This is serious stuff. How did we ever elect a moron like tRump, who allowed so many people to get foreign governments to interfere with our policies! Unlike some of the others, tRump cannot pardon this fool, and he should get prison time.
They should seize his passport.
Excerpts from the Article.
Tom Barrack, a longtime friend of Donald Trump’s who chaired the committee that raised more than $100 million for his inauguration, has been charged with acting as an agent of a foreign government and obstruction of justice.
Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said Tuesday that in 2016, Barrack illegally sought to use his influence with the new president on behalf of the United Arab Emirates.
In May 2016, according to the indictment, Barrack “took steps to establish himself as the key communications channel for the United Arab Emirates” to the Trump campaign and, that same month, gave a co-defendant a draft copy of an energy speech then-candidate Trump was preparing to deliver. The co-defendant then sent it to a UAE official and solicited feedback.
“Congrats on the great job today,” court records quoted the Emirati official saying in an email to Barrack after Trump delivered the speech. “Everybody here are happy with the results.”
At a court appearance in California, where he was arrested Tuesday morning, Barrack was ordered detained after prosecutors described him as “an extremely wealthy and powerful individual with substantial ties to Lebanon, the UAE, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” who “poses a serious flight risk.”
Between May 2016 and October 2017, Barrack “repeatedly promoted the United Arab Emirates and its foreign policy interests during media appearances” after soliciting direction from his co-defendant and UAE officials, the indictment said.
“The defendant promoted UAE-favored policy positions in the Campaign, in the Administration, and through the media, at times using specific language provided by UAE leadership,” assistant U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis wrote in the court filing. “The defendant never registered as an agent of the UAE, as public disclosure of his agreement to act at the direction of senior UAE officials would have diminished, if not eliminated, the access and influence that the UAE sought and valued.”
The allegations involving Barrack came to light as part of a House Oversight Committee investigation, ABC News reported in July 2019.
Man it was FUN! Tearing lying witnesses to shreds on the witness stand. I guess there is a knack to it, but all you need to do is pay attention to what they say in their testimony – make notes of exactly what they say (I always did; I had two pens in my hand with different colored ink, blue for direct testimony and black for what they said on cross examination) – , and then show why it just is not true! Be sarcastic if it works: to the 212 pound biker dude: “Oh, you threw that 92 pound woman down in the parking lot and kicked her with your boots because you were afraid she would hurt you?!” Point out the absurdity of what they say.
All I know is, when I got done with them it was clear to everyone in the room they were either lying like hell or did not know what they were talking about! I even had jurors laughing during a murder trial. READ http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/beware-expert-witnesses-funny-true-story-experts/
But I must caution you! READ http://www.citizensforcriminaljustice.net/the-criminal-justice-system-is-so-fucked-up-that-you-cannot-predict-anything-short-essay-by-kra/ The Criminal Justice System is so Fucked Up that You Cannot Predict Anything! – short essay by kra – 3/24/20
Any questions, CALL me at 302-423-4067.
Now give him all the support he needs to keep the Capitol safe!
Excerpts from the Article:
A police official who has run large departments in Maryland and Virginia has been selected as chief of the U.S. Capitol Police in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 insurrection, in which pro-Trump rioters stormed the building in a violent rage, disrupting the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential win.
J. Thomas Manger, who most recently served for 15 years as chief in Montgomery County, Maryland, was picked for the position following an extensive search, according to four people briefed on the matter. The people were not authorized to discuss the selection process publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
The decision comes as the Capitol Police and other law enforcement agencies are struggling to determine the best way to secure the Capitol and what direction to take the 2,300-person force that guards the building and the lawmakers inside it and functions as mashup of a national security agency and local police department.
The department has asked for more funding for more officers and better riot gear. In the meantime, the massive fence that encircled the grounds was taken down in the past few weeks.
The Capitol Police Board, which includes the House and Senate sergeant at arms and the Architect of the Capitol, is charged with oversight of the police force and led the search.
Manger served as chief in Montgomery County, outside Washington, from 2004 to 2019. Before that, he led the Fairfax, Virginia, police department. Those jobs, as well as a leadership position in the Major Cities Chiefs Association, have made him a familiar face in Washington law enforcement circles and on Capitol Hill.
