Friday, June 21, 2013

The US Prison System and Its Ties to the Economy - Final Installment in Six-part Series

What Can Americans Do?

It starts with those of us who have the right to vote, actually getting up and voting. It also means educating yourself and finding out what the candidates have been been doing. Who have they accepted campaign contributions from? What is their voting record and how does it impact the economy over the long run? We must stop seeing each issue as separate and recognize that they all add up to one grand picture.

The middle and lower classes must begin to realize that we have been manipulated by a divide and conquer mentality. The racism, prejudice and hate mongering is all created to keep the attention from the real issues. We are all in the same sinking boat and instead of bailing water, we've been hitting each other with our buckets and blaming each other for making the hole. All the while, the top 1% sit and laugh at us behind closed doors.

They create laws that are designed to target groups of people. Each year right before an election, voting laws are called into question and changed. The vast majority of people argue over whether or not the law is just, rather than realizing that the timing is such that no one can comply with these new regulations in time – it isn't about whether or not I have to show an ID, in other words. It's about whether or not I have time to get one right now. This is a simple matter of causing trouble and then stepping back and watching the people fight among themselves. We are divided and conquered. They are good at it.

Americans need to stop blaming each other and start looking at the people at the top of the food chain. Corporations have taken away your rights, bit by bit, by lobbying congress and paying the bills of your Senators, some of  whom have been in office for life. We need term limits, we need to abolish laws that aren't serving the middle and lower classes. We need tax reform that is fair and forces corporations to pay their fair share. We need to stop paying salaries of career politicians who serve a term or two and then collect benefits for life.

The reason CEOs make so much salary is because it is a tax write-off for their company! We need to close the tax loopholes that allow them to pay 10% tax while that Walmart employee is making $8 or less per hour and paying 35% of his/her paycheck to state and federal taxes. We need reform of the judicial system and to vote those off the bench who do not deserve to be there.

We need to place blame on ourselves for allowing this to happen to us and to wake-up and realize that the only way it is going to change is to get informed. Stop listening to everything that you hear! Read and research before you vote for someone. End the days of picking a name based on a recommendation that you were given or on a snappy television advertisement that you liked. Stop listening to everything that you hear and fully comprehend that your country has been slowly taken away from you and we are truly at a war to win it back. Ask yourself if the rhetoric being spewed forth by someone running for office is really a smoke screen for the things they do not want you to see. What is the political relevance of some of their arguments?

Understand that what is said is not generally the truth and if you want the best person for the job, you must do some research. Take voting seriously - someone died so that you had that right. If you still have the ability to vote, exercise your right because far too many in our country have lost it! This is not about republican or democrat, this is about your fundamental American freedoms that are being ripped away by both parties.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

The US Prison System and Its Ties to the Economy - Part Five of Six

Political Ties

It is interesting to note the ties to the economy that all of this has had. In the 1970s, after the War on Drugs that was instituted by the Nixon administration, there was a huge boon in the prison industry and a recession that followed. In the 1980s, after Reagan's push to “Just Say No,” there was also a large boon whereby private prison systems gained by leaps and bounds. Again, the country fell into recession. In the very early 2000s, George W. Bush instituted new laws that made it easier for Americans to be wire tapped, held longer without being charged and found guilty of new crimes that had never before been on the books. Again, private prisons saw a huge boon and politicians gained in donations to campaign funds. In fact, it became more far reaching than ever with companies like Black Water, who became known as “Bush's Shadow Army” over seas. Again, the country fell into recession. Meanwhile, paid mercenaries were doing deeds on behalf of our government that we were not even being told about.

Each time we have gone through recessions, the middle and lower class grow smaller and a larger percentage of them is disenfranchised. With each recession, the people at the bottom have further to climb to get back on their feet and most have not ever fully recovered from one by the time another hits. With each recession, more people are imprisoned because crime rates go on the rise. Those who have nothing to lose will turn to crime in higher percentages, in order to attempt to feed their families and pay bills with no hope of work in sight. Crime always climbs when the economy is bad.

As more and more money goes into private hands, there is less to be distributed among the poor. This results in more people relying on government programs for housing, food and medical assistance. This money in the private sector is also controlling minimum wage laws that die-out before they can ever make it out of the House. When CEOs of prisons are earning in excess of $5 million dollars per year in salary and the average worker at Walmart is only bringing home $17k per year at $8 per hour, it is not impossible to see why the middle class suffers. Lobbyists ensure that minimum wages stay low, while lining their own pockets and those of your senators and representatives. Either way, the middle and lower class lose while the rich get richer and the poor keep going to jail.

