October 24, 2014

Fashion Faux Pas

By: Darren Harris

Staff Writer

Summer is almost over and the season is beginning to change to fall, and along with the change of season, fashion seems to follow right along.

The summer fashions have seen a tremendous outburst of color such as violet tulip, freesia, white, placid blue, sand and dazzling blue in
jeans, shorts, blouses, shoes, and accessories.

So, what are the fashion mistakes to steer clear from when transitioning your wardrobe from summer to fall?

According to womens-fashion.lovetoknow.com, one of the biggest mistakes women make during the fall season is “mixing prints,” where “florals don’t complement plaid, and paisley doesn’t work with polka dots.”

This column is not saying not to wear prints, but instead, ensure that you’re going to wear a solid color that will complement the print blouse of your choice.

Priscilla Sanchez, a John Jay student, said “every girl should have a cute print top, but they shouldn’t overdue it, and that seems to be the issue i have noticed a lot on campus is the print can sometimes overpower the entire outfit.”

Another fashion mistake during the fall season according to www.gurl. com/fashion-mistakes-faus-paux is “not layering properly,” and the importance of layers for the morning, afternoon, and evening outfits.

New Yorkers tend to experience the emotions of the weather changes, and it’s important that they layer properly through the day.

Barrie Nulman, a John Jay student, said “I always try to wear a good amount of layering during the fall season, because I know that the weather can change during the day, and it’s essential that I wear layers that not only complement my style but also the New York weather.”

What about snow or rain boots? Should you bring an extra pair of shoes to change into once you reach your destination? During the fall season, New York City can experience large amounts of rain and snow that can often kill even the most pre- pared fashionista. Rain or snow boots can conflict with the style of an outfit if they aren’t form fitting to add to the appearance. In a recent poll at John Jay, 85 percent of students voted that it is easier to keep their rain or snow boots on throughout the day instead of changing into shoes. Students, such as Denise C. Taylor, hassle with keeping on wet boots. “Although it is easier to just keep the boots on, they become difficult to walk in, and really kill the look on a girl’s outfit,” said Taylor. In this case, looks come over comfort. According to John Jay student Marcela Nash, “style outweighs comfort any day and it’s just a fashion nightmare to wear rain boots that do not compliment someone’s outfit.”

If a person decides to wear rain or snow boots, then try to choose a neutral color that can be worn with multiple outfits. Fashion is always evolving and changing, and it’s important that fashionista’s stay on top of their wardrobe to ensure that they don’t become fashion victims during a season that often demands you to choose between comfort or style. Looking at the trends that are perfect for the fall and winter seasons, such as robe coats and dresses over pants, one must be

careful with these looks as they can make or break an outfit. There are statement making trends this fall season, and if

you’re selective yet fashion forward with your style, you’ll be making heads turn.

College Initiative Program

By: Edir Coronado

Contributing Writer

One of the main issues with the prisonsystem is the recidivism rate. A New York based program has begun education programs in prisons, and with great success has allowed its participants to become contributing members of society. With 300 participants, only one returning to jail, and most students receiving a bachelors degree, it is safe to say that the program is showing results.

Ray Tebout, the director of counseling and mentoring at the program, explained how the College Initiative program allows former inmates to attend college by debunking some of the barriers they believe they will encounter.

Tebout understands the mix of different personalities the staff deals with and the obstacles both the student and mentor must overcome.

Some of the common obstacles Tebout sees among the younger students is the desire for instant gratification. He said the most common questions among these less experienced individuals are “why should I invest two to six years in school?” or “why not pick a trade or get a job?”

Tebout tackles these questions by providing evidence that an education will reduce the likeliness of a return back to prison. He also approaches this situation by helping the younger potential students in terms of long term goals.

Skeptical students are asked by Tebout to look at how much income they will accumulate over a lifetime rather than the short term. According to Tebout, a high school graduate can expect to earn an average of 1.2 million, someone with a bachelors can earn upwards of 2.1 million, and a masters graduate in the 2.5 million range.

These statistics gives the young students a different perspective on life and education.

Among the more seasoned individuals what is most commonly seen is the lack of knowledge when it comes to computers and technology. Many of the older students might have went to prison when the internet had not become such a big tool or when computers were not easily accessible.

