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"Bureaucracy is the death of any achievement."
There is not a more honesty-enforcing device in modern life than a compiler and the attendant run-time system, nor a greater intellectual joy than the art and science that can be created with it. But IT departments are generally managed by people who failed programming.
C Wright Mills standard of leadership - "men without lively imagination are needed to execute policies without imagination devised by an elite without imagination"
From: The American Criminal Justice System: How It Works, How It Doesn't , and How to Fix It
PRISONS AS A NECESSARY EVIL
Losing one’s freedom is an awful condition even in a minimum security prison. Nevertheless, American society has not found any other means of protecting normal citizens from the violence perpeby citizens who murder, rape, assault, and rob others. It is evident, therefore, that prisons and jails are needed for the protection of all who seek to lead a peaceful existence. It is true, of course, that imprisonment does not protect against individuals who behave violently and are not incarcerated. In fact, criminologists recognize that 85 percent of those who have been convicted of a violent crime come from a violent home, so the most fruitful way of preventing violence would be to teach our citizens not to do violence to their families, and particularly to prevent children from witnessing violence or becoming the victims of violence. As long as education against violence does not succeed, we have no alternative but to imprison those who harm others and endanger innocent people among us.
Therefore, it is of the greatest importance that prisons be used only as a last resort against those who threaten our lives and well-being. Unfortunately, the people in charge of our criminal justice system cannot always be trusted to prosecute, sentence, or imprison only dangerous offenders. For too long, the prisons of the United States have been misused by some people in power to imprison sick people who are addicted to illegal substances, for example, or to incarcerate people who are innocent of any crime or those who are too poor to be defended by a competent attorney. It is not the purpose here to seek the abolition of the criminal justice system or to claim that all who commit violence against their fellows should go free. Instead, it is the intent here to show how the prison-industrial complex can be improved and the criminal justice system made more just.
THE RATE OF INCARCERATION
In 1998, Eric Schlosser, writing in The Atlantic Monthly, defined the prison-industrial complex as “a set of bureaucratic, political and economic interests that encourage increased spending on imprisonment, regardless of the actual need.”
The aforementioned “interests” have succeeded in bringing about the incarceration of over 2 million Americans in jails and prisons throughout the United States. In 2007, local jails held 780,581 prisoners, and state and federal prisons held over 1.5 million prisoners. This means there were about 750 prisoners in American institutions for every 100,000 residents. This figure indeed reflects the highest rate of imprisonment recorded for any country in the Western world. For example, in the United Kingdom (i.e., England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales), the imprisonment rate per 100,000 population is 340. In France, the imprisonment rate is 93; and in Germany, 98. Likewise, other European countries have imprisonment rates ranging from 352 per 100,000 population in Latvia to 37 in Iceland.
The argument that the United States has far more crime than other countries cannot account for this immense rate of imprisonment because the U.S. violent crime rate has declined steadily for a number of years. For example, in 1977, the American homicide rate was 7.7 per 100,000 population. In 1980, that rate had risen to 10.2 and continued to exceed 9 per 100,000 through 1994. From then until 2007, the homicide rate declined each year, reaching a low of 5.5 in 2004 and increasing slightly to 5.9 in 2007. Similar rates of decline were recorded for forcible rape, which decreased by 2.5 percent between 2006 and 2007; and robbery, which decreased by 1.2 percent between 2006 and 2007 and showed a 5.5 percent decline since 2003. Aggravated assault decreased by 1 percent between 2006 and 2007 but had decreased by 21.5 percent since 1998. Evidently, violent crime in the United States declined mainly because the birthrate had decreased; as a result, the proportion of young men who commit the most violent offenses was smaller in 2007 than in earlier years.
In 1910, the U.S. birthrate per 1,000 population was 30.1. This declined to 23.7 in 1960 and further declined to 14.0 by 2005. The rate remained there for three years thereafter.
It is debatable, of course, what categories of nonviolent offenders should be incarcerated. In the United States, this debate has been decidedly won by those law enforcers who seek to imprison as many citizens as possible by criminalizing all kinds of conduct that is by no means criminal elsewhere in the world and by increasing the length of sentences handed individuals convicted of various crimes. It should be remembered that American prisons hold innumerable innocent people as well as drug addicts and other ill people who fill up our jails and prisons, all to the benefit of the prison-industrial complex and to the detriment of tax-paying citizens.
New construction of prisons is not related to a reduction in crime. It is instead related to improving the income and finances of the people who benefit from victimizing the poor, the illiterate, the ill, and the helpless. Included in the prison population are a considerable number of innocent people, a large number of individuals addicted to drugs other than alcohol, nonviolent white-collar offenders, and individuals whose conduct has been deliberately criminalized to increase the prison population.
In the early 1990s, California taxpayers spent $400 million to build two towers in downtown Los Angeles. Both towers are used as jails. It takes over 800 employees to move more than 6,000 prisoners through these facilities every day. The prisoners are booked, fingerprinted, sorted, and locked into cells already crowded with other prisoners, who have been there longer. Since 1980, California has built 21 new prisons, which are the ultimate destination of most of the people locked in the local jails. This growth in the prison industry has led to a sevenfold increase in the California prison population. Prison construction costs during the years since 1980 have forced taxpayers to spend $5.3 billion. In addition, it costs the state $4.8 million a year to maintain these prisons. This is only one example from one state of the huge investment in prisons that American politicians have promoted at taxpayers’ expense.6
The phenomenal growth in prison populations is not limited to California. Instead, we find that while the U.S. population has grown by 20 percent in the past 20 years, the prison population has doubled. Another example of the growth of prisons may be found in Oklahoma. There, five criminal justice bills passed by the legislature in 2007 cost taxpayers over $46 million. In addition, another bill costing $42 million more was passed by legislators who wanted to be reelected on the grounds that they are “tough on crime,” a phrase without substance other than its effect on the electorate. As prison construction increased, the state gained 900 new inmates in one year alone. As a consequence, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections is seeking another $40 million in a supplemental appropriation.7
Yet another example of the considerable cost of prison construction may be found in Dallas County, Texas. There, the Dallas County Detention Center was built in 2007 at a cost of $61.7 million. That facility is a 330,000-square-foot, four-level, medium security prison holding more than 2,300 inmates. Evidently, a prison of such size needs a steady stream of prisoners to ensure that the cells are always full and politicians can claim they are protecting the public. The fact is that as such prisons are built, more and more bodies are needed to fill them. That goal is achieved by seizing on those who cannot pay for lawyers, who are innocent, or who are victims of drug abuse. The Constitution of the United States is also a victim of the incarceration craze, as the erstwhile guarantee that everyone is innocent unless proved guilty by a jury of one’s peers appears forgotten or ignored, especially by the media.
In Arkansas, the Department of Corrections, using prison labor, is spending $40 million to construct a 339,442-square-foot concrete addition to an existing prison; and in Louisiana, $16.4 million was spent to build a new jail in Livingston County. In Mississippi, the Adams County Prison is being expanded at a cost of $105 million, thereby employing 450 workers who would otherwise be unemployed as the economy suffers a nationwide downward trend.
Such spending on prisons, which can be found nationwide, began in 1963, when Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona sought to improve his chances of becoming president of the United States by using the fear of crime to attract voters. Subsequently, Richard Nixon used the same tactic during his successful 1968 campaign. Then, in January 1973, the then-governor of New York, Nelson Rockefeller, demanded in his State of the State address that every illegal drug dealer be imprisoned for life without parole.9
In New York, the construction of prisons on a large scale began during the administration of Mario Cuomo, who was elected governor of New York in 1982. At that time, the prison population of New York had increased considerably because of the Rockefeller drug laws. Seeking reelection, Cuomo needed public approval and chose the worn-out “tough on crime” slogan to achieve this. In view of the defeat of a $500 million bond issue to build more prisons, Cuomo used the state’s Urban Development Corporation to build prisons instead of housing for the poor. Cuomo spent $7 billion building prisons in upstate New York, above Watertown in the rural Adirondack district. There had been considerable unemployment in that area of New York, so the construction of 27 new prisons in “the north country” employed many people in construction work and later as prison guards. Since Cuomo was also opposed to the death penalty, he sought to ward off criticism that he was “soft on crime” by increasing the prison population in his state.10
The cost of incarceration in 2008 was indeed phenomenal. On the average, it costs about $29,000 a year to house one prisoner in a double-bunk-bed cell in a minimum security prison. The cost rises to $61,000 for a double-bunk bed in a medium security prison and
becomes $110,512 a year to house one person in a maximum security prison. It is understood, of course, that costs vary from state to state and from prison to prison. Nevertheless, these expenditures are the outcome of politics in that legislators, whether county, state, or federal, want to be reelected by shouting the “tough on crime” slogan, no matter what it costs the taxpayer. Few voters think about these costs. Those who vote, and they are always a small minority of those eligible to vote, make their decision on the basis of the emotion of the moment. The majority of eligible citizens do not vote in state and local elections and therefore have no influence on the spending habits of incumbents.
In October 2007, Senator Jim Webb of Virginia held a Joint Economic Committee hearing entitled “Mass Incarceration in the United States: At What Cost?” That hearing revealed that the United States spent $49 billion on prisons in 2006 compared to $17 billion in 1987. Whereas the world average rate of imprisonment is 166 per 100,000, the U.S. average imprisonment rate (750) even exceeds that of Russia, which imprisons 628 residents per 100,000. The U.S. imprisonment rate is so high despite the constant decrease in the American crime rate since 1990. Evidently, the increase in incarceration is not the result of increases in the crime rate but results from changes in penal policy. Two such changes have brought about the mass imprisonment of Americans. One of the changes has been the criminalization of conduct heretofore not recognized as criminal. The other change is motivated by profit, which the incarceration of over 2 million citizens provides for numerous politicians and greedy business establishments.
Among those who profit from the misery of the semi-slaves locked into our prisons are construction companies and the politicians who receive financial support from them at the next election. Then there is the telephone company, the suppliers of goods and services, private prison corporations, and numerous residents of small towns whose employment depends on the prison industry. Often, the town’s citizens are members of the powerful prison guards’ unions, whose votes are needed by politicians at their next reelection effort. All those interests militate against the reduction of U.S. prison population even as the money spent prevents the funding of such vital needs as the education of children and young adults, the support of the homeless, and the feeding of the poor.
THE WAR ON DRUGS
Alcohol is a drug. Therefore, the prohibition of the use of alcohol in the United States, which went into effect in 1920 and ended in 1933, constituted a war on drugs. It is common knowledge, of course, that Prohibition failed because Americans wanted to use alcohol and did so despite the law. In fact, laws that are contrary to the mores of American society cannot succeed because they do not gain support from the public. Law is but one form of custom. Other customs, or social laws, are folkways, defined as such conduct as shaking hands on greeting someone or eating ham and eggs for breakfast. Mores involve social conduct supported by popular opinion but not enforced by legal means; keeping oneself clean, using polite language, respecting one’s elders, or attending religious exercises are all mores. Laws are statutes that either order that something be done—paying taxes, for example or prohibit such an action as stealing or using drugs.
When Prohibition was repealed by the Twenty-first Amendment in 1933, numerous law enforcement agents and prison operators were threatened with losing their jobs and their careers. Therefore, it became vitally important to the people who benefited from the imprisonment of alcohol suppliers and users to continue by other means some form of prohibition, though not of alcohol. Those other means were the introduction of laws prohibiting the use of drugs other than alcohol.
It had become evident by 1930 that alcohol would shortly be reintroduced as a legal substance because its suppression had visibly failed by then. As a consequence, there began in 1930 a campaign against the use of marijuana. This drug, also known as cannabis, became the target of people who viewed it as especially dangerous because of its association with Mexicans (the term “marijuana” is Mexican for “Mary Jane”). That this bigotry is a principal reason for the campaign against marijuana is best illustrated by taking a look at the leading annual causes of death in the United States. The data reveal that in the years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004, more people died from tobacco-related diseases than any other category of death-inducing conditions. Tobacco killed about 435,000 Americans in each of those years, yet tobacco has not been prohibited. Alcohol-related deaths amounted to about 85,000 each year, and prescription drugs killed 32,000 people legally each year. Yet, by contrast, all illicit drug uses were responsible together for 17,000 deaths in each of the years from 2000 through 2004.11
It was also found by researchers that marijuana alone has never caused even one death, although marijuana in combination with other drugs, notably alcohol, has killed some users.12
The foregoing findings demonstrate that the laws prohibiting some drugs other than alcohol were not derived from scientific analysis regarding the danger of their use but are the products of political decisions based on the interests of those who have a financial stake in having these laws enforced.
|"I appreciate Woody Allen's humor because one of my safety valves is an
appreciation for life's absurdities. His message is that life isn't a funeral march to the grave.
It's a polka."
-- Dennis Kusinich
Feb 25, 2018 | www.theglobalist.com
. The United States is home to about 25% of the world's total prison population – over 5.5 times its share of the overall world population.
2. The United States incarcerates about 2.3 million people annually, as of 2016.
3. Many millions more pass through the system briefly for minor arrests or dismissed charges, and so on – often having to gather costly cash bail or face jail, even if they are innocent.
4. There are more than 1,700 state prisons, more than 100 federal prisons, more than 900 juvenile facilities and more than 3,100 local jails.
5. There are also a range of specialized short- and long-term holding centers, like military or indigenous prisons and immigrant detention centers.
6. These facilities – whether public or privately-operated – are a major economic hub, especially for jobs, in thousands of communities across the country.
7. That makes it politically difficult to promote detention and sentencing reform policies that would reduce the need for them.
8. Even in public prisons, staff jobs and contracts for food and laundry services become a local revenue stream that discourages reducing incarcerated populations.
9. Beyond the 2.3 million behind bars, there are also 3.7 million Americans on probation outside of jail, with various conditions, and 840,000 on parole.
Sources: Washington Post, Prison Policy Initiative, The Globalist Research Center
Feb 18, 2018 | www.amazon.com
Most lawyers, consultants and others who write books have never been to prison or either focus on one small area of the federal system. Michael Bye has walked the path before you so he can guide you through it with first hand knowledge and 10 years of experience in all levels of security. No other book is COMPLETELY Comprehensive. Over 450 detailed and easy to read pages of priceless information. Michael Bye served nearly a decade in the FBOP. He served time in all levels of security, from maximum security to minimum-security camps. Michael's extensive research of the federal system provided him with the knowledge to create this manuscript. Throughout his term of incarceration Michael became known as the "Jail House" Litigator.
Helping inmates file appeals, time reductions, medical needs as well as religious rights. This helping hand derived from Michael realizing that most individuals in the Federal System were not evil, scary people.
They were everyday people who lacked education, made a stupid mistake or had plain old bad luck. After years of compiling data, going through hand written notes and interviews Michael created the Practical Guide to Federal Incarceration.
Which will give you the complete knowledge to be able to safely navigate through the system, from Day 1 until the Day you are released, without incident. He also shows the families of men and women entering the Federal System the numerous aspects of the FBOP, as well as coping methods and understanding.
By reading this manual you will develop the tools needed to navigate through your term of Incarceration, create your own destiny and have a smooth transition back into the Free World. Read excerpts...
Jan 27, 2018 | www.unz.com
The Alarmist , January 26, 2018 at 10:28 am GMTPolice officer: "Do you know why I pulled you over?"
Police officer: "Do you know how fast you were going?"
Police officer: "How fast were you going?"
Respondent: "You tell me."
Police officer: "Are you some kind of wise guy?"
Police officer: "We can do this the easy way or we can do this the hard way!"
Respondent: "Sir/Maam, if you believe I was doing something wrong, just tell me what it is. If you want to cite me, give me a ticket. I don't want to argue with you here, I'll take it up with the prosecutor in court with all the evidence on the table."
You would be surprised how many speeding tickets I've avoided or had kicked or knocked down with that sort of exchange.
The Alarmist , January 26, 2018 at 10:48 am GMTMueller: "Did you fire James Comey?"
Trump: "It is within my Constitutional prerogatives to terminate officers who serve under me."
Mueller: "What were the grounds for the termination?"
Trump: "Asked and answered."
[Lather, rinse, repeat]
Mueller: "What is the nature of your contacts with Russian nationals or the Russian Government?"
Trump: "What contact? Do you have any specific contact in mind?"
Mueller: "Your meeting with X on [date]."
Trump: "Before I answer that, can you tell me and my counsel for the record how you were made aware of that?"
Oct 09, 2017 | dailycaller.com
Martin Shkreli doesn't sound like he's having a very bad time in prison.
"Pharma Bro" is fitting in well and educating his fellow inmates, according to the New York Post .
The Post reported in part:Of course Martin Shkreli is becoming the leader of the prison population. I wouldn't have expected anything else.
The 34-year-old is spending his time mentoring fellow inmates, reading, playing chess -- and learning to deal with sharing a small, cramped cell with a snoring roommate, pal Lisa Whisnant told The Post.
"Things are not THAT awful here," inmate 87850-053 wrote to Whisnant, underlining "THAT" three times. "There are some bright sides. I am teaching these prisoners some new things and hopefully some ways to change their lives."
"He seems to be handling it with typical Shkreli style," she said. "He brings people together and shares his knowledge. Martin was meant to be a teacher. He loves it. He's a natural."
The man is a natural born dealmaker and all-time schmoozer. I don't know Martin well at all. I've had a few beers with him on different occasions. He's an interesting guy. Not an evil guy by any measure, but he does seem to enjoy his online persona.
It's also not surprising to me because anybody who talks to him know he's very charismatic. I'm glad to see Martin is finding his lane in prison, and running the whole prison crew. Classic Shkreli move.
- Tyler Durden 2 hours ago Looks like Big Pharma has a new pool of potential CEOs! see more
- crow 2 hours ago better he's making deals there than in the public arena. see more
- dg robinson 3 hours ago you can rule anything with enough promises and money!! see more
- shhhhh 5 hours ago he is a cool guy... sad to see them rail road him like this... Hung out with him on election night and was nothing but fun... hopefully he gets back on his feet when the demo-rats let him out
Jul 31, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com
saskydisc , July 30, 2017 at 8:29 pmIf it comes to the point where you must leave, consider patreon or similar, as that way you can afford to be in the clear regarding court orders, as appeals work their way through the legal system, e.g. temporarily leaving.niku , July 30, 2017 at 8:45 pmI have never been to a court, but based on what I know, a few suggestions:niku , July 30, 2017 at 8:52 pm
(i) Try to differentiate yourself from most of the other cases that judge would get to see (i.e., from the Central Asian migrants). Dress, attention to etiquette, keeping calm, friendly and even self-confident (suggesting that you have the means to bear an adverse decision). Point out that you know excellent English, Russian and German, and perhaps other things ! essentially, that you are not an "unskilled labourer". Impress on the judge that Russia benefits from your presence in the country ! without saying this.
Also, do not get embarrassed by doing "non-standard things" like the above! If you go the standard way, the judgement would be the standard judgement ! and you want a better-than-standard judgement!
(ii) Write down all the points you wish to make, in the order of importance, and read it out to the judge right in the beginning. You probably can sign the sheet and submit it to the judge after you have spoken. Think of it as a presentation you are making, where the written sheet would be like slides. (If you submit the sheet before you have spoken, the judge won't even listen to you, as he/she would be busy reading!) Similarly, if you repeat your points, the judge will "tune out".
Submit a summary (a cover sheet) and other sheets with explanations. Do all this even if nobody asks you to! The last point could be that you are sorry about the mistake.
(iii) People also tune out at the sight of misery. Do not appear miserable!Court Etiquette: http://www.1215.org/lawnotes/lawnotes/courtetq.htmniku , July 30, 2017 at 10:20 pm
Also, since you are not a lawyer, a way to make it clear to the judge (and keep the point in front of him/her all the time), is to address the judge as Sir/Madam and not 'Your Honour'. (Or the Russian equivalents.)
Since you are probably in panic and probably can't clearly think: keep everything ready, including what you will say, and in what order you will say them! You would have only a little time, and there would be no time to think then !Lawyers and judges understand (at least good lawyers and judges are supposed to understand!), that the law is best applicable for only a particular set of cases. ...