Please, take a moment to consider making a donation to the continuing effort to bring newsworthy reading to your attention. A lot of time and effort goes into interviews, fact-checking and research in order to bring you these blogs. Any donation at all is very much appreciated, as is your ongoing support and readership. Feel free to spread this news on your own social media networks. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

US Prison System and Its Ties to the Economy Part Four

What Happens Once You Have A Record?

In most states in the US, once you have a felony record, you no longer have the right to vote. Some states have changed this, but as of right now, most felons do not have the legal right to vote even after they have served their sentences and done their time. This is a rather creative way of ensuring that people who have been largely disenfranchised already are only further stripped of the ability to become productive citizens.

According to the Huffington Post, approximately 6 million Americans are disenfranchised as voters because of this law in these states. These statistics were gleaned from the Sentencing Project and they further report that the number had jumped by a staggering 600,000 persons unable to vote for the same reasons in just 2004. A large portion of these people are no longer in prison, meaning that they have the ability to vote but have not had their rights reinstated.

Who exactly are these people who cannot vote? What do we know about them? The vast majority of them, nearly 3 million in numbers, hale from Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee and Virginia. In total, they are representative of 7% blacks who are now unable to vote. Breaking it down by individual states, the numbers are much more dramatic. In Florida, for example, 23% of those disenfranchised are black. There currently are no statistics on Hispanic populations that are reliable.

The number of disenfranchised voters continues to grow and the reasons that people can find themselves locked-up also continue to grow. In 1976, the number of total Americans who were denied the right to vote was only 1.2 million. Since the 1970s, the total number of disenfranchised voters has jumped by nearly 600%. Are you noticing the correlation to all the other things that started in the 1970s?

It is fair to say that your life can completely be ruined by one arrest, even if you are not convicted of the actual crime. Pleading no contest is not the same as a plea of guilty but can still land you paying court fees and possible probation. Time served could be long enough to cause you to lose your home, car or job even if you have done nothing wrong because you are not truly innocent until proven guilty. You are actually held until proven innocent or agreeing to anything it takes to get out in most cases. Many are forced to buy their freedom through fees and probation as part of plea deals.

Your arrest record will follow you around for many years, making future jobs difficult. Photos of arrests are often posted online for the world to see, in order to publicly shame and humiliate people...and these photos are taken at booking. Let us be clear - no one has been found guilty at that time. No one has even seen a judge at this point and in some cases, they have not even been formally charged. Yet, these photos are now out there to shame you for the rest of your life.

If you have a record, going back to school can be difficult. Obtaining loans and/or grants can be nearly impossible. As we've seen, even voting in the country that you were born in can be stripped away from you for the rest of your life regardless of whether or not you have paid your penalty - in time served and court fees plus probation costs. You are effectively “kept in your current position” by the system.

To say that this issue benefits one political party or the other would be incorrect. Both parties seem to gain financially from lobbying and donations to campaigns. Even judge Mark Ciavarella, Jr. was a registered democrat.

Watch for Part Five tomorrow: Political Ties

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The US Prison System and Its Ties To the Economy: Part Three of Six

This is the third part in the six-part series about the US Prison system and the long reaching grip it has on our economy, our judicial system, politics and more. 

Ties To Politics, The Economy and You

Many Americans have always believed that as long as they 'keep their nose clean' that they are safe from imprisonment. One need only watch the news to see that this is not entirely true. Find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time and you may end-up charged with a crime that you not only didn't commit, but you can even denied bail hearings for as long as a month in some jurisdictions.

What happens to the average person's life in a month? Most people in America are now living paycheck to paycheck. After being incarcerated, many get out – sometimes having been completely exonerated – only to find that they have no job now, all their bills are a month behind (or more if they were already struggling) and eviction processes have begun on their rental. Missing a mortgage payment is a black mark on credit that cannot be repaired until it disappears and lowers credit scores horribly. Most marks like this will remain on your credit for up to seven years.

For some people, being arrested and jailed for up to a month may be what puts them on the street and literally turns them into homeless people. In one month, you may come home and find your car repossessed, notice to vacate on your door and no job. Not to mention that you are now most likely facing fines, court costs and probation – even if you were innocent. Many people finally enter into plea bargains so that they can gain freedom, after being told that “if” they are found guilty, they may be facing months or even years behind bars. This is typically enough to scare most people into taking a plea and probation even when they know they are innocent.