Older generations of inmates face a major issue due to not being involved in a world that has rapidly become digitally influenced.

One 70- year- old student in the program, who asked to remain anonymous, has been in prison for more than 30 years. This individual had major issues with the use of computers. At the moment, he is currently finishing up his first semester, which is a huge success for someone who may have given up if not for the support that the College Initiative program has given them.

The program doesn’t only rely on its staff to support the incoming students, they rely heavily on peer mentorship. Through experience they have realized that a student is more likely to drop out of college during their first year.

This is why, after several months of working with a staff member, the students enter a peer mentorship program, where a fellow program participant with a 3.0 GPA and at least a year of college under their belt becomes a mentor to the new student. They serve as a support system for the student if they have problems with a subject matter or maybe a need to just vent about their frustrations with school.

Frustrations can include being the discrimination that they encounter because of their prison history. Tebout explained that the students within the program are scrutinized, “it is not necessarily the organization that is receiving negative feedback from the community, but the student themselves.”

Some reasons and common arguments of those opposed to an educational tactic towards the rehabilitation system often revolve around “we do not want to make smarter criminals,” according to Tebout. Tebout believes “we are not making smarter criminals, we are creating individuals with a different way of thinking.” His meaning is that when a person is exposed to education, he or she has the ability to create better options and make better decisions.

Tebout claims that if we were to look at our incarcerated in terms of employment, people can see that for many, selling drugs is the only job around. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons Drug offenses account for 48.8% percent of all incarcerated American. Homicide, Aggravated Assault, and Kidnapping offenses account for 2.8 percent of the prison population, sex offenses for 6.5 percent, robbery 3.7 per- cent, and weapons, explosives and arson account for 15.8 percent.

What the College initiative programs aims at doing, is taking this prison population, and showing them a different method of succeeding in life that they might have not been exposed to in the past.

The program has gained awareness through word of mouth and by sending their staff members to different location to speak about the program and the issues that they are trying to resolve through education.

Souled Out Or Sold Out

By: Ryan Durning


Jhené Aiko’s debut album “Souled Out” was released on Sept. 9th. The Def Jam signed songbird has slowly brought attention to this project through a mixtape, guest appearances, and last year’s “Sail Out” EP.

Thankfully, Aiko doesn’t disappoint her fans, bringing introspective songwriting to this album in spades.

The West Coast singer is not known for having a particularly strong voice or a wide range of notes she can hit. Instead, she offers interesting takes on R&B’s well-tread subject matter through wordplay to keep listeners engaged.

Aiko usually presents lyrics that differ from the standard mainstream fare; quite often her songs convey a message or take on a deeper meaning.

The song titled “Limbo Limbo Limbo” kicks the album off with an immediate strong start, as it sets the tone for the serious nature of her LP.

“She was born in limbo / With the need to be as simple / As her makers and the made up things she dreamed” describes Jhene’s abstract style.

The distortion effects used in the last verse take away from the track but overall it’s a solid introduction to what she brings to the table as both a songwriter and singer.

The second track is one of the best songs on the album, titled “W.A.Y.S,” which is an acronym for why aren’t you

smiling. The song has an uptempo flow matched with a hypnotic beat and personal lyrics that draw on two of her biggest inspirations, her daughter Namiko and brother Miyagi.

She displays an impressive use of alliteration on the hook, singing “Life can get wild when you’re caught in a whirlwind / Lost in the world when you’re chasing the wind.”
The next couple songs are two of the

three singles released off the album, “To Live and Die” featuring Cocaine 80s and “Spotless Mind.” These songs include some of the strongest production and lyrics on the album as a whole.

The only problem is “Souled Out” doesn’t feature too much variety in terms

of sound. Heartfelt lyrics and solid technique are wonderful to have but when some of the beats start to blend together, it can quickly take away from the enjoy- ability of the song.

As the album marches on, the centerpiece “Wading” is the weakest song. “As good as it gets / I’ll have one regret / You’re something I cannot miss” doesn’t

strike the mind as memorable and Jhene’s vocal range don’t help either.

Some of her music on this album suffers from sequencing, it seems. For exam- ple “Wading” and “Eternal Sunshine” suffer from being placed right before better songs such as “The Pressure.”

