Not surprising, but nevertheless amazing, that we have such an idiot in charge! Man, what a fool. This attempt is bad for consumers, bad for car manufacturers, and bad for America! It will fail …. but what an idiot!
Excerpts from the Article:
On Wednesday morning, Donald Trump tweeted that he was “revoking California’s federal waiver on emissions.” Which is interesting mostly because California’s waiver doesn’t come from a regulation at the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s not the result of an executive order signed by President Obama. That waiver is built into the Clean Air Act, which from the outset explicitly granted California the right to set standards that were tougher than those required by the federal government. Even though the EPA makes a regular announcement that it is “granting” California’s waiver, that action is as ceremonial as anything done by, say, the British monarch. California’s primacy to set these limits is enshrined in law.
Even before there was a Clean Air Act, the growing smog over California cities led the state to set its own regulations of automobile emissions. In fact, it was done with the strong support of that noted liberal Ronald Reagan. A decade later, California’s right to create and update those standards was baked into the new act, and for the next 30 years it regularly updated its requirements. Those updates were granted waivers by the EPA not because the administration at the time agreed with them, but because the EPA has no choice in granting the waivers. Once those standards are set, other states have the option of following the federal guidelines or of joining California in using more stringent requirements.
The last such waiver was granted in 2009, not because California felt it no longer needed that authority, but because, starting in 2012, the Obama administration worked with the state to put in place standards that met the needs of California and the 14 other states that had adopted California’s standards.
The California standards are directly responsible for not only reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by billions of tons, but also directly promoting the development of new automotive technologies, from the catalytic converter, to the hybrid engine, to the electric car. Those advancements have also been critical to keeping U.S. manufacturers competitive with other makers from around the world, as guidelines elsewhere have frequently outpaced U.S. federal requirements.
If every criminal would announce their intention to break the law on Twitter, law enforcement would be a good deal neater. Trump can no more revoke California’s ability to define its own standards than he can wipe out the Clean Air Act by fiat. Which is exactly what he’s attempting to do.
Trump’s tweet claims that making emissions standards lower would make cars both cheaper and safer. It’s the same argument Republicans, led by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, have been making for decades—allow American companies to build cars bigger with higher fuel consumption, and they’ll be safer. But creating a United States Big Dumb Car Zone has been deadly for U.S. automakers and anything but safe for U.S. consumers. As standards went up elsewhere, U.S. manufacturers such as Ford and GM routinely introduced their newer models overseas. American consumers were forced to get by with aging versions, providing fewer improvements on every front, including safety.
The regulations that were negotiated under Obama were critical in that they brought together California and federal regulations, while closely aligning those harmonized regulations with standards in Europe and elsewhere. The result was that, for the first time in decades, manufacturers were able to make single models of vehicles that met standards across the United States and, often, around the globe.
What Trump has done already by walking away from the negotiated standards at the federal level threatens to return the United States to third-world car status—the place to dump those leftovers that no longer make it out in the rest of the world. Trump has also created a schism in which California and its associated 14 states meet different rules than the rest of the U.S. does.
Automakers hate this idea. Yes, they understand that meeting higher fuel economy and lower emission standards will require them to keep investing in R&D. But they need to do that anyway, if they hope to compete around the globe.
What terrifies them is exactly that idea of the United States becoming a cesspool of downgraded vehicles. Because they know that if that happens, they’re vulnerable to being undercut by competitors who are willing to slip in a cheaper, older, less-efficient engine. They don’t want to produce a substandard product simply for the American market, because making one model sellable around the world provides its own benefits to manufacturers. But they fear that they’ll be forced to do so because of market forces if regulations are weakened. That’s why a coalition of manufacturers has already signed on with California, agreeing to accept its standards instead of the federal standards, no matter in which state a vehicle is sold. It’s an attempt to use an agreement to get around Trump’s market-splintering actions.
So, in response, Trump is now trying to pull the rug out from under manufacturers and force them to use dirtier standards. Even if they don’t want to. Even if it would result in American consumers getting products that are objectively less efficient, less advanced, and less safe than those sold to consumers in other nations. And, of course, the result would also be more carbon issued into the atmosphere at a time when we need to make critical cuts.
It’s a move that doesn’t help anyone. Except the oil companies. And Trump’s friend Mohammed bin Salman.
Fortunately, there seems to be absolutely no suggestion in the law that Trump has this option. California is required only to set standards and submit them. That carveout, and the ability of other states to follow its lead, isn’t open to interpretation or repeal. It’s simply there.
If Trump wants it changed, let him ask Congress. In the meantime, he’s going to get a smackdown in court.
All studies show that inmates who get calls and/or visits from outsiders are far less likely to re-0ffend.
Tom Gores and other owners of these price gouging companies are bad news: all talk and very little action in making needed changes.
Glad to say that I organized a campaign for inmates to boycott the phones in Delaware about 6 years ago, and that DID result in lower rates. PRISONERS IN EVERY STATE SHOULD DO A ONE MONTH BOYCOTT! YOU can organize this. Plan the boycott for about 3 months ahead, allowing time for word to spread. Have 100 post cards printed explaining the boycott and the goal, and through families mail them to inmates telling them to spread the word: NO phone calls during the month of X unless absolutely necessary! 🙂
This comment makes a lot of sense:
“The group’s report recommended abolishing commissions at jails and state prisons, eliminating excessive fees and making low rates the highest contract priority — or better yet making phone calls free so prisoners can maintain closer contact with families, considered one of the best ways to reduce recidivism.”
Excerpts from the Article:
Tom Gores has made himself one of the richest men in Los Angeles buying castaway, often obscure businesses that he overhauls and unloads for big profits.
That formula worked to perfection, for example, when his private equity firm acquired steel distributor PNA Group for an $18-million investment, cleaned house, made related acquisitions and sold the bulked-up company for more than $300 million, not including debt.
But with his latest purchase of a troubled asset, the 55-year-old billionaire has found himself in a harsh spotlight.