As long as you make it clear that the above class of cases, and in consequence the above law, does not cover your case, the judges should be considerate. It says so in the book! Please don't worry much.
Jun 23, 2017 | www.nakedcapitalism.comBy Peter Temin, Elisha Gray II Professor Emeritus of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Originally published at the Institute for New Economic Thinking website
Mass incarceration in the United States has mushroomed to the point where we look more like the authoritarian regimes of Eastern Europe and the Middle East than the democracies of Western Europe. Yet it vanished from political discussions in campaigns in the 2016 election. In a new INET Working Paper , I describe in detail how the US arrived at this point. Drawing on a new model that synthesizes recent research, I demonstrate how the recent stability in the number of American prisoners indicates that we have settled into a new equilibrium of mass incarceration. I explain why it will hard to dislodge ourselves from this damaging and shameful status quo.
Mass incarceration started from Nixon's War on Drugs, in a process described vividly by John Ehrlichman, Nixon's domestic-policy adviser, in 1994:
The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.
This was the origin of mass incarceration in the United States, which has been directed at African Americans from Nixon's time to today, when one third of black men go to prison (Bonczar, 2003; Baum, 2016; Alexander, 2010).
Federal laws were expanded in state laws that ranged from three-strike laws to harsh penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. The laws also shifted the judicial process from judges to prosecutors, from the courtroom to offices where prosecutors pressure accused people to plea-bargain. The threat of harsh minimum sentences gives prosecutors the option of reducing the charge to a lesser one if the accused is reluctant to languish in jail awaiting trial-if he or she is unable to make bail-and then face the possibility of long years in prison. And the shift of power was eased by the pattern of financing. Prosecutors are paid by localities, while the costs of prisons are borne by states. The trip to the penitentiary does not cost prosecutor at all. "Instead of juries and trial judges deciding whether this or that defendant merits punishing, prosecutors decide who deserves a trip to the nearest penitentiary (Stuntz, 2011, 286; Pfaff, 2017, 127)."
In a recent book, Pfaff minimized the role of drug laws in mass incarceration on the grounds that most state prisoners were convicted of violent crimes; only federal prisoners were predominantly convicted of drug violations. But the importance of public prosecutors and plea bargains contaminates this inference because the listed crimes in state prisons were produced in plea bargains. Since drug laws contain so many minimum sentences, plea bargains were driven toward lesser charges that did not fall under the drug laws. The results of the plea bargains do not indicate why prisoners were originally arrested and charged (Pfaff, 2017).
Both political parties were engaged at different times in legislation that gave rise to mass incarceration. It would seem likely that they could get together to try to reduce the rate of incarceration, but the prospects are not good in our current political impasse. The reduction of incarceration always has some risks, and political figures are very risk averse. Some people want to reduce the cost of prisons to help fund other government programs, but they have not produced many proposals to accomplish this goal or how to allocate the gains.
As Todd Clear stated in his 2007 book, Imprisoning Communities: How Mass Incarceration Makes Disadvantaged Neighborhoods Worse :
Imprisonment in America is concentrated among young, poor-dominantly minority-men and (to a lesser extent) women who come from impoverished communities. The way these young people cycle through our system of prisons and jails, then back into the community, leaves considerable collateral damage in its wake. Families are disrupted, social networks and other forms of social support are weakened, health is endangered, labor markets are thinned, and-more important than anything else-children are put at risk of the depleted human and social capital that promotes delinquency. After a certain point, the collateral effects of these high rates of incarceration seem to contribute to more crime in these places. Crime fuels a public call for ever-tougher responses to crime. The increasing way in which the face of criminality is the face of person of color contributes to an unarticulated public sense that race and crime are closely linked. The politics of race and justice coexist malignantly, sustaining an ever-growing policy base that guarantees new supplies of penal subjects in a self-sustaining and self-justifying manner (Clear, 2007, 175).
We seem to be in a new equilibrium. It took forty years to get to this point, and it may take at least that long to get back to what we can consider a normal incarceration rate typical of advanced economies. We have not yet started down that road.
See original post for references
paul , June 23, 2017 at 7:01 amfunemployed , June 23, 2017 at 7:25 am
Anyone who thinks it will take 40 years to undo a stroke of the pen, which the war on drugs was, is pissing (in a humanitarian direction) into the wind.
Removing the prison population would give janet yelllen an enormous migraine.
Metrics!QuarterBack , June 23, 2017 at 7:40 am
I'd add that the distinction between violent crime and drug violations misses the mark in another way too. The massive scale of the US black market, the cruelty of life in US prisons, the massive distrust and animosity between law enforcement and many communities, the disruption caused to families and communities by mass incarceration, and our high rate of violent crimes are hardly unrelated phenomena.
I'd wager decriminalization of drugs would lead to a pretty large decrease in supposedly unrelated violent crimes.TheCatSaid , June 23, 2017 at 7:42 am
True enough, but I'm sure the Prison Industrial Complex loves the idea of long term studies on impact followed by long term debates on methodology and findings. IMO, it is the monopolistic profitability of corporations like UNICOR that split their profits and governance with the very same people who control the mass incarceration and competitive bidding laws and policies, that far outweigh any other factor. Without substantial changes to the monetization and conflict of interest laws at the top, all the findings in the world are just noise to the entrenched system.
Consider this 2003 Fortune article Business Behind Bars Former Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese has a way to slow the exodus of jobs overseas: Put prisoners to work
Prominent conservatives have been encouraging prisons to put inmates to work for years. Led by Edwin Meese, the former U.S. Attorney General and head of the Heritage Foundation, and Morgan Reynolds, one of the first President Bush's economic advisors, they have lobbied for real prison employment by the private sector–not just make-work projects like stamping license plates or building courthouse furniture. The benefits are difficult to ignore: Businesses get cheap, reliable workers; inmates receive valuable job training and earn more than they would in traditional prison jobs; and the government offsets the cost of incarceration and keeps jobs and tax dollars in the U.S.
Who do you think legislators are going to take their guidance from? Former AGs (who just happened to build and grow the prison workforce), or scholarly studies?cnchal , June 23, 2017 at 8:04 am
Social engineering described in this post was also a continuation of corporate / elite commercial interes. Free labor–what's not to like? Legal slavery, more profits from multiple directions of all kinds–legit, corrupt and criminal. Plus serving as a method to keep the downtrodden unable to respond in a way to create change (COINTELPRO and its contemporary descendants). . .
No way out but through but what will that look like? Comes down to individual understanding and action, no single uniform "solution". I gradually become more conscious of what I create. It's not a process that can be urged on others. "Be the change . . ."David , June 23, 2017 at 9:39 am
. . . The politics of race and justice coexist malignantly, sustaining an ever-growing policy base that guarantees new supplies of penal subjects in a self-sustaining and self-justifying manner (Clear, 2007, 175).
I am pissed at Ford. What a golden opportunity missed. Instead of moving Ford Fusion production to China, it could move production to a few prisons and use homegrown slaves instead of Chinese ones.cnchal , June 23, 2017 at 9:50 am
"The increasing way in which the face of criminality is the face of person of color contributes to an unarticulated public sense that race and crime are closely linked."
so no drug laws means no black inmates?
even if drugs were legalized – the same people would be in jail for something else.
There are no jobs – 40%+ UE Rate for this demographic – so what do you expect them to do?
Eric Gardner was selling cigarettes "for money" – joke crime – yet five cops descended on him.HotFlash , June 23, 2017 at 11:02 am
> so what do you expect them to do?
Globalization is a disaster wherever you care to look.kurtismayfield , June 23, 2017 at 11:38 am
even if drugs were legalized – the same people would be in jail for something else.
I have read your comment 4 times, so far, and still cannot see how you can say this. Pls explain.Michael Fiorillo , June 23, 2017 at 12:26 pm
The reason why the people are getting arrested and jailed for drug crimes is poverty. These people lack the economic opportunity to bring them out of it, so they drift to illegal enterprises. Even if you made all drug use and distribution/sales legal, this does not change the economic realities that make people choose an illicit activity in the first place. So they would be arrested for something else that is illegal.Ptolemy Philopater , June 23, 2017 at 3:49 pm
If there's the political will and power to repeal abusive drug laws, why wouldn't it be (theoretically) possible to do the same with laws that target the poor?
When I was growing up in the "bad old days" of '70's NYC, police officers would have rightfully laughed in the face of of a superior or elected official who told them to go after people selling "loosies" (a la Eric Garner).
I'm not saying it will happen, but popular revolts could go a long way toward loosening the vise on poor communities.Disturbed Voter , June 23, 2017 at 12:22 pm
Recreational Cannabis is legal in Colorado. It is a state granted monopoly. Already Colorado is cracking down on home grown weed production. There is legalization, and there is state granted monopoly legalization. The outcome for poor people is the same. Cigarettes are legal, yet Eric Gardner was murdered for selling them. Go figure.
Minority Heroin dealers are given intolerable sentences, but Perdue Pharmaceuticals floods the market with opiates with an ever increasing death toll, yet Raymond and Mortimer Sackler are billionaires. Go figure.
We live in a mafia culture. It's called ethnic privilege. Drugs are already legalized for the ethnically privileged. Mass incarceration, Genocide by Other Means, for the ethnically unprivileged. Go figure!Allegorio , June 23, 2017 at 3:51 pm
Unfortunately it take an outbreak of Black Death to make labor more valuable ;-(Kevin Horlock , June 23, 2017 at 12:40 pm
Or a revolution. Talk is cheap, action is not.clarky90 , June 23, 2017 at 6:31 pm
Police and prison guards' unions = sweet spot of the Dem base (particularly in California)
"Law and order" and disproportional impact on minorities = sweet spot of the Rethuglican base.
To me, all analyses of this issue pretty well begins right there.
I believe that we, the 80% , are being classed as the present day, Neo-Peasants and Neo-Kulaks. (Hillbillies, working class, uneducated, not woke, Nazis, deplorables, reactionaries, homeless, right-wing, religious bigots, addicts, petty criminals, progressives, Bernie-bros, conspiracy nuts ..) by the Neo-Apparatchiks.
There is a Revolution going on! It is being waged against us .
"During 1920–50, the leaders of the Communist Party considered repression to be a tool that was to be used for securing the normal functioning of the Soviet state system, as well as for preserving and strengthening their positions within their social base, the (The 20%) Working Class. (The Bolshevik Leadership were not really "working class", but usually, "Intellectuals"!) ( peasants , who were NOT considered "working class", represented 80%!!!! of the USSR population then ).
The GULAG system was introduced in order to isolate and eliminate class-alien, socially dangerous, disruptive, suspicious, and other disloyal elements, whose deeds and thoughts were not contributing to the strengthening of the dictatorship of the proletariat. Forced labor (was used) as a "method of reeducation" ."
Terrorism and Communism: A Reply to Karl Kautsky
"But terror can be very efficient against a reactionary class which does not want to leave the scene of operations. Intimidation is a powerful weapon of policy, both internationally and internally. War, like revolution, is founded upon intimidation. A victorious war, generally speaking, destroys only an insignificant part of the conquered army, intimidating the remainder and breaking their will. The revolution works in the same way: it kills individuals, and intimidates thousands." Leon Trotsky, 1920
May 16, 2017 | www.theamericanconservative.comWhen it comes to America's high incarceration rate-now about five times what it was in 1970-there's the Standard Story, and then there's the truth.
The Standard Story is the one that has been propagated for years in mainstream-media outlets and by activists. It holds that the War on Drugs is virtually the sole culprit-that incarceration rose merely because America decided to start imprisoning nonviolent, low-level drug offenders for absurd amounts of time. It posits the simple solution of reducing or eliminating the sentences for these victimless crimes.
The truth, by contrast, is that about half of prisoners were convicted of violent offenses, and that some of the others committed violence but pleaded guilty to lesser offenses. Even the fifth of prisoners who are locked up for drugs tend to be mid-level dealers, not users or low-level distributors. And, while decades-long sentences make the news, most prisoners who committed crimes not involving the most serious violence are out within a year or two. In other words, while incarceration has undoubtedly soared-even relative to crime , which has dropped substantially since the early 1990s-our propensity to throw people in prison has simply not reached the heights of ridiculousness that many assume.
There is still "low-hanging fruit" to be had by releasing some drug offenders or subtly redefining crimes (such as changing the dollar-value threshold separating misdemeanor from felony theft), but this will not get America anywhere near the incarceration rate it had decades ago or the rates that prevail elsewhere in the developed world. Bigger reductions would require speeding the release-or declining to imprison-people who committed crimes that left very real victims, which is not so obviously a desirable outcome.
Until recently, few were discussing this reality aside from a handful of conservative commentators such as the Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald . These people typically argued that those in prison mostly deserve to be there, and that dramatic reductions to the incarceration rate run an intolerably high risk of increasing crime. But in the last several years a number of reform-minded scholars and pundits have tried to make a public case for such reductions even in full view of the facts.
The latest entry in this literature is John Pfaff's Locked In: The True Causes of Mass Incarceration and How to Achieve Real Reform . It is an excellent overview of where America stands in regard to its prisons, and Pfaff's proposed reforms deserve serious consideration across the political spectrum.
The role of the drug war isn't the only issue on which Pfaff departs from the Standard Story. He also disputes the idea that the typical prisoner is spending much more time behind bars than he used to. In Pfaff's view, the reason for our skyrocketing incarceration rate is that prosecutors have become more likely to file felony charges following an arrest, rather than that those convicted are being locked up for longer periods of time.
This is considerably more contentious among those who study imprisonment; unlike the percentage of prisoners serving time for drugs, it's not something one can simply look up in a Justice Department report. Pfaff is at odds with the prestigious National Academy of Sciences , for instance, when he all but dismisses the role of time served. The debate involves competing data sources and intricate mathematical simulations.
But if prosecutors might not be the sole driver of mass incarceration, no one denies that they are a big one. And Pfaff expertly lays out how this happened so that we can see if it's a process we can live with.
As is well-known, the crime explosion of the late 1960s through the early '90s inspired lawmakers to adopt a get-tough approach, and this entailed reining in judges, for instance through mandatory-minimum laws. The concept is not inherently flawed: there are unique factors at play in each case, but in general, people who commit the same crime should receive similar punishments. The punishment should depend on the law, not the judge's personal sense of justice or his like or dislike of the defendant. But there were two problems with these laws as they actually played out.
First, especially at the federal level, many minimums are so high that no one really thinks they're fair and people are rarely sentenced to them. Instead, prosecutors use them as a threat to get defendants to plead guilty to lesser charges or testify against fellow criminals. (About 95 percent of cases end in plea deals rather than trials today.) In other words, they operate as a roundabout way to gut defendants' constitutional rights: if you make the prosecution prove its case at trial and invoke your right to remain silent about criminal activities you participated in, you receive a patently unfair sentence . Incredibly, the federal prosecutors' lobby has defended the current mandatory minimums explicitly on these grounds .
Second, and relatedly, the minimums didn't eliminate discretion from the system: prosecutors still have plenty. A prosecutor often can decide how much time a defendant should serve and then put together a mix of charges that will require the judge to give a sentence in that ballpark. The law can offer an impressive buffet of overlapping statutes that cover the conduct a defendant is accused of.
And in addition to holding enormous discretion, prosecutors face a number of incentives that are far from ideal. District attorneys are typically elected and want to avoid going easy on a Willie Horton or a Brock Turner. The elections are county-wide, giving conservative suburban areas a lot of say as to how high crime in inner cities is handled, even though suburbanites bear little of the cost of crime or of incarceration. Prosecutors also face little resistance, because judges normally accept plea deals and most defendants rely on public defenders, which are underfunded. In 43 states defendants have to pay at least some of the costs associated with their "state-provided" lawyer.
Moreover, what we call "the justice system" is really a haphazard mashup of city, county, state, and federal agencies. Federal prisons receive a lot of attention but hold just 13 percent of prisoners. In the states, meanwhile, counties generally pay for probation and short jail stays while the state pays for the cost of imprisonment-creating an incentive for prosecutors to overuse the latter.
Reading Pfaff's characterization of who's serving how much time in prison these days-mainly violent offenders, mainly short sentences-one is tempted to wonder what the big deal is. Maybe we should just content ourselves with picking the "low-hanging fruit." Yet it's hard to accept our sky-high incarceration rate knowing it's produced by the dysfunctional system Pfaff describes. Realigning the incentives in that system would be a worthwhile endeavor whether it cut incarceration or not.
Conservatives intuitively understood the need to rein in judges' discretion decades ago; perhaps the same thing could be done for prosecutors today. Pfaff notes that New Jersey has given its prosecutors detailed guidelines as to the plea deals they are allowed to strike, with judges able to invalidate any deals that break the rules; they "look almost exactly like the guidelines that many states use to regulate judicial sentencing." This is a promising idea, though the guidelines would have to be written carefully to avoid unintended results. (The New Jersey guidelines initially made it hard for urban prosecutors to give lighter sentences in "school zone" cases, for example, which was a problem because 76 percent of Newark is considered a school zone.)
Other options: cut mandatory sentences to reduce the threats prosecutors can make to extract plea deals; require prosecutors to disclose the threats they made so that judges can review them; balance out the incentives facing county prosecutors by paying counties to keep people out of state prison; appoint prosecutors instead of electing them; let cities and suburbs choose their prosecutors separately; fund public defenders adequately. Each of these moves would align incentives in a sensible way rather than seeking to cut incarceration per se.
And on a deeper level Pfaff prompts us to consider more carefully the exact tradeoffs we're willing to make between incarceration and crime. One study, for instance, found that between 1978 and 1990, locking up an extra person for a year stopped 2.5 violent crimes and 11.4 property crimes. Thanks to diminishing marginal returns, those numbers fell to 0.3 and 2.7 respectively in the 1991–2004 period. Are the latter numbers worthwhile given the cost to taxpayers, and to offenders and their families? Is the payoff even lower today? And what if, for a given amount of money, you could reduce crime 20 percent more by hiring more cops than by incarcerating more offenders, as a different study contended?
For these reasons, Pfaff suggests we reject the assumption that reforms are worthwhile only if they don't increase crime at all. It's a point worth taking to heart as one considers some of Pfaff's other reforms, the ones more directly targeted at reducing incarceration.
Risk-assessment tools are one promising development. Modern statistics allow us to calculate the chances that a given prisoner will reoffend with a reasonable degree of accuracy, based on various characteristics. There are legitimate complaints about these tools (though Pfaff takes too seriously an allegation of racial bias by the journalism outfit ProPublica), but they hold out the promise of focusing incarceration on the people who really need to be locked up lest they continue to offend. They are a dramatic improvement over the older, cruder tools like "three strikes" laws.
In a somewhat similar vein, pilot programs could experiment with releasing offenders and closely monitoring them, like the Hawaii HOPE program does for drug offenders, giving them repeated drug tests and a "swift, certain, and fair" jail stay for minor lapses.
Not all of the ideas Pfaff explores are home runs; I have trouble imagining an American state in which there's a "cap-and-trade" system for prison capacity. But in general, these are far more serious and considered proposals for cutting incarceration than what we have seen from almost anyone else.
Pfaff's book is targeted primarily at reformers, not skeptics. He believes the reformers misunderstand the problem and hence cannot solve it. He notes, for example, that many efforts to cut sentences for low-level offenders are coupled with increased sentences for those who commit worse crimes-which would address the problem described in the Standard Story but not the reality we actually face.
And in debunking the myth of nonviolent drug offenders haphazardly locked away for long periods of time, of course, he runs the risk of inadvertently convincing his audience there really isn't much of a problem. He's to be commended for taking that risk.
But, by forthrightly explaining the true nature of incarceration in America before laying out his case for reform, Pfaff poses a serious challenge for the skeptics, too. Unlike so many activists and op-ed writers, Pfaff cannot be waved away with a handful of simple statistics demonstrating that, no, our high incarceration rate isn't the result of locking up first-time offenders caught smoking pot. He knows that, and still sees serious problems with the status quo. His ideas deserve a close look.Tim D., says: May 16, 2017 at 12:18 amKevin Drum (one of the few liberal authors I read) has made a very convincing case about the lead hypothesis, where exposure to lead notable increases in crime. I've always found it a convincing argument. Combined with other factors (e.g., massive job losses in various areas) caused the spike in crime. Apparently, this isn't the first time something like this has happened too. Crime apparently skyrocketed in the late 1800s too.Brian W , says: May 16, 2017 at 10:05 amHighest to Lowest – Prison Population Total GloballyBrian W , says: May 16, 2017 at 10:25 am
Please use drop down menu 1 to choose the category of data you wish to view, and then wait for the page to reload. Once the page has reloaded please choose the continent/region from drop down menu 2 and then press apply.
