And BAM, just like that it came and went, just as justice has left our justice system!
It’s Christmas Day!
It’s Christmas Day and I must say,
Many fond memories come rushing my way.
Memories of presents, snow forts, and so much more.
Wonderful childhood Christmases, with love and gifts galore,
Memories of some of the unusual decorations my Mom and Dad had on that tree,
Placed there, I am sure, at least in part, to amuse little me,
But now that I am old, Christmas is a time to get together with a few good friends,
And a time to remember what the Christmas message is … it never ends,
Preach the Good Book, and occasionally use words, my friends! The Birth of Jesus …. and that is what Jesus taught me,
Yes, I am working, so many need my help, which has considerable clout,
But the spirit of the Season is Paramount!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRZOv31n1sY = Silent Night
New Jersey is about to join the sane states regarding marijuana! Alcohol did not create Al Capone; prohibition created Al Capone.
Excerpts from the Article.
After a day of marathon testimony from the public on the cannabis implementation bill, budget panels for the Assembly and Senate released S-21/A-21 to advance to floor votes in each house.
Overall, sponsors say it was a good day for the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance and Marketplace Modernization Act as key issues were smoothed over in the form of amendments to the bill, while some are still being worked out.
A-21 passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee just before 2 p.m. by a 7-4 vote, conducted remotely.
The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, which met in the Statehouse annex under social distancing guidelines, passed the Senate companion, S-21, by an 8-4 vote.
Added on Thursday were amendments to A-21/S-21 that would:
Dedicate proceeds to social justice with a “Social Equity Excise Fee” that requires a per-ounce tax of anywhere from $10 to $60 on transfers from cultivators. All proceeds from the excise fee will be earmarked for “social justice” programs, according to a sponsor, Sen. Nicholas Scutari;
Remove the cap on the number of cultivation licenses, 28 in the bill, to award. Scutari said the Governor’s Office and the Senate are pushing for more than 28 to ensure supply meets demand; and
Modify employer drug testing.
But as far as when the measure will actually go for a floor vote in either house, the only certainty is it won’t be on Monday, said Scutari, D-Union, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a chief architect of S-21.
Scutari had hoped before Thursday’s action that Monday would be the vote since the Senate and Assembly have scheduled voting sessions that day.
“It will definitely not be Monday,” Scutari said minutes after the Senate panel voted. “We’re still waiting for the Assembly to pass the [marijuana decriminalization bill]. We’ve [the state senators] already passed the decrim bill and we’re just waiting on action by the Assembly.”
Scutari said it would be ideal to have the two bills—one to decriminalize possession of marijuana and the other setting up the regulatory framework to establish a commercial market to sell cannabis to the general public—to pass in tandem and get final approval at the same time.
The Senate approved the decriminalization bill earlier this week 29-4, but the Assembly paused to resolve issues over expungement and types of cannabis that would be included in the bill, according to lawmakers.
Hours before the Senate panel green-lighted S-21 at 5:39 p.m., the Assembly Appropriations Committee, chaired by Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Gloucester, the deputy speaker, heard nearly three hours of testimony from those who already sell marijuana in other states that legalized it (Oregon and Colorado), those whose lives have been impacted by a marijuana arrest, and those who felt the proceeds and licenses should tilt more favorably toward minority communities affected by mass incarceration.
Tiyahann Bryant of East Orange asked when the licenses would be doled out.
“East Orange is an impact zone,” Bryant testified. “We have the infrastructure in place and we’re ready to enter the cannabis industry.”
Tauhid Chappel, a Camden County resident, medical marijuana user and social activist, questioned whether more of the marijuana revenue should go toward social equity programs. He was certain to whom it shouldn’t go to.
“I don’t believe any of the tax revenue should go to police,” said Chappel. “They’ve caused the problem to begin with,” in the form of mass arrests, said Chappel.
Later, during the Senate Budget Committee hearing, Chairman Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, was still not satisfied over the language in S-21 over employer protections. Sarlo wants employers to have the ability to use random drug testing to ensure workplace and public safety. “I am very concerned about the liability on employers and the welfare and safety of the public who will be impacted by somebody who commits an accident” while working and under the influence of cannabis, said Sarlo, who said language permitting random employee drug testing was taken out of the final bill. “This bill will get out today, but I am not going further until I see that language tightened further.”
