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Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws Versus Giving Power to the Judge

Why has incarceration exploded in the United States? Over the past few decades, incarceration rates have increased by 700 percent. Have we suddenly become an utterly lawless country? Or is something else going on? We caught up with Glenn E. Martin, at Impact Prisons 2017 to get his take on the situation. In this interview, he suggests that mandatory minimum sentencing laws contribute to the problem. Mandatory sentencing laws came into vogue in the heyday of the War on Drugs. It was believed by many that if the prison sentences were long enough and harsh enough, people who used and sold drugs would stop doing so. Thus, the threat of prison was regarded as a deterrent. Undoubtedly, we need a large dose of sanity to reform our prison sentence. Giving judges the power to act as judges rather than administrators is a step in the right direction.

The following decades have proven this hope to be spectacularly naïve. Apparently, those who use drugs recreationally don’t weigh the possibility of prison sentences, which are, after all, rather remote. And those who sell and transport drugs apparently think that the rewards outweigh the risk. Nonetheless, sentences for drug possession and drug trafficking have increased dramatically, even up to 20 years. And mandatory minimum sentencing laws make it impossible for judges to step in and shorten those sentences when there’s a lack of a criminal record or other factors.

In addition, many states have created mandatory sentences for repeat offenders, such as California’s Three Strikes Law—which was designed to put an end to the petty crimes committed by repeat offenders. The immediate consequence of the law was that many people were sent away for 20-year long mandatory sentences for petty crimes like shoplifting.

Power to the Judge Amid Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws

Not that we should support shoplifting, but if we are going to send people away for life for the offense of stealing a screwdriver, it shouldn’t come as a surprise when the prison population explodes and becomes more and more expensive. Simply from an economic perspective, this situation makes no sense for society whatsoever. From a justice perspective, the situation is equally dire. The mandatory sentencing laws in the United States are notoriously harsh when judged alongside other modern industrial societies. Decades-long and life sentences for drug possession can hardly be regarded as sensible in the modern world.

Martin suggests that giving judges back their discretionary power may help to alleviate the surge in incarceration. In truth, judges should be able to consider all of the circumstances and consequences of a crime, and seek out the best possible alternative for all involved, rather than have their hands tied by the most draconian choice.

Fog Harvesting System For Clean, Drinkable Water

Fog harvesting system is a bold system that is now playing an essential role when it comes to providing drinkable water. The system is going to be beneficial for countries such as Chile, Ecuador, and Peru, which according to the International Development Research Centre, are some of the world’s driest regions. Droughts are the main reason why there can be a severe lack of fresh water available in some regions.

Researchers from Massachusetts Institute of Technology who are collaborating with colleagues in Chile are attempting to supply quantities of clean and drinkable water in these kinds of dry areas.

Daniel Fernandez, a fog researcher at California State University in Monterey Bay, said that “Fog has a really big impact on the world we live in.”

Fog has the possibility to provide an alternative source of clean water especially in dry regions. It can also be collected using a simple and low-cost collection systems. The captured water can be used for different purposes like agricultural irrigation and domestic use.

The idea of fog harvesting has a great impact to people because it provides them with clean and drinkable water. In Chile, using the fog harvesting technology, the average annual volume of water being harvested is 2.5 l/m3/day. People in Peru, can harvest between 200 and 400 liters a day from each panel.Fog harvesting system for drinkable water

Just like the concept of fog harvesting system to help dry areas capture water, FogQuest is a Canadian charity that is committed to planning and implementing water projects for rural communities. They use fog collectors in order to produce clean water for people.

The water that is being collected from fog harvesting technology was said to have met the standards of the World Health Organization. The impact of installing and maintaining the technology to the environment is minimal. The construction of fog harvesting is effortless and can be undertaken on the site. However, despite all the technology’s advantages, it still depends on a water source, which is not always reliable knowing that the development of fogs is uncertain.

The technique of fog harvesting system is not a new idea because it already exists in at least 17 nations. Now, bold new research has been trying to innovate the system by means of creating an improved version. MIT researchers have made an advanced fog harvesting material, which enables the mist catchers to produce five times more water. They believed that by closing the gaps in the net material is going to drastically improve the efficiency of fog harvesting systems.

Innovative techniques like fog harvesting system is deemed to be very helpful and useful for people. Having a clean water to drink especially in drought-stricken areas is important. The highly-advanced ‘fog harvesting system’ has proven to be an effective bold concept, which impacts people in a positive way.

