Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pepper Spray... Doesn't Sound Too Bad to Me

In a blog titled "Open Minded Politics," the author writes:

Increased use of Pepper Spray in Youth Commission
Why is it we use violence to teach people to not be violent? To teach my daughter to be gentle and loving that is what I model to her. The Texas Youth Commission apparently disagrees. Teenagers who are incarcerated are now being pepper-sprayed more than ever before. This year there has been 1200 reports of teens being sprayed compared with last years 196. Two youth advocacy groups sued the agency and they are currently trying to come to an agreement on, how much is to much? Barry Krisberg is quoted saying," You're only going to get angrier, more alienated youths when you do this." I could not agree more! We need to teach these teens how to respond to a stressful situation calmly and peacefully. You can create boundaries and respect when that is what you give to them. Reacting to them in anger only reinforces that is how you are supposed to react. It is said they use the pepper spray on teenagers on suicide watch. They are clearly not in a good space why torture them more? It is like kicking them when they are down. Physical restraints were bringing more injuries to the youth and staff members, the use of the pepper spray has reduced these injuries. We are trading one form of violence for another. These kids have to be handled respectively to learn how to be respectful. Setting boundaries and rules can be done peacefully.We need to take a look at our egos in this situation. How much ego is involved when the decision is made to pepper spray? Guiding these teens toward a life of balance and healthy living should be our focus. http://www.statesman.com/news/content/region/legislature/stories/11/20/1120pepper.html

Although the author makes several good points, I do not completely agree with it. I do think that officers in correctional facilities, and those on the street, should use pepper spray. Most people that are in correctional facilities are in there for a reason. Not all may be dangerous, but when there are several inmates fighting and causing trouble, I think that pepper spray is necessary to get them under control. Think about it... When 5 grown men are fighting, you are not going to be able to just say, "Hey guys, let's stop fighting now. You are better than that." You are going to have to show them that you are in charge and that they cannot do this or they will be punished. Also, I think that pepperspray is a great alternative to tasers and guns.
I do think that the Texas Youth Commission is pepper spraying too much though. The number of sprayings went up drastically in just one year. But, in order to consider the number of sprayings, you also need to consider the number of fights and other behavior that is not allowed. I have always believed that when you do something wrong and you get punished, it will make you think of what will happen the next time you are going to do something wrong. For example, if a child breaks a bunch of dishes on purpose and all they get is a tiny slap on the wrist, they are going to think that they can do a little bit worse of things and not get in trouble for it or even do worse things and barely get in trouble for it.
The author said that correctional officers use pepper spray on suicidal inmates. I do not think that they should be allowed to do that. When a person is contemplating suicide, any little thing can push them over the edge.
When something occurs in a correctional facility, the officer should stop and think if using pepper spray would be the right way to correct the situation. (But when you think about it, pepper spray is the least violent tool that the officers have.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

To Shoot, or Not to Shoot...

Bog Stage Seven::

Here is a hypothetical question for you:
You look out your window and see three men breaking into your neighbor's house. You call the police, but the crooks are getting away before the cops get there and you are outside in you front lawn and they cut across it. Do you shoot? Do you have the right to shoot the burglars?

Well this wasn't a hypothetical situation for a 61 year old Pasadena resident, Joe Horn. After he heard glass breaking and saw three men breaking into his neighbor's house, he called 911 and grabbed his gun. He told the dipatcher that he had a gun and he wanted to stop them. The dispatcher begged him to stay inside the house and to put the gun away, but it was too late. Horn said, "I'm not going to let them get away with it." He also said that he knew the laws had changed in this state and he has to right to use deadly force to protect himself. so, he went out on his front lawn and fired at least two shots and killed two of the three burglars.

The question is: Did he have the right to shoot the burglars? They did not break into HIS house, but they did get on his property.

I believe that he did have the right to shoot because they did get on his property and he already felt threatened because they broke into the house next door. But, he should have listened to the dispatcher and not go outside. He should have let the police handle it, but he did not want them to get away before the police got there. Horn did give the burglars a warning that he was going to shoot. He yelled, "Move... You're dead!" And well, I guess they moved.

Texas introduced a new law that took affect that allows a person to use deadly force to protect their own property to stop arson, burglary, robbery, theft or criminal mischief at night. Also, it allows them to use deadly force if their life feels threatened. I agree with this law. A person should have the right to protect themselves with whatever means necessary.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

High Schools: How Can We Make Them Safe?

