Future Plans For this Blog #1!

Hello all, lately I have been questioning myself on what I would like to achieve developing this personal blog.  After much consideration I have decided to write on my growth throughout life as well as write other personal things e.g. lessons I am currently learning through course work.  Hopefully the lessons I learn in school will help further educate those of you studying the subjects my notes will touch on….Addionally I would like to start posting topics that intest me or that are somewhat related to me.  For instance, I have a 20 page handwritten account of my great-great grandmother’s life I would like to type and publish on the net.  I believe it is an important oral history of her generation;  it tells the tales of a poor woman who was one of the last generations to arrive in a wagon in the midwest.  If you the reader have any suggestions as to what you would like me to cover let me know and I will do my best to comply.

Sincerely As Always, Your Author,

Julian A. Lacey

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My First Hospice Experience

Recently in between semesters at college, I decided to take up volunteering at a local Hospice.  My thoughts were “If I could not secure a job between semesters I could at least try to better myself by volunteering for my community. Maybe I could pick up experiences that would make me grow as a person and grow my resume.”

Going into the experience I was virtually clueless of what to expect; I was 21, young and still ambitious talking to poor souls on their death beds that had probably been drained of any ambitions and aspirations years ago.  Yet I was determined to learn something valuable from my experience.

Pulling up into a low income nursing home, I gazed up at the imposing structure before me; I questioned myself “Is this the finally fate of those individuals who were not so good and didn’t die young?”  Getting out of my car I grabbed my briefcase as every good business student should and checked my contents.  “Book, pens, planner. . . .alright.”  And so I headed into the three-story building that looked less like a home and more like a prison minus the hoards of sailor cursing inmates and guards.

Inside I found the place to be considerably livelier, there was background music in the lobby you would expect in an elevator setting playing tunes reminiscent of the days of Sinatra and fake flowers galore.  I checked into the main office where a lady not much older than myself greeted me.  She had an amble suttle body—not too skinny but not too fat, soft brown glowing hair and a face that radiated natural beauty.  Upon seeing her appearance I immediately wished that I would have wore better clothes to make me too look more professional and some cologne.

Trying not to embarrass myself I quickly explained the business I had at her prison where I wished she would lock me away and bath me for a change.  She lead me to my patients room and left me at the door.  I knocked and quietly asked “Mr. #$#$#, my name is Julian I am a volunteer from ____________ I was wondering if it would be okay if I might have a few moments of your time?”

I was met with silence. . . . .and I an inexperienced hospice volunteer began fearing the worse.  The patient I had come to visit had passed.  But before I could start saying my prayers for the old soul I was greeted with a gruff weak voice “Yes, come in.”

Feeling relived I smiled happier than ever I would have a chance to talk to this man and perhaps even make his life better in some way.  After all I did not necessarily volunteer purely out of my own self-interest I whole-heartedly wanted to be useful and help others in their ultimate time of need.  So I entered the room and took a seat beside the man.

“So what do you want to know.”  The old man gazed at me seriously.

“Well sir I am here to visit you, what are some of your interests?”

The man dogged my question and asked one of his own.

“How old are you?”

“21.”

“21, where do you go to school?”

“I go to Central Michigan University”

“How old are you?”

“98”

The conversation continued about 10-15 minutes with periods of silence before the old man kindly told me he was all talked out and we bid each other farewell.  Although our period was brief I took away a lot of important insights.  I personally recommend anyone looking to learn take up volunteering; each experience is different but the payoff is always the same: you never leave unchanged.

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Hard Work is Good For the Soul

Over the course of my life I have come to value a few things–hard work is one of them.  Wether it is gathering wood for a fire to a task at work hard work can make all the difference.  Now I know what you are thinking, any work is hard that’s why it is work, duh? WRONG.  Hard work is separated from work by one crucial detail–hard work challenges you.

Throughout life I have heard people repeat the phrase “Work is good for the soul.”  Personally I think this age-old quote needs a revision to make it truly stand the test of time.  My revision is simple its only f-o-u-r easy letters that spell the opposite of six words to the later; hard.

