Texas can’t block votes cast in other states. Absurdly, it’s trying. The Supreme Court is sure to reject this latest attempt to overturn the election.
What is wrong with these idiots. You just wait and see … even tRump’s appointees on the Supreme Court won’t swallow this bullshit!
You can just read this and weep. It shows one reason why politics has NO place in the justice system!
I did send Mr. Paxton an email calling him an asshole! Crap like this undermines respect for every A G office! 🙂 🙂
Excerpts from the Article:
In Texas, Republicans have worked hard to impose burdens on voters — at least, within the state’s own borders. But now they have grander plans. On Tuesday, Texas filed a lawsuit announcing its desire to interfere with voting processes in other states across the country. The lawsuit has no merit. It will fail. The effort though represents a galling expansion of Texas officials’ disregard for voters and the electoral process.
In anticipation of the 2020 elections, Texas set a plan for its voters. Even before the coronavirus pandemic, the plan included shuttering voting locations and refusing to meaningfully expand registration or mail-in voting options. The pandemic, in turn, convinced Texas officials to race into court — but not to ensure that voters could safely cast a ballot. Instead, officials litigated to prevent voters from securing a mail-in ballot for the purpose of avoiding the virus. Republican plaintiffs, including a member of the Texas House of Representatives, tried to convince courts to invalidate the votes of over 100,000 Texans who had voted at outdoor polling locations designed to reduce risks of contagion. Yet another line of litigation saw Texas officials vigorously defending voters’ ability to enter a polling place without wearing a mask. Efforts of this sort will help Texas to retain an ignominious title: hardest state in the country in which to cast a ballot.
And yet that anti-democratic trophy appears not to be enough. At least, it is not enough for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who seeks to overturn the 2020 presidential election results by suing four swing states that already have certified victories for President-elect Joe Biden. (Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, also a Republican, announced late Tuesday that he was joining the lawsuit, and President Trump claimed Wednesday morning that he too would “be intervening” in the case.) Audaciously, Texas filed these claims directly in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The litigation is legally incoherent, factually untethered and based on theories of remedy that fundamentally misunderstand the electoral process. At the core, it is an uninspired retread of the many state-level claims that already have imploded since Nov. 3. Texas has simply delivered these defective claims in an even worse package.
Among the more novel flaws afflicting this lawsuit is that Texas should not have filed it. Texas does not have standing in federal court to vindicate the voting rights of other states’ voters — much less standing to undercut the rights of those voters. Independently, Texas officials should not have filed these claims directly in the Supreme Court. Filing directly is improper because other courts have been available to hear claims of this nature — and, indeed, other courts have heard and repeatedly rejected them.
Yet another, separate problem with this lawsuit relates to timing. Even if the claims were otherwise valid, Texas should not have brought them so late in the process. A fundamental principle of election law involves what’s called laches, which is a principle that prevents litigants from filing challenges after an election when they could have been brought beforehand. This principle helps to ensure that voters, when casting their ballots, can rely on the rules set in place. Texas has filed its lawsuit over a month after the 2020 elections — and on the date of the safe harbor deadline, no less, which provides further assurance that Congress will accept the electoral votes of any state that has completed its post-election processes. This lawsuit runs headfirst into a veritable wall of laches.
To pile on further, the lawsuit demands a particularly inappropriate remedy: that the Supreme Court tell other state legislatures what to do. It appears impossible to square this extraordinary demand with basic constitutional principles, much less the Supreme Court’s recently strengthened conception of states’ rights.
Each of these problems ensures that Texas’s lawsuit will fail. But it would have failed anyway, for the many reasons that so many lawsuits filed after the 2020 elections have failed. Like the others, this lawsuit seeks to invalidate the votes of a wide swath of people: here, some 20 million — 20 million — Americans across four states. And like those other lawsuits, it premises this outrageous request not on an airtight legal theory based on solid evidence, but instead on the opposite. Its substantive legal arguments make no sense. It seems to imply, for example, that the 14th Amendment precludes Wisconsin from using drop boxes and requires Georgia to empower its officials to unilaterally reject ballots. (It does neither.) Many of these arguments, in turn, are based on factual allegations that are inflammatory and not based in reality — and that repeatedly have been debunked. It is telling that the name of the Texas solicitor general, the state official typically in charge of litigation before the Supreme Court, does not appear on these filings at all. One wonders if he was too embarrassed to sign.
