Tuesday, February 26, 2013

An American Institution?

I have written Prison Rape: An American Institution? because it is the right time to focus public attention on this continuing dreadful tragedy of the American criminal justice system. It has been nearly ten years since Congress enacted the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) by unanimous vote, yet the situation has not improved. But now, with the appearance of the PREA national standards in 2012, there is hope for change.

What has surprised me in researching this book is how powerful is the evidence of pervasive rape and other sexual abuse in prisons and jails throughout America. The evidence is thanks to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics that has carried out extensive investigations for several years. Some people used to try to pretend that there was little or no prison rape, but that pretense is impossible now.

One important message that I want to convey is that this continuing, pervasive brutality is a source of national shame that diminishes the moral stature of American society as a whole. I have found that people are receptive to this, which is a ground for hope.

Yet the work is only just beginning. There are major challenges that will demand strong and enduring efforts and expenditures over a number of years. That is why the title of the book ends with a question mark. Prison rape has been an entrenched American institution for many years. The question is whether it will be allowed to remain so.

Michael Singer, MA, PhD, JD, is professor at the Dickson Poon School of Law at King's College London, England. He was previously law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and George Washington University, and is a member of the State Bar of California. His many previous publications include Praeger's Jury Duty: Reclaiming Your Political Power and Taking Responsibility, The Law of Evidence (with Jack H. Friedenthal), and The Legacy of Positivism. He holds a juris doctor degree from Stanford University, bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics from Cambridge University, and a doctorate from the University of London.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cyber Warfare

Paul Rosenzweig is the author of Cyber Warfare: How Conflicts in Cyberspace Are Challenging America and Changing the World for Praeger Security International (2013). He is founder of Red Branch Consulting PLLC, a homeland security consulting company and a senior advisor to The Chertoff Group. He also serves as a professorial lecturer in law at George Washington University, a senior editor of the Journal of National Security Law & Policy, and as a visiting fellow at The Heritage Foundation.  During 2011, he was a Carnegie visiting fellow at the Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University. Mr. Rosenzweig formerly served as deputy assistant secretary for policy in the Department of Homeland Security.

Cyberspace is a globalized environment. That’s one of its special virtues. From your laptop you can connect to almost anywhere in the world: you can read a Japanese paper or make reservations at a French restaurant. But what is true for the average users is also true for malevolent actors. Increasingly, we’ve come to realize that there are many out there who use cyberspace as a means for criminal activity, espionage, and even war. 
This past week, an American cyber security company, Mandiant, disclosed the results of its seven year investigation of a threat they dubbed APT1, for advanced persistent threat.  
According to Mandiant, a secret unit of the Chinese Army, Unit 61398, has systematically been engaged in cyber espionage, principally in the United States. As they said, the evidence is so strong that the only other possibility is that “a secret, resourced organization full of mainland Chinese speakers with direct access to Shanghai-based telecommunications infrastructure is engaged in a multi-year, enterprise scale computer espionage campaign right outside of Unit 61398’s gates, performing tasks similar to Unit 61398’s known mission.”  In other words, China is guilty.

Coming on the heels of China’s intrusions into the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, it’s becoming clear that China is a rogue actor in cyberspace. China denies the allegations, but its denials have become the barest fig leaf of concealment. Nobody believes them any more except the credulous who want to. 
So what’s to be done? The fundamental question of international internet governance is a profoundly difficult one. The distributed and dynamic nature of the network makes hierarchical responses almost impossible. 
For the United States, the only real answer is to start treating Chinese intrusions more seriously. That means identifying areas where China is vulnerable to pressure and start applying the pressure systematically. Ideas may range from economic sanctions to greater support for Chinese democracy activists. In the cyber realm we might consider poking holes in the Great Chinese Firewall to let information into their closed political ecosystem. But whatever the response, it is time for the US government to have a concerted policy that is more than speaking firmly to the Chinese in opposition.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Beyond Stereotypes in Black and White

Henrie M. Treadwell, Ph.D., discusses her new book, Beyond Stereotypes in Black and White: How Everyday Leaders Can Build Healthier Opportunities for African American Boys and Men (Praeger, 2012), that spotlights the plight of African American boys and men, examining multiple systems beyond education, incarceration, and employment to assess their impact on the mental and physical health of African American boys and men—and challenges everyday citizens to help start a social transformation.

