Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dead Men Don't Talk!

Was it a threat? If the title got your attention, I wonder why? Do you know the meaning of that phrase? Does anyone know the meaning of it? Wow. When I first heard it, it surely sounded as a threat. I am not saying that it was a threat, I am saying it "sounded" like one. No need to jump to conclusions. Yet, I would have loved to respond to those words, perhaps questioned them, but I did not. But think it over. You are talking about dead men and you are saying dead men don't talk. Well of course, technically dead mean don't talk but there is so much more to it than that.
I was sitting in the lobby, right out in public, and the person at the computer was on the cellular phone also. He kind of laughed and then said in a stern voice, Dead men don't talk! Was his laughter to lighten the words or was it to emphasize the words? Or was the laughter to get away with the threat? Or was he just talking about a movie? Ahh, but you should have heard the voice, the inflection, the tone; it surely did not sound as if this was about a movie. The gentlemen who uttered those words was not whispering, and was not speaking in a confidential tone of voice. You have probably seen people on cellular phones when they speak. They go either one way or the other. They either speak very quietly to have a personal conversation (rarely) or they are speaking loudly into the phone,knowing that anyone and everyone around them can hear their conversation. That one single phrasesounded so much like a threat , but to whom? There wasn't anyone around except me, and at a great distance there was the security guard.
(Note to you cellular users: You might want to find some privacy when you speak like that. You just never know how your conversation will be taken or heard).
React in Your Own Way: It is funny how different people react to different circumstances. Probably the average person might have overheard that loud conversation with those same words and thought it was a threat. My thinking is quite different. I heard it as a debate. Since it is an untrue statement, I heard it as a real debating issue. My first immediate thought, when I heard what that person said, was to respond, just as loudly, with the retort , yes they do, surely they do! Even though that was my first reaction, it was a silent reaction; it was all in my thoughts and I did not express my opinion. I knew that it wasn't necessary to express my opinion right then. Why? Because I knew that more importantly there has to be an article on this. The circumstance was so important. And you sit there wondering why this short conversation was important.
The words of those killed roar like thunder for years after the murders. And sometimes the words of the deceased are so bold and so loud that they can be heard around the country and then around the world. Dead men exclaim, scream, shout and their words are plastered throughout the land until the ends of eternity.
Is there proof? Yes, there is proof. Every day there is proof! Have you heard Gandhi's words in your lifetime? The assassin stopped his physical body but could not silence his spirit or his followers. This leader's words, philosophies, biography and stories are heard around the world. The stories do not stop at the shores of India but they travel on throughout every school in our city and we are not even in India. Indeed dead men talk.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr: Martin's words are plastered throughout the whole entire United States and throughout our city. We see his name on our schools, on our street signs, in the annual memorial celebrations and at those ceremonies we celebrate his life and the work for peace that he did. Yes, indeed, dead men talk. The healing and intelligent, warm words of Dr. King live on and on and on,even though he died so very many years ago. His name graces street corners, high schools, community buildings and community projects throughout the entire United States of America. And when certain men and women die, their words are long, bold, lasting and strong enough to wake up the rest of the dead in our land.
Dr. Cook: Listen carefully and you will hear all the words of the dead men in our land and listen more carefully and you will hear the voices, of the men who are no longer with us, throughout our entire world. Dr. Cook was a reverend man who spoke on radio about the Holy Bible. He had a morning show on WFME 94.7 on FM radio, quite some time ago. And then, he died. But Dr. Cook's messages and his speaking and his voice live on and on,even though he is no longer here, his words can still be heard on radio. They continued his show after he died.
Dying Man's Confession: Look at the importance of a dying man's confession. These words are held with greatest importance, a dying man's last words are good evidence in court, simply because the man is dying -not because of whom the man is. Each and every day we see the importance of the words of men and women who died, and our nation and our world upholds the messages that these men uttered while they lived and these messages are ushered around the world, in booming voices, in triumphant voices, proving indeed, that bullets, guns, knives and other weapons stop the physical body but have no effect whatsoever on the positive, good spirit of man. You cannot stab integrity, you cannot slay good character, and you cannot murder trustworthiness. Their memories and spirits live on, indefinitely, as their history talks up a storm.
