Appreciate and Celebrate Grandparents on National Grandparents Day
For more than thirty-five years, we have formally celebrated the role of grandparents in the lives of their grandchildren as a nation.
In 1978, the United States Congress passed legislation proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day. President Jimmy Carter signed the proclamation. This year, National Grandparents Day will fall on Sunday, September 7th. Now more than ever before, we should celebrate grandparents and the expanding role they are playing in the lives of their grandchildren.
National Grandparent’s Day was founded to champion the cause of lonely elderly persons residing in nursing homes and to persuade their grandchildren to tap into the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. It has grown to be a special day for all to celebrate the roles grandparents play in the family unit. Don’t forget to honor your grandparents on National Grandparents Day, Sunday, September 7th.
On Sunday, September 7th, remember to appreciate and celebrate your grandparents on National Grandparents Day.
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Each year, for the past thirty years, in the month of August, National Night Out has been held with the overarching goal to make communities safer. In 1984, the National Association of Town Watch (NATW)’s Executive Director, Matt Peskin introduced National Night Out. The first National Night Out took place on Tuesday, August 7th 1984 as an effort to promote involvement in crime prevention activities, police-community partnerships, neighborhood camaraderie and send a message to criminals letting them know that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back.
In the first year of the National Night Out, 2.5 million Americans took part across four hundred (400) communities in twenty-three (23) states. In 1984, National Association of Town Watch began National Night Out now involves over 37.8 million people and 16,124 communities from all fifty states, U.S. Territories, Canadian cities, and military bases worldwide.
The traditional “lights on” campaign and symbolic front porch vigils turned into a celebration across America with various events and activities including, but not limited to, block parties, cookouts, parades, visits from emergency personnel, rallies and marches, exhibits, youth events, safety demonstrations and seminars, in effort to heighten awareness and enhance community relations.
National Night Out is an opportunity for communities nationwide to promote police-community partnerships, crime prevention, and neighborhood camaraderie. While the National Night Out is certainly not an answer to crime, drugs and violence, it represents the kind of spirit, energy and determination to help make neighborhoods a safer place year round.
Source: National Association of Town Watch website
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Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup. Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends. Ninety-two percent of women surveyed listed reducing domestic violence and sexual assault as their top concern.
Abusers often suggest that they beat their wives because their wives drink. But several studies have shown that many battered women start drinking subsequent to the battering. So, it may be defensive behavior on the part of women, trying to cope with an intolerable situation.” – Linda Salzman, PhD, Criminologist at the Centers for Disease Control.
• 33% of battered women suffer depression.
•26% of all women who attempt suicide are victims of
•10% of all battered women abuse drugs or alcohol.
•50% of all alcoholic or addicted women are victims of
•A survey of 2,099 women found that women who had experienced abuse reported more frequent use of sleeping pills and sedatives than women who had not been abused.
◦40% more battered women reported sleeping pill use.
◦74% more battered women reported sedative use.
◦50% more women physically abused as children reported sleeping pill use and all reported sedative use.
•Substance abuse adds more problems for the victim because:
◦There is less resistance from the victim
◦It gives more power to the abuser
◦The victim feels like they ‘deserve’ the abuse
◦There is less support from the victim’s family
◦The victim tends to ignore the home, bills, children, etc.
•Ten studies reporting chronic alcohol use, alcoholism, or alcohol abuse reported that between 24% and 86% of battering incidents involved alcohol abuse. When batterers reported, the result was a combined average of 36% of battering incidents involving alcohol; when victims reported, the combined average was 67%.
•A study of 400 battered women found that 67% of batterers frequently abused alcohol; however, only one-fifth had abused alcohol during all four battering incidents on which data were collected.
•In one batterers intervention program, 90% of the men had abused alcohol at the time of the latest battering incident. The vast majority of participants also reported battering their partners when not under the influence of alcohol.
Battering is a socially learned behavior, and is not the result of substance abuse or mental illness. With regard to domestic violence, substance abuse may be viewed as:
• An excuse. In many societies, including ours, substance use has a role as a time out from responsibility during which the user can engage in exceptional behavior and later disavow the behavior as caused by the substance rather than the self (MacAndrew & Edgerton, 1969). Some observers suggest batterers use substances first as a vehicle, then as an excuse, for being controlling and violent.
