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Archive for October 9th, 2021

An example of why the public is losing respect for the police: Black Children Were Jailed for a Crime That Doesn’t Exist. Almost Nothing Happened to the Adults in Charge.

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Meribah Knight, Nashville Public Radio, and Ken Armstrong, ProPublica, report:

Judge Donna Scott Davenport oversees a juvenile justice system in Rutherford County, Tennessee, with a staggering history of jailing children. She said kids must face consequences, which rarely seem to apply to her or the other adults in charge.

Chapter 1: “What in the World?”

Friday, April 15, 2016: Hobgood Elementary School, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Three police officers were crowded into the assistant principal’s office at Hobgood Elementary School, and Tammy Garrett, the school’s principal, had no idea what to do. One officer, wearing a tactical vest, was telling her: Go get the kids. A second officer was telling her: Don’t go get the kids. The third officer wasn’t saying anything.

Garrett knew the police had been sent to arrest some children, although exactly which children, it would turn out, was unclear to everyone, even to these officers. The names police had given the principal included four girls, now sitting in classrooms throughout the school. All four girls were Black. There was a sixth grader, two fourth graders and a third grader. The youngest was 8. On this sunny Friday afternoon in spring, she wore her hair in pigtails.

A few weeks before, a video had appeared on YouTube. It showed two small boys, 5 and 6 years old, throwing feeble punches at a larger boy as he walked away, while other kids tagged along, some yelling. The scuffle took place off school grounds, after a game of pickup basketball. One kid insulted another kid’s mother, is what started it all.

The police were at Hobgood because of that video. But they hadn’t come for the boys who threw punches. They were here for the children who looked on. The police in Murfreesboro, a fast-growing city about 30 miles southeast of Nashville, had secured juvenile petitions for 10 children in all who were accused of failing to stop the fight. Officers were now rounding up kids, even though the department couldn’t identify a single one in the video, which was posted with a filter that made faces fuzzy. What was clear were the voices, including that of one girl trying to break up the fight, saying: “Stop, Tay-Tay. Stop, Tay-Tay. Stop, Tay-Tay.” She was a fourth grader at Hobgood. Her initials were E.J.

The confusion at Hobgood — one officer saying this, another saying that — could be traced in part to absence. A police officer regularly assigned to Hobgood, who knew the students and staff, had bailed that morning after learning about the planned arrests. The thought of arresting these children caused him such stress that he feared he might cry in front of them. Or have a heart attack. He wanted nothing to do with it, so he complained of chest pains and went home, with no warning to his fill-in about what was in store.

Also absent was the police officer who had investigated the video and instigated these arrests, Chrystal Templeton. She had assured the principal she would be there. She had also told Garrett there would be no handcuffs, that police would be discreet. But Templeton was a no-show. Garrett even texted her — “How’s timing?” — but got no answer.

Instead of going to Hobgood, Templeton had spent the afternoon gathering the petitions, then heading to the Rutherford County Juvenile Detention Center, a two-tiered jail for children with dozens of surveillance cameras, 48 cells and 64 beds. There, she waited for the kids to be brought to her.

In Rutherford County, a juvenile court judge had been directing police on what she called “our process” for arresting children, and she appointed the jailer, who employed a “filter system” to determine which children to hold.

The judge was proud of what she had helped build, despite some alarming numbers buried in state reports.

Among cases referred to juvenile court, the statewide average for how often children were locked up was 5%.

In Rutherford County, it was 48%.


Rutherford County Locked Up Kids in Almost Half of Cases

Tennessee used to publish statistical reports on juvenile courts statewide. For the last year available, 2014, we compiled reports for all 98 courts. Rutherford County locked up kids in 48% of its cases, eclipsing every other jurisdiction. (The graphic below shows the top 50 courts.) The state stopped publishing this data even as it figured prominently in a lawsuit against Rutherford County.

Reports compiled from the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts

In the assistant principal’s office at Hobgood, the officer telling Garrett not to get the kids was Chris Williams. Williams, who is Black, had been a Murfreesboro cop for five years. “What in the world?” he thought, when he learned what these arrests were about. At Hobgood, two-thirds of the students were Black or Latino. Williams wondered if such arrests would be made at a school that was mostly white. He had a daughter who was 9. He pictured her being arrested. This is going to blow up, he thought; I’m going to end up in federal court over this. He considered quitting, but instead tried to get someone to intervene. Tucked in an office corner, he called a sergeant, a lieutenant and a major, but couldn’t find anyone to call it off.

