marriage rate continues to drop. The divorce rate has been on the rise for the past 18 years. The number one reason for divorce is infidelity!! The study concludes that cheating can now be classified as an epidemic. 500,000 people participated in this study and 69% admitted to sleeping around on their spouse. Those numbers are sad. If this isn’t an eye opener then I don’t know what is. This character defect is getting out of control.

This desire has gotten out of hand because we all have allowed it to grow. We all are guilty of turning a blind eye to it. We laugh at close calls and gossip about it whenever someone gets caught up. It’s easier to call out a stranger on T.V. for being a cheat but wouldn’t say anything to your friend who happens to be sitting next to you on the couch doing the same exact thing. As long as we don’t have any standards anything goes. For example, all of the guys who I consider my friends aren’t condoning that type of behavior. I felt wronged by my wife and only spoke on getting even with her. Verbalizing that thought got me cursed out and nearly ostracized from my boys because that’s not how we handle our business. If we aren’t holding each other accountable than we are allowing this disease to continue to grow. People are only going to start to change once they see that emotionally damaging people is no longer tolerated.

The people who know me best would testify that there was a time in my life when I played the field with the best of them. I went from female to female without a care in the world. My friends knew what I was doing and often praised me for being “the man”. My family knew what was going on and said “oh he is just being a man”. For as long as I was running wild nobody ever called me out on my behavior. My conduct has caused a lot of broken hearts and even some trust issues. Moral of the story, I personally psychologically damaged woman. This is a hard truth to swallow and it should be for all who partake in scandalous behavior.

They say that every dog has its day and it wasn’t until I got played that I got front row seats to see all of the pain that I have caused a lot of women. To be on the receiving end sucked. It wasn’t until I tried to move on that I found out that I was scared. The heart is so delicate and when it gets damaged it’s hard to repair. Sometimes the damage is irreversible no matter how much time passes by. When you hurt someone who loves you emotionally or someone who you love hurts you it can be a traumatic experience that alters a love life forever. I looked into the eyes of a special person who heart I devastated and it may take years to fix the damaged that I’ve caused, if that damage could ever be fixed. For me it hasn’t been as simple as I once thought it was to get over a broken heart.

As human beings no matter your sexual orientation, race, or religion we all have a moral compass and it’s our responsibility to protect the people we love. Society nor a generational culture doesn’t dictate how we should treat our relationships. When we want to be sneaky, slick and selfish it would be wise to really think about how bad our actions can hurt the person that we are involved with. Take it from me I have been on both sides and it’s not cool. To see the hurt and pain that you caused to someone who you claimed to love should never ever have to happen. We are the reason that statistics are what they are. We are the reason why we can’t trust each other and why people are so emotionally and psychologically damaged. When are we going to speak up and put an end to it? Are you going to wait until it happens to you? Are you going to wait until it happens to your best friend? Your son? Your daughter? Or are you going to pretend that it’s nothing wrong? I recently heard a wise man say if you are going to do that person wrong don’t even mess that person up for the next person who comes along with the right intentions.

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Put the Child First

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If a child doesn’t like or want to speak to one of their parents because of neglect, consistent inconsistencies, or a broken heart, should the other parent force the child to engage in a relationship with that parent? A few weeks ago I was asked for my opinion on this question and hearing about this Childs pain as a parent I could relate and as a person who dealt with this exact problem as a child I could also relate. I have tried to let it go but I can’t help but think as parents and adults we really need to look at ourselves and our actions because every single thing that we do affects these kids.

First I don’t think that any relationship should be forced. Kids aren’t stupid. Once they understand that one of their parents are full of shit they don’t want to keep going down the same road. As soon as they realize that then these questions come about. Mommy why don’t daddy love me? Why don’t daddy want me? Why don’t daddy come see me? I used daddy because this shoe fits as men more than it does women. I am not saying women aren’t dead beats because my mother was one but statistically and historically this is a daddy issue and it’s not even close. Why continue to subject a child to being let down?

Once the relationship is broken it’s not up to the child to make it better. If I come home tomorrow and my sons are mad at me for not being there for them the way that they needed me, are they wrong? Hell NO! Now as their father it’s my responsibility to show them that I love them and won’t leave them again. It is never the child’s job to fix a relationship that’s broken. They never asked to be here. There isn’t a child here on this earth who doesn’t want a healthy relationship with lots of love from their parents. Children need their parents, so for a child not to want that relationship, it says something about that parent. As a parent you have to look at why your child doesn’t want you and be honest with yourself. Whatever the reason is you have to own it and figure out how to connect with your child in a way that they understand, this way a line of communication can be established. Once that line of communication is established you have to be prepared to work your tail off because all in all every child needs both of their parents.