Acting Chief Yogananda Pittman was elevated to the role after the agency’s top official, Steven Sund, was forced out a day after the riot.
Pittman, a longtime Capitol police officer, wasn’t expected to get the job permanently. And her appointment did little to soothe the tumult inside the department or to quell concerns about failures of preparation and intelligence-sharing ahead of the insurrection.
She faced steep criticism from her own officers after they said she showed little to no leadership on the day of the insurrection. The union voted overwhelmingly to show no confidence in her.
As the invaders wielded metal pipes, planks of wood, stun guns and bear spray, the vastly outnumbered rank-and-file officers inside the building were left to fend for themselves without proper communication or strong guidance from supervisors. The officers weren’t sure when they could use deadly force, had failed to properly lock down the building and could be heard making frantic radio calls for backup as they were shoved to the ground and beaten by rioters, with some left bloodied.
Seven people died during and after the rioting, including a woman who was shot and killed by police as she tried to break into the House chamber and three other Trump supporters who suffered medical emergencies. Two police officers died by suicide in the days that followed, and a third officer, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, collapsed and later died after engaging with the protesters. A medical examiner determined he died of natural causes.
Pittman had been in charge of intelligence leading up to the riot, which caught law enforcement badly off guard. She conceded to Congress that multiple levels of failures allowed pro-Trump rioters to storm the building but denied that law enforcement had failed to take the threat seriously, noting how Capitol Police several days before the riot had distributed an internal document warning that extremists were poised for violence.
Pittman became the first Black and female police chief in the department’s nearly 200-year history after becoming one of the first two Black women promoted to captain. The department has long faced allegations of racism, notably in a 2001 class action lawsuit brought on behalf of more than 300 current and former officers who alleged they lost out on promotions and assignments to less-qualified officers and were harassed with racial epithets.
He clearly is a racist pig, and a danger to society!
Excerpts from the Article:
Tucker Carlson huddled in a low-ceilinged dungeon that had served as a holding pen for Africans bound for enslavement in the United States. It was a July day in 2003 in Ghana, and Carlson stood alongside some of Americans walked through the memorial, where a guide told how the shackled Africans who did not perish during the voyage were sold as human chattel in America.
The civil rights leaders prayed, cried and sang “We Shall Overcome.” They peered toward the sea from the Door of No Return. But Carlson seemed strangely detached, according to two of the civil rights leaders who were present.
“When we got to the castle and the dungeon, it had an emotional impact on all of us, as Africans in America,” said the Rev. Albert Sampson, a former associate of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Then there was what he called “the tragedy of Carlson.”c
“He did not cry,” Sampson told The Washington Post in his first interview about the encounter. “He did not have any intellectual response. He didn’t give any verbal response. It was a total detachment from the reality of the event.”
When Carlson wrote an account of the trip several months later, he sounded derisive, describing how he thought a teary-eyed Sampson “was going to bite me” but instead put his arms on Carlson and said with a smile, “I love you, man.”
“Sampson was trying to make me feel guilty,” Carlson wrote in an account for Esquire. “It wasn’t obvious to me at the time. The idea that I’d be responsible for the sins (or, for that matter, share in the glory of the accomplishments) of dead people who happened to share my skin tone has always confused me. Racial solidarity wasn’t a working concept in my southern-California hometown.”
At the time, Carlson’s words were easily forgotten, mere musings from a Washington pundit in his mid-30s with a bow tie and a limited following beyond daytime cable television. His seeming dismissiveness of the emotion of the moment set him apart from many fellow conservatives, who were seeking inroads with Black religious leaders and looking to broaden the appeal of the Republican Party in part by acknowledging the evils of racism. The same month that Carlson flew to Africa, President George W. Bush toured Gorée Island in Senegal, from which generations of enslaved people were shipped to the United States, and decried slavery as “one of the greatest crimes of history.”
