Politics of Prison

February 26, 2012

Why are so many of our citizens incarcerated?  In the words of Brian Charles Ebejer “Sick of politicans and politics and prisons lyin and runnin my life.”

Here in the land of the free prison is big business.  As reported in my article Arrested Development  In 2006, our government spent $68,747,203,000 locking up about 2 million people.

The cost to the state is enormous so who’s running off with all the money?

Our pals at Wells Fucko I mean Wells Fargo have invested a large amount of capitol in GEO Group.  GEO group is the worlds second largest private prison group and is contracted here in the states.  In other words they make money locking people up, and Wells Fargo reaps the financial benefits while the taxpayers foot the bill.

I can’t calculate how much money is being made off of these shares, however I have discovered that Wells Fargo owns 3,591,910 valued at $66,665,849.  A full breakdown of major GEO stock holders can be found here.

Some of you may be wondering why this is such a big deal.  First off Wells Fargo is making money off of something subsidized by American tax payers.  The Bank already received $25 billion in bail out funds but that wasn’t enough.

The bank was one of the last institutions to repay their bailout funds.  Making matters worse the US treasury holds warrants to buy 110 million shares of the ailing bank.  Shares peaked at $37 in 2008 but now they are worth about $30 so once again Wells Fargo is leaving the taxpayers holding the bag.

If you take money out of the picture things are still bad.  GEO group makes money locking people up and they spend millions lobbying for stricter immigration enforcement.  Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad if people weren’t suffering and dying in the name of greed.

According to recent Alternet.org article

The GEO detention facilities have also racked up many reports and complaints of abusive treatment of immigrant detainees and corrupt staff practices that violate the basic human rights of prisoners. Last month we spoke with the sibling of a detainee in a GEO-run facility who was denied basic medical attention for lack of funds to pay. The detainee’s family had to raise funds to get their relative medical attention in the facility from GEO. Other GEOdetainees have died from a lack of medical attention.

Another relative of a GEO detainee told us that prisoners who avoid getting on the wrong side of GEO guards could aspire, at most, to a job in the prison that pays 17 cents an hour for doing office work.

GEO recently agreed to pay restitution for its employees’ physical abuse of prisoners who were strip searched in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas, and New Mexico. In another case, GEO was ordered to pay $40 million in the wrongful death of a prisoner in its custody in Raymondville, Texas. GEO has also been sued by seven children who were sexually assaulted by a guard while being held in a GEO facility.

RT covered an OWS protest of the prison industrial complex which can be viewed in the video below.

Occupy Wall Street is not alone in their crusade against the prison industrial complex.  The ACLU and Anonymous have come out against GEO Group.  Predictably Anonymous hacked and defaced the GEO Group website.

The ACLU did what it does best.  They released a report Banking on Bondage: Private Prisons and Mass Incarceration detailing the egregious abuses of the prison industrial complex.  Posted below is an excerpt from the report.

Leading private prison companies essentially admit that their business model depends on high rates of incarceration. For example, in a 2010 Annual Report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the largest private prison company, stated: “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by . . . leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices . . . .”

Basically while the people and the government are going broke companies like CCA and GEO group are making money hand over fist, meanwhile millions of prisoners and their families have had their lives torn apart.

It’s even worse if you care about prisoners in Arizona.  According the the New York Times “For the Arizona Department of Corrections, crime has finally started to pay.”  If you want to visit a prisoner held in an Arizona state correctional facility be prepared to shell out $25 for a one time background check fee.

David C. Fathi of the ACLU thinks that this fee is ridiculous.  “We know that one of the best things you can do if you want people to go straight and lead a law-abiding life when they get out of prison is to continue family contact while they’re in prison. Talk about penny-wise and pound-foolish.”

Calling this a one time background check fee is a farce.  According to the NY Times Ms. Baldo (chief of staff for the Arizona Senate) said the money would not actually pay for background checks but would go into a fund for maintenance and repairs to the prisons.