•A cognitive disrupter. Drugs or alcohol may reduce the user’s ability to perceive, integrate, and process information, increasing his risk for violence (Pernanen, 1991). Batterers may be more likely than non-batterers to misinterpret the actions of their partners in this manner, and substances enhance the misinterpretation.
• A power motive. Substance abuse and woman abuse may share common origins in a need to achieve personal power and control (Gondolf, 1995).
•Situational. Violence may occur during the process of obtaining and using substances. The situational relationship between substance abuse and woman abuse is particularly relevant when illegal drugs are involved. A battered woman may use substances with her abuser in an attempt to manage his violence and increase her own safety (Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 1997), or she may be forced to use substances with her batterer.
•A chemical agent. Substance abuse may increase the risk for woman abuse through chemical actions on brain mechanisms linked to aggression (Miczek, et al., 1994). However, there is no evidence that batterers are neither “hard wired” for violence, nor that their socialization or choice-making processes are not operational when using substances.
•Partial to certain characteristics. Substance abuse may increase the risk for woman abuse only for those men with certain
characteristics. In Kenneth Leonard’s national study of 23-year-old men, heavy drinking was associated with woman abuse only for those men with a high levels of hostility and low levels of marital satisfaction (Leonard & Blane, 1992).
•Effective across generations. Substance abuse and woman abuse are learned through observation and practice, and are related over time. Parental substance abuse and parental woman abuse may impact the development of children, increasing the chances of a child growing up to be an abuser, a victim of abuse, and/or a substance abuser (Kantor & Asdigian, 1993).
Similarities between substance abuse and domestic violence:
•Affects entire families
•Negatively impacts a pregnancy
•Strong denial tendencies
•Thrives on isolation, shame, and silence
•Pervasive social and health problems cut across all demographic categories
•Tend to become progressively worse
•Often lead to other kinds of problems (e.g. health, legal and financial)
Source(s): Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Linda Salzman, PhD, Criminologist at the Centers for Disease Control. Kantor & Asdigian, 1993. Leonard & Blane, 1992. Miczek, et al., 1994. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 1997. Gondolf, 1995. Pernanen, 1991. MacAndrew & Edgerton, 1969. Larry W. Bennett, Ph.D. “Substance Abuse and Woman Abuse by Male Partners.” University of Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work. September 1997.
Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art.
 Larry W. Bennett, Ph.D. “Substance Abuse and Woman Abuse by Male Partners.” University of Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work. September 1997.
Thirty-six states have either abolished the death penalty, have executions on hold, or have not carried out an execution in at least 5 years. Recently, three states, Arizona, Ohio, and Oklahoma, temporarily halted executions as reviews are conducted of botched executions.
In six states, Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Louisiana, Montana, and North Carolina, a de facto moratorium on executions is in place because of lethal-injection challenges; most of those states have not had an execution since 2008. Colorado, Oregon, and Washington have formal moratoriums on executions imposed by their governors.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty. In 6 additional states, while no formal hold is in place, no execution has been conducted in at least five years. The U.S. military and federal government also authorize the death penalty, but neither has had an execution in over ten years.
In September of 2011, the state of Georgia executed Troy Davis, after valiant efforts to stop the execution of Troy Davis for more than two decades, more than one million people from all around the globe were forced to bid him “goodbye”.
After the execution of Troy Davis, Laura Moye at Amnesty International wrote in her action alert sent to members, “… My heart is heavy. I am sad and angry. The state of Georgia has proven what we already know. Governments cannot be trusted with the awful power over life and death… Georgia didn’t just kill Troy Davis; they killed the faith and confidence that many Georgians, Americans, and Troy Davis supporters worldwide used to have in our criminal justice system.”
It has been reported that, Troy Davis stated repeatedly said that his case was about so much more than him. As a result, Troy’s words give those involved in seeking justice in the Davis case fodder to carry on and stay committed to this fight and the larger fight to make sure there will be no more Troy Davis’ in this nation.
