Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Police revolt over Government's decision to let untrained officers use Taser guns

By James Slack
Last updated at 3:50 PM on 22nd June 2009

Police are in revolt over the Government's decision to hand controversial Taser guns to officers with only 18 hours of training.

At least two forces have snubbed updated Home Office policy to make the weapons available to 30,000 nonspecialist officers, ending the practice of issuing them solely to highly-trained firearms squads.

Several others have yet to reach a decision amid concerns the use of Tasers by rank-and-file police could harm public confidence.

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Meanwhile in Canada Tasers continue to be handed out like candy. Tom

Prosecution and racial justice: using data to advance fairness in criminal

New from the Vera Institute. Check out he pdf in the link.

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Journal of Gang Research

The Centre of Criminology Library now subscribes to the Journal of Gang Research starting with Volume 14, Fall 2006. The current issue is Volume 16, Spring 2009.

If you would like to browse the journal ask Tom or Andrea. It's being kept on reserve until it can be processed into the collection.

Lila Rose: The New Darling of Anti-Choice Right-Wingers

By Bill Berkowitz, Religion Dispatches. Posted June 24, 2009.

Anti-choice crusader Lila Rose has devoted her considerable media savvy to depriving other women of their reproductive rights.

She’s a committed and politically savvy 20-year-old UCLA history major who, posing as a much younger girl, goes into clinics asking for help with an unwanted pregnancy -- and films the results in the form of an exposé and posts them online.

Meet Lila Rose, president of Live Action Films and the new face of the anti-choice movement.

Steeped in conservative Christian politics, Rose has already benefited from the generous assistance of powerful players like communications firm The Leadership Institute, a high-powered conservative Christian legal organization, and a well-known DC-based Public Relations firm. She was the recipient of Operation Rescue’s 2008 Person of the Year Malachi Award, and her campaign at UCLA to urge administrators to cut ties with Planned Parenthood received the endorsement of Dr. Alveda King, the ultra-conservative niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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U.S. eugenics legacy: Ruling on Buck sterilization still stands

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Paul Lombardo hadn't planned on a three-decade detour when he stopped at a greasy-spoon restaurant for breakfast in February 1980. Lombardo, then a graduate student at the University of Virginia, picked up a newspaper to read as he ate his bacon and eggs.

And the rest is history, literally and figuratively. For almost 30 years, Lombardo has tried to uncover the full story of the wrongs he read about that day.

The article he had stumbled across was about two sisters sterilized in the 1920s by the state of Virginia for being "feeble-minded." The younger sister hadn't even known she'd had a tubal ligation. She didn't learn until she was in her late 60s that the surgery hadn't been for appendicitis. The older, more famous sister — Carrie Buck — was the subject of the now infamous lawsuit over the legality of the operation, Buck v. Bell, that was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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UN Backs Drug Decriminalization In World Drug Report

In an about face, the United Nations on Wednesday lavishly praised drug decriminalization in its annual report on the state of global drug policy. In previous years, the UN drug czar had expressed skepticism about Portugal's decriminalization, which removed criminal penalties in 2001 for personal drug possession and emphasized treatment over incarceration. The UN had suggested the policy was in violation of international drug treaties and would encourage "drug tourism."

But in its 2009 World Drug Report, the UN had little but kind words for Portugal's radical (by U.S. standards) approach. "These conditions keep drugs out of the hands of those who would avoid them under a system of full prohibition, while encouraging treatment, rather than incarceration, for users. Among those who would not welcome a summons from a police officer are tourists, and, as a result, Portugal's policy has reportedly not led to an increase in drug tourism," reads the report. "It also appears that a number of drug-related problems have decreased."

The report, released at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on "World Drug Day," also puts to rest concerns that decriminalization doesn't comply with international treaties, which prevent countries from legalizing drugs.

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Rape in Prison

Published: June 23, 2009

Rape accompanied by savage violence has long been part of prison life. Congress finally confronted this horrendous problem by passing the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003. In addition to bringing attention to a long overlooked problem, the new law created a commission that has put forth a broad set of rape-prevention standards that deserve to become mandatory in correctional agencies throughout the country.

The commission report, released earlier this week, should come as alarming news. It suggests, for example, that rapes carried out by corrections officers and inmates are widespread, but the actual rates of rape vary widely from place to place.

