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Justice For Sale

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Justice for Sale – Part 1: Declining Faith, Rising Police Violence


February 6, 2015
A series by Nolan Higdon


This is the first article in a five part series examining the US legal system. The series collectively argues that corporate media and political rhetoric have made Americans acquiescent toward corruption in the US legal system. This piece examines how discourse regarding law enforcement related issues in the US has been constructed to justify abuse by the police.

It was another warm August evening in Philadelphia. The year was 1828 and Philadelphia watchman Steve Heimer entered a tavern and placed his order. Heimer was told to be quiet as not to wake the woman sleeping upstairs. He sat on a stool at the bar. The evening went about normally until Heimer uttered in conversation “bloody Irish transports.” Philadelphia’s Irish population had long been viewed as a non-white second class sector of the population. The Irish weavers in the tavern surrounded Heimer. They assaulted and killed him. Heimer became the first US peace officer to be killed in the line of duty. Two days later, a weaver’s banner was placed near the spot of Heimer’s death. Supporters of the slain officer and those holding racial prejudices against the Irish descended upon the site and a violent riot consumed Philadelphia.

Heimer’s death and the riot which ensued are nearly indistinguishable with present-day events. A lethal cocktail of prejudice, police abuse, and violent riots. Contemporary Americans seek to give their opinion on these happenings via social media and taverns. They almost unanimously side with the police officers and their decision to use force. The arguments are “Police Officers have a difficult job,” “you do not know what it is like to be a cop,” and “if the person was not doing anything wrong, they would not have gotten killed.” However, what makes an officers job tough is that they cannot just kill suspects! They have to investigate, arrest, build a case and see it through to a guilty verdict which is much more complex and difficult than just killing the suspect. However, Americans increasingly defend the officers who commit crimes.

This cycle accelerated in the 1970s as politicians justified the expansion of law enforcement by intensifying Americans fear of crime. In the 1970s, Richard Nixon tapped into Americans fear of crime by declaring a “war on drugs.” He created the Drug Enforcement Administration whose budget rose from $75 million in 1972 to $2.02 billion by 2013. Nixon’s successors continued the fight against crime. President Ronald Reagan claimed to be “tough on crime” as he extended sentencing laws, cut access to bail, passed anti-death penalty legislation, minimized the insanity defense, cut access to parole, expanded mandatory minimum sentences, championed mass incarceration, and designated three new federal prisons. Reagan’s successor President George H. W. Bush was elected by attacking his “liberal” opponent for being “soft on crime.” President Bill Clinton added 100,000 new police officers, $9.7 billion in prison funding, $6.1 billion prevention programs, 60 new death penalty worthy offenses, and a ban on education to inmates. President George W. Bush was elected in part due to his record of 152 executions as Governor of Texas.

Corporate news and entertainment in the US tended to define being “tough on crime” as circumventing blockades to justice such as rights and due process. Television shows such as Cops and Worlds Wildest Police Videos serve a heroification process, where police are placed on societal pedestals, beyond criticism, which in turn is a form of propaganda used to justify racial profiling and excessive use of force. Shows like Law and Order SVU argued that the abolition of New York City’s intrusive Stop and Frisk Laws, which allowed police to stop and search anyone for any reason, were allowing the guilty to flee crime scenes. Similarly, Breaking Bad saw heroic police losing their jobs because they broke the law to catch the guilty. Films such as the 2001 Hannibal justified police for using “excessive force.” Other films such as Dirty Harry, Taxi Driver, Die Hard, Eye For An Eye, Shooter, The Departed, and Scream 2 made heroes out of individuals who avoid a trial by killing a suspect. In 2008, the $1 billion box office mega-hit Dark Knight made Batman a hero because he did what the government was forbidden from doing: kidnapping foreign nationals and spying on all citizens. News media was no different, after the events of September 11, 2001, the corporate press argued that civil rights were not a cornerstone of a democratic society, but a tool used to protect those guilty of terrorism at home and abroad. In some communities throughout the US, police have been thrust into the role of judge, jury, and executioner.

However, as Americans were inundated with these fear-inspiring messages, the crime rate actually dropped. Since the late 1970s, crime in the US has consistently decreased. Between 1990 and 2009, the national violent-crime rate was cut in half, property crime dropped by 40 percent. By 2012, the crime rate was at its lowest level since 1963. Despite the drop in crime, since 1989 a majority of Americans have falsely believed crime is increasing; over two-thirds by 2010.

Nonsensically, as the crime rate dropped there was an increase in police budgets and use of force. Swat raids, which were used as a last resort effort in the most dangerous situation, rose 1400 percent from 3000 annually in the 1980s to 50,000 today. 1,500 people die annually from law enforcement related deaths. Americans are nine times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a terrorist. Many Americans blindly support law enforcement’s abusive policing practices.

Examples of such are the 12 year old girl in Galveston, Texas who was falsely arrested and beat by police for prostitution, the father in Minnesota who was tased by police while sitting on a curb waiting to pick up his child from school, Lavar Jones in South Carolina who was shot to death by police without provocation while attempting to pump gas, 22-year-old John Crawford III in Ohio who was shot to death by police at a Wal-Mart for carrying around a toy gun he intended to buy, the six women who were raped by an Oklahoma police officer, and a woman who was beat with baseball bat by a Walnut Creek, California police officer. Incidents like these are why the United Nations has condemned police violence in the US.

The disregard for the judicial process by law enforcement was visible following the death of Michael Brown. Brown was an unarmed teen shot dead by Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014. He joined Andy Lopez, Oscar Grant, and countless others whose death by police caused public outrage. However, police across the nation publically challenge the outrage over Brown’s death. Los Angeles Police veteran Sunil Dutta argued that he can hurt people for any reason because “I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me.” Dutta’s line of logic is that the police’s power supersedes the rights of citizens. He is not alone, recently a video showed Miami Police laughing about illegally shooting unarmed peaceful protesters, San Francisco Bay Area police were caught stealing nude photos from suspect’s phones, a Chicago Police officer tortured over 100 African American prisoners, and in Fullerton, California police laughed on video as they beat a homeless woman with schizophrenia. The police in Ferguson quickly grew angry over the criticism surrounding Brown’s death causing one officer to yell at a journalist “I’m Going to F***ing Kill You!”

As has been the trend, the corporate media sought to convince citizens that Wilson was not at fault. As protests over police shootings engulfed the nation, Fox News host, Bill O’Reilly blamed “family culture” not police for the death. Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani argued that black people should take responsibility for the police killings because “white police officers wouldn’t be there if you weren’t killing each other.” Geraldo Rivera of Fox News justified the Brown shooting because Brown was suspected of robbing a convenience store. Eventually FOX News’ coverage relied on made up justifications for Brown’s killing where they falsely reported that Wilson’s eye socket was broken. In fact, months later the corporate media defended a police officer for killing Antonio Martin, two miles from Ferguson. They claimed the teen was armed and a video proved he provoked police. However, witnesses disagreed and the video which was shown by the corporate media actually shows almost nothing of the meeting between police and Martin.

Racism accounts for much of the support and impunity for police abuses. Sixty-five percent of blacks thought the police response to protests in Ferguson Missouri went too far, while only 33% of whites agreed. Citizens, inspired by corporate news coverage, defended Wilson rather than admit, at the very minimum, just this one cop acted incorrectly. In fact, citizens raised $137,000 on the internet for Wilson. His fellow officers wore arm bands of support for him. The grand jury found Darren Wilson not guilty for the murder of Brown. The case hinged on a claim that Brown had rushed and pummeled Wilson who fired his gun in self- defense. After the decision, it was revealed that the female witness who made that claim had lied. She was not in the area during the shooting and had a history of both racism and inserting herself into legal cases. The Ferguson Police had 5 weeks to investigate her legitimacy and did nothing. However, the website Smoking Gun exposed her after 3 days of investigating. After her story was made public, the St. Louis Prosecutor Bob McCulloch admitted that he knew witnesses were lying when they testified.