Because of Davis case, countless people from both ends of the political spectrum were made aware of the countless flaws in the United States’ criminal justice system. As was stated in the action alert after Davis execution by Georgians For An Alternative to the Death Penalty, “… we need you to stay awake.” After the execution of Troy Davis in September of 2011, opponents of the death penalty recommitted themselves to fight against the relentless killing machine also known as the death penalty.
“As Troy Davis wrote in a letter when he was facing execution in 2008: … no matter what happens in the days, weeks to come, this Movement to end the death penalty, to seek true justice, to expose a system that fails to protect the innocent must be accelerated. There are so many more Troy Davis’. This fight to end the death penalty is not won or lost through me but through our strength to move forward and save every innocent person in captivity around the globe. We need to dismantle this unjust system city by city, state by state and country by country.”
If you are seeking a way to turn your disappointment over the outcome in the Troy Davis and countless other death penalty cases, I hope that you will join me and countless others around the globe that support the efforts to free the staggering number of innocent people who are currently incarcerated. With that said, you can donate to the Innocence Project, a nonprofit committed to fight to free the staggering numbers of innocent people who remain incarcerated and/or Amnesty International, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Campaign to End the Death Penalty, Witness to Innocence, Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation, Georgians For An Alternative to the Death Penalty,Equal Justice USA, and countless other organizations fighting to abolish the death penalty.
Sources: Equal Justice USA, Maryland Citizens Against State Executions, the NAACP, MomsRising, Amnesty, the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, the Catholic Conference, Witness to Innocence, Amnesty International, Georgians For An Alternative to the Death Penalty, Moveon.org, NBC News.
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For many death penalty opponents, the recently botched executions that have made the national headlines serve to highlight the fact that the death penalty is in fact cruel and usual punishment and therefore unconstitutional. The state of Arizona’s execution of Joseph Wood III on July 23 took nearly two hours, with witnesses reporting that Wood gasped and snorted over six hundred (600) times during the procedure. Mr. Wood was executed using midazolam and hyrdromorphone, the same drug protocol used in January’s botched execution of Dennis McGuire.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit had stayed Joseph Wood’s execution and ordered the state to release information about the source of the lethal injection drugs and the training of those who would carry out the execution, but the stay was lifted by the U.S. Supreme Court on July 22, allowing the state to maintain secrecy.
Attorneys for Joseph Wood tried to file an emergency request to halt the execution because Joseph Wood was still awake an hour into the procedure. Dale Baich, one of Wood’s attorneys, said, “I’ve witnessed a number of executions before and I’ve never seen anything like this. Nor has an execution that I observed taken this long.”
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer ordered a review of the execution, saying she was “concerned by the length of time” that it took. The director of the Department of Corrections said they will conduct a full review and are waiting on results of a toxicology study and autopsy.
Our nation has struggled with the question of the appropriateness of capital punishment as a criminal sanction for decades. According to the Death Penalty Information enter, there are thirty-four (34) states with the death penalty and sixteen (16) without this criminal sanction. Opponents to capital punishment assert that the criminal justice system is riddled with injustice and error under these conditions the death penalty must be halted. Some argue that there is a wealth of evidence that proves the ineffectiveness of the death penalty in achieving its states goals.
According to recent opinion polls[i], the majority of American voters (61%) prefer other criminal sanctions for murder convictions as opposed to the death penalty and some in law enforcement question its effectiveness. A 2009 poll commissioned by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) found police chiefs ranked the death penalty last among the strategies employed to reduce violent crimes[ii] and viewed it as the least efficient use of taxpayers’ money.[iii]
Opponents of the death penalty, both in the United States and around the world, assert that not only is it costly, it is also immoral, ineffective, and discriminatory. They assert that the death penalty is often used disproportionately against the poor and people of color. Human beings and systems created by humans are fallible. With that said, the risk of executing innocent persons can never be completely eliminated from the criminal justice system as evidence by the annual number of death row inmate exonerations.
