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Member since: Sat Jun 23, 2012, 06:03 PM
Number of posts: 3,183

Journal Archives

The Drug War Has to End: David Simon on "The Wire" & Over-Policing of the Poor

Democracynow.org - In his acclaimed TV show "The Wire," David Simon captured the city of Baltimore from the angles of street-level drug dealers, beat police officers and journalists covering corrupt politicians. Earlier this year, President Obama described "The Wire" as "one of the greatest, not just television but pieces of art, in the last couple of decades.”

Posted by damnedifIknow | Wed Aug 26, 2015, 08:22 PM (5 replies)

The Most Important Step President Obama Can Take to Stop the Use of Religion to Discriminate

As Indiana Gov. Mike Pence faced a well-deserved national backlash this spring after signing a discriminatory “religious freedom” law, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest rightly described the law as “not consistent with our values as a country that we hold dear.”

The very same statement applies to a legal opinion, carried over from the administration of President George W. Bush, that, regrettably, the Obama administration has allowed to remain in place for six and a half years. The memo, using the guise of religious liberty, explicitly authorizes taxpayer-funded discrimination.

In the closing years of the Bush administration, the Office of Legal Counsel within the Justice Department, the very same entity that produced the infamous torture memos, published a legal memorandum on June 29, 2007, that reached the erroneous and dangerous conclusion that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 provides for a blanket override of nondiscrimination protections, specifically to allow a federal grantee to discriminate on the basis of religion in hiring with taxpayer dollars.

As a candidate, then-Senator Obama promised to end taxpayer-funded hiring discrimination because of the government’s profound and enduring commitment to upholding the bedrock civil rights principle that it must not fund discrimination. While President Obama has done much to advance fairness and equality for all Americans, he has, to date, allowed this deeply harmful legal memorandum to remain in place."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Tue Aug 25, 2015, 06:08 PM (0 replies)

Transgender Women of Color Stand Up Against Murder, Neglect

Transgender women of color are being murdered. Transgender women of color like us are being murdered across these United States. There have been at least seventeen murders of transgender of women of color in 2015. Last week alone, we lost five sisters, with three bodies discovered in one day on August 14, 2015. We call the names of Shade Schuler, Amber Monroe, Ashton O’Hara, Kandi Capri, Elisha Walker, Tamara Dominguez, and so many others who were stolen from us. Transgender women of color are being targeted and executed across this country and nobody seems to give a damn about any of our lives.


* When a transgender woman of color is murdered, it is not only an injustice for transgender people. It is an injustice for all people of color. It is an injustice for women. It is an injustice for any marginalized group that is oppressed and experiences erasure.

Transgender women of color from across this country are tired and have had enough of the MURDERS, the ABUSE, the VIOLENCE, the EXCUSES, and the NEGLECT. We give ourselves permission scream and yell in anger for the treatment of our community. We give ourselves permission dismantle the system of White supremacy that says that people of color should have a pleasant disposition when dealing with injustice and to wait when it comes to the real liberation of our community.

*November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance. It is a day where we give honor to and remember the lives of transgender people who are no longer with us. However, this year we transgender women of color and transgender men of color are choosing to own and create a new narrative to celebrate those who are no longer with us while giving ourselves permission to vocalize our outrage. On November 20th 2015 cities across the United States will be participating in the Transgender March of Resilience, a movement birthed from Black and Latin transgender experience and one that will model what this movement will look like for transgender people of color in the United States. We invite all to participate with us in solidarity and proclaim, “transgender women of color matter!”

Posted by damnedifIknow | Tue Aug 25, 2015, 02:12 PM (0 replies)

Police Officer Soothes Dog Who Bit Him

When a dog feels threatened and defensively attacks, there is a right way and a wrong way to react. Officer Randall Frederick was bitten by a dog who believed she was protecting her small human from an intruder, and rather than hastily react by drawing his weapon and firing, he took the time to calm her down.

There are so many sad news stories involving cops acting cowardly and shooting dogs who spook them that we are often overwhelmed. Little good seems to come from covering these stories, as they seldom serve any other purpose than saddening both our fans and ourselves.

Yes, it’s important to get the word out there so police know that we are paying attention and will not let their crimes go unpunished, but what’s more important is to pay respect to the officers who excel at their jobs and are the standard to which all others should be held.

Positive reinforcement works wonders on all, whether dog, child, or adult. So that’s also why we are more than thrilled to share news of the good deeds that many officers do, in hopes that others will get the message that it is better for everyone if they conduct themselves admirably and be the kind of police they looked up to as children.

