Even though crime rates in American have either stabilized or gone down, the incarceration rate (especially for people who are in this country illegally) has gone up - way up. (As this video points out, more people are being incarcerated on civil charges, not criminal.)
Naturally, as with most changes in this country, this has more to do with profit than anything else - and now we find that Wells Fargo is a major shareholder in for-profit prisons. Hmm. So this is what's taken the place of mortgages as the banking cash cow? From Salon:
As Wells Fargo has grown over the years, using its bailout funds to gobble up rival Wachovia and expand to the East Coast, so has the U.S. prison population. By 2008, one in 100 American adults were either in jail or in prison ? and one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34, many simply for non-violent offenses, justice not so much blind as bigoted. Overall, more than 2.3 million people are currently behind bars, up 50 percent in the last 15 years, the land of the free now accounting for a full quarter of the world?s prisoners.
These developments are not unrelated.
A driving force behind the push for ever-tougher sentences is the for-profit prison industry, in which Wells Fargo is a major investor. Flush with billions in bailout money and an economic system designed to siphon wealth from the working class to the idle rich, Wells Fargo has been busy expanding its stake in the GEO Group, the second largest private jailer in America.
- At the end of 2011, Wells Fargo was the company?s second-largest investor, holding 4.3 million shares valued at more than $72 million. By March 2012, its stake had grown to more than4.4 million shares worth $86.7 million.
Unfortunately, it?s a safe investment. While a 50 percent growth in the number of human beings our society cages in rape factories may sound impressive ? or perhaps the word is ?revolting? ? a study released last year by the Justice Policy Institute found that the private prison industry grew by more than 350 percent over the last decade and a half. While other industries of course benefit from state-granted privileges, companies like GEO profit by the state literally kidnapping and handing them clientèle, particularly as of late about-to-be-deported immigrants, of which President Barack Obama has ensured there is a steady, record-breaking supply.
?All prisons are awful,? says Melanie Pinkert, an activist based in Washington, DC, who along with other members of Occupy DC?s ?Criminal Injustice Committee? is helping lead a boycott of Wells Fargo, which just expanded to the nation?s capital. ?But private prisons take it to the next level.? Indeed, a recent report from the U.S. Justice Department found that at one GEO-run juvenile facility in Mississippi, sexual abuse was endemic, ?among the worst that we have seen in any facility anywhere in the nation.? According to the report, GEO staff demonstrated:
- Deliberate indifference to staff sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior with youth;
- Use of excessive use of force by [prison] staff on youth;
- Inadequate protection of youth from youth-on-youth violence;
- Deliberate indifference to youth at risk of self-injurious and suicidal behaviors; and
- Deliberate indifference to the medical needs of youth.
These findings, shocking though they may seem, are not surprising. With an eye on maximizing quarterly profits, privately run facilities are even less inclined than state-run prisons to treat their involuntary customers humanely, skimping on health care and anything else that could hurt their bottom line, particularly programs aimed at reducing recidivism. As the ACLU noted in a report released late last year, ?Not only is there little incentive to spend money on rehabilitation, but crime, at least in one sense, is good for private prisons: the more crimes that are committed, and the more individuals who are sent to prison, the more money private prisons stand to make.?
If you haven't closed your Wells Fargo account yet, this would be a good time to do so. But let's not pretend that closing our bank accounts is going to hold back the tide. There's very, very big money involved in sending people to jail for minor infractions (so much so that our political "leaders" won't even entertain the notion of legalizing marijuana) and it's only getting worse. Why, now we even lock up the mentally ill instead of treating them!
From Unholy Alliance: How the Private Prison Industry is Corrupting Our Democracy and Promoting Mass Incarceration, a recent report from Public Campaign and PICO National Network, here are some pertinent points:
First of all, I apologize for missing Wednesday's installment of My Little Town. If anyone is interested why, I shall be happy to explain in the comments. Briefly, yesterday was very busy.The Lovin' Spoonful were a short lived band that[...]
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Republicans think they have a winning issue with the Keystone XL pipeline, even though President Obama has already approved the lower half of it. They think it plays into their depiction of Obama as unwilling to promote domestic energy to lower gas[...]
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I've always taken it as a given that the 'real' Mitt Romney isn't so much a political moderate as not particularly engaged on issues besides management and right-leaning economics. In other words, he's a center-right technocrat. So the moves to the[...]
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Love Sofia Vergara! “Modern Family” is one of the only sitcoms we DVR and never miss.
You cannot talk about Vergara without the picture she cuts in clothes, as well as pop culture. But her talents go well beyond her ta-tas. Her incredible figure is part of her persona and her comedy, so it’s not sexist to say so. It helps, but the woman’s got comedic chops. I’d bet she could do any dramatic role in which she was cast, something I look forward to seeing some day. That is, if the Hollywood weenies will let her break beyond the stereotype that’s making her famous. If nothing else, she’s securing the money to help bankroll any artistic stretch she decides to take on.
