Posts Tagged ‘Nanny State’

 

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Crystal Patterson didn’t have the cash or assets to post $150,000 bail and get out of jail after her arrest for assault in October.

So Patterson, 39, promised to pay a bail bonds company $15,000 plus interest to put up the $150,000 bail for her, allowing to go home and care for her invalid grandmother.

The day after her release, the district attorney decided not to pursue charges. But Patterson still owes the bail bonds company. Criminal justice reformers and lawyers at a nonprofit Washington, D.C., legal clinic say that is unconstitutionally unfair.

The lawyers have filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of Patterson, Rianna Buffin and other jail inmates who argue that San Francisco and California’s bail system unconstitutionally treats poor and wealthy suspects differently.

Wealthy suspects can put up their houses or other valuable assets — or simply write a check — to post bail and stay out of jail until their cases are resolved. Poorer suspects aren’t so lucky. Many remain behind bars or pay nonrefundable fees to bail bonds companies.

San Francisco public defender Chesa Boudin says some of his clients who can’t afford to post bail plead guilty to minor charges for crimes they didn’t commit so they can leave jail.

Boudin represented Buffin, 19, after her arrest for grand theft in October. Buffin couldn’t afford to post the $30,000 bail or pay a bond company a $3,000 fee and so contemplated pleading guilty in exchange for a quick release from jail even though she says her only crime was being with the “wrong people at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Fortunately, the district attorney declined to charge Buffin and she was released after being held for three days.

“My family was worried,” said Ruffin, who lost her $10.50 an hour baggage handler job at the Oakland International Airport after her arrest.

The lawsuit filed by the Equal Justice Under Law in San Francisco federal court in October seeks to abolish the cash bail system in the city, state — and the country. It’s the ninth lawsuit the center has filed in seven states.

“The bail system in most states is a two-tiered system,” said center founder Phil Telfeyan. “One for the wealthy and one for everyone else.”

The center has settled four lawsuits, convincing smaller jails in states in the South to do away with cash bail requirements for most charges.

Telfeyan said a win in California could add momentum to the center’s goal to rid the country of the cash bail system, which the lawyers say is used by most county jails in all 50 states. The federal system usually allows non-violent suspects free without bail pending trial and denies bail to serious and violent suspects.

“The country watches what happens in California,” said Telfeyan, a former Department of Justice attorney who founded the Washington organization in 2013 with a partner and the first-ever grant from the Harvard Law School Public Service Venture Fund in 2013.

Telfeyan said it’s not his goal to put out of business the classic neon-advertising bail bonding industry, but conceded the business model would become obsolete if he convinces courts that the cash bail system is unconstitutional.

The industry didn’t acknowledge Telfeyan’s first lawsuits filed earlier this year.

But on Monday, lawyers for the California Bail Agents Association filed court papers seeking to formally oppose the San Francisco lawsuit. The association argues that government lawyers for San Francisco and the state are offering only “tepid” opposition to the California lawsuit.

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi argues that most jail inmates are awaiting resolution of minor, non-violent crimes and that letting them free while awaiting court hearings will save the city millions of dollars. Mirkarimi said non-violent suspects can be monitored electronically and with frequent visits from law enforcement officials to ensure they don’t flee the area and attend all their court hearings.

In January, Telfeyan and his colleagues from Equal Justice Under Law will ask a judge to temporarily suspend San Francisco’s cash bail system until the lawsuit is resolved. Telfeyan said a victory in San Francisco and the elimination of cash bail in the city will most likely lead to the abolition of cash bail in all of the state’s 58 counties.

Maggie Kreins, who is president of bail agents group, the says the longtime system of putting up money or an insurance-backed bail bond is better at getting people to show up in court and it saves the public costs of monitoring defendants or hunting down bail jumpers.

Kreins said that California’s “bail schedule” could be reformed to lower bail amounts for minor crimes, but that scrapping the system completely would be a mistake.

