first_imgTriple platinum artist, Waka Flocka Flame performed in front of a sold out B.B. King’s crowd to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy on Thursday, in celebration of his “No Hands” single, which amassed 3 million in total sales.A plethora of artists (Swizz Beatz, Maino, Wooh Da Kid, Wyclef, Erick Sermon, and Raekwon) performed sets of their past and present hits to the engaging crowd. Records such as “Ruff Ryders Anthem”, “C.R.E.A.M”, “Incarcerated Scarfaces, and “Music” took the 90’s generation-based crowd on a walk down memory lane.Waka’s introduction for the night came courtesy of Swizz Beatz, prior to performing smash hits such as “Round Of Applause” and “Hard In The Paint”. The crowd sang in unison with Waka as this performance neared its finale.last_img read more

By Abdellatif LabkadriRabat – This article seeks to approach the topic under study from a linguistic vantage-point, namely that of linguistic determinism whose argument is as follows: The way a language is organized will determine how we perceive the world being used. That is, our language will give us a ready-made system of categorizing what we perceive; and as a consequence, we will be led to perceive the world around us only in those categories. 1- Definitions of the proverb:Proverbs exist in all human languages, for they, like other oral traditions, reflect people’s values, the way they think, and their attitudes towards their surroundings. Proverbs have high-frequency usage in many Arab and African countries as they are deemed to be vital devices through which wisdom is expressed. According to the Oxford Word dictionary (1999), a proverb is “A short well-known sentence or phrase that gives advice or general truth about life.” This definition is developed, somehow, in the electronic Oxford Dictionary (2000) which defines a proverb as “A short pithy saying in common and recognized use; a concise sentence, often metaphorical or a literal in form, held to express some general truth.Similarly, Some English dictionaries give definitions to proverbs, for example: “Proverbs arethe wisdom of the streets” and ” Proverbs are the children of experience.”Wolfgang  Mieder (1999) made an interesting survey, asking fifty-five ordinary people to write their own definition of the proverb on a piece of paper. The following definition is constructed on the basis of words that occur from four to twenty times in the collected definition:“A proverb is a short, generally known sentence of folk which contains wisdom, truth, morals, and traditional view in a metaphorical, fixed memorizable form and which is handed down from generation to  generation .”Though there is no definite agreement about the definition of the proverb, there is a general consensus about the elements that comprise a proverb, and the fact that proverbs exist in all languages. It is impossible to find a nation with no proverbs.2- The Trouble Maker:“Who does not have problems, his wife creates them for him” and “Who follows women will achieve no success”. These two samples of proverbs are used frequently in the Moroccan vernacular (Darija). In fact, both of them denote the inferior status of the female gender due to women’s supposed tendency to create troubles and problems. Again, another saying that serves the same purpose is “Women are crooked and not straight”. The three statements, we have seen so far, epitomize the cultural bias against Moroccan women on the whole. To add insult to injury, a further saying,  representing a religious belief, is; “Woman was responsible for man’s fall from paradise”. This belief is predominant in the mentality of men as well as of women. People maintain that it is a divine truth that is given by God in the Holy Quran. Yet, this view is downright untrue. Instead, it is a mere falsehood promoted by cultural bias. The Quran nullifies this bias story in the following verse “then did Satan make them slip from the garden and get them out of the state (of felicity) in which they had been” (Bakara 35). Using the dual pronoun in the verse demonstrates that Adam and Eve are equally guilty and responsible for breaking the divine orders. Put differently, God portrays man and woman as equal without a distinction between one another. They are both responsible for their wrong and good deeds. Nevertheless, the laymen distort and misinterpret the sacred beliefs to fit their cultural needs, in which the male mentality is dominating and superior to that of women.             3- Women and SexualityAmong the proverbs which mirror the status of women as a sexual object in the Moroccan society is the following “a woman without children is like a tent without pegs”. To put this saying in its original context, it should be borne in mind that it is the kind of proverbs handed down from generation to generation, or precisely, from a mother to a daughter. It goes back to the pre-Islamic era when barren women were marginalized and disregarded for their sterility. This dark era was also shadowed by some evil deeds particularly in the Arab peninsula where girls were buried alive. To top it all, the Jewish traditions and the Talmudic teachings recommend that believers keep away from the women who are not able to give birth to children. They consider them as inferior to their fertile peers.Coming back to the starting point, the proverb draws a simile on one hand between a woman and a tent; and on the other between children and pegs. Indeed, the term, tent, is not randomly chosen, but it symbolizes the ancient Arab home. It is also known that pegs are the supports by which the tent is maintained and kept still in stormy weather. Similarly, a sterile woman within a traditional family background can not be safe vis-à-vis a fertile one.This pushes me to conclude that the proverb under study clearly represents the role of women in the Moroccan society. Their function is just to produce children in the first place as chickens produce eggs. This, in fact, demonstrates the bias image of women in the eyes of a patriarchal society whose prioritized criteria are sexuality and fertility.    