The Senate panel heard testimony from Ray Cantor, vice president of government affairs for New Jersey Business & Industry Association, over what he described as “unnecessary mandates and costs of implementing a workplace expert to determine if someone is impaired on the job” from cannabis; and Dennis Hart, executive director of the Chemistry Council of New Jersey, who raised similar concerns over employer protections and being able to administer drug tests.
“We can’t be at a plant location with experts 24/7,” said Hart. “In this industry, safety is paramount.”
“This bill has been pushed and pulled in so many directions by special interests and legislators who want nothing more than to get their hands on a tax windfall. I am disappointed that Trenton couldn’t do the right thing and pass a bill that has not been corrupted by greed.” Testa criticized what he called the bill’s excessive taxation and what he described as “the complicated layers of regulations” it would create.
Under the bill, cannabis would have a 6.25% sales tax, a sliding scale on the excise tax depending on the cost of the product, and a 2% local tax, said Scutari.
Scutari said 70% of the sales tax and 100% of the excise tax (social equity cultivation fee) would go toward social equity programs. As the panel debated S-21’s merits and shortcomings, Scutari made it clear the Legislature was facing a deadline that was fast approaching.
The legalization of adult-use marijuana in New Jersey gained voter approval by a 2-1 margin on Nov. 3. Enabling legislation was introduced three days later.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re moving in the right direction,” Scutari said at 5:30 p.m. just before the vote. “But people need to understand that marijuana will be legalized in New Jersey on Jan. 1 whether we act or not. We can’t shirk our responsibilities.”
Private prisons are the worst thing ever to hit the criminal justice system. They use this legal bribery to keep their contracts, although lawmakers are flooded with complaints from inmates’ loved ones, so they must know what is going on.
Obama was phasing them out of the federal system, then tRump came along and welcomed them back, because they donated so much to him!
Because of their abysmal performance, these companies know that they will not have many of their contracts renewed, so the crafty devils have diversified into private probation companies (equally disastrous) and other areas!
Excerpts from the Article:
The volatile 2020 presidential election campaign led private prison operators, dominated by CoreCivic and GEO Group, to open their wallets, with a vast percentage of their approximately $2 million in combined contributions going to the Republicans, according to the nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics.
With a sitting president who has campaigned against illegal immigration and in favor of strict enforcement of immigration laws, the industry clearly wants to maintain its profit stream from facilities holding immigration detainees.
However, whether or not President Donald Trump is reelected, or his Democratic challenger Joe Biden prevails [Editor’s note: This story is being written shortly before the election], the private prison concerns will not likely be going out of business any time soon, for a reason that transcends party politics: There is insufficient space in federal prisons or immigration-holding facilities to house all detainees. There also is no support in Congress for increasing bed space.
In a little-reported development, the Department of Justice quietly transferred the last immigration detainees from its prisons in 2018.
As a result, DOJ and immigration officials were left with no other option but to use private facilities to house them. Both major companies made about $1.3 billion from contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in 2019 alone, representing 30 percent of their income.
Private prison companies’ stock initially rose upon President Trump’s election, but generally slumped thereafter. With the Democratic platform calling for the abolition of private prisons, and with the bipartisan interest in prison reform and reducing mass incarceration, the industry appeared to be hoping to at least maintain a status quo by favoring Trump and the GOP.
GEO Group spokesman Pablo Paez, when questioned about the preponderance of money flowing to Republicans, said it “should not be construed as an endorsement of all policies or positions adopted by any individual candidate.” He added that, “The services we provide today are in no way different from the high quality, professional services we provided for eight years under President Obama’s administration,” when detentions and deportation initially spiked, and then tapered off. Nonetheless, GEO Group’s founder and CEO gave over $500,000 to Republicans this past year, and only $10,000 to Democrats.
CoreCivic spokesman Ryan Gustin also denied party favoritism in its political contributions, stating that such assertions, “are misleading and portray our company in a false light.” Nonetheless, CoreCivic CEO Damon Hininger donated $26,300 to Republicans during this election season. People and groups linked to the company have given $228,000, mostly to the Republicans.
