Being an Advocate and my J.O.B.
Advocacy really breaks down into three simple things and one starting point:
1) What's the Problem?
a. Changing Law
b. Changing Policy
c. Changing Budgets
Criminal Justice Reform is the focus of my efforts. Often, these days, that looks like work in Substance Use and Mental Healthcare.
I am clinically trained to work in a court and be objective. However; I am a Bi(or non)-Partisan voter. My advocacy efforts tend to promote three major Ideals or Values:
1) Progressive Thinking (new ideas)
2) Fiscal Responsibility (lowering the budget)
3) Local economic stimulus and long-term sustainability (sustainability)
My Job is not just to advocate for oppressed peoples but to consider and be a voice for all people. I tend to seek to find harmony with a middle way. For example, working with law-enforcement and being a voice for victims of injustice. Considering Blue Lives while advocating for Black Lives and people oppressed by an archaic criminal justice system.
Professional Accreditation and Ethical Guidelines
My degree in Human Services is Accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education:
I follow NASW Ethics, to the best of my ability:
I follow HIPPA Statutory Guidelines to the best of my ability as well:
When considering, or requesting changes, often I follow other ethics. For example, as I attempt to change Vermont State Statute, I carefully consider the Vermont State Constitution's guidelines for ethical behavior and law-making:
Simply put, I try my hardest to Respect others, treat them how they desire to be treated, and practice, at the very least, verbal informed-consent. I do not volunteer privileged information under protected statuses and try my hardest to not disclose client information in aggregate.
My Professional Opinions
I tend to agree with Federal Sentencing Guidelines and the District Court's ability to work around them. I would not currently advocate for removing any drugs from the DEA's Schedule I list; including cannabis until a change in drug culture occurs.
I have had little issue in the District of Vermont working with U.S. Attorneys, Courts, DEA, and ATF. I have, even in a fairly progressive, diverse, and crime-free state, had issues with local policing and prosecuting policies. Vermont is, however; a leader in Restorative Justice referrals and I was fortunate enough to intern in that field at CCV.
I tend to agree with Procedural Justice and LEED policing strategies. My dissertation in working and studying criminal justice reform is; I tend not to not make referrals for community rehabilitation for people who have sociopathic or psychopathic tendencies. Simply put, if you don't have the desire to change or feel bad about harming people or the community, prison time or a registry may be necessary.
1) I believe, and write about in American Psyche, that mutual respect is the key to every healthy relationship in and out of my field of study and work.
2) I believe that there should be a culture segment in the next edition of The ASAM Criteria. The emphasis on embracing cultural identity is front and center in Human Services in the 2020's. Understanding trauma based in culture and appropriate treatment accordingly would be a nice addition to ASAM criteria. There are no positive indictors under the social category for substance use, which I find harmful to some clients that choose to continue substance use.
3) I believe that most every condition in the DSM-5 can be arrested or alleviated through talk therapy and addressing trauma properly. While bio-physiology and genetics are an important piece to understanding those conditions, culture and social influence should not be under-valued.
I also have strong opinions of the prevalence of powerful western medicine such as MAT medications and Anti-psychotics as a first or only option in SUD and Mental Health Treatment.
I have designed harm-reduction programming in community-based court programs similar to the DTC Drug Court model. My opinions on criminal justice reform include work furlough, coordinated efforts at reentry, out-of-box referrals, family units, less restrictive visits, stipends, and a sustainable private prison model similar to poor farms of the past.
My specific area of study, while at CCV, opioid use treatment, is becoming less of an issue in Vermont. While the need for such infrastructure as Hub and Spoke and my Recovery House Model utilizing the PIP Expansion plan, may be necessary nationally, I have seen the prevalence of cocaine, methamphetamine, and other stimulants increase.
In my experience self-help groups such as 12-Step Recovery and NAMI only work for a small percentage of the population. Treatment plans based around clinical SUD counseling typically have very high relapse rates of around 90%. These statstistics and my own experience and research have led me to implement such programming as MMA, Spray-Can art, and Hip-Hop therapeutically.
As an Advocate, I am firm believer that the key to empowerment and prosperity lies within the First 10-Amendments of the U.S. Bill of Rights and hard work. Those rights, and the way the U.S. economy and infrastructure has developed, protect citizens and enable them to empower themselves. I was released from federal detention with nothing but a bag of bloody clothes. Some of my proudest moments after my federal indictment include, buying my first two cars, graduating from college, publishing my first piece of writing, testing into my black-belt, and buying my mom sushi. As a six-time Vermont youth-hockey champion, I wore #19 in New England and learned the hard way that there is no substitute for hard work and practice. I lost my opportunity at a national youth-hockey championship as a Bantam A/B, and got into drug-use in high school, which resulted in me never being able to play for the UVM Catamounts.
I am very realistic with my advocacy efforts and normally speak the language both parties while advocating for policy, law, and budget changes that most people would agree with. The complete de-criminalization of regulated substances is unrealistic for American culture, society, and our infrastructure for the foreseeable future. Schedule I substances, are in general, criminalized for a reason. That reason being the social problems that stem form their use/abuse. Decriminalizing substances, in-terms of possession, eliminates the ability for the courts to intervene when use becomes problematic to others. I do not support search and seizure (or Terry Stops) in the majority of scenarios with patrol division without consulting detectives or a federal task force. Increased stigma and arrests leads to unnecessary involvement in the criminal justice system for most people. Unfortunately, there is a counter-culture that goes along with illicit substance use and until that culture changes, I cannot support the decriminalization of Schedule I substances at the federal-level. The changes we are seeking lie within policing and prosecuting policy, as well as sentencing ranges and adjudicating discretion, not statutory change.
Democratic socialism, while wonderful in theory, is largely unrealistic. Trickle down economics, fortune 500 companies, wages, and the current tax-structure exist for a reason. Largly, the cost of consumer goods here at home and the ability of the U.S. economy to stay competitive globally. Most social welfare programs are very inexpensive all things considered. They encourage people to empower themselves by working their way off benefits and keep costs low to the tax-payer. The economic infrastructure of the U.S. was developed during the industrial revolution and our land development lends its self to the combustion engine. Our economy was also developed at a time where neo-colonialism dictated free-trade and the economy thusly. Hence, capitalism is the American way. It was not the intention of our fore-fathers, however; to worship currency in our attempts at accumulating property which equites to freedom in America.
If you you listen to me lecture, you will hear me speak of the benefits of local growth and proper distribution. You will hear me caution people involved with that trade about the dangers of high-level distribution and weapon involvement. That being said, I often sing the praises of such "criminal organizations" as the Grateful Dead Family and United Blood Nation for their ethical attempts at proper distribution, local growth, social welfare, and non-violence. "Gangs" such as these, have been known to, use business models, as I discuss, that are actually very good for the U.S. economy, our communities, and prisons.
I tend to support smaller regulated cannabis markets, primarily for tourism and people just getting into the scene or industry. However, I have known many local growers, that I trust, for decades. These are good people deeply-rooted in Vermont culture and their communities. What I do not condone is violence in the community, but like with any cash industry, the risk for such instances is higher. That is were Okami Shotokan, self-defense, and dog breeding comes into play. I am okay training people I trust to defend themselves safely. I am also striving not just to eliminate unnecessary incarceration, but to create a humane and sustainable prison model similar to Pit Bulls and Paroles where clients leave the program with a dog.