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Number of posts: 25,890
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 25,890
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As civil rights groups have noted, the U.S. has more prisoners per capita than China. We spend billions of dollars to maintain a prison population and have laws designed to imprison nonviolent offenders, such as those arrested for marijuana possession, that can lead to life imprisonment. For possession of pot. A Democrat in Louisiana tried to reform its marijuana sentencing laws recently. After two votes, the measure failed. Louisiana is one of those states in which you can be sentenced to life in prison for a third conviction for possession of marijuana.
So, what's going on in those prisons in which those arrested for simple possession of marijuana make up 12% of the prison population? What's going on with the billions spent to arrest, convict and imprison Americans arrested for possession (among other things, of course, but the reality is that this nation is a place where you can be forced to spend the rest of your life in prison for doing the equivalent of drinking a glass of wine. Reminds me of Saudi Arabia, in that regard.)
It has been an extraordinary three weeks in the history of the American penal system, perhaps one of the darkest periods on record. In four states, from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, the systemic abuse and neglect of inmates, and especially mentally ill inmates, has been investigated, chronicled and disclosed in grim detail to the world by lawyers, government investigators and one federal judge. The conclusions are inescapable: In our zeal to dehumanize criminals we have allowed our prisons to become medieval places of unspeakable cruelty so far beyond constitutional norms that they are barely recognizable.
But hey, it's all good! Like our intelligence gathering, prisons are private enterprise! Everyone knows, because of Saint Ronnie Reagan, that the govt. is the problem and private corporate ownership of Americans via their taxpayer dollars is the answer.
First, on May 22, the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department released a report highlighting the unconstitutional conditions of a county prison in Florida. Then, on May 30th, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit alleging atrocious conditions at a state prison in Mississippi. One day later, the feds again sounded out on behalf of inmates, this time against profound abuse and neglect at a Pennsylvania prison. Finally, last week, a federal judge issued an order describing the unconstitutional "brutality" of the prison in Orleans Parish, Louisiana.
There were many common themes in the reports. In each instance, the mistreatment of mentally ill inmates was highlighted. Prison officials have failed to provide a constitutional level of care in virtually every respect, from providing medication and treatment to protecting the men from committing suicide. In the Louisiana court order, one prison expert is quoted by the judge as describing an "extraordinary and horrific" situation with the prison there. In the Florida investigation, federal investigators noted that local prison officials "have elected to ignore obvious and serious systemic deficiencies" in the jail's mental health services.
...while it's reasonable to applaud the focused federal effort to protect the constitutional rights of mentally ill state prisoners around the country, it's hard to fathom or accept why the Justice Department has been so tepid in its protection of mentally ill federal prisoners. Based upon the evidence already publicly available in the Colorado civil rights cases against the Bureau of Prisons, it is beyond doubt that federal prison practices and policies would similarly fail to meet basic constitutional standards if they were subject to the same review the Civil Rights Division has used to evaluate state and local facilities.
Posted by RainDog | Mon Jun 10, 2013, 09:17 PM (16 replies)
Marc Emery, the self-styled "Prince of Pot," is serving time in a prison in Mississippi for selling marijuana seeds to Americans. He was sentenced to 5 years and currently has more than a year to serve on his sentence before he can return to Canada.
Marc has taught himself to play bass guitar since he was imprisoned, and has performed with a prison band in 13 concerts for the other inmates.
Marc writes a blog from prison, and in March he was able to get permission from the warden to have some photos taken of his band practicing in the music room.
“Now the prison has him in solitary confinement to investigate the photos of his band that the prison itself approved!” said Jodie Emery, Marc’s wife. Jodie lives in Vancouver and visits Marc every two weeks. “The investigation is to see if Marc had a cellphone to take the band photos. But the warden, guards, music and recreation administrators, they all know that Marc got official permission for those photos. Yet now they have put him, and his bandmates, into solitary while they ‘investigate’? These investigations can take weeks!”
Conditions in solitary confinement are not pleasant. Prisoners are kept inside their cell for 23 hours a day.
This is the drug war in action. A Canadian man is confined to a cell for 23 hours a day for selling seeds to an American. Obviously he is a threat to national security and such actions warrant imprisonment 'cause we're all about the freedoms in this nation.