Ranking – Title – Prison Population Total
1 – United States of America 2 228 424
2 – China 1 701 344
3 – Russian Federation 672 100
4 – Brazil 581 507
JAN. 24, 2014 This World Map Shows The Enormity Of America's Prison Problem
About 2.4 million people live behind bars in America - the highest number in the world. That's a little more than 0.7% of the population and more than 700 for every 100,000 people. The area of the U.S. is bigger than China, a country that dwarfs the U.S. general population by more than four times. Also note how tiny Canada looks next to the U.S.
http://www.businessinsider.com/world-map-of-incarceration-rates-2014-1October 25, 2016 Prison Food Contractors Funded Efforts To Combat Marijuana LegalizationMikeCLT , says: May 16, 2017 at 11:01 am
All of these organizations have a distinct interest in keeping nonviolent people in jail. So, it should come as no surprise a prison contractor is working to keep marijuana illegal.
https://www.mintpressnews.com/prison-food-contractors-funded-efforts-combat-marijuana-legalization/221750/"while incarceration has undoubtedly soared-even relative to crime, which has dropped substantially since the early 1990s"Daniel , says: May 16, 2017 at 12:01 pm
Do you think the two (higher rates of incarceration/lower crime) are unconnected?The problem is simple: Sin. The solution is simple: Jesus Christ.GregR , says: May 16, 2017 at 2:06 pmAs a former prosecutor we had a grotesquely unfair advantage It was policy to charge someone with the highest possible charge, knowing that we would plead to something much lower. It was even added to the jacket by screening DA's what was recommended to accept.Nelson, says: May 16, 2017 at 2:57 pm
So someone would be looking at a charge of 'simple possession x4' meaning life in prison without any chance of getting out. If they pled with in 2 months it would be dropped to X1 so 2-4 years. Then ever two months the minimum acceptable time served would basically double.
You had to be an absolute idiot to fail to plead. Which then kicks in multiple offender charges the next time.
Nothing like starting off your career as an attorney sending drug addicts to prison for life.I like this because it states the problem and makes reasonable suggestions about how to fix it without getting too political.Steven Sailer , says: May 16, 2017 at 3:58 pm
One thing that wasn't mentioned though was lobbying by private contractors that own or service prisons, thus creating a profit motive (and campaign contribution motive) for making more things imprisonable offences.
Beyond that, the few people I've known that have spent time in prison also had substance abuse issues (DUI, theft to support a habit, getting in a fight while drunk, etc ) and a general disposition to not care about the long term consequences of their actions. Perhaps providing counseling and mental health care services could help. Or perhaps not, but it is a question worth exploring.Up through the turn of the century, prosecutors were extremely stressed dealing with the huge volume of crime so they tried to plea bargain a lot of charges. With the lower crime rates in this century, prosecutors have more time on their hands to get tough.Mia, says: May 16, 2017 at 4:20 pmmrscracker , says: May 16, 2017 at 5:28 pm"Instead, prosecutors use them as a threat to get defendants to plead guilty to lesser charges or testify against fellow criminals. (About 95 percent of cases end in plea deals rather than trials today.)"
This post is typically clueless conservative garbage about the real issues in the justice system. There's a few other shills I'd love to call out for their dishonesty as "researchers" because they miraculously can't even find out the most basic facts or controversies on the subject, but it just takes too much energy. However, it just borders on journalistic malpractice, and it needs to stop.
About this quote I pulled here. What you are talking about is called "charge stacking," and prosecutors do it because they can strong arm everyone into a conviction, then they can build political careers on. Oftentimes, they go to run for AG offices based on their stellar records that the public is duped into thinking actually means something.
We have one out our way whose family is reportedly involved in a whole lot of shady business dealings, and he used his job to go after politicians who promised to clean house. I could go on forever about his unbelievably stupid press conferences about irrelevant stuff as if they were a papal announcement. He was pushing to do the AG promotion too. Then again, our former governor was said to be in the mob, so par for the course around here.
Don't even get me started on the judges in our state serving 30 year sentences for bribery where they threw thousands of kids in jail for nothing. I think they made millions in destroying these kids lives. I have heard crickets about that scandal and other even funnier ones on any conservative site. It's like coming to an alternate reality when I see articles like this.
Speaking of funny scandals, how about the kid who was charged with wiretapping who had just used his tablet to record bullies in class after no one in the school administration would do anything about them? Instead of addressing his concerns, they charged him with a felony! This seems rational and totally legal to you? Know what the sheriff or police authorities said when they go called out on that one in the media? No one had any idea how that got in the paperwork .You can't make this sh** up. If they had never made the papers, chances are the kid would have spent time in jail or been forced to plea bargain. Why do you defend things like this? Why is it okay that this and worse goes on and is justified as necessary? Would you feel it was necessary if they did it to you? Heather MacDonald et al needs to take off her rose-colored glasses and see what's really going down.
But anyway, what the prosecutors do (and did in my case) was withhold and/or ignore exculpatory evidence (or perhaps more accurately, reinterpret what evidence they had to come to the opposite conclusions than what the evidence said), then added manufactured evidence to create outrageous charges that the prosecutor even admitted to my lawyer was never meant to go to trial because he couldn't prove anything and everyone would have to even more formally perjure themselves. This would be things like people coming forward saying they knew me for years when they didn't know me at all, the kind of stuff that you see go on and wonder if it's even possible to get a fair trial no matter how innocent you are. But you're good with that, right? That seems like a reasonable thing for witnesses to do?
Better yet, he flipped the case so I ended up in a situation where the burden of proof was legally on me and I wasn't allowed to have any defending witnesses, while the actual law requires the prosecution to prove its case in a courtroom and call a reasonable defense. The one judge in my case was also reprimanded for taking bribes in a different case, and she went really cheap, only a couple of hundred dollars, to drop charges that the AG later reinstated.MikeCLT
"while incarceration has undoubtedly soared-even relative to crime, which has dropped substantially since the early 1990s"
Do you think the two (higher rates of incarceration/lower crime) are unconnected?"
Good point to ponder. I remember back when offenders would be released over & over again to commit the same crimes. They still do to some degree, but people got fed up. And we ended up with the "3 strikes & you're out laws."
Non violent offenders should make restitution &/or be put to work. That especially goes for white collar crime. Why in the world should taxpayers have fed & housed Martha Stewart? Seriously.
I had a family member who worked in a "medium security" prison with rapists, child molesters, organized crime members, etc. Trust me, those folks needed to stay locked up. They all had a story & excuses but deep down they knew they were guilty & were pretty much sociopaths. Very little conscience at work.
May 03, 2017 | www.questia.com
Gilchrist's fraud was discovered after DNA testing proved that she had sent Jeffrey Pierce to prison for 65 years for a rape that Pierce had nothing to do with. Then, it was found that Robert Lee Miller was innocent of a murder attributed to him by Gilchrist's science while the same Gilchrist had cleared the real killer. Gilchrist had been suspected of fraud for years, but the attorneys who accused her were ignored by the judges and the prosecutors and even the forensic scientists to whom the complaints were made. It has been estimated that many prisoners who confessed to crimes they did not commit did so in order to lessen sentences they would otherwise have received by reason of Gilchrist's manipulations. 23
In West Virginia, Fred Zane, a police forensic specialist, falsified DNA tests that he had never carried out. His false report led to the conviction of Glen Dale Woodall, who was convicted of two abduction rapes although he had nothing to do with the crimes. His lawyers succeeded in having the DNA test done over again by another laboratory; the test results showed that Woodall could not have committed these rapes. This led to the investigation of Zane's work, with the result that in 133 cases Zane had either never carried out any lab work or reported inconclusive results as certain results. 24
In January 2001, a lawsuit against the city of Chicago included a report revealing that a supervisor at the Illinois State Police crime lab had given false testimony in nine cases, including trials that resulted in wrongful rape convictions of three Chicago men. The supervisor of the crime lab, Pamela Fish, deliberately withheld evidence that would have served to establish the innocence of John Willis, falsely accused of numerous rapes. Willis was sentenced to 100 years in prison and labeled "the beauty shop rapist" by the media, always in a hurry to convict innocent people. When DNA tests proved seven years later that not Willis but another man had committed the rapes, Willis was paid $2.6 million in compensation and Fish was fired. Consequent examination of the Illinois crime lab work revealed widespread fraud promoted by that laboratory. The scientists who worked there regarded themselves as members of the prosecution and were eager to please the police and the district attorneys who employed them. Such bias is found in almost all states, since crime labs are usually not independent of the prosecutors. In fact, 90 percent of crime labs in the United States are affiliated with law enforcement agencies and therefore report
whatever prosecutors want to hear. Governor Ryan suspended the death penalty in Illinois after it was revealed that 13 of the 24 men on death row were innocent, as proved by DNA test results.25
Dr. Ralph Erdmann worked as a medical examiner in more than 40 rural counties in Texas from the early 1980s until September 1992, when he pleaded "no contest" to seven felony counts of falsifying autopsies in three Texas counties. He was sentenced to 10 years' probation and had to return $17,000 he received for examinations never performed. Erdmann repeatedly falsified toxicology reports to please prosecutors who sanctioned his deceit so they could win their cases, resulting in imprisonment and the death penalty for innocent people. Erdmann also testified falsely to release criminals who were friends of district attorneys.26
In 1993, Willie Simpson was charged with the murder of Phillip Mancini, a Vineland, New Jersey, high school teacher. Dr. Larry Mapow, the medical examiner in Cumberland County, New Jersey, concluded that Mancini had been killed by several blows to the head with a blunt instrument. When the Mancini family asked another pathologist to conduct another autopsy, the pathologist, Dr. Claus Speth, discovered that Mancini had died from two bullets and not from blows to the head. In another New Jersey case, Willie Simpson was charged with the murder of Robert Webb. The medical examiner claimed that Simpson had killed Webb with a gunshot to the head. Yet, Dr. Michael Baden, the foremost medical examiner in the country, concluded that Webb was killed by a brick and not a gunshot. Baden concluded that "there is not a shred of evidence that Webb was killed by means of a gun." It then turned out that another man, not Simpson, had killed Webb.27
Perhaps one of the most atrocious miscarriages of justice was inflicted on Barry Beach, a resident of Poplar, Montana. Beach was sentenced to 100 years in prison when a jury convicted him in 1984 of killing 17-year-old Kimberly Nees in 1979. That conviction was obtained by a prosecutor in the attorney general's office, Marc Racicot, who was guilty of "prosecutorial misconduct", a phrase meaning that he deliberately railroaded Beach into prison. Racicot later became governor of Montana.
The evidence is that Beach had nothing to do with the murder of Nees but that she was killed by a group of girls who had together murdered Nees and left their footprints and fingerprints all over the car in which they transported the dead body to a nearby river. In fact, the girls who murdered Nees confessed having done so to a number of Poplar residents. Still, the police and prosecutors did not want to hear that. Instead, Beach was tortured into confessing to the crime.
May 03, 2017 | www.amazon.com
Prison guards, unionized and politically influential, are a major force in the growth of the American prison industry. Prison guard unions have grown immensely since 1980, when the membership was no more than abut 2, 000 guards. Since then, the prison guard union in California alone has reached 25, 000. American prison guards earn an average salary of $36, 000 a year, which is 34 percent below the median American income of $48, 000 in 2007. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were about 500, 000 "correctional officers" working in the United States in 2007. Of those, 18, 000 were federal employees; the others worked for state and county governments. Because of the constantly rising rates of incarceration, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a growth for this occupation of 16 percent between 2007 and 2014. Of course, the downturn in the American economy as of 2009 may make such growth impossible, for economics has frequently determined results quite different from those expected. 21
In view of the large membership in the prison guards unions, the unions have considerable clout at election time. Because the relatives and friends of guards are also voters, state legislators can seldom risk antagonizing the prison guard unions if they seek reelection. Such election concerns are particularly true in California, where prison guard unions have been a major force in the growth of the prison industry. The California Correctional Peace Officers Association funnels money to politicians to ensure a "lock 'em up" policy in the state. The growth in political clout is best illustrated by the growth of the prison guard union, which collects about $15 million in union dues each year, leading to contributions to gubernatorial candidates of at least $1. 5 million. The union also finances a so- called Crime Victims Political Action Committee, which in turn supplies political candidates in California with money toward their campaigns. Prison guard unions also demand laws that lead to mandatory life sentences as well as longer sentences for all offenders. While California is one example of the influence of prison guard unions, these tactics are used in every state. Lawmakers who want to keep their jobs know that it is dangerous to oppose union demands. Therefore, prison guard unions are yet one more factor contributing to the huge incarceration rate experienced in the United States.
Mar 22, 2017 | www.shelf-awareness.com
Chris Hayes, author of Twilight of the Elites and host of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes , seeks to establish a new framework for understanding America's fractured society with his book A Colony in a Nation .
Hayes contends that the country has been divided into two halves that he labels the Colony and the Nation. The idea is adapted from Richard Nixon's 1968 speech at the Republican National Convention, in which he asserted that black Americans "don't want to be a colony in a nation." Hayes argues that almost a half-century later we have created just that:
...we have built a colony in a nation, not in the classic Marxist sense but in the deep sense we can appreciate as a former colony ourselves: A territory that isn't actually free. A place controlled from outside rather than within. A place where the mechanisms of representation don't work enough to give citizens a sense of ownership over their own government. A place where the law is a tool of control rather than a foundation for prosperity.
... ... ...
Hayes aims to show not just that the law is unequally applied, but that the Nation and the Colony have two entirely different justice systems. He points to colleges and universities as a key example: "All these schools and hundreds of others draw their student bodies disproportionately from upper echelons of society, and they are places where parents and administrators outright expect students to engage in illicit behaviors." Why aren't poorer neighborhoods extended the same "extremely liberal norms of tolerance"? In fact, under the widely celebrated "Broken Windows" theory of policing in the 1990s, New York "constructed an entire new judicial system around low-level offenses" where the goal was "not to figure out if the person in question committed a crime but to sort city residents according to their obedience and orderliness."
The benefits for the Nation were manifest and the practices were almost immediately exported to cities all over the country. Cleaned-up cities came at a cost, though, vacuuming huge numbers of poor, mentally ill and minority-status Americans into prisons and inflicting "widespread harassment and misery" on residents of the Colony.
Hayes does not propose solutions in A Colony in a Nation . Instead, he makes a powerful dichotomy visible to those who can't see it. His framework serves as a powerful lens through which to understand the last half-century of American history, as well as the immense challenges going forward. -- Hank Stephenson
Dec 27, 2016 | usnews.newsvine.com
Nearly one in 10 prisoners suffer sexual abuse while incarcerated in state prisons, local jails and post-release treatment facilities, according to a report published Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The report, based on the first National Former Prisoners Survey , includes data from 518,800 former prisoners who were on supervised parole in mid-2008.
An estimated 3.7 percent said they were forced or pressured to have nonconsensual sex with another inmate. About 5.3 percent reported an incident that involved facility staff.
The report's publication coincides with the Justice Department's release of landmark federal standards to protect inmates in all federal, state and local facilities, under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003.
"For too long, incidents of sexual abuse against incarcerated persons have not been taken as seriously as sexual abuse outside prison walls," the Justice Department said in a statement on the standards. "In popular culture, prison rape is often the subject of jokes; in public discourse, it has been at times dismissed by some as an inevitable - or even deserved - consequence of criminality."
A quarter of those who reported they had suffered unwanted sexual contact at the hands of other inmates said they had been physically held down or restrained and a quarter had been physically harmed or injured. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) reported serious injuries, including anal/vaginal tearing (12 percent), chipped or lost teeth (12 percent), being knocked unconscious (8 percent), internal injuries (6 percent), knife/stab wounds (4 percent) or broken bones (4 percent), according to the survey of former prisoners.
Although any sexual contact between staff and inmates is legally nonconsensual, former prisoners said some incidents were unwilling and some were "willing." Most victims of staff sexual misconduct reported some type of coercion. Half said they had been offered favors or special privileges and a third said they had been talked into it. Nearly 7 in 8 in this category reported only perpetrators of the opposite sex. More than three-quarters of all reported staff sexual misconduct involved a male inmate with female staff.
The rate of victimization by other inmates was reported by homosexual (39 percent) and bisexual male inmates (34 percent) at rates about 10 times higher than those reported by heterosexual males (3.5 percent).
In other findings, the report said inmates of two or more races (11.3 percent) and black non-Hispanics (6.5 percent) suffered sexual victimization at rates higher than white non-Hispanic inmates (4.5 percent) and Hispanic inmates (4 percent).
The survey was part of the Bureau of Justice Statistics National Prison Rape Statistics Program, which has collected administrative records of reported sexual violence or allegations of sexual victimization directly from victims since 2004.
The new standards require an array of measures to prevent and handle sexual abuse involving prisoners, including additional staff training, grievance reporting systems, increased staff and video monitoring, prompt medical and psychological attention for victims, and disciplinary actions for staff or inmate perpetrators.
"The standards we establish today reflect the fact that sexual assault crimes committed within our correctional facilities can have devastating consequences - for individual victims and for communities far beyond our jails and prisons," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.
The standards will go into effect for federal facilities in 60 days. States that do not comply or demonstrate that they are working toward complying with the standards face the loss of relevant federal funds.
In drafting the standards, the Justice Department was prohibited from placing an undue financial burden on the states. It collected public comment, and haggled with officials from states, a wide array of advocacy groups and other stakeholders, a department official said, explaining why the standards were instituted nine years after the law was passed.
"These standards are the result of a thoughtful and deliberative process - and represent a critical step forward in protecting the rights and safety of all Americans," Holder said.
Dec 27, 2016 | www.truth-out.orgFor the nearly 8,000 people locked up in Cook County jail, and the 2,400 on house arrest, the presumption of innocence until proven guilty effectively does not exist. Roughly 95 percent of those incarcerated have not faced trial or conviction of any kind, the vast majority of them ensnared simply because they are unable to afford bond. Those forced to languish in indefinite detention are disproportionately African American, and their pretrial punishments can permanently set their lives off-course, causing them to lose jobs, custody of their children, their housing, and even their lives.
Now, a group of formerly incarcerated people, movement lawyers and concerned community members in Chicago are seeking to intervene in this humanitarian crisis by pooling collective resources to free people from Cook County jail. Calling themselves the Chicago Community Bond Fund (CCBF), the all-volunteer group just announced it has freed 50 people from jail or house arrest, using a revolving fund.
But the organization is not just aiming to buy the liberty of those locked up -- a transaction they acknowledge is chilling. Members want to change the system by organizing to eradicate monetary bond altogether and address the harms that Cook County inflicts on its own residents. "You are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, but they treat everyone guilty until proven innocent," Tyler Smith, a 21-year-old Chicago resident bonded out by the CCBF in February, told AlterNet.
Amid mounting nationwide concern about mass incarceration, the CCBF is advancing a strategy of harm reduction and resistance that appears to be catching fire, with related projects established in Massachusetts , New York , California , North Carolina and beyond. In a country that remains, by far , the biggest jailer in the world, organizers hope that similar bond funds can comprise one prong in a broad strategy to end the injustices perpetrated by prison and jail systems across the United States.
"If we are really serious about the presumption of innocence, which is not a radical concept, then we need to take a critical look at cash bond and pretrial detention across the board," Max Suchan, a co-founder of CCBF, told AlterNet. "The solution is to end cash bond and eliminate pretrial detention."
"My Life Was Ruined"
While the monetary bond system remains, Smith said he is glad the CCBF exists. "It had a good impact," he said of the organization. "It brought me hope."
