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)
From the Web site
The WomanStats Project is the most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women in the world. The Project facilitates understanding the linkage between the situation of women and the security of nation-states. We comb the extant literature and conduct expert interviews to find qualitative and quantitative information on over 310 indicators of women’s status in 174 countries. Our Databaseexpands daily, and access to it is free of charge.
The Project began in 2001, and today includes six principal investigators at five universities, as well as a team of up to twenty graduate and undergraduate data extractors. Please learn more by clicking First Time Users and watching our Video Tutorials. Or visit our Blog, where we discuss what we are finding, view our Maps, or read our Researchreports.
First Time Users
Welcome to the WomanStats Database, the world’s most comprehensive compilation of information on the status of women.
The best way to acquaint yourself with the database and how to use it is to watch our Video Tutorials for beginners. The first video tutorial explains how to create a free account. The second teaches how to use the codebook and retrieve data from the View screen. The third covers reports, downloads, and maps. The fourth introduces you to other aspects of our web presence, such as our blog and social media.
Most people are unaware the average age of entry into prostitution is 13. I was shocked to learn.
I recently attended a movie screening of Very Young Girls, hosted by the Philadelphia Anti Trafficking Coalition. It was an eye-opening glimpse into a very overlooked problem of sex trafficking of minors in the United States.
The documentary centered around a prostitution recovery house, …
“Most people don’t understand why we stay with a pimp. Many of us have been exploited by our peers, society, and often by the people that we trust. When we’re the most vulnerable, pimps attack, promising us stability, a family life, a future. They reel us in. He becomes our father, and our boyfriend, until we see what he really wants. Then he intimidates us and reminds us constantly about the consequences if we leave. Most tell us that they’ll find and kill us, no matter where we go. We’re afraid of being afraid. Resources are limited and many of us do not see a way out.”Getting away from the pimp is just the beginning of their journey. These women then have to deal with recreating their identity, both literally and figuratively. One of the techniques used by pimps to keep their girls under control is to confiscate identifying documents–license, birth certificate, green card, etc. Another is getting them hooked on drugs they supply. Further, the girls are homeless debt slaves. Regardless of how much money they earn they don’t own any of it. Basic needs like housing, clothing, and food are arranged as long as they stay with their pimp, which could be more than they were getting at home. And if they are to escape, how can they start over with no money, no ID, and no place to go? Prostitution is no stranger to the courts. For centuries, those who perform an act sought by paupers and kings alike have been vilified, regardless of their motivation, and despite lenient laws and societal views against those seeking sex. Shockingly the prostitute is punished far worse and more frequently than the “John” who may get a slap on the wrist if anything. For those that are forced into prostitution as slaves, this is an especially bitter pill to swallow. As pointed out in the documentary in any other circumstance an underage girl wouldn’t be recognized as able to consent to sex, however, they’re being charged with the adult crime of prostitution. It is unlikely that a John would be charged with statutory rape, if charged at all. With respect to trafficking, there are some legal protections in place for illegal immigrants, but our own most vulnerable end up behind bars and back on the streets. New York recently passed safe harbor legislation for those charged with prostitution that are underaged, but other state and federal law has been slow to follow suit. But a new dawn is breaking for those who want to get out of “the Life.” The pendulum of Justice is swinging from retribution to rehabilitation in Philadelphia for some sex workers. Instead of fines, jail, or drug rehab, some women have the chance to recover from a dangerous lifestyle, and reenter society. Philadelphia started the “Project Dawn Initiative” in 2010, the first court of its kind. It consists of a specialized court with a designated judge that places individuals charged with repeat prostitution offenses in a recovery program, with the chance to expunge their records. The aim is recovery and a decrease in recidivism. The program is voluntary and must be applied for. It consists of four phases, two in a recovery house and two at home, intense therapy both for substances and trauma, and monthly updates with the judge. If completed without any relapses the program takes a year to complete. If the woman relapses or otherwise doesn’t comply with the program’s requirements she may be required to complete a task like write an essay or sit in a jury box to watch prostitution cases, and she must start her phase over. At the judge’s discretion a woman can “fail” the program and be sent to jail. If she is successful, their last case is dismissed with prejudice and she “graduates” into society. Read more about the program in a very excellent article here. <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/m2tR38QzhYs?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen> Hear from a participant of Project Dawn In 2010 Project Dawn accepted 28 women, and claims a 70% success rate. It recently received a $250,000 federal grant. In Philadelphia alone, it’s reported that about 800 women per year (and 200 Johns) are arrested. The Philadelphia Anti Trafficking Coalition is working to improve legislation for victims. I urge you to contact your representatives to educate them about the extent of the problem of trafficking, and tell them to support this legislation. You can find out who your congress people are here, and contact PATC for more info.
