I have posted scores of similar articles about this criminal cruelty, wasting billions of YOUR tax dollars!
See many related articles on this website, especially Whistleblower Gives Harrowing Look on Health Care in Arizona Prisons
Allegheny County is paying a $950,000 settlement to the children of an inmate who died in the Allegheny County Jail less than 48 hours after he arrived, according to the man’s attorney. County officials agreed to pay the settlement Friday, said George Kontos, the attorney representing the children of Frank Smart Jr., who died in 2015 at age 39. The case was set to go to trial Monday morning.
Smart was arrested the evening of Jan. 3, 2015, on charges of forgery, theft, marijuana possession and conspiracy, according to a criminal complaint. The next morning, at about 11 a.m., he told jail officials during a medical screening that he needed to take medication twice a day to prevent seizures. Since a medical cart had already made its rounds, he did not receive his medication until that evening, 24 hours after he arrived at the jail.
That night, Smart suffered a seizure. “Mr. Smart died because he was deprived his anti-seizure medication, and when he had a resulting seizure, the officers that responded to the medical emergency held him face down with his hands cuffed behind his back and legs shackled for approximately thirty minutes until he stopped breathing,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Cynthia Reed Eddy wrote in a report in July 2017.
He was taken to a hospital, where he died just after midnight Jan. 5, Eddy’s report said.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner report said Smart died as a result of a seizure disorder and that physical restraint in a prone position contributed to his death, Eddy’s report said.
Kontos said the settlement will provide some support for Smart’s nine children, who all live in Pittsburgh. The youngest is 5. “He was a devoted father, he was involved in all his children’s lives, he supported them both financially and emotionally,” Kontos said. “He was there in terms of helping them do their homework, attending their sporting events, it was a very big loss in their lives.”
The Smart children also received a settlement from Corizon, the private medical services provider that the jail used at the time, but the amount is confidential, Kontos said.
“Although the agreement has not yet been finalized, the county has reached a settlement agreement with the Smart family which we believe to be in the best interests of the taxpayers,” County Solicitor Andrew Szefi said in a statement. “We will be seeking reimbursement from Corizon in the very near future.”
Allegheny County took over medical services at the jail in 2015.
No kidding! I have said, if I were the U S Attorney, I would send in a couple of FBI agents undercover and within a month would have enough information to indict a slew of guards on RICO charges!
Several guards at Donovan State Prison in Otay Mesa are accused of running a criminal gang inside the prison, according to a federal lawsuit. Prisoners say they were beaten and retaliated against by guards who are members of the “The Green Wall” gang. The guards are accused of running a Mafia-style prison gang, ordering attacks against prisoners and allegedly smuggling drugs and phones in exchange for cash.
“I am hopeful that, as the litigation proceeds, we’ll get the information necessary to get these rogue guards criminally charged and the administrators who have shielded them fired,’ Mark Merin, attorney for the plaintiffs, told NBC 7.
A spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections said the department does not comment on pending litigation.
This excellent article is too long to summarize all the salient points. But you should read it! ONE THEME RESONATES IN ALL
THE STUDIES: As crime prevention tools, sex offender registries are a near universal failure.
SEX OFFENDER HYSTERIA!
In October 1989, 11-year-old Jacob Wetterling was kidnapped at gunpoint and never seen again. When the boy’s mother, Patty Wetterling, learned that her home state of Minnesota did not have a database of possible suspects—notably convicted sex offenders—she set out to make a change. Wetterling’s efforts led to the passage of the Jacob Wetterling Crimes Against Children and Sexually Violent Offender Registration Act, which was signed into federal law by President Bill Clinton in 1994. Jacob’s Law was the first effort to establish a nationwide registry of convicted sex offenders, but it was not the last.
Soon after Jacob’s Law was enacted, 7-year-old Megan Kanka was raped and murdered by a neighbor with a previous conviction for sexual assault of a child. This heinous crime led the state of New Jersey to pass Megan’s Law, which required anyone “convicted, adjudicated delinquent or found not guilty by reason of insanity for commission of a sex offense” to register with local law enforcement upon release from prison, relocation into the state, or after a conviction that did not include incarceration.
Two years later, Congress enacted a federal Megan’s Law. The bill, which passed in the House by a 418-0 vote and in the Senate by unanimous consent, required that states provide community notification of sex offender registry information “that is necessary to protect the public.” By the end of 1996, every state in the nation had some form of public notification law for sex offenders in place.
In 2006, Congress adopted the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, named in honor of 6-year-old Adam Walsh, who was abducted and murdered in Florida. The Adam Walsh Act repealed and replaced both Jacob’s Law and Megan’s Law. The comprehensive Adam Walsh Act created a national sex offender registry and mandated that every state comply with Title I of the Act, the Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act (“SORNA”) or risk losing 10 percent of federal law enforcement funding. SORNA requires, among other things, that states establish a three-tiered sex offender registry system, with “Tier 3” offenders required to update their registry information every three months, for life. SORNA also created the National Sex Offender public website, which had nearly 5 million visits and 772 million hits by 2008.
Full compliance with SORNA has proven costly, and many states have opted out. As of 2014, only 17 states were in full compliance; the remaining 33 states have foregone their full federal law enforcement funding while remaining partially compliant.
Despite many states choosing not to comply with SORNA, a tremendous amount of sex-offender registry legislation has been enacted across the country since the 1990s. These laws have gone well beyond keeping a registry of convicted sex offenders, and now regulate where sex offenders may live and work, with whom they may have contact, and even where they may be present. Illinois, for example, created a law enforcement registry in 1986. Since it was created, the Illinois Legislature has amended the registry 23 times, each time adding new offenses, restrictions, or requirements.
False Premises, Faulty Numbers, and Unintended Consequences
There is a laudable and virtually unassailable goal associated with sex-offender registration and restriction laws: protection of the public, especially children. Congress passed SORNA, for example, “[i]n order to protect the public from sex offenders and offenses against children. . . .” 34 U.S.C. § 20901.