Posted by RainDog | Sun Jun 9, 2013, 12:14 AM (27 replies)
Borgen is a REALLY interesting fictional look at another western democracy's govt. - that will look more than a little familiar to Americans, except the moderates there are the "liberal extremists" here. LOL.
KCET is streaming two weeks of episodes at a time.
The link, above, is to the 4th episode - which is SO GOOD and SO PERTINENT to the current discussion of NSA and other such intials' power.
The series won awards in Europe - the show is two years old, at this point.
Anyway, worth checking out if you're not averse to subtitles - and if you are - oh please.
Posted by RainDog | Sat Jun 8, 2013, 10:25 PM (2 replies)
BREAKING NEWS: Gov. Peter Shumlin just signed a bill making Vermont the 17th state to decriminalize or legalize marijuana!
Vermont Marijuana Decriminalization Signed Into Law, Reduces Penalties For Possession Up To An Ounce
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) signed a bill on Thursday decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The new law, which goes into effect on July 1, will remove criminal penalties on possession of up to an ounce of cannabis and replace them with civil fines.
“I applaud the Legislature’s action to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana," Shumlin said last month, announcing his support for the bill. "Vermonters support sensible drug policies. This legislation allows our courts and law enforcement to focus their limited resources more effectively to fight highly addictive opiates such as heroin and prescription drugs that are tearing apart families and communities."
According to the new measure, first-time offenders will not get more than a $200 fine for possession. The fine will increase for repeat offenders. Under the law, marijuana possession will no longer result in the creation of a criminal record.
Posted by RainDog | Thu Jun 6, 2013, 02:01 PM (3 replies)
It is possible that, for the first time ever, the United States Senate will vote to approve industrial hemp cultivation in the coming days. Please take a moment of your time to encourage your Senator to support this measure. You can easily do so by clicking here: http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/51046//p/dia/action3/common/public/index.sjs?action_KEY=9865
Senator Ron Wyden has introduced an amendment to Senate Bill 3240, the Senate version of this year's federal farm bill, that requires the federal government to respect state laws allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp. Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only trace (less than one percent) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis.
The amendment language mimics the "Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2013," which remains pending as stand-alone legislation in both the House and Senate but has yet to receive a legislative hearing. Senator Wyden's provision to the Senate's Farm Bill amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. The measure grants state legislatures the authority to license and regulate the commercial production of hemp as an industrial and agricultural commodity.
Eight states -- Colorado, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia -- have enacted statutory changes defining industrial hemp as distinct agricultural product and allowing for its regulated commercial production. Passage of this amendment would remove existing federal barriers and allow these states and others the authority to do so without running afoul of federal anti-drug laws.
The U.S. is the only developed nation without an industrial hemp agriculture. The reason for this is reefer madness on the part of the Federal Govt.
Please call or sign the petition to let Congress know you support sane and sensible policy. The vote on this bill will likely be held in the next few days.
Posted by RainDog | Thu Jun 6, 2013, 10:59 AM (9 replies)
posting as an OP in this forum for reference
Between 2001 and 2010, there were over 8 million pot arrests in the U.S. That’s one bust every 37 seconds and hundreds of thousands ensnared in the criminal justice system.
WASTED TIME AND MONEY
Enforcing marijuana laws costs us about $3.6 billion a year, yet the War on Marijuana has failed to diminish the use or availability of marijuana.
STAGGERING RACIAL BIAS
Marijuana use is roughly equal among Blacks and whites, yet Blacks are 3.73 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.
Posted by RainDog | Wed Jun 5, 2013, 11:33 AM (4 replies)
Blacks are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites – even though usage rates are comparable, according to a report issued today by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Marijuana enforcement has unfairly targeted black people, said the report, entitled “The War on Marijuana in Black and White.”
The racial disparity in marijuana arrests has markedly increased in the last 10 years, the ACLU found. Although black people are 3.7 times more likely to be arrested for possession than white people, blacks are now 30 times more likely to to be arrested for the drug in the counties with the widest disparities, they found.
The ACLU also analyzed the wider law enforcement handling of current marijuana laws. States spent an estimated $3.61 billion enforcing marijuana possession laws – in 2010 alone.
The current incarceration rate deprives record numbers of individuals of their liberty, disproportionately affects people of color, and has at best a minimal effect on public safety. Meanwhile, the crippling cost of imprisoning increasing numbers of Americans saddles government budgets with rising debt and exacerbates the current fiscal crisis confronting states across the nation.
