Jerry Jackson

Archive for August, 2011|Monthly archive page

War on drugs produced swollen prisons and little else

In Activism, Police State, Society on August 30, 2011 at 6:37 am

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By Zachary Goelman
The opinions expressed are his own.

The vast U.S. criminal justice system is under renewed scrutiny, spurred by two things: the fortieth anniversary of President Nixon’s speech declaring war on drugs, and a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that California must reduce its overcrowded prisons because conditions in jail constitute “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Much of the debate focuses on how the former produced the latter. The two were neatly tied together by Neill Franklin, the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and a former Baltimore police officer. Franklin told CNN:

Despite arresting over 40 million people on drug charges since the start of the war on drugs — resulting in huge costs both in terms of dollars and in human lives — drugs today are more available, more potent and cheaper than ever.


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Franklin’s words echo a report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy which stated that the forty-year war on drugs has been an unequivocal failure. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter endorsed this view in a New York Times op-ed piece on the anniversary of Nixon’s drug war declaration.

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These critics share a logic: ineffective drug laws produce little other than an expanding, expensive penal system. A graphic produced by the American Civil Liberties Union presents data of the U.S. prison system, and plainly states, “the war on drugs has helped make the U.S. the world’s largest incarcerator.”
The role and reality of prisons in America is now being contested. Following the Supreme Court ruling on California, other states’ penal systems are under examination. Efforts to ease overcrowding in Nebraska’s prisons, which have hovered near 14o percent capacity for several months, have fallen short of expectations. The Omaha World-Spectator reports that officials in Nebraska hope to see more inmates released on parole:


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Bob Houston, state corrections director, remains confident his department can reach a goal of reducing the state’s prison population by 545 inmates, or about 12 percent, over the next two years.

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But does releasing convicts from prison imperil public safety? Data from the U.S. government’s Bureau of Justice Statistics show that of 300,000 prisoners released in 15 states, two-thirds were back in jail in less than three years. Recidivism rates were almost twice as high for those arrested for robbery, larceny, auto theft and other property crimes. A recent study in the Boston Globe found more than a third of dangerous Massachusetts felons sentenced to life in prison and released on parole wound up back in jail in less than three years.
The recidivism rate is one of the key criticisms of the penal system, but it’s by no means the only one. In a Washington Post op-ed, Marc Mauer and David Cole published “Five Myths” about prisons and prisoners in the U.S., pointing out failures of penal justice in the U.S.
Their primary contention: that high incarceration rates haven’t lowered crime. Crime rates have dropped precipitously in the U.S. in the last two decades, in tandem with the ballooning number of convicts behind bars. But Mauer and Cole say that the correlation isn’t causal:

In Canada, for example, violent crime declined in the 1990s almost as much as it did in the United States. Yet, Canada’s prison population dropped during this time, and its per capita incarceration rate is about one-seventh that of the United States.

They point to research that shows, at most, incarceration accounted for a quarter of the decline in crime. What caused the rest of the drop?
Maybe it’s the economy, stupid. Over the last two decades, Americans enjoyed increasing prosperity, especially in the decade of the 1990′s when employment expanded, government revenues rose and GDP climbed higher. The drop in crime across the country turned previously-perceived dangerous cities like New York into tourist Meccas and capitals of residential revitalization.
But then the economy tanked in 2008. The recovery has been slow and painful, and unemployment still hovers at agonizingly high levels, yet crime rates have remained low. “Steady Decline in Crime Baffles Experts,” read a piece in the New York Times.
 

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London riots a pretext for Internet crackdown

In Activism, Economics, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Police State, Society, World News on August 28, 2011 at 8:38 am

Riots in LondonJordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan were two of several demonstrators that were given harsh sentences for petty crimes in the recent UK riots. Another looter got six months for stealing a case of bottled water. Alex Jones, radio host of the Alex Jones Show, tells us why this is a severe overreaction on the UK’s part and how he is not surprised.

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SEAL Unit Supposedly Responsible for Osama Hit Killed in Copter Crash

In Afghanistan, Human Rights, Military, Osama Bin Laden on August 16, 2011 at 12:38 pm


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Soon after it was announced – without evidence – that Navy SEALs had killed Osama bin Laden, the corporate media derisively coined a new term for skeptics – “deathers,” a word with about as much originality as “birthers” and “ truthers.”