The $1.6-billion acquisition of Securus Technologies has put Gores in control of a leading provider of telephone services to inmates— and a poster child for an industry widely condemned as a racket, given rates that can top a dollar a minute.
The Beverly Hills private equity titan has waded into a campaign against mass incarceration and what activists call the “prison industrial complex” — companies that operate or service correctional facilities, profiting off disproportionately poor and minority prisoners and their family members.
The decision to acquire the company in 2017 has raised eyebrows since the Detroit Pistons owner seemed an unlikely buyer. The prior year he drew glowing headlines for leading a campaign to raise at least $10 million amid the water crisis in Flint, Mich. — a majority black community where he grew up that has been devastated by auto-industry consolidation. And he’s been praised for his commitment to Detroit, where he’s funded charities and relocated the Pistons, a shrewd business move after a lengthy exodus to the suburbs led by prior ownership.
Gores is being targeted by activists who are demanding reforms at Securus and have even pressed pension funds to stop investing in his Platinum Equity buyout firm. And although the activists haven’t been able to starve Gores of capital, they are not letting up, threatening to make their campaign more personal by taking it to criminal justice advocates in Detroit and athletes in the NFL and NBA, whose players are known for being outspoken.
Gores, in an interview with The Times, said he knew his firm was courting “headline risk” when it decided to acquire Securus, but he saw the company as a solid business where Platinum could act as a “change agent.” He admits being taken aback by the activists’ campaign.
Platinum says it has begun reforms at the suburban Dallas telecom, replacing top management and reducing already declining phone rates by 14% in the last year to an average of 15 cents per minute, inclusive of all fees. Gores also said that his investment was not predicated on expensive calls, since rates were already coming down given the “public discussion” about them. Rather, he pointed to Securus’ computer tablets that allow inmates to make phone calls, take degree classes, enjoy entertainment and look for a job.
“We saw a lot more things than the rates,” he said. “The technology in this space is behind.”
But impatient critics charge Platinum has not moved fast enough during its nearly two years of ownership, and Securus is still charging outrageously high rates — with a 15-minute call costing more than $10 at hundreds of jails — while profiting off additional fees.
It’s not a new controversy. Inmates, families and advocacy groups have for decades protested the high price of calls, typically paid by family members who open online accounts with Securus and other telecoms.
Facing pressure, the Federal Communications Commission in 2013 capped charges at 21 cents per minute for interstate calls from all types of facilities, though fees for simply adding money to an account can add to the cost. Charges have come down sharply in some state prisons. Securus signed a contract with Illinois that charges inmates less than a penny a minute for U.S. calls.
But there has been less headway at county and city jails where officials often rely on a share of call revenue to help fund their department. This common practice can account for 90% of the cost and is called a commission — but critics dub it a kickback and regressive tax that prison telecoms promote because it provides an incentive to inflate rates.
With annual revenue of nearly $700 million, Securus is the second-largest prison telecom by market share, serving 3,400 correctional facilities and handling some 240 million calls last year. It also charges some of the highest rates, according to a report by the Prison Policy Initiative, which surveyed more than 2,000 local jails in 2018. The data show that 226 of the 250 most expensive jails had contracts with Securus, with three in Arkansas charging $24.82 for a 15-minute call.
“They are selling the equivalent of a luxury product,” said Wanda Bertram of the Prison Policy Initiative, adding that the company is willing to “jack up phone rates” to appease sheriffs who want higher commissions.
The group’s report recommended abolishing commissions at jails and state prisons, eliminating excessive fees and making low rates the highest contract priority — or better yet making phone calls free so prisoners can maintain closer contact with families, considered one of the best ways to reduce recidivism.
University of Baltimore law school professor Daniel Hatcher said that prison telecoms are just another example of private companies that partner with public agencies to extract revenue from the poorest citizens for services that should be funded by taxation.
“The company is making profits, the investment company — Platinum — is making profits and then you have the states and counties that are turning this into a revenue source,” said Hatcher, whose book “The Poverty Industry” highlighted such arrangements.
The companies that operate private prisons have long been controversial and have been thrust into the spotlight for running facilities holding undocumented immigrants caught up in President Trump’s border crackdown. They are the subject of divestment campaigns, but activists say that even vendors providing phone and other services should have no role in the system because they have a financial incentive to promote incarceration.
Bianca Tylek is executive director of Worth Rises, a nonprofit campaigning against Platinum and other private equity firms.(Kwame Owusu-Kesse)
“There is a difference between businesses that have a few ethical, questionable deviations and a business that at the root, at the core, is unethical, where there is not a redeemable piece of the business left when you fix it,” said Bianca Tylek, a Harvard Law School graduate and founder of Worth Rises, a New York nonprofit campaigning against Platinum and other private equity firms. The stated mission of Worth Rises is to “dismantle the prison industrial complex,” but Tylek has lobbied for practical reform including legislation that would either lower the cost of calls or make them free. Her group found a receptive ear with presidential candidate and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who signed legislation that this year made New York the first major city to make jail phone calls free. The city got its costs with Securus down to 3 cents a minute. Worth Rises also is pushing reform bills in the state, Massachusetts, Connecticut and elsewhere.
Diane Lewis, 53, a Connecticut mother whose son served 11 years in state prison, said she struggled to afford calls that cost about $4 for 15 minutes. Sometimes family members ran up $200 monthly bills from Securus. “Talking to my son took priority over every bill in my house. Were there times the lights were off? Yeah. Were there times the gas was off? Yeah, but when he came out he was connected to his family. He knew when there was a new baby, when somebody died. That makes a huge difference,” said Lewis, who makes $49,000 a year working for a program that helps place former inmates in jobs.
If the Connecticut bill is signed into law, the state would be the first to make phone calls free for state prisoners, but past efforts have run into bureaucratic opposition because the state receives commission revenue now totaling about $7.5 million a year, said state Rep. Josh Elliott, who is carrying the bill. “That goes toward paying probation and parole officers and services. We are not taxing people for that,” he said.
