Tag Archives | Justice

Billionaire S.C. Johnson Heir Gets Four Months In Jail For Sexually Assaulting Stepdaughter

PIC: totally unrelated picture of pond scum. Ahem. (NARA-PD)

PIC: totally unrelated picture of pond scum. (NARA-PD)

Does this sound familiar? You might be thinking of this totally different child molesting corporate heir escaping the consequences of his actions.

A Wisconsin billionaire pled guilty to sexual assault of his stepdaughter, but was only sentenced to four months in jail on Friday. Samuel Curtis Johnson III, heir to the SC Johnson cleaning supplies empire, will have to serve at least 60 days of his sentence and pay a fine up to $6,000.

Originally, Johnson was charged with felony sexual assault of a child for repeatedly targeting his stepdaughter for three years. His stepdaughter initially told police Johnson was “a sex addict” and touched her inappropriately 15 to 20 times starting when she was 12 years old. She told her mother about the abuse in order to protect her younger sister, and Johnson confessed when the mother confronted him.

The felony charge carries up to 40 years in prison.

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The Rise Of The Privatized For-Profit Probation Industry

probationHuman Rights Watch reports on the prison-industrial complex creeping further outside of the prison walls:

Every year, US courts sentence several hundred thousand misdemeanor offenders to probation overseen by private companies that charge their fees directly to the probationers. Often, the poorest people wind up paying the most in fees over time, in what amounts to a discriminatory penalty. And when they can’t pay, companies can and do secure their arrest.

The 72-page report, “Profiting from Probation: America’s ‘Offender-Funded’ Probation Industry,” describes how more than 1,000 courts in several US states delegate tremendous coercive power to companies that are often subject to little meaningful oversight or regulation. In many cases, the only reason people are put on probation is because they need time to pay off fines and court costs linked to minor crimes. In some of these cases, probation companies act more like abusive debt collectors than probation officers, charging the debtors for their services.

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Two Of The Last Victims Of The Satanic Abuse Panic Freed From Prison

pentagramThink that witch hunts ended several centuries ago? Slate on the “Satanic Panic” that engulfed parts of the United States in the 1980s and 90s:

Among the atrocities that Frances and Dan Keller were supposed to have committed while running a day care center: drowning and dismembering babies in front of the children; transporting the children to Mexico to be sexually abused by the Mexican army; putting the children into a pool with sharks that ate babies; putting blood in the children’s Kool-Aid; exhuming bodies at a cemetery, forcing children to carry the bones.

It was frankly unbelievable—except a Texas jury did believe the Kellers had committed at least some of these acts. In 1992, the Kellers were each sentenced to 48 years in prison.

After multiple appeal efforts and 21 years in prison, the Kellers are finally free. Their release may also finally mark the end to one of the strangest, widest-reaching, and most damaging moral panics in America’s history: the satanic ritual abuse panic of the 1980s and 1990s.

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A Belated Reply to Plato: Is Democracy the Wisest Choice?

Is democracy the wisest choice, and the only fit for philosophers? Share your thoughts, links, and recommendations with us please.

Plato in his academy, painting by Swedish pain...

Plato in his academy, painting by Swedish painter Carl Johan Wahlbom, woodcut for the magazine by an unknown xylographer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (PD)

via 3 Quark Daily

Plato is among the most famous critics of democracy.  His criticism is relatively simple, but potentially devastating.  It runs as follows.  Politics aims at achieving justice, and so political policy must reflect the demands of justice.  Only those who know what justice is and have the self-control to enact what justice requires are capable of doing politics properly.  Alas, the average citizen is dumb and vicious.  Hence Plato’s conclusion is that democracy is a fundamentally corrupt form of politics; it is the rule of those who neither know nor care about justice.  In The Republic, Plato’s Socrates argues for a philosophical monarchy, the rule of the wise and virtuous.

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“My Brain Made Me Do It” Neuroscience Defense Increasingly Used In U.S. Criminal Courts

killerCan someone be punished for what their brain made them do? The Guardian on a growing trend in legal defense:

Criminal courts in the United States are facing a surge in the number of defendants arguing that their brains were to blame for their crimes and relying on questionable scans and other controversial, unproven neuroscience, a legal expert who has advised the president has warned.

Nita Farahany, a professor of law who sits on Barack Obama’s bioethics advisory panel, told a Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego that those on trial were mounting ever more sophisticated defences that drew on neurological evidence in an effort to show they were not fully responsible for murderous or other criminal actions.