Writing Beyond Stereotypes in Black and White was prompted by my experiences in community-based health programming for the past 25 years and realizing that African American boys and men were missing from health services though according to all health disparity studies they are sicker sooner and die earlier than any other group in the United States. My goal became one of finding these missing boys and men and, to my chagrin, I found far too many, in numbers wildly disproportionate to their representation in the American population, entangled in the criminal justice system, particularly if they were from poor backgrounds and with limited educational opportunity and achievement. At 12 percent of the U.S. population, African Americans are over 40% of the incarcerated in prison or detention populations among adolescents. 
But, the task, driving force, and opportunity with the book was and is to enable people to do more than simply understand intellectually the issue of African American male marginalization as a number of articles and books have described the problem. In sum, the book is designed to stimulate the reader to pose the question “Where Are The Men?” and to then take meaningful steps, to ACT, to improve not only the health status but also access to health care and full economic and social opportunity in this nation.    
The research to provide the intellectual underpinnings for the advocacy that will be required to eliminate the stereotyping and subsequent marginalization of African American boys and men revealed, to my surprise, that the plight of this population has significantly worsened over the years. I came to understand even more fully that these men are ‘marked’, even scarred by race and poverty. Their pathway into low wage employment and no health care benefits and into adolescent detention and jail and prison has been paved for them as a result of exclusive public policy (viz., no health insurance for poor men/single adults) and social exclusion. And I have a painful awareness that this unique segment of the U.S. population is now increasingly stigmatized by having a felony conviction if they have been incarcerated, even for a victimless, non-violent offense. This silent epidemic of marginalization and mass incarceration, followed by the evolution of even harsher stereotypes make it harder for the boys to transition to successful manhood and for the men to take their rightful place as fathers, brothers, providers for their family, as leaders, as husbands.  
I find that people are very surprised when they learn of the health status and of the rates of incarceration.  These readers are also motivated as they read the stories of the lives of those profiled in the book who are working against the odds to foster change. These same readers are also perplexed by the evident blind eye and dismissive attitude that public policy leaders have demonstrated even in the midst of social turmoil and compromised lives. Most people become a bit angry initially. Others are convinced that they must act in some way to improve the opportunities for these fragile boys and men. Some pose the question of ‘who benefits?’ from the systems built to maintain a status quo that certainly harms not only the African American community but all of us.

I have been gratified to see that people who read the book appear to actually come to a realization that they themselves must act and not wait for some savior to appear and right the travesties visited upon this group of poor men of color. My belief is that the journey is just beginning.   What is next for me is to help people see that ‘Beyond Stereotypes..’ is a toolbox. The reader has the expository data in the form of the ‘reality checks’ throughout the book that they need to verify for themselves and their audiences the size and scope of the issue. The book also gives them an opportunity to gaze into a ‘mirror’ and analyze their own complicity in a marginalization epidemic that has resulted from their silence in the face of massive social disintegration and displacement.  My job, my next steps are to continue to advocate, to blog, to teach, to offer workshops, to speak up, to act out until we all wake up and insure that social justice will become the balm that heals and eliminates educational and economic marginalization, unnecessary illness and death and criminal injustice, conditions that linger because of the stereotyping of individuals based on race, skin color, and gender. 

Beyond Stereotypes in Black and White: How Everyday Leaders Can Build Healthier Opportunities for African American Boys and Men by Henrie M. Treadwell; Praeger, January, 2013 $48.00; ISBN 978-1-4408-0399-4

Friday, February 15, 2013

History at the Oscars

The world is buzzing with excitement as Oscar night approaches. Will you tune in to watch the Academy Awards? Today's blog post is from ABC-CLIO's Pop Culture Universe feature story highlighting how History has influenced this year's crop of nominated films.