“What is the incentive to go to court if you don’t lose anything for failing to appear?” Kreins said.

Conflict of Interest? The US Navy Has a Base in a Brutal Dictatorship with Ties to ISIS

Why Does the US Navy Have a Base in a Repressive Dictatorship Whose Govt Officials are ISIS Members?

Much has been said about the most notorious dictatorship in the Middle East and close ally of the United States. Saudi Arabia, the number 1 beheader, carries out tasks such as bombing Yemen targets, including hospitals, and helping to stamp out rebellions for neighboring US-allied dictators. In exchange for this thuggery (and the flow of oil), the Saudis receive access to some of the best weapons in the world and guarantees of the monarchy’s continued existence in the face of massive discontent.

This resentment against Western puppets that rule Gulf nations is a contributing factor in the support for terrorism. Saudi Arabia is turning out to be a hotbed of support for ISIS, which also has to do with the fact that the state-sanctioned religious clergy teaches a radical form of Islam known as Wahhabism.

The U.S. government ignores these things, along with atrocious human rights records, when it has a vested interest in the country. Indeed, the U.S. has a particular liking for brutal monarchies with rich oil reserves.

The small country of Bahrain plays an incredibly large role in American military hegemony, hosting the Navy’s Fifth Fleet and Central Command.

Prison Officials Spying on Inmates to Find Net Worth, Suing Anyone Worth Over $10K for Stay in Jail

 

With the ability to read their mail and record their phone conversations, state prisons have increasingly been filing lawsuits against inmates with over $10,000 in assets. In cases of blatant retaliation, prison officials have also been targeting inmates who won civil suits against the departments for prison beatings and denying medication.

In 1846, Michigan introduced the first correctional fee law authorizing counties to charge prisoners for the cost of medical care. According to a report released earlier this year from the Brennan Center for Justice, at least 35 states are currently authorized to charge inmates for medical treatment. And at least 43 states allow officials to charge prisoners for the cost of their own imprisonment.

While incarcerated on a drug conviction, Johnny Melton received a $31,690 settlement over the wrongful death of his mother. After learning of the settlement, the Illinois Department of Corrections sued Melton and won nearly $20,000 to cover the cost of his “care, custody, treatment or rehabilitation” during his 14 months served at the state’s Logan Correctional Center.

Paroled earlier this year, Melton entered a homeless shelter and went on food stamps before a cousin offered to help him. According to his family, Melton was destitute when he died in June.

“He didn’t have a dime,” one of Melton’s sisters, Denise Melton, told the Chicago Tribune. “We had to scuffle up money to cremate him.”
Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/state-prisons-sue-inmates-cost-incarcerating/#WhHuRZg3iQ9AXidB.99

Isolated Incident? Nine Officers Arrested After They Were Caught Running a Massive Drug Ring

A massive drug ring was recently raided in Florida, in which law enforcement officers were caught smuggling large amounts of opiate medication and meth.

Bradford County, FL – 50 people were arrested this week, in connection with a drug smuggling operation, where prescription opiates were transported into a Florida state prison, with the help of prison employees. In total, nine corrections officers were arrested in the operation, which lasted over 11 months and included multiple other arrests along the way.

The investigation was called “Operation Checkered Flag,” and it began late last year when local police were tipped off about drugs flowing into Bradford County prisons. Back in June, two conspirators that were thought to be at the head of the drug ring were arrested, both of them were corrections officers. Officer Dylan Oral Hilliard of Lawtey and Maj. Charles Gregory “Chicken Hawk” Combs were each arrested in June, but the smuggling operations still continued.

Deeper into the investigation, police discovered that it was a much larger scheme taking place, involving multiple other corrections officers.
Read more at http://thefreethoughtproject.com/9-corrections-officers-arrested-smuggling-prescription-opiates-prison/#Cf2KyDKVSHIv0IFf.99

Efforts to limit seizures of money, homes and other property from people who may never be convicted of a crime are stalling out amid a wave of pressure from prosecutors and police.