How many death row inmates have been exonerated on average per year? “From 1973-1999, there was an average of 3.1 death row inmate exonerations per year. This has caused many in the legal community to assert that our criminal justice system is riddled with errors.” [iv] Annually, the number of death prisoner exonerations has increased. [v] On average, there has been an average of five (5) exonerations per year from 2000-2007.[vi]
We are reminded about the high costs associated with putting a person on death row by many members of the legal community as well as death row opponents. The costs associated with death penalty cases include but are not limited to: criminal investigation related costs; lengthy trials and appeals; and most importantly, the possible execution of an innocent person. These factors have led many states to reconsider the validity of capital punishment.
In 2009, New Mexico abolished the death penalty.[vii] This year, Illinois’ governor signed a death penalty ban into law in March.[viii] Illinois is the sixteenth state to abolish the death penalty.[ix] In addition to ending capital punishment, Illinois’ governor also commuted the sentences of the fifteen (15) inmates on death row in that state[x]. Instead of death sentences, the inmates will serve life in prison without the possibility of parole.[xi] Illinois’ ban on executions took effect on July 1, 2011.[xii]
According to the Bureau of Prisons, there are fifty-seven (57) people on death role in the federal penal system[xiii]. There are thousands more on death row in state prisons across the country[xiv]. Eighty percent of all executions occur in the southern portion of the United States[xv]. One of the most highly discussed death penalty cases in recent history is that of Troy Anthony Davis[xvi] in Savannah, Georgia. For more than a decade, this capital punishment case captured the attention of countless people not only in the United States (e.g. President Carter, former Congressman Bob Barr) but also people all around the world (e.g. The Pope and Nobel Prize winner cleric Desmund Tutu).
For persons opposed to capital punishment or those seeking a moratorium, the Davis case undergirds their assertion that wrongful convictions occur and the death penalty must be halted at a minimum until the errors which occur in the criminal justice system have been remedied. Opponents to the death penalty assert that not only do wrongful convictions occur in this country but also innocent people have been sentenced to die[xvii] and some have been executed. With that said, should the death penalty be abolished nationwide?
The number of death row prisoner exonerations which occur on an annual basis as well as high profile death penalty cases such as Troy Davis where there is no physical evidence linking him to the crime serve to remind us that serious questions still persist about the legitimacy of the death penalty as a criminal sanction. The topic of capital punishment often generates lively discussions about the appropriateness of government sanctioned taking of human lives. It is my hope that this series will generate thoughtful conversations about the death penalty. Toward that goal, I will examine the often controversial topic of the death penalty in the next three (3) blog posts. Specifically, I will examine: (1) a case where the defendant was found guilty of murder and he was not sentenced to death; (2) whether or not capital punishment accomplishes its stated goals; and (3) public opinions on the death penalty.
For further information concerning this pressing topic, an important resource is the Death Penalty Information Center’s website. If you are interested in working to abolish the death penalty, many resources can be found on the Amnesty International website including: petitions, fact sheets, organizing materials, as well as helpful suggestions on how to get involved and take action to end the death penalty.
Sources: The Council of the American Law Institute (ALI); Death Penalty Information Center; Politico (March 9, 2011); Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial, “Juries Know Better”, May 20, 2011; Amnesty International; NAACP; savannahnow.com/…/pope-makes-plea-spare-life-troy-davis; and the Innocence Project. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art.
[i] A 2010 poll by Lake Research Partners and 2009 poll commissioned by DPIC.
[ii] Death Penalty Information Center Website
[iv] As indicated on the Death Penalty Information Center website, according to the Staff Report, House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Constitutional Rights, printed in October 1993, with updates from DPIC, since 1973, over 130 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence. From 1973-1999, there was an average 3.1 exonerations per year. From 2000-2007, there has been an average of 5 exonerations per year.
[vii] Death Penalty Information Center Website
[viii] Politico, March 9, 2011.
[xiii] Bureau of Prisons’ website.
[xiv] According to the Death Penalty Information Center, as of January 1, 2010, there were 3,621 persons on death row in the United States.