What, then, explains the decision of the state’s attorney general to file such a fundamentally flawed lawsuit? Theories abound. Perhaps Paxton is pandering to voters frustrated with the outcome of the 2020 presidential race. Maybe he is priming the electorate for even more onerous voting restrictions in future elections. It is possible he is engaging in indirect fundraising, or perhaps attempting to curry favor with Trump, who has been casting about desperately for a way to overturn the results of the election he lost. No doubt Paxton is in a tough position himself. He must run for office in two years. In the meantime, he is under indictment for state securities fraud and currently is the subject of a separate criminal investigation into “abuse of office” by the federal government.
Ultimately, who knows what Paxton’s motivations might be. It is hard to understand why a person in a position of public service, who has taken an oath to defend the Constitution, would challenge an election through an incendiary lawsuit that even he, surely, knows is frivolous — a lawsuit that will do nothing more than inflame, frustrate and confuse. What is clearer is that the litigation will die an ignoble death, just like all the others. The end likely will come by way of a short, dismissive order from the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, that order won’t stop Texas officials from continuing to try to chip away at the democratic process, both at home and beyond.
Bad moves by NYPD. Racism, overt and subconscious, infects the criminal justice system. All studies confirm this ugly fact.
Excerpts from the Article:
The New York Police Department’s (“NYPD”) Enterprise Operations Unit, also known as “the hip-hop police,” is accused of racially targeting rap bands. They surveil certain rappers, halt their video shoots, and stop their shows in an attempt to prevent violence. Instead of being called “crime stoppers,” they’re now being branded as “career stoppers.”
The NYPD began compiling a database of every individual they believed to be involved in gang activity in 2001. Of note is the fact that the database is not regulated, and criteria for inclusion are subjective. And those who are placed on the list are not given notification or allowed to defend themselves.
According to the 2018 testimony of Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, the database is 99% non-White and has contained over 42,000 names. The Intercept news organization said the database has grown over 70% under Mayor Bill De Blasio since January 2014.
Ex-police Commissioner Ray Kelly doubled the NYPD’s gang unit to 300 police and then launched Operation Crew Cut in 2012, which became the model procedure of surveilling and arresting those involved in gang conspiracies. He said his model was not built around “narcotics trafficking or some other entrepreneurial interest, but simply on local turf.”
Many of the people targeted are rappers and their associated crews. Derrick Parker, a former NYPD detective who was in charge of the hip-hop police, said: “The NYPD sees rap groups as gangs committing crimes, and they see the rapper as someone who has money and public influence.”
But CUNY School of Law professor Babe Howell said that gang-related crime only accounted for about 0.1% of all crime committed in New York between 2013 and 2017.
The 2016 sweep of the Bronx’s Eastchester Gardens housing project netted 120 people. A report on the incident published in 2019 said more than half of those arrested were not even gang members, two-thirds of those convicted were not for violent crimes, and only 22 of the 90 arrested for firearms charges were convicted. Public defender Maryanne Kaishian said this is a common theme for rappers making a video shoots. “The police will arrive, declare the group an unlawful assembly, and immediately start snatching people off the street,” she said. “They search them, and charge them with various crimes, sometimes things as simple as disorderly conduct simply for filming their music videos. You understand the police have a job to do. But at the same time, it’s kind of a war on kids, man.”
Sheff G (born Michael Williams) grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn. He first crashed the rap scene with his 2017 hit, No Suburban. He went from homelessness and proximity to all the violence on the streets to becoming the bread winner for his family and buying his own home at age 21. “Rap changed our life, our family’s life, and generations to come,” he said. “[Now] you don’t gotta be around certain things no more.”