Their effort, at least at the state level, appears to be working. At least a dozen states considered bills restricting or even abolishing forfeiture that isn’t accompanied by a conviction or gives law enforcement less control over forfeited proceeds. But most measures failed to pass.

Civil asset forfeiture is state-sanctioned theft. There is no other way around it. The entire concept violates the spirit of the 4th, 5th and 6th amendments to the Constitution. In case you have any doubt:

The 4th Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

The 5th Amendment: No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The 6th Amendment: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

Civil asset forfeiture is a civil rights issue, and it should be seen as such by everyone. Just because it targets the entire population as opposed to a specific race, gender or sexual orientation doesn’t make it less important.

Read the whole thing @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-06-04/us-police-and-prosecutors-fight-retain-barbaric-right-%E2%80%9Ccivil-asset-forfeiture%E2%80%9D

Via NRA-ILA

It’s happening again— President Obama is using his imperial pen and telephone to curb your rights and bypass Congress through executive action.

Even as news reports have been highlighting the gun control provisions of the Administration’s “Unified Agenda” of regulatory objectives (see accompanying story), the Obama State Department has been quietly moving ahead with a proposal that could censor online speech related to firearms. This latest regulatory assault, published in the June 3 issue of the Federal Register, is as much an affront to the First Amendment as it is to the Second. Your action is urgently needed to ensure that online blogs, videos, and web forums devoted to the technical aspects of firearms and ammunition do not become subject to prior review by State Department bureaucrats before they can be published.

To understand the proposal and why it’s so serious, some background information is necessary.

For the past several years, the Administration has been pursuing a large-scale overhaul of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), which implement the federal Arms Export Control Act (AECA). The Act regulates the movement of so-called “defense articles” and “defense services” in and out of the United States. These articles and services are enumerated in a multi-part “U.S. Munitions List,” which covers everything from firearms and ammunition (and related accessories) to strategic bombers. The transnational movement of any defense article or service on the Munitions List presumptively requires a license from the State Department. Producers of such articles and services, moreover, must register with the U.S. Government and pay a hefty fee for doing so.

Also regulated under ITAR are so-called “technical data” about defense articles. These include, among other things, “detailed design, development, production or manufacturing information” about firearms or ammunition. Specific examples of technical data are blueprints, drawings, photographs, plans, instructions or documentation.

In their current form, the ITAR do not (as a rule) regulate technical data that are in what the regulations call the “public domain.” Essentially, this means data “which is published and which is generally accessible or available to the public” through a variety of specified means. These include “at libraries open to the public or from which the public can obtain documents.” Many have read this provision to include material that is posted on publicly available websites, since most public libraries these days make Internet access available to their patrons.

The ITAR, however, were originally promulgated in the days before the Internet. Some State Department officials now insist that anything published online in a generally-accessible location has essentially been “exported,” as it would be accessible to foreign nationals both in the U.S. and overseas.

With the new proposal published on June 3, the State Department claims to be “clarifying” the rules concerning “technical data” posted online or otherwise “released” into the “public domain.” To the contrary, however, the proposal would institute a massive new prior restraint on free speech. This is because all such releases would require the “authorization” of the government before they occurred. The cumbersome and time-consuming process of obtaining such authorizations, moreover, would make online communication about certain technical aspects of firearms and ammunition essentially impossible.

Penalties for violations are severe and for each violation could include up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. Civil penalties can also be assessed. Each unauthorized “export,” including to subsequent countries or foreign nationals, is also treated as a separate violation.

Gunsmiths, manufacturers, reloaders, and do-it-yourselfers could all find themselves muzzled under the rule and unable to distribute or obtain the information they rely on to conduct these activities. Prior restraints of the sort contemplated by this regulation are among the most disfavored regulations of speech under First Amendment case law.

But then, when did the U.S. Constitution ever deter Barack Obama from using whatever means are at his disposal to exert his will over the American people and suppress firearm ownership throughout the nation?