Probation means that you are assigned a probation officer that you must report to at given time intervals and pay “probation costs” to. This can range but is typically no less than $50 per visit. Court costs on top of this probation cost can also range, but typically amounts to at least $2000 for most people. Again, I stress that many people who are paying these expenses were, in fact, not guilty. They agree to plea arrangements to finally get out of jail, after having been held for long periods of time and then frightened into thinking that they could be found guilty and have to spend more time in this institution if they are found guilty at a trial. This is typically enough to make even an innocent person agree to 'pay for their freedom.' Does this sound like innocent until proven guilty?

Politics play a large part in who gets arrested and who does not. This is easy to see when one begins to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Companies like CCA and Geo want to make money. In order to make more money, they need more prisoners. These companies use lobbyists to push their agendas in Washington, DC. By creating harsher penalties for certain things, like drug use, it is easier to arrest people on charges that indoctrinates them into the legal system. More and more juveniles are being arrested on charges for crimes that would not have even been considered crimes thirty years ago. This has simply become a case of supply and demand.

Case in point, Judge Mark Ciavarella, Jr was recently charged with conspiring to sell kids to prisons for cash. He was found guilty and sentenced to 28 years behind bars. Since 2003, Ciavarella had received millions of dollars in bribes. In one case cited, Ciavarella sentenced a ten-year old to 2 years in a juvenile facility for accidentally bottoming out his mother's car. It was estimated that the judge had denied rights to approximately 5,000 juveniles and sentenced them to unfair punishments. Many have since been released. The state of Pennsylvania has overturned some 4000 rulings having been made by Ciavarella since 2003. Ciavarella was ultimately found guilty of tax evasion, racketeering, money laundering and mail fraud. He appealed his original conviction but a federal appeals court on May 25, 2013 upheld the verdict. He was ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution. He is currently serving a 28 year sentence.

What about the lives he ruined? We've already learned about the food issues, the lack of adequate staff that results in prisoners being beaten - sometimes to death. These things are also happening in juvenile facilities. Could a good kid go in and come out a bad kid? If so, they have been set-up to be a part of this system for the rest of their lives. Those who are not exonerated, will often go on to find themselves in and out of facilities for the rest of their lives. Only time will tell what happens with the 4000 who have been released due to this one dirty judge. How many other dirty judges are there? At least one that is also suspected at this time of working with Ciavarella.

Also accused of conspiring with Ciavarella is Michael Conohan. He awaits trial at this time. They both were said to have taken a combined total of approximately $2 million in bribes from the private builder of PA Child Care and Western PA Child Care detention centers. Child care?

If you were to break down these numbers, it essentially put a price on the heads of the 4000 sentenced but later exonerated children to $500 each. Not quite worth the $2500 that the adults in the prison system break down to, but this is the indoctrination. Do not forget that once in the system it is very hard to get out of the system. Juveniles actually learn how to be criminals in juvenile detention centers. Once they are old enough to be tried as adults, they find themselves in systems that don't let go of them easily.

Watch tomorrow for the next part in the series: What Happens Once You Have a Record?

Monday, June 17, 2013

The US Prison System and Its Ties to the Economy - Part Two

Part two in the series regarding the US prison system and the drastic way in which it influences our economy and our judicial system. 

What This Means To Americans

For many years, politicians have brought up the “failed prison system” in the United States and told the public how it is bleeding the country dry. What they have failed to mention is that by privatizing prisons, US lawmakers and politicians stand to gain huge campaign contributions by stroking the backs of companies such as Geo and CCA. Not only are these for-profit prisons turning enormous profits, but they are actively seeking more prisoners to fill those beds. Every inmate in these private, for-profit prisons is worth an estimated $2500 each, based on the numbers above; for only one year. A prisoner who has been sentenced for 20 years is now worth $50,000 to the private prison industry, at minimum.

The private system is dependent upon filling beds to keep those profits turning, so it is not all that hard to see why so much money is being spent for lobbying and campaign contributions. But what about the state, county and federal prisons? How are they making money? First of all, nearly every part of the work force in these facilities is now contracted out. The medical care is contracted to medical companies that are being contracted for large amounts of money for providing medical services. Many facilities have private companies in charge of running cafeterias, who often use prisoners as free help but collect large payments for themselves with contracts. Aramark is one such private company that provides meals at over 600 detention facilities nationwide. Most meals are contracted to be provided for at a cost of somewhere between $1.13 and $1.40 per inmate, per day.