[xv] Amnesty International
[xvi] Ibid. “Troy Davis was convicted of murdering a Georgia police officer in 1991. Nearly two decades later, Davis remains on death row — even though the case against him has fallen apart. On March 28, 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Troy Davis’ appeals and set the stage for him to possibly face a fourth execution date. The case against him consisted entirely of witness testimony which contained inconsistencies even at the time of the trial. Since then, all but two of the state’s non-police witnesses from the trial have recanted or contradicted their testimony.
Many of these witnesses have stated in sworn affidavits that they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Troy Davis. One of the two witnesses who has not recanted his testimony is Sylvester “Red” Coles — the principle alternative suspect, according to the defense, against whom there is new evidence implicating him as the gunman. Nine individuals have signed affidavits implicating Sylvester Coles.”—Amnesty International
[xvii] As indicated on the Death Penalty Information Center website, according to the Staff Report, House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Constitutional Rights, printed in October 1993, with updates from DPIC, since 1973, over 130 people have been released from death row with evidence of their innocence. From 1973-1999, there was an average 3.1 exonerations per year. From 2000-2007, there has been an average of 5 exonerations per year.
Additional Sources: Death Penalty Information Center
Photos: Microsoft Clip Art
Every 9 seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually. It has been reported that men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents. Child witnesses to domestic violence often have life-long effects. Please read the data below regarding child witnesses to domestic violence.
•Between 3.3 million and 25 million children experience domestic violence in their homes each year.
•The average age of a homeless person in the U.S. is 9 years old. 50 percent of homeless women and children are fleeing abuse in the home.
•Children who live in homes where their mothers are battered are 50% more likely to be beaten themselves. Research indicates that 50 to 70 percent of men who physically abuse their wives also frequently abuse their children.
•In one study, 27% of domestic homicide victims were children. When children are killed during a domestic dispute, 90% are under age 10; 56% are under age 2. Children from homes where their mothers is beaten suffer eating and sleeping disorders, have headaches, ulcers, rashes, depression, and anxiety caused by the trauma of witnessing abuse.
•They have a higher risk of abusing substances and becoming juvenile delinquents.
•Eighty percent of teen runaways and homeless youth come from violent homes.
•Girls from homes with domestic violence are 6.5 times more likely to be sexually assaulted and more likely to become pregnant as teenagers.
•A boy from a home where his mother is battered is 74% more likely to commit violence, including rape.
•Boys who grow up in non-violent homes have one chance in 400 of becoming abusive adults, but boys who grow up in violent homes have one chance in two of becoming abusive adults.
•Sixty-three percent of boys ages 11-20 arrested for homicide have killed their mother’s abuser.
How are children affected by domestic violence?
•They exhibit “failure to thrive” symptoms, even as infants.
•They may exhibit “general aggressiveness” or violence to siblings or the
“victim parent” in ways that emulate the abusive parent.
•They may exhibit a pattern of “over-compliance” and fearfulness.
•They often suffer from low self-esteem.
•They often suffer poor health.
•They may have poor impulse control.
•They often experience academic problems.
•They live frequently ”disrupted lives” when the victim is forced to flee the home.
•They, along with their mothers, comprise nearly 40% of the homeless population in the U.S.
•They are sometimes injured during violent incidents in the home or the family
•They are more often abducted by the abuser parent than other children.
•They may have a fear and distrust of close relationships.
•They may become conflicted in taking sides with parents.
•They experience confusion over correct behavior.
•They experience psychosomatic complaints, i.e., stomachaches, headaches, stuttering, anxiety, fear, etc.
•They experience “night terrors” (waking up screaming in the night).
•They may wet the bed.
•They kill themselves more often than children who do not live with abuse.
•They are likely to repeat learned behaviors.
•They blame themselves for the violence or the inability to stop it and protect the victim parent.
•They often experience PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
•They are more likely to be victim of child physical and sexual abuse, most often by the abuser parent and less often by the victim.
•They are four times as likely to be arrested eventually.
•They are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs.
•They are more likely to engage in antisocial behavior.
•They are more likely to commit crime against other persons and sexual assaults.
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