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In America one out of every 100 citizens is behind bars and most of them are minorities. The United States has 5 percent of the world's population but holds one-quarter of the world's prisoners. The prison industrial complex has a vested interest in keeping people locked up. A prison record affects the ability to find employment. In Virginia, Florida, Kentucky and Iowa, a felony conviction results in the permanent loss of voting privileges unless individually restored by the governor.

The End Mass Criminalization Issue Team works on the following related issues:

  • Mass Incarceration
  • Prison Industrial Complex/Privatization of Prisons
  • School to Prison Pipeline
  • Restoration of Voting Rights
  • Voter Suppression by Incarceration
  • Stop and Frisk
  • Harm Reduction
  • Criminalization of Poverty
  • Mandatory Minimum Sentences
  • Criminal Justice System
  • War on Drugs
  • Solitary Confinement

IOT - End Mass Criminalization

Private for Profit Prisons - Articles and Blogs

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5 Shocking Revelations About the Privatization of Juvenile J…

5 Shocking Revelations About the Privatization of Juvenile Jails

In a move to cut costs, states throughout the nation have turned to privatizing their prisons, including their juvenile detention centers. In a newly released investigation titled, " Prisoners of Profit: Private Prison Empire Rises Despite Startling Record of Juvenile Abuse," The Huffington Post’s Chris Kirkham reveals how the growing empire behind this move, Youth Services International (YSI), is continuing...

Alyssa Figueroa | AlterNet 24 Oct 2013 Hits:962 Privatization of Prisons

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Lockup Quotas Help For-Profit Prison Companies Keep Profits …

Lockup Quotas Help For-Profit Prison Companies Keep Profits High and Prisons Full

For-profit prison companies like Corrections Corporation of American and GEO Group are no strangers to controversy. Their business model rests on incarceration, and their profits soared throughout the 1990s and 2000s as harsh sentencing laws, the War on Drugs, and tough immigration enforcement led to a dramatic rise in detention and incarceration. But with crime rates dropping for more than a decade and a new...

Brendan Fischer | PR Watch 26 Sep 2013 Hits:1043 Privatization of Prisons

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Private prisons lock in profits with lockup quotas

Private prisons lock in profits with lockup quotas

As state governments seek to reduce their reliance on costly incarceration to meet criminal justice goals, the private prison companies that contract with them are trying to lock in profits through "lockup quotas." According to a new report from In the Public Interest, a nonprofit resource center that studies the privatizing of public functions, prison companies are increasingly striking deals with states that...

Bretin Mock | Facing South 24 Sep 2013 Hits:770 Privatization of Prisons

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America's Corrupt Justice System: Federal Private Prison Pop…

America's Corrupt Justice System: Federal Private Prison Populations Grew by 784% in 10 Year Span

From 1999-2010, the total U.S. prison population rose 18 percent, an increase largely reflected by the "drug war" and stringent sentencing guidelines, such as three strikes laws and mandatory minimum sentences. However, total private prison populations exploded fivefold during this same time period, with federal private prison populations rising by 784 percent (as seen in the chart below complied by The...

David Harris-Gershun | AlterNet 28 May 2013 Hits:844 Privatization of Prisons

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Stop Owlcatraz!: Students Push to Stop Prison Corporation fr…

Stop Owlcatraz!: Students Push to Stop Prison Corporation from Naming Stadium

Students at FAU stage sit-in at university president's office over multi-million dollar gift from private prison company GEO Group Students rallying under the banner "Stop Owlcatraz" at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) occupied the university president's office on Monday to protest the naming rights for the football stadium going to the for-profit prison corporation GEO Group, which...

Andrea Germanos | Common Dreams 26 Feb 2013 Hits:1112 Privatization of Prisons

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Big Labor's Lock 'Em Up Mentality

Big Labor's Lock 'Em Up Mentality

How otherwise progressive unions stand in the way of a more humane correctional system. On January 4, the Tamms Correctional Center, a supermax prison in southern Illinois, officially closed its doors. Tamms, where some men had been kept in solitary confinement for more than a decade, was notorious for its brutal treatment of prisoners with mental illness—and for...

James Ridgeway and Jean Casella | Mother Jones 25 Feb 2013 Hits:1216 Privatization of Prisons

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Florida Atlantic's Folly: Why GEO Group Should Not Have Nami…

Florida Atlantic's Folly: Why GEO Group Should Not Have Naming Rights

Sometimes the sports world doesn’t just reflect the real world. It mocks our world with a vicious veracity. Recently, we learned that Florida Atlantic University had sold the naming rights to its football field. This isn’t unusual at all, but the company the school chose amongst many suitors certainly was. The stadium will be known as...

David Zirin | The Progressive 25 Feb 2013 Hits:1512 Privatization of Prisons

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Cover Ups, Corruption and Death: What Private Prison Co. Doe…

Cover Ups, Corruption and Death: What Private Prison Co. Doesn't Want You to Know about Its Stadium Sponsorship

The real story behind how the largest private prison company bought the naming rights to Florida Atlantic University's football stadium. This week, Florida Atlantic University announced a deal to rename its football stadium after GEO Group, one of the largest private prison companies in the world. The deal came with a $6 million dollar price tag, the...

Steven Hsieh | AlterNet 24 Feb 2013 Hits:1213 Privatization of Prisons

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American Justice -- For Profit Prisons or Truth?

American Justice -- For Profit Prisons or Truth?

A moment in time that nobody expected: the marriage of a football stadium and naming rights with for-profit private prison industry the GEO Group. At this writing, a huge wave of utter discontent and amazement that something like this would ever occur is making waves across the internet and was featured recently in the New York...

Molly Rowan Leach | The Huffington Post 24 Feb 2013 Hits:1116 Privatization of Prisons

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Private Prison Corporations Are Modern Day Slave Traders

Private Prison Corporations Are Modern Day Slave Traders

The nation’s largest private prison company, the Corrections Corporation of America, is on a buying spree. With a war chest of $250 million, the corporation, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, earlier this year sent letters to 48 states, offering to buy their prisons outright. To ensure their profitability, the corporation insists that it...

Glenn Ford | Black Agenda Report 25 Apr 2012 Hits:1228 Privatization of Prisons

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End Mass Criminalization Articles

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Cop To Immigrant During Traffic Stop: ‘If You Do Something, …

Cop To Immigrant During Traffic Stop: ‘If You Do Something, I Will Kill You Right Here’

Teodulo Sanchez was driving home when an Arizona police officer pulled him over and threatened to “kill” or “shoot” him if he moved, according to a video of the incident captured last week. Immigration advocates have long charged that Arizona police officers indiscriminately pull over members of the Latino community, oftentimes using the anti-immigrant state law colloquially known as the...

