Tag Archives: prisons

A Reason to Protest, by John Stossel

End the war on drugs and you’d end a lot of America’s prison problem. From John Stossel at theburningplatform.com:

A Reason to Protest

Protesters say America’s criminal justice system is unfair.

It is.

Courts are so jammed that innocent people plead guilty to avoid waiting years for a trial. Lawyers help rich people get special treatment. A jail stay is just as likely to teach you crime as it is to help you get a new start. Overcrowded prisons cost a fortune and increase suffering for both prisoners and guards.

There’s one simple solution to most of these problems: End the war on drugs.

Our government has spent trillions of dollars trying to stop drug use.

It hasn’t worked. More people now use more drugs than before the “war” began.

What drug prohibition did do is exactly what alcohol prohibition did a hundred years ago: increase conflict between police and citizens.

“It pitted police against the communities that they serve,” says neuroscientist Dr. Carl Hart in my new video. Hart, former chair of Columbia University’s Psychology department, grew up in a tough Miami neighborhood where he watched crack cocaine wreck lives. When he started researching drugs, he assumed that research would confirm the damage drugs did.

But “one problem kept cropping up,” he says in his soon-to-be-released book, “Drug Use For Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear,” “the evidence did not support the hypothesis. No one else’s evidence did either.”

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Compliance 101: Gun-Toting Cops Endanger Students and Turn the Schools into Prisons, by John W. Whitehead

The schools are teaching children how to live in a police state. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“Every day in communities across the United States, children and adolescents spend the majority of their waking hours in schools that have increasingly come to resemble places of detention more than places of learning.”—Investigative journalist Annette Fuentes

Just when you thought the government couldn’t get any more tone-deaf about civil liberties and the growing need to protect “we the people” against an overreaching, overbearing police state, the Trump Administration ushers in even more strident zero tolerance policies that treat children like suspects and criminals, greater numbers of school cops, and all the trappings of a prison complex (unsurmountable fences, entrapment areas, no windows or trees, etc.).

The fallout has been what you’d expect, with the nation’s young people treated like hardened criminals: handcuffed, arrested, tasered, tackled and taught the painful lesson that the Constitution (especially the Fourth Amendment) doesn’t mean much in the American police state.

For example, in Florida, a cop assigned to River Ridge High School as a school resource officer, threatened to shoot a student attempting to leave school for a morning orthodontist appointment.

In Pennsylvania, school officials called in the cops after a 6-year-old with Down syndrome pointed a finger gun at her teacher.

In Kentucky, a school resource officer with the sheriff’s office handcuffed two elementary school children with disabilities, ages 8 and 9. A federal judge made the sheriff’s office pay more than $300,000 (of taxpayer money) to the families, ruling that the handcuffing of  the students “was an unconstitutional seizure and excessive force.”

Welcome to Compliance 101: the police state’s primer in how to churn out compliant citizens and transform the nation’s school’s into quasi-prisons through the use of surveillance cameras, metal detectors, police patrols, zero tolerance policies, lock downs, drug sniffing dogs, strip searches and active shooter drills.

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Locked Up: How the Modern Prison-Industrial Complex Puts So Many Americans in Jail, from ammo.com

A detailed study of the prison-industrial complex from ammo.com:

Where you find the laws most numerous, there you will find also the greatest injustice.

There’s no two ways about it: The United States of America and its 50 state governments love putting people in prison.

The U.S. has both the highest number of prisoners and the highest per capita incarceration rate in the modern world at 655 adults per 100,000. (It’s worth noting that China’s incarceration statistics are dubious, and they execute far more people than the United States. Indeed, the so-called People’s Republic executes more people annually than the rest of the world combined.)  Still, that’s more than 2.2 million Americans in state and federal prisons as well as county jails.

On top of those currently serving time, 4.7 million Americans were on parole in 2016, or about one in 56. These numbers do not include people on probation, which raises the number to one in 35. Nor does it include all of the Americans who have been arrested at one time or another, which is over 70 million – more than the population of France.

For firearm owners in particular, the growth in this “prison-industrial complex” is troubling because felons are forbidden from owning firearms and ammunition under the 1968 Gun Control Act. As the number of laws has grown and the cultural shift for police has gone from a focus on keeping the peace to enforcing the law, more and more Americans are being stripped of their 2nd Amendment rights (not to mention other civil rights like voting– as of 2017, 6.1 million Americans cannot vote because of their criminal records). All told, eight percent of all Americans cannot own firearms because of a felony conviction.