Just A Biological Statement: Never be fooled into thinking that dead men don't talk because that statement is simply not true. If t here is any truth to it this is merely a biological statement but not a social statement , not a statement of defeat. Know that all men and women have a voice, a strong voice after they die. Just listen to the news to be reminded of that. Most of our famous artists were poor and basically unknown while they were alive, and they achieved great fame after they died. Their paintings, usually sold for practically nothing, but after they died, their paintings became so alive, so important and so loud that their messages are and can be and always will be heard and seen throughout this entire world. Who has not seen Picasso's painting of the flowers? Who has not heard of Rembrandt? And what about Chagall? The values and experiences of those who have died centuries ago, are expressed to modern man as he views their work in practically every state in the United States of America. These artists expressed their feelings in full color, oils and watercolors. So not only do they talk but they talk in living color.
Celebrity Death: Let a celebrity die, a celebrity that we haven't heard of in months and you will see tv show after tribute, after movie re-run constantly all week, all month and even longer if the celebrity has been around for a long time. In our land and in our world, some of the most powerful, most lasting, most life-changing voices come from humans who are no longer on this earth. And how does this happen? Simply, yes, there is a very simple answer to that.
Elie Wiesel lives, and yet he brings the words of dead men and women to life in his book, NIGHT , as he tells what happened in the concentration camps. Hitler killed millions of jewish people, and other people too, but he could not kill the spirit of the Jewish people. Hitler could not tame the human spirit that fought with every breath, to live despite all odds against them. Elie speaks to thousands of people each and every year about what he saw, what he lived through and what was told to him. Elie is the living witness to some of the millions who died. Memorials and ceremonies are held throughout this entire world every year, for the victims who died. And every single year, someone's words reach out of the darkness, to prove the power of human life and strength. Every year, we listen and hear the the true stories of the survivors, and the survivors tell the true stories of those who did not make it out of the camps. And though their bodies did not make it out of the barbed wire fences, their hearts, minds, spirits and stories flew with angels wings over the boundaries to our ears.
Death of A Pope and others:Once the Pope died, there were books circulated, audio cassettes with his words, there were newspaper articles in every country of the world, speaking of the what happened to the Pope. And all over, they reprinted his words, his sermons, his thoughts and his ideas. Even today, on some radio stations you can still hear the Pope's voice. No one stopped the Pope from getting his message out to his people. Rosa Parks, Gordon Parks, Harriet Tubman, they are all dead, yet they all talk.
Family Dies: When your family member passes away, that is not the end of them or their thoughts, words, deeds or life. That person lives on in your memory over and over and will be there until the end of time. No one just vanishes simply because their time on this earth was up. You can get on a bus and remember them. You pass a grocery store and see their favorite fruit and you remember them as if they were right there with you. You remember their words. You remember the things they tried to share with you, the things they told you or things they asked you. No one is dead forever. The actual moment of death lasts for just a few short minutes or moments and then they are living in Heaven or Hell forever, depending on their choices that they made in their lifetimes. We listen to memorials, obituaries, ceremonies, and religious rituals, even from their funerals, they talk. They talk through the tears in the eyes of their families and friends.
I write this article today to encourage people, to bring people hope, to help dry the tears of you if you were ever among those who claimed that dead men don't talk. You know better than that and you are smarter than that than to believe those false words. Dead men bellow! Martyrs watch us from Heaven as we remember them. Dead men's voices, sayings, quotes, philosophies and words sprout out through the cracks of every brick building in the nation, the words creep along train tracks in the South and plunge through the muddy waters of dirty rivers in our land. The words of our ancestors grace the outside walls of our greatest library in Brooklyn, New York, not the words of living people but the words of dead men.