The revelations of false testimony at the grand jury hearings undermined the corporate media’s support for Wilson. Sean Hannity of FOX had invoked the false witness’s testimony 21 times in his coverage. Thus, the corporate press turned coverage from the victims of police violence to the police killed in the line of duty. In December of 2014, Ismaaiyl Brinsley carried out a murder suicide of two New York City police officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, in an apparent revenge for the death or Eric Garner. In July 2014, Garner had been approached and choked to death by New York Police on suspicion of illegally selling single cigarettes. The corporate media coverage distracted from victims of police violence, blamed activists for the death of the two NYC Officers, and asked why there was no protests for the death of the police? The lack of protest or violence probably resulted from the fact that the murderer of police was dead. Meanwhile the killer of Brown, Garner, and countless others remains free. Yet, the police blamed their fellow officer’s deaths on critics. At the funeral for the deceased officers, police turned their back on Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had been critical of police abuses, and then booed him at a police graduation ceremony. Their behavior is demonstrative of how police seek to operate– unquestioned by politicians, witnesses, or we the people.

The foundation of the US justice system is a citizen’s access to a trial and due process before the law. No entity, including police, should be above that system. However, beginning in the 1970s Americans understanding of the judicial system was reshaped by politicians and the corporate media. It produced an irrational fear of crime, disillusionment with the judicial system, and a cultural narrative which championed the disregard for due process. This resulted in public acquiescence for police abuse. The next article focuses on how the prison system has expanded and maximized profits off of American’s fear of crime.

Nolan Higdon is a college history instructor and Project Censored Affiliate Professor in the San Francisco Bay Area. He sits on the board of both Project Censored and ACME: Action Coalition for Media Education. Contact Nolan at NolanHigdonProjectCensored@gmail.com




View a version of this article that includes citation here: PART 1 DECLINING FAITH RISING POLICE VIOLENCE

View part 2 in this series here: JUSTICE FOR SALE- PART 2 – FROM ACQUIESCENCE TO PROFIT


http://www.projectcensored.org/justice-sale-part-1-declining-faith-rising-police-violence/
 

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#2
JUSTICE FOR SALE- PART 2: FROM ACQUIESCENCE TO PROFIT


February 12, 2015
A series by Nolan Higdon


View a version of this article that includes citation here: JUSTICE FOR SALE- PART 2 – FROM ACQUIESCENCE TO PROFIT

This is the second article (Part1) in a five part series examining the US legal system. The series collectively argues that corporate media and political rhetoric have made Americans acquiescent toward corruption in the US legal system. This piece examines how public ambivalence toward an expansion of the legal system has been capitalized upon by the prison industrial complex.

In the 1970s, philosopher Michel Foucault argued that civilizations of the past and present have had an insatiable appetite for justice. The modes of justice experienced cosmetic changes overtime from violently punishing criminals as part of a public spectacle, to a chain gang of workers, to a more soft – but not necessarily humanitarian- version of punishment. Foucault’s discussion mostly focused on how punishments, especially prisons, served the needs of those in power. Foucault’s work also illuminated that historically, people have been obsessed with the idea of justice. However, the ambiguity surrounding the term “justice” allows for it to be invoked as a justification for various degrees of behavior.

The demand for “justice” by the American people has created a profit making opportunity in the capitalist United States. An irrational fear over crime (discussed in Part 1) has allowed for an expansion of the US prison system. In fact the US now has more prisons than colleges. Big profits for the few in the prison industry have resulted in little justice and increased costs and suffering for US citizens. The prison industry increased their revenue by investing in neo-liberal politicians, lobbying for stricter sentencing laws, and hoodwinking tax payers with iron-clad prison contracts. The result is that the US has 5 percent of the world’s population and 25% of its prisoners. One percent of the US population is currently incarcerated, a larger percent than any other western industrialized nation.

Incarceration is on the rise in 36 states. If one adds in the citizens on probation or parole; about 2.9% of the adult population are under some form of correctional supervision. Another 70,792 children are in juvenile detention. In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the US needed to stop sending minors to jail for life.

This mass incarceration is made worse by the high recidivism rate in the US. Recidivism is the rate at which those incarcerated are re-incarcerated for crimes committed upon release. In the US, two-thirds of inmates are incarcerated after being released. Thus, the prisons system does not provide rehabilitation, it provides a stop for offenders in between crimes. In fact, in Wisconsin, over half of the inmates are incarcerated for parole violations.


Neo-Liberal Industry

Neo-liberalism is a philosophy that calls for reform, particularly when it meets the economic needs of the nation. Neo-liberals support privatization, free trade, open markets, deregulation, and reductions in government spending with the goal of extending private sector control over public life. Neo-liberals conclude that the private sector performs better economically than the public sector. Thus, they support a close relationship between business leaders and politicians to privatize public institutions. In the 1980s, neo-liberals created a political force that coalesced in the candidacy of Ronald Reagan for President. President Reagan instituted an economic experiment of lowering taxes while instituting privatization. As tax revenue decreased, states began having private corporations provide what were historically seen as public services, including inmate dentation.

Prison corporations recognized that citizens’ fear over crime and calls for justice in a time of wide-spread privatization allowed for vast profits to be made. Thus, they would financially support political candidates who would privatize and expand the prison industry. The largest private prison corporations gave a combined $45 million to politicians over the last decade. This resulted in expensive changes to the legal system paid for by taxpayers. The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is the largest private prison company in the US worth $3.8 billion. It is followed by the GEO Group worth $1.52 billion.


The High Cost of Private Industry

Many of the cost-cutting measures neo-liberals applied to prisons have hidden costs for the public. Prison corporations cut costs by firing staff and removing pensions. Thus, the loss in wages and benefits to the regions’ working class is a gain for the private industry. Those same working and poor classes are the ones going to jail, not the rich who profit from the prison industry. Other private prison cost-cutting measures cause expensive health crises such as the cuts to meals that cause inmates to lose 10-60 pounds more than their public prison counterparts. Some cuts also produce costly violence. For example, in Mississippi, assault rates are three times higher in private than public facilities. The ACLU provided a video demonstrating how CCA employees sat by idle and watched an inmate get beat unconscious. Similar episodes have happened in Mississippi, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Florida, and California. New research has found that the private prison industry is not more cost effective than public prisons.

By the time the claims of cost-cutting measures are proven false, states often cannot afford to legally end their contract with the private prison corporation. The contracts obligate states to fill prison beds with inmates or reimburse the company for unused materials. Private prison contracts became national news in 2010 after a three violent criminals escaped from an Arizona private prison for two weeks. If Arizona closed the facility, they would have owed $10 million for breaching their contract, which required the state to keep the prison 97 percent full. Arizona renegotiated a settlement of $3 million for not filling beds with prisoners.Arizona is not alone. A random sampling of 60 contracts between private prison companies and state and local governments found that two-thirds had bed quotas. Most contracts guarantee a 90 percent occupancy rate.


Lobbying for Prison Profits

To keep the prisons full, prison corporations lobby legislatures for harsher laws in hopes of boosting arrest rates. In 2011, the Justice Policy Institute (JPI) argued that private prison corporations have not responded to, but rather created the conditions for a massive increase in incarceration. Senators John McCain, Marco Rubio, and John Cornyn along with Representatives Lamar Smith and Jim Sensenbrenner were the largest recipients of prison campaign funds in 2013. These funds continue private prison corporation’s access to lawmakers.