For American society as a whole, the prison-industrial complex has created a perverse incentive structure. Bad laws drive out respect for good laws because there are just so many laws (not to mention rules, regulations, and other prohibitions used by federal prosecutors to pin crimes on just about anyone). How did we get here?

Rethinking Drug Legalization, by Jeffrey James Higgins

A former drug enforcer comes out in favor of drug legalization. From Jeffrey James Higgins at internationalman.com:

The war on drugs is not going well. Despite decades of counter-drug efforts, at a cost of more than one trillion dollars, illegal drugs are still readily available on the black market. Worse, drug proceeds have become the lifeblood of terrorist groups, transnational criminal organizations, and street gangs. A 2014 Pew poll showed 67% of Americans prefer drug treatment to prosecution, yet prisons remain overcrowded with drug offenders and citizen’s civil liberties are routinely sacrificed for little gain.

Now is the time to rethink drug legalization.

I spent most of my 25-years in law enforcement investigating drug traffickers. As a deputy sheriff, I investigated street-level drug dealers, then as a DEA supervisory special agent, I traveled the world hunting the upper echelon of transnational drug trafficking organizations. I convicted Haji Bagcho, the world’s most prolific heroin trafficker, and Khan Mohammed, the first person arrested for narco-terrorism. My experience made me sympathetic to the emotional impulses behind prohibition, but it also gave me valuable insight into the ineffectiveness of drug laws. It is ideologically consistent to believe in both the evils of drug abuse and in the immorality and impracticality of paternalistic laws—like drug prohibition.

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The Over-Criminalization of American Life, by Charles Hugh Smith

You’re probably committing a crime virtually every day of your life. Not because you’re a bad person, but because there are so many laws. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

The over-criminalization of America has undermined justice, the rule of law and legal egalitarianism.
While the corporate media devotes itself to sports, entertainment, dining out and the latest political kerfuffle, America has become the Over-Criminalization Capital of the World. The proliferation of laws and administrative regulations, federal, state and local, that carry criminal penalties has swollen into the tens of thousands.
The number of incarcerated Americans exceeds 2.3 million, with the majority being non-violent offenders–often for War on Drugs offenses.
Holly Harris has written an important summary of this profoundly destabilizing trend: The Prisoner Dilemma: Ending America’s Incarceration Epidemic (Foreign Affairs, registration required).
The over-criminalization of America is a relatively recent trend. As Harris notes:
It wasn’t always like this. In 1972, for every 100,000 U.S. residents, 161 were incarcerated. By 2015, that rate had more than quadrupled, with nearly 670 out of every 100,000 Americans behind bars.
The over-criminalization of America is rooted in federal laws and regulations, and state and local governments have followed suite. here is Harris’s account:
The burgeoning U.S. prison population reflects a federal criminal code that has spiraled out of control. No one—not even the government itself—has ever been able to specify with any certainty the precise number of federal crimes defined by the 54 sections contained in the 27,000 or so pages of the U.S. Code. In the 1980s, lawyers at the Department of Justice attempted to tabulate the figure “for the express purpose of exposing the idiocy” of the criminal code, as one of them later put it. The best they were able to come up with was an educated guess of 3,000 crimes. Today, the conservative Heritage Foundation estimates that federal laws currently enumerate nearly 5,000 crimes, a number that grows every year.

 

The Rule Of Law No Longer Exists In Western Civilization, by Paul Craig Roberts

From a guest post by Paul Craig Roberts on theburningplatform.com:

My work documenting how the law was lost began about a quarter of a century ago. A close friend and distinguished attorney, Dean Booth, first brought to my attention the erosion of the legal principles on which rests the rule of law in the United States. My columns on the subject got the attention of an educational institution that invited me to give a lecture on the subject. Subsequently, I was invited to give a lecture on “How The Law Was Lost” at the Benjamin Cardozo School of Law in New York City.

The work coalesced into a book, The Tyranny Of Good Intentions, coauthored with my research associate, Lawrence M. Stratton, published in 2000, with an expanded edition published in 2008. We were able to demonstrate that Sir Thomas More’s warning about prosecutors and courts disregarding law in order to more easily convict undesirables and criminals has had the result of turning law away from being a shield of the people and making it into a weapon in the hands of government. That is what we witness in the saga of the Hammonds, long-time ranchers in the Harney Basin of Oregon.