4 – Women and ReliabilityThis section aims to expose a new facet of bias against the Moroccan women. Actually, the data collected, proverbs, question the reliability of women. In other words, some sayings recommend us not to trust women at all. A case in point is “women’s malice is mighty”. This statement is very common not only in the Moroccan society but also in all over the Arab world. The saying is utilized whenever the speaker wants to refer to women’s power to make evil. That is, a woman has the ability to harm and achieve whatever, whoever, whenever and wherever she wants.Tracing back this statement to look for its spring, I find out a Quranic verse, “…your malice is mighty” (Joseph, 29). Nonetheless, the laymen incorrectly interpret this verse without full grasp, not only it’s meaning but also to its context. To expound this matter further, we should consider the exact background of the verse. “ ..Your malice is mighty” are not God’s words, even though they exist in the Holy Book. Instead, it is a reported statement told by “Al Aziz”, the husband of “Zolikha”, the woman who attempted to seduce the prophet “Joseph”. Indeed, laypeople often do not differentiate between what is said by God Himself and what is reported by God about others. Thus, the use of this proverb which conveys religious proof r is a false pretext behind which the unfair cultural bias hides. Unfortunately, this statement is still in use among Moroccans in as much as they are in need of it to transmit a negative message about women; and therefore, listeners or readers are invited to perceive that the further one comes close to women, the more unsafe he will be and vice versa. In a nutshell, our language in general and proverbs, in particular, depict and shape our mindset, so we must be careful when we choose to express ourselves using words, simply because these words will be thoughts which will be beliefs which turn into acts. read more

OSU senior center Jacoby Boren (50) blocks during a game against Illinois on Nov. 14 at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois. OSU won 28-3. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead | Photo EditorAll things considered, Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer was relatively pleased with his team’s 28-3 victory over Illinois on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Illinois.His starting quarterback, redshirt sophomore J.T. Barrett, was back in the lineup after a one-game suspension. His star running back, junior Ezekiel Elliott, continued his Heisman-worthy season and moved into third place in school history for career rushing yards. And on the other side of the ball, his defense smothered the Fighting Illini, allowing just three points.Despite all of the aforementioned accomplishments, Meyer said he wanted to see his team be a little more balanced, and he knows how that will occur.“That starts right now with pass protection,” he said on Saturday, following the win. “That’s the only negative.”Meyer said in the upcoming week, the Buckeyes are going to work “extremely hard” to fix the issues in pass protection, especially because they need to protect Barrett in the pocket, which didn’t happen enough against Illinois.As a result, the passing game was not nearly as dynamic as it had been in the past.“I wouldn’t call it exceptional, because I think he got pressured a little bit,” Meyer said of Barrett’s performance.Barrett only threw for a 150 yards and one touchdown, with an interception.The interception, however, is a perfect example of why the cracks in the pass protection need to be sealed before the Michigan State Spartans arrive in Columbus on Saturday.With the third quarter nearing an end, OSU was in the midst of an eight-play, 51 yard drive well into Illini territory.On second down, Barrett dropped back to pass, but the pocket quickly crumbled. As the redshirt sophomore tried to find redshirt senior Nick Vannett across the middle, his elbow was hit, which caused the ball to look more like a floating feather than an actual throw.It landed right in the arms of junior safety and Hilliard, Ohio, native Caleb Day, who returned it 19 yards.The pressure was applied by junior Carroll Phillips, who was supposed to be blocked on the play by redshirt sophomore left guard Billy Price.“I went to pull, and he came faster than what I was ready for,” Price said describing the play. “I took a step back to regain my balance to able to take him out, and by that time, I was already in J.T.’s lap.”Price credited Carroll with making the play, but while talking about the sequence, he was visibly disappointed with himself in allowing the deflection to happen.One area where Price is not disappointed, however, is in run blocking, evidenced by how the offensive line routinely clears gaping holes for Elliott to run through. The St. Louis native turned in his 15th consecutive game of over 100 yards rushing on Saturday by tallying 181 yards with two touchdowns.