But the “protections” provided by sex offender registration and restriction laws are based on faulty information and more than one false premise. In passing registry laws, legislators frequently cite the high rates of recidivism among sex offenders. Judges do the same. In the 2002 opinion McKune v. Lile, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy cited a “frightening and high” sex-offender recidivism rate of up to 80 percent.
If it were true, that would, indeed, be “frightening and high.” However, that figure is flat-out wrong. Justice Kennedy based that assertion on an unverified claim in a 1986 Psychology Today article written by a therapist who has since repudiated it. In fact, the therapist has stated that the 80 percent figure is “absolutely incorrect” and that he is appalled that it is still being used to influence public policy and judges.
Similarly, a core belief underlying the value of sex offender registries is flat-out wrong—that crimes against children are most often committed by strangers with lengthy criminal histories. Actual recidivism rates are just about the lowest of any offender category—somewhere between 5 percent and 25 percent; sex offenses are, by a very large margin, committed by people known to the victim who have no criminal history, data show.
As crime prevention tools, sex offender registries are a near universal failure. What’s more, they work to create a kind of second-class citizen for whom living a normal life is impossible. Residency, “presence,” and employment restrictions regularly render registrants homeless, jobless, and cast out of public spaces. Public notification sometimes leads to vigilante action; Human Rights Watch has documented the assault and murder of sex offenders who were located on public registries.
But there is no legislation easier to pass than a restriction on a sex offender. As a group, sex offenders are greatly despised and are thus easy targets for “tough on crime” politicians needing to score points. If the goal of sex offender registration and restriction laws is to actually prevent crime in a constitutional and humane manner, however, it is well past time to take a hard look at the mounting evidence indicating that these laws have gone horribly wrong.
Overview of Registries Nationwide
According to a chart created by the Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offender Laws, at least eight states require sex offenders to register for life. Most other states require registration for 10 to 15 years to life, depending on the registrant’s crime. Periodic updates are required in most cases, either quarterly or yearly—unless the registrant is homeless.
Homeless sex offenders face additional registration hurdles. For example, in North Dakota, a homeless or transient resident must re-register every three days. Most other states require homeless sex offenders to re-register every seven to 30 days. Massachusetts requires every homeless registered sex offender to wear a GPS device at all times.
Sex offender registration and restriction laws are frequently what lead a registrant to homelessness. In Florida, state law prohibits registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school, child-care facility, park, or playground. In addition, as of 2011, the Florida Department of Corrections reported a total of 140 sex offender-related local ordinances, enacted in 44 of Florida’s 67 counties. Typically, these ordinances prohibit registrants from residing within 2,500 feet of various venues, including schools, parks, playgrounds, libraries, churches, public pools, sports fields, and school bus stops. As a result of these onerous residency restrictions, a 2013 study found that more than 3 percent of Florida’s registered sex offenders are homeless.
Many states also restrict where a registered sex offender may be present at any given time. In Arkansas, “Level Three” and “Level Four” registrants may not step foot into any swimming area, water park, or state park playground. Florida prohibits registrants with a conviction involving a minor from being within 300 feet of “a place where children are congregating.” In Iowa, a similar registrant may not loiter or be present within 300 feet of a public library.
State and federal law further restricts registered sex offenders from receiving certain government benefits and, in some cases, from taking shelter in state-run facilities during an emergency. The Agricultural Act of 2014 prohibits select registrants from receiving food stamps. Some jurisdictions in Florida prohibit sex offenders from seeking safety at public shelters during hurricanes.
Some states also require that registered sex offenders obtain and carry with them special cards or endorsed driver’s licenses. Both Louisiana and Mississippi mandate that registered sex offenders obtain a “sex offender card” from the DMV. In Florida, all sex offenders must appear at the DMV within 48 hours of registration in order to pick up an ID card labeled either “SEXUAL PREDATOR” or “943.0435, F.S.”
Sex offender registration and restriction laws are routinely imposed and defended in the name of public safety. Controlling where an individual who has been previously convicted of a sex offense lives, works, or is present is ostensibly meant to limit the likelihood of re-offense, which at first blush seems reasonable. Jason Chambers, a prosecutor and member of the Illinois Sex Offenses and Sex Offender Registration Task Force (“SOSOR”), summed up the common sense behind sex-offender registry and restriction laws.
There may be good reasons for casting aside common sense beliefs about sex offenders and the effectiveness of registries, however. Empirical evidence and objective data are beginning to confirm what experts have said for many years: Sex-offender registration and restriction laws do not reduce recidivism, and they do not make communities safer. In fact, these laws may actually increase recidivism and decrease public safety.
Common Sense vs. Reality: Sex Offenders Rarely Reoffend
Historically, sex offender registration and restriction laws have come in rapid response to public and legislative outrage over rare, high-profile crimes. The kidnapping and murder of a child evokes primal fears, and legislative responses to such evil tend to be swift and dramatic. Such responses also tend to be absent of careful study and deliberation that are the hallmarks of quality legislation. As such, when drafting sex offender registration and restriction laws, legislators often fail to understand the problems they intend to solve, as well as the tools employed to solve them.
‘Little if any debate’
“[T]hese laws have often, if not usually, passed with no concern for either cost or likelihood that they will, in fact, reduce either sex offender recidivism or the number of sex offenses in general,” wrote Ewing. “Indeed, some of these laws have been passed with no public input and little if any debate.”
In crafting legislation in the wake of atypical crimes committed by atypical offenders, states have ensnared over 850,000 individuals in a system meant to prevent the type of crimes that they almost certainly did not commit in the first place and likely will not commit in the future. Common sense may indeed dictate that the registration and micromanagement of sex offenders is a good idea. But as author W. Somerset Maugham once said, “Common sense appears to be only another name for the thoughtlessness of the unthinking. It is made of the prejudices of childhood, the idiosyncrasies of individual character and the opinion of the newspaper.”
This is not news. Michigan Citizens for Justice, a group that advocates for reform of sex offender registration and restriction laws, looked at a recent Department of Justice report on new convictions and found that, filtering the data for new convictions (a commonly used definition of recidivism) and crimes against children, sex offenders have a recidivism rate of around 11/2 percent. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the general recidivism rate for released prisoners nationwide is 68 percent. Contrary to common misconception, the inclusion of sex offenders in this general number actually lowers the percentage due to sex offenders recidivating at such a low rate.