In California, it costs $1.23 to make a 15-minute phone call from a prison, which puts the state in the middle of the pack. San Francisco this summer moved to become the nation’s second major city to provide free jail calls. There is also a bill in the Legislature that would require county jails to end commissions and lower their rates.
Gores carved out a niche in private equity by buying struggling industrial or information technology businesses at a discount, such as orphaned divisions of Fortune 500 companies not seen as core assets. Sometimes that involved headline risk, such as Platinum’s foray into the newspaper industry a decade ago, when it bought the San Diego Union-Tribune, upgraded the paper’s technology and announced 192 layoffs just days after the sale closed. But Gores had a lower profile back then, before his 2011 acquisition of the Detroit Pistons.
“For a guy who owns the Detroit Pistons and is very philanthropic and supports education, what have you, it’s not a good place to be,” said L.A. investment banker Lloyd Greif, who recently advised a company sold to a Platinum holding. “It’s like Platinum touched the third rail and they’ve been taking electric currents for doing so ever since.”
Gores split from his brother and founded Platinum in 1995. Alec Gores has his own L.A. private equity firm and is worth an estimated $2.2 billion. The larger Platinum, with $13 billion under management and a portfolio of 40 firms, is housed in opulent Beverly Hills offices once the headquarters of talent agency MCA. Gores’ home is a $38-million showpiece in the ultra-exclusive Beverly Park neighborhood in Beverly Hills. A third brother, Sam, founded and runs talent agency Paradigm.
Greif said that Platinum’s acquisition of Securus was a “high-visibility, high-risk” decision given the transformation of prison businesses into the category of a sin industry like tobacco. The circumstances surrounding the deal didn’t help.
The acquisition closed less than a year after President Trump’s appointee to lead the Federal Communications Commission abandoned an Obama-era effort to impose caps on in-state calls, a priority for activists since about 80% of calls are local. Prison telecoms, including Securus, had sued to block the caps and had scored a victory in appeals court.
Then, just months after the deal closed, Platinum attempted to buy the third-largest prison telecom. The merger with ICSolutions was right out of the private equity industry’s playbook, but it infuriated activist groups, which blanketed the FCC docket in opposition, arguing that Securus had a history of flouting regulations and that the deal would lead to even higher rates.
The board went ahead with a $300-million investment despite activists’ opposition, with Platinum partner Mark Barnhill pledging to the board to turn Securus into a “responsible market leader.” Citing securities regulations, Platinum will not discuss fundraising, but before the August meeting it reported in a filing that it had raised $7.17 billion toward its latest fund.
Gores acknowledged that he never expected the Securus deal would lead to a campaign pressuring his firm’s institutional investors — “there’s a lot of hindsight here” — but he refused to accede to demands for an early exit, saying the company will reinvest profits to improve operations. Platinum typically owns its portfolio companies three to five years.
Barnhill told The Times that Platinum agrees rates are too high but reforming the company will be a slow process involving contract-by-contract negotiations as it attempts to wean corrections agencies off commissions. One method is requiring Securus to offer every agency it serves a commission-free contract option. He said Platinum remains open to working with the activists and is attempting to meet Worth Rises’ demands where it can, but he complained that activists really prefer to have the company and industry shut down and dismantled.
Tylek acknowledged the goal is to make companies such as Securus “toxic assets,” but said Platinum still needs to move faster on reforms, which she said have come only under the most extreme pressure. “They continue to promise action, but the longer it takes for our communities to see relief, the more their promises are sounding like marketing,” she said.
Activists plan to next target Apax Partners, a London firm that is raising money and owns electronic-monitoring company Attenti. Instead of freeing prisoners from jail or prison, critics say these companies actually widen the net of incarceration by encouraging monitoring. But Tylek said Worth Rises “will continue to be a thorn in Platinum Equity’s side,” focusing especially in Detroit, where Gores is a prominent local figure.
During the height of the Colin Kaepernick controversy, when the NFL quarterback was drawing massive attention for kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality, Gores stood out when he said he would support his players if they wanted to do so themselves.
But the optics of an investment in a prison telecom are worsening as consensus grows that mass incarceration — with an estimated 2.2 million people in U.S. jails and prisons — has contributed to poverty, destroyed families and eaten into government budgets at all levels.
Good idea, but this problem is compounded by the fact that there are few good trial lawyers today. Lying witnesses are not effectively cross – examined. It is a fact that many Public Defenders, with 10 years or more in the job, have NEVER had a jury trial! 🙁
READ Rush to Sentence – A Major, Awful Consequence of our “War on Drugs”!
Excerpts from the Article:
A movement to put jailhouse informants under a more powerful microscope before they testify is gaining traction around the country, a byproduct of new DNA testing technology that has exonerated dozens of people wrongly locked up based on informants’ lies.
Several states have moved to toughen regulations on the use of such informants, whose credibility has always been an issue because they’re motived to get their sentences reduced.
The new rules include requiring pretrial hearings on whether prisoners’ testimony should be allowed and forcing prosecutors to disclose any deals with informants as well as their history of testifying in other cases.
In Connecticut, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont signed a wide-ranging bill in July that will create the nation’s first statewide system to track the use of jailhouse informants, including any benefits offered in exchange for their testimony.
“We’re really seeing the issue start to gain momentum around the country,” said Rebecca Brown, policy director for the New York-based Innocence Project, which works to exonerate the wrongly convicted. “Jailhouse informant testimony is one of the leading factors in wrongful convictions.”
Of the 365 people exonerated nationwide by DNA evidence, nearly one in five were convicted based in part on lying informants, according to the Innocence Project.
Federal court rulings and the Constitution do require prosecutors to turn over certain information about witnesses, including exculpatory evidence favorable to the defense. But civil liberties advocates say new laws are needed to specify exactly what kind of information must be disclosed including key details about informants.
