Category Archives: Crime & Punishment

Speedy justice is less expensive justice

My Church’s men’s group had the St. Louis County Sheriff Ross Litman drop by and talk to us last week. He spent a fair amount of time talking about the housing of prisoners at the jails and for good reason. The Trib reports that St. Louis County spent one and a half million extra last year paying for prisoner’s upkeep when the courts should have been finished with them. I presume that waste is sprinkled throughout the state in all 87 counties.

The Courts, which have been underfunded by the legislature simply don’t have the manpower. I should know. I had a civil procedure drag out for a couple years due to under staffing despite having some of the best paid and most competent lawyers bird dogging the case.

And this doesn’t even count prisoners who were incarcerated because of police dishonesty.

Could your local police force be as corrupt as this?

Courtesy of the New York Times by way of my Buddy:

“The fact that our legal system has become so tolerant of police lying indicates how corrupted our criminal justice system has become by declarations of war, “get tough” mantras, and a seemingly insatiable appetite for locking up and locking out the poorest and darkest among us.”

This echos the disturbing testimony of NY cop Adrian Schoolcraft who seems allergic to lies. I heard this on This American Life a couple year’s back. Listen to the podcast here its Act 2.

This helps explain the reasons why our prisons are bloated and bankrupting us while condemning many to the dustbin of life.

The pernicious effects of the GOP getting all Dixiecrat on the nation.

After inviting Southern Whites into the Party leading them to take it over and kick out distastful Republicans its worth pondering the results. The last post pointed out the new more war like GOP. This one is about one of the worst domestic mistakes the inflicted on the nation.

I used to call myself a Rockefeller Republican. Certainly in 1964 when he fell to Barry Goldwater I supported the New Yorker. Then 1968 happened and Tricky Dick Nixon ran a campaign to peel southern voters away from George Wallace. He did it by promoting “law and order.” To notherners it was a message to keep the drug addled college kids from rioting in the streets and to Southerners it meant keeping blacks out of sight. Rocky, who never gave up his wish to be President, became a hardliner in 1973 as this NPR story today relates.

It was a good liberal who took us from a nation of 300,000 convicts to a nation with 2 million largely non threatening druggies in costly prisons. He did it because that’s what Nixon and Reagan’s new southern strategy called for. Million of blacks have been put in prison and no longer can vote. It costs us a ton to keep them there. Its more expensive than putting them through public school but it keeps millions of blacks a few steps behind the rest of us law abiding white folks.

How Ironic that Rocky would have left the nation this inheritance. Experts saw its uselessness early on. Political operatives (especially GOP operatives) saw its political usefulness early on too. Guess which set of folks prevailed?

Time for a new abolition movement

Re: my enthusiasm for American Experience

“For profit” prisons

Prison labor has long been banned in various states from competing on the free market since it violates numerous labor laws and essentially amounts to a slave workforce who can be paid subminimum wages and have little recourse against harsh working conditions. The for-profit prison industry is determined to change that.

Another Dixiecrat/Republican innovation. Chain gangs anyone?

The first beneficiaries of the Second Amendment…

…owned muskets and guns that had to be reloaded after a single shot and had to make their own bullets.

“I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors,” – Thomas Jefferson

At least the police are protecting blacks from white people now.

Last night’s PBS program on “Slavery by Another Name” was very good and a coup for the Minnesotan’s who produced it. We are far removed from those times. As this story makes clear the police, however ham handed, are getting closer to even handed justice.

But boy howdy, were they ever ham handed when a white Grandfather was walking his black granddaughter home:

As soon as we crossed the street, just two blocks from my house as the crow flies, the police car that just passed us hit its lights and wheeled around, with five others appearing almost immediately, all with lights flashing. The officers got out with tasers drawn demanding I raise my hands and step away from the child. I complied, and they roughly cuffed me, jerking my arms up behind me needlessly. Meanwhile, Ty edged up the hill away from the officers, crying. One of them called out in a comforting tone that they weren’t there to hurt her, but another officer blew up any good will that might have garnered by brusquely snatching her up and scuttling her off to the back seat of one of the police cars. (By this time more cars had joined them; they maxxed out at 9 or 10 police vehicles.)

I think our police would be well advised to learn the making art of genuine apologies. Everyone would be well advised to learn the art. Newspaper editors for instance.

Rape and Order

In case you ever wondered why there is so much body building equipment in American prisons:

After asking around, and performing some calculations, the Justice Department came up with a new number: 216,000. That’s 216,000 victims, not instances. These victims are often assaulted [raped] multiple times over the course of the year.