Regardless of the election outcome, the Department of Justice and Immigration and Customs Enforcement will still be required to honor the contracts signed by their departments, meaning that any serious reduction in private prison detentions will remain firmly in the future.
Great news! You have seen me say many times: The BEST way to reduce crime is to educate inmates. All studies prove it!
Excerpts from the Article:
Ed today to lift a 26-year-old ban on Pell Grants for people in prison. The restoration of access to Pell Grants means that incarcerated people can once again apply for federal Pell Grants in order to pay for college courses.
Access to education is transformative, and today’s bipartisan vote will improve community safety for everyone while also opening a new chapter of opportunity for incarcerated people and their families, marking a step toward increasing equity for Black and brown communities. The measure lifting the ban was included in Congress’ year-end omnibus appropriations bill.
Evidence that access to postsecondary courses in prison improves lives and communities is overwhelming and has been further demonstrated by the success of the U.S. Department of Education’s Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative.
Nicholas Turner, president and director of the Vera Institute of Justice, released the following statement in response to this historic vote:
“The Vera Institute of Justice is overwhelmed with joy and gratitude that more people in prison will now be able to access higher education. We thank leaders in the Senate, House, and Obama and Trump administrations for working tirelessly to right the wrong of the Pell ban, and the partners and formerly incarcerated advocates whose leadership, willingness to share their stories, and constant guidance have been essential to this effort.
Allowing people in prison to access higher education is a critical step toward a more equitable society, especially for Black and brown people who have historically been sentenced to prison at higher rates and trapped in cycles of incarceration. Pell Grants are one of the most straightforward and effective ways to create opportunities for incarcerated people and to strengthen their families and communities when they come home.
Lifting the ban on Pell Grants has been one of Vera’s most important policy goals. We look forward to working with more corrections departments and colleges across the country to ensure that the life-altering opportunities of higher education are available to all eligible students.”
Since 2015, as part of the Second Chance Pell Experimental Sites Initiative, Vera has provided technical assistance to the participating college in prison programs. There are now 130 colleges in 42 states and the District of Columbia participating in the initiative, through which incarcerated students have earned more than 4,500 bachelor’s degrees, associate degrees, postsecondary diplomas, and certificates.
From the beginning of this effort to increase access to Pell Grants for people in prison, Vera has followed the lead of formerly incarcerated students, who deserve to be celebrated as the real champions of this fight. Boris Franklin, who was incarcerated in New Jersey and earned credits toward a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Rutgers University while in prison, says, “I know from firsthand experience that education is the best way to invest in the full potential of people in prison. Earning my degree has helped me get a better job and improve my family’s future while contributing to my community. I’m thrilled that now all people in prison will have the same opportunities to further their education.”
Vera was proud to partner with College and Community Fellowship, Drug Policy Alliance, Prison Fellowship, the Unlock Higher Ed coalition, and many others over the past four years on this successful effort to restore access to Pell Grants. Over that time period, support and endorsements from countless other organizations and individuals have been instrumental, including higher education groups, law enforcement organizations, businesses, chambers of commerce both big and small, and many others.
Vera especially honors and acknowledges Fred Patrick, who joined Vera in July 2012 to launch its work on postsecondary education in prison. In 2015, he was named director of Vera’s Center on Sentencing and Corrections, which he led until his passing in July 2019. This victory for justice would not have been possible without his steady and kind leadership.
The Whole Story
The more information, the better. I do not see an invasion of privacy with cops using cameras in any public space.
Note the biases built into the system!
Excerpts from the Article:
Technology innovation seems to impact every aspect of our lives in the modern era, but what roles should technology play in policing? As the national conversation has turned to police reform, technology’s roles are being questioned anew.
Three technology trends are behind many of our most recent innovations: cheap data storage and databases, artificial intelligence, and near ubiquitous video and audio recording devices. This is equally true in tech recently adopted for use by law policing agencies. Cheap, high-definition cameras are mounted on Tasers, vehicle dashboards, drones, buildings, and officers’ bodies. That video is stored, seemingly indefinitely, in cloud databases. The video is combed through by AI algorithms to create new data points used by other AIs to make, or aid in making, decisions in a policing context.