Time is of the essence! Public comment will be accepted on the proposed gag order until August 3, 2015. Comments may be submitted online at regulations.gov or via e-mail at DDTCPublicComments@state.gov with the subject line, ‘‘ITAR Amendment—Revisions to Definitions; Data Transmission and Storage.”

According to a Federal Business Opportunities report posted today, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is planning to solicit proposals for a “license place commercial data reader service” later this month.

An official DHS statement says that the Department is not attempting to set up its own database, but to instead query existing data held in commercially available license plate reader databases.

That statement continues, saying:  https://readfomag.com/2015/04/runaround-dhs-to-purchases-access-to-license-plate-databases/

If the government puts a GPS tracker on you, your car, or any of your personal effects, it counts as a search—and is therefore protected by the Fourth Amendment.

The Supreme Court clarified and affirmed that law on Monday, when it ruled on Torrey Dale Grady v. North Carolina, before sending the case back to that state’s high court. The Court’s short but unanimous opinions helps make sense of how the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure, interacts with the expanding technological powers of the U.S. government.

“It doesn’t matter what the context is, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a car or a person. Putting that tracking device on a car or a person is a search,” said Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF).

In this case, that context was punishment. Grady was twice convicted as a sex offender. In 2013, North Carolina ordered that, as a recidivist, he had to wear a GPS monitor at all times so that his location could be monitored. He challenged the court, saying that the tracking device qualified as an unreasonable search.

North Carolina’s highest court at first ruled that the tracker was no search at all. It’s that decision that the Supreme Court took aim at today, quoting the state’s rationale and snarking:

The only theory we discern […] is that the State’s system of nonconsensual satellite-based monitoring does not entail a search within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment. That theory is inconsistent with this Court’s precedents.

Then it lists a series of Supreme Court precedents.

And there are a few, as the Court has considered the Fourth Amendment quite a bit recently. In 2012, it ruled that placing a GPS tracker on a suspect’s car, without a warrant, counted as an unreasonable search. The following year, it said that using drug-sniffing dogs around a suspect’s front porch—without a warrant and without their consent—was also unreasonable, as it trespassed onto a person’s property to gain information about them.

Both of those cases involved suspects, but the ruling Monday made clear that it extends to those convicted of crimes, too.

But much remains unclear about how the Fourth Amendment interacts with digital technology. The Court so far has only ruled on cases where location information was collected by a GPS tracker. But countless devices today collect geographic information. Smartphones often contain their own GPS monitors and can triangulate their location from nearby cell towers; electronic toll-collection systems like E-ZPass register, by default, a car’s location and when it passed through a toll road.

Lynch, the EFF attorney, said that the justices seem to know that they’ll soon to rule on whether this kind of geo-locational information is protected.

She also said that those questions are more fraught for the Court than ones just involving GPS tracker data. Some members of the Court, including Justice Antonin Scalia, argue the Fourth Amendment turns on whether the government has trespassed on someone’s private property. Other members—represented in arguments by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito—say that people have a reasonable expectation to the privacy of their location data.

For now, Monday’s ruling will force lower courts to consider whether attaching a GPS tracker to someone or something is a reasonable search, Lynch said. “It makes very clear to state courts and lower courts considering this issue that at least they have to get to that point,” she told me.

North Carolina isn’t alone in requiring past sex offenders to wear a GPS tracking device. Wisconsin also forces convicted sex offenders to wear location monitors for the rest of their lives, and Lynch said the EFF is looking at similar cases in other states. In her opinion, lifelong GPS tracking does constitute an unreasonable search. Her thinking: By the time they’re monitored, convicts have served their time and have theoretically repaid society for their crimes.

“They should have the opportunity to rebuild their lives and not be under a state of government surveillance for the rest of their lives, and that’s what a GPS tracker constitutes,” Lynch said. “Sex offenders—it’s the easiest class of people to place these kinds of punishments on, but I worry that we start with sex offenders and then we go down the line to people who’ve committed misdemeanors.”