The Republican Party is hell-bent-for-leather eager to privatize prisons. The private business prisons are hell-bent-for-leather eager to send more criminals to private prison.

Twelve years ago, back when I was still a Republican I asked This American Life if I could have a copy of their Broadcast on prison life to reproduce and send out to my fellow Republicans before the next Republican precinct caucus. They gave me a thumbs up and sent me the tape but I never reproduced it or followed through. I’d recommend listening to it here. The segment on Cablock is so funny you’ll get a hernia laughing at it. You’ll also get excellent advice about how to prepare to be gang raped in prison. Its quite graphic.

Hot Dam! I should be elected to Congress for a couple years.

To hell with incarceration…

From Ezra Klein:

On Saturday’s edition of Up With Chris Hayes, Gary Johnson brought up an old Newt Gingrich idea I hadn’t heard before: Putting individuals who brought more than two ounces of marijuana into the United States to death. That sounded extreme, even for Gingrich. So I looked it up. And sure enough, there it is: “The Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1996.”

What makes the bill even more amazing is that Gingrich himself is a confessed pot smoker. When he was young, he said, experimenting with drugs “was a sign we were alive and in graduate school in that era.”

Off with their heads

Is our War on Drugs an echo of our war on coffee?

Actually the first link to the NPR story isn’t the one I was looking for. There was another story on the War on Crime that Richard Nixon got started to appeal to George Wallace voters that pointed out he originally emphasized treatment to incarceration. Incarceration was more popular. Considering the slow evolution of the Republican party to being a pet of the Dixiecrats the results or the Drug War don’t seem so coincidental……..Nor the call of Republicans today to make sure ex-cons can never be readmitted to the voting booth.

I have to give some credit to Rick Santorum on that score. In his last debate he actually talked about prisoners serving their sentence as though that should be the end of a criminal’s punishment allowing for a return of citizenship.

No wonder he’s going nowhere in the GOP field

Republican Presidential candidate New Mexico governor Gary Johnson defending “federalism” and one particular small business.

“We have a drug war along the border that has taken tens of thousands of lives, and the federal government is spending its time and resources declaring war on small businesses whose only ‘crime’ is trying to dispense medical relief in a regulated, taxed, and legal manner. If there is a conflict between state law and federal law, maybe it’s time for the feds to just admit that their law is just wrong, and let the states decide for themselves how they want to handle the issue of medical marijuana,”

League of Women Voters forum?

I just saw on the news tonight that there was a school board candidate forum held by the League of Women Voters…….

They didn’t bother advertising it or I might have sacrificed the third installment of Ken Burns’ Prohibition to attend it. I could see that it was held in the School Board meeting room. Wonder if they were trying to control crowds by keeping it secret. I’m kind of glad I didn’t go. The PBS series has been great. I learned to my surprise about a famous women voter in history that I’d not known about Pauline Sabin.

She damn near single-handedly reversed Prohibition. She even quit the Republican Party to do it. She hated hypocrisy. Wow! My kinda gal.

Maybe the women of the League should have stayed home with me to watch it rather than put on a secret side show. They could have learned a thing or two. No wonder the Republicans want to stop funding Public Broadcasting.

Material Party

In light of my post whining about having been a pawn as a school board member comes this post from Sullivan. This quote perfectly captures the problem with what has become GOP dogma – that people are solely motivated by rewards and punishment. If you tie salaries to hoop jumping they will jump through your hoops. If you pass a law against something people will stop doing it. Yup, just teach abstinence and kids won’t have sex.

When a remote authority sets incentives, people respond by manipulating the system. This fact is poorly understood by education reformers who are fond of pay-for-performance and national standards, by health care reformers who are fond of paying for quality, and by financial regulators. … The Hayekian story here is that effective compensation practices require local knowledge and tacit knowledge.

Rich republicans just hire lobbyists to get special tax breaks written into law. Taxes are bad you know.

The Republican Party may be the most Christian Party in US history but it deeply believes in property rights and other material things. This is at variance with Jesus who commands people not only to surrender everything they own but to turn their backs on their family rather than turn from Jesus. Its the kind of message deprogrammers have been fighting for decades. This later my simply be standard Hebrew exaggeration to make a point found in the New Testament period “If thy eye offend thee, pluck it out.” Nonetheless, anyone who doesn’t heed the eye of a needle parable is either an uninformed Christian or a heretic.

Rich Republicans just hire lobbyists to get special tax breaks written into law so they can take their camels to heaven with them.