How can the First Step Act get taken to the state level?
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When: April 7 th 2019- April 13 th , 2019
Where: We will leave from beautiful Ft. Lauderdale
Florida, travel to Georgetown, Grand Cayman, then Puerto
Costa Maya, Mexico, followed by Cozumel, Mexico before
returning to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Why?: Because the Brāv International Networking and
Continuing Education Cruise is your opportunity to meet
your continuing education requirements and have the
opportunity to network with Conflict Management
Professionals from across the country.
Costs and Requirements
The costs of the trip are listed per person based on dual
All room categories are on a first come first
*Must have valid, current passport*
Drinking Packages are available on the ship.
The prices include the cruise, port fees, and taxes. They
also include the training package listed within the
description. Meals in the main dining room and at the
buffets are covered, as well as some meals at select
included restaurants on board. This price does not include
premium drinks, airfare, transfers or shore excursions. The
price also does not include travel insurance which is Highly
1 Passengers traveling alone and/or who would like three people in a room should contact the travel agent,
Weekend Wanderers, directly at 1 (814) 674-8918 to make arrangements.
2 Companion tickets can be purchased for persons who are traveling with a person taking the training but
do not wish to take the training themselves. They are priced at (SB) $950; (OVB) $850; (OV) $800; and (I)
$750. Priority for rooms is given to rooms where both parties are taking the training.
3 For Travel Insrance please contact Weekend Wanderers at 1 (814) 674-8918 or at
All Travelers (2)
Introduction to Conflict Management (S)- This course is a primer to those who
are new to the field of Conflict Management or those who are veteran conflict
managers who wish to see what is new.
Brāv International Events (C)- This course is a description of courses which are
offered by Brāv internationally, including our trips to Australia and Isreal/Europe.
Bronze Level Travelers (5)
Online Conflict Management (C)- This course explains the growing field of
online conflict managements and how you can use OCM to grow your business.
Using the Brāv Platform (A)- This course is a training on how to use the Brāv
platform in your business and how it can make your OCM practice more efficient.
Becoming a Brāv One (A)- This course explains how you can join the Brāv OCM
family, even if you are not intending to be a mediator.
Silver Level Travelers (9)
Cultural Awareness in Mediation (S)- This course goes through the process of
being culturally sensitive in culturally diverse mediation situations.
International Mediation Process (C)- This course explains the intricacies of
international mediation for those who are entering into the field.
Ethics in Mediation (S)- This course highlights the importance of ethics in the
field of conflict management, looking at the situations and solutions that arise
from conflict in the world.
International Domestic Violence (A)- This course discusses how to deal with
domestic violence in situations where people are being abused by loved ones.
Brāv Level Travelers (13)
The Mexico Trade Agreement (C)- This course looks at the new US/Mexico
Trade Agreement and possible conflicts arising from it.
Human Rights In the Modern Era (S)- This course looks at how human rights can
be protected by OCM
Addressing The Divisive Mind (S)- Mr. Zamor’s masterclass in how the mind works in
Current Event Class (C)- A class on an event between now and the cruise 4
Each Category includes the classes above. 5
4 Classes are subject to change and replacement by a class of equal or lesser value.
5 (S) Stanley Zamor, (A) Dr. Alli, (C) Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer
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Rooms come with two beds*
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ODR is certainly growing. There has been a review of the court system recently in the UK and Lord Justice Briggs has recommended reforms, which may promote the use of ODR. The proposals involve taking the court system online and so reducing the need for live hearings. It is proposed that there will be 3 stages. The first – a largely automated service for identifying issues; the second conciliation
and case management by case officers; the third – resolution by judges. Once the issues have been identified there will be a negotiation stage where attempts will be made to settle the dispute. Finally the matter, if unresolved, will proceed to be heard before a Judge but this will be done largely on the papers and it is unlikely there will be any need for the parties to physically attend Court. It may not even be necessary for the parties to be present at the same time. It is my understanding that at present the proposed new system will be limited to monetary claims up to £25,000. However, this limit may be moved upwards in time. Whilst the new system will not ban the involvement of lawyers part of the driving force behind the reforms is to avoid the necessity for lawyers thus providing access to justice for those who cannot afford to pay for legal representation. Accordingly, it is proposed that the new system will be straightforward so lay clients can navigate it without the assistance of lawyers and that there will be court staff available to explain the operation of the system. It may be that the early stages of the new system will allow for the use of ODR neutrals to try to settle the dispute.
