Marsha Graham Speaks Out on Juvenile Crime

[Editor's Note: Marsha Graham is one of my favorite Supporter Contributors, and a very dear friend. Without her help, I never would have gotten started learning ASL, and she's been a cornerstone of aid and comfort to DeafInPrison.com, since we launched. This piece was originally a comment she wrote to the post Juvenile Crimes - Our Main Pain, by Supporter Contributor Paul Smith. Upon reading it, I decided to post it here. -- BitcoDavid]

By Marsha Graham

Moose in yard in Anchorage, AlaskaI was working with children in the mid-1970′s when I first saw a shift in dynamics with children and juveniles. Over the years I have seen more and more children treated as expendable.

Granted, much of my work has been in areas of the country where agrarian society was dominant, but I’ve also lived in cities. What I have seen, however, is that as children are now luxuries rather than necessities, that our treatment of them is different.

However, more than that, I see that we no longer have coming of age rituals. We no longer transition children to juveniles to adults in any sort of orderly fashion. We don’t give them things that say, I’m almost an adult or I AM an adult.

A gang sign of the BloodsIt takes a village to raise a child is a truism. And as our extended families of small towns (villages) crumbles to dust our children fall apart as well.

I saw desperate welfare mothers beg and borrow to get their children to Anchorage to separate them from the Crips or Bloods and all it did was to transplant a gang culture. Those kids were not a part of the Alaskan community and were more alienated than they were in L.A.

I cannot blame families per se – the definition of family has changed so much over time. I would say that we are in a time of terrible transition – sort of a new “dark ages.” When you don’t have an extended community to provide for children then children get lost.

Yes, there are drugs, but drugs were not regulated in the 1800′s so much – you could go to an opium den. What we had was a different community structure – and a 14-16 year old boy could go work on a neighboring ranch or farm or learn to shoe horses or study to become a blacksmith or… or. Now we regiment children to fit little round holes in little round-holed pegboards.

And the other thing I saw in the mid-70′s was the rise of truly serious crime becoming more widespread among youth (boys, mostly, at that time) – arson, murder, rape, etc. We were putting highly dangerous kids in with status offenders and that was the death knell for status offenses (now CINA – Children In Need of Aid).

So far (knock on wood) my grand-kids are all good kids, good students, good friends to their friends. They have involved parents and extended family. We reward what is positive. Not all children are so fortunate to live without fear of violence, without drug or alcohol use in the home, without food deprivation due to lack of resources. So many children come from backgrounds of neglect, poverty, misery, etc. that we are creating an environment where kids act out.

Marsha Graham is the driving force behind several blogs, among them AnotherBoomerBlog. She is a good friend to DeafInPrison.com and we would be lost without her support. When she’s not blogging, she’s a committed activist and attorney.

A Quick Tech Question

By BitcoDavid

Generally speaking, if it transfers energy through gears and pulleys, if it works by electrons coursing through wires, or if it involves bouncing binary digits off satellites – I’ve got it down. But Marsha Graham and I are working on ways to create virtual access to the ASL Meetup. What I would like to do, eventually, would be to set up a Javascript applet that would run on one of my servers, and we could have multiple chat-lines, allowing people with webcams to log on and participate in real time.

So, logistically speaking, we’d have one PC at the site, with a webcam and internet hotspot. That machine would be sending the image of the entire group to the absentee members. Conversely, it would be receiving multiple video streams from those members, and the group would be able to see them.

Until I can get all that worked out however, I’m throwing the ball in your court. If anybody out there can think of some quick and easy ways to facilitate multiple video chats, please drop a line in the comments section.

We can use Yahoo Messenger, but that will only allow one feed at a time. We can use Google+ hang-outs, but it seems to me that we could come up with something more elegant and efficient. And I’d kinda like to do this without being assimilated by the Borg – if you get my drift.

