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Showing posts from August, 2008

The Land of the Silent and the Home of the Fearful

by Dave Lindorff

I was a speaker last night at an anti-war event sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Monmouth County, Progressive Democrats of America and Democrats For America in Lincroft, NJ, near the shore. It was a great group of activist Americans who want to see this country end the Iraq War, turn away from war as a primary instrument of policy, and start dealing with the pressing human needs of the country and the world.

Yet even in this group of committed people, one woman stood up during the question-and-answer session and said, "I want to get involved in writing emails to members of Congress urging them to cut off funding for the war and other things, but if I do that won't I end up getting put on a "watch list'" or something?"

Read on...

This article by David Lindorff shows us the possible consequences of letting civil liberties get trampled. Everyone becomes afraid. Tom

ABC Reporter Arrested in Denver Taking Pictures of Senators, Big Donors

Asa Eslocker Was Investigating the Role of Lobbyists and Top Donors at the Convention

By BRIAN ROSS Aug. 27, 2008

DENVER -- Police in Denver arrested an ABC News producer today as he and a camera crew were attempting to take pictures on a public sidewalk of Democratic senators and VIP donors leaving a private meeting at the Brown Palace Hotel.

Police in Denver arrested an ABC News producer today as he was attempting to take pictures of Democratic senators and VIP donors leaving a private meeting at the Brown Palace Hotel.(ABC News)More Photos
Police on the scene refused to tell ABC lawyers the charges against the producer, Asa Eslocker, who works with the ABC News investigative unit. Read on... I don't know, maybe the police have been watching too much video of the 1968 Democratic convention. But it really seems that the police seem to feel they have carte blanche to harrass what appears to be lawful activity. Tom

Police brutality & violent arrest of CodePink activist in Denver

by Randgrithr
Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 06:21:23 AM PDT
Rocky Mountain News has the video provided by George Kochaniec Jr. of an unidentified Denver... "cop", and I use that word as lightly as it applies, brutalizing 24-year-old Alicia Forrest of CodePink and then later arresting her for no known reason, dragging her off as she tries to respond to interview questions.
Alicia was arrested on Tuesday and held for five hours, then went through another two hours of questioning with the Denver Police Internal Affairs Department. CodePink was told that the "cop" has been pulled from protest duty and will not be permitted to interact with protesters, but no other known discipline against the piece of work is pending. Alicia is reportedly fine physically and in touch with a lawyer from the People's Law Project.

Read on...

Police overreaction to legitimate protest seems to be a problem that is getting totally out of the U.S. and in Canada. If you follow the link there …

Marc Mauer Discusses "Race to Imitate" in Ottawa, Canada

May 04, 2008 (Ottawa Citizen, CBC Ottawa)

At the invitation of the Church Council on Justice and Corrections and the John Howard Society, The Sentencing Project's Executive Director Marc Mauer appeared in Ottawa, Canada to speak on the “Race to Imitate.” The Canadian government has been moving to adopt many of the “get tough” policies promoted in the U.S. in recent decades, leading Mauer to caution that such initiatives have been counterproductive in the U.S. Mauer was featured on CBC Ottawa's “Ontario Today” radio broadcast and a policy forum at St. Paul's University.

Series of stories in the Ottawa Citizen found here:

I guess we'll find out soon enough how the "tough on crime" arguments play out in a federal election in Canada. Tom

Racial fairness gaining ground in the justice system

By Marc Mauer
July 30, 2008
Nearly a million African-Americans are incarcerated in prisons and jails, and a black male born today has a one-in-three chance of going to prison in his lifetime, if current trends continue. People of good will disagree about the causes of these dramatic figures. Competing explanations include high rates of involvement in crime, differential rates of prosecution through the "war on drugs," racial profiling and inadequate family support. In fact, there is a good deal of documentation to support each of these contentions as at least a part of the explanation for the disparity.While the numbers are distressing, the good news is that there are growing efforts among policymakers at the federal and state level to provide constructive approaches to sort out the causes and address them. read on

Interesting opinion piece by Marc Mauer, executive director of the Sentencing Project. Tom