Drawing on a federal survey of more than 63,000 state and federal inmates, the commission said that about 4.5 percent reported being sexually abused at least once during the previous 12 months. Extrapolating from this data, the commissioners estimate that there were at least 60,000 rapes of prisoners nationally during this period.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Fox News Downplays the Holocaust Museum Killing

You could almost see the moment yesterday afternoon when the Fox News team lost interest (or at least lost a lot of interest) in the breaking story about the shooting at the Holocaust Museum. That moment seemed to be when it was revealed that the alleged shooter, James von Brunn, was a white supremacist who, according to a CNN report last night, had strong ties to the Klu Klux Klan.

For some reason, Fox News suddenly pulled back its coverage of the shocking shooting that had political overtones. In fact, the story virtually disappeared during Fox News' primetime block.

Nothing to see here people, just keep moving along.

According to TVeyes.com, Fox News trails far behind its cable news rivals in mentioning "Holocaust" and/or "von Brunn" in the last 21 hours. In fact, Fox News anchors and reporters have used those phrases approximately 40 percent fewer times than their CNN counterparts, and 30 percent fewer than reporters and anchors at MSNBC.

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Conservative media freak-out: claim Obama DHS targeting conservatives in report on right-wing extremists

Since the Department of Homeland Security declassified an April 7 report detailing potential increases in right-wing extremism, media figures -- including CNN's Lou Dobbs, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, Fox News' Sean Hannity, Fox News national political commentator Andrea Tantaros, and Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin -- have advanced the claim that the Obama administration is targeting conservatives and others simply because they disagree with administration policies and proposals. For example, during the April 14 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Limbaugh claimed: "[Y]ou have a report from Janet Napolitano and Barack Obama Department of Homeland Security portraying standard, ordinary, everyday conservatives as posing a bigger threat to this country than Al Qaeda terrorists or genuine enemies of this country like Kim Jong-Il." However, while the report addressed potential issues that could spur right-wing extremism, it did not allege that someone is an extremist simply because he or she holds conservative views.

The DHS report concluded that "rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues. The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment." The report also cited as potential mobilizing issues for right-wing extremism "immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use," as well as "[r]ightwing extremist paranoia ... harkening back to the 'New World Order' conspiracy theories of the 1990s."

In addition to Limbaugh, the following media figures have responded to the DHS report by alleging or suggesting that the Obama administration is targeting Americans simply because of political differences:

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I watched a bit of CNN's coverage of the Holocaust Memorial shooting last night. Lou Dobbs continually brought up some muslim attack and or consiracy somewhere in the states as he was reporting on the shooting. It was bizarre. Tom

How a Former Prisoner Took Down a Big Shot from the Private Prison Industry (and Cheney Pal)

By Paul Wright, CounterPunch. Posted June 9, 2009.


Gus Puryear had his judicial nomination scuttled by a former prisoner turned criminal justice advocate.

On June 13, 2007, former President Bush nominated Gustavus A. Puryear IV, 40, for a lifetime appointment to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. While you've likely never heard of Gustavus Puryear, you may be familiar with the company he works for: Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), the nation's largest for-profit prison firm. CCA is conveniently located in the Middle District of Tennessee and Puryear serves as the company's general counsel -- its top attorney.

Puryear's judicial nomination did not go unnoticed; it drew the attention of a former CCA prisoner turned criminal justice advocate who opposes private prisons. By conducting extensive research, securing widespread media attention, contacting members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and recruiting organizational allies, he coordinated an opposition campaign that managed to stall -- and ultimately scuttle -- Puryear's nomination.

Further, the ex-CCA prisoner who took down CCA's general counsel, denying him a federal judgeship in a humiliating defeat, happens to be employed by Prison Legal News.

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Holocaust Museum Shooting, Antisemitic Conspiracy Theories, and the Tools of Fear

by Chip Berlet

The alleged shooter at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Wednesday has an online book excerpt revealing his deep roots in historic White Supremacy and antisemitic conspiracy theories, including references to the hoax document The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. His website includes links to White Supremacist and Holocaust denial sites.

People who believe conspiracist allegations sometimes act on those irrational beliefs, and this has concrete consequences in the real world. The shooting on Wednesday is a prime example of why it is a mistake to ignore bigoted conspiracy theories. Law enforcement needs to enforce laws against criminal behavior. Vicious bigoted speech, however, is often protected by the First Amendment. We do not need new laws or to encourage government agencies to further erode civil liberties. We need to stand up as moral people and speak out against the spread of bigoted conspiracy theories. That's not a police problem, that's our problem as people responsible for defending a free society.

