Across the Nation, States Charge Inmates for Prison Costs

http://www.truthdig.com

Thanks to the war on drugs, increasingly harsh laws and lengthening sentences, the number of people behind bars in the United States has risen by roughly 700 percent since 1970. To make up for the rising costs of having over 2 million people in jail or prison, states have created “pay-to-stay” programs in which inmates can be charged for room, board and medical costs…  At least 49 states have their own versions of these programs…

In a 2008 study by the Urban Institute, researchers found only 31 percent of former inmates were able to secure steady employment within two months of their leaving prison. Many of them cited background checks into their criminal records as a major reason that they struggled to find employment.

According to the Brennan Center, more than $50 billion in criminal justice fees are owed—by a total of some 10 million people—and it’s likely that a sizable portion of that amount is from these pay-to-stay programs.

Though many states seek payments only from inmates who are believed to be able to pay, the center found that many former inmates had ended up dealing with collections agencies when they had trouble paying fees. Florida lets private collection agencies increase the original fee by 40 percent in pursuing payment…

The fees incurred aren’t just for the major expenses, but sometimes states seem to be charging inmates for nearly everything that they can think of. Inmates are often charged for each piece of clothing provided, the blankets for their beds, toilet paper and towels as well as simply for entering a parole program. These smaller fees can add up to make the total fee significantly larger.

The main problem with pay-to-stay programs is that they put the burden of paying for prisons on the poor. If a rich man ends up in prison for a few months and has to pay a fee, it won’t be a problem for him, but a poor man’s life could be ruined in the same situation. We are making laws to throw people in prison and then forcing them to pay when they come out…

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Is there a difference between physical and emotional pain?

I consider myself lucky that I’ve never been a victim of mental abuse.  Neither have I been a victim of domestic violence or rape.  But I have intimate and long-term knowledge of constant, physical pain and what that does to the brain.

I’ve also been lucky that I haven’t suffered from major depression, constant anxiety, or PTSD. Yet there are plenty of pain patients who suffer from these mental illnesses, whether it’s from chronic pain itself, or a history that might include some form of abuse.

But just because I’ve been lucky in these respects, that doesn’t mean I don’t fear that the pain will eventually drive me insane.  What will my brain do to keep me sane?  In the future, could I suffer from a disassociative disorder, or even schizophrenia?

Many doctors (and all insurance companies) don’t seem to grasp the fact that the brain treats emotional and physical pain in the same way.  It doesn’t matter to the brain if the pain is physical or mental, the human response is the same.  The medical industry thinks there’s a difference, claiming mental pain is subjective, while physical pain is objective.  But that’s only because they’ve found ways to measure physical pain, while measuring mental pain is in its infancy. And really, measuring physical pain is also in its infancy, as measurements like the 1 to 10 pain level test clearly illustrate.

I don’t believe that I suffer from more pain than someone who suffers from mental illnesses like drug addiction or depression.  Just like my pain can cause suicidal thoughts, so too can these mental illnesses.  While the drug war rages on, we may not discover if the treatments are the same for both physical and mental pain, but there’s enough of an overlap to believe that they can.

In fact, the medical industry’s lack of understanding of chronic pain is partially responsible for the increased rates of drug abuse and addiction.  Sure, it’s easy to prescribe pain medications to treat physical pain — after all, there’s “proof” that the pain exists.  But alone, these treatments don’t address the mental weight of dealing with constant, debilitating pain.  The same could be said for an illness like depression — just treating the depression doesn’t make up for not treating the physical pain that usually accompanies it.

The brain can’t tell the difference between mental and physical pain, so using treatments that dismiss one or the other will only be partially successful.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/body-sense/201204/emotional-and-physical-pain-activate-similar-brain-regions

This study was not done in order to promote acetaminophen and other analgesics as psychoactive drugs. Rather, the idea was to emphasize that over the course of evolution, our bodies decided to take the economy route and use a single neural system to detect and feel pain, regardless of whether it is emotional or physical. While it may be a good idea to take a pain reliever in the acute phase of feeling physical and emotional pain, no one is proposing this a long-term cure for dealing with hurt feelings and grief.

Pain, of course, is always both a physical and an emotional experience. If I stub my toe, in addition to the physical pain, I am likely to be also angry or disappointed with myself or with someone else who is convenient to blame (Why did you leave that box in the hallway where I couldn’t see it until I hurt myself? Now look what you’ve done!!)…

Poison

Violence and abuse create a huge blister on your soul. We can cover up that blister with things like drugs, food, numbness, and apathy — and by blaming ourselves, turning the poison inwards, creating feelings like shame.

We can create callouses and scar tissue to cover the blister, but the poison still remains. Our brains will try to see through the poison and scar tissue, trying to make sense of the pain, no matter how hard we try to block it. The results are suffering from anxiety, depression, and PTSD. It’s the brain’s way of saying, “Hey, the poison is still here!” You can only fool your brain for so long. And it’s very hard to function when our brain and our soul is full of poison and pain.

Who created the poison? The abuser. If we still have contact with them, the poison just grows and grows, making it harder to cover up. I don’t know how you could get rid of the poison without cutting off contact.

You deserve to free yourself of the poison. And the abuser deserves… not a damn thing.

(Photo taken 10/14/2014.)