Doing repetitive physical or mental task will not grow your soul, only knew experiences that challenge you be it physically or mentally (preferably both) will help you grow your soul and thus as a person.

Sarah Brown once said “The only thing that ever sat its way to success was a hen.”  In my opinion this is true, the only way to be successful is to get out in the world and do hard work.  Doing work may get you by to a life of mediocrity but hard work paves the way to a rich life.


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Great Recipe for Healthy Dinner

I recently read that beans, namely black beans and red kidney beans were the best kept secret to weightloss so I was inspired to start cooking with them more.  Various articles thoughout the net proclaim a healthy dinner is primarly made up with veggies and a little bit of meat.  So I mixed and blended the perfect recipe for a healthy dinner.  The ingredients are as follows:

1 Vidella Onion

1 Green Pepper

1 Can of Dark Red Kidney Beans

1 Chicken Breast

2 Tea Spoons of Olive Oil

Cooking:

Step 1.  Cut up 1 Green Pepper and 1 Vidella Onion

Step 2.  Warm up can of Dark Red Kidney Beans for two minutes in the microwave, and cook then cut up chicken breast

Step 3.  Place 2 teaspoons of Olive Oil in frying pan

Step 4.  Place ingredients in frying pan

Step 5.  Stir and cook food for 15 minutes on medium-high

Step 6.  Stir and enjoy!!! 

 

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Food For Thought

Over the course of a few weeks I have learned the importance of health.  Health is not something to be taken for granted; and as a 21 year old it is all but too easy for me to take health for granted for I in my prime.  However after reading works by John C. Maxwell I have personally decided to make Healthy choices a part of my lifestyle.  Although it is not easy I am proud to say I have found inner willpower to turn down delicious fattening meals e.g. pizza and pop for more healthy alternatives.  Before I found my inner will power I was notorious for eating fast food up to as much as 3-4 times a week or more.  Weeks would go by before I ate any vegetables and before I myself knew what was hitting me the scale was tipping close to a whopping 240 lbs! 

Well fast forward to present I have lost nearly 15 lbs all in a month’s time span!  People ask me how I am loosing weight i.e. what diet I am on all the time.  My response to them is the same response I will give to you…self-discipline.  Unlike popular diets like Aiken’s and South Beach the diet of self-discipline guarantees long-term results.  For as long as you are self disciplined in making healthy choices you will continue to see results. 

In this blog I hope to share with you my inner insights as a young male in hopes you the reader will learn to take away a piece of me and learn something new about yourself in the process.  I am an avid reader of great authors that have inspired me, now it is my turn to inspire you.

-Julian A. Lacey

 

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Privatization of Prisons and Public Administration Implications

Barbed tape at a prison

Image via Wikipedia

I. Introduction

            Private Prisons have existed on U.S. soil well before the Constitution was drafted.  Dating back to 1607, Virginia convicts were transported by private entrepreneurs across the Atlantic as a condition to be pardoned if they agreed to be sold into servitude to private enterprise.  Later in the 18th century, modern prisons were formed as an alternative to the death penalty and servitude. During the early years of the United States, privately operated jails were commonly utilized.  Privatized correctional institutions such as these trace their roots back to medieval England.  Over centuries of corruption the public’s attitude would change towards mixing the words private and prison together.  Then much later in modern times, in the second half of the 20th Century, the private industry and prisons began to mix again to the modern age with more and more prisons falling to privatization1.

Privatization occurs when the government outsources its responsibilities and services to the private sector.  In recent years, presidential administrations such as the George W. Bush Administration have tried to increase the amount of privatization that occurs at the federal level.  Services such as waste management, public education, and even prison and jail services, are starting to become increasingly privatized.  Over the past decade and into the heat of the current economic recession, the concept of the government privatizing more services has been a widely supported idea.  A major contributing factor for the strong support of privatization is the widespread public perception that the government typically spends more money than is necessary to carry out services than do private industry businesses.

