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.).
Editorial Submission – Save Your Loved Ones! – 12/17/20
In the course of the work I do, I counsel many, many addicts. All too often I console someone who has lost a friend or family member to addiction. During the pandemic, the use of drugs has increased. Addiction has skyrocketed. Overdose deaths are increasing too. This is no surprise, because the main reason why most people turn to drugs and/or alcohol is to bury/evade/escape some emotional pain or stress, and these are very stressful times.
There is good news, though, and I write with the hope that all who need to know can become aware of it: YOU can order, for free, the very effective life saving drug, Narcan (naloxone). Through The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services’ (DHSS), Narcan will be mailed, for free, to your home. The life-saving medication can reverse opioid drug overdoses by restoring someone’s breathing that has become suppressed from an overdose, and it has saved many lives.
Says Delaware’s DPH Director, Dr. Karyl Rattay: “Delaware is experiencing a simultaneous increase in COVID-19 cases and drug overdose deaths. Those who need naloxone the most can now order it privately and conveniently, avoiding any stigma that could be a barrier to accessing the life-saving medication. Holding outside distribution events is also becoming more challenging because of the cold weather, making this an ideal option to get naloxone in the hands of those who need it the most.”
A total of 316 suspected overdose deaths have occurred through early December this year in Delaware, which is higher than the number of suspected overdose deaths for the same period in 2019, according to preliminary data from the Delaware Division of Forensic Science (DFS). Since overdose deaths typically spike in December, that number is expected to grow. In 2019, 431 people died from drug overdoses in Delaware, according to DFS.
Most states have similar programs.
Sure, the numbers of deaths pale compared to some other causes, but these deaths are preventable… and YOU can help prevent some! Narcan won’t save everyone, but with just a phone call – to get the medication, google how to get Narcan or call HHS at 302-672-7500 – you may help save a life.
If YOU know anyone using drugs, order Narcan now, and make sure that their other friends and family members also do so!
I offer one more suggestion: tell any addict that if they must get high, do not do so alone. Always have someone around who can provide help or call for help in the event of an overdose!
Ken Abraham, former Deputy Attorney General, founder of Citizens for Criminal JUSTICE, Dover, DE 302-423-4067
Nationwide, this problem costs YOU billions of $$$$$$$$$. The problem is the Union contracts. READ: Put Reforms Into State Prison Guards’ Contract and READ: Editorial Submission or Letter to Editor – Reform Police Contracts! – 1/10/16
Excerpts from the Article:
A state prison watchdog says the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has been delaying employee investigations that lead to firings and other discipline, driving up the state’s costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
Prison employees have kept getting paid for months after they are accused of things like lying to investigators, abusing spouses, driving drunk or engaging in sexual misconduct with prisoners or coworkers, according to a report from the Office of the Inspector General.
The delays got worse in the first half of this year, costing the state about $312,000, according to the report. In an 18-month review of cases, the inspector general’s office found discipline delays cost over $850,000. The office reviews the cases every six months.
When prison wardens or other authorities identify wrongdoing by employees, they’re supposed to refer it to the Office of Internal Affairs within 45 days, according to the report. But prison officials increasingly are taking much longer than that — nearly 10 months, in one case — to make the referrals, according to the report.
In one case, a correctional officer allegedly video recorded himself and an office worker engaged in a sexual act and then shared the video with another officer without the office worker’s consent. That officer shared it with other officers. The case wasn’t reported to the Office of Internal Affairs for 192 days, according to the report.
Delays from the time the officer was accused of wrongdoing to when he signed a settlement agreement and resigned cost the state $55,074, according to the report.
From January through June of 2020, the department paid out more than $312,000 in salary and benefits to employees whose dismissal was delayed, according to the report. That was on top of more than $500,00 worth of similar delays in the cases from 2019.
Inspector General Roy Wesley said the department’s performance in handling the investigations had worsened, while acknowledging difficulties associated with the coronavirus, which has spread in prisons.
“Especially against this backdrop, we believe it remains critical that the department appropriately and timely address allegations of employee misconduct and criminal activities,” Wesley said in a letter to state officials accompanying the report.
I have lots of articles on this topic.
“But voter opposition prompted Cuomo to withdraw his support of state funding for such programs. One of Cuomo’s political opponents said sarcastically that if his son wanted to go to college he would advise him to rob a bank so he could go to prison for a free college education.” This is where LEADERSHIP comes in. If enough politicians explained that this is THE BEST WAY TO REDUCE CRIME, people would not make such statements.