Again, I can set this up to work through my server, but we’re looking for something in the interim. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated, and you’ll be helping some fine people get access to the ASL they so desperately need.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Update: 6/20/2013

By BitcoDavid

Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights

And this was just for forgetting to replace the toner!
Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights

Here at DeafInPrison.com, we’re not above admitting to a mistake. After all, we make so few of them. But alas, to err is Human. Yesterday, we posted the story of a 12 year-old girl who was denied the right to use ASL on a New Jersey school bus. Well, it turns out that story occurred in 2001 – and was settled. We got the story through FaceBook, from abcnews.go.com, an online aggregator of ABC News Corporation. They date the page as April 18, but neglect to include the year. Sources tell me, this is a common practice of theirs, and they do it to draw views to their site.

I am truly sorry this happened. I’m whetting up the cane-whip, and the army of fact checkers, here at the massive DeafInPrison.com Plaza, have each been sentenced to a dozen lashes.

All kidding aside, you have my apology.

On the 17th of June, we posted a humorous piece on Darwinian Criminals. The title of that piece was in homage to one of my personal heroes – Bugs Bunny – who commonly would refer to those of lesser intelligence then himself, as maroons. We’ve all seen him chewing his carrot and saying, “Whatamaroon!” Well, much to my chagrin, it turns out there are actually people who identify, ethnically, as Maroons. It appears, the Maroon people were escaped slaves from the West Indies and the Americas, who formed independent settlements and intermarried with indigenous populations. I always thought it was a play on the words moron and the color maroon.

Of course, it was never my intention to hurt or insult anyone – other than the actual Darwinian Criminals – and for that too, you have my apology.

I don't know why they call it the humerus, there's really nothing funny about it. Medical Art Library

I don’t know why they call it the humerus, there’s really nothing funny about it. Medical Art Library

And lastly – albeit with a broken wing, reconstructed with pipes, screws, and countless other medical marvels – and in great pain, Marsha Graham managed to attend last night’s ASL meetup. It was an opportunity for us to talk regarding the numerous projects we’ve got in the can, together. Of course we did most of that talking in English, which kind of defeats the point of the ASL group – and seriously cut into my sorely needed lesson, but it was good to see her, and actually necessary, to get some of these details hammered out. I did however, learn the 4 seasons though, as well as the sign for best friend, and the difference between hard (as in difficult) and problem - two very similar signs. So now I can count, spell, do the days of the week, family members and a few other very basic signs.

I find that the most difficult part is that I’m a talker. I can talk the leaves off the trees. It is unusual for me to be the one guy in a room, who can’t express himself as freely or as well as anybody else. On the other hand, that’s a blessing in disguise, because it forces me to shut up and observe. That way I can learn more.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Super Huge Digest Post – 6/14/2013

By BitcoDavid

OK. Spark up a Cohiba and get settled in.

Books and Movies

We recently did a review of the book, Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman. Well, Netflix is planning a streamed television series based on the book. As many of you may be aware, Netflix is working to position themselves not only as a source for TV and movie rentals, but as creator of original broadcast material. Their first foray into that realm is with a continuation of the amazingly funny series – originally broadcast on Fox – Arrested Development. Fans of that show (like me) are overjoyed that Netflix saw fit to make it their flagship show. Also in that list however, will be Orange is the New Black. Created by the same production team that did the HBO hit, Weeds, Netflix appears to be writing the screenplays for the series with an eye towards a Black Comedy. I think this book is marvelously suited for that approach.

Here’s an embed of the trailer, and a link to a great review of the upcoming series on We Minored in Film.

Cops and Training

Any cop who has pictures of MLK and Ghandi on his wall, is OK in my Book Photo: Improving Police

Any cop who has pictures of MLK and Ghandi on his wall, is OK in my Book
Photo: Improving Police

I like to write. Sometimes when I’m in a stroking mood, I even refer to myself as a writer.  Here’s the thing. Cops can’t write. Most of ‘em can’t even type. Cop writing is full of stilted militarized jargon, and riddled with the most horrific of passive voice. A cop could actually turn John shot mike into A bullet fired from the weapon held by John caused death to be had by Mike - and yes, he’d omit the comma.

