THIS BLOG is NOW RETIRED

I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

David Rovics: We Are Everywhere

To my fellow activists now struggling through life - let this be a reminder that you are not alone and that we desperately need you here. All the injustice, grief, war, and human suffering calls for us to stay and do everything we can about it - you can't help us anymore when you're gone. Don't give up the fight - your last shred of hope may just keep someone else alive, too.
BLOG POSTS

Monday, November 30, 2009

The eve of World AIDS Day.

I expect to be up researching and blogging awhile tonight - Tuesday is World AIDS Day, and I want to get plenty of stuff out there about HIV/AIDS (and Hep C) in prisons and jails in America. It's a pretty dismal, shameful scene we've got here - though I know there are some folks trying to do good work in prisons on health care - AIDS in particular - and I'll find a few things about them to post, too. After all that, I'll get some rest then share some photos from this evening celebrating the First Amendment while protesting Sheriff Joe Arpaio at the Cronkite School of Journalism. 

Let's just say now that all I brought with me from my action pack was chalk - lots of it, in many bold and lovely colors.


What an amazing crowd we were tonight. You know, folks, this movement's been rolling for awhile and it's picking up speed, so you better jump on if you're moving forward with us. From Puente to peace activists to copwatchers, and from union members and anarchists to "ordinary" Arizonans offended and outraged at how they're being represented, the Anti-Arpaio crowd is one of the most culturally diverse groups I've ever been a part of - it's all about cross movement solidarity, you know...


Don't believe those Rasmussen polls, America, about that man becoming our next Governor, by the way. They didn't ask any of us what we think.


More on all that later...

Migration, Slavery, and American Consumerism.

An estimated 27 million people - largely women and children - still live in slavery around the world so that we (mostly Americans) may have cheap consumer goods and investors can extract a somewhat better profit. At some point, as consumers (and "taxpayers"), we need to start looking more closely at where we invest our money: either it goes to reinforce the status quo - the oppression of billions - or it goes towards building new structures and institutions that will create a more sustainable future for all. Shrimp is not a necessity... Odd how it seems that acquiring luxuries for Americans creates more suffering, brutality, and death than the necessities do. I guess it pays off for someone - just not guys like Winko...

No wonder the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is ineffective in curtailing the abuses of the Burmese junta - the profits of their merchants depend on the perpetual poverty and desperation of Burma's unemployed and refugees.


Here is a link to the "Not For Sale" campaign to end human trafficking and slavery. Check it out. Among other things, they have an on-line store and some good holiday shopping ideas for avoiding products made by slave labor (10,000 Villages, fair trade, etc.). 

Now, if we could find a way to boycott the prisons - like tax resistance or something...the problem is that if we tell the legislature to spend less on prisons, they'll keep packing more people in - just under worse conditions and with less access to health care, rehabilitative or treatment services, etc. We need more than that - we need sentencing reform, investments in community-based options for restorative justice practices, and - in the meantime - we urgently need transparency and reform within the prisons themselves. People are dying in there on sentences they should live through and supposedly learn from...


While I'm at it, let's be real abolitionists and re-write the 13th Amendment, so that slavery is permanently abolished for everyone in America. If prisoners could earn at least a minimum wage, they could much more easily pay restitution, cover the expenses of being in prison (you must pay for most everything), save money to provide stability upon release, and support themselves and their own families while unable to engage in more substantial work (Ten cents an hour? A week's pay in America at that wage wouldn't even cover a single co-pay to see the prison doctor).

Diverting those resources to private multinational companies in the business of exploiting powerless people and an imprisoned labor force sucks not only material resources out of the community, it also erodes the integrity our collective soul...and we don't have much of that to lose anymore.


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Is Your Seafood Harvested by Slaves?


Samut Sakhon, Thailand - Soon after Winko joined his fellow captives on a Thai fishing vessel, he witnessed his first killing.

The murdered man was, like Winko, a newly acquired fishing slave unsure how to work the boat’s machinery. But while Winko kept quiet, the new man protested. He was kicked across the deck until he tumbled overboard and disappeared in the turquoise wake.

Life is hell for Thailand’s fishermen slaves, a largely Burmese workforce lured into the Thai fishing industry by brokers. As promised, jobs await these migrants, who pay $350 to be smuggled into Thailand and introduced to a fishing crew. But often, the work doesn’t pay and quitting is not an option.

Thailand is the world’s largest seafood exporter and the United States is its largest buyer. One third of America’s shrimp is imported from Thailand, home to a $2-billion shrimp industry and a major supplier of tuna, squid and other frozen seafood imports.

But it’s an open secret that the industry relies, in part, on forced labor. Experts believe a portion of America’s seafood is hauled from the sea by people like Winko: desperate, young Burmese men duped into forced labor. Now 24, he is an escapee hiding out in Samut Sakhon, an industrial port that is the heart of Thailand’s seafood industry.

“I was just a metal worker in Burma,” said Winko, who declined to give his full name for fear of retribution. “Back home, you don’t make enough to eat. I thought coming to Thailand would improve my life.”

Last year, a Burmese broker accepted about $300 — Winko’s hard-earned savings — to smuggle him into Thailand and arrange a low-wage fishing job. Instead, Winko was sold to an illegal fishing syndicate. He spent his first night in Thailand in a dark chamber, padlocked from the outside, with about 10 other men. His cell was only one room in what he described as a dingy prison camp for hundreds of captives.

In short time, Winko was working the sea with a mostly Burmese crew. The captain pushed them until they nearly fainted from exhaustion, he said, and only allowed them to eat leftovers from the net. Winko was warned against complaining, a threat reinforced once he saw a crewmate kicked overboard.

“Anyone who didn’t know what to do was kicked,” Winko explained through a Burmese interpreter. “We were all treated so terribly.”

Winko’s nine months of slavery ended in a busy port in Chonburi, a province near Bangkok. The boat was docked. The captain was distracted. So Winko ran. He ran past the port, into the jungly underbrush, and hiked for four hours until he found a road.

“If someone had caught up to me, I was prepared to fight,” he said. “But I never looked back. I was thinking only of survival.”

Eventually, a sympathetic taxi driver offered to drive Winko to a factory where a friend was working several provinces over. Through a network of Burmese laborers, he was guided to the Labor Rights Promotion Network, an organization known for confronting law-breaking fishing crews. Its leadership is currently sheltering Winko as it pursues his broker.

“We get more than a thousand cases like this each year,” said Piyakrai Seelakort, manager of the network’s human rights team. Winko’s story, he said, is tame compared to others. For fishing syndicates, he said, the sea is a lawless haven where even murder has no consequence. Police are unlikely to notice that an illegal migrant has gone missing.

“Life aboard these boats depends on the captors,” Piyakrai said. “They own you.”

Near Piyakrai’s office in Samut Sakhon, a string of ports take in much of Thailand’s freshly caught seafood. Gaunt men emerge from fishing boats, their forearms straining to haul plastic buckets packed with seafood and crushed ice that quickly goes liquid in the heat.

The horizon here is industrial and pewter gray, a long coastline of squat factories processing more than 40 percent of Thailand’s seafood. Like the boats that supply their seafood, these plants too are sometimes accused of using forced laborers and underage workers.

A 2006 survey backed by researchers from Thailand’s Mahidol University found that the plants often employ workers younger than 15 working 12-hour-plus days. This is where seafood is prepared — the tuna heads lopped off, the shrimp deveined — and readied for the distributors who ship it to the U.S.

The supply chain eventually leads to America’s largest supermarkets, according to investigations by the Solidarity Center, a non-profit agency under the AFL-CIO.