Excerpts from the Article:
On Oct. 3, 1981 I attended the first-ever commencement at Attica Correctional Facility in which several inmates, including two inmates I corresponded with while they were completing their courses, received bachelor’s degrees in liberal arts.
Attica’s superintendent personally greeted guests when we arrived. Inmate speakers, attired in traditional caps and gowns, talked about overcoming the difficulties of acquiring academic knowledge in prison. In his address, Niagara University Professor Joseph Sundram spoke about higher education, introspection, self-respect and respect for others and how each should harmonize with the other three. Inmate graduates and guests were served lunch after the commencement ceremonies.
I recently watched the Ken Burns PBS documentary “College Behind Bars,” in which inmates at New York State prisons, participating in the privately funded BARD college program, struggled to master subjects including pre-calculus, Chinese, Spanish, and Shakespeare.
In the documentary, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he supported prison college programs because while 50 percent of released prisoners re-offend and return to prison within two years after release, only about four percent of prisoners who complete college in prison do so.
But voter opposition prompted Cuomo to withdraw his support of state funding for such programs. One of Cuomo’s political opponents said sarcastically that if his son wanted to go to college he would advise him to rob a bank so he could go to prison for a free college education.
Is it better that inmates should be passing drugs and other contraband than inmates passing tough college courses? One inmate said “college helps us become civic beings.” Another inmate explained that in an environment of chaos and violence, college classes “are like an oasis.”
Rudy Martinez arrived at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in the 1980s for life imprisonment for murder. Martinez, with only a sixth-grade education at a rural school in Mexico, needed to learn English. Today, Martinez is fluent in English. He received his GED in 1991. In 2005, Martinez graduated from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary at the prison with a bachelor’s degree in Christian ministry. Martinez recently completed the last class needed for a master’s degree in pastoral ministry.
In an essay titled “Encouragement” published in “The Angolite,” the inmate-edited news magazine of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, Martinez offered advice to fellow inmates: “If it worked for a man who only had a sixth-grade education, it can work for some of you, too. Many of you can accomplish what I have accomplished, and more. Remember, in order to pursue an education, one cannot remain in the past.”
Many years ago I enrolled in Professor Elaine Lomber’s Shakespeare course at Finger Lakes Community College. I was content with my final grade – B. Lomber was a good teacher, but I’m still not a Shakespeare fan.
But an inmate at a supermaximum prison told Professor Laura Bates, who taught a college-level Shakespeare class at the prison, that “Shakespeare saved my life. For so many years, I had been really self-destructive, on the razor’s edge every day. I’m confident I would’ve done something drastic and ended up on death row. Or I would’ve one day found the courage to take my own life… Shakespeare offered me an opportunity to develop new ways of thinking through these plays. I was trying to figure out what motivated Macbeth, why his wife was able to make him do a deed he didn’t want to do just by attacking his ego: ‘What, are you soft? Ain’t you man enough to do it?’ As a consequence of that, I had to ask myself what was motivating me in my deeds, and I came face-to-face with the realization that I was a fake, that I was motivated by this need to impress those around me, that none of my choices were truly my own. And as bad as that sounds, it was the most liberating thing I’d ever experienced because that meant that I had control of my life. I could be anybody I wanted to be. I didn’t have to be some fake guy that my buddies wanted me to be.” (Source: “Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard,” by Laura Bates) This inmate’s assessments reflect the message conveyed by Professor Sundram when he spoke at Attica 39 years ago.
Some prisons utilize correspondence courses via “snail mail,” whereby inmate students receive packets of material needed to complete assignments that are “snail mailed” back to the professor. Some prison systems are experimenting with kiosk-and-tablet-based electronic message boards for communication, while others are trying Canvas and Blackboard instruction facilitated by student clerks, or Zoom and Skype with live classrooms.
When we finally overcome COVID-19, and colleges become like they were before the pandemic, I hope professors return to the prisons, and that properly motivated inmates will have more opportunities to get a college education.
Yes, The judge sees that government must protect its citizens! It’s really that simple.
This sort of bullshit is exactly that, BULLSHIT! The plaintiffs’ lawsuit argues that masks have “become a symbol of government oppression” and that wearing them “conveys the message that the wearer has surrendered his or her freedom to the government.”
Excerpts from the Article:
Pennsylvania may continue enforcing its mask mandate and perform contact tracing, a federal judge decided Friday, ruling against two families who claim the pandemic measures violate their constitutional rights.
