Our Idiosyncratic Beliefs | July Study Piece Part 2: The “Orientals”

An Introduction

With an insight on major themes of the detachment of public opinion through a psychological lens, we now take a look at the same motifs prevalent on the Eastern Front of World War II, specifically Japan. In the general time span of half a century, Japan has undergone a physical, spiritual, and cultural metamorphosis. From the ruins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the country has since somewhat apologized for all of its actions during WWII and has maintained healthy economic and political relations with nations around the world. However, there are still tense undertones between the citizens of neighboring Asian countries and Japan. Their role in WWII has been downplayed or even denied; juxtaposed with the consistent badgering of Germany to pay reparations and make amends, some feel that Japan has gotten off easy, considering their role in WWII is arguably comparable to the likes of Hitler and the Holocaust. The interpretation and misinterpretation of histories, ideals, and communications on the Eastern Front of WWII blur the line of “righteous” and “evil” for not only the Japanese people but the general public perception, causing a mass polarization of nationalism and borderline supremacy.

Japanese Supremacy, “Land of the Rising Sun”
In the earliest time periods, the Japanese called themselves “wakoku”, or “Wa”, as designated by the Chinese [1]. The Wa tribe developed soon after the Chinese, gaining much of their influence from the neighboring Chinese and Korean (Paekche) cultures. The name, “Nihon” (Land of the Rising Sun), was first seen in Chinese transcripts designating Japan’s place east of China; however, the Japanese liked it so much that they requested to be known as Japan/Nihon/Nippon, Land of the Rising Sun. Around 500 AD, Buddhism was spread from India to China to Korea, and consequently, Japan, who based their religion on this influence. Their early expansion and development as a civilization came after they infused their government and politics with a conglomeration of Confucian ideals and Bushido philosophy (see Nanking Massacre, Topping Off China’s “Century of Humiliation”) [2]. The growth of Japan was now unstoppable.
So how did Japan, a country that started off running on borrowed culture, become the international superpower that it did by the 20th century, rampaging and conquering lands of Manchuria and Korea? Confidence from the Russo-Japanese War (1905) could be a factor. The Great White Fleet (1906) negotiating Japan into industrialization and westernization could also be a factor. However, in Hitler’s works such as Mein Kampf (1925) [3] and the Political Testament of Adolf Hitler (1945) [4], Hitler elaborates on what it means to be Ehrenarier, the “Honorary Aryan”. Hitler’s idea of the “Honorary Aryan” did not simply imply the “blonde-hair, blue-eyes” stereotype. To be Aryan meant to have pride in one’s race. It was in the blood. Hitler regarded both the Chinese and Japanese as held in high respects, and this, too, could have prompted the Japanese to embrace the title of “superior race” (albeit, Hitler still referred to the Japanese as Kulturträger in Mein Kampf, “culture carriers”, and recognized Western influence as the driving factor for Japan’s expansion). The only defining factor separating the Chinese and Japanese was their purpose in life.

“We (Japanese) were taught that we were a superior race
— since we lived only for the sake of a human god — our
Emperor. But the Chinese were not. So we held nothing
But contempt for them… the Imperial Army was consumed
With a prejudice so intense that the killing became easy.”
— Shiro Azuma, former Japanese soldier, (CNN 1998) [5]

As mentioned previously, the basis on which Japan was founded on religiously and politically came from other Asian cultures. The pedestal that the Western world held the Japanese at originated from (debatably) friendly negotiations between U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Perry and his gigantic, shining, threatening naval ships behind him. And so, how could an entire country be mass mobilized to believe that they are superior to those that assisted their development as a nation?

Nanking Massacre, Topping Off China’s “Century of Humiliation”
From the first Opium War (1842) to the end of WWII (1945), China has been at the mercy of the hands of various nations such as Britain, the US, France, Germany, Japan, and others (officially called the Eight-Nation Alliance by the time the Boxer Rebellion rolled around). After the Russo-Japanese War led Russia and Japan to fight for regions of Northern China (Manchuria) and Korea to conquer, tensions between China and Japan began to rise, culminating in the Sino-Japanese Wars. China was ultimately at a disadvantage, as they were undergoing a domestic divide between Nationalists led by Chiang Kai-shek and the Communists led by Mao Zedong, leaving the Japanese with the opportunity to attack in 1937.
In 1937, Japanese troops were led to invade China, led by three generals:

“Nakajima has been described as a cruel violent man, a specialist in thought control, intimidation, and torture. Matsui was a Buddhist from a scholarly family. Yanagawa was a serious man who focused on the importance of military discipline and control. Their forces had reached the outskirts of Nanking by December. On December 7, General Matsui, of a generally weak constitution, grew very ill on the field and was replaced by Prince Asaka Yasuhiko, a member of the royal family, who brought the authority of the emperor’s crown to the front line in Nanking. On December 9 the Japanese launched a massive attack on Nanking.” [6]

