New Jersey Bail Reform

Most people have a basic understanding of the concept of bail. A person gets arrested, and then pays a certain amount of money to get released from jail. The money paid acts as incentive for the person to return for their day in court. If they show up to all of their required court dates, the individual gets their money back.

 

For many people, bail is too expensive, which is where bail bond companies come into play. A bail agent will pay for the full price of the bail and only ask for a portion of the bail be paid to them for their services. This can be a huge discount, but it is not always enough for some people.

Checking Text on a Document

The New System in New Jersey

This is why the state of New Jersey recently reformed their entire bail system. They felt the bail system was unfair to people who could not afford bail. At the start of 2017, New Jersey eliminated bail from their system. Now, an arrested individual either stays in jail, or is released on a signed promise that they will return. This went about as well as would be expected, which led to one New Jersey Assemblyman sending a letter of warning to the politicians here in California.

The new bail system in New Jersey no longer requires arrested individuals to post bail. Instead a program is used to determine if a person poses any threat to the community. If the person does pose a threat, then they will not be released and will have to stay in jail for the remainder of their trial. If it is decided that the person poses no threat, then they will be released on own recognizance.

 

Own recognizance release is the best outcome for anyone who has been arrested. It is basically a $0 bail. When a person is released on own recognizance, they simply have to sign a paper saying that they will return to court as promised. No money is involved.

 

A problem with this new system, of which there are many, is that own recognizance release removes the incentive that comes from posting bail. Without it, New Jersey is discovering that most individuals choose not to come back to court. Without bail agents to watch them, the state government then has to fund the retrieval of the individual. That’s if they even bother looking for the person.

 

Another problem with the system, is that it only considers crimes that a person has actually been found guilty of, not crimes that a person has been arrested for. This leads to a lot of repeat offenders being deemed safe, and released back onto the streets where they can continue to commit crimes.

Due to the bail reform, New Jersey’s crime rates have gone up.

The Letter of Warning

This year, the state of California decided it wanted to replicate the new system in New Jersey. They attempted to do this with SB10. When New Jersey State Assemblyman Bob Andrzejczak heard of this news, he wrote a letter to Speaker of the California State Assembly, Anthony Rendon. In this letter, Andrzejczak informed Rendon how bad of an idea the bail reform was.

 

He explained how criminals were being released back into the streets. Even a convicted pedophile who was arrested for attempting to lure a 12 year old girl to his house was deemed safe enough to be released.

On top of the increased risk to the general public, the bail reform also transferred the cost of monitoring people released on own recognizance. Before the reform, people out on bail were typically monitored by bail bond companies. If someone ran, the bail bond company handled tracking that person down. After the reform, this job, and the cost, fell on to the state government. This meant that taxpayers were essentially paying for criminals to be released back into their own neighborhoods.

Bail Serves a Purpose

In New Jersey, Andrzejczak, a Democrat, was a supporter of the bail reform bill. However, after it passed, he saw how bad of an idea it truly was. That is why he tried to stop it from happening in California. SB10 was blocked this year over the summer. However, there are still politicians attempting to remove bail from the state of California.

 

Perhaps now that some time has passed, and more results have come in from the state of New Jersey, California lawmakers might reconsider. While bail is expensive, it is meant to act as incentive to return to court. If that fails, bail bond companies, which are a private industry, will cover the cost for returning the individual to jail.

 

The thing is, if lawmakers remove bail, and simply release every person they arrest, like what is happening in New Jersey, they will have essentially removed the punishment from crime and punishment. Once that is gone, there will be nothing to stop criminals from committing crimes.

Emergency Preparedness

Living in the state of California means dealing with earthquakes and fires on a pretty regular basis. As scary as that may sound, it is only par for the course. Everywhere has some sort of natural disaster that its residents need to be ready for. The East Coast has hurricanes, and the Midwest has tornados. There is always something dangerous, but that does not stop us from living there.

Nobody ever knows when an emergency will strike, that is part of what makes it an emergency after all. However, despite that fact, it is still possible to be prepared for an emergency situation to arise. By having the proper supplies prepared, a person will be better able to handle any sort of emergency situation that might be thrown their way.

First Aid Kit

Being Prepared

The worst part about any emergency situation is the suddenness of it. As humans, we like to make plans and then stick to those plans. Emergencies do not let us do that, they cannot be planned for. If they could be, they wouldn’t be considered emergencies.

One of the best ways to handle an emergency situation, is to prepare for the event before it ever occurs. This means having a plan of action in place, keeping supplies, and having important items stored someplace safe. This sounds simple, and it truly is. Being prepared for an emergency is extremely beneficial for a person and their loved ones.

One of the most important things that people can do to prepare for emergencies, is have a plan ready. A person needs to plan for every possible emergency. Experts recommend that families have escape plans for each room in the house, and have a designated spot where each family member should meet up after the event. Practice this plan frequently to ensure that everyone knows exactly what they need to do in the event of an emergency by heart.

If possible, assign a friend or family member who lives out of state as a contact in the event of an emergency. If an emergency occurs, local phone lines will be extremely busy, if they are even still up. The likelihood of being able to contact friends and family members close to the emergency via phone will be slim. However, you may be able to get a call through to someone out of state. Use the out of state friend or family member to relay messages.