Smith has been working since he was 15, and said he comes from a "single-parent household, with a mother who has been working hard since I was born." He described himself as "head of household" since he was 19.
"My whole situation started on July 15, 2013, when I was accused of robbery," said Smith. Unable to pay $2,500 -- 10 percent of his $25,000 deposit bond -- he was forcibly subjected to electronic monitoring, a form of house arrest, in July 2016. Smith was working two jobs at the time, but lost both as a result of restrictions on his movement and invasive surveillance. He was living with his mother, who was unemployed, and says as a result of his incarceration the family was almost evicted from their home. "My life was ruined," said Smith. "There was nothing I could do."
After being referred by his public defender, Smith was bonded out by the CCBF in February and has since become a vocal organizer against the injustices he endured, testifying at a November public hearing on the use of money bond in Cook County. He said that through the CCBF, he has gained important community he describes as "friends and family." He added that "after the situation, it's like the stress has been lifted from my mom."
Yet Smith also said that his life has been unfairly derailed by what he has suffered so far. While his charges were dropped last Friday, Smith and his family have already faced staggering punishment, he notes. In light of this ordeal, he emphasized that it is important for those who have not experienced incarceration firsthand to "hear my voice and what I have to say."
"To make things better in the justice system, they have to eliminate bond and house arrest," said Smith.
For many, the harms inflicted during pretrial detention are irreversible. "Inability to pay bond results in higher rates of conviction, longer sentences, loss of housing and jobs, separation of families and lost custody of children," notes the CCBF in its first annual report .
It is far more difficult for individuals to fight their cases while incarcerated, and after sitting in indefinite detention, many experience pressure to plead guilty. In Cook County alone, people arrested on "nonviolent" felonies who were unable to post bail were four times as likely to receive convictions as their counterparts who were able to avoid pretrial detention, according to research included in a class action lawsuit.
Especially for those who already experience poverty or marginalization, even just a few days in jail can permanently disrupt jobs and family connections, a reality underscored by the Pretrial Justice Institute's " Three Days Count " campaign.
Diomar, who was formerly incarcerated in Cook County jail, says it was only because he was bonded out by CCBF that he was able to "be free to see the birth of my daughter and support my family."
"Bond is fundamentally unfair because it punishes poor people more -- and it's not just you that suffers, but also your entire family," he said in a press statement. "They lock you away from your kids, and that really sets the tone for the case and puts you at a disadvantage from the very beginning. You can't fight your case as well from a legal or emotional standpoint from the inside."
Some do not survive their ordeals. According to a report by the Huffington Post, 815 people "died in jails and police lockups in the year following Sandra Bland's death on July 13, 2015." Their data shows that many of those who lost their lives were incarcerated because they were unable to meet bond requirements. The tally is a dramatic undercount, as it does not include people who die following release due to incarcerated-related causes.
The long-term impacts of jailing are tragically illustrated by the case of Kalief Browder, who in 2010 was arrested at the age of 16 and spent more than 1,000 days locked up at Rikers Island waiting for a trial that never happened. He was forced to remain incarcerated because his family could not afford to post bail. During this time he endured roughly two years in solitary confinement, as well as a violent assault by an officer. Following his release, Browder committed suicide in 2015.
"He tried to lead a normal life but after being beaten, starved, being in solitary confinement for so long, that would take a toll on a grown man, let alone a child," Venida Browder, Kalief's mother, told the New York Daily News six months after her son's death. She died just over a year after her son took his life.
"No More Business-as-Usual"
Pretrial detention, like that which Browder was forced to endure, is a key driver of soaring jail populations across the United States. According to a report released in February 2015 by the Vera Institute, annual admissions to jails jumped from 6 million in 1983 to 11.7 million in 2013. Meanwhile, those incarcerated in jails are languishing longer, with the average stay climbing from 14 to 23 days over the past 30 years. People of color are disproportionately impacted by these trends. The Vera Institute finds that African Americans, who make up just 13 percent of the US population, are jailed at four times the rate of their white counterparts.
As in Cook County, the vast majority of people locked up in jails across the country have not been convicted of any crime and are ostensibly assumed innocent. The Department of Justice estimated in 2014 that, at any given time, roughly 450,000 people are incarcerated in jails awaiting trial, amounting to two-thirds of the jail population. A special report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, released in 2007, shows that five out of six of those locked up "had bail set with financial conditions required for release that were not met." According to the Vera report, three-fifths of all people locked up in jail are "awaiting trial or resolution of their cases through through plea negotiation, and simply too poor to post even low bail."
The spike in jail populations nationwide tracks directly with increased reliance on ever-more-expensive bail. In a 2012 report , the Justice Policy Institute notes that, "From 1992 to 2006, the use of financial release, primarily through commercial bonds, increased by 32 percent." Meanwhile, the report observes that average bail amounts have increased "by over $30,000 between 1992 and 2006."
Bail itself reflects the racism of the broader prison-industrial complex. According to figures released by the Pretrial Justice Institute last year, African American men face 35 percent higher bonds than white men nationwide. Meanwhile, monetary bail systems by definition discriminate against those members of society who are least able to pay, in a society with profound class disparities along race lines. The Pew Research Center determined in 2014 that the current wealth gap between white and black people in the United States is at its highest point since 1989, with white homes possessing 13 times the median wealth of their black counterparts in 2013.
Even the Department of Justice submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in August arguing that incarcerating people because they are unable to pay bail violates the US constitution. Yet despite the public airing of concerns, the system continues unabated, with rare exceptions. In contrast to most state and local jurisdictions in the United States, Washington DC releases roughly 90 percent of people held overnight, without requiring monetary bail.
Peter Goldberg, executive director of the Brooklyn Bail Fund, told AlterNet over the phone, "The goal of a bond fund is certainly not to prop up an unfair system with money, but to disrupt and change it. In addition to the obvious harm reduction that a fund can provide by getting people out of jail, we work in tandem with others in the movement to abolish cash bail. Funds must bring to light the experiences of individuals, allow them to have voice in what reform looks like. No more business-as-usual."
"There Hasn't Been a Change"
In light of these injustices, Chicago-area activists and lawyers are organizing a coordinated fightback. Currently and formerly incarcerated people filed a class-action lawsuit against Cook County officials in October, in partnership with the CCBF and lawyers' groups, including the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center.
"Every day, thousands of human beings in Cook County, each presumed innocent as a matter of law, remain in jail for the duration of their case simply because they cannot afford to pay a monetary amount set without relation to their ability to pay," states the complaint, which was emailed to AlterNet. "The large and disproportionate majority of these persons are African Americans."
According to 2011-2013 data from the Clerk of the Circuit Court of County, analyzed by the MacArthur Justice Center, these disparities are stark. For example, only 15.8 percent of African Americans charged with Class 4 felonies were released on bond before their trials, as compared to 32.4% of non-African American defendants.
Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, has stated publicly he believes the money bail system is unfair. Cara Smith, chief policy officer for Dart, told AlterNet that the sheriff "has been lobbying to eliminate cash bond in Illinois."
But campaigners say they are exasperated by the endless talk about the problems while the policies remain the same. "The reason Sheriff Dart is named in the lawsuit is because his office is incarcerating these people after the bond is set," Alexa Van Brunt of MacArthur Justice Center told AlterNet. "He is the custodian of the people who are being held based on these judicial bail orders, which we believe are unconstitutional. There has been a lot of discussion about the problem of cash bail in Cook County. It's an issue that has been on everyone's radar for some time. But there hasn't been a change."
Building a Movement
While the monetary system persists, people across the country are taking direct action to remove people from its clutches. "We're first and foremost interested in keeping clients out of jail," Brett Davidson, the director of the Connecticut Bail Fund, told AlterNet over the phone. "It's ridiculous that we're even able to buy people's freedom, that money is the thing standing between people and jail."
The CCBF, which combines harm reduction with social movement support, emerged from a call to address grave injustices committed by the Chicago Police Department. In August 2014, police killed two black men, one of whom was 17-year-old Desean Pittman. When Pittman's friends and family held a community vigil shortly following the killing, they were attacked by police who "ripped down memorial photos and tipped over candles," said Suchan. After the incident was over, five people were charged with felonies, including Pittman's mother, and four could not afford bond.
Just back from Ferguson, Suchan says he "made contact with family members who were doing their own fundraising. Ultimately we had to raise around $30,000 to get everyone out of jail. It took four months. We were doing fish fries and game nights, as well as crowdfunding online campaigns." That effort launched conversations about what it would look like to create a more sustainable fund.
"We decided to form this group so that we could reach out to those who couldn't help themselves, and we are very proud of what we're doing," co-founder Jeanette Wince said at a launch party in November 2015. Since the launch, the organization says it has posted "over $278,000 in bonds ranging from $500 to $50,000, spending the vast majority of this sum on felony bonds." Not a single bond has been forfeited, and many of those released have since become active with the organization.
To this day, CCBF martials resources to support individuals, as well as the Black Lives Matter movement, with roughly a quarter of the people bonded out engaged in a political action at the time of their arrest. Support of people doing activist work "directly advances our mission of supporting movements seeking systemic change in Chicago," the group says in their annual report . "Bond funds are a really important, humanizing tool, but they are really only a way forward if they are connected and accountable to larger movements for justice and decarceration," Sharlyn Grace, CCBF co-founder, told AlterNet.
James Kilgore, author of the book Understanding Mass Incarceration , told AlterNet that bail funds "raise the issue of the injustice of bail and put the issue of abolishing cash bail onto the agenda. That is an important step in decarceration."
However, individuals don't have to have ties to such social movements to be deemed worthy of support. The CCBF has developed detailed criteria that weighs factors including "inability to pay," "risk of victimization in jail" and "special health needs."
"Many times, when there are public conversations about bail reform, they move forward by dividing people into categories of worthy and unworthy," Grace emphasized. "We're not a guilt or innocence-based organization. We think of everyone as being harmed in the jail. We are not going to say we are only bailing out people who face 'nonviolent' charges or drug charges. Fundamentally, keeping people in cages is not how we want to respond to harm in our communities." This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.
Dec 26, 2016 | www.amazon.com5.0 out of 5 stars By Marshall D. Tessnear on December 9, 2004 Format: PaperbackAn excellent bookBy A Customer on March 5, 2004 Format: Paperback
" I have just finished reading Stanley Brodsky's Coping With Cross Examination. I absorbed it like a sponge. Although most of the book is devoted to testimony by mental health experts in criminal court, there is much in the book that is very relevant in other contexts. I have rarely been asked or required to testify in criminal cases, but I have provided expert medical testimony at hundreds of Social Security disability appeals hearings, complete with judge and lawyer. In that role there is often conflicting evidence and the expert must integrate all of the relevant evidence, and most importantly be prepared, professional, impartial, and provide relevant understandable testimony. Dr Brodsky's book clearly speaks to those points. The book is full of good examples, good humor, and good reasoning. It is the kind of book that I am likely to consult again to help me in my work. I highly recommend this book to any mental health professional who may be asked to provide sworn testimony. I also recommend it to those who may not testify but who may be retained by lawyers for evaluations or consultations. Dr. Brodsky's ethics are superb. This book is a very practical and helpful guide to working with lawyers and judges.A MUST --Makes the difficult areas of Cross-Examination easyBy pierrerostov on October 2, 2011 Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
" This is the third installment. In plain language, the author tackles many difficult cross-examination issues. The author uses easy to understand examples to illustrate complex litigation processes and skills that the expert witness must master before taking the stand. As a lawyer, I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in expert testimony. I give this book my highest rating. Also, check out the other two books on expert testimony by the author.spotty, try his first book firstBy Amazon Customer on December 23, 2009 Format: Paperback
" I highly recommend his first book "Testifying in Court, Guidelines and Maxims for the Expert Witness." The later books are a bit self-indulgent, with tangential stories relating to psychology or life that have little practical value. Still, there are a fair number of nuggets. The problem is, many of the gems from the first book are not included, and so the treatment of cross-ex in this book is not comprehensive. Try his first book first (It's all about cross-examination too, even though the title is more general), then see what you think.Indispensable Guide for Experts In Court
" This is one of a handful of books that any expert called on to testify should own. It is a well written, practical volume that will help professionals present testimony that is credible, compelling and ethical.
Dec 13, 2016 | www.washingtonpost.com
People are so desperate to get out of debt that they will believe anything and anyone promising relief. They often turn to debt-relief companies promoting plans that can supposedly solve their problems. But for many, not only does the relief not come, but the steep cost of the plans - sometimes thousands of dollars - can also dig them in deeper.
Recently, the Federal Trade Commission announced a $7.9 million settlement with one debt-relief operation that the agency said scammed people by making false promises. The company waived its rights to "challenge or contest" the charges, according to the settlement.
What the FTC found was troubling. And if the right knowledge is power, let's look at the anatomy of how this one scam worked.
The promoter: DebtPro 123. Unfortunately, this company is not alone. Just look for company names intended to lure you into thinking that they feel your pain and want to help eliminate your debt in just a few short years.
The pitch: According to the FTC complaint, DebtPro 123 told folks that its "debt resolution program would completely resolve consumers' credit card and other unsecured debts (including department store accounts, personal loans, medical bills, student loans, and accounts with collection agencies)."
It also told consumers: "DebtPro will reduce a client's total debt by 70 to 80 percent on average including all fees" and "With settlements as low as 10 percent, this means when all is said and done, a client's savings could be as much as 20 cents on the dollar including our fees."
Now really, doesn't that statement sound too good to be true?
And it was.
What would you say if you were told this? "With honest and informative advice, outstanding customer service, and a proven debt settlement process, we can ensure our clients become debt-free quickly and comfortably and get back on the path of financial freedom."
I homed in on two words: "quickly" and "comfortably."
Unless you come into some big bucks, the process of paying down your debts is long. It is painful. And if someone tells you different, don't believe it.
Oh, and there was the debt calculator to help the unbelievers. It was designed to back up the ridiculous claims of a quick debt reduction.
The two phases of the program: In phase one, customers put money in a "Creditor Fund/Settlement Account." They were told they needed this pot of money for negotiations with their creditors. In phase two, customers were assured that the company was working on their case to get all their debt terms changed.
During these phases, customers were advised to stop paying their bills and to stop all communications with their creditors. Bad move. Often in these cases, people find out later that nothing had been done on their behalf and that fees, interest and penalties had been piling on while they waited on relief.
The FTC complaint said DebtPro made reference to its "legal department." And, in phrasing that's mimicked by other such companies, DebtPro told its clients: "The attorneys will communicate directly with your creditors and debt collectors via the mail and telephone. They will audit your bills and the collection methods being used by the creditors to determine if your consumer rights have been violated."
Other promises: Your credit will be better because the firm will work to remove negative information from your credit files. Except it failed to make clear that if the information was true - that you didn't pay your bills as agreed - this information can't be removed. By law, most negative credit information can stay on your reports for seven years.
The real plan: Make money off desperate people. "For many consumers, more than half of their monthly payment went towards defendants' fees," the FTC said. "For consumers who were in the program longer than 18 months, defendants also charged a $49 monthly 'maintenance fee.' "
The failed promises
Debts weren't reduced quickly. In fact, in many instances, the debt-relief company didn't start settlement negotiations until after the client had received letters from creditors warning of an impending lawsuit for failure to make debt payments.
Settlements weren't significantly less than what was owed. Negative information was not removed. And there was "no legal department, 'legal in-house counsels' or any attorneys on staff," the FTC found.
People ended up with more debt, some lost their homes, and others had their wages garnished or had to file for bankruptcy protection.
Now that you know the inside deal, don't get suckered into this type of debt-relief scam.
Write Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless otherwise requested. To read more, go to http://wapo.st/michelle-singletary .
10/19/2015 7:08 AM EDT
How about a column on the D-list celebrities which tout questionable sites like debt-relief companies, reverse mortgages and so on - do they do any online research before pocketing their fees?
10/18/2015 8:23 PM EDT
There are companies, like Settle4Less, that do not charge the consumer any fees and doesn't require them to deposit money into a special account. The consumer is never told to stop paying their debts during the settlement process. No claims are made regarding credit score improvement or that the process will be successful.
10/17/2015 1:55 PM EDT
Collection companies buy your debt at auction for as little as two cents on the dollar. They then use Robo calls to harass you forever...If you are unable to pay the debt go to the nearest library and research ways and means to get these vultures off your back .
10/17/2015 11:03 AM EDT [Edited]
Depending on what state you live in, making the people who hold unsecured debt come after you is the least expensive route. Small claims court is the one they will try if they try at all, and that usually has severe limitations. Most of these companies are headquartered in some "business friendly" state which means they have to hire attorneys from your state to pursue you, which will make it prohibitively expensive and Superior court is ludicrously expensive for the creditor. If you can ride it out, you might not have to pay anything,. Hiring a debt relief company is probably the most expensive way to do it.
10/17/2015 8:43 AM EDT
if it sounds too good to be true......
10/16/2015 11:23 PM EDT
Sounds like a Washington Post neo-con scam. "For only a few trillion dollars, if you help us take out Saddam, the world will be better."
If only you support our policy of "taking out Bashar, and the freedom loving Salafists will turn Syria into a liberal haven".
I guess the debt relief people are invading their turf on b.s.ing the American people and they are mad.
Dec 09, 2016 | www.amazon.com
Everywhere 1 go, 1 just about always make a point to ask how many people in attendance have a parent who is a police officer or a prosecutor-and of those attendees, what their parents have advised them about the Fifth Amendment. In almost every group, there is at least one student who tells me that his father is a state trooper, or that her mother is a prosecu- tor. Every time this happens, without exception, the student in question has told me basically the same thing: "Years ago, my parents explained to me that if I were ever approached by a law enforcement officer, I was to call them immediately, and they made sure that I would never agree to talk to the police." (Most of these young people also volunteered that their parents in law enforcement advised them to never allow an officer to search their apartment or car, but that is the subject for another book.) Not once have I met the child of a member of law enforcement who had been told anything different. Everyone who is privileged enough to know how the criminal justice system operates in America would never advise their loved ones to waive the right to remain silent in the face of a criminal investigation. We routinely see people in power, such police officers and government officials, pleading the fifth (like Lois Lerner, the former director of the Internal Revenue vice's Exempt Organizations unit, who asserted her Fifth
Amendment privilege and refused to answer any questions when she was summoned before a congressional committee in 2013).' These are officials who have made a career out of talking people into waiving their right to remain silent, but when the questions are suddenly directed at them, they will not waive their own.
You need to pause for a moment and let that sink in. It doesn't matter whether you are a liberal or conservative. I do not even care whether you are heartless enough to remain unconcerned about the fact that our legal system routinely convicts innocent people. Nobody of sound mind can dispute that there is something fundamentally wrong, and intrinsically corrupt, about a legal system that encourages police officers and prosecutors to do everything in their power to persuade you and your children (no matter how young or old) to "do the right thing" and talk-when they tell their own children the exact opposite. I intend to bring to an end, once and for all, that obscene double standard in the American criminal justice system that allows only the citizens who are in the know to protect themselves from a legal system that is designed to prey upon
... ... ...
If a police officer encounters you in one of those moments, he or she has every right to ask you two simple questions. Memorize these two questions so you will not be tempted to answer any others:
Who are you?
What are you doing right here, right now?
If you are ever approached by a police officer with those two questions, and your God-given common sense tells you that the officer is being reasonable in asking for an explana- tion, don't be a jerk. Even if you are angry and frustrated about being locked out of your house, try to see this from the police's point of view. They are only looking out for your best interests. Would you want them to ask those same questions of any other individual caught breaking in through one of your windows, or watching your family? Of course you would. If you have an innocent explanation for your presence at that time and in that place, tell the police about it. Tell them that it is your own house. Or tell them that you are in an empty courthouse in the middle of the night because you work there, and show diem your identification. They will appreciate your cooperation, and that will be the end of it. If you unreasonably refuse to answer those two questions, they might put you under arrest, and I would not blame them.