Esther Yu-Hsi Lee | Think Progress 20 Oct 2014 Hits:235 EMC Articles

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17 Arrested In Latest Ferguson Protests

17 Arrested In Latest Ferguson Protests

Officers arrested 17 protesters and used pepper spray to subdue some of them Sunday in a St. Louis neighborhood not far from the suburb where violence erupted this summer after the shooting of a black man by a white policeman. The arrests were the only incident in an otherwise peaceful weekend of demonstrations in the city to protest the fatal shooting...

Jim Suhr | Huffington Post 20 Oct 2014 Hits:29 EMC Articles

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One-Third of the World's Women in Prison Have One Striking T…

One-Third of the World's Women in Prison Have One Striking Thing in Common

They're locked up in the United States. All 201,200 of them. Forbe recently published a map charting the largest female prison populations in the world: As you can see, it's not even close. Citing data from the International Center for Prison Studies, Niall McCarthy of Statista visualizes how the United States housed nearly one-third of the globe's incarcerated women in 2013. It's...

Zak Cheney-Rice | Identities.mic 05 Oct 2014 Hits:487 EMC Articles

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Florida Prosecutors Face Long Odds When Police Use Lethal Fo…

Florida Prosecutors Face Long Odds When Police Use Lethal Force

MIAMI — For decades Florida has had a history of deadly, racially tinged police confrontations, many of them involving unarmed men, which have led to riots, protests and a steady undercurrent of rancor between minorities and the police. But in the past 20 years, not a single officer in Florida has been charged with using deadly force. As a grand jury...

Lizetta Alvarez | The New York Times 04 Sep 2014 Hits:289 EMC Articles

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Justice Dept Refuses For 20 Years To Comply With Federal Law…

Justice Dept Refuses For 20 Years To Comply With Federal Law Requiring It To Gather National Police Brutality Stats

We're all supposed to be impressed with the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder parachuted into Ferguson MO the other day to wrap his arms around the local top black cop and get briefed on the pending federal investigation into the police killing of Michael Brown. But we shouldn't be. For the last 20 years, since 1994, Violent Crime Control &...

Bruce Dixon | Common Dreams 01 Sep 2014 Hits:363 EMC Articles

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For-Profit Policing Means Ferguson Is Basically a Debtor’s P…

For-Profit Policing Means Ferguson Is Basically a Debtor’s Prison

In Ferguson, Missouri, residents could find themselves in jail for failing to pay $19 a month to the town’s sole trash contractor. For these and other petty infractions, fees snowball over months into court dates and outstanding warrants. Pleading guilty is the norm since lawyers are too expensive for most, whereupon more fees and fines are levied. And since Ferguson’s...

Michael Hendrix | Values & Capitalism 28 Aug 2014 Hits:727 EMC Articles

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The Government Program That's Equipping Police

The Government Program That's Equipping Police

Year in which Congress initially authorized the Defense Department to give excess arms and ammunition to law enforcement agencies for counter-drug activities, leading to the creation of what's come to be known as the 1033 program: 1990 Number of law enforcement agencies the program has given equipment to: more than 17,000 Percent of U.S. states with agencies participating in the program: 100 Value...

The Institute Index 17 Aug 2014 Hits:291 EMC Articles

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Black Men Show Little Signs of Progress in 40 Years

Black Men Show Little Signs of Progress in 40 Years

WASHINGTON (NNPA) — Black men are no better off than they were more than 40 years ago, due to mass incarceration and job losses suffered during the Great Recession, according to a new report by researchers at the University of Chicago. Derek Neal and Armin Rick, the co-authors of the study, found that reforms in the criminal justice system at the...

Freddie Allen | The Louisiana Weekly 10 Aug 2014 Hits:321 EMC Articles

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The Horrific State of Alabama's Prisons

The Horrific State of Alabama's Prisons

On June 3, Jodey Waldrop, a 36-year-old inmate at the St. Clair Correctional Facility in rural Springville, Alabama, was lying in his bed when somebody entered his cell and stabbed him in the neck with a shank. Prison officials say they got Waldrop, who was bleeding profusely, to a hospital 19 miles away within minutes, but nothing could be done....

Ray Downs | Vice 03 Aug 2014 Hits:409 EMC Articles

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Restoration of Voting Rights Articles

McDonnell eases voting rights restoration process for nonviolent felons

Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Wednesday that he will automatically restore the voting rights of nonviolent felons who have completed their sentences on an individual basis by doing away with the "subjective" application process. McDonnell streamlined the process of rights restoration when he took office in 2010, and has restored the rights of more than 4,800 felons – the most of any governor. In January he threw his support behind a measure to put a constitutional amendment to the voters that would have automatically restored voting rights to nonviolent felons, which failed in...

Todd Allen Wilson | Newport News Daily Press 29 May 2013 Hits:742 Restoration of Voting Rights

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Florida No. 1 in barring ex-prisoners from voting

Florida No. 1 in barring ex-prisoners from voting

Florida leads the nation by a wide margin in the number of felons who have served their sentences but cannot vote. One of only 11 states in the U.S. that does not automatically return civil rights to former inmates, Florida had not restored the rights of 1.3 million former inmates as of 2010, according to the Sentencing Project, a Washington-based nonprofit that favors alternatives to incarceration. The next closest state was Virginia at 351,943. A policy introduced by Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi makes most former convicts wait...

John Lantigua | Palm Beach Post 24 May 2013 Hits:963 Restoration of Voting Rights

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Voter rights will be expanded for felons in Delaware

Voter rights will be expanded for felons in Delaware

Shortly after one chamber of the General Assembly voted today to enact a constitutional amendment expanding voting rights for convicted felons, the other chose to reject a proposed amendment that would have allowed more citizens to vote absentee. Non-violent felons will now be able to vote immediately after discharging their criminal sentences according to an amendment passed by the Senate removing a constitutional provision barring felons from voting for five years after the fulfillment of their punishments. In the House, a Democratic bill to change constitutional limitations on absentee balloting failed by...

Doug Denison | The News Journal 20 Apr 2013 Hits:1040 Restoration of Voting Rights

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DeRoche: Restoration of voting rights represents justice

DeRoche: Restoration of voting rights represents justice

Gov. Bob McDonnell got it right in his State of the Commonwealth address on Jan. 9 when he strongly supported legislation to automatically restore civil rights for felons who have served their sentences and paid their fines and restitution. This is not a new position for the governor. He has restored more rights for Virginians than any other administration in state history. Many will react by questioning whether the governor’s position and actions represent fairness. This is a natural reaction for us all to...

