Posts Tagged ‘conviction’

Brainstorm #2 – No More Prisons

12/29/2010
  • Last Week’s Brainstorm – Being More Productive
  • Interesting Fact – Prisons Today.
  • This week’s brainstorm – No More Prisons Tomorrow.

Just in case you missed it, we featured our first weekly brainstorm on our Facebook Page last week. Our Spade Question was:

What can I do to get more important work done in less time and with less effort?

Here are some of the answers we came up with. (Note how the general ideas begin radical and are then tempered to produce practical, reasonable solutions).

  1. Get excited! Make work something to look forward to. Make it fun and reward yourself.
  2. Slow down time! Get the pre-liminary stuff done during off-hours, then execute powerfully in your most energetic time slots.
  3. Beat bureaucracy! Get people to respond quickly to rapidly developing projects (phone and meetings, over text and email.
  4. Let the work do itself! Make repetitive tasks turn-key by using frameworks and templates. Delegate what you can.
  5. Batch! Pool similar tasks with each other and execute in 50 minute spurts of complete focus and attention.

Prison

This week we based our Spade Question on an interesting fact I came across this week:

The United States puts 0.7 % of its population in Prison – a vastly higher percentage than any other nation. This means that at any given moment there are over 2 million people incarcerated. One can imagine that this does very little to fix an ever growing problem. Is the United States truly safer than ANY other country? Is there no better way to spend the $22,000 – the cost, per inmate, per year?


Think about this one: An individual sentenced to five years for a $300 theft costs the public more than $100,000. Only in America.

Most prisoners come from disadvantaged backgrounds. Most have not completed high school. Many can barely read. Roughly one-third were been unemployed before imprisonment. Another third had annual incomes of less than $5,000. How can months or even years in prison correct this?

It’s no wonder that 52% – half – of prisoners who are released from prison are convicted and sent back within 3 years.

This all begs to question: Are all these “correctional facilities” really correctional?

How can we eliminate Prisons and Incarceration within 10 years?

Here are some ideas we came up with:

  1. Death Penalty! How could we use the death penalty for petty crimes while still being civil? We can fine them “to death” by charging exorbitant fees for crimes – just like we now do for speeding. Everyone hates tickets, why? Because they work!
  2. Tell on them! What if we told everyone who they know what they’ve done. We know that embarrassment isoften the greatest restructuring of a con. A great change occurs when unsympathetic arrestees gain a deeper understanding as to the effects of their crime. This requires education, not imprisonment.
  3. Nuke the lower class. What if we “nuked” the lower class with education that helped them understand the severity of their crimes or that explained how their talents could be put to better, less risky, more profitable use. What if we explained in simple English (or any other language) that selling TV’s can make more money than stealing them (and then selling them).
  4. “ConStraints”. A new device that would act as an “ankle weight” with properties that a) alert law enforcement of the constant whereabouts and up-to-date information on the “prisoner” b) is able to shock the con (similar to taser) – in the event they compromise the safety of their environment. Different features could be added for various levels of the crime committed.

A case for lesser stringency for second convictions: State prisoners with the highest re-arrest rates were those jailed for stealing cars (70%), possessing stolen property (77%), larceny (75%), burglary (74%), robbery (70%), or those possessing illegal weapons (70%). Within 3 years, only 2.5% of released rapists were arrested for another rape, and 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested for homicide. These are the lowest rates of re-arrest for the same category of crime.


Sources:

http://www.heartsandminds.org/prisons/facts.htm

http://www.stateline.org/live/ViewPage.action?siteNodeId=136&languageId=1&contentId=14835

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/rpr94.htm

“The Causes of Recidivism in the Criminal Justice System and Why It Is Worth the Cost to Address Them.” Nashville Bar Journal. Dec 06/Jan 07. (April 21, 2009).

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Ancient Lions and The Modern Man

11/28/2010

By Tzvi Greenberg

Roman and Germanic Armies Battle

Understanding the past is critical to understanding the present. Attention to history slows the racings of contemporary life. It lends context to confusion and provides the lens which sharpens our perspective.

So let us survey the plains of the past. Let us gather ourselves about the hearth of lore and legend and perhaps be enlightened.

There was a time when every sunrise was the dawning of a fresh terror. The crowing of the rooster was a lament for a day that had not yet begun. It was the age when violence was the language of nature. A time when nation confronted nation with the glint of the sword held high, as the hooves of their armored horses scarred the ground in the exaltation of war.

Despair consumed the hearts of those who surveyed the wealth of tradition as it lay trampled beneath the feet of advancing civilizations.

Yet throughout, men and children whispered beneath the floor boards, their eyes straining over forbidden text as small prayers issued from their trembling lips. And at night, hunched against the cold, ignoring the protest of their stomachs, some of them had the nerve to dream of freedom.

Today, we are the children of ancient endurance. We eat warm meals in brightly lit homes and are free to pursue a livelihood in an environment that poses no threat to our lives. We can enjoy our parks, museums, cafés, and all the allure of culture unhindered.