The officer not saying anything was Albert Miles III. Growing up, Miles, who is Black, had friends who hated the police. But Miles’ dad was a cop. Miles wanted to prove that police could be trusted. That afternoon, Miles had been pulled out of roll call along with another officer; a sergeant told the two to go arrest some kids at Hobgood. The sergeant didn’t say why, but at Hobgood, Miles started picking up details. Miles, too, wondered if these arrests would happen at a school full of white students.

The third officer at Hobgood was Jeff Carroll. He’d been pulled out of roll call with Miles. Carroll, who is white, was a patrol officer and SWAT team member. In evaluations, supervisors praised him as a leader, “cool under pressure.” Carroll also had no idea what these arrests were about. But his sergeant had ordered them, and he followed orders. Carroll was the officer telling the principal: Go get the kids.

Garrett asked if she could call their parents first. Carroll told her no. Garrett told the police that one girl had diabetes and got treatment when she arrived home after school. Please, the principal said. Let me call her parent. On this, the police ultimately compromised, saying the girl could get a shot in the nurse’s office before being taken to the jail.

Of the two officers telling Garrett what to do — get the kids, don’t get the kids — Carroll seemed the more aggressive, the principal would say later. She agreed to get the kids.

Having these arrests take place at Hobgood was not something school officials wanted. They wanted kids to feel safe at school. Garrett grew up poor. Nine-tenths of her students were poor. Years before, Hobgood had struggled academically. Now it was a celebrated success. Garrett and her staff had worked to build trust with parents, with students. “I don’t give up on kids,” Garrett says. But she knew that trust is fragile, and trauma endures.

As Garrett gathered the girls from their classrooms, she believed the police would at least avoid a spectacle. School let out at 2:30. That was minutes away. Garrett’s understanding was that the police would keep the girls in the office until school was dismissed and everyone else was gone.

Garrett rounded up the sixth grader, a tall girl with braids who had visions of becoming a police officer; one of the fourth graders, the girl with diabetes; and the 8-year-old third grader. In the hallway, the principal tried to prepare them, saying the police were there regarding a video of a fight. Hearing this, the sixth grader told Garrett that the two other girls hadn’t even been there.

After returning to the office with the three girls, Garrett relayed to police what the sixth grader had told her.

Her words were barely out when Carroll made it clear he’d had enough, Garrett said later when interviewed as part of an internal police investigation.

Carroll pulled out handcuffs and put them “right in my face,” Garrett recalled.

“And he said, ‘We’re going now, we’re going now, there’s no more talk, and we’re going now.’

“And I said, ‘But, but, but.’”

Carroll yelled at her, Garrett said. She felt intimidated. Bullied. She worried that if she said any more, she might be arrested herself. “And so I backed off.”

By now the girls were crying and screaming and reaching for the principal, who was also crying, as was the assistant principal. “And it was, it was, it was awful,” Garrett later said.

Carroll handcuffed the sixth grader. Later, asked why, he said because policy allowed him to. After being handcuffed, the sixth grader fell to her knees.

Miles handcuffed the 8-year-old with pigtails. “Just acting out of habit,” he said later. Walking to a patrol car, Miles stopped and thought, “Wait a minute,” and removed the cuffs. “I guess my brain finally caught up with what was going on.”

While Carroll drove those two girls to the jail, the fourth grader with diabetes stayed behind to see the nurse. She was sisters with the sixth grader; her initials were C.C.

In all this back and forth, Principal Garrett realized something. The other fourth grader. She had forgotten about her. And now, school was out. The girl had boarded her bus, and was waiting to go home.

The other fourth grader was E.J. Although she’d said “stop,” she was on the police’s list to be picked up for encouraging the fight.

Go get her, the police told Garrett.

Garrett was still crying. She didn’t want to go out to the line of buses and let all those kids see her like that. But she went, feeling she had little choice.

A teacher beckoned E.J. off the bus. Then Garrett escorted her inside, to the awaiting police. E.J., scared and confused, begged for her mother — and threw up on the floor.

The two fourth graders still at Hobgood, E.J. and C.C., were best friends. Williams and Miles walked the girls outside, not handcuffing either. With some parents joining in, the officers formed a prayer circle around the two girls. Miles prayed out loud for the kids to be protected and for God to bring peace and understanding. Then he buckled the fourth graders into a patrol car and drove off. On the way to jail the girls cried, “snot and all,” E.J. would say later. Garrett, meanwhile, pulled out her personal cellphone and began calling parents, no longer willing to do as the police commanded.

For the officers, the confusion didn’t end at the school. It continued once the children began arriving at the jail.

When Carroll walked in with the first two girls, Templeton, the investigating officer, pointed to the 8-year-old and asked what she was doing there. The police had no petition for her, Templeton said. The 8-year-old’s mother soon arrived and took her child home. 