While prosecutors agree there needs to be skepticism about jailhouse informants, they say such witnesses offer crucial, truthful information that helps bring perpetrators to justice in many cases. Some worry new informant laws take witness credibility determinations out of the hands of juries and leave it to judges to decide before cases even go to trial.
Fellow inmates were key in bringing down Connecticut serial killer William Howell, who is serving a life sentence for killing seven people in 2003. One of Howell’s cellmates, convicted killer of four Jonathan Mills, told authorities that Howell talked about the killings and where he buried the victims. It’s not clear if Mills, also serving life in prison, received any benefits for providing the information. Officials have said inmates were among several people who applied for the $150,000 reward in Howell’s case, but the prisoners’ names haven’t been disclosed for their own safety. Advocates for Connecticut’s new law cited the DNA-based exonerations of two men — Alfred Swinton and Miguel Roman — who were freed after they both spent about two decades in state prison for killings they did not commit. Bogus testimony by prisoners about confessions played roles in both cases.
The informants in the Swinton and Roman cases both denied on the witness stand that they were getting any benefits for their testimony. But the Swinton informant was ultimately released from prison early, and the Roman informant had several of his pending charges dismissed, defense lawyers said.
Connecticut’s new law also requires judges to hold a pre-trial hearing, if requested by the defense, on whether an informant’s testimony is reliable and admissible.
In November, Illinois lawmakers overrode a veto by then-Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, and approved one of the nation’s toughest tests for allowing testimony by jailhouse informants. It requires judges to make pretrial inquiries into the veracity of prisoners’ testimony before allowing or barring it.
One of the advocates for the Illinois law was James Kluppelberg, who was exonerated after spending 25 years in prison for setting a fire in Chicago that killed a woman and her five children in 1984. A jailhouse informant who implicated Kluppelberg four years after the fire later recanted his story and admitted he testified to reduce his potential prison time to criminal charges he was facing. “I was floored,” Kluppelberg told The Associated Press. “I was stunned over the fact that they believed him. It was a shock to the system. “I lost 25 years of my life because of his testimony,” the 54-year-old Illinois native said. “I didn’t get to see my three children grow up. I did not get to go to my mother’s funeral. I did not get to see my sisters grow up. All these things were stolen from me.”
Kluppelberg, who was freed in 2012, said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder from being in prison. “Nobody should ever have to suffer what I went through if it’s preventable,” he said. “If (the law) even stops it from happening to one person, it’s worth its weight in gold.”
Nebraska lawmakers and Republican Gov. Pete Ricketts approved a new jailhouse informant law in April. It requires prosecutors to tell defense lawyers any benefits they offer to prisoners, other cases in which they testified and any cases where they recanted testimony, among other information.
Wrongful convictions also led Texas lawmakers to toughen the rules on jailhouse informants in 2017. The state’s law requires prosecutors to keep records on the use of jailhouse informants and any deals they get because of their testimony. It also mandates prosecutors release certain information about informants to defense lawyers.
Although Texas and other states are now tracking the use of informants, county prosecutors are keeping the records and only Connecticut will be keeping a statewide system, Innocence Project lawyers said. One problem, they said, is prosecutors in one county may not know about an informant’s testimony in other counties.
Prosecutors in Oklahoma and Florida must also disclose information on jailhouse informants to defense lawyers, under rulings by state appellate courts. Several states, including California, Connecticut, Oklahoma and Utah, further require juries to be given instructions that jailhouse informants’ testimony must receive greater scrutiny.
And the filing should be examined closely for fraudulent transfers of money out of the company. The greedy ratbastard Sackler may have drained billions of $$$$ from the company b4 the filing.
SOME COMPANY EXECUTIVES SHOULD BE IMPRISONED!
Excerpts from the Article:
The company’s board approved the Chapter 11 filing on Sunday. The move is designed in part to resolve more than 2,000 lawsuits filed against Purdue over its alleged role in the opioid epidemic.
Last week, the firm reached a tentative deal to settle most of those lawsuits. But some states remain opposed to the proposed settlement.
The company, owned by the billionaire Sackler family, is accused of playing a damaging role in spurring the opioid crisis through the sale of drugs like painkiller OxyContin.
In a statement reported by Reuters, members of the Sackler family said: “It is our hope the bankruptcy reorganisation process that is now under way will end our ownership of Purdue and ensure its assets are dedicated for the public benefit.”
Opioids are a group of drugs that range from codeine to illegal drugs like heroin. Prescription opioids are primarily used for pain relief but can be highly addictive. On average, 130 Americans die from an opioid overdose every day, according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which says more than 200,000 Americans have died from opioid-related overdoses in the last two decades.
Firms including Purdue are accused of using deceptive practices to sell opioids including downplaying their addictive quality.
Purdue argued the US regulator, the Food and Drug Administration, had approved labels for OxyContin that had warnings about the risks.
California bans private prisons – including Ice detention centers Bill removes profit motive from incarceration and marks latest clash in state’s battle with Trump over treatment of immigrants
This is great news for the inmates, for California, and for America! See numerous articles – scores of them – on this website about what a disaster private prisons are!
Excerpts from the Article:
The private prison industry is set to be upended after California lawmakers passed a bill on Wednesday banning the facilities from operating in the state. The move will probably also close down four large immigration detention facilities that can hold up to 4,500 people at a time.
The legislation is being hailed as a major victory for criminal justice reform because it removes the profit motive from incarceration. It also marks a dramatic departure from California’s past, when private prisons were relied on to reduce crowding in state-run facilities.
Private prison companies used to view California as one of their fastest-growing markets. As recently as 2016, private prisons locked up approximately 7,000 Californians, about 5% of the state’s total prison population, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. But in recent years, thousands of inmates have been transferred from private prisons back into state-run facilities. As of June, private prisons held 2,222 of California’s total inmate population.The state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, must still sign AB32, but last year he signaled support for the ban and said during his inaugural speech in January that the state should “end the outrage of private prisons once and for all”.