The prison system in Alabama had actually budgeted $1.75 a day for inmates back in 1939. This law is still in place today and reads that if the sheriff can feed inmates for less than the budgeted amount, they may keep the difference as a bonus. That was 70 years ago and the law has never been changed, even though the cost of providing enough food to keep an adult healthy has obviously changed.

Recently, a sheriff in Alabama admitted to feeding prisoners watered down milk and hotdogs at every meal until a discounted truckload had been consumed in full. They also were using a lot of powdered foods. The sheriff admitted to pocketing $200k in monies that had been allocated for food, by basically starving prisoners. This was not illegal because of the law on the books. After multiple allegations and lawsuits brought forth from victims who claimed hunger and having lost excessive amounts of weight, the sheriff was finally investigated and charged with contempt. One prisoner lost 100 pounds in a year. While some may argue that he needed to lose this weight, others who were at very normal weights lost as much as 30 pounds in their first month of incarceration.

Prison kitchens have even been shut-down in some states, due to malfunctioning equipment or not being able to pass health inspections. This has resulted in prisoners having to eat cold food for days and weeks on end. While some might say this is just punishment for prisoners, it should be pointed out that the vast majority of these people are in for minor offenses and, in some cases, we are talking about pregnant women who are being malnourished because of traffic violations or charges for prostitution – while Wall Street bankers who bilked people for millions and/or billions of dollars are out on bail or without charges ever even being filed. Some of these people serving time may not even be guilty, as we have already contended. They are currently being held for bail or being held-over without bail, something that is now perfectly legal in our country. Jail is not supposed to be a hotel, that’s true,” stated criminal defense attorney G. Kerry Haymaker. “That being said, [some of] these people haven’t been convicted of anything and these are the conditions they’ve been subjected to.” In some counties and states, it is common to be held as long as 30 days without even being formerly charged with a crime or having bail set. This is thanks, in part, to changes made during the George W. Bush administration. No longer does it seem that anyone is innocent until proven guilty.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The US Prison System and Its Ties To Economy - Part One

This is part of a six part series on the US Prison System and how it largely impacts US economy and the lives of all private citizens. Prepare to have your eyes opened. 

Part One: How Things Came To Be - A Little Background

The prison system in the United State became widely used after the Revolutionary War, however it wasn't a system based on parole, probation and sentencing until after the Civil War. The system that we have today was born from expansion in the 1970s and has grown by by more than five times the size it was in 1973. In any given year, approximately 7 million persons are are under the supervision of correctional facilities, either on probation or held in facilities. In 2012, there was a total population in the United States of 313.9 million people.

In 1920, the percentage of Americans incarcerated was only .01 percent. By 2008 that number was fast approaching a full 1% of the population. We have, since 2008, nearly doubled to 2%. while only accounting for 5% of the world population. In 2008, the United States accounted for 2.4 million of 9.8 million prisoners held in the entire world. Billboards could be seen at that time that read, “Welcome to America, home to 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's prisoners." One might begin to question “Home of the Free” if these numbers were honestly taken into account?

What was the drastic change in the 1970s that caused number to begin to skyrocket? In 1971, Richard Nixon declared the war on drugs. Coincidentally – or not – the United States also began privatizing juvenile correctional facilities at about this same time. This was an experiment that proved profitable. Within a few short years, prisons were overflowing. Following that, came the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984. For the last 25 years, America has had private prisons, run as businesses, to handle “overflow” from the already established prison system.

According to Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are now 1.6 million total state and federal prisons in the United States. 128,195 prisoners are now housed in private, for-profit prison facilities. This number has grown by 37% between 2002 and 2009. There are 66 facilities owned by Corrections Corporations of America. This is the largest for-profit company in the United States. There are 91,000 beds in CCA facilities, currently spread across 20 US states. The total revenue reported by CCA in 2011 was $1.7 billion dollars. Lobby expenditures by CCA, as reported by The Center for Responsive Politics, was $17.4 million dollars over the last ten years. Even further damning is the statistic for the amount of money contributed to political campaigns by CCA from 2003 to 2012: $1.9 million. The CEO, Damon T. Hininger, was paid an executive salary in 2011 of $3.7 million dollars.

