DrMyers’s Blog

May 5, 2009

Dallas Texas and the Penal System – What do they have in Common?!

 

Big Tex

Big Tex

Dallas Texas can boast about many, many things.  It is the ninth largest city in the United States, and the third largest city in Texas.  Dallas is the core, of the largest inland metropolitan area in the United States that lacks any navigable link to the sea, and is the home base for retail store Neiman Marcus.  In terms of voting patterns, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the third most liberal of the Texas metropolitan areas (outside of Austin and El Paso).  The Super Bowl winning Cowboys call Dallas their home, as well as many other sports teams.  

 

Approximately 1.3 million people call Dallas home, and I must ask; what else could you do with 1.3 million people.  The country of Trinidad and Tobago has a population of about 1.3 million.  The truth is, with 1.3 million people, Dallas has a larger population than 68 other countries in the World.  It is quite impressive to see 1.3 million people, building sky scrapers, growing businesses, creating parks, and contributing to art.  With these facts, it is hard to imagine that there is another population, right here in America that is larger than the population of Dallas Texas, and shows no signs of diminishing.

As of June 30, 2007, a population of 2,299,116 would call a prison or jail home.  This number has tripled since the early eighties, bringing money to the pockets of contractors and those who have interests or equity in the existence of prisons. While failing to upgrade and re-evaluate the effectiveness of our rehabilitation process, approximately 500,000 youth are taken to detention centers, and the door appears to be revolving.  This number can continue to decrease, or increase, dependent upon how congress and this administration choose to deal with:  Same-Sex Marriage (with currently 55.7% of American’s 18 and older married, marriage between heterosexuals is on a continual downward spiral.  Affording marriage rights to Same Sex Couples could give displaced children, who are at high statistical risk for entering the penal system, a potential home, which may help decrease the number of juvenile crimes and arrests), Revamping No Child Left Behind ( A 2008 study from the Department of Education, “Reading First Impact Study: Interim Report,” concluded that the Reading First Program, a major billion dollar a year No Child Left Behind effort, had proven “ineffective.”), Medicaid (Medicaid provides health coverage and services to approximately 49 million low-income children, pregnant women, elderly persons, and disabled individuals.  Under the new federal rule, states are now allowed to charge premiums and higher co-payments to Medicaid participants.  At this time, there is no way to determine how juveniles will be impacted by this rule, thus no way to predict how this will impact the number of juvenile arrests.)

A more disturbing figure, impacts the minority sector of the United States.  The lack of male role models is often depicted in mainstream media outlets, when trying to replicate a typical minority family setting, function, or event.  This reflection is accurate within the African American Community. About 10.4% of all black males in the United States between the ages of 25 and 29 were sentenced and in prison in 2002.  If these men were arrested as a part of a “non-violent related” crime, they will be introduced to gang-violence (usually for protection) while incarcerated, and will have a higher rate of returning for a more aggressive charge.

Where and when does this stop?

Reformation of the current penal system has not been addressed by this current administration.  As stated on the White House Website concerning Criminal Justice Reform:

“The President will lead the fight to build a more fair and equitable criminal justice system. He will seek to strengthen federal hate crime legislation and will work to ensure that federal law enforcement agencies do not resort to racial profiling. He supports funding for drug courts, giving first-time, non-violent offenders a chance to serve their sentence, if appropriate, in drug rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than prison terms in changing behavior. President Obama will also improve ex-offender employment and job retention strategies, substance abuse treatment, and mental health counseling so ex-offenders can successfully re-join society.”

The administration has not addressed a plan or the need, for procedural techniques in regards to how the rehabilitation process can be more effective to prisoners while incarcerated.  The lack of proper rehabilitation results from detention centers can be attributed to over crowdedness.  For an example (as reported by Don Thompson in his book “Prison Attacks Calling Attention to Overcrowding”) California’s 33 prisons have a total capacity of 100,000, but they hold 170,000 inmates.  Overcrowding can also be found in another place some juvenile prisoners may find familiar…the schools system (which could be another reason why Fort Worth had to take major precautions with the Swine Flu Outbreak).  

Regardless of politics, the next 4 years must produce solutions for the youth of this country.  With the Republican Party trying to “re-invent themselves” instead of going to their districts and observing the needs of their constituents, and with the Democratic Party brainstorming ways to hold on to a slim majority in the Senate and State Houses; One in every 31 American adults find themselves in the penal system, whether it is in prison, on parole or serving probation.  Something has to change!

Perhaps these words from Sitting Bull, could give insight to what we are dealing with even now:

 

Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull

 

 

Each man is good in His sight. It is not necessary for eagles to be crows. 

Sitting Bull

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April 27, 2009

Reaching 100 is an Impressive Milestone: Even for a President!