Dead men's words travel faster than the speed of light sometimes, if we just stop, pause and listen very carefully, we will hear Moses say, Thou Shalt Not Kill! The words that were given to us so long ago grace the walls of our courtroom buildings. And what about those that we do not wish to hear from ? There are some dead criminals, who in their last moments just before they were executed, uttered their sorrow, their repentance, their regret for their disgusting crimes. Why do I even mention those? Well, this country is one of equal opportunity so I mention dead criminals because even they speak their mind before they leave this earth and the newspapers will print their words for days if not weeks.
Even dead criminals talk: And more than that, most of the dead men that talk are not criminals. Even those dead men that we do not wish to hear, they talk also. You have all seen the executions of murderers and what newspaper did not print their last words? What victim's family was not haunted by the words of those dead men who spoke right from the electric chair? Dead men talk. What saves our society is that MOST of the dead men in our world that talk are gallant men, wonderful men, creative men, gentlemen, men of wisdom, grace, power and generosity, men who made good positive lasting changes in our land, in our world. Those are the voices that save society.
If anyone is scratching their head and being confused still,if you are still saying, dead men don't talk! Let me be clear that the talking that I am writing about is their words, their biographies, their stories, their memorials, their urns and the words on their tombstones, the street signs with their names on them, this kind of talking, dead men talk!
A Young Boy: And finally, but not least of all, ask the murderers of Ari Halberstam if dead men don't talk. Take an automobile ride over the Brooklyn Bridge. As you come to that stretch of land that the van travelled over, that small area of ramp on the Brooklyn Bridge where Ari was killed, see if you dare say that dead men don't talk. When Ari was killed on the Brooklyn Bridge, when he died, his voice was heard all over our city. The voices of his people, his community and voices throughout our city made sure that his name would remain on that ramp for eternity, and it does. As I ride over that bridge, I see his name, over and over. When they murdered him, they thought that this was the last they would see or hear from him. Little did they know that his name, his story and his memory would shout out from the grave to every person that rides over the Brooklyn Bridge - forever. And, I smile, in relief that these assassins did not silence Ari. Dead men do talk! Spirits live on forever. And their voices will come back to haunt those who committed those crimes against them. That is what assassins and murderers will never understand. That in murdering innocent people, you raise their voices to the loudest that they have ever been. That in murdering innocent people, you lift them up to heights they had not achieved in life, and you permit their voice, their message to circulate all over again, everywhere. Wherever the printed word can go, wherever there can be a street sign or the name of a school, you can hear the voices of dead men.
We strive: What makes our city and our country so great is that we yearn to hear those voices, the voices of the soldiers who were silenced by bullets and knives. Never let anyone convince you that a person's spirit, a human's message ends when their heart stops beating. You know so much better than that.
Go to this site for the story of Ari and go to this site for story of the opening of the museum -the ceremony . And come away from there knowing without a doubt that dead men speak.
As I overhead that loud conversation where that one person declared that dead men don't talk, I know the truth in my heart, so I did not respond to it. However, when I am silent, I am not silent for long. Eventually, my thoughts, my words, my opinions and my ideas do surface. Guess it is my style, my silence surfaces in the printed word. And sometimes my silence surfaces on video tapes that are my television shows. I am glad to live in a country where the words of truth prevail, no matter what.
So now that we have re-established the fact that dead men do talk, what will you say after you die? What will your legacy be to your friends and to your family? What will your lasting words be? You are the one in charge of that. You are the one who is making the memories. What kind of memories will you make. What kind of memories are you living, right now? What do you have to say for yourself? If you have a message, make a video and place that video on . You can put your message there for free, no obligation. So post your message and let your voice and your message be heard even after you are gone. But think of this before you post your parting message; Are proud of the story that you bring to your followers? Can you stand tall, confident, and look people in the eye and say, this is my message! This is the story that I bring to the world. ?
Are you proud to show that message to your mom, your dad, your children and to all of the rest of your heirs-to-be? Is your message worthy of God's ears? Though dead men talk, the real challenge in this life is to do your best work while you are alive and breathing. That is the ultimate challenge.
Do your best work now. Present something to the world that you are proud of. Because after you are gone, your message stays somewhere, and you have no time, nor any way to change your mind.