Currently, one company, the Geo Group, operates four private prisons in California under contract with the California department of corrections and rehabilitation. The contracts for these four prisons expire in 2023 and cannot be renewed under AB32, except to comply with a federal court order to reduce crowding in state-run facilities.
In addition to signaling a major criminal justice reform, AB32 also has become a flashpoint in California’s fight with the Trump administration over the treatment of immigrants. The bill’s author, the assemblymember Rob Bonta, originally wrote it only to apply to contracts between the state’s prison authority and private, for-profit prison companies. But in June, Bonta amended the bill to apply to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s four major California detention centers.
Bonta’s amendment, say immigrant rights advocates, appears to have caught Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (Ice) and the private prison companies at a moment when their current contracts are expiring. The result is that instead of slowly phasing out immigration detention centers as their existing contracts expire years down the road, most will face closure next year – unless Ice and its private prison contractors find a workaround.
“I think Geo Group is realizing their scheme to circumvent state law is putting them in a place where they could end up being be nailed,” said Hamid Yazdan Panah, an immigration attorney and the regional director for the Northern California Rapid Response & Immigrant Defense Network.
Two of Ice’s largest immigrant detention centers in California are operated by the Geo Group through complicated contracts that use cities as middlemen. The city of Adelanto signed an agreement in 2011 with ICE to hold up to 1,300 immigrant detainees facing deportation. Adelanto then subcontracted the prison operations to Geo Group. “What Ice does is they locate in these very poor and remote areas,” said Lizbeth Abeln, of the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice. “The private prison comes in and lobbies and promises jobs, and tax money.” According to a report by the California state auditor, this complicated subcontracting model allowed Ice and Adelanto to forgo competitive bidding for the center’s operations subcontract.
A similar process unfolded just north of Bakersfield in McFarland, where in 2015 the city agreed to serve as the middleman for the Geo Group, which operates the 400-bed Mesa Verde detention facility. Geo Group expanded the Adelanto center in 2015 to 1,940 beds, making it the second-largest adult detention center in the country, and with the Trump administration’s crackdown against undocumented immigrants, another 1,000-bed expansion is planned.
But these complicated contracts were outlawed last year. Under the state Dignity Not Detention Act, cities and counties, including Adelanto and McFarland, were barred from signing new agreements with Ice or amending existing contracts to permit expansion. An immigrant detainee reads through paperwork in a general population block at the Adelanto detention facility.
“To expand their detention center, Geo Group and Ice would have to cut their ties with the city of Adelanto,” said Jose Servin, the communications coordinator of the California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance. Geo Group asked both cities to break off their Ice contracts and the cities agreed. Ice then provided Geo Group with temporary contracts to operate Adelanto and Mesa Verde. Both agreements expire next March, after AB32 is expected to go into effect. “My understanding is AB32 would prevent new contracts for these facilities,” said Panah. “The fact they’re on a one-year bridge, it won’t allow them to move from the one-year contract to a longer-term contract.”
CoreCivic operates the Otay Mesa detention center in San Diego under a direct contract with Ice and is building a 512-bed expansion to house immigrant detainees, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings. But its Ice contract expires in June 2020.
In recent years, contracts with California’s prison authority have amounted to as much as 12% of CoreCivic’s total revenue, more than any other state prison authority in the US, according to SEC filings.
CoreCivic and Geo Group spent $130,000 during the first six months of this year lobbying the legislature and governor against AB32.
On 6 September, AB32 was amended to allow Geo Group, CoreCivic and other for-profit prison companies to continue operating after 2020, but only to help the state comply with a court-ordered prison population cap. Otherwise, the use of private prisons for state inmates is to be fully phased out by 2028.
“We have to worry about all the people who are detained right now,” said Servine. “Where will they end up?”
Good news. The litigation trying to enforce the Emoluments Clause continues, and unless the Supreme Court continues its shameful political decisions trying to favor tRump, tRump likely will lose. Perhaps none of his unlawful conduct is more brazen (well, of course his ignoring subpoenas as an effort to obstruct is!) than tRump’s violations of the Emoluments Clause.
Excerpts from the Story:
A federal appeals court in New York on Friday revived a lawsuit alleging that President Trump is illegally profiting from his hotels and restaurants in New York and Washington in violation of the Constitution’s anti-corruption, or emoluments, clauses.
In a two-to-one decision, a panel of judges for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit found that a lower court had wrongly dismissed the lawsuit accusing Mr. Trump of violating the Constitution’s bans on accepting financial benefits from foreign or state governments. The appeals court judge sent the lawsuit back to the lower court, ordering it be allowed to proceed.
The decision comes nearly two years after the lower court judge dismissed the lawsuit. The case is one of three that have been ping-ponging back and forth between district and appeals courts as judges struggle with the novel legal questions raised by Mr. Trump’s decision not to divorce himself from his business empire while in office.
Although Mr. Trump promised never to mix his personal financial interests with official business, he has repeatedly touted his properties since becoming president. He suggested recently that he should host the next summit of the Group of 7 world leaders at his luxury golf resort in southern Florida, describing the property as a “great place.”
In some ways, interactions between Mr. Trump’s political role and his businesses have become routine, with foreign leaders, lobbyists, Republican candidates, members of Congress, cabinet members and others with ties to the president routinely visiting his properties. In the past week, new details have emerged of stays by United States military personnel at Mr. Trump’s golf resort in Scotland.
Two lawsuits allege President Trump has violated the Constitution’s anticorruption clauses by continuing to own a business that receives payments and other benefits from foreign and domestic governments. The appeals court judges in New York noted that a different appellate panel for Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit had ruled the opposite way, dismissing a similar lawsuit brought by the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs in that case are seeking to appeal that dismissal to the full appeals court, based in Virginia. Yet another case, brought by congressional Democrats, is headed to Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
It was not immediately clear whether the Justice Department would appeal the panel’s ruling to the full appeals court.