Like most other states, Pennsylvania requires people to wear masks to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. The state also has a contact tracing program in which people who have been potentially exposed to the virus are identified and quarantined.
The plaintiffs’ lawsuit argues that masks have “become a symbol of government oppression” and that wearing them “conveys the message that the wearer has surrendered his or her freedom to the government.”
The contact tracing program is intrusive and subjects people to state surveillance, the suit argues.
Both families say they have removed their children from school, and are avoiding public places where their movements might be documented, because of the state’s pandemic measures.
U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III on Friday ruled against the families’ request for a preliminary injunction that would block enforcement of the mask mandate and halt the state’s contact tracing program, saying that while the lawsuit “expresses real and significant constitutional concerns,” the plaintiffs “have not suffered an injury sufficient to warrant judicial review.”
“Nearly nine months, and quickly approaching a full year, into this global pandemic, we are all fatigued,” wrote Jones, who was appointed to the federal bench by then-President George W. Bush. “All of our lives have changed drastically, and, indeed, many of us are weary of continued mitigation efforts. But our Constitution does not permit us to consider such frustrations without concrete, particularized, and non-hypothetical allegations that are capable of full resolution by this court.”
Reminds me of when I led a successful boycott of prison phones in DE to protest the high rates, about 6 years ago. If you want to know how to do it CALL me at 302-423-4067.
The costs of everything in prison have been onerous. But the high cost of communicating is truly counter productive: all studies show that inmates with regular contact with friends and family are FAR less likely to re offend than others!
Note that the article mentions “the 2.3 million persons imprisoned in the United States”. All the talk about reducing mass incarceration is BS. That was the number 10 years ago! You know why? Because for every 1 person incarcerated, 29 people benefit financially, and they belong to unions which spend BILLIONS of dollars opposing anything that would open prison doors!
Excerpts from the Article:
For those with loved ones in prisons, the coronavirus pandemic has increased the desire for communication to ensure the well-being of the imprisoned. The exorbitant cost of such calls is straining already-stretched budgets.
Most prisons have curtailed visitation, leaving families to communicate via phone calls, video chats, emails, and letters. Because prisons are cramped-quartered Petri dishes, families seek communication more often with their incarcerated loved one. The cost for services to communicate from prison are expensive, and as most prisoners rely on their family for money, those costs are born by their families.
Dominique Jones-Johnson said the cost of communicating with her father has strained her budget to the breaking point. Her father, Charles Brown, Jr., is serving time at Louisiana State Prison. A 15-minute call from the prison costs $3.15. By May 2020, Jones-Johnson had accrued nearly $400 for calls from the prison. The local calls would be free for anyone in the state but prisoners.
Jones-Johnson, who founded the charity Daughters Beyond Incarceration, said “the money stressed me out, but not talking to him stresses me out more.” That stress increased when Brown tested positive for COVID-19 in September 2020, and he was placed in isolation and not allowed to make phone calls.
Options for video chats and emails are an expensive option. In Florida, JPay charges up to $0.39 per email and a 15-minute video visit costs at least $2.95. Jones-Johnson must pay $7.50 for a 30-minute video call with her father. A 2019 report by the Prison Policy Initiative found the average cost of a 15-minute call from local jails was $5.74. The Here Institute in 2017 found that video calls were $12.95, an amount so expensive that 90% of prisoners never even tried to use the service.
Communication is critical for the 2.3 million persons imprisoned in the United States. “People need to be in touch more than ever,” said Bianca Tylek, executive director of the advocacy group Worth Rises, “and they have less money than ever to pay for it.”
A Louisiana Department of Corrections spokesman said the agency “understands the importance of inmates maintaining contact with loved ones.” It said it has offered 30 minutes of free calls during the pandemic. Securus said it had offered “191 million free minutes of phone connections” since the pandemic began. Offering free phone calls, however, is something Securus has fought. In 2019, Securus spent $40,000 to hire lobbyists to oppose Connecticut state Representative Josh Elliott’s legislation. Elliot’s bill would make phone calls from Connecticut’s prisons free. After Securus’s lobbying became public, it reversed course and it promised to not oppose the legislation.
HRDC has been at the forefront of pushing to reduce the cost of prison phone calls. Its lobbying resulted in the Federal Communications Commission lowering the cost of interstate calls. A rule lowering the cost of intrastate calls was reversed by a federal appeals court.
Families of those with loved ones have no choice but to pay the high cost of those calls if they want to speak to their incarcerated loved one. “It’s a constant struggle,” said Jones-Johnson. “But what else can I do?”