Sheff G released The Unluccy Luccy Kid in 2019. Its lyrics speak about the violence he grew up around and his triumph over it. But the hip-hop police still harass him and block his attempts at plying his trade. Sheff G has not been allowed to perform live in his hometown since 2017. He has been blocked because the hip-hop police are concerned of the higher risk of violence his performance will bring. Live performances are a rapper’s opportunity to personally interact with their fan base. It is necessary if a rapper wants to stay relevant and profitable.
Sheff G is not the only such rapper currently targeted by the hip-hop police. Pop Smoke (now deceased) was never allowed a live performance in his hometown of Brooklyn. Bobby Shmurda and Rowdy Rebel were arrested in a 2014 indictment that targeted 14 alleged GS9 members.
Sleepy Hallow and Fresh G were shut down with Sheff G at their video shoot for Panic Pt. 3.
Activists in June 2020 called for a $1 billion cut in the NYPD budget. “Every dollar spent on policing is a dollar that isn’t spent on housing,” said Kaishian, as quoted by Vice. “It’s a dollar that’s not spent on education. It’s a dollar that’s not spent on alternatives to policing such as organizations. At the expense of everything that could help and heal its communities, we are instead placing all of our resources on policing, which only exacerbates the pain and suffering.”
Practical Tip – There Are Support Groups for Parents Who Have Lost Kids to Overdose, Shootings, Suicide … and for Others With Such Losses – kra
Did you know that there are a vast number of support groups for victims of our dysfunctional justice system and of our crazy world?
SOME ARE LOCAL, SOME ARE WORLDWIDE; SOME ARE PUBLIC, SOME ARE PRIVATE.
Just google whatever you may need. i.e. “support groups for Moms of those killed by drug overdose” or “support groups and similar organizations for children of those killed by gunfire”. Or “support groups for the wrongly convicted”.
One group for those who have lost loved ones to an overdose calls for fentanyl to be deemed a weapon of mass destruction! A worthy goal for getting attention, though it, like most “tough on crime” policies will not stem the rising tide of deaths.
From connecting to others to ease that “I am alone in this” feeling to many practical leads, there is a plethora of support out there. 🙂
SPREAD THE WORD!
Washington Supreme Court Announces Prohibition Against Blanket Shackling Policies at Pretrial Proceedings
I was not familiar with every state’s policy on this, but my research shows that Washington was the only one with this clearly prejudicial, unconstitutional policy.
The ruling here is the only fair one possible.
The Supreme Court of Washington issued a ruling that both clarified the standards governing the use of shackles during all court appearances and criticized the adoption of blanket policies for shackling without an individualized inquiry.
John W. Jackson, Sr. was accused of “assault in the second degree, domestic violence” after allegedly strangling his wife during an argument in early 2017. During Jackson’s pre-trial hearings, he was required to be shackled and in a jail uniform. During the trial, he was allowed to wear street clothes but was required to wear a leg “brace” that prevented him from walking normally or potentially escaping.
Jackson’s attorney objected to this treatment and filed a motion requesting the court conduct an individualized hearing on the need to restrain Jackson during appearances. On August 4, 2017, the Clallam County Superior Court issued an opinion on Jackson’s motion, as well as similar motions by other defendants then pending, which adopted the policies of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office on the restraint and shackling of in-custody defendants until a viable alternative, such as videoconferencing, was available.
During his trial, Jackson raised concerns that the jury could see his leg brace under his clothing, and it would be difficult for him to stand while preparing to testify. He was ultimately excused from standing when the jury entered and when he took his oath. He was ultimately convicted at trial and filed an appeal on the basis that the court violated his rights by shackling him throughout the proceedings.