But, like so many other areas of our lives affected by innovation, we never stopped to ask what purposes these tools serve, and whether those purposes are at odds with our other, closely held values like privacy or free speech.
Nine years ago, Santa Cruz, California, was one of the first police departments to adopt software that implemented “predictive policing.” The thought was that they could feed enough data about past crimes into a database, and an AI would tell them the most efficient way to allocate officers to prevent crime. But this past June, Santa Cruz became the first city to ban predictive policing. It turned out that “predictive policing” magnified aggressive policing in minority communities and didn’t contribute to public safety. This was likely due in part to the fact that the information fed into the database reflected our nation’s history of racially motivated policing and oppressive laws, which targeted minorities.
Facial recognition AI algorithms have followed a similar trajectory. Being able to identify a person captured on video committing a crime sounds like a good idea. But what about citizens who are merely peacefully protesting? What can, or should, police be able to do with that video? And where do software makers get the photos for comparison? Mugshot records? The state’s driver’s license database? Social media websites? When does this activity cross the line into violations of privacy?
It turns out that these algorithms also are biased against minorities and women. MIT and Stanford conducted joint research that concluded in 2018 that these algorithms misidentify darker-skinned women 34.5% of the time, while light-skinned men were misidentified a mere 0.8%. Ostensibly because of these racial disparities, Amazon, Microsoft, and IBM have suspended their facial recognition software services, though other players in the market continue to provide such services to police agencies.
Body and dashboard cameras have been adopted by police departments when communities have demanded more accountability from their officers. Yet there is no accountability when officers can disable recording when they are about to misbehave or when departments can withhold, sometimes indefinitely, video of incidents where police misuse force. And when every interaction with police is filmed, does this intrude on the privacy of citizens being policed, which is often disproportionately minority communities? What do police, or the corporations providing the services, do with all that video?
These are questions that must be asked more often and more loudly. Technology is morally neutral: the same tech behind cheap energy also fuels nuclear weapons. How we allow police to use technology must be considered when we push for police reform.
“It’s not about whether or not police use tech; it’s whether or not we can make the footprint of police smaller year after year,” said Hannah Sassaman, policy director at the Movement Alliance Project. “You don’t need an app for that.”
Another case of entirely preventable tragedy, caused by incompetent and/or malicious D O C staff and “health care” workers. Cases like this, in prisons all over America, cost YOU, the taxpayer, BILLIONS of dollars annually!
Excerpts from the Article:
On February 24, 2020, the families of four Alabama state prisoners who committed suicide as they languished in isolation cells in the Alabama Department of Corrections (DOC) filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against DOC officials, Wexford Health Sources and MHM Correctional Services, the DOC’s contract providers of medical and mental health services. They alleged that a lack of mental health treatment and use of untrained and unsupervised mental health workers in the DOC led to their family members’ deaths.
Billy Lee Thornton, Ryan Rust, Matthew Holmes, and Paul Ford were DOC prisoners suffering from severe mental illness who were incarcerated in segregation cells prior to their suicides. During their incarceration, mental-health care for DOC prisoners was provided by MHM and Wexford (after mid-2018).
Prior to the four suicides, an Alabama federal court issued a remedial order and opinion in a civil rights lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center over conditions of mental health services “simply put … horrendously inadequate” and in violation of the Eighth Amendment. Briggs v. Dunn, 257 F.Supp.3d 1171 (M.D. Ala. June 27, 2017).
… the families of the four prisoners filed a federal civil rights lawsuit alleging the DOC ignored the remedial court order and allowed understaffing, overcrowding, and the use of untrained and unlicensed mental health care providers to effectively deny the prisoners in isolation mental-health care.
“The Alabama corrections officials named as defendants along with the mental healthcare providers even failed to comply with remedial mental health procedures to which they consented and agreed to have memorialized in federal court orders,” McGuire said. “The defendants can no longer rely on excuses such as staffing shortages and poor administrative discipline. They must now be held accountable for the deaths of humans who suffered so greatly from the state’s failure to provide adequate mental health care, that suicide appeared to them to be the only option. Meanwhile, these state defendants effectively stood idle—indifferent to the mental health needs of these desperate inmates—and over and over again, suicide was indeed the tragic result.”
