As for Alan Dershowitz, he is just a high-priced WHORE, who will say whatever his client pays him to say, however ludicrous his legal argument may be. A disgrace to the profession of good lawyers. Good lawyers don’t do that. If they are representing a truly guilty person they either make valid points or they keep their mouth shut!
Excerpts from the Article:
Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard Law emeritus professor who recently joined President Trump’s legal team, distanced himself Sunday from a response by two White House lawyers to House Democrats’ impeachment case against the president, noting that he did not sign onto the document. “I didn’t sign that brief,” Dershowitz said in an interview on ABC News’s “This Week.” “I didn’t even see the brief until after it was filed. That’s not part of my mandate. My mandate is to determine what is a constitutionally authorized criteria for impeachment.”
Dershowitz is one of four lawyers who were selected personally by Trump and announced Friday as new members of the president’s legal team. The others are former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi and former independent counsels Robert Ray and Kenneth W. Starr.
On Monday, the White House is expected to file a legal brief outlining why Trump should be acquitted.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), the lead impeachment manager, said Sunday that Democrats will be “fighting for a fair trial” and pushed back against critics who have argued that the House should have done more to enforce its subpoenas before voting to impeach Trump.
“The reality is, because what the president is threatening to do is cheat in the next election, you cannot wait months and years to be able to remove that threat from office,” Schiff said on “This Week.”
Asked about a Politico report on the topic, Schiff also claimed that the CIA and the National Security Agency are withholding documents related to Ukraine under pressure from the White House and that intelligence officials are reluctant to testify publicly on global security threats because of fear of angering Trump.
“The NSA, in particular, is withholding what are potentially relevant documents to our oversight responsibilities on Ukraine, but also withholding documents potentially relevant that the senators might want to see during the trial,” he said. “That is deeply concerning. And there are signs that the CIA may be on the same tragic course.”
While Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has yet to release his proposal for how the trial will be conducted, some GOP senators have suggested in recent days that their party may aim to condense the proceedings into as short a time frame as possible. On NBC News’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.) said Republicans will probably propose a format that includes 24 hours of presentation by the House impeachment managers over two days, followed by an equal amount of time for a presentation by Trump’s legal team. That would be followed by 16 hours of questioning from members of the Senate.
Senators would submit their questions to Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who is presiding over the trial. The issue of witnesses would then be addressed, Perdue said. Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin (Ill.) said Sunday that he and other Senate Democrats still haven’t heard from McConnell regarding his proposed outline for the trial. “There hasn’t been the most basic negotiation or exchange of information,” Durbin said on “Meet the Press.”
Democrats on Saturday released a 111-page legal brief laying out their case against Trump, arguing that the president withheld a White House meeting and congressionally appropriated aid to pressure Ukraine into announcing investigations into former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
“They’ll each have their own role,” said the aide, who was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity. “You’ll hear them explain the overwhelming, devastating evidence that the president of the United States pressured a foreign government interfere in a U.S. election to cheat on the upcoming election. But they’ll bring their own life experiences to bear.” White House lawyers Jay Sekulow and Pat Cipollone penned a seven-page response in which they said there was no basis for either of the two articles of impeachment facing the president: obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.
Since joining the White House team, Dershowitz has made headlines for some of his unorthodox remarks about Trump’s impeachment. In a BBC interview on Saturday, Dershowitz said he does not plan to vote for Trump in November and declared that if the Senate votes to acquit the president, it would create “ambivalence in me as it does whenever I represent somebody whose acquittal would produce results that make me unhappy as an individual.”
On Sunday, Dershowitz argued that even if all of the facts presented by Democrats are true, Trump’s actions still do not constitute impeachable offenses — regardless of whether one believes Trump’s dealings with Ukraine were “wrong.”
“If the allegations are not impeachable, then this trial should result in an acquittal, regardless of whether the conduct is regarded as okay by you or by me or by voters,” he said on “This Week.” “That’s an issue for the voters.”
Democrats countered by calling Dershowitz’s defense “nonsense.” “There is ample evidence, overwhelming evidence,” House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), who is also an impeachment manager, said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.” “Any jury would convict in three minutes flat that the president betrayed his country by breaking the law.”
On “Face the Nation,” Nadler would not directly answer a question on the topic, saying only: “Any Republican senator who says there should be no witnesses — or even that witnesses should be negotiated — is part of the coverup.”
What a coincidence! Just 2 days ago, before seeing this article, I was discussing this problem with the Mom of an inmate!
Why have I included this article? Because it describes the plight of many, many more than are reported. Our prisons are so abysmal and abominable that I have seen inmates commit suicide … and many more do than ever are reported. As I and others have pointed out, prison officials often lie about “cause of death” … under reporting suicides and homicides … to conceal their wrongdoing.
As we see from this article, reentry help and mental health counseling are so lacking that some prefer to go back to prison, and cannot function in society. Nobody knows the number of “Mark Wilson”s out there, but based on my vast experience, I am sure it is more than 1,000.
Excerpts from the Article:
A man who said he committed a crime so he could return to a Michigan prison apparently killed himself in a 40-foot plunge, officials said. Mark Wilson, 59, died Wednesday at Egeler Reception & Guidance Center, where inmates typically are housed before getting a prison assignment, Corrections Department spokeswoman Holly Kramer said.
In December, Wilson, who last lived in the Kalamazoo area, was sentenced to at least 25 years in prison for armed robbery, a punishment that was enhanced because of past convictions.