Basic comfort is not a pursuit; it is a given. Today, true horror is the stuff of film and the business of far away countries. And although misfortune visits everyone from time to time, it does not afflict our country on a large scale.

It appears that we are witnessing the triumph of civilization. Mans turbulent past has given birth to his relatively stable present. We live in a time when different beliefs and religions, once the instigators of conflict, coexist in relative peace and understanding. Leaders of various faiths meet at the lectern as opposed to the battlefield. People have graduated from the duel to the debate, and our liberty and ingenuity have allowed us to capitalize on the error and industry of millennia.

Yet, in the background of our culture some critical alarms are begging to be heard. There is something about our alleged progress that speaks of sinister regression. It warns that amidst the intricacy of our advancement, there might very well be the symptom of a subtle retardation of the psyche.

Let us return to the past and ask a question. What served as the fuel for the ancient extreme take on life and events that gave rise to those ensuing chaotic periods? What mentality supported the epic violence and massacres? Could such capacity for destruction and cruelty be conceived in a vacuum?

There is certainly an explanation and we shall endeavor to bring it forth with an analysis, however briefly, of the relationship of man and his ideas.

On the one hand, there is the “isolated idea” that is, the idea itself, the theory, formula, belief. It is impersonal, and its uses and responsibilities have no bearing on the individual. It exists in the mind as an apple might in the hand, and cannot nourish the person so long as he is holding it.

The second relationship between the individual and his idea is the “personalized idea.” It is the conscious joining of the man and his beliefs, the two separate entities becoming one. This is the consumption of the apple and its ingestion. Man and his thought merged into a single being and the intellectual wall and distance is removed. The idea is allowed access into his perspective, and given the discretion to influence his attitudes and decisions.

In ancient times, man and his ideas were indivisible and indistinguishable. Man did not “practice” religion, he was religious. He was his thoughts and his thoughts were one with him. He was the embodiment of the “personalized idea.”

There is a strong aesthetic appeal to this composite unity, this vibrant picture of the ancient personality.

On the negative side, this ancient beauty only worked for a single person or a single faith and left no room for any contrary opinion. The natural attitude that results from this mentality is, “if I am right then you are wrong, you must join me willingly, by force or be destroyed, for you cannot be saved if you do not believe as I do.” In addition, as a byproduct of this outlook; intellectualism and abstract thought were considered vanities or even heretical, and were often forbidden in any form. Ancient mans’ holistic beauty was also the most fertile environment for his dogmatism and intolerance. It resulted in the death of millions.

Extremism and tolerance cannot coexist, and therefore we must pronounce him a colossal failure.
Contrast this with today where the situation is quite different. We are tolerant and understanding. We can listen to discussions about the validity of faith with total calm. We debate religion and topics that once shook the very foundations of the world with objectivity and personal detachment. We have learned that violence is not the appropriate response to our differences.

Yet what effect has this tolerance exacted on our collective psyche?

It has come at the cost of the “isolated idea.”

Our “open mindedness” and “understanding” has left the inner pillar of human identity fractured. Our reaction to historical intolerance is indiscriminate acceptance. The cosmic embrace of modern man is his very loss of self. Our individual devotion and passion, the very essence of the individual, has been diluted by excessive acceptance of parallel devotions and foreign faiths. In our uniting with others we have divided ourselves.

Our very language betrays this internal division when terms like “family life,” “business life,” and “married life” become commonplace. Whatever happened to just, “life?” We adapt technology to provide endless forms of entertainment and distraction, and we become easy targets for the influence of advertizing which teaches us to want things that we don’t need. And when the tides of distraction dissipate and we reach a fickle moment above the fray, we remain dehydrated of meaning and thirst for answers to unarticulated questions.

Ancient man was at peace with himself and at war with his neighbor. Modern man is at peace with his neighbor and at war with himself.

The result is the stranger that stares back from the mirror.

The solution is balance. We must join the strengths of the past with the strengths of the present and fix them in their appropriate places.

When reflecting on oneself, one must take the “personalized idea” approach. We cannot afford to compromise on truth merely because someone else has a different definition of the term. We must pursue our individual purpose with discipline, focus, and yes, “narrow-mindedness.” It is our ultimate imperative to synchronize ourselves with our service to G-d, and the fulfillment of His commandments. We must strive to reflect our faith and conviction in our thought, speech, and action.

Extremism, that firebrand, does have a place where it does not destroy; in our hearts where it warms our lives and ignites that passion in our eyes. And when channeled only toward the self, endows man with the strength, energy, and beauty that reflect his Creator.

When viewing the world and the opinions of others, one must take the “isolated idea” perspective.

We must respect another’s right to search for truth, purpose, and meaning. It is not our task to respect a different faith, but it is our responsibility to respect another’s right to practice it. For G-d has many children, and who can fathom what he might desire from your neighbor?

It is only G-d who can make ultimate decisions and judgments. The individual can only make a judgment for himself alone. Tolerance and acceptance toward others are not pursuits in their own right, but are the natural byproducts of the understanding of the human condition.

The knowledge is there, the facts have been presented. And now action is the task at hand.