4 Major Issues With The Current Prison System

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According to statistics from the Bureau of Justice, the amount of adult state and federal prison residents grew from 139 per 100,000 inmates in the 1980s to 502 per 100,000 residents in 2009 — an uptick of 261%. More than two million Americans are currently facing time in jails or prisons, and the cumulative amount of Americans under some type of penal supervision (like prison, jail, probation or parole) is beyond 7.2 million.

1. The larger picture of prison overcrowding.

The United States has the largest rate of incarcerations in the world at 756 per 100,000, counting juveniles and adults according to the International Centre for Prison Studies based in U.K. With 5% of the world’s total population, the United States makes up about one-quarter of the entire prison population.

2. Death in Prisons

The explanations of death within the custody of police varies from killings by other prisoners, capital punishment, suspected homicide by the police, physical or psychological abuse, suicide, natural causes or unintentional death. The data can be inconclusive as deaths in police custody are not required to disclose the circumstances of the death.

Looking at estimates of US jails, the fatality rate is 128, and prison rates are 264 per 100,000 according to The Bureau of Justice Statistics. Different research has concentrated on particular states, like Maryland and the numbers of deaths by identification (race, gender or age).

3. Low-income areas are more heavily policed

The legislative response across the country was in part due to updated punishments, more severe parole and sentencing systems, less dependence on probation or other options aside from imprisonment, and a rising prison-building market.

While substance abuse happens throughout society, low-income urban populations are more patrolled, due to the fact that more everyday experiences transpire in public areas and illegal actions are harder to conceal.

4. Downward spiral

When adolescents are detained, the consequences endure for their whole lives, impacting job assurance, assets, earnings, owning a home, public benefits, marriage and family life and voting rights in some states. As this happens disproportionally in lower-income neighborhoods, the impacts exceed far more than those directly influenced.

Many people are trying to reverse this trend, not only drawing awareness to how deaths in custody are not required to disclose circumstances of the death, but also fighting for men that are inside of the prisons, and the young people that carry the burden of difficulties faced in urban environments.

References:

Halperin Law Center | Virginia Jail Death Review

US News | Underfunded, Overcrowded State Prisons Struggle With Reform

NEWYORKCITYREVOLUTION | Over-Policing of Low-Income Neighborhoods

4 Technologies For Keeping Your Workplace Running Smoothly

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Technology is playing a significant role in just about all aspects of our lives, at this point we can even get a smart house at this point! But technology has probably had one of the biggest impacts in the world of business, including day-to-day activities. Companies which have invested in technology find running the workplace quite comfortable to achieve as opposed to those which have not. To aid in the smooth running of the workplace, specific tech tools have been developed which contribute towards making managing workers and work quite easy. Of those, here are the 4 top tools that would keep any workplace running as smoothly as possible.

Communication Tech Tools

Communication is at the heart of every workplace. A considerable workforce can pose a real nightmare to manage regarding communication. The invention of mobile communication systems has led to the development of mobile apps which play a significant role in helping ease communication between members of the staff and workers of the company. Most mobile apps support peer-to-peer as well as peer-to-public communication. Employee communications apps can keep your business running smoothly if your workforce is deskless. This implies that anyone at any level of management can communicate to any employee in person or to the whole workforce as desired.

Progress Trackers

It is the interest of every manager in the workplace to evaluate the progress of their employees regarding specific tasks. In a company with a vast workforce, this can be a daunting task that would be almost impossible to achieve. The development of specialized software that can track the progress of functions come in handy here. Progress trackers show the tasks allocated to each employee and the level of their completion, therefore making project administration a seamless task. These trackers are especially useful in situations where a project gets split to different employees.

Business Analytics

The progress of any business can and should be tracked through analytic tech tools. The development of these analytical tools, especially financial analytical tools, can ensure that the management gets to see the progress of the company at the click of a button. Such analytic tools give an overview of the financial income, expenditure, asset, or liabilities among other critical disclosures of the company. The summative tools found in most analytic software promote informed decision-making.

Cloud Systems

Running a business today should be versatile and allow multiple data access where anyone can view relevant information and data from anywhere. The conventional in-house storage systems have been replaced by more versatile tools such as cloud storage and operating systems which give managers access to data at the click of a button. A cloud-based operating platform also offers employees an opportunity to avail and retrieve data from a central point while eliminating the need for employees and managers’ physical presence in the office.

