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The Township at Colony Park | 201 Northlake Ave, Suite 107 Ridgeland, MS 39157 | 601.707.7410 Highland Village | 4500 I-55N Suite 235-A Jackson, MS 39211 | 601 707-7410
July 6 - 12, 2011
9 N O . 43
contents COURTESY JACKSON PUBLIC SCHOOLS
6 School Book Woes Has the Jackson Public Schools budget for next year included enough funds for textbooks? COURTESY BYRAM POLICE DEPARTMENT
Photograph of Sandy Middleton by Rachel Bush, design by Christy Dawson
THIS ISSUE: ............. Editor’s Note
COURTESY ZAC HARMON
ast week Ben Ellard assisted a victim through the court system so she could get a protective order against her abusive husband. The woman’s spouse had prevented her from having her cell phone, car or friends. “She was being controlled by her husband. She was like an object. … If she tried to do something that wasn’t to his liking, there was a violent situation that occurred. She dealt with it for a long time, but we gave her an opportunity to get out,” Ellard says. At the Center for Violence Prevention, Ellard navigates abuse victims through the court system. He also coordinates the center’s Batterers’ Intervention Program, a court-ordered program for abusers based on the Duluth Model that breaks the cycle of violence. The 25-year-old Kosciusko native decided to join the family business. His mother, Sandy Middleton, is executive director of the CVP. The center provides resources and assistance to domestic violence such as a 24-hour help line, counseling and referral services. In 2009, the Jackson Free Press Chick Ball helped raise seed money to start the intervention program in four of the 10 counties the center serves: Copiah, Rankin, Hinds and Yazoo. Ellard also coordinates a Batterers Intervention Program for female abusers. Ellard moved to Brandon when he was a teenager and graduated from Brandon High School. He received his bachelor’s degree in
hospitality and restaurant management from the University of Mississippi in 2008. After a short stint managing a McAlister’s Deli, he started working at the CVP in June 2010, and he now lives back in Brandon. The mild-mannered redhead never planned to work on domestic-violence issues, but wanted an opportunity to do meaningful work. Since starting his position, he has learned how to decipher legal terms and has gained a better understanding of the legal system’s role in preventing domestic abuse. One of the most rewarding parts of his job is watching victims transform as they walk away from an abusive situation. “It’s a weight off their shoulders. They are happier, and you see them start to come into their selves.” Ellard also understands the abuser’s point of view and assists them through the six-month program. He says that the majority of the men in the program are continuing cycles of abuse they witnessed in their own families growing up. The program helps them gain awareness about the root causes of their actions. At first, abusers typically are in denial that they have a problem, Ellard says. “We have facilitators that lead them away from that, so they can focus on themselves and not try to blame everything,” he says. “As they go through the class, they gain knowledge, and we help them try to improve themselves.” —Lacey McLaughlin
38 Native Blue XM Radio’s Best New Blues Artist Zac Harmon comes home to Jackson for a concert at JSU. MEREDITH NORWOOD
4 ................... Slowpoke 6 .......................... Talks 10 .................. Editorial 10 .................... Stiggers 10 ........................ Zuga 11 .................. Opinion 20 ... Chick Gift Guide 34 ............... Diversions 36 ..................... 8 Days 37 .............. JFP Events 38 ....................... Music 39 ......... Music Listings 41 ................. Astrology 42 ......................... Food 46 ............ Fly Shopping
Byram’s Sgt. Reginald Cooper is a demonstration of what it takes to end domestic violence.
46 Chick Shine You have the perfect Chick Ball dress, right? Don’t forget the perfect shoes and accessories.
Ronni Mott Ronni Mott came to Jackson by way of D.C. in 1997. She’s an award-winning writer and the JFP’s managing editor, where she practices her hobbies of herding cats and curmudgeonliness. She teaches yoga in her spare time. She wrote the cover story.
ShaWanda Jacome Assistant to the editor ShaWanda Jacome is a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend and a Christ-follower. She is learning to “be still and to let God be God” (Psalm 46:10). She coordinated the Chick Ball and Chick Ball features in this issue.
Rachel Bush From Jackson originally, Rachel Bush is a graphic design intern. She is completing her double major in graphic design and photography at Delta State University. She photographed and helped design the cover image, and laid out many pages.
Christy Dawson Graphic design Intern Christy Dawson is a native Mississippian. She enjoys travel and good food. This summer she is attempting to make a T-shirt quilt. She helped design the cover, photographed the silent auction guide, and helped design ads.
LaShanda Phillips Editorial assistant LaShanda Phillips is a recent graduate of Jackson State University. She is the third oldest of seven children. Her motto is: “Make-up is fantastic!” She wrote a Chicks We Love profile and helped coordinate the Chick Ball.