According to court documents, the DOC is overcrowded at 175% of design capacity and understaffed by as much as 68% at some prisons. MHM and Wexford mental health care staff also was understaffed despite the 25% increase in the mental health caseload between 2008 and 2016. Further, DOC officials denied requests to increase the number of approved mental health care positions.
As of September 2016, the DOC had only half of its security positions filled. This resulted in the cancellation of mental health appointments and group activities—especially for segregation prisoners. Further, a lack of proper training led to many prisoners with serious mental illness being improperly classified as not mentally ill during intake, leading to them being segregated and disciplined.
All four prisoners had histories of serious mental illness and multiple suicide attempts. None were given treatment prior to their successful suicide attempts. One can only hope this lawsuit helps prevent further tragedies. See: Head v. Dunn, Case No. 2:20-cv-00132-SMD, U.S.D.C. (N.D. Ala.).
Good for Chief Johnson! He has his eye on the ball!
Excerpts from the Article:
In a mid-June press conference, new Dover Police Chief Thomas Johnson announced a coming push for department reform.
Also at the forefront of goals was an emphasis on boosting its community policing model to connect with the public.
Dover Police Chief Thomas Johnson said his two main priorities entering 2021 will be to deliver the best body-worn cameras proposal to elected officials and begin implementation of a social service resource to complement existing patrol operations.
During the 50-minute gathering before media, the chief asked the public to hold him to meeting the challenge of examining and adapting operations.
Last week, the department announced progress made in the past six months, covering an array of modifications to policies and standards.
According to Chief Johnson, “The language of certain policies was clarified to leave no doubt about the intended meaning.
“For example, while it was always inferred, we made it clear that a warning should be issued, if time allows, prior to any substantial application of force. It was made more abundantly clear that all forms of neck restraint, whether manual, or aided by a control device, is completely outside of policy unless there is a threat to life that cannot be resolved any other way.
“When it comes to the topic of medical care, when an officer recognizes an illness or injury, a prisoner will be connected to medical services even if they do not request it or try to refuse it.
“Lastly, it should be noted that the duty to intervene that has been emphasized to all sworn members and officers will now be required to file a detailed written report of an excessive use of force event and the actions taken to bring the enforcement action back inside the parameters of policy.”
The department remains grounded in national Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) national standards and “We are improving the language in all of the critical policies to remain in line with evolving best practices,” spokesman Sgt. Mark Hoffman said. With the arrival of each new CALEA standard or policy, Dover expands its capacity to meet the latest best practices, according to the department.
Last week, Dover police was adding language that includes ‘vascular neck restriction’ to the policies that discuss ‘choke holds.’ “Some view these as separate issues but we agree with CALEA’s assessment that they are interconnected since they address pressure to the neck area,” Sgt. Hoffman said. “One deals with the circulation of air and the other with the circulation of blood. Our policy will view them in the same cautious light.”
So what’s still on the to do list?
“The two main priorities I have going into 2021 is to deliver the best body-worn cameras proposal that I can to our elected officials and begin the implementation of a social service resource to complement our existing patrol operations,” Chief Johnson said.
To meet the demands of coping with a job that can bring combative, physical situations at times Mr. Sudler “would like to see an on-site psychologist be incorporated among our Dover Police Department to aid them with the psychological stressors of the job and work-family balance/conflict issues.”
“We have also begun stepped up enforcement operations in areas that have been the scenes of violent events. While not completely eliminated, we are beginning to document a decrease in violent assaults, shootings and after a record-setting pace of homicide to begin 2020, we have not recorded a murder since late September.”
This is one of the most dramatic examples of how fucked up our criminal justice system really is.
Excerpts from the Article:
At 26 years-old, Ross Ulbricht made history, when he did something that many called genius — he wrote code and created a website called Silk Road. It was the first modern online free market, where users could anonymously buy and sell goods and services, both legal and illegal. As a result of his genius, today marks the eighth year anniversary of his federal prison incarceration in what is considered one of the worst travesties of our criminal justice system.