Craig DeRoche | Richmond Times Dispatch 16 Jan 2013 Hits:488 Restoration of Voting Rights

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Editorial - Ex-felons' Voting Rights

Editorial - Ex-felons' Voting Rights

In a list found on the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures, state after state after state is on the books as restoring the voting rights of felons upon the completion of their sentence, probation and/or parole. Kentucky is not — but it is time for the Bluegrass State to join the ranks of the fair and enlightened.  House Bill 70 proposes to amend the Kentucky state constitution “to allow persons convicted of a felony other than treason, intentional killing, a sex...

Editorial 02 Feb 2012 Hits:1770 Restoration of Voting Rights

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Why Punish Ex-Offenders with a Voting Ban?

Why Punish Ex-Offenders with a Voting Ban?

In a heated presidential campaign, politicians have, like clockwork, started hitting each other over who is soft on crime. And here I thought we’d outgrown the Willie Horton era of playing political football with people’s lives. In Florida, a political action committee supporting Mitt Romney ran an ad last week criticizing Rick Santorum for voting to restore voting rights to ex-offenders who have finished their sentences. The issue popped up again during Monday’s heated Republican debate. I have never endorsed a candidate, but I...

Charles W. Colson | Washington Post 21 Jan 2012 Hits:1632 Restoration of Voting Rights

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Congress Must Pass Law that Allows Former Prisoners to Vote

Congress Must Pass Law that Allows Former Prisoners to Vote

As the leader of a prison ministry, I strongly support the Democracy Restoration Act because I know that people can be redeemed. Yet for redemption to impact the nation, people must be restored to their communities, and restoration requires an opportunity – like voting. A tussle between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney in Monday’s GOP primary debate highlighted one issue that too often gets overlooked – restoring the right to vote in federal elections for those with past criminal convictions. As Congress reconvenes this week, lawmakers must...

H. David Schuringa | Christian Science Monitor 19 Jan 2012 Hits:1495 Restoration of Voting Rights

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Restore the Right to Vote

Restore the Right to Vote

More than five million Americans are barred from voting as an automatic consequence of criminal convictions. Getting that essential right restored is, for far too many Americans, not much more than a theoretical possibility. All Americans who live in and participate in their communities should have a political voice; the health of our democracy depends on it. But the road to restoration is made unduly difficult, if not impossible, by a complicated and convoluted morass of rules that vary from state to state. The impact of criminal disfranchisement is not borne...

Deborah Vagins | ACLU 04 Dec 2011 Hits:1412 Restoration of Voting Rights

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Parramore residents start campaign to restore ex-felons' voting rights

Parramore residents start campaign to restore ex-felons' voting rights

Pastor Eddie Walker got on his knees in a baby-blue suit to sign his name to a very personal promise. It called on residents of Parramore to campaign to restore voting rights to ex-felons. Walker, who spent 1996 to 2001 in prison for cocaine trafficking, already has been waiting more than five years for the state to restore his voting rights. A change in clemency rules, passed by Gov. Rick Scott's administration in March, can make it "almost impossible" for ex-felons to get their voting...

Lauren Roth | Orlando Sentinel 18 Jul 2011 Hits:1291 Restoration of Voting Rights

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Letter: Revise Voting Laws for Felons

Letter: Revise Voting Laws for Felons

The process in Tennessee to restore voting rights for felons is tangled, daunting and prohibitive. According to Tennessee law, a model resident of 28 years might not be eligible to vote based on a crime committed thirtysomething years ago. Strangely, if their conviction occurred sometime between 1973 and 1981, then nothing would disqualify them. The lucky few who may actually be eligible to vote must first face a staggering eight-step process involving three separate agencies, paper mail transmission to and from Nashville, and...

Stephen Burke 10 Jul 2011 Hits:1225 Restoration of Voting Rights

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School to Prison Pipeline Articles

The Police State Mindset in Our Public Schools

The Police State Mindset in Our Public Schools

“Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?” – Michel Foucault Once upon a time in America, parents breathed a sigh of relief when their kids went back to school after a summer’s hiatus, content in the knowledge that for a good portion of the day their kids would be gainfully occupied, out of harm’s way and out of trouble. Those were the good old days, before school shootings became...

John W. Whitehead | The Rutherford Institute 13 Aug 2013 Hits:773 School to Prison Pipeline

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Texas Students Thrown in Jail for Days ... as Punishment for Missing School…

Texas Students Thrown in Jail for Days ... as Punishment for Missing School?

Texas's solution to truancy appears to be making kids miss even more school as they sit in jail. June 12, 2013: This story has been updated with Judge Clay Jenkins's comment and full statement, as well as the Mesquite school districtstatement on its website. School tardiness and absences come at a high cost in Dallas, Texas. Gone are the days of detention and writing lines on the chalkboard; now students are fined, even jailed. The enforcement of the...

Joaquin Sapien | ProPublica 14 Jun 2013 Hits:1440 School to Prison Pipeline

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Arresting a Teen Girl for Dozing Off in Class? Why Normal Kid Behavior Is T…

Arresting a Teen Girl for Dozing Off in Class? Why Normal Kid Behavior Is Treated As a Crime or Psychiatric Disorder

Brianna Pena, a 5-year-old, was told she could not return to her kindergarten classroom at her Bronx, NY, charter school until she was “psychiatrically cleared” to return by a medical professional.  It was her first day at a new school.  She didn’t know anyone and repeatedly cried, “Nobody cares about me!” School officials insist that Brianna kept “yelling and throwing chairs” during the incident.  Administrators placed her on a list of so-called “psychiatric suspensions.” In Bartow, FL, Kiera Wilmot, a 16-year-old student...

David Rosen | AlterNet 18 May 2013 Hits:1822 School to Prison Pipeline

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The effects of unchecked criminalization: Teen charged with felony for scie…

The effects of unchecked criminalization: Teen charged with felony for science experiment

When we talk about the criminalization of communities and people of color, especially African Americans and Latinos in America, we often talk about the criminal justice system in America that disproportionately targets those communities.Schools are often the major accomplices in making this system run with the school to prison pipeline. Nothing exemplifies this more than what is happening to 16 year old Kiera Wilmot in Florida. According to the Miami New Times,  ”7 a.m. on Monday, the 16 year-old mixed...

Sesali Bowen | Feministing 03 May 2013 Hits:914 School to Prison Pipeline

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In Texas, Police in Schools Criminalize 300,000 Students Each Year

In Texas, Police in Schools Criminalize 300,000 Students Each Year

The "good guy with a gun" seems to do a lot more policing than protecting. In Texas, hundreds of thousands of students are winding up in court for committing  very serious offenses such as cursing or farting in class. Some of these so-called dangerous criminals (also known as teenagers) will face arrest and even incarceration, like the honors student who  spent a night in jail for skipping class, or the 12-year-old who was arrested for  spraying perfume...