Police raid home of Florida data scientist Rebekah Jones with guns out as dispute with DeSantis gets uglier
This case is a prime and hideous example of the misuse of police power. The governor, upset by her criticism of his handling of the pandemic, sent in the state police to seize all of her electronics …. so he can see who else is criticizing him! So said the Republican former party chair who RESIGNED from the judicial nominating committee after reading the warrant.
Mark my words: guns aimed at her husband and kids …. and you will NOT SEE ANY CRIMINAL TRIAL AGAINST Ms. Rebecca Jones, the whistleblower!
I have a message for the idiot governor of Florida: if you can’t take the heat , get out of politics, you cowardly, dangerous MORON!
Excerpts from the Article:
State police agents on Monday raided the home of a former Florida Department of Health employee who helped build the state’s first COVID-19 dashboard.
Rebekah Jones was fired earlier this year after complaining that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration was manipulating COVID-19 data to make the virus appear less prevalent as the governor pushed to reopen Florida’s economy.
Shortly before 5 p.m. Monday, Jones posted a tweet showing video of armed police entering her home.
Jones’ Twitter post alerted followers that she would not have an update on a new COVID-19 website she established following her firing from the health agency in May, because state agents had seized her computer and phone.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement confirmed Monday’s raid in a prepared statement provided to The News Service of Florida.
The video posted by Jones shows officers brandishing guns and telling Jones to exit her Tallahassee home. The video also shows a law enforcement officer yelling at Jones’ husband to “come down the stairs now.” Jones can be heard saying in a high-pitched voice, “He just pointed a gun at my children.”
According to the statement provided by FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger, FDLE launched an investigation on Nov. 10 after receiving a complaint from the health department that someone at Jones’ residence illegally accessed a state emergency-alert messaging system.
In an attempt to “minimize disruption to the family,” Plessinger said that agents knocked on the door at Jones’ home and called her phone.
“Ms. Jones refused to come to the door for 20 minutes and hung-up on agents. After several attempts and verbal notifications that law enforcement officers were there to serve a legal search warrant, Ms. Jones eventually came to the door and allowed agents to enter,” the statement said. “Ms. Jones’ family was upstairs when agents made entry into the home.”
In a subsequent Twitter post, Jones accused the DeSantis administration of sending the “gestapo” after her.
“This is what happens to scientists who do their job honestly. This is what happens to people who speak truth to power,” Jones tweeted, adding that she would have “a new computer tomorrow” and that she would get back to work on her website.
“If DeSantis thought pointing a gun in my face was a good way to get me to shut up, he’s about to learn just how wrong he was,” she wrote.
Monday’s raid is the latest confrontation between Jones and the agency where she once worked.
Jones once served as the geographic information systems manager in the health department’s Division of Disease Control and Health Protection. She told Florida Today in May that she was fired for refusing to manipulate COVID-19 data. The story made national headlines and top Florida Democrats called for an investigation.
But DeSantis downplayed Jones’ role in developing the health department’s COVID-19 online dashboard, saying she isn’t an epidemiologist and accusing her of insubordination.
The administration also brought to the media’s attention criminal charges that had been filed against Jones last year.
A review of Leon County court documents shows that Jones was charged in July 2019 with two counts of cyberstalking and one count of sexual cyber harassment. According to court records, one of the cases Jones is still open.
Jones filed a whistleblower complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations in July.
Damn shame, because the requirement is Unconstitutional!
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a challenge to Delaware’s requirement of partisan balance on its courts without considering the merits of the state’s judicial system because the lawyer who sued never appeared ready to apply to be a judge.
The 8-0 ruling left in place a requirement that Democrats or Republicans are limited to a one-judge majority on state courts and that judges on the state’s Superior Court, Supreme Court and the influential Court of Chancery, which specializes in corporate litigation, have to belong to one of the parties.
The case was brought by a Delaware lawyer named James Adams who said he wanted to be a judge but was barred by the state’s constitution because he was a political independent. The Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had ruled in his favor and found that the system violated his rights of free association under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.
The Supreme Court ruled that it not have to consider if Delaware’s system violated the Constitution because Adams never showed he was ready to apply to be a judge when he sued in 2017.
“Adams must at least show that he is likely to apply to become a judge in the reasonably foreseeable future,” the ruling, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, said. The ruling noted that Adams was a life-long Democrat who switched to independent and sued eight days later, apparently encouraged by a law review article critical of Delaware’s system.
