Should Felons Be Able to Work?

hire a felonThe Pro American Party believes that all Americans deserve to be able to work. This is true whether they have a criminal record or not. The issue of criminality is a complex one and needs to be viewed from multiple lens. This post intends to examine some of the many  factors that cause persons to resort to criminality and will attempt to get you to agree that if we can change those factors we can reduce crime. Because of the complexity of this issue we will devote this post and two or three more posts to the topic before we move on.

scarlet letterRemember the book “The Scarlet Letter?” Without telling you, this book wrote about labeling theory. Labeling theory is the idea that once someone is labeled in a certain way, let’s say “felon” for instance, people will look at them that way forever.  In fact, even the person who has acquired the label will end up acting in accordance with the label given. Labeling theory predicts that those who think of themselves as felons will act as felons. Being turned down for a job because of their record, simply reinforces the ‘felon’ label and encourages them to act in the way that is expected of them. If you are a felon looking for work, but can’t find it and everyone tells you it is because of your criminal record…what is left? For many, committing a crime to get the money needed to survive seems the only choice. As an aside, for those young parents out there, if you want to help your children get a good start in life, begin calling them kind and thoughtful and sweet and smart.

It is our belief that our poorest communities suffer from labeling theory in that they come to expect deviant behaviors from their members and in time many come to believe that in themselves. If you live in a poor urban environment the chances of you ending up in prison go up significantly. scarlet letter quote.pngIt really could not be otherwise. One of the most important factors in determining whether someone gets involved in criminality is whether their friends are. If their friends are involved in a gang, they almost certainly will be too. And youth gangs are a big source of crime and most live in this environment. Add to that poverty, impulsiveness, drugs and a lack of proper parental oversight and the results will be stacked in your favor for producing a criminal time and again. Toss in a belief that school is a waste of time and you’ll really stack the deck in your favor.

An American anthropologist, Oscar Lewis, coined the term ‘culture of poverty’. According to Lewis the culture of poverty constitutes a “design for living” that is passed on from one generation to the next. Individuals feel marginalized, helpless and inferior, and adopt an attitude of living for the present. They are fatalistic. Families are characterized by high divorce rates, with mothers and children abandoned; they become matrifocal family, headed by women.poverty-cycle.jpg People adopting this culture of poverty do not participate in community life or join political parties; they make little use of banks, hospitals and the like. According to Lewis the culture of poverty perpetuates poverty: It “tends to perpetuate itself from generation to generation because of its effect on children. By the time slum children are aged six or seven, they have usually absorbed the basic values and attitudes of their subculture and are not psychologically geared to take full advantage of changing conditions or increased opportunities which may occur in their lifetime.”

Other researchers agree with Lewis and argue that the attitudes expressed by the culture of poverty are a reaction to low income and a lack of opportunity, so that if these causes would be removed, so would the culture of poverty.

hopeThis is where the Pro American Party’s tenet #2 comes in. Tenet #2 opens the door for full employment, health care and economic stability. For many it will be the first time in their lives that this opportunity will have presented itself. It is both our hope and belief that this opportunity, over time, will help to minimize the ‘culture of poverty’ because in addition to a job, it will allow hope for a brighter future to rise again.

Once the poorest among us see a glimmer of hope via a conventional lifestyle the realities holding together their subculture will subside. Once we see job stability, hope and opportunity  come together we will see e a reduction in crime.

A big reduction.

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Would You Rather be Rich or Happy? Guest Column – Mr. Michael Ramon

feeling betterHave you ever thought, ‘boy, I’d love to be rich?’   Most people have and if you are American I know you have.   It’s fun to dream about all the ‘things’ we might have…at least a little.   The problem with this dream comes when we try to make it a reality.

Not all, but many rich people, especially those who made it themselves, are driven, unhappy, and are desperately hoping that money will buy happiness.  Sorry, won’t happen.   Money buys things, it can even buy people…but it does not buy happiness.

One of the problems with our current culture is that the desire for money has destroyed our values.   Its pursuit has become a religion to some, but a religion without a foundation.  I’m not advocating that being poor is better…not by a long shot, but there is a point between being poor and being rich that is the ‘sweet-spot’.  You’ve found it when you can pay all your monthly bills and still have time for yourself, your family and your community.

happy black familyIf you want to be happy it is important to look inside yourself to find your true values.   More important than money is the feeling of purpose.   If you can find a job that answers this need and pays you enough to live on….congratulations, you are one of the few.   If you are the one in a million whose purpose ends up making you rich…wow…just don’t forget your original values when you see how your wealth has screwed up your relationships with friends and family…and meeting new people without questioning their motives will never happen again.