The lobbying efforts and campaign contributions by the private prison industry often press lawmakers to draft legal changes that will help increase profits for the prison industrial complex. Some of biggest victories for the industry include the passage of LWOP (life sentence without parole) laws. These laws guarantee an influx of prison inmates to corporate, for-profit facilities. They are strengthened by the so-called “Three Strikes Laws” which mandate a LWOP sentence for a third offense. In the 1970s, before the private prison lobbying boom, there were next to no LWOP laws, but by 2014, 40 states in the US had them. The LWOP laws keep citizens locked up at an estimated cost of $1.7 billion dollars more than if LWOP were non-existent. The crimes covered by LWOP can even involve non-violent crimes such as those committed by Jeff Mizanskey, who has served over 20 years of a life sentence in Missouri for non-violent marijuana charges; Nathan Pettus and Damon Caliste, who stole from stores; Alexander Surry who possessed a single crack rock; 74-year old Leopoldo Hernandez-Miranda, who has spent 20 years in jail for marijuana possession; Timothy Tyler, who mailed LSD to an undercover agent; and Clarence Aaron, arrested for introducing a friend to a drug dealer. The increased incarceration rate has resulted in having overcrowded facilities, such as in Ohio, where some of the facilities are at a 130% capacity.

Lobbying by the private prison industry is so effective that in places like California it is becoming unsustainable to maintain current inmate levels and provide a proper healthy environment. In response, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a new contract with the CCA in October 2013 to meet a federal order to reduce overcrowded prisons. The deal cost $28.5 million annually for a federal detention facility in California City is incarcerating 2,304 inmates. It came just one month after California signed a $30-million, three-year contract with Geo Group to create two new facilities. However, the facilities have not been enough to ease tensions. Federal judges in November 2014 ordered California to expand its prison release system to decrease its population.

The CCA acts as an extra-legislative branch to state and federal government bodies using its access to help create laws (and excuses) to lock up individuals. The CCA lobbied against a legal path to citizenship for immigrants in order to keep profiting from its ownership of half of the federal government’s Immigration Detention Centers. The prison industry spent $45 million to gain a $5.1 billion contract for Immigrant Detention Centers. In 2014, less than a year after the CCA lost its prison contract with the state of Kentucky, they created a bill to lock up “the old and infirm” in the bluegrass state; something voters and politicians rejected. As of today, the bill has been discussed in the state capitol, but not approved.

Prison lobbying has resulted in increased costs for taxpayers. Government spending on corrections increased 72% from 1997 to 2007, despite a massive drop in crime. The average state pays about 6.8 percent of their general fund on corrections. Sadly, four states spend more on corrections than higher education: Vermont, Michigan, Oregon and Connecticut. In 2008, California faced a $16 billion budget shortfall, but still spent $8.8 billion on corrections.


Conclusion

Neo-liberals created a market for expanded mass incarceration by preying on citizens’ fears of crime which politicians in turn use to win elections. Private prison lobbyists and the politicians they influence manufactured a false perception of crime and justice. This has resulted in a dramatic and costly expansion of the private prison industry, which transforms citizens into profitable objects. The next article will address how public ambivalence toward a justice system which operates for profit, not the public good, has led to corruption in many US communities.

Nolan Higdon is a college history instructor and Project Censored Affiliate Professor in the San Francisco Bay Area. He sits on the board of both Project Censored and ACME: Action Coalition for Media Education. Contact Nolan at NolanHigdonProjectCensored@gmail.com

Read part 3 in this series here.



http://www.projectcensored.org/justice-sale-part-2-acquiescence-profit/
 

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JUSTICE FOR SALE – PART 3: GREED BREED’S CORRUPTION


February 18, 2015
A series by Nolan Higdon


View a version of this article that includes citation here: PART 3 PROFIT OF CORRUPTION

This is the third article (see PART 1 & PART 2) in a five part series examining the US legal system. The series collectively argues that corporate media and political rhetoric have made Americans acquiescent toward corruption in the US legal system. This piece examines how public ambivalence toward a justice system which operates for profit not public good has created a breeding ground for corruption.

On September 15, 2008, the corporate media obsessively reminded viewers that the 158 year-old global financial services giant Lehman Brothers was bankrupt. Reporters wondered How did this happen? How did a reputable firm like Lehman go bankrupt? It did not add up. The Chairman and CEO of Lehman Brothers, Richard Fuld, a.k.a. the “Gorilla” for his competiveness on Wall Street, was emblematic of Wall Street success. He had gone from commercial paper trader at Lehman in 1969 to leading the firm by 1994. Yet, in September 2008 he was at the center of the biggest bankruptcy case in US history. Fuld’s leadership had bred a culture of corruption at Lehman. The greedy financial giant ultimately destroyed itself through the falsification of its balance sheets, especially its abundance of risky mortgages. Congressional investigations found that Lehman had “no accountability for failure.” Lehman’s fall from grace contributed to an international financial collapse which cost US taxpayers $613 billion in aid for the nation’s failing institutions and trillions more in other costs.

Lehman like Enron, World Com, Goldman Sachs, Bear Sterns, AIG and countless other companies is an example of how a business’s greedy pursuit of profits breeds corruption. Despite the commonality of profit motives breeding corruption, neo-liberals continue to argue that the US should “run public institutions like a business.” Since the 1970s, neo-liberals have made large strides in achieving their goal of transferring government run institutions to corporations. This includes the prison and related industries. Not surprisingly, the corruption engendered by the privatized justice system’s greedy pursuit of profits has huge costs for tax payers. Yet, Americans remain largely acquiescent toward corruption. This article examines various areas of legal corruption including traffic violations, court cases, and prisons.


Corruption and Death

Corruption in the justice system costs tax payers both financially and physically. For example, at tax payer’s expense, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) employees in Idaho falsified nearly five thousand hours of work to hide that they were understaffed for over seven months. In 2014, the CCA further hoodwinked Idaho tax payers, by charging “thousands of dollars” for medications which did not exist. Similarly, children in Pennsylvania were incarcerated in the Kids for Cash scandal; two judges, Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan took $2.6 million in bribes to incarcerate youths at Mid Atlantic Youth Service Corporation facilities. More than 5,000 youths were incarcerated for such crimes “as stealing DVDs from Wal-Mart and trespassing in vacant buildings.”

Prison industry corruption has come to include a black market for execution drugs. In 2011, the manufacturer of Pentobarbital — often claimed to be part of the quickest and most painless way to execute prisoners — removed the drug from the market for capital punishment. States eager for a replacement began buying untested drugs from unknown manufacturers with public money. Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas refuse to reveal the sources of their lethal injection drugs which cost over $11,000. The profit to the manufacturers comes with unexpected and painful consequences for the citizens receiving the untested drugs. In 2014, Arizona officials gave death row inmate Joseph Woods, fifteen separate injections of experimental drugs causing him to suffocate to death over two hours. Similarly in 2014, Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett, went unconscious 10 minutes after an experimental drug and then died of a heart attack a half an hour later. In 2015, Oklahoma inmate Charles Warner’s last words were “my body is on fire” after being was injected with an unknown lethal injection drug.

