Final stop – Alcatraz

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, Alcatraz, America, Criminology, LHSS

On Sunday 24th May we took a boat trip from Pier 33 to the notorious island prison of Alcatraz, which is situated in the San Francisco Bay, near to Angel Island and Treasure Island.

Alcatraz is best known by legend as a federal prison where no one was executed and no one escaped, however because of the islands unique and harsh microclimate the prison was shut down in 1963 due to its deterioration in condition. The island gained its nickname “The Rock” from World War 2 soldiers stationed on the island with regards to its isolation and remoteness.

Alcatraz Island was originally given the name La Isla de los Alcatraces (The Island of the Pelicans) by Juan Manuel de Ayala y Aranza in 1775 when he became the first person to charter the San Francisco bay area. In 1847 the US government ordered a surveillance of the island with regards to the potential construction of fortifications to protect the Bay Area from Spanish invaders.

It took almost 50 years for the island to be carved into the steep slopes and cliffs recognisable today. By 1850, the island was made into a military garrison and when the American Civil War broke out in 1861 the island was fitted with 85 cannons (later increased to 105 by 1866) and became a storage base for firearms to prevent them falling into the hands of confederate sympathisers. Also in 1861, the island adopted another role and became a military prison. by 1867 a brick jailhouse was built on the island and in 1868 Alcatraz was designated a long term detention facility for military prisoners.

Alcatraz became a federal prison in the August of 1934 and held prisoners that consistently caused trouble in other federal prisons. During the 29 years that Alcatraz was a federal prison it held many notorious prisoners, such as Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Bump Johnson and Alvin “Creepy” Krepis (who served more time on the island than anyone else) along with many more.

Alcatraz was occupied by a number on native Americans for 19 months from 1969. Those that occupied the island during this time demanded that the island be adapted so that there could be new structures built and an Indian education centre built along with a culture and ecology centre.

In 1972 the island became a National Recreation Area and in 1986 was designated as a National Historic Landmark and is now managed by the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Sent by Clare Eales

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Eastlake Juvenile Hall

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, America, Criminology, USA

Formerly: Central Juvenile Hall

Now: Eastlake Juvenile Hall. Established 1912

This was the first juvenile hall detention facility in Los Angeles county. Under the command of Los Angeles county, probation usually houses juveniles temporarily while their court proceedings take place. Generally released to parents, foster care, placed in a 3 to 12 month camp or placed in California youth authority in extreme situations.

We took a tour of the facility.

Starting in their intake – shower and change into prison clothes. Examined for physical and mental conditions. Male and females have different areas to change as they are separated at all times during their stay, except for when they visited the church.

Assigned a building – males in mixed housing regardless of rival gangs. When they’re walking around they must keep their hands behind their back as well as putting a fist up when they wanted an officer so they are unable to start a fight, or show gang signs.

We were shown the classes and library for education as this was mandatory. All had to take part in 300 minutes of school time along with an hour recreation time and the option to take part in different programmes such as rules of society, health classes (sex education), taught the boys how to treat girls and vice versa.

They had the chance to earn points, that could be spent in the shop with options such as books, food and sport equipment.

Since there is an increasing number of transgender entering the hall, the probation officers found it difficult to decide where the individual should be placed, either with the male or females. As either way the inmates were not happy.

The tour also consisted of seeing the shower rooms and toilets. None of them had any doors or private cubicles however there was a room for pregnant women to shower so they’re able to sit down. They only received a small sachet of deodorant which was claimed to smell worse than not wearing it.

There was only a small room where they ate all meals and wrote their letters home. However there was a common room for indoor recreation.

We also saw the cells which were very basic and eery room. There was a  small bed and sink/toilet with windows that they didn’t have the key to close.

Bedrooms were also covered in graffiti, ranging from gang names to ‘free me’ written.

CSULA Firearms Library and shooting range

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, America, Criminology, USA

Today we were shown around the firearms library and shooting range by West Grouse. The firearms library at CSULA is the 3rd largest collection of firearms in the USA and comprises both the LAPD library and the Sheriffs Department library.

photo 4Both the Sheriffs Department and the LAPD have the opportunity to collaborate together on investigations whilst also having the resources to work on multiple individual cases within their organisations due to the way the facility is set out and shared.

Firearms technicians test and inspect a number of different weapons. This is done in both a lab setting and on the firing range and even using water tanks and chambers filled with cotton padding.

Firearms testing is conducted on suspect weapons to determine if a weapon was used in a crime by matching it to evidence at the scene and to also assess potential residue found at the scene or on the firearm.

Testing is also conducted to determine if the firearm has been modified and the recovery of firearm serial numbers can also be achieved by technicians in the lab.

Sent by Clare Eales

City Hall and the Gang Reduction and Youth Development office

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, Criminology, LHSS

The city hall itself was amazing and steeped in American history. Then we met with the Gang Reduction and Youth Development office (GRYD) to discuss what they had done since their establishment in 2007. The work they have done is outstanding; the programmes as well as implementing a new strategy with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). Those who work in the office respond to every shooting that could be related to gang crime no matter what time of the day.

Their initiatives are up to date gang prevention theory and so is based on evidence rather than opinions. Prevention programmes are used for children between 10 and 15 whereas intervention programmes are used for children who are 14 to 25. To decide which children are at high risk of joining a gang,  they must fit 4 of 9 criteria. Once these children are identified, GRYD works with the family and the child to prevent them joining a gang.

Intervention services work with the family and the individual like in the prevention programme but also include things like tattoo removal and development programmes, such as job finding, and counselling.

For those coming back into the community from incarceration, GRYD are piloting a re-entry programme which will provide family case management services for 90 days pre-release.

