Center for Prosecutorial Integrity Launches “Bring a Prosecutor to Justice” Campaign…

I might not have a massive following, but I know we are mighty! Please reblog this campaign and help raise funds for this worthy cause. We need to expose those that feel they have so much power that they are untouchable and above the law…..free to ruin other people’s lives on a whim! Let’s make a difference my crazy friends!

Wrongful Convictions Blog

From an email press release:

How many times have you heard about a rogue prosecutor who was let off the hook after a wrongful conviction caused by prosecutorial misconduct? How often have you heard about a win-at-all-costs prosecutor who was later feted as “Prosecutor of the Year,” elevated to the bench, or even elected to high political office?

According to the CPI report, “An Epidemic of Prosecutor Misconduct,” prosecutors who engage in misconduct are punished in fewer than 2% of cases. But now, there’s a way to bring a measure of justice to these cases – the Registry of Prosecutorial Misconduct: www.prosecutorintegrity.org/registry/

Every prosecutor who is added to the Registry now finds himself or herself subject to public accountability. In fact we’ve been told that prosecutors in some states have already begun to think twice before withholding exculpatory evidence,knowing that they may end up being listed in our Registry!

There have been an estimated…

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Make Your Voice Heard

Make Your Voice Heard: Guidelines for Effective Advocacyadvocacy

One crucial part of my mental health recovery journey is  reaching out to help others in need. I do this in a variety of ways. One area that is truly a life saver for me is the volunteer work I do assisting people seeking Protection From Abuse orders, or PFA’s for short. Another area I concentrate on is acting as an advocate for people who are struggling because of their involvement in a system. I offer free help to those encountering issues with the legal system, medical system, tax system, benefits system, and school system the most often, although there are other systems I have tried to help untangle as well. I am learning through these experiences with individuals about the type of advocacy work that is done on a larger scale for whole groups.

Advocates for individual groups often meet unfair policies and practices that hinder rather than help their clients. Changes to such policies in the form of rules, regulations and laws, often require the support and commitment of legislators, political leaders and other policy makers. The following are some guidelines on how to be an effective advocate and communicate your message. Remember that efficiency requires education, both your own and your audiences, as well as reliability, accessibility and persistency.

Identify Your Goal

  • What do you want to accomplish? For example, decide if you want to introduce legislation to change a discriminatory employment practice like lifting a particular occupational bar or licensing restriction for people with criminal records.

Develop Your Strategy for Accomplishing Your Goal

  • Who has the power to effect your desired change? What is the process for the policy or regulatory change that you want to make and who has the power to make it. It could be legislators on the local, state or federal level, or perhaps, appointed commissioners on the state level who are responsible for promulgating the particular rule or regulation.
  • Who are your partners? Identify organizations and individuals that may share your goal and who can help you communicate your message. These may be local or statewide residents, coalitions of individuals and/or groups, as well as community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, and other advocacy groups.
  • What is the timeline for your goal? Be aware of legislative timelines, such as when the legislature is in session. Be patient, understand that achieving your goal could take a considerable amount of time.

Create Documents that Will Help You Communicate Your Message

  • Are your documents clear and concise? Politicians, policy makers and other officials, and their staff, are busy and often do not have time to read a lot of information. However, supplying them with written information that includes data and research on your issue may support your position. Therefore, make sure that the written materials that you provide them with are specific to the issue and the area that they represent.

Helpful Tips for Conducting a Meeting

  • When introducing yourself make sure that you identify yourself as a constituent or as someone who represents constituents.
  • State the point of the meeting at the beginning.
  • Be brief and to the point.
  • Listen as well as talk during the meeting, as well as take notes on questions or concerns that come up during the meeting.
  • Be honest. Acknowledge the positive and negative aspects of the issue.
  • Share written materials during the meeting, if it is appropriate, and leave them behind for the leader of the staff that you are meeting with to read.

Cultivate a Champion

  • Who can represent and advocate for your issue publicly and champion your goal? It can be incredibly beneficial to have a public figure, such as a famous person or politically powerful person, to help you with your advocacy and to deliver the message you need to achieve your goal. Regardless of who it is they need to be persistent, charismatic and effective.