The profits made from executions are even more egregious considering that not all death row inmates are guilty. Since 1989, 317 death row convictions have been overturned in 38 states and tens of thousands of suspects have been cleared by DNA. Justice system biases, corruption and racism result in an unknown amount of wrongful convictions annually. The majority of inmates cleared by DNA have been African Americans. In fact, lawyers who are aware of the racial bias in the legal system, often encourage their innocent non-white clients to plead guilty to a crime rather than face a trial. In fact, thirty citizens exonerated by DNA pled guilty to crimes to attain a lighter sentence. In a legal system dominated by the greedy pursuit of profit, bribery engenders wrongful convictions. For example, a wealthy rancher paid thousands of dollars for Johnny E. Webb’s false testimony against Cameron Todd Willingham. As a result, Willingham was found guilty and executed for murdering his three young daughters in a house fire.

Tantamount to the lack of accountability at Lehman, even when corruption is unearthed the legal system is not forced to provide restitution to exonerated inmates. Only sixty-five percent of exonerated inmates are compensated. Many take the Alford Plea which originated from a 1963 case in North Carolina. The plea allows a defendant to declare their innocence in court while simultaneously admitting that the prosecution had enough evidence to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The Alfred Plea gives defendants a choice between remaining in prison or being released with the promise of no justice for their wrongful conviction. Local courts allow it because it shields them from having to pay any compensation for a wrongful conviction since the defendant admitted that the prosecution had enough evidence to convict. Basically, it is a conditional release, where the court grants an inmate freedom in exchange for giving up their right to sue the local government for its wrongful conviction.


Minor Crimes, Major Profits

The tax payer funded corruption in the legal system includes abuses for traffic violations. Many state and local governments have faced a budget shortfall since the late 1970s. As a result, they have sought to maximize profits for minor crimes such as traffic violations. In 2006 local governments increased traffic citation revenue nearly half a percent for every 1% decline in other revenue. For example, Randolph Missouri, a town of 47 people garners $202,500 or 75% of its annual budget from traffic penalties. Many other local governments add a “surcharge” to traffic violations which add an extra $100 to $2,000 per violation. The result is that in states such as Virginia, violators can pay 2.38 times the cost of the ticket. Similarly, in 2009, California nearly doubled its DMV registration fees.

Just as the prison industry claims to alleviate state costs, red-light camera companies promise to seize more local revenue through the ticketing of violators. Across the US, red-light cameras are being installed at a high rate. They capture videos and images of a car crossing an intersection while the stop light is red and then mail it to the automobile owner’s home address. It is suspected that most people do not go to court upon seeing the evidence of their guilt which saves the city the costs incurred by having a police officer on the street to ticket and a court trial. The red-light cameras have grown in popularity from a 155 city-contracts in 2005 to 689 contracts by 2012. There are two kinds of contracts, the first splits revenue among the city and the red-light company. For example, Berkeley, California, proposed in 2003, by giving the red-light camera manufacturer $48 of every $209 ticket. The other type of contract charges the city a monthly fee for using a companies red light cameras. Every contract is different in its requirements. Some require an agreed upon percentage of guilty verdicts from those ticketed. If that percentage is not met then the city pays a penalty. For example in Walnut, CA, the town is penalized for waiving more than 10 percent of violations. Red light camera manufacturer Lockheed Martin is known for creating contracts with high penalties when states waive too many cases. Even more egregious, contracts are binding, with cities paying huge penalties for terminating them. American Traffic Solutions took home $12 million from Houston in 2010 and $1 million from Baytown, Texas for early termination of their contracts.

Both local governments and the red-light companies seek profits not safety. In Virginia and California, contracts forbid cities from increasing the length of yellow light time which decreases violations and accidents. Lockheed Martin often reserves the right to remove cameras from intersections that have few violations. Thus, demonstrating that the cameras are in place to generate revenue not produce safety by deterring violations. The profits are too large for corporations to use materials at low revenue generating intersections. For example, in California a violation costs $480. In 2010, Los Angeles began to double the amount of red light cameras to 64 intersections. In 2009, LA cited 44,000 drivers for red-light camera violations netting the city more than $6 million.

Despite the large amounts collected, it is often the contracted companies not the city or the state reaping the profit. In 2010, Arizona drivers paid more than $20 million in camera ticket fines, but a majority of the programs cost more to administer than to collect. The costs for running the courts are colossal. California tax payers spend $3 billion annually on their courts, but need an additional $266 million to stay operational, $612 million to be fully functional, and $1.2 billion to be solvent. Where does the money go? It goes to insurance, red-light, and other private companies. An estimated 25 to 50 million traffic tickets are issued annually leading to $3.75 to $7.5 billion in fees coupled with another $3.75 to 7.5 billion in profits for insurance companies.


Profits Breed Corruption

The potentially large profits have bred corruption in the form of bribery. In August 2014, Redflex chief executive officer Karen Finley and contractor Martin O’Malley were indicted in a $2 million bribery scandal. They allegedly bribed Chicago official John Bills with “hotel rooms, car rentals, meals, golf games, computers, and other personal items,” in exchange for his support of a contract in the city. The 10 year contract generated nearly $500 million in tickets.The revelations of impropriety caused the company to lose its red light contract in Chicago and later others in Florida, California, and Arizona.

The need for profits by companies has led to a corrupt redesign of the court system at tax payers’ expense. For example, in Fremont California, when a suspect appears in court to challenge a violation, the citing officer is not present. Instead the prosecutor is a retired officer for the red-light camera company who refuses to answer questions from the defendant. Rather than a defendant making the prosecution prove their guilt – in the tradition of the western legal system- a judge makes the defendant prove their innocence. More egregious, in a clear conflict of interest, since the city depends on the revenue as does the red light company, both the judge and the company representative have a vested interest in a guilty verdict.


Conclusion

The corporate media and politicians have acted as a conduit for neo-liberal rhetoric. Together they inundate the American people with false information which justifies corrupt practices in the legal system. The result is an American populace which is largely acquiescent to the corruption in the legal system. The next article continues to examine corruption in the legal system. However, where this article examined corruption in the public sphere, the next article will examine corruption inside an institution which maintains the legal status quo; Coalinga State Hospital in California.

Nolan Higdon is a college history instructor and Project Censored Affiliate Professor in the San Francisco Bay Area. He sits on the board of both Project Censored and ACME: Action Coalition for Media Education. Contact Nolan at NolanHigdonProjectCensored@gmail.com


http://www.projectcensored.org/justice-for-sale-part-3-greed-breeds-corruption/
 

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The disregard for the judicial process by law enforcement was visible following the death of Michael Brown. Brown was an unarmed teen shot dead by Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014. He joined Andy Lopez, Oscar Grant, and countless others whose death by police caused public outrage. However, police across the nation publically challenge the outrage over Brown’s death. Los Angeles Police veteran Sunil Dutta argued that he can hurt people for any reason because “I’m a cop. If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t challenge me.” Dutta’s line of logic is that the police’s power supersedes the rights of citizens. He is not alone, recently a video showed Miami Police laughing about illegally shooting unarmed peaceful protesters, San Francisco Bay Area police were caught stealing nude photos from suspect’s phones, a Chicago Police officer tortured over 100 African American prisoners, and in Fullerton, California police laughed on video as they beat a homeless woman with schizophrenia. The police in Ferguson quickly grew angry over the criticism surrounding Brown’s death causing one officer to yell at a journalist “I’m Going to F***ing Kill You!”
This is a biased load of excrement from the leftist media... who, despite evidence to the contrary, keep pushing the known false narrative.

This is someone's agenda being pushed to marginalize the police...

This isn't worthy of anyone's time to read...


Is there police brutality? Sure.

Is it on the rise? In some respects yes, but not all police are brutal.

Is there a bias toward believing the police side of the story, yes, but that is changing with cell phone cameras on every hip.


When all you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail...

There is a tendency for agencies to look at every problem and create a solution even when no problem exists.

That has to stop.
 