“What is novel is the use by criminal defendants to say, essentially, that my brain made me do it,” Farahany said following an analysis of more than 1,500 judicial opinions from 2005 to 2012.

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Media Roots Radio – Manufactured Agitprop on the World’s Stage

Abby and Robbie Martin discuss the news of the day including a District Court judge forcing torture victims to pay their torturers’ legal fees; Latin American leaders standing up to US imperialism in light of the NSA leaks; the establishment’s use of agitation propaganda to manufacture outrage at other nations while promoting an undercurrent of American exceptionalism.

via Media Roots

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United States Refusing To Extradite Bolivia’s Ex-President Facing Genocide Charges

bolivia

Compare and contrast with other ongoing asylum controversies. Via the Guardian, Glenn Greenwald writes:

In October 2003, the intensely pro-US president of Bolivia, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada, sent his security forces to suppress growing popular protests against the government’s energy and globalization policies.

Using high-powered rifles and machine guns, his military forces killed 67 men, women and children, and injured 400 more, almost all of whom were poor and from the nation’s indigenous Aymara communities. Dozens of protesters had been killed by government forces in the prior months when troops were sent to suppress them.

The resulting outrage drove Sanchez de Lozada from office and then into exile in the United States, where he was welcomed by his close allies in the Bush administration. He has lived under a shield of asylum in the US ever since.

The Bolivians, however, have never stopped attempting to bring their former leader to justice for ordering the killing of indigenous peaceful protesters in cold blood (as Time Magazine put it: “according to witnesses, the military fired indiscriminately and without warning in El Alto neighborhoods”).

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Hacker Who Exposed Steubenville Rapists Raided By FBI, Faces Ten-Year Prison Sentence

hackerPrison sentence for rape: a year or two. Prison sentence for hacking a high school football team’s website in order to expose said rapists: potentially a decade, Mother Jones reports:

In April, the FBI quietly raided the home of the hacker known as KYAnonymous (whose real name is Deric Lostutter) in connection with his role in the Steubenville rape case. Today he spoke out for the first time about the raid and his motivations for pursuing the Steubenville rapists.

Lostutter may deserve more credit than anyone for turning Steubenville into a national outrage. After a 16-year-old girl was raped by two members of the Steubenville High football team last year, he obtained and published tweets and Instagram photos in which other team members had joked about the incident and belittled the victim.

Lostutter says he played no role in the hacking the Steubenville team’s fan page; he points out that another hacker, Batcat, has publicly taken the credit.

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ACLU Uncovers Illegal Debtors’ Prisons Across Ohio

debtors' prison

Despite being blatantly unconstitutional, citizens are commonly being jailed for their inability to pay tickets and fines, wreaking havoc on people’s lives (and costing the state far greater sums than the unpaid tickets), ACLU Ohio reveals:

The resurgence of contemporary debtors’ prisons sits squarely at this intersection of poverty and criminal justice. In towns across the state, thousands of people face the looming specter of incarceration every day, simply because they are poor.

For Ohio’s poor and working poor, an unaffordable traffic ticket or fine is just the beginning of a protracted process that may involve contempt charges, mounting fees, arrest warrants, and even jail time. The stark reality is that, in 2013, Ohioans are being repeatedly jailed simply for being too poor to pay fines.

The U.S. Constitution, the Ohio Constitution, and Ohio Revised Code all prohibit debtors’ prisons. The law requires that, before jailing anyone for unpaid fines, courts must determine whether an individual is too poor to pay.

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The Paradox of Fairness

Jenny Diski writes for the New Statesman:

justiceDesert, the noun deriving from the verb “to deserve”, appears to be an essential human dynamic. It is at least a central anxiety that provides the plot for so many novels and films that depend on our sense that there is or should be such a thing. Like Kafka and Poe, Hitchcock repeatedly returns to the individual who is singled out, wrongly accused, an innocent suffering an injustice. Yet consider Montgomery Clift’s priest in I Confess, Henry Fonda in The Wrong Man, Blaney, the real killer’s friend played by Jon Finch in Frenzy, James Stewart in The Man Who Knew Too Much and Cary Grant in North by Northwest; none of them is – or could be according to Hitchcock’s Catholic upbringing – truly innocent of everything, and often their moral failings give some cause for the suspicion that falls on them.

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