Technology, where harnessed correctly, can spin a business into a success as far as seamless management is concerned. The four tech tools outlined above are just part of what technology avails to companies today in the bid to make administration run smoothly.

 

What’s Behind the Drop in Violent Crime Rates in the U.S.?

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In the 90’s the crime rates in the country had been on an upward climb. However, since about 26 years ago, the crime rates started mysteriously going down, and in this period, violent crimes have dropped by 51 percent while property crimes have dropped by 43 percent. This is according to data collected and analyzed by the Brennan Center for justice. Many theories have been fronted to try and explain the trend, and while some make sense, others sound like a bit of a stretch. Here are a few factors that could have led to the U.S. becoming a safer place to live in.

More criminals are getting incarcerated

This explanation makes sense from an intuitive perspective. Simply put, because more criminals have been removed from the streets, there are fewer people to commit crimes. Steven Levitt, in his publication, Freakonomics, noted that the 58 percent drop in crimes in the 90’s was because of incarceration. This sounds like a sensible theory. However, some people argue that the data that was analyzed only accounted for a few years of decline in crime. Also, while incarcerating violent criminals lowers violent crime rates, most of the criminals in the American justice system are not incarcerated for violent crimes. But generally, incarceration has had some impact on the dropping crime rates.

There are more law enforcement officers on the streets

When there are more police officers in a particular jurisdiction, it becomes very easy to respond to criminal activities. When police are actively patrolling, they deter would-be criminals from committing a crime. On the other hand, there is the notion that when crime rates rise in an area, the sensible response is to hire more law enforcement officers. The Brennan Center research of the 90’s showed that there was a 10 percent drop in crime rates which resulted from hiring more police officers.

More permissive gun laws

If a burglar thinks that the occupants of a house they are targeting have a gun for home defense, there is a high chance they will not risk their life by breaking in. When many states passed laws to allow people to carry firearms in the mid 90’s crime rates started falling. John Lott, in his 1997 study had predicted that permissive gun laws would prevent more than 1,600 murders a year. There are others who feel that gun laws have not affect dropping crime rates.

Other factors that are thought to have led to the drop in the crime rates include improved economic situation which has led to lesser need to engage in crime, and less use of cash in transactions. While it may be hard to point to one factor that has led to dropping crime rates, a combination of factors seems to be at play.

Sources

Pew Research | 5 Facts About Crime In The U.S.

ADT | Protect Your Home

City Lab | Understanding the Great Crime Decline

Move Over Hash: Kratom Powder Has Hit the Scene

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Kratom powder, or mitragyna speciosa, comes from a tree that is native to Asia and it works by acting on the mu-opioid receptors in the brain. Its leaves can be ground down into a fine powder and made into a tea or put into capsules for many different uses. Some use it as an energy booster while others use it for sedating and pain relieving effects. It has also been shown to alleviate withdrawals symptoms and treat mental health issues like depression and anxiety. From the media spreading misinformation and the DEA’s attempt to emergency schedule it as an illegal drug, you may think that kratom is the new dangerous legal high that has hit the market. A study done by researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center has proven this to be false, and their findings show the vast potential of mitragyna speciosa.

Abuse Potential

Although kratom powder does not cause respiratory depression like traditional opiates, it does still act on opioid receptors, which opens the potential for abuse. Some users of kratom report ill effects or withdrawals when taking multiple doses daily, while others that use it more responsibly report having no side effects at all. It seems like the general rule with kratom is that if you use it daily, especially for chronic pain users, stick to a lower dose and only use once a day. When used in this way, it seems to be safe and effective. The problem is that there have not been many scientific studies done on this claim and it is clear that it needs to be studied more thoroughly. On the other hand, studies on the beneficial and positive effects of this substance seem to be more known.

Saving Lives and Relieving Pain

When used in smaller doses, kratom gives an energizing effect, similar to caffeine or other stimulants, but when it is taken in larger doses the pain-relieving effects can be similar to that of an opiate. These effects are well known by the kratom community, and large numbers of people claim it has helped them get off of prescription painkillers and even dangerous drugs like heroin. Kratom works by completely alleviating withdrawal symptoms and making it easier for addicts to get off of opiates. Just like medical marijuana, it seems that kratom powder is a safer alternative to things like pharmaceuticals for treating numerous conditions and health issues.

While nothing can replace good old fashioned cannabis, one thing is for sure: the battle for kratom powder has begun.