*Nearly 1,000 households have registered their dogs, and other jurisdictions have become interested in the program, which also includes stickers for officers to give to people to put on their doors so officers will be aware they may potentially encounter aggressive dogs. Cmdr. Stuart says Officer Frederick’s behavior is a good example for other police.

“It’s about remaining calm, and thinking a problem through rather than overreacting.”

Posted by damnedifIknow | Mon Aug 24, 2015, 09:27 PM (3 replies)

Trans Visibility Matters

The Takeaway: More Americans Know and Accept Transgender People

Results from a new national survey commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, reveal a significant uptick in the number of Americans who say they personally know or work with someone who is transgender, and a corresponding increase in favorable feelings toward transgender people.

The data, collected for HRC by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, shows that 22 percent of likely voters surveyed reported that they personally know or work with a transgender person, up from 17 percent who said they did in a similar poll last year. And knowing a transgender person translates powerfully into positive impressions: 66 percent of those who said they know a transgender person expressed favorable feelings toward them, compared with 13 percent who did not -- a net favorability of 53 percentage points.

Posted by damnedifIknow | Mon Aug 24, 2015, 08:38 PM (1 replies)

Criminal justice reformers await holy ally: Pope Francis

There’s a long history of religious leaders writing and teaching from inside prisons — from Martin Luther King to Paul the Apostle. But 78-year-old Pope Francis may be the most prominent religious leader to ever advocate for prison reform from the outside.

Last year, Francis called for an end to solitary confinement, the death penalty and life imprisonment. He has knelt down to wash and then kiss the feet of Roman inmates on two of the first Holy Thursdays of his papacy. Visiting a group of Bolivian prisoners recently, the pope told them he sees no difference between them and himself — they are all sinners.

Now Francis is coming to the United States, much to the delight of criminal justice reformers who have waged a growing bipartisan battle to scale back and remake the mammoth U.S. penal system. Reformers hope Francis’ visit to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia next month as part of his six-day U.S. tour will grab lawmakers’ attention. A few days before visiting the inner-city prison, the pope will address Congress and could raise the issue of criminal justice reform there as well.

One in three Americans today has a criminal record, and the United States remains the largest jailer in the world, thanks in part to lengthy sentences for drug crimes. These bleak statistics have led many Republicans and Democrats — including most of the candidates for president — to question the current system. Yet despite broad bipartisan support that has joined unlikely allies such as the Koch brothers and President Obama, major legislative proposals have stalled in Congress. A big spotlight from this rock-star-like pope could give the issue a boost.

In a speech to penal-law representatives from around the world in October 2014, the pope laid out his vision for criminal justice reform. He called for an end to solitary confinement, which he compared to torture, and spoke out against pre-trial detention. (The U.S. sends thousands of people to prison each year because they cannot afford bail.) "


Posted by damnedifIknow | Mon Aug 24, 2015, 01:51 PM (2 replies)

Atlanta residents can’t decide whether ‘Negro season’ graffiti is anti-black or anti-police

Like a Rorschach ink blot, different Atlanta residents are taking away different interpretations of a piece of street art painted on the side of a building depicting cartoon character Elmer Fudd with a shotgun in hand beneath a sign reading “Negro season.”

According to CBS46, the graffiti was painted on the side of a building housing Allied Barton — a security company that provides armed and uniformed security officers — and is just blocks away from an art school.

Unlike the cartoon Elmer Fudd, the artist’s rendition has Fudd in a cop’s uniform instead of hunting clothes and deer stalker hat.

While some residents see the artwork as racially motivated, encouraging police to gun down African Americans, others see it as mocking police as bumbling incompetents who hunt and kill innocent blacks.

“It makes people feel unsafe, you know, uncomfortable” said one woman.

Another man told CBS46, “He’s trying to intimidate black people.”

“He’s definitely white,” another woman suggested of the artist. “I don’t see why somebody would want to do that if he was being racist to his own kind.”

Another woman said it might be a “political statement” from a Black Lives Matter activist."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Mon Aug 24, 2015, 12:36 PM (5 replies)

Tampa police officer body slams mother of 4

It started over a tinted license plate cover. Now Tampa police officer Kevin Fitzpatrick is under investigation and the 34 year old woman he body slammed wants justice. Not only does the Tampa Police Department have to explain what happened on this dash-cam video, both police and prosecutors need to fess up about why they claimed this video didn’t exist.
It was November 5th,7:30 in the morning. Tampa police officer Kevin Fitzpatrick claims when he approached Liz Vargas about an obscured license plate, she immediately became argumentative.