“Promises” is a song about her pledges to both her deceased brother, Miyagi and

her adolescent daughter Namiko. Lyrics dedicated to her daughter like “I’ve been coming home late night / I’ve been sleeping past day light /I’m waking up you’re not by my side / Baby that ain’t right” are intimate and touching. A song that is both heartbreaking and profound, Ms. Aiko tugs at the heartstrings one last time.

Closing out the album is “Pretty Bird (Freestyle),” a spoken word/song hybrid with some unflattering vocals. Chicago rapper Common has the last verse and some uplifting wordplay to balance out Jhene’s sulky verses.

Souled Out is an impressive album in the sense that it features almost no other voice except Jhene herself. While this is increasingly rare for a major label debut, it also places all of her strengths and weak- nesses front and center. Thankfully her writing and honest approach overpowers her underpowered voice and occasionally bland beat choice.

Bookstore No More

By: Keyunna Singleton


Over the summer the John Jay administration prepared to welcome students and faculty to a campus without a bookstore. On Aug. 14 John Jay became the first CUNY campus to have a completely virtual bookstore.

One of the reasons the physical bookstore was removed from campus was be- cause of lack of sales. According to Patricia Ketterer, the executive director of finance and business services, there was a steady decline in sales from the bookstore over the years.

“The rent was not being made from sales or Barnes and Nobles commission,” said Ketterer.

Some of the decline in sales is due to the changes in federal laws pertaining to financial aid. One in particular states schools cannot mandate that students use their federal book vouchers at the school. Students were given the right to use the disbursement anywhere they pleased.

Another regulation enforces schools to ensure that students have access to their course reading lists and prices before the start of class. According to Mark Flower, business manager in the Business and Finance department, “the new online book- store adheres to this regulation and Barnes and Nobles didn’t.”

Although this year’s August sales exceeded last year’s, the administration is not as concerned with sales as they are with making sure that the students’ needs are met. “Our real drive is reducing the cost of books and having students prepared for class,” said Ketterer.

As the first CUNY school to have a fully virtual bookstore the John Jay student body feel like they are missing something. English major Nycol Martin says, “The biggest disappointment about not having a physical bookstore is feeling like we lost a part of campus.”

One of the other issues that Martin says she has to deal with since the change is getting her books on time for class. “I use go to the bookstore and get the book the day of and read it on the train. Now, it’s a 5-7 day wait.”

While some students like Martin feel cheated out of a piece of campus, others haven’t really noticed the difference. Sophomore Aaron Thomas says he stopped using the bookstore his second semester. “ I am much more comfortable using Chegg and Amazon,” said Thomas.

According to Flower, the online bookstore offers some of the features of Chegg and Amazon. In the sites marketplace, students have the option to purchase new or used books and rent books.

John Jay’s online bookstore links directly to CUNYFirst. “Every John Jay student can login to the bookstore with their CUNYFirst ID and the bookstore makes it easy to find the books required for their classes, because it is course specific,” said Flower.

Students also have multiple options for delivery when ordering from the online bookstore. From Monday-Friday between 12pm-3pm and 5pm-7pm students can pick up their books from the John Jay mailroom located at L2.66.00.

While some students question why they weren’t informed about the changes to the campus, Ketterer assures that there was in fact an email blast. “We couldn’t make the official announcement until the vendor was selected, which was around the beginning of June,” said Ketterer.

For students that need help navigating the online bookstore there is a table stationed at the atrium in the new building on Mondays and Wednesday until the end of the month with representatives from the bookstore that can help with questions and concerns.

Julie Kuljurgis, the account manager for the bookstore, says that the biggest problem they’ve had is transitioning. Kuljurgis was excited about some of the benefits that the bookstore offers, such as “year round book sell back and it doesn’t have to be a course book,” she said.

The bookstore is also willing to workwith campus clubs and organizations that may need to place orders for books. According to Kuljurgis, the online bookstore does accept purchase orders. In addition, the school’s contract renewal with MBJ will have the school’s new café, Lil J Café, located on 58th street and 11th avenue, sell merchandise, such as hoodies, and t-shirts.

The current online bookstore does not have an option for apparel or school memoranda but new contracts will fix this issue for the dedicated bloodhounds.

