Sunday, August 30, 2009

Victim Compensation

I was over at Shakesville, checking out their blogaround, and stumbled upon this post, about one of the Sodini shooting victims. She is uninsured, and she is putting on a car wash to raise money for her medical bills. Zuska's post is mostly about the implications for healthcare reform, and I'll leave it to you to read the post for that (it's good, and you should), but I wanted to raise awareness about crime victims compensation. This is a program about which not nearly enough people know, and that's a huge problem.

As a victim advocate in Arizona, I'm very familiar with our particular program. In all counties, except Coconino, the comp program is run through the victim services department of the County Attorneys Office. We run it through our agency, which is a standalone 501(c)(3) nonprofit. We are the only agency of our kind in Arizona, as the rest are all housed within the county. To qualify for victims comp, you must be the victim or witness of a crime, you must have reported the crime to law enforcement within 72 hours (unless good cause exists, and exceptions are routinely made in cases of sexual assault and sexual abuse). If eligible, you apply for funds within two years of the crime occurring, meaning, even if you didn't find out about this program until just now, you might still be able to get money. It can cover medical bills, including bills for counseling, crime scene cleanup, funeral expenses, travel expenses incurred as a result of the crime (to and from court, the hospital, your therapist, etc.), lost wages incurred as a result of the crime, etc. The comp program will pay out up to $20,000. Our compensation director takes applications once a month before the compensation board, who reviews each case, and decides to either grant the claim in full, grant a reduced claim, or deny the claim altogether. If your claim is denied, there is an appeals process, and all you have to do is write a letter to the board stating that you want your case looked at again. It is not complicated or difficult.

All states have victim compensation programs. The rules may be different for each of them, but the Office for Victims of Crime has information about each program. If you are, or know someone who is a victim of crime, pass this information along. There is no reason for victims to be throwing bake sales to get their x-rays paid for. The programs exist for you, we are all paying for them, please use them! To find out more information about compensation in your area, check out the OVC's page on comp. They have a link to info about the program in general, as well as a link to a national directory of comp programs.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Running in Heels, or Why I Hate Shopping for Pants

This will be a short bit of a rant, because I doubt that I will be able to articulate why this bugged me on a feminist level in any sort of a meaningful way. If you happen to be reading, and think you can help me make this clearer, please feel free to comment!

I am on an endless quest for pants. Not just any pants, and not jeans, though that is the cliché. I spend ridiculous amounts of time looking for dress pants that I can wear to the office, and that I can wear, more specifically, with flats. While I work in an office, I also spend a good chunk of my work days walking. As a victim advocate, I am constantly running back and forth between the office, the county courthouse, the city courthouse, the police station, the hospital, and various other sites where one might find a crime victim. This means, that while heels supposedly look more polished and professional, they are never very practical, and they cause a great deal of back pain, foot pain, blistering, and general discomfort. I know that this is not just a problem isolated to those of us who work in offices, as when I waited tables, and later slung coffee, I still needed dress pants to fit the dress codes, but couldn't be working in heels.

Given that a good deal of women in the world must work in pants, and that many of us can't work in heels, why is it so difficult to find pants that aren't a good three to six inches longer than our legs? I am a small woman; I am 5'4", but even the pants that fit on my little frame are much, much too long. And then, top that with the fact that many stores carry a tall line of clothing, or have long cuts (which are inches longer than "regular," which is still inches longer my legs), meaning that these super long legged pants are not even the longest out there. All pants that I come into contact these days seem to be designed to be worn with heels. Or to be worn only by supermodels, and, to be fair, tall, skinny gals need pants, too.

But why can't I find pants that I don't need to hem? I remember reading Susan Faludi's Backlash with utter amazement when it came to the chapters on fashion. Faludi said (and cited studies, if I remember correctly) that showed women's apparel needs were drastically different than what was being offered by clothing retailers. Women wanted practical clothing, and they were given micro-minis and pouffy cocktail dresses. For those who are constantly yelling about letting the market correct itself, it seems that occasionally, the market is far more interested in imposing its own ideas of what people ought want to buy, and in this case, what women should be wearing.

There are petite offerings, but so far, unless I want to go to a store specifically for petite women (and the clothes in those shops are too old for me; I feel like I'm trying on a costume), I have to purchase my clothes online. That means, I can't try them on, and I have to do quite a bit of guesswork, crossing my fingers that when my pants arrive they are the color promised onscreen, and that they actually fit. It's terribly frustrating.

I said this would be short. It was not. Neither is the inseam on my pants.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Healthcare Reform

While healthcare reform legislation is moving forward, opponents in the house and senate are gearing up to make the legislation as meaningless as possible, especially for women.

According to this article, while President Obama insists that he still wants reform completed by August, he seems not to believe that his role is one of leading reform.

Despite a lack of consensus over cost, funding and whether to provide a "public" government insurance plan that would compete with private companies, Obama's Health and Human Services secretary said Sunday that the White House will not micromanage Congress. Any plan to overhaul the system "needs to be owned by the House and the Senate," Kathleen Sebelius told CNN's State of the Union.