 

 

Leading A Nation

Barack Obama

As the chatter in the room began to settle, all eyes focused on the beautiful birthday

William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison

 cake that came out of the kitchen.  One hundred years is a long time for anything to be around, but this lady sat there with every bit of confidence in knowing…she made it.  Voices sprang up from all corners of the small dining room, as “Happy Birthday” in various harmonies were sang to the small but yet powerful figure sitting at the head of the table.  With anticipation, all the guests wondered the same thing, “Could she do it?  Could she blow out the candles?”  We all know that people drive from miles around to give presents, convey their well wishes, but the high point of the evening is to see all the candles blown out.  The small frame stood grasping the table.  As everyone watched, a beautiful lace fringed fan came into site, and a rapid motion began.  A perfume scented breeze filled the room, and simultaneously blew out the light of every candle.  With a big, beautiful grin she said in a sly but commanding voice, ” With all the love in this room, I’ll conserve the little bit of air I got left in these lungs, and let the air on the outside do all the work”.  The room bursts in to laughter and grins all because she did it!  She blew out 100 candles, and she did it her way.  This confirmed to everyone that she was very much still in control, and that control was not to be underestimated by anybody!

I don’t believe one could compare the wisdom of one hundred years to a mere one hundred days, but some could argue that Barack Obama has seen and experienced more in his one hundred days in office, than most will ever experience in a lifetime.

It seems like a year ago, crowds stood in the cold inside and outside different gates, malls, and subway tunnel; just to experience the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States.  The American people knew that there were many problems that needed to be solved, but for those precious moments, those problems halted their voices long enough to hear that sacred oath be taken at the Capitol.  Those precious moments, would be the last moments Barack Obama would be void of responsibility for the most powerful country on the planet.  Within a moment, meetings were scheduled, and this man went right to work…and he continues to work on his own terms!  With strict direction to “Cut what doesn’t work”, his cabinet members left that meeting knowing that President Obama has a mission, and he intends on seeing this mission through to the end.

On April 8th, President Obama established a White House Office of Healthcare Reform that provides leadership to the executive branch in establishing policies, priorities, and objectives for the Federal Government’s comprehensive effort to improve access to health care, the quality of such care, and the sustainability of the health care system.  Although overshadowed by the budget, Obama’s attention to the need of upgrade within our healthcare system is imperative.  Healthcare in the United States ranks last in the quality of health care among developed countries, with 16% of the population (in 2006) without health insurance.  The argument among pundits, with heavy influence from the economy, is whether a public healthcare system would add to our national debt now, and take away from America’s financial independence in the future, or be a step towards sound investment in America’s future that protects employers and current/future employees.  Nonetheless, within his first 100 days, Obama has begun to address this issue.

On February 6th, President Obama created the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board.  As read in the document, this Advisory Board is to: 

(a) solicit information and ideas from across the country and from all sectors of our economy about the functioning of the economy, the condition of the financial and banking system, and the prosperity of the American people and of American industry that can serve to inform the decisionmaking of the President, and, with respect to matters deemed appropriate by the President, provide information and recommendations to any other agency with responsibilities related to the economy or financial markets or to the National Economic Council;

(b) report directly to the President on the design, implementation, and evaluation of policies to promote the growth of the American economy, establish a stable and sound financial and banking system, create jobs, and improve the long-term prosperity of the American people; and

(c) provide analysis and information with respect to the operation, regulation, and healthy functioning of the economy and of the financial and banking system. As deemed appropriate by the President, this analysis and information shall be provided to the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, to any other agency with responsibilities related to the economy or financial markets, or to the National Economic Council. 

This action shows that President Obama is not following the lead of his predecessors by waiting for the financial system to fix its self, or by creating programs that might hinder the sustainability of a future government.  President Obama has had 100 days of a fun fact finding mission, showing that even after the recession ends, the pain is likely to persist and the economy could continue to struggle as it strives to find a firm footing.  Fingers have been pointed on both sides of the isle, with the American public convinced that not only did someone fall asleep at the wheel, but there was no one in the car to nudge and wake the driver.  At this time not many are optimistic about seeing a quick turnaround in conditions.  As late as this week, stress tests were given to United States banks, and with the results being released in May, most sectors central to economic growth is still found languishing.   

What I have mentioned so far is only TWO Presidential Actions, leaving out countless other bills signed into law that positively affect and protect; Equal Pay in the Workplace for women as well as the health and well being of children.  

The mustard of a President isn’t tested within his/her first 100 days in office, but its true test lies in posterity.  The glimpse we have seen within these few months will not accurately or adequately discern the lasting imprint his actions, while in office, will have upon the framework and fabric of this nation.

When asked the secret to a long happy life, Ida simply looked around the room and stated, “The secret I have learned was never up to me, but was put inside of me, and there’s nothing I can do about it.”  Perhaps in regards to the office of president and what we the people can hope the office holder would like to attain while serving, might just be summed up by a man who only spent 45 days there.

 He simply stated, “Sir, I wish to understand the true principles of the Government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more.”

 – William Henry Harrison 9th President of the United States of America

 

 

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