Retailers Costco, Giant, Harris Teeter, Trader Joe’s and Walmart have all bought seafood originating from factories with substandard working conditions in Samut Sakhon, according to shipping manifests obtained by the center. Ascertaining conditions on the fishing boats that supply the plants, however, is more difficult.

The U.S. State Department, in a 2009 report, said there are no reliable means of knowing how many people in Thailand have fallen victim to forced labor. The Labor Rights Promotion Network estimates there are at least 200,000 Burmese migrants working in the Samut Sakhon seafood industry alone.

“After the seafood goes through these factories, the main markets are Europe and America,” Piyakrai said. “I wonder, do those people know they’re eating the product of forced labor? It’s delicious, but it’s at the expense of other people’s lives.”

While American officials have praised Thailand for stepping up crackdowns and building new shelters for escaped victims, officials insist forced labor remains endemic in the seafood industry. One police raid, according to Solidarity Center findings, exposed a shrimp factory owner who oversaw forced labor and children younger than 15. He was reportedly fined $2,100 and allowed to resume working.

“The Thai government still has little negotiating power with the fisheries,” Piyakrai said. “So it’s up to the person buying the seafood. Only they can really demand better conduct.”

But Winko feels no bitterness toward the people who’ve eaten the seafood he caught.

“My sadness, my anger, is directed towards the broker and the boat captain,” Winko said. “We were tricked.”

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Radical Abolitionism and Liberation Movements

Found this fairly new blog this weekend - Negotiation is Over!. It looks a lot more edgy than I am - definitely is - but has some good reading to challenge one's commitment to liberation movements, and this article in particular (which you'll have to follow back to the site) has some interesting propositions about the intersections of our respective movements, which shouldn't be so fragmented as they are. 

The editor (not Steven Best) refers to herself as a radical abolitionist, which I can't claim to be myself because I'm not a vegan, I still smoke, and I'm a heavy pharmaceutical user...those are my big confessions for the week. But that doesn't mean those aren't things I'm willing to change...I've just been complacent and lazy and feeding my own system of denial while wandering along that slippery slope that begins with justifying placing just one creature in chains (not to mention ignoring my own)...and we know where that eventually leads.


I may not live entirely in accordance with my principles, and I'm not engaged in armed resistance, but for what it's worth this post and link are my articulation of support and solidarity with Earth Liberation prisoners around the world. Explore "Negotiation is Over!" if you're serious about the cause of liberation - these folks are about as serious as you'll find. These readings will make most of us rather uncomfortable, if we really soak them in.  

They're probably risking a lot to put it all up for us, so use the resources while they're there: as is often said in 12-step programs, "take what you need, and leave the rest." That's kind of what Frederick Douglass did when confronted with the passion, madness, and vision of John Brown. He could have been executed, too - and Harriet Tubman along with them - but we needed them all to do their respective things.


On that note, I will close with a message to Huntingdon Labs: you and everyone who still does business with you can shove the AETA. I'm doing nothing criminal here, and I wasn't even talking to you, so get your bloody, beagle-bashing vivisecting hands off my websites. 


Good night, all.

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13 Ways to Promote Alliance Politics and Total Liberation

November 28, 2009 — Negotiation Is Over By Dr. Steven Best



We are thankful to all those who have shown keen interest in our recently published “Manifesto for Radical Abolitionism,”[1] and the corresponding Facebook group, Radical Abolition: Total Liberation By Any Means Necessary.[2]

We launched this group in the hope of revitalizing a vegan abolition movement mired in complacency, timidity, and dogmatic slumbers — a small but hegemonic approach paralyzed by pacifism and a cult-like following of an authoritarian leader.

We accurately identified this moribund manifestation as a bourgeois, elitist, single-issue, consumerist, apolitical, pseudo-abolitionism going nowhere fast.

We established that this insular, complacent, and pretentious lifestyle narcissism exacerbates the isolation of veganism and animal rights from other movements.  It reinforces the dominant image of a movement of privileged white liberals indifferent to the social, political, and economic realities that devastate and destroy billions of people throughout the world.

We dispelled the disabling illusions of pathological pacifism and exposed the arrogance, aggression, and verbal violence hiding behind the mask of ahimsa and Jainism.

We redefined veganism and abolitionism as social in outlook, pluralist and contextualist in method, and radical in politics.

We said what had to be said.

We framed our approach not just as a critique and negation of lifestyle veganism, “culinary activism,” and bedroom bloggers blathering in cyberspace vacuums, but also as a positive alternative to its blasé bourgeois values and utter sterility. It is incumbent upon us, therefore, to suggest new, creative, constructive, and concrete courses of action, such as can thrive only in alliance with a diversity of social movements and progressive political voices. Indeed since our debut on November 13, 2009, people from all over the world  ─ clearly yearning for new visions, politics, and possibilities – have expressed gratitude for our critiques and enthusiasm for our project, while eagerly requesting suggestions for promoting total liberation.

What follows then are thirteen initial suggestions for building the diversified and unified global  movement that alone can dismantle the systems of oppression that have devastated biodiversity, triggered ecological collapse, and thwarted human potential for over ten thousand years ─ which is quite long enough. We enjoin those interested in enlivening possibilities for change through a markedly different theory and politics to read, learn, think, grow, and expand their frames of reference until problems and potential solutions come into focus. In this evolutionary process, we mediate theory and practice, such that we learn not only by reading but also by doing; not in solitary confinement, but in dialogue with others.

As we exit the insular comfort zone of single-issue advocacy, and venture into the vast and complex global battlefield of power politics and resistance movements, it is necessary to cultivate the virtues of strength, fortitude, courage, and patience.  Building a radical coalition ─ one that is unprecedented in depth, scope, and inclusiveness ─ is a formidable challenge. One runs into the same wall of dogmatic speciesism among the peace, justice, and ecology crowd of left-wing humanists and sundry ”progressives” that surrounds social consciousness in general and repels subversive ideas and anti-hierarchical politics.

We must approach others with respect and humility, keenly aware that while we have much to teach, we also have much to learn, and to unlearn. For as we engage others about the monumental significance of the rise and potential fall of speciesism, people will also be challenged  to recognize any latent racism, sexism, heterosexism, ablism, elitism, and classism. The project of radical alliance politics, moreover, will not be any easier with the backlash of corporate power and fascist police states, such as is already underway.

Yet with past publications, conferences, and alliance building projects in numerous countries, and with the current Manifesto and Radical Abolition Facebook group, we have initiated the process of dialogue and bridge-building indispensible for a mass, multidimensional movement with the potential for revolutionary change.[3] Our modest goal is to help break new ground and plant the seeds for global resistance and social reconstruction.

The politics of total liberation have yet to be invented, and we hardly pretend to understand all the questions, let alone have all the answers. But we know the animal rights “movement” is at a standstill and impasse, and that we need a new way. We know that the hegemonic model of vegan abolitionism was co-opted in conception; emerged dead-on-arrival; and was doomed to fail. It was, is, and always will be fatally flawed in its hermetic state of isolation; its religious conviction in the possession of Truth; its dogmatic censure of dissent; its mind-numbing denial of social and ecological crisis; and its collective hallucination of peaceful change.

This is the first of many drafts, and we seek your suggestions for further actions and your input on the politics of total liberation overall. We hope you will join us in the exciting, experimental process of building new communities and broader alliances by utilizing strategies such as we suggest below. Please share your experiences and ideas in our discussion forum and elsewhere. A global crisis and challenge such as humanity has never before faced is upon us. We have no time to waste. Apathy and complacency are more dangerous enemies than capitalism itself.

