C’mon now you idiot prison guards! Getting your jollies by molesting little girls? This is outrageous, although I suspect that a handful of idiots do use kids to smuggle in drugs. Not enough to warrant such humiliation of a child without good cause to suspect illegal conduct.
Excepts from the Article:
Virginia’s governor on Friday ordered the suspension of a Department of Corrections policy after an 8-year-old was reportedly strip-searched when attempting to visit her father in prison last month. “I am deeply disturbed by these reports — not just as Governor, but as a pediatrician and a dad,” Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, tweeted Friday. He said that he had directed the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security “to suspend this policy while the Department conducts an immediate investigation and review of their procedures.”
On Thursday, The Virginian-Pilot newspaper reported that an 8-year-old girl was stripped and searched by a Virginia Department of Corrections staff while visiting her father at Buckingham Correctional Center in Dillwyn.
The girl, who was accompanied by her father’s girlfriend, was led to believe that refusing the search would result in her not being allowed to see her dad, the newspaper reported. An email seeking comment from the Department of Corrections was not immediately returned Friday night.
Lisa Kinney, the department’s director of communications, told the newspaper that the staff member who approved the search did not have that authority. She called it “deeply troubling” and said it “represents a breach in our protocol.”
“We sincerely apologize to this child and her family and will be taking immediate disciplinary action against the person responsible,” she said.
The search is said to have happened Nov. 24. The girl’s mother told The Virginia-Pilot that her daughter “was traumatized.”
Why are Democrats blocking bills that would allow state to track legislator pay?: Opinion – My Letter to Editor! – kra
Can’t say that I often agree with Republicans these days, but Delaware’s Ruth Briggs King is quite right on this issue! What are these clowns hiding?! READ my Letter, below. We have a right to know!
Excerpts from the Article:
Two proposals seeking to make candidates and lawmakers more responsible for their actions have a long and unfortunate history of being killed in the General Assembly.
Currently pending action in the House Administration Committee, house bill 137 would require that all candidates running in the general election disclose if they have unpaid state or federal personal income taxes or are in arrears on their local property taxes. In violation of house rules, the bill has been held in the House Administration Committee since May 2.
The consideration of new or higher taxes is one of the most significant duties a lawmaker performs. The financial burden government places on citizens directly influences the welfare of every taxpayer.
The intent behind the bill is unmistakable. Candidates seeking offices where they will be making taxation decisions should be required to disclose if they have met their own tax-related obligations.
I am a co-sponsor of this proposal which, if enacted, would apply to all candidates equally. My initial expectation was that the bill would be embraced as a non-partisan reform that would help citizens make informed decisions. Disappointingly, that has not been the case. House Bill 137 has 15 sponsors in the General Assembly, only one of which is a member of the Democratic majority.
It is not the first time this bill has been blocked by House Democrats, who have full control over what proposals are released from committee and which come to the floor for action.In fact, this is the fourth consecutive General Assembly where a version of this bill has been introduced. In the last legislative session, House Bill 315 died pending action in the House Administration Committee. In the 148th General Assembly, House Bill 67 died after spending more than a year waiting to be placed on the House agenda. The bill was also killed in the 147th General Assembly after spending a year waiting for consideration.
A second bill victimized through serial killing is a measure that seeks to help prevent elected officials from “double-dipping” salary from two taxpayer-funded jobs.
House Bill 126 would require elected officials or paid state, county, or local appointees — who are also employed by a government agency or school — to disclose such employment to the Public Integrity Commission. The disclosure would assist the commission and the state auditor in evaluating whether an official was receiving dual compensation for overlapping hours of work.
I am the prime sponsor of this measure, which has been held without a hearing in the House Administration Committee since April 18. If enacted, it would fix a failing of our present system.
Under current law, the Public Integrity Commission has no authority to have the state auditor review the salary records of elected officials who may be getting paid simultaneously for two taxpayer-funded jobs.
Again, the bill would hold Delaware’s elected officials (state, county, and local) more accountable and would apply equally to all public officeholders. You might believe such a measure would have broad bipartisan support. If so, you would be wrong.
Inexplicably, this bill has also been repetitively blocked by House Democrats, who have successfully killed it in each of the last two legislative sessions.
The proposal was introduced in 149th General Assembly as House Bill 73. It was released from committee after a year in limbo, then spent three more months futilely waiting to be placed on the House Agenda.
The incarnation of the bill introduced in the 148th General Assembly, House Bill 252, spent all of 2016 bottled up in the House Administration Committee without a hearing. I have yet to hear any rational objection as to why either transparency bill should not become law. I will again ask House Democratic leaders to bring these measures to the floor for debate and action.
