Posts Tagged ‘criminal justice’

F.B.I. raids over the weekend in Minneapolis and Chicago aimed to “quiet activists”.

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Omar Khadr, a 23-year-old Canadian citizen was kidnapped by the military in Afghanistan after being shot to the infirmary at the U.S. detention center at Bagram Air Base, where he was tortured and threatened with rape before being transferred the prison at Guantánamo Bay—all when he was only 15—where he’s been held captive since. The ‘war crime’ was throwing a hand grenade at U.S. troops and allegedly killing one of them, though the cause of the soldier’s death is in question, the burden of proof cannot be met of who threw any grenades, throwing a grenade at a uniformed enemy is not a war crime and child soldiers are legally distinguished as victims.

At AntiWar Radio with Scott Horton, journalist, legal analyst and Human Right First senior associate in law and security Daphne Eviatar discussed the U.S. military commission to try Mr. Khadr for war crimes (25:55):

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The first military commission of a detainee renditioned to the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay under the Obama Administration opened Tuesday. Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen, was kidnapped eight years ago in Afghanistan at the age of 15 by the U.S. military, threatened with rape in detention at the U.S. air base at Bagram, transferred to Guantánamo where he was tortured until he confessed that he threw a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier. Monday evening, Texas A&M at Qatar associate professor Todd Kent noted that it will likely not be a political issue for the Adminsitration because the mainstream media is downplaying it, though criminal justice is a large part of the president’s avatar, at Al Jazeera English’s “Inside Story”—which focused on the coming so-called ‘trial’ (23:41):

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News and views from around the web posted to the Wonderland Wire:

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The RAND Corporation estimates the legalization of marijuana would lower the untaxed price to $38/oz.

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News and views from around the web posted to the Wonderland Wire
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Legal scholar on the ‘criminal justice system’ in the U.S. Michelle Alexander gave this extremely sad and illuminating interview to Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez at Democracy Now! highlighting the extensive racism in the framing and execution of law enforcement. She’s written the book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, and is touring the lecture circuit on the topic. What you’re about to see is shocking and heartbreaking to those with the most cynical outlook toward the State, let alone the almost helplessly naïve. As men of color, we felt this deeply and that it’s imperative that consciousness is heavily raised to the snowball effects of tyrannical laws and the way slavery has been overtly executed under our noses.

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Kevin Carson on the principled unification of the so-called ‘left and right’ regarding torture and the branding of all dissent and discovery as ‘terrorism’.

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The justices rule that a suspect who invokes that protection can be questioned again after 14 days.

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via Kyle Munzenrieder at the Miami New Times blog:

A proposed ordinance will come before the Miami Commission next month that would make it illegal for unauthorized people and groups to feed the homeless in Park West. Commission Chair Marc Sarnoff and other city officials spoke with Miami Today like the homeless in Miami are as disposable and worthless as excess pigeons.

(h/t: Marc Parent)

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Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! (DN!) interviews Mumia Abu-Jamal from Death Row a week after his plea for a new trial was rejected. (more…)

Scott Horton interviews Guy Lawon on the drug war, increasing violence in Mexico, and how prohibition fuels violence. (more…)


Daily Kos

The New York Times’ (NYT) New Years Eve editorial of 2008 commented on Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-VA) call for criminal justice reform. On top of the typical NYT ignorant statement that “billions of dollars now being spent on prisons each year could be used in far more socially productive ways,” instead of the logical statement that billions of dollars that don’t exist that can’t be repaid are being borrowed at interest to waste within our prison system, contributing to the hidden, most regressive tax in US monetary policy — inflation — the editorial doesn’t make the most logical (yet, simplest)  proposal to reform the US criminal justice system: cut crime.

What’s the easiest, cheapest, most efficient way to have less crime? Less laws. Something can’t be criminal if there’s no law prohibiting it.

The NYT’s own International Herald Tribune (IHT) published an article further exposing US prison population statistics that would make anyone raise their eyebrows:

The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.

The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College London.

China, which is four times more populous than the United States, is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison. (That number excludes hundreds of thousands of people held in administrative detention, most of them in China’s extrajudicial system of re-education through labor, which often singles out political activists who have not committed crimes.)

San Marino, with a population of about 30,000, is at the end of the long list of 218 countries compiled by the center. It has a single prisoner.

The United States comes in first, too, on a more meaningful list from the prison studies center, the one ranked in order of the incarceration rates. It has 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. (If you count only adults, one in 100 Americans is locked up.)

The median among all nations is about 125, roughly a sixth of the American rate.

… The United States, in fact, has relatively low rates of nonviolent crime. It has lower burglary and robbery rates than Australia, Canada and England.

People who commit nonviolent crimes in the rest of the world are less likely to receive prison time and certainly less likely to receive long sentences. The United States is, for instance, the only advanced country that incarcerates people for minor property crimes like passing bad checks, [James Whitman, a specialist in comparative law at Yale] wrote.