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1)  Begin with a thorough and ambitious reading project that provides grounding in history, social theory, political movements, and political economy (i.e., the critical analysis of the capitalist economy and the decisive influence it has on aspects of reality, society, experience, and thought). Such a project would involve immersion in Marxist, anarchist, feminist, anti-racist, anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist, and anti/alter-globalization literature, along with general history. Difficult? Yes. But who said revolution is easy?...

Payday extortion..um...loan centers

These people need to be put out of business or forced to clean up their acts: people end up hopelesslessly trapped in debt to those people...shame on the governor if she lets them get away with any of what they have up their sleeves. Their only agenda is self-interest: not AZ consumers' needs.

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Opinion:  Payday lenders trying end run around voters

Our view: Brewer, legislators must take firm stand, reject industry's bid to stay alive


Arizona Daily Star


Tucson, Arizona | Published: 11.29.2009

We are appalled that the state's payday lenders and their lackeys are still seeking to bypass voters and keep the usurious industry alive.

Given Arizona's history with payday loans and voters' desire to run predatory lenders out of the state, it would be shameful if the Legislature and Gov. Jan Brewer choose to give payday lenders a new lease on life. They must not do so.

Arizona voters last year rejected — by a 60-40 margin — an industry-crafted proposal to repeal the law that prohibits them from remaining in business beyond June 30, 2010, when the state law that allows payday loans expires.

We have consistently argued that payday lenders must not be allowed to continue to do business in Arizona.

The state's usury laws, which limit interest on consumer loans to 36 percent a year, were created for a reason — to keep unscrupulous lenders from victimizing unsophisticated borrowers who don't understand that high interest rates can become so burdensome that it becomes almost impossible to repay a loan.

Payday lenders have retained former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods and the Phoenix lobbyist firm Highground to persuade lawmakers and Brewer to let them stay in business, Howard Fischer of Capitol Media Services reported on Friday. Highground's owners include Chuck Coughlin and Doug Cole, both advisers to Brewer, Fischer noted.


In 2000, payday-loan industry lobbyists pushed through a special law allowing them to charge fees far higher than the 36 percent cap for transactions of up to $500.

Thus, a person who needs money for a few weeks can write a check to a payday lender for that amount plus the fee, which can be up to $17.85 per $100 borrowed. The lender agrees not to cash the check for up to two weeks. The borrower pays an annual percentage interest of more than 450 percent.

Woods told Fischer that the payday lenders agreed to changes that made him comfortable working on their behalf.

But state Sen. Debbie McCune Davis, D-Phoenix, told Fischer that much of what they are offering now was also in the 2008 measure rejected by voters.

The plan would cap fees at $15 for every $100 borrowed, but McCune Davis said that lowers the annual percentage rate to only 391 percent.

Woods said that interest figure is accurate, but misleading. "These are two-week loans, not annual loans," he told Fischer. He said that about 94 percent of borrowers pay off the loan within that time.

The plan to be presented to lawmakers would allow a borrower who cannot repay within two weeks an extra 60 days without interest, Woods said. That provision also was in the measure voters turned down.

So are other "improvements" Woods cited, including a prohibition on rolling over existing loans and a method to ensure that borrowers at one payday lender don't have outstanding loans from another, according to McCune Davis.

McCune Davis said lenders driven out of business by the payday loan industry formerly financed loans under the 36 percent interest cap; she predicted they will return to Arizona when payday lenders leave.

Woods asserted that payday loans are needed, and cited the fact that people turn to them as evidence of this.

But the voters have made themselves clear. When money is tight, consumers don't just need credit options, they need good credit options.

The Legislature and Brewer must take heed. Case closed.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kiilu Nyasha on Supermax & Torture

An unedited copy of an article published by Prison Focus (great resource), authored by SF Bay View journalist and activist for the people, Kiilu Nyasha. Another good source of info about long term solitary confinement and torture is the recent series done on on the Angola 3 by Jim Ridgeway for Mother Jones.

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AMERICA’S SUPERMAX PRISONS DO TORTURE by Kiilu Nyasha
November 22, 2009 
 
President Barack Obama has clearly stated, “We don’t torture.”
 
Oh, yes we do.  Big time.
 
A myriad of studies have clearly shown that human beings are social creatures – making prolonged isolation torture.
 
 The New Yorker published an article March 30, 2009 by Atul Gawande titled, Hellhole: The United States holds tens of thousands of inmates in long-term solitary confinement. Is this torture?
 
Gawande asks, “If prolonged isolation is – as research and experience have confirmed for decades –so objectively horrifying, so intrinsically cruel, how did we end up with a prison system that may subject more of our own citizens to it than any other country in history has?”

By 2000, some 60 supermax prisons had been opened nationwide, in addition to new isolation units in nearly all maximum-security prisons.  
 
The first such gulag was established in 1983 in Marion, Illinois. In 1989, California opened Pelican Bay State Prison near the Oregon border housing over 1,200 captives.  It’s been the model for dozens of other states to follow.  The SHU (Security Housing Unit) is entirely windowless, and from inside a cell with doors perforated with tiny holes, prisoners can only see the hallway. 
 
They’re confined 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year with just a brief time (when permitted) in the “dog run” or outdoor enclosure for solitary exercise with no equipment, not even a ball.  
 
But after nearly 20 years, California is now holding more people in solitary than ever; yet its gang problem is worse, and the violence rates have actually gone up.
 
Nationwide, at least 25,000 prisoners are in solitary confinement with another 50-80,000 in segregation units, many additionally isolated but those numbers are not released.
 
According to The Washington Post, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Prisons reported there are 216 so-called international terrorists and 139 so-called domestic terrorists currently in federal facilities (I’m convinced the real terrorists are on Capitol Hill).  No one has ever escaped from these “most secure prisons.”
 
In a 60 Minutes segment titled, Supermax: A Clean Version of Hell (revisited), June 21, 2009, the reporters took cameras into the ADX-Florence, Colorado Supermax where there have been six wardens since it opened in 1994.  It’s where Imam Jalil al-Amin and Mutulu Shakur are held captive, along with myriad other political prisoners. 
 
One former warden stated, “I don’t know what hell is, but I do know the assumption would be, for a free person, it’s pretty close to it.” 
 
“Supermax is the place America sends the prisoners it wants to punish the most – a place the warden described as a clean version of hell.” 
 
In a national study  (Hayes and Rowan 1988) of 401 suicides in U.S. prisons —one of the largest studies of its kind—two out of every three people who committed suicide were being held in a control unit. 
In one year, 2005, a record 44 prisoners killed themselves in California alone; 70 percent of those suicides occurred in segregation units
 
Bret Grote is an investigator and organizer with Human Rights Coalition/Fed Up!, a prisoner rights/prison abolitionist organization based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  
 
In the Angola 3 Newsletter, Grote details how HRC/Fed Up! Documented many hundreds of human rights abuses in Pennsylvania’s 27 prisons.  Their investigations concluded that Pennsylvania is “operating a sophisticated program of torture under an utterly baseless pretext of ‘security,’ wherein close to 3,000 people are held in conditions of solitary/control unit confinement each day.” 
 
Supermax prisons can also contain death rows where prisoners can spend decades in isolation, torture, with the added torment of impending execution.  One obvious example is the highly political case of former Black Panther, journalist and author, Mumia Abu-Jamal, falsely convicted of killing a cop in 1981.  Despite hard evidence of innocence, he’s still locked up in SCI Green, a Pennsylvania Supermax, after 27 years on death row and the signing of two death warrants.
These conditions are a flagrant violation of article 6 of the U.S. Constitution which affirms that treaty law (i.e. international law) is the “supreme law of the land.” Thus, article 10 (3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights stipulates that “The penitentiary system shall comprise treatment of prisoners the essential aim of which shall be their reformation and social rehabilitation.”
 