Wilson last summer gave a note to a Hardee’s employee in Escanaba, indicating that he was robbing the restaurant. Police said he stayed in the restroom until officers arrived. No one was hurt. “Somewhere along the road, your honor, I just seemed to have lost the ability to function normally with society,” Wilson told a Delta County judge, explaining why he wanted to return to prison.
He was last released from prison in 2012.
Former N.Y. Rep. Christopher Collins sentenced to federal prison for insider trading He pleaded guilty to the charges of conspiracy to commit insider trading and lying to the FBI in October.
Yes, tRump attracts only the best! Criminals!
Excerpts from the Article:
Former New York Congressman Christopher Collins was sentenced Friday to 26 months in federal prison for his role in an illegal insider trading scheme. The Republican lawmaker was sentenced to 26 months for conspiracy to commit insider trading and 26 months for lying to the FBI, to be served concurrently.
He must voluntarily surrender on March 17 to the Bureau of Prisons at a to-be-determined facility. His defense team has asked that he be allowed to serve his time at a federal prison camp in Pensacola, Florida, and U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick in Manhattan said he would recommend that.
Collins, 69, who was the first sitting member of Congress to endorse Donald Trump for president, pleaded guilty to the charges in October. He was accused of using nonpublic information stemming from his relationship with an Australian medical biotech firm to help his family make illegal stock trades to avoid more than $768,000 in losses.
He resigned from Congress immediately after the plea. Collins told the courtroom that after he learned about the failure of a drug trial from the company’s CEO, he called his son to alert him. Collins told his son he could trade his shares to avoid a substantial loss.
His son, Cameron Collins, and Stephen Zarsky, the father of Cameron Collins’ fiancée, were also charged with insider trading and lying to the FBI in interviews to cover up the scheme.
“Lawmakers bear the profound privilege and responsibility of writing and passing laws, but equally as important, the absolute obligation of following them,” Geoffrey S. Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement Friday. Collins represented New York’s 27th Congressional seat — a suburban district that includes parts of Buffalo. Trump won the district by 24 points in 2016, and the seat generally has been viewed as safe for the GOP in the otherwise blue state. The Cook Political Report rated the district as “solid Republican” on Monday, suggesting the scandal has not hampered the GOP’s grip on the area. Under New York State law, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has the authority to set a date for a special election to fill the seat.
Collins was on the lawn of the White House attending a congressional picnic in June 2017 when Innate’s chief executive sent an email to the board of directors reporting that the trial was a bust, according to the indictment.
The internet joke is: “Did Trump lose his Sharpie?”. But this is no joke. I don’t buy the explanation offered by officials. In these times, when our Doofus president lies to us every day, I agree with the university historian who said: “There’s no reason for the National Archives to ever digitally alter a historic photograph,” Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley said. “If they don’t want to use a specific image, then don’t use it. But to confuse the public is reprehensible. The head of the Archives has to very quickly fix this damage. A lot of history is messy, and there’s zero reason why the Archives can’t be upfront about a photo from a women’s march.”
Excerpts from the Article:
The National Archives acknowledged this week that it altered a photograph of the Women’s March, which took place the day after President Trump’s inauguration in 2017, to blur some signs held by marchers that were critical of the president.
Among the alterations are the blotting out of the word “Trump” in a placard that reads “God Hates Trump” and the blurring of the same word in another sign that reads “Trump & GOP – Hands Off Women.” Words on other signs referencing female anatomy were also altered.
The Archives said the decision to obscure certain words was made as an exhibit featuring the march was being developed. It said the archivist, David Ferriero, who was appointed by former President Obama in 2009 and who was involved in the talks, supported the decision. “As a non-partisan, non-political federal agency, we blurred references to the President’s name on some posters, so as not to engage in current political controversy,” Archives spokeswoman Miriam Kleiman said in a statement to The Washington Post.
“Our mission is to safeguard and provide access to the nation’s most important federal records, and our exhibits are one way in which we connect the American people to those records. Modifying the image was an attempt on our part to keep the focus on the records,” Kleiman added.
Kleiman went on to note that the Archives welcomes groups of students and young people who could view the words as inappropriate. The Archives “only alters images in exhibits when they are used as graphic design components,” she said. “We do not alter images or documents that are displayed as artifacts in exhibitions,” Kleiman added. “In this case, the image is part of a promotional display, not an artifact.”
Historians interviewed by the Post expressed disappointment with the decision, saying it was misleading.
“There’s no reason for the National Archives to ever digitally alter a historic photograph,” Rice University historian Douglas Brinkley said. “If they don’t want to use a specific image, then don’t use it. But to confuse the public is reprehensible. The head of the Archives has to very quickly fix this damage. A lot of history is messy, and there’s zero reason why the Archives can’t be upfront about a photo from a women’s march.”
Good. This is another wildly dysfunctional part of the system. I know from my many contacts, my readings, and my own experience, that virtually NONE of the prison run programs are effective! The private companies submit a bid of 13 million $$$, or 40 million$$$, … to provide a treatment program. The program looks good on paper, the contractor gets the big bucks, …. and the difference between what is on the proposal and what goes on in the prisons makes the Grand Canyon look like a crack in the sidewalk! The “classes” are just bullshit sessions. They should have some empirical way to know which ones WORK!
Excerpts from the Article:
Lawmakers’ ongoing discussions about sentencing reform have turned a spotlight on substance abuse treatment in Arizona prisons, and the stark lack of options for the more than three quarters of inmates who have addiction issues.