“Us, as the offensive line, we really do enjoy blocking for (Elliott),” Price said. “That’s what we love to do.”But, to find the balance of creating running lanes fit for a semitrailer truck to drive through and a sturdy pocket for Barrett to pass behind will not happen overnight, according to Price.Fixing pass protection, Price said, is extremely difficult because it is hard to highlight one thing as the definitive issue.“It’s something you just have to continue to improve,” he said. “It’s a craft. It’s not just something like run blocking where you can just go slug somebody. It’s an artform.”But, this week and beyond, Price said the O-line will work diligently to develop its art further. It’s what the “Slobs” have to do for the offense to strike the necessary balance.“You have to develop that skill,” he said. “It’s something that, over time, you just have to continue to get better and that’s something that we can constantly work on.”Senior left tackle Taylor Decker agreed, adding that the Buckeyes can’t just run the ball “40 times” a game and expect to keep winning. Fixing the pass protection before Michigan State arrives in Columbus for its scheduled game against OSU on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. is imperative, Decker said.“It’s something we’ll have to work on,” he said. “Michigan State has some very good pass rushers.”Meyer is confident, though, that all the work the offensive line puts forth will pay off because of the talent the unit already possesses.“They’re good enough,” he said. “That’s the challenge I will have for our coaches. It’s not just them. We’re going to hammer (pass protection) hard this week.” read more

first_imgSouth Africa’s Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) and global mining group De Beers have agreed that, following full consultation with affected parties, the West Coast operations of government-owned Alexkor and De Beers Consolidated Mines’ (DBCM) Namaqualand Mines will be amalgamated into a new, stand alone diamond mining company. They expect this independent and empowered company tol be well-positioned to capitalize on synergies that exist across both operations and will realise the full economic potential of the West Coast diamond mining industry. As a first step in this process, De Beers will be issuing, through a special purpose vehicle, a 20% stake in its Namaqualand Mines to the DME. It is expected that the process of consolidating these assets will be concluded in 2008 and thereafter the option of a listing may be fully examined by the operator of this new company. It is not De Beers’ intention to be the operator of this company and De Beers will dilute its stake over time. Furthermore, as part of the agreement, De Beers will, with appropriate firewalls, make its management, technical expertise and assets available to the DME for the next three years to facilitate the start up of the State Diamond Trader. This further cements De Beers’ commitment to play a constructive leadership role in the diamond industry by encouraging industry growth and facilitating broad BEE ownership and competition within the diamond sector in South Africa. Nicky Oppenheimer, Chairman of the De Beers Group: “Throughout our global operations, De Beers’ competitive advantage is in our ability to engage in real and lasting partnerships with governments, ensuring that diamonds continue to help diamond producing countries, like South Africa, to build a more prosperous future.” De Beers remains focused on implementing its R2.2 billion capital investment programme in building new mines in South Africa. SASA (South African Sea Areas) project and Voorspoed mine in the Free State are expected to be operational in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Other capital investments in growth projects include significant investment in its world class assets, Finsch and Venetia mines, as well as funding of new exploration activities to find the diamond mines of the future in South Africa. “This announcement represents an important step forward for the communities along the West Coast, the people of South Africa and De Beers who will all benefit from a consolidated mining operation founded in the spirit of partnership,” said the Minister of Minerals and Energy, the honourable Ms Buyelwa Sonjica. The Minister further stated that she appreciates the spirit that the DME and the De Beers Group are building for the success of the diamond industry in South Africa. Minister Sonjica believes that this will have a positive impact on the South African diamond market. David Noko, Managing Director of DBCM: “In addition to our growth strategy, we intend to accelerate our transformation drive and continue to contribute to the development of a sustainable diamond industry in South Africa. This agreement will provide real opportunities for a new BEE company in the diamond sector to help meet Government’s aspirations for a transformed South African diamond industry.”last_img read more