Contrary to the lock-em-up-and-throw-away-the-key rhetoric of politicians, A Zogby poll released in April 2006 found 87 percent of Americans favor rehabilitative services for prisoners as opposed to punishment only.
 
The Commission on Safety and Abuse in America’s Prisons, a bipartisan national task force, produced a study after a yearlong investigation  (2005-2006) that called for ending long-term solitary confinement of prisoners.  The report found practically no benefits and plenty of harm – for prisoners and the public. 
 
One of the most egregious cases of prolonged torture is the politically-charged isolation of Hugo Pinell still held in Pelican Bay’s SHU after nearly 20 years.  For his active resistance back in the 1960s and assault conviction in the San Quentin Six case (1976), my dear friend has spent a total of 40 years in hellholes – 45 of his 64 years in California prisons. (www.hugopinell.org).
 
“In much the same way that a previous generation of Americans countenanced legalized segregation,” writes Gawande, “ours has countenanced legalized torture.  And there is no clearer manifestation of this than our routine use of solitary confinement – on our own people, in our own communities, in a supermax prison, for example, that is a 30-minute drive from my home.”
 
In the words of Friedrich Nietzsche, Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful!
Power to the people!

Russ Pearce's latest histrionics about the invasion

Published at the conservative Sonoran Alliance blog (Pearce Responds to Tribune's Criticisms...). This is the kind of racism, fear-mongering, and histrionics we have to contend with in AZ - and this man is chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. We cannot allow him to get re-elected. Look at some of the stuff he puts out down there...and just about every police organization and law enforcement agency head (as well as Andrew Thomas) are on his re-election committee. Keep that in mind, folks. This man is going to be a challenge to toss out of power - and the consequences if we fail are pretty immense for a lot of people...
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Our Nation Depends On It
by State Senator Russell Pearce

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!!   As author of Proposition 200; “Arizona Taxpayers and Citizens Protection Act,” that passed by over 1 million voters in 2004. It was intended to do three things.

(Thanks to Attorney General Goddard and Former Governor Napolitano the 3rd provision was not implemented.  It was a back door veto of the people’s vote.)

Proof of citizenship to register to vote: The U.S. Constitution established more than 200 years ago that only citizens may vote. The initiative requires everyone equally to prove that eligibility as does Title 7, Section 12 of the Arizona Constitution.  Thanks to Proposition 200, ACORN’s efforts of voter fraud were thwarted here in Arizona.

Photo I.D. When voting: Photo I.D. Is required to cash a check, apply for welfare, sign a lease, or get a rental card at a video store.

Proof of eligibility to receive non-federal mandated public benefits: The initiative would require everyone to provide proof of eligibility equally. The Urban Institute studied this extensively in 1994, the University of Arizona in 2001, and estimated such costs to vary widely in the tens of millions of dollars.

To make matters worse, we have a financial crisis in Arizona and are cutting services to citizens and yet the cities are demanding that illegal aliens receive taxpayer benefits.

There is currently a battle raging in this country that will determine whether our nation enforces its immigration laws and secures its borders or becomes victim of its enemies.  We are a Nation built upon the “Rule of Law” and either we stand up for the principles that our Founding Fathers gave us to ensure lasting Liberty, enshrined in a Constitution that protects those liberties or we destroy all that is sacred and the end result will be a nation who commits suicide.  Illegal immigration is the Trojan Horse and we must secure our borders and enforces our laws.

“Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”.  This prophetic speech in that Henry was warning his countrymen that if they were not prepared to fight for their liberty, the only alternative was to live in “chains and slavery.

THE TIME HAS COME TO FIGHTFIGHT TO KEEP GOD IN THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE. FIGHT TO KEEP GOD IN OUR NATIONAL MOTTO.  FIGHT TO KEEP THE TEN COMMANDMENTS ON PUBLIC DISPLAY. FIGHT TO RETURN PRAYER TO THE CLASSROOMS. FIGHT AGAINST ABORTION, FIGHT AGAINST PORNOGRAPHY, FIGHT TO SECURE OUR BORDERS, FIGHT TO PRESERVE THE RULE OF LAW, FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT, AND (IN THE WORDS OF WINSTON CHURCHILL) NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER GIVE UP!

AHCCCS has exploded to $5 billion annually, more people enrolled in AHCCCS than in K through 12!!!

Hospitals in trouble financially (in 2003, 77 border hospitals filed bankruptcy), crime impact (majority of violent crime involves illegal aliens), neighborhoods in trouble, drug trafficking, home invasions, our election process violated, and I can go on.

We must have responsible policies to protect our citizens.  That is our job.  The average taxpayer bears the burden of our bloated welfare system.  It jeopardizes the integrity of our elections.  Our number one responsibility is to protect the rights and liberties of the Citizens of this great Republic.

As long as we have a welfare state, in consideration of the fact of Federal abdication of their responsibility to protect our borders, we (Arizona) must necessarily resort to ’self-help’, and let the shirkers and the cowards be darned.

We are a nation of immigrants, but immigrants originally settled every nation in the world; this cliché confuses facts with wisdom.  When the Statue of Liberty was erected in 1886, there were less than 65 million Americans.  We did not have the Bloated Welfare system we have today.  We did not have those coming to America demanding “free” stuff as we do today.  We did not have “Public” education at a huge cost to taxpayers that we have today.

It is said that immigration is important because there are “jobs that Americans won’t do.”  This probably never was true, but this cliché has now become a job-destroying and wage-lowering philosophy where employers use both unskilled and “increasingly) skilled immigrants to hold down wages and obtain cheap labor at the expense of American workers and the “left” benefits from the increased political base by luring them here and allowing/encouraging them to get addicted to government programs.

Why should “Illegal Aliens” have the right to “Free” taxpayer/citizen benefits?

Impact of Illegal Immigration:

U.S.
Illegal immigrants cost American taxpayers $68 Billion annually in federal programs in 2002. Studies estimate that amnesty would increase that three fold.

$311 Billion in uncollected taxes (Barron’s study)

$200 Billion annually in lost American wages. Native-born American men lost an average of $1700 in wages in 2000 due to US immigration policy (Harvard University)

Arizona
FAIR study (Federation for American Immigration Reform):
This is the 6th largest population of illegals in the country and 222% higher than the 1990 figure and according to Time Magazine (not a conservative publication) over 3 million will cross illegally through the Arizona border this next year alone!!!

Arizona hospitals spend $150 annually on illegals’ care. Some rural hospitals have had to downscale or close (2003 77 border hospitals filed for bankruptcy)

Health department in Cochise spends 1/3 of its budget on care for illegals

Maricopa County Hospital loses over $2 million weekly on uncompensated care (largely due to illegal aliens).

Feds owe $25 million in uncompensated SCAAP costs just in Maricopa County, (1/3 of our federal prisons are illegal aliens)

Arizona spends $1 billion annually to educate illegal immigrant students

Over half of all AHCCCS births are from illegal mothers 1/3 of children in Arizona have immigrant parents

Other problems include: congested freeways, damage to environment from trash and unwanted trails, crowded housing, crime and poverty.

By some estimates 60% to 80% of the violent crime in Arizona is involving illegal aliens; i.e. Homicides, drug trafficking, home invasions, car jackings, gang activity, etc.

The Zogby, Roper, Lou Dobbs and Pew polls show over 80% of Americans do not want amnesty given to illegals.  They want enforcement.