With the intervention of Ammon Bundy, another rancher who suffered illegal persecution by the Bureau of Land Management but stood them off with help from armed militia, and his supporters, the BLM’s decades long persecution of the innocent Hammonds might have come to a crisis before you read this.

Bundy and militiamen, whose count varies from 15 to 150 in the presstitute media, have seized an Oregon office of the BLM as American liberty’s protest against the frame-up of the Hammonds on false charges. As I write the Oregon National Guard and FBI are on the way.

The militiamen have said that they are prepared to die for principles, and the rule of law is one of them. Of course, the presstitute media is making the militiamen into the lawbreakers—and even calling them terrorists—and not the federal government’s illegal prosecution of the Hammonds, whose crime was their refusal to sell their ranch to the government to be included in the Masher National Wildlife Refuge.

If there are only 15 militiamen, there is a good chance that they will all be killed, but if there are 150 armed militiamen prepared for a shootout, the outcome could be different.

To continue reading: The Rule Of Law No Longer Exists In Western Civilization

Prisons Without Walls: We’re All Inmates in the American Police State, by John Whitehead

From a John Whitehead guest post at theburningplatform.com:

“It is perfectly possible for a man to be out of prison and yet not free—to be under no physical constraint and yet be a psychological captive, compelled to think, feel and act as the representatives of the national state, or of some private interest within the nation wants him to think, feel and act. . . . To him the walls of his prison are invisible and he believes himself to be free.”—Aldous Huxley, A Brave New World Revisited

“Free worlders” is prison slang for those who are not incarcerated behind prison walls. Supposedly, those fortunate souls live in the “free world.” However, appearances can be deceiving.

“As I got closer to retiring from the Federal Bureau of Prisons,” writes former prison employee Marlon Brock, “it began to dawn on me that the security practices we used in the prison system were being implemented outside those walls.” In fact, if Brock is right, then we “free worlders” do live in a prison—albeit, one without visible walls.

In federal prisons, cameras are everywhere in order to maintain “security” and keep track of the prisoners. Likewise, the “free world” is populated with video surveillance and tracking devices. From surveillance cameras in stores and street corners to license plate readers (with the ability to log some 1,800 license plates per hour) on police cars, our movements are being tracked virtually everywhere. With this increasing use of iris scanners and facial recognition software—which drones are equipped with—there would seem to be nowhere to hide.

Detection and confiscation of weapons (or whatever the warden deems “dangerous”) in prison is routine. The inmates must be disarmed. Pat downs, checkpoints, and random searches are second nature in ferreting out contraband.

Sound familiar?

http://www.theburningplatform.com/2015/06/16/prisons-without-walls-were-all-inmates-in-the-american-police-state/

To continue reading: Prisons Without Walls

The Prison State of America, by Chris Hedges

Here is a disturbing article about a subject most people would rather not think about–America’s prisons, from Chris Hedges at truthdig.com

Prisons employ and exploit the ideal worker. Prisoners do not receive benefits or pensions. They are not paid overtime. They are forbidden to organize and strike. They must show up on time. They are not paid for sick days or granted vacations. They cannot formally complain about working conditions or safety hazards. If they are disobedient, or attempt to protest their pitiful wages, they lose their jobs and can be sent to isolation cells. The roughly 1 million prisoners who work for corporations and government industries in the American prison system are models for what the corporate state expects us all to become. And corporations have no intention of permitting prison reforms that would reduce the size of their bonded workforce. In fact, they are seeking to replicate these conditions throughout the society.

States, in the name of austerity, have stopped providing prisoners with essential items including shoes, extra blankets and even toilet paper, while starting to charge them for electricity and room and board. Most prisoners and the families that struggle to support them are chronically short of money. Prisons are company towns. Scrip, rather than money, was once paid to coal miners, and it could be used only at the company store. Prisoners are in a similar condition. When they go broke—and being broke is a frequent occurrence in prison—prisoners must take out prison loans to pay for medications, legal and medical fees and basic commissary items such as soap and deodorant. Debt peonage inside prison is as prevalent as it is outside prison.

For the rest of the article: http://www.truthdig.com/rport/print/the_prison_state_of_america_20141228