Ketterer confirms that within the month John Jay will enter into a contract with a different online company called “Advanced Online” that will sell John Jay merchandise.

John Jay may be without a physical bookstore, but they are not without options.

Dear Val

By: Valentina Henriquez

Contributing Writer

22 year old Iesha Galloway asked,

“How effective is a safe-word when having sex?”

Dear Ieasha,

A safe-word can be used during sexual intercourse, especially when engaging in bondage, dominance, sadism, masochism, also known as BDSM.

The purpose of a safe-word is to let your partner(s) know you do not want to participate anymore.

Safe words are uncommonly used words during sex. For example, the word “Mississippi.” Some use the word “stop,” but at times your partner can interpret it as you spicing things up. So, before you have sex with your partner(s) you should agree on a safe-word.

According to Harry Henderson, the HIV/AIDS tester at the John Jay Women’s Health Center, a safe-word is 60% effective and 40% ignored.

When dealing with beginner safe-word users, it’s common that the safe-word gets ignored because of the desire to release. Like any skill, using a safe-word with your partner requires practice.

So is it effective? It can be, but just remember, not always.

Before having sexual intercourse, make sure you and your partner(s) are aware of what your safe word is.

Valentina Henriquez

Feel free to send your questions to [email protected]

(You have the option to ask your questions anonymously.)

Jeezy Spits Fire

By: Ryan Durning


Jeezy has been through a lot in the music industry in the decade since his first album, including a recent arrest for gun possession after a man was killed backstage at one of his concerts.

On his latest LP, “Seen It All: The Autobiography,” he’s more concerned with his place in the rap game as a pioneer of Atlanta Trap music. Released on Sept. 9th, this is his 7th album, a feat most rappers don’t often reach.

Never a great lyricist, Jeezy gets by through perseverance and an uncanny ability to pick beats that perfectly fit his gruff voice. No one could ever accuse him of making profound, deep music that raises hard questions about the mysteries of life. Jeezy makes anthems that motivate, songs that you can work out to.

On “Seen It All”, it’s not always great that Jeezy balances his newfound need to remind us of his achievements with hisprevious ability to make bangers about drugs, women, and money. “You know I like to turn up at the spot / Act a fool with the money / G told me keep it low-key” from “4 Zones” stands out as something he has said a million times before.

“They say great minds think alike, Know what I’m thinkin? /A great grind will change your life” is an example of Jeezy hitting the right note between the two divisive styles. The title track, “Seen It All” featuring frequent collaborator Jay Z has an hauntingly looped sample and a rich layered instrumental that pairs well with both artists’ reminiscent verses.

Other times, like on “Black Eskimo” and “Beautiful”, Jeezy’s persona just isn’t enough to make up for songs we’ve heard from him 25 times on 6 previous LP’s. “I gota condo up in the sky/‘Fore I fake it, I’d die / Foreign b****, no lie /Man, that b**** beautiful” just doesn’t pass as good music anymore for such an experienced artist.

The album does have a couple bangers though, “1/4th block”, “What You Say”, and “Beez Like” all feature Jeezy at the top of his game. The Atlanta rapper excels when he is trying to push others to new heights, and these songs embody that spirit. Tracks that focus on his seedy past like “Holy Ghost” and “Win Is A Win” excel because he is able to vividly paint pictures that his charisma helps sell.

The album closes on the introspective “How I Did It (Perfection)”, which in the same vein as the title track, shows that Jeezy’s haunting past and drugs to riches

story is much more interesting than when he raps “first to tell you m********* ‘trap or die’ that’s me ok”.

Jeezy’s main problem is telling people how great and novel you are only works when you make music that isn’t generic, which is sometimes the case. Reminding everyone of the trail that he blazed working for Jay Z, when he started worrying about his legacy as he first retired. All it does for Jeezy is sound whiny and that’s the last thing we want to hear from the man who has made millions off motivating the streets.

Defendant Obama

By: Davon Singh


On July 30, House Republicans passed a resolution that gave Speaker of the House John Boehner the authority to sue President Barack Obama.

What’s so strange about this entire situation is the reason the President is being sued. Obama is being sued because, ac- cording to Republicans, he is inadequately enforcing the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.

