Posts Tagged ‘prison’

prison strike

Prison strike 2018

About a month ago, wading through my vast vacation email, I came across a story about a nationwide prison strike: incarcerated people across the country were uniting to protest the inhumane conditions that pass for our prison system. Here’s a short video from last week.

The prison strike demands included:

1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women. Yes, and while they’re at it, getting rid of for-profit prisons.

2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.

As MoveOn noted, “Many incarcerated people are often forced to work with minimal or no pay in strenuous jobs. Just this past summer, there were incarcerated individuals fighting fires in California for just $1 an hour — though they won’t even qualify to get jobs as firefighters in California once they’re out of prison.” In states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, and Texas, incarcerated people receive no pay for their labor.

Everyone assumes that slavery ended with the 13th Amendment, but the amendment reads as follows:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

The 13th Amendment to the Constitution actually created a loophole that legitimized slavery—and is used to this day to force people in prison to work with little to no pay, a strategy that allowed slavery by another name, starting shortly after the Civil War.

3. An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.

4. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count!

But, of course, I know a lot of folks don’t care. Recently, on Last Week Tonight, John Oliver urged Floridians to vote because convicted felons can’t, ever, unless the law changes.

Oliver showed people thinking that the issue doesn’t matter to them because of the feeling that people in prison must have done something wrong – which may not be true. But even those who did the crime, once they’ve done the time, STILL can’t participate in the democratic process.

Logic suggests one would want those rehabilitated citizens “to participate democratically in the fundamental act of how we shape our society,” to have a sense of ownership in their communities.

Syrian children

It’s not just Freddie Gray. The Justice Department’s new report shows how wide and deep Baltimore’s police problems are

My four months as a private prison guard, which has led to US phasing out private prison use

US: The Real Way the 2016 Election Is Rigged

Joseph Goebbels’ 105-year-old secretary: ‘No one believes me now, but I knew nothing’ – she said Read the rest of this entry »

wrong reenactment
Still on the mend, wearing this band around my waist, until at least November 9. I will write about this eventually.

I’ve managed to watch more baseball in the past week and a half than I saw the entire regular season. Great to see former Met Rusty Staub after his heart attack. Rooting for the Mets, or if they get eliminated, the Cubs. Just realized that the World Series Game 5 would be November. If it’s the Dodgers in the Series, I’m rooting for the American League team.

ALSO, my office is moving this week. Note to self: do NOT pick up anything over 20 pounds.

Understanding Mass Incarceration and Bringing It Down: An Interview With James Kilgore.

John Oliver: rips GOP candidates for blaming gun violence on mental illness in absence of a plan, and Migrants and Refugees.

Color film was made for white people.

The War on Science, even in Canada.

Seth Meyers explains that ridiculous Congressional hearing over Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood’s “Government Funding”: The Same Kind Your Doctor Receives.
Read the rest of this entry »

matt_sweatOnce upon a time, I used to complained that The Wife did not follow the news enough, mostly because events I thought were commonly known, she was unaware of. She does pay more attention now, checking out 5 minutes of the NPR news each weekday morning, plus catching news at other times of the day.

There was one recent story for which she definitely took notice, which was two convicted murderers, Richard Matt and David Sweat, breaking out of prison, the Clinton Correctional Facility at Dannemora in (WAY) upstate New York on June 6. Truth is that it would been very difficult to have avoided Read the rest of this entry »

purplemapJaquandor asks:

How do we solve the police brutality problem? To what extent is it a part of a larger problem with our society, indicating a deep and abiding devotion to punitive violence? I see police brutality as another facet of the problem that leads to our awful prisons and our enormous prison population.

First, I need to note the killing of two New York City police officers on December 20. It was correctly described as an assassination, and I mourn their deaths.

At the same time, I believe the remarks of Rudy Guiliani, blaming their deaths on President Obama as amazingly irresponsible, as well as untrue. The problem of excessive force by the police exists in a small, but significant number of cases. And it’s not “anti-police” when New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, who is white but married to a black woman, instructs his children, and especially his son with the great ‘fro, in specific ways to cautiously and politely deal with the police.

Others, including former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who had some legal problems of his own a while back, suggested that the shootings were ultimately encouraged by de Blasio and the Rev. Al Sharpton, and that “they have blood on their hands.” He told Newsmax: “The people who encouraged these protests — you had peaceful protesters who were screaming ‘kill the cops’ — the so-called peaceful protesters. Who was encouraging these protesters? De Blasio, Sharpton and other elected officials and community leaders. They encouraged this mentality. They encouraged this behavior.”

Anyone who has ever been to a protest – I have attended more than a few in my time – knows that there are occasionally outliers at these events, people whose positions don’t jibe with the organizers’ intents. So would it be better that such Constitutionally-protected demonstrations be quashed?

That, BTW, was what the Tea Party folks said when a couple people killed two Las Vegas police officers in June 2014, that those cop killers, who had rallied with Cliven Bundy, along with people who POINTED GUNS at law enforcement officials, did not represent the movement.

Jon Stewart got it right when he said one can grieve the loss AND worry about the police overreach; they are NOT mutually exclusive.

To the question: I should note that not all the excessive violence is directed toward young black males. For instance, TX SWAT team beats, deafens nude man in his own home, lies about arrest; judge declines to punish cops or DA. There seems to be a need by some police to quash all possibly illicit behavior. If Eric Garner WERE selling individual cigarettes in Staten Island, it certainly wasn’t a felony.

I’m not sure of the cause of ALL the violence. I once posited on someone’s website the theory that these first person shooter games might have some effect on the cognitive understanding of life for some people, but was told by gaming experts that there’s “no relationship.” Maybe, maybe not. I’ve wondered about this at least since Vietnam, when one could drop the precision bombs without having any discernible understanding. And now war can really tidy, with people in the middle of the US dropping bombs on people half a world away; looks very much like a video game to me.

I AM convinced that the tremendous rise in the prison population, mostly for non-violent drug use, which I wrote about extensively, is a major contributor. Prison is, I’ve been told, a great school for becoming a better criminal.

Surely the militarism of the police, with all that post-9/11 money doled about by the federal government has led to a war zone mentality. But even in Afghanistan and Iraq, the military had a plan of engaging with the communities, whereas in the urban centers of the US, some of the residents feel like the police are an occupying force.

Maybe all the things that keep us disconnected from our surroundings – surburbia, synthetic food, our personal electronic devices, the bile that comes from commenting anonymously on social media – matter. SOMETHING is fueling a general rage – road rage, online rage.

Bottom line, though: the anger in the community is not just that there are excessive uses of force. The problem is that there appears to be lack of accountability for the actions. I’ve heard the body cameras for police will be a solution. But there WAS footage of Eric Garner dying. Police video would have not likely change the “no indictment” outcome. Did you see that the Ferguson prosecutor allowed witnesses that were “clearly not telling the truth” to the grand jury?

It may be that guns make police less safe, their jobs more difficult and communities less trusting. Or maybe it’s just the human condition.

This is a long way of saying, “Makes me wanna holler, throw up both my hands.”

Uthaclena wonders:

Okay, here’s one of my ponders: can the United States survive as a united entity? SHOULD it be a united entity, or would it be better off broken up so that the racist, theocratic barbarians can abuse themselves and leave the rest of us alone?

There are lots of precedents in the 20th century suggesting that this is a terrible idea. The creation of the state of Israel did not lead to peace in the Middle East. I learned from watching the Sanjay Gupta episode of the PBS series Finding Your Roots Read the rest of this entry »

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