But Carlson’s assessment of his trip to Ghana nearly two decades ago offered an early sign of sentiments that he had been expressing for years — and that would ultimately help transform him into the preeminent voice of angry White America. It is that role that Carlson, 52, now plays every weeknight from his prime-time perch on Fox News.
This account of Carlson’s years-long focus on racial grievance, and his rise to the top of the conservative media ecosystem, is based on a review of his books, broadcasts and writings over nearly three decades, as well as interviews with current and former associates, subjects of his on-air attacks and others who have observed his career.
What emerges is a portrait of an ambitious television personality who came of age in privilege — having grown up in an upper-class enclave and attended private schools — but who, by his own telling, is a victim.
Carlson, in his writings and commentaries, has described resentment toward liberals as far back as the first grade. He has frequently ridiculed the notion that America should celebrate diversity and has lashed out repeatedly at the idea that he, as a White person, bears any responsibility for racism against Black people.
This was a fair sentence. It looks like those rioters with more serious charges, like weapons charges and assault charges, will get serious time, which is what they deserve. Of course, his day is coming for the instigator of it all, Donald J Trump.
Excerpts from the Article:
A Florida man was sentenced to eight months in prison Monday, marking the first felony sentence from the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
Paul Allard Hodgkins, 38, of Tampa, was arrested in February after the FBI received a tip identifying him carrying a large “Trump 2020” flag on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Hodgkins pleaded guilty in June to a single felony count of obstructing an official proceeding. The felony carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Following his prison sentence, Hodgkins will be placed under two years of supervised release.
Hodgkins is the third person to be sentenced for being part of the mayhem at the U.S. Capitol. In June, an Indiana woman was given three years probation after pleading guilty to a charge of illegally demonstrating in the Capitol. Last week a Florida man was sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge.
More than 500 people have been charged with federal crimes for their role in the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion.
“Although you were only one member of a larger mob, you actively participated in a larger event that threatened the Capitol and democracy itself,” U.S. District Court Judge Randolph Moss of Washington, D.C., said during the two-hour court proceeding.
Moss called the events that unfolded at the Capitol “extraordinary” and an “assault on democracy.”
Hodgkins described his actions on Jan. 6 as the result of a “foolish decision” and told the court that he was “caught up in an emotional protest.”
“I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I am truly remorseful and regretful for my actions, not because I face consequences but because of the damage that day’s incident caused and the way this country that I love has been hurt,” Hodgkins said Monday.
Trump, during a rally outside the White House, encouraged thousands of supporters to march to the Capitol to protest what historically have been ceremonial proceedings.
Texas … it figures; their judges really suck dog farts! Congress should act to protect ALL “Dreamers”. Immigrants made this nation great.
Excerpts from the Article:
A federal judge in Texas on Friday ruled that Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the Obama-era program shielding certain undocumented immigrants from deportation, is illegal and blocked new applicants.
The ruling from Judge Andrew Hanen would bar future applications. It does not immediately cancel current permits for hundreds of thousands of people — though it once again leaves them in devastating legal limbo and is a reminder of the uncertainty they face.
DACA, created in 2012, was intended to provide temporary reprieve to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children — a group often described as “Dreamers” — many of whom are now adults.
But almost a decade since the program was established, DACA is still one of the only signs of potential relief for undocumented immigrants looking to remain and work in the US.
Hanen, an appointee of President George W. Bush, ruled that Congress had not granted the Department of Homeland Security the authority to create DACA and that it prevented immigration officials from enforcing removal provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act.
“Congress has not granted the Executive Branch free rein to grant lawful presence outside the ambit of the statutory scheme,” Hanen wrote.
But he noted that DACA is part of the current American fabric.
“Hundreds of thousands of individual DACA recipients, along with their employers, states, and loved ones, have come to rely on the DACA program,” Hanen wrote in a separate ruling Friday night. “Given those interests, it is not equitable for a government program that has engendered such a significant reliance to terminate suddenly.”
Congress remains the only body that can provide a permanent solution for DACA recipients through legislation, but immigration legislation has been stalled for years and Democrats immediately called for action given Friday’s order.
