Posts tagged daily

How to Protect Intellectual Property

With the innovation of the Internet, the ability to enforce any law regarding the disruption of intellectual property is almost impossible.  Throughout the past decade, beginning the mp3 revolution, the record companies have reported that the digital revolution has cost them nearly $12.5 billion dollars and 71,000 jobs each year.1  With the use of torrent sites and limewire file sharing, digital piracy is getting harder to pinpoint. Recent surveys indicate that nearly ninety-five percent of all music downloaded online is illegal.2  In recent news, a single-mother was ordered by the court to pay $1.92 million dollars for downloading twenty-four songs.3  However, if the surveys are correct, this court decision suggests that there are millions of individuals who owe the record companies millions of dollars themselves.  Clearly, it is nearly impossible to try all of the illegal music downloaders on the Internet. Therefore, the legislature might pass an additional act to help detour people from downloading.

My suggestion is that Congress should pass a new act that would set up an agency for whistle-blowers of illegal file sharing from within the Federal Communications Commission/ FCC. This newly created agency would offer incentives to whistle-blowers, such as offer potential whistle blowers a portion (e.g., 10%) of the money reclaimed by the record companies.  With much stronger incentives, people would be more willing to report their neighbors, co-workers, friends, and even family members, to the proper authorities for illegal downloading activities.  If the government would create a whistle-blowing network, people would become increasingly paranoid about downloading music.

In retrospect, the Federal Government and the recording industry has spent the past decade working with members of the Congress and a small army of lawyers in order to create ways to come up with solutions to the problem of illegal file sharing.  The problem is so widespread that it is illogical to think that it could be solved overnight. Hence, record companies and the Federal Government need to collaborate and create more ways to detour music piracy, such as establishing a whistle-blowing agency.  As the public becomes increasingly paranoid, people will become more likely to download files legally.

Additional Resources (outside class textbook):

1. http://www.dailyiowan.com/2009/06/23/Metro/11797.html

2. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7832396.stm

3. http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-10268199-93.html

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Communication

A wise man once said, “If you can master communication you can master the world.”  When communicating it is important to do two things: be concise and effective For many putting these two things into practice is nearly impossible.  The following is a list of some useful tips and suggestions I came across recently concerning effective communication.

Communication Enhancers

  • Concerned Silence—This is probably the most difficult technique to carry out. Many people are uncomfortable with silence and feel that someone should always be talking.  Silence is golden, especially when important information is being shared.  Allow time for silence, along with supportive actions such as intermittent eye contact, leaning forward and handholding (if permissible).
  • Encouragement—Often people need permission to share thoughts and feelings.  Statements like “I’d like to hear more about that” and “If you would like to share that with me, I’d be glad to listen” show interest and willingness to become involved in the conversation.  This technique can also be useful if the conversation is bogged down.
  • Prompters—This technique lets the speaker know that you are still listening, that you understand, accept and empathize.  Short phrases such as “I see,” “Yes,” and “Uh-huh” often encourage additional conversation without interrupting the speaker’s train of thought.
  • Restatements—To help in understanding thoughts and feelings, it is often useful to feed back what you have heard or thought you have heard.  The sender states, ”I’m so sick and tired of working long shifts.”  You can say, “You are tired of working long shifts.”  This helps the sender understand the impressions conveyed by specific choices of words and helps to clarify feelings.
  • Leading Statement or Question—This technique is used to help the sender move on to additional thoughts. It is especially helpful in problem solving.  The sender says, “I really don’t know what to say to my boss.”  You may say, “What are some of the things you have thought about saying?”  This will encourage listing of options by the sender.
  • Observation of Non-Verbal Behavior—Being sensitive to feelings increases the amount of information available from a conversation; however, it is sometimes helpful to validate your observations.  If you notice the sender is frowning and sighing, you can say, “You seem to be anxious and upset.”  This allows the sender to verify of dispute your assessment.

Things To Remember When CommunicatingTips and Tricks!

  • Always, always ,always! Use the right word choice with the right audience.  Remember different groups of people communicate differently.  For instance when you are trying to communicate to a group of kindergarteners you might use a less extensive vocabulary than you would if you were to try to communicate with a group of professors.
  • When practicing communication focus on your audience rather than your self.  Self-centered speakers tend to be less effective when communicating.  This can lead to a lack of interest in your audience.  Think when was the last time you enjoyed hearing a speech involving me, me, me.  You can better engage your audience and communicate more effectively if you focus on them.
  • “If you will first help people get what they want, they will help you get what you want.” Zig Zigler
  • Connecting begins when the other person feels valued.
  • Most of communication is based off of actions.  Or as the old saying goes “Actions speak louder than words.”
  • Speaking words is never enough, you must believe the words you speak to be an effective communicator.
  • Your message must be valuable—you have to deliver on the promise of your words.
  • Most of communication is visual—how other’s perceive you is important

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Tips for the Business World I have Learned as a Consumer

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I will update this list each week with a new tip starting on June 15th, 2011.  ADDITIONALLY if you have any suggestions or criticisms of listed tips feel free to comment them and I will add YOUR TIPS along with your name when I update my post weekly.  Thank you!

Tip #1 Always follow-up with costumers every step of the way.  If you fail to keep tabs on your customers deals WILL slip through the cracks!

Tip #2 Make sure your costumer understands your  mission statement.  Customers are more likely to give you business if they believe and see you practicing a mission statement.  A good example of this is Apple Computers.

Tip #3 Always think business senerios through from the costomer’s point of view.  If you want to sell someone a product you have to be able to know their every thought and get in their heads so you can connect with them enough to convince them to buy your product.

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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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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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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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