Far too many women are forced to raise their kids on their own and it’s unacceptable. Our kids really are the ones who suffer the most due to our mistakes and immaturity. We are creating social and psychological issues within our children that can last a lifetime because we as men decided not to man up. We shouldn’t have to be forced to be a part of our children lives in any way, shape, or form. We know what our duties and responsibilities are.

For all the women who are raising your kids on your own you are some of the strongest women in this world. If your Childs father doesn’t want to be involved there is no need to force him. Child support works. It’s his loss at the end of the day and there is someone out there who will love your kids as their own and cherish you. It doesn’t matter if you have two kids or seven kid’s people are blending families every day. You can’t force love or someone to be a parent. It’s either in them or it’s not.

Before I go to all of my brothers we got to step up. I know that mothers get all of the love but fathers are just as important. No child should have to go without their father period. It’s not cool to have kids that you aren’t taking care of and the only way to break this cycle of fatherless children is to man up. It’s not about the Childs mother or how she has moved on. Don’t play halfway and only come around to see if you can get a shot of ass. Kids know what’s up. They will call you out in their own way. You have to take on this responsibility 100%. You can’t have money to take “her” out and your kids are going without. Keep it real bruh. The kids come first, second, and always. Every man loves “Its A Man’s World” by James Brown and every man takes pride in being a man so with that said let’s be real men and handle our responsibilities at home. Let’s take care of our kids and be a part of these precious blessings.

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A Different Way to Reform Gun Laws

Is there really a way to ban assault weapons without harming the 2nd Amendment? With all of the recent mass shootings the gun debate has become the most talked about issue in our country. I have watched as this has gone from a common sense reform on guns to a political tug of war for political gain all the while the next mass shooting is possibly being planned. Gun enthusiast and the NRA love to point out the 2nd Amendment which is okay but there isn’t any reason why civilians need military grade assault weapons. Banning military style weapons doesn’t take away anybody’s right to bear arms. It just doesn’t allow citizens the ability to have assault weapons. These weapons such as the popular AR-15, M-4 and AK-47 are designed to kill a lot of people as fast as possible. This is why these guns are used on the battlefield. I know that the NRA members disagree and that’s okay but there isn’t any reason for these guns to be sold. If the standard gun for a police officer is a handgun or some sort why should a civilian standard gun be an AR-15? It doesn’t make any sense. On top of that you have to take in account these bump stocks and high-capacity magazines. These attachments have proved on more than one occasion that they are recipes for disaster.

Raising the legal age to purchase guns is a no brainer. Assault rifles shouldn’t even be sold period. Hunting rifles and shot guns should be sold to anyone who is 18 years or older. I think trying to get the most mature legal age is the best way to go. In America we have ages 18 and 21 as the two legal age limits to be considered an adult if we can push weapons to our more mature age limit I believe that is the way to go.

People feel as if background checks are an invasion of privacy, but in this perilous time it’s only right that we are sure that everyone who gets a gun should have a gun. These background checks should include psychological evaluations because far too many mentally ill people are able to get guns. These background checks should be as thorough as possible and if someone has to wait while they are being vetted then so be it. This process should be set up to protect everyone and not just allow people who may not have any criminal history to be able to purchase a gun. Mental stability should play a huge part into who gets a gun.

I can’t believe that there are really people who believe that it’s a great idea to arm teachers. I heard our President and I think it’s a bad idea. Teachers are paid to teach. Asking them to be some sort of teacher seal is a bit much. Guns should not be in the schools unless you are the police. Getting more guns in people hands isn’t the answer. I believe having a mandatory school resource officer at every school and update security measures would be a better way to go.

It’s just too easy to be able to get a gun and guns are getting into the wrong people’s hands every day. To get rid of all the guns would be impossible and a violation of the 2nd Amendment but making it harder for these guns to get in the wrong hands would be a step in the right direction. Assault weapons need to be banned period. If you need an AR-15 to protect yourself then you may need to go join the Army. Focusing on making sure that the people who can pass extensive background checks are purchasing guns for the right reason should be a top priority no matter your political affiliation. Getting rid of high-capacity magazines and bump stocks is a clear no brainer. Putting the county and all the citizens first is what’s best not catering to the 2nd Amendment or the NRA. Lastly, the statistics when it comes to gun violence says it all, we have to get serious with our gun laws and how accessible it is to purchase a gun. If we aren’t honest with ourselves than it’s sad to have to say this but we can expect more gun violence and mass shootings.

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