... ... ... ...No, the advice contained in this book-the same advice that police officers give their own children-is not based on any assumptions or suspicions about the overall morality of police officers. It is based on two simple but unavoidable facts about every police officer, including the most noble and virtu- ous. The only two problems I have with die police (although they are very big problems) are these: The first problem with the police is that they are only human. They cannot know everything. For instance, when confronted with opposing accounts of the same situation, they cannot know who is really telling them the truth. And because they are only human, police officers, just like all of us, do not like to be embarrassed by admitting that they made some sort of a mistake, especially if it concerns a matter so serious that it might lead to diem being sued. They do not even like to admit it to themselves. That is why police officers, like all humans, are subject to a powerful phenomenon that psychologists call confirmation bias. This means that after they have come to a conclusion, especially if it is a conclusion that they have publicly announced (for example, by arresting someone and accusing him of a serious crime), it is very difficult for them to admit that perhaps they have made a terrible mistake. It is much easier and more comfortable for them to convince them- selves that they did not make a mistake, and that their initial accusations were correct. Their memories will gladly cooperate in that effort. Even if they are not aware of how it is hap- pening, they might recall nonexistent details to coincide with and corroborate the story they have already begun persuading themselves to believe.
Just like the rest of us, police are frustrated by important and difficult questions for which there are no discernable answers. And, just like us, they love the powerful psychological satisfaction that comes from convincing themselves that in fact the riddle lias been solved. When a terrible crime is committed, every human being with a heart desperately wants to believe that we can find the offender. And if there is only one suspect available to us, most of us are surprisingly good at convincing ourselves that maybe he or she really is the one to blame, and that perhaps the circumstantial evidence against him or her is fairly powerful after all.
But the fact that police officers are "only human" is only one of the two problems. The other problem is that they are working within a legal system that is highly imperfect. That is not their fault, because they did not design the system. But as this hook will demonstrate, it is a broken svstcm that relies deception when they are interviewing criminal suspects. They receive sophisticated training at the police academy in methods of interrogation that arc remarkably successful in getting guilty people to make confessions and incriminating statements.4 You cannot blame them for using such methods-after all, we all agree that guilty people (at least the dangerous ones) ought to be caught and put behind bars-but the problem is that these methods of calculated deception are too effective. They do not merely work on the guilty. At least some of these methods, it turns out, have proven to be just as effective in getting innocent people to make incriminating statements, and sometimes even outright confessions.
Do not think for a minute that you can trust a police officer who seems to be open minded and undecided about whether he will arrest you after you are finished with an "inter- view"-the police are trained to act that way, to get you to talk with them for many hours until you finally give up in exhaustion. "The most recent and comprehensive investigation, which took a careful look at 250 prisoners exonerated by DNA evidence, found that 16 percent of them made what's called a false confession: admitting their commission of a crime that they did not commit.5 Those are the cases in which the defendant actually confessed; in many more cases, the innocent suspect denied all guilt, sometimes for hours, but still gave the police a statement that was then used to help convict him.
Aaron C. Brown TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE on September 20, 2016 Format: PaperbackShocking and persuasive, but light on practical advice
This is an excellent short book if you are interested in all the ways answering questions from the police can destroy your life. The author makes clear that the most innocuous questions have led to wrongful convictions and life sentences (there are no examples of people actually executed as a result, but that's most likely because once someone is dead there is less effort to exonerate them).
The book is loaded with stories of people convicted of murder and rape solely on the basis of innocent answers given in police questioning without a lawyer present, who were later proven innocent by DNA evidence or subsequent confession by the real perpetrator (no doubt this occurs with other crimes as well, but DNA evidence is less likely to overturn convictions in those cases). Some of these cases appear to involve police or prosecutor fraud, but most of them seem to be the operation of standard police training.
Our criminal justice system would fall apart unless most guilty people confessed, or at least gave police enough information to prove a case. For that reason, police are carefully trained in tricks and pressures to get convictions, and these techniques can work on innocent people as well as guilty.
Courts have given wide discretion to the police to lie and cheat, and to prosecutors to use assertions of Constitutional rights against defendants. Moreover people's natural instincts to help law enforcement, to be polite, to trust anyone acting friendly and to seek comfort in highly stressful situations are used against them. None of this is new, of course.
The classic Jimmy Steward noir film Call Northside 777 is based closely on a real 1932 case in which the police arrested a man fingered by organized crime, moved him from station house to station house every two hours to keep him from his lawyer, questioned him continuously for 36 hours without sleep, and convicted him mainly on the basis to two extremely minor inconsistencies in his answers that had nothing to do with the crime (he said he was shelling walnuts at the time when his wife said he was pitting dates, he said a friend dropped by because he'd had a fight with his father, the friend said there was no particular reason). The three witnesses failed to identify him in a line-up, so the police falsified the arrest record to show that he had been arrested a day later, pressured one of the witnesses to identify him, and claimed that was the first line-up.
Even with all these facts, the police, the mayor, the prosecutor and the governor of the state exerted enormous pressure on the reporters investigating twelve years later to drop the story. The system hates to admit it was wrong, even in the most obvious and egregious cases. Unfortunately, the book does little more than identify the issues and give the simple advice to say literally nothing except, "I want a lawyer."
In one paragraph the author acknowledges that it's okay to answer police questions about who you are (although he doesn't say this, this is a legal requirement in about half the states, so failing to answer can get you arrested) and what you are doing at the moment; but to demand a lawyer before answering any questions about the past or anything else. This is fine advice for most guilty people, or people who believe they are suspected of serious crimes, but it doesn't cover all cases. For example, suppose you are walking down the street and a police officer stops you to ask if you saw a car driving north at high speed a block or two back.
While it's possible that you're a suspect in a major crime and admitting you saw the car will be the crucial evidential link that convicts you, it's a lot more likely that the police are looking for a fleeing felon or a hit-and-run driver, and it's in the public interest, and your interest, to help them.
For a trickier example, consider the situation described in the book American Justice? You've swerved your car to avoid a child running in the road, and hit a parked car. When the police arrive, the child says you tried to hit him. At this point, the police officers have a problem. If they laugh it off and you go mow down a few other pedestrians, they're in big trouble.
But if they bring in an adult on a hard-to-believe charge on the basis of an accusation by a child, they can look pretty silly. The stakes are very high for you. If you are arrested, as the woman was in the real case, things will start stacking up against you, on top of the expense and humiliation of the arrest.
All the neighbors will hear is that you've been arrested for trying to kill a child, they will immediately remember all kinds of strange or threatening things about you--it's human nature.
The police will have to justify their decision, they will remember you "trembling with barely suppressed rage" and giving "evasive and inconsistent accounts." In the actual story, the child's father used the arrest as an excuse to institute civil commitment proceedings, and was successful in forcing a two-week confinement for evaluation; even though the doctors found nothing and criticized the judge for ordering the evaluation; a lot of damage was done. So what to do? If the child seems calm and credible, and you say nothing but "I want a lawyer," the police officers are likely to take it as an admission of guilt and start looking for ways to build the case against you.
If you say, "That's silly, officer, the child ran suddenly into the street and I swerved to avoid him," you have a much better chance of avoiding arrest.
But if you are arrested, that statement could prove problematic in your defense, and certainly cannot help you. I could also be misremembered as something like, "I can't be expected to avoid every silly child who runs into the street" (in this respect, body cams can be a great help to the innocent).
Moreover it's going to lead to questions like, "Why do you think the child would accuse you," and "Have you ever been in accidents before," that are more dangerous.
I think the author's perspective is distorted a bit by being a defense attorney. He only gets involved in these cases when someone is seriously suspected of a major crime or arrested.
If you know you're going to be arrested, the less you say the better. But if answering questions keeps you out of jail, or keeps the police focused on building cases against others, you win and you may never hire an attorney. So read this book for the cautionary tales. It's well-written and shocking.
If you plan to commit crimes, or if for some reason you expect to be suspected, the book has all the advice you need. But for most people it only tells you what not to do, it's not much help for deciding what to do.
Braden Lynch on October 24, 2016 Format: MP3 CD Verified PurchaseFantastic insights that will make your blood boilCharles B. Jessee on October 5, 2016 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One observation that cops and judges advise their own children to shut up and get a lawyer while expecting us citizens to do otherwise speaks volumes. The miscarriages of justice and the perversion of the justice system highlighted will make you never want to speak to a policeman ever again.
There is no upside to interactions with law enforcement is the well supported theme. I know my behavior and deteriorating attitude towards LEOs has been cemented. I appreciate and respect them; I just do not want to be the object of their suspicion and I am super-law-abiding.''I want a lawyer.
The summary conclusion, is that the only thing you need say to the police is "I want a lawyer." But yes, there is more to it than that. The 2008 Viral Video should be watched, as should the 2016 CATO Institute video promoting and discussing this book.
The times, they are a changing. How you say what you are not going to say, is as important as not saying anything. Does that have you wondering? It should. Honest people at the right place, wrong place, right time, wrong time.
What they say and don't say might mean the police just walk away with hardly a nod, or life in jail, if not death row. Got your attention yet?
Dec 07, 2016 | www.zerohedge.comYog Soggoth ThirdWorldDude Dec 6, 2016 4:35 PM ,True Blue ThirdWorldDude Dec 6, 2016 7:02 PM ,
Both of you make good points, but so does Gross without getting into too much detail. Fact is that we have a serious prison problem that needs to be addressed, and it all comes down to the USD, borders, laws, ect. in any argument. Crime usually goes down when people are not desparate. Look at Detroit, it has always had the bad side, but it had it's roots in manufacturing. A citizen could get a job, no matter how unskilled, at one point in time. Right now is just a time to wait until results are in to decide how to proceed, for everyone included, otherwise the individual investor could end up on the wrong end of the stick.sgt_doom xavi1951 Dec 6, 2016 1:56 PM ,
You both, and Bill Gross too -missed a major point. The FED, the FED and also -the FED. Its not entirely your fault that you guys missed it, although I would hope a few on ZH would see it.
First -as 'inflation' eats into people's (in real terms declining) wages, something has to fill in for the loss in the earnings/costs equation -ie more crime. Secondly (but so closely related it isn't funny) 'inflation' also lowers the bar on what is or isn't a 'felony' or 'major' crime. Look -when the gov't arbitrarily decided that any crime resulting in loss greater than $400.00 was a felony you could buy a brand new car or two brand new Harley Davidson motorcycles for less than $400.00. $400.00 was 16 ounces of pure gold! The average laborer had to work an entire year to earn that much! That is why "grand theft auto" is a felony regardless of the vehicle's value. Today, $400.00 a week will barely cover the rent, and is (in today's fix) 1/3 of one ounce of gold; yet, the laws have never been adjusted for 'inflation' -which means, as more and more things become more and more expensive, more and more 'felonies' will be committed as the threshold drops lower and lower, until a day will (soon) come where the 'money' has been debased so much that a simple loaf of bread will be so 'expensive' that its theft will be a felony . Monetary debasement 'inflation' leads into prison inflation because the laws are never adjusted for the loss of value inherent in fiat 'money' (probably because that would bring too big a spotlight on the entire Fiat scam.)
The FED 'targets' a 2% yearly 'inflation' rate, which means (by definition) a 2% increase in the number of felonies -compounded annually. And look where we are today... compare a graph of monetary debasement (inflation) from 1913 to today, and compare it to the prison population over the same time. In this case, correlation is causation.
It. Is. Just. That. Simple.
edit (in case you were wondering, if felonies were to be 'inflation adjusted' -the cutoff should be around $38,800 instead of a paltry $400.00 -what do you suppose the prison population would look like in that case?)xavi1951 makes an extraordinarily brilliant point: just look at Chile for example. Under Pinochet their rate was even smaller --- of course he disappeared (murdered, and tortured to death) over 30,000 including hapless Americans in the vicinity at the time!
One could same something similar about a number of other countries on the chart!
Dec 07, 2016 | brutalist.pressJohn W. Whitehead by Otto Battista on October 6, 2016 at 7:52 AM
"Our carceral state banishes American citizens to a gray wasteland far beyond the promises and protections the government grants its other citizens When the doors finally close and one finds oneself facing banishment to the carceral state -the years, the walls, the rules, the guards, the inmates-reactions vary. Some experience an intense sickening feeling. Others, a strong desire to sleep. Visions of suicide. A deep shame. A rage directed toward guards and other inmates. Utter disbelief. The incarcerated attempt to hold on to family and old social ties through phone calls and visitations. At first, friends and family do their best to keep up. But phone calls to prison are expensive, and many prisons are located far from one's hometown As the visits and phone calls diminish, the incarcerated begins to adjust to the fact that he or she is, indeed, a prisoner. New social ties are cultivated. New rules must be understood."-Ta-Nehisi Coates, TheAtlantic
In a carceral state-a.k.a. a prison state or a police state-there is no Fourth Amendment to protect you from the overreaches, abuses, searches and probing eyes of government overlords.
In a carceral state, there is no difference between the treatment meted out to a law-abiding citizen and a convicted felon: both are equally suspect and treated as criminals, without any of the special rights and privileges reserved for the governing elite.
In a carceral state, there are only two kinds of people: the prisoners and the prison guards.
With every new law enacted by federal and state legislatures, every new ruling handed down by government courts, and every new military weapon, invasive tactic and egregious protocol employed by government agents, "we the people"-the prisoners of the American police state-are being pushed that much further into a corner, our backs against the prison wall.
This concept of a carceral state in which we possess no rights except for that which the government grants on an as-needed basis is the only way I can begin to comprehend, let alone articulate, the irrational, surreal, topsy-turvy, through-the-looking-glass state of affairs that is being imposed upon us in America today.
Indeed, we are experiencing much the same phenomenon that journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates ascribes to those who are banished to a " gray wasteland far beyond the promises and protections the government grants its other citizens " : a sickening feeling, a desire to sleep, hopelessness, shame, rage, disbelief, clinginess to the past and that which is familiar, and then eventually resignation and acceptance of our new "normal."
All that we are experiencing-the sense of dread at what is coming down the pike, the desperation, the apathy about government corruption, the deeply divided partisanship, the carnivalesque political spectacles, the public displays of violence, the nostalgia for the past-are part of the dying refrain of an America that is fading fast.
No longer must the government obey the law.
Likewise, "we the people" are no longer shielded by the rule of law.
While the First Amendment-which gives us a voice-is being muzzled, the Fourth Amendment-which protects us from being bullied, badgered, beaten, broken and spied on by government agents-is being disemboweled.
For instance, in a recent 5-3 ruling in Utah v. Strieff , the U.S. Supreme Court opened the door for police to stop, arrest and search citizens without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, effectively giving police a green light to embark on a fishing expedition of one's person and property, rendering Americans completely vulnerable to the whims of any cop on the beat.
In a blistering dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor blasted the court for holding "that the discovery of a warrant for an unpaid parking ticket will forgive a police officer's violation of your Fourth Amendment rights ." Sotomayor continued :
This Court has allowed an officer to stop you for whatever reason he wants-so long as he can point to a pretextual justification after the fact. That justification must provide specific reasons why the officer suspected you were breaking the law, but it may factor in your ethnicity, where you live, what you were wearing, and how you behaved. The officer does not even need to know which law you might have broken so long as he can later point to any possible infraction-even one that is minor, unrelated, or ambiguous.
The indignity of the stop is not limited to an officer telling you that you look like a criminal. The officer may next ask for your "consent" to inspect your bag or purse without telling you that you can decline. Regardless of your answer, he may order you to stand "helpless, perhaps facing a wall with [your] hands raised." If the officer thinks you might be dangerous, he may then "frisk" you for weapons. This involves more than just a pat down. As onlookers pass by, the officer may "'feel with sensitive fingers every portion of [your] body. A thorough search [may] be made of [your] arms and armpits, waistline and back, the groin and area about the testicles, and entire surface of the legs down to the feet.'"
If you still can't read the writing on the wall, Sotomayor breaks it down further: "This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants- even if you are doing nothing wrong So long as the target is one of the many millions of people in this country with an outstanding arrest warrant, anything the officer finds in a search is fair game for use in a criminal prosecution. The officer's incentive to violate the Constitution thus increases "
Just consider some of the many other ways in which the Fourth Amendment-which ensures that the government can't harass you, let alone even investigate you, without probable cause-has been weakened and undermined by the courts, the legislatures and various government agencies and operatives.
Breath tests, blood draws : Americans have no protection against mandatory breathalyzer tests at a police checkpoint, although mandatory blood draws violate the Fourth Amendment ( Birchfield v. North Dakota ).
Ignorance of the law is defensible if you work for the government: Police officers who violate the law can be granted qualified immunity if they claim ignorance of the law ( Heien v. North Carolina ). That rationale was also applied to police who clearly used excessive force when they repeatedly tasered a pregnant woman during a routine traffic stop and were granted immunity from prosecution
High–speed car chases: Police officers can use lethal force in car chases without fear of lawsuits ( Plumhoff v.Rickard ).
No–knock raids: Police can perform a "no-knock" as long as they have a reasonable suspicion that knocking and announcing their presence, under the particular circumstances, would be dangerous or futile or give occupants a chance to destroy evidence of a crime ( Richards v. Wisconsin ). Legal ownership of a firearm is also enough to justify a no-knock raid by police ( Quinn v. Texas ).
Warrantless searches by police : Police can carry out warrantless searches on our homes based on a "reasonable" concern by police that a suspect (or occupant) might be attempting to destroy evidence, fleeing or hurt, even if it's the wrong house ( Kentucky v. King ). Police can also, without a warrant, search anyone who has been lawfully arrested ( United States v. Robinson ) as well as their property post-arrest ( Colorado v. Bertine ) and their vehicle ( New Yorkv.Belton ), search a car they suspect might contain evidence of a crime ( Chambers v. Maroney ), and search a home when the arrest is made on its premises ( Maryland v. Buie ).
Forced DNA extractions: Police can forcibly take your DNA, whether or not you've been convicted of a crime. Innocent or not, your DNA will then be stored in the national FBI database ( Maryland v. King ).
Strip searches : Police can subject Americans to virtual strip searches, no matter the "offense" ( Florence v. BoardofChosen Freeholders of the County of Burlington ). This "license to probe" is now being extended to roadside stops, as police officers throughout the country have begun performing roadside strip searches-some involving anal and vaginal probes-without any evidence of wrongdoing and without a warrant.
Seizures : For all intents and purposes, you're "seized" within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment from the moment an officer stops you ( Brendlin v. California ).
Search warrants on a leash : Police have free reign to use drug-sniffing dogs as "search warrants on leashes," justifying any and all police searches of vehicles stopped on the roadside ( Florida v. Harris ), but the use of a K-9 unit after a reasonable amount of time has passed during a stop does violate the Fourth Amendment ( Rodriguez v. UnitedStates ).
Police and DUI Checkpoints: Police can conduct sobriety and "information-seeking" checkpoints ( Illinois v. Lidster and Mich. Dep't of State Police v. Sitz ).
Interrogating public transit passengers : Police officers are free to board a bus, question passengers, and ask for consent to search without notifying them of their right to refuse ( U.S v. Drayton ).
Warrantless arrests for minor criminal offenses : Police can arrest you for minor criminal offenses, such as a misdemeanor seatbelt violation, punishable only by a fine ( Atwater v. City of Lago Vista ).
Stop and identify: Refusing to answer when a policeman asks "What's your name?" can rightfully be considered a crime. No longer do Americans, even those not charged with any crime, have the right to remain altogether silent when stopped and questioned by a police officer ( Hiibel v. Sixth Judicial District Court of the State of Nevada ).
Traffic stops: As long as police have reasonable cause to believe that a traffic violation occurred, they may stop any vehicle ( Whren v. U.S. ). If probable cause justifies a vehicle search, then every part of the vehicle can be searched ( U.S. v. Ross ). A vehicle can be stopped even if the driver has not committed a traffic offense ( U.S. v. Cortez ).
Anonymous tips, careful driving, rigid posture and acne: Police officers can stop cars based only on "anonymous" tips ( Navarette v. California ). Police can also pull you over if you are driving too carefully, with a rigid posture, taking a scenic route, and have acne ( U.S. v. Westhoven ).
What many Americans fail to understand is the devastating amount of damage that can be done to one's freedoms long before a case ever makes its way to court by government agents who are violating the Fourth Amendment at every turn. This is how freedoms, long undermined, can give way to tyranny through constant erosion and become part of the fabric of the police state through constant use.
