Justice Articles from 2017

Death of Freddie Gray: 5 Things You Didn’t Know

[Justice]
Death of Freddie Gray: 5 Things You Didn’t Know
By Amelia McDonell-Parry and Justine Barron
Posted September 14, 2017

Freddie Gray's killers will not face justiceFreddie Gray became a national news story thanks to a man named Kevin Moore, who filmed the last few minutes of Gray’s arrest. After giving a copy of the video to investigators, Moore uploaded the footage online and it quickly went viral. It showed Gray being held face down on the sidewalk by officers Garrett Miller and Edward Nero, screaming in pain. His ankles were crossed and his knees bent, with Miller’s weight pushing his heels in his rear, a police hold known as a leg lace.

While Moore’s video was shown in court at the police officers’ trials, he was never called to testify. Neither were any of the dozen-plus residents who witnessed Gray’s arrest that morning, despite many of them giving damning interviews to the media under their own names. Some of these witnesses were interviewed by detectives, but their accounts – of Taser use, of seeing an officer put his knee in Gray’s neck, of Freddie crying out that they were hurting his back and his legs – were dismissed by both the police and prosecutors. Other officers who were present during the arrest, but weren’t charged, testified that Gray was only trying to attract attention, but witnesses maintain his screams were real. More…

A Federal Judge Put Hundreds of Immigrants Behind Bars While Her Husband Invested in Private Prisons

[Justice]
A Federal Judge Put Hundreds of Immigrants Behind Bars While Her Husband Invested in Private Prisons
by Samantha Michaels
Posted September 11, 2017

Judge Linda Reade’s husband bought more prison stock five days before one of the nation’s biggest immigration raids.It was almost lunchtime inside the country’s largest kosher slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, on May 12, 2008, when 400 meatpackers, mostly migrants from Guatemala and Mexico,
were arrested in the bust, which cost $5 million and was then the biggest workplace immigration raid in US history.

Overseeing the process was Judge Linda R. Reade, the chief judge of the Northern District of Iowa. She defended the decision to turn a fairground into a courthouse, saying the proceedings were fair and unhurried. The incident sparked allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct and led to congressional hearings. Erik Camayd-Freixas, an interpreter who had worked at the Waterloo proceedings, testified that most of the Spanish-speaking defendants had been pressured to plead guilty. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) said the unconventional process seemed “like a cattle auction, not a criminal prosecution in the United States of America.”

Yet amid the national attention, one fact didn’t make the news: Before and after the raid, Reade’s husband owned stock in two private prison companies, and he bought additional prison stock five days before the raid, according to Reade’s financial disclosure forms. Ethics experts say these investments were inappropriate and may have violated the Code of Conduct for United States Judges. More…

Joe Arpaio Is No Aberration

[Social]
Joe Arpaio Is No Aberration
By Margaret Kimberley
Posted September 8, 2017

Joe Arpaio, human rights abuser is symptomatic of a rotted systemEven most leftish white Americans like to think that their country is good and its institutions are fair and equitable. According to this wishful thinking human rights abuses only happen in faraway places and injustices here are resolved by reining in a few bad apples. The facts say otherwise and prove that the United States is consistently one of the worst human rights violators in the world. The cruelty of its prison system extends far beyond headlines of a few well known villains like David Clarke and Joe Arpaio.

Arpaio is surely deserving of scorn heaped upon him. He referred to his jails as “concentration camps.” He held prisoners outdoors in tents, a violation of national and international law. Arpaio was convicted of contempt of court because he continued to detain undocumented people without charge in violation of a judge’s order. More…

TigerSwan Tactics Part 6

[Justice]
TigerSwan Tactics Part 6
by Alleen Brown, Will Parrish, Alice Speri
Posted September 6, 2017

mercenaries working for private corporation Leaked documents and public records reveal a troubling fusion of private security, public law enforcement, and corporate money in the fight over the Dakota Access Pipeline.