Yes, you read that right. Republicans are mad at the President for not enforcing the healthcare law they strongly oppose.

This is the same law they have tried to repeal 54 times. Fun fact: these repeal votes have cost taxpayers over $54 million.

Is this what being fiscally conservative means? By the way, members of Congress have no standing to sue, because they have not suffered any actual injury. The lawsuit will most likely be tossed.

The New York Times called the lawsuit “Mr. Boehner’s version of what might be termed impeachment-light — a way to send a signal that Republicans would fight the President’s efforts to revise laws Congress had passed while not going as far as many on the right would like.” The most important part of that quote is the end, “while not going as far as many on the right would like”.

In a recent CNN poll, 57 percent of Republicans believe Obama should be impeached. Overall, only 33 percent of Americans believe Obama should be impeached.

“In a recent CNN poll, 57 percent of Republicans believe Obama should be impeached.”

Still, prominent conservative voices havecalled for impeachment including former Governor of Alaska and Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin, Rep. Michele Bachmann, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

The lawsuit has already started to back- fire on Republicans.

On July 28, two days before the resolution to sue Obama was passed, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced in a single day they had raised $1 million. Since then, Democrats have raised over $7.6 million.

Democrats, who are usually useless, have finally learned how to play the game. They have successfully woven together the lawsuit and impeachment talk to motivate their base.

Republicans, on the other hand, are not looking so good. In a recent Gallup poll, their favorable rating was at 34 percent and their unfavorable rating was at 59 percent. This is the ninth year in a row their favorable rating was lower than their unfavorable rating.

But Republicans need not worry about these poll numbers. As Stephen Colbert famously said “We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in reality, and reality has a well-known liberal bias.”

Know Thy Selfie

By:  Jose Oropeza


If you have an Instagram or Facebook account, chances are you’ve seen one. Sometimes with more than one person, and often with a “#” symbol in the caption.

The selfie, a trend that took social media by storm, rose to hashtag status shortly after the introduction of smartphones – specifically the iPhone 4, which was released in 2010 and came with a front-facing camera.

In 2013, “selfie” was made ‘word of the year’ by Oxford Dictionaries, and is defined as “A photograph that one has taken of oneself and…uploaded to a social media website.” Researchers at Oxford found recorded uses of the word “selfie” rose from less than 500 per billion instances in January to more than 5000 per billion instances in October.

Although the concept of the selfie is by no means new, recent events like Ellen DeGeneres’ selfie at the 2014 Oscar’s ceremony caused a record breaking, re-tweeted selfie, that crash Twitter. The 2014 EDM song “Let Me Take A Selfie” has given the term new levels of popularity.

Judith Naeignacio, a John Jay sophomore, shared her outlook about selfie content: “These people do the duck face, their tongues sticking out like Miley Cyrus. Trying to look silly and cute, sucking in their stomachs and pouting. Some people are narcissistic.”

Two years after its first 2002 online appearance in Australia, social media outlets like Tumblr have been using “selfie” as a hashtag. Since then, users having been referring to self-taken pictures as such.

Younger people post more selfies on Instagram than older users. In New York City, the average age of people that post selfies is 25.3, a study conducted by the CUNY Graduate Center found.

The Mental Health Association is buzzing about Selfie addiction dominating places like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Even astronaut Steven R. Swanson got in on the fun. While in orbit, he one-upped his peers by being the first to Instagram a selfie from space.

Selfies are 38% more likely to receive a ‘like,’ and 32% more likely to receive comments when compared to snapshots of places, a Georgia Institute of Technology study found.

Women were found to be more likely to take selfies than men, according to the GIT study. They are also 150% more likely to tilt their head in the selfie.

Women who base their self-worth on their appearance are more likely to post selfies and maintain a large following on social media sites, a SUNY Buffalo study found.

Nikita Shurygin, a freshman at John Jay, doesn’t find the study hard to believe. “I think people who take a lot of selfies are trying to draw attention to themselves.  Maybe they have self-image issues,” he said.

And self-image issues can lead to greater problems. Danny Bowman, a 19-year-old from Britain, spent 10 hours taking selfies on one occasion.  He skipped school, lost his friends, and attempted to take his own life after not being satisfied with the quality of his seflies, The Independent reported.