We have recently seen the implementation of directives from the EU which will also no doubt provide new opportunities for ODR neutrals. The recent directives oblige businesses to provide consumers with the details of a mediation provider when a complaint is made. In addition, those businesses which trade online are obliged to put on their website the details of an ODR provider. It is my understanding that the UK government has approved certain specified mediation providers for this purpose. It remains to be seen whether many consumers will want to use this service but it is certainly hoped they will, although there is no obligation on businesses to agree to refer the matter to mediation as the obligation is only to provide the details of a suitable mediation provider (but not actually to use it).
These issues were discussed at a recent conference I attended on behalf of Brav in Liverpool, UK last month entitled “Online Dispute Resolution-Justice Re-imagined”. Indeed, Lord Briggs addressed the conference being the keynote speaker. The EU Directive was mentioned although it was noted that use of the ODR remains limited, as it seems many businesses have failed to comply with the EU Directive. However, it is anticipated that the use of ODR by consumers will increase over time as more businesses become aware of the requirements of the EU Directive.
The conference drew speakers from all over the world covering a wide range of subjects. It is apparent that ODR is being implemented worldwide. Indeed, we even heard about how the Chinese are implementing ODR into their legal system. I can’t wait for the next conference…
Brāv Online Mediator
The ICO world is full of legal ambiguity and many are working hard to game the system, just hoping not to get caught. The team behind PATH Network is different as they are striving to be as compliant as possible. The team is led by an ex-FBI agent who has served as a cybersecurity and governance consultant to numerous firms during his role with Kroll and PWC. PATH Network will be adding DDOS notification and protection to all clients.
Learn about Path’s connection to conflict management through their journey:
How did you choose your team?
A: On 0-day, or the very 1st day of work at Path, founding members made it clear that Path wouldn’t be just any team. It would be a dream team! That is exactly what Path is now, 6 months after its January 2018 launch, we have brought on a diverse line up of some very talented individuals, including former hackers now turned cybersecurity professionals, & an ex-FBI agent who used to chase hackers as our CEO, amongst many others.
Why hasn’t somebody come up with this before? Tell the real story, being an insider.
PATH: This project is sophisticated on many levels. Path Network redefines internet intelligence with unparalleled visibility into connectivity by applying blockchain technology to immediately serve a core business need of mid-market internet service providers (ISPs) and cloud service providers (CSPs) as well as internet-powered companies. Path Network’s decentralized approach offers better network insights at a lower cost. This unique paradigm gives Path Network a competitive edge previously unseen in this space, raising quality while reducing overhead.
Q Brav.org: How can PATH get people to volunteer to become node; why will people sign up to do this?
PATH: The premise of Path Network is simple: use commodity electronics already located around the world to monitor the health of the internet. This is incentivized through the reward of “PATH” tokens to miners that choose to participate by running our software on their devices at home. In return, our customers have their own networks and online services monitored by this array of devices.
Q Brav.org Q: How did you decide what technology to use to build this platform…tell the bigger story of how you came to be
PATH: As our motto goes, we plan to redefine internet visibility through blockchain. Path aims to be the world’s first truly decentralized data monitoring network, and will have a first mover and network effect advantage over future companies whom will inevitably see the benefits to blockchain protocol in the network monitoring space.
Brav.org Q: How receptive will the users be to this new approach?
PATH: We have already received a massive amount of complimentary reviews on the project.
The Path team has developed a number of clients to ensure that the Path Network mining application can operate on a multitude of platforms. At the heart of the Path Network agent is a simple core, extended to perform network-related tasks associated with monitoring jobs issued by our customers. In return, they receive PATH tokens by using our mining application on any given device.