Letter to Editor or Commentary – Irresponsible, Yes. Criminal? Maybe! 12/7/19
I can’t say that I often agree with Republicans these days, but Delaware’s Ruth Briggs King is quite right on this issue! She recently wrote an Opinion column decrying the fact that two important pieces of legislation [House Bills 137 and 126] have been killed – against House Rules, moreover! – four times by Democrats in our Legislature. House Bill 137 would require that all candidates running in the general election disclose if they have unpaid state or federal personal income taxes or are in arrears on their local property taxes. Because Delaware is largely a Democrat state, some lawmakers think they can do whatever the hell they please with impunity… they will be reelected not matter what!
These lawmakers are, in effect, saying to taxpayers, to their constituents, the sovereigns in this nation, “whether we have paid our taxes, whether we are responsible, whether we are criminals … is none of your business!” Well, folks, they made it our business – your business – when they ran for office!
Another Bill being blocked would require lawmakers to disclose whether they are “double dipping – holding more than one state-paid job. House Bill 126 would require elected officials or paid state, county, or local appointees — who are also employed by a government agency or school — to disclose such employment to the Public Integrity Commission. The disclosure would assist the commission and the state auditor in evaluating whether an official was receiving dual compensation for overlapping hours of work. Too often we see politicians with unmitigated arrogance who seem to forget that they work for us.
As noted, we the people are the sovereigns in this country, not the lawmakers who think they rule the roost! Are you going to tolerate such arrogance? We should not! Contact your legislators and demand that they release House Bills 137 and #126, for debate and a vote [to date they have not articulated any rational reason for their inaction], and make it clear that if they do not, you will vote them OUT!
Ken Abraham, former prosecutor and founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE, 302-423-4067
The worst kind of criminal, betraying the public trust. Well, this explains a lot: he was an early supporter of President Donald Trump!
60 criminal counts! All such scumbags should be prosecuted.
Excerpts from the Article:
California Rep. Duncan Hunter said he plans to plead guilty to misusing campaign funds and is prepared to go to jail, a stunning turn of events for the six-term Republican who had steadfastly denied wrongdoing and claimed he was the victim of a political witch hunt.
Hunter said in an interview that aired Monday that he will change his not guilty plea at a federal court hearing Tuesday. He said he wants to protect his three children from going through a trial.
His wife Margaret Hunter also was charged in the case and in June accepted a plea deal that called for her to testify against her husband.
“I think it would be really tough for them,” he told San Diego TV station KUSI. “It’s hard enough being the kids of a public figure. I think it’s time for them to live life outside the spotlight.” Hunter, who was re-elected last year after being indicted and was campaigning for a seventh term next year, indicated he will leave office but didn’t say when.
An early supporter of President Donald Trump, Hunter said he will plead guilty to one count of misuse of campaign funds. Federal prosecutors charged he and his wife with 60 criminal counts, saying they spent more than $250,000 in campaign money for golf outings, plane tickets and a family vacation to Italy. They also said the money went to household items and airline tickets for their pet rabbit.
Prosecutors revealed salacious details about the congressman’s lifestyle, saying some money was used by Hunter to further romantic relationships with lobbyists and congressional aides.
Hunter, 42, said he will accept whatever sentence the judge gives. The couple could have faced decades in prison before the plea deals. His wife faces up to five years in prison.
“I think it’s important that people know I did make mistakes. I did not properly monitor or account for my campaign money,” he said. “Whatever my time in custody is, I will take that hit. My only hope is that the judge does not sentence my wife to jail. I think my kids need a mom in the home.”
Hunter is the second Republican congressman this year to plead guilty to federal charges. In October, former four-term Rep. Chris Collins of New York pleaded guilty in an insider trading case and resigned. He faces a maximum sentence of about four years in prison.
Until now, Hunter had resisted calls to resign, calling the charges a politically motivated attempt to drive him from office in a state where Democrats are in the majority. Following his indictment in August 2018 he said the charges were brought by prosecutors who attended a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton.
Hunter was the first Marine combat veteran elected to Congress after deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He said he will continue to fight for veterans, but he did not say in what capacity.
How the FCC Helped Pave the Way for Predatory Prison Telecoms A company is charging inmates by the minute to read ebooks on “free” tablets. The FCC could have stopped prison telecoms from gaining so much power, but didn’t.
There are so many ways that the price-gouging of inmates could be alleviated! Here we see conflict of interest, and another way that tRump is bad news for prison reforms. Our friends at the Human Rights Defense Center are doing what they can.
Excerpts from the Article:
Predatory companies have spent decades overcharging inmates and their families for phone calls and video conferencing services. Now, they’re shifting their focus toward charging exorbitant fees to access ebooks and use the internet, thanks in part to federal regulators who’ve turned a blind eye to monopoly power.