“People take this selfie stuff way too seriously,” Shurygin said shaking his head. “It seems like selfies on Instagram and the ‘likes’ they receive socially rank people.”

But selfies are not to blame, some experts say.

“Clearly there’s something more going on. Selfies were just a medium [Bowman] was using. It’s not the selfie that’s the problem,” Deborah Miller, a certified school psychologist, said.

“He sounds like he has obsession, and clearly, self esteem issues. His suicide is not connected with selfies, nor are selfies a cause of what occurred.,” Miller said.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a treatment offered to combat this trend of socially handicapped individuals. According to the Beck Institute, CBT “helps people identify their distressing thoughts and evaluate how realistic the thoughts are. Then they learn to change their distorted thinking. When they think more realistically, they feel better. The emphasis is also consistently on solving problems and initiating behavioral change.”

Regardless of emerging statistical evidence concerning selfies, they might be helpful to individuals.

“Young adults in college are typically very concerned with their appearance, and when they can take photos of themselves when they look their very best – that’s important,” Miller said.

Selfies can boost a person’s self-esteem, Miller argues. “Individuals are able to stage how they look, and post photos that they find to be most attractive. It’s a quick fix for issues concerning self-confidence, and self-esteem.”

Well, thank goodness for selfies. #winning 

Marcela Sanchez contributed to this article. 

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Two Sides to This Room: How Students Feel About the Game Lounge

By Munachi Iwuagwu

The semester is wrapping up and students are looking to end it strong regardless of how they started their semester. Around this time the computer labs are full, there are long lines at the library, and the loungers are filled with students congregating. In the New Building, on the way to class, students pass plenty of opportunities to blow off steam during the stressful semester’s end.

“It looks like this year John Jay has provided more chances to procrastinate,” Michelle Martinez said, a 20 year old junior. “There is so much new stuff for us to play with it’s like not even a school, school anymore.”

The new game room, located on the first floor of the New Building, provides students with pool, air hockey, and ping pong tables as well as additional couches, round loungers, and speakers to play music.  The game tables are for all students. To obtain the pieces for the tables, students are asked to show their student id card to any of the officials at The Office of Student Life.

The game lounge is filled with students socializing. The hallways are bursting with laughter, cheers whenever someone wins a game, and the buzzing from constant conversations.

The speakers in the game lounge plug into most electronic devices. While playing a game students sing loudly when they know the words and sometimes even when they don’t. Students use the game lounge as a place to catch up on sleep, show their competitive side, or talk about their semester. Whatever the reason, the lounge is never empty.

The game room opened in November 2013 and cost John Jay and students about $12,000. This was funded by the student activity fee.

“Students really need a good community area for them to get with their friends, to kind of relax because it’s very stressful.  That’s one of the ideas behind it, it’s a stress reliever, you never really know how many people just need 10-20 minutes and just play a game of pool,” said Nicole Ponzo, Student Council member and the graduate representative.

Ponzo thinks the game room is a good concept saying “me personally, I am a gamer. When I get really frustrated with something I’ll take like an hour out of my time and play something, some kind of either puzzle game or a fighting game and just do that for an hour and then go back to my homework.”

Samantha Jaideo, a 22 year old John Jay senior said, “I mean the games are cool and it seems like people are getting to be more of a community. I guess that’s what they wanted, for people to have a balance between education and socialization.” Jaideo also said that when she gets stressed out it’s nice to have a place where she can relax with her friends.

Jaido, a full time student also works in the Law Department said it’s hard having so much to do but knowing she can come to school and have the option of a leisure outlet is comforting and makes her life a little easier.

Martinez disagreed. She feels the games, lounges, and loud speakers provide too much of a distraction. According to Martinez, schools are meant to create a studious environment, and having too many recreational activities can lead to procrastination and eventually student failure.

Micheal Udo, a 24 year old freshman, said, laughing, I think the game room is a very, very bad idea because I’m always in there. It’s easy to skip class when you are in the middle of an intense game.”

Martinez, Jaido, and Udo were unaware the new game room was paid for with their student activity fee, but they were not upset by the idea. They feel the school is just now catching up with this generation. This generation focuses on “working hard and playing harder” said Jaideo.