From the gruesome events that followed, there are multiple accounts of horrendous rapes, disembowelments, and murders plaguing Nanking. Definitively, what is the difference between the events that occurred in Nanking alone and those that occurred during the Holocaust? And why, if they are both such gruesome crimes against humanity, has Japan not been shamed as much as Germany has? Is it because of the fragile political and economic relations that other nations need to have with a powerful Japan? Or is it because of the philosophy that each event was politically governed by? And why does that mere difference make it okay for the general public to hold one event to a higher memorial than another?
The Western Front and Hitler’s governing political philosophy was indeed Nazism. The general public opinion was raised on anti-Nazi propaganda; the usage of Social Darwinism to dictate a nation was absolutely wrong and needed to be stopped (see July Study Piece Part 3). However, Japanese political sentiment was arguably based on the honorable Bushido philosophy.

“It argues a sad defect of information concerning the Far East, when so erudite a scholar as Dr. George Miller did not hesitate to affirm that chivalry, or any other similar institution, has never existed either among the nations of antiquity or among the modern Orientals. Such ignorance, however, is amply excusable, as the third edition of the good Doctor’s work appeared the same year that Commodore Perry was knocking at the portals of our exclusivism.”
-Inazo Nitobe, Bushido: The Soul of Japan [7]

In Nitobe’s Bushido: The Soul of Japan, Nitobe details the loyal and benevolent spirit of the Bushido. The Eight Virtues are:

      1. Rectitude or Justice
      2. Courage, the Spirit of Daring and Bearing
      3. Benevolence, the Feeling of Distress
      4. Politeness
      5. Veracity or Truthfulness
      6. Honor
      7. The Duty of Loyalty
      8. Self-Control

The key to being a good soldier, leader, and strategist is to keep these virtues in mind for they dictate how one treat others. However, an individual mustn’t forget that as a descendant of the loyal Japanese samurai, one must serve his master well above all else. Recall the three generals leading troops into Nanking. General Matsui, the most benevolent and scholarly of them all, had given an order for his troops to invade Nanking with the utmost moral dignity to earn the Chinese people’s respect as their new rulers. He demanded the Eight Virtues to be enforced; however, he fell sick only to be replaced by Prince Asaka, one of royal blood. Thus, in dutifully serving Japan’s one “human god”—the Emperor—by adopting Prince Asaka as their master, ruthlessness, and bloodshed had fully taken its place in Nanking. Loyalty and obedience of the Japanese samurai took precedent, before all else… and just like that, the honorable Bushido code had, arguably, gravely and widely contributed to the Japanese soldiers’ mindset to wreak havoc in China.

An Interjection from LtDemonLord, “No Conceptual Scapegoats”
For one, the Japanese army had little means to provide for themselves once they’ve made landfall and resorted to pillaging the locals. The conflict that ensued automatically brought Chinese civilians and Japanese soldiers into direct contact, often resulting in murders of households and the “taking” of women. The death toll from the murders were then joined by ranks of the starving as the survivors faced empty food stores and ruined fields. The fact that the army at the time were made up of mostly civilians themselves (Japan being a country with a relatively small population) who are fed a propaganda-rich diet of self-righteousness and disdain for China’s resistance to their rule meant that they were far more willing to treat the Chinese as less than living beings than their more well-educated and well-trained counterparts in the navy and air force (as evidenced with their treatment of the Russian POW during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) although cultural changes could have also been the reason). Another reason for their brutality may also have resulted from the unexpectedly strong resistance they faced as they advanced further inland. Their generals, who believed that their campaign would be quick and the Chinese would surrender, grew increasingly frustrated as the war dragged on and their campaign in Nanking may have been the direct result of an attempt to frighten and subjugate the Chinese citizens into surrendering as many of the officers either “failed” to keep discipline or actively encouraged their men to act out their base desires. Keep in mind that this sort of senseless violence wasn’t the first time the Japanese had forced onto the people they’ve tried to conquer — in fact, Koreans who were colonised by the Japanese earlier in the century experienced the same dismissal of human rights and lack of humane treatment.
Among a people who you were destined to conquer and with divine judgement on your side, crushing those in the way of your Manifest Destiny becomes nothing.