The Whole Story:
Using Plants to Combat Prison Recidivism – Letter to the Editor – A Simple way to Reduce Crime – 9/14/19 – kra
Numerous studies show that education or vocational training is the best way to reduce recidivism, reduce crime. And here we see that individuals who engaged in horticultural programs demonstrated the lowest rate of recidivism over all other categories of released inmates.
Such inexpensive and simple programs could save BILLIONS of your tax dollars and keep us safer!
Excerpts from the Article:
A study out of Texas State University attempted to determine the number of available horticultural community service opportunities for individuals completing community service hours per their probation or parole requirements, and whether that brand of community service generates a calculable offset against the common nature of repeat offenses for an inmate population once released.
Former graduate student Megan Holmes and her advisor Tina Waliczek delved into this complex topic, evaluating whether horticultural programs or exposure to horticultural settings can help to reduce the probability of recidivism. Their findings are detailed in the article ‘The Effect of Horticultural Community Service Programs on Recidivism’ available now in HortTechnology, an open-access journal published by the American Society for Horticultural Science.
Waliczek explains, “We became interested in this study because of observations made in our own campus garden where offenders often serve out community service sentences. Some of those serving would mention how they felt a sense of purpose and pride in working with the plants in the garden. Our study verified some of those initial observations.”
As the researchers illustrate in their article, the average cost of housing a single inmate in the United States is roughly $31,286 per year, bringing the total average cost states spend on corrections to nearly $75 billion per year.
The United States currently incarcerates the greatest percentage of its population compared with any other nation in the world. Although the world average rate of incarceration is 166 individuals per 100,000, the US average is 750 per 100,000. And recidivism is a predictable factor of our criminal justice system.
Recidivism is the repetition of criminal behavior and reimprisonment of an offender and is one of the reasons for large inmate populations in the United States. Research tracked a total of 404,638 prisoners across 30 states for a span of 5 years and found 67.8% of prisoners released reoffended within 3 years and a total of 76.6% reoffended within 5 years of being released. One third of those offenders were arrested within the first 6 months of being released.
Holmes added, “Further researching the role plants play on positively impacting an individual’s life or decision to productively redirect their behavior has the potential to greatly benefit our society as a whole, long-term.”
Past studies have shown that certain educational and rehabilitation efforts have helped to reduce a return to a life of crime. As a means of education and vocational rehabilitation, horticultural programs have been introduced into detention facilities across the United States. Many prisoners have participated in horticultural activities such as harvesting and maintaining their own vegetable gardens as a means of providing food for the institution, which can also serve as skill development for a means of earning income once released back into society.
Waliczek suggested, “Participation in horticultural programs upon being released from prison or while on probation partnered with educational and community service could provide a sense of meaning and purpose to offenders while also helping assist with a successful transition back into society.”
In investigating the different types of community service opportunities available to offenders, Holmes and Waliczek found there were 52 different agencies available as options for community service during the time of the study. Of the 52 community service agencies, 25 of them provided horticultural work options.
The results and information gathered support the notion that horticultural activities can play an important role in influencing an offender’s successful reentry into society. The researchers found that individuals who engaged in horticultural programs demonstrated the lowest rate of recidivism over all other categories of released inmates.
She further added, “I plan on continuing this research and studying the overall benefits of horticulture on the well-being and recidivism rates of both incarcerated juvenile and adult offenders on a larger scale.”
Letter to the Editor – A Simple way to Reduce Crime – 9/14/19 – kra
Numerous studies show that education or vocational training is the best way to reduce recidivism, reduce crime. And here we see that individuals who engaged in horticultural programs demonstrated the lowest rate of recidivism over all other categories of released inmates. When we reduce recidivism, by definition we reduce crime.
The average cost of housing a single inmate in the United States is roughly $31,286 per year, bringing the total average cost states spend on corrections to nearly $75 billion per year. In Delaware, the average cost per year of housing one inmate is closer to $37,000.
Many prisoners across the nation have participated in horticultural activities such as harvesting and maintaining their own vegetable gardens as a means of providing food for the institution, which can also serve as skill development for a means of earning income once released back into society.
Giving ex-offenders a means to stay busy, contribute to their community, and earn money, just makes sense! We should greatly increase these programs nationwide, instead of continuing to spend billions of dollars warehousing people!
Such inexpensive and simple programs could save BILLIONS of your tax dollars and keep us safer!
Ken Abraham, former Deputy Attorney General, 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.
We will not see justice or fairness in our immigration laws until we get the Idiot Racist in Chief out of our White House. Here is an article explaining and bemoaning this attack on the most vulnerable people seeking safety in America.
Excerpts from the Article:
Thousands of people fleeing persecution, most from Central America, line up at the United States’ southern border every day hoping for asylum. They wait for months, their names slowly crawling up a hand-drawn list until they are allowed to present their case to American immigration authorities.
After the United States Supreme Court issued an order this week, almost none of them will be eligible for asylum. The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Trump administration to enforce new rules that bar asylum applications from anyone who has not already been denied asylum in one of the countries they traveled through on their way to the United States.
The rule is among the most stringent measures taken by this administration in its battle to halt migration, upending decades of asylum and humanitarian norms. It is likely to affect hundreds of thousands of migrants traveling through Mexico to reach the United States: Eritreans and Cameroonians fleeing political violence. Nicaraguans and Venezuelans fleeing repression.
And the largest group of all: Hondurans, Salvadorans and Guatemalans escaping the twin scourges of poverty and gangs.
“This takes away all hope,” said Eddie Leonardo Caliz, 34, who left San Pedro Sula in Honduras with his wife and two kids three months ago to try to escape gang violence, and spoke from a shelter in southern Mexico. With measures like this, he said, the Trump administration “is depriving us of the opportunity to be safe.”
The new rule, which has been allowed to take effect pending legal challenges, is consistent with the Trump administration’s posture of hostility and rejection for those seeking protection in the United States.
Whether by separating families of migrants, by drastically limiting the number of asylum applications accepted on a given day or by returning those entering the United States to Mexico to await their hearings, the administration has shown a dogged determination to discourage migration.