Demagogues and conspiracy theorists use the same four "tools of fear." These are 1) dualism; 2) scapegoating; 3) demonization; and 4) apocalyptic aggression. The tools of fear are a connected constellation of frames, narratives, and processes used by demagogues to mobilize resentment and undermine the democratic process.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Centre of Criminology Library - summer hours

Starting June 17 the Criminology Library will be open
Monday to Friday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Closed for lunch: 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Closed on weekends.

Check for exceptions. Call ahead. Friday June 5 - closed 12 to 2 p.m.
Tom: 416-978-7068 x236
Andrea: 416-978-7968 x245

Check our website for details:
www.criminology.utoronto.ca/lib/

Sotomayor, Gingrich, and the Demise of Our Press Corps

by Eric Boehlert

Last week's press coverage of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court was gruesome in so many ways, as reporters routinely fell down and failed to reflect even the most basic tenets of journalism.

One of the most disturbing examples of how fundamentals were ignored involved Sotomayor's now-infamous quote from eight years ago about a "Latina woman" judge reaching a "better conclusion" on the bench than her white male counterparts. Sotomayor made the comment as part of a speech she gave at University of California, Berkeley, in 2001 in which she explored what it would mean to have more women and minorities on the bench.

To see just how dreadful the coverage of that story became, let's look at the efforts by The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal, which published nearly identical news articles about the unfolding political battle surrounding Sotomayor and the "Latina woman" quote, which conservatives have latched onto. The quote became the basis for the incendiary claim made by Newt Gingrich and Glenn Beck, among others, that Sotomayor is, in fact, a racist because she thinks Hispanic judges render better decisions than whites.

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Slam Bill O'Reilly for His Jihad Against Dr. George Tiller

By Isaac Fitzgerald, AlterNet. Posted June 2, 2009.

O'Reilly's horribly offensive rhetoric helped feed the hate that led to this act of domestic terrorism.

Dr. George Tiller, one of the few OB-GYNs in the country who performed late-term abortions despite threats to his safety, was brutally slain on Sunday in an act of domestic terrorism. Suspect Scott Roeder has been detained for questioning, but while Roeder may have pulled the trigger, another participant in Tiller's tragic death is still at large: Bill O'Reilly.

Gabriel Winant of Salon writes about O'Reilly:

... there's no other person who bears as much responsibility for the characterization of Tiller as a savage on the loose, killing babies willy-nilly thanks to the collusion of would-be sophisticated cultural elites, a bought-and-paid-for governor and scofflaw secular journalists. Tiller's name first appeared on The Factor on Feb. 25, 2005. Since then, O'Reilly and his guest hosts have brought up the doctor on 28 more episodes, including as recently as April 27. Almost invariably, Tiller is described as "Tiller the Baby Killer."

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200 Executions and Counting: Texas Gov. Rick Perry's Cruel Death Tally

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet. Posted June 2, 2009.

Today marks the 200th execution under Perry, a record even deadlier than George W. Bush's tenure. What's the matter with Texas?

At roughly 6 p.m. tonight, Texas Gov. Rick Perry will make history when he presides over the 200th execution of his tenure. It's a chilling achievement, one that dwarfs that of his predecessor, George W. Bush, who famously signed off on 152 (with a little help from his friend, then-legal counsel Alberto Gonzales).

Barring a most unlikely twist of fate, there's little doubt that Terry Lee Hankins will be dead by sunset. For death-penalty enthusiasts, this is cause for celebration; Hawkins -- a self-described "non-caring monster" who shot his wife and children in their sleep -- is held up as a poster child for state killing. One appellate prosecutor for the Texas Attorney General's office, Georgette Oden -- who recently joked on her blog that when asked at cocktail parties "So, what do you do?" she likes to boast "I kill people" -- wrote: "He's my best example of the kind of person who deserves the death penalty."

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Shocking Grandma

by digby

A great-grandmother from the Hill Country has taken on legal representation after being tasered and jailed for resisting arrest.

Last Monday, 72-year-old Kathryn Winkfein was driving home to Granite Schoals after her bi-weekly shopping trip to Austin when she was pulled over by a Travis County Constable deputy. According to authorities, she'd been doing 60 down a 45-mph construction zone on Highway 71 near Bee Creek.

The officer wrote out a ticket to Winkfein and asked her to sign the stub, explaining that her signature wasn't an admission of guilt, but rather a promise to show up for a future court appearance. Winkfein, allegedly belligerent over the matter, refused to sign and asked the officer to take her to jail.

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Grandmothers, kids, mentally ill, everyone is fair game. Tom