first_imgWOULD YOU CLASS the Boxty – the popular potato based savoury pancake to be on par with French champagne or Italy’s Parma Ham?This very question is up for debate tonight at a public meeting in Cavan this evening.The meeting is being organised by Independent MEP Marian Harkin in response to approaches by artisan producers in Cavan and surrounding counties who have voiced interest in securing it EU ‘Protected Geographical Indication’ (PGI) status.You may giggle, but it’s not inconceivable as the European Commission awarded the terms “Waterford Blaa” and “Blaa” a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).CampaignThe campaign to have Blaas – a floury bap – protected took nearly two years, but they were successful last November.Boxty could be the latest Irish specialty to join a long list on the Database of Origin and Registration, the European database of protected produce, which includes Clare Island Salmon, Irish Salmon, Connemara Hill lamb, Timoleague Brown Pudding Pudding and Imokilly Regato.Food consultant Muiris Kennedy, who advised the Waterford ‘Blaa’ producers in securing the valuable EU ‘Protected Geographical Indication’ (PGI) status for their bread product, will lead discussion at tonight’s debate.“This meeting will afford an opportunity to examine how small producers may group together in their common interest and ensure the best possible outcome from the new Artisan Food Co-operation Scheme. The discussion will also ensure that the producers of ‘Boxty’ are fully informed on the steps necessary to secure PGI status for that regionally produced food product”, Marian Harkin MEP concluded.The public meeting will be held in the Cavan Crystal Hotel tonight at 7.30pm.Related: The “Waterford blaa” is now a protected term>last_img read more

first_imgCharity single in memory of Jo Cox aiming for Christmas number one It will raise funds for the Jo Cox Foundation, which was set up after the MP’s murder in June. 10,548 Views By Órla Ryan Tweet thisShare on FacebookEmail this article Share162 Tweet Email Nov 30th 2016, 10:42 PM Image: PAcenter_img Wednesday 30 Nov 2016, 10:42 PM Jo Cox Short URL 24 Comments A CHARITY SINGLE in memory of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox is aiming to be the Christmas number one in the UK.Musicians including Kaiser Chiefs frontman Ricky Wilson, David Gray and KT Tunstall all sing on the track, a cover of the Rolling Stones’ You Can’t Always Get What You Want.The recording is being produced by Sade’s record producer Robin Millar, with 25 MPs from across the political spectrum joining in the choir.It will raise funds for the Jo Cox Foundation, which was set up after the mother-of-two’s death.Paying tribute, Gray told Sky News Cox was “someone you could believe in” during an “era of public disenchantment that has seen politics discredited by corruption scandals and characterised by political campaigns driven by hateful and divisive language”. Parliamentary rock group MP4 with Ricky Wilson and producer Robin Millar CBE. Source: MP4Cox (41), who campaigned in favouring of Britain remaining in the EU, was murdered by far-right supremacist Thomas Mair days before the Brexit referendum in June.Mair was sentenced to life in prison last week.Read: Far-right extremist Thomas Mair will die in jail after he’s handed life sentence for Jo Cox murderRead: “Jo would ask us not to fight with hate, but draw together”: Funeral of Labour MP Jo Cox draws thousands Jo Cox Image: PAlast_img read more

first_imgIn this week’s episode of Clark Talks, The Columbian’s weekly podcast, hosts Katie Gillespie and Dameon Pesanti break down early child care in Clark County and offer an update from Olympia.To lead off the podcast, Marissa Harshman talks about her recent report on child care availability in Clark County, and the group discusses the Columbian’s new occasional series, “Early Years,” which explores early childhood education.Lauren Dake then brings you an Olympia update with Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, who stopped by to talk about what’s happening in Olympia — and about a measure she worked on this session that would have created standards for student loan servicers. The bill was dubbed the Student Loan Bill of Rights.Gillespie and Pesanti then discuss upcoming weekend events, including:• 20th Annual Dance Festival, 7 p.m. Friday, Skyview High School, 1300 N.W. 139th St., Vancouver; free.• Clark Public Utilities Home & Garden Idea Fair, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, Ridgefield; Free, $6 for parking. read more

first_img Dan Cohen AUTHOR A policy change implemented in 2015 that gradually reduced the rate of increase in service members’ basic allowance for housing (BAH) has affected the finances of some privatized housing projects, but DOD has not fully assessed the impact on the future sustainment of each project, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The change has increased out-of-pocket housing costs for service members by one percentage point a year since 2015. But rents charged by the owners of privatized housing are tied to the BAH payments received by service members, resulting in a drop in revenue at certain projects. (Increases in out-of-pocket housing costs are slated to end in 2019 when they each 5 percent, under the fiscal 2016 defense authorization bill.)In 2015, the military departments prepared estimates of the effect of the reduction in BAH on their privatized housing portfolios:the Army projected an average decrease in long-term sustainment accounts of $104 million per project through 2039;the Navy projected a decrease in long-term sustainment accounts across its portfolio of $2 billion; andthe Air Force projected a decrease of $48 million per year across its portfolio.But because DOD did not direct the military departments to include information that would detail the extent of impacts on the sustainment of each project, those reports do not enable defense officials to identify and respond to specific risks, GAO found.  