Steven Hsieh | AlterNet 12 Apr 2013 Hits:1220 School to Prison Pipeline

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Handcuffing 7-Year-Olds Won't Make Schools Safer

Handcuffing 7-Year-Olds Won't Make Schools Safer

Outrage over the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre may or may not spur any meaningful gun control laws, but you can bet your Crayolas that it will lead to more seven-year-olds getting handcuffed and hauled away to local police precincts. You read that right.  Americans may disagree deeply about how easy it should be for a mentally ill convicted felon to purchase an AR-15, but when...

Chase Madar | TomDispatch 26 Feb 2013 Hits:1031 School to Prison Pipeline

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Full-Body Pat-Downs in America's Schools: How the War on Drugs Is a War on …

Full-Body Pat-Downs in America's Schools: How the War on Drugs Is a War on Children

Criminalizing children will have constitutional implications for generations to come. On a warm spring afternoon at American colleges, the intoxicating aroma of surely medicinal marijuana will be floating like a soft caress in the breeze, and hard-working students will be stocking up on amphetamine cocktails to sharpen their overstressed young minds for the coming exams. On a warm spring afternoon at the nation’s poorer public schools, children (and I mean...

Patricia J. Williams | The Nation 24 Feb 2013 Hits:1173 School to Prison Pipeline

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The Shocking Details of a Mississippi School-to-Prison Pipeline

The Shocking Details of a Mississippi School-to-Prison Pipeline

Cedrico Green can’t exactly remember how many times he went back and forth to juvenile. When asked to venture a guess he says, “Maybe 30.” He was put on probation by a youth court judge for getting into a fight when he was in eighth grade. Thereafter, any of Green’s school-based infractions, from being a few minutes late for class to breaking the school dress code by wearing the wrong...

Julianne Hing | Colorlines 28 Nov 2012 Hits:1102 School to Prison Pipeline

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Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline

Stop the School-to-Prison Pipeline

“Every man in my family has been locked up. Most days I feel like it doesn’t matter what I do, how hard I try - that’s my fate, too.” -11th-grade African American student, Berkeley, California This young man isn’t being cynical or melodramatic; he’s articulating a terrifying reality for many of the children and youth sitting in our classrooms—a reality that is often invisible or misunderstood. Some have seen the growing numbers...

Staff, Rethinking Schools | News Analysis 16 Jan 2012 Hits:1559 School to Prison Pipeline

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The School to Prison Pipeline: Education Under Arrest

The School to Prison Pipeline: Education Under Arrest

Metal detectors. Teams of drug-sniffing dogs. Armed guards and riot police. Forbiddingly high walls topped with barbed wire.Such descriptions befit a prison or perhaps a high-security checkpoint in a war zone. But in the U.S., these scenes of surveillance and control are most visible in public schools, where in some areas, education is becoming increasingly synonymous with incarceration. The United Nations, along with various human rights bodies and international courts, have...

Kanya D'Almedia | InterPress Service 19 Nov 2011 Hits:2086 School to Prison Pipeline

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War on Drugs Articles

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A Small Step in the Right Direction A Treatise on Cannabis and Its Medical Use

A Small Step in the Right Direction A Treatise on Cannabis and Its Medical Use

On behalf of the thousands of Minnesotans who will hopefully benefit from the compromise medical marijuana bill recently signed by Governor Dayton, I offer my humble thanks. Though I am grateful these days for any small step in the right direction, I am saddened that the public has once again been served up the semblance of government and journalism, instead of the real thing. And while I’m doling out criticism, I should take my own dose as representing the lack of citizen involvement in our government and public issues; I could...

Gerald Ganann 29 May 2014 Hits:546 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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Pot Push in D.C. May Spur Congress to Weigh Legalizing

Pot Push in D.C. May Spur Congress to Weigh Legalizing

A proposal backed by most District of Columbia council members to decriminalize small amounts of pot may spur federal lawmakers to consider marijuana regulation for the first time since two states legalized recreational sales. Congress has the power to block legislation approved by the Washington council. U.S. lawmakers can also stop local initiatives in the nation’s capital through the federal budget, which authorizes the city’s spending, as they did to stall the use of medical marijuana there for a decade. The push to loosen local pot penalties, which few expect Congress to...

Michael C. Bender | Bloomberg 08 Nov 2013 Hits:750 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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Marijuana Legalization Wins Big in Elections, Is Federal Decriminalization Next?

JESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore. On November 5, voters in four U.S. cities decided to legalize recreational marijuana use. In the Michigan cities of Lansing, Jackson, and Ferndale, it will now be legal for anyone 21 years or older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana on private property. In Portland, Maine, it will be legal to possess up to 2.5 ounces. And, of course, in the Centennial State of Colorado, where recreational marijuana use has been legal for a...

Jessica Desvarieux | The Real News Network 08 Nov 2013 Hits:717 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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Let's Stop Starving Drug Offenders Back to Prison

With another cruel cutback in food stamps approaching November 1, we're reminded that many states ban stamps for ex-prisoners, who face a 50 percent unemployment rate, making prison the only sure place they won't starve. As the debate rages over whether poor people deserve to eat, it's an apt time to acknowledge that in some states, the right to food stamps has long been denied to a large group of poor people: those with felony drug convictions. The current national conversation around food rights is an exercise in heartlessness. Regardless of congressional...

Maya Schenwar | Truthout Op-Ed 08 Oct 2013 Hits:704 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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Has California Joined the Hemp Revolution?

Has California Joined the Hemp Revolution?

With all of the attention focused on the legalization of cannabis’ psychoactive variety we call marijuana, it’s no surprise much of the public is unaware of the developments regarding cannabis’ non-drug variety we call industrial hemp. The more you dig in to the issue of hemp, the more you’ll find it is far wackier than the wacky tobaccy. California Gov. Jerry Brown just signed Senate Bill 566 which legalized industrial hemp… sort of. The law requires the state to regulate the farming, processing, and sales of hemp for oilseed and fiber,...

Russ Bellville | AlterNet 04 Oct 2013 Hits:826 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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The Biggest Threat to the Black Vote

The Biggest Threat to the Black Vote

The best way to defend African-American voting rights is to end the War on Drugs. Suppression of the black vote has been a flashpoint since June, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The decision opened the door for historically racist regions (mostly in the South) to pass anti-voter laws such as ID requirements that disproportionately disenfranchise Black, Latino and poor people—who happen to overwhelmingly vote Democratic. The GOP is happily charging ahead. But a robust counteroffensive is underway, buoyed by the 50th...