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/u-supreme-court-youre-being-220522445.html

From Balko

At a news conference Monday, New York Police Department commissioner Bill Bratton blamed a slight uptick in violence in the city (45 homicides at this point last year, versus 54 this year) on marijuana.

“The seemingly innocent drug that’s been legalized around the country. In this city, people are killing each other over marijuana more so than anything that we had to deal with [in the] 80s and 90s with heroin and cocaine . . . In some instances, it’s a causal factor. But it’s an influence in almost everything that we do here.”

Hyperbole at its finest. Even if this year’s uptick holds through December (and it’s worth noting that we’re only dealing with eight weeks of data, here), New York would end the year with 383 murders. The city saw 2,245 murders in 1990.

I’m not exactly sure by what Rube Goldbergian chain of events Bratton thinks legalization in Colorado and Washington is causing homicides in New York City, but it’s clear that he thinks there’s a connection. Another NYPD official said the problem appears to be “ripoffs” — not turf battles, but attempted robberies gone wrong.

Of course, if we want a more direct examination of what effect legal pot might have on homicide, we can just look at the cities where it’s legal. Here’s what we know:

Homicides dropped 24 percent in Denver last year, the first full year of legalization in Colorado. Robberies were down 3 percent. Burglary was down 9.5 percent. The only crimes that increased significantly were larceny (a property crime, not a violent crime) and arson, which seems unlikely to be related to marijuana. Overall, violent crime dropped 0.7 percent, and property crime dropped 2 percent.

Homicides did increase slightly in Seattle (from 23 to 26), the largest city in the other state to legalize the drug. But it’s more difficult to draw conclusions there because the Washington law was quite a bit stricter than the Colorado law, and still left room for a thriving black market.

Of course, we only have a year’s worth of data from Colorado. But then, Bratton is drawing broad conclusions based on just eight weeks.

I won’t argue that legalized marijuana is responsible for the 24 percent drop in homicides in Denver last year. There’s not nearly enough data to jump to a conclusion like that. But it’s still a hell of a lot more defensible than arguing that it’s responsible for an increase in homicides in New York.

From NRA-ILA

On Tuesday, nine doctors and lawyers, claiming to represent their medical and legal organizations (and by extension, the members of their professions), strained their credibility and made fools of themselves with a call to action in favor of gun control.

The nine are Steven E. Weinberger, of the American College of Physicians; David B. Hoyt, of the American College of Surgeons; Hal C. Lawrence, of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Saul Levin, of the American Psychiatric Association; Douglas E. Henley, of the American Academy of Family Physicians; Errol R. Alden, of the American Academy of Pediatrics; Dean Wilkerson, of the American College of Emergency Physicians; Georges C. Benjamin, of the American Public Health Association; and William C. Hubbard, of the American Bar Association.

If their proposals for dealing with “firearm violence” sound familiar, it’s because you’ve heard them all before, mostly from anti-gun politicians (like President Obama) and dedicated gun control advocates (like Michael Bloomberg). Doubtless, all concerned hope the usual tired agenda will sound more convincing when promoted by learned professionals. Instead, it just makes those professionals sound like they’re out of their depth and playing politics.

The group calls for “background checks for all gun purchases, including sales by gun dealers,” believing that “purchases at gun shows do not require such checks.”

Seriously? They really don’t know that dealers have to run checks at gun shows?

Here’s another. They claim “40% of firearm transfers take place through means other than a licensed dealer; as a result, an estimated 6.6 million firearms are sold annually with no background checks.” The source of these figures, they claim, is a summary of the Cook-Ludwig Guns in America survey of 1993.

Two years ago, the authors of the survey saidthat the correct number is probably between 14 and 22 percent, but “we don’t know the current percentage — nor does anyone else.”

There’s more. They claim, “The only way to ensure that all prohibited purchasers are prevented from acquiring firearms is to make background checks a universal requirement for all gun purchases or transfers of ownership.”