“[T]he assumption that sex offenders are at high risk of recidivism has always been false and continues to be false,” Hamilton told Slate in 2014. “It’s a myth.”
Except that they don’t.
Sex Offender Registration Laws May Impede Public Safety
Professor Ewing examined several studies and meta-analyses and concluded that sex offender registration and restriction laws “have not reduced the number of sex offenses in the United States or even that among previously convicted sex offenders who have been the direct targets of these laws.” Interestingly, Ewing reviewed several studies that did find minimal reductions in recidivism rates for sex offenders subject to registration and restriction laws, but those studies were offset by others that found the opposite—that registration and restriction laws actually worked to increase sex offender recidivism rates.
“Current registration, community notification, and residency restriction laws may be counterproductive, impeding rather than promoting public safety,” wrote the report authors. “For example, the proliferation of people required to register even though their crimes were not serious makes it harder for law enforcement to determine which sex offenders warrant careful monitoring. Unfettered online access to registry information facilitates—if not encourages—neighbors, employers, colleagues, and others to shun and ostracize former offenders—diminishing the likelihood of their successful reintegration into communities. Residency restrictions push former offenders away from supervision, treatment, stability, and supportive networks they may need to build and maintain successful, law abiding lives.”
The first point made in the HRW report has also been emphasized by experts and even state-level sex offender management agencies. For example, the California Sex Offender Management Board, which includes law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and prison officials, said in a 2013 report that “[the] registry has, in some ways, become counter-productive to improving public safety” because “[w]hen everyone is viewed as posing a significant risk, the ability to differentiate between who is truly high risk and more likely to reoffend becomes impossible.”
The HRW report also highlighted the counterproductive nature of sex-offender registry notification requirements. Common sense dictates that public awareness of the location of a convicted sex offender must improve public safety. Directly addressing this question, professor Ewing found that “[u]nfortunately, the data indicates otherwise.” Publicly viewable sex offender registries do not lower recidivism, nor do they improve the safety of the community.
Sex offenses are committed, in almost every case, by first-time offenders who know their victim. The Bureau of Justice Statistics established in 2010 that family, friends, and acquaintances are responsible for more than 90 percent of all sexual abuse of children. The Association for Treatment of Sexual Abusers similarly found that 93 percent of sex offenses are committed by first-time offenders.
Attorney Alison Ruttenberg, who represents registrants challenging Colorado’s registry laws, said public misunderstanding of the “typical” sex offender contributes to the failure of registries as public safety tools. People tend to think that a sex offender is “a violent repeat molester who’s coming to get their children, which isn’t true in the vast majority of cases,” she said.
As a result, sex offender registries “generate misplaced fears about the risks that the vast majority of people convicted of a sex offense pose to their communities.” Ruttenberg agrees, and said that public misperceptions of registered sex offenders lead to trouble for registrants themselves.
Registrants Attacked by Vigilantes
Vigilante activity is a significant and underappreciated collateral consequence of sex-offender registration and restriction laws. In at least 14 states, there have been enough attacks on registrants to cause legislators to pass laws making it a crime to use registry information to harass, intimidate, or assault a registrant. The 2007 HRW report highlighted some examples of vigilante justice visited upon registered sex offenders.
“Registrants [spoke] of having glass bottles thrown through their windows; being ‘jumped from behind’ and physically assaulted while the assailants yelled ‘You like little children, right?’; having garbage thrown on their lawn; people repeatedly ringing the doorbell and pounding on the sides of the house late at night; being struck from behind with a crowbar after being yelled at by the assailant that ‘People like you who are under Megan’s Law should be kept in jail. They should never let you out. People like you should die. When you leave tonight, I am gonna kill you’. . . .”
Perhaps the most egregious example of common sense gone wrong, however, is the significant push across the nation to restrict where registered sex offenders may live, work, or be present. The presumption underlying all of these restrictions is that the physical location of a given sex offender has some relation to the likelihood that he or she will commit a crime. Similar to other aspects of the registry, however, the evidence suggests that residence, employment, and presence restrictions do not reduce recidivism or enhance public safety at all.
The best available evidence suggests that restricting where registered sex offenders may reside has no impact on recidivism or public safety. The Illinois SOSOR Task Force notes that while “no research was available on whether [residency restrictions] would prevent sexual offending prior to implementation” of such laws, the research is available now. And it does not support the common-sense belief that residency restrictions work.
“[R]esearch has shown residency restrictions neither lead to reductions in sexual crime or recidivism, nor do they act as a deterrent,” wrote the task force.
What is happening, however, is a continued push to further isolate registered sex offenders by way of additional restrictions, such as those on where a registrant may work or be present. Registered offenders are barred from holding certain licenses and engaging in select occupations across the country. These restrictions generally focus on jobs that might involve contact with children. In Massachusetts, for example, a registered sex offender may not operate an ice cream truck.
Some states take employment restrictions to the extreme. In Alabama, for example, registrants may not be employed anywhere within 2,000 feet of a school or childcare facility or within 500 feet of a playground, park, athletic field or facility, or child-focused business or facility. In Delaware, a registered sex offender cannot be a plumber; Alaska prohibits sex offenders from dealing in hearing aids. New Hampshire prohibits registrants from working in an “end stage renal disease dialysis center,” and Kentucky does not allow a sex offender to be a land surveyor during the first 10 years of registration.
Presence restrictions are becoming commonplace in sex offender registry regimes as well. At least 26 states now restrict where a registered sex offender may be present. In some states, registered sex offenders may not go to a public pool. In others, they are prohibited from patronizing a mall or library.
Across the board, experts agree that a key to limiting the likelihood of recidivism in any releasing population is successful reintegration into the community. The onerous restrictions placed on registered sex offenders do not engender a sense of community, and they severely limit the ability of an offender to reintegrate. Professor Ewing said sex-offender restrictions might actually increase recidivism and decrease public safety.