Introducing Aura, A Bold DIY Security System

Aura, a high-tech home security system that is based in Waterloo, Ontario, is on its way to creating a bold name when it comes to the world of do-it-yourself security system. The smart-home tech is considered as a new player but has already grasped people’s attention.

Cognitive Systems, the maker of the home security device, has revealed Aura during day one of the world’s largest, annual gathering of technology companies, displaying new shopper products. The bold concept of Aura is useful for a world revolving around smartphones.

“When we realized that our technology could understand motion by seeing how the patterns in wireless signals change in a home, we knew we had something special”

The founders of Cognitive Systems, Oleksiy Kravets, Taj Manku and Hugh Hind got the idea for Aura when they oversaw the development of a supercomputer chip with CPUs, which can track wireless networks.

Manku said that, “When we realized that our technology could understand motion by seeing how the patterns in wireless signals change in a home, we knew we had something special.”

Aura has the capability to spot someone who is walking through the radio waves of a Wi-Fi. It does not require sensors on doors and windows, or even motion detectors in every rooms.

A bold fact about Aura is that it is more advanced than old-school motion sensors because a single pair of Aura sensors can detect movement through big sections of a multistory house.

According to Stacy Tozer, Marketing Strategist, Cognitive Systems, “The second Aura detects something, it will start recording so that people can see it in real time.”

Aura Home security system using WiFi signals and alert system

The home security device initiates what the wireless signals in a house normally looks like. Every time an Aura uncovers movement by an unknown individual in the residence it sends an alert to the smartphones of the owners. The has mentioned that Aura is programmed to acknowledge the smartphones of the people living in a home.

The new device is being compared with other well-known security systems like Monitored System, Unmonitored System, Wireless Alarm Systems, and Electric Current Home Alarm, which are four different types of security systems mentioned by Do It Yourself. Just like other home DIY systems, Aura uses battery power. It can also detect motion and set off an alarm.

Aura has some disadvantages as well because they cannot have root access to other security systems and inform authorities if something bad happened. Despite some holes, Aura’s bold action of innovating security systems is a great achievement in keeping people aware and safe.

The bold concept of Aura is being noticed by a lot of people. Having a high quality security system is what the world needs and with Aura’s continuous success, there is no doubt that the device can be integrated with other features.

Reuben Miller Takes On The Issue of Mass Incarceration in the US

Reuben Jonathan Miller is a passionate advocate of social justice and truth. As an assistant professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan, he has performed groundbreaking research into incarceration and what it means to live in a carceral society. Miller claims that mass incarceration—such as the mass incarceration in the US that exists today—creates a fundamental change in society and has profound impacts that go far beyond the obvious difficulties faced by minorities and the poor. He describes it as a “catalog of disaster” which springs inevitably from a carceral state. Mass incarceration doesn’t simply punish a perpetrator, it fundamentally changes all of society.

In this video, we caught up with Miller at Impact Prisons 2017, where he covers some of the bold ideas he has for changing society for the better—by rethinking our entire relation to prison and punishment. On the issue of mass incarceration in the US, he has pointed out that over 12 million Americans are released from prison every year. One-third of black American men have a felony conviction, and 79 million Americans have a criminal record.

These are staggering numbers. But the gap between actual incarceration and those who are somehow wrapped up in the system—while on probation or supervision of some type—shows that the prison complex, which he calls the “carceral system”, is far larger than most of Americans can even imagine. The consequences of this system are devastating for families, communities and social cohesion.

On Mass Incarceration in the US — A Carceral Society Affect Us All

Recidivism is through the roof, and felons have an almost impossible hill to climb when it comes to returning to normal civilian life. Their political rights are almost non-existent and their economic rights are severely impaired. They continue to cycle in and out, back into the low-income neighborhoods from which they came.

We have created a system which has next to nothing to do with rehabilitation or even with just and reasonable punishment. Every study shows that poor and minority citizens are convicted and incarcerated at dramatically higher rates for the same crimes as those of the upper middle class. And once a person is touched by the system, there is almost no way out for him or her. The demise of the individual has knock-on effects for their friends, family and community. It is a cycle of almost continuous and permanent destruction that not only punishes poverty, the carceral society actually creates poverty and social disintegration.

Miller is one of the foremost researchers in the field of incarceration and re-entry, with an emphasis on the entire ecosystem of contact with the law, including the process of supervision, incarceration and re-entry. He makes the bold statement that incarceration affects not just prisoners, but also every single citizen. Indeed, there is a need for a bold change in the issue of mass incarceration in the US.