Miles brought in the last two girls, the two fourth graders. Then, walking out to his patrol car, he ran into an angry parent, Miles would recall later. It was a father demanding answers. Miles dropped his head, shaking it. The father asked why this was happening. I don’t know, Miles answered. We are good people, the father said. I can only imagine what you’re feeling, Miles answered. He explained, briefly, the juvenile court process. This is wrong, the father told Miles, over and over. After the third time, Miles, fighting back tears, said he understood, as a parent himself, the father’s anger and pain.

Fuck you, the father said.

I understand, Miles answered.

Only later, when he returned to the police station, did Miles allow himself to cry.

​​When the parent asked why this was happening, Miles had been unable to say. But the answer traces to individual missteps and institutional breakdowns — all on a grand scale.

What happened on that Friday and in the days after, when police rounded up even more kids, would expose an ugly and unsettling culture in Rutherford County, one spanning decades. In the wake of these mass arrests, lawyers would see inside a secretive legal system that’s supposed to protect kids, but in this county did the opposite. Officials flouted the law by wrongfully arresting and jailing children. One of their worst practices was stopped following the events at Hobgood, but the conditions that allowed the lawlessness remain. The adults in charge failed. Yet they’re still in charge. Tennessee’s systems for protecting children failed. Yet they haven’t been fixed.

Chapter 2: “The Mother of the County”

Eleven children in all were arrested over the video, including the 8-year-old taken in by mistake. Media picked up the story. Parents and community leaders condemned the actions of police. “Unimaginable, unfathomable,” a Nashville pastor said. “Unconscionable,” “inexcusable,” “insane,” three state legislators said. But Rutherford County’s juvenile court judge focused instead on the state of youth, telling a local TV station: “We are in a crisis with our children in Rutherford County. … I’ve never seen it this bad.”

Rutherford County established the position of elected juvenile court judge in 2000, and ever since, Donna Scott Davenport has been the job’s only holder. She sometimes calls herself the “mother of the county.”

Davenport runs the juvenile justice system, appointing magistrates, setting rules and presiding over cases that include everything from children accused of breaking the law to parents accused of neglecting their children. While the county’s mayor, sheriff and commissioners have turned over, she has stayed on, becoming a looming figure for thousands of families. “She’s been the judge ever since I was a kid,” said one mother whose own kids have cycled through Davenport’s courtroom. One man, now in his late 20s, said that when he was a kid in trouble, he would pray for a magistrate instead of Davenport: “If she’s having a bad day, most definitely, you’re going to have a bad day.”

While juvenile court is mostly private, Davenport keeps a highly public profile. For the past 10 years she’s had a monthly radio segment on WGNS, a local station where she talks about her work.

She sees a breakdown in morals. Children lack respect: “It’s worse now than I’ve ever seen it,” she said in 2012. Parents don’t parent: “It’s just the worst I’ve ever seen,” she said in 2017. On WGNS, Davenport reminisces with the show’s host about a time when families ate dinner together and parents always knew where their children were and what friends they were with because kids called home from a landline, not some could-be-anywhere cellphone. Video games, the internet, social media — it’s all poison for children, the judge says.

Davenport describes her work as a calling. “I’m here on a mission. It’s not a job. It’s God’s mission,” she told a local newspaper. The children in her courtroom aren’t hers, but she calls them hers. “I’m seeing a lot of aggression in my 9- and 10-year-olds,” she says in one radio segment.

She encourages parents troubled by their children’s behavior to use over-the-counter kits to test them for drugs. “Don’t buy them at the Dollar Tree,” she says on the radio. “The best ones are your reputable drugstores.”

Scrutinizing the inner workings of Tennessee’s juvenile courts can be difficult. . .

Continue reading. There’s a lot more and it’s a horror story. The US criminal justice system is badly broken.

See also “White Riot: In 1992, thousands of furious, drunken cops descended on City Hall — and changed New York history.” US police departments have been a problem for a long time.

The police represent the government. In the US, government is ceasing to function.

Written by Leisureguy

9 October 2021 at 12:22 pm

A Practical, Not-Too-Overwhelming Fall Cleaning Checklist

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This checklist will be useful and attractive to some.

Written by Leisureguy

9 October 2021 at 11:48 am

Posted in Daily life

AI Is No Match for the Quirks of Human Intelligence

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Herbert Roitblat, Principal Data Scientist at Mimecast, is the author of Algorithms Are Not Enough: Creating General Artificial Intelligence, and The MIT Press Reader has a good-sized extract from the book, adapted in the article that begins:

At least since the 1950s, the idea that it would be possible to soon create a machine that was capable of matching the full scope and level of achievement of human intelligence has been greeted with equal amounts of hype and hysteria. We’ve now succeeded in creating machines that can solve specific fairly narrow problems — “smart” machines that can diagnose disease, drive cars, understand speech, and beat us at chess — but general intelligence remains elusive.