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This is a biased load of excrement from the leftist media... who, despite evidence to the contrary, keep pushing the known false narrative.

This is someone's agenda being pushed to marginalize the police...

This isn't worthy of anyone's time to read...


Is there police brutality? Sure.

Is it on the rise? In some respects yes, but not all police are brutal.

Is there a bias toward believing the police side of the story, yes, but that is changing with cell phone cameras on every hip.


When all you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail...

There is a tendency for agencies to look at every problem and create a solution even when no problem exists.

That has to stop.
After reading a good number of your posts over the years this reply came as a bit of a surprise. There is a lot of truth in the article and in the paragraph you quoted. I'm curious, did you get apast the quoted paragraph? If you did, I'm interested in hearing your take on the entire article (pts.1, 2 & 3.) Don't understand how you could reply the way you did?
 

Flight2gold

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After reading a good number of your posts over the years this reply came as a bit of a surprise. There is a lot of truth in the article and in the paragraph you quoted. I'm curious, did you get apast the quoted paragraph? If you did, I'm interested in hearing your take on the entire article (pts.1, 2 & 3.) Don't understand how you could reply the way you did?
Well searcher,

The small header just above the conclusion of part 3 says a lot, "Profits Breed Corruption". No one can broad brush every police officer in the country. How?

The problem seems to come from the economics side of it. Everything from the prisons, asset forfeiture, payoffs, bribes, jury tampering and outright lying.

My brother is a police chief down here in Florida. He's as honest as the day is long but his policies guide him. The influence of funding being dangled like a carrot.

Community policing no more.
 
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Goldhedge

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Searcher, I read up to that paragraph.

I figured if they were going to stoop to that level of incompetence in reporting, the rest of the article was suspect as well.


It's a baldfaced lie what they reported as fact. If they want readership, they need to strive for truth, justice and the American way...



Had they reported the facts, not the agenda, I might have read the rest of it.
 

searcher

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Searcher, I read up to that paragraph.

I figured if they were going to stoop to that level of incompetence in reporting, the rest of the article was suspect as well.


It's a baldfaced lie what they reported as fact. If they want readership, they need to strive for truth, justice and the American way...



Had they reported the facts, not the agenda, I might have read the rest of it.
No biggie...............One man's meat is another man's poison. I think my experiences (personal & professional) with cops has kinda tainted my view of them for ever. And believe me........I've met some who shouldn't be walking the street let alone be carrying a gun and wearing a badge.

Enjoy your night.
 

dirt to oil

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what we have had in the following posts is a prime example of how to disagree and argue like gentlemen and not fools. kudos to both of you ( searcher & goldhedge)

sorry for the rabbit trail
 

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But, but, but, ...


duty_calls.png
 

searcher

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[h=1]JUSTICE FOR SALE – PART 4: Corruption and Abuse, the Remnants of Greed[/h]February 26, 2015View a version of this article that includes citation here: JUSTICE FOR SALE PART 4


This is the fourth article (PART1, PART2, PART3) in a five-part series examining the US legal system. The series collectively argues that corporate media and political rhetoric have made Americans acquiescent toward corruption in the US legal system. This piece uses Coalinga State Hospital in California to illuminate the corruption that is taking place inside the justice system’s institutions.

It was June 30, 2006 and Bernard Baran had already spent 25 years in jail for a crime he did not commit. Baran was a gay man, convicted of sexual assault charges on children in Western Massachusetts. Baran’s conviction was due in part to the hysteria and homophobia in the mid-1980s. While the courts wrongful conviction seemed like the worst of it, inside Baran faced unconscionable treatment. He was raped 30 times during his incarceration. Then in 2006, the courts finally allowed him to go free. But the court granted freedom could not erase the horrific memories of life on the inside. For an innocent man, the hell he endured could never be undone. In fact, his “freedom” was short lived. Baran passed away in September 2014.

Abuses like the ones experienced by Baran are common in US prisons, where corruption and physical abuse hold a tight relationship. They are the remnants of the greed that created many of these institutions and provided the inmates who occupy them. Due in large part to a lack of staff training and understaffing, many victims of abuse are the mentally ill. For example, in 2014, a North Carolina prisoner with a history of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder died of thirst while in solitary confinement after 45 days.

The elderly are also abused. In New Mexico, a private prison owned by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), put Carol Lester, a 73-year-old grandmother, incarcerated for embezzling money to fund her gambling addiction, in solitary confinement for challenging the lack of medical care at the facility. Women are often abused in prison. In California, over 144 bilateral tubal ligations, or tube-tying procedures, were forced on female inmates to prevent pregnancy. A 2014, report by the Justice department found that the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Alabama saw inmates “raped by guards, forced to use toilet in front of staff, and take part in strip show contests.” Other abuses included exorbitant phone call charges and New York inmates were beaten and sodomized by guards.

Due to the “tough on crime” political rhetoric (discussed in PART 1 of this series) and the pursuit of prison industry profits (discussed in PART2 and PART3), prisons are increasingly extending inmates’ incarceration periods after their sentence expires. Coalinga State Hospital in California is a stalwart example of corruption and abuse in the prison system. It is a public hospital operated by both public and private sector employees. It opened in 2005 next to Pleasant Valley Prison in Fresno County at a cost of $388 million for Vanir Construction. At Coalinga, like other hospital prisons, administrators determine whether or not an inmate is fit to leave a facility after their sentence concludes. The inmates who are not granted release are referred to as civil detainees, because they have fulfilled their sentences for sexual crimes but were deemed unfit for release.

The Coalinga Prison has been a mind-boggling boondoggle for California. Each detainee’s confinement costs $185,000 annually or four times that of other prisoners incarcerated elsewhere. A portion of the cost results from the hospital being constructed in a region ravaged by a fungus that causes Valley Fever. Most people who get sick from Valley Fever feel flu-like symptoms and recover in a few weeks, but a small portion, especially those with a weakened immune system, can become very ill and die. The California Correctional Health Care Services pays $23 million annually for inmates and civil detainees with Valley Fever, which is a rate 600 times higher than Fresno County where the hospital is located.

The civil detainees at Coalinga State Hospital are not officially imprisoned, but are held in prison-like conditions. To enter the facility, visitors must have their identity investigated by staff, a sheriff-run lobby which includes walking through a metal detector, two moving chain link fence gates, a wall topped with razor wire, and then another lobby where staff check for weapons and identification again.

Most of those in the facility have been deemed sexually violent predators (SVPs). SVPs are individuals convicted of sexual offenses and deemed likely to offend once released. California voters and representatives passed voluminous legislation, upheld by the federal government, to empower law enforcement’s control over SVPs. Now an inmate in jail for any crime, who has a sexual based crime on their record, must undergo an evaluation to determine if he/she will commit a sexual crime once released. The Department of State Hospitals (DSH) has prisoners evaluated by a licensed “psychiatrists and/or psychologists.” If it is decided they may commit sexual assault upon release, they are labeled as a civil detainee and undergo “cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) focusing on Relapse Prevention (RP) component” at a state hospital such as Coalinga. The DSH can only recommend a given SVP for CONREP, the statewide system of mental health treatment services but it is the court’s decision whether or not to release the SVP.

However, there exists a conflict of interest as the psychologist’s paycheck depends on keeping the SVP from offending again. Because the program legally mandates psychologists to be present, psychologists are hired at astronomical rates to taxpayers. Some are paid between $500,000 and $1.5 million. Meanwhile, husband-and-wife psychiatrists Joginder Singh and Mohinder Kaur took home $4.7 million from 2005 through 2011. California was found to have overpaid independent contractors connected to the Sex Offender Commitment Program budget by $49 million between fiscal years 2005-06 and 2009-10 according to a report by State Auditor Elaine Howle. However, the methods used to determine if an offender will commit sexual assault upon release have no proven rate of accuracy.

