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Showing posts from July, 2010

Judge Blocks Key Provisions of Arizona Immigration Law

Wednesday 28 July 2010by: Andrea Nill | Think Progress | Report
A May Day immigration rally participant. (Photo: Joseph Voves)This afternoon, in a long-awaited decision, 9th Circuit Judge Susan Bolton enjoined several major provisions of Arizona’s immigration law, SB-1070. While it was speculated that Bolton would block parts of SB-1070 relating to warrantless arrests and document requirements, the judge also ended up striking down the law’s most controversial and significant provision: the requirement that police check immigration status. Bolton blocked the following sections of SB-1070 arguing that “the United States is likely to succeed on the merits in showing that…[they] are preempted by federal law” and the “United States is likely to suffer irreparable harm” in the absence of an injunction:Portion of Section 2 of S.B. 1070: Requires police to inquire about the immigration status of anyone they stop, detain, or arrest if they reasonably suspect the person is in t…

Fair Sentencing Act An Important First Step But Sizeable Sentencing Gap Remains

WASHINGTON - July 28 - The House today passed a bill that would make much needed changes to current cocaine sentencing laws and which will now go to President Obama’s desk for signature. The bill, the Fair Sentencing Act (S. 1789), was unanimously passed by the Senate in March. As originally introduced in the Senate, the bill would have completely eliminated the discriminatory 100:1 disparity between crack and powder cocaine sentencing under federal law. However, during the bill's markup in the Senate, a compromise was reached with Republican Senate Judiciary Committee members to reduce the disparity to an 18:1 ratio. The bill also eliminates the mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of crack cocaine and comes at a time when the United States Sentencing Commission is reconsidering the legitimacy and effectiveness of mandatory minimum sentencing. The commission is expected to release a new report on the subject in October. "We commend Speaker Pelosi an…

Rethinking Criminal Sentences

A federal conviction for white-collar fraud is no guarantee of a heavy prison sentence. When five defendants in the fraud case involving the American International Group were sentenced, they could have faced life in prison; instead, a judge handed down sentences of one to four years for causing more than $500 million in losses. A Ponzi-scheme criminal who caused more than $40 million in losses got 25 years. A man convicted of securities fraud that caused more than $50 million in losses got a three-and-a-half-year sentence.

Sentencing for white-collar crimes — and for child pornography offenses — “has largely lost its moorings,” according to the Justice Department, which makes a strong case that the matter should be re-examined by the United States Sentencing Commission.

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This is a New York Times editorial. Tom

Ontario watchdog launching new review of police action during G20 summit

A protester is arrested by police following a protest in Toronto on June 21, 2010. Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and MailAnna Mehler PapernyAfter receiving close to 300 G20 complaints – and counting – Ontario’s newly minted police watchdog is stepping into the policing-inquiry fray.The Ontario Independent Police Review Director, created last fall to provide civilian oversight into police conduct, announced Thursday afternoon it is launching a systemic review of police conduct during the G20 summit in Toronto.More than 1,000 people were arrested over a three-day period as protesters clashed with police across the downtown area. More than 700 were charged with nothing more than breach of peace, then released; more than 100 were never charged.Independent police review director Gerry McNeilly says he’s received more than 275 individual complaints about police conduct during that weekend, with more popping up every day.Read on...

G20 police shot rubber bullets, woman says

Natalie Gray was apprehended by police during a demonstration at the temporary detention centre in Toronto's east end on June 28. (Submitted by Natalie Gray)
A 20-year-old environmental activist from B.C. is suing the Toronto Police Service, claiming she was hit by two rubber bullets during a G20 summit protest."I hit the ground. It's hard to describe how it feels getting shot," said Natalie Gray of Maple Ridge, B.C., about 40 kilometres east of Vancouver.Gray was one of about 150 protesters who marched on a police-approved route to a former Toronto film studio that was converted into a temporary detention centre on June 28, the final day of the G20 meetings. The protest and police reaction were captured on video by the media.Read on...

BP Hires Prison Labor to Clean Up Spill While Coastal Residents Struggle

With scores of coastal residents out of work after the spill, BP is hiring inmates to clean up its mess—and getting lucrative tax breaks in the process.