Hirohito, Tojo, or the Japanese Common Man?, “A Diffusion of Responsibility”
The ruling figure of World War II was none other than Emperor Hirohito, Japan’s longest-ruling emperor. However, Hirohito’s role in the vicious actions of Japan during World War II is largely debated among historians. Some say he had absolute control over the events that Japan executed, but others say that his Prime Minister, General Hideki Tojo, was the true villain. Indeed, although Tojo was powerful, he could never amount to a ruling dictatorship like Hitler or Stalin. Thus, although both played a part, Hirohito and Tojo only worked to polarize each other’s corruption but never amounting to full power as others have succeeded to do so on the Western Front. For the most part, Hirohito and Tojo were only so successful in obtaining what they desired because of the mass indoctrination occurring decades before in the education system. Emperor Hirohito’s status as Divine Emperor and Prime Minister Hideki Tojo’s accomplishments as a militarist spurred the Japanese concept of being the “superior race”.

Screen Shot 2018-07-10 at 9.15.39 PMRiseofAsiaLeaf

         (The Advertiser, Aug 12, 1929)                               (“Rise of Asia”, 1943)

Even prior to the beginnings of WWII, Japanese education largely revolved around their “superior race” teachings. Those sentiments only grew stronger, however, with Japan bombing Pearl Harbor. Education then shifted to indoctrinate young students into becoming “children of the Emperor”, creating a mass production of young minds believing that they are a race of celestial divinity and immortality [8]. They were to remain loyal to the Emperor, to bring honor to their country, and to succeed in fulfilling “superior race” status. This certain upbringing, a common one for the Japanese citizen, proliferated progressively, forcing an entire nation into a “mob-mentality” type of society. Their whole beliefs centered on the idea to take back Asia from the Westernized civilizations (disregarding two-thirds of the Axis Powers as westernized), to lead the other Orientals into independence—under Japanese rule. Obviously, to post-WWII society, the idea sounds almost presumptuous. However, at the time (and even now in present-day Japanese society, see The Country Holds No Liability, “国家無答責”), it made perfect sense to the loyal and obedient Japanese citizens who were indoctrinated into believing that they worshipped divine blood, the Emperor, and for that, their blood also held some divinity.

RooseveltFeastBones

(Churchill and Roosevelt: “Their true character is that of devils and beasts.”)

The Country Holds No Liability, “国家無答責”
Throughout the years following, it can be observed time and time again that Japan refuses to issue a full, heartfelt apology concerning their role in World War II [9].

Not only World War II, the country cannot even seem to acknowledge its wrongful acts against its fellow Asian countries [10]. After the addition of the “Comfort Women” statue release in San Francisco, Osaka had cut ties with its sister city, claiming that the citizens feel as though they are being criticized for the controversial past of their nation [11]. Many Japanese have since believed that their role in WWII was not as extreme as depicted, or even, fully nonexistent.
This can be illustrated with denial of the Nanking Massacre ever occurring [12]. The Japanese believe that there is no official proof or record that the events in Nanking were so gruesome [13], and yet, even though they admitted to invading Nanking, they claimed it was a bloodless invasion. One website is full of photos that show peace and laughter between the Chinese citizens and the Japanese soldiers, and there is even a section on how the soldiers were not, in fact, violent due to General Matsui’s orders. However, the website fails to mention anything about General Matsui’s illness and consequently his replacement, Prince Asaka [14]. On another website, obtained pictures of the event displays the public horror of rapes, decapitations, and murders, contrary to the popular belief that “no documented proof exists” [15].
Here is an example of the muddled truth during what really happened at Nanking. The following is a famous photograph known as, “Shanghai Baby”.

shanghaibaby.jpg

(“Shanghai Baby”, 1938)

Japanese historian, Mr. Shudo Higashinakano, is convinced that the Nanking Massacre was a fabrication. He appears on a Japanese show to prove that every single horrific photo is edited by the Propaganda Department of the China National Party on July 1938. Higashinakano claims that the “Shanghai Baby” was taken by a Chinese photographer named H.S. Wong (王小亭) who worked for the Documentary Film Team of the Propaganda Department and that the baby was actually placed there for dramatic effect.

Screen Shot 2018-07-19 at 11.13.19 PM.png

(unknown, 1938)

Here you can see someone picking up the Shanghai Baby. Higashinakano believes that this is the man who placed the baby in the scene, but according to another source,

“Moments later, an adult male, presumably the child’s father, arrived on scene. Emergency responders tended to the youngster as best they could before the man and child disappeared into the crowd. Wong never learned the infant’s name or fate.” [16]

Is this man working for the Chinese National Party? Or is he the Shanghai Baby’s father? The issue with this distortion of truth is that we may never get an answer… And that is the problem.