Generally, private businesses carrying out a government task are more likely to exercise more fiscal restraint into their budgets and not overspend to max out profits as well as improve services to get more business.  Some proponents of privatized prisons claim that private correctional facilities can save up to 20 percent of the cost to run normal public prisons; yet, the U.S. Department of Justice conducted a study and found out private prisons generate very little savings, estimated at just one percent, of the cost when compared to public prisons.2

It is believed that through privatization, the government not only can save money but also may improve the quality of the services through privatization.  While this general conception is true for most industries in which services are performed by private businesses, privatized correctional facilities have come under increasing scrutiny. A myriad of studies and reports have indicated that privatized prisons and jails have an increase in all assaults: inmate-to-inmate, guard-to-inmate, and inmate-to-guard.  In addition, studies also indicate the health of private prisoners versus government prisoners is significantly worse.

While some states hardly rely on privatized prisons to hold their inmates, others such as Texas house nearly a quarter of their inmates in privatized prisons.  The Bureau of Justice Assistance reports that the number of privatized prisons are likely to increase in the U.S. due to the growing rate of individuals incarcerated.3 Just how big of an increase is to be expected? The U.S. jail and prison population was around 750,000 in 1985. In 1997, it was an estimated 1.7 million and growing.4

II. Literature Review of Public Administration Concepts

            Brian Gran and William Henry recently published an article in Social Justice that focuses on holding privatized prisons accountable.  According to Gran and Henry, one major problem that privatized prisons face is that they experience significant turnover among staff members, which prevents the staff members from gaining requisite experience and prison-specific knowledge and skills that public prison employees carry.5

Gran and Henry focus on whose responsibility it is when assaults occur in prison.  In general, it is the government’s fault for assaults in the public sector, but when it is in the private sector the business is at fault.6 The government is conducted in a way that is much easier to reform, such as hiring/firing new government officials and changing the bureaucratic atmosphere.  Businesses, on the other hand, are much harder to reform.  While the public and government can sue privatized prisons (such as for assaults and escapes) but suing the private prisons is not an effective way for helping them increase security measures.  Privatized prisons are “profit-maximizers” with a strong incentive to make as much money as possible.7  Private prisons generally cut down on the amount of money that is spent by the government on security measures to prevent assaults. For example, when a private prison is successfully sued for a million dollars, that money comes directly out of their funds that they might otherwise use to provide inmate safety and other measures – which could very well lead to increasing assault incidents in the future.

Funds are considered when drafting up budgets.  Budgets in the private correctional institutions sector come from two sources: the government and private investors.  The government is a steady source for funds, generally each fiscal year public agencies have to submit and draft budgets.  Although funding can vary each year, it is considerably steady in comparison to the stock market, where some privatized prisons gain significant portions of their funds.  The following example demonstrates the potential vulnerability of investor funding of privatized prisons.  Suppose that the stock price of a large privatized prison corporation such as Corrections Corporation of America suffers a sudden and dramatic decline of 50 percent of its value due to speculators’ concerns over a pending lawsuit.  Company-owned stock that would be used to help fund Corrections Corporation of America would be thwarted or at least adversely impacted.  Private investor attitudes do not impact the budgets of government-operated prisons.

Gran and Henry’s article further discusses the contracts that privatized prisons must abide by.  The contracts try to set the standards of private prisons to the same level as public prisons, through giving specifications about maintenance, formation, and liability. For example, in a contract the government has with the Correctional Corporation of America’s Northeast Ohio Correctional Center, the government stated that the prison must maintain a system of records identical to the Bureau of Prisons.8 It is through contracts such as these, that the U.S. Government and pro-privatization proponents use to argue that privatized prisons are just as effective as public prisons.  However, based on other readings, that is only a theory.  In 2001, the U.S. Department of Justice found a 50 percent higher rate of assaults by inmates on staff, and a 65 percent higher inmate-on-inmate assaults in private prisons when compared to public prisons, based on self-reported data figures from the prisons throughout the U.S.9