For myself, I do not write to try and change anyone, nor do I write to judge someone. I write to learn. From every article that I write, I am educated, again. Most times when we say things to others, usually the message that we are giving outward, is the education that we need to hear for ourselves. Today, and every day, I am educating myself, and if one other person gets anything at all from my writing, that makes me happy too. So, I remind myself again, that today and tomorrow and for every day thereafter, I must present a message to the world that I can be proud of. May I never resort to people pleasing, and always strive to make my God smile.
Published author, creator of genuine, unique television shows that air on Time Warner and on Cablevision in New York City. A warm-hearted individual who gives a voice to those who have been silent all along. This author produces television shows about almost all topics that help people in their lives. Many of the shows are entertainment; some are information and resources and still others are festivals, fiestas, and community events that bring all people together in one place in the city or in the country.

RFID Clothing Tags Would Not Be Private Labels

Imagine a time in the near future when you enter a mall for a day of shopping. As you enter that mall, a tiny RFID scanner near the entrance captures the pulse from the hidden RFID tag sewn into the jacket that you are wearing. The information captured by that scanner is sent to a transactional database and within seconds your complete identity, and the location and date that you purchased that jacket, is captured. As a result, the "mall" knows that you have just arrived and, through the use of other RFID scanners (located throughout the mall), begins to track your every movement.
Your first stop in the mall that day is to buy a new coffee maker. You decide that Wal-Mart is the retail establishment to shop at first. Through the RFID scanner and that hidden tag sewn into the label in your jacket, the information concerning your visit and your length of time in Wal-Mart will be captured by the readers located in the mall.
However, RFID technology is also used at Wal-Mart and the tracking of your every move will continue even after you leave the mall through Wal-Mart's in-store scanners. Upon entering the store, Wal-Mart knows you are there. A screen brings up your identity, transaction history, and profile. Soon, a store employee whom you have never met or seen before approaches you and welcomes you. He addresses you by your first name as though he has known you as a friend for years. He asks if he can help you today.
This store "greeter" has already seen through the (RFID) transactional database that you bought a Norah Jones CD the last time you were at Wal-Mart. He mentions that the store has just received her newest CD. He also knows, through a database analysis of millions of people with a buying history similar to yours, that a large percentage of people that listen to Norah Jones also enjoy music from Diana Krall and drink white wine. He suggests both items to you as good buys in the store today. He also offers to sign you up for the store credit card since he knows that you usually purchase items using cash.
As you move through Wal-Mart, every aisle that you visit continues to be monitored due to the communication between the in-store scanners and that hidden tag sewn into your jacket. Finally, you decide that you want to buy the Braun coffee maker that is on sale and that newly released Norah Jones CD. Since you have never had a drink of white table wine, you buy a bottle to try something new.
The store rings up the sale by scanning the RFID tags on the coffeemaker, wine, and CD. All of the data concerning these new purchases immediately becomes stored with all your prior purchases in the RFID transactional database. The database knows everything about these new purchases; the fact that you bought a Braun coffeemaker at Wal-Mart, how much you were willing to pay, and that you like to purchase products when they are on sale. It also captures the purchase of the new CD of Norah Jones as well as the bottle of white table wine. It knows that you paid for everything in cash.
After these purchases, you leave the store and the RFID readers in the mall resume tracking and recording your every retail browsing movement. In fact, the tracking of your retail experiences and purchases continues to go on in the same manner, day after day, week after week, store after store. Soon, the RFID transaction database can tell anyone who would like to know about all your buying preferences and shopping habits.
Your retail profile from that transaction database will capture what you like to eat, what brands of clothes,cologne, perfume, and shoes you prefer. It will know about the magazines and books you read, the stores you visit, and the length of your shopping time in each. It will also show how many items you bought that were on sale. In fact, an analysis of your buying habits compared with millions of other similar people in the database, could even be able to predict other things that you may like to buy.
