Bernie Sanders Declares It’s ‘Not Acceptable’ To Jail Marijuana Users And Let Big Bank CEOs Walk

Bernie Sanders has been making a lot of waves lately speaking out against police brutality and corruption, but recently the Democratic presidential hopeful came out against the Department of Justice’s weak pledge to supposedly “get serious” about white-collar crime. A lot of this sort of white collar criminal activity on Wall Street is what fueled the 2008 financial crisis. But while the Department of Justice said Thursday that it pledges to crack down on corrupt bankers and investors, Sanders isn’t impressed. The DOJ memo claims the government will from this point forward try to hold both corporations and individual employees accountable for illegal Wall Street activity. Sanders says this is long over due, but he says the DOJ doesn’t go far enough, and that the government is being hypocritical by destroying lives in the so-called “War on Drugs” while letting so much white collar crime go unpunished, or with just a slap on […] Read More

FOIA Request Shows Thousands Have Been Held Inside Secret US Prison, Homan Square

After filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department (CPD), The Guardian has discovered over 3,600 people have been detained at a secure facility known as Homan Square. Notorious for allegedly denying access to defense attorneys and committing human rights abuses, the officers at this CIA-style black site have been accused of coercing confessions, committing torture, and shackling detainees for prolonged periods. Although the CPD has denied these accusations, the department has been marred with a history of abuse and corruption. On February 24, The Guardian exposed a police detention facility in Chicago where arrestees were kept out of official booking databases, denied legal representation, and endured hours of physical and psychological abuse. After the CPD ignored several FOIA requests regarding their facility at Homan Square, The Guardian filed a lawsuit against the department in April requesting further information, including the number of people […] Read More

Is It Time to Rethink Life-without-Parole Sentencing?

(ScientificAmerican) Periodically, I receive letters from prisoners. One recently arrived from an obviously bright person who spotted a math error in one of my textbooks and who offered his life story, quoted here with permission: I helped a so-called friend commit armed robbery and murder back in 1994. I was just 17 years old when this transpired. I was arrested a few weeks after. Been incarcerated ever since. Been in prison for over 20 years now. Actually been in prison longer than I was ever free . . . I am among the 300 plus “Juvenile Lifers” that exist in Michigan prisons. I learned and matured a lot since my time incarcerated. Yes, I experienced great remorse and regret over the tragedy that I ashamedly participated in. But I salvage this experience by learning and growing from it. I want my life to mean something to someone. To contribute […] Read More

African American Arrested for Drinking Iced Tea in Parking Lot Finally Cleared After Two Years

He was doing nothing other than standing in a parking lot and drinking a can of iced tea. But he found out that this can apparently get you arrested, all on it’s own. That’s what happened back on the evening of April 27th, in 2013. Two men had been outside waiting for friends to arrive. They were standing in the parking lot outside of a state-owned ABC Liquor Store. One of those two men was Christopher Lamont Beatty. He was holding a canned beverage, while his friend, Tino Brown, was on his cell phone. A unidentified and ununiformed man came up to Beatty and demanded to know what he was drinking. The man said he was “the police”, but failed to produce any badge or identifying proof that he was a member of law enforcement. The ununiformed cop said he was sure the two were drinking alcohol. In reality, however, Tino Brown’s drink turned out to not be alcohol […] Read More

This Country Is All Too Ready to See Black Children as Criminals

Black children are disproportionately tried as adults when they commit crimes. Deeply internalized racism is to blame. There was clear evidence that a family member had been sexually abusing 13-year-old Catherine Jones and her 12-year-old brother, Curtis, for years. But no one helped them, and the two children were left to figure it out themselves. In 1999, Catherine and Curtis plotted to kill the abuser, as well as their father and his girlfriend, Nicole Speights, because the kids had come to believe the two were responsible for allowing the abuse to continue, according to USA Today. Curtis shot Speights with his father’s handgun. Then the kids panicked, tried to cover up the killing, and ran off. It was a tragic incident that should have been handled by mental health professionals, not a criminal court. But instead of being treated as victims of sexual abuse, a Florida prosecutor charged the children with first-degree murder. The two became […] Read More

How Having a Baby Can Land a Woman in Jail

Medical professionals contend that drug addiction is a disease. So why do we throw women in jail for being addicted to drugs while pregnant? Terry*, a nervous, soft-spoken blonde, is crying when she says being pregnant felt like a dream. That’s because when she walked into the hospital she was pregnant and when she walked out she wasn’t pregnant anymore, but she didn’t have her baby, either. Two days before the birth of her daughter, Terry had popped some roxicodone. She had tried hard to be good and kicked her habit for a while, but she was stressed about the baby and took the pills. That relapse, the latest of many over the years, had not made for a fun party. “I wanted to be clean so bad that I remember, literally, doing the drugs with tears streaming my cheeks,” she says. She prayed to God to put a bubble […] Read More

The Prison State Of America

Submitted by Chris Hedges via TruthDig, Prisons employ and exploit the ideal worker. Prisoners do not receive benefits or pensions. They are not paid overtime. They are forbidden to organize and strike. They must show up on time. They are not paid for sick days or granted vacations. They cannot formally complain about working conditions or safety hazards. If they are disobedient, or attempt to protest their pitiful wages, they lose their jobs and can be sent to isolation cells. The roughly 1 million prisoners who work for corporations and government industries in the American prison system are models for what the corporate state expects us all to become. And corporations have no intention of permitting prison reforms that would reduce the size of their bonded workforce. In fact, they are seeking to replicate these conditions throughout the society. States, in the name of austerity, have stopped providing prisoners […] Read More