They really believe that background checks stop criminals from stealing guns, buying them on the black market, and hiring “straw purchasers” to buy guns for them?

They claim that a ban on “assault weapons” and “large” magazines would be “compliant with the Second Amendment” and “constitutionally sound” according to the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller(2008).

The same Heller decision that said “the Second Amendment extends, prima facie, to all instruments that constitute bearable arms,” and questioned only whether fully-automatic firearms were within the amendment’s scope, on the grounds that they’re not commonly owned.

“Patients trust their physicians to advise them on issues that affect their health, and physicians can answer questions and educate the public on the risks of firearm ownership and the need for firearm safety,” the anti-gunners claim.

First, however, these doctors and lawyers might want to educate themselves. Better yet, they should stick to medicine and law, rather than dabble in matters in which they have little understanding and zero practical experience. For bunion removal or estate planning, doctors and lawyers have a lot to offer. When serving as the gullible mouthpieces for a political agenda, they do themselves and the good standing of their professions a disservice

(Bloomberg) — California’s ban on new semiautomatic handguns that don’t stamp identifying information on the cartridge was upheld by a U.S. judge in a major loss for gun-rights groups.

The law barring sales of handguns without the microstamping technology doesn’t violate the Constitution’s Second Amendment because gun owners don’t have a right to buy specific types of firearms, U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller in Sacramento said in her ruling.

“Plaintiffs insist they have the right to determine the precise way in which they would exercise their Second Amendment rights,” Mueller said. The insistence upon particular handguns falls “outside the scope of the right to bear arms,” she said.

California in 2013 became the first state to bar retailers from selling new models of semiautomatic handguns not equipped to imprint the weapon’s make, model and serial number on the cartridge when a bullet is fired. The statute was supported by law enforcement because it can help deter or solve crime.

Thursday’s ruling that the requirement doesn’t violate the Second Amendment will prompt other states to impose similar requirements, in particular because there’s wide popular support for ballistic fingerprinting, said Allison Anderman, an attorney with the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco.

“Microstamping is a really important tool for law enforcement,” Anderman said in a phone interview.

De Facto Ban

Calguns Foundation Inc. and the Second Amendment Foundation argued that the requirement amounts to a de facto ban on sales of new semiautomatics because several manufacturers said they wouldn’t produce guns that included microstamp technology even if it meant their firearms couldn’t be sold in California, the most populous U.S. state.

About 1.5 million handguns were legally sold in California since opponents sued in 2009 to block the microstamping requirement, which according to Mueller’s ruling shows that the law doesn’t effectively ban the sale of firearms in the state.

The District of Columbia, the only other place in the U.S. to mandate microstamping, is set to begin enforcing that requirement next year, Anderman said.

The two gun rights groups said in a court filing Thursday that they will appeal the ruling by Mueller, who was nominated by Democratic President Barack Obama.

‘Strong Case’

“The court’s reasoning, that California’s prohibition of most handguns doesn’t even implicate the Second Amendment, is interesting,” Alan Gura, a lawyer for the groups, said Friday in an e-mail. “But we’re confident that we have a strong case on appeal.”

The case may go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 2008 upheld individuals’ right to own handguns, calling them the “quintessential self-defense weapon.”

The 2008 high court ruling left room for gun-control backers to impose new rules to promote safety. California, New York and Maryland, among other states, enacted restrictions that U.S. gun manufacturers and retailers contend are intended to regulate their $14 billion industry out of business.

The California law was signed in 2007 by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, and was put on hold until 2013 when state Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate next year, determined the technology was available to all gun makers and wasn’t encumbered by patent claims.

“The court’s ruling means that more gun crimes will be solved, more lives will be saved, and California communities will be safer,” Mike Feuer, the Los Angeles city attorney and the author of the microstamping bill, said in a statement.

The case is Pena v. Cid, 09-cv-01185, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (Sacramento)