The Office of Student Life wants to provide students with extra-and co-curricular activities in order to assist in their professional development. Studies have shown having a balance between extra-curricular activities and schoolwork can help develop people into successful members of society.

Juan Fermin contributed to this article.


The Dangers of Being a Corrections Officer

By Jenifer Valmon

It’s 4am on a Monday morning, a corrections officer wakes up, shower and puts on his navy blue uniform. He kisses his significant other goodbye, grabs his gun and heads to work. This is a similar routine for about 452,800 New York State Corrections Officers.

A career in Corrections is one of the most dangerous jobs to have. Correctional Officers have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations, according to the United States Department of Labor.

Prior experience is not required to enter the academy training. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the basic requirements are a high school diploma or equivalent. Aspiring officers are trained for several months on self-defense and security procedures among others. They also complete a 52 week on job training at a federal facility.

Important qualities in the Occupational Outlook Handbook, for Correctional Officers are: good judgment, interpersonal skills, negotiating skills, physical strength, resourcefulness and self-discipline.

This career is accessible to most. It promises benefits and a chance to retire in 20-years. This is exactly what attracts thousands of New Yorkers to a career in Corrections. “It was a career decision. Early retirement better pay, benefits. Better pay than my previous jobs. Correction Officers at top pay, you can make between 85 to 100 thousand a year easy,” said Delon Gifth, 30, an Officer at Rikers Island.

Gifth has been in the job for one year and eleven months. He currently works in the same facility in which four correctional officers were accused of beating an inmate and attempting to cover it up. According to an article by the Daily News published on March 7, Christopher Huggins, Ronald Donnelley, Michael Dorsainvil and Mark Anglin created a false report of the incident and were awaiting arraignment.

In the same facility, about 15 inmates pummeled an unidentified victim, on March 19, an unidentified source told the New York Post. Officers were told to not use force to break up a fight while an officer was being attacked. This resulted from fear of legal action against the officers.

Gifth shared his take on the incidents as: “You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t. A lot of people now they’re scared to use force because they’re scared they’re going to be brought up on charges,” said Gifth. “So now the question is, should I defend myself? How do I defend myself? You’re fighting for your job but then you are fighting for your life.”

Shawnda Gadson, 30, Gifth’s fiancé, worries every time he leaves for his shift. They share an apartment and have been together for 7 years. “When he leaves in the morning, that’s the last time I get to speak to him until the end of his shift. He cannot always tell me if everything is okay and that’s a scary feeling,” Gadson said.

According to Kevin Douglas, 30,  a career in corrections is not all bad, once you have seniority. The job becomes easier when people know you and you get steady shifts. Douglas has been on the job for 3 years and works 16-hour shifts. His position as a Corrections Officer has changed for the better as the years passed. “I use to think it will never get better but it does get better,” said Douglas about not having steady shifts or a permanent facility to work in.

There are many incidents documented through video of inmates assaulting officers. Those include one posted on the New York Daily News YouTube channel. In this video a female, working as an intern in Rikers Island, was punched in the face by a male inmate. This inmate had a history of attacking strangers.

The 2013, Report to the New York City Board of Correction, shows that a reason for the increase of use of force incidents against inmates is the increase in mentally ill inmates. From 2007 to June 30, 2013, in Rikers, the use of force incidents per 100 inmates more than tripled, from 7.0 to 24.7.

The report said roughly 40% of inmates have a psychiatric diagnosis, a third of them exhibit acute or chronic psychopathology severe enough to constitute major (psychotic, and in some cases life-threatening) mental illnesses.

Even after hearing about incidents like these, Ashley Rodriguez, 20, is determined to make a career out of law enforcement. Rodriguez is currently a student at La Guardia Community College and plans on transferring to John Jay College of Criminal Justice, for the criminal justice program.

Rodriguez said she is interested in law enforcement and corrections in New York because,  “It’s deemed the best. You could start here and go anywhere.” Law enforcement is the only thing that ever interested her as a career. She is aware of the risk but she said, “it really doesn’t change my mind, I know there are other careers that pay more but this is the only thing I see myself doing.”

The corrections department is an opportunity to have a career with little to no experience. This attracts many people to this job. Unfortunately it can also put an end to the freedom of those individuals if they attempt to defend themselves against the inmates they are supposed to guard.