Dustin Cardon Editorial intern Dustin Cardon is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi from Brandon. An English major, he enjoys reading fantasy novels and wants to write them himself one day. He wrote the piece on Sgt. Reginald Cooper.
Sadaaf Mamoon Sadaaf Mamoon is a rising senior at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School. She loves film scores, Greek mythology, and naming inanimate objects. Her spirit animal is a Pink Fairy Armadillo. She wrote two Chick We Love profiles.
July 5 - 12, 2011
Sales and public relations intern Sandra Benic is a senior at Millsaps College majoring in communications. When not interning, she’s planning the fantasy life she’ll be living after graduation. She helped gather Chick Ball donations.
by Donna Ladd, Editor-in-Chief
Crossing the Street
ne night when I was a teenager, a terrified woman showed up at our front door. “Help me,” she begged, crying and looking over her shoulder toward the house across the street. “He is angry. He is beating me. He might kill me.” He was her husband, and he happened to be my cousin. We weren’t especially close, but the couple happened to move in across the street in our subdivision. She had also taught me math, and was rather brilliant at it, instilling in me an appreciation for math (and logic) that has never left me. But even in the classroom, she always looked ready to bolt out of the room; she was nervous and fidgety, delicate and feminine and breakable. When she banged on the door, I looked at her tear-stained face and felt like I understood why she always looked a little scared. Thinking about her this morning, I can’t remember what my mother did, or if we helped her in any significant way. I was probably shooed back into my room. But I still remember her face and her telling me that my cousin might kill her. I also remember instantly understanding that she was desperate and had no real place to turn. I remember instances when my mother tried to manage one of my dads on a drunken rampage that could end up hurting one of us. I remember one of those dads, my stepfather, telling me how his own father had abused him. I remember feeling trapped myself in a relationship with an explosive man. I remember limping on a sprained ankle for weeks after he pushed me backward through a closet door during one of his rages. I remember fearing all of those men at times. I also remember loving the men who did those things to me and to my mother. I also remember being raped by a fellow high-schooler and knowing that no one would believe me if I tried to do anything about it. So I didn’t, carrying the memory of being pinned down, my screams muffled by his hand over my mouth, inside me for years after I fled the state, only finding catharsis after I wrote about it years later in a faraway northern city. My memories don’t stop there. I vividly recall growing up in a state, and in a nation, where the ignorant responses to domestic abuse, or sexual assault, have way too often been: “Why won’t she leave?” “She probably asked for it.” “Look at the way she dresses.” Or the worst possible one: “Well, boys will be boys.” Now that I’ve come to terms with the abuse in my family and life, forgiving my very-broken daddies and then later myself for trusting a rapist, I am able to step back and acknowledge that we have a much larger problem than a few, or even many, abusive males in too many of our lives. (Yes, women abuse, too, but not nearly as often as men.) As with many crimes, we have a societal problem. Too many people want to stay across the street and point to the evil over there somewhere. And what can we do about it anyway, they ask. She won’t leave him anyway, blah,
blah. Many go even further: blaming her for causing it in the first place whether because she “nagged” him too much or because she dared to look sexy in public. They are men, you know. And some even cite the Bible as an excuse, as if a God we’d want to worship would condone such evil actions. This societal whitewashing of serious crimes—that are about power, experts tell us—is a huge reason they are such an epidemic in our state and beyond. Broken men, many of them abuse victims themselves, aren’t stopped by those who love them, and often they are egged on (or pardoned later on; ahem, Gov. Barbour). And then, as you’ll read in Ronni Mott’s cover story this week (starts page 12), even those charged with pursuing criminals and making our world safer too often blame the victim equally for what happens to her. When good people do nothing, we create a perception that these kinds of crimes are here to stay, that they are OK, that they are impossible to stop. We also send the worst kind of message about men when we fear speaking up about abuse: We make it sound like all men are abusers when, in fact, abusers are abusers. And everyone, of both genders, is a victim of these abuse cycles. The good news is that, these days, research is showing us how to change these abuse cycles, and hero-experts like Sandy Middleton, profiled in Ronni’s story, are teaching and advocating systemic change. We now know how to stop a man or a woman from becoming a really violent batterer if we can catch it quickly enough and get them into a batterer’s intervention program. But the key there is: catch it quickly enough. That means not waiting until he has sent her to the hospital; it means reaching out to your loved ones before it gets that
bad so that you can save lives and families. It means listening and believing when a victim tells you about abuse or shows physical signs of it. And it means taking crimes against women as seriously as any other kind. It also means doing your part to change societal views of domestic and sexual abuse. Challenge any uninformed statement about abuse (the answer to “why does she stay?” is “because he is most likely to kill her when she leaves”). And never degrade the male gender with a statement like “boys will be boys.” It is a tough row to hoe, though. I gave a talk a few years back at Jackson State to a group of male and female college students about rape. An alarming number of both genders had the attitude that certain women “asked for it” by the way she dressed or acted. Society had lied to them, telling them that males shouldn’t be expected to control their urges. So, the reasoning went, he couldn’t be blamed for what he couldn’t keep himself from doing. Folks, these kids didn’t teach themselves this. And their parents didn’t teach them that. Our society did, with our belittling and degrading approach to blaming women who are victims of abuse and rape. Don’t be fooled or try to fool on this one: Abuse and assault are problems in every community and every neighborhood. You can’t blame rap or country music or television for it. If you’re tempted to blame anyone, take a look in the mirror instead and ask: “What can I do to make our society safer for women and families? How can I help break the cycle of abuse?” The answer may be as simple as crossing the street. To help stop domestic abuse in our area, visit jfpchickball.com.