“As we await the swift stay that the law clearly requires, Democrats will continue to press for any and all paths to ensure that the Dream and Promise Act, now passed twice by the House, becomes the law of the land,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. “Democrats call on Republicans in Congress to join us in respecting the will of the American people and the law, to ensure that Dreamers have a permanent path to citizenship,” Pelosi said, calling Dreamers the “pride of our nation.”
Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Texas Democrat, and his twin brother Julian Castro, who served as secretary of Housing and Urban Development under former President Barack Obama, called the decision “terrible.” “The dreams of hundreds of thousands of young people who are contributing to the American economy will be put on hold for no good reason. Congress must pass a pathway to citizenship this year. We can’t wait,” Joaquin Castro said on Twitter. “Dreamers have lived in uncertainty for far too long. It’s time Congress give them the protections they deserve. We must pass the budget reconciliation bill,” Julián Castro said.
“The U.S. is the only home that Dreamers have ever known, and they should not be forced to live in fear of deportation. DACA empowered undocumented youth to come out of the shadows and contribute to our communities in immeasurable ways — from serving in our military to being on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic,” the Nevada Democrat said in a statement.
“Justice Thomas noted that the majority’s failure to address DACA’s creation was ‘an effort to avoid a politically controversially but legally correct decision’ that would result in future ‘battles to be fought in this Court,'” Hanen wrote. “While the controversial issue may ultimately return to the Supreme Court, the battle Justice Thomas predicted currently resides here and it is not one this Court can avoid.”
Balderdash! I sure don’t agree with this one. Our AG, Kathy Jennings, hit the nail on the head when she said: “abusing public office ought to be at the top of the list of disqualifications from holding future office.”
Excerpts from the Article:
Delaware’s high court on Friday ruled that former Newport Police Chief Michael Capriglione can hold the town commission seat he was elected to earlier this year, overturning a lower court’s ruling that barred him from holding office.
The one-page order from the Delaware Supreme Court states that Capriglione shall be allowed to take the oath of office and that the court will explain its legal rationale in a more thorough opinion later.
“I feel vindicated,” Capriglione said when reached by telephone Friday.
A spokesperson for Attorney General Kathy Jennings, whose office fought to bar Capriglione from the commission seat, said Capriglione being allowed to take office is disappointing and that “abusing public office ought to be at the top of the list of disqualifications from holding future office.”
The ruling is the latest – and perhaps, final – turn of controversy around whether the once-celebrated and longtime chief, who left the department before pleading guilty to official misconduct, should be able to hold elected office in the town.
After his four-decade career on the small-town’s police department unraveled with criminal charges against him, he received 32 votes in April to be elected to one of the four open seats on Newport’s town commission, which creates laws and approves spending for the town of about 1,000.
After a DelawareOnline/The News Journal article documented his return to public office, the Delaware Department of Justice submitted an emergency petition to block him from being sworn-in as commissioner.
On the afternoon that he was scheduled to take the oath of office, New Castle County Superior Court President Judge Jan Jurden put that ceremony on hold. Then, over subsequent weeks, Jurden weighed briefings and arguments from prosecutors and Capriglione’s attorney over whether Delaware law disqualified him from holding the position.
Capriglione was charged with felony evidence tampering and misdemeanor official misconduct in May 2018 after he crashed into a parked police vehicle in the Town Hall parking lot on his way to teach a defensive driving course.
He did not report the crash, lied to city officials and officers about it, and, in the dead of night, entered the room containing the server with video footage of the crash that he later ordered a surveillance company to delete.
He pleaded guilty to the misconduct charge, was sentenced to probation and was barred from being a police officer again.
Prosecutors argued his official misconduct pleading stemmed from him lying in his official role of trust as police chief, and that Delaware law disqualifying those convicted of “infamous crimes” from holding public office barred him from taking the commissioner’s seat.
Stephani Ballard, Capriglione’s attorney, argued that prior rulings by Delaware courts set legal precedent that a misdemeanor, like official misconduct, does not qualify as an infamous crime.
Through the decades, the definition of “infamous crime” and how it applies to misdeeds by several candidates for political office has been the subject of press debate and used by previous Delaware attorneys general to warn certain candidates from seeking public office. Most of those debates never made it to a courtroom.