Brav.org Q: What is your philosophy on inspiring performance among your team?
PATH: Innovation. We will always strive to provide top-grade technology and service to our customers.
Brav.org Q: Building all this technology can be intense in the trenches, how do you handle conflict resolution within your development team?
PATH: We resolve conflict within our development team with ease, thanks to our incredible team chemistry, we simply weigh out the pros and cons of any given “conflicted situation”, and take time to reflect, then as a team we always find a solution.
Brav.org Q: His team is in Australia, China and the US. How do you manage your teams in such a fast paced environment?
PATH: Communication is key at Path, with employees from all around the globe, our time is always managed in a synchronous matter.
Q Brav.org Q: What kind of impact do you think your product will have on the debate on net neutrality?
PATH: As traditional network monitoring remains an industry ripe for disruption, the core of Path Network’s functionality lies in our ability to incorporate the strengths of a centralized platform backed by a decentralized and globally distributed network of monitoring agents.
Q Brav.org Q: In your early days, did you ever pretend that conflict didn’t exist rather than attempt to address the underlying issues?
PATH: In my early days, if there was a conflict, my team and I would always address it, with full transparency until a solution was made. Each lesson learned came with a blessing, as our foundation strengthened, throughout all the hardships and issues we have faced since the very beginning. The firm discipline and team chemistry demonstrated by Path played a significant role in the uprising of Path Network.
By Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer
In business, we find that the devil really is in the details. No where is this more true than in the field of international government contracting. The old tale of Faust demonstrates how little it actually costs to get something of value to a person if you have something that has currently cost their fancy. The “deal with the devil” storyline has been played out in countless movies and television shows since the advent of the moving picture. As the devil fiddles there is now a change to his tune, Russia has begun buying the souls of companies by way of getting them to contract for civilian matters than pressuring them to release data to Moscow. In the era of the New Cold War, the United State and other allied counties must take steps to control how government contractors with access to privileged information deal with not so friendly second-world countries.
If you are a business owner, then you know that government contracts are some of the most lucrative contracts that you can ever pick up. You get paid well, your employees get paid a prevailing wage and the projects can keep your company secure for years. For most small business owners (companies with less than 500 employees) this is the ticket to the big time and something that should be cherished. The reason that people are paid so well for government contracts are because there are strings attached to every check that comes from a national treasury. How jobs are done, who you can work with and what work you can do outside of the contract are tightly controlled in most cases. The biggest strings, however, come when you are given a contract that gives you access to privileged or classified data; at this point you become a target of hostile and semi-hostile governments because they want the information that you have.
As US/Russia relations cool, the cloak and dagger tactics of the 1950’s-1980’s are seeing a resurgence. During the golden age of spy-craft, countries attempted to convert government and military officials into “double-agents” for the purpose of spying on their rivals. In the modern era, we have created a system of laws that prevent this as much as possible by making it difficult for someone in the public spotlight to have any extra-curricular contact with hostile or semi-hostile governments outside of official channels. As with all things, the industry evolved. Western free market economies have different definitions of government than the former communist bloc oligarchies. This means when Intrpolitex states it is “organized by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, Federal Security Service, Federal Service for the Forces of the National Guard of the Russian Federation–Russia’s security services” that a western democracy sees this as an expo for police equipment, when in all reality the police and the military are highly intertwined in Russia. This makes it a dangerous platform for companies from allied (NATO) countries to ply their wares.