Well, as I’ve mentioned before, the exception that proves the rule would be the site, Improving Police by retired Police Chief, David C. Couper. As well as a blog site, Couper has written several books. His focus is on Neighborhood and Community policing and training. He’s an excellent and enlightening read. Here’s a link to his latest post, Let’s Hear it Once More About How to Train Police.

I’ve been reading his blog for a long time. He presents cogent and reasoned arguments against para-military stress training and in favor of community policing policies, and he does so from the cop point of view. And best of all, he writes like a writer. It’s worth checking out.

Shanna Groves’ Awesome Interview

The Lipreading Mom, whom I helped with her Stop Hearing Loss Bullying Campaign video, posted an interview with me talking about DeafInPrison.com. She did a wonderful job, and now my head won’t fit through my front door. Here’s the SHLB video embed, again, and a link to the interview.

Project

I was on Deaf Chat – a feature on Deaf Insight – last week, when the discussion turned to the trend in eliminating ASL from public schools throughout America. I was unaware that this was going on, but apparently, numerous schools have already discontinued their ASL programs, and more are slated to do so. It was decided that a campaign and a video would be necessary to raise awareness among the general public, and to let the schools know that a working and current ASL program needs to be a vital part of any education system. And who do you think was asked to edit the video? Yours truly – that’s who. I’m pleased that they recognize my skill, and I’m proud to be a part of this vital project.

Police Brutality

AlterNet did an article listing 12 examples of police overreach, bullying and brutality – and that was just for this month. Rather than listing them off, I’ll just give you the link to this must read post. 12 Shocking Examples of Police Brutality – This Month by Alternet

ASL Group Dot Com

The ASL Meetup group in action. Photo - BitcoDavid BlogSites

The ASL Meetup group in action. Photo – BitcoDavid BlogSites

As many of you already know, AnotherBoomerBlog‘s Marsha Graham fell down a flight of stairs and broke her shoulder. Well, what you may not know is, that event triggered a bunch of other bad luck events, and now Marsha is unable to attend our ASL Meetup sessions. This is tragic for me because she was the driving force behind getting me involved with the group. She served as my mentor and teacher, and any fledgling success I’ve had learning Sign, I owe to her – and of course, the other members of the group, all of whom are exceedingly patient and supportive.

Well, the good news is that Marsha and I are hammering out the tech details necessary to get her to be able to participate from her home computer. At first, it will be something simple like Skype or some other form of video messaging, but theoretically, we could bring the whole thing online. Soon, we’d have ASL Meetup.com! Signers from all over the world could log on and participate. How cool is that!

3 More Great Links from AlterNet

Let me save some time and some bits by just giving you these three self explanatory formatted links.

Did a “Troubled Teen” Rehab Create Murders? (Alternet) This is an article about a chain of privately owned juvenile facilities that are being investigated for abuse.

I Was Almost a Victim of the School to Prison Pipeline (Alternet) The author asks why schools are so eager to adopt police roles, and assist in the militarization of U.S. institutions?

Utah Cops Assassinated 21-year-old Woman Sitting in Her Car, Parents Claim (Alternet) A Utah drug enforcement squad is under investigation on charges of corruption and murder.