Jurden ultimately ruled that the law should apply to the circumstances around Capriglione’s crime and barred him from the office.
Capriglione appealed to the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments on the appeal this week. On Friday, the court overturned Jurden’s decision and said Capriglione could be sworn in as commissioner.
Through a spokesperson, Jennings, the attorney general, said she has made “rooting out public corruption” a priority of her administration and that she was working with lawmakers to reclassify the crime of official misconduct as a felony.
The Supreme Court’s ruling was expedited so Capriglione may take office and states that a more thorough opinion discussing why the justices felt Jurden’s ruling was incorrect will be issued later.
Capriglione said he expects to be sworn in before the commission’s August meeting, but a date has not been set.
The fight over Capriglione’s qualification for the office also occurred as he is suing the town for more than $173,000 in back pay he claims he is owed.
The kind of ex offender we need in this world!
Excerpts from the Article: “Too many people in the San Fernando Valley knew me for all the wrong reasons,” Danny Trejo writes of his hometown.
That was then. Now, Trejo’s face, riddled with scars, watches over California’s San Fernando Valley in a huge mural that pays tribute to the legend.
“In Hollywood, they give you a star that everybody can step on. In the Valley, they give you a mural,” Trejo, a beloved Los Angeles icon, says in a recent video interview with USA TODAY.
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Trejo, 77, opens up about nearly every aspect of his life in a new memoir, co-written with longtime friend and actor Donal Logue, “Trejo: My Life of Crime, Redemption, and Hollywood” (Atria Books, out now).
His memoir captures a different picture of the “Machete” and “Desperado” actor fans have grown to love (or fear), covering his 11 years in and out of prison, his road to sobriety, growing up in a Mexican-American household and the intergenerational trauma he’s endured, the ways fatherhood changed him, and his acting career and foray into the food scene.
Trejo, who was born in Maywood in 1944, spent time in juvenile camps before eventually being incarcerated in Soledad and San Quentin state prisons for possession of drugs, dealing and armed robberies. About one of his first nights in “California’s death row” in 1966, at age 21, Trejo writes: “I said, to myself, ‘Danny, you’re going to die here.'”
But in 1968, Trejo says, he made a deal with God.
“If you let me die with dignity, I will say your name every day and I will do whatever I can for my fellow inmate,” he says. “I said ‘inmate’ because I never thought I was getting out of prison. By the grace of God, on August 23, 1969, they let me out. I kept my deal. I say his name 20 times a day and I help wherever I can.”
While still serving time, Trejo began attending 12-step programs and eventually became sober. After prison, he worked as a drug counselor.
If there’s anything he hopes readers walk away with, he says, it is the belief “that it doesn’t matter where you start, it’s where you end.”
His road to redemption, however, wasn’t linear. In and out of prison for over a decade, three things were constant in Trejo’s life: his Uncle Gilbert (who, the actor writes, introduced him to a life of crime at a young age), the drugs and the women.
Trejo, who’s been married four times, is aware of his mistreatment of the women in his life. (“I loved them but how could I trust them?” he writes.)
“I’ve tried to make amends with the women I’ve been involved with simply because it wasn’t their fault, I was broken,” Trejo says.
Trejo, a father of five, proudly recalls his daughter Danielle, now 31, schooling him on how to treat women.
“My daughter taught me more about how to deal with women than anybody in my life,” he says. Whenever he’d say something he didn’t think was “crude,” his daughter would ask: “How would you like it if (a man) said that to me?”
“Well, I’d kill him,” Trejo says he’d respond. “My daughter really helped me change my life.”
His son Gilbert, 33, named after his late uncle, also called his father out on his “toxic masculinity” on their drive home one night, which Trejo details in his memoir. (Trejo writes he was so shocked that he called Logue to ask what that meant: “Donal what the hell is toxic masculinity? Because it’s what Gilbert says I was raised with!”) Trejo’s view of masculinity has changed since that car ride.