Resources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkroll/2016/09/30/the-benefits-of-kratom-from-the-people-who-use-the-botanical-medicine/#28be2069ab05

https://katsbotanicals.com/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0376871617305586

https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/news/story/5202/study-pokes-holes-in-kratoms-bad-rap.aspx

5 Ways to Have Family Fun at Home

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Family togetherness is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Moms and dads enjoy time with the kids. It’s not necessary to travel to have a fabulous time. There are lots of things parents can do without leaving their home.

Board Games

Board games offer lots of chances for parents to interact with their kids. Even younger kids can participate in classic games like Candyland. Older children can play all sorts of sophisticated board games such as Life and Monopoly. This is a fantastic way to teach kids to think strategically and accept any outcome with grace. Set aside a night each month to turn off the television. Head for the dining room and let everyone interact in a safe place.

A Pool

Kids are off for the whole summer. Parents can get a pool to help everyone cool off in the heat. Pools let toddlers splash, and teens take laps and adults get in shape. Look for pool games for even more family fun. Pools are easy to assemble and maintain. Inground pools can add value to any home, as long as you are willing to invest in the numerous devices to keep it clean like a pool vacuum or pool head. Above ground, pools are portable, versatile and inexpensive. They fit in comfortably in any home with a yard of any size.

The Family Pet

Raising pets can be an activity that the entire family enjoys. Grooming and caring for a dog teaches kids responsibility for another creature. A child can come along with a parent to a shelter to pick out the right pet for their family. Kids can teach a dog to obey basic commands. Cats, guinea pigs, and other animals also help families come together. Brushing a long haired cat lets every member of the family participate and support the cat stay healthy.

Baking Cookies

Kids love to eat cookies. A parent can teach them to bake their own. Parents can help them mix the ingredients, create a dough, add extras and then put the whole thing in the oven to cook. Teaching kids to prepare is a wonderful way to teach them real-world skills they’ll use forever.

Gardening

Planting and growing a garden is a terrific opportunity to teach kids to appreciate the warm earth. Kids can choose seeds and plant them. They can water and weed. They can also help parents harvest the results.

Family ties are significant in life, and we want to keep our loved ones close and safe. Parents can help their children create great memories they will cherish forever. Even simple at-home activities can be a source of family happiness all year long.

References:

23 Cookies To Bake With Your Kids Right Now | Delish

6 Reasons Why You Should Get a Swimming Pool | HFS

Pool Vacuum Facts | SunPlay

7 Good Reasons Why You Should Get a Dog for Your Kids | Working Mother

 

Converting Your House To A Smart Home

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Featured image credit: Security Choice

Technology has been getting more and more advanced every year, to the point where we now see it as a necessary in our lives. One of those biggest technological breakthroughs was the smartphone, and we have absolutely taken it up as a necessity. The smartphone has utterly transformed how people communicate and obtain information. Seventy-eight percent of consumers in the United States now own smartphones. It has been an absolute game changer for society at large.

However, there are many more applications for the technology that makes smartphones smart that you may not be aware of. For example, by integrating some of the same tech, you can transform your house into a smart home. Doing so can increase both convenience and comfort for your family. Below are some steps you can take to convert your own abode to a high tech smart home.

Install Smart Door Locks

One concern many people have when leaving home for the day or for an extended period is that they may have forgotten to lock their doors. However, what if you could tap on your smart phone’s screen a few times to determine which doors are locked inside your house and which are not? What if you could then tell the smartphone to lock those unlocked doors for you? All of this can be accomplished by installing smart door locks on your house. In addition to above benefits, opening the front door when you can home can be as simple as tapping it with your phone.

Implement VoIP Internet Phone Services

A second element you may want to consider investing in for your smart home is VoIP. VoIP stands for voice over internet protocol. In essence, VoIP is a telephone service that runs over the internet as opposed to more traditional mediums like copper wiring. VoIP allows you to make phone calls through your regular internet service. If you want to slash some of your phone bills every month, you should consider integrating VoIP into your home. Many different programs and devices can make integrating VoIP into your smartphone easy.

Install a Smart Thermostat

With traditional thermostats, you had to get up from where you were in the house and walk all the way to a physical thermostat on a wall to adjust the temperature up and down. If you wanted to program your thermostat to change the temperature without having to do that, doing so was usually an unintuitive nightmare that involved combing over an instruction manual to figure out what complex sequences of buttons needed to be pressed. Changing the temperature in your home or programming your thermostat to only run the air and heat when you need it, however, is extremely simple with a smart thermostat that can be controlled with a mobile app.