Efforts to combat illegal drugs play a major role in explaining long prison sentences in the United States as well. In 1980, there were about 40,000 people in American jails and prisons for drug crimes. These days, there are almost 500,000.

Change.org ranks the legalization of marijuana and ending the drug war higher in vote tally than other government policies that defy common sense and liberty like ending corporate personhood, repealing the Patriot [sic] Act, and reversing Pres. Bush’s decider-in-chief Executive Orders.

The September 2008 Zogby/Inter-American Dialogue Survey found that:

  • 76% of American voters believed that War on Drugs was failing, including 89% of those who intended to vote for Barack Obama in the coming months.
  • 27% of likely voters favored legalization of, at least, “some drugs” as the best approach.
  • 13% believed “that the best way to fight the war on drugs is to prevent production of narcotics in the country of origin.”

Bear in mind that this is highly indoctrinated public that isn’t, in any way, well informed when 76% view the War on Drugs’ progress in such a negative fashion and only 27% favor some legalization. Imagine if the people were better informed of the US’s embarrassing prison population and the tens of billions wasted every year to maintain it. Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron estimated “that legalizing drugs could save federal, state and local governments in the United States about $44 billion per year.” (This doesn’t include the billions to fund the war internationally.)

The biggest US funded drug war failure, outside of the atrocities committed to prop up dictators playing the drug war game and violently removing them from power when the CIA was done with them, is Mexico. The Mexican government continues to play our [sic] game, in theory and rhetoric, but government officials at every level of the hierarchy are overtly playing both sides of the coin and the drug cartels have infiltrated the Mexican attorney general’s office.

Mexicans polled by the BBC showed:

  • Thirty-seven per cent of those surveyed said the influence of the drugs cartels had made them think of leaving Mexico.
  • Drug trafficking was considered the second most important concern in their lives after corruption.
  • Drugs came above worries about the economy, general crime, education and social inequality.

According to the survey results, an apparently contradictory picture emerges of whether Mexicans agree with the government’s policy on fighting the drugs war.

  • More than half of those surveyed (53%) thought the government was doing better than last year
  • A strong majority (68%) agreed with the policy of involving the military in the fight against drug trafficking
  • More than half (58%) thought the war on drugs could be won.

However, an overwhelming majority (80%) thought the government should consider seeking other alternatives to end the problem. The respondents were also divided on whether the legalisation of drugs should be considered – 44% said yes, and 46% said no.

El Universal, a daily Mexican publication, estimates 8,463 deaths in the Mexican Drug War since the beginning of 2007.

With over $10 trillion in debt, another $10 trillion to fly off the printing press through recent bailouts, nearly $1 trillion to be printed in an Obama stimulus package, and Americans barely being able to heat their homes, let alone stay in them, and these are American tax dollars and debts at work.

One must wonder — with all of this loss and no gain in the drug war and overpopulated prisons in the US — why?

Enter a world of slavery that eclipses the theoretical postulations of wage-slavery: prison labor:

Human rights organizations, as well as political and social ones, are condemning what they are calling a new form of inhumane exploitation in the United States, where they say a prison population of up to 2 million – mostly Black and Hispanic – are working for various industries for a pittance. For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don’t have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don’t like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.

“The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners’ work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself,” says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being “an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps.”

The prison industry complex is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States and its investors are on Wall Street. “This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order/Internet catalogs. It also has direct advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors.”

According to the Left Business Observer, the federal prison industry produces 100% of all military helmets, ammunition belts, bullet-proof vests, ID tags, shirts, pants, tents, bags, and canteens. Along with war supplies, prison workers supply 98% of the entire market for equipment assembly services; 93% of paints and paintbrushes; 92% of stove assembly; 46% of body armor; 36% of home appliances; 30% of headphones/microphones/speakers; and 21% of office furniture. Airplane parts, medical supplies, and much more: prisoners are even raising seeing-eye dogs for blind people. [read the full article]

Laws that criminalize acts that don’t infringe on the natural rights of others serve no purpose other than to empower the State. The State is a monopoly of morality where you can dissent, in many cases, but to defy means running the risk of being confined. The State makes the laws and those that don’t consent to follow certain laws and don’t violate any individuals are violently coerced into submitting to tyrannical majoritarianism — under the Newspeak guise of the word ‘democracy’.

You’ve just seen for yourself how the State steals from us our natural sovereignty to make decisions for ourselves with the end result of slavery right here in 2009. You’ve read why Mexicans flood to leave their country and become another class of slave labor in the US. These are relatively small percentages of the habitats within the US borders, but in theory, US law applies to all and if a law’s nature is to exploit one person’s individual sovereignty, under tyrannical majoritarianism, that law exploits all who tacitly consent because the existence of a law serves as its legimitacy. Therefore, the oppressive law can used as precedent to justify a law that exploits anyone.

If that nature is slavery, we’re all enslaved because we’re robbed of our voice, our choice, our consent.

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