 

 

A Conclusion
With Japan’s strong connections and pride in their own country and government, the nation has made itself liable to distort the truth of its own past. In an even broader context, the online resources provided to a curious inquisitor like myself make it hard to understand what really happened at Nanking. Both sides appear to be extremely biased with no nations intervening with their own narrative of what went down. The Chinese government-funded Youtube channel uploading “extremely rare footage” of the events of Nanking filmed by an American pastor, the former Japanese soldiers admitting to the crimes while others are placing the blame on Chinese soldiers, and the power shift between Hirohito, Tojo, and the indoctrinated Japanese people… In an era where our idiosyncratic beliefs allow us to selectively put certain history behind us, one can only imagine what truly occurred to drive the Land of the Rising Sun to be in the dark about its past… and what our own governments are leading ourselves to believe.

Additional Video:


Sources Cited

((TRIGGER WARNING))

[1] Spacey, John. “Why Japan Is Called Land Of The Rising Sun.” Japan Talk, Japan Talk, 27 Aug. 2012, http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/why-japan-is-called-land-of-the-rising-sun.

[2] Watanabe, Akira, and G. Cameron Hurst. “The Meiji Restoration.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 19 July 2018, http://www.britannica.com/place/Japan/History.

[3] Hitler, Adolf. Mein Kampf. 1925.

[4] Hitler, Adolf. The Political Testament of Adolf Hitler. 1945.

[5] Kamimura, Marina. “A Japanese Veteran Attempts to Make Peace with Haunting Memories.” CNN, Cable News Network, 16 Aug. 1998, http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/asiapcf/9808/16/japan.war.crimes/.
[6] Cook, Karen. The Rape of Nanking: Analyzing Events From a Sociological Perspective. Stanford University, web.stanford.edu/~kcook/history.html.
[7] Nitobe, Inazo. Bushido: The Soul of Japan. 1900.
[8] Friedman, Herbert A. “JAPANESE PSYOP DURING WWII.” Psychological Operations (PSYOP), Psywarrior, http://www.psywarrior.com/JapanPSYOPWW2.html.
[9] McCurry, Justin. “Japanese PM Shinzo Abe Stops Short of New Apology in War Anniversary Speech.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 14 Aug. 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/14/shinzo-abe-japan-no-new-apology-second-world-war-anniversary-speech.
[10] Baird, J. Kevin. “War Crimes in Japan-Occupied Indonesia: Unraveling the Persecution of Achmad Mochtar | The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus.” The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus, The Asia-Pacific Journal, 1 Jan. 2016, apjjf.org/2016/01/4-Baird.html.
[11] Fortin, Jacey. “’Comfort Women’ Statue in San Francisco Leads a Japanese City to Cut Ties.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Nov. 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/25/world/asia/comfort-women-statue.html.
[12] “Japan Hotelier’s Nanjing Massacre Denial Angers China.” BBC News, BBC, 19 Jan. 2017, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38673407.
[13] “Nanjing Survivor Sues Japanese Authors.” BBC News, BBC, 29 Nov. 2000, news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/1047188.stm.
“‘The Shanghai Baby’ – The True Story Behind One of History’s Most Dramatic Photos.” Military History Now, 8 Nov. 2017, militaryhistorynow.com/2016/04/15/the-shanghai-baby-the-true-story-behind-one-of-historys-most-dramatic-photos/.
[14] Kubo, Arimasa. “The So-Called Nanking Massacre Was a Fabrication.” Remnant, http://www2.biglobe.ne.jp/~remnant/nankingm.htm
[15] Cook, Karen. The Rape of Nanking: Analyzing Events From a Sociological Perspective. Stanford University, web.stanford.edu/~kcook/.
[16]  “‘The Shanghai Baby’ – The True Story Behind One of History’s Most Dramatic Photos.” Military History Now, 8 Nov. 2017, militaryhistorynow.com/2016/04/15/the-shanghai-baby-the-true-story-behind-one-of-historys-most-dramatic-photos/.
Additional Readings:
Japanese Imperialistic Effects on Korea: Black Flower by Young-ha Kim (fiction)

Castigation or Correction: The Aftereffect of Our Prisons | A Research Paper

As history has progressed, mankind has had to develop factors that contributed specifically to the functionality of their society. One of the most prominent factors has been the addition of laws which set boundaries for the civilization as a whole. However, when laws are broken there must be some reinforcement that emphasizes the authority of these rules. In the American society, the correctional system is the basis in which individuals are supposed to be “enrolled” in, thus helping them reform their ways and become better contributors to humanity.