A Bureau of Justice Assistance study entitled Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons documented the reasons for both in favor and against the government privatizing prisons, with the issue of safety among them.  One of the surveys in this study indicated that privatized prisons functioned as well as public prisons with the exception of three crucial categories: (1) staffing levels; (2) management information system support; (3) critical incidents (i.e. assaults on staff).10 Another study cited in the document was the “Silverdale Study.”  The Silverdale study was a 1988 survey conducted at Silverdale Detention Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  Inmates were asked to rate the prison on various aspects, and to compare the Silverdale facility to other prisons that they had served time at.  The inmates marked the facility highly on most issues such as: physical improvements, cleanliness, staff fairness, work assignments, request and grievance procedures, counseling, religious services, visitation and telephone privileges.  However, the inmates put negative marks on: security, classification, medical care, food, education, and legal access when compared to other (public) prisons.11

III. Case Analysis

            In 1995, a juvenile center found its self-making headlines.  The Coke County Juvenile Justice Center, a Wackenhut/Geo Group privatized institution, was under fire when male guards were found to have sexually, physically and mentally abused the female inmates.  It was found that some of the guards, including a man who had a prior conviction for sexual abuse of a child, were manipulating a “demotion/graduation” system by making the young adolescent girls give them sexual favors.12

If the prison had a more rigid screening process, this problem might have been avoided.  The main problem private businesses run into when trying to take over a government business is to know when to draw the line and separate government processes and procedures for private processes and procedures.  My review of multiple government and private prison websites revealed that individual applicants were required to complete more lengthy and extensive screening information when applying for government positions. Therefore, my suggestion is that privatized prisons should require more rigid employment restrictions and implement these screening procedures.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons requires prison guards to complete a four-year bachelor degree, three of more years of working in the role of a supervisor or counseling role, and guards must complete 120 hours of training within the first sixty days at a special U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons training facility.  In addition to the degree and training, correctional officers have to undergo background checks, drug screenings, physical fitness test, and complete a written test.13  As just one comparison of the job application prerequisites at federal prisons versus private prisons, consider the application requirements at the Winn Correctional Center, located in northern Louisiana.  Winn Correctional Center is ran by the Corrections Corporation of America, which is part of the largest private correctional corporation in America.  The application gives some general guidelines — all applicants had to meet the following; possess a high school degree, or GED equivalent, have a valid drivers license and be at least 18 years of age.14

With such substandard requirements for privatized prisons, prisons are more likely to attract and hire substandard guards.  Substandard guards may not know how to handle situations with inmates as easily, likely resulting in more prisoner and guard attacks.  Additionally, with less rigid screening and requirements, some applicants with former convictions and criminal backgrounds can fall through the cracks.  The government might pass a federal law to have privatized prisons check their applicants’ backgrounds more thoroughly.

The government takes several steps and measures to prevent these incidences such as these from happening.  Generally speaking the government uses its legislative oversight power to investigate into public government entities such as the U.S. Post Office, welfare, or public prisons.15  However, the government uses less oversight with privatized prisons, for a major reason, private businesses are protected from the government searching through its records without probable cause.  By the time the government has probable cause (i.e. escapes, assaults, inmate deaths) the government is too late and cannot prevent the situation from happening.

IV. Conclusion

            The U.S. prison population is continuously growing, and as a result the government needs to decide how to house the growing number of incarcerated.  For the last few years the U.S. economy has experienced a deep recession, leaving capital resources tighter than ever for government entities and agencies.  Over the years, the government has looked to save money through privatization.  Privatization of government entities can heed great results of private businesses by using less money while improving the service the government once provided.

Whether or not the government should privatize prisons is highly debatable.  Some surveys indicate that the United States government could only save about 1 percent of the money while some proponents argue that privatizing prisons could save the government up to 20 percent of the money the U.S. spends on incarceration of inmates with other studies.  Privatized prisons have been shown to have a higher maintenance levels, better counseling, low cost labor, and are cheaper to house inmates in.  But on the other hand, private prisons have been shown to have higher assault rates, lower health, and food quality and a substandard staff.