According to the Interpolitex website, 470 vendors from all around the world are showing off their wares. Interpolitexstates that there are vendors from ““Belarus, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Israel, China, Latvia, United Arab Emirates, Poland, Korea, France, Czech Republic, USA, South Africa, Japan” which are exhibiting 1500 technologies ranging from civilian to military. With the media treatment that has been given to Paul Manafort and Hillary Clinton in relation to the dealings in Russia and the Uranium One deal, one can see how companies like Redat, subsidiary of the Czech Company Retia owned by Michal Strnad, who also is a Czech vendor participating at the expo can be seen as a problem. Companies are lured in by Russia’s claim that the expo is mainly civilian, but as TotalExpo.ru reports “The Exhibition is organized by the Russian Federation Ministry of Internal Affairs, Russian Federal Security Service, Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation and in the capacity of the exhibition operator is Exhibition Companies Group «BIZON».” Further, they note that Interpolitex is “The Largest in Russian Homeland Security…”
The way to deal with this problem is simple, yet unpopular- we need to have restrictions on companies to report the same way that the military or government officials on interactions with hostile or semi-hostile governments. This creates the opportunity for the government to know what nations a company is dealing with, thus know what information that can be shared with them. Please note, this is only for companies that have privileged or classified information, not your every day import export company or tourism business. Nations such as the United States, the Czech Republic and others on the above mentioned list need to ensure that access to critical information is protected.
If you are a business owner in the modern world, be careful when something looks too good to be true, it generally is. Just because a nation like Russia is interested in your civilian technologies, that does not mean that they are not bringing you into the deal to acquire information on your military contracts. Once a nation has access to your computer system, the dividing firewalls within your company tend to crumble quickly to experienced weaponized hackers. If the soul of your business is that lucrative government contract that you just picked up in an allied country, do not be surprised if Russia comes a calling, playing a beautiful tune of how they are interested in your civilian technologies. You may just wake up and realize that you sold your soul away.
What Is The First Step Act?
The latest such effort to come to our attention is the ”FIRST STEP Act”, introduced by Reps. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) in the House, with a companion measure introduced by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) in the Senate.
The First Step Act is not a magical elixir. It won’t solve every problem facing our criminal justice system. But it will immediately make a difference in the lives of as many as 4,000 inmates the day after it is signed into law.
We are a better America when we embrace our empathetic tendencies.
We are a better America when we see prison sentences as a last resort, to be used only when we know for a fact it is the best way to generate safe outcomes.
Some people have argued that one of the elements of the bill, the rule that moves people closer to home, can threaten public safety. But copious evidence proves that being incarcerated or housed closer to home results in safer outcomes.
Some also worry that the Act will further reinforce Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ harsh approach to crime and punishment. But it’s unclear how legislation that uses unconditional language about mandated reform somehow would make the lives of prisoners worse or his power greater.
Sessions will not remain Attorney General forever, and with criminal justice reform gathering supporters on both sides of the aisle, the likelihood can only grow that in the future we will have a true reformer in the position.
I suspect the real fear is that Jeff Sessions will use some of the provisions of the Act in ways that are racially disparate, while at the same time sentencing continues to over-punish people of color. This is a weighty concern, and we should fight every day to address racial disparities in sentencing and remain incredibly vigilant.
But this is not a new concern, nor is it something the First Step can make worse.
Some also object to the use of risk assessment tools to inform sentencing decisions, arguing they can be used in a biased way.
To understand better, here are the four separate titles:
Title I — Recidivism Reduction
Title II — Bureau of Prisons Secure Firearms Storage
Title III — Restraints on Pregnant Prisoners Prohibited
Title IV — Miscellaneous Criminal Justice
Titles II and III are of little moment to this examination. Titles I and IV, however, are.
Title I. Takes on various aspects of existing federal incarceration practices and policies with the idea of substantially altering them. For instance, the bill would provide significant benefits to federal prisoners who participate in various “evidence-based recidivism reduction programs” that are intended to minimize the risk that prisoners will reoffend upon release. It does so by requiring that such programs be examined and further defined by the attorney general, in consultation with the director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the director of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, the director of the Office of Probation and Pretrial Services, and the directors of the National Institutes of Justice and Corrections.
Chief among the benefits that accrue from participation in the resulting programs is that prisoners would earn “good time” toward sentence reductions — 10 days for every 30 days of sentence, and an additional five days for every 30 if they are assessed twice in a row as “not having increased” their recidivism risk. In other words, prisoners could potentially cut their sentencing time in half through these programs. Many observers might see it as a low bar to cut sentences in half simply because prisoners don’t become more incentivized to reoffend, but that is a general statement not applicable to removable aliens, as explained below.