Implement Remote Monitoring

A smart home is also very likely to be a much more secure home. This is in part thanks to the remote monitoring capabilities that come with owning a smart home. For example, you can install surveillance cameras across your property and have the surveillance footage sent directly to your smartphone or tablet through a Wi-Fi connection. This means being able to monitor your home from anywhere. Even if you are on another continent, you will still be ready to check-up on your home to make sure everything is safe and secure. You’ll also be able to receive security notices automatically and alert authorities immediately if something goes wrong.

The four above items are only a few of the different features you can install in a smart home. There are, of course, many other ways you can use this amazing technology to increase security, comfort, and convenience for your family. Investigate your options on the market for transforming your house into a smart home. More often than not, it is worth the small investment required to take advantage of this fantastic technology, especially for the modern man.

References:

Foolish Take: Nearly 80% of Americans own smartphones

An Introduction to Voice Over IP (VoIP)

Smart lock buying guide

How Common is Medical Malpractice?

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When you’re under the care and treatment of health care professionals, you trust that you’re in good hands. In fact, medical errors are surprisingly common in hospitals and clinics across the country. Based on data analysis from Johns Hopkins Medical in Baltimore, the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease and cancer.

The Third Leading Cause of Death

A team of patient safety experts at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore analyzed data over eight years and concluded that more than 250,000 deaths every year in the United States are due to medical errors. Some of the most common types of medical malpractice are failure to diagnose a patient’s condition or misdiagnosing his or her condition, improper treatment that deviates from the standard of care or delayed treatment after advising a patient that a condition will resolve without treatment, medication errors in prescribing the wrong medication, the wrong dosage or failing to recognize possible complications, and surgical errors like operating on the wrong patient, wrong part of the body or even leaving a surgical instrument or sponge inside of the patient’s body.

It’s Not a Billing Issue

Both healthcare providers and the general public rely on data provided by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for vital health information and statistics. What comes to issue is the coding system used by the CDC for classifying a cause of death doesn’t have a code label for medical error. The CDC doesn’t require one either. For example, if a patient dies due to an anesthesia error during an appendectomy, the CDC will report his or her death as the result of acute appendicitis by using a billing code reference. That’s inaccurate on its face. No code exists for anesthesiology or any other type of medical error at all. That reporting oversight helps doctors bury their mistakes.

It has been recommended that a new checkbox on the CDC form should be added indicating whether a patient’s death could have been due to a preventable error. It’s not a surprisingly common fact either that no doctor is going to admit to an error and has committed medical malpractice without legal protection. For the purpose of accurate numbers on medical malpractice resulting in fatalities, there must be a solution to hiding this information. After that, how do we count those medical malpractice victims who are still alive?

Sources

What surgeons leave behind costs some patients dearly | USA Today

How Many Medical Malpractice Cases Occur Every Year? | Gary Weinberg

What Are Free Radicals and Why Are They Bad News?

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At the beginning of the 20th century, Chemist, Moses Gomberg first observed an organic free radical. But it wasn’t until more than 50 years later that the effects of free radicals on the human body were really understood. Today, extensive research provides insights into the characteristics, causes, and functions of free radicals.

What are Free Radicals?

Free radicals develop when an atom contains an unpaired electron. Free radicals are naturally formed by the body as by-products of metabolic processes. The immune system produces free radicals to consume viruses and bacteria via white blood cells. The liver also utilizes free radicals for detoxification. However, the body can also be bombarded with free radicals caused by air pollution, smoking, fried foods, and sun damage.

What are the Dangers of Free Radicals?

High concentrations of free radicals can damage cell membranes, proteins, and DNA which can lead to oxidative stress. Cancer, chronic inflammation, stroke and rheumatoid arthritis are just a few of the chronic diseases and conditions associated with oxidative stress caused by free radicals.

How to Reduce Free Radicals

Limit intake of alcohol and fried foods. Avoid cigarette smoke and other environmental pollutants found in the air and drinking water. Increase antioxidants to provide sufficient neutralization of free radicals.

Antioxidants, which are found in many food sources and also produced naturally within the body, provide a strong defense against oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants act as free radical scavengers by eliminating or neutralizing free radicals.