The legislation should pass acts to give the government more power into giving the legislature more oversight with privatized prisons.  In order to decrease the number of assaults, privatized prisons should implement the government’s qualifications for prison guards on the federal level into their qualifications.  Privatized prisons should adapt as many of its policies of the public administration as they can before they start losing money.  Their job is to replicate the U.S. prison system, a system that has centuries of history that have better created it over time.  Private companies that cater to running correctional facilities need to work in close ties with other public prisons to learn how to run a prison correctly so they do not end up with incidences, such as the one that occurred in Coke County Juvenile Justice Center.  Privatized prisons have a past, recent, and debatable place in America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

1. Austin, J., & Coventry, G. (2001). Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons, page 11. Retrieved July 5, 2009, from www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bja/181249.pdf

2. Ibid, page iii.

3. Ibid, page 14.

4. Ibid, page 1.

5. Gran, B., & Henry, W. (2007/2008). Holding Private Prisons Accountable A Socio-Legal Analysis of “Contracting Out” Prisons. Social Justice, 34 (3-4) 173-191.

6. Ibid, page 183.

7. Ibid, page 173.

8. Ibid.

9. Bourge, C. Sparks fly over private vs public prisons – PrisonSucks.com. page 2. Retrieved June 25, 2009, from http://www.prisonpolicy.org/scans/sparksfly.shtml

10. Austin, J., & Coventry, page 24.

11. Ibid.

12. Price, R. Texas Prison Bid’ness. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://www.texasprisonbidness.org/

13. Prison Guard Career Requirements. Retrieved July 10, 2009, from http://www.careerrequirement.com/prison-guard.htm

14. Application Details. Retrieved July 4, 2009, from http://www.correctionscorp.com/careers/openings/2213/details

15. Denhardt, R. B., & Denhardt, J. V. (2009). Public Administration: An Action Orientation.

Belmont: Wadsworth Pub Co., pages 64-65.

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The Bloodiest Century

           On November 9th, 2010 I attended a lecture by Claudia Koonz called “Genocide and the Moral Order in a Globalized World.”  Looking at the title my gut instinct automatically presumed this was going to be another lecture about the terrible atrocities committed by the Nazis under the Third Reich.  This would prove only partially true—even though Koonz’s background was foremost in the history of the Third Reich she ventured out of her renowned expertise and touched on other subjects such as the definition of a genocide, mass killings that took place during the 20th century and “salvage” anthropology.  Through attending this lecture I feel I personally possess a greater understanding of what constitutes for a genocide and of other genocides besides the Holocaust that occurred throughout history; some even under the name of democracy.

           Koonz opened her lecture citing the significance of the date.  Seventy-two years ago on November 9th – 10th, 1938 the Nazis displayed the first mass attack on Jews in would later be called The Night of Broken Glass.  During The Night of Broken Glass over 260 synagogues were burnt down and 30,000 Jewish men were sent to concentration camps.  After telling the background on this tragic night Koontz went into defining what constitutes for genocide by citing Raphael Lemkin.1 After giving the definition Koontz was able to go into the topic.  Genocide, according to Koontz, was relatively modern (from the times the European settlers set out to colonize the world) due to factors such as technology.  In the modern era the 20th Century stood out as “the century of death” and marked a turning point in which more civilians began to be killed that soldiers at a much greater ratio.

            At the last point I was astounded.  Although having casually studied history, as a bit of a history buff it never occurred to me that the ratio of civilian casualties was increasing as time progressed.  Thinking on this notion I came to an even more shocking conclusion.  Although the world has more democratic state actors than ever the wars fought currently have a greater ratio of civilian casualties to soldiers than ever before.

Footnotes:

1.  Genocide- “a mass killing of all members of a nation, that is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves”

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