James Thindwa | In These Times 28 Sep 2013 Hits:943 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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Prison Shocker: U.S. Imprisons Three Times as Many Black People as South Africa During Apa…

Prison Shocker: U.S. Imprisons Three Times as Many Black People as South Africa During Apartheid

The United States imprisons almost three times as many Black people than were jailed in South Africa during Apartheid, Rep. Spencer Bachus said Thursday during a subcommittee oversight hearing on the Federal Bureau of Prisons. While games of comparison are rarely productive, the American prison industrial complex has seen cries of racism for years now. And for once, both Democrats and Republicans are up in arms over the shocking state of affairs and say they are in favor of overhauling a system that many say is broken and biased.  Bachus reported that the...

By Rod Bastanmehr | AlterNet 23 Sep 2013 Hits:982 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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Reefer Madness Continues: Half Ounce of Pot Gets Louisiana Man Twenty Years in Prison

Reefer Madness Continues: Half Ounce of Pot Gets Louisiana Man Twenty Years in Prison

While Colorado and Washington have de-criminalized recreational use of marijuana and twenty states allow use for medical purposes, a Louisiana man was sentenced to twenty years in prison in New Orleans criminal court for possessing 15 grams, .529 of an ounce, of marijuana. Corey Ladd, 27, had prior drug convictions and was sentenced September 4, 2013 as a “multiple offender to 20 years hard labor at the Department of Corrections.”  Marijuana use still remains a ticket to jail in most of the country and prohibition is enforced in a highly racially discriminatory...

Bill Quigley | Common Dreams 23 Sep 2013 Hits:910 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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These States Are Most Likely To Legalize Pot Next

These States Are Most Likely To Legalize Pot Next

Attorney General Eric Holder gave a green light on Thursday to two states whose efforts to legalize marijuana had been locked in by legal uncertainty for more than nine months. With that announcement, Colorado and Washington -- both of which passed pro-pot initiatives at the polls last November -- can now proceed with establishing a framework for the taxation and regulation of legal weed for adults. The administration's decision holds clear and immediate implications for the two states, both of which had been hesitant to act too quickly over concerns that the government...

Nick Wing | The Huffington Post 31 Aug 2013 Hits:1073 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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New York City Comptroller Releases Report Detailing the Financial and Human Costs of Marij…

New York City Comptroller Releases Report Detailing the Financial and Human Costs of Marijuana Prohibition

Report Calls for the Taxation and Regulation of Marijuana for Adults August 14 - Today, New York City Comptroller John Liu released his report calling for a system to tax and regulate marijuana for adult recreational use.  The report comes just two days after Federal Judge Shira A. Scheindlin condemned the city’s police department’s use of stop and frisk – which has resulted in 600,000 unlawful arrests for marijuana possession since 1997 – as racially-biased. That same day, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder called for Americans to rethink the “unintended consequences”...

Drug Policy Alliance 14 Aug 2013 Hits:693 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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I Went From Selling Drugs to Studying Them -- And Found That Most of What We Assume About …

I Went From Selling Drugs to Studying Them -- And Found That Most of What We Assume About Drugs Is Wrong

A scientist with a rough past explains how he used his life experiences to blow the lid off modern drug research. This is the prologue to Columbia University researcher Dr. Carl Hart's explosive new book, " High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journal of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Psychology." Read a Q&A with the author here. The paradox of education is precisely this—that as one begins to become conscious, one begins to examine the society in which he is being educated. —James Baldwin The straight glass pipe filled with ethereal white...

Carl Hart | Harper Publishing 20 Jun 2013 Hits:898 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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Racially Biased Arrests for Pot

Racially Biased Arrests for Pot

Researchers have long known that African-Americans are more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites, even though studies have repeatedly shown that the two groups use the drug at similar rates. New federal data, included in a study by the American Civil Liberties Union, now shows that the problem of racially biased arrests is far more extensive that was previously known — and is getting worse. The costly, ill-advised “war on marijuana” might fairly be described as a tool of racial oppression. The study, based on law enforcement data from...

Editorial Board | The New York Times 17 Jun 2013 Hits:818 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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Why the OAS Report on Alternatives to Drug Prohibition is Such A Big Deal

Why the OAS Report on Alternatives to Drug Prohibition is Such A Big Deal

It’s the first time that any multilateral institution anywhere in the world has critically analyzed the war on drugs, and considered new approaches. The Organization of American States (OAS) released an  unprecedented report last Friday that presents the most high-level discussion of alternatives to drug prohibition in history. This report is a big deal. It’s the first time that any multilateral institution anywhere in the world has critically analyzed the war on drugs and considered new approaches for the future – giving equal weight to options like decriminalization and legalization in the process. The OAS report doesn’t make...

Daniel Robelo | AlterNet 24 May 2013 Hits:921 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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Rally in New York Demands End to Bogus Marijuana Arrests

Rally in New York Demands End to Bogus Marijuana Arrests

Will Governor Cuomo and NY legislature finally fix unfair laws, uphold justice and reflect the will of the people? In January of this year, during his 2013 State of the State speech, Governor Andrew Cuomo made a bold call to stop discrimination in New York. “We are one New York, and as one New York we will not tolerate discrimination,” he said. He noted the “challenge posed by the ‘stop and frisk’ police policies,” and he cited the related marijuana arrest problem in New York. Approximately 45,000 people were arrested in New...

22 May 2013 Hits:865 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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The Other IRS Scandal: Outright War Against Marijuana Dispensaries

The Other IRS Scandal: Outright War Against Marijuana Dispensaries

Dispensaries providing marijuana to doctor-approved patients operate in a number of states, but they are under assault by the federal government. SWAT-style raids by the DEA and finger-wagging press conferences by grim-faced federal prosecutors may garner greater attention, but the assault on medical marijuana providers extends to other branches of the government as well, and moves by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to eliminate dispensaries' ability to take standard business deduction are another very painful arrow in the federal quiver. The IRS employs Section 280E, a 1982 addition to the tax...

Clarence Walker | Drug War Chronicle 20 May 2013 Hits:1047 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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Is Hemp Legalization on the Horizon? Current Congresspeople Think the Answer Is Yes

Is Hemp Legalization on the Horizon? Current Congresspeople Think the Answer Is Yes

It's still a fairly bold prediction, considering lawmakers' track record on the issue. I attended a  forum on marijuana legalization at The Brookings Institution Monday, where Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), one of  a handful of Congressional champions of marijuana law reform, was one of the speakers. Along with his general optimism for where the issue is going, Blumenauer predicted that the current Congress -- #113, in office this year and next -- will legalize hemp growing. That may be a less bold prediction than in the past -- with the highest-ranking Republican senator supporting...