Then, that retail information profile on you in the database can be used as a solicitation source. It could be used for target advertisements to your cell phone, landline telephone, email address, mailing address, or even after entering a store, through the personal solicitation from a store employee.
Of course many readers may by now be thinking that this is all too far fetched. Maybe someday in the distant future, but certainly not today. I will tell you that this future may be a lot closer than you think. This fact becomes clear when you look at the RFID patent requests of several large U.S. corporations that include IBM, NCR, American Express, and Proctor and Gamble. Based on their patent requests, it is clear that a future based on RFID tags may indeed become our reality very soon.
Consider the abstract of the RFID pending patent request ( 20020165758 ) from International Business Machines called, "Identification and tracking of persons using RFID-tagged items" as an example. The IBM abstract description reads: "A method and system for identifying and tracking persons using RFID-tagged items carried on the persons. Previous purchase records for each person who shops at a retail store are collected by POS terminals and stored in a transaction database. When a person carrying or wearing items having RFID tags enters the store or other designated area, a RFID tag scanner located therein scans the RFID tags on that person and reads the RFID tag information. The RFID tag information collected from the person is correlated with transaction records stored in the transaction database according to known correlation algorithms. Based on the results of the correlation, the exact identity of the person or certain characteristics about the person can be determined. This information is used to monitor the movement of the person through the store or other areas".
RFID technology is not new and has been used in the United States for many years in various business and military operations. RFID technology has been especially invaluable when utilized as barcodes in inventory control and management. Today, by using RFID tags (also known as microchips), you can even store your health records as an implanted chip inside your own body. In addition, government has proposed a future use of RFID tags in drivers licenses, passports, and even border crossing identification cards. These future applications of RFID tags could well compromise our personal security and be an invasion of our privacy in many aspects of our lives.
Indeed, it is the potential use of this next generation of RFID technology that is a concern from a security and privacy perspective. In the retail world, the intention is to place these enhanced RFID tags in all items including clothing. As a result, in the future, even the tags in our clothes could become a source of an invasion of our personal privacy.
For the retail industry, RFID tags would be an advertising and solicitation dream come true. However, for the consumer, it would fast become a security and invasion of privacy nightmare.
James William Smith has worked in Senior management positions for some of the largest Financial Services firms in the United States for the last twenty five years. He has also provided business consulting support for insurance organizations and start up businesses. He has always been interested in writing and listening to different viewpoints on interesting topics.
Visit his website at

Bully Buttons - Big Brother's Latest Gadget

I would like to bring your attention to the new popular buzzword that is being promulgated as the panacea for all of society's ills: Accountability. In his classic work, 1984, George Orwell paints a futuristic society, Oceania, in which the government-"Big Brother"-watches over all. In other words, everyone is accountable to the government for all of their actions. While the populace is brainwashed into believing the government is their salvation, the government is really their enslaver and the cause of their misery. Its Department of Truth manipulates the language, Newspeak, to promote the government's agenda of total control.
We are increasingly headed in the direction of 1984, with the blessing of our own population, which loves to relinquish personal responsibility for our lives and hand it over to the government, in the naive belief that our government knows best and can take care of us better than we can take care of ourselves. Our latest Big Brother word is Accountability. What a great idea! Just make people accountable for their actions, and then they will do all the right things. All the ills of society will disappear when people are held accountable.
But people can't be held accountable for things that are not in their control. "No Child Left Behind" holds schools accountable for lack of students' academic success. But how can they be held accountable for this? Education experts have been endlessly trying to find ways to improve student achievement and the controversies over how to accomplish this never end. Is a law going to force learning to increase? What the law will do is encourage schools to figure out how to avoid getting in trouble with the law. So they creatively manipulate test scores to show educational improvement that isn't really happening.
Anti-bullying laws are holding schools accountable for the bullying that goes on between students. But how can schools be held responsible for making kids stop bullying each other when adults, even mental health professionals, don't know how to be free of bullying in their own lives, don't know how to get their own couple of kids at home to stop bullying each other? "Accountability" is not going to bring our society closer to Utopia. It will bring only bring it closer to Oceania.