Phone and email surveillance, databases for dissidents, threat assessments, terror watch lists, militarized police, SWAT team raids, security checkpoints, lockdowns, roadside strip searches: there was a time when any one of these encroachments on our Fourth Amendment rights would have roused the public to outrage. Today, such violations are shrugged off matter-of-factly by Americans who have been assiduously groomed to accept the intrusions of the police state into their private lives.
So when you hear about the FBI hacking into Americans' computers without a warrant with the blessing of the courts, or states assembling and making public terror watch lists containing the names of those who are merely deemed suspicious, or the police knocking on the doors of activists in advance of political gatherings to ascertain their plans for future protests, or administrative government agencies (such as the FDA, Small Business Administration, Smithsonian, Social Security, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Mint, and Department of Education) spending millions on guns and ammunition , don't just matter-of-factly file it away in that part of your brain reserved for things you may not like but over which you have no control.
It's true that there may be little the average person can do to push back against the police state on a national level, but there remains some hope at the local level as long as we retain a speck of our independence and individuality-as long as we can resist the defeatist sense of double-consciousness (a phrase coined by W. E. B. Du Bois in which we view ourselves as inferior through the prism of our oppressors)-as long as we continue to cry out for justice for ourselves and those around us-as long as we refuse to be shackled and made prisoners-and as long as we continue to recognize that the only way the police state can truly acquire and retain power is if we relinquish it through our negligence, complacence and ignorance.
Unfortunately, we have been utterly brainwashed into believing the government's propaganda and lies. Americans actually celebrate with perfect sincerity the anniversary of our independence from Great Britain without ever owning up to the fact that we are as oppressed now-more so, perhaps, thanks to advances in technology-than we ever were when Redcoats stormed through doorways and subjected colonists to the vagaries of a police state.
You see, by gradually whittling away at our freedoms-free speech, assembly, due process, privacy, etc.-the government has, in effect, liberated itself from its contractual agreement to respect our constitutional rights while resetting the calendar back to a time when we had no Bill of Rights to protect us from the long arm of the government.
Aided and abetted by the legislatures, the courts and Corporate America, the government has been busily rewriting the contract (a.k.a. the Constitution) that establishes the citizenry as the masters and agents of the government as the servants. We are now only as good as we are useful, and our usefulness is calculated on an economic scale by how much we are worth-in terms of profit and resale value-to our "owners."
Under the new terms of this one-sided agreement, the government and its many operatives have all the privileges and rights and "we the prisoners" have none.
As Sotomayor concluded in her ringing dissent in Utah v. Strieff :
By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged . We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are "isolated." They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.
Dec 07, 2016 | www.globalresearch.caBy Vicky Pelaez Global Research, August 28, 2016 El Diario-La Prensa, New York and Global Research 10 March 2008 Region: USA Theme: Global Economy , Law and Justice , Police State & Civil Rights
This article was first published by Global Research in March 2008
Human rights organizations, as well as political and social ones, are condemning what they are calling a new form of inhumane exploitation in the United States, where they say a prison population of up to 2 million – mostly Black and Hispanic – are working for various industries for a pittance. For the tycoons who have invested in the prison industry, it has been like finding a pot of gold. They don't have to worry about strikes or paying unemployment insurance, vacations or comp time. All of their workers are full-time, and never arrive late or are absent because of family problems; moreover, if they don't like the pay of 25 cents an hour and refuse to work, they are locked up in isolation cells.
There are approximately 2 million inmates in state, federal and private prisons throughout the country. According to California Prison Focus, "no other society in human history has imprisoned so many of its own citizens."
The figures show that the United States has locked up more people than any other country: a half million more than China, which has a population five times greater than the U.S. Statistics reveal that the United States holds 25% of the world's prison population, but only 5% of the world's people. From less than 300,000 inmates in 1972, the jail population grew to 2 million by the year 2000. In 1990 it was one million. Ten years ago there were only five private prisons in the country, with a population of 2,000 inmates; now, there are 100, with 62,000 inmates. It is expected that by the coming decade, the number will hit 360,000, according to reports.
What has happened over the last 10 years? Why are there so many prisoners?
"The private contracting of prisoners for work fosters incentives to lock people up. Prisons depend on this income. Corporate stockholders who make money off prisoners' work lobby for longer sentences, in order to expand their workforce. The system feeds itself," says a study by the Progressive Labor Party, which accuses the prison industry of being "an imitation of Nazi Germany with respect to forced slave labor and concentration camps."
The prison industry complex is one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States and its investors are on Wall Street. "This multimillion-dollar industry has its own trade exhibitions, conventions, websites, and mail-order/Internet catalogs. It also has direct advertising campaigns, architecture companies, construction companies, investment houses on Wall Street, plumbing supply companies, food supply companies, armed security, and padded cells in a large variety of colors."
CRIME GOES DOWN, JAIL POPULATION GOES UP
According to reports by human rights organizations, these are the factors that increase the profit potential for those who invest in the prison industry complex:
. Jailing persons convicted of non-violent crimes, and long prison sentences for possession of microscopic quantities of illegal drugs. Federal law stipulates five years' imprisonment without possibility of parole for possession of 5 grams of crack or 3.5 ounces of heroin, and 10 years for possession of less than 2 ounces of rock-cocaine or crack. A sentence of 5 years for cocaine powder requires possession of 500 grams – 100 times more than the quantity of rock cocaine for the same sentence. Most of those who use cocaine powder are white, middle-class or rich people, while mostly Blacks and Latinos use rock cocaine. In Texas, a person may be sentenced for up to two years' imprisonment for possessing 4 ounces of marijuana. Here in New York, the 1973 Nelson Rockefeller anti-drug law provides for a mandatory prison sentence of 15 years to life for possession of 4 ounces of any illegal drug.
. The passage in 13 states of the "three strikes" laws (life in prison after being convicted of three felonies), made it necessary to build 20 new federal prisons. One of the most disturbing cases resulting from this measure was that of a prisoner who for stealing a car and two bicycles received three 25-year sentences.
. Longer sentences.
. The passage of laws that require minimum sentencing, without regard for circumstances.
. A large expansion of work by prisoners creating profits that motivate the incarceration of more people for longer periods of time.
. More punishment of prisoners, so as to lengthen their sentences.
HISTORY OF PRISON LABOR IN THE UNITED STATES
Prison labor has its roots in slavery. After the 1861-1865 Civil War, a system of "hiring out prisoners" was introduced in order to continue the slavery tradition. Freed slaves were charged with not carrying out their sharecropping commitments (cultivating someone else's land in exchange for part of the harvest) or petty thievery – which were almost never proven – and were then "hired out" for cotton picking, working in mines and building railroads. From 1870 until 1910 in the state of Georgia, 88% of hired-out convicts were Black. In Alabama, 93% of "hired-out" miners were Black. In Mississippi, a huge prison farm similar to the old slave plantations replaced the system of hiring out convicts. The notorious Parchman plantation existed until 1972.
During the post-Civil War period, Jim Crow racial segregation laws were imposed on every state, with legal segregation in schools, housing, marriages and many other aspects of daily life. "Today, a new set of markedly racist laws is imposing slave labor and sweatshops on the criminal justice system, now known as the prison industry complex," comments the Left Business Observer.
Who is investing?
At least 37 states have legalized the contracting of prison labor by private corporations that mount their operations inside state prisons. The list of such companies contains the cream of U.S. corporate society: IBM, Boeing, Motorola, Microsoft, AT&T, Wireless, Texas Instrument, Dell, Compaq, Honeywell, Hewlett-Packard, Nortel, Lucent Technologies, 3Com, Intel, Northern Telecom, TWA, Nordstrom's, Revlon, Macy's, Pierre Cardin, Target Stores, and many more. All of these businesses are excited about the economic boom generation by prison labor. Just between 1980 and 1994, profits went up from $392 million to $1.31 billion. Inmates in state penitentiaries generally receive the minimum wage for their work, but not all; in Colorado, they get about $2 per hour, well under the minimum.
And in privately-run prisons, they receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, the equivalent of $20 per month. The highest-paying private prison is CCA in Tennessee, where prisoners receive 50 cents per hour for what they call "highly skilled positions." At those rates, it is no surprise that inmates find the pay in federal prisons to be very generous. There, they can earn $1.25 an hour and work eight hours a day, and sometimes overtime. They can send home $200-$300 per month.
Thanks to prison labor, the United States is once again an attractive location for investment in work that was designed for Third World labor markets. A company that operated a maquiladora (assembly plant in Mexico near the border) closed down its operations there and relocated to San Quentin State Prison in California. In Texas, a factory fired its 150 workers and contracted the services of prisoner-workers from the private Lockhart Texas prison, where circuit boards are assembled for companies like IBM and Compaq.
[Former] Oregon State Representative Kevin Mannix recently urged Nike to cut its production in Indonesia and bring it to his state, telling the shoe manufacturer that "there won't be any transportation costs; we're offering you competitive prison labor (here)."
The prison privatization boom began in the 1980s, under the governments of Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr., but reached its height in the 1990s under William Clinton, when Wall Street stocks were selling like hotcakes. Clinton's program for cutting the federal workforce resulted in the Justice Departments contracting of private prison corporations for the incarceration of undocumented workers and high-security inmates.
Private prisons are the biggest business in the prison industry complex. About 18 corporations guard 10,000 prisoners in 27 states. The two largest are Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) and Wackenhut, which together control 75%. Private prisons receive a guaranteed amount of money for each prisoner, independent of what it costs to maintain each one. According to Russell Boraas, a private prison administrator in Virginia, "the secret to low operating costs is having a minimal number of guards for the maximum number of prisoners." The CCA has an ultra-modern prison in Lawrenceville, Virginia, where five guards on dayshift and two at night watch over 750 prisoners. In these prisons, inmates may get their sentences reduced for "good behavior," but for any infraction, they get 30 days added – which means more profits for CCA. According to a study of New Mexico prisons, it was found that CCA inmates lost "good behavior time" at a rate eight times higher than those in state prisons.
IMPORTING AND EXPORTING INMATES
Profits are so good that now there is a new business: importing inmates with long sentences, meaning the worst criminals. When a federal judge ruled that overcrowding in Texas prisons was cruel and unusual punishment, the CCA signed contracts with sheriffs in poor counties to build and run new jails and share the profits. According to a December 1998 Atlantic Monthly magazine article, this program was backed by investors from Merrill-Lynch, Shearson-Lehman, American Express and Allstate, and the operation was scattered all over rural Texas. That state's governor, Ann Richards, followed the example of Mario Cuomo in New York and built so many state prisons that the market became flooded, cutting into private prison profits.
After a law signed by Clinton in 1996 – ending court supervision and decisions – caused overcrowding and violent, unsafe conditions in federal prisons, private prison corporations in Texas began to contact other states whose prisons were overcrowded, offering "rent-a-cell" services in the CCA prisons located in small towns in Texas. The commission for a rent-a-cell salesman is $2.50 to $5.50 per day per bed. The county gets $1.50 for each prisoner.
Ninety-seven percent of 125,000 federal inmates have been convicted of non-violent crimes. It is believed that more than half of the 623,000 inmates in municipal or county jails are innocent of the crimes they are accused of. Of these, the majority are awaiting trial. Two-thirds of the one million state prisoners have committed non-violent offenses. Sixteen percent of the country's 2 million prisoners suffer from mental illness.The original source of this article is El Diario-La Prensa, New York and Global Research Copyright © Vicky Pelaez , El Diario-La Prensa, New York and Global Research, 2016
Dec 06, 2016 | theintercept.comPrivate immigration detention facilities may be bad - but they're probably not going anywhere.
That, in essence, was the conclusion of a much-anticipated review of the Department of Homeland Security's reliance on private companies to detain an immigrant detainee population that's reaching historic highs, which the president-elect is promising to escalate to even greater levels.
The report, produced by a panel of law enforcement, national security, and military experts, was commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security on the heels of a similar review by the Department of Justice in August. In that report, the DOJ found that private prisons "simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources," "do not save substantially on costs," and "do not maintain the same level of safety and security" as facilities operated by the Bureau of Prisons. The Justice Department said it would begin to gradually phase out its own private contracts - which make up a fraction of private prison companies' business when compared to federal immigration detention centers.
The DHS advisory committee report , released last week, raised similar criticisms of the billion-dollar private prison industry, but was more fatalistic in its conclusions.
"Much could be said for a fully government-owned and government-operated detention model, if one were starting a new detention system from scratch," said the report. "But of course we are not starting anew."
Nov 24, 2016 | state.nj.uspresents an easy, affordable way to litigate legal disputes of less than $15,000 in value. The Small Claims division handles cases worth less than $3,000, the Special Civil Part division takes on cases between $3,000 and $5,000 in value, and the Landlord/Tenant division handles all landlord/tenant disputes. From auto repair issues to breach of contract, property damage, or personal injury, these courts are a great way for a plaintiff (the person suing) to bring a lawsuit against a defendant (the person being sued) without incurring large expenses or getting involved in complicated litigation.
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Claim Limit : Claims under $15,000 ; the Special Civil Part division handles cases $3,000 to $15,000 in value, while Small Claims handles cases under $3,000 in value.
Where to File : You should file your claim in the Special Civil Part office in the county where the defendant resides.
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Filing Eligibility : Business entities and individuals age 18 and over can file a small claim in New Jersey's Special Civil Part. Children under age 18 must have a qualified adult (parent or legal guardian) file on their behalf.
How to File : File a Small Claims Complaint Form with the office of the Special Civil Part. You must provide contact information and names for plaintiff and all defendants, explain the lawsuit, and state the amount claimed. You will be required to pay a small filing fee to file your claim; if you cannot afford the fee, you may file for indigent status and be exempted from this fee by a judge. Part of your filing fee will go towards service of copies of the lawsuit paperwork on the defendant(s) in question.
New Jersey Small Claims Assistance : Court clerks and legal librarians cannot provide legal advice, though they can provide forms for filing your small claim in New Jersey. For information, advice, and/or referrals, get in touch with a New Jersey small claims attorney , the New Jersey State Bar Association , or a legal aid society such as Legal Services of New Jersey .
For more state-specific information and links to your state's small claims court resources, see Small Claims Court Information and Links .
Nov 13, 2016 | www.amazon.com
This is an abridged version of CRS Report R41930, Mail and Wire Fraud: A Brief Overview of Federal Criminal Law, by Charles Doyle, without the footnotes, appendix, quotation marks, or citations to authority found in the longer version. Related CRS reports include CRS Report R40852, Deprivation of Honest Services as a Basis for Federal Mail and Wire Fraud Convictions, by Charles Doyle.
Aug 27, 2013 | ctwatchdog.comBy LowCards.com The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau filed suit against a debt relief firm that has challenged the constitutionality of the consumer watchdog, alleging the company charged illegal fees and deceived customers.
The CFPB lawsuit against Morgan Drexen Inc. and its CEO, Walter Ledda, alleges the firm overcharged 22,000 of its customers millions of dollars in upfront fees tied to debt-relief services.
The agency said Morgan Drexen advertised its customers would not be charged any up-front fees, but ended up collecting them by disguising the fees as costs for bankruptcy-related services.
"This company took advantage of people who were struggling. The company charged consumers illegal fees and deceived them about the services provided," CFPB director Richard Cordray said in a statement.
Story by Michael Crittendon for the Wall Street Journal.
Sep 30, 2015 | www.consumerfinancialserviceslawmonitor.com
On September 2, the United States District Court of the Southern District of Florida granted multiple motions for temporary restraining orders (TROs) by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the matter of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. Orion Processing, LLC, Bradley James Haskins, World Law Debt Services, LLC, and World Law Processing, LLC. The CFPB originally filed a Complaint under the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 and the Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act based on Defendants' violations of the CFPA and the Telemarketing Sales Rule. The TROs include an asset freeze, injunctive relief, and other equitable relief against both World Law and its principals.
The CFPB alleges that "Defendants' marketers lure consumers into signing up for debt settlement services by falsely promising that consumers will be represented by local attorneys and that they will negotiate with consumers' creditors to settle their debts. Defendants are debt settlement veterans who joined forces after federal law changed to prevent fraud by banning the taking of up-front fees before settling consumers' debts. In an apparent attempt to circumvent that new law, Defendants began claiming that they provide legal representation," but continued charging consumers up-front fees for debt relief services.
The CFPB estimates that 21,000 consumers across the country have paid more than $67 million in unlawful advance fees to World Law, who ultimately provide little or none of the services promised to consumers. According to the agency, 99 percent of World Law's customers were made to pay illegal upfront fees, including a $199 initial fee, a monthly attorney service fee of $85, and other "bundled legal service fees" that ranged from 10 to 15 percent of the consumers' outstanding debt.
According to the CFPB, World Law and its affiliates made false representations about the quality and level of service World Law purported to provide. Consumers rarely, if ever, met or communicated with actual lawyers and, "[a]s a result, consumers paid millions of dollars in illegal fees and suffered additional harms, including being subjected to collection calls, lawsuits, late fees and lower credit scores," the agency said.
According to court documents, World Law, Orion Processing, and Family Capital have all entered into bankruptcy.
Using a debt negotiation, debt settlement, debt consolidation, or debt elimination company is usually not a good idea.
If you are experiencing financial difficulty, you may be tempted to use a debt relief company to help take care of your bills. Often times, settling with your creditors is a good alternative to filing bankruptcy. However, before you hire a company to help with your debts, you should first understand the differences in services that debt relief companies claim to offer, as well as the potential risks involved. This article discusses three basic types of debt relief schemes.
Debt negotiation, or debt settlement, programs work by modifying your existing credit cards, loans, or other debts, in the following ways:
reducing monthly payments
reducing or waiving finance charges and late fees
negotiating lump sum settlements, usually at a reduction of 50% or more of the principal balance, or
a combination of all the above.
Lump sum settlements and payment plans are frequently accepted by creditors. You can directly negotiate with them yourself, without having to use a debt relief company.Disadvantages to Using a Debt Settlement Company
If you do decide to hire a debt relief company, use caution. Here's why.Large Up Front Fees
Debt settlement companies often charge large fees up front for its services.Companies Take the Money and Run
While it is not uncommon for debt relief companies to charge upfront fees, some disreputable companies will then disappear and never perform the promised services. Or companies promise to use some or all of the fee it charges you to pay your debts, but then pocket the money instead of paying your creditors.
Go with a company that provides detailed disclosures on how the fee is charged and spent. Some debt settlement companies agree to defer their fee until after a settlement or payment plan has been reached.Payment Defaults
A debt relief company may tell you to stop making payments to your creditors. If you have already fallen behind on payments, then this is not an issue. But if you are current on your payments, this poses a dilemma.
Some creditors won't give you the best deal if you are a "good consumer." They have a policy of refusing to reduce balances or interest rates below a certain amount unless a borrower is in default, the theory being that you are in good financial shape if you are current on your payments. They will not agree to major reductions of balances, finance charges, or payment plans unless you show a financial hardship by way of a default, often of 90 days or more. Creditors sometimes call this being "90 days out."
A debt relief company may exploit this industry secret by advising you to default on all of your debts for 90 days, and then use this money to pay the debt settlement company instead. But by intentionally defaulting, you risk damaging your credit history and incurring default-rate finance charges and late fees.
If you are already having financial trouble, then this might not be a big issue for you. However, if you are not already in default, you should avoid this strategy. Here are some tips to effectively maneuver the default tango using a debt relief company:Related Ads
Communication Shut Down
Do not stop making payments to your creditors unless a specific creditor specifically conditions a desired settlement upon a default.
Carefully weigh all of your settlement options (payment plan vs. lump sum settlement) with the debt relief company, preferably using a budget.
Debt settlement is a last resort. You may be better off going with a reduced interest rate/payment plan rather than sacrifice your good credit with debt settlement.
Unfortunately, some debt relief companies will take the money and run, never once speaking with the creditors that they agreed to negotiate with on your behalf. A debt relief company may make you feel so comfortable that you stop communicating with your creditors. Don't. Stay in close communication with your creditors during the negotiation process.