“Masculine means you go to work, you support your family, you help out your neighbors – that’s masculine, that’s machismo. We got it screwed up, thinking we’re supposed to be warriors. No, we’re not, we’re supposed to be caretakers. That’s what masculinity means to me now.”
To him, the idea of masculinity is acts of service.
“Everything good that has happened to me, has happened as a direct result of helping someone else,” he adds, “and that’s masculine – helping people.”
According to Trejo’s IMDb page, he holds 407 acting credits and has been “killed” onscreen more than any other actor (he got his start as an extra in the 1985 action film “Runaway Train”), but he didn’t always feel taken seriously by Hollywood peers. He writes of one instance where he found himself still walking the line between two worlds – “my past as a convicted felon and my new vocation as an actor.”
Nevertheless, Trejo demanded respect. “I’ve called a few people to the side and told them, ‘Look, holmes, you don’t disrespect me because you don’t want to know what happens,” Trejo says. “And people understand, they’re like, ‘Oh wait, this is a real person. This isn’t a movie star.’ I hate being called a movie star.”
He’s a “working actor,” rather.
“I’m looking for my next job,” he explains. “I get hired to act, no matter what, whether I’m the lead or the extra. That’s the way I like to keep it. I’m always friends with (everyone), all the extras.”
Or as Trejo prefers to call them, “the background artists,” because “you couldn’t make a movie without them.”
And for Trejo, there’s no plan to retire from acting on the horizon.
“If I get any older, I’ll be the grouchy abuelito (grandpa),” Trejo says, laughing when asked if he’ll ever stop working in the film industry. “I love what I do, I do what I love.”
Naturally, with the life he’s lived, Trejo advises young aspiring Latino filmmakers and actors to “just keep going for that brass ring.”
“Don’t quit. Don’t let nobody say you can’t do it,” Trejo says. “Meet people, be as friendly as you can. In every situation you walk into, try to leave better. And that’s what I do, I don’t care what it is. I want to be a better person today than I was yesterday.”
After Reviewing Videos Depicting Attacks By Guards Of Women Prison Inmates, N.J. Civil Rights Lawyers Commit To Legal Action To Hold Those Responsible Fully Accountable
More inexcusable prison brutality.
Excerpts from the Article:
New Jersey civil rights attorneys Shelley L. Stangler, of Shelley L. Stangler, P.C. and Oliver Barry, of Barry, Corrado & Grassi, P.C., who together represent several Edna Mahan Correction Facility For Women inmates that were filmed as they were brutally beaten by corrections officers on January 11, 2021, said that they are committed to legal action to hold those responsible fully accountable. The lawyers, who commended the press for filing the open-records request that led to the state’s disclosure of the 10 deeply disturbing videos, said citizens should keep in mind that the edited videos are the tip of iceberg and that the entirety of the footage should be made public.
Ms. Stangler said, “We are, sadly, not surprised by the videos, including the brazen beatings of inmates during forced-cell extractions, in light of the U.S. Department of Justice’s blistering investigation exposing a problematic culture of civil rights violations at the prison, and more recently, the scathing investigative report issued by independent special counsel Matthew Boxer.” She added, “If there’s truly going to be transparency and a fresh start in how New Jersey’s only women’s prison is operated, then all such documentation should be made public.” The Edna Mahan Inmate Beating Videos can be viewed here.
Rae Rollins, one of the Edna Mahan victims who has filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Corrections alleging excessive force and systemic civil rights violations at the prison, said through Mr. Barry, her attorney, she was “glad that the footage had been released because it gives the public a chance to see how she and others were treated at the prison.”
Mr. Barry commended Governor Murphy’s decision to close the prison, but cautioned along with his co-counsel that “while the administration works towards a suitable replacement facility or other replacement plan, the systemic problems that fueled these attacks must be addressed. It is the oversight, training, and culture issues that must be exposed and eradicated in order to fix the prison system.”
Ms. Stangler, who represents inmate and beating victim Desiree DaSilva, added, “We will continue to fight for Ms. DaSilva and the rights of all inmates – past, present, and future – knowing that a new building with a new name will not erase generations of unchecked, barbaric institutional discrimination, harassment, and violence.”