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news, culture & irreverence
Thursday, June 30 Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Lonnie Edwards announces that he will return to Atlanta when his JPS contract expires. … MSNBC suspends political analyst Mark Halperin for his explicit on-air comments about President Barack Obama. Friday, July 1 Jayne Sargent begins her term as Jackson Public Schools interim superintendent. … Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi threatens to carry out attacks in Europe unless NATO stops airstrikes against his regime. Saturday, July 2 Thousands of protesters flock to Atlanta’s state capitol to protest an anti-immigration bill that authorizes police to arrest anyone they suspect of being in the country without proper immigration paperwork and makes illegal the hiring of or renting property to an unauthorized immigrant. … The American Civil Liberties Union and the Mississippi NAACP host a voter registration drive to commemorate the birthday of slain civil-rights activist Medgar Evers.
July 5 - 12, 2011
Monday, July 4 Americans celebrate the 235th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. … The Mississippi Highway Patrol announces it has made more than 200 DUI arrests over the holiday weekend.
Tuesday, July 5 Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood files a motion asking the U.S. District Court to dismiss the city of Canton’s lawsuit against Nissan. … The World Trade Organization says China violated global rules by restricting exports of raw materials used in high-technology products. Get daily news updates at jfpdaily.com.
JPS Budget Blunders, New Leadership board announced in January that it would not renew his contract for the next school year. His hearing started in March and ended last month. The board was waiting on a summary from Edwards’ hearing, and had not voted on whether to renew his contract, which expired June 30. An hour later, the board emerged and announced that former JPS Superintendent Jayne Sargent would assume Edwards’ position until they decided on a permanent leader for the district. Although he had not rescinded his appeal, EdDr. Jayne Sargent began her position as Jackson Public Schools interim superintendent July 1. wards appeared to gracefully bow out June 29, when he offered well wishes to the ith all the attention surrounding school district and announced that he would Superintendent Lonnie Edwards’ return to his home in Atlanta. departure from Jackson Public While the district will not lay off teachSchools last week, one could be for- ers or request a tax increase from the city, given for missing the district’s budget passage Edwards leaves JPS with a budget full of unfor the 2011-2012 school year. knowns. The district passed a $205.4 million After approving a budget for the next budget for fiscal year 2011. Last year’s budget fiscal year, which started July 1, school board was $270 million, 12 percent smaller than members met behind closed doors on June the previous year. The district is waiting on 27 in executive session to discuss the district’s $5.8 million in federal funds, which have been superintendent. Edwards appealed when the included in its expected revenues.
by Lacey McLaughlin
On June 28, The Clarion-Ledger reported that the district faced an $18 million shortfall for the 2011/2012 school year. Later that day, JPS released a statement claiming that the article contained “major inaccuracies” about the shortfall amount, and the Ledger had since corrected the story on its website. The district maintained that it expects to receive $7 million from city and state revenues and has $12 million in reserves to cover any shortfalls and, therefore, did not face an $18 million shortfall. “We are optimistic that all requested revenues will be received,” the release stated. Board members and JPS spokeswoman Peggy Hampton referred questions about the smaller budget to JPS Chief Financial Officer Sharolyn Miller, who is on vacation until July 11. Parents for Public Schools Executive Director Susan Womack said her organization was in the process of reviewing the budget and could not make a statement, yet. JPS board member Otha Burton, who was up for reconfirmation July 5, told district officials last week that there was simply not enough time for board members to thoroughly review the budget prior to voting. “I do not want to see this process evolve the way it did the past couple of years,” Burton said during the June 27 meeting to school board members and district employees. “We have several budgets to review, which is a lot. ... This board needs time to review each budJPS see page 7
and want to be like when we grow up.
“If we are all about impacting student achievement and making sure that our students have what they should need, then textbooks and educational material should be looked at with that in mind.” —Jackson Public Schools Board member Linda Rush during a June 27 board meeting about her concern about the district’s small budget for textbooks.