Private prison companies, however, essentially admit that their business model depends on locking up more and more people. For example, in a 2010 Annual Report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) stated: “The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by . . . leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices . . . .” As incarceration rates skyrocket, the private prison industry expands at exponential rates, holding ever more people in its prisons and jails, and generating massive profits.
We fought a war in this nation to stop this shit, yet it returns, in different iterations, generation after generation.
Thank you, Ronald Reagan and your fellating conservative acolytes, for your dedication, over decades, to promoting slavery by another name. The irony, of course, is this that they constantly pretend they are promoting freedom.
What about it, Congress?
Are you going to continue this repulsive slide into neo-Confederate racism as YOUR LEGACY, or are you going to address the way in which the laws you have created have been nothing more than a cover for the most disgusting legacy of government since this nation was founded?
You'd think that, maybe after more than two hundred years, you might get this one right.
But you'd have to assume Congress is something other than the bought and sold peons for big business... and they continually prove the majority of them are nothing but.
Posted by RainDog | Tue Jun 4, 2013, 01:06 PM (17 replies)
on Colorado's recent legalization.
Posted by RainDog | Fri May 31, 2013, 02:31 PM (3 replies)
Prof. Yosef Sarne of Tel Aviv University's Adelson Center for the Biology of Addictive Diseases at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine says that the drug has neuroprotective qualities...He has found that extremely low doses of THC -- the psychoactive component of marijuana -- protects the brain from long-term cognitive damage in the wake of injury from hypoxia (lack of oxygen), seizures, or toxic drugs. Brain damage can have consequences ranging from mild cognitive deficits to severe neurological damage.
Previous studies focused on injecting high doses of THC within a very short time frame -- approximately 30 minutes -- before or after injury. Prof. Sarne's current research, published in the journals Behavioural Brain Research and Experimental Brain Research, demonstrates that even extremely low doses of THC -- around 1,000 to 10,000 times less than that in a conventional marijuana cigarette -- administered over a wide window of 1 to 7 days before or 1 to 3 days after injury can jumpstart biochemical processes which protect brain cells and preserve cognitive function over time.
...While performing experiments on the biology of cannabis, Prof. Sarne and his fellow researchers discovered that low doses of the drug had a big impact on cell signalling, preventing cell death and promoting growth factors. This finding led to a series of experiments designed to test the neuroprotective ability of THC in response to various brain injuries.
...According to Prof. Sarne, there are several practical benefits to this treatment plan. Due to the long therapeutic time window, this treatment can be used not only to treat injury after the fact, but also to prevent injury that might occur in the future. For example, cardiopulmonary heart-lung machines used in open heart surgery carry the risk of interrupting the blood supply to the brain, and the drug can be delivered beforehand as a preventive measure. In addition, the low dosage makes it safe for regular use in patients at constant risk of brain injury, such as epileptics or people at a high risk of heart attack.
Hello, DEA. We're sick of your lies. Stop treating this plant like it's a dangerous drug, like, say, all those pharmaceuticals that you have no problem with in spite of their many negative side effects.
Sincerely, American People
Posted by RainDog | Thu May 30, 2013, 10:08 PM (21 replies)
I sent out some love to Louisiana here the other day... http://www.democraticunderground.com/10022893488
The Louisiana House narrowly passed a bill Wednesday to dramatically lessen penalties for marijuana possession. With little more than a week left in the 2013 session, the legislation now moves to the Senate side for further debate.
House Bill 103, sponsored by state Rep. Austin Badon, D-New Orleans, would lessen the jail time and fines imposed on someone convicted of simple marijuana possession. Speaking on the House floor Wednesday, Badon said the bill would save the state money in incarceration costs as well as keep people united with their families and in their jobs.
Under current law, a first-time offender could be jailed up to six months. A repeat offender could be sentenced up to five years, with those convicted three times open to a 20 year jail sentence.
Badon's bill would lessen this jail time to not more than two years for repeat offenders, five years for third-time offenders and eight years for those convicted four or more times. The maximum fine for possession would also be lessened from $5,000 to $2,500.
The earlier bill failed - the penalties were less than in the current bill that passed in the House. But I'm so happy to see places that make bad laws a little better, at least.
Still have a ways to go, but every bit of progress matters.
Posted by RainDog | Wed May 29, 2013, 06:51 PM (1 replies)