The laws and methods aimed at curtailing sexual assault generate political capital for politicians, but lack empirical data to prove their accuracy. In fact, a DSH study found that sex offenders were some of the least likely to reoffend. In 1997, parolees tracked for three years had a 5.3% recidivism rate for sex crimes, compared to a 68% for all other crimes. Critics of the sexual assault prevention laws include Columbia University’s Michael First MD; Psychiatrist Robert Halon, PhD; UC Berkeley Professor Franklin E. Zimring; Dr.Jesus Padilla, and DMH’s own Janice Marquis. They collectively argue that the detection system is not based on evidence and not producing the results it champions. In fact, both Gilton Petri and John Albert Gardner, III were paroled because the detection system found them mentally fit to return to the public without reoffending. However, once released they raped and murdered California youths. Their crimes forced California to admit that its SVP detection program was “ineffective and unsafe.” The separate cases of Petri and Gardner demonstrate that the state does not have an effective detection system. Instead it pays expensive contracts for evaluators to make arbitrary decisions which risk potential re-offenders being paroled and those who will not re-offend remaining locked up.

The abuse inside the facility goes beyond locking up individuals who may not assault again. In 2013, detainees drafted a list of grievances which challenge the hypocrisy of the program, outline abuses, and demand that California live up to its own legislation which mandates that all civil detainees are housed in the “least restrictive environment.” The abuses cited include witness’ accounts pertaining to detainee Cedro Zavala; who had his head slammed into a door by a staff member before suffering from a code blue (a code blue is a term used in hospitals to indicate a patient needing immediate resuscitation). Detainee William Baker claims to have been woken up and forced out his living quarters nearly naked by men dressed in all black with nylon over their faces. Detainees James Hydrick and Jesse Emmitt claimed to have witnessed “gay bashing.” They also claimed that a hospital officer killed a detainee who told them “You can’t prove it!” In August 2011, detainee Kenneth Huskey noted that the passing of fellow detainee Lawrence Smith marked the 7[SUP]th[/SUP] unnecessary death in the facility since May of 2013.

Inmates have also filed complaints regarding the charges they incur during their forced incarceration. Detainee Michael Orey amassed $427,000 in debt in two years at the hospital largely due to the $537.14 a day charged for lodging at the facility. In October of 2013, the Disability Rights of California let Orey know that the hospital created a trust for him in which all money over $500 is confiscated for his treatment– this being the very same treatment that has proven to be inconclusive at best. Furthermore, if released he must pay off the money or his bill will go to collections. To make matters worse, Orey was given an itemized list of all the costs he incurred. Some of the items, which including medications, he claims he never received. Kenneth Huskey and six others found similar inaccurate charges. Coalinga’s Medicare Part D provides some funding for the medication never received by the detainees. Thus, taxpayers are paying for some unknown entity to make profits. Orey filed a complaint in the California Superior Court over what he called “fraudulent billing” including being enrolled in Medicare Part D without ever signing any forms. The hospital’s budget in part depends on detainees paying off debts. Since the detainees have no jobs, the taxpayers cover the costs of the inmates’ bills to the private corporations. As a result, Coalinga cost taxpayers $198 million of the state’s $1.3 billion hospital budget in 2012.

While taxpayers should look at the facility and its programs as a costly disaster, the city of Coalinga sees it as an economic boom. Coalinga was hit by a 6.7 earthquake in 1983 that essentially destroyed the city. The prison and hospital became the city’s economic savior. Coalinga hopes that mental health practitioners will open private practices increasing revenue in the city, which will help to expand the community college. In fact, the DMH is doing its own boosterism in Coalinga by promoting it as safe and noting that, “we are in the midst of a housing boom with an estimated 1,000 new homes in the planning stages for the next few years. Housing prices remain affordable…Coalinga is a very clean and nice hometown.”

Local politicians defend this problematic hospital because it produces political capital and creates economic viability in the region. Detainees, due to their imprisonment and the law, can only challenge their incarceration onsite at the hospital. However, the inmates who have challenged their incarceration have been informed by Coalinga’s Executive Director, Pam Ahlin, that “neither Coalinga State Hospital nor the Department of Mental Health is the proper venue to argue [their] commitment issues.” From her perspective, the detainees are there due to their psychological evaluations and it is not the hospital’s job to decide if they are fit for release. In the meantime, people like Michael Orey, who was deemed a low risk offender, remain locked up in order to keep the hospital at capacity. Tom McNichols, in his September 2008 work Trapped in the Treatment Mall,argued that “most of the 762 [Coalinga] patients currently in residence may never leave–except in a box.”

Coalinga is one example of the abuse that increases as California builds more facilities. The rhetoric of support for new facilities emphasizes a harsh policy on crime, lowering costs to taxpayers, and providing a boom to an economically failing city. In 2011, Stockton, California was on Forbes most miserable cities list as their median housing price dropped from $431,000 in 2005 to $142,000 in 2011 with an 18% unemployment rate. In 2013, politicians delivered what was perceived as the answer to their problems: a $900 million prison hospital. The 1772 bed facility fell short of its 1818 bed goal. Tons of jobs through the Department of State Hospitals, California Prison Health Care, and the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation were immediately offered. However, in January 2014, the flow of inmates was halted due to poor, unsanitary conditions that contributed to a scabies outbreak.

Despite the setbacks and cost, the state keeps paying for the construction of facilities near the Stockton institution. Nearby the Stockton prison-hospital, a $2.2 million secure ward was built at San Joaquin General Hospital for patients who needed surgeries or higher level care. The Dewitt Nelson Youth Corrections Facility that closed in 2008 is right next door. It is undergoing renovations to create a 1,113 bed prison for mental health patients. A contract for about $9 million went to Hensel Phelps Construction Company for renovations to DeWitt Nelson. The money came from AB 900 that “authorized more than $7 billion in bond funding for state prison projects, reentry facilities, and local jail beds.”

The abuses and corruption in the US legal system are visible in the streets with police and red light cameras, in the courtroom with judges and prosecutors, and inside the walls of prisons and state facilities. Collectively, politicians and corporations have hijacked the justice system in their pursuit of wealth and power. However, as the next article will describe, the increased visibility of corrupt practices in the legal system is accompanied by growing resistance. Nationally, citizens are demanding justice for those abused by the corrupt justice system. The next article will examine how the innocent and the guilty respond to the corruption that permeates inside the US legal system.


http://www.projectcensored.org/justice-for-sale-part-4-corruption-and-abuse-the-remnants-of-greed/
 

searcher

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[h=1]JUSTICE FOR SALE – PART 5: Rebellious Action in a Corrupt Time[/h]
March 16, 2015

View a version of this article that includes citation here: JUSTICE FOR SALE – PART 5 Rebellious Action in a Corrupt Time


This is the fifth and final article in this five part series examining the US legal system (PART1, PART2, PART3, PART 4). The series collectively argues that corporate media and political rhetoric have made Americans acquiescent toward corruption in the US legal system. This piece examines the corporate media’s coverage of citizen’s resistance to corruption and abuse in the US legal system.