The ICYMI story for this Friday night is the heroism of Newark Mayor Cory Booker. His interview on CBS “This Morning” will fill you in if you haven’t heard. Booker ran into a burning building to save a woman. Who doesn’t love a hero? When it’s Mayor Booker, it goes double for me.
To finish up the Hilary Rosen – Ann Romney war, Rosen took herself off the “Meet the Press” panel this weekend to spend more time with her family. Here’s her statement, via The Hill:
“I thank ["Meet the Press" host] David [Gregory] and the folks at MTP for offering me the chance to participate in the Roundtable. It will be an important political discussion, as it always is on Meet the Press. But I have said enough and while I have unfortunately made the Producer?s job tougher today, I don?t have anything more to say. I apologized to Mrs. Romney and work-in-home moms for mistakenly giving the impression that I do not think their work is valuable. Of course it is. I will instead spend the weekend trying to explain to my kids the value of admitting a mistake and moving on.”
You can bet the Republicans aren’t finished with this one, even if the Democrats are trying mightily to move on.
Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, who once strapped his dog to the roof of the family station wagon before embarking on a road trip, has again chosen to thumb his nose at the all-important dog vote by throwing a fundraising birthday party for his wife Ann at the house of Frederick Malek III. While to most people, Malek is just another rich guy who respects Romney’s Reaganesque hair, to dogs, Malek is a living terror ? when he was a youth, he was arrested for animal cruelty after police discovered that he and some friends had killed and barbecued a dog.
Jezebel asks: What the everloving hell is wrong with Mitt Romney? Does anyone have an answer to that one?
Here’s a Friday night open forum. Any topic goes.
Click here to view this media
Here's a disturbing story, one with even more horrifying potential, out of the Arizona borderlands:
Authorities in southern Arizona say two men in a pickup truck carrying illegal immigrants have been fatally shot near Eloy.
Pima County Sheriff's officials say it appears the truck was ambushed by an unknown number of people dressed in camouflage and armed with rifles late Sunday night.
Border Patrol agents and police officers from Eloy and Coolidge responded to a report of shots fired about 10:30 p.m. in a wash known for human smuggling activity.
Authorities say one man was found dead inside the bed of the truck and another victim was located in a wash near the vehicle. Their identities haven't been released.
Detectives say it appears shot were fired at the truck by the ambush group.
At this point, the motive isn't clear, according to the Arizona Republic:
Five immigrants among the group later told investigators that as they were driving Sunday night, two or more camouflage-clad gunmen appeared and yelled "Alto!" Spanish for "Stop," fired at them and ran away, Barkman said.
She declined to say whether the truck stopped or its driver tried to flee, or how long the gunmen fired on the immigrants.
Of the 20 to 30 immigrants in the truck at the time of the shooting, most fled into the desert and got away from authorities.
The five immigrants who were found hiding in nearby brush, who are all from Mexico, described the ambush but couldn't say exactly how many shooters there were.
Barkman said it was too dark for them to see the race of their attackers. They were turned over to the Border Patrol.
There have been similar shootings, as the story notes, that were related to drug-cartel rip-offs:
The shooting is similar to a handful of fatal shootings in 2007, including one in March of that year in which a woman and her brother-in-law were found dead by Pima County sheriff's deputies after men with high-powered weapons opened fire on a truck loaded with 21 other immigrants about 25 miles south of Tucson. The men were part of a so-called "rip" crew looking to rob other smugglers of drug loads.
In a similar attack in February 2007, gunmen believed to be rival smugglers opened fire on a truck carrying around 20 immigrants, killing two men and a suspected smuggler who was driving a vehicle was killed and a 12-year-old boy was wounded when four men wearing camouflage uniforms and berets and armed with at least one assault weapon stopped the vehicle in a farm field.
On the other hand, there have been other shootings near the border where it's not at all clear that cartels were involved at all, including one near Rio Rico in which other skeletal remains were found nearby. These happened more recently, too -- in 2010.
And indeed, the Pima County investigators are not ruling out the possibility that these were border vigilantes, as Mike Ludwig at TruthOut reports:
When asked if investigators suspect the attack was orchestrated by a militia, sheriff's department spokesperson Deputy Dawn Barkman said investigators are "looking into every possibility but nothing is conclusive."
We'll be watching this investigation closely.
This will surely be met with cries of "socialism" by the bankers, but that would be ignoring the free loans and easy money handed out to the bankers in recent years. If the bankers want to avoid caps, they should worry more about risking their own money and not public money.
Most people would prefer not having to bail out banks or give them free money to play with but until that ends, the bankers should accept that they're the ones to blame for any financial issues. The bankers keep missing this point as they continue to receive mounds of money, much greater than anyone in any other industry could expect to see each year. Nobody likes having flashy tax dollars rubbed in their faces, whether it's the GSA spending wildly or bankers spending wildly on themselves after bonus season.