Department of Corrections spokesman, Barrett Marson went on record stating “Maintenance funds for our buildings are scarce in this difficult economic time. A $25 visitation fee helps to ensure our prisons remain safe environments for staff, inmates and visitors.”

I recommend that Mr. Marson reads my article The War on Drugs has failed specifically he should peruse the passage posted below.

The enormous financial burden of the War on Drugs is staggering.  Far more worrisome is the human cost of this war.  Countless nonviolent drug offenders have been imprisoned for inordinate lengths of time.  According to the International Centre for Prison Studies The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world.  The report America’s One Million Nonviolent Prisoners states that the level of nonviolent offenders exceeds the combined populations of Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming.

Instead of punishing the families and loved ones of Arizona’s inmate population the government may want to abolish private prisons and re examine sentencing guidelines for non-violent offenders.  This would be more effective than inventing a background check fee.

It is clear to this blogger that lining the pockets of Wells Fargo is not an effective policy.  As long as prisons are privatized there will be an enormous conflict of interest.  The public cannot be served when people are incarcerated in the name of the holy dollar.  The justice system is supposed to be about protecting the people not share holders.

We no longer have a justice system.  Instead we have a justice business, and a businesses’ only interest is to make money not to dispense justice.


Denial is Not Just a River in Egypt

February 22, 2012

It’s like my old boss used to say “Denial is not just a river in Egypt.” A lot of politicians seem to enjoy being dumb. People who don’t beleive in climate change or evolution are essentially backward hicks who have no place in public policy making or politics, yet they seem to infest Washington DC like a swarm of ignorant locusts.

Even if you beleive in intelligent design it’s possible to reconcile that with evolution.  My father is a believer and I am not however we have common ground intellectually.  According to him “Evolution is God’s intelligent design.”

Now that we have that out of the way I am going to say this as plainly as possible.  The difference between a religion and a cult is it’s popularity.  All religions are bat-shit crazy silly superstitious nonsense with no basis in reality.  I don’t really mind if people are superstitious or not, however I find it highly disconcerting when those superstitions affect policy.

Bill Maher describes religion like this “We are a nation that is unenlightened because of religion. I do believe that. I think religion stops people from thinking. I think it justified crazies.”

Denying evolution is one thing, but denying climate change is just reckless.  Presidential candidate Rick Santorum has said “We were put on this Earth as creatures of God to have dominion over the Earth, to use it wisely and steward it wisely, but for our benefit, not for the Earth’s benefit.” OK Rick that makes sense how?  Seriously if you destroy the planet what kind of benefit will that be to mankind?  Failing to control pollution may be good for business, however what good is money when you can’t breathe the air or drink the water?

Bill Maher and myself aren’t the only ones who think that religion gets in the way of progress.  Blogger and author of the the Republican Brain Chris Mooney recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post called Why Republicans Deny Science.  In the article Mooney states “Some of the conservative denial of science may well be cynical in nature. But there’s no doubt from polls that large numbers of conservatives really believe this stuff–that global warming isn’t real, nor is evolution. And indeed, the denial of reality extends well beyond science and into other fields like economics and history.”

There is supposed to be a separation of church and state.  Instead we are suffering from a separation of intellect and state. I don’t know about you, but the idea of having these deniers of science in charge of anything scares the Hell out of me.

A woman after my own heart.

February 20, 2012

Just when I want to give up on our government I find that not all of our heroes are dead.  California Rep. Jackie Speier is a woman after my own heart.

Speier is coming out swinging both fists at the Department of Homeland Security.

Much like the Federal Reserve’s social media listening program the flunkies and goons over at the DHS decided that it was a good use of tax payer money to spy on journalists, bloggers, and ordinary citizens who criticize them.

Without getting too technical this is obviously a waste of money.  Adding insult to injury it is also illegal.  Our government does not have the right to spy on citizens without probable cause or reasonable suspicion via the strictures of the 4th amendment which states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The DHS and the Federal Reserve are in clear violation of federal law and should face criminal liability.

Speier and myself are in agreement.  The representative had this to say regarding the DHS’s social media listening program “I find that outrageous.”