The Arizona Department of Corrections says 78 percent of the inmates in its custody have a history of substance abuse at the time they’re admitted into prison. But less than 4 percent of all inmates who spent time in Arizona prisons in fiscal year 2019 received treatment while behind bars.
At the end of November, 933 inmates were enrolled in substance abuse programming. That accounted for about 2.2 percent of the total inmate population of 42,562. Department spokesman Bill Lamoreaux emphasized that that figure is just a snapshot of enrollment, and doesn’t account for people who have completed treatment but are still incarcerated.
Of the 60,272 inmates who saw the inside of a state correctional facility during the last fiscal year, only 2,299, or about 3.8 percent of the year’s total prison population, graduated from substance abuse programs.
The need for treatment exceeds the availability of programming, Lamoreaux said.
Mireles had already done several stints in prison when she was sentenced to five years for property crimes she committed to feed her heroin addiction in 2013. This time, she was committed to getting sober and kicking her 28-year heroin addiction.“Any crime I’ve ever committed has been in regard to getting my fix,” said Mireles, who has now been sober for nearly seven years.
In her five years in Perryville, Mireles sent five letters to prison officials asking to be enrolled in substance abuse treatment. The first four went ignored, she said. Officials finally responded on the fifth try and said she would be placed on a waiting list for a program. But by then, Mireles had less than a year left on her sentence and therefore was ineligible to participate. Mireles’s predicament isn’t uncommon. The Department of Corrections uses a ranking system based on need, risk to recidivate and time remaining on a prison sentence to determine which inmates get enrolled in programming. Inmates who can qualify for an early release by completing substance abuse counseling go to the front of the line. Treatment ranges from 36 hours for people convicted of drunk driving to 12-month “intensive treatment,” according to Lamoreaux.
In August, Karen Hellman, who runs the Department of Corrections’ division for inmate programs, told a legislative committee studying sentencing reform that 13 of her division’s 26 positions for substance abuse treatment counselors were vacant. Lamoreaux told the Arizona Mirror that a recent salary increase has helped fill six vacant positions.
Under Arizona’s “truth in sentencing” law, inmates must serve at least 85 percent of their sentences, but can earn the option to serve the remaining 15 percent on community supervision. A 2019 law lowered the requirement to 70 percent for people who were only convicted of drug offenses, if they complete addiction counseling or other programming. As of late June, 101 inmates were already eligible for early release and nearly 7,400 others could become eligible in the future.
While inmates who are in line for an early release have an obvious need for priority, that may leave other inmates without access to the treatment they need. Inmates with substance abuse problems and long prison sentences often go many years before receiving treatment. Mireles was granted an early release after serving 85 percent of her sentence in exchange for attending 90 days of substance abuse treatment after her release.
Even when treatment is available, it’s not always of the highest caliber. Rebecca Fealk, program coordinator for the Arizona chapter of the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization that promotes criminal justice reform, has heard many stories from former inmates about treatment that basically consists of, “do this packet and I’ll watch you in the classroom while you complete this packet, which talks about making the right choices or what kind of coping mechanisms would you have so you don’t do drugs again.”
“That’s not actual treatment and counseling. Those are worksheets,” Fealk said.
Donna Hamm, director of the prison reform organization Middle Ground, said treatment sometimes consists of little more than filling out a workbook, and those in need sometimes don’t even get counselor. When they do, she said, “counselor” is often a misnomer. Joe Watson, a former inmate who now works for the American Friends Service Committee, said treatment is often provided not by counselors but by correctional officers who lack training in treating substance abuse issues.
“Our law enforcement agencies are very good at finding out who does what and arresting them for it. But we keep hearing that they end up arresting the same people over and over again because we’re not doing anything to address the underlying issue,” Roberts said.
Gov. Doug Ducey said the state needs money for substance abuse treatment in its prisons. It’s unclear whether he’ll push for more funding in the fiscal year 2021 budget, but said he plans to focus on reducing recidivism.
“Prison … is not the best place for people with mental health issues, often substance abuse issues. Sometimes people are in prison because they’re feeding that addiction. So we are looking at different alternatives in terms of reforms that we can have so that we can give people a second chance and allow them to make a better choice. And substance abuse programs are part of that,” the governor told reporters in December.
Fealk, on the other hand, doesn’t believe the department needs for funding at all. The Department of Corrections has a budget of about $1.1 billion. Rather than give it more, Fealk said the department needs to change the way it spends its money to prioritize things like treatment.
The Whole Story:
The Injustice of This Moment Is Not an ‘Aberration’ From mass incarceration to mass deportation, our nation remains in deep denial.
From the woman who sparked a fire with the book , “The New Jim Crow”! I have written several articles on the issues she raises, but I did not correlate the mass deportation to mass incarceration, which, as she points out, is no coincidence.
Excerpts from the Article:
Ten years have passed since my book, “The New Jim Crow,” was published. I wrote it to challenge our nation to reckon with the recurring cycles of racial reform, retrenchment and rebirth of caste-like systems that have defined our racial history since slavery. It has been an astonishing decade. Everything and nothing has changed.
When I was researching and writing the book, Barack Obama had not yet been elected president of the United States. I was in disbelief that our country would actually elect a black man to be the leader of the so-called free world. As the election approached, I felt an odd sense of hope and dread. I hoped against all reason that we would actually do it. But I also knew that, if we did, there would be a price to pay.