When the largest Dakota Access Pipeline resistance camp in North Dakota was forcibly shut down in February, the work of TigerSwan, the private security company hired by Energy Transfer Partners to guard its property, appeared to be nearly done. Then the pipeline was hit by several acts of vandalism targeting valve sites along the route. Starting in mid-March, saboteurs snaked down the line, piercing holes in exposed parts of the pipeline and setting equipment on fire. More…

Wells Fargo Reshuffles Board With Scandal-Ridden Insiders

[Economic]
Wells Fargo Reshuffles Board With Scandal-Ridden Insiders
by David Dayen
Posted September 4, 2017

Wells Fargo conducts business as usualWells Fargo, the current poster child for corporate crime recidivism, announced that three of its board members would step down at the end of the year, in a nod to the company’s many incidents of customer abuse. But, in an example of what passes for accountability in the modern age, they did not claw back any compensation from those board members. Instead, the departing board members were allowed to take an early retirement. And the replacements are either already on Wells Fargo’s payroll, or come from close corporate partners.

The board members will not have to give back annual salary, bonuses or stock options. They just get to move along. Wells Fargo described the changes in a statement as part of their “commitment to refreshment” of the board. This is part of a pattern with Wells Fargo. More…

Bad Laws Produce Bad Law Enforcement

[Justice]
Bad Laws Produce Bad Law Enforcement
By David W. Brown
Posted August 30 2017

aggressive policing influenced by bad lawsIn 1971, President Richard Nixon called drug abuse “public enemy number one,” and in prepared remarks declared, “In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive.” This prompted a shift in the way police operate, creating new funding streams that financially empowered law enforcement, jails, and prisons, focusing them in the local public-safety paradigm.

“[Police] were going to operate more like paramilitary forces fighting a wartime enemy,” Edwards says, “and less like community-oriented, problem-solving, public-health-driven police departments looking to figure out how to work with the community and other stakeholders to help people who have drug addictions and people in poverty seeking improved schools and job opportunities and viable alternatives to the black market, and thinking of intelligent long-term responses to drug use and sale.” More…

An Outdated Legal System Is Punishing Minor Offenses With Decades Of Jail Time

[Justice]
An Outdated Legal System Is Punishing Minor Offenses With Decades Of Jail Time
By Claire Bernish
Posted August 29, 2017

America has become a prison stateFor a nation lauding itself as the “land of the free,” the United States certainly maintains a remarkable number of laws criminalizing activities most would consider part of their daily lives. From kids penalized for setting up a lemonade stand to the prohibition of cannabis, seemingly everything Americans do has attached to it a law, license, permit, or regulation, as well as a consequent penalty.

A penalty — as a list of thousands killed by police in recent years during encounters surrounding countless non-violent “crimes” attests — up to and including death.

The U.S. justice system grapples with a number of systemic problems. Among them are unjustified yet unpunished police violence, the opioid epidemic – and other drug-related issues, as well as backlogged courts and a proclivity toward punitive incarceration — the result of which has rightfully garnered the U.S. a reputation internationally as a prison state. When debating reform in these and other areas, over-criminalization as a root cause is rarely considered. But it must be. More…

Nestlé can keep piping water from national forest, despite permit that is 28 years out of date

[Justice]
Nestlé can keep piping water from national forest, despite permit that is 28 years out of date
by Brett Kelman
Posted August 26, 2017

Nestle pays $540 to pump millions of gallons of water from public resourceA federal judge has ruled that a permit allowing Nestle to pipe water out of the San Bernardino National Forest is valid, despite the fact that the permit listed 1988 as the expiration date and was never renewed.

“The court has just confirmed what many Americans fear, massive corporations play by a different set of rules than the rest of us,” said Eddie Kurtz, executive director of the Courage Campaign Institute, another plaintiff, in a news release. “Nestlé has been pulling a fast one for nearly 30 years, taking a public resource, depriving plants and animals of life-sustaining water, and selling that water at an obscene profit without the right to do so, but apparently our justice system is OK with that.” More…

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Citizens United ruling effectively legalized bribery

Money in politics violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system.

Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for President or being elected President. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members.

So, now we’ve just seen a subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes get, favors for themselves after the election is over.

Former President Jimmy Carter

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