Speier and myself aren’t the only ones who are “outraged” by this illegal spying program.  The Electronic Privacy Information Center released a report on the DHS’s listening program which states that the DHS is listening to and spying on “anchors, newscasters or on-scene reporters who … use traditional and/or social media. This would allow the agency to build files on bloggers and Internet activists.”

DHS chief privacy officer, Mary Ellen Callahan defends this practice saying We are just focusing on the event, the situation that is going on, and not worrying about the individual.  We don’t collect information on individuals. We don’t monitor them in regards to First Amendment activity.” Representative Speier responded to this stating “What I’m suggesting to you is that [reporter data] is irrelevant and you don’t need it.”

The Sleeper Must Awaken

February 20, 2012

When I was growing up I always felt like something was wrong with America and big business.  Ever since I was 13 I’ve felt the same.

Maybe I was corrupted by punk rock.  It’s no secret that punk influenced my politics and word view as described in my previous article Blind acceptance is a sign of stupid fools who stand in line.  Then again maybe something was wrong all this time.

I used to think that people would never wake up and see the writing on the wall.  Now I know that I am not alone.  Like Frank Herbert said in his book Dune “The sleeper must awaken.”

People are waking up to reality.  The government and financial institutions are a monster fueled by greed.  Like a hydra if you cut off it’s head another one sprouts in it’s place.

The rise of the Occupy movement made it clear to me that people are over it.  As reported in Occupy Norfolk even in my home town people rose up and for a while occupied the commercial plaza.  Keep in mind that Norfolk, Va. is a military town in the south so blind patriotism has been the norm ever since I can remember.

Harris Interactive recently released a report detailing several US companies reputation quotients.  The report can be found here.

Notably Apple and GM scored well on the report, however the usual suspects did not fare well.  My pals at Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo saw all of their reputations decline.

At this point it’s public knowledge that I feel the same about all of the institutions mentioned above.  I even have pet names for them such as Wells Fucko, Skank of America, Government Sachs, and JP the Whore’s Face.

In a way these banksters gone wild have made the Blue Scholar Blog.  I have spent a large portion of my blogging career criticizing abusive financial institutions as covered in Foreclosure of a dream, Fear and Loathing on Wall St., A Run on the Bank, Government Sachs, Pigs we get what pigs deserve., and Organized Crime by the Usual Suspects.

The Day of Pigs

February 17, 2012

This has been a big month for  police misconduct in America.  I normally scan the news looking for a story to cover and I found one which I covered yesterday.  Many of you already know about the slaying of Sgt. Loggins at the hands of an unnamed deputy.  For those of you who don’t please see my article The real O.C..

Since I wrote that article two other stories involving police abuse have been brought to my attention.

There has been yet another fatal police shooting.  On February 9th a Culpepper, Virginia police officer shot unarmed 54 year old Patricia Cook to death.  The officer is claiming that he had his arm stuck in her car window and that she started to speed off so he shot her to defend himself.

Eyewitness, Kris Buchele tells another story altogether.  According to Buchele “His left hand was on the door handle and his right hand was on his gun,  they were close together, you know.”

A Culpepper town spokesperson said “The officer’s cruiser did have a video camera, but that it was not working.” For the second time this week I’m going to have to call bullshit.  If my car doesn’t have everything working properly I get a moving violation and the police are all over it.  I find it hard to beleive that a municipal police force would willingly and knowingly allow a cruiser on the streets with a broken video camera.

Please see the video posted below for 9 News Now‘s coverage of the shooting.

This next story doesn’t involve a citizen being killed, however it is just as disturbing.

This is just sad.  Unfortunately the police are allowed to lie to suspects so this cop could always claim he never really intended to make stuff up and that he was just working the suspect.  I hope that the Seattle IAB can dig up some dirt on this officer and prosecute him for something.  I don’t know about you but I don’t want this type of cop on the streets.

These recent stories are nothing new.  When I started this blog there was a rash of Police misconduct across the nation.  Please see my articles Rampant Police Misconduct, Police gone wild, New York cops behaving badly, Say Cheese, and NYPD Public Enemy #1 for more information.