However, in this day and age, the American correctional system has become privatized to relieve the pressure on citizen tax dollars. Due to this, the correctional system has been reduced to punishment, isolation and almost indentured servitude instead of the reformation that was originally intended. In addition, when individuals are sent to prison they are left with the reduced ability to be able to receive a legal job. This matter has left a significant amount of minorities, immigrants and otherwise socially handicapped people unemployed, on welfare, and usually ending right back into prison. As a descendant of immigrants and a minority whose lived in areas with a high population of former inmates, this subject is daunting especially to myself. When I consider all of the good people that made mistakes, were forced into situations based on their circumstances or people who were just trying to survive, I can’t imagine how their experiences in prison have not only tainted their perspective on humanity but have also tainted their futures. When a portion of our population has been subjected to this dehumanizing treatment and left with limited options in their progression the question now becomes, to what extent does our present correctional system affect a person’s ability to successfully function in society?

For the sake of this examination, the definition of success will be limited to “maintaining the necessary income to live above the poverty line, while remaining in good legal standing, as well as having the opportunity to advance in life”. While this definition may seem simplistic, difficulties meeting this goal can arise for even the most educated and able individuals. Thus when persons of a social status that are already less likely to successfully go through the system, their results are drastically different. In all actuality, the American correctional system inhibits the progression of an individual’s functionality in society due to the fact that not only is the person in question now limited in their possible economic advance but also in their social standing and experiences. In order to examine the validity of my thesis, I will analyze statistics provided by the American government in regards to the demographics of those who have been previously incarcerated. In addition to this, I will break down personal accounts from people who have been in prison as well as those who haven’t to compare the social experiences of both groups. By doing this I will be able to correlate the evidence that our government has gathered to the events that people have encountered.

image
There was a time when treadmills were used as punishment in prisons.

In order to discuss how the prison system has deviated from its original intentions, it is imperative that I give background on the origins of said system. Before the 18th century there wasn’t a well-defined prison system, instead, people who were accused of committing crimes would be held in crude dungeons and held in torturous restraints. However, these areas weren’t for long-term holding, these caverns were set aside for temporary holding until the accused would be either acquitted of their crime or found guilty. During the colonial times in America, a guilty verdict could be punished by ranges of castigation. From public humiliation to branding, to lashings and hangings. However, it was very rare for a person to be held as a form of punishment. Nevertheless, as time progressed these methods of penalization became seen as barbaric and in the 1800’s a new form of criminal “reformation” was introduced. A grander reflection of our implementation of solitary confinement, the prisoners of the 1800’s were sent to factories where they silently reflected on their sins. Communication with other prisoners was strictly forbidden and being caught in the action would result in additional punishment. This method of rehabilitation was favored because not only was it responsible for the breakdown of an individual’s spirit, it would give way to mental illnesses that incapacitated the criminal. Furthermore, inmates were subject to strenuous labor without pay or concern for their safety. During this time, obedience and hard work were the markers of criminal rehabilitation although during this time reformation of the prison system had begun in Pennsylvania which would influence the impending 1900’s.

Two of the major pioneers in the improvement of the correctional system during this time were Dorothea Dix and Enoch C. Wines. Dorothea Dix strove for the refinement of the way mentally ill people were treated in prison. This eventually led to the separation of the mentally ill into asylums where they could be educated and receive treatment. Enoch Wines focused on the betterment of the correctional system for all; Wine’s conclusion that the current prison methods were actually severely ineffective led to the implementation of new policies regarding sanitary conditions, women’s participation and education in prison. As the progressive era emerged these two reformers were given greater consideration and eventually the 1900’s became the era of prison restoration. Progressives shifted their focus from hard punishment and social isolation to psychological methods of rehabilitation. During this time prisoners were sentenced to indefinite sentences and were released when they could prove that had been purged of the criminal tendencies. This method would lead to our contemporary version of probation and parole. With this major revolution, the correctional system was set to rehabilitate its inmates and lead to the betterment of society’s “deviants”.

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However, during the late 20th century American encountered a “prison boom”, a massive increase in the prison population (Porter, Lauren). This explosion in the number of people under the guide of the correctional system was due to the expansion of the American law enforcement agencies. Prison sentences for minor crimes were being increased and new laws were instituted leading to an increase of things considered illegal. Eventually, the state budgets allocated to prison growth were drained and politicians were floundering for a way to make good on their promises to crack down on crime. In order to supplement this growing population, the US prison system began to privatize their jails to exclusive third-parties. The first third-party company to profitize the prison system was the Corrections Corporation of America. This method of prison expansion has been a major source of controversy due to the fact that these corporations run at least 10% of America’s prison for profit (Pauly, Madison). In essence, the issue lies with the fact that when a company is running for profit, the end goal is money, whereas the end goal of the correctional system should be correction of society’s deviants. In all actuality, these groups aren’t focused on educating or reforming our criminals, instead, they stand to gain monetary awards when the prison population is increased.