10 States With the Most Gun Violence

http://247wallst.com/special-report/2015/06/10/10-states-with-the-most-gun-violence/2/

Like most states across the country, the largest proportion of gun-related deaths in New Mexico was attributable to suicide. The age-adjusted firearm suicide rate of 10.3 per 100,000 was the ninth highest rate in the country. New Mexico also had the highest death rate by legal intervention — deaths caused by police or other law enforcement officials — in the country. In general, New Mexico residents were exposed to a large number of crimes. The state reported 613 violent crimes per 100,000 residents, the second highest rate in the country. Low education levels and widespread poverty may partly explain the high gun violence and deaths. Nearly 22% of New Mexico’s population lived in poverty, substantially higher than the national poverty rate of 15.8%. Additionally, only 84.3% of adults had at least a high school diploma, the sixth lowest rate in the country.

Cold/heat therapy as a diagnostic tool

I suffer from both muscular and nerve pain.  It can be hard to tell the difference between the two, especially when the pain is constant. I use different types of cold/heat treatments and thought it was interesting to note that my nerve pain doesn’t like the heat (sometimes causing inflammation), while my muscular pain doesn’t like the cold (sometimes causing muscle spasms). And it seems to me that you could use cold and heat as a diagnostic tool — in a general way — to determine what kind of pain you suffer from.

I Went to a Texas Jail to Roast the Inmates

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-ross/incarceration-in-america_b_7568880.html

I recently roasted the inmates at a maximum-security jail in Texas. It was an intense and rare experience. No other jail or prison in America had the guts to let me in — not even in my native state of New Jersey. So when some brave men wearing white cowboy hats agreed to let this wise-cracking yankee come down there and insult the inmates, I was salivating. I’d been wanting to do something different, a new adventure. Criminals fascinate me. What are they really like? Why do they keep returning to jail in such large numbers? …

To prepare for my shows, I went down a few days early and talked to the inmates and the officers, tried the food and shot some hoops. I met a few really despicable people, but I also met some guys that deserve a second chance. Not everybody in jail is a bad person. Some are desperate. Some are crazy. Some are innocent. I even visited the “Shu” — a tiny rubber room. This is where people who act up are sent to “calm down.” Being in the “Shu” means having zero human interaction for indefinite periods of time; if you’re in there, you have to defecate through a hole in the floor. But, enough about my dressing room.

I admit I roasted these people for sheer entertainment purposes — but also to get myself a glimpse into the American prison system. It’s broken. We say we’re a free country but we lock up more people than anywhere else on Earth. Almost two MILLION American children have a parent locked up right now. We have more jails and prisons in America than colleges and universities. All this is still hard for me to comprehend. What’s happening in this country? Wayne Dicky, the jail administrator who proudly allowed me access to his facility, told me that American jails are de facto mental health facilities. Back in the seventies many psychiatric hospitals were shut down. Now all those people needing mental help wind up in jail instead. I freely walked around the cells and dorms and saw the insanity first hand. We tuck so many damaged people away and forget about them — like human dust. One admitted drug addict told me he’s come back to jail thirty-six different times just to “get clean.” When I hear stories like that, it’s no wonder the recitivicsim rates are so high.

For security reasons, I did two separate shows just for the guys. They were great crowds. No walkouts. I wrote an act specifically for them, “I bet some of you are locked up for possession of less marijuana than I have in my lungs right now.” …

After firing off a slew of slurs, I finally broke it down with an inked up Hispanic guy named “Insane” about his baby daughter. I asked him what he’d say to her right now if he could. He said, “I’d tell her ‘I miss her. Daddy be home soon.'” …

Brazos County Jail has about 600 male inmates and about 150 women. The men and women don’t mix. So I couldn’t resist a last minute invitation to perform for the ladies. I walked in, took hold of a woman’s hand and asked, “Have any of you been in here long enough to find me attractive?” …

I’ll never forget Big Mama Joe, Country, and a young funny lady who pulled out her ID and revealed her actual last name was “Hooker.” A woman named Shayna claimed to be locked up for stealing baby formula…

Weeks later, Wayne Dicky, the jail administrator, told me morale was still very high among his inmates, especially the women. He said, nobody had talked to them “as women” in a long time. Maybe my visit made his jailing job a little easier…

As I left, I realized just how lucky I am to be “outside in the free” as one inmate put it…

Study finds daily aspirin can block breast cancer growth

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/study-finds-daily-aspirin-can-block-breast-cancer-growth-061215.html

The trick, says Dr. Sushanta Banerjee, research director of the Cancer Research Unit at the Kansas City, Mo. Veterans Affairs Medical Center, is to ensure conditions around cancer stem cells aren’t conducive for reproduction, something aspirin seems able to do.

“In cancer, when you treat the patient, initially the tumor will hopefully shrink,” says Banerjee. “The problem comes 5 or 10 years down the road when the disease relapses.”

Cancer has stem cells, or residual cells. They can survive chemotherapy or other cancer treatment and go dormant until conditions in the body are more favorable for them to again reproduce. “When they reappear they can be very aggressive, nasty tumors,” Banerjee says…

“We found aspirin caused these residual cancer cells to lose their self-renewal properties,” says Banerjee. “Basically, they couldn’t grow or reproduce. So there are two parts here. We could give aspirin after chemotherapy to prevent relapse and keep the pressure on, which we saw was effective in both the laboratory and the mouse model, and we could use it preventatively.” …