Writer Dominique Astorino recently wrote an article that stated that being happy boils down to four basic things:

  1. People who are more socially connected are happier, physically healthier, and live longer.
  2. Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to close relationships; relationship satisfaction predicts future health.
  3. While high-conflict marriages can be worse than divorce, a “good relationship” doesn’t mean zero bickering. There are ups and downs, but the trust, commitment, and respect are key.
  4. “Loneliness kills.” The feeling of loneliness can be toxic; people who are isolated are less happy, their health declines sooner, their brain function declines sooner, and they live shorter lives.

Her conclusions were based on the results of an impressive 75-year study done by Harvard University.   To read the entire article, which I recommend, go to: http://a.msn.com/05/en-us/BBqQx4a?ocid=se

keys to happinessHere is  another site I would recommend.   It is called ‘Action for Happiness’ and can be found at www.actionforhappiness.org

If you really want to be happy, start with their first key…giving.   And bring your kids with you.    Find a way of giving that is meaningful for you.  And for just this first time, don’t give money.   Instead, give your time, energy and creativeness.   feeding homelessMake sure your giving results in improving the lives of others, especially those in need.   Giving a poor little girl a coloring book or bagging food at a food bank might just make your day.   Once you have giving down, work on the other keys and with each effort your own life will take on extra meaning.

Once that happens, happiness is close behind.

 

 

 

Why The NPA is a Good Idea

professionThere has been an ongoing debate about whether policing is a profession, simply a calling or just a job. In the United States professions are defined as occupations that have common educational requirements, national accreditation, ongoing training requirements, a single code of ethics, and exacting certification requirements. None of this applies to policing, at least not in a uniform manner.

If we were to apply the current standards for police training to the medical field we would be disheartened to learn that the term ‘doctor’ would have different meanings in different states. If everyone in the medical field was called a doctor, regardless of training, you might end up with a veterinarian when you actually need a surgeon.

The creation of the NPA opens the door for policing to become a profession. By having national standards and national accreditation, police officers in any city could laterally transfer anywhere in the country. In addition, when an occupation is raised to the level of a profession, the pay gets better.

Recent events have caused the public to have their lowest approval ratings of police in decades.frustrated police If you talk with officers it is easy to feel their frustration. They work hard every day, but still feel that they don’t have public support. Further, they state this is resulting in a lowered level of cooperation and a lower solve rate.

Because the NPA will listen to public concerns about the police and develop training programs to address them, public support for the police will improve. National certification will give the police more gravitas with the public and in court.

regionsIt is important to know that the NPA does not need to be located in only one place. It could easily be a single entity in terms of leadership, but still have regional academies. Such an approach might serve to further connect the public with the NPA and make it easier for chiefs and sheriffs to visit, since the academy would likely be closer.

The NPA would also serve a financial purpose. Local and state academies cost a lot of money to maintain and operate. moneyMany small departments cannot afford an academy at all, and are forced to accept recruits who have attended private police academies….often in situations in which the recruits had to pay for their training themselves. The NPA would largely eliminate these inequalities between departments.

Trust between the police and the public is a topic that cannot be overstated. In a democracy trust is fundamental for police organizations. humerous policeResearch shows the the single most important factor in determining whether or not the police will solve a crime is their relationship with the public. The NPA would go a long way towards building that trust. It follows then that we could expect the NPA to help improve the solve rate, furthering public confidence.

Just last week we talked with the chief of a large West coast department. He complained that all of his recruiting efforts were expensive and largely ineffective. Where in the past thousands of applicants would apply for 100 positions, these days he often has trouble finding enough qualified applicants to fill a class. The NPA will help with this by expanding the applicant field.

Returning, for a moment, to the DoD (from the previous post) and our nation’s veterans. The Pro American Party strongly supports the idea of creating a path for qualified separating veterans to go directly into the NPA.military-police In such an instance, departments could easily go to the NPA to recruit those candidates that best meet their needs. As an improvement to the current recruiting process, these candidates would already have a track record at the academy, allowing departments to be much more successful in finding good recruits as they would be able to see and compare recruits according to their department’s standards and needs. It would be better for recruits as well. Recruits would be able to evaluate all offers and go to the department of their choice.

This would not prevent departments from selecting their own recruits and then sending them to the academy. Even when departments chose to send an entire recruit class to the NPA they would enjoy substantial cost savings as compared to a local academy.