Like the analysts mentioned in the article, I really question this kind of strategy. Though Pres. Obama states that his job is to inspire confidence in the American people regarding this reform, polls show the majority of Americans support for universal healthcare, with some polls putting that support at 72%. It seems clear that President Obama ought focus his energies on the house and senate, and even some in his own party, when embarking on a campaign to inspire confidence in healthcare reform. And if he is truly concerned about support from American citizens, he might inspire confidence in me if he started standing up for the reproductive rights of women. Cara puts it succinctly:

[I]t would be an enormous tragedy to finally have health care reform passed, only for access to vital services to be kept out of the deal — leaving some who will need to switch to a government plan for cost reasons with less coverage than they had before...And lastly, because we can’t expect elected officials to follow the poll numbers if they don’t even know about them. The pressure that they usually end up feeling comes from anti-choicers because, well, unfortunatley anti-choicers are really good at that sort of thing. This time around, they absolutely need to hear it from us, too.

I'll repeat my call to action from yesterday's post. Please, please, look up your representatives, and speak up! You can find your reps here.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Cruel and Unusual

So... I've only posted things every now and again, and it is well within the realm of possibility that no one checks on this page at all, BUT, I don't mind throwing posts out into the ethos. Here goes:

I've been reading quite a bit recently about the horrific conditions under which incarcerated women give birth in the United States. Several articles, both in the mainstream media and on blogs, have come out to shed light on this issue, and I'd like to join the chorus. Shackling a woman when she gives birth is a clear violation of the Eight Amendment, and should not be tolerated. Women who have undergone childbirth in these conditions detain the practice as humiliating, and in some cases it causes injury. The following is taken from the linked article, on RH Reality Check.

Consider the case of Shawanna Nelson.

When Nelson was six months pregnant, she was incarcerated in Arkansas for passing bad checks. She went into labor during her short sentence. A correctional officer shackled her legs to opposite sides of the bed that transported her to a delivery room, removing them briefly during a nurse's examination. Nelson was re-shackled immediately after giving birth to her nine-pound son.

"She suffered both mental anguish and injury to her back, intense pain because she couldn't move or adjust her position through her birth process," said Dana Sussman, legal fellow at the Center for Reproductive Rights.
Nelson later had surgery to treat symptoms resulting from the delivery of her son, according to The Arkansas Times.

Please take the time to contact your representatives, and tell them that this is unacceptable.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I Suck At This Blogging Thing...

I haven't posted in forever, and I'm still not doing a real post right now. I saw this on Feministe, and wanted to post it here. Enjoy!

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

Monday, October 27, 2008

So, I'm about six weeks into my brand-spanking-new dream job, and while I really do love it, it can be incredibly depressing.  I'm the volunteer coordinator for a victim advocacy organization, and we see everything.  Literally.  Every single police report made in the county comes across our desks, and it can be frightening.  My coworkers and I have worked with victims of some of the most horrific crimes imaginable.  We respond to crises 24 hours a day, and we help people through the criminal justice process afterward.  Because of how much we see, the staff is made up of some very compassionate people, but some of the other agencies we work with are not.

This is what truly blows my mind.  There are attorney's that tell our DV victims that they don't take DV cases, because they don't understand why the victims keep going back.  There was one particularly egregious case in which an attorney told a sexual assault victim that her case was being declined, because, "Sometimes sex hurts.  That doesn't mean you were raped."  One of the foremost detectives in our law enforcement agency speaks incredibly articulately about the dynamics present in DV situations, and especially about how traditional gender roles and beliefs in them are many times present in such situations, and then in the same breath, speaks about how he is a "good Christian," who believes that he is the head of his wife.  How do these people work so close to such violence, and not see how they enable, contribute, and at the very least, how they do nothing to help stop it?

I  have moments when I am so heartbroken.  Listening to the stories our clients tell us.  Seeing their shame and humiliation on top of their feelings of betrayal and visceral pain, shame and humiliation given them, not by their abusers or attackers, but by the very people in the system who claim to work to help them.

I know change is slow, but sometimes it's so painfully slow that it knocks the wind out of my chest.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I Got A Grownup Job! (and other updates)

It's been a very long time since I've posted, and I feel bad, because I don't even have anything important to post.  I've been very busy this summer, mostly with visiting family in Indianapolis.  Mr. KMP and I spent a lot of time traveling between Indy, his parents, and Michigan, so we were exhausted when we got home.  
My grandmother gave us a fig tree to plant in Mr. KMP's parent's yard a while back, and we found that it is doing quite nicely!  I was surprised, because there was so much flooding in Indiana, I thought most of the plants would have been destroyed.  This fig tree is a trooper!
We also had a great time in Michigan.  Walloon is one of my favorite places in the world, and it was really nice to get out on the water with Maggie (she's the one in the life vest.)

After we got settled back in Flagstaff, my brother and sister came out to visit.  We went to the Grand Canyon and ate a massive amount of Jelly Bellies and watched Ren & Stimpy and Daria.  It was lovely!  

More recently though, I quite my job at Starbucks, and got a position at Victim/Witness Services for Coconino County.  I'm their new Volunteer Program Coordinator, and I love it.  Now that I don't have crazy hours (and I'm winding up my Masters...!!!), I should have more time to write, and given my new job, I'll have a different perspective on issues where I was previously doing a lot of speculating.  I hope everyone else had a great summer!