IN VIOLATION OF THEIR OATH OF OFFICE

This year, over three million illegal aliens crossed over our borders against the laws set forth in our Constitution and Federal immigration mandates. These laws are specific. They demand arrest and deportation for anyone within the United States of America without lawful entry. For anyone hiring an illegal alien, these laws provide fines of $10,000.00 per illegal hired and up to five years in prison.

Additionally, our elected officials from mayors to our President work against American citizens in what history will report as the single greatest “invasion-without-guns” takeover of a nation in history. “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of Government, and shall protect each of them against invasion.” Article IV Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution.

The Law:
“A person (including a group of persons, business, organization, or local government) commits a federal felony when she or he: assists an illegal alien she/he should reasonably know is illegally in the U.S. or who lacks employment authorization, by transporting, sheltering, or assisting him or her to obtain employment, or encourages that illegal alien to remain in the U.S. by referring him or her to an employer or by acting as employer or agent for an employer in any way, or knowingly assists illegal aliens due to personal convictions.”

Federal Law- Section 8 USC 1324. If you suffered a horde of people overrunning your home or community, you would call the cops and have them arrested. Not so with illegal aliens! By lack of law enforcement, illegals recognize the open invitation to illegal entry. The benefits of lawbreaking exceed their wildest dreams.
Undocumented Immigrant is a euphemism that suggests the problem with immigrants is the lack of documentation. ACTUALLY, they are citizenship-deficient; in the same way that a residential burglar is key deficit.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Pat Levasseur on Lynne Stewart

This via the folks at NY Jericho. For those who missed it, Lynne was ordered to start serving her sentence last week despite being scheduled at the beginning of December for surgery due to her breast cancer. In fact, the appeals court judges made it clear that they think she should probably die in prison, and kicked it back to the original judge towards that end. 

Since the DOJ originally wanted to give Lynne 30 years, there is grave potential for such an outcome - even on the time she's doing now. Her surgery is to be re-scheduled for a time and place convenient to the federal Bureau of Prisons. Given the high priority America places on health care for women and prisoners alike, I'm sure they'll get around to it soon. 

Who needs capital punishment anymore?


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Date: Mon, 23 Nov 2009 21:29:01 EST
Subject: Update on Lynne Stewart


Lynne Stewart #53504-054
MCC/NY
150 Park Row
New York, NY 10007

Hello All,

    It's taken me a minute to report on Lynne because I have waited to talk to attorneys after they have visited with her first hand to discuss Lynne's situation, needs and other matters.  Above is Lynne's mailing address.  All mail (except legal mail) is subject to opening and reading by the institution.  Legal mail must be opened in front of the inmate.  Lynne will greatly appreciate getting beautiful cards and thoughtful letters.  Please remember to write to her now and as time goes along.

    Our main focus at this time is the next court date.  Lynne has a 28 months sentence, if you have read the 2nd Circuit decision (and you can by going to the web site for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, look under decisions and you will find USA v. Stewart)  you will find that the sentence that Lynne has received is threatened, meaning it could go higher.  Our goal is to show the steadfast support that Lynne has from the community, to be vigilant. Lynne Stewart's good deeds throughout her life and the fact that she had been out since her arrest in 2002 with no incidents - her age, her health - all demand NO MORE TIME than she already has.  Of course,  we don't think that she should be doing any jail time at all, but we must be realistic and fight for attainable goals.

    In light of this LET'S FILL THE COURTROOM AND MORE on DECEMBER 2, 2009 AT 10:30 A.M. JUDGE KOELTL'S COURTROOM, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK, 500 PEARL STREET, COURTROOM 12B.   

    Lynne's attorneys will continue to fight her case all the way to the Supreme Court.  That is our long term battle.  Our short term battle is to fill that courtroom on each and every occasion there is court, to let the justice dept. know that there are many concerned people, and that Lynne is precious to us.  We can protect her, when the eyes of many are on her and her situation.

    We do not know how long Lynne will remain in MCC/NY.  She has court appearances ahead and a resentencing, this could be a long time.  She is required to make a visiting list, and there is a form to fill out, people will need to be approved and the list is not endless, so all may not  have access to  her.  Attorneys of record can visit her, meaning those attorneys working on her legal case.  But attorneys who cannot visit her can play an important role as attorneys, in standing by Lynne Stewart and thinking of ways unique to their profession to show the support Lynne dearly needs.

    Lynne loves to read and it is important to note that all books and publications must come from the publisher and mailed directly to Lynne.  I will be asking Lynne for a list of reading requests and if folks want to send her a book, let's coordinate our efforts so that she doesn't get more than 1 copy of the same book etc.  Lynne will need commissary money.  You can visit the website for the United States Bureau of Prisons (just type that in to your search engine)  under "inmate matters"  you will see the option telling  you how to send money to an  inmate.  You can do it through Western Union, using their website or at a store, send what you can.  If you would like to let me know by email that you are sending her this or that, so that we can coordinate things, I would be happy to help.

    Lastly, tonight, I want you all to know that your support over the years means the world to Lynne.  I miss not talking to  her every day, sometimes many times a day.  It is important to me that we keep Lynne in the present with us every day, and that strategies and decisions are run by her first to the extent possible.  All who want to continue to send out the word about Lynne to their own contingency should continue of course.

Stay tuned for future updates and developments.

Pat Levasseur

--
Free All Political Prisoners!

Women and Families Strengthening Act: Jersey's CJ Reforms

The New Jersey State Legislature really has their act together on criminal justice issues - look at how well all those legislators articulate themselves on the issues. Thought for sure I'd posted this here, but can't find it. This one came to me through Lois at the Real Cost of Prisons Project blog - though I don't see it posted up there right now. I believe this was an AP article. 

Think AZ has more than 2 or 3 legislators of any stripe who would come together with something like this - much less a voting majority who would support it? I bet the AZ public, if well-informed, would support this kind of legislation. I hope that the candidates putting together their talking points and platforms keep that in mind.

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NJ Prison Bills Advance, To Improve Rehabilitation Efforts
November 24th, 2009


A sweeping bill package sponsored by six Assembly Democratic legislators to improve rehabilitation in New Jersey prisons and to save taxpayer dollars by cutting recidivism and giving released inmates an improved chance of success was advanced Monday by an Assembly panel. News from PolitickerNJ.


The package is sponsored by Assembly Majority Leader Assembly Majority Leader Bonnie Watson ColemanBonnie Watson Coleman and Assembly members Albert Coutinho, Elease Evans, Mila M. Jasey, L. Grace Spencer and Cleopatra G. Tucker. It stems from a series of hearings on Watson Coleman hosted throughout New Jersey to hear from citizens and experts on how to cut into recidivism and save public money.

The bills were released by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

“The pervasive cycle of arrest, release and re-arrest is failed system that wastes lives and costs taxpayers dearly,” said Watson Coleman (D-Mercer). “Quite simply, it’s a disgraceful and destructive cycle that must come to an end for the good of all New Jersey taxpayers and those directly affected by our failed system. We’ve seen too much money unsuccessfully spent on programs that don’t work. These reforms are a long overdue step toward progress.”

“These reforms range from improving education and job training to enhancing family support to eliminating antiquated roadblocks to success for those released from prison,” said Coutinho (D-Essex). “These common sense steps will give people an opportunity to earn their second chance and ensure we spend public money wisely.”

“None of these bills would make it easier to serve sentences,” said Spencer (D-Essex). “What they would do is make serving that time more sensible and help ensure that after their time is served, prisoners re-enter society ready to be productive citizens. That will save lives and taxpayer dollars.”