Now with a foundation established on the previous ineffectiveness of the correctional system and a brief summary on the history of America’s most controversial prison system, I can examine the effects our contemporary system has on the individuals within it. Now the validity of my conclusion is based on my ability to prove that the correctional system hinders two factors that contribute to an individual’s ability to succeed in society: the economic and social advancement of an individual. The economic aspects that contribute to a person success in America include employment and financial stability. The social factors that contribute to a person’s success include location and education. In order to defend my thesis, I will argue that our current correctional system 1) causes former inmates to lose job opportunities, 2)lowers the average income of former inmates, 3)contributes to the likelihood of former prisoners staying in a bad environment, and 4) lowers the chances of a former prisoner being educated.
To begin with, I’d like to review the statistical data on employment after prison. As of 2008, the percent of former inmates that was unable to meet income through employment was 70% (Vischer, Christy), the methods of income varied over means such as governmental assistance, assistance from friends and family as well as informal work coming in at the top 3.

As the prison population grew and political tension in America rose during the election of Obama, the number of post-inmates unemployed increased to 75% in 2013, after Obama’s re-election (Gramlich, John). As stated by a director of Columbia Law School’s department of Prisoners and Families clinic, “You can almost look at incarceration as a contagious disease,” Genty said. “Once somebody has that taint, they are just looked at differently. It’s not even at the rational level.” This bias can be found in various media, including news outlets, and it is only worsening the stigmas associated with former inmates. For instance, on a popular show named “Everybody Hates Chris” one character is often shown to be stealing and eventually being detained and sent to jail. Even though this character has been previously incarcerated, he maintains his socially deviant behavior, which induces the thought that he isn’t capable of rehabilitation. In other instances, such as on “Boyz n the Hood”, former convicts are stereotyped as being violent, stubborn and overall malicious. Despite 59% of convictions being nonviolent, this image of former inmates is portrayed in pop culture and employers fear ‘dangerous felons’ ruining their business reputations (Neyfakh, Leon). Despite most media being fictional, many people are conditioned to understand society- and specific factions- by what they see on television.

In this case, employers see that this individual has repeatedly gone through the correctional system and yet continues their crimes, which makes an employer not want to hire them. In reality, news outlets also perpetrate these thoughts. When someone is suspected of committing a crime one of the first things the media will examine is their criminal history. To employers this seems correlative, a former inmate or convict is suspected of committing another wrongdoing, thus they will continue to commit more crimes (Vega, Tanzana). A former inmate even says that “[he felt] his job applications were going into a “black hole.” This is due to the fact that more in today’s society, jobs are beginning to evaluate the criminal history of prospective employees. In more cases than some, employers aren’t even looking at what the crime was, instead, simply having a conviction makes you a less likely candidate.
When defining success, I used the poverty line as a marker of indication. To be precise in my analysis, the poverty line- as determined by the Federal Government- is $12,060 for an individual (healthcare.gov). It can be assumed based on the analysis of post-incarceration employment rates that former prisoners have a lower average income. A mean decrease of 11% was found between the annual income of post-incarcerated individuals as opposed to their income before incarceration (Freudenberg, Nicholas). However, many other circumstances influence the low income of former inmates. To begin with, many convicts are released early but have to pay monthly fees for parole or probation. On the average, convicts are paying $30-$80 a month, not including court fees or the costs of drug testing and driving for parole check-ups (Schou, Solvej). When individuals aren’t able to pay their parole costs, they are subject to several different consequences. The most frequent “alternatives” are community service and revocation of license until payment can be made. Yet, since the majority of inmates were in poverty before they were convicted, it is likely they will be even more impoverished and lack the resources, such as a car or work, to meet their alternatives.

In addition, like our current correctional facility, probation is also being privatized. Due to this privatization, the focus becomes less on rehabilitation and more on increasing revenue. Revenue that is generated by the recidivism, the relapse of committing crimes, of former inmates. However, this is simply the surface of how probation plays a role in lowering the income of convicts. It is human nature to become concerned with the power and control that one possesses over the environment and in the relationship between probation officer and parolee, the results aren’t exclusive. On an episode of Law and Order: SVU, the interactions between several probation officers and their parolees are dramatized. Probation officers are seen being threatening, aggressive and extorting money from former convicts with threats of falsifying parole violations. However, in real life, cases of probational system corruption are beginning to crop up more frequently. Especially in well-populated cities, where criminal activities occur more, probational misconduct is rampant and has severe consequences for convicts trying to make a new life for themselves. For instance, in the city of Nashville, 2015 was the year many parolees lost their cars, gave up their disability checks, or even foreclosed on their homes(Schou, Solvej). These individuals found themselves being threatened with excessive jail time or increased probation fees if they couldn’t pay their probation officer. In conducting an interview with an individual recently released from prison, Mark* shared his concerns of the correctional system in regards to probation. “Paying probation fees may seem like small costs for your freedom but I have a kid. Providing for a baby and yourself, the pressure is high, man. I’ve thought of selling dope a thousand times since I’ve been out. If I can’t pay probation, I’m back in jail anyway.” (personal communication, [1]2017). This was one of the most emotional accounts, on my behalf, that I received because Mark is only 19. To consider the fact that someone so young is already entrapped in the vicious cycle of crime is daunting. The system of probation is supposed to be a transition between prison and society, yet, it seems to be an increasingly cyclical route of recidivism and less income.