Have any of you had any close encounters of the worst kind involving the police?  The Blue Scholar Blog wants to know.  Please feel free to leave a comment.  we are eager to share your stories and opinions.

Help save this woman’s life.

February 16, 2012

We need healthcare reform, but we need to save Lori Jo first.  I ran across this picture on my Facebook news feed and I just had to do something to help, so I’m posting it here on my blog.  D-rock Deeds Originally posted this last night.

LISTEN UP FACEBOOK FAM, I have been trying to raise money for my band to tour cali/germany this year threw a kickstarter program, instead of donating money for that( ILL GET THERE ONE WAY OR ANOTHER) i want every-one to donate what ever they can to help my friend Lori-jo get her lung transplant we are trying to raise 25,000 dollars to save her life,LORI-JO means more to me then my music carreer or tour,so TOO ALL OF MY FAMOUS ROCKER FRIENDS THAT ARE WELL OFF U KNOW WHO U ARE!!! PLEASE DIG DEEP AND HELP US RAISE THE MONEY IF U CAN ONLY DONATE YOUR FAMOUS BANDS TIME TO PERFORM WITH ME THAT NIGHT THAT WOULD BE AWESOME SO FROM PIGGY D, D.J ABBA, SEBASTION BACH , TO TOMMI LEE AND MOTLEY CRUE LETS SAVE A LIFE TOGETHER !!! MUSIC IS LIFE AND TOGETHER WE ALL WILL SAVE HERS!!!!
If anyone has any further information please let me know.  In the meantime I will spread the word.  It’s terrible that this woman’s life is at stake for the want of money.  She is a human being and deserves to be treated as such by the medical community.

The real O.C.

February 16, 2012

On Tuesday, February 7th in the wee hours of the morning an Orange County deputy fatally shot Marine Sgt. Manuel Loggins Jr.  Loggins was unarmed, sober, and had a stellar reputation in the community.

Few details have been released by the authorities and the slaying remains shrouded in mystery.  Loggins was shot in his vehicle while his young daughters (9 and 14) were with him.  According to police spokesman, Jim Amormino “The real threat that was perceived was the safety of the children.”

Jim Amormino’s statement is full of things that piss me off!  Speaking from a position of common sense it’s obvious that firing bullets into a vehicle containing children is the worst thing you can do to ensure their safety.  I’m going to repeat that.  Discharging firearms in the direction of the children will not keep them safe.

I’m going to have to call bullshit on Amormino.  The excerpt posted below was taken directly from the La Times.

Amormino said he did not know why the deputy felt threatened, or how many shots were fired, or whether Loggins was armed. Marine sources said Loggins was not in possession of a weapon.

Clearly Amormino is clueless and has no idea what he’s talking about.

Sgt. Loggins was stationed at Camp Pendleton and was under the command of Major Christopher Cox.  Unlike Amormino Cox has a firm grasp on reality.  According to Cox Loggins was an asset to the Marines.  Major Cox went on record stating “He (Sgt. Loggins) was a mentor, somewhat of a father figure, to a number of the Marines. He was very soft-spoken, very nonconfrontational — very, very respectful. He was just the epitome of respect.”

Making matters worse Loggins’ wife is pregnant and her unborn child will come into this world never knowing it’s father.  How does the O.C. Sheriff’s department feel about all of this?  They think it’s business as usual.  Apparently the authorities in California think it’s time to bring back the Rodney King era run ‘n’ gun/skull cracking police tactics.

The union representing the unnamed deputy says that the killing was justified and they place the blame squarely on Loggins’ dead shoulders.  Union President, Tom Dominguez said “The actions of our deputy clearly prevented serious harm from coming to Loggins’ two children.”  In other words Dominguez thinks that seeing their father shot to death will bring no harm to Loggins’ children.  Aaron Banks who served with Loggins had this to say regarding the fatal shooting “Of course they’re going to blame him for his death — why would they admit to murder? I believe they’re saying what needs to be said to cover their deputy.”