Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas & New Year Break

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Blogging will resume Monday January 3, 2011.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Reentry Program

An article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about a program whose practice—mentioned in the last paragraph of the excerpt—teaches clients to take any job available to get a foothold in the employment world after prison.

This is a crucial strategy for all reentry programs, but unfortunately, too rarely used.

An excerpt.

“Henry Brown made mistakes, and he's worked doubly hard not to repeat them.

"I'm not going to bump my head in the same spot twice," said Brown, who served time on a drug conviction years ago and hasn't been back since.

"Being in those situations is not a vacation. It wasn't for me," he said. "I like my freedom and being able to go where I please."

“But with all of his efforts - even scoring at the top of his machine operation class - Brown has had a hard time finding a job.

“It's a scenario repeated time and again, as former inmates turned job applicants face the often stigmatizing effect of a criminal record made even more difficult during a tough economy.

"When they get out into the job market, a lot of them come up short. They get very frustrated, and that's where we come in to help," said Darryl Johnson, executive director of Riverworks Development Corp., which works one on one with former inmates in an effort to level the playing field.

"Many people have mentors who have guided them through their careers, but these are workers who haven't had that same opportunity," said Johnson, whose organization serves residents living in the Harambee and Riverwest neighborhoods.

“Along with huge doses of encouragement, the organization also provides free job training, employment counseling, work support strategies, coaching in financial literacy and other workforce development opportunities.

“This year, the organization received $40,000 from the United Way of Greater Milwaukee toward its job training and placement program.

"Studies show that people who have received additional, job-specific training make more money per hour than their counterparts," said Nicole Angresano, vice president of community impact with the United Way of Greater Milwaukee. "This program helps people develop the skills to gain and sustain employment and earn enough income to meet daily expenses and basic needs."

“Of the 254 people enrolled in employment counseling, at least 90% have been convicted of a felony at some point, said Vanessa M. White, the organization's director of workforce development.

“Building a work history after they've been away is crucial, even if they have to start at the bottom, she said.

"We teach them to take every little job," White said. "That means accepting some jobs they might feel are associated with a young person, but it is a steppingstone to learn how to deal with people and find out their strengths or weaknesses."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fighting Evil, Lane's Book

It is at the very heart of our traditional culture and our traditional faith and it is heartening to read this article in the Washington Post recognizing that.

The case described here is also that which completely meets the definition of “A Special Penalty for Special Cases” the name of the chapter in the new book, Stay of Execution: Saving the Death Penalty from Itself, offering a listing of those crimes which fully deserve capital punishment.

An excerpt from the book.

“Genocidaires and terrorists occupy the top level of a death deserving hierarchy whose next levels should probably be reserved for serial killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer or those who murder multiple victims in a single criminal act. Depraved individual killings—premeditated murders involving torture, murders of small children, sadistic rape-murders and other deeds that “shock the conscience,”…—also belong on the death-eligible list. And in 28 of the 35 death penalty states, capital offenses include murders that are,… ‘especially heinous, atrocious, cruel, or depraved (or involved torture).’” (p. 109)

An excerpt from the Washington Post article.

“We all owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. William Petit who, in his extreme hour of grief, taught us a valuable lesson about the nature of evil, forgiveness, and the problem of suffering.

“No, not what you would expect. In speaking of the man convicted of killing his wife and two daughters, Petit did not deliver an amoral, slobbering speech about forgiving his wife and daughters' murderer and how all suffering teaches us some valuable lesson, enriching us in the process. On the contrary, he said that the murderer deserved his sentence of death and that the loss of his family would leave a gaping hole in his heart that would never close.

“What a relief. Finally someone who does not excuse gross evil, who refuses to forgive monstrous acts of human cruelty, and who says that suffering is not only not redeeming but leaves a permanent wound that never heals.

“The facts of the case are by now well known. On Nov. 8, 2010, Steven Hayes was convicted of murdering Petit's wife Jennifer Hawke-Petit and received the death penalty. The jury found him guilty for his crimes in a horrific home invasion in Cheshire, Connecticut in 2007 that killed Hawke-Petit and her two daughters. Hayes reportedly raped and choked Hawke-Petit to death while his accomplice Joshua Komisarjevsky is accused of sexually assaulting 11-year-old Michaela and her older sister Hayley who were tied to their beds and raped. Gasoline was then poured on all three victims and the house was set on fire. The verdict was unanimous and came on day four of deliberations.