Ulbricht was targeted, investigated, and prosecuted with the zeal equaled to those like John Gotti, Osama bin Laden and Al Capone.
He was ultimately held responsible for everything users listed on his site and was convicted on all nonviolent charges, including conspiracy to traffic narcotics, money laundering conspiracy, and engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise.
Following his arrest in 2013, prosecutors also alleged that he planned murder-for-hire although, curiously, he was never charged or prosecuted for it at trial (and the allegations were dismissed with prejudice by a U.S. District Judge in 2018).
On May 29, 2015, now-retired Judge Katherine Forrest sentenced Ulbricht on five counts, all nonviolent. Her judgement for this first time, non-violent offender: two life terms, plus 40 years without parole! That sentence amounts to two death sentences, plus 40 years.
At first glance, given the government’s charges and allegations and some media coverage, some may assume that Ulbricht’s sentence was reasonable. However, having overseen and conducted investigations such as these, the more we examined the overall case — the allegations, the trial, and end result — something just didn’t add up.
If Ulbricht’s crimes really warrant life in prison, why was Blake Benthall — arrested on the same charges as Ulbricht for running the larger copycat Silk Road 2.0 — released after two weeks by the same people who prosecuted Ulbricht? Why were two corrupt federal agents at the core of the investigation (with unfettered access to Silk Road) aggressively hidden from Ulbricht’s jury? Why were the largest Silk Road drug sellers sentenced to 10 years and less?
And if there were any tangible evidence that Ulbricht planned murder-for-hire, why didn’t the government charge and prosecute him?
Surely, we’d know all this and more, but no — nothing. Additionally, based on the prosecutors’ claims, surely, there would have been a two-mile line out of the courthouse of crime victims ready to testify against Ross Ulbricht — but there were no victims at the trial either.
Ross Ulbricht was handed three death sentences, essentially for being a reckless young idealist who had the audacity to use his genius to create a vehicle where others engaged in illegal Internet sales (primarily of cannabis) undetected by the authorities.
No victims were ever named at his trial. He was never prosecuted for causing death or bodily injury to anyone. Let us say it again. As a first-time, non-violent offender, Ross Ulbricht was given two death sentences, plus 40 additional years.
According to a recent report from the United States Department of Justice, more than half of violent offenders serve less than three years in prison.
The average prison sentence in America for a convicted murderer is 16.5 years.
Convicted rapists serve on average 9.8 years, and violent crimes like robbery, or the taking of property by force or the threat of force, the average time is 4.7 years.
In far too many cases, violent repeat offenders are under-sentenced while nonviolent first-time offenders like Ross are grotesquely over-sentenced.
Ross Ulbricht’s sentence is also an example of how wildly unfair sentencing disparities can be for offenders with similar charges.
While Ross was sentenced to die in prison, every other prosecuted Silk Road defendant received far lighter prison sentences ranging from a high of 10 years to a low of 17 months.
His case may very well be the most glaring example of how broken and deeply dysfunctional our criminal justice system is.
In our American justice system, the underlying philosophy behind sentencing someone to prison is that that the punishment should fit the crime. The United States Constitution guarantees every American equal protection under the law.
But in the case of Ross Ulbricht, who never committed a violent act and who was never convicted of any previous crime, that constitutional guarantee of equal treatment under the law — and that idea that someone should only do the time that fits the crime — is a big lie.
Prominent legal experts who support Ross’s release from prison have expressed the view that the circumstances involved in his case raise serious fourth and sixth amendment constitutional issues, particularly that of using allegations that were never proved in a court of law to support an unreasonably harsh prison sentence.
In fact, in 2018, 21 highly-respected organizations spanning the ideological spectrum joined in support of Ross’s efforts to raise these constitutional issues before the Supreme Court. These organizations include, but are not limited to, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, FreedomWorks, American Conservative Union Foundation, Cato Institute, Human Rights Defense Center and National Lawyers Guild.
Now 36, Ross begins his eighth year in prison, today — Oct. 1.
He has been a model prisoner throughout his years of incarceration, teaching classes and tutoring his fellow inmates. He follows the rules and has never received a disciplinary infraction. Ross has expressed remorse and accepted responsibility for his actions.
