Saturday, October 10, 2020

Helping the Justice System Adapt to Extremism, Mental Health, and Racism

We must tackle racism, bigotry and mental health in our society. The lack of self-awareness and deep heuristic divisions still impact the very fabric of our nation and in turn hampers our efforts to reposition our nation as the center of the global economy. To do so we must think about how our belief systems impact the decisions we make the way in which we view others. I have been writing some time about a very real example that mixes bigotry with mental health in a way that can be destructive to communities.

People have been protesting and this is only part of the discussion on what it means to have universal justice. For the most part police are very good people who want to help people in their communities. Unfortunately there are those who don't hold these values and often carry with them deep seated anger that sometimes comes out on the powerless, minorities and those that look like easy targets. (This isn't a new concept).

While many of our politicians are talking about chokeholds I don't think this is the big fish. Sure...we want to empower officers to use only that force necessary for their and the suspect's safety. The "bigger fish" is how we think and deal with those who have little respect for others and are willing to cross legal boundaries to obtain their psychological and personal urges. 

I'm not going into all the details but I believe the big changes are more about changing the processes so that officers that engage in criminal activity are not only uncovered but potential problems can be thwarted before they become bigger problems. Headline news is one thing but its the day-to-day lives of both the officers and the minority community (any everyone else's community) where real change must occur. 

1. Holding "bad apples" accountable. When officers and associates engage in criminal behavior they should be held accountable. When problems arise through complaints and eye witness then we must take action to help the officer help themselves. 

2. Environment of transparency. Culturally we should be more open with information. Officers should be open to each other and open to the public to build relationships through trust in shared perspectives. Data and reporting have value in evaluating performance from a macro level but the internal controls (and culture) are what is going to help in day-to-day events.

I have seen first hand how people can influence law enforcement for their own diabolical ends. Fortunately, in this case the officials figured out they were intentionally mislead and adjusted accordingly. The perpetrators in this case have not dealt with their bias and were willing to cause serious harm to reconfirm their limited view of the world. The vantage point they used was based in ignorance but it was their mental health issues that didn't allow them to self-regulate.

In the media we are discussing hate groups and the attempted abduction of a sitting governor. This can't happen unless we have an environment that is ripe for extremists from both sides of the political spectrum. In the case I'm familiar with, the perpetrators behavior  would not have happened if they were in a more healthy and open minded mindset. Social support for hate crimes highlighted deep seated dysfunctional friendships and inappropriate relationships. 

We must also consider how these actions might have been given a "blind eye" and not giving proper scrutiny. We haven't found a way to work with mental health and hate groups in a way that respects differences in opinions but holds racially motivated extremist behavior accountable.  Such extreme points of view are only a peak into a mindset that also justifies other behaviors to protect misguided self-perception.

The case likely went to the local prosecutor and then bounced somewhere else due to a lack of expertise and the complex moving parts of hate crimes, potential financial crimes, seriousness of the potential crimes of associates, invasion of privacy, etc... With open communication and dialogue a situation that would have been a net positive for everyone became destructive. You can only offer but it is up to the perpetrators themselves to accept. 

Sometimes the perception of being in a power position leads to overconfidence recklessness through emotional projection. For example, the hate they see in me and my family (and any other target) is un dealt with self-hate from childhood trauma. You can tell through the way they communicate and the latent functions they use to construct their understanding of events.

I will continue to write about this and seek to focus on accuracy as much as possible. This is a situation we can learn from as a society and find better ways of tying the different flavors of American life into a single conception of American values. Mount Everest is still start of that process. I'm planning a trip in January to Colorado to polish up on my winter climbing skills (Assuming I can find a good guide). My goal is to raise more awareness for bigotry and racism in a pro-social activity through enhancing the need for universal justice and essential American values. 

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