In Focus: Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

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Dr. Jerrod Brown, treatment director for Pathways Counseling Center Inc. recently published an article in Counseling Today on Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), which is designed “to provide a basic introduction of FASD to mental health professionals in six key areas: FASD symptoms, diagnostic comorbidity, memory impairments, tips for interacting with individuals who may have FASD, screening and assessment, and treatment.” Although this article is marketed to mental health professionals, it is important for criminal justice practitioners and treatment professionals who work with offenders to understand the dynamics of FASD.

Please click on the link below to read the article.

FASD: A guide for mental health professionals

 

 

Juvenile-In-Justice

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A 12-year-old juvenile in his windowless cell at Harrison County Juvenile Detention Center in Biloxi, Mississippi, operated by Mississippi Security Services, a private company. There is currently a lawsuit against MSS that forced it to reduce the center’s population. An 8:1 inmate to staff ratio must now be maintained.

Photographer Richard Ross captures what life is like behind bars for juveniles. You should check out his photography. His photos are both haunting and revealing about the lives of incarcerated juveniles.

Juvenile-In-Justice

The New “Jane” Crow: Black Women are the New Target for Mass Incarceration

African American women only make up 13 percent of the entire female population in the United States, yet they represent 50 percent of the entire female prison population. African American women are 7 times more likely than White women to be incarcerated, and for every 100 African American women you come across at least one of them will have gone to prison.

For the complete article see: The New “Jane” Crow.

Students Thinking About Crime and Punishment

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Recently, students were asked to  write a “Thinking about Crime and Punishment” paper for my criminology course. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“We as society are constantly putting labels on individuals, and we are all human beings no matter what our social status is, background, race, or sexuality, we all are the same.”

“…But the majority of people who go to prison end up back there at some point.  I think one thing that needs to be changed throughout our prisons is to focus their attention more on helping these criminals get better.”

“We as a nation seem to be so good at incarcerating people but we fail to realize that we need to correct them and not leave them locked up. This became fact to me when I went to see the “A Day at Stateville” play that was portrayed by actual inmates who were there and who served 30 or more years in the Illinois prison system. Hearing of the living conditions and of what these individuals have gone through is mind boggling.”

“When I went to the Prison tour this semester I felt a sense of shame; not because I was at a prison learning about the corrections system or why people were committing all of these crimes, but I felt like I was degrading these prisoners by looking at them through protective barriers and through thick glass walls like looking at animals in a zoo.”

“We as the next generation of law enforcement really need to show compassion to the people we arrest because we are there to discipline them for their mistakes in hopes of preventing them from doing it again. We should also see this as an opportunity to serve our public and the people we care about and it should not give the perception that cops are the ones being served by their community.”

“Many American proudly proclaim that this is the greatest country to live in– the land of the free, but are either of these statements really true? America is ranked number sixteen in quality of life according to the Social Progress Imperative and number one in rate of incarceration (R. Walmsely, 2011). Further, the firm IPSOS Mori ranked 14 countries on their ignorance about social statistics and the United States ranked second. None of those statistics lends support to the initial claims, but what is the solution?”

“A specific example was discussing drug testing for welfare. It wasn’t anything I had supported beforehand, but after being asked “Why do we think [or assume] poor people do drugs?” I realized that I had never thought critically about it before that. Also, to learn that in states where that policy has been implemented it was ineffective which bolsters the “ignorance in social statistics” ranking. I’ve seen many Facebook “shares” supporting that policy, but no empirical evidence to back it up. This is an example of how ignorance can have a domino effect in the criminal justice system.”

“This brings me to the second important lesson that has influenced how I think about crime – compassion and how we treat others. The format of the class – teacher’s attitude, class discussion, etc…- facilitated a lot relation of lessons to real life. The two strongest examples were the prison tour and the Changing Mind stage reading. Putting faces to offenders and re-humanizing them and also bringing up the question “when is the debt to society paid?” Many people simply want to “lock criminals up and throw away the key”, but don’t want to think about the repercussions of this. Watching documentaries on how powerful different environments can be  in influencing criminal behavior – such as poverty or growing up in violence ridden streets – demonstrates that maybe we shouldn’t just be asking “What does this criminal owe society?”, but “Has society failed these individuals? And if so, what do we owe them?” This is probably a very controversially thing to suggest – that society may owe criminals, but with the current system I think it’s a fair question. I believe in justice, I believe in being punished for wrongdoing, but I also believe in second chances, redemption, and helping out your fellow human.”

Investigate Black Southern Church Burnings as Terrorism

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Since the mass shooting of nine African Americans at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, there have been seven Black southern church burnings. The media often does not cover these stories with the same intensity the do with other types of crimes. A church is a place of solace for people–a place where people go renew their spiritual strength. These acts of violence are meant to intimidate African Americans and therefore should be treated as acts of terrorism. Here is the link to a change.org petition asking the United States Department of Justice to investigate these burnings as acts of terrorism. Please join me in signing the petition.