Hazel Brannon Smith Eudora Welty Fannie Lou Hamer Evelyn Gandy Elizabeth Lee Hazen Margaret Walker Alexander Oprah Winfrey Tracie Barnhart-Otto Sandra Polanski Carrie Kizek Lola Williamson Myrlie Evers Darby Ray Melody Moody Elizabeth Lee Hazen Ida B. Wells Mary Craig Kimbrough Sinclair
Sunday, July 3 Jackson businessman Stuart Irby is released from the Madison County Detention Center after serving a 48-hour sentence for a driving-under-the-influence charge he received earlier this year. … Mary Margaret Roark of Cleveland, Miss., wins the title of Miss Mississippi.
Experts estimate that only about half of all domestic abuse is reported to police, mainly due to intimidation by abusers and lack of resources for victims.
COURTESY JACKSON PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Wednesday, June 29 Gov. Haley Barbour joins former President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Global Initiative in Chicago. …. President Barack Obama nominates Jackson lawyer Gregory K. Davis as a U.S. attorney for the southern half of Mississippi.
Attorney General Jim Hood is pleased about new online legislation that went into effect July 1. p9
news, culture & irreverence
get. This board needs time to be involved in each process of examination.” Burton said school board members needed to be more engaged with the district’s financial staff and form committees to have realistic discussions of revenue expenditures. “It is too late to talk about balancing the budget without that kind of discussion,” he said. The budget left no wiggle room, and it would put a lot of pressure on the district, Burton said. Board members raised concerns over the district’s $350,000 textbook budget line item. During the previous school year, teachers had to photocopy pages out of textbooks because there were not enough books to go around, said JPS board member Monica GilmoreLove. Miller said the amount was low because the district was only required to buy new high-
school history books this year, as opposed to buying textbooks for multiple subject areas. “As a parent with a student in the school district, I have seen the quality of the copies coming home, and they are not sufficient,” Gilmore-Love said. Edwards assured the school board that every student would be able to obtain books. Gilmore-Love asked to revisit the issue during the September board meeting. “If we are all about impacting student achievement and making sure that our students have what they should need, then textbooks and educational material should be looked at with that in mind,” board member Linda Rush said. “That amount, in my mind, is not adequately enough to do what we need to do.” Comment at www.jfp.ms.
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Food Truck Vote Set for July
obile food vendors may be serving tacos and burgers in the downtown area by the end of July. Ward 1 Councilman Quentin Whitwell said the council might have a vote on the issue as early as the July 26 regular council meeting, but could not commit to an exact date. The Jackson City Council Rules Committee passed an ordinance in May allowing vendors to buy an annual $500 license from the city to sell food from a truck, so long as each permit only applies to one selling location, trucks are fully insured, and the distribution and preparation center meets strict guidelines for cleanliness. Whitwell altered the language of the proposed ordinance to restrict vendors to pre-designated areas in the city, at least 150 feet away from any restaurant entrance. Competing restaurants can waive that requirement and allow a mobile vendor within that space if they so choose. Jackson entrepreneur Sid Scott wants to open a food truck selling tacos and tortas in the downtown area, and said the new ordinance makes possible a mobile-vending area around downtown Jackson’s Smith Park on Amite Street. “We would love to refurbish Smith Park and turn it into something that people look forward to visiting,” Scott said last month. “I think a food truck or two or three would do a lot to increase (park) visitation. The ordinance allows for trucks to park on the road alongside the park.” Whitwell re-introduced the ordinance setting permit requirements last month, despite the approval of the Rules Committee in May. His re-introduction prompted some proponents of the ordinance to fear that the language was in for another exhaustive process of public hearings and debate. “There have been several changes, (so Jackson) legal counsel asked me to re-intro-
OPEN MIC JAM 7-11 by Adam Lynch
duce the ordinance,” Whitwell said. “… They wanted a clean new version, so that’s what I offered,” The councilman was sure that no new hearings are necessary. New language requires food truck owners to submit a scaled sketch plan or photographs depicting the proposed pushcart or mobile food vehicle location, dimensions and details of surrounding streetscape elements. It requires a valid insurance policy providing minimum liability coverage of $1 million per mobile-food preparation vehicle and $500,000 for pushcarts, and a food-vending permit from the Mississippi Department of Health, among other requirements. Vendors will cook most of the food offsite at a stationary kitchen, but prepare the final product on location. Tom Ramsey, a Jackson chef and freelance writer who wants to open a food truck with partner Scott, said he was glad the ordinance would not be bogged down with more public hearings. He added that the city of Jackson appeared to take too long to pass the ordinance, considering that other cities across the South already have working models of the same ordinance on the books. “The easiest thing to do ought to be getting out of the way and letting business happen,” said Ramsey, who chastised the city for setting permit requirements for some mobile food sellers while ignoring smaller food sellers entirely. “Go to any juke joint on a Saturday night, and there’s a guy with a grill outside selling barbecue,” Ramsey said. “Where’s the city of Jackson there? Where’s the city of Jackson throwing up their arms and asking if they’re hurting people or businesses and asking for a sketch of their barbecue grill?” Comment at www.jfp.ms.