July 23, 2010 | In the first few days after BP's Deepwater Horizon wellhead exploded, spewing crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, cleanup workers could be seen on Louisiana beaches wearing scarlet pants and white t-shirts with the words "Inmate Labor" printed in large red block letters. Coastal residents, many of whom had just seen their livelihoods disappear, expressed outrage at community meetings; why should BP be using cheap or free prison labor when so many people were desperate for work? The outfits disappeared overnight.Work crews in Grand Isle, Louisiana, still stand out. In a region where nine out of ten residents are white, the cleanup workers are almost exclusively African-American men. The racialized nature of the cleanup is so conspicuous that Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP, sent a pub…

Fourteen Examples of Systemic Racism in the US Criminal Justice System

by Bill QuigleyThe biggest crime in the U.S. criminal justice system is that it is a race-based institution where African-Americans are directly targeted and punished in a much more aggressive way than white people. Saying the US criminal system is racist may be politically controversial in some circles. But the facts are overwhelming. No real debate about that. Below I set out numerous examples of these facts. The question is – are these facts the mistakes of an otherwise good system, or are they evidence that the racist criminal justice system is working exactly as intended? Is the US criminal justice system operated to marginalize and control millions of African Americans? Information on race is available for each step of the criminal justice system – from the use of drugs, police stops, arrests, getting out on bail, legal representation, jury selection, trial, sentencing, prison, parole and freedom. Look what these facts show.
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CA Prop 19: Legal, Regulated Marijuana Favored 50%-40% in New Poll

By: Jon Walker Tuesday July 13, 2010 8:05 am

California’s Proposition 19, which will legalize, regulate and tax marijuana, is currently winning, 50 percent yes to 40 percent no, according to a new SurveyUSA poll of likely voters sponsored by CBS 5 KPIX-TV.SurveyUSA 7/8-11
Prop. 19:
Certain Yes 50
Certain No 40
Not Certain 11
(Note: Because of rounding, poll does not always add up to 100 percent)This is an automatic poll of 614 likely voters with a margin of error of 4 percent. The poll shows a substantially higher preference for marijuana legalization than other recent surveys from Field Research and Reuters/Ipsos , which both had the measure losing narrowly.Read on...

And This Little Piggy Went to Jail

Can police identify the "barefoot bandit" by his toe prints?By Brian Palmer

Chalk drawing of bare feet

Police finally apprehended the so-called "barefoot bandit" on Sunday in the Bahamas. Authorities claim 19-year-old American Colton Harris-Moore had been on a two-year international crime spree, stealing cars, boats, and airplanes. In February, the suspect allegedly left chalk outlines of his feet on the floor of a grocery in Washington State. Could police use Harris-Moore's foot- or toe prints to link him to the crimes?

Absolutely. Your fingers, palms, toes, and foot soles are all covered with friction ridges arrayed in a unique and relatively permanent pattern, and U.S. courts will accept evidence from all four areas. While the rest of the body lacks these ridges, many scientists believe that all skin is unique. Researchers have argued that marks from lips, elbows, and ears could also be used to catch bad guys. Criminals don't often leave these prints, thoug…

Foreign teen students more likely to use drugs, many face abuse: study

First-of-its-kind study in Canada tracks health, risk-taking among Asian home-stay students

Kate AllenPublished on Tuesday, Jul. 13, 2010 11:08AM EDT Teenaged foreign students from Asia living with British Columbia home-stay families are two times more likely than their Canadian counterparts to use cocaine, and nearly a quarter of girls report being sexually abused, according to a new study.Home-stay students also binge-drink and smoke more, skip school more, and are more sexually active than their immigrant or Canadian-born Asian counterparts. The study, the first of its kind in Canada, tracked health and risk-taking among 3,000 Asian home-stay students in grades 7 to 12 in B.C.The authors of the University of British Columbia study want government oversight for the unregulated home-stay industry. There were 18,200 foreign high-school students studying in Canada in 2008, but no way of telling how many lived in home-stays, which are privately run and not monitored by any external agency…

Tory filibuster seeks to block hearings on G20 policing

Opposition accuses Tories of ducking scrutiny of their role in matter

Anti-summit protesters clash with police in downtown Toronto, Ont June 25/2010. Windows were smashed throughout the downtown core. Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail
Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are filibustering to block opposition efforts to launch hearings on policing at the Toronto G20 summit, accusing political rivals of seeking a platform to build sympathy for “thugs and hooligans” who rioted there.Parliament is adjourned for the summer, and the opposition majority – the NDP, Liberals and Bloc – forced the Commons committee on public safety to reconvene on Monday to vote on whether to start federal hearings on the G20 security.But during a two-hour meeting, Conservative MPs on the committee repeatedly requested speaking time to object to holding an inquiry now, and the Tory chair refused opposition demands for a vote. Opposition MPs together can out-vote the Tories on the committee.Read on...

Small Town Life In Real America

by digby

Be very careful when you call the police to come to your home. It might not go the way you think it will:

Janice Wells called the Richland Police Department when she feared a prowler was outside her clapboard house in the rural west Georgia town.

The third-grade teacher had phoned for help. But within minutes of an officer coming to her backdoor, she was screaming in pain and begging not to be shocked again with a Taser. With each scream and cry, the officer threatened her with more shocks.


The officer in question is Ryan Smith of the Lumpkin Police Department. Smith was called to back up an officer from the Richland Police Department because the sheriff's office in the county, Stewart, had no deputies to send.

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At the end of this story is a link to some video. Tom