David Finger, an attorney for Adams, said his client has since applied to be a judge and a new lawsuit could be filed as soon as this week.
Delaware’s Court of Chancery interprets the state’s widely used corporate law and recently oversaw the $16 billion takeover dispute between Tiffany & Co by France’s LVMH.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who joined the court after the case was argued, did not participate in the ruling. (Reporting by Will Dunham)
We know that what DOC officials say cannot be trusted. We know that some guards, as soon as they are out of camera range, remove their masks! Steve Hampton is a Delaware lawyer with decades of success in suing DOC officials, and we communicate often.
I get phone calls similar to the emails below all week long.
An email from Steve to me recently, also sent to Rep. Sean Lynn at Leg Hall:
From: Stephen Hampton <email@example.com>
Sent: Monday, December 07, 2020 11:52 PM
To: Lynn, Sean M (LegHall) <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Updated DOC COVID-19 numbers
12/07–466 inmates positive for COVID in DOC prisons, an increase of 92 in the last 6 days.
From the reports coming from inmates the actual numbers probably are probably much higher than the reported numbers. Inmates have reported that people with symptoms of illness are not being tested unless they also have a fever, and men in tiers where men have tested positive are not being tested. All problems made worse when DOC stopped quarantining all new arrivals.
250 inmates positive at JTVCC. 27 positive at BWCI. 185 positive at HRYCI. 3 at SCI. 1 at Hazel Plant facility.
12/04–96 total staff positive, up 15 since 12/01.
A big problem has been the inconsistent testing of staff. C/O’s apparently can only be tested if they consent. For some reason these numbers are good only through the 4th, not the 7th.
36 staff positive at JTVCC. 13 positive at BWCI. 24 positive at HRYCI. 8 positive at SCI. 3 positive at the Plummer Center. 3 positive at P&P Hares Corner. 5 positive at P&P Cherry Lane. 2 positive at SCCC. 1 positive at Steven Floyd Academy. 1 at Hazel Plant facility.
12/01–374 inmates positive for COVID in DOC prisons, an increase of 83 in the last 4 days.
233 inmates positive at JTVCC. 17 positive at BWCI. 123 positive at HRYCI. 1 at Hazel Plant facility.
81 total staff positive, up from 59 on November 24th.
39 staff positive at JTVCC. 18 positive at BWCI. 18 positive at HRYCI. 6 positive at SCI. 3 positive at the Plummer Center. 2 positive at P&P Hares Corner. 5 positive at P&P Cherry Lane. 2 positive at SCCC. 3 positive at Steven Floyd Academy. 1 at Hazel Plant facility.
Grady and Hampton LLC
6 N. Bradford St.
Dover, DE 19904
Email from Steve to me 3 days ago, with relevant emails he received from various people inside:
DOC hasn’t mentioned COVID-19 in a press release since 11/24 or updated the number of active COVID-19 numbers since 12/1. No doubt there will be a significant increase in active cases when they do release the numbers again. I continue to get alarming messages concerning DOC’s handling of Covid-19 and you will see some below. The picture is one of chaos and little oversight of the situation.
My son…who is on the compound said that a number of people were removed from his building (not tier) yesterday, and that they’re continuing to allow them to have rec even with people that have symptoms…..As of Tuesday they were still using a broken thermometer to take people’s temps…..From the rumor mill the previous healthcare provider destroyed a bunch of equipment when their contract ended, and this new company hasn’t replaced it.
It has gotten so much worse in my son’s building. Six more men were removed last night. All were kitchen workers who were replacing kitchen workers who tested positive…. men who were tested but results not yet in, were allowed to work, and were moved to other areas. After moving them and allowing them to work, then the results came back positive. Rather than test, quarantine until results came in, they were moving people everywhere. Meantime, they now infected other men. It is out of control.
Temps are being taken twice a day NOW – useless, if the IR thermometer is not calibrated correctly!… All range from 96 to 98 degrees…. One would think that one person would be at least 98.6, although I suspect many are running higher temperatures.
The masks they received weeks ago (perhaps a month ago now) are dangerous at this point. A doctor on GMA today addressing safety with masks and cold temperatures stated that if masks hold moisture, get wet (breathing), droplets will stick to the masks. He said that if cloth, masks should be washed immediately. If disposable, throw them out – don’t wear them again. The inmates have never had a way to clean their masks and have had to wear them way too long….