Earlier this year, the West Virginia Division of Corrections (WVDC) struck a new deal with Falls Church, Virginia-based GTL, which describes itself as a vendor of “transformative corrections technology.” GTL dominates roughly 50 percent of all U.S. prison telecom contracts, something critics have long stated results in aggressive overbilling of inmates and their families.
As first reported by Reason, GTL’s latest contract involves providing inmates access to free tablets. But while the tablets are “free,” doing anything with them is far from it. According to the GTL contract with the state, accessing ebooks on the tablet will cost inmates up to 5 cents per minute, while using the tablet for video visitations costs inmates 25 cents per minute. Sending any messages via the tablet is 25 cents per message, 50 cents per photo attachment, or a dollar per attached video.
Many inmate families can’t afford such high costs, and West Virginia inmates are estimated to make between $6 and $81 per month. It’s worth noting that inmates don’t have to use the tablets, and the WVDC receives a 5 percent commission on tablet use that may go to fund other inmate projects.
A GTL spokesperson told Motherboard that the company did not have a comment at this time.
Why give such responsibility to companies with a long history of overbilling and abuse? The answer lies partly in exclusive contracts and “concession fees” (long criticized as little more than glorified, legalized kickbacks) that allow the sector’s biggest players to buy their way to industry dominance. The other factor is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which could have stopped the situation from getting so bad.
Thanks to apathy and revolving door regulators, the prison telecom sector has seen no shortage of scandal, from allegations that providers illegally record private attorney client phone calls, to the industry’s involvement in the abuse of sensitive subscriber location data.
In 2015, the previous FCC finally proposed eliminating concession fees from companies like GTL and capping prison phone calls at a maximum of 11 cents per minute.
But GTL and other industry giants quickly sued, some executives claiming that such price caps would cause “jail unrest” and potential riots. Current FCC boss Ajit Pai, then just an agency commissioner, voted against the price caps.
Once appointed FCC boss by the Trump administration in 2017, Pai quickly set about dismantling the effort by blocking FCC lawyers from defending the agency’s own proposal. In a 2017 filing with the FCC, Human Rights Defense Center Executive Director Paul Wright lamented Pai’s involvement as a conflict of interest given he formerly represented one of the industry’s biggest players.
“Since joining the FCC as a Commissioner in 2012, Mr. Pai has vigorously and consistently taken actions to undercut all federal regulation of the Industry,” he wrote. “Securus enjoys kickback-based monopoly contracts with more than 3,400 correctional facilities, and as a result can exploit and price-gouge at least 1.2 million prisoners and their families in 48 states.”
At the time, the FCC told Ars Technica that Pai’s work on the file was cleared by the FCC’s ethics department. The FCC did not respond to a Motherboard request for comment.
The Appalachian Prison Book Project, which published a report on GTL’s West Virginia contract, notes that much of the content the company is charging inmates 5 cents per minute to read is freely available via Project Gutenberg, though many of the titles that would most interest inmates (how-to books on carpentry, for example) aren’t available.
That the same companies that turned prison phone calls into a racket are now shifting their business models toward ebooks and internet access isn’t surprising. Neither is the growing chorus of criticism of the effort. Less discussed is how this dysfunction has been enabled by an FCC boss who was more than happy to turn a blind eye to monopoly power—and the decades of inmate family abuse that resulted.
Prison secrecy is a widespread and outrageous problem. They refuse to disclose information not “for security reasons”, as the bastards always claim, but to cover up all their crimes and wrongdoing!
Excerpts from the Article:
As the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida seeks to address “over-incarceration” rates within the Florida Department of Corrections, the nonprofit organization filed a lawsuit seeking public records. In a lawsuit filed in Leon County last week, the ACLU requested state data on prison demographics, charged offenses, tentative release dates and information the Department of Corrections used to calculate the tentative release dates.
The group is seeking information to better understand the racial disparities within Florida prisons.
The organization previously filed a public records request with the Department of Corrections Sept. 30 that has gone unanswered.
“The ACLU of Fla. is concerned about the over-incarceration in our state as well as the racial disparity of those incarcerated. It hopes to propose an amendment [to Florida State Statute] to decrease the term a person with gain time must serve below the current ‘minimum of 85%’ of the sentence,” the group wrote in its request.
The goal is to reduce the overall percentage of incarcerated persons of color and reduce the more than $2 billion cost to Floridians to jail them.
The group is also asking for information about whether the term of incarceration of each current offense for which individuals are incarcerated runs concurrent or consecutive with another term for a different offense and whether inmates received any county jail or other credit for time served before being committed to the Department of Corrections.