“Tuesday, on the courthouse steps Dr. William Petit, who was savagely beaten in the attack but survived, said this: "We thank the jury for their diligence and consideration. We feel that it was an appropriate verdict. There is some relief, but my family is still gone. It doesn't bring them back. It doesn't bring back the home that we had."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Stan the Man

I did not know Stan Musial was Catholic, but remember well what a great ballplayer he was.

This recent story in the American Spectator notes his 90th birthday [November 21, 2010] and he still lives in St. Louis with his wife of 71 years.

An excerpt.

“Happily, the good don't always die young. This Sunday, God willing, Stan "The Man" Musial, who was not only one of baseball's greatest hitters but one of the nicest guys to ever wear cleats, will turn 90. He lives independently with Lillian, his bride of 71 years, in St. Louis where they are beloved.

“The St. Louis Post-Dispatch plans extensive coverage of Stan's 90th this weekend, as well it should. Red Sox Nation and Fenway fanatics may get more coverage nationally. But there are also plenty of savvy baseball fans in St. Louis, home of a venerable and successful franchise in the Cardinals. Stan is remembered and revered here, even though it has been 47 years since Stan ended his career at Busch Stadium with a sharp, RBI single to right Sept. 29, 1963 against Jim Maloney of the Cincinnati Reds.

“Long-time Post-Dispatch baseball writer Rick Hummel, who knows as much about the Cardinals and The Man as anyone, told me that neither of the Musials is suffering from any debilitating ailments. Stan still gets out, he said, though less often than in the past and sometimes with the help of a cane. He even makes it to his natural habitat, the ballpark, from time to time. Good thing. Somebody has to give Albert Pujols hitting tips.

"Everybody here still knows who Stan is," Hummel said. "The fans go nuts every time he appears at the ball park." Few players have the numbers and the gravitas to presume to advise the great Albert on hitting. But Stan certainly does. Between September of 1941 and the end of the 1963 season, with 1945 off in the U.S. Navy, Stan compiled a .331 lifetime batting average on 3,630 hits, including 475 home runs. He drove in 1,951 runs while winning seven batting titles and being chosen as the league's most valuable player three times.

“Musial, not streaky or prone to slumps, was consistent with his gaudy numbers. He hit .336 against right-handers and .323 against lefties. He hit .336 at home and .326 on the road. He had 1,815 hits both at home and on the road.

“Musial put his Hall of Fame career together with a combination of God-given talent, hustle, and considerable baseball smarts. His head was always in the game. With superb coordination, sharp reflexes and eye sight, he made hitting look easy. He was rarely fooled by a pitch. When he was he was usually quick enough to adjust and still hit the pitch….

“Stanislaw Franciszek Musial was born in Donora, Pennsylvania, a small industrial town 30 miles south of Pittsburgh, to Lukasz and Mary Musial. Zinc miner Lukasz was just eight years in America from Poland. Mary was a first-generation Czech-American. Lukasz gave his oldest son the nickname Stashu.

“Baseball fame and success as a restaurateur and real estate investor made Musial a rich man before he was 40, but he never acted the big star. He was always solicitous of others, and treated stars, fans, the club house guy, waitresses, and the scrub player hitting .204 and destined for a career in used car sales just the same, respectfully. Even after he had won three MVP awards his home phone number was still listed in the St. Louis directory.

“For baseball and business reasons Musial moved from Donora to St. Louis. But he didn't leave his home town behind, returning often, including for his high school reunions. He remained Stashu to the people he came up with, who he never abandoned after he became The Man.

“He never abandoned his Catholic faith either. He's regularly attended mass all his life, including on the road as a player. Musial has lived his long life with considerable grace. A class act, we might be tempted to say. But all the evidence shows that Musial's quiet charisma isn't and has never been an act.”

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Endless Reports

I have just perused another of the endless reports criminal justice academics produce examining, and supposedly solving, why criminals continue to commit crimes even after being in prison, but will not burden you with anything it says about how to rehabilitate criminals.

However, what it doesn’t say, is that the real issue is personal internal transformation. Rather the report presents a mechanistic world of exploded moving parts that if we can only provide enough services — jobs, housing, counseling, education — all will become aligned and criminals will become community.

Without an internal transformation, all of the services will not help.

Professional career criminals who commit crimes for money and who make up the bulk of people in maximum security prisons, chose to be criminals through an internal decision based on their perception of how the world operates; a perception not far off the mark considering who the prince of the world is.

Our apostolate is based on changing that internal dynamic through the only body of intellectual and spiritual truth capable of combating and defeating worldly truth.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Surgery & Blogosphere Absence

Emergency surgery right after Thanksgiving, and the subsequent recuperation will keep me from the blogosphere for a few more days.

Enjoy your weekend.