Everything I knew through experience and study told me that we as a nation did not fully understand the nature of the moment we were in. We had recently birthed another caste system — a system of mass incarceration — that locked millions of poor people and people of color in literal and virtual cages.
Our nation’s prison and jail population had quintupled in 30 years, leaving us with the highest incarceration rate in the world. A third of black men had a felony record — due in large part to a racially biased, brutal drug war — and were relegated to a permanent second-class status. Tens of millions of people in the United States had been stripped of basic civil and human rights, including the right to vote, the right to serve on juries and the right to be free of legal discrimination in employment, housing, education and basic public benefits.
Nevertheless, our nation remained in deep denial that a new caste system even existed, and most of us — even those who cared deeply about racial justice — did not seem to understand that powerful racial dynamics and political forces were at play that made much of our racial progress illusory. We had not faced our racial history and could not tell the truth about our racial present, yet growing numbers of Americans wanted to elect a black president and leap into a “colorblind” future.
I was right to worry about the aftermath of Obama’s election. After he was inaugurated, our nation was awash in “post-racialism.” Black History Month events revolved around “how far we’ve come.” Many in the black community and beyond felt that, if Obama could win the presidency, anything was possible. Few people wanted to hear the message I felt desperate to convey: Despite appearances, our nation remains trapped in a cycle of racial reform, backlash and reformation of systems of racial and social control.
Things have changed since then. Donald Trump is president of the United States. For many, this feels like whiplash. After eight years of Barack Obama — a man who embraced the rhetoric (though not the politics) of the civil rights movement — we now have a president who embraces the rhetoric and the politics of white nationalism. This is a president who openly stokes racial animosity and even racial violence, who praises dictators (and likely aspires to be one), who behaves like a petulant toddler on Twitter, and who has a passionate, devoted following of millions of people who proudly say they want to “make America great again” by taking us back to a time that we’ve left behind.
We are now living in an era not of post-racialism but of unabashed racialism, a time when many white Americans feel free to speak openly of their nostalgia for an age when their cultural, political and economic dominance could be taken for granted — no apologies required. Racial bigotry, fearmongering and scapegoating are no longer subterranean in our political discourse; the dog whistles have been replaced by bullhorns. White nationalist movements are operating openly online and in many of our communities; they’re celebrating mass killings and recruiting thousands into their ranks.
White nationalism has been emboldened by our president, who routinely unleashes hostile tirades against black and brown people — calling Mexican migrants criminals, “rapists” and “bad people,” referring to developing African nations as “shithole countries” and smearing a district of the majority-black city of Baltimore as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess.” Millions of Americans are cheering, or at least tolerating, these racial hostilities.
Contrary to what many people would have us believe, what our nation is experiencing is not an “aberration.” The politics of “Trumpism” and “fake news” are not new; they are as old as the nation itself. The very same playbook has been used over and over in this country by those who seek to preserve racial hierarchy, or to exploit racial resentments and anxieties for political gain, each time with similar results. Back in the 1980s and ’90s, Democratic and Republican politicians leaned heavily on racial stereotypes of “crack heads,” “crack babies,” “superpredators” and “welfare queens” to mobilize public support for the War on Drugs, a get-tough movement and a prison-building boom — a political strategy that was traceable in large part to the desire to appeal to poor and working-class white voters who had defected from the Democratic Party in the wake of the civil rights movement.
Today, the rhetoric has changed, but the game remains the same. Public enemy No. 1 in the 2016 election was a brown-skinned immigrant, an “illegal,” a “terrorist” or a “caravan” full of people who want to take your job, rape your daughter or commit an act of terrorism. As Trump put it: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems. … They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
Fortunately, a growing number of scholars and activists have begun to connect the dots between mass incarceration and mass deportation in our nation’s history and current politics. The historian Kelly Lytle Hernández, in her essay “Amnesty or Abolition: Felons, Illegals, and the Case for a New Abolition Movement,” chronicles how these systems have emerged as interlocking forms of social control that relegate “aliens” and “felons” to a racialized caste of outsiders. In recent decades, the system of mass incarceration has stripped away from millions of U.S. citizens basic civil and human rights until their status mirrors (or dips below) that of noncitizen immigrants within the United States. This development has coincided with the criminalization of immigration in the United States, resulting in a new class of “illegal immigrants” and “aliens” who are viewed and treated like “felons” or “criminals.” Immigration violations that were once treated as minor civil infractions are now crimes. And minor legal infractions, ranging from shoplifting to marijuana possession to traffic violations, now routinely prompt one of the nation’s most devastating sanctions — deportation.
The story of how our “nation of immigrants” came to deport and incarcerate so many for so little, Hernández explains, is a story of race and unfreedom reaching back to the era of emancipation. If we fail to understand the historical relationship between these systems, especially the racial politics that enabled them, we will be unable to build a truly united front that will prevent the continual re-formation of systems of racial and social control.
As Khalil Gibran Muhammad points out in “The Condemnation of Blackness,” throughout our nation’s history, when crime and immigration have been perceived as white, our nation’s response has been radically different from when those phenomena have been defined as black or brown. The systems of mass incarceration and mass deportation may seem entirely unrelated at first glance, but they are both deeply rooted in our racial history, and they both have expanded in part because of the enormous profits to be made in controlling, exploiting and eliminating vulnerable human beings.
It is tempting to imagine that electing a Democratic president or more Democratic politicians will surely fix the crises in our justice systems and our democracy. To be clear, removing Trump from office is necessary and urgent; but simply electing more Democrats to office is no guarantee that our nation will break its habit of birthing enormous systems of racial and social control. Indeed, one of the lessons of recent decades is these systems can grow and thrive even when our elected leaders claim to be progressive and espouse the rhetoric of equality, inclusion and civil rights.