This year's best picture nominations have an interesting trend. Of the nine nominees, four have narratives strongly driven by American history, three of which are heavily focused on real-life events. Argo, directed by Ben Affleck, is based on the escape of six American embassy employees during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979. Steven Spielberg's film, Lincoln, is a biopic that focuses on the last months of President Abraham Lincoln's life as he sought the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. Another film that deals with slavery was nominated for Best Picture—Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained. Tarantino's historical revenge film is set in the South only two years before the Civil War and follows the freed slave Django (played by Jamie Foxx) as he seeks to free his enslaved wife. Kathryn Bigelow's film, Zero Dark Thirty, is based on the manhunt for Osama bin Laden.

A large amount of past Academy Award Best Picture nominees have also been based on true stories, which begs the question: do movies based on real-life events make better films?

Learn more about the history behind these films by signing up for free 30-day preview and receive instant access to ABC-CLIO's entire collection of online resources.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Interview with Michael C. LeMay, Author of Transforming America: Perspectives on U.S. Immigration

What prompted you to write Transforming America: Perspectives on U.S. Immigration? What "message" do you want to communicate?

I have previously authored eight books on the subject which I have been researching and writing about since 1980.  In part I was prompted by a request from ABC-CLIO to consider doing a series of books. I was especially intrigued by the approach of many authors with different academic affiliations and disciplinary perspectives, and the opportunity to engage not only well-established scholars, but also to mentor and encourage younger scholars just beginning their publishing careers.  I think the most important message for readers of this set of three books is that immigration is a very complex process, and immigration policy is a thorny and at times difficult policy arena within which to enact legislation to cope with it. I think, also, readers will begin to appreciate how and why it is challenging to “get it right” in enacting immigration laws, which inevitably have unforeseen and unanticipated consequences.

What was the highlight of your research? In the course of your research, what discovery surprised you the most? What surprises readers/others the most about your research?

I think for most readers, and to a great extent even for me, the most surprising aspect of my research relates to how intractable immigration policy remains to be; and how decade after decade, immigrant group after immigrant group, the issues and controversies tend to be the same despite many changes in the law dealing with the issues.

How did your research change your outlook on immigration?

I think the greatest lesson from my research pertaining to my own outlook on immigration is that as a scholar I must be extraordinarily careful not to fall into the trap of thinking I know what is best for policy and thereby to become a policy advocate; to prescribe policy options rather than to describe and analyze them.  This realization as to the complexity of the issue that emerges from these volumes, and from my research, is a humbling experience.  Even a long-time “student” of the subject learns something new every time one studies it, and learns to appreciate the fact that even a scholar who is relatively an “expert” on the issue does not have all the answers.

How have people reacted to your book and/or the ideas you set forth? Is it what you hoped for, or is there more work to be done?  

I have not yet had reaction to this latest series of books. In the past, with regard to other books on the subject I have authored, I am gratified that they have been well received by other scholars and academicians, and that students have reacted to me by expressing how interesting the books have been—how engaging the topic is to them.  Many have expressed sentiment to the effect that after reading one of my books on the topic, they appreciate how the “bumper sticker” or “sound bite solutions” to the problem so often offered by politicians, will simply not work. The issue is too complex to be resolved by any approach or idea that can fit on a bumper sticker!

What's next for you?

I hope to polish and revise a manuscript dealing with immigration policy and the rise of public health in the United States.  My next research and writing project will be to explore other policy areas to which immigration policy is so inextricably related.  I would like to expand to book length a few of the topics I covered in a relatively brief essay in this three-volume set. I would like to do a book-length treatment of immigration and industrialization. I would like to do a book relating the experiences of “exceptional immigrants” whose contributions have made “American exceptionalism.”  I would also like to co-author, with a particular industry expert or insider, the relationship between specific immigrant persons and groups and the development of their industry: for example, the wine industry, the brewery industry, the timber industry, the canning industry, and so on.

Michael LeMay is Professor Emeritus from California State University-San Bernardino, having retired as a full professor, former chair of his department, as Assistant Dean. He has previously sole-authored numerous books, for example: The Perennial Struggle, 3e. Upper-Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 2009; Illegal Immigration. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2007; Guarding the Gates: Immigration and National Security. Westport, CT.: Praeger Security International, 2006.