The GEO Group is the second largest for-profit private detention company in the US. Their total revenue, according to their own annual report in 2011 was $1.6 billion dollars. They own 65 facilities with over 65,000 beds currently. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that The Geo Group has spend over $2.5 million dollars in lobbying in the last eight years. The National Institute on Money in State Politics reports that from 2003 to 2012, The Geo Group spent $2.9 million dollars in political contributions. Their CEO, George C. Zoley earned a paycheck of $5.7 million dollars in 2011. The company was ordered to pay a fine of $1.1 million that was levied in November of 2011 by the New Mexico Department of Corrections for inadequate staffing. They are currently still appealing another judgment for damages awarded in a wrongful death lawsuit from last June. An inmate was beaten to death by his cellmate at an Oklahoma prison. The judgment was awarded for $6.5 million dollars but the company has filed an appeal and it is still pending.

Up next, Part 2 - What This Means To America

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A True Account of Military Sexual Assault On A Member of the GLBTQ Community

It has been one year since I spoke to "Dan" but I still can hear his voice as he told me his story. Obviously, the name here has been changed to protect his identity. My first impression of Dan was that he was a person who was distrustful and a little paranoid.

After hearing his story, I came to understand exactly why he would have zero trust in anyone. As I listened, he told his story with a very matter of fact tone, despite his voice cracking from time to time. I knew that he was fighting back years of emotions that were pushing to come rushing over the top of the dam that he'd built many years prior.

Dan has kept his silence for thirty years but began by saying, "The military took my voice away and has given me my voice back." Dan has been diagnosed with Military Sexual Trauma (MST). He joined the military in 1979, at the age of seventeen. At that point, Dan was female and identified as gay. "I was gay but I didn't know what transgender was. Mom signed so I could join. I signed to be a physicians aid but I was told I was going to be a telecommunications specialist instead. That was the first time they screwed me."

Dan was shipped off to Fort Jackson, SC for basic training at the age of only seventeen. They were the first group to allow women into combat infantry. Dan explained, "Many women were going into 101st Air Born training and had signed-up for that - I had not."

According to Dan, this was one of the worst places for basic training because the drill instructors had a notorious reputation at that time for being hard, among other things. "Everyone took two-hour shifts for guard duty. You were assigned an M16A1 with no ammo. [You] patrolled either armory or around your own barracks for two hours."

It was on one of these guard duty shifts that this young female would get her harshest "military lesson" at the hands of her drill instructor. "The night I was on patrol was also my eighteenth birthday. My drill instructor and another instructor pulled me off my patrol. They got in my face and screamed at me, brim to brim and spitting in my face. [They] informed me that they were giving me POW top secret training." Dan explains that at that time he was warned, "I wasn't to tell anybody or I'd be drummed out of the military. I was told not to report it or to report to sick hall because of it either."

"Next thing I know, the second instructor has my elbows pinned behind me. My instructor is now on top of me. I remember the smell of the ground, the High Karate after shave he's wearing, his sweat dripping on my face, the rocks on my back. One of them took a knife and cut away my pants because they couldn't get them off over my boots." Dan pauses and he is in obvious distress. I wait for him to compose himself and he continues, "I was dry and I remember the painful burning sensation. My drill sergeant is looking me in the eyes and laughing."

After the first instructor finished his barbaric act, the ordeal wasn't yet to be over - the second instructor now had his turn. "The second instructor won't look me in the eyes and pulled his hat down. He couldn't finish so he finally just got off of me."

It becomes clear that it had all been planned act, right down the last details:

Dan's voice trembles now as he bravely goes on, "They stood me up then and I was forced to stand at attention. They continued now to reinforce that I was to tell no one. They guaranteed me that this training was going to happen to every woman in this outfit."

At this point, Dan was handed a brand new set of fatigue pants. His voice broke at this point. "I realize it was all pre-planned and I have to take off my boots to put the new pants on. He took my old pants, underwear and allowed me to lace my boots. Then he walked me back to my post. He had a washcloth and water. He told me to wash my face and then he even took the washcloth and leaves me to patrol the rest of my shift."

That night in the barracks, Dan explains that he couldn't sleep, "I kept wondering who was next. Was this rape? Was it REALLY part of my training? I couldn't leave or lose the career that I'd always wanted." A travesty that anyone would have to lay in bed and ponder these questions, much less someone entrusted to the United States military. This was the way Dan spent the night of his eighteenth birthday.

"The rest of my basic training this man stared me down. He told me to do anything - polish his boots, take out his trash - I did it." Dan had been broken and did, in fact, remain silent about the entire incident until now. Sadly, the ordeal took the dreams of a young girl who wanted to make the military her life and dashed them. "When it came time to re-enlist, I wouldn't do it."

The years after the military have been fraught with pain and anxiety of all sorts. Dan explains, "My life since [leaving the military] has consisted of not being able to keep a job or to hold onto relationships or close friendships. The only person I've ever told about any of it was my sister because she knew me well enough to know something was wrong. I had kept a diary this entire time, right up until three years after I'd left the military."

Dan is a soft spoken man. It honestly wasn't hard to imagine the young girl that had been so traumatized by MSA. The damage, though he has been through counseling now, is still apparent. He manages to laugh a few times during the interview and I found myself wondering how he could.

The years since the assault:

"In 2004 I was sitting in church one day. My pastor comes up and asked what's wrong. I said I was sick. She told me that the rules had changed and I should be able to go to the VA." It was at that point that it was discovered that Dan had breast cancer and was also required to take part in a survey. Based on responses and behavior patterns, the doctors immediately suspected Military Sexual Trauma. That doctor was now obligated to follow-up but Dan admits that he got very defensive. At that time, he was forced to see a psychiatrist.

As luck might have it, Dan was able to get in to see a psychiatrist who was ex-military and a lesbian. She was able to get Dan to open up about the ordeal. There was a long process of desensitization therapy so that Dan could begin to let go of the horror of that night. "She saw that it was 100% effective disorder and referred me to another doctor. He told me that what happened to me, and how I had ALLOWED it happen to me, was not about the military - it was my childhood."

This led Dan to openly discuss childhood, family and other things. He went on to explain more, "My parents are divorced. My mom was raised by grandparents on a tobacco farm in Raleigh, NC and had no contact with other kids other than at school. By age sixteen, she was running the whole farm - financially and everything. [She] really had no contact with the outside world. I believe that my grandfather molested her and didn't have good parenting skills either. I think my mom raised us the same way."

"I was raised to be seen and not heard. I was taught not to question adults or any authority figure." Dan's father wasn't in the picture much. He lived in AZ and was a highway patrolman. They weren't close. "He never said 'I love you' and neither parent ever put their arms around me and just said 'I love you' - it just never happened." Apparently Dan's dad did make a habit of complaining about the $75 per month that he was ordered to pay in child support. Dan laments, "this is just what I was brought-up in."

Back in therapy and after thinking all these things through, Dan declares that he was "able to stop being the victim - this is how the military gave me my life back. They've acknowledged what happened to me and that MST is a serious issue in the military."

Dan now worries about other victims and repercussion of Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) being repealed. He worries that MST is "going to run rampant" now. He is quick to point out that it just doesn't happen to women, "it happens to men too."

Then paranoia begins to rear it's ugly head again. "Had I reported it back then, I would have been told 'you flirted with him' or 'you brought this on yourself' I'm sure. I can talk to people now. I used to pack up and run - it was fight or flight and, for me, it was always flight."

Dan has given-up on trying to have any sort of healthy relationship with his family. He started hormone therapy at age fifty and is male now. He continues to fight his inner demons and wrestle with the past as well as he can. He now lives with other fears regarding his transition. "I'm questioning if I am transitioning because I need the world to see me as male or because I never want to be raped again. But...God forbid, if someone finds out, I increase my odds of being murdered by seventy percent."

Dan's story is not really so unique, which is unfortunate. Not only are military sexual assaults at an all-time high, over eight-one percent of assaults against men are never reported, according to IVN. Estimates vary from one news source to another, but the average estimate of military sexual assaults being committed per day is between seventy-five and one-hundred.

According to the Pentagon's latest report, an estimated 26,000 incidents of Military Sexual Assault occurred last year. has recently reported that a sergeant first class in the U.S. Army stationed at Fort Hood military base is under investigation for sexual assault and possibly involved in a prostitution ring that may have involved recruits that were pressured into taking part.

It remains to be seen if the military is really doing all it can to handle this atrocious problem. Pentagon spokesman, George Little, issued this statement:

"I cannot convey strongly enough [Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's]frustration, anger, and disappointment over these troubling allegations and the breakdown in discipline and standards they imply.

Secretary Hagel met with Army Secretary McHugh this morning and directed him to fully investigate this matter rapidly, to discover the extent of these allegations, and to ensure that all of those who might be involved are dealt with appropriately.

To address the broader concerns that have arisen out of these allegations and other recent events, Secretary Hagel is directing all the services to re-train, re-credential, and re-screen all sexual assault prevention and response personnel and military recruiters."