“The simple fact is that of the thousands people released from New Jersey prisons each year, 65 percent of the adults and 37 percent of the juveniles will return within two years,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “That is unacceptable, and these bills aim to not only to improve lives and neighborhoods, but to save money.”

“Spending money time and time again on prisoners who come and go from our prison systems is, quite simply, a waste,” said Evans (D-Passaic). “We need to do better, not only for the wellbeing of the people whose lives are being lost in our prisons, but for taxpayers who need to know their money is spent smartly.”

“We simply cannot afford to continue the present system of spending money repeatedly on repeat offenders,” said Jasey (D-Essex). “The time has come to change our approach so that we can give people and our society a better chance at a better future.”

The “Women and Families Strengthening Act” (A-4197), which would:

* End the prohibition in state law against released prisoners from receiving cash assistance benefits provided under Work First New Jersey.
* Require the state to contract with the lowest bidder for inmate telephone services, prohibit the contractor from imposing surcharges on inmate calls and bar the state from accepting revenue in excess of the cost of operating inmate telephone services.
* Establish a commission to examine strategies for strengthening bonds between jailed parents and their children.
* Require an assistant corrections commissioner establish and monitor policies affecting incarcerated mothers and their children.
* Prohibit the state from housing female inmates in the same facility as male inmates, if it results in conditions more restrictive than the male inmates.
* Require the state to make every effort to assign an inmate to a facility close to where the inmate’s family resides.

A bill (A-4199) designed to address incarceration concerns, which would:

* Allow prisoners in a state or county jail to keep $25 of their monthly income earned for labor performed at the facility, up from $15.
* Require the state to semiannually submit all inmate complaints to the Department of the Public Advocate.
* Require the state to develop an in-service training program for corrections officers that must include mental health sensitivity.

A bill (A-4201) designed to address release concerns, which would:

* Establish a faith-based programs coordinator with the state Department of Corrections to compile and disseminate information about faith-based groups and programs, especially those that provide assistance and services to inmates re-entering society.
* Establish Mental Health Courts to facilitate voluntary treatment of defendants who have mental health illnesses.
* Create a Prisoner Re-entry Commission and require the collection of data on recidivism and a fiscal estimate or the potential cost of any legislation that increases prison sentences.
* Give prisoners a 90-day grace period on outstanding fines and other monetary penalties.
* A bill (A-4202) designed to address education and job training, which would:
* Require the state to create a mandatory workforce skills training and a mandatory education program in each state correctional facility.
* Require inmates to attain a high school equivalency certificate or high school diploma.
* Allow inmates and parolees to enter into agreements with institutions for education, training or other activities that, if successfully completed, could reduce parole terms.
* Establish a mandatory six-month period of post-release supervision for all state inmates.
* Allow a person who has been released from prison to obtain a court order that allows them to visit prisons, if they can show that such visits are likely to motivate and help rehabilitate other inmates.

“This is important unfinished business from the many hearings we held throughout New Jersey, during which we heard from thousands of people about how our system has failed people and cost us money,” Watson Coleman said. “A broad coalition of community organizations, faith leaders, law enforcement officials and ordinary citizens have lined up behind these ideas and will work to build support for these well-informed and carefully crafted bills that reflect a desire to improve lives and save money.”

Sheriff Joe's Circus at Cronkite

 Just a reminder that this is an action coming up, folks (for a lot of groups). Looks like a good opportunity to confront the abuse of his office to repress first amendment rights...this should be an interesting protest. I guess tea partiers and minutemen will be counter-protesting.

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Large crowd expected at live interview of Arpaio

A live interview with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio in downtown Phoenix has drawn so much interest that organizers are making it available on a large video screen and the Internet.

Three professors with Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication are set to interview the sheriff at 7 p.m. Monday.

A Cronkite school spokeswoman says the event was going to be open to the public, but Phoenix police told school officials earlier this week that they expect large crowds, citing a Facebook page protesting Arpaio and showing about 400 people saying they would attend. Another 440 were "maybes."

Meanwhile, the capacity of the interview site is 210 people.

Criminalization of Human Migration

Immigrants, Criminalized

New York Times
November 27, 2009
Editorial
 
A bedrock premise of smart immigration reform is the sharp distinction it draws between criminal aliens and Americans-in-waiting. While it acknowledges that illegal immigrants need to get right with the law, it treats illegal status as a civil matter to be resolved by the machinery of naturalization, not by the police and prisons.

To hard-line opponents of legalization, illegal immigrants are irredeemable lawbreakers by definition, and the only thing they should be waiting for is deportation.

The administration’s job, as it works on a long-overdue reform bill next year, is to resist that view. So it was disheartening to hear Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary, boast recently about identifying “more than 111,000 criminal aliens” through a jailhouse fingerprinting program called Secure Communities.

That was misleading. The program, now in 95 cities or counties in 11 states, will ultimately require all local police agencies to check federal immigration databases for anyone after an arrest. It has so far identified a few thousand serious criminals, rapists and burglars, the kinds of people whose removal from the country must be part of any sane immigration strategy. But it also uncovered minor traffic infractions and visa violations.

It is easy to understand that the administration wants to sound as tough as possible as it gets ready to battle deep-seated resistance to real immigration reform. It is encouraging that Ms. Napolitano recently repeated the president’s insistence that a clear legalization path must be a pillar of reform. That makes it all the more important for the administration to avoid conflating illegal immigration and serious crime.

Laws must be enforced, but doing it this way hurts the innocent, creating a short line from Hispanic to immigrant to illegal to criminal. Having brown skin, speaking Spanish, seeming nervous in the presence of flashing police lights — none of those things say anything about whether you are here illegally or not, are deportable or not. But any one of them can be enough to get you pulled over in jurisdictions across the country.

In Arizona, it can get you jailed. We know of citizens whose homes were mistakenly raided by reckless federal agents on Long Island, day laborers who were targets of indiscriminate sweeps in California, and others who were singled out at roadblocks in upstate New York.

This hurts public safety. If you want to know the consequences of turning the police and jails into instruments of deportation, ask the law-enforcement officials who have complained about programs that muddy the line between local crime-fighting and federal enforcement, and make immigrants fear and shun the police.

President Obama has repeatedly assured 12 million illegal immigrants that he will fight to give them the chance to earn the right to stay. His administration should not undermine that noble effort by carelessly lending credibility to the view that the future citizens living and working among us are a class of criminals.

Corrupting Influence of Private Prisons


We really don't want these people to control the economies of small towns in Arizona - their entire industry is evil. The more they have invested in prisons, the more they invest in padding legislators pockets and passing laws that criminalize more poor people or "non-counting constituents". I don't think a lot of people really get the problems with this dynamic...

This is from Protect Consumer Justice.org

-----------


 Wednesday, November 25, 2009
 
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is sending more inmates to out-of-state prisons run by a private company that recently made a $100,000 donation to a ballot campaign committee controlled by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Daily Journal legal publication reports.

Matthew Pordum of the Daily Journal reports CDCR has agreed to send an additional 2,336 inmates to prisons operated by Corrections Corp. of America, in an extension of a contract with the company that is worth more than $54 million a year.  Six months before the CDCR decision, Corrections Corp. of America contributed $100,000 to Budget Reform Now, the committee organized to campaign for six state budget-related measures supported by Schwarzenegger on a special election ballot in May.


A Schwarzenegger spokeswoman told Pordum there was no connection between the donation and the contract extension, saying the governor had nothing to do with the extension.

The Journal story has more details about CCA’s political spending:

“We are politically active and make contributions to Democrats and Republicans alike all over the country, as do all companies of our size and reach,” said Louise Grant, vice president of communications at Corrections Corp.

