Justice Articles from 2017
Mercenary Firm TigerSwan Applies for License to Operate in Louisiana
By Karen Savage
Posted July 21, 2017
TigerSwan, the mercenary firm under fire in North Dakota for using counter-terrorism tactics against water protectors opposing Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock, has applied for a license to provide private security in Louisiana.
While the application process does not require the firm to indicate who they will be working for, Energy Transfer Partners spokesperson Alexis Daniel said the pipeline company anticipates work to begin on the Bayou Bridge pipeline in the third quarter of this year.
The Bayou Bridge pipeline is the southern leg of Energy Transfer Partners’ Bakken pipeline system, which includes the now-complete Dakota Access pipeline. If built, the 163-mile Bayou Bridge pipeline will run from Lake Charles to St. James Louisiana, cutting through 11 Louisiana parishes and crossing 700 bodies of water. More…
Court House Doors Will Reopen for Millions of U.S. Consumers
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
Posted July 21, 2017
Yesterday, Richard Cordray, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that was created in 2010 under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation, did what few Americans thought he would dare to do: he stood up to threats of being fired; threats of backlash from Wall Street titans; threats of having his agency’s budget gutted; and Congressional threats of being put on a leash by a commission appointed by the President. Despite all of these threats and more, Cordray issued the final rule that allows consumers who have been defrauded in financial transactions involving credit cards and bank accounts to have access to file a group action (known legally as a “class action”) using the nation’s courts.
The rule mandates the following wording in bank account and credit card contracts: “You may file a class action in court or you may be a member of a class action filed by someone else.” More…
Snitches Get Stitches
By John Kiriakou
Posted July 16, 2017
There is, of course, a huge incentive for turning rat. Prosecutors can cut years off an informant’s sentence. Some informants don’t go to prison at all. Others are sent to lower-security prisons for their sentences, or even to minimum-security work camps. Prosecutors, in turn, win 98.2 percent of their cases, according to ProPublica, almost all of which are a result of plea bargains. With rats lined up to testify, the defendant doesn’t have a chance. The dirty little secret of the American court system is that very few defendants ever get to face their accusers in a court of law or be judged by a jury of their peers. It’s a quaint idea, but it never happens.
The issue is that the government shouldn’t have to rely on rats to make cases. The government should rely on evidence. Every defendant should have his or her day in court. Every defendant should have a realistic chance of a jury trial, not just a theoretical one. I guarantee you that the vast majority of rats would say literally anything about another prisoner to get their own sentence reduced. That’s their only goal, after all. Where’s the justice in that? More…
The US Criminal “Justice System” is Devoid of Justice
By Paul Craig Roberts
Posted July 13, 2017
In the “American criminal justice system” justice is totally absent. There is no such thing as justice in America.
The criminalization of US citizens by the Injustice System is now one of America’s largest industries. Prisons have been privatized, and their inmates comprise cheap labor for Apple Computer and defense industries among many others. The United States of America not only has the highest percentage of its population in prison, it has the highest absolute number, substantially higher than “authoritarian China,” a country whose population is FOUR TIMES LARGER than the US but a country with fewer people in prison.
The fact of the matter is that only 3% of felony cases go to trial, and in these cases prosecutors are able to bribe and to pay witnesses for false testimony against the accused and to withhold exculpatory evidence that would clear the defendant of the charges. In other words, conviction regardless of the evidence is almost always obtained. More…
Dakota Access-Style Policing Moves to Pennsylvania’s Mariner East 2 Pipeline
by Alleen Brown, Will Parrish, Alice Speri
Posted July 11, 2017
After months of employing military-style counterinsurgency tactics to subvert opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, Iowa, Illinois, and South Dakota, the private security firm TigerSwan is monitoring resistance to another project — the controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline.
Like DAPL, Mariner East 2 is owned by Energy Transfer Partners. The pipeline is slated to run for 350 miles, transporting ethane, butane, and propane through Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia to a hub near Philadelphia for shipment to both domestic and international markets. Internal TigerSwan documents reviewed by The Intercept suggest the company has had a presence in Pennsylvania since at least April. More…
I Spent 14 Months in Jail Because I Couldn’t Pay My Way Out
By Lavette Mayes and Matthew McLoughlin
Posted July 10, 2017
After 24 hours of detention, people’s risks of rearrest and failure to appear for court increase. Just a few days of pretrial detention often severely alter people’s lives. These few days can mean the difference between working or being fired, paying rent or being evicted. After 30 days of pretrial incarceration, people lose access to benefits, such as social security, disability, Medicaid and more. Once a person is released, it can take months for these benefits to be reinstated, leading to a disruption in essential services and further instability.
The impacts of pretrial detention are not limited to the incarcerated individual: they ripple out and affect entire communities. The loss of a financial provider, caretaker or parent has devastating impacts on families and larger communities. Incarcerating people pretrial also increases the likelihood that they will be convicted by a jury or plead guilty. People incarcerated pretrial also receive longer sentences. Since ability to pay a monetary bond is a major cause of pretrial detention, our current system is punishing people simply for being poor. More…
Mass Incarceration, Prison Labor in the United States
By John Stanton
Posted July 7, 2017
The Federal Prison Industries (FPI) under the brand UNICORE operates approximately 52 factories (prisons) across the United States. Prisoners manufacture or assemble a number of products for the US military, homeland security,and federal agencies according to the UNICORE/FPI website. They produce furniture, clothing and circuit boards in addition to providing computer aided design services and call center support for private companies.
There are any number of angles to take on why the USA is the world’s number one incarcerator: Capitalism, racism, social and political injustice, a pay-as-you-go legal system, bone-headed policy makers, prison lobbyists, the death penalty, employment/unemployment, drugs, gangs, costs/prices and a host of behavioral, psychological and environmental issues that I have missed.
Inevitably the black hole that is money eventually sucks in and corrupts everyone from those in local communities desperate for the work a prison facility provides to those investors who profit from the prison industry. They earn their livelihoods and take their profits from the misery and labor squeezed from theirhuman property–those prisoners who self-destructed and others who are serving terms way too long for the crime committed. More…
US-Led Forces Now Using White Phosphorus in Populated Areas of Syria and Iraq
by Jason Ditz
Posted June 30, 2017
Iraq claimed credit for videos earlier this week showing the use of white phosphorus munitions in densely populated parts of the Old City in Mosul, but their use is becoming even more widespread, with new reports suggesting that the US is also using such shells in both Iraq and Syria.
Though white phosphorus shells are not uncommon in the military, and often used as smokescreens, the high temperature at which it burns, and the toxic chemicals emitted makes them wholly unsuitable for populated areas, and their use in any densely populated area or as an incendiary are widely considered war crimes.
In the cases where images are emerging, they are definitely in densely populated areas, with both Mosul and Raqqa apparently facing the use of white phosphorus. The US would neither confirm nor deny the use, though officials did insist that if they were using them, it was in keeping with their ongoing efforts to limit the number of civilians they killed. More…
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