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by Valerie Wells
JPS Admits Handcuffing Kids for Hours
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officials restrained children goes against this policy. “We understand there is a change in leadership (at JPS),” Owens said. He wants to sit down and evaluate the policy with school officials to implement changes before the school year starts in August. If JPS does not agree to that, SPLC will ask the court to resolve the issue. Among the alleged incidents cited in the lawsuit: • A 14-year-old boy who wore a stocking cap to class threw his papers on the ground and refused to do his schoolwork. When he was left alone, cuffed to the railing, he yelled out because he had to go to the bathroom. The school safety officer refused to let him go. When the cuffs came off at the end of the school day, they left marks on his wrists. The boy got similar punishments for wearing mismatched shoelaces and not bringing back paperwork. • A 14-year-old boy refused to take off his shoes during a routine search. He didn’t want to do it and went to class upset. A school safety officer dragged him by his belt to the gym. The officer handcuffed his arm and leg and shackled him to the pole. The boy said the cuffs were too tight. A school official called his mom, but when she got to the school she wasn’t allowed to go to him. The officer uncuffed the boy and brought him to the office to his mother. She saw bruises and scratches on his wrists that he didn’t have that morning. • A 15-year-old boy was dancing and rapping in his classroom. Walden told him to stop. The boy stopped. “Boy, you look like you got an attitude,” Walden allegedly said. Two security guards took the boy to
arents and advocates are waiting to see how new Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Jayne Sargent resolves a lawsuit accusing JPS of handcuffing and shackling students at its alternative school. JPS has already admitted handcuffing children to a stairway railing at Capital City Alternative School, feeding them lunch while handcuffed, and leaving them restrained and unsupervised for hours. JPS admitted this in its written response to a federal class-action lawsuit the Southern Poverty Law Center filed in June. Jody Owens, director of the SPLC in Mississippi, said the response amounts to a major admission. “What we’ve always asked for is for it to stop immediately,” Owens said. JPS has a written policy that allows restraining students when they could harm themselves or others. Owens said a student handcuffed for multiple hours would not pose a threat. “If you thought they were calm enough to be given lunch, they were not a threat,” he said last week. JPS also admits that school employees passing by or through the gym area could hear children calling out, asking for the handcuffs to be loosened. In an instance when school officials restrained a girl who talked back, JPS admits she was handcuffed for multiple hours to the stair railing near the stairs in the gym, where there was no video camera, and that the safety officer did nothing to remove her handcuffs. Also, the school did not give the girl any disciplinary paperwork, which Owens says is important. “That means they did what they wanted to do when they wanted to do it,” he said. JPS has a written student-restraint policy that allows the use of handcuffs and mace if a student poses a threat. The policy states, “District policy prohibits the use of excessive force, or cruel and unusual punishment, regarding student management and discipline.” The SPLC argues that the way Capital City
the gym and handcuffed him to the stair railing. The cuffs left marks on his wrists. The lawsuit asks the court to prohibit the school from cuffing students and to protect the students’ constitutional rights. Jacqueline Willis, mother of a student at the Capital City Alternative School, asked the JPS board June 21 to improve conditions at its alternative school and stop handcuffing students. Willis claimed that staff members frequently handcuffed her son, Anthony Willis, for minor infractions. Willis and several parents and students presented a petition to the board with 12,000 signatures demanding that the district end the practice of handcuffing. “If we cannot protect our own children when they are in school, and if they are all treated like they are bad, then we are not giving our children a chance,” Anthony Willis read from a statement. Two national advocacy organizations, Alternet.org and Care2.com, launched a petition, with individual’s signatures from around the country and presented it to the board. Drodriquez Williams, who recently graduated from Wingfield High School, also claimed to the board June 21 that faculty members handcuffed him when he attended Capital City alternative school for talking out of turn. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
by Adam Lynch
New Laws Help Abuse Victims, More KEN LUND
