From the Criminal Injustice Blog item of April 2, 2013
By Louellyn Lambros
It is time that drug use be viewed as a public health issue, rather than a matter for the criminal justice system. Too many drug users are saddled unnecessarily with criminal records, making it extraordinarily difficult to have fulfilling lives including being able to work and to make other kinds of valuable contributions to their families and society.
The skyrocketing incarceration rate in our country has been an outgrowth of the War on Drugs, which began over thirty years ago and had its roots in a political strategy to gain the votes of disaffected whites, in the wake of a successful Civil Rights struggle. Since outright discrimination on the basis of race was no longer acceptable or legal, an alternative route was to label African-Americans as criminals, thereby opening the door to reintroduce all the same forms of discrimination – in employment, housing, voting rights, and so on.
As the number of incarcerated people in the US grew from 300,000 in the last half of the 20th century to over 2.2 million today, racism continues to fuel the revolving door of our fellow citizens into the criminal justice system. In addition, the system has become big business, employing a growing number of judges, lawyers, prosecutors, and all types of ancillary personnel. Prisons themselves are becoming increasingly privatized, run as money-making corporations which sell shares on the NYSE. In thirty-seven states, prison labor is contracted to major corporations who pay 16 to 28 cents an hour, ensuring astronomical profits.
While the majority of Americans, once educated on the issue, may be persuaded by the injustice of the situation as it affects minority communities and may be horrified by how the one percent is capable of turning anything into a lucrative business, it will take more time and effort to address the concerns of those whose loved ones have suffered from addiction and subsequent incarceration.
The truth is that no one, particularly the most vulnerable dealing with drug addiction, is served by the current system. Those who are susceptible to addiction are even more vulnerable and in need of self-soothing in the face of extreme stress. Why do therefore we respond to their difficulties with a system of incarceration which stresses them to the max and saddles them with second-class citizen status as a ‘felon’ upon release back into their home communities?
A policy of decriminalization, as has been in place in Portugal since 2001, would take the whole issue of drug addiction out of the criminal justice system and make it a civil and public health matter. A panel of three– made up of two individuals with a health background and one with a legal background–would make a determination: is this person’s drug use a problem? If not, perhaps a fine or a warning will suffice. If it is deemed a problem, treatment and rehabilitation are in order. Treatment facilities could easily be funded by resources reallocated from the criminal justice system.
- A new day for the ‘war on drugs’ (maddowblog.msnbc.com)
- Jason Silverstein: More Treatment, Less War: The White House Drug Policy Reform (huffingtonpost.com)
- 21st Century Drug Policy (propresobama.org)
- Drug Policy Reform In Action: A 21st Century Approach (whitehouse.gov)
- Focusing On Prevention And Neuroscience, President Ends Reagan’s War On Drugs (newsone.com)
With the school system failing them, many children are turning to drugs. Heard this one before, right? Well, how about the part where the pusher is your pediatrician, and the fed is subsidizing?
“I don’t have a whole lot of choice,” said Dr. Anderson, a pediatrician for many poor families in Cherokee County, north of Atlanta. “We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid.”
A recent NYT article spot lighted increasing psych diagnoses in children for the purpose of acquiring “brain boosting” pharma creations to increase academic performance. The purpose is to make a child more competitive on a college application, and increase funding for a school district as test scores rise. Children are being force-fed drugs instead of given the attention they need or the freedom to be creative and learn discipline on their own as pharmaceutical “solutions” are abused as steroids for the brain. Worse yet, the behavior is sanctioned by those in authority, who are supposed to advocate for their well-being–their parents, doctors and the federal government…
Education is a highly competitive arena, whether it’s a student vying for a scholarship or admission to their college of choice, or a district teaching to standardized test scores and praying for funding. The Obama administration’s lauded “Race to the Top” initiative even goes so far as making funding an actual competition–schools submit innovative proposals for education reform in an effort to win federal money.
An anonymous California superintendent pontificated that “diagnosis rates of A.D.H.D. have risen as sharply as school funding has declined.” Poor children are being prescribed stimulants at increasing rates, and Medicare is paying the bill. If we are not directly funding public education in this country, we are indirectly doing so in efforts to respond to the problem….
- Athletes and Drug Abuse (ajochum23.wordpress.com)
- Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse by Teens Up 33 Percent, According… (prweb.com)
- Prescription Drug Abuse: Top 10 Things CDC Says You Should Know (pbs.org)
When a person is approaching the end of life, we can find no easy answers, no solution that fits every person's or family's situation, even when they know a lot about the options available to them.
- Reports Show Hospice Saves Medicare Dollars (krextv.com)
- payment cuts and hospice (hospicesupport.wordpress.com)
- $300,000 for Hospice NZ to help improve care (national.org.nz)
- GUEST OPINION: Get acquainted with the value of hospice (tauntongazette.com)
- Hallmark, Where Are The Hospice Cards? (forbes.com)
The first set of national prevalence data on intimate partner violence (IPV), sexual violence (SV), and stalking victimization by sexual orientation was released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study found that lesbians and gay men reported IPV and SV over their lifetimes at levels equal to or higher than those of heterosexuals; with sexual orientation based on respondents’ identification at the time of the survey.