The Washington Supreme Court noted the long history of a defendant’s right to appear in court without shackles or bonds, having its roots in English common law. Further, article I, section 22 of the Washington Constitution states this right includes “the use of not only his mental but physical faculties unfettered, and unless some impelling necessity demands the restraint of a prisoner to secure the safety of others and his own custody, the binding of the prisoner in irons is in plain violation of the constitutional guaranty.”
In the past, the Washington Supreme Court discussed the importance of preserving this right and for individualized assessment of the need for shackling, explaining “restraints are viewed with disfavor because they may abridge important constitutional rights, including the presumption of innocence, privilege of testifying on one’s own behalf, and right to consult with counsel during trial.” State v. Hertzog, 635 P.2d 694 (Wash. 1981).
A court retains discretion in determining when shackles are necessary, but a “broad general policy of imposing physical restraints upon prison inmates charged with new offenses because they may be ‘potentially dangerous’ is a failure to exercise discretion.” Id.
The Court announced the extension of “the trial protections against blanket shackling policies to pretrial proceedings as well…. We now determine that the constitutional right to a fair trial is also implicated by shackling and restraints at nonjury pretrial hearings.”
The Court stated that its position is based on “[w]hat we now know regarding the unknown risks of prejudice from implicit bias” and the culture in some county courts “in which incarcerated defendants are virtually guaranteed to have their constitutional rights violated” by blanket shackling policies.
The Court of Appeals agreed that Jackson’s rights had been violated by the shackling, but it also concluded that he could not demonstrate the violation wasn’t harmless and thus affirmed his conviction. The Washington Supreme Court reversed this finding. While the high court had adopted a harmless error analysis regarding shackling during jury trials that placed the burden on defendants in State v. Hutchinson, 959 P.2d 1061 (Wash. 1998), it later shifted the burden to the State to prove “that the shackling did not influence the jury’s verdict.” State v. Damon, 25 P.3d 418 (Wash. 2001).
In the present case, the Court expressly disavowed Hutchinson’s “substantial or injurious effect” test and announced: “We hold that the State bears the burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the constitutional violation was harmless as set forth in” State v. Clark, 24 P.3d 1006 (Wash. 2001).
After reviewing what occurred at trial, the Court concluded “the State cannot prove harmlessness beyond a reasonable doubt….”
Accordingly, the Court reversed the Court of Appeals on the issue of harmlessness and remanded for a new trial “with instructions that at all stages of the proceedings, the court shall make an individualized inquiry into whether shackles or restraints are necessary, and for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.” See State v. Jackson, 467 P.3d 97 (Wash. 2020).
Half stupid, half ok! Victims need all sorts of help, and cutting aid makes NO sense. Tracking law enforcement and its oversight is needed; we’ll see how this works.
It looks like none of this is happening yet because it is tied to the corona virus relief Bill, which tRump is sitting on.
Excerpts from the Article:
Federal aid to programs that help crime victims would drop by nearly one-third under an appropriations bill for the current spending year approved by congressional leaders on Sunday night.
The bill also creates a federal task force on law enforcement oversight to deal with allegations of law-enforcement misconduct and funds the development of databases to track excessive use of force and other misconduct by police officers.
The reduction in crime victim aid comes in the form of a cap on the amount available from the federal Crime Victims Fund for victim services for the year ending next Sept. 30 at $1.469 billion, down from $2.064 billion in the last fiscal year.
Under a 1984 federal anticrime law, the Crime Victims Fund is comprised not of federal tax income but rather of fines and penalties paid in federal criminal cases. That total has been falling in recent years, partly because more major cases have been resolved by non-prosecution and deferred prosecution agreements in which corporate defendants may pay penalties to the U.S. Treasury, but those outcomes are not classified as criminal cases that benefit the victims’ fund.
Victim advocates and other criminal justice organizations supported a “deposits fix” that would have allowed proceeds from the non-criminal settlements to be deposited in the fund, but that measure was not included in this week’s bill, reports the National Criminal Justice Association.
The proposed fix had strong bipartisan support but was blocked by a key House member.