tions,â€? said lobbyist Stan Flint, who pushed for the rebalancing of state funding. â€œWeâ€™re one of the leading states sending money to institutions, but nursing homes should not be the default public-policy solution to get longterm care.â€? The National Center for Medicaid and Medicare ServicNew state laws will make home-based nursing a reality for es and MCCD have some Mississippi patients and provide new layers of protection pushed the state to for domestic abuse victims. steer more Medicaid udges can add an extra level of protec- money traditionally slated for institutional tion for victims of domestic abuse under long-term health careâ€”such as nursing House Bill 196, which Gov. Haley Bar- homesâ€”into home-care nursing. Until rebour signed in March. cently, however, the Mississippi Division of The law allows judges to fit perpetrators Medicaid stuck to its guns on slating Medicaid of domestic violence with a GPS device as a money to institutions, possibly in response to condition of their bond. It requires no addi- pressure from nursing industry lobbyists. tional money from the state because the perpeMary Troupe, executive director of the trator funds the device and the accompanying Mississippi Coalition for Citizens with Dismonitoring service. The device has an elec- abilities, said the change will mean qualifying tronic counterpart, owned by the victim. The patients can now receive nursing care in the device alerts the victim if his or her personal comfort of their homes instead of moving to a terrorist is anywhere within the restricted zone medical facility. Flint said the change amounts the judge imposed around his or her house, or to incredible savings for the state. around places the victim frequents. â€œHome-care nursing is less expensive The court also gives the victim a hotline than institutional care. It saves the state a minito an appropriate member of law enforcement mum of $60,000 per person, per year,â€? Flint to call if the perpetrator enters any of the re- said. â€œThis appropriation change creates 3,000 stricted zones. waivers for qualifying people. Thatâ€™s 3,000 The new law follows a host of new leg- people saving the state $60,000 each.â€? islation passed during the 2011 legislative sesAnother law becoming effective this sion that went into effect July 1. month sets the clock ticking on how long The Mississippi Coalition for Citizens non-elementary public schools have to bring with Disabilities and other organizations are a form of sex education to their students. The praising the beginning of a new statewide law makes clear in conservative Mississippi funding initiative to steer thousands of dollars that schools may opt for an abstinence-only in Medicaid money into home and commu- version of the sex-education courseâ€”which nity-based health care. studies have shown to be an ineffective apâ€œThis creates thousands of new waivers proach to reducing sex among teenagers. for home care. This is really a decision that The law also requires parents to OK legislators made this year to move appropria- their childâ€™s participation in the sex-ed class
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before the child may participate. Critics such as Rachel Hicks, executive director of public policy watchdog group Mississippi First, say that a high incidence of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases affect a disproportionate number of children with non-attentive parents, and that the lawâ€™s language could end up excluding the most atrisk populations for education. Under the guidelines, each sex-education course must include information on potential emotional scarring as a result of early or underage sex, as well as an adequate education on the hardships of early parenting and the prevalence of sex-related disease. Flint said he was thankful opponents didnâ€™t kill the flawed bill. â€œDo not let the perfect be the enemy of the good,â€? Flint told the Jackson Free Press. â€œKilling a bill over its shortfalls is a narrow-visioned approach to public policy. Whatâ€™s important is that it is now no longer optional to teach sex-ed. You may go with the abstinence-only piece, which I think does not work, but parents have been telling kids to â€˜just say noâ€™ since Noah got off the boat. It didnâ€™t work when I was a kid, and it doesnâ€™t work now.â€? Although the bill kicks in this month, schools have until June 30, 2012, to get their sex-education class together. Attorney General Jim Hood praised the enactment of a new law that makes online impersonation of a person on any social networking site a misdemeanor offense with a fine between $250 and $1,000, or imprisonment of no less than 10 days. â€œMississippi is really ahead of the curve with the passage of this bill,â€? Hood said in a statement. â€œThis really addresses a problem we see with folks who create Facebook pages in someone elseâ€™s name and pose as that person, doing a world of harm to the victims of the postings plus the reputation of the â€˜ownerâ€™ of the page.â€? Hood has been an active proponent of legislation that deters bullying and cyber-bullying. Comment at www.jfp.ms.