Chris Hedges: How Some Prisoners Are America’s Most Exploited Workers

The wages paid to prisoners for labor inside prisons have declined over the past three decades. Prisons employ and exploit the ideal worker. Prisoners do not receive benefits or pensions. They are not paid overtime. They are forbidden to organize and strike. They must show up on time. They are not paid for sick days or granted vacations. They cannot formally complain about working conditions or safety hazards. If they are disobedient, or attempt to protest their pitiful wages, they lose their jobs and can be sent to isolation cells. The roughly 1 million prisoners who work for corporations and government industries in the American prison system are models for what the corporate state expects us all to become. And corporations have no intention of permitting prison reforms that would reduce the size of their bonded workforce. In fact, they are seeking to replicate these conditions throughout the society. […] Read More

Chaos in the Execution Chamber: Witness Recounts Botched Killing that Caused Okla. Prisoner’s Fatal Heart Attack

“He began writhing, lifting his shoulders up off the gurney and his head up off the gurney. He was clenching his jaw, exhaling.” NERMEEN SHAIKH: An Oklahoma prisoner who was supposed to be executed Tuesday night died instead of a massive heart attack after his lethal injection was botched. Clayton Lockett was injected with an untested cocktail of lethal drugs. After struggling violently on the gurney, doctors halted the killing 13 minutes in, when discovering Lockett was still conscious and trying to speak. Doctors say he suffered a ruptured vein, interrupting the flow of the lethal drugs. About 30 minutes after that point, Lockett died of a heart attack when the drugs had spread through his body. Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Robert Patton described what happened. ROBERT PATTON: As those that were inside witnessed, it was determined that he was sedated at approximately seven minutes into the execution. At that time, we […] Read More

Obama May Grant Clemency to Thousands Convicted of Drug Violations

The Obama Administration continues to rollback oppressive sentences for those with non-violent drug convictions An unnamed White House official has told Yahoo! News that President Barack Obama is preparing to grant clemency to “hundreds, perhaps thousands” of people who have been imprisoned for non-violent drug violations. This news comes a few months after the administration’s announcement that it has encouraged defense attorneys to suggest inmates who should be considered for early release from prison. This indicates that the Obama administration will continue in its efforts to curtail severe penalties in low-level drug cases. Late last year, President Obama commuted the sentences of nine people serving time in federal prison for non-violent offenses involving crack cocaine, saying that they had been sentenced under an “unfair system.” There is a huge disparity in sentences handed down between crack and powder cocaine offenses. This has been reduced somewhat by the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which brought a long-sought reduction in the penalties for crack cocaine. […] Read More

2013: Life in Prison for Stealing Candy? Thousands of Prisoners Sentenced to Die Behind Bars for Nonviolent Crimes

The number of prisoners serving life for nonviolent crimes is truly staggering. This past August, the Lafayette-based IND Monthly published a story about a 54-year-old man named Bill Winters, incarcerated at a medium-security prison in Epps, Louisiana. Winters, who is black, was arrested in June 2009, after he drunkenly entered an unlocked oncologist’s office on a Sunday morning, setting off a security alarm. When police arrived, he had rummaged through a desk drawer, and was in possession of a box of Gobstoppers candy. Winters was convicted of simple burglary a week before Thanksgiving, and given a seven-year prison sentence—hardly a slap on the wrist. But a few days later, the prosecutor in his case, Assistant District Attorney Alan Haney, sought additional punishment for Winters, under the state’s habitual offender law. Based on his record of nonviolent offenses, which went back to 1991 and ranged from cocaine possession to burglary, the trial court resentenced […] Read More

2013: Children Locked Up For Life: 10 Shockers About America's Prison System

Twice as many people rot in prison for crack use than for violent crimes. Children are being locked up for life. What’s wrong with our criminal justice system? Even if we already know the statistic, hearing it is pretty chilling: one out of every 100 Americans is behind bars, by far the highest incarceration rate in the world. Things get even more terrifying when we look at the impact of the criminal justice system on particular marginalized communities. One in three African-American males born today will likely spend some time on the inside. With terms like the prison-industrial complex and the school-to-prison pipeline now part of our daily political lexicon, we know that things are bad. But exactly how bad are they? Here are 10 reasons why our criminal justice system is even more obscene than you thought. 1. Margin of error? A mere technicality to death penalty advocates. In case […] Read More

2013: This Is America? Men Tortured in Solitary for Having the Wrong Tattoo or Political Books

The only evidence needed to get someone thrown in solitary is a tattoo, letter, photo or piece of political material. Ronnie Dewberry is 54 years old. For more than half of his life he has spent 23 hours of every day in an 8-by-10-foot cell, furnished with a concrete bed, stool, and desk that protrude from the concrete walls. There is no window or any source of natural light at all; the perforations on the door allow Dewberry to peer out into a concrete hallway. Dewberry does not speak to or see anyone, save for the three brief moments each day when a guard delivers his meals through a slot in the door. But his cell is not a quiet place; at night, guards noisily stamp prison mail, rattle their keys and chains, and periodically and purposely wake Dewberry. A few days a week, for one hour, Dewberry is […] Read More