Without a more complete assessment, DOD “may not be well positioned to reduce any risks and meet their objective of providing quality housing for service members,” the agency concluded.The Army has a policy allowing individual projects to request permission to charge service members their out-of-pocket costs, but it prefers they do not. As of August 2017, none of the Army’s 35 projects had begun charging soldiers rent in excess of their BAH payment. The Air Force and the Navy do not allow developers to charge the out-of-pocket amount.GAO made eight recommendations, including that DOD improve the consistency and timeliness of the information reported on the financial condition of its privatized housing projects, and fully assess the effects of the reductions in BAH. DOD concurred with each recommendation and identified actions it will take to implement them, according to the report.last_img read more

first_imgMichelle Konig Works on a Qaspeq with Annie Woods. (Photo by Daysha Eaton, KYUK – Bethel)One Alaska Native woman is putting a new spin on the traditional qaspeq. Michelle Konig uses stretchy fabric and a unique pattern to make the modern qaspeqs. With a label under her own name, the designer can barely keep up with orders and is now traveling around the state teaching others to make her designs.Download AudioAt the last minute, Michelle Konig decided to sew a batch of qaspeqs to sell at Camai Dance festival to make a little extra money for a trip to California.“I made the traditional qaskpek a little bit too small for an adult and I decided to add, I called it stretchy fabric at the time, but it’s jersey knit.”She ripped side seams out and added a panel of the jersey material. She also made some other alterations.“Instead of using qaspeq fabric for the sleeves I decided to also use the jersey knit for the sleeves along with the waistband and instead of hood, I decided to make a cowl.”A qaspeq is a lightweight parka or over shirt worn by Alaska Native women and men, usually a cotton tunic with an oversized pocket and a hood. The garment was originally made of animal skin or gut and was worn over a fur parka to keep it clean.As stores became more common in remote bush villages Natives began making them out of calico grain sacks. They are now generally made from cotton material.Konig often uses batik material and heathered knits and embroiders instead of using rickrack trim, creating a more tailored silhouette than a traditional qaspeq.Konig grew up in Bethel but now lives in Kenai. She balances her designer qaspeq business with raising three kids. She learned to sew at a young age and remembers drawing clothes as a child. But she wasn’t always a pro.“My first time makin’ a qaspeq was probably in the 3rd grade with my Yup’ik teacher. And I thought I’d be quick. It was a torso piece and she wanted us to sew the top and the sides but leave the hole opening for the arms, which I didn’t do. Instead, I made (laughs) a tube so … She looked at my sewing and started laughing and said, ‘how are you gonna put your arms through!’”But with practice she got better. And then one day when she was 21 and her grandmother was teaching her to make qaspeq something happened.“It never really came to me that making clothing would be my career until I had my grandmother teach me the first time using a sewing machine and making a qaspeq.”Her grandmother wanted to do it the traditional way, but Konig had other ideas. Lots of them. Those ideas coalesced under pressure as she created her modern day qaspek prototype that day at the Camai craft sale.Once people started seeing her original designer qaspeq around her hometown of Bethel, word spread and orders started trickling in. She says she doesn’t really had to advertise and does a lot of custom orders through facebook. Since starting her business last fall, she she’s had around a hundred orders and had to hire another seamstress to keep up. She hopes her story encourages other women to start their own businesses.“I feel like I’m inspiring other women to experiment with their crafts, also to get their name out there because of their unique idea.”Konig is now in the process of patenting her modern qaspeq pattern and she’s developing her own clothing line. She’s working on a website with hopes to eventually have a storefront in Anchorage. Konig is now touring around Alaska teaching people to make her modern qaspeq.last_img read more

first_imgThe average number of kids held in the detention center charged with minor offenses such as trespass, theft and violating probation — things that some experts say shouldn’t land kids behind bars at all — increased by 64 percent from 2010 to 2017. Meanwhile, the average number held for violent crimes like armed robbery and rape, called “felonies against persons,” increased by about 46 percent. Minor offenders were locked up in the detention center for an average of nearly three weeks in 2017, twice as long as in 2010. Michael Stravato for The Texas TribuneThe Harris County Juvenile Justice Center in downtown Houston. The youth detention center has been overcrowded for years.Throughout Texas, it’s clear: Even as the state’s population has skyrocketed in recent years, kids are getting into a lot less trouble with the law.Prosecutors are