In Orange County, Calif., the probation department’s “supervised electronic confinement program,” which monitors the movements of low-risk offenders, has been outsourced to a private company, Sentinel Offender Services. The company, by its own account, oversees case management, including breath alcohol and drug-testing services, “all at no cost to county taxpayers.” Sentinel makes its money by getting the offenders on probation to pay for the company’s services. Charges can range from $35 to $100 a month. The company boasts of having contracts with more than 200 government agencies, and it takes pride in the “development of offender funded programs where any of our services can be provided at no cost to the agency.” Sentinel is a part of the expanding universe of poverty capitalism. In this unique sector of the economy, costs of essential government services are shifted to the poor.
Tuesday in Dallas federal court, “hacktivist journo” Barrett Brown pled guilty to three counts stemming from his reporting on a high-profile Anonymous hack and his long-running battles with the FBI. The hearing, in effect, concluded his plea deal with the Department of Justice. Instead of facing a staggering 105 years in prison, Brown is now looking at up to eight and a half years—with a sizable chance of serving far less time. For most of the year and a half that he awaited trial, Brown was charged with threatening an FBI agent, conspiring to hide his potentially evidence-bearing laptops, and sharing a link to credit card data publicized during the hack of the private intelligence firm Stratfor. Free speech advocates, such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, called the allegations payback for his journalism. Brown’s legal troubles kicked into high gear on March 6, 2012, when FBI agent Robert Smith led a raid on his apartment and mother’s house in a hunt for the journalist’s research into contractors who spy or conduct information warfare on behalf of government and corporate clients. The agents took away his computers and other electronics.
A Palestinian woman, Rasmea Odeh, was arrested at her home this morning, Oct. 22, by agents of the Department of Homeland Security. She is charged with immigration fraud. Allegedly, in her application for citizenship, she didn’t mention that she was arrested in Palestine 45 years ago by an Israeli military court that detains Palestinians without charge – a court that has over 200 children in prison today and does not recognize the rights of Palestinians to due process. Judge Paul D. Borman removed himself from the case of Palestinian community leader Rasmea Odeh. Earlier this month, the judge stridently denied a defense motion calling on him to step down. The motion claimed that his life-long support for the state of Israel—whose arrest, torture, and conviction of Odeh for alleged Jerusalem bombings in 1969 is at issue in this case—would not allow for a fair trial. Odeh has pleaded not guilty to the charge of Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, and vehemently refutes the Israeli convictions, which were based on a forced confession after extended periods of vicious physical and sexual torture.
It’s been nearly two weeks since a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, shot and killed an unarmed teenager, but the police department has yet to offer a full account of the hazy circumstances surrounding Michael Brown’s death. An official incident report, which the American Civil Liberties Union obtained from police and released on Friday, answers none of the pressing questions that hang over the killing. If anything, it raises new ones. The two-page document is almost entirely blank. It includes the address, time of day and a handful of other bare-bones details, but does not include a description of the scene, quotes from eyewitnesses, names of the officers involved, or any other pieces of information normally found on such documents.
Petition To Eric Holder Against Racist, Militarized Policing To Be Delivered, Sign here now. When: Wednesday, August 27th at 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM Where: In front of the Department of Justice, Constitution Ave between 9th & 10th St NW, Washington DC Washington, DC – On Wednesday, August 27 at 4pm, activists will rally outside the Justice Department to call on the Attorney General to help secure justice for Michael Brown and the people of Ferguson, Missouri, as well as an overhaul of US law enforcement tactics in order to stop police brutality and the militarization of our police forces. “Michael’s murder is symptomatic of a systemic, racist culture that condones the murder and incarceration of black boys and men at rates highly disproportionate to the general population. U.S. police or vigilantes kill a black man every 28 hours,” says Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo of No FEAR Coalition and Black Agenda Report. “We need the full support of the Attorney General’s office to make sure that Michael Brown is not simply another name added to the anonymous statistics and meaningless deaths of African-Americans at the mercy of a merciless system.”
Thousands marched in Staten Island On August 23rd. They were protesting police brutality and abuse. They were demanding justice for the victims of that abuse. Eric Garner was placed in an illegal choke hold by a NYPD office several weeks ago. His crime? Selling illegal cigarettes. Despite his protestations and his repeated plea of “I can’t breathe,” despite the fact that he was already subdued, despite the fact that he was surround by cops, the officer continued to choke Mr. Garner. The result? Eric Garner died on the sidewalk, a victim, like so many others, of out-of-control police brutality. These police crimes are then followed by a disturbing lack of transparency and a failure of the justice system to indict, try and convict. Victims are invariably people of color. The time has come for civilian control of the police forces and an end to the militarization of police departments around the country.
Michael Brown’s father, visited the street memorial people have created for his son at the site of his 18 year old son’s death. Th St. Louis Post Dispatch reports: “Michael Brown Sr. hugged well-wishers who recognized him and came to share words of encouragement or brief prayers. Anthony Shahid, an activist who was accompanying Brown Sr., said he didn’t want to speak to the media. He was exhausted, Shahid said, and just wanted to see the memorial to his son.” The visit marked Brown Sr.’s first visit to the site since a candlelight vigil not long after the shooting.