Blog Stage 6::

In a blog titled "The Second Hand from Desiree," the author writes:

"This past Wednesday, a Stony Point High School student was arrested for carrying nine knifes to school. Although his intentions were proven pure, the question still arises.... What can be done in order to further protect out students? When conducting an internet search of 2007 School Stabbings, more than half a million articles appear. As I read through the different articles, it is apparent that youth violence is on the rise, especially within the schools' doors. As I have toured many High Schools in the local area, there are still many without metal detectors and many more without security guards in the huge parking lots or in the hallways during and between class hours. I, personally, believe that our school districts should be providing proper funding allocated specifically for the protection and security of the students. There should be metal detectors at each entry door to the school and there should be security guards circulating the hallways and parking lots. I also believe that there should be hot-line numbers where people could call and report suspicious activity or illegal carrying of dangerous objects to school authorities without having to give a name. Those hot-line numbers should be made easily assessable to all students. I also believe that school doors should be locked within five minutes after the bell rings for classes to start. During the day, all doors should remained locked from the outside, with the exception of the front entry doors located by the office. This would assist in preventing outsiders, with a motive to harm, from entering the building unnoticed. Another topic worth addressing is the ability and allowance of students to carry cell phones while on school premises. I believe there should be rules and boundaries around the use of cell phones at school. For instance, the student should not be allowed to text or call any person unless it is a justified emergency. There should be consequences and punishments established for students who choose to violate those rules. But, I believe that students should be able to carry cell phones with them in the case of emergencies. In this day in time, there have been many schools that have had terrorist or shootings, and the use of a cell phone could become essential in the protection of the students. Recently, I watched details of a tragic event unfold on the Today Show. A girl was at school when a deranged boy interrupted the class and decided to hold a few of the students hostage (including the girl), threatening to kill them if they did not meet his demands. The girl somehow managed to reach her cell phone and text her parents a simple "I love you both." The standoff between the student and the police lasted for several hours. The boy killed all of the female students. The girl's parents were thankful for their daughter's last words. I truly believe that there should be some more preventative actions in place in the school district, as well as rules and consequences when those establishments are abused."

I personally believe with almost everything she says. She makes great points about how to keep public schools safe. One thing that I do not think would work though, is locking the doors inbetween classes. The high school that I attended was split into different buildings so if a student had to go to another class, they had to walk outside.

I agree that there should be metal detectors, but I do not think that it would work very well in certain schools because there are numerous entrances and the public school system cannot afford to purchase 20 for each school. I also agree with the author that cell phones need ot be allowed; not to call and text during classes, but in case of emergencies. I believe that the administrators should allow the phones to be turned on, but be on silent. In an emergency, every second matters. When a cell phone is off and has to be turned on, it takes up to a minute. That could be the difference between life and death.

In the high school I attended, we had a local police officer on the campus most of the time, but when he wasn't there, anything could have happened. In most schools, they have lockdowns to search for drugs, alcohol, and weapons. I think these searches are justified and help keep students from bringing illegal things to a place that should be safe. But, what I think is rediculous is that people can get in trouble for having a couple black-cat firecrackers loose in their vehicle or even a couple loose bullets that fell out when they were hunting. Just because they have a couple loose bullets, I don't think that they should get in trouble. People acutally use their vehicles for more things than just driving to school and home. I do not think that a person should be punished for having loose bullets or minor firecrackers in their vehicle (as long as there is nothing else that could be used with the other items found to hurt someone).

I just wish that when a student goes to school, they could feel safe. Now days, there aren't many places people can feel safe, but schools should be a place where children can.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Central Texas is Becoming Infected

In schools all around the country staph infections are spreading rapidly. Staph is a growing problem that is a sweeping the country. It is a form of methicillin-resistant staphylococus aureus, or MRSA. Staph is drug-resistant and potentially life threatening.

School districts in Central Texas are now noting how many cases are being reported. What has taken so long? In my hometown of Lockhart, staph has been around the high school for at least three years. Two of my good friends, Derek and Justin, have had staph so far; Derek has actually had it twice. Since getting the infection the second time, Derek has recently quit football, fearing that he may get it again.