President Bill Clinton, who publicly aligned himself with the black community and black leaders, escalated a racially discriminatory drug war in part to avoid being cast by conservatives as “soft on crime.” Similarly, President Obama publicly preached values of inclusion and compassion toward immigrants, yet he escalated the mass detention and deportation of noncitizens. Obama claimed that his administration was focused on deporting: “Felons, not families. Criminals, not children. Gang members, not a mom who’s working hard to provide for her kids.” However, reports by The New York Times and the Marshall Project revealed that, despite Obama’s rhetoric, a clear majority of immigrants detained and deported during his administration had no criminal record, except minor infractions, including traffic violations, and posed no threat.
Equally important is the reality that “felons” have families. And “criminals” are often children or teenagers. The notion that, if you’ve ever committed a crime, you’re permanently disposable is the very idea that has rationalized mass incarceration in the United States.
None of this is to minimize the real progress that has occurred on many issues of race and criminal justice during the past decade. Today, there is bipartisan support for some prison downsizing, and hundreds of millions of philanthropic dollars have begun to flow toward criminal justice reform. A vibrant movement led by formerly incarcerated and convicted people is on the rise — a movement that has challenged or repealed disenfranchisement laws in several states, mobilized in support of sentencing reform and successfully organized to “ban the box” on employment applications that discriminate against those with criminal records by asking the dreaded question: “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” Activism challenging police violence has swept the nation — inspired by the courageous uprisings in Ferguson, Mo., the viral videos of police killings of unarmed black people, and #BlackLivesMatter. Promising movements for restorative and transformative justice have taken hold in numerous cities. Campaigns against cash bail have gained steam. Marijuana legalization has sped across the nation, with more than 25 states having partly or fully decriminalized cannabis since 2012. And “The New Jim Crow,” which some predicted would never get an audience, wound up spending nearly 250 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list and has been used widely by faith groups, activists, educators and people directly effected by mass incarceration inside and outside prisons. Over the past 10 years, I’ve received thousands of letters — and tens of thousands of emails — from people in all walks of life who have written to share how the book changed their lives or how they have used it to support consciousness-raising or activism in countless ways.
Everything has changed. And yet nothing has.
The politics of white supremacy, which defined our original constitution, have continued unabated — repeatedly and predictably engendering new systems of racial and social control. Just a few decades ago, politicians vowed to build more prison walls. Today, they promise border walls.
The political strategy of divide, demonize and conquer has worked for centuries in the United States — since the days of slavery — to keep poor and working people angry at (and fearful of) one another rather than uniting to challenge unjust political and economic systems. At times, the tactics of white supremacy have led to open warfare. Other times, the divisions and conflicts are less visible, lurking beneath the surface. The stakes now are as high as they’ve ever been. Nearly everyone seems aware that our democracy is in crisis, yet few seem prepared to reckon with the reality that removing Trump from office will not rid our nation of the social and political dynamics that made his election possible. No issue has proved more vexing to this nation than the issue of race, and yet no question is more pressing than how to overcome the politics of white supremacy — a form of politics that not only led to an actual civil war but that threatens our ability ever to create a truly fair, just and inclusive democracy.
We find ourselves in this dangerous place not because something radically different has occurred in our nation’s politics, but because so much has remained the same.
The inconvenient truth is that racial progress in this country is always more complex and frequently more illusory than appears at first glance. The past 10 years has been a case in point. Our nation has swung sharply from what Marc Mauer memorably termed “a race to incarcerate” — propelled by bipartisan wars on “drugs” and “crime” — to a bipartisan commitment to criminal justice reform, particularly in the area of drug policy. And yet, it must be acknowledged that much of the progress occurred not because of newfound concern for people of color who have been the primary targets of the drug war, but because drug addiction, due to the opioid crisis, became perceived as a white problem and wealthy white investors became interested in profiting from the emerging legal cannabis industry.
Some of the reversals in political opinion have been quite striking. For example, John Boehner, a former Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, stated in 2011 that he was “unalterably opposed to decriminalizing marijuana” but by the spring of 2018 he had joined the board of a cannabis company.
Growing sympathy for illegal drug users among whites and conservatives, and concern regarding the expense of mass imprisonment, helped to make possible a bipartisan consensus in support of the Trump administration’s First Step Act — leading to the early release of more than 3,000 people from federal prisons for drug offenses. This development, which benefits people of color subject to harsh and biased drug sentencing laws, is difficult to characterize as major progress toward ending mass incarceration given that Trump continued to unleash racially hostile tirades against communities of color and his administration vowed to reinstate the federal death penalty. He also rescinded a number of significant reforms adopted by Obama and expanded the use of private prisons.
Most troubling, the modest criminal justice reforms that were achieved during the Obama administration coincided with the expansion of the system of mass deportation. Although the administration agreed to phase out federal contracts for private prisons, it made enormous investments in private detention centers for immigrants, including the granting of a $1 billion contract to Corrections Corporation of America, the nation’s largest prison company, to build a detention facility for women and children asylum seekers from Central America. Immigrant detention centers were exempted from the phaseout plan for private prisons, which meant that only about a quarter of the population held in U.S. private facilities was affected by the plan. The caging of immigrants for profit was allowed to continue without restraint.