Jesse Gallagher Griff Howard Lori Carpenter Scroggins Ginger Rankin Brock Freeman
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n a wonderful act of synchronicity, the Jackson Free Press, the Center for Violence Prevention and its director, Sandy Middleton, all found one another back in 2004. Under Middleton’s direction, the center has become a force in the movement to end domestic violence in the state of Mississippi. Despite many great strides forward, it’s an effort that is far from complete. Domestic violence and rape continue to be crimes where the victims are blamed as much as the offenders. The attempted-rape case against the former head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, is one such example. The media are raking the victim over its bed of judgmental coals, not because Strauss-Kahn is innocent, but because the victim turns out not to be a perfect witness. She is black, poor, a refugee and may have cheated on her taxes. She may have told a lie. None of those things make her a “hooker” as The New York Post declared in its four-inch July 2 headline. They just make her human. The case against Strauss-Kahn is a stark reminder of why half the victims of abuse, domestic violence and rape never report their assaults. Until police, prosecutors and the media can figure out that the victims aren’t at fault, we’ll continue to ask stupid questions such as, “why doesn’t she leave?” instead of smart ones like “why does he terrorize her?” Not so very long ago, women who were being terrorized by stalkers could only count on friends and family for protection. No stalking laws existed in Mississippi until 1993, so police could offer no help until violence occurred. Until last year, a victim had to prove she was in imminent danger of death to have her stalker convicted. In Mississippi, victims who were strangled by their abusers could not count on a felony assault charge against their attacker if they survived. That changed last year. This year, judges can order abusers to wear GPS tracking devices to be monitored by their victims, giving the abused another way to protect and empower themselves. We would like Mississippi lawmakers to stop “protecting” victims by forcing them to stay in dysfunctional marriages. Taking a beating or submitting to terror is not a better option than divorce. It just is not. No child should ever be subjected to violence inflicted on a parent. That isn’t sane public policy, any more than not funding women’s shelters and batterer’s intervention programs. Abuse victims deserve our collective attention and our concerted efforts to bring an end to the traumatic violence that permeates their lives. The Jackson Free Press is pleased to have made contributions to the movement to end domestic violence in Mississippi. We invite everyone to make the contributions they are able to. Come to the Chick Ball if you can. Tell someone about it if you can’t. See jfpchickball.com for ways to help.
Re-educate the People
July 6 - 12, 20110
.M. Richman: “Ladies and gentlemen of the elite class, my brother (U.R. Richman) and I put our brilliant and superior minds together to change the course of history. And we need your help to revise, re-write and re-establish our American history that we lost about three years ago, after the election of the African-American-Anglo-Hawaiian from Kenya. To maintain our privilege, status, moral decency and wealth, we must support those ambitious politicians who will advocate our purpose. “We’re fed up with the present government regulations that force us to give more to the poor. We’ve seen enough of the under classes rising up and making history. The madness must stop. Therefore, we must do all we can to continue to mis-educate the lower class through social media, radio, television and print. “This is why we financed ‘Operation Extreme Right Wing Backlash Media’ to produce an American history DVD and encyclopedia series titled ‘The Re-education of the American People,’ created and presented by presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, a radical woman who isn’t afraid to buck the left-wingers, communists, gangsters and anti-Americans who occupy the White House, Congress, Senate and liberal media. “The DVD and encyclopedia series features Ms. Bachmann’s revisionist takes on American, African American, ethnic and world history. She also shares her understanding about science, art, literature, culture, philosophy, race, slavery and LGBT issues. “She may not get her words right, but she approves this message. “Please financially support this worthy cause to re-educate the American 10 people.”
Here’s to You
y youngest daughter is now 15 months old. Though it’s been fun to share all her adorable moments with you guys via Facebook, my thoughts often turn to more serious pursuits. As the father of a 17-year-old daughter and now my youngest little girl, I try to exert as much influence as I can. Fathers are often the first real male influence girls recognize so it’s important that I help them understand how a proper gentleman is supposed to treat a lady. My oldest has begun dating and even claims to have a boyfriend. The idea makes me physically ill, but the Queen has convinced me to swallow that bitter pill. I’m not so much concerned with the obvious worries. Yes, we’ve had “the talk”— several times. I trust her. But I don’t trust what has become an all too frequent occurrence in today’s society: young ladies so concerned with keeping “him” that they accept unacceptable behavior, i.e., physical or mental abuse. And in the case of my oldest daughter dating a football player, my concerns are always magnified. First loves are drama-filled times. I’ve already wiped tears, been a comforting shoulder and a stern parent. I can only hope that I’ve set enough of an example and made enough of an impact to let her know immediately that a man putting his hands on her is a “zero-tolerance” zone, aka grounds for immediate dismissal with a “no return” policy. Hopefully, she has seen how I treat the Queen. Hopefully, she knows that women are to be worshipped and respected as equals. You know, chivalry: doors opened, seats pulled out and so forth. I’ve told her that if a guy doesn’t do that, drop him. In another decade or so, I’ll need my oldest
to be the role model for my little one. She’ll be looking to her big sister for tips on make-up, hair and (ugh) boys. I hope then that she will hear the do’s and dont’s. I hope she hears the telltale signs of physical and verbal abuse. Even after the most hands-on parenting, you can only pray that your kids put those teachings into practice. It’s not an exact science. I’ve seen the strictest, most loving homes produce an abuse victim, or worse yet, an abuser. Love, or what one thinks is love, will make men and women do crazy things. I grew up in a household where I saw a father who loved and respected my mother. He rarely raised his voice to her. I went from that to meeting the love of my life and finding out she was a victim, a victim who is just getting over those demons she carried with her for years. Queen has come a long way. From that darkness, she has emerged as an inspiration to other women in similar situations. She has become the activist that her father was and the rock of our household. I’ve finally found someone even I have trouble keeping up with. What better vision of womanhood can my two girls learn from? As I always do during Chick Ball time, I honor Funmi Franklin as a “Chick I Love.” You should be held up by JFP and the city as a prominent survivor. I also honor my mother, Mary Franklin, and my two girls, Brandi and Bralynn. Here’s to you, ladies, for knowing how a woman should be treated. And here’s to all of you for making me a better man. And that’s the truth ... sho-nuff.
