Sunday, June 24, 2012

Things that make me go hmmmmm?

Hello Friends;

  Don't take this wrong, but for a great part I'm writing you today because I am a bit bored.  Sorry, that sounds horrible, but the thing is I've been working so many hours over the years, only having time off work during holidays - when I often have family obligations or some such.  It is strange for me to not have work to do.  For so long, I worked 6 nights a week, having only one night off, which I used to catch up on my sleep, and in the midst of it all I worked about the house or doing lawn mowing for others.  Then, come Sunday night, I went in early.... it is about that time when I'd normally be heading into work, and I feel wonderful yet out of place not doing so. 

  I was just reading a wonderful story about two men who began to raise a family via adoption.  It was filled with sorrow, joy, love, hope, togetherness and true family.  A great story.  Now, telling you that I am finding myself a bit bored, I anticipate recriminations from Scottie that I should be out enjoying life, experiencing life, meeting people, etc.  I agree... but ...

  So, I guess I'm setting myself up.  I'll hear it from my friend, and I know some of you are thinking the same things.  But, here is my thought that prompted my writing today:  why is it that we work our life away only to find ourselves at a loss when we have moments when we don't have to work?  Does work so define us?  Are we so in need of "constructive" activities that sitting about in the summer breeze is a bad thing?  I don't know.  What I do know is that there is a robin singing away on the fence, and it sounds just wonderful.  Maybe this is the meaning of life?

Men can get raped, too

Hi Friends;

  Below is a very disturbing article.  I would caution callousness towards those portrayed, believing any who live in such an environment worthy of all the depredations inherent.  What I would hope, and with those who read this blog I think I'm safe doing so, is that we remember that not only are these someone's family, but that rarely are these men going to be forever in this environment.  We need to understand that we are responsible for how we treat people in every environment.  The purpose of prison is not only to protect society from crime, but to give the person a chance to pay for his crimes, redeem himself, and reenter society as a good person. 

Christopher Glazer takes to N+1 magazine to argue that we should Raise the Crime Rate.

Statistics are notoriously slippery, but the figures that suggest that violence has been disappearing in the United States contain a blind spot so large that to cite them uncritically, as the major papers do, is to collude in an epic con. Uncounted in the official tallies are the hundreds of thousands of crimes that take place in the country’s prison system, a vast and growing residential network whose forsaken tenants increasingly bear the brunt of America’s propensity for anger and violence.
Crime has not fallen in the United States—it’s been shifted. Just as Wall Street connived with regulators to transfer financial risk from spendthrift banks to careless home buyers, so have federal, state, and local legislatures succeeded in rerouting criminal risk away from urban centers and concentrating it in a proliferating web of hyperhells. The statistics touting the country’s crime-reduction miracle, when juxtaposed with those documenting the quantity of rape and assault that takes place each year within the correctional system, are exposed as not merely a lie, or even a damn lie—but as the single most shameful lie in American life.

From 1980 to 2007, the number of prisoners held in the United States quadrupled to 2.3 million, with an additional 5 million on probation or parole.

Victims in juvenile facilities, or facilities for women, have an even tougher time: usually it’s the guards, rather than the inmates, who coerce them into sex. The guards tell their victims that no one will believe them, and that complaining will only make things worse. This is sound advice: even on the rare occasions when juvenile complaints are taken seriously and allegations are substantiated, only half of confirmed abusers are referred for prosecution, only a quarter are arrested, and only 3 percent end up getting charged with a crime.

In January, prodded in part by outrage over a series of articles in the New York Review of Books, the Justice Department finally released an estimate of the prevalence of sexual abuse in penitentiaries. The reliance on filed complaints appeared to understate the problem. For 2008, for example, the government had previously tallied 935 confirmed instances of sexual abuse. After asking around, and performing some calculations, the Justice Department came up with a new number: 216,000. That’s 216,000 victims, not instances. These victims are often assaulted multiple times over the course of the year. The Justice Department now seems to be saying that prison rape accounted for the majority of all rapes committed in the US in 2008, likely making the United States the first country in the history of the world to count more rapes for men than for women.

America’s prison system is a moral catastrophe. The eerie sense of security that prevails on the streets of lower Manhattan obscures, and depends upon, a system of state-sponsored suffering as vicious and widespread as any in human history. Dismantling the system of American gulags, and holding accountable those responsible for their operation, presents the most urgent humanitarian imperative of our time.

Progressives lament the growth of private prisons (prisons for profit). But it’s sadism, not avarice, that fuels the country’s prison crisis. Prisoners are not the victims of poor planning (as other progressive reformers have argued)—they are the victims of an ideological system that dehumanizes an entire class of human being and permits nearly infinite violence against it. As much as a physical space, prisons denote an ethical space, or, more precisely, a space where ordinary ethics are suspended. Bunk beds, in and of themselves, are not cruel and unusual. University dorms have bunk beds, too. What matters is what happens in those beds. In the dorm room, sex, typically consensual. In prisons, also sex, but often violent rape. The prisons are “overcrowded,” we are told (and, in fact, courts have ruled). “Overcrowding” is a euphemism for an authoritarian nightmare.

While the attempt to count the number of rapes in America’s prisons is new, the problem is not. Alas, it’s one quite unlikely to go away because the overwhelming majority of Americans are perfectly happy to shift the risk of violent crime off our streets and out of our neighborhoods and into walled communities where people regarded as little more than vicious animals are housed. That they face a good chance of being raped while there is variously seen as fodder for jokes, the wicked getting their just desserts, or collateral damage. It’s virtually inconceivable that political will to do something about the problem will coalesce any time soon.