David Borden | Drug War Chronicle 19 Apr 2013 Hits:862 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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"Send 'Em To Jail That Day!” The Newest Frontier in the Drug War and the People Who Make M…

The shady people and companies behind the push to expand drug testing. The annual Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) conference, held in 2012 in San Antonio, Texas, looks like any other industry gathering. The 600 or so attendees sip their complimentary Starbucks coffee, munch on small plates of muffins and fresh fruit, and backslap old acquaintances as they file into a sprawling Marriott hotel conference hall. They will hear a keynote address by Robert DuPont, who served as drug policy director under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Nothing odd...

Isabel Macdonald | The Nation 12 Apr 2013 Hits:1036 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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Follow the Money: How Former Anti-Drug Officials Ridiculously Still Say Pot Is Dangerous i…

Follow the Money: How Former Anti-Drug Officials Ridiculously Still Say Pot Is Dangerous in Order to Make a Lot of Cash

Former DEA agents and cops are lobbying for tougher drug laws that make them rich. When eight former DEA chiefs signed a letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder earlier this month, demanding that the feds crack down on Washington and Colorado, the states which voted last November to legalize marijuana, there was more than just drug-war ideology at stake. There was money. Two of the elder drug warriors, Peter Bensinger (DEA chief, 1976–1981) and Robert DuPont (White House drug chief, 1973–1977), run a corporate drug-testing business. Their employee-assistance company, Bensinger, DuPont & Associates, the...

Kevin Gray | The Fix 26 Mar 2013 Hits:1262 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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The Growing War on the War on Drugs

The Growing War on the War on Drugs

If you take a close look at the sorry state of crime and justice in America three interwoven themes quickly become apparent. First, there are far too many people in prison or otherwise impacted by the reach of the criminal justice system. In America today, 2.3 million people are in jail or prison. The figure rises to six million if you count everyone in prison, on probation or out on parole. The vast majority of these people committed non-violent crimes. Over a quarter of our nation’s population — 65 million...

Andrew Cohen | Brennan Center for Justice 25 Mar 2013 Hits:1014 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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NYPD Spent One Million Hours, 440,000 Arrests on 'Marijuana Crusade'

NYPD Spent One Million Hours, 440,000 Arrests on 'Marijuana Crusade'

NYPD marijuana arrests the 'frontline civil rights issue' of the 21st century According to a shocking new report released Tuesday by the Drug Policy Alliance, in just over a decade the NYPD has used approximately 1,000,000 hours of police officer time to make 440,000 arrests for low-level misdemeanor marijuana possession, in what critics are calling "a frontline civil rights issue facing urban communities of color in the 21st century." The report titled One Million Police Hours and authored by Dr. Harry Levine, Professor of Sociology at Queens College, estimates that those detained...

Jacob Chamberlain | Common Dreams 23 Mar 2013 Hits:1130 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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Lawmakers re-examine mandatory minimums

Lawmakers re-examine mandatory minimums

For those caught with illegal prescription drugs, a trafficking conviction may no longer mean jail time, if a bill moving through the Legislature becomes law. The bill (HB 159), which expands judges’ sentencing discretion in these cases, narrowly passed the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee on an 8-5 vote Tuesday. It would allow judges to deviate from mandatory minimum sentences, many of which carry long prison sentences. For example, a conviction for carrying seven hydrocodone pills can mean a three-year prison stay and a $50,000...

Matthew Beaton | The News Herald 14 Mar 2013 Hits:917 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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Sen. Warren: Drug Offenders Go to Jail, Big Banks Working for Drug Cartels Go Free

Sen. Warren: Drug Offenders Go to Jail, Big Banks Working for Drug Cartels Go Free

Regulators let HSBC, which admitted to laundering billions for drug cartels, off with slap on the wrist. Meanwhile, petty criminals and drug offenders face long jail sentences. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) took bank regulators to task once again during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on Thursday—pressing U.S. officials over a blatant lack of prosecution for banks such as HSBC, who have been caught laundering billions of dollars for international "drug cartels". Adding to her "too big for trial" criticism of the American banking regulation system, Warren...

Jacob Chamberlain | Common Dreams 11 Mar 2013 Hits:1113 War on Drugs - Criminal Injustice

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School to Prison Pipeline Articles

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The Police State Mindset in Our Public Schools

The Police State Mindset in Our Public Schools

“Is it surprising that prisons resemble factories, schools, barracks, hospitals, which all resemble prisons?” – Michel Foucault Once upon a time in America, parents breathed a sigh of relief when...

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Texas Students Thrown in Jail for Days ... as Punishment for Missing School?

Texas Students Thrown in Jail for Days ... as Punishment for Missing School?

Texas's solution to truancy appears to be making kids miss even more school as they sit in jail. June 12, 2013: This story has been updated with Judge Clay Jenkins's comment and Read More...

Arresting a Teen Girl for Dozing Off in Class? Why Normal Kid Behavior Is Treated As a Crime or Psychiatric Disorder

Arresting a Teen Girl for Dozing Off in Class? Why Normal Kid Behavior Is Treated As a Crime or Psychiatric Disorder

Brianna Pena, a 5-year-old, was told she could not return to her kindergarten classroom at her Bronx, NY, charter school until she was “psychiatrically cleared” to return by a medical...

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The effects of unchecked criminalization: Teen charged with felony for science experiment

The effects of unchecked criminalization: Teen charged with felony for science experiment

When we talk about the criminalization of communities and people of color, especially African Americans and Latinos in America, we often talk about the criminal justice system in America...

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In Texas, Police in Schools Criminalize 300,000 Students Each Year

In Texas, Police in Schools Criminalize 300,000 Students Each Year

The "good guy with a gun" seems to do a lot more policing than protecting. In Texas, hundreds of thousands of students are winding up in court for committing  very serious offenses such as cursing...

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Mass Incarceration

AZ PoliceTeodulo Sanchez was driving home when an Arizona police officer pulled him over and threatened to “kill” or “shoot” him if he moved, according to a video of the incident captured last week. Immigration advocates have long charged that Arizona police officers indiscriminately pull over members of the Latino community, oftentimes using the anti-immigrant state law colloquially known as the “show me your papers” law, as justification.