Deaf Justice

Here’s another offsite project I’ve been working on. Marsha Graham and I are working on creating an actively funded and fully functional organization, similar to the Innocence Project, but specifically for Deaf, HoH and Deaf/Blind inmates. While it’s still in its infant stages, it promises to be a way that many wrongfully convicted Deaf inmates can receive justice. Of course, DeafInPrison.com readers will be kept up on all the developments, as we work to get this project launched.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

“Kissface” the Horse

By BitcoDavid

Years ago, I lived in Boston‘s West Fens – a corner of the ghetto area, Roxbury. In those days, Boston police had one of the few mounted police divisions. These cops loved their horses, and saw the posting as a position of honor and dignity. The cops would be assigned to different beats throughout the city, and would become intrinsic parts of their neighborhoods. Our particular horse-cop was a Black woman of about 40, and her horse was a brown and white Appaloosa.  Every morning like clockwork, a certain elderly woman from the community would apply her fire engine- red lipstick, and kiss the horse in the middle of the white patch on his face. After a while, the lipstick began to stain the horse’s fur, and he developed a tattoo of red lips – right smack on his kisser (sorry, couldn’t resist). We nicknamed him, “Kissface.”

Kissface and his mounted partner did more to prevent crime than we’ll ever know. This cop knew everybody in the neighborhood, and usually referred to us by our first names. She’d break up fights, get brown baggers to find some shelter for their imbibing, help abused spouses to find protection – and above all – counsel us. Sitting atop Kissface, this woman would gently remind you that what you were doing was illegal, and it would probably be a good idea for you to knock it off. In all the years I lived there, I saw her intervene in hundreds of situations, but I don’t think I ever saw her make an arrest.  She relied on the peer pressure only a neighborhood is capable of – and an understanding of the inherent decency buried within all people.

But those days are gone.

And something has changed in the makeup of police. Marsha Graham of AnotherBoomerBlog reports today, on 2 separate cases of police, beating Deaf offenders during traffic stops. In Settlement reached in police abuse of deaf motorist and in Hard of Hearing, Mentally Impaired Woman allegedly Battered by Police Officer, Ms. Graham restates the need for training of police in dealing with the Deaf and HoH, and for interpreters to be present at arrests and other police interactions with the Deaf community. I couldn’t agree more with this essential point, but I think the problem goes much deeper.

While it’s easy for cops to say they don’t know how to deal with the Deaf, and that training would help prevent these tragedies from occurring, I find that to be an overused and overly convenient excuse for simple bullying and bad behavior. I’m not a cop, but you can’t tell me that the woman above did anything to warrant the kind of beating she endured. We’re all capable of telling when we’re dealing with someone who’s confused or at a mental disadvantage – Deaf or not. And truthfully, it wouldn’t have mattered if she was a Rhodes scholar with perfect hearing and 20/20 vision. It wouldn’t even matter if she were Bonnie Parker. There is absolutely no excuse for beating someone like this. I don’t care how tough your job is. If you can justify this kind of behavior – then it’s time to switch careers.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Better

By BitcoDavid

In a scene from Chris Walas‘s the Fly II, the lead character, Martin and his girlfriend are hiding out in a motel. He’s mutating into a giant fly – twitching, peeling and losing his teeth and hair. Beth, his girlfriend, tells him they need to get to a doctor. She say’s “you’re getting worse.” He replies, “No. I’m getting better.”

Faster, smarter, stronger – better. It’s been my goal my whole life.

The Baby Boom represents the largest population expansion in this country’s history, and the majority of Americans, right now, can classify themselves as Boomers. That means that the majority of you – my readers – are a stone’s throw, a New York minute, a heartbeat away from the starin’ window. Get it? We’re all careening – pedal to the metal and no brakes – to a future of drooling in our oatmeal and wearing Depends.

But it doesn’t have to be thus. Jack LaLanne lived well into his 90s, and was active, alert and… well… alive right to the end. Exercise and diet can do wonders to stave off the tragedy of aging. But it’s only half the story. The one muscle that needs the most exercise and tends to get the least, is the muscle that’s located between our ears. That squishy gray glob of electrochemical energy we call our brain.

