Wendy McElroy from the Countering Abuse Misinformation Project talks to Mike McConnell - A new federal policy of reviewing rape cases on college campuses by student panels. Should non-experts have the responsibility to expel students for rape allegations? Mike and Wendy talk about cases where students have been expelled from school for rape allegations but later found to be false allegations. Mike takes your calls to listen to what you have to say about this topic.
Monday, September 5, 2011
Mike McConnell and Wendy McElroy talk about new federal law on reviewing rape cases on college campuses
By Christopher Santarelli
In the 21st century, parenthood and paranoia often walk hand in hand.
For some, the blessed event is followed by high-tech surveillance — a monitoring system tracks the baby’s breathing rhythms and relays infrared images from the nursery. The next investment might be a nanny cam, to keep watch on the child’s hired caregivers. Toddlers and grade schoolers can be equipped with GPS devices enabling a parent to know their location should something go awry.
To cope with the uncertainties of the teen years, some parents acquire spyware to monitor their children’s online and cell phone activity. Others resort to home drug-testing kits.
Added together, there’s a diverse, multi-billion-dollar industry seeking to capitalize on parents’ worst fears about their children — fears aggravated by occasional high-profile abductions and the dangers lurking in cyberspace. One mistake can put a child at risk or go viral online, quickly ruining a reputation.
“There’s a new set of challenges for parents, and all sorts of new tools that can help them do their job,” said David Walsh, a child psychologist in Minneapolis. “On the other hand, we have very powerful industries that create these products and want to sell as many as possible, so they try to convince parents they need them.”
Some parents need little convincing.
In New York City, a policeman-turned-politician recorded a video earlier this year offering tips to parents on how to search their children’s bedrooms and possessions for drugs and weapons.
By Larry Magid (Bio)
Crimes Against Children Research Center Director David Finkelhor has talked about "juvenoia," observing that some people assert that there are "features of the Internet that increase risk for young people above what they already encounter or what they encounter in other environments."
We saw that a few years ago when the TV program "To Catch a Predator" spread fear that online children and teens were at increased risk of sexual molestation. A rash of news stories appeared about predator danger and politicians called for new child protection laws, yet every credible research project on the subject found no demonstrable increased predator risk, compared to the risk children face from people they know in the real world.
Now parents have something else to be afraid of. A recent report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University said that teens ages 12-17 who watch certain TV shows or who spend time on social networking sites like Facebook and My Space, or who have seen pictures on social networking sites of kids getting drunk, passed out, or using drugs, are likelier to smoke, drink or use drugs. Or, as their news release colorfully put it, "free-for-all world of Internet expression, suggestive television programming and what-the-hell attitudes put teens at sharply increased risk of substance abuse."
The survey found that youths 12 to 17 years old who spend time online in a typical day, even just a minute a day, are five times likelier to use tobacco, three times likelier to use alcohol and twice as likely to use marijuana.
The survey also found that teens who watch "reality shows like 'Jersey Shore,' 'Teen Mom,' or '16 and Pregnant' or any teen dramas like 'Skins' and 'Gossip Girl,' " are more likely to use tobacco, alcohol and marijuana.
The results of this survey might be alarming if it weren't for the fact that teen use of social networking is the norm, not the exception. The study found that 70 percent of teens use social networking sites, so the risk of those awful behaviors attributed to the evils resulting from going online apply to seven out of 10 teens.
Although my skills are a bit rusty, I know a thing or two about surveys. I studied and taught survey research in my former academic career and designed and analyzed numerous surveys. One of the first things I taught my undergraduates was not to confuse correlation with causation. Even if it's true that the kids who never use Facebook are less likely to abuses substances, the survey doesn't tell us why that's the case. There could be all sorts of other explanations, such as very strict parents. Or perhaps the same traits that cause that minority of kids to shy away from social networking are the same traits that make them less likely to use drugs, tobacco and alcohol.
And it's not as if kids who do use social networking have a higher rate of use than kids in general. The percentages of online kids who were found to use drugs, tobacco and alcohol were about the same as those found in other national surveys where social networking use wasn't a factor. If we are to draw any conclusions about this report, it would be that it says more about that 30 percent minority that's not online. And as concerned as we should be about substance use, has anyone studied whether those kids might have equally troubling problems, including possibly social isolation?
What concerns me about this study is that it raises fears that are both unsubstantiated and not actionable. What are we supposed to do, turn back time and force our kids to abandon Facebook? The reality is that social networking is a part of most of our lives and what we need to do is not pull away from the technology, but make sure that kids (and adults too) know how to use it appropriately. We all need to learn to make our own conscious decisions and not be manipulated by what we see online, in the media or in advertising.
The other problem with fear-mongering reports is that they often don't change behavior. A seminal paper on fear messaging by Kim White at Michigan State University found that "when assessing threat, the audience considers severity, or the seriousness of it, as well as their susceptibility, or the likelihood that it will happen to them." In other words, kids who use social networking are likely to ignore the results of this study just as they ignore stupid and potentially dangerous things they find online.
Kids need guidance and education, but they don't need to be bubble-wrapped. And parents need to take a deep breath and avoid panicking every time someone comes up with a scary study or an alarming news report.
People just do not understand, prison is all about making money! If this state is able to do this, eventually all states will follow, watch and see. And they say "crime doesn't pay?" Well, that all depends on how you look at it! Like registration fees, this is nothing but extortion and/or exploitation to make more money for the prison business!