He is the son of a loving mother of modest means who has relocated her home several times to be near the prison where her son is incarcerated.
We have each, in different ways, witnessed firsthand how unfair and dishonest our criminal justice system can be. Both of us have been the beneficiaries of President Donald Trump’s compassion. Commissioner Kerik was granted a presidential pardon, while Gov. Blagojevich had his 14-year prison sentence commuted. We both join over 350,000 people who have signed their names to a petition to President Trump supporting Ross Ulbricht’s release.
More than 250 organizations and prominent people from all across America — from the legal community, business community, religious community, education community, the media, Hollywood, current and former legislators, and human rights activists, have all spoken out in support of this clemency effort.
The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution expressly prohibits punishment that is too severe for the crime committed. It characterizes it as cruel and unusual.
Our nation extols the ideal of justice for all. But Shakespeare reminds us that there is no justice where there is no mercy, and Ross Ulbricht’s case shows us that there cannot be justice for all when there is cruel punishment for some.
We respectfully ask that President Donald Trump do what only he can do: grant Ross Ulbricht clemency, to right this wrong, and end one of the greatest travesties of justice in American history.
Whitey had it coming, but prison guards have a duty to protect everyone. Even a murderous scumbag like Bulger.
Excerpts from the Article:
When the 89-year old, wheelchair-bound Bulger was murdered in federal prison in Hazelton, West Virginia, in 2018, it was a sadly predictable end to a life spent both dueling with law enforcement and also profiting from his association with its dark underbelly in Boston.
Bulger, the acknowledged head of the feared Winter Hill Gang in South Boston in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, sparred with the rival Patirarca crime family for control of the rackets in that city, and was rumored to have cooperated with members of the FBI to undercut those rivals. His two alleged prison assailants had ties to the Patirarca organization, also referred to as the Italian Mafia.
The lawsuit was filed, “pursuant to Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388, 91 S. Ct. 1999, 29 L. Ed. 2d 619 (1971), against the Defendants who include the Warden of USP Hazelton and other additional named and unnamed correctional officer employees of the BOP at United States Penitentiary Hazelton (“USP Hazelton”).” It further alleged that, “James Bulger, Jr. was subjected to a risk of certain death or serious bodily injury by the intentional or deliberately indifferent actions of the defendants and was thereby caused to endure a violent death at the hands of another inmate within hours of his arrival at the facility.”
Bulger was first imprisoned in 1959 for armed robbery and truck hijacking, and while at an Atlanta penitentiary claims to have been admitted into a program where federal authorities injected him and other individuals with LSD for psychological mind-control studies apparently in return for a shorter sentence. He was paroled in 1963, and quickly rose to the top of the Boston criminal hierarchy.
While there, it was rumored that Bulger worked out an arrangement with multiple Boston FBI agents to feed information to law enforcement in return for favorable treatment. This arrangement lasted from the early-1970s until 1994, when Bulger was indicted for racketeering, and his cooperation with the government was discovered by defense attorneys representing other defendants. Bulger fled, and was not arrested until 2011. He was indicted in federal court on 32 counts of firearms and racketeering, and in 2013 received two life sentences, plus five years.
Bulger, who at the time of his arrest was 81, was already in declining health, and was transferred to different BOP prison facilities that reflected his medical needs and his long sentence. After spending years at USP Coleman, his medical status was upgraded, despite his declining health, permitting his transfer to Hazelton.
The wrongful-death court filing alleges that he was not a cooperator or “snitch,” and that federal law enforcement officials, embarrassed by the questionable activities of FBI agents in Boston, did their best to blame that misconduct on Bulger. “Years of litigation widely covered by local and national press led to numerous deals between prosecuting authorities and James Bulger, Jr.’s associates, involving lenient sentences for murders in an effort to garner factual support to prosecute and convict FBI Agent John Connolly and promote the narrative that James Bulger, Jr. was a high-level FBI informant who told on friends, associates, and his competition in the Italian mafia.”