Many of us saw these presidents as “good people” with our best interests at heart, doing what they could to navigate a political environment in which only limited justice is possible. All of these factors played a role, but one was key: These systems grew with relatively little political resistance because people of all colors were willing to tolerate the disposal of millions of individuals once they had been labeled criminals in the media and political discourse. This painful reality suggests that ending our nation’s habit of creating enormous systems of racial and social control requires us to expand our sphere of moral concern so widely that none of us, not even those branded criminals, can be viewed or treated as disposable.
If there is any silver lining to be found in the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, it is that millions of people have been inspired to demonstrate solidarity on a large scale across the lines of gender, race, religion and class in defense of those who have been demonized and targeted for elimination. Trump’s blatant racial demagogy has awakened many from their “colorblind” slumber and spurred collective action to oppose the Muslim ban and the border wall, and to create sanctuaries for immigrants in their places of worship and local communities.
Many who are engaged in this work are also deeply involved in, or supportive of, movements to end police violence and mass incarceration. Growing numbers of people are beginning to see how the politics of white supremacy have resurfaced again and again, leading to the creation and maintenance of new systems of racial and social control. A politics of deep solidarity is beginning to emerge — the only form of politics that holds any hope for our collective liberation. The centuries-long struggle to birth a truly inclusive, egalitarian democracy — a nation in which every voice and every life truly matters — did not begin with us and it will not end with us. The struggle is as old as the nation itself and the birth process has been painful, to say the least. My greatest hope and prayer is that we will serve as faithful midwives in our lifetimes and do what we can to make America, finally, what it must become.
The Whole Story
Devin Nunes was directly involved in the push for Biden Ukraine investigations, says Lev Parnas – Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, says he helped arrange meetings between Nunes and Ukrainians.
This lying weasel, Nunes, like so many other squirming slime balls trying to defend tRump, is in DEEP shit and may well get indicted!
We have seen him lie b4, scurry to secret meetings with tRump, etc. He is in it up to his neck!
As a former prosecutor and trial attorney who has cross-examined thousands – yes, thousands – of lying witnesses, I know a “heap big liar” when I see one, and Nunes is IT.
Sure, Parnas is indicted …. all the more reason for him now to tell the TRUTH!
With people like this making the laws, is it any wonder that so many of those laws are unfair?! They have no sense of fairness, of right and wrong! Raise hell, folks, and get these Douche Bags out of our government! 🙂
Excerpts from the Article:
Ed MacMahon, a lawyer for Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas, who faces charges of campaign finance violations, has told the Daily Beast that his client helped Republican Rep. Devin Nunes arrange meetings meant to advance the Ukrainian investigations into the Biden family that are at the center of the ongoing impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Now, another lawyer for Parnas — Joseph A. Bondy — has told CNN that Parnas is willing to testify before the House Intelligence Committee about Nunes’s involvement in the Ukraine scandal. Nunes is the ranking member of that committee, and in that capacity has led the Republican defense of Trump during the recent public impeachment inquiry hearings.
Nunes has argued the impeachment inquiry is a partisan attack on the president; he tried to derail the proceedings by introducing (disproved) conspiracy theories, worked to out an anonymous whistleblower whose complaint launched the inquiry, and repeatedly referred to the inquiry as a “drug deal.”
During Thursday’s hearing — at which former National Security Council official Fiona Hill and State Department official David Holmes testified — Nunes himself briefly became the subject of the proceedings due to the Daily Beast article, which Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell read into the record.
Parnas has said his efforts, as described in the Daily Beast article, bore fruit — and that Nunes eventually met with disgraced former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin in Vienna in December 2018. Congressional records show that Nunes and members of his staff travelled to Europe in late November and early December 2018. The records do not specify whether he went to Vienna, however, or who he met with.
“I can confirm that Victor Shokin told Lev Parnas that he had met with Nunes in Vienna in late 2018, and that [Nunes aide] Derek Harvey informed that they were investigating the activities of Joe and Hunter Biden related to Burisma,” Bondy told NBC News.
Shokin was pushed out of his role by the US and its allies in March 2016 over concerns he was not properly pursuing anti-corruption efforts in Ukraine. Former Vice President Joe Biden helped lead these efforts for the US, and it is his role in Shokin’s removal that sits at the heart of the conspiracy theory behind Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukraine into investigating Biden — namely, that the former vice president fired Shokin to protect a Ukrainian company on which his son had a board seat.
This meeting would suggest that efforts to discredit the Bidens were well underway before Giuliani began to publicly discuss them this spring, and that attempts to launch some sort of investigation into the Biden family went beyond executive branch officials.
It could also lead to Nunes facing his second ethics investigation in less than three years. Democratic Rep. Adam Smith told MSNBC’s Joy Reid Saturday he believes it is “quite likely” Nunes will face an ethics inquiry. Ethics investigators cleared Nunes of accusations he disseminated classified information related to Russian election meddling in December 2017.
Parnas also claims to have met with Nunes and his aides personally in Vienna, and that he and Nunes spoke on the phone at least twice following that in-person meeting. Parnas says he continued to occasionally meet with Harvey at the Trump hotel in Washington, DC, where they discussed investigations into the Biden family and a Democratic National Committee server that a disproved conspiracy theory holds contains information of Ukrainian election meddling to benefit Democrats in the 2016 elections.