If you or someone you know is struggling as a victim of sex trafficking, or if you have any information about a victim, there is a hotline to call. 1-888-3737-888.
- Police: Young girl being forced to prostitute rescued, teen pimp arrested in Moreno Valley (swrnn.com)
- Sacramento 2nd Worst City In U.S. Among Child Trafficking (sacramento.cbslocal.com)
- Hawaii Lawmakers Consider Tougher Penalties for Soliciting Child Prostitutes (hawaiireporter.com)
- Man charged with human trafficking while on bail on pimping charge (cp24.com)
- A Word on Pimp Culture (bluestockingsmag.com)
- Pimps hit social networks to recruit underage sex workers (money.cnn.com)
- DeKalb 'Pimp DC' Could Get 200 Years for Teen Prostitution Ring (atlantablackstar.com)
- Decriminalization of Prostitution for Minors? (americanthinker.com)
Some key policy changes that need to be made in the United States in order to prevent illness and improve the health of millions of Americans have just been outlined in the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) latest Healthier Americareport.***
The report includes a range of suggestions that focus on the prevention of chronic diseases, which currently affect more than half of the U.S. population. This would also help address the health problems facing today’s youth who are set to be the first generation that are less healthy than their parents. …
The recommendations involve some new and innovative approaches:
- Implementing a series of foundational capabilities to improve the country’s health system as well as restructuring public health programs with sustained funding.
- Establishing partnerships with nonprofit hospitals to develop new community benefit programs and expand support for prevention.
- Encourage that insurance providers compensate for all types of prevention strategies
- Ensuring that the Prevention and Public Health Fund continues and improve awareness of the Community Transformation Grant program.
- Maintain workplace wellness programs with employers as well as local and state governments.
The report also includes information about recommendations that are already in action:
- The Accountable Care Community (ACC) brought more than 70 different partners to help patients with type 2 diabetes in and out of the doctor’s office. The ACC managed to reduce the cost of care by more than 10 percent per month for patients with type 2 diabetes – meaning savings of around $3,185 per person yearly.
- The Boston Children’s Hospital implemented The Community Asthma Initiative (CAI) with the purpose of supporting children with asthma in the Boston area. The initiative helped reduce hospital admissions due to asthma-related causes by around 80 percent as well as reducing emergency visits due to asthma by 60 percent.
The report concludes that there are 10 main public health issues that need addressing:
- tobacco use
- healthy aging
- improving the health of minorities
- healthy babies
- environment health threats
- injury prevention
- controlling infectious diseases
- food safety
- Prevention urged to avoid a national health catastrophe (bizbeatblog.dallasnews.com)
- New Report from HSC and Trust for America’s Health Calls for Federal Action to Close Achievement Gap by Addressing School Health (healthyschoolscampaign.typepad.com)
- Comment: Take prevention seriously, make it a priority (timescolonist.com)
- Insight: Think preventive medicine will save money? Think again. (greatriversofhope.wordpress.com)
- The Seven States Least Prepared for Disaster (247wallst.com)
- Hawaii Rises to Second Healthiest State in Nation (damontucker.com)
- “Walk Across Texas” promotes healthier living (victoriaadvocate.com)
- National Shopping Program Aims To Support A Healthier Hispanic Community (paramuspost.com)
- Wendell Potter: Getting Young People to Work Against Their Own Best Interests: Here’s How It’s Done (huffingtonpost.com)
With the rising awareness of the so-called “superbugs,” bacteria that are resistant to most known antibiotics, three infectious disease experts writing in the Jan. 24 edition of the New England Journal of Medicine called for novel approaches based on a “reconceptualization of the nature of resistance, disease and prevention.”