And it has put tremendous pressure on Mexico to help meet its goal, threatening months ago to escalate tariffs on all Mexican goods if the nation did not buffer the surge of migrants heading to the United States from Central America and elsewhere. Mexico responded. This week, when Mexican and American officials met in Washington to discuss progress on the issue, the Mexican delegation took great pains to show how its crackdown along its border with Guatemala and throughout the country has reduced migration flows to the United States by more than 50 percent in the last three months.
Mexico’s actions, though applauded by Trump administration officials this week, have overwhelmed its troubled migration system. The number of individuals applying for asylum in Mexico has already skyrocketed in the last few years, as the United States has tightened its borders.
This rule could add to that burden, with many more applying for asylum in Mexico, despite the danger of remaining in Mexico. Violence there has soared to the highest levels in more than two decades. Stories of migrants kidnapped along the border abound, as criminal organizations await their return from the United States or pick them off as they attempt to cross the border.
Several migrants who are making their way north said in interviews on Thursday that the new rule would not deter them. For most, the hope of a new life in the United States outweighed whatever legal worries might lie ahead.
Oscar Daniel Rodríguez, 33, from San Salvador, has been in Guatemala with his wife and 3-year-old son for a month now, and says he will apply for asylum there. He had applied for asylum in Mexico during a previous trek, and was rejected. If he is denied in Guatemala, he will try again in Mexico, he said. If they deny him again, he will try the United States. “No matter how long it takes, and how long we have to wait, what we want is to give our son a better future,” he said.
Mexican asylum applicants, who don’t have to transit through another country to reach the United States, are not impacted by the new policy.
Mexico is already playing host to tens of thousands of migrants awaiting their asylum hearings in the United States. Its migrant detention facilities can be overcrowded, unsafe and unsanitary.
Asylum applications there have soared in the last year, reaching about 50,000 through August, compared to fewer than 30,000 applications in the same period a year ago. This has placed a strain on Mexican society and on a system ill-equipped to handle such demand.
“We see detention centers crammed with migrants and children, riots, social problems arising, human rights abuses, and rising xenophobia among Mexicans,” said Jorge Chabat, a professor of international relations the University of Guadalajara. “The Mexican government has then little to no other choice but to design long-term migration policies to deal with the large number of migrants coming and staying now in Mexico.”
“There is not much else we can do,” he added, ruefully, “besides maybe lighting a candle for the Virgin of Guadalupe and praying for Trump not to be re-elected.”
“This is the latest step in terms of Trump’s policies to push Mexico to become a safe third country, and to make a big chunk of the migration flow stay in Mexico permanently and deter them from traveling north,” said Raúl Benítez, a professor of international relations at the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
The Mexican government, for its part, insists the move is not the same as a safe third country arrangement, which would require a bilateral agreement and would automatically send the majority of asylum seekers back to Mexico for good. Neither Mexican officials nor independent experts believe it will lead to an immediate influx of returnees to Mexico. Instead, it could leave those who have been returned to Mexico while they await hearings more likely to stay because they will not be granted protection in the United States.
Under current asylum law, individuals must show a credible fear, which is figured to be a 10 percent chance that they will face persecution if sent back home. The threshold for the two remaining protections now — so-called withholding status and qualification under the convention against torture — is reasonable fear. To qualify, the applicant must show a probability of being persecuted back home that is greater than 50 percent.
“The people affected by this policy are the most vulnerable — those without lawyers and those without knowledge of the system,” said Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, an immigration attorney with the Immigration Council. “Those without lawyers are being asked to meet a standard almost impossible for someone uneducated in asylum law to meet.”
For every article I post about prison abuse and its insane cost – YOUR tax money wasted – there are at least 5 or 6 more that I have read. No point in posting all of them! This case involved “failure to protect”.
Excerpts from the Article:
On Oct. 23, 2017, Rodrick Roman Castro, an inmate at Deuel Vocational Institution in Tracy, was questioned about allegations a former cellmate of his had been involved in drug dealing. The next day, the 34-year-old Castro was found dead in his cell, stabbed 92 times in the neck and torso with an ice pick.
Now, the state of California has agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle a federal wrongful death lawsuit that alleges prison officials left Castro unguarded in an unlocked cell despite knowing that he was surrounded by associates of his former cellmate.
“Correctional officers and corrections staff and supervisors … knew that violence occurs when housing cooperating witnesses with suspects and members of different gangs together or housing inmates affiliated with rival gangs together,” according to the lawsuit, which was filed by Long Beach attorney Alexis Galindo on behalf of Castro’s family. The suit, filed in federal court in Sacramento, alleges that when Castro was questioned about a drug-selling conspiracy involving a previous cellmate at Salinas Valley State Prison, officials allowed his current cellmate to witness the interrogation. The next day, the lawsuit says, the cellmate was escorted out of the cell “and within minutes Rodrick Roman Castro was murdered in the cell.”
But Galindo confirmed the amount of the settlement and wrote in the lawsuit that video recordings from inside the prison “show that the suspect inmates had begun planning and orchestrating the attack” shortly after Castro was interviewed by a correctional officer.
“The preparation (included) moving contraband from one area of the unit to another, including an item that appears to resemble the murder weapon, an ice pick found at the scene,” the suit says, adding that guards did not monitor the live video that could have prompted intervention before Castro was killed.
The suit also alleges officials announced Castro’s slaying publicly before notifying his mother, Virginia.
Castro was serving a 10-year, eight-month sentence for attempted second-degree murder and carjacking out of Los Angeles County at the time of his death.
More than a year after Castro’s slaying, San Joaquin County prosecutors filed a murder charge against Jose Almaraz, another inmate at the Tracy prison. That case is pending, Assistant District Attorney Kristine Reed wrote in an email.
America’s Jails Are Pretending the Opioid Crisis Doesn’t Exist Correctional facilities refuse to provide medically assisted treatment for opioid withdrawal and people are dying at alarming rates as a result.