Let’s get this out of the way: Improvements in machine intelligence will not lead to runaway machine-led revolutions. They may change the kind of jobs that people do, but they will not spell the end of human existence. There will be no robo-apocalypse.

The emphasis of intelligence testing and computational approaches to intelligence has been on well-structured and formal problems. That is, problems that have a clear goal and a set number of possible solutions. But we humans are creative, irrational, and inconsistent. Focusing on these well-structured problems may be like looking for your lost keys where the light is brightest. There are other problems that are much more typical of human intelligence and deserve a closer look.

One group of these are so-called insight problems. Insight problems generally cannot be solved by a step-by-step procedure, like an algorithm, or if they can, the process is extremely tedious. Instead, insight problems are characterized by a kind of restructuring of the solver’s approach to the problem. In path problems, the solver is given a representation, which includes a starting state, a goal state, and a set of tools or operators that can be applied to move through the representation. In insight problems, the solver is given none of these.

It was an insight problem that supposedly led Archimedes to run naked through the streets of Syracuse when he solved it. As the story goes, Hiero II (270 to 215 BC), the king of Syracuse, suspected that a votive crown that he had commissioned to be placed on the head of a temple statue did not contain all of the gold it was supposed to. Archimedes was tasked with determining whether Hiero had been cheated. He knew that silver was less dense than gold, so if he could measure the volume of the crown along with its weight, he could determine whether it was pure gold or a mixture. The crown shape, however, was irregular, and Archimedes found it difficult to measure its volume accurately using conventional methods.

According to Vitruvius, who wrote about the episode many years later, Archimedes realized, during a trip to the Roman baths, that the more his body sank into the water, the more water was displaced. He used this insight to recognize that he could use the volume of water displaced as a measure of the volume of the crown. Once he achieved that insight, finding out that the crown had, in fact, been adulterated was easy.

The actual method that Archimedes used was probably more complicated than this, but this story illustrates the general outline of insight problems. The irregular shape of the crown made measurement of its volume impossibly difficult by conventional methods. Once Archimedes recognized that the density of the crown could be measured using other methods, the actual solution was easy.

With path problems, the solver can usually assess how close the current state of the system is to the goal state. Most machine learning algorithms depend on this assessment. With insight problems, it is often difficult to determine whether any progress at all has been made until the problem is essentially solved. They’re often associated with the “Eureka effect,” or “Aha! moment,” a sudden realization of a previously incomprehensible solution.

Another example of an insight problem is the socks problem. You are told that there are individual brown socks and black socks in a drawer in the ratio of five black socks for every four brown socks. How many socks do you have to pull out of the drawer to be certain to have at least one pair of either color? Drawing two socks is obviously not enough because they could be of different colors.

Many (educated) people approach this problem as a sampling question. They try to reason from the ratio of black to brown socks how big a sample they would need to be sure to get a complete pair. In reality, however, the ratio of sock colors is a distraction. No matter what the ratio, the correct answer is that you need to draw three socks to be sure to have a matched pair. Here’s why:

With two colors, a draw of three socks is guaranteed to give you one of the following outcomes: . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by Leisureguy

9 October 2021 at 11:30 am

Chairwork, a tool used in Gestalt therapy

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My experience of Gestalt therapy is limited — a week spent at the Esalen Institute with a group and a good therapist whose name now escapes me, and then a second week another time — but it was a good experience and convinced me that it is an effective approach. (FWIW, I have also found psychosynthesis, a discipline developed by Roberto Assagioli, to be illuminating, useful, and descriptive of psychological reality. I have just augmented my list of books I find myself repeatedly recommending to include a good introductory book on psychosynthesis.)

Scott Kellogg, a psychotherapist who has written a book on chairwork, and Amana Garcia Torres, a psychotherapist certified in chairwork, write in Aeon:

It was 2002 when I (Scott) had one of my first encounters with a form of therapy known as ‘chairwork’ at the Gestalt Center for Psychotherapy and Training in New York City. ‘It’s not fair. It’s just not fair, and what you’re doing is wrong.’ I was speaking to my daughter Nicole’s soccer coaching team sitting in the chairs opposite. Or at least I imagined and sensed them sitting there, for in fact the chairs were empty.