(Learn more about debt negotiation firms and debt management companies .)
Some debt relief agencies offer to consolidate your debts for you. They promise to pool all of your debts together so that you make a single payment, to be shared by all of the creditors. While a consolidation of your debts can potentially save you a lot of money, there are many disadvantages.
Consolidations usually cover only unsecured debts like credit cards. They do not cover big expense debts like mortgages and student loans.
Creditors are not required to participate in the consolidation. If one of your creditors does not agree to be a part of the consolidation, you will have to deal with it separately.
Consolidations are not necessarily final. You are still exposed to lawsuits, judgments, liens, and other collection actions even after making your consolidation payments.
The fees a debt consolidation company charges you may be so high that it cancels any savings under a new consolidation plan.
Learn more about debt consolidation scams .
Treading into fantasy territory, there are some companies that claim to completely eliminate your debts. Not to be confused with debt elimination plans that provide for controlled spending and a structured payoff of your debts, a debt elimination scheme usually involves an upfront fee for a document that purports to be a legal declaration that the debt is eliminated. Unless the person advising you is an attorney or there is some legitimate legal basis for not paying a particular debt, you should immediately walk away from any such promises.
Consider Other Debt Relief Options
Getting the right kind debt relief is not easy. It involves time, careful planning, and full consideration of your legal rights and financial abilities. Many debt relief schemes, even if done perfectly, may not fully address all of your problems. Despite the allure of their promises, you could wind up in worse legal and financial shape than when you started. Instead, consider other options for getting your debts under control, including:
- dealing with the creditors directly yourself (for tips on how to do this, see our Debt Settlement & Negotiation With Creditors topic area)
- consulting with local consumer credit counselors, home mortgage assistance agencies, and similar nonprofit programs
- talking to an attorney, who can offer a wider range of debt-related representation such as potential consumer law and contractual issue defenses, or
- considering bankruptcy .
Mar 18, 2016 | www.consumerfinance.govCourt Rules that Morgan Drexen and Walter Ledda Charged Illegal Upfront Fees and Deceived Consumers
WASHINGTON, D.C. -At the request of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal district court entered a final judgment this week against debt relief company Morgan Drexen, Inc., resolving a lawsuit filed by the CFPB in August 2013. The Bureau's lawsuit against Morgan Drexen alleged that the company charged illegal upfront fees and deceived consumers. The court found that the company violated federal law, prohibited Morgan Drexen from collecting any further fees from its customers, and ordered it to pay $132,882,488 in restitution and a $40 million civil penalty. This decision follows a stipulated final judgment against Morgan Drexen's president and chief executive officer, Walter Ledda, that the court approved in October. The court found that Ledda violated federal law, banned him from providing debt relief services, and required him to pay restitution and a civil money penalty.
"The CFPB's victory sends a strong message that debt relief companies break the law when they defraud struggling consumers, and those actions have consequences for which we will hold them accountable," said CFPB Director Richard Cordray. "The court's orders against Morgan Drexen and Mr. Ledda ensure that they will never again violate the rights of consumers, and the significant penalties imposed reflect the severity of this illegal conduct."Debt Relief Scheme
Morgan Drexen is a nationwide debt relief company that was founded by Walter Ledda in 2007. The CFPB sued Morgan Drexen and Ledda in 2013, alleging that they had violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act by charging illegal upfront fees for debt relief services and misrepresenting their services to consumers.
The Telemarketing Sales Rule prohibits deception in telemarketing and generally prohibits debt relief providers from charging a fee for any debt relief service until they have actually settled, reduced, or otherwise altered the terms of at least one of the consumer's debts.
When consumers signed up for Morgan Drexen's services, the company presented them with two contracts, one for debt settlement services, and the other for bankruptcy-related services. Based on its investigation, the Bureau brought suit alleging that consumers who signed up sought services for debt relief and not bankruptcy, that little to no bankruptcy work was actually performed for consumers, and that the bankruptcy-related contract Morgan Drexen presented to consumers was a ruse designed to disguise impermissible upfront fees for debt relief work.
In January 2015, weeks before trial was scheduled to start, the Bureau learned that Morgan Drexen had created and altered bankruptcy petitions that it submitted to the court as evidence of having provided bankruptcy services.
The CFPB informed the court of its findings and filed a motion seeking the sanction of default judgment against the company. After hearing testimony from Ledda, other Morgan Drexen representatives, and a whistleblower who exposed the company's conduct, the court issued an order in April 2015 finding that Morgan Drexen misled the court and "acted willfully and in bad faith by falsifying evidence." On the basis of its findings, the court sanctioned Morgan Drexen by entering default judgment against the company.
Shortly thereafter, in June 2015, the court issued a permanent injunction against Morgan Drexen in which it deemed that the company had charged consumers illegal upfront fees for debt relief services and violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule and Dodd-Frank Act by deceptively describing its services. The court prohibited the company from collecting any more money from customers and banned it from charging upfront fees for debt relief services. Morgan Drexen sought bankruptcy protection the day after the court issued its order, and a trustee was appointed to administer the company's shutdown and to maintain proper communication with affected consumers.
Final Judgments Against Ledda and Morgan Drexen
The court's March 16, 2016 final judgment against Morgan Drexen memorializes its June 2015 conclusion that the company violated federal law, and its ruling that the company may not collect any more advance fees for debt relief services, or any more fees at all from its customers. The final judgment also orders Morgan Drexen to:
- Pay $132,882,488 in restitution: Morgan Drexen is required to pay this amount to borrowers who enrolled in the company's program between Oct. 27, 2010, when the federal ban on upfront fees went into effect, and June 18, 2015, when Morgan Drexen stopped selling debt relief services.
- Pay a $40 million civil penalty: Morgan Drexen must pay this amount to the CFPB's civil penalty fund.
Because Morgan Drexen has declared bankruptcy, any payment of this judgment will occur through the bankruptcy process.
The court's October 2015 final judgment against Walter Ledda contains similar findings and injunctive and monetary relief. In that judgment, the court found that Ledda and Morgan Drexen violated the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Dodd-Frank Act by charging consumers illegal upfront fees for debt relief services, and by making deceptive statements about the company's services. Under the terms of the final judgment, Ledda will:
- Pay $500,000 to the CFPB for consumer redress: The final judgment requires Ledda to pay $500,000 to the CFPB for use in providing redress to consumers.
- Surrender additional assets: The final judgment requires Ledda to turn over additional assets to the Morgan Drexen bankruptcy estate.
- Pay a civil money penalty: Ledda is required to pay $1 to the CFPB's Civil Penalty Fund. The Bureau did not require Ledda to pay a larger penalty because of his limited financial resources after repaying harmed consumers.
- Exit the debt relief industry: The court has permanently banned Ledda from providing debt relief services or otherwise working in the debt relief industry.
The court also imposed a $99 million equitable money judgment and $20 million civil money penalty against Ledda, both of which are in large part suspended based on Ledda's inability to pay. If Ledda fails to make any of the required payments or turn over his assets, or if the CFPB discovers Ledda misrepresented his financial condition, the full $99 million judgment and $20 million penalty will become due immediately.
Attorneys Found In Contempt
After the court's June 2015 order prohibiting Morgan Drexen from charging fees for debt relief services, two attorneys, Vincent Howard and Lawrence Williamson, took the reins of Morgan Drexen and continued the company's unlawful conduct. Among other things, Howard and Williamson:
- Hired more than 50 former Morgan Drexen employees, including the company's former owner and chief technology officer, and former chief financial officer;
- Continued to charge fees to harmed consumers pursuant to the same contracts under which Morgan Drexen charged the consumers unlawful fees; and
- Provided consumers misleading information about Morgan Drexen's shut-down and contradicted the advice in court-approved letters about how consumers could protect themselves in light of Morgan Drexen's unlawful conduct.
When the CFPB learned of Howard and Williamson's actions, it filed a motion requesting that the court hold the attorneys and their law firms in contempt of the court's order. In October 2015, the court found that the attorneys' conduct had violated the court's order, and held the attorneys and their law firms in contempt. The court ordered the attorneys to return all payments they had received from former Morgan Drexen consumers since the court's June 2015 decision to ban Morgan Drexen from receiving such fees. The court also ruled that the attorneys will be fined $10,000 a day for each day they continue to accept fees from former Morgan Drexen consumers. The attorneys have appealed this order.
A copy of the court's final judgment against Morgan Drexen and Walter Ledda can be found at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201603_cfpb_final-judgment-against-defendant-morgan-drexen-inc.pdf
A copy of the civil minutes regarding the judgment can be found at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201603_cfpb_civil-minutes-regarding-the-final-judgment-against-defendant-morgan-drexen-inc.pdf
A copy of the court's contempt order concerning the attorneys can be found at: http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201603_cfpb_order-holding-vincent-howard-lawrence-williamson-howard-law-pc-the-williamson-law-firm-llc-and-williamson-howard-llp-in-contempt.pdf
Important information for customers of Morgan Drexen is available at: http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/debt-settlement-company-morgan-drexen-is-no-longer-in-business-what-you-should-know/
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is a 21st century agency that helps consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives. For more information, visit www.consumerfinance.gov .
Nov 07, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She now spends most of her time in India and other parts of Asia researching a book about textile artisans. She also writes regularly about legal, political economy, and regulatory topics for various consulting clients and publications, as well as writes occasional travel pieces for The National .
All right, all right. I can't take it any more. Yesterday I read a Facebook post that blamed the current US electoral predicament on the "pointless" 22nd Amendment. For those of you without a US Constitution handy, the 22nd Amendment is the one that limits US presidents to serving two terms.
That Facebook post implies that without the 22nd Amendment we'd get to see a third term for the Obamamometer . That risible suggestion, combined with the incessant legacy-burnishing that he's indulged in– at least until he realized that HRC might be in trouble and started to hit the campaign trail in earnest– made me realize the time for shredding aspects of that legacy is way overdue.
When the Obamamometer finally settles on what he'll do next– whether that would be run a sports team, become a venture capitalist, found a new religion, cure cancer, or merely hob nob with the global elite and play lots of golf, I'm sure he'll make a fine job job of it– just as he's done with his Presidency. Over the next couple of months, I intend to post occasionally on this legacy: but rather than burnishing that record, I'll indulge in a bit of legacy busting.
First up, the rule of law and corporate crime.
The Holder Doctrine
Federal prosecutors, and regulatory agencies, have turned into toothless tigers when it comes to prosecuting C-suite types, and pursuing corporations seriously, for economic crimes. Both financial institutions and their management got virtually a free pass for their activities that led to the Great Recession. And not only for those, but for subsequent foreclosure abuses, LIBOR and other market manipulations, money laundering, tax scams, and doing business contrary to US sanctions policy. Yet to date, not a single C-suite type has been indicted.
It's not just financial institutions that've received a free pass. Big Pharma, for example, has also been lucky, as have companies that have engaged in creative tax minimization strategies (Apple, anyone?). And if looked at from the perspective of legal topics, rather than corporate actors, entire areas of law– antitrust, for example– are not really relevant anymore.
You don't have to take my word for it. No less a source than the NY Times' DealBook column– not a venue, incidentally, renowned for its trenchant, timely critiques of either Wall Street or other corporate behavior– in September lamented, Law Enforcement 'Not Winning' War on White Collar Crime . I wrote about this article in a September post and so won't rehash all the arguments I made then here. But a few points are in order.
The lack of enforcement not only means that the guilty don't pay. It also determines what corporate strategies get pursued, which business models are developed or rejected, what attitudes corporations take to risk, and how resources get allocated to name just a few consequences. And as I'll discuss below, it also shapes how attorneys practice law, and the impact their advice carries in deterring certain types of corporate behavior.
I never thought I'd be nostalgic for President George W. Bush's Department of Justice (DoJ). Now, I'm well aware of the scandal that ensued over Attorney General Alberto Gonzales imposing ideological litmus tests on assistant US attornies. Nonetheless, in the wake of the collapse of the dotcom bubble, the Bush DoJ actually enforced the law. It prosecuted cases and claimed scalps. Companies such as Adelphi, Enron and WorldCom all saw top-level management prosecuted, and malefactors sent to jail.
Change We Can't Believe In
Those who voted for Hope and Change in 2008 certainly got the change part– at least with respect to the DoJ. But when we look at the DoJ's enforcement priorities and the track record that followed, it's perhaps not the change they were hoping for. The Obamamometer's first Attorney General, Eric Holder, outlined and followed what came to be known as the Holder doctrine.
Allow me to quote from my September post:
[Under the Holder doctrine the DoJ eschewed corporate charges against companies and executives, instead opting for negotiated settlements (often imposing de minimis, slap-on-the wrist penalties that were significantly undersized compared to the magnitude of damage done, especially by TBTF banks and other financial predators, to name just a few).
The DoJ under Obama's second AG, Loretta Lynch, originally followed the Holder doctrine, until that was superseded when Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates authored a memo outlining a new approach in September 2015. Under this approach, the DoJ intended to increase accountability for corporate wrongdoing, and this included an increased focus on pursuing criminal charges against responsible individuals. The DoJ sought to drive a legal wedge between individuals and the corporations for whom they worked by only allowing corporations to receive "cooperation credit" that would reduce their potential exposure (including penalties) if the corporation cooperates in surrendering as early as possible comprehensive detailed information concerning the individual misconduct.
There's much more in a similar vein in that earlier post, for those with an interest. But the bottom line for purposes of this post is what has this supposed policy shift, from Holder's doctrine to Yates's memo, meant in practice. The short answer: bupkis. We're still waiting for the more robust enforcement approach the Yates memo supposedly heralded to kick in. As an attorney I know who specializes in white collar defense work summed it up to me, "The DoJ's walking a new walk, and talking a new talk, but nothing's really changed."
In fact, in only two areas have we seen the DoJ take a muscular approach toward enforcement during the Obamamometer's administration, insider trading, and offenses under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
US Attorney for the southern district of New York Preet Bharara has compiled an undefeated string of convictions for insider trading (some of which may be at risk of being overturned due to some appellate decisions, which are beyond the scope of this post). But as I wrote last month in The SEC Fiddles While the System Burns: Insider Trading Enforcement As Securities Law Theater , focusing on insider trading as an enforcement priority constitutes a form of securities law theater. Scare prosecutorial resources are expended on insider trading abuses, rather than being deployed to investigate, punish, and (hopefully) deter, far more serious systemic problems.
The insider trading focus provides the illusion that the DoJ is doing something about high-level cheating. Yet it has little broader deterrent effect on stymieing the wider corporate scams that misallocate resources and erode confidence in the integrity of the system. Insider trading enforcement is usually directed at individuals, and doesn't implicate wider considerations of corporate strategy or policy. Prosecuting insider traders maintains the myth that the greatest threats to US capitalism are individual bad corporate actors, rather than anything more sweeping or systemic. Catch the bad actors, fine them or throw them in jail, and never think about any deeper problems.
Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Another area highlighted as an enforcement priority is bribery and foreign corruption, with prosecutions undertaken under authority of the FCPA. Allow me to quote from a speech made by assistant attorney general Leslie R. Caldwell last week:
The effects of foreign corruption are not just felt overseas. In today's global economy, the negative effects of foreign corruption flow back to the United States. American companies are harmed by global corruption when they are denied the ability to compete in a fair and transparent marketplace. Instead of being rewarded for their efficiency, innovation and honest business practices, U.S. companies suffer at the hands of corrupt governments and lose out to corrupt competitors.
This is why the fight against international corruption has been, and continues to be, a core priority of the Department of Justice. It has been a core priority for the Criminal Division, and our commitment to the fight against foreign bribery is reflected in our robust enforcement record in this area, which includes charges against corporations and individuals alike from all over the world. Since 2009, the Criminal Division's Fraud Section has convicted more than 65 individuals in [FCPA] and FCPA-related cases, and resolved criminal cases against more than 65 companies with penalties and forfeiture of approximately $4.5 billion.
Sounds reasonable, right? I mean, after all, no one would come right out in favor of more international corruption?
But when we unpack it, we butt up against a few problems. First, to quote my contact the white collar defence specialist again. The lack of an effective DoJ deterrent has enormously complicated his practice and his ability to get his clients to understand and act on prudent legal advice. "What I've seen happening more and more in the last couple of years is the chairs of audit committees of major companies openly mocking the DoJ's enforcement capability." This leads the companies to pursue courses of action that they wouldn't dare to undertake if they worried that the DoJ would aggressively pursue securities law violations.
Where does this leave their lawyers? Well, it often means that they must either moderate their advice, or risk losing their clients. Clients who want to do something will resist their impulses and continue to listen to what they hear as their lawyers crying wolf only for so long. Eventually, the less scrupulous among them are going to ignore the contrary advice, or get another lawyer. The lack of effective enforcement at the DoJ hinders the efforts of the best, most prudent, and most ethical members of the legal profession to practice law as we would want them to.
So, what happens instead? Well, the most scrupulous of them will continue to give what they regard as sound legal advice (even if what some privately call the Department of Jokes does not enforce the law in a way that lends credence to that approach). But that means they often have to develop new areas of expertise when their clients beat a path away from their doors. "We have to act sometimes as shoe salesmen, flogging competence in FCPA violations, that occur in subsidiaries or with foreign suppliers," says my white collar defense specialist contact. "This work leads us to countries and legal systems we don't know well, to uncover chickenshit violations that occur far from home." Far better, he believes, would be for the DoJ to focus on law-breaking that occurs in the United States, as that could be effectively deterred by the agency refocusing its enforcement priorities. Now that would be a legacy we could all believe in.
On the contrary, one persistent legacy of the Obamamometer is to say one thing and then do another. The DoJ has recently signalled its intention to get tougher on white collar crime. But so far, there's been no follow through on the rhetoric. Instead, we see federal prosecutors either turning a blind eye to major problems, or conducting various forms of enforcement theater– much sound and fury, but in the end, signifying nothing.
Some legacy!Steve H. November 7, 2016 at 10:32 amPortia November 7, 2016 at 11:46 am
"… I'm sure he'll make a fine job job of it– just as he's done with his Presidency."
"… one persistent legacy of the Obamamometer is to say one thing and then do another."
"… the job of the Galactic President was not to wield power but to attract attention away from it.
Zaphod Beeblebrox was amazingly good at his job." – D. AdamsAdams November 7, 2016 at 11:03 am
The Galactic President, yes. and maybe the real Ruler of the Universe is "a man living in a shack with his cat who doesn't believe anything is real or certain except that which he is seeing and hearing at that moment." [Wikipedia] Except he won't answer any of our questions…Mark John November 7, 2016 at 11:18 am
Yeah, and Dawn Johnsen has been pretty quiet about all this over at OLC. Oh, wait.Anon November 7, 2016 at 11:38 am
Thanks. It will be a meaningful discussion to delineate what the Obama rhetoric was and what the actual policies and results were and the reasons for this.
It was an utterly disappointing presidency in my view, and I give him no pass for not fighting for the progressive and ethical policies on which he vigorously campaigned.Portia November 7, 2016 at 11:48 am
I watched the Obamarama at a 2008 campaign rally. During the speech I turned to a friend and said, "This guy is nothing more than a Slick Willy." Eight years later I look like the Oracle of Delphi. (Except this guy turned out to be slippery than Willy.)
There is simply no end to the political psycopathy in the U.S.Kurt Sperry November 7, 2016 at 1:22 pm
I felt the same, but then I still had "hope". LOLOLOLoho November 7, 2016 at 1:47 pm
I was so naive back in 2008 that I bought the whole Hope and Change schtick. It's so embarrassing to think back on now in hindsight. I'll never believe a Democrat again–unless they are telling me what I don't want to hear. Lesson learned.HopeLB November 7, 2016 at 3:20 pm
ya, and i wish i could get my $80 contribution back.
will never donate to any Democrat for the rest of my life. (ps, never have donated to the GOP)medon November 7, 2016 at 8:49 pm
I saw Obama in 08′. What struck me as a tell was his fawning talk about the founding father Alexander Hamilton,the pro Central Bankster. Last night they had a Federalist Historian who wrote a book about Hamilton on c-span. This historian said he wished Jefferson had never come back from France and that the US would be better off for it. These banksters are sure trying to burnish their legacy even historically. Did Goldman produce "Hamilton"?flora November 7, 2016 at 11:47 am
let us not forget Jefferson died $100,000 in debt forcing his heirs to sell Monticellococomaan November 7, 2016 at 12:03 pm
The Brains of the Obama's campaign:
No wonder an Obama Dem operative pined for days gone by.lyman alpha blob November 7, 2016 at 12:33 pm
This passage about the Bush DOJ hit home hard.