LaLanne also loved dogs, and his white Shepherd was a regular feature on his TV program. Image: Skeptical Eye

LaLanne also loved dogs, and his white Shepherd was a regular feature on his TV program. Image: Skeptical Eye

Research has shown that the best way to fend off brain disease is to keep learning new things. By opening new pathways in the brain, we create channels that can be used to bypass those sections that are destroyed by aging and other destructive illness. Further research proves that the best thing one can learn – to stimulate new brain cell activation – is language. In fact, language is the basis of all learning. One can’t study law, for example, without first learning the language of that science. Technology is the same way. Before one can understand what a transistor does, one must learn the language of electronics. Math is a language. Science, physics, history – even art. All are really languages that we must learn and translate into our own inner monologues in order to understand.

Many of my friends in the Deaf and HoH communities, tell me that hearing people don’t want to be bothered to learn Sign. I really don’t understand why this is. I love learning – and somewhere in my 30s I discovered that I’m actually quite good at it. Learning that is. Perhaps if my school years hadn’t been as abysmal as they were, I would have made that discovery a decade or so earlier. I’ve set out to learn ASL, and I’m loving it. I love it almost as much as I love boxing – another science, another language – one must learn. You don’t just climb into the ring and fight. It takes years to build a fighter.

Woody Allen's second favorite organ. Image: Williamette

Woody Allen’s second favorite organ. Image: Williamette

So if a friend walked up to you and said she wanted to teach you Italian, why on earth would you refuse her? Look at it like this. Any opportunity to learn anything might just give you another month, another year – perhaps – of independent, lucid… well… life.

So give some thought to learning ASL. Not only would you be adding to the overall size and strength of your brain, but you might just be able to develop some friendships in a world that you never even knew existed.

And a decade from now, instead of getting worse – you could be getting better.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

Them Hearies; Who Can Figure ‘Em?

By BitcoDavid

Marsha Graham raised an interesting point, this morning. In a post on her site, she asked why Hearies often leave the TV blaring in the background, while attempting an important business call. I responded as best I could with a comment. The above links will take you to her original post, and my comment. I suggest you check them both out. The whole exchange got me thinking about communication in general, and some of the more glaring social differences between the hearing and the HoH and Deaf communities.

For example, we don’t consider it rude to talk over one another. At a group get together, say a party, we will commonly carry on conversations while others are talking around us. Our brains have learned to filter out the extraneous noise of other people talking. But I’m beginning to realize that for some HoH, that is very difficult and uncomfortable. We also carry on multiple conversations, simply interrupting one another to say hi to a passerby or when speaking in a group. Signing requires the two individuals to be more or less locked in to one another. You need to be looking at one another, and maintaining that level of concentration.

Computers are well aware that simply because I say something, you may not have heard it – or may not have understood my meaning. When you log on to a Web site, the machines engage in a process called handshaking. A computer would never be so ignorant or arrogant as to simply assume the other computer understood the information exactly as it was being sent. I find the Deaf to be much similar in their communications. One needs to establish a visual contact, and then proceed with the conversation – and both can tell when either is not being understood.

We Hearies on the other hand, commonly will speak to the crowd, or toss a sentence fragment over our shoulders, and expect the intended listener to hear and understand. We speak to the backs of each other’s heads. Our world would probably function much more smoothly, if we also did handshaking. “This is what I just said, did you understand?” “Yes, I understood. Go on”

But what I’m finding most interesting is that much of what we do, we are unaware of doing. I hadn’t thought about the TV thing, until Marsha brought it up, but I do it all the

time. I also talk to myself when working. I never realized it until last night. One has to remember to take one’s hat off when signing, because many signs involve touching parts of your head or face. One has to be careful not to cut between two signers. We’ve learned to stop when we see someone taking a picture, so as not to ruin the shot, but we often will walk between two people signing.

At one point, I worked with a sightless individual. He was one of the soundmen at Woodstock. A very capable engineer, and a very dear friend. He was so capable, in fact, that I would often forget that he was born blind. He could see with his hands, almost as well as any sighted person can see with their eyes. In one exchange, I asked him to hand me a certain tool, explaining that it was in the blue toolbox. He simply said, “blue? Moron?” We take so much for granted.

 

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

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