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The War at Home
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fter my uncleâ€™s first deployment, he was a different person. His temper was short, and he berated my aunt about the changes she made in his absence. He wanted her to stop working and stay at home. When I came to visit, we werenâ€™t allowed in the house if he was there. All of his actions were a part of his attempt to regain control. My aunt never called the on-base military police for help during domestic disturbances. If he was arrested and convicted, my uncle would be dishonorably discharged. When soldiers return from war, they usually receive a well-deserved homecoming. Spouses and children are overjoyed to see the person they love return. But often, these soldiers have changed. And they take out their hurt and anger on the families they left behind. In the span of six weeks in 2002, four soldiers murdered their wives at the Fort Bragg army base in North Carolina. Three of the soldiers had just returned from deployments in Afghanistan. These killings showed the increasing trend of domestic violence in the military. Since the â€œWar on Terrorâ€? began in 2001, American citizens have dissected its economic costs and political consequences. But the most troubling result has been the rise in domestic abuse for military families. For soldiersâ€™ spouses, the obstacles are relatively high. But outsiders view their role as a simple oneâ€”keep your husband or wife happy. The families of soldiers are the real heroes; they withstand difficulties to support those they love. The psyche of a soldier returning from war is fragile. Everything is differentâ€”the house, the children, even the dog. Silence can be stifling; noise can be irritating. While deployed, they have no control over their lives. When soldiers return, they have to turn off the killing mentality required to survive on the battlefield. Some soldiers canâ€™t adjust. Starting in 2001, the military has seen an increase in domestic-abuse cases. Its statistics for domestic violence only include reported cases among married couples. Cases involving boyfriends and girlfriends, former spouses or fiancĂŠes are not reported as â€œdomesticâ€? violence. But the biggest problem in reporting cases is the spousesâ€™ fear. The soldierâ€™s confidentiality is not guaranteed with counseling in domestic-violence cases. He or she could face a dishonorable discharge, after which he or she would not receive any of the before-promised benefits. Part of the problem is the publicâ€™s attitude toward military families. We too often see them as the link to hold our army together. If a soldierâ€™s mind is occupied with thoughts of his marital problems, he will be less effective on the field of war. Distractions make our troops a liability. This attitude shows a lack of empathy for their struggle. Studies show that the more frequently a
soldier is deployed, the more likely domestic abuse in the home will occur. Like so many troops returning home, my uncle was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, another common factor in domestic-violence cases. The trauma of war plays a part in domestic violence at home. The violent and traumatic experiences soldiers experience during war prevent them from integrating back into everyday life. It is as if the government has a new â€œdonâ€™t ask; donâ€™t tellâ€? policy that focuses on domestic abuse. Seeking help isnâ€™t always encouraged. A couple that attends marriage counseling through the militaryâ€™s resources has no confidentiality; the incident is reported to the soldierâ€™s commander. If a soldier has a record of seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist, heâ€™s barred from certain missions. It can be a career breaker. The domestic violence that occurred between my aunt and uncle canâ€™t be easily explained. She wishes more resources were available for help. He says seeking help would result in punishment. But they agree that the pressure of the war increased the rift between them. In 1998, â€œ60 Minutesâ€? aired a program on domestic violence in the military. The result was a public outcry that prompted Congress to demand action from the military. The Pentagon responded with a pledge to provide resources for victims, but halted the shortlived programs after the Afghanistan war began in 2001. The military formed the Defense Task Force On Domestic Violence, which was assigned to investigate cases from 2001-2003. The task force made suggestions for improvement and studied the effects of domestic violence. But the resources available now donâ€™t have adequate support. The family programs handle an overload of cases with a strained budget. And the staff for family-advocacy programs is under-trained. The military has promised an increased budget for handling domestic-violence in its ranks, and itâ€™s time for them to pay up. I once considered a career in the military. My paperwork was together, and I planned to accept a military scholarship for college. But after talking with returning soldiers, I backed out. Looking back, Iâ€™m glad I didnâ€™t enlist. The pressure of a military life may have been too much for me. So many areas need to be re-examined and improved. Domestic violence is one of them. Before we continue to deploy troops overseas, we should examine our domestic problems. Itâ€™s time for America to pull back from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and focus on the war at home. Editorial intern Brianna White is an avid sports fan who loves Harry Potter and Mandarin Chinese. Everyone thinks she would make a great doctor, which means sheâ€™ll become a writer.
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