Prisoners would also earn free telephone and videoconferencing privileges (30 minutes per day; 510 minutes per month) via participation in the recidivism reduction programs.
The kinds of programs envisioned under recidivism reduction, include in part the following:
Social learning and communication, interpersonal, anti-bullying, rejection response, and other life skills;
Family relationship building;
Structured parent-child interaction and parenting skills;
Classes on morals or ethics;
Cognitive behavioral treatment;
Faith-based classes or services;
Civic engagement and reintegrative community services; and
Title IV. Under the catch-all “Miscellaneous” provisions, establishes two new mandates.
First, there is a presumptive standard (subject to certain caveats such as prisoner classification and facility availability) that federal prisoners should be incarcerated at penal facilities no farther than 500 miles from their “primary residence”.
Second, Title IV also provides that ”The Bureau of Prisons shall, to the extent practicable, place prisoners with lower risk levels and lower needs on home confinement for the maximum amount of time permitted.” (Emphasis added.)
Immigration Enforcement Concerns Raised by the Bill.
When it comes to prison reform, a little something is better than a lot of nothing.
That is why the bipartisan First Step Act, passed recently by the House, deserves to be approved by the Senate and signed into law.
Progressives are sharply divided on the measure, mostly because of what it doesn’t do. The bill — sponsored by Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., and Doug Collins, R-Ga., and strongly pushed by President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner — does nothing to address the main problem, which is that this nation sends far too many people to prison and keeps them locked up far too long.
Truly meaningful change would involve sentencing reform, for which there is some bipartisan support in Congress but not enough to get such legislation through both chambers. It is hard to imagine that Trump, who tries so hard to project a tougher-than-thou image, would sign a bill significantly reducing sentences. And Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who believes in throwing away the key, would have a conniption fit.
The First Step Act ignores the “front end” of the problem — sentencing — and focuses exclusively on the “back end.” It would provide $50 million a year for five years in new funding for education and rehabilitation programs in federal prisons, encourage inmates to participate in those programs by giving them credits for early release, and allow some prisoners to serve the balance of their sentences in halfway houses or home confinement.
Proponents estimate the bill would allow up to 4,000 inmates to be released from prison immediately. This is a small fraction of the total federal prison population of nearly 184,000. But try to explain that disparity to those 4,000 men and women and their families.
The bill also requires that inmates be housed at prisons within 500 miles of their homes, that inmates not be shackled during childbirth and recovery and that sanitary products be provided to female prisoners.
The House vote on the First Step Act was 360-59, with Democrats sharply divided. Some of the most progressive members of the Democratic caucus supported the bill and some voted against it. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund lobbied against the bill; the National Urban League urged approval.
There is reason to question whether the bill’s benefits will be as great as supporters claim, and of course there is reason to prefer more comprehensive legislation that also deals with sentencing. But I see no justification, in this case, for opposing incremental progress — especially since real progress is nowhere in sight.
It is true that we will never begin to reform our shameful system of mass incarceration and warehousing until we address sentences. We send to prison far too many men and women whose nonviolent or minor crimes should be handled without incarceration. African-American and Hispanic men are unfairly targeted by sentencing rules and biased police practices. While in prison, inmates get essentially no preparation for rebuilding their lives upon release. Far too often, they revert to crime and wind up back in prison.
Opponents of the First Step Act argue that passing this limited measure would relieve pressure on Congress and the administration to address the issues at the heart of the prison problem.
My question is: What pressure?
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, wants to push sentencing reform legislation through the Senate, and I hope he succeeds. But how is anyone going to get such a bill through the House, with its much more conservative GOP majority? How is anyone going to get Sessions on board? Or convince Trump to sign it?
If Democrats take control of the House in November, they will be able to revisit the issue anytime they want , but they will have real clout to go along with their passion.
Nothing in the current bill precludes bolder, more comprehensive action when the votes, and the president’s pen, are lined up and ready..
Suggestions For Reforms:
The ultimate prison reform is to keep people out of prison in the first place. This is where state-level reforms can make a difference.