“Section 8 isn’t available to anyone who has a criminal record. Whether or not you serve jail time, you are immediately evicted from your apartment and there aren’t many other places you can go,” said an individual who had her housing assistance revoked. The options left are expensive and require extensive application fees and security deposits. Thus, even if the individual was able to maintain their finances, money would be spent primarily on housing. Many convicts will then find themselves regressing into criminal acts due to lack of support from their community. Due to the lack of community resources, these areas run rampant with criminals and, in the underground world, there is always room for another drug dealer or gang member. Thus, when inmates are released there is an immediate pressure to recede into their old lives, in addition to defensive measures, but also in order to provide for themselves.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. – Nelson Mandela.

This quote has increased in validity since the speaker first said it. As the United States continues to grow and innovate, education becomes more and more a separation between poverty and stability, success and failure. Many inmates, depending on the severity of their crime, have access to a high school education within prison walls. However, education isn’t limited to the simplicity of a high school diploma. Instead many employers look towards college degrees as a symbol of reputability and intelligence. Yet, a very few have access to degree-granting courses and those that do are at risk of losing them due to the high cost of these programs. This is despite the fact that by offering college courses, some correctional facilities have seen their recidivism rate drop by 16% (Westervilt, Eric). Inmates have been determined as being 42% more likely not to recede back to prison. Withholding economical reasons, a college education benefits society as a whole by increasing the rehabilitation factor of prison. Unfortunately, many prisons don’t offer these initiatives and instead, post-prison educational pursuits are harder due to various factors. The most significant reason is that former convicts lack access to basic educational programs. In a growing society of immigration, most urban cities provide little to no formal language assistance. In addition, many convicts simply aren’t afforded the time as they are required to see probation officers frequently as well as trying to actually provide for themselves.

As inmates are released from our correctional facility they are promptly thrust back into an environment that encourages their misconduct. Areas that have high incarceration rates hosts large ghettos that breed malicious intent. For instance, the Miami Dade prison population is the 8th largest in the country with its gang population being the 7th largest in America (Munzenrieder, Kyle.). Even though an inmate may have rehabilitated, crime affiliation follows and this individual may become associated with their criminal history. This can lead to gang members, drug dealers or other offenders preemptively striking in order to maintain criminal hierarchies. In many cases, previous inmates will regress into their criminal activities in order to have protection. Rather than continuing the rehabilitation process, former inmates are cornered into a fight or flight response without the ability to escape. Moreover, in many cases, those who have been previously incarcerated also have family and friends that take part in illegal activities. “I had to give up many of the boys I’ve been down with forever. I just knew that they were going to bring me back to a place I couldn’t be in.” Mark stated. Losing these connections can leave former inmates vulnerable and without the support system they’ve had for years. In addition to the retaliation from other offenders, released inmates have to worry about racial and criminal profiling. Due to over 60% of the prison population being minorities, most noticeably Blacks and Hispanics, a level of racial profiling is obvious (Hagler, Jamal). However, racially profiling released inmates leads to police officers checking criminal databases, in turn, increasing harassment. Being associated with a criminal record gives police an excuse to pursue individuals simply for having a record. In areas with heavy crime, law enforcement is more present and more likely to assume criminal records of the inhabitants. Moreover, when considering their low budgets, these heavily populated cities also lack the necessary resources to integrate former convicts. Coupled with the lack of employment, many of these offenders will take to criminal activities in order to maintain homes and child care.

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This is especially concerning as police are becoming increasingly “better equipped”. Image from cnn.com