filing fewer criminal charges against them. Statewide, juvenile prisons are holding fewer youth. And counties are keeping fewer kids in detention while they wait for their cases to get resolved.So why has the the juvenile detention center in Harris County been bursting at the seams?Just like the rest of the state, Harris County has seen fewer juveniles enter the criminal justice system over the past decade. Yet the population of the 210-cell juvenile detention center, which mostly holds kids between 10 and 16 years old who have not yet been convicted of a crime, has spiked in recent years.Last year, an average of close to 300 kids stayed there each day, up from just over 160 a few years back. The population spike has forced some youth to sleep in common areas, in portable beds that look like little plastic boats, and last year an average of two dozen kids had to be held in a separate building because the detention center was too full.That’s put an enormous strain on the staff there, officials say. Fights break out more often, and kids get a lot less individual attention during school hours.“Harris County is bucking the trend,” said Michele Deitch, an attorney and senior lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin who specializes in Texas juvenile justice policy. “All around the country, and certainly all around the state, the numbers are down in detention.“The need for the beds just isn’t there anymore,” Deitch said. “So the idea that this one county is experiencing an increase … that should raise a lot of questions.”The overcrowding affects kids and families far beyond the Houston area: It is one reason lawmakers decided not to raise the age of adult criminal responsibility in Texas from 17 to 18 last year. Seventeen-year-olds accused of crimes in Texas are usually sent to an adult county jail; the “raise the age” bill would have made them part of the juvenile justice system instead.Harris County’s juvenile probation chief, Tom Brooks, said the detention center’s overcrowding is mostly due to “a high number of egregious offenders” — kids accused of crimes like armed robbery and assault — who often stay in detention longer.Brooks added that the county has worked hard to stop unnecessarily locking up kids. Last year, nearly 2,000 fewer kids were booked into detention compared to 2010, according to county data. The ones that are left “actually are here for a legitimate reason, and their due process takes longer,” Brooks said.But data obtained by The Texas Tribune — along with interviews with experts, parents and advocates — suggest there’s more to the story. Local officials might blame the overcrowding on bad kids, but experts say it’s more about a bad system in Harris County, where local officials plan to build a new juvenile detention center at an estimated cost of $65-70 million.The data from Harris County’s juvenile probation department shows: From 2010 to 2017, the average number of African-American youth held in the juvenile detention center more than doubled, and the number detained despite being labeled “low risk” has increased by 75 percent.center_img Experts say this is an unusual trend when it comes to juvenile justice. It’s becoming widely accepted that imprisoning kids — and even adults — for low-level crimes is probably doing more harm than good. Taking someone away from their home and school for a minor offense like shoplifting, and placing them alongside those accused of far more serious crimes, is bad for the child and for society, they say.“Anytime you disrupt the kids’ routine, you take them out of the home, away from whatever stable influences they have … It’s not a good situation,” Deitch said. She added that the Harris County data suggests “there’s something very punitive going on.”Michael Schneider, one of the judges who handles juvenile delinquency cases in Harris County, expressed concern after seeing the data. “Why is the increase in detention greater than the increase in violent crime?” he asked.Paul Holland, an associate law professor at Seattle University who studies national juvenile justice policy, called what’s happening in Harris County “alarming.” He said the trend in detention there can’t just be blamed on an increase in violent crime; local decisions are probably having an impact, too.“It really does seem like it’s a system thing and not a kid thing,” Holland said.  “There’s a presumption against locking them up”Texas is one of just a handful of states that still prosecutes 17-year-olds as adults and sends them to adult jails and prisons. There’s a growing movement to change that, but Harris County’s overcrowded juvenile detention center has made some lawmakers hesitate.Last year nearly two-thirds of the Texas House of Representatives, including some of the state’s most conservative lawmakers, voted to place 17-year-olds in the juvenile justice system starting in 2021. But the idea went nowhere in the state Senate.John Whitmire, a Democrat from Houston who is chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, opposed the legislation. He said the state needs to reform its juvenile justice system before making such a big change. He also citedHarris County’s overcrowded juvenile detention center: “Harris County cannot absorb 17-year-olds unless we have a plan.”Brooks, the Harris County juvenile probation chief, is against the idea, too — for “fiscal reasons as well as philosophical reasons,” he said in an interview with the Tribune last year. In a