Signs suggest, unfortunately, that Australia is nearly there: A company there is now marketing a video recording system called Bully Buttons. When kids feel they are being bullied, they press the nearest Bully Button and cameras start filming. (Australia is taking bullying increasingly seriously, which is not surprising in light of a recent lawsuit in which a school was ordered to pay over a million dollars for failing to stop a child from being bullied.)
Of course everyone thinks this is a wonderful idea. That is the beautiful thing about Big Brother. It sounds so good that no one can see any reason to object to it. How nice to have a Big Brother always available to watch over us and protect us from each other. The company, of course, doesn't want to be seen as Big Brother, but the fact that the company feels the need to defend itself in advance from such accusations speaks for itself: "We don't want it to be too pervasive or Big Brotherish," the company manager is quoted as saying. I guess they only want it to be adequately "pervasive and Big Brotherish."
But what does it do to our our moral development... to our social relationships? You are no longer free to learn from experience in treating people different ways. Even if you can't stand someone, you had better make believe you like the person because if you show any hostility, it's on tape and you get punished. Mainstream society upholds honesty as a major value, but its Big Brother anti-bullying policies are promoting forced phoniness. Anti-bullying policies are meant to get kids to treat each other morally. But is where is the morality when the purpose of your behavior is avoidance of punishment?
As an adult, would you like to have all of your interpersonal interactions under the scrutiny and control of government officials? Why start kids on a course in childhood that we detest as adults? What kind of a world are we preparing them for with these Bully Buttons?

Political Telemarketing - A New Frontier in Consumer Annoyance

It seems that with every election cycle candidates are forced to campaign harder than they did in the previous cycle leaving potential voters with a case of election fatigue. Much of this fatigue is brought on by two factors, voters' constant access to information (whether they want it or not) and campaigns raising record amounts of money to pay for incredible amounts of advertising that would have been unheard of just 15 years ago.
In many ways voters are in information overload during an election season due to constant news coverage of the candidates as well as political advertising during commercial breaks and on the Internet. This information overload is only made worse by the fact that candidates are turning towards more direct ways of targeting voters then they have been in the past. In previous political cycles most people were accustomed to receiving large amounts of paper advertisements in their mailbox during an election season as well as occasional phone calls.
At the beginning of the recent political season it became apparent that candidates were looking to raise the bar on traditional advertisements by focusing more of their strategy on direct contact methods like the telephone instead of indirect methods like paper mailings. The political telemarketing that many voters have witnessed thus far has been nothing short of astounding. It seems that overzealous campaigns are renting out telemarketing services that are willing to call at all hours of the day at a rate that has never before been seen.
Political telemarketing has also shifted in the fact that these telemarketers will now call cell phones and people on do not call lists. Although there will likely never be any protection from political telemarketers calling a cell phone directly, there is a independent movements to create a political do not call list that is gaining support across the country. Unfortunately this movement lacks legal backing therefore it is nothing more than a gesture of goodwill if candidates choose to observe the preferences of people who place their phone numbers on the list.
Surprisingly a good deal of political telemarketing does not even come from the candidates themselves. Much of it comes from special interest groups that operate independently of the candidate, or at least from a distance. In fact there have even been cases in some of the primary states of political telemarketing being used in a way to discourage people from taking part in the political process by placing pre-recorded political calls to registered voters at all hours of the night. A
Unfortunately the only real way to block political telemarketing on your cell phone or home phone is to use a caller ID device and then block any troublesome political telemarketing phone numbers that pop up. Although this is definitely not an ideal strategy, it is the only strategy as candidates and special-interest groups have no qualms about calling your cell phone or even your home phone if you placed the number on a do not call list.
Gerry loves to compile consumer information and present it to those who will benefit. You can check out his latest website, which enables you to trace the owner to a phone number free.

Subsidized Housing Challenges Facing Ex-Prisoners

"I'll be homeless and on the streets before I turn down one of my children for a place to stay," says an elderly woman in Chicago's Austin community. She lives in subsidized housing, and was told by the housing management program that her son could not live with her because of his prior convictions.