The survey also found that bisexual women (61.1 percent) report a higher prevalence of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner compared to both lesbian (43.8 percent) and heterosexual women (35 percent). Of the bisexual women who experienced IPV, approximately 90 percent reported having only male perpetrators, while two -thirds of lesbians reported having only female perpetrators of IPV.
The data presented in this report do not indicate whether violence occurs more often in same-sex or opposite sex couples. Rather, the data show the prevalence of lifetime victimization of intimate partner violence, sexual violence and stalking of respondents who self-identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual at the time of the survey and describe violence experienced with both same-sex and opposite-sex partners. …
Other key findings include:
- The majority of women who reported experiencing sexual violence, regardless of their sexual orientation, reported that they were victimized by male perpetrators.
- Nearly half of female bisexual victims (48.2 percent) and more than one-quarter of female heterosexual victims (28.3 percent) experienced their first rape between the ages of 11 and 17 years.
CDC will work to create resources to bring attention to these issues within lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.
For more information about NISVS, including study details, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/nisvs/index.html.
To watch webinars that discuss the NISVS 2010 Summary findings, please visit PreventConnect, a national online project dedicated to the primary prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence.
- CDC Releases First National Study On Rape And Domestic Violence Based On Sexual Orientation (queerty.com)
- Bisexual Women at Especially High Risk of Sexual Violence, CDC Says (nlm.nih.gov)
- LGB People Experience Domestic Violence at Same Rate as Heterosexuals (advocate.com)
- Domestic violence, rape an issue for gays (vitals.nbcnews.com)
- Bisexual Women Twice As Likely To Be Abused And/Or Raped, Study Says (thoughtcatalog.com)
Come back Mom and Dad
You’re growing apart; you know that I’m growing up sad
I need some attention
I shoot into the light.
- Peter Gabriel, "Family Snapshot"
Purposeless boys are dangerous.
Michael Gurian, in his book The Purpose of Boys (2010), lists some of the effects of the growing population of boys without purpose.
- For every 100 girls in public schools, 335 boys are expelled.
- The 'Boy Crisis': Is It Fictional? (ideas.time.com)
Who Multi-Tasks and Why? Multi-Tasking Ability, Perceived Multi-Tasking Ability, Impulsivity, and Sensation Seeking
The present study examined the relationship between personality and individual differences in multi-tasking ability. Participants enrolled at the University of Utah completed measures of multi-tasking activity, perceived multi-tasking ability, impulsivity, and sensation seeking. In addition, they performed the Operation Span in order to assess their executive control and actual multi-tasking ability.
The findings indicate that the persons who are most capable of multi-tasking effectively are not the persons who are most likely to engage in multiple tasks simultaneously. To the contrary, multi-tasking activity as measured by the Media Multitasking Inventory and self-reported cell phone usage while driving were negatively correlated with actual multi-tasking ability.
Multi-tasking was positively correlated with participants’ perceived ability to multi-task ability which was found to be significantly inflated. Participants with a strong approach orientation and a weak avoidance orientation – high levels of impulsivity and sensation seeking – reported greater multi-tasking behavior.
Finally, the findings suggest that people often engage in multi-tasking because they are less able to block out distractions and focus on a singular task. Participants with less executive control – low scorers on the Operation Span task and persons high in impulsivity – tended to report higher levels of multi-tasking activity.
- If You Think You’re Good at Multitasking – You Probably Aren’t (richandco.wordpress.com)
- Study: If You Multitask Often, You’re Impulsive and Bad at Multitasking (theatlantic.com)
- Motorists Overrate Ability To Talk On Cell Phones When Driving (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Think you can multitask? Congratulations, you’re probably living a lie. (io9.com)
Yoga on our minds: The 5,000-year-old Indian practice may have positive effects on major psychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, ADHD and sleep complaints
Yoga has positive effects on mild depression and sleep complaints, even in the absence of drug treatments, and improves symptoms associated with schizophrenia and ADHD in patients on medication, according to a systematic review of the exercise on major clinical psychiatric disorders.
Published in the open-access journal, Frontiers in Psychiatry, on January 25th, 2013, the review of more than one hundred studies focusing on 16 high-quality controlled studies looked at the effects of yoga on depression, schizophrenia, ADHD, sleep complaints, eating disorders and cognition problems.
Yoga in popular culture
Yoga is a popular exercise and is practiced by 15.8 million adults in the United States alone, according to a survey by the Harris Interactive Service Bureau, and its holistic goal of promoting psychical and mental health is widely held in popular belief.
“However, yoga has become such a cultural phenomenon that it has become difficult for physicians and patients to differentiate legitimate claims from hype,” wrote the authors in their study. “Our goal was to examine whether the evidence matched the promise.”