Overall, the bill provides $33.8 billion overall for the Department of Justice, $1.18 billion above last year’s level and $874.4 million above the President’s budget request.
The FBI will get $10.31 billion, an increase of $361.9 million above last year.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons will be allocated $7.84 billion, an increase of $57.4 million
Congress fully funded the $409,483,000 requested by the Trump administration for programs authorized by the 2018 prison and sentencing reform bill known as the First Step Act.
The task force on law enforcement misconduct will be comprised of Justice Department officials in “consultation with law enforcement, labor, and community-based organizations.” Its mission will be “to coordinate the detection and referral of complaints” about police wrongdoing.
A separate provision of the law provides $5 million to create databases on police excessive use of force and officer misconduct.
The appropriations bill still must be approved by both houses of Congress and signed by President Trump. That is expected to occur this week to prevent the federal government from shutting down.
As approved by federal appropriators, the bill includes virtually level funding for most anticrime aid to state and local government.
Funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program will rise to $360 million from $349 million last year.
The coronavirus bill includes about $4.25 billion to support mental health and substance use disorder treatment.
Among totals in the pending bill for other Justice Department programs:
Violence Against Women Act “STOP” grants: $215 million, the same as in fiscal year 2020.
Police officer hiring under the COPS program, $157 million, up from $156 million last year.
Drug courts, $83 million, up from $80 million in the last fiscal year.
Mental health courts, $35 million, up from $33 million.
Veterans treatment courts, $25 million, up from $23 million.
Aid to so-called Title II programs to fight juvenile crime, $67 million, up from $63 million.
The Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program would get $34 million, up from $31 million.
DNA backlog reduction, $141 million, up from DNA backlog reduction – $141 million, up from $132 million.
Coverdell forensic science grants, $33 million, up from $30 million.
National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), $85 million, up from $78 million.
Comprehensive Opioid Assistance Program (COAP)m $185 million, up from $180 million.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, $32 million, up from $1 million.
Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), $33 million, up from $28 million.
Second Chance Act $77 million, up from $62 million.
House members attempted to include in the appropriations bill many provisions of the policing reform legislation that was approved by the House earlier this year but was not taken up by the Senate.
Outside of the police misconduct task force and data collection, those measures were not included in the final bill. They are expected to be debated again in the congressional session that starts in January.
Both Houses also passed and sent to President Trump a Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act that creates a $10 million grant program for state and local correctional facilities to provide clinical services for people with serious mental illness who need help after their release.
Former mail carrier from Randallstown pleads guilty to stealing credit cards – How to Catch a Crooked Mailman! – kra
Cops were clever and thorough in nailing this thief. She should get time; she was in a position of trust!
Excerpts from the Article:
Federal prosecutors say a former Maryland postal carrier pleaded guilty to stealing mail after admitting to taking credit cards from the mail.
A news release from the Maryland-based federal prosecutor’s office said Daniyelle Barnes, 27, of Randallstown pleaded guilty this week to mail theft by a United States Post Office employee. The charge carries up to five years in prison, and she will be sentenced in February.
Court documents say that the investigation began in July 2019 when police officers found 12 credit cards during a traffic stop and that the cards belonged to people along Barnes’ route. They launched an investigation into whether Barnes, who was assigned to the Randallstown Post Office, was stealing mail from her route.
Investigators created mail pieces that included credit cards issued by banks to fictitious people and placed them among Barnes’ mail to be delivered.
Federal prosecutors said in the statement that “during law enforcement surveillance of Barnes, she was seen handling the ‘bait’ mail pieces, feeling for a potential credit or debit card inside the envelope, and then placing the two identifiable mail pieces inside her letter carrier case.” Investigators say she put the “bait” pieces into her personal vehicle, where they were later found.
Authorities say that she admitted to stealing mail and giving it to another person.
As part of her plea Monday, Barnes agreed to pay restitution of more than $4,000, which authorities say corresponded to losses by financial institutions incurred in relation to cards taken from her route.
A defense attorney didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
It is the same all over America! Worse in state prisons!