A National Police Academy? Is This a Power Grab By the Federal Government?

In our last post we talked about forming a group of stakeholders to help determine the types of training required at the National Police Academy. This group was comprised of law enforcement professionals, the public, and others, whom we called infrastructure. As the post ended we left it up to ‘leadership’ to merge all of the competing needs in this training in order to present a comprehensive training program. So, who is leadership?

There are two groups already in place that will provide the leadership and direction for this initiative. The first is the National Sheriffs’ Association. sheriffsassociation2They have been providing training and leadership in law enforcement circles since 1940. Their stated goal is to raise the level of professionalism in law enforcement, making them a perfect choice for this task. The NSA’s Center for Public Safety will take the lead in this effort.

The second is the International Association of Chiefs of Police. iacpFounded in 1893, the association’s goals are to advance the science and art of police services; to foster police cooperation and the exchange of information and experience among police administrators throughout the world; to bring about recruitment and training in the police profession of qualified persons; and to encourage adherence of all police officers to high professional standards of performance and conduct. Within the IACP, the Training and Professional Services Division will be the lead division.

Initially these two groups will provide 25 members to the leadership committee. The NSA will provide 15 members and the IACP will provide 10. The NSA has more selections in recognition that sheriff’s are the only elected law enforcement officials in our country. The group will elect a chair (from the NSA) and a vice-chair (from the IACP) who will then appoint the other leadership officers with the advice and consent of the remaining members.

Although this initiative will be led by the NSA and the IACP, funding will be provided by three federal agencies that already have a mandate to help law enforcement and our labor force. These agencies include the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Defense. Of note, the DoD has the responsibility of helping veterans find employment in civilian life when they separate from active duty.
Note: Although these agencies will provide funding, neither they nor the federal government will have any control or authority over the management and operation of the NPA.

no big governmentFor those of you with an understanding and knowledge of the origins of law enforcement in the United States you will know that unlike virtually any other country, our nation made a determination, from the very beginning, to have local control of their police forces. There is nothing in this initiative that would change that. Individual cities and departments can opt in or out of this training as they choose. This initiative is limited to training and in no way affects the control or authority over or of any department.

This initiative is designed to address common training needs across the country. It is not intended to eliminate the need for localized training. Even departments that send their recruits to the NPA might still need to provide training for local circumstances. Examples of individualized training needs might be for communities with a high number of immigrants or those that have critical infrastructure (e.g. water systems) that need to be protected.

Next post:  Why the NPA is good idea.

A National Police Academy? How? Why? Who?

officer at schoolThe Pro American Party strongly advocates creating a National Police Academy (NPA). Such an academy is in the best interests of all Americans and provides us with an opportunity to greatly improve the collective training of police officers throughout our nation. In our view sending officers to this academy should be voluntary on the part of each department, as should accepting officers from this academy. We believe the training and results will speak for themselves and that departments will naturally gravitate to the NPA because they will see it is in their own best interests to do so.

police relationsSo how does one start an Academy? When beginning from scratch the best place to start is by talking with the stakeholders. The first group should be comprised of current law enforcement professionals. In our view this group is further broken down into executive, management and line officer sub-groups. The executive level group would be comprised of those personnel who have leadership and vision functions within departments. The management group would be comprised of different levels of supervisors who are responsible to translate the vision of leadership personnel into operational reality. The line officers are those who work the streets and have a direct connection with citizens.

Each of these groups, within their communities, function in their own way and face different pressures, from both inside and outside their departments. Thus they each have a unique contribution to make to the design of the NPA.

minority communityThe second group of stakeholders is the general public. This group should be representative of our country…meaning that we will need persons from each of the races and cultures that can be found within our nation. We also need to represent different socioeconomic groups, because each group has different types of interactions with the police and therefore unique viewpoints.

The last group of stakeholders is ‘infrastructure’. It should be comprised of representatives of other government agencies (at local, state and federal levels) and the business community.

puppy k9Once representatives of each of these groups is selected their mandate will be to determine the types of training and skills today’s police need to function properly within their communities, from each group’s individual point of view. It will then be the job of the leadership of the NPA to design the program so that it merges the requirements of this combined group into a cohesive and comprehensive training program.

Note: The stakeholder group should meet once a year to discuss if/how training needs have changed based on the events that have taken place in our country in the past year.

Next Post: Why do we need the NPA, what are its advantages and where will these officers come from?