Concurrent sentences are served at the same time while consecutive sentences are served individually. Convicted criminals serving concurrent sentences serve less time than those serving consecutive sentences.
The ACLU asked that the information it requested be provided free of charge, but said the group is willing to pay for “reasonable costs” associated with its request.
“The ACLU’s request does not require the creation of a new record. The FDOC’s databases already exist. The ACLU’s request does not require the reorganization of a record. FDOC’s databases have no inherent organization; a user must decide what and how the information is presented. The ACLU simply requests meaningful access to public information,” the lawsuit reads.
The Whole Story:
Yes, this is one huge, disastrous consequence of bad cops, bad prosecutors, and otherwise tainted evidence, and it is another reason for YOU to raise hell about it!
Excerpts from the Article:
Disastrous. That’s what one attorney is calling the rapidly growing evidence scandal that has swept the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and that threatens to alter the criminal justice landscape in one of California’s largest counties.
The ramifications are real: Orange County’s guilty could go free; the innocent wrongly jailed on convictions built on tainted evidence – or evidence that was never filed at all. Thousands of criminal cases in this Southern California megalopolis of more than 3.2 million people are now potentially tainted after a week of back-to-back bombshells: internal reports revealing that hundreds of sheriff’s deputies sat on evidence and dozens of others lied about filing it.
Now Orange County Sheriff’s officials are blasting assertions by the county’s assistant public defender, Scott Sanders, that deputies failed to book evidence in as many as 9,000 cases and are fielding terse demands from the county’s district attorney for more information in the wake of the audits that showed two years of nearly department-wide evidence mishandling.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department in 2018 undertook a pair of evidence audits. The first one looked at almost 99,000 police reports over a two-year period. It showed evidence in 30 percent of the reports was mishandled in some way, and the department did not retain evidence in nearly 72,000 cases.
The internal audit randomly sampled 450 reports out of the nearly 72,000 cases flagged in the first report. Of those, deputies filed 121 reports stating they collected and booked evidence. The auditor’s findings: no evidence was booked in nearly half of the sampled reports — 57 — in which deputies said they had, or about 13 percent of the 450 cases reviewed, according to the audit.
Sanders’ projection that 9,000 cases were mishandled over two years stems from the numbers in the second audit. The Sheriff’s Department argues Sanders is exaggerating.
“The department should forever be prohibited from using the word ‘disingenuous.’ Their exact figures are the figures to use. We’re looking at 450 cases out of 72,000. We’re going to stand by their numbers: it’s more likely to be 9,000 than 57,” Sanders said on Nov. 26. “We do the calibrations and they call us ‘disingenuous.’ That’s absurd.”
“We’ve been ripped off on thousands of cases. We had no idea,” Sanders said. “This is the sixth-largest county in the nation. There’s an enormous amount of cases they touch here.”
“As of yet, we still do not have the audit nor have we received a response to the (Nov. 21) letter we sent to the Sheriff’s Department requesting additional information about cases where evidence was not properly booked,” Orange County Chief Assistant District Attorney Shawn Nelson said in a Monday statement.
“This is not a dispute between departments. This is a sheriff’s issue,” Nelson’s statement began. “Now our office is fully apprised of the scope, we know what our duty is and it is unquestionable,” he said, calling the sheriff’s department’s failure to turn over or disclose the audits “mystifying.”
“The defense relied on these statements that were not true,” he said. “Under these circumstances, courts would reverse convictions. Some courts would have to see whether the evidence was material, but others might say it’s so outrageous, we have to deter others from doing it again. “Either way,” Feldman concluded, “anybody convicted by this would have a heck of a civil suit.”
As I predicted. And I continue to predict that even tRump’s hand picked Justices on the Supreme Court will not overturn this decision. Nobody can fail to comply with a lawful subpoena.
Excerpts from the Article:
House Democrats can access President Trump’s private financial records from two banks, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday, finding a “public interest” in refusing to block congressional subpoenas. The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit comes in the ongoing legal battle Trump has waged to shield his private business records from disclosure — including in two cases that have already reached the Supreme Court.
The New York-based appeals court upheld Congress’s broad investigative authority and ordered Deutsche Bank and Capital One to comply with the House subpoenas for the president’s financial information. The court gave the president seven days to seek review by the Supreme Court in the case, which predates the public impeachment proceedings in the House.
In a 106-page ruling, the court said the House committees’ “interests in pursuing their constitutional legislative function is a far more significant public interest than whatever public interest inheres in avoiding the risk of a Chief Executive’s distraction arising from disclosure of documents reflecting his private financial transactions.”
“The Committees have already been delayed in the receipt of the subpoenaed material since April 11 when the subpoenas were issued. They need the remaining time to analyze the material, hold hearings, and draft bills for possible enactment,” according to the ruling written by Judge Jon O. Newman, who was joined by Judge Peter W. Hall.
The president’s attorney Jay Sekulow said in a statement Tuesday that Trump’s legal team believes the subpoenas are “invalid as issued” and is reviewing the ruling to determine next steps, “including seeking review at the Supreme Court.”
In a statement, Deutsche Bank said, “We remain committed to providing appropriate information to all authorized investigations and will abide by a court order regarding such investigations.”
The House Intelligence and Financial Services committees are seeking more than 10 years of financial records on Trump, his three oldest children — Eric, Donald Jr. and Ivanka — and Trump’s businesses. The committees, led by Reps. Adam B. Schiff and Maxine Waters, both California Democrats, say they need the records as part of broad investigations into Russian money laundering and potential foreign influence involving Trump.
The majority disagreed, finding the subpoenas serve a “legitimate legislative purpose.” But the judges also acknowledged the “serious” privacy concerns at issue and ordered the lower court to give Trump and his family time to identify “all sensitive documents” — such as those related to medical expenses — that should potentially be excluded from the subpoenas.
The president’s attorneys, Livingston wrote in a 59-page opinion, have “raised serious questions on the merits, implicating not only Congress’s lawmaking powers, but also the ability of this and future Presidents to discharge the duties of the Office of the President free of myriad inquiries instigated ‘more casually and less responsibly’ than contemplated in our constitutional framework.”
The ruling from the 2nd Circuit is the third time a federal appeals court has upheld subpoenas for Trump’s business records. Last month, the federal appeals court in Washington let stand an earlier ruling against the president, affirming that Congress can seek eight years of Trump’s tax records. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit previously ruled Trump’s claims that a congressional subpoena was invalid because lawmakers lacked a “legitimate legislative purpose” were incorrect. A majority of the court’s 11 active judges voted against revisiting the case.
In that case, the president is fighting a House Oversight Committee subpoena to his longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, and audits it prepared for Trump and several of his companies. The Supreme Court agreed to Trump’s request to temporarily put the order on hold. Trump’s lawyers have until Thursday to file a petition seeking review by the high court.
A separate three-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit also unanimously rejected Trump’s effort to block New York grand jury subpoenas for eight years of his tax returns from his accounting firm. The panel ruled that “any presidential immunity from a state criminal process does not bar the enforcement of such subpoena,” according to the opinion written by Chief Judge Robert Katzmann.
This case centers on a subpoena from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., whose office is investigating hush-money payments made before the 2016 election to silence two women who said they had affairs years earlier with Trump. The president has denied the affairs. Meet Cyrus Vance, the Manhattan district attorney doing battle with President Trump in court. Trump has also asked the Supreme Court to step in to stop disclosure of his financial records to New York prosecutors. The justices are scheduled to discuss whether to take the case at their private conference on Dec. 13.
In the Deutsche Bank case, attorneys for the president’s largest lender told the appeals court that it does not have Trump’s personal tax returns but does have the returns of two other people covered by the House subpoenas. The names of those individuals have been redacted from court documents and the appeals court ruled Tuesday that there was no reason to prevent those documents from being turned over to the House.
Because neither bank has the president’s returns, the court said it did not need to decide whether the House committees should be allowed to obtain the records.
Deutsche, a German banking giant, has been a major lender to both the Trump Organization and Kushner Companies, which previously was run by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, now a presidential adviser.
Trump’s company has taken out about $364 million in loans from Deutsche Bank since 2012, according to public filings. The loans included two worth $125 million to buy and renovate the Doral golf resort in Florida, a $170 million loan to renovate Washington’s Old Post Office into a Trump hotel, and a $69 million loan to refinance an existing Trump hotel in Chicago.
Douglas Letter, the House’s general counsel, questioned at oral argument in August why the bank continued lending to Trump and his businesses after several of Trump’s businesses filed for bankruptcy and other banks stopped lending to him.
The trove of financial documents held by Deutsche Bank could give House Democrats a detailed road map for more than a decade of Trump’s financial history, including whom he did business with and the sources of his wealth.
“We might find out whether Trump has, to the public, overstated his assets and understated his personal benefit from his tax cut,” said Charles Tiefer, a former longtime House lawyer who is now a University of Baltimore law professor.
More discussion set to determine fate of Hummers Parade – With Letter to the Editor! – kra PUBLISHED
Here is the Article: More discussion set to determine fate of Hummers Parade
And here is the important part of this post:
UPDATE – 12/5/19 THIS IS PUBLISHED IN THE DELAWARE STATE NEWS
Commentary or Letter to the Editor – Save the Hummers Parade! – 12/4/19
For years now, Middletown, De has demonstrated the fine American tradition of satire and comical irreverence toward authority. Their annual gala of the Hummers Parade, a take off from the Philadelphia Mummers Parade, has called attention to pertinent social issues. That some residents do not want to see the depiction of some unpleasant truths, such as caged immigrants, is no excuse for trampling on the most important right guaranteed by our Constitution: Free Speech!
Any unlawful restrictions concocted by the city are sure to face successful legal challenges, just wasting taxpayer money.
If you don’t want to see it, stay home. Let the marchers march, in the finest American spirit!
Ken Abraham, former prosecutor and 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.
Indictments charge 25 corrections officers with using excessive force, intimidation to dominate Maryland jails
Great news for justice and the rule of law. Problem is, all across America, for every 25 charged there are at least 50 more who SHOULD be charged! I have seen first hand how out of control America’s prisons have become.
Excerpts from the Article:
More than two dozen Maryland corrections officers and staff were indicted on charges they used excessive force, intimidation, evidence tampering and other criminal measures to ensure their special tactical unit maintained “dominance of its operational territory” within state-run jails, Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby said Tuesday.
The indictment of 25 members of the Baltimore Central Regional Tactical Unit on 236 criminal counts — including first-degree assault, participation in a criminal gang and misconduct in office — pushes to more than 200 the number of corrections officers, inmates and civilian accomplices who have been criminally charged in prison corruption cases in the state in the past four years.
Those indicted Tuesday include the tactical unit’s supervisor and about half its membership. The group is tasked with responding to incidents and maintaining order in state facilities. Mosby said the latest charges stemmed from an investigation state corrections officials launched last year, after “rumors and anecdotes” were relayed regarding abuses by the unit.
“While the investigation revealed a series of seemingly isolated incidents dating back to 2016, further examination divulged multiple examples of excessive force utilized against detainees at different facilities, which ultimately led to the discovery of a criminal enterprise functioning within the tactical unit,” Mosby said. Corrections officials then worked with prosecutors to build a case against the officers, many of whom were placed on administrative leave last year but only arrested Tuesday, officials said.
Those indicted included supervisors, officials said. Some of the officers charged face up to 150 years behind bars. Corrections officials said all would be suspended without pay pending trial.
At least 25 detainees have been identified as victims, with investigators gathering information from surveillance footage and interviews with corrections staff, officials said. The unit worked at the Metropolitan Transition Center, the Baltimore Pretrial Facility, the state Corrections Department’s Jail Industries Building and Baltimore City Booking and Intake Facility, officials said.
Among those charged was acting Capt. Kevin Hickson, 49, the tactical unit’s supervisor. The indictment accused Hickson of being the “organizer, supervisor, promoter and manager” of the criminal enterprise, and outlined 47 incidents in which they alleged he or other members of his team assaulted detainees.
Hickson and those under him used “illegal and excessive force through assaults of inmates, use of threats against inmates, and various retaliatory tactics to assure complete compliance with [the tactical team’s] authority, which bolsters [its] overall reputation within the territory and suppresses any dissension and discord among the overall prison population,” prosecutors wrote.
Robert Green, secretary of the state corrections department, called the allegations “disturbing” and noted the investigation is ongoing. He also credited Republican Gov. Larry Hogan for the priority his administration has placed on confronting corruption in the corrections department. “This case represents our strong effort to root out people who don’t belong in the field of public safety and rehabilitation,” Green said. “This is a disturbing case, but it does not and should not cast a shadow on the commitment and integrity of the exceptional correctional professionals in this department.”
The union said the “vast majority” of officers it represents “perform their duties admirably and tirelessly each day,” and the “actions of any few officers should not be held against, or diminish the work, of those many who serve with honor.”
Mosby made the announcement in an administrative building on the massive Baltimore jail complex downtown. The jail became notorious in 2013 when federal prosecutors indicted 25 people, including corrections officers, in a smuggling scheme. Prosecutors said the Black Guerrilla Family had gained control behind bars and turned the jail into a gang stronghold.
In January 2018, 18 people — including two guards — were charged with smuggling heroin, cocaine and cellphones into the nearby maximum-security prison at Jessup. A yearlong wiretap investigation led authorities to that smuggling ring. The guards were sentenced to serve three years in prison.
Two months before that case, officials arrested and imprisoned a sergeant who worked at the prison and who they say ran the Crips street gang inside the walls. He pleaded guilty to state charges of participating in a criminal gang.
And in October 2016, federal agents indicted 80 people in the largest prison corruption case in Maryland history. Corrections officers and inmates were charged with smuggling heroin, cocaine, cellphones and pornography into the Eastern Correctional Institution in Somerset County on the Eastern Shore. Seventy-seven people were convicted, officials said, including 16 correctional officers who were sentenced to as much as six years in prison.
Green on Tuesday denied that the long line of prison corruption cases in the state indicated a failure on the part of state officials to get a handle on the problem with better training and vetting of hopeful officers. “I don’t see it as a failure. Evidence here today is that we investigated this case, we brought this forward,” Green said. “It is a committed effort to be excellent.”
See oodles of articles on this website about why private prisons are a DISASTER for inmates and for society! My friend, Alex Friedmann, is featured in this article.
Excerpts from the Article:
Alex Friedmann, 50, was transferred to a Tennessee public prison in 1998 after having spent the previous six years incarcerated in a private facility. Everything was different: There were more blankets, the toilet paper wasn’t as cheap, and correctional officers were everywhere. “First thing I noticed was there’s a heck of a lot more staff or boots on the ground in the public prisons,” he told Vox. “There was not such an emphasis on cutting costs.”
After being released in 1999, Friedmann — now the associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center — began fighting for the abolishment of private prisons, and has spent the past two decades doing so. The arguments against them, according to Friedmann, are clear: Their for-profit model encourages the business to cut corners, affecting inmates’ safety and quality of living.
Increasingly, these criticisms of private, for-profit facilities have been reflected in policy and spending. Fueled in part by opposition from their constituents, lawmakers of states like California and Nevada have banned private prisons from operating. Businesses are also increasingly cutting ties with the industry following pushback from their customers.
The number of inmates in these facilities are also seeing a downward trend: In comparison to its peak in 2012 of about 136,220 people, the private prison population has decreased about 12 percent in the past five years as more facilities are closing. Given private prisons rely on facilities being full to remain economically viable, there is concern among executives that these falling numbers could eventually drive these businesses to their demise.
Some in the industry have begun to accept that private prisons may not exist in the decades to come. CoreCivic, the nation’s largest and oldest private prison firm, said it has begun to plan for a federal private prison ban if a Democratic candidate wins the 2020 presidential election (current frontrunners like former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren support its abolishment), according to Nashville Post. Rather than house inmates for the government, the company would simply lease real estate, CEO Damon Hininger said on a conference call last month.
In an attempt to avoid having to rely on these contingency plans, the for-profit prison industry has established an advocacy group called Day 1 Alliance (D1A). The group launched on October 25 and is backed by the largest companies in the industry: CoreCivic will provide initial funding while GEO Group and Management & Training Corporation — the second and third largest companies in the marketplace — will take on leadership roles, according to the Associated Press.
As a public information group, D1A will focus on changing public opinion that has soured on the industry. The group doesn’t plan on lobbying or advocating for issues, the group’s spokeswoman Alexandra Wilkes told Vox; instead it will focus on spreading its message by engaging with the media.
“We launched D1A because of the huge gap that has opened up between the false, distorted rhetoric that activists and some politicians use against this industry and the facts on the ground,” Wilkes said.
But activists argue that the advocacy group does not have the best interests of incarcerated people in mind, and are concerned it will try to downplay the poor living conditions in some facilities while reversing the victories activists have won in states like California and Nevada. “Don’t be fooled: This is an effort to defend a multi-billion dollar industry that regularly gouges American taxpayers and take attention away from the conditions in these jails,” said Families Belong Together Chairwoman Jess Morales Rocketto, who also wrote in a statement: “The private prison industry has a long and documented history of abusing people in their care.”
Private prisons first emerged in the 1980s in response to mass incarceration created by tough-on-crime policies. As state and federal prisons became overcrowded, private businesses seized the opportunity to build their own facilities and house the incarcerated. The world’s first modern for-profit prison company, Corrections Corporation of America (now known as CoreCivic), was established in 1983 by Thomas Beasley, Doctor R. Crants, and T. Don Hutto.
CoreCivic — and other for-profit prisons that followed — makes money from government contracts that set a cost per inmate that taxpayers pay the company. In return, the facilities agree to provide incarcerated people with a mandatory ration of food, clothing, health care, and other living needs.
It’s an attractive partnership for states because it gives them the opportunity to shift accountability away from themselves, said Louisiana State University political science professor Anna Gunderson, who is writing about the US’s adoption of these facilities.
“What’s driving a lot of the [private prison system] is not so much the need — although that’s certainly part of it — but also the desire to sort of make sure that if something bad happens within private facilities, the company is blamed and not necessarily the state government,” she said.
That’s exactly why they’re a problem, because these businesses — which like any other, are looking to make a profit — work to increase profit margins by cutting corners, activists argue. Friedmann said he found this particularly true in the quality of the staff. Not only were there fewer correctional officers, but they were also trained less than officers at public prisons, he said. Low pay rates led to frequent turnover, and a lack of experienced officers directly impact the inmates’ quality of life, he added.
“I do recall one incident where a prisoner set fire within his cell, smoke was billowing out of his cell, he was locked inside,” Friedmann said. “The guard, instead of letting the guy out or calling from help, just held the door shut so he couldn’t get out. And that might have been because she was the only staff member in the unit. And she was afraid if she’d let the guy out, he might overpower her or something. Basically just left him in there to burn.”
Under the Obama administration, narratives like these became cause for alarm. An 2016 memo ordered the Justice Department to reduce the use of private prisons after a DOJ report revealed they had higher rates of contraband, violence, and use of force than public prisons. This directive, coupled with declining incarceration numbers, led many who are opposed to private prisons to believe that economic realities would lead to the facilities going out of business. But that optimism faded in 2017, when then Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded that memo “to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system.” The Trump administration went on to embrace the use of private detention facilities in order to realize its family separation policy. The Homestead center, a private shelter near Miami operated by the for-profit company Caliburn, was criticized in June for detaining migrant children for long periods in poor conditions. It attracted a flock of presidential candidates, who denounced the facility while standing on its grounds; the facility effectively shut down on November 30.
“For a lot of people it is a lot easier to be upset about private prisons when the people that are incarcerated within them are children or families,” Gunderson said. “I think that caught a lot of people’s attention and it made them realize, ‘If the federal government is privatizing immigration what is my state doing?’”
Despite public outcry over private detention facilities — in particular the shelters — the Trump administration shows no sign of reversing its policies. In response to the federal government’s embrace of for-profit incarceration, states and businesses have begun to take their own action against the industry.
In total, 22 states — under both Democratic and Republican control — do not house incarcerated people in for-profit prisons. And in recent months, three states have passed legislation addressing these facilities. Nevada banned private prisons in May, and the following month, Illinois, which banned for-profit correctional centers in the 1990s, expanded that law to include privately-run immigration detention centers.
California passed a bill in October that effectively bans for-profit prisons. The state will close three private prisons that house 1,400 inmates in the next four years, while four private detention facilities that hold about 4,000 people will also stop operating in the next year, according to Reuters.
“By ending the use of for-profit, private prisons and detention facilities, we are sending a powerful message that we vehemently oppose the practice of profiteering off the backs of Californians in custody, that we will stand up for the health, safety and welfare of our people, and that we are committed to humane treatment for all,” Assemblymember Rob Bonta, chief author of the bill, said in a statement following the passage of the bill.
But significant loopholes still exist in California’s law that are of concern to those who advocate for the total abolition of private prisons: facilities that provide “educational, vocational, medical or other ancillary services” will be exempted, according to Kara Gotsch, director of strategic initiatives for the Sentencing Project. “I don’t necessarily think that the passage of that legislation will mean the end of the end of private prisons in that state,” she said. “It just seems that there’s a lot of loopholes which means that the private prison industry is going to continue. So I don’t look necessarily at California as a model.”
For Gotsch, states like Nevada — which effectively abolished private prisons with few exemptions in May — should serve as an ideal example of how states should scrap the facilities because that state’s ban is absolute: Nevada cannot have contracts with any private facilities that provide services like housing and custody after July 1, 2022, with no exemptions.
More states are planning to take similar measures to ride this wave of banning private prisons. Last month, Colorado’s Democratic lawmakers proposed a bill that would close most of the state’s for-profit facilities — which hold about 19 percent of Colorado’s incarcerated population — by 2025. Two Minnesota state representatives also plan to introduce a bill during the 2020 session that would ban for-profit immigration detention centers.
While the continued existence of private prisons is increasingly being called into question, the reality is that closing private prisons will change little about the criminal justice system as a whole. Only 121,718 inmates, or about 8.2 percent of the US prison population, are incarcerated in private prisons, according to the Sentencing Project. More than a million Americans would remain imprisoned even if those held at private prisons were released, and many state and federal facilities suffer from the same poor conditions for-profit prisons are said to have.
Ultimately, Friedmann said the root of the private prison problem — and the root of many other criminal justice issues — is mass incarceration, “If you didn’t have so many people locked up, we wouldn’t need the extra beds the private prisons provide,” he said. His solution: rolling back tough-on-crime legislation and removing profit incentives from the justice system. Doing both things, he said, would not only hasten the demise of private prisons, but would also begin to address larger issues with incarceration in the US.