Corrections Corp. donated $234,500 in 2007-08, and $38,900 so far this year, to several members of the California Legislature and the state Democratic and Republican parties, according to its filings with the Secretary of State.

The firm has also reported spending about $45,000 for each of the last three quarters on lobbyists in California.

The state began sending some inmates to CCA prisons in 2006 in response to Schwarzenegger’s emergency proclamation on prison overcrowding.  If the legislature approves the spending for the extension, California’s contract with CCA would be valued at more than $224 million a year, with state inmates housed at facilities in Arizona, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

The Schwarzenegger administration is not wholly responsible for the decision to send inmates to private prisons. The Legislature approved AB 900 in 2007 giving the state greater authority to transfer felons to private prisons outside the state.

The Florida-based prison prison firm, the Geo Group, also is seeking more California inmates. Geo is a significant campaign spender, giving $50,000 in October 2008 to the Schwarzenegger-backed Proposition 11 redistricting initiative.

Kentucky Executions on Hold

From the New York Times:
----------------


November 26, 2009

Kentucky’s Highest Court Halts Executions in State

The Supreme Court of Kentucky suspended executions in the state Wednesday, ruling that officials did not follow state law in adopting its procedures for killing inmates.

The decision did not address whether it is inhumane to use a three-drug cocktail in lethal injections, as critics have argued.

The Kentucky case concerned three inmates slated for execution: Brian Keith Moore, Ralph Baze and Thomas C. Bowling.

Mr. Baze’s case made its way to the United States Supreme Court, which stopped lethal injections across the country until last year, when it issued an opinion declaring Kentucky’s death penalty method — using the three-drug cocktail — to be constitutional.

The Kentucky justices said the Department of Corrections must follow the rules of the state’s administrative procedures act in the protocol for lethal injection, which include publication of the details of the procedure and public hearings on the matter.

“The Department of Corrections is required by Kentucky law to promulgate a regulation as to all portions of the lethal injection protocol except those limited issues of internal management that are purely of concern to department personnel,” wrote Justice Lisabeth Hughes Abramson for the majority of the court.

Gov. Steve Beshear issued a statement on Wednesday, saying his administration would “carefully review the decision and consider which steps we need to take.” Kentucky has 36 inmates on death row.

Megan McCracken, a lawyer with the Death Penalty Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley, hailed the Kentucky decision, saying it “will shine light on the lethal injection process and create accountability for the procedures that are used.”

Similar court challenges led to new regulations in California and Maryland, and Nebraska recently published a proposed protocol, Ms. McCracken said.

But Kent Scheidegger, the legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation in Sacramento, Calif., a group that supports the death penalty, said, “This has nothing to do with the validity of the protocol, avoiding suffering, or transparency in decision making.” Instead, he said, “It is purely a stalling tactic.”

The dissenting Kentucky justices stated a similar view.

In a partial dissent, Justice Bill Cunningham wrote that the court’s decision “turns on a sterile technicality” and would lead to further challenges and delay — “maybe much more delay” — in death penalty cases. Justice Will T. Scott wrote that all three men’s crimes occurred more than a decade ago, and one, 30 years ago.

“These cases cry out for closure. The families of the victims cry out for closure,” he wrote. “Respect for our law erodes when timely punishment is not given its fair place upon the scales of justice.”

Mr. Baze told The Associated Press that he understood that his execution was likely to go forward eventually, but applauded the decision. “It gets us through Christmas,” he said. “That’s a couple of months. That’s good.”
The Kentucky opinion was handed down on the same day that the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, refused to stop an execution in Ohio based on a challenge to that state’s protocol for lethal injection.

The convict in that case, Kenneth Biros, faces death by lethal injection on Dec. 8, but obtained a stay of execution based on his argument that Ohio’s old protocol — which used the three-drug method — constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. But because of the shift to a single drug, the court said, “any challenge to Ohio’s three-drug execution protocol is now moot.” It left open the possibility that Mr. Biros or other prisoners might challenge the new one-drug protocol.

Prof. Douglas A. Berman, an authority on sentencing law at Ohio State University, said judges around the country were coming down on opposite sides of the same question and asked, “Where are we going to let the risk of error lie?”

Judges who are uncomfortable with the death penalty, he said, “will usually want to be shown that every possible error, every possible risk of error has been eliminated” before allowing an execution. Others, he said, “will say, ‘close enough for government work.’ ”

Arizona is a police state. Arpaio is just one cop.

If the FBI and DOJ nail this guy, I will send them a thank you card and offer them dinner myself. In the meantime, they should be dropping commandos into Arizona to rescue minority and oppositional citizens from the whole political slate he's aligned with (Thomas, Pearce, et al), before they do anyone else further harm. What's going on in this state - including the way our legislators conduct business - is criminal.

Sheriff Joe is actually the least damaging of them all, I think. It's the men writing laws and prosecuting them that trouble me. Being arrested is no small inconvenience, even if the charges don't stick. It ties up an activist's time and may limit our voice; it's an intimidation tactic, at the very least. But there's not much even Sheriff Joe can do if the law has no teeth or the prosecutor thinks the case has no merit. He may be the main attraction, but Sheriff Joe is hardly the source of the problem. His racism and failure to deal with real crime in Maricopa County are devastating to migrant communities and families, but to most citizens, even some protesters he arrests, he's a petty clown whose time is almost up. 

 Andrew Thomas, however, strong-arms the vulnerable into plea bargains using the threat of sentence enhancements (agree to three or you'll end up with 20) despite their claims of innocence, and buries innocent people in prison for years at a time, too arrogant to evaluate new evidence in his possession that should free them. He's the one we need to really grill about his agenda as Attorney General, and his plans for decreasing mass incarceration and protecting prisoner rights. I suspect that in his vision for Arizona, though, more people will be criminalized and in prison, and more communities will have prisons as their economic foundation. Our entire future will be increasingly invested in incarcerating people ... look at how the business leaders of Wickenburg and Winslow talk about the prisons and inmates - they don't even consider those they will incarcerate as human. They certainly won't be members of their community.

 That's who we will become, if we don't change the direction of this state: people most concerned with how they can profit from the plight of other human beings...I think they do that because they really believe that justice in America is fair. It's racist and classist and self-interested to its core.

---------------- 

Private Citizens: Joe Arpaio Targeted Us, Too

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio Accused Of Abusing Power

POSTED: 10:33 pm MST November 25, 2009
UPDATED: 9:34 am MST November 26, 2009

In the weeks since 5 Investigates aired its story on allegations that Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is abusing his power, more people have come forward to say they, too, were targeted.
Politicians, county employees and private citizens claim the sheriff launched investigations into their personal lives after they criticized him.Terri Leija, who is chief of staff for Maricopa County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, said she is under criminal investigation because of her employer.“They’re trying to scare me to go after my boss,” she told 5 Investigates.

Leija has not been charged with a crime.“I walk around some days thinking, ‘How is this allowed to be happening?’” she asked.Susan Schuerman, deputy administrator for Supervisor Don Stapley, echoed this sentiment.“I don’t have any criminal history,” Schuerman said. “Why I should be tainted is outrageous." Schuerman said the investigation makes it difficult for her to come to work.“This has been an absolute nightmare,” she said.

Her boss, Stapley, was indicted on 118 charges relating to the nondisclosure of a variety of land deals, business associations and business assets.At the time, the county supervisor said he was falsely accused. Fifty-two of the charges were thrown out in August, and prosecutors requested the rest be dropped in September.Three days after the request was made, deputies arrested Stapley on 100 new counts -- 93 felonies and seven misdemeanors.