“‎Civilization has been a continuous struggle of the individual or of groups of individuals against the State and even against ‘society,’ that is, against the majority subdued and hypnotized by the State and State worship.” ― Emma Goldman



In 1786, Revolutionary war veteran Daniel Shay led hundreds of men in a march outside of a New England court-house. They successfully used the beating of drums and loud cheers to temporarily stop the court’s proceedings of a debtor’s case. Shay and his protesters were motivated by their anger at wealthy coastal residents for price gouging citizens into debt. They were irate the courts, a branch of the government, served the wealthy by incarcerating debtors. These demonstrations, sometimes violent, continued for more than two years, and were collectively known as Shay’s Rebellion. The protesters arrived from the rural areas of New England. Early US leaders tried to shut down and execute peaceful protesters with legislation such as the Riot Act. However, the protests, coupled with other events, successfully pushed US leaders to draft the US Constitution and a Bill of Rights for its citizens.

Despite the complexities of the 21[SUP]st[/SUP] century, the collective nature of Shay’s Rebellion is demonstrative of the power citizens possess in the face of corruption by powerful corporations and governments. It is also emblematic of the response these peaceful and powerful expressions can garner. In fact, today both inside and outside of prisons, there is a growing opposition to the abuse and corruption of the US legal system. Inside prison facilities, inmates are mounting opposition to bureaucratic hypocrisy. While outside the prisons, citizens are marching, protesting, changing laws, exposing lies, and sometimes violently confronting police. Until a fair and equitable justice system is created, contemporary leaders of the US can expect these conflicts to continue. Undermining the creation of an equitable system is the propagandistic corporate media, which serves the interests of those in power by soiling public opinion on resistance efforts.


Resistance on The Inside

Inside the walls of Coalinga State Hospital in California (discussed in Part 4), the corruption of profiteers are being met by peaceful protests. For instance, in November of 2014, the staff at Coalinga demanded that inmates exchange their personal storage material for materials made by Sterilight. Sterilight is a private company reaping profits from the forcing of their storage materials on Coalinga inmates. However, the detainees performed a series of 300 person peaceful sit down protests aimed at keeping their equipment. In response the next morning, Coalinga staff put a lockdown in place to install Sterilight shelving. The peaceful protest was unsuccessful, but is expected to grow as anger increases over profiteer’s invasion of detainee’s lives.

While Coalinga offered a peaceful protest, other prisoners have protested their conditions violently. In 2012, Mississippi’s privatized Walnut Grove Youth Correctional Facility had 27 assaults per 100 offenders. This made it the most violent in the state. In May 2012 prisoners in Mississippi rioted at the Corrections Corporation of America-run Adams County Correctional Facility, killing a corrections officer. Matt Stroud of Politico explains that “Similar riots have broken out in private prisons run by CCA [Corrections Corporation of America] and other companies in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Florida and California. At least 10 deaths (one from natural causes) occurred at CCA prisons in 2013 alone.”

These private prisons save money by cutting food and staff (discussed in PART2). The purposeful diminishing of basic necessities is believed to be a catalyst to unrest and resistance inside prisons. However, the corporate media rarely cover conditions or revolts inside prisons unless there are major riots, which leads most Americans to be ignorant of these realities. Thus, US citizens are uninformed about the conditions and pretexts for resistance in prisons.


Resistance on The Outside

Outside of prisons, there exists a plethora of citizen movements angry about the abuses and corruption in the legal system. People’s frustration with red light camera’s (discussed in PART3) goes beyond costly early termination fees, farce trials, less safety, and higher ticket rates to include malfunctions. In 2014, Redflex’s Chicago cameras malfunctioned and incorrectly gave 13,000 motorists unwarranted citations. By summer 2014, the city was still sifting through the tickets to make sense of the malfunction, while the population waited to see a courtroom.The anger of citizens turned into resistance in states such as New Jersey where red light cameras have been shot with guns. Other citizens have successfully protested city red light contracts in places like South San Francisco, San Rafael, and Santa Ana, CA. In total, sixteen states have bans on installing red light cameras.

However, the largest protests of resistance in the contemporary US focus on police violence. Following the verdicts absolving police of blame in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown deaths (discussed in PART1), citizens protested peacefully and violently throughout the world. It likely impacted the decision for Officer Darren Wilson to quit his job without a severance package (though other groups raised significant money on his behalf). Some protests resulted in violent clashes with police. After police assaulted protesters in Ferguson, protester Barry Perkins began throwing rocks at police because it “feels good…I want to do what they did to me.” At least, two other police officers met gunfire during that protest. In Oakland, California, where anger still permeates over police assaulting Occupy protesters, protests over police abuse in the wake of Brown’s death resulted in violent clashes with police. At one point, 250 protesters charged Oakland Police resulting in 13 arrests. Other times, undercover officers randomly pulled guns on protesters. This is further demonstrative that the public has lost faith in the system’s ability to hold officers accountable for misdeeds. Thus, citizens are taking the law into their own hands. In fact, less than 24 hours after a Missouri Police man shot a teen pumping gas in December 2014, violent protests erupted.

In fact some citizens have taken the law into their own hands via the Internet. In November 2011, University of California, Davis Police Lieutenant John Pike pepper-sprayed 21 Occupy UC Davis students as they sat peacefully on a campus walkway. Predictably, the corporate press sided with Pike, even though he encroached on students’ First Amendment right to peaceably assemble. FOX News contributor Megyn Kelly argued that the spraying was no big deal because the spray is “like a derivative of real pepper. It’s a food product essentially.” In response to Pike’s behavior, the hacktivist group Anonymous reportedly released Pike’s email and home address as well as his cellphone number. Pike received 17,000 angry and threatening emails, 10,000 similar text messages, and hundreds of letters. This reportedly led to him being so depressed that he had to quit his job with full retirement benefits and a $38,000 worker’s compensation package for stress. Meanwhile, each student sprayed received a $30,000 settlement. Anonymous continues to leak names, information, police recordings, and files of those involved in executing or protecting the perpetrators of police violence.


The Press

Many Americans remain thunderstruck by the protests against police violence. For example, US citizens were outraged when protesters shut down freeways in California, Missouri, Tennessee, District of Columbia, Texas, and other states to force a national debate on police abuse. The response of some citizens was to complain that their commute was hindered by the protests. Citizen’s complained that shutting down transportation will not solve anything. However, such tactics have proven successful in the past, such as Rosa Parks, the great activist, who hindered the commute for many citizens to successfully force national action on segregation. Such large-scale protests historically have occurred across Europe, Central, and South America with significant results oft in favor of the public interest. It is citizen’s acquiescence to the growing police state and support for “tough on crime politicians” that has allowed this climate of chaos to emerge. The system’s inability to operate equitably has left contemporary protesters with the choice of being abused by the system or stifling it until an equitable one replaces it. Absent large-scale disruptions, the current oppressive system will likely not be replaced.

However, it will be tough to make citizens aware of the problems and solutions regarding the justice system if they are left uninformed by the corporate media. The corporate press relies on manipulation of facts and language to shift public opinion against victims. The outlets FOX News and The New York Times (NYT) degraded Michael Brown with phrases such as “bad guy” and “no angel.” Similarly, FOX News demonized the behavior of peaceful protesters by referring to them as “a mob.” Meanwhile, the NYT justifies police abuse with tempered language such as calling the police shooting of an unarmed girl a “collision.” Stories are fabricated to justify police violence such as FOX News falsely claiming that Black Panthers called for violence against police. The nature of protests are exaggerated and the role police play in escalating violence is falsified by outlets such as CNN to justify a violent police response. Reports from people on the ground via Twitter are wrongfully deemed false by outlets such as the NYT. Before evidence is even available, media outlets side with police. For example, weeks after the Michael Brown shooting the NYT asked citizens to give police the benefit of the doubt. Lastly, and predictably, outlets manipulate the nature of protests for political gain, such as Sean Hannity of FOX News who blamed the protests on President Obama.