separate interview, he also said his juvenile detention center already has many “sophisticated and streetwise” teenagers and that he can’t afford an influx of 17-year-olds from the adult jail.But some say this argument is misleading. Most 17-year-olds in Texas end up in adult jail for low-level offenses such as marijuana possession and theft, according to a report released last year by advocates who want to raise the age of criminal responsibility. If the state instead decided to send them into the juvenile justice system, “there’s a presumption against locking them up” at all, said Deitch, the UT-Austin expert.Experts and advocates, along with Deitch, also think Harris County shouldn’t use its overcrowded detention center as an excuse to argue against change. They said the county should dig into its own data to figure out why there’s overcrowding, and how to fix it. Instead, to their dismay, the county is building a new detention center, which is expected to open in 2020 with hundreds more beds.Brooks said Harris County has no other choice: The juvenile justice system is seeing more and more mentally ill kids who have nowhere else to get help.“If we could come up with more mental health resources,” it might be possible to lower the detention center’s population, he said. But given state funding cuts, “I don’t see that getting any better.”Across Harris County, Brooks said, there’s a lack of beds for troubled youth  — not just those who haven’t been convicted of a crime yet, but also “post-adjudication” juveniles whose cases have been finalized but need services like substance abuse rehab or mental health treatment — and it can take time to find them a place to get the help they need. Last year, an average of 35 kids per day stayed in the detention center while they waited for services.Whitmire said he believes, like Brooks, that “we’re dealing with a very tough group of kids and it’s driving up the numbers in Harris County. They appear to have larger numbers of violent, youthful offenders.”He was surprised to hear that the number of kids in detention for misdemeanors and violations of probation has also increased sharply. Perhaps those kids already had a criminal record before their latest offense, he pointed out.If not, “you don’t need to lock them up,” Whitmire said. “You lock up the people that you’re afraid of, not the ones you’re mad at.”“Is that the best way to teach the lesson?”Some advocates have compared the situation at Harris County’s juvenile detention center to what’s happening in its adult jail. The jail has been at the center of a lawsuit over keeping poor people behind bars for days or weeks simply because they can’t afford to bail themselves out.There’s no bail in the juvenile justice system; instead, the probation department is the first to decide to detain kids, and judges regularly check in afterward. But research suggests that even just a few days in detention can increase kids’ chances of getting into more trouble later.“I just feel like they’re getting those kids ready to really go to jail,” said Ikeyraura Shorts, whose now 16-year-old son spent weeks in the Harris County juvenile detention center last year after getting into a fight at school. “They’re just setting those babies up for the penitentiary.”Michael Stravato for the Texas TribuneIkeyraura Shorts at her home in Houston. She says her now 16-year-old son was locked up for weeks in Harris County’s juvenile detention center after he got into a fight at school.After Shorts’ son was arrested, the county’s probation department would have used its own special scoring tool to decide whether he should be locked up. The department would consider factors like whether he’d been accused of something violent and whether he had a criminal history.If he scored an eight or lower, he would be considered “low risk,” which means he should generally be sent home. A score of 15 or higher would almost certainly land him in detention.There’s no way to know what score Shorts’ son got, because those records aren’t public. But Shorts said he’d never been accused of anything worse than a misdemeanor, so he probably would have been considered low risk. Yet he ended up in detention for more than two weeks.The idea of the scoring system is to avoid human biases, like racial stereotyping. But officials can still ignore low scores and detain a juvenile anyway — and data shows that’s exactly what’s happened in recent years. From 2010 to 2017, the number of juveniles detained despite having a low score increased by 63 percent.Brooks, the juvenile probation chief, did not appear to be familiar with this data until the Tribune showed it to him last year.