If there is to be any meaningful change in prison populations nationally, the states must step up.
Here are 3 effective reforms they should consider.
First, make it easier for people to get a job. Criminology is imprecise, but research and anecdotal evidence suggest a great way to keep people out of the criminal justice system is to let them work. The stabilizing influence of a job and a steady income cannot be overstated, so removing needless barriers to employment such as occupational licensing requirements should be a priority for states. At a minimum, they should make sure that licensing laws don’t contain “good moral character clauses,” which can automatically disqualify anyone with any type of criminal record from ever getting licensed.
Second, states should focus on enforcement. Even when most adults have a job, crime will occur, and that’s where good policing policy comes in. Michigan, with its dubious distinction of being home to some of the most dangerous cities in America, had remarkable success in reducing violent and property crime in these places through the Secure Cities Partnership, which brought together state and local law enforcement. An effective combination of hot spot patrolling (focusing policing resources on high-crime areas) and community policing (building police-community ties) saw crime rates dip as much as 40 percent in some areas. And fewer crimes translate to fewer prisoners.
Third, use problem-solving courts more frequently. These legal innovations afford judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and offenders the flexibility to address factors in a person’s life that may be contributing to criminal behavior. Drug courts, sobriety courts, mental health courts, veterans’ courts and other specialty dockets connect offenders to treatment, counseling and other services, and enforce accountability through the use of short, frequent jail sentences.
These courts also are important for prosecutors, who traditionally have been equipped with only the hammer of formal prosecution and may feel pressure to rack up convictions to help secure reelection. Problem-solving courts give them another tool, helping them bolster public safety sustainably by addressing underlying issues unique to their communities — something that may become increasingly important as the opioid crisis develops.
From a policy perspective, the FIRST STEP Act would be just that: a good first step.
Helpful Participation Of Brav:
Brāv is an early-stage company focused on developing products that will curb destructive conflict.
We employ a human-centered design process to understand our users and build tools that are much needed.
Brāv trains anyone in conflict management who in turn manage the conflicts of others directly on our site www.brav.org
Brāv can help with their conflicts even taking place within family.
Brāv can provide the online counseling and fire sides as well, discussion group once they are released.
Participating in discussion threads would help them with coping and job skills, which in turn will help them reenter society as citizens more capable of productive reentry.
Helping the ones bullied-
New inmates violently extorted, assaulted, and “recruited” (the kindest way to put it) into gangs. Weak punished and strength defined solely by the willingness to engage in brutality.
Being in prison is a process of constantly having to watch your back (and your front). When trouble comes, it comes quickly and seems to inevitably sweep bystanders into the vortex.
Prisoners of the Federal Bureau of Prisons are judged entirely on records made up only by correctional officers and unit counselors which are inherently more subjective, less testable over time, and based on less outcomes-based data, than risk-assessment too. This gets them to be more depressed.
So, in addition to allowing inmates to more quickly reconnect with children and family members, Brāv can actually help them to build a productive life.
There’s always a way to redeem.
You need the right support and motivation to be on the track.
“It’s an essential skill. It’s not an optional skill,” Brāv’s Dr. Christopher Smithmyer says.
Anyone who has been in business has been in disputes.
Mend: Listen Now & Listen Good
LET’S CELEBRATE WOMEN’S VOICES. WHILE WE’RE AT IT, LET’S MEND.
Mend: Listen Now & Listen Good is a one-time theater event taking place in celebration on Mother’s Day and artist autonomy on May 13, 5-7pm on PUNTO’s main stage.
A diverse group of multidisciplinary women in the arts, performers, and storytellers will take the stage on topics to include gender, age, culture, motherhood and being a woman.
The evening is sponsored by PUNTO Space, an event and performance raw space located in Midtown West (NYC) founded by theater and performing artists with social good in mind.
Mend: Listen Now & Listen Good is a celebration that amplifies artist autonomy, inclusion in the arts and collaboration.
Light refreshments will be served. Admittance is RSVP-only and complimentary for guests.