It prosecuted cases and claimed scalps. Companies such as Adelphi, Enron and WorldCom all saw top-level management prosecuted, and malefactors sent to jail.
You're completely right. I cannot imagine Obama's DOJ dismantling any company so thoroughly. All we've seen out of them are settlements. Now, that's not to say that these settlements aren't a big deal (look at Deutsche Bank's, a major factor in their systemic risk) but have any companies faced the kind of scrutiny of Enron or WorldCom?
Holder was the only AG to ever be held in contempt of Congress over his gun running insanity. And his actions on marijuana (prosecuting like a madman until CO legalized and now staying silent but not rescheduling) have been completely embarrassing and a waste of everyone's time.trgahan November 7, 2016 at 2:36 pm
Yeah I actually bought a few hundred shares of Enron after the share price collapsed thinking Georgie would never let his buddy Ken Lay down. Even though I lost a few bucks I was glad to be proven wrong.
All of these companies went belly up and somehow the world didn't end, as Holder has tried to convince us it would had he actually done his damn job.cocomaan November 7, 2016 at 7:38 pm
Be careful….with agencies you need to differentiate between employees, bureaucrats, and political appointees. There are undercurrents that have nothing to do with politics and lag times in political appointed staffing and such.
As it happened in 2001-2002, outside the AG, the DOJ at the time was more Clinton's than Bush's. Bush would go on to gut the DOJ's white color crime division leaving it effectively toothless by time Obama took office.
A more complicating factor, the entire task force that prosecuted these cases left for private firms (many now defending company actions). The DOJ's white collar institutional knowledge went to zero overnight. To replace the talent and knowledge needed to take on further cases, on a constrained enforced austerely budget is a tall order.
Even then, those company's were other worldly idiotic in committing the offenses. What they did was the equivalent of leaving their wallet at the crime scene. Most company's aren't so careless.
,crittermom November 7, 2016 at 3:58 pm
This is a great point. Thank you for making it. Civil service is a very different animal than other, more corporate bureaucracies.BradK November 7, 2016 at 4:46 pm
"settlements". Gawd, how I now hate that word!
In fact, those 'settlements' usually amounted to no more than 10% of their ill-gotten profits so there was no incentive to change their evil ways.
AND, those 'settlements' didn't go to we victims, either.
Still wondering what Obamer will put in his 'library'. Copies of all his empty promises that got him elected a second term?timbers November 7, 2016 at 12:21 pm
Not to mention the convenient timing of the DoJ's "pivot" towards white collar crimes now that the statute of limitations has passed for all the pre-2008 criminal activities. Something about closing the barn door after the horses have run off.Bugs Bunny November 7, 2016 at 12:27 pm
Thank you great article. I frequently tall the young'ins that even Ronald Reagan (or was it Bush?) prosecuted the Keating 5 from the S&L crisis and even sent them to jail for a really really long time, just for shook affect in comparison to the Obamanation we have today.
My how things have changed.Sam Adams November 7, 2016 at 12:41 pm
Jerry-Lynn, I know this situation:
"Clients who want to do something will resist their impulses and continue to listen to what they hear as their lawyers crying wolf only for so long."
Usually the breaking point is when the client tells me "competitor X committed this 3 times that we know of last year and you're telling me that I have to adhere strictly to the law?"
Or even better, they'll pull me into a meeting with some crook they've just recruited from competitor X to tell me how their lawyers advised them on how not to get caught.
Painful. Glad I moved on.Jeremy Grimm November 7, 2016 at 12:52 pm
Do they even teach Antitrust or Sécurités Regulation in LawSkools anymore?Bugs Bunny November 7, 2016 at 1:46 pm
I respect that you moved on.
Obama's legacy - turning Corporate attorneys into proto mob consiglieres?Katharine November 7, 2016 at 2:07 pm
He's only the latest one…Kokuanani November 7, 2016 at 12:39 pm
>I respect that you moved on.
I too. The obvious answer to that "You're telling me I have to obey the law" bs is, yes, if you want to be my client, but not everybody gives it, either literally or by their actions.Jerri-Lynn Scofield Post author November 7, 2016 at 1:27 pm
Jerri-Lynn, I think it's "Alberto" Gonzales, although maybe his similarity to "Fredo" confused you.Tom Stone November 7, 2016 at 2:15 pm
You're absolutely right. Just fixed it. (Thought I'd corrected the mistake before, but see that I hadn't.) Thanks for reading my work so carefully.steelhead23 November 7, 2016 at 2:44 pm
I'm surprised that the GunWalker program didn't get individual attention, conspiring to illegally sell thousands of firearms to one of the most vicious criminal groups in the Americas is a big deal. Hundreds of Mexican public officials were murdered using these guns and perhaps a thousand total. Two of the .50 BMG anti materiel rifles seized at "El Chapo" Guzman's estate were sold to him at the behest of the US DOJ.
When the DOJ is the largest single supplier of firearms to criminals, gets caught and no one goes to prison…WASSWisdom Seeker November 7, 2016 at 3:56 pm
I think you may be to harsh on Eric and Loretta. My guess regarding Obama's legal legacy is that he "would rather look forward than back," meaning that he was afraid to aggressively prosecute financial crimes for fear it could bring down the system – and I believe that fear was fed by the likes of Timothy Geithner, who as Sec. Treas. didn't want the job of liquidating firms he had done business with at the NY Fed. Hence, prosecuting Wall Street would have required the AGs to butt heads with fellow cabinet members – and while the Obamamometer understands the law well enough, he doesn't understand macroeconomics at all and was deathly afraid of causing an economic catastrophe. And please note, the literati (or those generally accepted as knowledgeable on economics) mostly shared a view that the big banks were innocent, duped by the likes of Angelo Mozilo and fraudulent borrowers. (Aside: I'd bet that even after The Big Short and Econned, most still cling to that explanation for the crisis)
Many seem enthralled by the recent release of Hillary Clinton's emails, looking for a pay to play smoking gun. I'd be much more interested in the notes from Obama's meetings with T. Geithner in early 08. That's when the real crimes were committed.NotTimothyGeithner November 7, 2016 at 5:59 pm
History is going to record Obama's legacy as being the third massive credit bubble in 2 decades, together with a massive erosion in the rule of law. Obama's cowardice in failing to pursue real justice for the public, including his failure to prosecute individual criminals at the major banks, will be a major stain.
Dot-Com bubble = fool me once, shame on you
Housing bubble = fool me twice, shame on me
Current bubble = fool me three times, shame on Obama…zapster November 7, 2016 at 8:46 pm
How is it a harsh criticism? Even if we accept Obama's good intentions, what was next? It's completely deluded to say the economy would get better with rampant fraud and corruption. Screw this whole "he doesn't understand economics enough." He can read. The Founder of the Federal Reserve, Senator Glass, was a newspaper editor. Obama ran for President not a seat on the PTA. He should have quit if he couldn't handle it.Bob November 7, 2016 at 5:52 pm
Remember, he was a Chicago boy. If he ever took an econ class, it was pure Friedman. And that stuff sticks like glue.RBHoughton November 7, 2016 at 6:33 pm
Such charity by many posters towards the Obama administration. But the truth is that he and his team have been hell bent on purposefully moving the Democratic Party as far to the right as they could and jettisoning all liberal, progressive, new deal thinking and supporters all the while lying through their teeth about it. And they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. And with the upcoming passage of TPP, TISA, and the rest, it's game over for anyone who isn't part of the billionaire clan.Elizabeth November 7, 2016 at 6:49 pm
The Rule of Law is one of those things that we all suppose is A GOOD THING. It is only recently, now wealth has become so pervasive, that we see how a few dollars can buy impunity from justice. The high-powered lawyer is the latest incarnation of the papal indulgence. Prison and purgatory are optional.
The magic reason is the burden of proof in criminal law – beyond a reasonable doubt. All the defendant has to establish is a doubt he did the dirty deed and he's off.
There is another way of creating a respect for fairness and justice. Its the adoption of the Rule of Propriety. We no longer concern ourselves with the endless variety of means a crook will use to cheat his way to a fortune. We simply require him at all times to justify his acts. You can actually see this system operating in Asia and, whilst its under attack, it is a beautiful thing to behold.Mark John November 7, 2016 at 7:28 pm
I never voted for Obama because I thought he was an empty suit. After enduring 8 years of George Bush, who couldn't speak coherently, anyone would have seemed like a scholar. I agree with someone upthread that Obama has eviscerated the rule of law, started more wars than any other president, protected criminal banksters, and lies about the spectacular 'recovery" we are all enjoying. The political corruption has been laid bare.
If Hillary wins, I wonder if she'll keep the Terror Tuesdays going? One shudders to think about it.oh November 7, 2016 at 7:36 pm
Here is a sample of Obama during the 2008 campaign. It speaks for itself.
Thank you Jerri-Lynn for this piece. The grifter will go on to own a
vultureventure fund a sports team or a strip club but he'll receive his just due from karma.
Nov 08, 2016 | www.nakedcapitalism.com
ChiGal in Carolina November 7, 2016 at 3:14 pmChiGal in Carolina November 7, 2016 at 4:01 pm
Re the OH forensic inspector:
Does FOP have different standards for women and men? What is a little disturbing about this piece is it seems someone's work is being called into question based on personality issues (in fact she sounds a bit Trumpish – no impulse control!)
From the article:
"Yezzo conducted her analysis of evidence without much oversight. Her reports summarizing findings would be reviewed by her supervisors, but her actual work, methods and conclusions rarely were checked by anyone.
"Now, defense attorneys in at least two cases have done their own investigations and believe they have proof that Yezzo's work is suspect. In one of those cases, a judge already has freed a man from prison because of credibility issues described in Yezzo's personnel file. "
Not clarifying whether the lack of oversight is standard procedure seems prejudicial.
And again from the article:
" 'There may have been issues between me and my co-workers, but it was not a circumstance where those issues fell to the analysis of evidence,' Yezzo said. 'You're trying to portray me as a prosecution expert. I testified to the results, not to try and make any points with anybody.'
"Yezzo's direct supervisor, Daniel Cappy, defended her work. Cappy testified that Yezzo had some behavioral issues, but he stood behind the quality of her work as a forensic scientist."
Just sayin'Katharine November 7, 2016 at 3:45 pm
Yes, there is detail about accusations made with no evidence to support them!
"A review of her personnel records by The Dispatch shows that colleagues and supervisors raised questions about Yezzo time and again while she tested evidence and testified in an uncounted number of murder, rape and other criminal cases in the state."
Nice trick, implying that the questions raised related to her work while in fact the examples are all behavioral.Jeremy Grimm November 7, 2016 at 3:51 pm
You seem to be ignoring a lot of detail in the article. Her analyses are not being questioned because of her behavior but because experienced analysts say they were poorly performed and improperly interpreted.ChiGal in Carolina November 7, 2016 at 4:07 pm
The description of Yezzo's behaviors fit my layman's understanding of behaviors characteristic of a mental health issue - NOT A CRIMINAL ISSUE - not matter how her behaviors may have affected the cases she handled.Jeremy Grimm November 7, 2016 at 6:33 pm
Agreed, she would have benefited from intervention. And if it WAS affecting the quality of her work and not just her relations with colleagues, her supervisors had a duty to see that she got it or pull her from the investigations.
My point is just that the article doesn't really provide evidence that her work was affected, only that opposition attorneys on learning of her personal issues have succeeded in making them an issue.
And my further point is I think women are more vulnerable to this sort of thing than men.
Men are not less vulnerable to assaults on their minds. What a strange idea.
Avoid all flavors of KoolAide.
Nov 14, 2015 | news.yahoo.com
Students held rallies on college campuses across the United States on Thursday to protest ballooning student loan debt for higher education and rally for tuition-free public colleges and a minimum wage hike for campus workers.
The demonstrations, dubbed the Million Student March, were planned just two days after thousands of fast-food workers took to the streets in a nationwide day of action pushing for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and union rights for the industry.
About 50 students from Boston-area colleges gathered at Northeastern University carrying signs that read "Degrees not receipts" and "Is this a school or a corporation?"
"The student debt crisis is awful. Change starts when people demand it in the street. Not in the White House," said Elan Axelbank, 20, a third year student at Northeastern, who said he was a co-founder of the national action.
... ... ...
"I want to graduate without debt," said Ashley Allison, a 22-year-old student at Boston's Bunker Hill Community College, at the Northeastern rally. "Community college has been kind to me, but if I want to go on, I have to take on debt."
Dealing with swiftly mounting student loan debt has been a focus of candidates vying for the White House in 2016. Democratic hopeful Bernie Sanders has vowed to make tuition free at public universities and colleges, and has pledged to cut interest rates for student loans.
... ... ...
Free taxpayer supported public education means more college administrators earning $200,000 or more, more faculty earning $100,000 or more working 8 months a year and more $300 textbooks. Higher education costs are a direct correlation to Federal Student Loans subsiding college bureaucracies, exorbitant salaries for college administrators and faculty.
What fantasy world do these people live in. There is nothing for free and if you borrow tens of thousands of dollars you can't expect later that someone else will pick up your tab. Pucker up bucky, it is your responsibility.
Furthermore, a lot of this money didn't go to education. I have read where people went back to school so they could borrow money to pay their rent, or even their car payments. As for 15 dollars an hour to sling burgers, grow up.
Having been out of college for a few years, I am curious. I went to a State University. Tuition was high, I had to take loans, I drove a cheap 10 yr old vehicle, but it didn't kill me. My total debt was about the price of a decent new car back then.
Today, the average student loan debt after graduation is just under $30,000. Around the price of a new car. And these kids are trying to tell us that this is too much of a burden??? Look around any campus these days, and you will see lots of $30,000 cars in the parking lots.
I can see having a low, federally-subsidized interest rate on these loans....which I seem to recall having on some of my loans, but anyone wanting anything for free can take a hike, IMHO.
Careful what you wish for, kiddies. It's simple math and simple economics (things I learned in school while studying instead of protesting). Every university has a maximum number of students it can support, based on the number and capacity of dorms, classrooms, faculty, etc.
The tuition rates have always closely matched the amount of easily-accessed loans available - the easier the access to loans, the higher tuition is. The simple reason is that the universities raise tuition rates to manage the demand for their limited resources, and can always raise rates when there is more demand than there are openings for incoming students.
Thanks to the windfall from that high tuition, today's universities have student unions, recreation facilities, gyms, pools, and lots of amenities to attract students. Imagine what they will offer when they can't jack up the tuition. Ever visit a university in a country that has "free" college education for its' citizens? It's pretty austere. These kids need to think past the clever sound bytes and really consider the effect of what they are asking for.
Oddly enough, a majority of these students attend colleges who has sport teams sponsored by Nike, Under Armour, Adidas, or Reebok. So, should theses companies atop providing the uniforms and equipment free of charge and donate the money to make more scholarships available? Then the student athletes can purchase their own gear on their own dime. Where one group attains, another must lose. Let this be debated on college campuses and watch the students divide themselves. We will find out what is most important to them.
What really needs to be addressed is the skyrocketing cost of college education PERIOD! At the rate it's going up pretty soon only the children of billionaires will be able to afford to go to college.
Some junk yard dog investigative journalist needs to dig into the rising cost of college education and identify the cause. Once the cause are understood then something can be done to make college more affordable. College tuition cannot be allowed to just continue to escalate.
Seriously how do we let our children out of high school without enough information to decide if going to college is actually a good investment? If a high school grad can't explain in detail how much cash is needed, and how spending all that cash and time for education is going to provide a positive return on investment, he or she should not be going to college. This should be near the top of things that teens learn in high school.
I get really cynical about all graduates claiming they had no idea how much their loans were going to cost them. I mean, they had enough math skills to be accepted, then graduate, from college. If you didn't bother to read your loan docs before signing, or research likely monthly payments for your loan, that's your fault!
College costs went up far faster than inflation, often because colleges built fancy sports and living facilities...because they figured out these same millennials pick colleges based on those things. If you tour colleges, and I toured many in the past few years with my kids, you don't see a classroom or lab unless you ask.
The standard tours take students through fancy facilities that have nothing to do with quality of education. Add declining teaching loads that have decreased from 12 class hours to 3 class hours per week for a professor in the past 25 years and the rise in overhead for non-academic administration overhead positions like "chief diversity and inclusion officer" and you have expensive college.
If students want a cheap education, go to the junior college for general ed classes then transfer to a four-year school. It is not glamorous but it yields a quality education without a fortune in debt.
Getting an education is obviously the biggest scam in history!!!! Look at who controls education. Look at all the Universities presidents last names then you will know what they are. I can't say it here on Yahoo because they will take my comments out for speaking the truth. These presidents make millions of $$$$$ a year off of students and parents who are slaves and work hard to pay those tuitions. Not only that but look at the owners last names of the Loan
Universities are money munching machines with no regard for how the students will repay the loans. Universities annually raise tuition rates(much of which is unnecessary) with no regard of how these young minds full of mush are going to repay the crushing debt, nor do they care. Locally one university just opened a 15 million dollar athletic center, which brings up the question, why did they need this? With that kind of cash to throw around, what wasn't at least some used to keep tuitions affordable?
These 'loans' are now almost all, Pell Grant underwritten. Cannot Bankrupt on, co-signers and students can lose their Social Security money if defaulting. 1.5 trillion$ of these loans have been packaged, like Home Loans, derivative.
What happens to peoples retirement accounts when their Funds have investments in them, what happens to the Primary Dealers when the derivatives bubble bursts?
How are these loans to be made 'free' if existing loans bear interest? If the student of 'free education' defaults, doesn't graduate, will he owe money-will his parent, or will the 'free school' simply become a dumping ground for the youth without direction, simply housed in college's dorm rooms?
Lots of questions and two things to keep in mind, the Banks and Teaching institutes love the idea of 'free', the students are believing there might be a free ride.. ignoring schools and Banks don't, won't and never do anything for free.
This is not going to turn out well for consumers. Sure, Household payments of Education may drop, but the Institution of Education cannot keep even its slim success rate it has now. I don't know how educators managed to turn education into a purely self gratifying industry, giving anything to purchasers they wished for that Education loan, but never ever ever, has underwriting by the Central improved the quality of business. Complete underwriting of the important system of education at the Fed level will be a disaster.
There will be almost zero accountability for institutes and students, we will have a more expensive system that turns out the worst grads.
Don't try believing that other countries abilities with free Ed can be duplicated here.. not without serious socialism, a condition where qualifying for Ed advancement is determined by the Central.
Where it is free, but only to the select, the performers, most American Students would not qualify in other countries for advanced Ed. Blanket quals are almost a condition here, American Students are in for a serious surprise. They will not be so able to buy/loan their way to college and have to excel to get into college.
The joke is on the American student.
i was one of seven children- i worked my way through four years of undergrad and three years of grad school with my parents only being able to pay health insurance and car insurance- i worked shelving books, busing tables, delivering pizzas and for the last five years as a parimutuel clerk at dog and horsetracks- i never got to go on spring break, do a semester at sea or take classes in europe- i graduated debt free from public universities- have no sympathy for a bunch of whiny brats who have to drive better cars than their professors and believe they are entitled to special treatment- get a job and quit acting like a bunch of welfare queens who feel they deserve entitlements
My son is in college. Because grandpa saved his money over the years, he volunteered to pay for college costs. We hope to continue the tradition with our grandchildren and carefully save our money as well. We don't live high or purchase new. He will graduate zero dollars in debt.
My son's college roommate comes from a very wealthy family. They own a plane - two houses - dad works on Wall Street - mom is a Doctor. He has to pay for his own education and gets loans for everything. His parents simply don't have the cash to pay for his education.
It's priorities people! If something is worth it, you'll make it happen.
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