One event that GRYD have started is the Summer Nights Live (SNL) which provides activities in parks throughout the summer in 32 parks across L.A. and between 2013 and 2014 reduced gang violence by 15.4% whilst the events took place with the aim of bringing together all members of the community including both those associated with gangs and those who are not. With a total of around 4 million people served since 2008, the initiative has not only reconnected communities but served over 2 million meals free of charge and created a total of around 7 thousand employment opportunities for those within the GRYD communities.

Overall, meeting GRYD helped us gain knowledge not only gangs themselves but also about prevention and intervention both of which aren’t prevalent within the UK. The work they have done and are continuing to do has so far been a huge success reducing crime and gang violence within these communities. In visiting GRYD it became clear that prevention and intervention appears to be successful in reducing gang crime within the most effected areas of LA.

Sent from Beth and Alisha 

Attending academic events with lecturers – Kiran Singh

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, English, Kiran

During one of my third year modules, I was given the opportunity to attend ‘The East Midland’s Writer’s Conference 2015’ with my lecturer, Dr Paul Whickman. I would be in the student ambassador role for the majority of the day, so answering queries about doing English Lit at Derby for most of the time, but I was also able to attend the panel at which my lecturer was a speaker.

The day started with me and another ambassador, George, driving to Nottingham to set up the Derby University stall. Once we were set up, we got ready for any questions, and most of the queries were to do with people wanting to do an MA. Then I left George to man the stall on his own whilst I went to Paul’s panel. The panel was about the freedom to write; essentially a writer being able to write whatever you want without thinking that it may cause someone offence.

The panel was great and as well as Paul, there was the director of Writing East Midlands, a Chinese novelist and an Iranian poet. Paul gave a fantastic introduction, he contextualised censorship and offence. The introduction was a good mix of historical context and current issues. The Iranian poet was brilliant because he was a ‘real life’ example of someone who had faced extreme censorship and gave an insight to his first-hand experience at having to leave his country because of what he wrote. He also set a very good idea in motion and that was that censorship occurred at different levels and could be external or internal. The Chinese novelist was very clever because she talked about how the biggest censor was actually commercialisation because a writer is ultimately censored by what readers want. She also made very good points about how freedom was an illusion and the writer’s job is to work within this illusion by making the points that they want to make but staying within limits that will not offend anyone.

Attending the panel was very helpful for my third year module; ‘Taking and Making Offence; Blasphemy, Obscenity and Censorship from Milton to Rushdie’. The panel explored many issues which are central to the module, for example, is offence made or taken? I recorded my visit to conference, and in particular, to the panel in my seminar participation form which is one part of the assessment on this module. I also used some of the debate at the panel to help me answer my major assignment question.  Apart from using the information I gained from the panel for both my course works (seminar participation and assignment), it was also extremely useful seeing Paul in his academic field. Sometimes, it is difficult to see the purpose (or even use- although I do not agree with this but unfortunately lots of people do see English lit as a bit of a ‘useless’ subject) of your subject when in a classroom/lecture hall setting but seeing the academic that taught on my programme in practice was a great way to consolidate my learning and in fact it helped me to see that what we learn or debate in lectures are actually issues which effect everyday living.

Dale – My Radio Story

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, Dale T

One of the main activities I got involved in during my first year at uni was the radio (which you may have found out from my previous posts, https://derbyunilhss.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/dale-day-to-day-of-a-historian/). But what I never fully explained was my story of the experiences I’ve had through the student radio.

Even before I had come to Derby I had heard that about the number of different things I could get involved in. A few of my friends had joined their student radios and had great experiences through that, and so I knew that I wanted this as well.

In the end it was a friend off my history course who had previous experience on the radio that got me involved. I turned up to the first members meeting not knowing what to expect, and quite afraid of all these people suddenly wanting me to join up as soon as possible!

I went along with it, and before I knew it we were live on air! My friend basically took us through the first show, with me nervously speaking into the mic every now and then, trying not to come across as too shy. We did everything you’d expect from a student radio station. We played as many songs as we wanted, talked about anything we thought people would enjoy listening to, and in our downtime thought up cheesy jokes (my friends’ unfortunate speciality).

The excitement from our first show was high! Pretty much after that I tried to get involved in any way I could: I was part of the marketing team which meant thinking up how to get our name out there through events and stands in the atrium. However this just wasn’t enough for me so I joined the news team as well! This came after Christmas, but I immediately knew it was where I belonged in the radio. I quickly got trained up on how to write and record our very own news. After that I would go into the studio for a couple of hours every Tuesday morning to create my very own news reel.

Throughout the year we held different events, each more exciting than the last. We would regularly attend the open days, and as a member of the news team I would be interviewing any form of celebrity that came to the university (including designer Sir Paul Smith!). However there are two particular highlights of my first year in the radio that stand out to me.

The first was the 24hour broadcast the radio hosted. I volunteered myself as a member that would complete the full 24 hours (in aid of Raise and Give week), and in doing so apparently volunteered myself to shave my head once we reached a certain amount of raised money. As you can guess from the picture above, that amount was reached.

The second highlight was election results night. Every year the SU hosts their own election, obviously resulting in a night of results. The radio were asked to cover this event, with a live broadcast from the academy bar, with myself and a small team being down on the floor with a portable mic grabbing interviews from anyone we could! It was a long night, people were enjoying themselves all around us (on a side note, this was also the night that Derby won the varsity competition against Northampton), whereas we were frantically running around grabbing brief interviews with the electors.

In my opinion it was these two events which lead to me being awarded with ‘Most dedicated member’ at the end of year radio awards, along with me and my co-presenter being awarded with ‘Most improved presenters’. What a first year!

Now I’m the Head of News for our new brand, Phantom Media, and the rest, as they say, is history!