“Antibiotic-resistant microbes infect more than 2 million Americans every year and kill more than 100,000 annually,” said Brad Spellberg, M.D., a Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center lead researcher and one of the authors of the viewpoint article published in the New England Journal of Medicine. “They spread rapidly, even in such seemingly harmless places as high school locker rooms, where they infect young athletes, and they can make mundane urinary or intestinal infections life-threatening. At the same time, the development of new antibiotics to treat these infections is plummeting, leading to our call for entirely new approaches to the problem.”
Dr. Spellberg, author of the book, “Rising Plague: The Global Threat from Deadly Bacteria and Our Dwindling Arsenal to Fight Them,” authored the article with Drs. John G. Bartlett and David N. Gilbert, both past presidents of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
The article’s authors called for continuing the traditional practices in “infection control, antibiotic stewardship, and new antibiotic development.” But they also write that the World Economic Forum’s recent conclusion that antibiotic-resistant bacteria represent “arguably the greatest risk…to human health” underscores the need for new approaches as well.
New interventions are needed
- “to prevent infections from occurring in the first place,
- to encourage new economic models that spur investment in anti-infective treatments,
- to slow the spread of resistance in order to prolong the useful lives of antibiotics,
- to discover new ways to directly attack microbes in a manner that does not drive resistance, or to alter host-microbe interactions in order to modify disease without directly attacking microbes,” the researchers wrote.
Among their recommendations are
- stricter monitoring and controls for prescribing antibiotics and
- changes in hospital practices, including greater disinfection and
- less usage of invasive materials than can transmit antibiotic-resistant bacteria into the body.
They recommended new regulatory approaches to encourage antibiotic development, such as the Limited Population Antibiotic Drug (LPAD) proposal from the Infectious Diseases Society of America. They said this proposal would encourage the development new antibiotics by allowing their approval based on smaller, less expensive clinical trials.
They also called for new approaches to treating infections caused by bacteria. Rather than attacking the microbes causing the infection, the researchers urged scientists to pursue new courses of discovery that either “moderate the inflammatory response to infection or that limit microbial growth by blocking access to host resources without attempting to kill microbes.”
- Analysis: Humans Losing War Against Antibiotic-Resistant ‘Superbugs’ (usnews.com)
- Chennai Declaration holds key for antibiotic resistance (thehindu.com)
- IBM and The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology Develop New Antimicrobial Hydrogel to Fight Superbugs and … (finance.yahoo.com)
- New Partnerships To Combat Antimicrobial Resistance At The Superbugs And Superdrugs Conference 4-5 March 2013, London (medicalnewstoday.com)
- Gonorrhea superbug resistant to cefixime, other antibiotics (thestar.com)
- Hospitals warned as superbug cases rise (scotsman.com)
The TRI National Analysis is an annual report that provides EPA’s analysis and interpretation of the most recent TRI data. It includes information about toxic chemical releases to the environment from facilities that report to the TRI Program. It also includes information about how toxic chemicals are managed through recycling, treatment and energy recovery, and how facilities are working to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals generated and released.
WASHINGTON – Total toxic air releases in 2011 declined 8 percent from 2010, mostly because of decreases in hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions, even while total releases of toxic chemicals increased for the second year in a row, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) annual Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) report published today.
The annual TRI provides citizens with vital information about their communities. The TRI program collects information on certain toxic chemical releases to the air, water and land, as well as information on waste management and pollution prevention activities by facilities across the country. TRI data are submitted annually to EPA, states and tribes by facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, metal mining, electric utilities, and commercial hazardous waste facilities.
What’s new in the National Analysis this year?
- An investigation into declining air releases;
- More information about pollution prevention activities conducted at TRI facilities;
- Updated risk information;
- Enhanced Indian Country and Alaska Native Villages (ANVs) analysis.
What tools are available to help me conduct my own analysis?
A variety of online tools are available to help you access and analyze TRI data. When using TRI data, you may also want to explore the other data sources and information listed on the TRI Data and Tools webpage.