After the shooting of two police officers in New York City (discussed in PART1), the corporate press demonstrated its hypocritical allegiance to police. In late 2014, FOX News verbally attacked the St. Louis Rams players for silently protesting police violence as they entered the football field. Fox News Host, Bill O’Reilly claimed the players were not “smart enough to know what they’re doing”However, O’Reilly lauded police for turning their backs in protest on Mayor Bill de Blasio at a funeral for their fellow officers. The officers were angry that de Blasio voiced concern for youths such as his black son, Dante, “not just from some of the painful realities of crime and violence” but “from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors.” O’Reilly argued that de Blasio needed to be removed from power. In fact, O’Reilly and former New York City Mayor and FOX News contributor Rudolph Giuliani argued that police were the victims. The hypocrisy of the police and corporate media who referred to the Rams symbolism as “tasteless,” but laud New York City Police for using a funeral to make a political statement is alarming. Worse, police in New York City are performing a work stoppage with a 66% drop in arrests. These police supported by the corporate media are undermining the democratic process which voted for the mayor and legislated the responsibilities of police. In fact, citizens are not supportive of the police behavior. Polls show that over half of New Yorkers disapprove of the recent behavior by police in New York City.

Time and time again the abuses by politicians and private industry in the name of justice have proven to be costly and unjust for Americans. Yet, many Americans somehow think that the injustices bequeathed upon the innocent can only happen to “other people.” What they fail to accept is that if atrocities are allowed to anyone, they can happen to everyone. Thus, American citizen’s passivity may lead to a spouse being locked up for life, a child being experimented with death-row drugs, a youth being shot by police, a traffic violation causing insurance to be unaffordable, or a friend sterilized in prison. These atrocities do happen, such as the six women sexually assaulted by police officer Daniel Holtzclaw, the Georgia toddler who was hit by S.W.A.T. team grenade, the teacher who was pepper-sprayed by police for using his cell-phone, and 51 year old Marlene Pinnock whose beating by a California Highway Patrol was caught on video.

By late 2014, more Americans appeared to be recognizing that the justice system was costly and unjust. In California, voters approved prop 47 which downgraded a list of non-violent felonies to misdemeanors including shoplifting, minor check fraud, and minor drug possession. Maryland commuted all remaining death sentences for prisoners to life without parole. In fact, by 2015, 23 states, Guam, and the District of Columbia, had either legalized, decriminalized, or allowed for the medical use of Marijuana. The US Attorney General, Eric Holder came out in opposition to the death penalty. He argued that there is evidence that not everyone on death row is guilty. He also called for the US to halt all death penalty legislation until the Supreme Court rules on the legality of lethal injection drugs for execution. While these discussions and court cases have not produced results, they do demonstrate a shift in national discourse toward recognizing problems with the so-called justice system.

While it is an inspiring start toward equitable justice, Americans will need to move beyond minor legislation, protests, and clashes with police to attain justice. Americans need to retune their thinking about justice and separate themselves from the post-9/11 rhetoric of good and evil. There is a much more complex world where the innocent end up in jail, those administering the law break it, jails serve the interest of shareholders not the public, and court rooms serve to extort hard working citizens’ money not protect it. Until Americans, examine these issues with a critical lens where they are open to interpretations alternative to those offered by the political elite and corporate press, they put themselves and every other American at risk of becoming a victim of the prison-industrial complex. America cannot live up to ideals of freedom and democracy when it does not have an equitable legal system.


“The earth is the mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.” – Chief Joseph


SPECIAL THANKS: This series was made possible from consultation and editing by Andy Lee Roth, Peter Phillips, and Mickey Huff. Much of the vital material necessary for the series was collected by my research assistants Crystal Bedford and Emilee Mann. I thank all of them. I also want to thank those who frequent social media and blogging sites, without their posts acting as a constant reminder of the ignorance and hate that influence interpretations of justice, this series would not have been possible.



http://www.projectcensored.org/justice-for-sale-part-5-rebellious-action-in-a-corrupt-time/
 

TAEZZAR

LADY JUSTICE ISNT BLIND, SHES JUST AFRAID TO WATCH
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#13
Well searcher,

The small header just above the conclusion of part 3 says a lot, "Profits Breed Corruption". No one can broad brush every police officer in the country. How?

The problem seems to come from the economics side of it. Everything from the prisons, asset forfeiture, payoffs, bribes, jury tampering and outright lying.

My brother is a police chief down here in Florida. He's as honest as the day is long but his policies guide him. The influence of funding being dangled like a carrot.

Community policing no more.
Don't take this personal, BUT, it is becoming more evident, every day, that police "broad brush" the public in a negative way.
What goes around, comes around.
And in this case , I feel it is well earned.
 

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https://www.usnews.com/news/us/arti...udge-released-from-prison-over-virus-concerns
One of the biggest corruption scandals to hit America's juvenile justice system started to unfold in 2007, when parents in a central Pennsylvania county began to complain that their children had been tossed into for-profit youth centers without a lawyer to represent them.
Over the past eight years, the kickback scheme, known as "kids for cash," has resulted in prison terms for two Luzerne County judges and two businessmen — and convictions of thousands of juveniles have been tossed out.

Now the case is entering its final chapter: a few remaining class action lawsuits in which victims are seeking millions of dollars in compensation.
One of those claims drew to a close Monday, when a federal judge signed off on a settlement in which one of the businessmen, Robert Powell, would pay $4.75 million. The actual payouts will begin in December, after the plaintiffs choose whether to accept the settlement.
Powell, who co-owned two private juvenile justice facilities, served an 18-month prison term after admitting to paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to former Court of Common Pleas Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. and his boss, Judge Michael Conahan. In return, Ciavarella routinely found children guilty and sent them to Powell's facilities.
The PA Child Care youth detention center in Pittston, Pennsaylvania, where children were sent to serve terms after being caught up in the "kids for cash" scheme.Matt Rourke / AP
Ciavarella was convicted in 2011 of racketeering and other charges, and sentenced to 28 years in prison. Conahan, a friend of Powell's who oversaw the scam, pleaded guilty to racketeering and was sentenced to more than 17 years behind bars. A fourth conspirator, developer Robert Mericle, pleaded guilty for his part in the plot and was sentenced to a year in prison.
The victims and their families have also won millions in judgments from Mericle and Powell's companies.
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All that's left to adjudicate now are two additional class-action claims against Ciavarella and Conahan, said Marsha Levick, deputy director of Juvenile Law Center, the Philadelphia non-profit that sparked the case when it began investigating questionable juvenile lockups in Luzerne County in 2007.
Because of limits on the kind of behavior judges can be held civilly liable for, those judgments could be more modest than the existing settlements, she said.

Sandy Fonzo of Wilkes-Barre, whose son committed suicide after being caught in the "kids for cash" scheme, confronted former Luzerne County Judge Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., outside the federal courthouse in Scranton, Pennsylvania.Michael J. Mullen / The ScrantonTimes-Tribune via AP file
Levick said that there is a measure of satisfaction among most of the 2,500 victims and their families. But even after the prison term and millions of dollars in compensation, there is still an uneasy sense of closure.
"Justice has been done as much as it can be done through the legal process, but it's an incomplete reckoning," she said. "How do you put a price on the kids' constitutional rights, on being removed from their communities and taken from their schools and everything else they suffered?"
Jon Schuppe
Jon Schuppe writes about crime, justice and related matters for NBC News.
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TAEZZAR

LADY JUSTICE ISNT BLIND, SHES JUST AFRAID TO WATCH
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EVERYONE INVOLVED SHOULD HAVE GOTTEN 50 YEARS TO LIFE ! :judge:make happy 2::totally steamed::totally steamed::totally steamed: