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Author Archives: WSS News

State Lawmaker Wants to Tax Companies That Profit from Prisons

By Manny Otiko, California Black Media

With the current national focus on law and order, some statewide organizations and lawmakers are working on what they say are solutions that promote investment in young people and reduce California’s privately-owned prison population. Assemblymember Tony Thurmond has sponsored AB 43, a bill that would levy a 10 percent tax on “private prisons and prison-related services.”

The bill is aimed at what experts call the Prison Industrial Complex, a process where the correctional system turns inmates and their families into sources of revenue. Inmates and their families have complained about exorbitant fees charged for making calls to and from prison. Also, some privately-owned companies have contracts with states to employ inmates. However, inmates are often paid way below minimum wage, allowing firms to maximize their profits. 

Thurmond said the Prison Industrial Complex is a “modern form of slavery.” He was motivated to sponsor the legislation after watching Ava Duvernay’s documentary “13th.”

“We want the state to switch from investing in prisons to investing in schools,” said Thurmond, a former social worker who is also running for state superintendent of public instruction.

Thurmond’s legislation would raise funds that would go to prison prevention programs and universal preschool. Funds would be deposited in the State Incarceration Prevention Fund. 

There have been some policies that have been said to contribute to the rise in prison population. From The War on Drugs to California’s “Three Strikes” law policies have all been said to have caused overcrowding situation that led to a Federal judge ordering a decrease in the state’s prison population. 

According to the bill, California currently spends about $4.5 billion per year on the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Some of that money also trickles down to companies that provide services to inmates. According to an article in the East Bay Times, CoreCivic, a company that owns several private facilities in the state, has received $2 billion from the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.  

“Companies continue to profit as a result of high state incarceration rates. These for-profit companies provide necessary goods and services to state facilities, often at a markup. In effect, taxpayers are stuck footing the bill, enabling companies to see large profits for goods and services due to California’s prison population,” says the proposed bill.

AB 43 is supported by the California Teachers Association, Anti-Recidivism Coalition, California Nurses Association, Californians for Justice, and First 5 Association of California. The bill will be voted on later this month. 

Thurmond and supporters of the bill say that investing in early education and prison prevention programs are key to stopping the School-to-Prison pipeline. 

“Children who start kindergarten behind, are more likely to stay behind – a trend that feeds into the school-to-prison pipeline,” said Moira Kenney, executive director of the First 5 Association of California. “Early interventions like quality child care and preschool can break this cycle and put children on a path that leads to success in school and in life.”

But not everyone is happy about AB 43. 

The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB/CA) said the bill would harm small companies who want to do business with the state. NFIB/CA placed AB 43 on it’s “The Good, The Bad and Ugly” list. According to NFIB/CA State Communications Director Shawn Lewis, the list tracks bills that could negatively impact small business. 

“Imposing a tax on a business that has been awarded a state contract is punitive and counterproductive to the goals of keeping costs down and creating jobs,” said Ken DeVore, NFIB legislative director, in a letter to Thurmond. “Such a tax serves no purpose for the state, and will only hurt small business.” 

Innovative New ‘Gotcha’ GPS Tracking Device Helps Parents Locate Lost Kids

Find My Everything Inc. is excited to announce today the release of its practical and exceptionally functional tracking apparatus that will enable users to locate misplaced or stolen personal items no matter where they are. Company founder and CEO, Taylor Baloney is the smart young inventor of ‘Gotcha’ GPS Tracking Device. Using a downloaded smartphone application, the device will help track and find anything, including purses, backpacks, luggage, and even kids. Available in variety of styles, designs, and colors to appeal to consumers of all ages, the tracking device will be about the size of a keychain, which can be attached to handbags, wallets, pets, and other essential items with a small clip.

The tracking device will be linked to an app on a smartphone or tablet to aid when needing to locate misplaced or stolen items. Consumers will be able to locate items using the GPS map on their screens. The app will also activate a beeping sound from the tracking device, so the closer the user is to the missing item, the louder the sound. Users can input multiple trackers onto the app, and each one will have a different little picture or name on the GPS map. The locator service—which functions anywhere in the U.S. that has cellular coverage – will run on the cloud, and data transmitted from the tracking device to the user’s smartphone or tablet.

As currently designed in the technical drawings and 3-D models, the invention has unique features not presently available in the marketplace.

* View a message from the tracking device inventor
* Be among the first to order your watch tracking device at a special pre-order discounted price at www.findmyeverything.org/products.

Today’s society is always seeking new ways to make our lives more convenient and less stressful. Baloney agrees, which is precisely why she developed this product. “I have a passionate sense of pride about this concept,” said inventor Taylor Baloney. “I believe that it deserves vigilant attention and consideration. A great many markets exist for such an innovative concept like ‘Find My Everything’ GPS Tracking Device as consumers everywhere will appreciate the benefits and convenience this product provides. General supply stores like Wal-Mart and Target; retail pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens; and specialized stores like Best Buy and Office Depot would be logical retailers for both products.”

 

GOTCHA’ GPS WATCH TRACKER REVIEW:

Google Security and Privacy Product Manager, Michee Smith, tested the Gotcha GPS Tracking Device by having her kindergartner wear the watch tracker during the day for a week. “I found the device is extremely accurate! On my mobile app, I was able to view everywhere she went,” Smith said. “And my daughter had the ability to send an emergency call to me and a message.” The computer engineer continued, “The app has a cool feature that allows the user to replay the location over a couple of days. I also like that the device has a step counter, so it incorporates a bit of health awareness as well. The watch is well designed for kids in that it doesn’t have games, so my child didn’t get distracted while at school. All in all, I think it’s a great product, especially for a mom like me that wants the peace to know my children are safe and in the place where they’re supposed to be.”

Find My Everything Inc. is committed to becoming one of the world’s premier technologies (solutions) to locate certain items, which seem to frequently disappear. The Company specializes in locating items that tend to disappear frequently. “This viable solution will provide the utmost quality, value, and effectiveness in achieving the optimal performance and desired results,” Baloney commented. “As revered business professionals and community advocates, we are focused on achieving our goal by taking actions in the present that will create a sustainable and bright future.”

About Find My Everything Inc.
Founded in 2016 by CEO, Taylor Baloney, Find My Everything Inc. is a company she launched to create and develop her product—the ‘Gotcha’ GPS Tracking Device. Baloney conceived the idea to develop the product after having lost and recovered her iPhone using Apple’s ‘Find My iPhone’ app. The inventor teamed up for the development of this project with Idea Design Studio, and together they used their collaborative experience to transform this idea into a marketable platform.

Combining new school technology with old school customer service, “Find My Everything Inc.” is dedicated to ensuring that its products are designed with innovative and creative technology, while delivering excellent service to its consumers. (www.FindMyEverything.org)

Free UC Riverside Program Gears Up Young Women for Careers in Technology

From creating the latest smartphones to making self-driving cars, tech jobs are among the highest paying and fastest growing in the U.S. economy. There are currently 500,000 open jobs in computing, but the number of computer science graduates falls short—just 50,000 each year, and, of those, only one in five are women.

A new program created by the University of California, Riverside and Riverside Unified School District (RUSD) aims to introduce coding and computer science to local high school students and promote diversity, and notably female participation, in these fields. The program is inspired by CS For All, an initiative developed by the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Education to empower all American students to become active citizens in our technology-driven world. The program will launch this summer, providing free one-week courses to 80 high school students from RUSD. The intensive courses will run twice, from June 19-23 and from June 26-30. Applications are due by April 26 and students can apply online or by calling 951-790-2633 (English speakers) or 951-878-0411 (Spanish speakers).

Angelov Farooq, founding director of the UCR Center for Economic Development and Innovation in the Office of Research and Economic Development and a member of the RUSD Board of Education, is leading the effort. He said similar programs in other parts of the country have been shown to increase the number of students, particularly girls and underrepresented minorities, who study computer science and go on to earn undergraduate degrees in the field.

“We have to emphasize technology and coding as an attainable career path for all students and encourage diversity in these fields because these are future-proof fields that will continue to grow and offer a wide spectrum of fulfilling and high-paying jobs,” Farooq said.

Farooq said he is particularly concerned about the lack of women from underrepresented and low-income families in the technology industry, a loss that would be acute in the Inland Empire. Today, less than 5 percent of all bachelor’s degrees in computer science are awarded to minority women.

During the program, attendees will get a hands-on, intensive programming experience, including building apps from scratch, touring engineering labs, and meeting with computer science professors in UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering.

“This is especially a great opportunity for girls to learn a new skill, be introduced to different fields in computer science, and make new friends, all in a comfortable environment,” said Kelly Downey, a computer science lecturer and lead instructor at the camp. “I am excited to teach the next generation of problem solvers computer programming skills that they can use in inventive and creative ways.”

Downey said at the end of the week, participants will walk away with new programming skills, a portfolio of apps they made, and an excitement for what can be done in the field of computer science. For more information, visit the CS For All website.