In the video taken in Buckeye, Arizona and uploaded onto prominent undocumented activist Erika Andiola’s Facebook page, a police officer repeatedly asks Sanchez in Spanish if he has “armas,” or weapons. Sanchez says no. The officer tells Sanchez in Spanish to show his license and threatens, “if you do something, I will kill you right here. Do you understand me?” The officer says later, “If you move, I will shoot you right here. Do you understand me?” A rough English translation of the (sometimes inaudible) interaction provided by Latino Rebels is as follows:

OFFICER: Do you have a license?
MAN: Yes, sir.
OFFICER: Show me the license right now. If you do something, I will kill you right here. Do you understand me?
MAN: [Spanish here is a bit inaudible] Yes, I am recording you too.
OFFICER: Put your hands up here. You don’t have weapons in the car? Are you sure? Are there any in the car?
MAN: No, if you like, I can get out of the car.
OFFICER: What’s here then?
MAN: I come to work. These are my tools.
OFFICER: Just tools? Are you sure?
MAN: Am sure.
OFFICER: Ok. Don’t get out of the car. Stay there. If you move, I will shoot you right here. Do you understand me?
MAN: Yes. Do you want to check my ID (inaudible)?
OFFICER: Where are you coming from?

Late Sunday night, the Buckeye Police Department verified that the incident took place, but they insisted that the video showed a little more than a minute of “an approximate 20 minute stop” in which Sanchez did not comply with the officer’s requests and “continued making furtive movements in the vehicle.” The officer pulled Sanchez over because he “was observed to have committed a traffic violation.” The police said that they received “reliable information” that a Honda similar to the vehicle that Sanchez was driving was “allegedly carrying a large amount of illegal narcotics with a possible armed occupant.” The police report indicated that the driver of another car that they had been following was found to be armed with a weapon.

“The Buckeye Police Department acknowledges the officer used a poor choice of words, and does not condone the statement made during the stop,” according to a statement released half an hour before Sanchez met with the police on Sunday afternoon. The statement indicated that Sanchez was “out on bond pending an immigration status hearing, and does have a criminal history.” The police did not take further law enforcement action. According to a Dream Act Coalition press release, Sanchez is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico who “was placed in deportation proceedings after a fake attorney filed the wrong immigration paperwork when he was petitioned by his U.S. Citizen father. He was detained in the past for several months in an Arizona detention center event though he has no criminal record.”

Sanchez’s wife Diana Durán told Latino Rebels that they had a longer video of the incident and that Sergeant Jason Weeks was “very sorry about what happened. They promised to investigate into the matter.”

Sanchez later told Buzzfeed that he was never told why he was stopped and that the officer pulled a gun at him. Sanchez said that he began recording the video so that “people could see what happens, they’re killing too many people in America for nothing these days.”

A statement released by Andiola’s organization DREAM Act Coalition stated, “It is not [acceptable] that our community has to put up with such violent behavior from our own law enforcement.”

Advocates have said that Arizona’s controversial immigration law is racially motivated and has been used as the basis for traffic stops to inquire individuals solely for their immigration status. Arizona police officers have disproportionately targeted people of color for investigation, enforcement, and imprisonment, reports have documented. Most of the key provisions of SB1070 have been struck down, but the Supreme Court has upheld the “show me your papers” provision, which allows local police to check for immigration status if they have “reasonable suspicion” that the person is in the country without documents. Last month, the American Civil Liberties Union filed its first lawsuit challenging the application of SB1070 in the case of a woman with pending legal status who was detained by local police for a traffic stop. She was later turned over to Border Patrol agents.

Link to original article at Think Progress

Ferguson - protest Sat nightOfficers arrested 17 protesters and used pepper spray to subdue some of them Sunday in a St. Louis neighborhood not far from the suburb where violence erupted this summer after the shooting of a black man by a white policeman.

The arrests were the only incident in an otherwise peaceful weekend of demonstrations in the city to protest the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson in August. The shooting sparked sometimes violent demonstrations in the predominantly black suburb.

Early Sunday morning, about 200 protesters gathered in Shaw, a south St. Louis neighborhood where last week another black 18-year-old was killed by a white police officer, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said. The protesters, some wearing masks, marched toward a QuikTrip convenience store and tried to force open its doors, Dotson said.

Riot police told the crowd to disperse but some 50 protesters linked their arms to create a human chain, he said. About half of them heeded the police warning.

"The people who were left there were people who made a conscious decision they wanted to be arrested," Dotson said.

At least one officer was hit by a rock but was not seriously injured, and officers used pepper spray to get those arrested to comply with police, Dotson said. Police were charging those arrested with unlawful assembly then releasing them Sunday.

Community activists and organizers of the weekend of protests did not respond to Associated Press requests Sunday for comment on the police version of events.

The planned demonstrations began Friday afternoon with a march outside the St. Louis County prosecutor's office, where protesters renewed calls for prosecutor Bob McCulloch to charge Darren Wilson, a white Ferguson officer, in the Aug. 9 death of Brown. A grand jury is reviewing the case and the Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation.

Since Brown's death, three other fatal police shootings of black males have occurred in the St. Louis area. The most recent involved an off-duty St. Louis officer who was working for a private neighborhood security patrol when he shot and killed 18-year-old Vonderrit D. Myers on Wednesday night.

The white officer, whose name hasn't been released, fired 17 rounds after police say Myers opened fire. Myers' parents say he was unarmed, and many speakers at a weekend rally echoed those doubts.

Demonstrators stood outside Busch Stadium in downtown St. Louis, where the Cardinals were playing the San Francisco Giants this weekend in the National League Championship Series of professional baseball. Fans were unimpeded by the protesters Saturday and none picketed the stadium Sunday night.

Link to original article at Huffington Post

Incarceration of WOmen - nailsThey're locked up in the United States. All 201,200 of them.

  1. Forbe recently published a map charting the largest female prison populations in the world:

Incarceration of Women

As you can see, it's not even close. Citing data from the International Center for Prison Studies, Niall McCarthy of Statista visualizes how the United States housed nearly one-third of the globe's incarcerated women in 2013. It's a huge problem the American public has only begun to recognize.

The context: Recently, discussions around the rise of mass incarceration have focused largely on men, most notably, black men. Illustrating this is how 1 in 10 black American males is in prison on a given day, while black men remain nearly six times as likely to be imprisoned in their lifetime than their white peers.

While those figures are staggering, they're also part of a much larger story. Considering that its total prison population grew by 500% in the past 30 years, it might seem unsurprising that America locks up so many women compared with the rest of the world. But there's another problem: Growth in the number of female prisoners was nearly 1.5 times that of men for this period.

The reasons: According to the Sentencing Project, the war on drugs is the biggest factor behind why more women are being imprisoned today than ever before. 

For one, they've always been more likely to get locked up for drug-related charges: By 2009, 25.7% of women were in jail on drug offenses versus 17.2% of men.