The Case for Juvenile Courts

Published: August 13, 2008

This country made a terrible mistake when it began routinely trying youthful offenders as adults. This get-tough approach was supposed to deter crime. But a growing number of government-financed studies have shown that minors prosecuted as adults commit more crimes — and are more likely to become career criminals — than ones processed through juvenile courts. read on

A nice editorial in the New York Times

Assessing the Effectiveness of Intermediate Sanctions in Multnomah County, Oregon

Andres F. Rengifo
Christine S. Scott-Hayward

Vera Institute of Justice, June 2008

In the 1990s the Department of Justice (DCJ) in Multnomah County, Oregon, initiated a series of eveidence-based reforms intended to shift resources and change its supervision approach. This study by the Vera Institute of Justice is one of a number of studies the DCJ has solicited to look at particular questions about its system. It provides an overview of the patterns and practices of adult probation and post-prison supervision, based on Vera's quantitative analysis of the use of intermediate sanctions in response to violations of probation conditions. The full document is available in pdf on the front page of the Vera Institute at: Tom

Developing Indicators to Measure the Rule of Law: A Global Approach

A Report to the World Justice Project

July 2008

In recent years, performance indicators have emerged as a promising tool for tracking progress in key areas of governance, including the rule of law. With support from the American Bar Association's World Justice Project, the Vera Institute of Justice partnered with three fellow Altus Global Alliance members to develop a set of 60 rule of law indicators - concrete measures designed to assess an abstract concept - and test them in four cities: Chandigarh, India; Lagos, Nigeria; Santiago, Chile; and New York City, U.S.

The pdf of this document is available on the front page at:

I'm not sure why, but I assumed New York City would rate higher on these measures than the other cities. A very quick scan indicates that may not be the case. Read the whole article. Tom

Naomi Klein: China's Hi-Tech Surveillance State Is Ready for Export

By Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, Democracy Now!.
August 18, 2008.

With 300,000 security cameras in Beijing alone, China is at the forefront of the surveillance boom -- and U.S. corporations are reaping the profits.

Juan Gonzalez: China deported five international activists [last week] for unfurling a "Free Tibet" banner over the top of an Olympic Games billboard. It's the latest incident in what has become an almost daily crackdown on both domestic and international protesters who have had to contend with a brand new surveillance system that China set up ahead of the games. This includes 300,000 security cameras and an estimated 100,000 security officers on duty in Beijing.
But it's not just Beijing that's gotten a security upgrade. There are now over 600 "safe" cities in China that have received new surveillance gear. The equipment and integrated security systems will remain long after the Olympics, to be used, many fear, on China's own population. Th…

Library cards: Does Big Brother know what you're reading?

by Alan Bisbort August 21, 2008

It sounds like the plot to a new Monty Python Broadway musical, "SPY-A LOT":
You are a librarian in a quiet town. One day a government spy—played by Eric Idle sporting a greasy moustache and doing his nod-nod-wink-wink routine—hands you a "secret letter" demanding your borrowers' records and computer files. You are not to discuss this with anyone, and you are not allowed to contest the demand in court. Just to be on the safe side, don't even make eye contact with the spy. Simply back away from the checkout counter and tiptoe, preferably cowering, toward the stacks. The spy will let you know when he's done. And when he's gone, you are to pretend none of this ever happened. Nod nod wink wink.

Essentially, this is what the Patriot Act allows the FBI to do now. They can issue "National Security Letters" (NSL) and, without court order, search any library file in America for any reason they deem appropriate. Since th…

Law and Order: Curfew America

War zone security has arrived in the US as cities are shut down at night by police struggling to control a deadly wave of gun crime. David Usborne reports from Hartford, Connecticut

by David Usborne

HARTFORD, Connecticut - The police state has not arrived quite yet but it may feel like it to the residents of some American cities, where a handful of embattled mayors and police chiefs are imposing strict and sometimes sweeping curfews as a last resort to quell new waves of gun violence this summer.
"We must do this because we cannot and will not tolerate innocent people, especially children, to be victims," insists Eddie Perez, the Mayor of Hartford, the capital of Connecticut, where a night-time curfew was introduced last week and will remain in effect for a month for those under 18 years old.

read on

This article from highlights the ongoing U.S. infatuation with curfews. Its funny how popular they are when research shows they aren't very effective. Tom