Don't take the government money or expect more of this. It's that easy.
In a sign that Brussels is hardening its stance on banker pay, European Union parliamentarians are drawing up new caps on bonuses to be included in the bloc?s latest bank capital rules.
The move comes as research from the pan-EU banking regulator reveals huge disparities in bonus sizes across the region and big differences in enforcing existing EU pay rules, which limit the upfront cash portion of a bonus to 25 percent of the total.
The European Banking Authority survey found that the median average ratio of bonus to salary across the block was 122 percent for executives and 139 percent for other risk-takers, such as traders. But one country reported an average ratio of 313 percent for traders and one institution had a ratio of 429 percent for executives and 940 percent for other staff.
George Zimmerman at court hearing
Friday (Gary Green/Pool)After first denying that the account was his, a family member says the MySpace account "datniggytb" actually was George Zimmerman's, but that this wasn't a racist reference.
?That was an old nickname his black friends gave him,? the Zimmerman family member said. ?He didn?t have an issue with the profile name.?The family member, according to a story in the right-wing Daily Caller, also said "tb" did not refer to Trayvon Benjamin, the first and middle name of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed teenager Zimmerman shot and killed Feb. 26. The initials stand for "Tugboat," another nickname the family member said friends gave Zimmerman because of his chunky build. The editor who wrote the story did not explain the rather strange reasoning behind asking if a years-old account presumably initiated before Zimmerman ever heard of Martin included the boy's initials.
At first, in two phone calls, the source denied that the MySpace account was Zimmerman's:
?All I can tell you is that it didn?t come from him. He doesn?t have a MySpace account. He never has. Anything personal online like that was shut down already ? I just talked to George. It?s not him.?In a third call, the tune was changed. Zimmerman, the source said, had forgotten about that account. But how does one forget about something so recently logged into? The last time the account was used was April 11, the day before Zimmerman was arrested and charged with second-degree murder. It has now been deleted.
"Listening to Prosecutor Corey blow herself and her staff for five minutes before pre-passing judgment on George Zimmerman," it read.It's one thing to sit around discussing politics with your white nationalist buddies, quite another to post the resulting sewage on your Facebook page. Is this the kind of fellow we want responding to emergency calls made by folks like Trayvon's parents, who are about as close to this sleazebag's description as Newt Gingrich is to the presidency? What a pathetic representative of the forces that are meant to protect us.
"The state seeks reelection again, truth aside. I and my coworkers could rewrite the book on whether our urban youths are victims of racist profiling or products of their failed, shitbag, ignorant, pathetic, welfare dependent excuses for parents, but like Mrs. Corey, we speak only the truth. They're just misunderstood little church going angels and the ghetto hoodie look doesn't have anything to do with why people wonder if they're about to get jacked by a thug."
A spokesman for the department said that Beckmann had worked there since 1997 and that the "post on his personal Facebook page is being investigated by Miami-Dade fire rescue."
Stories of Interest:
? Most Americans back gun lobby, right to use deadly force (Reuters/Ipsos on-line poll)
? Judge in Zimmerman trial may step down (Miami Herald)
From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE?
Late Night Snark: "Oh, Rick--We'll Always Have Google" Edition
"Rick Santorum has suspended his presidential campaign. He dropped out after spending a weekend in prayer, and then realizing he didn't have one, he dropped out."And one year ago:
Clip of Rick Santorum concession speech: Miracle after miracle, this race was as improbable as any race that you will ever see for president.
Jon Stewart: Really? Any race ever? Like, I dunno, were you alive in 2008, when a black guy name Barack Hussein Obama beat a 48-term war-hero senator and his flag pin of a running mate?
---The Daily Show
"After dropping out of the GOP race, Rick Santorum emailed his supporters to ask for help paying off his campaign debt. So if you believe in his message of responsible spending and no handouts, just give him a handout to cover all his irresponsible spending."
"Over the weekend, Mitt Romney was actually spotted body-boarding in California. Romney would've gone surfing but, y'know, he hates standing for something."
"Romney this week criticized President Obama, saying that he was out of touch after years of flying around on Air Force One surrounded by adoring staff. Romney added, 'The last time I saw someone that out of touch was when my yachting coach wore cufflinks to a garden party.'"
?George W. Bush said he wishes people would stop referring to his tax policy as the 'Bush tax cuts.' He also wishes people would stop referring to his presidency as the 'Eight Year Oopsie.'?
"Whatever Republican is going to replace Obama is going to need three things: vision, leadership, and enough cash to make up for not having vision or leadership."At the rate he's goin', he may have to tap into one of his Cayman Island accounts. Or even his Swiss bank account! The horror.....
Your west coast-friendly edition of Cheers and Jeers starts below the fold... [Swoosh!!] RIGHTNOW! [Gong!!]
A 29-year-old Muslim man was sentenced to seventeen and a half years in prison on federal criminal charges of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and providing or attempting to provide material support to terrorists. The "material[...]
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