“Anecdotally, I would probably attribute it to mental health,” he said. “We’re just getting younger and younger, very sick kids.”Shorts said detention did her son more harm than good. Each time she made the 45-minute drive to visit her son three days a week, he looked “really distressed,” she recalled. “All he did was sit up and [say], ‘I’m not going home. I’m not going home. I’m not going home. I’m gonna be here for real.’”Brooks insisted that the department is following its scoring system whenever possible, but sometimes there are factors beyond anyone’s control. According to county data, the most common reason low-risk kids got locked up last year was that there were active warrants out for their arrest.An active warrant may sound serious, but a lot of times all it means is that a kid missed a court date. And if those kids later get picked up by police, Harris County’s policy is to detain them, no matter what.That’s what happened to Diane McCoy’s son. Facing misdemeanor charges for a fight at school, the now 14-year-old was picked up by police on his way home from basketball practice last year after he missed court. The fight had happened two years earlier, McCoy said, and she’d lost track of the court date.The day after he ended up in juvenile detention, McCoy and her mother drove to the detention center downtown and begged a judge to release him. “It’s really my fault, I forgot about the court date,” McCoy told the judge as her son stood in the front of the courtroom in handcuffs and his grandmother sobbed. He was released.Counties across the country lock up kids for this reason. But many people think it’s unnecessarily harsh, including Schneider, the Harris County juvenile judge.“I can’t tell you how many times probation comes to me and they tell me, there was a kid who missed court last week because his mom couldn’t give him a ride,” Schneider said. “You don’t want to punish a child and subject them to being locked up if the problem is that their parents have zero transportation options.”Some large counties have changed their tactics when it comes to warrants. In Cook County, Illinois — where Chicago is located — judges can issue an “alternative warrant” to kids who miss court, which doesn’t force police to lock them up. A similar system is in place in Seattle.Locking up kids simply for missing court is “another example of the system not treating an adolescent like an adolescent,” said Holland, the Seattle University expert. “We all agree, showing up to court is important, but is that the best way to teach the lesson?”“My mom is at work”The Harris County juvenile probation department plays a big role in initially locking up kids. But once they’re in detention, judges have the power to keep them there. Kids must get a detention hearing before a judge within two business days of their arrest; after that, they get a similar hearing every 10 business days.This system is supposed to protect kids from staying behind bars for too long, but advocates and lawyers say that some Harris County judges are rarely willing to release kids from detention, no matter the circumstances.“If a kid has any type of gang affiliation, they stay in custody,” said Gene Wu, a Houston lawyer who is also a Democratic state representative. “Or if there’s any type of weapon involved, even if it’s a BB gun, they stay in custody. Well, that’s kind of stupid.”Jay Jenkins, an attorney with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, a nonprofit that advocates for criminal justice reform, said many Harris County detention hearings he has witnessed seem like a sham: The decision is already made before the kid walks through the door.“A lot of times, they’re just marching these kids out, telling them that they’re detained, and then they’re marching them back … there’s not a lot of concern for the kids’ well-being, nor is there concern for protecting the kids’ legal rights,” he said.It’s almost impossible to evaluate these claims, because no one in Harris County compiles data on what happens during these hearings. One thing is clear, though: Kids are spending a lot more time in the county’s juvenile detention center than they were a few years ago, and judges have the most influence on how long they stay.These days, Harris County Associate Judge Aneeta Jamal presides over most detention hearings. She said she might decide to keep supposedly “low-risk” kids in detention because they have a criminal history or they’ve been accused of making threats at school — ”a misdemeanor, but it’s a very serious offense,” she said.Jamal added that she wants to make sure juveniles show up for court, though experts and advocates say it’s a bad idea to keep them locked up just for that purpose.Brooks, the juvenile probation chief, also said kids may be staying longer because of delays on the prosecutor’s side. He said he’s working with the district attorney’s office to make improvements there.But during visits to the juvenile courts building last summer and fall, the Tribune observed a lot of disorganization. At times, kids would go before a judge and no one seemed to know what was happening with their case.For example, as one young man stood in front of Jamal last June, she wondered why he was in detention at all. She noted that he had pending cases, but they were all from 2016. So why was he back in the detention center?“Did he get picked up on a [warrant]?” Jamal asked the child’s court-appointed lawyer.“I think so,” the lawyer said, uncertain.Jamal continued to shuffle through papers on her desk, looking confused. “These are 2016 cases. I just don’t understand. This is really odd,” she said.With no family present to take the young man home, he stayed in detention.That scenario played out frequently during the time a Tribune reporter observed juvenile detention hearings.“My mom is at work,” one young man told Jamal during his detention hearing. He had been locked up because he missed a court date for the same reason, he explained: “My mom had to go to work. If she’d missed work she’d have gotten fired.”“I need your mom here,” Jamal told him.He stayed in detention.The University of Texas at Austin has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here. Sharelast_img read more

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