Monday, May 28, 2018

See It Say It

 I watched the nationwide recognition efforts by citizens and groups across the country honoring those who have died in military service for America.  I do believe it should be across the services as we forget that there are many others who have been in service to our country that led to the end of their lives.  Start with Teachers who were killed in Public Schools or other innocents who were only trying to serve the country by attending school, going to a movie or even shopping.  Yes we have many causalities thanks to gun violence and war is one way, living in a country that enables anyone to get a gun and use it to wreak havoc another.

Here in Nashville they wet themselves over Military and Police and there was a what I expected - nothing.  Some of the outlying areas did acknowledge the day but here we covered another stabbing and murder of a man who rented a room to another who decided to memorialize him in a plastic bin in a closet.  

It has temporarily quieted down as school is just out and I suspect the crazy will ratchet up in the next few weeks.  I was away in Pittsburgh for a few days and came home to find my planter box thrown half way down the street and a package stolen.  I love that my neighbors noted none of it.  Gee you did not see the planter sitting in the middle of the sidewalk there?   This is Nashville - stupid and a lot of it.

I have said repeatedly that the children are the reflection of the population at large - violent, angry, stupid.  It colors my entire world view of the city and places me in a distinct position of trusting no one nor respecting anyone for their role in enabling this via their simple lack of engagement.  The local Mayor "election" took place and the current Mayor who assumed his role was naturally re-elected by 53% of the vote.  This seemed to surprise the local paper as his closest contender was a strange woman who is a Fox commentator, Carol Swain, with 23% of the vote.  The entire opposition was largely members of the black community and of course that split the vote and frankly was for reasons unclear as the gig is for 18 months and why spend the money and time unless this was a feeler to see if they should run in in the major election.  The answer is no.  Of course here in Nashville that is racist speak as how dare you say anything critical about a Black person as you must be racist. For the record there was another right wing white dude who go 0% so what.the.fuck.ever.  Again this is Nashville - stupid and a lot of it.  

So Friday brought another school shooting and a Teacher took the kid out with a basketball and tackling him. Wait for that to be the next solution, arming Teachers with sporting equipment and learning martial arts.  Beats the rock idea or eliminating doors which have all been mentioned. Gun control? Fuck no.  Here is where America is a lot like Nashville - stupid and a lot of it.

The increasing violence will have lasting affects.  I can't stress that enough.  As I have been exposed to the most damaged children I have ever met in my 20 years in schools, I have had enough. I like living and after being out of Nashville for four days I found myself appreciating living and walking and talking to normal people in a normal city that embraces working class and moves to the future with a measured affect.  I am so appreciative of Darryl the Lyft Driver who made my last hours in the city memorable.  Thank you for being a gracious host. 

Come to Nashville and meet what poverty has wrought - violence and stupidity.  Great deadly combo.  From now on I am going to say it as I see it.  Life is truly too short to do otherwise. 

Have You Ever Seen Someone Be Killed?

A single data point that complicates how we think about who is in prison.

By Emily Badger
The New York Times
May 25, 2018

Researchers with the Boston Reentry Study were one year into their interviews, following 122 men and women as they returned from prison to their neighborhoods and families, when they asked the kind of question that’s hard to broach until you know someone well.

They prompted the study’s participants to think back to childhood. “Did you ever see someone get killed during that time?”

Childhood violence, including deadly violence, kept coming up in the previous conversations. The references suggested a level of childhood trauma among people leaving prison that standard survey questions don’t capture. And so the researchers wanted to be methodical — to ask everyone, directly, just like this.

The answers, among hundreds of other questions the study explored, give insight into the life trajectories that precede prison, and the limitations of the criminal justice system that places people there. In total, 42 percent of the study’s participants said “yes.”

That shocked even the investigators.

“I’ve never seen anyone be killed; I’m 54 years old, and I think I will probably not see that in my life,” said Bruce Western, a Harvard sociologist who describes the study in the new book “Homeward.” “And it was incredibly common in the lives of the respondents we talked to.”

Among these children — many who would later commit violence themselves, enter prison and struggle to re-enter society — some witnessed a killing more than once. So the statistic is an understatement, Mr. Western said.

Across their entire lives, the people in the study variously acted as offender, victim, participant and witness to violence, sometimes multiple roles at a time. That reality is messier than the one the criminal justice system recognizes.

“There is an unstated assumption deep in the DNA of criminal justice jurisprudence that the world divides into two categories, and there are victims and offenders,” Mr. Western said. “And the system delivers a certain kind of accountability by punishing offenders on behalf of victims.”

That clear line disappears, though, in the life histories of these former prisoners. Most of them were raised in poverty, in chaotic environments where routines and adult supervision were rare, and where their families were under stress.

Violence was common, not because poor people are more prone to it, but because poverty shapes social interaction in a way that makes violence more likely, research suggests. Anyone dropped into the same environment, Mr. Western said, could be swept up by violence, too.

Studies show that children who experience trauma are more likely later in life to suffer from asthma, depression, unemployment, and they’re also more likely to use drugs. The more trauma a child faces, the higher these odds. Children perform less well on standardized tests right after violent crimes have occurred in their neighborhood — even if they didn’t personally witness the violence.

The typical measures of trauma — “adverse childhood experiences” that include growing up in a household with physical or substance abuse — don’t gauge anything quite like witnessing lethal violence. That distress alters the picture of the population the Boston Reentry Study followed: These adults in the criminal justice system were once children exposed to awful things.

What, then, is to be done with the knowledge that four in 10 prisoners typical to the Massachusetts state prison system saw someone killed as a child?

Mr. Western argues that this should force us to reconsider the simplified model of offenders-and-victims, and to allow more second chances to people we peg in the first category.

“The whole ethical foundation of our system of punishment I think is threatened once you take into account the reality of people’s lives,” he said. In the study, the people who had experienced the most extreme childhood trauma and violence also struggled the most in adulthood with drug addiction and mental and health problems. The line between the two is not straightforward. But it’s also not irrelevant.

Mr. Western is not proposing a sentencing formula — say, additional mercy for each adverse childhood experience. But there is some precedent for the philosophy he describes: When well-off, otherwise successful young adults get into trouble, we often take the entirety of their lives into account in punishing them. Supporters say “but he’s a good kid,” and lawyers argue “but he has a bright future.” We consider counselors and treatment programs, not just prison.

By contrast, for the poor, Mr. Western said, an entire life is more often reduced to the criminal event at hand: “There’s neither a past, nor a future.”

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