Two men who set up Stapley’s legal defense fund said they were targeted, too. 5 Investigates agreed to withhold their names as they feared retribution.The day the fund went online, sheriff’s deputies showed up at all of the “trustees’” homes, asking whether they were promised anything from Stapley in return for their efforts.The deputies stayed until 11:30 p.m. in at least one case, the men said.“I was intimidated,” one said. “I started questioning whether I should have stepped forward and helped Don out … in his time of need.”

 When confronted by 5 Investigates reporter Morgan Loew after refusing multiple requests for an on-camera interview, the sheriff denied the allegations.“I don’t see any pattern,” Arpaio said. “We investigate thousands of people -- my office does -- thousands of people. We’re doing our job, and it doesn’t matter what political background or occupation or profession.” Nevertheless, the FBI is investigating the abuse-of-power claims, sources said, and some of those interviewed by 5 Investigates confirmed they spoke with FBI agents.

Canada is a Police State, too, Amy.


From Democracy Now! They'd better all be afraid of what she has to say...They arrested her at the RNC while she was covering harassment of protesters. (I think that means she might be on to something...)

Rock On, Democracy Now!

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November 26, 2009

Amy Goodman Detained at the Canadian Border, questioned about speech–see the CBC national news, 6 pm and then online at CBC.ca

While traveling to Vancouver, BC, Canada on Weds., Nov. 25th, to speak at the Vancouver Public Library at a benefit for community radio stations, Amy Goodman and her two colleagues were detained by Canadian authorities. Amy was questioned extensively about the speech she intended to give; their car was gone through by armed border guards, and their papers and laptop computers were scoured. They were detained for well over an hour, and were made an hour late for her speech.

The armed interrogators were particularly interested in whether she would be speaking about the upcoming Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

See the national news coverage on CBC national news coverage, broadcasting at 6 pm Thurs Nov. 26th. The report will be posted at http://cbc.ca

See additional coverage at rabble.ca

Yesterday, before going to Canada, Amy signed books at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport–the largest airport Borders Bookstore–there was no trouble at that Borders, as opposed to the Canadian border.

See the coverage from Mediabistro

Happy Thanksgiving!

Filed under D.N. in the News

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Subversion and Solidarity

Remembering those who have struggled against the brutality of global imperialism today -

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"At the dawn of Industrialism, factories were modeled after prisons. In its twilight, prisons are now modeled after factories." 

Chaparral: No Borders or Prison Walls

This is a recent post from one of my favorite valley bloggers on immigration - I was just going to put part of it here and make you retrieve the rest, but it breaks the flow, so read the whole thing here or there - in any event, check out her blog. I subscribe. Here's the lead-in:

Here's the post for 11/23/09:
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What Happens When Arpaio Serves the Warrants

Because Sheriff Arpaio has been targeting migrants who are just driving, waiting for work, or working, activists have reacted by pointing out that the sheriff has not been serving 40,000 open warrants. Now the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department is serving warrants... in Guadalupe.

As an example of the focus on warrants, a press release from no specific organization but about "Leaders from the civil rights and Latino communities" came out in March 2008 saying,
The people are entitled to have a true lawman for Sheriff, someone who goes after real criminals, not gardeners, cooks, nannies and pregnant mothers. America’s “toughest sheriff” must stop making mothers and fathers disappear in the middle of the night, callously leaving vulnerable, terrorized children at home alone. He can turn a new leaf and start protecting the public by serving the county’s 70,000 arrest warrants that he has allowed to remain outstanding.
If you went to a protest against Arpaio in 2008 or early 2009, you likely would've seen a reference to the warrants on some signs. Often they would be referenced by groups such as the Maricopa Citizens for Safety and Accountability. While the warrants have been discussed very little since the Senate hearing on the issue, you will occasionally still hear the warrants brought up.

What I don't understand is the assumption that these warrants are justified- that all the people who have warrants out for their arrest, or perhaps all the people with felony warrants, are hardened criminals who all deserve to go to Tent City. Do you really believe this? Do you think the criminal "justice" system is infallible? Are not undocumented migrants being further criminalized for political/racist/economic reasons? Isn't that fundamental to the criminal "justice" system? There is much evidence that the police are used to keep people in check and to maintain the social hierarchy. In many ways, the police actually perpetuate the crimes of those who do not have access to many of the opportunities that more privilege people have. And as I write in Chaparral: No Borders or Prison Walls:
Many examples exist of ways in which crime-fighting is not, in fact, intended to end the activities which are considered crimes. The government has no interest in ending crime unless it is targeted towards the government itself, the rich or their property. One could list a number of crimes committed by people who get away with it everyday, and a number of acts that should be crimes because they hurt people, other beings, and/or the planet, yet they are not crimes because it is not in the interest of the government to control those actions. Crimes against people who are seen as less valuable are not important to enforce unless it benefits the system in another way... Crimes committed by government, government agents, businesses, are treated differently, with the perpetrators facing much less harsh punishment than their civilian counter-parts face, if any. Often crimes are enabled by involvement with the government such as the drug trafficking done with government vehicles and physical and sexual abuse by police, border patrol, and prison officials, yet the criminals in these cases are treated as a few bad apples.
And why does it not occur to folks that many of those warrants might be for gardeners, cooks, nannies and pregnant mothers who might disappear at night leaving their children terrorized?

And if you agree with nothing else I've said so far about the problems with the rule of law, please realize that you are basically saying that if the sheriff was serving all those warrants, then he would be doing a good job- Tent City, pink underwear, chain gangs, green baloney and all.

Indeed, I have brought up that Arpaio has in fact not been doing as efficient of a job at arresting migrants- other police departments have- yet they don't have this warrants issue hanging over their heads. In fact, they are mostly ignored and in some cases even seen as allies (phoenix pd officers are invited to activist meetings, ex-mesa police chief gascon was celebrated for standing up against arpaio) yet, as i've written in the past, If Phx and Mesa PD are arresting more immigrants, why is focus on Arpaio?
I would say that the myth of the infallibility of law and order is not questioned, for the most part, for to do so would make you vulnerable to attacks by the other side, accusing you of wanting chaos, or whatever else they associate with opposing arrests of so-called criminals. Too many immigrants' advocates are not willing to be outspoken about the racist nature of "criminal justice" and law enforcement, the border, and immigration law in general. The result, therefore, is that law enforcement that can appear reasonable alongside arpaio's media circuses are not to be questioned, but instead even applauded, even if their actual effect is worse than how arpaio's efforts appear.
This past week, the sheriff's department has been bringing a camera crew to stops all over Guadalupe to serve warrants. Guadalupe is a very small town next to Tempe, with a very high number of brown skinned people- mostly Yaquis and Mexican migrants. Arpaio has done a few sweeps there. It is one of a few places in the County that doesn't have it's own police department and pays the MCSO to handle problems. Instead, they've caused many problems. You can read all about it in Guadalupe made it clear that Joe Arpaio’s attacking anyone with brown skin, Joe Arpaio Returns to Guadalupe, with an Army of Deputies to Watch His Back, The MCSO Retaliates Against a Guadalupe Activist.

In fact, this might be retaliation for the copwatching going on in Guadalupe. Whatever the reason, people are being harassed and terrorized by Arpaio serving these warrants. Those who have demanded that the warrants be served are not to be blamed for those warrants being served in Guadalupe (or anywhere) necessarily, but it is necessary to keep all these things in perspective.

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Posted By chaparral to Chaparral respects no borders at 11/23/2009 11:36:00 AM