The family of Michael Brown should not rely on the grand jury system or Attorney General Holder The grand jury process in the United States is rigged for the prosecutor. There is an old saying among lawyers “A prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich.” Of course, the reverse is also true; the prosecutor can also prevent an indictment. The prosecutor controls the grand jury process which is conducted in secret without even a judge present. The prosecutor decides what witnesses to call and there is no opportunity for a defense lawyer or attorney for the family to participate. Attorney General Holder’s record on dealing with police violence against citizens is mixed. The family should not wait until the grand jury decision or rely completely on the US Department of Justice. The family of Michael Brown should take their own steps to ensure justice for their son as quickly as possible. The avenue the family can pursue is to file a civil suit in federal court. Such litigation will allow the family to seek all relevant documents, including the unreleased police report, as well as videotapes related to the killing of Michael Brown. It will also allow them to question witnesses under oath, including police officers who arrived at the scene. The court hearings in a civil suit will be public so everyone can see all the evidence.
The second relatively calm night in Ferguson as the Governor Nixon withdraws the national guard and Attorney General shows the people of Ferguson that Washington, DC is paying attention. The grand jury process began with protesters outside, Nixon saying he will not remove the prosecutor from the case and the prosecutor, who many see as biased in favor of the police, saying he is staying. A new report from Arch City Defenders, a non-profit legal defense organization, that showed the depth of police harassment the people of Ferguson have faced for years. They reported that police hand out 3 warrants per household every year and $321 in fines. long-stem roses along Canfield Drive, where Brown was shot. A memorial to Brown was put in place at the Canfield Green Apartments at the intersection of Canfield Drive and Caddiefield Road where Michael Brown was shot.
Less violent than the previous nights in Ferguson. The police did not use tear gas, rubber bullets, stun grenades or smoke bombs and the crowd only had minor incidents of people throwing bottles at the police. There were still confrontations between police and the people but at a much lower decibel than previous nights. At times ‘peacekeepers’ stood in line between police and protesters to minimize conflict. Reporters were corralled in a specific area and some were threatened with arrest. In total there were 47 arrests reported (these numbers may not be accurate, the police reported 31 arrests then night before when there were over 70).
Black men are no better off than they were more than 40 years ago, due to mass incarceration and job losses suffered during the Great Recession, according to a new report by researchers at the University of Chicago. Derek Neal and Armin Rick, the co-authors of the study, found that reforms in the criminal justice system at the state-level largely contributed to disparities in arrests and incarceration rates that ultimately stifled educational and economic progress for Black men. “The growth of incarceration rates among Black men in recent decades combined with the sharp drop in Black employment rates during the Great Recession have left most Black men in a position relative to white men that is really no better than the position they occupied only a few years after the Civil Rights Act of 1965,” the co-authors wrote. The report cites research conducted by James Smith and Finis Welch published in 1989 that showed, “the Black-white gap in completed years of schooling among males ages 26-35 fell from 3.9 years of schooling in 1940 to 1.4 years in 1980.” Blacks also experienced “dramatic economic and social progress” during that time period. That progress slowed for Black men during the 1990s, and in some cases, reversed course entirely.
Canada’s self-styled “Prince of Pot” returned to home soil Tuesday after finishing a five-year sentence in the U.S. for selling marijuana seeds to customers across the border. Marc Emery crossed into Windsor, Ont., from Detroit and was met by a crowd of supporters, a Canadian Press reporter tweeted Tuesday afternoon. Emery’s wife, Jodie, was among the crowd awaiting his arrival. She says she and her husband are lucky that he is coming home a free man and can immediately resume their activism to legalize marijuana. Dozens of supporters were lighting up joints and smoking pot with vaporizers as they waited for Emery outside Windsor City Hall. Emery, 56, was extradited to Seattle in May 2010 and he pleaded guilty to selling marijuana seeds from Canada to American customers. When Emery was first arrested almost a decade ago, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency heralded his seizure as a “significant blow” to the legalization movement. His wife addressed the crowd of supporters waiting for her husband, saying Marc Emery “never hurt anyone.”
“Never in the civilised world have so many been locked up for so little.”—“Rough Justice in America,” The Economist Why are we seeing such an uptick in Americans being arrested for such absurd “violations” as letting their kids play at a park unsupervised, collecting rainwater and snow runoff on their own property, growing vegetables in their yard, and holding Bible studies in their living room? Mind you, we’re not talking tickets or fines or even warnings being issued to these so-called “lawbreakers.” We’re talking felony charges, handcuffs, police cars, mug shots, pat downs, jail cells and criminal records. Consider what happened to Nicole Gainey, the Florida mom who was arrested and charged with child neglect for allowing her 7-year-old son to visit a neighborhood playground located a half mile from their house. For the so-called “crime” of allowing her son to play at the park unsupervised, Gainey was interrogated, arrested and handcuffed in front of her son, and transported to the local jail where she was physically searched, fingerprinted, photographed and held for seven hours and then forced to pay almost $4000 in bond in order to return to her family.