She said her client’s mother and sister told her after seeing the videos, “It’s horrible how they treat women inside of there. We would never have expected anything like that to have occurred and are shocked by it. We fear for the safety of our beloved Desiree.”
Just because they sit on a court of appeals doesn’t mean they have souls. It should surprise nobody that respect for the Courts is at an all time low, with idiots like these on the Bench!
Excerpts from the Article:
A federal appeals court has ruled the Kentucky Department of Corrections can deny a life-saving medication for inmates with hepatitis C because it is expensive — a decision a dissenting judge says will condemn hundreds of prisoners to long-term organ damage and suffering.
In a 2-1 ruling, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel said Tuesday the department can deny the treatment, which cures nearly 100% of patients but costs $13,000 to $32,000.
The majority found that denying it to most of Kentucky’s 1,200 inmates with hepatitis C does not constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
But in a sharply worded dissent, Judge Jane Stranch of Nashville said by “flouting the recognized standard of care,” the Corrections Department “consigns thousands of prisoners with symptomatic, chronic HCV to years of additional suffering and irreversible liver scarring.”
She said by withholding medical treatment until the damage caused by an inmate’s chronic hepatitis C infection has progressed too far to be reversible, Kentucky’s rationing plan “shocks the conscience” and is fundamentally unfair.
Louisville attorney Greg Belzley, who represents prisoners in a class-action lawsuit, called the decision “horrendous” and said they would ask for a rehearing or petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
“Basically the majority … ruled that Kentucky prison officials don’t have to do anything to treat an inmate’s infection except sit around and watch it get worse,” he said in an email.
Lisa Lamb, a spokeswoman for the Corrections Department, said its policy aligns with the practices of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, and two courts have found the Kentucky department is not violating the constitutional rights of prisoners.
Hepatitis C is the leading cause of liver transplantation and serious liver disease, including cirrhosis and liver cancer. It is a blood-borne disease that can be caused by sharing contaminated needles, using unsterilized tattoo equipment and engaging in risky sexual behavior.
An estimated 71 million people are affected worldwide. Kentucky has the highest infection rate in the United States.
She also said the treatment saves money in the long run because it reduces the costs of caring for illnesses caused by hepatitis C, including liver disease, lymphoma and diabetes.
Dr. Jens Rosenau, acting director of hepatology at UK HealthCare, said treatment is potentially beneficial for almost any infected individual and recommended by liver and infectious disease society guidelines.
In her dissent, Stranch said “there is ample evidence that defendants were well aware of the long-term harm caused by delaying treatment and the universal medical recommendation that all individuals with chronic HCV should be prescribed DAAs,” Stranch wrote.
“Yet according to defendants themselves, they chose not to administer DAAs to all inmates because of the cost of the drugs, a decision that exposed inmates to ongoing suffering and long-term organ damage.”
Belzley said in an email the department doesn’t treat any infected inmates until their liver has already become cirrhotic, and while hepatitis C is curable, cirrhosis is not.
He said as of August 2019, the most recently available figures, the department has identified 1,670 prisoners as HCV-positive. Only 159 had received any treatment.
The majority held that “an inmate’s disagreement with the testing and treatment he has received” does not amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
Senior Judge Alice Batchelder and Judge Richard Allen Griffin upheld a decision by U.S. District Judge Gregory F. VanTatenhove of Lexington, who found the department’s monitoring of inmates with hepatitis C constituted “treatment” and the department’s treatment plan was adequate.
Belzley said what was particularly irritating about the majority decision was the plaintiffs presented “undisputed evidence” it would cost taxpayers less to treat infected inmates in prison than to wait until they are released. Meanwhile, they would infect others before finally receiving treatment.
“This is a decision that makes no sense in logic, under the law, or for Kentucky taxpayers,” he said.
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Belzley said lawyers have made “enormous progress in securing effective treatment for the obviously serious medical needs of inmates in Kentucky jails and prisons, which is a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
“This is a huge, and alarming, step back,” he said. “Unless reversed, this decision will be used to justify jail and prison officials’ deliberate indifference to the serious medical conditions of the Kentuckians in their care and custody.”