Parnas claims to have told Nunes that the basis for his suspicions about the Bidens came from the writings of John Solomon, who, as Vox’s Jane Coaston has explained, published columns in The Hill regarding what are now known to be conspiracies theories about the Bidens and Ukraine. Harvey would occasionally attend meetings at the Trump hotel that included Solomon, Parnas claims, as well as Giuliani. Nunes has refused to answer any questions about the allegations of his involvement in these investigations, but did tell alt-right outlet Breitbart the reporting is “demonstrably false” and that he plans to sue both CNN and the Daily Beast.
Now, however, Nunes himself may be of interest as a witness, and Bondy has begun to argue the representative ought to recuse himself from further proceedings.
It is not clear whether Parnas will be called to testify, although Bondy has asked Schiff to subpoena him. It also is not clear whether Parnas would be viewed as a credible witness. He is currently under house arrest in Florida; as Vox’s Andrew Prokop has explained, he faces serious allegations of financial wrongdoing:
The indictment focuses on alleged false statements and disclosures made by Parnas and Fruman regarding hundreds of thousands of dollars they donated to Republican groups and candidates in 2018. … The indictment also alleges that Parnas and Fruman funneled money in from foreign sources to influence US politics and were directly involved in the effort to force out the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.
But despite the allegations he faces, it does appear that Parnas may have knowledge of an early anti-Biden campaign that extends beyond Giuliani, the “three amigos,” and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — now involving a key member of Congress. For instance, he and a business partner reportedly tried to pressure Ukraine’s last president into starting a Biden investigation, and he’s reportedly told people Trump had personally given him a “secret mission” to carry out in Ukraine.
If all of this — and his latest claims about Nunes — are indeed accurate, that would make Parnas a wealth of firsthand knowledge about the campaign to investigate the Bidens.
Much has already been revealed in public impeachment inquiry hearings held during the last two weeks. US Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland testified that “everyone was in the loop” — meaning that top Trump administration officials were informed and on board with Giuliani’s mission on behalf of the president to pressure Ukraine into investigating the Biden family. A day later, State Department official David Holmes testified he heard Trump personally ask Sondland for a status update on the pressure campaign. Together, the witnesses have painted an image of a campaign led by Trump and Giuliani that subverted US foreign policy in Ukraine into a mechanism for domestic political gain that — sometimes with their willing cooperation and sometimes despite their best efforts — swept up career diplomats and Trump-appointed officials alike.
Many of these top officials, however, like Bolton or acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, have signaled that it would take a court order for them to testify — that simply being subpoenaed is not enough. Nevertheless, House Democrats may issue additional subpoenas, Parnas included.
Florida Supreme Court rules convicted felons must pay fines, fees before voting – BAD Decision! – kra
This is one PISS POOR DECISION, and I was not happy to see this headline. As you can see in the Article, given the fucked up state of the law in Florida, the court had not much choice.
Made by judges who have NO idea how difficult it is to bounce back financially after being locked up for years. Sheeeeeit, it has been 8 years for me and I still need to beg for money occasionally!
Although Florida voters, using common sense, passed a referendum to the contrary, Republicans nevertheless blocked it. Why? Because they know that ex offenders are aware of all the INJUSTICE done to individuals and to society by Republican policies, and will not vote for them! And THAT, folks, is the God’s honest truth!
Excerpts from the Article:
Florida’s Supreme Court ruled Thursday that convicted felons must pay fines and other fees related to their sentences before voting, concluding a legal controversy that pitted the state government against voting rights advocacy groups.
The court decided in its ruling that “all terms of sentence” includes not only terms of a person’s imprisonment and supervision, but also fines and other obligations imposed as part of a punishment. “We conclude that ‘all terms of sentence’ plainly encompasses not only durational terms, but also obligations and therefore includes all [legal financial obligations (LFOs)] imposed in conjunction with an adjudication of guilt,” the ruling reads. “As explained next, we reject as overly technical the arguments advanced by certain Non-State Parties that Amendment 4 encompasses only some LFOs.”
The amendment to the Florida constitution that allows 1.4 million convicted felons to vote following their release from incarceration was lauded by civil rights advocates after its passage in November, with the advocates noting that people of color had been disproportionately impacted by the ban.
However, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill in June mandating that the former convicts pay off restitution, court fees and fines before regaining the right to vote, sparking criticism from opponents who said the law amounted to a poll tax.
Several groups, including the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, the Orange County Branch of the NAACP, and the League of Women Voters of Florida, sued the state government following the bill’s signing. The Florida Supreme Court rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the fines and other fees should not be considered, saying they “isolate and parse the word ‘sentence’ to carve out” certain legal financial obligations.
“Absent any suggestion in the context of Amendment 4 that the word ‘sentence’ carries a technical meaning restricting its scope, there is no basis to conclude that ‘all terms of sentence’ excludes any LFOs ordered by the sentencing judge,” it added.
DeSantis praised the ruling, saying it will allow the amendment to be properly enforced.
Letter to the Editor – The Unpleasant Truth – Racism – 1/15/20
I write to express concern about the great imbalance, the lack of representation of minorities, in Delaware’s courts.
In our major courts – Supreme Court, Superior Court, and Court of Chancery, the fact is that 85% of judges are white, while 15% are people of color. I know from my experience and my many contacts that there are many great attorneys of color well qualified to be judge on these courts. What is going on here?
Studies show that although 74% of the uninformed public does not think our criminal justice system is racist, it is racist in multiple ways. Consciously or subconsciously, subtly or overtly, racism permeates our courts.
Is that ugly monster – racism – why we do not have more judges of color? I hope not, but I grew up here, where many of my childhood friends, some now in positions of great authority, used the N word regularly, casually, as if it was normal. That word is not normal, nor healthy, … but used by racists.