Nicole, 11 at the time, was an outstanding soccer player. She had made a high-level team, but the coach barely let her play and, for two seasons, she spent most of the time sitting on the bench. Favouritism was clearly at work, and I was enraged. Although I’d repeatedly brought this up with the team leadership, they refused to do anything about it. When the season ended, they kicked her off the team.

I had been studying chairwork for a few months when I attended this afternoon workshop in which I finally had an opportunity to participate from the perspective of a patient. The therapist invited me to sit in a chair, imagine the team leaders in the chairs opposite and talk with them… and I did. I expressed my rage about how they had treated my daughter and the pain I had felt at seeing her unhappiness. Finally, it was okay for me to just speak freely.

‘Switch chairs,’ the therapist said. Doing a role-reversal, I went to their side, sat in one of their chairs, and gave voice to their stonewalling and their ‘this is the way it is’ attitude. I remember my emotional state shifting dramatically as I embodied them. It was hard and I was irritated. I then went back and spoke again from my anger and pain. My emotions felt less intense this time.

Before this workshop, I had spent nearly a year wrestling with intense bursts of rage over this mistreatment of my daughter. Just a few hours after the workshop, I realised that I had shifted profoundly; now, when I thought about what they had done, I did not think it was OK but I was far less reactive. The shift has lasted ever since. Somehow, this 15-minute dialogue had helped me find a resolution to my frustration – something I had been unable to do on my own. It strengthened my conviction in the healing power of chairwork – a therapeutic technique created by the Romanian American psychiatrist Jacob Moreno, the originator of psychodrama, and further developed in the 1960s by another psychiatrist, Frederick ‘Fritz’ Perls, the creator of Gestalt therapy.

My passion and belief in the value of chairwork only grew, and in 2008 I created the Transformational Chairwork Psychotherapy Project and began training therapists in the United States and abroad in the art of chairwork. In 2014, my book Transformational Chairwork: Using Psychotherapeutic Dialogues in Clinical Practice – a handbook for therapists – was published.

Despite these efforts, I’ve always felt that what had eluded me was some way of simplifying the work – of reducing it to an essential set of core principles that could clearly and effectively guide both the practice and the teaching. Then, in early 2018, during a meditation session, I had a vision of what I call ‘the four dialogues’ that showed me how to transform chairwork into a therapy of elegant simplicity and even greater power. I then combined this with a framework we call ‘the four principles’, and this integration has become the foundation of our work.

he first of the four principles is multiplicity of self or the idea that we each can be seen as containing different parts, modes, voices or selves. For example, the way that we behave at work can be different from the way that we behave at home with our families or at a summer barbeque with our friends. Sometimes, during periods of stress or states of intoxication, parts can emerge that are either unfamiliar or undesirable – the kind of situation that prompts you to say things like: ‘I don’t know what came over me.’ This understanding of the human condition builds on the thinking of historical figures such as Plato, St Paul and Sigmund Freud, who each wrestled with the experience of having different parts.

The second principle is that it is healing and transformative for people to give voice to these different parts. In practice, this might involve asking a patient to move to another chair and embody and give voice to their suffering, their fear, their ‘inner critic’ voice, or what they see as their ‘heroic self’ – the part of themselves that takes meaningful action in the world. This alone can be a surprisingly powerful experience. Alternatively, a therapist might set up a dialogue between the different parts of a patient, to bring about greater inner balance and overall better functioning.

The third principle moves . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Psychotherapy with a good therapist can be a revelation.

Written by Leisureguy

9 October 2021 at 11:12 am

Posted in Books, Daily life, Mental Health

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First-ever atomic resolution video of salt crystals forming in real time

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Fascinating video, watching atoms jostle together to make a crystal of salt.

Written by Leisureguy

9 October 2021 at 9:48 am

Posted in Science, Video

Eufros Violetas’ fragrance seemed forceful this morning

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Just as an arresting scene can catch one’s eye, an arresting fragrance can catch one’s nose. The fragrance of Jabonman’s Eufros Violetas struck me forcefully this morning — as if today were the first time I paid attention, or was open to what it had to offer, which is a lot. Wonderfully present floral fragrance and a superb lather, in part due to the Rooney Emilion and its excellent knot.

This stainless-steel RazoRock Mamba from Italian Barber is, unlike the snake, indisposed to bite. Indeed, it is deceptively gentle and comfortable — “deceptive” because it is also highly efficient. I have an old model, when there was but one version; now, there are two: the 53 and the 70. I imagine mine is equivalent to the 53.

After 3 passes, my face was totally smooth, and a splash of Stirling Executive Man with a squirt of Grooming Dept Hydrating Gel finished the job and started the weekend.

Written by Leisureguy

9 October 2021 at 8:30 am

Posted in Shaving

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