Frankie White, Prison Re-Entry Coordinator at Westside Health Authority addresses the challenges on a daily basis. As a counselor to ex-incarcerated people, she does her best to help them transition positively to the community, but the toughest problem continues to be housing. White points out the irony of spending money on rehabilitation, while not supporting the need for housing upon re-entry into the community.
"If we continue punishing formerly incarcerated individuals by preventing them from joining their families in subsidized housing, we're setting ourselves up for failure," contends White. "If we continue to strip our men of their purpose as role models, then how can they ever feel a sense of self-esteem? I feel this is one of the biggest reasons why youth in adult prisons have doubled in the past decade."
The CHA and Section 8 rules prohibit formerly incarcerated individuals from living with their families in subsidized housing under the following situations:• Sex offenders who are required for a lifetime registration program.• Those involved in the sale or production of methamphetamines in federally assisted housing
"Those are the only two absolute bans," says John Fallon, Program Manager of Prisoner Re-Entry at the Corporation for Supportive Housing. "Everything else can be at the discretion of the Housing Authority in the design of their Tenant Selection Plan."
According to Fallon, the tenant selection law gives individual public housing authorities the "right to discriminate." The result of this discrimination impacts both the formerly incarcerated people and their families. Typically, housing officials elect to enforce the ban which may relate to the spiraling rate of recidivism.
"Studies have shown that individuals with a stable place to live upon release from correctional settings are less likely to be re-incarcerated," continued Fallon. "About 10% of those released have severe mental illness, and 16% have mental health difficulties." Corrections have become the primary national mental health system, and the rate of recidivism for this group is extremely high. Thousands of people with chronic health problems cycle in and out of jail. Fallon explained that long-term intensive outreach services are needed in the home to break the cycle.
The repercussions of our current correctional system are alarming. The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. At the start of 2008, one of out 99.1 adults in the United States were in prison. A report by the City of Chicago cites that over the last thirty years, the Illinois prison population has increased 300 percent.
Racial disparity for both men and women of African-American descent is also evident. About three times the number of African-American people is imprisoned compared with their Caucasian counterparts. That equals about one out of every ten African-American men. Nationally, there will be 672,000 releases from state and national prisons this year. Where will those people go who are denied access to subsidized housing?
Malcolm Young, Executive Director of the John Howard Association of Illinois, relates that thousands of people have been displaced since the tearing down of subsidized housing. According to the CHA Annual Plan for 2008, the family waiting list for CHA housing is 25,000 families, totaling 72,000 people. The senior waiting list is over 34,000 households, totaling 38,000. Unable to accommodate any more displaced people, CHA closed the waiting list for new applicants. Young acknowledges that when a formerly incarcerated man or women returns to society with no job, little money, and a family to support, the housing challenge presents a major hurdle towards establishing oneself into the community.
Paula Wolff, Co-chair of the Mayor's Policy Caucus On Prison Re-Entry explained the reasoning for the subsidized housing barriers.
"We're very supportive of prisoners going back to live with their families in public housing... as long as they're not a threat to public safety...The Department of Corrections, social service providers and the CHA have to work together to craft solutions for successful reentry from the day prisoners walk into prison. We need to equip them with skills to be able to get jobs or access to programs, and to deal with substance abuse or mental health issues as appropriate."
Frankie White commented on the psychological impact behind the discriminatory housing situation. "Being prevented from living with their family emasculates a man. The system is breaking apart the family. How will a man pay for two rents, support children, and take care of himself with a minimum wage job - if he gets a job?" White added that women are also traumatized by not being able to return to their children.
The benefits in removing housing barriers would extend to society and government. With mandated employment and accountability to parole, the ex-offender's potential to be a responsible contributor to society would be greater. The government could then collect 30% of two incomes rather than one, which saves money for taxpayers. The biggest benefit is restoring the foundation of a family, which could reduce recidivism.
"According to a Criminal Justice report," said White, "there will be about one million people released from prison by the year 2010. Are we ready for that?"
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