The fact that most of the alleged violent crimes perpetrated by Bulger would have in fact been prosecuted as state crimes, over which federal authorities would have no jurisdiction, lend credence to this allegation. However, as the lawsuit claims, testimony in his 2013 trial “included claims that James Bulger, Jr. gave the government information about Frank Salemme, the one-time leader of the New England Mafia, the boss of the Gambino Crime Family, and Raymond Patriarca the longtime boss of the Patriarca crime family, (which) ensured that James Bulger, Jr., was likely to be incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP).”
There, the lawsuit alleged, he “would face violence at the hands of any number of deadly criminals, their countless associates, and/or any inmate that might want to make a name for himself inside the BOP.” After a government witness was permitted to testify that Bulger was a pedophile, he was put at even greater risk.
The lawsuit also calls into question the suspicious transfer of Bulger to Hazelton, where understaffing has contributed to its reputation as “misery mountain,” and a “gang-run” prison yard. This is the facility into which the 89-year-old invalid was placed.
The lawsuit further notes that BOP “employees are all aware that Federal law, 18 U.S.C. §4042(a)(2)-(3), requires the BOP to ‘provide for the safekeeping, care, and subsistence of all persons charged with or convicted of offenses against the United States’ and to ‘provide for the protection…of all persons charged with or convicted of offenses against the United States.’” It further alleges that the transfer of a high-profile prisoner like Bulger, who was on the FBI’s 10 most-wanted list for many years, would have to be approved by not only officials at his former prison, Coleman, his new prison, Hazelton, but also by high-level supervisors at the BOP Central Office in Washington, D.C.
Bulger’s life has received a lot of media attention based upon his criminal activities in South Boston and the public airing of the unsavory details of his close association with corrupt federal law enforcement. That, coupled with his ability to evade capture for almost two decades, was a double black eye for the FBI and the Department of Justice.
As Bulger discovered, however, federal law enforcement does not take kindly to public embarrassment, and has a long institutional memory. The Department of Justice, despite the public naming of the suspects in Bulger’s murder, has yet to prosecute any of the individuals believed to have been involved. See: Bulger v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, Case No. 3:20-cv-00206-TSK-RWT, U.S.D.C. (N.D. W. Va.).
The only thing worse than police misconduct is prosecutor misconduct. This shit seriously erodes confidence in the police. 🙁
Excerpts from the Article:
On March 24, 2020, Darell Chancellor and Darrell Richmond were ordered to be released from prison by a Wayne County, Michigan district judge who vacated their drug convictions. Chancellor had served nearly eight years, Richmond almost a year, before being freed through exoneration judgments.
Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy went on record stating, “These are the first cases that deal directly with fraudulent search warrant affidavits and other activities by highly unethical and compromised narcotics officers.” The narc who is responsible for these first of many expected exonerations is still employed by the Detroit Police Department (DPD) and is under investigation by its Internal Affairs Division (IAD). The probe is part of a wider investigation of the entire narcotics division in which the state police and FBI have joined.
Former DPD narc and current federal felon Michael Mosley presented false information regarding Richmond’s case. Mosley pleaded guilty in February 2020 before a federal judge to taking $15,000 in bribe money from a drug dealer. Mosley’s crimes led to the IAD raiding the narcotics division and seizing 50 computers and scores of case files.
DPD Chief James Craig admitted to the ongoing investigation uncovering a plethora of corruption in the narcotics division. Specifically named crimes are narcs planting evidence, robbing narcotics dealers, embezzling money and lying to prosecutors in affidavits they submitted to obtain search warrants. So far, information from the seized items have unearthed “about a half dozen possible false [search warrant] affidavits,” stated DPD Professional Standards Section spokesman Christopher Graveline.
While not explicitly stating it, Graveline’s remarks implied he expects more to come as the investigation progresses. And Worthy stated, “We expect there will be more,” and added “I will not hesitate to free other wrongfully convicted individuals if we find tainted or fraudulent evidence.”
Defense attorney Gabi Silver represented Chancellor and Richmond. Silver lauded Worthy and other Wayne County prosecutors for their part in freeing her clients. “What’s remarkable here is that Kym Worthy and Val Neuman (who heads the Conviction Integrity Unit) worked tirelessly to get these guys out of prison in the midst of this (COVID-19) pandemic. I appreciate it and so do my clients’ families,” stated Silver.