Where can I get downloadable files containing the data used in the 2011 National Analysis?
- Basic Data Files : Each file contains the most commonly requested data fields submitted by facilities on the TRI Reporting Form R or the Form A Certification Statement.
- Basic Plus Data Files : These files collectively contain all the data fields submitted by facilities on the TRI Reporting Form R or the Form A Certification Statement.
- Dioxin, Dioxin-Like Compounds and TEQ Data Files : These files include the individually reported mass quantity data for dioxin and dioxin-like compounds reported on the TRI Reporting Form R Schedule 1, along with the associated TEQ data.
- EPA’s 2011 Toxics Release Inventory: Total toxic chemicals increase as result of mining (yubanet.com)
- EPA Toxic Release Inventory: Due to metal mining Alaska had the highest TRI releases in the nation (yubanet.com)
- EPA Issues Annual Report on Chemicals Released Into (suzirow.wordpress.com)
- EPA Annual Report Shows Increase of Toxic Chemicals to the Environment (ecowatch.org)
- Airborne Toxins Down, But Overall Pollutant Levels Rising: EPA (nlm.nih.gov)
Mississippi did as well as the best states (7 out of 10). My state, Ohio, had a 6 out of 10 as did Massachusetts.
The Ready or Not? report provides a snapshot of our nation’s public health emergency preparedness. Its indicators are developed in consultation with leading public health experts based on data from publicly available sources, or information provided by public officials. Some key findings from the report include:
- 29 states cut public health funding from fiscal years (FY) 2010-11 to 2011-12, with 23 of these states cutting funds for a second year in a row and 14 for three consecutive years. In addition, federal funds for state and local preparedness have decreased 38 percent from FY 2005-2012 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funds, adjusted for inflation). States are reporting that gains in public health preparedness achieved in the past decade since September 11, 2001 are eroding, and since 2008, budget cuts have resulted in more than 45,700 job losses at state and local health departments;
- Only two states have met the national goal of vaccinating 90 percent of young children, ages 19-36 months, against whooping cough (pertussis). This year Washington state has seen one of the most significant whooping cough outbreaks in recent history;
- 35 states and Washington, D.C. do not currently have complete climate change adaptation plans, which include planning for health threats posed by extreme weather events;
- 20 states do not mandate all licensed child care facilities to have a multi-hazard written evacuation plan; and
- 13 state public health laboratories report they do not have sufficient capacity to work five, 12-hour days for six to eight weeks in response to an infectious disease outbreak, such as novel influenza A H1N1.
“Public health preparedness has improved leaps and bounds from where we were 10 years ago,” said Paul Kuehnert, MS RN Director of the Public Health Team at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “But severe budget cuts at the federal, state and local levels threaten to undermine that progress. We must establish a baseline of ‘better safe than sorry’ preparedness that should not be crossed.”
The Ready or Not? report provides a series of recommendations that address many of the major gaps in emergency health preparedness, including:
- Reauthorize the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA), which expires at the end of this year;
- Assure sufficient, dedicated funds for public health preparedness to ensure basic capabilities to respond to threats public health departments face every day and also to have the trained experts and systems in place to act quickly in the face of major, unexpected emergencies;
- Provide ongoing support to communities so they better cope and recover from emergencies;
- Modernize biosurveillance to a real-time, interoperable system to better detect and respond to problems;
- Seriously address antibiotic resistance;
- Improve research, development and manufacturing of medical countermeasures;
- Increase readiness for extreme weather events; and
- Update the nation’s food safety system.
- Come plague, storm or bomb, most U.S. states unprepared: report (prn.fm)
- Report shows Montana scores poorly on health emergency preparedness (billingsgazette.com)
- The Seven States Least Prepared for Disaster (247wallst.com)
- States Show Improvements, But Remain Unprepared for Public Health Emergencies (healthland.time.com)
- Mississippi ranked in top five for emergency preparedness. (mississippipep.wordpress.com)
- What States are Ready for the Apocalypse? (washingtonian.com)
- Federal Safe Routes to School program reduces child injuries by more than 40 percent in New York City (eurekalert.org)