THIS has saved many lives: How to Force Proper Health Care in Prison – Practical Tip- Know an Inmate? SHARE THIS!
Excerpts from the Article:
At a New York City federal prison that’s recorded relatively few confirmed cases of COVID-19, medical requests made by incarcerated people during the pandemic topped the usual number by hundreds. Many went unaddressed for weeks, according to a federal watchdog report published on November 10. The failure to respond to the medical needs of people who are incarcerated appears to be borne of the facility’s dire medical staffing shortage.
According to the US Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General report, requests for medical attention by prisoners at the Bureau of Prison’s (BOP) Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn (MDC-Brooklyn) have surged during the COVID-19 crisis relative to pre-pandemic numbers. A total of 2,160 requests were filed between March 2 and September 23 of this year, compared to 1,649 during that same period last year.
BOP did not respond to Filter‘s request for comment.
Many of the requests describe fears of exposure to COVID-19. “Please allow someone to see me immediately, I am high risk for the Corona Virus. Not saying I have it, but would love immediate care if I do end positive,” wrote one prisoner in a redacted March 29 request made publicly available by the The Intercept. Two days earlier, another wrote that “i had a cold a few weeks ago i was never seen but now i have this cough like i am choking on spit and my chest and heart hurts when i am breathing.”
The modest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among those incarcerated at MDC-Brooklyn—16, as of November 10—is almost certainly an undercount. The facility had a limited supply of testing equipment, but less than half of the kits it did have between March and May were actually used. MDC-Brooklyn Health Services staff simply assumed some prisoners were positive, reserving testing “generally” for “only symptomatic inmates housed in units without a confirmed case.”
The Health Services team wasn’t prepared to meet their incarcerated population’s needs. “Patients may repeatedly submit sick call requests with COVID-19 concerns, but the facility lacks the clinical response to find and care for those individuals,” wrote former NYC Correctional Health Services medical director Dr. Homer Venters in a report on MDC-Brooklyn for a lawsuit filed by incarcerated plaintiffs in April.
From the early days of the pandemic through September, the facility had a single doctor on staff (compared to MDC-Brooklyn’s usual three, pre-COVID-19) while only half of Mid-Level Providers were available (three out of six). Two new temporary medical workers joined the MDC-Brooklyn team in April, bringing the total number of employees up to 22. The authorized count is 30.
MDC-Brooklyn staff knew the shortage was a problem. A majority of the facility’s respondents to the OIG survey (71 percent) identified “Additional staff to cover posts” as an immediate need, compared to 39 percent of BOP-wide respondents.
“The shortage of medical staff at MDC Brooklyn was among the biggest challenges in appropriately screening inmates and staff members for COVID‑19 symptoms,” states the OIG report. “This shortage continued through September 2020 and resulted in MDC Brooklyn struggling to meet the medical needs of non–COVID‑19 inmates.”
As a result, hundreds of medical requests have gone unaddressed for months at a time. One hundred twenty-five requests submitted in March, approaching the height of the outbreak, remained unaddressed by May 1. Even after the pandemic’s epicenter moved out of New York City, the high number of requests continued—many with the same attending delays. Of an unspecified number of requests made in early July, 160 had not been scheduled or seen by September 23.
For those requests that were lucky enough to receive responses, Venters stated in his report, the subsequent action was insufficient. “After multiple requests, the only response was for a health staffer to come to their cell and take their temperature,” Venters wrote, a practice he cites as a “serious deviation from accepted standards.” He found that “no thorough symptoms were elicited and no other physical examinations were conducted.”
The full picture of the quality of Health Services’ responses has been obstructed by staff. According to Venters, employees were destroying the paper request slips during the early days of the city’s outbreak, up until a court intervened. “This represents a gross deviation from basic health care standards because the sick-call requests form part of the patient’s medical record,” he wrote. “[It] renders impossible any evaluation of whether the assessment and care provided was appropriate to the patient’s original concerns.”
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
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.”