Parents of students in Central Texas need to be informed that staph is present in their school. Each time an athlete has it, they report it to their coaches, so why hasn't anything been done sooner? The athletic departments are starting to sterilize lockers, showers, weight rooms, and equipment, but that won't be enough. The school district needs to inform parents and students about this infection before it claims the lives of more students. From my personal experences, Lockhart High School doesn't provide liquid soap. All that is in the restroom is bar soaps. That is not sanitary. If this infection is going to stop, we need the help of everyone... not just athletes who are directly affected.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

You're Welcome... If You're Legal

While looking for articles to write this blog about, I came over a number of articles about a Dallas suburb called Irving. In this town, citizens are trying to control the number of illegal immigrants. I completely agree with these people. Honestly, I do not see why LEGAL immigrants, or even US born Hispanics are upset about the US not wanting illegal immigrants. If illegal immigrants were not here, maybe police and even employers would stop profiling Hispanics.
Some Hispanics think that 'Whites' don't like illegal immigrants just because they are Hispanic. I'm sorry, but the 20th century is gone. The reason AMERICANS don't like illegal immigrants is because they are ILLEGAL! Join the country legally and you are more than welcome to be my neighbor.
In an article titled, "Passionate Protestors on Both Sides of Immigration Debate Turn Out in Irving," it states what happened on October 13, 2007, when protesters and supporters of the Criminal Alien Program marched to the steps of City Hall. The Criminal Alien Program allows police officers to turn suspected illegal immigrants over to federal authorities.
The quote that stuck out the most to me was said by Julio Arellano. He said, "Back then, black people were being arrested all the time. Black people weren't allowed to drink from water fountains. I feel that's what's happening now." I do not agree with his statement. Yes, in the past, African Americans were not allowed to drink out of the same water fountain as Whites, but no one is doing that to Hispanics or illegal immigrants. The only thing we want is for the illegals to go home.
Although I do not agree that illegal immigrants should be here, I do not agree with what one supporter of the CAP said. "Our government has not kept to its oath to protect us from invasion," said the group's president, Jean Towell. I do not believe that it is an 'invasion.' I do think that something does need to be done though.
Something needs to be done, but when will any two races agree on the same thing?


Monday, October 1, 2007

Over Aggressive Cops?

Back in November of 2006, Corporal Thomas O'Connor of the Austin Police Department stun gunned a 32 year old man after pulling him over for a minor traffic violation. After Eugene Snelling questioned why he was being pulled over, O'Connor ordered him out of the car and used his taser after only 45 seconds.

This subject is very touchy to me personally because my boyfriend was actually tasered by this same police officer. He was tasered on Guadelupe Street for 'giving a false name,' even though it was his real name. That isn't even the worst part... At the time, he was 15, hand cuffed and feet cuffed, and sitting on the curb. This officer has a reputation for being over aggressive and needs to be taken off the street.

In this article, it says that O'Conner says that this was his first time firing the weapon, but the truth is, this was at least his second time. Also, he says that he feared that Snelling was going to push him into traffic. If he was scared, he shouldn't have gone to the driver's side of the car that was closest to the traffic.

In one part of the article it says that Cheif Art Acevedo was troubled by the officer's quick use of his taser on Snelling, who is black, and by internal affairs detectives' decision that O'Connor, who is white, had done nothing wrong by using the weapon. I do not agree with the observation. I do not believe that O'Conner was targeting Snelling because he was black. My boyfriend recieved the same reactions from O'Connor as Snelling did even though he is white.

Over aggressive and arrogant police officers do not help any situation, they just make them worse. When you get pulled over you are already upset, and having a prick for a cop does not make anything better. APD needs to realize what kind of cops they have and do something about it. Personally, I am glad to see Cheif Acevedo come to Austin. He seems to be trying to make an effort to get Austinites and APD get along.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

When someone is taken to jail, police officers usually say, "This is for your own safety." But what happens when you pass out and none of the jail officers notice? This happened to Sarah Trevino and it cost her her life. She was arrested in Caldwell County after the annual Watermelon Thump for suspicion of public intoxication.

After Trevino's autopsy, the medical examiner concluded that her alcohol blood level was only .03, less than half of Texas' DWI limit is. She also had traces of Xanax and two narcotic pain relievers.

In my opinion, this article is worth reading because it lets the public know what can happen behind the bars of jail. Don't think that just because someone you love is in there means that they are safe. The Caldwell County officers should have checked on this woman more and not had to of have another inmate tell them that she passed out and was turning blue. The police officers' actions, or should I say the lack there of, does not justify anyone abusing prescription drugs and alcohol, but it should raise awareness on what can happen inside the Texas jails.