Most importantly, don’t burn any bridges, whether you achieve your goal or not. You never know who you may need to work with again. Be a gracious winner or loser.

The Startling Case For Abuse Prevention Education In Schools

Upon opening my email this morning, I scrolled down to my daily MEDPAGE TODAY update. As I browsed through the latest medical news and updates, I found this new continuing medical education article available for credit. What caught my eye instantly was the title. It is provocative, disturbing, and delivers a sense of urgency to the reader. In my opinion, this article and the research behind it should be justification enough for any school district to incorporate dating violence awareness, abuse, and stalking prevention programs into their curriculum immediately.  Below is the article in its entirety.  PLEASE share this article. Let’s break the silence and the cycle of violence.

Sexual Violence Common Among Adolescents

Published: Oct 7, 2013

Nearly one in 10 of the 14- to 21-year-olds surveyed reported perpetrating sexual violence in their lifetime, researchers found.

Of the 9% who committed some type of sexual violence, 8% engaged in forced sexual contact (kissing, touching), 3% persuaded someone to yield to their sexual demand (referred to as coercive sex), 3% attempted rape and were unsuccessful, and 2% completed rape, according to Michele L. Ybarra, MPH, PhD, of the Center for Innovative Public Health Research in San Clemente, Calif., and Kimberly J. Mitchell, PhD, of the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H.

Most often (73%), the victims were a romantic partner and 50% of perpetrators said the victim was responsible for the sexual violence. Most perpetrators also said no one had found out about the incidents, so contact with the justice system was uncommon, researchers reported in the Oct. 7 issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

Perpetrators of sexual violence tended to have more frequent exposure to sexually-charged and/or violent material on television, in music, in games, and online compared with non perpetrators.

For example, 33% of those who attempted rape were exposed to violent and/or sexually explicit material compared with 4% of non perpetrators.

Ybarra and Mitchell found that most young people who reported trying to force or forcing someone to have sex reported using coercive tactics, such as arguing, pressuring someone, getting angry or making someone feel guilty, more commonly than using threats or physical force.

The most common age at the first perpetration of sexual violence was 16 (40%), and males were overwhelmingly more likely to have their first episode at 15 or younger (98%) compared with females. Boys ages 16 and 17 had similarly high rates of first sexual violence (90%).

However, by ages 18 or 19, “the split of male to female perpetrators was nearly equivalent,” researchers reported.

“Although I was saddened by the results of this study, I was not surprised,” Emily Rothman, ScD, an associate professor in the department of community health services at Boston University School of Public Health, told MedPage Today.

“We have known for decades that the prevalence of sexual violence victimization among youth is unacceptably high, and that youth are responsible for 30% to 50% of the perpetration of childhood sexual abuse,” Rothman said.

She pointed to aspects of the study that are “novel and important,” and show for the first time:

  • Nationally representative estimates of the proportion of young people who are perpetrating sexual abuse against peers
  • Information that the majority of this sexual abuse (73%) is actually dating violence (the sexual coercion happens in the context of a romantic relationship)
  • Information that the proportion of those who believe that they are not responsible for having been sexually coercive is very high (one in seven of those who had done it)
  • Information that there is a strong association between exposure to sexually explicit material (i.e., pornography) and reporting sexual abuse perpetration among youth

 

Rothman noted the emergence of school-based prevention curricula that have demonstrated through randomized controlled trials that they can reduce the perpetration of dating and/or sexual violence.

cluster randomized trial by David Wolfe, MD, from CAMH Centre for Prevention Science in London, Ontario, and colleagues found that a 21-lesson curriculum delivered during 28 hours by teachers with additional training in the dynamics of dating violence and healthy relationships reduced physical dating violence and increased condom use up to nearly 3 years later.

Rothman also said continued support for research that examines the link between sexually explicit media and youth sexual violence is important.