Another article which reminds me of the many times I SAW guards walk right by the cell of someone who clearly was in agony, ignoring his requests to get to the infirmary, and laughing as they strolled on. I really must devote more time to writing my book; it is such a slow process, but I do think it will raise a bit of a ruckus when published.
Excerpts from the Article:
When Matthew Herring was arrested in 2016 for a probation violation and sent to Dutchess County Jail* in upstate New York, he brought his medication with him. Herring, 22, had struggled with an opioid addiction for eight or nine years at that point, and had been in and out of jail since 2011, his mother Patricia Herring said. So he stashed an FDA-approved treatment drug called buprenorphine in his body to soften a painful withdrawal.
When the guards found it, however, he was thrown into solitary confinement for four days, where he suffered from withdrawal, his mother said. “They don’t have any compassion,” Herring said of her son’s treatment by correctional officers. “He’s puking his brains out, they’re laughing.”
Then, 72 days after his release from jail, Matthew died from an overdose. Herring asserts the lack of treatment on the inside played a role. “He was sick and suffering,” she said. “He was never offered medical treatment that he as human being deserved.”
People recently released from incarceration in the United States suffer alarmingly high rates of overdose deaths. A Massachusetts study found overdose deaths went up a staggering 120 percent the two weeks after release compared to the general public.
Opioid withdrawal is extremely painful and in some cases fatal; people have died in jails as a result of extreme dehydration linked to withdrawal, which causes diarrhea and vomiting. Yet only three percent of state and county correctional facilities across the U.S. carry any of the three FDA approved drugs for opioid addiction treatment: methadone, naltrexone and buprenorphine. Often when the drugs are available, it’s left up to law enforcement to decide who has access.
Overdose deaths went up a staggering 120 percent the two weeks after release.
Advocates agree the main roadblock to more states providing medically assisted treatment (MAT) to incarcerated people is stigma associated with drug use. Many correctional employees view the treatments as just another avenue for addiction, or argue it will be traded illicitly on the inside. While the National Sheriff’s Association recently released a guide to using MAT in jails, a 2016 survey of correctional officers in nine states found that officers viewed MAT as a “treatment of last resort” rather than evidence-based medicine.
There are also cost issues: sheriffs in county jails in New York said it would be hard to provide the drugs without substantial funding, though advocates have countered that the cost of not giving treatment could be higher, due to hospital visits and return jail visits. Nonetheless, the budget cuts across both public and private health care providers for incarcerated people can cut deep.
But plaintiffs who were denied treatment have been mounting successful lawsuits, strengthening the case for the treatments nationwide: an April ruling in Maine and a ruling in Massachusetts last December both held that keeping someone from medication assisted treatment violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. A bipartisan Senate bill introduced by Senators Markey and Murkowski would fund $50 million of grants for MAT in jails and prisons.
Progress is slow. Bills in the NY State Legislature would have made the treatments available to everyone in the state’s prisons and county jails, but the proposal faltered at the end of 2019’s legislative session. Instead, Governor Andrew Cuomo expanded opioid treatment in prisons and jails across the state: with $4 million distributed to counties and $1.2 million to state prisons under the latest state budget. Some programs will also provide Naloxone, an overdose prevention drug, to those returning home.
The reach of those programs is limited: MAT is only available at eight of New York’s 54 state prisons, and only in interventions like parole diversion, pregnant women and people serving short sentences. These pilot programs are seen by advocates as far too gradual for the full-blown epidemic inside the state’s prisons and jails.
In the meantime New York’s county jails can still punish people for bringing the potentially life-saving medication into jail with them. In January, the Ulster County Sheriff’s office announced on its Facebook page the “arrest” of someone already incarcerated after a cell search turned up Suboxone, the brand name for buprenorphine. It was the second such arrest in six months, and Ulster County has seen its opioid death rate go up 345 percent between 2010 and 2018. This is why, a few months after the Sheriff announced that arrest, county executive Pat Ryan announced federal funds would be used to provide MAT, including in Ulster County Jail—a sea change from their approach earlier in the year.
New York’s county sheriffs still have wide latitude to punish people who smuggle the treatments inside. “They operate like fiefdoms,” said Dionna King, New York Policy Manager of the Drug Policy Alliance. “The sheriffs have a lot of autonomy.”
Jails can still punish people for bringing the potentially life-saving medication into jail with them.
One formerly incarcerated person—who wanted only to be identified as “Joseph” for fear of retribution—said that bringing opioid treatment drugs inside an institution is a common precautionary measure. Some heavy opioid users don’t leave the house without tabs of Suboxone stashed in their bodies. “Motherfuckers don’t leave their house unless they have 10 Suboxone stuck in their ass. That’s how it is with us,” he said. “It’s basic medical attention they just deny us.”
“All I’m asking for is general medical care, man,” he said he told the guard. “These people just looked at me like I’m a junkie.” He said he was brought to a hospital for his withdrawal symptoms only through a nurse’s intervention. Earlier this year, Albany County announced it would offer all three MAT drugs in their jail.
In Rhode Island, the only state that offers all three FDA approved drugs to incarcerated people, there has been a similar trend. Dr. Josiah Rich, a Brown University professor of medicine who helped implement the state’s plan, said he had heard plenty of incidents in which people smuggled buprenorphine into the jails. Suboxone, the brand name version of buprenorphine, is distributed on small tabs that can be hidden easily. He had heard cases of people slipping tabs inside crayon wrappers or under a stamp. But after treatment was offered in Rhode Island prisons, overdose deaths reduced 61 percent, and trading drugs in the facilities went down.
Patricia Herring, like many advocates, wants opioid addiction to be treated as a disease, not criminalized, and for more treatment to be made available in the community as well in jails. She said she finds herself wondering why her son was punished for bringing in a substance that wouldn’t have harmed anyone.
“Punishment is not the cure for the disease,” she said. “At all.”