Friday, July 26, 2013

The Road to Freedom: Truman Ends Segregation in the Armed Forces

During the years 1947-1954, America struggled to preserve freedom in a dangerous world. The fight abroad led to renewed demands by Black Americans back home.

In 1947, Civil Rights Activist A. Philip Randolph, along with colleague Grant Reynolds, renewed efforts to end discrimination in the armed services, forming the Committee Against  Jim Crow in Military Service and Training, later renamed the League for Non-Violent Civil Disobedience Against Military Segregation. Randolph warned that “Discrimination and segregation in the Armed Forces is ...a grave threat... to the internal stability of our nation.”

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Watching the Criminal Justice System: Matthew Weaver-Identity Theft

Twenty-two year old business major Matthew Weaver wanted the student president title at Cal State San Marcos. He wanted the $8,000 stipend that came with it and control of the $300,000 annual budget. He rigged the vote, got caught, and is heading to prison for one year.

Weaver admits to using small electronic devices that record a computer's key strokes to steal 745 passwords and then used that stolen information to cast 630 votes for himself and his friend who were also on the ballot.

Weaver pleaded guilty to felony charges, to stealing log in information for 700 fellow students so that he could cast phony votes to elect himself class president. He pleaded guilty to 3 counts of wire fraud, unauthorized access to a computer, and identity theft. Although he was sentenced to one year in jail, 27 months is the low end of the spectrum for federal identity theft cases.

Interestingly enough, Weaver's attorney felt his client's crimes really didn't warrant a felony conviction. "Mr. Weaver is a very bright guy and this was really, really stupid. But, does it warrant having a felony conviction for the rest of his life?"

The criminal justice system is full of prisoners who did something really stupid, like holding a small amount of marijuana for their personal use, that netted them a felony conviction. It seems to matter how the victim is "perceived" and how that perception result is light  or stiff penalties.

Friday, July 19, 2013

30,000 CA Prisoners Stage Hunger Strike

More than 12,000 California prison inmates are now taking part in a hunger strike launched to demand better conditions and a reduction in the use of solitary confinement, corrections officials and organizers said last Thursday.

The protest began Monday, when organizers said as many as 30,000 inmates refused food. By Thursday, a total of 12,421 prisoners had skipped nine consecutive meals -- the official definition of a hunger strike, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation -- and another 1,300 others have skipped work assignments or classes, prison officials reported.
Organizers say the strike is a resumption two similar protests in 2011, one of which lasted for three weeks.

Another Side of the Criminal Justice System: Colin Small-Let Off the Hook for Discarding Voter Registration Forms

The young Republican who grabbed national headlines after being arrested for throwing voter registration forms into a dumpster before the 2012 election won't be facing any legal consequences. (He tossed voter registration forms in the dumpster behind a strip mall down the street from the Republican headquarters.)

A judge in Virginia dropped several misdemeanor charges against Colin Small on Wednesday, meaning the 23-year-old will not face any penalties for discarding a number of voter registration forms. Felony charges were dropped back in April, but Small was still facing five misdemeanor counts until this week.

During a four-hour court hearing on Tuesday, Small's lawyer John C. Holloran argued that Small simply made a mistake and wasn't trying to purposefully prevent anyone from registering to vote. Small, a friend from college and Small's former tennis coach all testified.

While Small tossed eight voter registration forms, he was only charged with discarding four, because some of the voters were already registered and one was a felon and not allowed to vote. Holloran said the voters who were prevented from voting were Republicans and blamed Democrats for making Small's case seem like part of a conspiracy.

"It's amazing that common sense and wisdom and mercy don't have a more stellar place in our justice system," Holloran told The Huffington Post.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

US Eugenics Victims Wait for Compensation

Much attention was been paid in recent years to America’s silent eugenics program. Originally conceived in the 1920s, eugenics was viewed by many as a way to alleviate economic pressure on welfare programs across the US by giving the state the right to remove individuals deemed unfit for reproduction from the gene pool. Of those labeled “feeble-minded” or “promiscuous” or victims of rape, tens of thousands were subjected to sterilization under the cold blade of the US government’s knife, often without consent or knowledge that the state had decided to deprive them of their ability to have children.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thirty Pieces of Silver Buys Senate Immigration Bill

All I ever hear the Republicans say is "spending is out of control", "fiscal issues have robbed America of its future" know the rhetoric. Yet, they just convinced the Senate to spend $38 billion on the "Border Surge" which is simply a way to appease the paranoid right wing base of their party. The bill passed 69-29 with 14 Republicans joining Democrats.

In June, before the Corker-Hoeven Amendment, the Congressional Budget Office reported that "revenues under the proposed (immigration) legislation would decrease federal budget deficits by $197 billion over the 2014-2023 period and roughly by $700 billion over 2024-2033 period".