Sources of Antioxidants

Antioxidants are abundant in vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices. Spinach, strawberries, blueberries clove, turmeric, cinnamon, and cocoa supply heavy concentrations of antioxidants. To ensure an adequate intake of antioxidants, consume at least five total servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

If you’re unlikely to consume sufficient fruits and vegetables, it may be worth considering a supplement. Many health supplements contain antioxidants and claim to fight free radicals. Glutathione, quercetin and vitamin E are popular antioxidant supplements.

Free radical damage is responsible for a myriad of health ailments. While it is not feasible or desirable to eliminate all free radicals, keeping free radical production in check is important for good health. Reduce environmental exposure to toxins and maintain an adequate supply of antioxidants with a healthy diet and supplements to combat free radical damage.

Sources

NCBI

Berkeley Wellness

ASEA

Why Homeschooled Students Can Do Better Than Public Schooled Students

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Students in today’s world have more options than ever when it comes to schooling. The rise of internet-accessible educational opportunities and emerging technology resources have led to the explosive growth of homeschooling as a viable option for many families. There are a variety of reasons why homeschooled students often perform better than their public schooled peers, from being able to access online resources, courses, and digital communications with teachers to being free of judgemental peers.

Individuality is Embraced:

In a traditional school setting, kids are expected to conform to the established guidelines. However, in a homeschool setting, students can freely express their individuality without fear of retribution.

Personalized Learning:

Related to the concept of individuality is the benefit that homeschooled students receive a curriculum personalized to their level and interests. A tailored curriculum will work towards the child’s strengths while helping them with their challenges. Most importantly, students in a homeschool environment can work at their own pace, rather than getting anxious about falling behind or getting bored when they are ready to move on.

Safe Learning Environment:

There are many ways to protect your kids, but you might not have thought homeschooling as one of them. There is no place like home. Homeschooled students are given the advantage of learning on their own turf, free of outside influences or stressors such as bullying or harassment issues, and especially safe from school shootings and gun violence. Homeschooled kids are also exposed to far fewer germs and illnesses, leading to healthier and happier students.

Limitless Curriculum Options:

As more and more families are choosing to homeschool, there has been a surge in the number of online curriculum opportunities geared explicitly at homeschoolers. These options can supplement the student’s personal curriculum, or families may choose to go all in with a full online curriculum which covers all of the coursework. Homeschool can also include online courses to communicate with teachers, meaning that students will also be exposed to learning valuable skills in how to interact with educators and other adults.

Flexible Scheduling:

Families with homeschooled kids are given the ultimate gift of freedom. Gone are the frenzied mornings and after school meltdowns. Bedtimes and wake-up calls can be adjusted to fit the child’s natural circadian rhythms, which will inevitably lead to better production from the student. And, lastly, families of homeschooled students can choose to vacation at their convenience, rather than having to abide by a set schedule.

These are just a few of the significant advantages of choosing a homeschooled route. Once parents understand the immense benefits of selecting this form of education, it is difficult to imagine teaching your child any other way.

 

What Actually Happens to Debt When You Die?

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What Actually Happens to Debt When You Die

Have you ever heard people joke about committing suicide to get out of student loan debt? It may sound like a funny question at first glance, but there are plenty of people who legitimately wonder what will happen to their debt when they die. Many people end up in so much debt that they don’t see any reasonable way to get free of it.

Paying From The Estate

Creditors get the first bite at whatever estate a person who has died passes on. What this means is that they are to be repaid out of the proceeds of the estate that the person leaves behind. Of course, most of us do not have great wealth to leave behind to our families. If we did have great wealth, it would be unlikely that we would have huge debts as well. Still, anything of value that a person owns is considered part of their estate. Debts owed are paid out of this estate.

Death Bed Expenses

The end of a person’s life is one of the most expensive periods of their life as well. It is a strange reality, but something worth noting all the same. The cost of care during this period in a person’s life is incredibly high. Some who find themselves in this portion of their life are also holding a life insurance policy.

That person may have intended to pass on the proceeds of the life insurance policy to their loved ones. However, if they find that their health concerns are eating up a large portion of that policy, then you might want to talk to someone about a viatical settlement.

How Viatical Settlements Work

A person with a life insurance policy and expenses they need taken care of may consider a viatical settlement. This is an agreement between themselves and another person. That other party comes in to purchase their life insurance policy at an amount less than its face value. This means instant cash for the policyholder, and the buyer takes on the policy. It is a mutually beneficial agreement between the two.

Using this type of settlement may help keep the total number of debts that a person owes upon death a little lower. If that is true, then more of the estate can go to the loved ones that it was intended for in the first place.