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CNN said the “deathers” have replaced the “birthers” as the new conspiracy lunatics. It specifically singled out Alex Jones, who said the Osama assassination was a hoax. “My friends, this is a complete and total hoax,” Alex said, and then asked: “Where is the body?”


The corporate media said his body was deep-sixed at sea. Few if any corporate media “journalists” (script-readers) pointed out that this explanation was a totally absurd cover story. Few dared examine why the story changed several times.
Cindy Sheehan had a sharp retort to those who believe whatever the government – caught lying countless times – and its corporate media propaganda wing tell them.
“I am sorry, but if you believe the newest death of OBL, you’re stupid,” she said. “Just think to yourself — they paraded Saddam’s dead sons around to prove they were dead — why do you suppose they hastily buried this version of OBL at sea? This lying, murderous Empire can only exist with your brainwashed consent — just put your flags away and THINK!”

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‘Anonymous’ Hacks U.S. Law Enforcement Sites, Steals Data

In Hacktivist on August 9, 2011 at 3:18 am


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he group known as Anonymous said Saturday it hacked into some 70 mostly rural law enforcement websites in the United States, a data breach that at least one local police chief said leaked sensitive information about an ongoing investigation.

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The loose-knit international hacking collective posted a cache of data to the Internet early Saturday, including emails stolen from officers, tips which appeared to come from members of the public, credit card numbers and other information.

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  Anonymous said it had stolen 10 gigabytes worth of data in retaliation for arrests of its sympathizers in the U.S. and Britain.

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Tim Mayfield, a police chief in Gassville, Ark., told The Associated Press that some of the material posted online – including pictures of teenage girls in their swimsuits – was sent to him as part of an ongoing investigation. He declined to provide more details.

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Mayfield’s comments were the first indication that the hack might be serious. Since news of some kind of cyberattack first filtered out less than a week ago, various police officials said they were unaware of the hacking or dismissed it as nothing to worry about.

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Though many of the leaked emails appeared benign, some of the stolen material seen by the AP carried sensitive information, including tips about suspected crimes, profiles of gang members and security training.

The emails were mainly from sheriffs’ offices in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi. Many of the websites were operated by a Mountain Home, Ark., media services hosting company, and most, if not all, were either unavailable on Saturday or had been wiped clean of content. The company, Brooks-Jeffrey Marketing, declined to comment.


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In a statement, Anonymous said had leaked “a massive amount of confidential information that is sure to (embarrass), discredit and incriminate police officers across the US.” The group said it hoped the disclosures would “demonstrate the inherently corrupt nature of law enforcement using their own words” and “disrupt and sabotage their ability to communicate and terrorize communities.”

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Government to Monitor Social Networks For “Extremist Propaganda”

In Activism, Big Business, Economics, Hacktivist, Human Rights, Internet Censorship, Military, Police State, Society on August 6, 2011 at 10:32 pm


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New White House plan follows Pentagon advisory targeting protests against Federal Reserve

A new strategy document released by the White House promises to “closely monitor…the Internet and social networking sites” in order to “counter online violent extremist propaganda” as the federal government attempts to embed itself further in local communities under the guise of preventing domestic extremism.

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The document, Empowering Local Partners to Prevent Violent Extremism in the United States (PDF), focuses on identifying Americans who have supposedly been radicalized or groomed by Al-Qaeda to carry out attacks in the United States.

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As the L.A. Times notes , the plan involves “federal departments not usually associated with national security,” and is heavily focused around increasing the federal government’s involvement with schools and the “emotional and behavioral development” of young people.
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The document defines extremist propaganda as that which is used to “feed on grievances” and “assign blame.” The government vows to “aggressively” combat such ideology by “continuing to closely monitor the important role the internet and social networking sites play in advancing violent extremist narratives.”

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In targeting the Internet and social networking websites for surveillance in the name of fighting domestic terrorism, the White House is continuing in the vein of the previous administration who in 2006 revealed that since 9/11 they had been pursuing a plan to diminish the role of “conspiracy theories” as a primary recruitment tool for terrorists.

The document arrives in the same week that the Pentagon also announced it would be hiring individuals to “detect and track popular ideas on social networks”.
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