Dash-cam video captured in his cruiser shows within 34 seconds of approaching Vargas, Fitzpatrick is struggling to put handcuffs on her. Vargas is screaming for help, crying out she is being abused. Then, Fitzpatrick body slams her.
“You know I wasn’t offensive, I wasn’t hurting him, I wasn’t you know, hit him. I’m not a person like that,” Liz Vargas said. According to officer Fitzpatrick’s report, Vargas repeatedly ignored his requests for her license and registration.
“It was in my glove compartment, I was telling him, but he was actually screaming at me he didn’t give me a chance,” she said. Fitzpatrick took Vargas into custody for obtructing a police officer and resisting arrest without violence"

“They lied about it,” Vargas said. The state attorney’s office told 8 On Your Side that it became aware in April, that the video existed."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Sun Aug 23, 2015, 10:56 PM (13 replies)

Virginia tops nation in sending students to cops, courts: Where does your state rank?

Kayleb Moon-Robinson was 11 years old last fall when charges — criminal charges — began piling up at school.

Diagnosed as autistic, Kayleb was being scolded for misbehavior one day and kicked a trash can at Linkhorne Middle School in Lynchburg, Virginia, in the Blue Ridge Mountains. A police officer assigned to the school witnessed the tantrum, and filed a disorderly conduct charge against the sixth grader in juvenile court.

Just weeks later, in November, Kayleb, who is African-American, disobeyed a new rule — this one just for him — that he wait while other kids left class. The principal sent the same school officer to get him.

“He grabbed me and tried to take me to the office,” said Kayleb, a small, bespectacled boy who enjoys science. “I started pushing him away. He slammed me down, and then he handcuffed me.”

In an incident report, a teacher confirmed that the officer spoke to Kayleb, then grabbed him around the chest, and that Kayleb cursed and struggled. School officials won’t comment on this case, but say that police in schools are crucial to providing a safe atmosphere and protecting against outside threats. Stacey Doss, Kayleb’s mother and the daughter of a police officer herself, was outraged."

*Virginia isn’t reliably tracing how many charges in juvenile courts statewide originate with school police. But some public defenders report they’re handling multiple cases with surprisingly harsh allegations against young students.

In southeastern Virginia, for instance, a 12-year-old girl was charged earlier this year with four misdemeanors — including obstruction of justice for “clenching her fist” at a school cop who intervened in a school fight."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Sun Aug 23, 2015, 10:33 PM (2 replies)

How hospitals could help cut prison recidivism

The other side of the prison coin is recidivism. Prisons are often called “correctional facilities” but that is a cruel joke – they do a dismal job in turning lives around. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, about two-thirds of released state prisoners were re-arrested within three years and three-quarters within five. Prison is a revolving door.

It’s true that there can be opportunities in prison for inmates who dropped out of high school to study for a GED to help prepare them for release. However many prisons don’t make this easy. I have helped one inmate studying for his GED by supplying study books – only to discover that the facility places a six-book limit on any inmate’s bookshelf. Prisons may also teach an inmate a new work skill – although many ex-offenders discover they face licensing barriers that makes their new skill worthless.

So why don’t prisons do a better job at helping inmates to re-enter society and workforce after their release? Because they have little incentive to do so. The revolving door is good for business. It means more jobs for guards, more prison construction and usually fatter budgets for the prison system. If prisons did things to cut recidivism it would mean fewer repeat customers. Like Motel6, their incentive for prisons is to tell people checking out, “We’ll keep the lights on for you.”

*Imagine if prisons faced a readmissions penalty. Let’s say that if an unusually high number of released inmates from a particular prison were convicted and sent back to prison within three years then the prison’s budget would be cut and the bonuses and salary increases of senior prison staff trimmed back. Just as with hospitals, the first reaction would be to complain at the “unfairness” of being held liable for a released inmate’s return to crime. But after that the prison management would start to do a much better job than today in preparing inmates for re-entry into the community. Petty restrictions and surcharges on phone calls to family members would quickly go – the erosion of family ties increases the likelihood of a return to crime. Limits on GED textbooks would certainly vanish.

*The current incentive system for prisons rewards recidivism, just as the Medicare payment system for hospitals used to rewarded readmissions. Changing the incentives for hospitals has encouraged managers to find ways to improve the long-term health of their Medicare patients. It’s now time to change the readmission incentives for prisons."

Posted by damnedifIknow | Sun Aug 23, 2015, 02:13 PM (0 replies)
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