With all of the available evidence pointing to the decidedly non-common sense conclusion that sex offender registries and restrictions do not reduce recidivism or improve public safety, one would be forgiven for wondering why legislatures nationwide continue to pile on the requirements and restrictions. The Council for State Governments, a nonpartisan group funded in part by the states, posits that “common myths about sex offenders continue to influence laws” despite the fact that “there is little empirical proof that sex offender registries and notification make communities safer.”
Whatever the myths or perceptions, Professor Ewing notes that “it appears that the emperor has no (or very few) clothes.”
Sex Offender Registries and Restrictions: A Costly Failure
States spend hundreds of millions of dollars implementing and operating sex-offender registries that don’t work. The restrictions that accompany registries also come at a great social cost. And registries cost the community significantly, because they provide a false sense of safety.
The economic cost of sex-offender registration nationwide is, according to professor Ewing, “immense.” SORNA, which is intended to force states into compliance with federal registry law, was estimated by the Justice Policy Institute to cost states $488 million to implement in its first year. This cost dwarfed the federal crime fighting dollars lost for noncompliance, and most states have chosen not to comply with the federal law. Compliant or not, however, states spend enormous sums operating sex offender registries.
New Jersey, for example, spent an estimated $5.1 million maintaining Megan’s Law in one year alone. California spent $88 million in 2011 solely to electronically monitor about 7,000 paroled sex offenders. Given that California has more than 100,000 registered sex offenders on its rolls, the total cost to operate the state’s registry is in the hundreds of millions.
Sex-offender registries also come with indirect economic costs. Real estate markets, for example, are impacted by the presence of a registered sex offender. One study found that houses within one-tenth of a mile from a registrant’s residence sold for 17.4 percent less than similar homes located farther away. According to the study’s author, “If you have a person who committed a sex offense next door to you, or even a block away, or two-tenths of a mile away, you pay a price.”
The social costs of sex offender registries are wide ranging and significant.
In addition to social and economic costs to the community, sex-offender registries come at great personal and social costs to the families of sex offenders. Women Against the Registry (“WAR”), an organization dedicated to the abolition of sex offender registries, was founded primarily due to the “punishing effect of the registry on innocent family members.”
According to WAR, one study showed that family members of registered offenders are regularly subjected to threats and harassment by neighbors, physical assault, and property damage. The same study found that innocent family members have been evicted or forced to move out of their own home due to a registrant’s status.
“The effect of the public registry on the family of registered offenders cannot be overlooked,” states a WAR pamphlet. “From shaming to banishment to outright violence, these family members are facing harsh treatment daily simply because they are the family member of registered offenders.”
Registries and restrictions also come at a great cost to sex offenders themselves, of course. Many registrants find themselves homeless due to a lack of affordable and compliant housing. Unemployment among registrants is rampant. Registrants are cast out of most social situations and suffer shame without end. In a 2003 concurring opinion, U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter wrote of the consequences of registration suffered by sex offenders.
“Widespread dissemination of offenders’ names, photographs, addresses, and criminal history serves not only to inform the public but also to humiliate and ostracize the convicts,” wrote Justice Souter. “It thus bears some resemblance to shaming punishments that were used early in our history to disable offenders from living normally in the community. While the [majority] accepts the state’s explanation that [Alaska’s registration law] simply makes public information available in a new way, the scheme does much more. Its point, after all, is to send a message that probably would not otherwise be heard, by selecting some conviction information out of its corpus of penal records and broadcasting it without warning. Selection makes a statement, one that affects common reputation and sometimes carries harsher consequences, such as exclusion from jobs or housing, harassment, and physical harm.”
Sex-offender registries and restrictions are not effective in reducing recidivism or improving public safety. Instead, professor Ewing argues that the actual effects of these laws are: “(1) creating the impression that government is doing something to reduce the number of sex offenses; (2) giving the public a greater sense of safety and security in the face of what is erroneously perceived as a growing threat of sexual victimization; and (3) adding another layer of punishment to the criminal justice system’s response to sex offenders.”
Registry Reform: Casting Aside (Erroneous) Common Sense
Sex-offender registration and restriction laws are products of irrational (but understandable) fear and political calculation. They do not improve public safety or decrease the likelihood that a sex offender will reoffend, but states continue to add requirements and restrictions with great abandon. In the current social and political climate, it is fair to question whether registry reform is possible, regardless of whether the system is broken.
In Missouri, for example, a registration reform bill made it out of the legislature, but was vetoed by the governor. The bill would have removed juvenile offenders—those who committed sex crimes before they were 18—from the state’s public registry, and would have allowed them to petition to be removed from the law enforcement-only version. Gov. Jay Nixon took the opportunity to engage in political grandstanding and vetoed the bill. “The leadership of the House may be ready to help violent sex offenders hide from the public and law enforcement, but their victims, and the millions of Missourians who use these websites to keep their families safe, are not,” said Nixon.
But fear mongering and public hysteria will only go so far in the face of empirical evidence and a hefty financial burden. Professor Ewing argues that states may eventually “be forced to conduct honest and realistic cost-benefit analysis in deciding whether sex offender registration, notification, and restriction laws are worth the hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars they cost taxpayers each year.”
Wetterling laments what has happened to sex-offender registries in the years since she championed Jacob’s Law and now advocates for sex-offender registry reform. “These registries were a well-intentioned tool to help law enforcement find children more quickly,” Wetterling told Slate in 2014. “But the world has changed since then.”
Wetterling believes that better understanding and acceptance of sex offenders is crucial to actually improving public safety.
“These are human beings who made a mistake,” said Wetterling. “If we want them to succeed, we’re going to need to build a place for integrating them into our culture. Right now, you couldn’t walk into a church or community meeting and say ‘I was a sex offender, but I’ve gone through treatment. I now have this lovely family, and I am so grateful to be a part of this community.’ There is no place for success stories. Nobody believes them.”
Secret White House Tapes Revealed!
The Wall Street Journal has just disclosed that they have received transcripts from an insider, containing the conversations of tape recordings made in the Oval Office. Here is the one from Saturday, March 2:
Kellyanne Conway (K): “Hey Donald, I have a new idea for our distraction campaign.”
President (P): “Oh yeah, what’s that?”
K: “You have that G7 stuff coming up, right?”
K: “Well, here’s my idea: while we’re making nice with Putin and little rocket man, let’s attack our closest allies! Hurl some insults at that girlie boy Canadian … Trudeau … and maybe some of the others, like that pompous May lady from England, and the German leader too! They are sure to mention the tariffs, and then you can blast them. Take our tactics to the world stage! All the fake news will go bonkers!”
P: “I love it! Sounds good. I’ll see what I can do”.
K: “And you know that ‘endorsement agreement’ or whatever it’s called that our team is preparing for everyone to sign at the end of the meeting? Refuse to sign it! Blame whoever is complaining about the tariffs! The press will go nuts!”
P: “Sometimes I think you’re a genius, Kellyanne; I’ll do it. This will keep them talking about stuff other than all the indictments for a couple of weeks!”
K: “And then, when you meet little rocket man, give it about an hour and then walk out!” No matter what he says or does, walk out! We’ve got him by the balls… and he knows it … and we can make nice with him again in a week or two. He’ll be thrilled that he actually got you to meet with him, making him look like a real statesman instead of the little blob of a murderous dictator that he is, and he’ll come back.”
P: “I’ll have to think about that one, but right now it sounds great! OK, I gotta go and pretend I am working.”
We should know the facts … in our personal lives, in politics, in the nation, and globally. Our president seems hell bent on annoying our allies, which is doing real harm to our great nation. One of his latest gaffs is to insist that Russia be included among the G7, the leaders of the nations leading the free world. The fact is that Russia was kicked out because they invaded their neighbor, and because Trump’s “buddy”, Putin, is flat-out just a bullying murderer. This article reminds us of his killing hundreds of men, women, and children in just a few seconds. He routinely has dissenters, journalists, and others murdered.
The missile used to down the plane was traced to the Russian military’s 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade. Those involved should be identified and prosecuted.
Excerpts from the Article:
The missile used to shoot down a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over eastern Ukraine in 2014, killing all 298 aboard, belonged to a Russia-based military unit, an international team of investigators said Thursday after painstakingly studying video and photos of a military convoy. The criminal investigation team “has concluded that the Buk Telar with which Flight MH17 was shot down is from the 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade from Kursk in the Russian Federation,” said Wilbert Paulissen, head of the Netherlands’ National Crime Squad, referring to the missile system used.
It was the clearest link yet published by the investigators to the involvement of Russian military in the deadly surface-to-air missile strike on the Boeing 777, and it echoed findings published in 2016 by the Bellingcat investigative group.
Russia has always denied involvement in the downing of Flight 17, which was en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, when it was blown out of the sky at 33,000 feet (about 10,000 meters) over war-ravaged eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. Bodies, debris and burning wreckage were strewn over a field of sunflowers near the rebel-held village of Hrabove in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border, where fighting had been raging for months.
Prosecutors said they have presented their findings to Moscow and are seeking answers, but so far have not received a response. The international team running the criminal investigation appealed for help from witnesses who can testify about the involvement of the Russian military’s 53rd anti-aircraft missile brigade.
Prosecutor Fred Westerbeke said the new conclusion raised new questions, “such as the question about how actively involved the brigade itself was in bringing down Flight MH17.” Westerbeke said the JIT is not yet ready to identify suspects, but added: “I can say that we are now entering the … last phase of the investigation.”
Prosecutors said in 2016 that the plane was shot down by a Buk 9M38 missile fired from territory controlled by Russia-backed rebels, using a mobile launcher trucked in from Russia and hastily returned there. Thursday’s presentation went a step further by identifying the exact unit allegedly involved in the transport. It showed a compilation of video and photos from social media tracing the missile brigade convoy’s journey in the weeks before the incident.
“All findings from this forensic investigation confirm the earlier conclusion of the JIT that Flight MH17 was shot down by 9M38 series missile,” said Jennifer Hurst of the Australian Federal Police.
Investigators displayed parts of the engine casing and exhaust system of a Buk 9M38 series missile recovered from eastern Ukraine and showed photos of its serial number, which they said demonstrated it was made in Moscow.
In a statement, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said: “That a sophisticated weapon belonging to the Russian Army was dispatched and used to shoot down a civilian aircraft should be of grave international concern. We are discussing these findings with our partners and considering our options.”
Ultimately, any suspects identified and charged will be prosecuted in Dutch courts — if they can be arrested and brought to trial. Of the 298 people killed, 196 were Dutch, 42 were Malaysian and 27 were Australian.
Piet Ploeg, a member of a foundation for victims’ relatives, said the Dutch government should not consider legal steps against Russia. Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders urged all countries to cooperate fully with the investigation “so that those responsible can be brought to justice.”
As the industry matures, consolidation is inevitable. We will see pot mega stores … and we already seeing the same arguments being used about pot which were used against Wal Mart: “it’s killing smaller businesses”.
Excerpts from the Article:
When Oregon lawmakers created the state’s legal marijuana program, they had one goal in mind above all else: to convince illicit pot growers to leave the black market. That meant low barriers for entering the industry that also targeted long-standing medical marijuana growers, whose product is not taxed. As a result, weed production boomed — with a bitter consequence.
Now, marijuana prices here are in freefall, and the craft cannabis farmers who put Oregon on the map decades before broad legalization say they are in peril of losing their now-legal businesses as the market adjusts.
Oregon regulators on Wednesday announced they will stop processing new applications for marijuana licenses in two weeks to address a severe backlog and ask state lawmakers to take up the issue next year.
Experts say the dizzying evolution of Oregon’s marijuana industry may well be a cautionary tale for California, where a similar regulatory structure could mean an oversupply on a much larger scale.
“For the way the program is set up, the state (California) just wants to get as many people in as possible, and they make no bones about it,” said Hilary Bricken, a Los Angeles-based attorney specializing in marijuana business law. “Most of these companies will fail as a result of oversaturation.”
Oregon has nearly 1 million pounds (453,600 kilograms) of marijuana flower — commonly called bud — in its inventory, a staggering amount for a state with about 4 million people. Producers told The Associated Press wholesale prices fell more than 50 percent in the past year; a study by the state’s Office of Economic Analysis found the retail cost of a gram of marijuana fell from $14 in 2015 to $7 in 2017.
The oversupply can be traced largely to state lawmakers’ and regulators’ earliest decisions to shape the industry. They were acutely aware of Oregon’s entrenched history of providing top-drawer pot to the black market nationwide, as well as a concentration of small farmers who had years of cultivation experience in the legal, but largely unregulated, medical pot program.
Getting those growers into the system was critical if a legitimate industry was to flourish, said Sen. Ginny Burdick, a Portland Democrat who co-chaired a committee created to implement the voter-approved legalization measure.
Lawmakers decided not to cap licenses; to allow businesses to apply for multiple licenses; and to implement relatively inexpensive licensing fees.
Oregon’s Liquor Control Commission announced Wednesday it will put aside applications for new licenses received after June 15 until a backlog of pending applications is cleared. The decision comes after U.S. Attorney Billy Williams challenged state officials to address the oversupply.
“In my view, and frankly in the view of those in the industry that I’ve heard from, it’s a failing of the state for not stepping back and taking a look at where this industry is at following legalization,” Williams told the AP in a phone interview.
“We really tried to focus on policies that would rein in the medical industry and snuff out the black market as much as possible,” Burdick said.
Lawmakers also quickly backtracked on a rule requiring marijuana businesses have a majority ownership by someone with Oregon residency after entrepreneurs complained it was hard to secure startup money. That change opened the door to deep-pocketed, out-of-state companies that could begin consolidating the industry.
The state has granted 1,001 producer licenses and had another 950 in process as of last week. State officials worry if they cut off licensing or turn away those already in the application process, they’ll get sued or encourage illegal trade.
Beau Whitney, senior economist at national cannabis analytics firm New Frontier Data, said he’s seeing California prices fall.
In contrast, Washington knew oversupply could draw federal attention and was more conservative about licensing. As the market matured, its regulators eased growing limits, but the state never experienced an oversupply crisis. Colorado has no license caps, but strict rules designed to limit oversupply allow it to curtail a growers’ farm size based on past crop yields, existing inventory, sales deals and other factors. In Oregon, cannabis retail chains are emerging to take advantage of the shake-up.
A company called Nectar has 13 stores around the state — with three more on tap — and says on its website it is buying up for-sale dispensaries too. Canada-based Golden Leaf Holdings bought the successful Oregon startup Chalice and has six stores around Portland, with another slated to open.
A newly formed group will launch an ad campaign this fall to tell Oregonians why they should pay more for mom-and-pop cannabis. Oregon Craft Cannabis Alliance founder Adam Smith believes 70 percent of Oregon’s small growers and retailers will go out of business if consumers don’t respond.
“We could turn around in three to four years and realize that 10 to 12 major companies own a majority of the Oregon industry and that none of it is really based here anymore,” he said. “The Oregon brand is really all about authenticity. It’s about people with their hands in the dirt, making something they love as well as they can. How do we save that?”
The heart of New York’s incarceration crisis? Its graying prisons – old, ill inmates cost YOU a fortune – kra
This is YOUR tax money being wasted. I was in the infirmary for a few days with two old med who were virtually blind – one had dialysis three times a week – neither could not hurt anyone if he wanted to! It costs up to $240,000 annually to keep an aging person in prison! Here in Delaware they have the “Pops Program”, which is supposed to review the aged prison population and release some. To my knowledge, in the past 18 years, they have released 2! It’s a joke. Remember, keeping harmless old people locked up is job preservation for D O C personnel and all the contractors who feed off the system!
Most people spend their money carefully, but when it comes to taxes, they just shrug and say “oh well”. Oh well, you should raise hell about the fact that our criminal justice system is wasting countless billions of dollars every year!
Excerpts from the Article:
New York’s prison crisis has come to a head. Taxpayer costs are rising and correctional facilities are facing a crisis they were never designed to address: a staggering rise in the number of aging inmates. People over 55 are now the fastest growing age group in New York’s prisons and are dying behind bars at shockingly high rates. Over the past decade, the number of older incarcerated adults has surged 46%, even while the overall prison population has dropped by 17%.
At this rate, people over 50 will make up one third of the U.S. prison population by 2030. Our prisons may soon look more like nursing homes than correctional facilities.
Prisons were never designed to serve as geriatric wards. With old age comes a host of age-related health problems—from arthritic knees to Alzheimer’s, emphysema, diabetes and cancer—nearly all of which are exacerbated by decades spent behind bars. In New York, adults over age 50 already make up 80% of those in the state’s Department of Corrections and Community Supervision medical units.
Caring for these patients comes at enormous expense. In just three years, the cost of health care in New York state prisons has risen by 20% to $380.6 million. New York taxpayers spend between $100,000 and $240,000 annually to keep an aging person in prison—two to five times the cost of incarcerating a younger person.
These figures make even less sense when you consider the minimal risk that older people pose to public safety. Only 4% of people 65 and older released from prison in New York are convicted of new crimes within three years, the lowest recidivism rate of any age demographic.
The surge of aging people in prison also comes at serious human costs. After spending two, three, or even four decades behind bars, people often experience significant physical and mental decline. Some grow so old and frail they can’t feed themselves, go to the bathroom alone, or even remember why they are there.
For older people who get released, the challenges of returning home after decades away are compounded by age. Assimilating back into today’s world for someone who has never sent an email, swiped a MetroCard or used a cellphone can be paralyzing, leaving many older people without access to a place to sleep or age-appropriate employment.
As the number of aging people behind bars swells, we need to look hard at what punishment and redemption really mean in our country. What is the value of continuing to imprison someone who has transformed and reformed during a lengthy prison term? What is the point in incarcerating a person for four decades only to have him die days after his release?
Now is the time for leaders at every level of government to create common-sense solutions that not only reduce our prisons’ mounting cost to taxpayers, but restore a sense of human dignity and offer real opportunities for reform, rehabilitation, and reintegration. That includes expanding alternatives to incarceration, shortening sentences, making parole practices more humane, and improving the re-entry experience of older citizens.
By investing in age-appropriate correctional facilities, release mechanisms and discharge planning, we would enhance the strength and integrity of our entire justice system.
Justice isn’t served by keeping people in prison who have come to terms with the harm they have caused and have transformed their lives. Nor is it served by keeping elderly people locked up as their bodies and minds fail. Instead, we must commit ourselves to valuing transformation over condemnation and redemption over retribution.
Every single day, someone in prison demonstrates the uniquely human ability to change. It’s time we did the same.
Arizona police release video showing them beating unarmed black man, claiming they ‘wanted him to sit down’
Just when you thought it was safe to go into your local police station or to dial 911 for police help …
WHEN will police learn to use “”reasonable force” when force is required, and that they cannot beat the hell out of anyone just because he does not sit down when they tell him to!
And listen to this crap from the police union:
Excerpts from the Article: “The Mesa Police Association feels it is grossly inappropriate to release a portion of video with no audio that does not include the full context of the encounter,” a statement from the association said. “Furthermore, we don’t understand why video is being released when an internal investigation has not been completed. It is important to understand that any use of force, when viewed, is difficult to watch and never looks “good.”
You know what I say to them:
Excerpts from the Article:
Police in Mesa, Arizona have released a video showing officers beating an unarmed black man at an apartment complex in what advocates on the man’s behalf say shows a “culture of violence” at the department. The video shows four officers approach a man later identified as 35-year-old Robert Johnson near an elevator at an apartment complex, while Mr Johnson is leaned up against the wall using his phone. Three of these officers then begin hitting Mr Johnson — kicking and punching him in the head and elsewhere — until Mr Johnson appears to lose consciousness.
Mesa Police Chief Ramon Batista told local news that he had placed the four officers on administrative leave, and that his department would reassess their policies towards the use of force. “It is disappointing because this isn’t the way I see the people that I work with and the community that we serve,” Mr Batista said.
Police say that Mr Johnson was at the apartment complex with a friend, who had attempted to enter the apartment of his ex-girlfriend. The girlfriend called police, who then beat Mr Johnson.
The video — which was captured last month — was first discovered by Mr Johnson’s pastor, Andre Miller, who went to the apartment complex after the incident. Police say that the beating was initiated after Mr Johnson refused to comply with an order to sit down, though the video does not have audio to corroborate that claim.
Mr Johnson is originally from Chicago, where he was once employed as a fire fighter, and is currently looking for work in Arizona. The morning after the incident with police, he was set to have a job interview, but missed that opportunity because he had spent the night in jail following the beating.
Mr Miller described Mr Johnson as a “family man” with a child on the way to The Independent, and said that the incident shows a clear instance of excessive force that sent an innocent man to the hospital. Because he is unemployed, he said, Mr Johnson will likely have to pay for medical bills out of his own pocket.
“He did go to the hospital. He’s going to have some continuing treatment because a lot of the physical scars that he had — those will eventually subside, but this has been very traumatic for him mentally, emotionally,” Mr Miller said. “He’s not sleeping, he’s constantly complaining of back pains, neck pains.”
“The Mesa Police Association feels it is grossly inappropriate to release a portion of video with no audio that does not include the full context of the encounter,” a statement from the association said. “Furthermore, we don’t understand why video is being released when an internal investigation has not been completed. It is important to understand that any use of force, when viewed, is difficult to watch and never looks “good.”
The only things worse than bad cops are bad prosecutors and bad judges! These cops got what they deserved.
Excerpts from the Article:
A former leader of a corrupt Baltimore police unit has been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake handed down the punishment Thursday to 37-year-old former Gun Trace Task Force leader Sgt. Wayne Earl Jenkins of Middle River, Maryland.
Jenkins pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges including racketeering, robbery and falsifying records. Among a long list of other crimes, he admitted to giving stolen drugs to an associate who resold them, enriching both men.
Jenkins was “putting poison into our community when he should have been protecting our community from that poison,” Judge Blake said.
U.S. prosecutor Leo Wise said Jenkins ran both police units “like a criminal gang” and “the harm that he did is immeasurable.”
In his plea agreement, Jenkins admitted to seven separate robberies that took place over a span of several years. Some took place before he was part of the gun task force. Jenkins robbed hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash as well as drugs including cocaine and heroin from people he had detained or arrested.
In one robbery, Jenkins and other members of the gun task force stole more than $200,000 and two kilograms of cocaine. Jenkins also admitted to stealing prescription medicines that had been looted in the aftermath of the riots that rocked Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray in 2015.
He wrote false reports that concealed the fact that he and other members of gun task force had stolen cash, drugs and other property, filed fraudulent overtime reports and broke into homes.
On Thursday, Blake also sentenced former gun task force officer Marcus Roosevelt Taylor to 18 years in prison.
In May, Blake sentenced former Gun Trace Task Force leader Sgt. Thomas Allers to 15 years in prison. Allers had also been a leader of the corrupt unit and was its first former member to be sentenced. Two former officers who were also part of the corrupt task force are scheduled to be sentenced Friday.
While the rogue officers had admitted to lying for years to cover their tracks, it’s an open question as to whether the force’s command structure had enough integrity to expose them. It was a federal investigation that brought them down.
Scores of cases involving the officers have been dropped and many fear criminals will go free.
David Harris, a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law who researches police behavior, called this week’s sentencings a “low point” for the police department and the city. “This is not only about finding and getting rid of some officers who were acting like criminals. It’s about figuring out how the organization went wrong enough to allow them to operate for a long time and to be earning big applause from highers-up,” Harris said.
For years now, federal courts have been so overloaded that justice is rare. Now this. Our government proudly strips children from their parents … and then detains them in deplorable ICE run private prisons … what the HELL!
Do we really want our prisons full of people who committed nonviolent misdemeanors?!
Excerpts from the Article:
It’s been less than two months since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, and the resulting flood of misdemeanor cases for those caught trying to enter the country illegally is wreaking havoc on San Diego’s federal court.