What is going on here? Is that ugly monster – racism – why we do not have more judges of color? I hope not.
Ken Abraham, Deputy Attorney General 1974-1979, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
I get lots of letters published, and ghost write for others. THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO REACH THOUSANDS OF READERS! The keys to getting your Letter published are:
1. Keep it to 250 words or fewer.
2. Do not make it about “poor little old me”. Describe the problem as one which not only affects the individual, but is a senseless or ineffective measure, policy, or law which also harms communities and society. For example, with reentry, the obstacles make it unnecessarily difficult for the individual, but also harm society by making it hard to become productive, spending money and paying taxes in the community, and they cause increased recidivism = increased crime.
3. Speak from your heart.
4. Google any facts you are not sure about.
5. Do not name-call.
Do what works: Write that Letter!
Letter to Editor – sign name, town, state, and your phone number (they often call to verify that you sent it), and “Member of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE” if you like – shows you are part of a large group.
Send the email to yourself, and put on the “bcc” bar the email addresses for Letters to the Editor for the top ten newspapers in your state and several national ones – The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, U S A Today (google the Letter to Editor email addresses). Any questions, CALL me at 302-423-4067!
GOOGLE THE EMAIL ADDRESSES FOR “LETTERS TO THE EDITOR” FOR THE TOP TEN NEWSPAPERS IN YOUR STATE AND SAVE THAT INFORMATION FOR REPEATED USE – Some papers will print a letter from you every 2 ekke, some every 30 days, some every 90 days. They have varying policies. But if you really want to make a difference shoot them a new letter once a month! I send one out every 2 weeks.
Need a Letter on some criminal justice issue and not a great letter writer? NO EXCUSE! Email me a rough draft and call me and I’ll polish it up! firstname.lastname@example.org .
ANY QUESTIONS, CALL ME AT 302-423-4067.
US states move to stop prisons charging inmates for reading and video calls Draft bill aims to curb rise of pay-per-minute ebooks and costly facetime calls in prisons where visits are banned or restricted
Great news, and EVERY state should do this! These measures endanger YOUR safety: all studies show that better educated inmates, and prisoners who stay in touch with loved ones, are far less likely to re-offend!
Advocate for it! Here is how: Practical Tip: How YOU can become an ADVOCATE! Here is how! EASY as 1, 2 ,3 ! DO IT!
Excerpts from the Article:
Lawmakers in three US states are drafting a bill that they hope will end the growing trend of prisons charging inmates high fees for reading ebooks or making video calls to their families, while paying under a dollar an hour for prison labour.
State prisons in nine states have struck deals with private equity telecom companies to introduce pay-per-minute reading and video conferencing services in their facilities.
In December, the West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation launched a pay-per-minute ebook policy, which charges inmates five cents (4p) per minute of reading. The fee equates to roughly an hour of prison labour.
In Missouri, where prison visits are increasingly being banned or restricted, inmates are being charged more than one month’s prison wages ($7.50) to make a 30-minute video call.
Congressional representatives David Trone of Maryland, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey and Abigail Spanberger, of Virginia, are looking to create a bipartisan-supported bill to curb the practice.
“It’s clear that the criminal justice system is unjust and disproportionately impacts communities of colour,” said Trone. “Access to books and other educational materials for prisoners just makes sense. Instead of exploiting our prison population, we need to focus on getting them ready for re-entry in the workforce, schools, and our communities.”
Critics say that the charges throw into stark relief the huge gap between prison pay and the rising costs charged for services that were traditionally free and viewed as essential in helping inmates maintain contact with the outside world.
In 2017, research by the Prison Policy Initiative found that the average minimum daily wage paid to incarcerated workers across the country was 86 cents, down from 93 cents in 2001. “You are basically squeezing a profit from the most marginalised and poorest group of people in society,” said David Fathi, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s national prison project.
“They literally have no financial resources. There is no justification for charging people to read or to talk to their loved ones. The privatisation of incarceration and the profit motive is outrageous. If these policies are not modified I see a legal challenge and fully support legislation against this.”
Prisons have long argued that paper items – such as books and letters – can be used to smuggle in illicit goods. Yet James Tager, of Pen America, a literacy advocacy group, said access to free literature should extend to everyone.
In a recent report, Pen America cited examples of prison authorities curtailing access to books in Pennsylvania, Washington and New York, effectively obliging prisoners to pay for e-readers. “These are forces of civic education and prisons are putting a premium on their access to rehabilitation. We believe books provide self-education, reconnection and diversion,” said Tager.
“We are not against giving incarcerated people different options. We are concerned that e-readers will be increasingly pushed out as the option and will winnow down access to literature.”
In a study conducted at the University of Texas Medical Branch in conjunction with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in 2000, approximately 80% of inmates were reported to be functionally illiterate, with 48% found to be dyslexic. Slower reading speed will mean that inmates could be charged between $12-$18 for a 200-page book.
Mandatory – or forced – prison labour still exists in many correctional facilities across the US in states including Mississippi and Alabama. In other states, such as Texas, Arkansas, Alabama and Georgia, prisoners are not paid at all for their labour, although authorities say they are compensated in other ways, such as time off their sentences. Prison labour in the US is explicitly allowed under the 13th amendment of the constitution as punishment for committing a crime. In one case in Alabama, inmates who led a protest movement against forced labour were put in long-term solitary confinement.