“We need to ensure that youth have access to comprehensive sex education that teaches them media literacy skills so that when they are exposed to pornography or other sexually explicit media they understand how to interpret it and how it may be impacting them or their peers,” she told MedPage Today.

For the study, Ybarra and Mitchell analyzed data in the Growing Up with Media study.

A majority (52%) of perpetrators met their victims at school, with 12% meeting at an outside school activity.

Many perpetrators engaged in more than one type of sexual perpetration — forced contact, coercive sex, unsuccessful rape, and completed rape — with 12% reporting two different behaviors, 11% reporting three, and 9% reporting all four types.

There were differences in the type of sexual violence by age of first perpetration. Up to age 15, oral sex was the most common (65%), followed by vaginal sex (46%), and anal sex (40%). At ages 18 or 19, vaginal sex was the most common perpetration (96%), followed by anal sex (13%).

The researchers did not find differences by race/ethnicity or household income in terms of those who reported sexual violence perpetration.

One important limitation of the study is that the sample was drawn from an Internet panel, and there may be biases in terms of who participates in those surveys, Rothman noted.

Another limitation is that results were based on self-reports and are therefore likely under-reported, Rothman suggested.

The study received support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Breaking News! This Just In…..

To all of us who are concerned with the state of mental health recovery in this world, what follows is important and amazing news. I just found this as reported at http://www.mindhacks.com. I am shocked and saddened that this is not international news being reported by every media station worldwide.  I want more people to know about this, so I am reporting it and hope that others will follow.

National Institute of Mental Health abandoning the DSM

In a potentially seismic move, the National Institute of Mental Health – the world’s biggest mental health research funder, has announced only two weeks before the launch of the DSM-5diagnostic manual that it will be “re-orienting its research away from DSM categories”.

In the announcement, NIMH Director Thomas Insel says the DSM lacks validity and that “patients with mental disorders deserve better”.

This is something that will make very uncomfortable reading for the American Psychiatric Association as they trumpet what they claim is the ‘future of psychiatric diagnosis’ only two weeks before it hits the shelves.

As a result the NIMH will now be preferentially funding research that does not stick to DSM categories:

Going forward, we will be supporting research projects that look across current categories – or sub-divide current categories – to begin to develop a better system. What does this mean for applicants? Clinical trials might study all patients in a mood clinic rather than those meeting strict major depressive disorder criteria. Studies of biomarkers for “depression” might begin by looking across many disorders with anhedonia or emotional appraisal bias or psychomotor retardation to understand the circuitry underlying these symptoms. What does this mean for patients? We are committed to new and better treatments, but we feel this will only happen by developing a more precise diagnostic system.

As an alternative approach, Insel suggests the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) project, which aims to uncover what it sees as the ‘component parts’ of psychological dysregulation by understanding difficulties in terms of cognitive, neural and genetic differences.

For example, difficulties with regulating the arousal system might be equally as involved in generating anxiety in PTSD as generating manic states in bipolar disorder.

Of course, this ‘component part’ approach is already a large part of mental health research but the RDoC project aims to combine this into a system that allows these to be mapped out and integrated.

It’s worth saying that this won’t be changing how psychiatrists treat their patients any time soon. DSM-style disorders will still be the order of the day, not least because a great deal of the evidence for the effectiveness of medication is based on giving people standard diagnoses.

It is also true to say that RDoC is currently little more than a plan at the moment – a bit like the Mars mission: you can see how it would be feasible but actually getting there seems a long way off. In fact, until now, the RDoC project has largely been considered to be an experimental project in thinking up alternative approaches.

The project was partly thought to be radical because it has many similarities to the approach taken by scientific critics of mainstream psychiatry who have argued for a symptom-based approach to understanding mental health difficulties that has often been rejected by the ‘diagnoses represent distinct diseases’ camp.

The NIMH has often been one of the most staunch supporters of the latter view, so the fact that it has put the RDoC front and centre is not only a slap in the face for the American Psychiatric Association and the DSM, it also heralds a massive change in how we might think of mental disorders in decades to come.
Link to NIMH announcement ‘Transforming Diagnosis’.