Every person in the household should know the location of important emergency items like fire extinguishers and first aid kits. On top of that, everyone should know the locations of, and how to use, the shut-off switches for the water, electricity, and gas. This way, anyone can turn these off and prevent the situation from getting worse.

Have a Plan

Store Supplies

Aside from having a plan in place, it is important to have emergency supplies stored away, and have important personal items stored in a place where they are safe and easy to grab. This way, a person can be prepared if a disaster does happen.

 

Some of the supplies that a person should have stored away for emergencies include:

·       3 gallons of water per person. This should last each individual 3 days.

·       A 3 day supply of non-perishable foods.

·       Baby food, diapers, and wipes if you have a baby.

·       Activities for young children, such as crayons and coloring books.

·       Pet food and extra water if you have a pet.

·       A can opener.

·       Cups, utensils, and plates.

·       First aid kit.

·       Fire extinguisher.

·       Battery powered, or crank powered, radio and flashlight. Plus extra batteries.

·       A whistle.

·       Portable phone charger.

·       Prescription medicine and glasses for those who need them.

·       List of contact info for family members and friends.

·       Important documents in a waterproof and fireproof container.

·       Waterproof matches.

·       A blanket.

·       A supply of cash for food and travel for at least a week.

·       A change of clothes and shoes for each member of the family.

On top of keeping these kinds of items stored away, it is vital for people to store valuable and important documents in a safe place. This place should be safe and secure, yet easy to access in case the family needs to evacuate.

Some examples of items that should be stored away like that are:

·       Birth certificates

·       Social security cards

·       Wills

·       Insurance policies

·       Proof of ownership certificates

Being Prepared Helps Save Lives

Emergency situations and natural disasters can happen without warning. They will catch a person by surprise, but they can be dealt with. By being prepared, a person will be able to remain calm and properly handle the situation. Staying calm can save lives. It helps a person make better decisions, and it even helps other people around that person remain calm. By being prepared, a person will be able to take care of themselves and their loved ones should an emergency happen, or they need to evacuate an area.

 
 

Tracking Santa Claus

As Christmas draws nearer, children all over begin to grow more and more excited. They all know that Santa is preparing for his flight around the world. For kids, this is the most exciting time of the year. They can barely wait for Christmas morning when they can finally go to their Christmas tree and see what Santa got them.

Santa is a large part of the Christmas Mythos. He travels the entire world over the course of 24 hours, which is how long the night of Christmas Eve is when a person follows it from one time zone to the next. 

Santa's Love

This is an amazing feat, and some kids have trouble believing it as they grow up. What they do not realize, is that they can track Santa as he traverses the globe, which thereby proves his existence.

This is something that the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) does every single year on Christmas Eve. They then share this information with the rest of the world to let children know where exactly Santa is at any given moment of the night.

The Start of a Tradition

The tradition of tracking Santa started unintentionally in 1948. The United States Air Force issued a statement to the Associated Press that an early warning radar system in the north had detected one unidentified sleigh powered by eight reindeer flying at an altitude of 14,000 feet. The press then passed this information on to the general public. This was one of the first instances of a US government agency "tracking" Santa Claus' yearly flight. However, the tradition did not officially start here due to the fact that it was not repeated for several years.

 

The next time something like this happened was in 1955. Now, there is some debate as to how this particular story goes. The gist of the story is that Sears ran an ad in the paper advertising a number to call for kids to talk to Santa. One kid misdialed the number, or the paper misprinted the number, and ended up calling Colonel Harry Shoup, the on duty Crew Commander at the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Legends vary on how Colonel Shoup handled the call, but he talked to the kid briefly and then ended the call. After that, the Colonel informed his staff to give any other kids who called the current location of Santa Claus.

 

Colonel Shoup saw the incident as a good opportunity to build public relations with CONAD. A statement was later issued: "CONAD, Army, Navy, and Marine Airforces will continue to track and guard Santa and his sleigh on his trip to and from the US against possible attack from those who do not believe in Christmas."

After that, the tradition was born. The following year, the press began to inquire about CONAD tracking Santa and Colonel Shoup had another statement issued announcing that CONAD would indeed be tracking Santa's sleigh again that year.

The Modern Era of Tracking Saint Nick

NORAD took over the tradition from CONAD some years later. With each passing year, the operation became bigger and bigger. Today, the program is run by volunteers, both civilian and military, all of whom are looking to help spread a little Christmas cheer to the children of the world.

In 1981, NORAD published a phone number that people could call to get reports on Santa's trip around the world. As the years went by, and technology improved, more forms of communication were added. In 2014, NORAD, with the help of 2,100 plus volunteers, answered over 100,000 calls coming from more than 200 hundred different territories and countries.

Nowadays, ,kids can track Santa's whereabouts and explore the North Pole by going to NORAD's official Santa Tracker website, or even download an app to do the same on a mobile device. Tracking Santa Claus has never been more fun or interactive than it is now.

Keeping the Tradition Alive

Christmas is a fun time of the year for everyone, but even more so for kids. They love all of the magic that comes with the holiday, and the ability to track Santa's progress around the globe truly adds to the wonder. being able to track him helps confirm their belief in the legend. this is why NORAD continues to follow through with this tradition year after year.

What makes the whole thing even more inspiring is that the event and everything around it is done by thousands of volunteers who wish to make the world a better place. This kind of thing is so important to little kids, and one can feel the Christmas Spirit come alive when they realize everything that goes into this amazing tradition.