Another person was removed from the tier last night. Temperatures are being taken twice a day, but still range from 96-98 degrees…. One would think that when 11 men have been removed because of a positive result for Covid, it warrants a proactive approach by testing everyone on a tier/building to try and contain it. They are testing only when one gets so sick it is obvious there is a problem. And while so sick and awaiting test results, these men have continued working and going to other buildings. No doubt the positive numbers would be much higher than reported and more testing done if IR thermometers were calibrated properly.
Well, sadly, the State is allowing the spread by moving men all over the place. One more was removed off the tier yesterday. They took his temperature, which was below normal, and the nurse apparently commented to him that he was fine. He came back at the nurse that he has been sick for the past two weeks, so he was not fine! They removed him. He never came back, so he must have tested positive. Had he not spoken up, they would have left him. Most people are asymptomatic so whether one has a temp is not sufficient in determining whether he has Covid. They did temp checks once yesterday. Today, none have been done so far.
Meals are delivered to the top of the tier and all the men file into the hallway to get their food to take to their cell – can’t social distance in a hallway crammed with men. The men still have the same masks they have worn for a month, at least, so that isn’t protecting them any longer. The State allows them out for rec time together, so, again, the State is doing nothing proactively or effectively to stop the spread…
Inmate.. overheard C/O Amaro tell some inmates on the tier that administration told the C/Os and guards that if they have tested positive but are asymptomatic they must come to work or be fired. Mr Amaro works on the grounds crew. They are not testing all of the inmates even though several of them have been moved off of her tier because they were covid positive and also on C tier in building 21 they have moved six people out of there that were tested positive. I have a friend in there, … …who told me that there are quite a few on his tier(C) are sick and have not been tested or had their temperatures taken.
Grady and Hampton LLC
6 N. Bradford St.
Dover, DE 19904
Email to me from Steve on 12/8/20:
12/08 382 inmates positive for COVID in DOC prisons, an apparent decrease of 84 since yesterday.
154 inmates positive at JTVCC. 31 positive at BWCI. 192 positive at HRYCI. 4 at SCI. 1 at Hazel Plant facility.
HOWEVER, this decrease is all based on the number of positives going down at JTVCC from 250 to 154 overnight. I have been told that perhaps this apparent drop is simply based on the way DOC is counting positive tests.
If they took a large number from a specific date, and then using the new criteria Delaware Public Health adopted today, regarding stay home times, count 7 days if no symptoms and a clear test at day 5 …or 10 days . However those early “recovery” dates put out by the CDC a week or 2 ago- were drafted for people where there was an economic hardship, or frontline people that are hard to replace like physicians / nurses working in COVID units and such .
Even if using counting criteria designed for frontline workers and people with hardships is part of the reason for the decline, it does not explain how the symptomatic offenders dropped from 26 to 13 overnight at JTVCC and doesn’t explain how the numbers at HRYCI, BWCI and SCI all went up overnight. It also doesn’t explain how the number of positive staff increased by 12 since 12/04.
12/07 108 total staff positive, up 12 since 12/04..
36 staff positive at JTVCC. 8 positive at BWCI. 33 positive at HRYCI. 9 positive at SCI. 6 positive at the Plummer Center. 3 positive at P&P Hares Corner. 3 positive at P&P Cherry Lane. 3 positive at SCCC. 2 positive at Steven Floyd Academy. 2 at Hazel Plant facility. 1 positive at Court and Trans. 1 positive at DOC admin bldg.
ALSO, a reliable source sent me this morning:
As of 12/7: Bldg 22 and 23 are full. Over flow of ~20 are in the infirmary. A decision is being made whether to make a third building, Covid exclusive. (I think that they are hoping some of the current inmates will test negative, to prevent the need for a third building)
There are inmates hospitalized.
91 CO’s are positive.
Again, they have not stopped the movement of CO’s in their work assignments from contaminated areas to non contaminated areas. Pods, desks, chairs, computers, walkie-talkies, phones, bathroom flushing handles, doorknobs-all should be decontaminated And mandatory masks, goes without saying.
Conveniently it seems that the numbers went down overnight at JTVCC and DOC won’t have to open up another building for COVID. That is one of the reasons I remain highly suspicious of DOC’s numbers and suspect they are undercounting inmate cases.
I also received this message from yesterday written by an inmate at JTVCC.
We are in a mental health unit and they have been using this building to house people from P.A. and people from Gander Hill. They put us all at risk. This was the only building that did not have Covid cases but as soon as they put people here from other facilities it hit this building hard.
DOC has not put out a press release since 11/24 that even mentions COVID-19 cases.