In the case of economic endeavours and advancement opportunities, post-secondary education is on the brink of becoming a requirement. Statistics show that those who have a college degree are more than 14% likely to have a job that is career oriented vs a job to “simply get by”(pewsocialtrends.org). Having a college degree puts a former inmate at an advantage against the 66% of America that has no degree, increasing their chances of retaining a career (pewsocialtrends.org). Thus, without education, the majority of former inmates would never have the opportunity to advance. In addition, higher education also contributes to disparities in income between those have had their high school diploma and those who have a college degree. The median annual income difference between a high school graduate and a degree holder is $17,500( pewsocialtrends.org). When comparing this to the previous generations median annual income difference of $15,780, there is a gap of $1,720. This contributes to fact that education has not only grown more essential in order to maintain a career but also to remain above the poverty level in our current economy. When considering the likely chances of a former inmate having a lower income, education becomes a necessary tool to prevent recidivism and increase a former inmates chance of success.
As racial and economic divisions deepen, prison has become a place of punishment doubling as an income generator for private companies. The original purpose of reformation has been deformed into simply sheltering what society refuses to fix. Despite the overwhelming evidence of inefficiency, politicians, private companies and upper-class individuals believe that the correctional system provides opportunities for inmates that they would have never otherwise receive. Granted that many inmates are released gaining a high school diploma in the process, their costs from prisons such as probation and court fees, is likely to offset the advantage of a diploma. In addition, many supporters of our current correctional system emphasize the fact that prison shouldn’t be a reward but instead a consequence. However, this prompts the question of to what extent is prison a negative consequence? In many cases, inmates arrive in jail or prison for non-violent offences and yet when they are released, their crimes are usually more heinous and weigh more on society. In effect, society is punished for its failure to correctly reform the prisoner.

However, the most significant claim of those who support our correctional system is that society is no longer forced to deal with those who have deviated from our norms. Yet, this line of thinking results in a chain of animosity, poverty and increased segregation. As families are broken and children grow in poverty, our youth will see crime as an outlet for rebellion or simply a means of getting by. This becomes a vicious cycle, rarely broken and demonstrated mostly by the minorities in our prisons thus increasing stigmatisms associated with various races. In the end, our correctional system has been outdated for decades and currently is undermining efforts of humanitarians and those who seek to release others from poverty. By reforming the issues analysed in my essay, with a focus on education, our correctional system would begin to change for the better.
Despite including what would be most important in answering my question, I realised that there were several directions I could have taken in the meaning of function. My analysis focused more on economic success rather than mental growth which would also affect an individual’s ability to succeed in life. Understanding the extent of influence prison has on the psychological state on an inmate would allow me to determine if many of the results of prison were from fractured mental states or from reasons entailed in my essay. However, based on my analysis of data and my evaluation of interviews with former inmates, prison has a high negative association with inhibiting the success of those previously incarcerated.

See next page for Bibliography

The Rise of Swatting: Just a Prank? Or Domestic Terrorism?

This is an introductory article to a bigger topic. Here’s the link to the other article whenever I have posted it.

Introduction

Today, we’re going to talk about an increasingly common crime type in this digitised age. Swatting is a term coined to describe instances of false police reports that result in the forceful entering of a person’s home and potential injury of a person(s) thereafter. It happens mostly to people who are known among the online community; people like streamers are especially targeted.

Causes

The first instance of swatting was committed by a fifteen-year-old named Paul Horner who reported a murder/hostage situation in a rival gamer’s house after tracing his location. A SWAT team arrived to break into his house and shot and severely injured his father. Paul Horner was then charged with two counts of domestic terrorism.

Since 2008, when the term was coined, there has been an increasing number of fake police calls. These calls not only endanger innocent lives but also waste money and resources. So far, the FBI has not released concrete statistics pertaining to swatting.

Usually, the person getting swatted is a public figure. Celebrities were a common target. But now, the main focus of most of these attacks have turned to the online gaming community where in-game rivalries and clashing online personalities can quickly turn toxic. The anonymity of swatting also encourages potential swatters. Because of various online tools as well as other anonymous ways to make calls (like pay phones), swatters have a measure of safety from law enforcement. There have also been cases where the swatter called in from outside the country, meaning that either the police has to let go of the case or that Interpol has to be called in. There have been successful arrests of swatters who were outside the country.

This sort of anonymity paired with the high visibility if and when the SWAT team arrives means that the swatter is relatively safe while also being able to watch everything unfold on the livestream. This sort of situation is perfect for those who like to cause trouble while minimising risk to themselves. It is, you could say, a type of voyeurism.

Conclusion

So if you or any of the streamers you watch are getting threats that someone is going to swat them, then report it. There have been cases where, following protocol, SWAT teams have injured people because they didn’t follow instructions or such. Police have begun to mark out houses where potential swatting calls may be directed at so that SWAT teams no longer get sent in to those places.

As for prison sentences, it can be anywhere from a year in jail with a fine to over a decade in jail. The most severe cases get charged with domestic terrorism and some states are passing bills that will make prison sentences for swatting more severe. Even if you use internet services that let you make calls anonymously, there are ways to trace you. So, for the safety of everyone and to help stop this senseless result of online butthurtedness and trollery, take swatting very seriously and if you get swatted, do exactly as the police say. It’s not worth it getting shot in the face and swatting is certainly more than just a prank.