By ERICA GOODE
For the Arizona Department of Corrections, crime has finally started to pay.
New legislation allows the department to impose a $25 fee on adults who wish to visit inmates at any of the 15 prison complexes that house state prisoners. The one-time “background check fee” for visitors, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, has angered prisoner advocacy groups and family members of inmates, who in many cases already shoulder the expense of traveling long distances to the remote areas where many prisons are located.
David C. Fathi, director of the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union, called the fee “mind-boggling” and said that while it was ostensibly intended to help the state — the money will be used to repair and maintain the prisons — it could ultimately have a negative effect on public safety.
“We know that one of the best things you can do if you want people to go straight and lead a law-abiding life when they get out of prison is to continue family contact while they’re in prison,” he said. “Talk about penny-wise and pound-foolish.”
One woman, whose brother is a prisoner at the Eyman complex in Florence, said that most of her family lives out of state, so the fee is an additional burden on top of the travel costs.
“What will happen is that people will just stop visiting,” said the woman, adding that most prisoners “live for” visits from relatives. Because some friends of the family still do not know of her brother’s incarceration, she asked to be identified only by her first name, Shauna. She was one of several dozen family members of inmates who complained to Middle Ground Prison Reform, a group based in Tempe, about the fee.
In a lawsuit filed last month against the Corrections Department, Middle Ground said the fee was simply a pretext for raising money “for general public purposes” and as such was unconstitutional because it amounted to a special tax on a single group.
Middle Ground has also filed suit over another provision of the law, which imposes a 1 percent charge on deposits made to a prisoner’s spending account.
Donna Leone Hamm, executive director of Middle Ground, said she thought that state legislators created the background check fee “out of sheer financial desperation” at a time when the state faces huge budget shortfalls.
“This was a scheme — in my mind, a harebrained scheme — to try to come up with the money,” she said.
Wendy Baldo, chief of staff for the Arizona Senate, confirmed that the fees were intended to help make up the $1.6 billion deficit the state faced at the beginning of the year.
- So basically the tax payers are paying for the governments mistakes?
“We were trying to cut the budget and think of ways that could help get some services for the Department of Corrections,” Ms. Baldo said. She added that the department “needed about $150 million in building renewal and maintenance and prior to this year, it just wasn’t getting done and it wasn’t a safe environment for the people who were in prison and certainly for the people who worked there.”
- So why must you continue to punish the down trodden? If you need the money, tax the rich, they have tons of money that prisoners and families do not! Hell, why don't all you in politics take a pay cut to help pay for your corruption and mismanagement of money?
Ms. Baldo said the money would not actually pay for background checks but would go into a fund for maintenance and repairs to the prisons.
Barrett Marson, a spokesman for the Corrections Department, said in an e-mail that it was the department’s policy not to comment on pending litigation.
Although there have been some calls and letters from potential visitors inquiring about the fee and how to pay it, no complaints had been reported from inmates, Mr. Marson said. The department has not determined whether the number of visitors to the prisons has changed since the charge went into effect, he added.
- Well, it's common sense that after a while, due to the economy, people will not be able to pay the extortion fee, so they will stop visiting loved ones, and those in prison, may, due to not being able to see family, and feeling all alone, may commit suicide, God forbid!
“Maintenance funds for our buildings are scarce in this difficult economic time,” he said. “A $25 visitation fee helps to ensure our prisons remain safe environments for staff, inmates and visitors.”
Ms. Hamm, the Middle Ground director who is also a retired lower court judge and married to a former inmate, said that an earlier proposal presented to a legislative committee would have imposed the background check fee on everyone who visited inmates, including babies and children. But in the end, the Legislature limited the fees to people over 18.
The law also allows the Corrections Department to waive all or part of the background check fee in certain circumstances — for example, when an applicant just wants permission to telephone an inmate.
Ms. Hamm said that research by her organization could not find any other example of a state prison system imposing a fee on visitors.
The Arizona Corrections Department, Ms. Hamm said, has run perfunctory checks on visitors for years. In its application form, the department requires visitors to provide their name, date of birth and a driver’s license or other photo identification number. Providing a Social Security number on the application is optional, and no fingerprints are required.
Another state agency, the Department of Public Safety, conducts free background checks for people who want to review their own records and who provide fingerprints, said Carrick Cook, a spokesman.
The Public Safety Department charges $20 for criminal background checks of people who are hired as volunteers for state agencies, and $24 for checks on paid state workers, both of which involve fingerprinting. A fingerprint clearance card, required for child care and foster care workers in Arizona, costs $65 for volunteers and $69 for paid employees.
Shauna, whose brother is at the Eyman complex, said she learned about the fee after she filed applications for her brother’s son, a Mormon missionary in Kentucky who wanted to visit his father, along with a friend and two other relatives.
She was told that the best way to pay the fee was electronically, through Western Union, but was unable to get the system to work, she said.
She was then advised to send a money order. Despite confirmation by United Parcel Service that the package had been delivered, the Corrections Department told her that the $100 payment — four $25 money orders for four visitors — had not been received, she said.
Another $100 payment was sent, and on Friday — months after she began the application process — she finally got confirmation of the payment from the department.
“I have now spent $200 of my own money to get family in,” she said, adding that it could take up to 60 days for the department to approve the applications.