At the same time, the dynamics of this growth have undergone a major shift. During the 1980s, harsh (and racist) sentencing policies made black women the primary female casualties of the crack epidemic, including those most often imprisoned. Not so much since 2000: The prevalence of methamphetamine in America's heartland has sparked a 48.4% rise in the number of white women imprisoned over the past decade, compared with a 24.6% decline in the number of black women.

A prime microcosm is the state of Oklahoma, which houses both the highest volume of meth labs in the country and the highest per capita female incarceration rate in the world, according to Brave New Films. Between 2000 and 2008, 34% of incarcerated women nationwide were locked up on meth charges, while 80% were there for non-violent offenses.

The results: In any case, the social costs of this rise have been uniquely devastating.

Brave New Films recently aired an educational short that claimed the following: Not only are a significant percentage of women pregnant when imprisoned, more than 70% are also the primary caregivers of at least two minors. This spells disaster for many families, as children of the incarcerated are systematically dumped into the notoriously problematic foster care system, or "other [similarly] unstable situations."

On top of which, children of incarcerated parents are five times more likely than their peers to commit crimes.

It gets worse: In terms of the women themselves, female inmates face both higher rates of sexual abuse, mental illness (73% versus 55% for men) and chronic or communicable medical problems (59% versus 43% for men) than their male counterparts, the Sentencing Project reports.

According to Newsworks, the hiring discrimination that ex-convicts face when looking for work may also be especially pronounced for women. A 2010 Arizona State University study found that 57% of the 50 employers they polled would have called back hypothetical male applicants with a criminal record, but when it came to women with the exact same record, that number dropped to 30%.

A global crisis: Yet perhaps the biggest revelation about the roots of America's female prison boom comes when you compare it to other countries.

Specifically, in most nations with comparatively large numbers of incarcerated women, as conveyed in McCarthy's map, they are generally being punished for the same reasons. Thailand, which has the largest percentage of female prisoners (14.6%) in the world relative to its male prisoner population, as well as Brazil, Mexico, Russia and others, boast an overwhelming number of women imprisoned on (wait for it) drug-related charges — just like in the United States.

So: While the U.S. jails women at relatively staggering rates, it seems the problem leading them there most frequently is the same, or at least similar, around the world. And since prison has repeatedly proven itself to be one of the least cost-effective and socially constructive ways of preventing crime, it follows that a massive reevaluation of global drug policy is in order.

Link to original article at Identities.mic

JackieHernandez

MIAMI — For decades Florida has had a history of deadly, racially tinged police confrontations, many of them involving unarmed men, which have led to riots, protests and a steady undercurrent of rancor between minorities and the police. But in the past 20 years, not a single officer in Florida has been charged with using deadly force.

As a grand jury considers the case of Darren Wilson, the officer who shot and killed Michael Brown on Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo., Florida’s experience points to both local and national factors making it extraordinarily difficult to prosecute, let alone convict, law enforcement officials for killing someone in the line of duty. Police officers have the authority to use lethal force if they believe they or others are in danger. More often than not, across the country, that right is one of the factors that make hurdling “beyond a reasonable doubt” a challenging task, prosecutors and defense lawyers said.

In Florida, even getting a decision on whether to seek charges is problematic. Three years after a particularly notorious episode in South Beach, a 2011 Memorial Day weekend shooting in which a 22-year-old was killed when the police fired more than 110 bullets at his car after it had stopped, prosecutors have still not decided whether to bring charges against any of the 12 officers, despite pressure to do so. Four bystanders were also wounded during the barrage. The shooting is one of 42 cases involving lethal use of force by the police, some dating back several years, now being reviewed by the Miami-Dade Office of the State Attorney.

Read the complete article at The New York Times.

hands up white houseWe're all supposed to be impressed with the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder parachuted into Ferguson MO the other day to wrap his arms around the local top black cop and get briefed on the pending federal investigation into the police killing of Michael Brown. But we shouldn't be.

For the last 20 years, since 1994, Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act obligates the Department of Justice to collect statistics on the extent of brutality and excessive force used by police officers, and to make those findings available to the public. 20 years down the road no such stats exist, because the Justice Departments of the Clinton, the Bush and the Obama administrations have all simply ignored the law and refuse even to try to gather the information. Let me say this again: the Clinton Justice Department defied the law and refused to gather national stats on police misconduct. The Bush Justice Department thumbed its nose at the law and also refused to gather national stats on police misconduct, and now the first black attorney general, who sometimes even utters the phrase “mass incarceration”, which he recently discovered, selected by the first black president who says if he had a son, his son could be Trayvon Martin – Eric Holder and Barack Obama have likewise shown no interest whatsoever in fulfilling their legal duty when it comes to assembling a national database of police misconduct.

This should not surprise the president's apologists, who will surely counsel us that he has to be president of all the people, including the police. Everybody knows black and brown people are the disproportionate targets of police violence, so enforcing laws which particularly benefit black and brown communities are something we must not expect. Perhaps after the president leaves office, they'll tell us, he'll speak out more forcefully on this. Maybe the “My Brothers Keeper” initiative can get some charitable dollars to organizations like , or PUSH or the Urban League to help more of our young boys to pull their pants up so they won't get beat down.

Let's get real. The Republicans haven't stopped Obama and Holder from doing this, they stopped themselves. Like every cop on the beat, the Obama administration chooses which laws to enforce, which ones to bend and in what direction, and which ones to ignore. Obama's DOJ has resurrected the century old Espionage Act, not to prosecute spies, but to threaten and to imprison whistleblowers who tell the truth to reporters, and to journalists themselves if they do not reveal their sources with decades in prison, like Chelsea Manning, and on so-called “secret evidence.” So when you think about it, it's entirely logical that a president and attorney general who place such a high priority on protecting their torturers, their bankster friends, and the official wrongdoers of past and future administrations should want to protect the police from scrutiny as well.

It's time to shed some illusions, not just about this president but about the whole political class that claims he or any president can be “held accountable.” Barack Obama and his Justice Department are no more interested in justice than the administrations of ten presidents before him, and uncritical black and brown support has made this president less accountable to black and brown people than any in living memory.

Link to original article at Common Dreams

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    Listen to this exciting call as we re-launch the End Mass Criminalization team. Congressional bills HR 5478 Stop Militarizing the Police, HR 4459 Democracy Restoration Act, and S 2235 Democracy Restoration Act are considered for endorsement....

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    Special guest d'Andre Teeter of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network joins us for an amazing discussion. d'Andre gives us a report on the California prison hunger strike and next steps, plus more. Also, a report on the August Educate Congress...

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