When someone is arrested at a port of entry for a border-related crime, their initial hearing must happen within one business day of their arrest. They are typically transferred to the Metropolitan Correctional Center, a federal detention facility in San Diego, where they are given jumpsuits, a tuberculosis test and go through other administrative and medical screenings before being brought to court. There typically are two waves of people brought from MCC to court, one before 10:30 a.m. and one before 2:30 p.m., where they’re interviewed by defense attorneys before their initial hearing, where their bond – or conditions for their release from detention while they wait for their case to be heard – are set. Now, because of the high number of people being arrested and charged, more waves and more people are flooding the court, creating bottlenecks for defense attorneys to conduct these preliminary interviews.
Many migrants charged with illegal entry misdemeanors are being held in the Santa Ana Jail – 90 minutes away from San Diego – and farther away from many of their attorneys – because there isn’t enough space in San Diego to hold them all.
In court, attorneys have said that while they can do video interviews with their clients, the backlog requires them to wait more than a week, which means they may not be able to speak with their clients before their next hearing. With the intake chaos between MCC and initial hearings, attorneys say they also can’t get important forms signed by clients and since they’re housed in Santa Ana, it’ll be difficult to get those forms signed later.
On several occasions, court has run past its normal hours in the last few weeks due to the caseload. It means that judges are churning through initial hearings, setting generalized bonds for all the misdemeanors, rather than ones set on individual circumstances, and returning to methods like shackling defendants to be able to get through every case and ensure safety. Everyone involved, from the defense attorneys to the U.S. Marshal Service to the magistrate judges themselves seem to be still trying to figure out how this will work.
For the past two decades, misdemeanor charges for illegal entry have been used sparingly in immigration-related prosecutions in the Southern District of California, the federal court that covers San Diego, though they were used frequently before that. If a person has entered the United States and been deported multiple times or has a serious criminal record, they can be charged with a felony, which has a more severe punishment of up to 10 years in prison. Deportation in itself isn’t something that happens through federal criminal courts; it’s a separate process run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Illegal entry misdemeanors are typically used for those who are entering the United States illegally for the first time, who have been deported once or twice before or who have a misdemeanor on their record, like a DUI.
In 1994, border policies shifted. Instead of prosecuting thousands of illegal entry misdemeanors, priority was placed on prosecuting illegal re-entry felonies when possible and leaving those who had no criminal history and two or less prior deportations to immigration officials, rather than processing them through the criminal court system.
Between 1994 and 2014, the highest number of illegal entry misdemeanors filed was in 2008 – 936 in both San Diego and El Centro, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics analysis of Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts data provided to Voice of San Diego. Last week alone, there were roughly 113 filed just in San Diego, according to court calendars.
On a recent Monday afternoon in San Diego’s federal court, Magistrate Judge Nita L. Stormes heard about 37 misdemeanor illegal entry cases.
“These are only misdemeanors,” said Ana Estevao, a trial attorney for the Federal Defenders of San Diego, a nonprofit that handles much of the pro-bono federal defense caseload here.
The defendants were homemakers, cook aids, coal workers, farm laborers or machine operators, Estavao said as she tried to argue for a lower bond on their behalf, so they wouldn’t have to remain in detention while waiting on future hearings.
“Ms. Juarez is a homemaker with no money and we have no information about family that could post bond.”
“He himself has just worked as a farm hand. His family has no money.”
“Mrs. Gonzalez has no financial means and apparently no family with financial means.”
“A $5,000 bond would ensure her detention.”
That day, Stormes set bonds of $5,000 for almost all of the misdemeanor defendants.
“I know this is difficult for everyone,” Stormes told Estevao after Estevao requested the judge require the individuals to stay in San Diego for some time after court was finished so attorneys could gather information from clients before they were transported to Santa Ana. Stormes decided the defendants could only stay until 6 p.m., to accommodate the U.S. Marshals transporting them. Both Monday and Tuesday last week, court stayed in session past its typical 5:30 p.m. end time to process all the misdemeanors. By Wednesday, Stormes was adamant that they finish by 5:30 p.m.
That day, they finished at 5:27 p.m., but the defense attorneys hadn’t interviewed nearly half of the 20 individuals whose cases were heard that day. That meant the lawyers couldn’t argue to set those defendants’ bond based on the person’s individual circumstances – like whether they have family in California, or their ability to pay.
Elana Fogel, a Federal Defenders attorney working that afternoon, filed objection after objection based on the lack of interviews. Fogel also said that she wasn’t able to get forms signed by many of the individuals that they needed to be released from detention if they can pay bond. But Stormes churned through the cases, setting bonds at $2,500 for those without any prior deportations or criminal history, and $5,000 for those with one or both.
“I’m not going to go past the hour of 5:30 again tonight,” Stormes said.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that defendants shouldn’t appear in shackles in court for pretrial hearings, which meant that the Marshals would have to staff more security per prisoner for court appearances and slowed down court calendars. Last week, the Supreme Court vacated the ruling.
In another courtroom, the surge of other border-related cases filed caused a judge to permit shackling again. The Federal Defenders of San Diego filed a petition seeking a cease and desist order after Magistrate Judge Barbara Major allowed shackling in her courtroom last week.
“I have a very heavy calendar with almost 20 matters, as well as 13 guilty pleas, all of which have to go forward today. I have limited courtroom space. I only have two and a half hours to get through all of this. As a result, with the number of marshals, I am going to be bringing all of the defendants out in leg shackles,” Major said on May 15, according to the petition.
The transcript of Major describing why she opted to re-introduce shackling demonstrates some of the strain and limits in the magistrate courts.
“As you know, we’re down this week three judges,” she said. “We’re down two judges permanently, or at least for an extended period … and the number of cases that are being filed are going up dramatically. There is also a limit on the number of courtrooms that are available to me. And as a result, there isn’t enough time to get all of these guilty pleas and other matters handled one or two at a time.”
One of the petitioners, Fabian Villela-Lopez said in court documents that he opted to delay his plea and criminal case, rather than plead guilty in shackles. “I do not feel like the system treated me fairly by making me appear in chains,” Villela-Lopez said. “It made me feel small.”