Tag Archives | Justice

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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How A Man Was Sentenced To Life In Prison For Stealing A Pair Of Socks

Via Rolling Stone, Matt Taibbi on crime and punishment under California’s Three Strikes law:

Suddenly, a pair of socks caught his eye. He grabbed them and slipped them into a shopping bag. “No, they were ordinary white socks,” he says, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. “Didn’t even have any stripes.”

Wilkerson never made it out of the store. At the exit, he was, shall we say, over­enthusiastically apprehended by two security officers. Thanks to a brand-new, get-tough-on-crime state law, Wilkerson would soon be sentenced to life in prison for stealing a pair of plain white tube socks worth $2.50. Because Wilkerson had two prior convictions, both dating back to 1981, the shoplifting charge counted as a third strike against him. He was sentenced to 25 years to life, meaning that his first chance for a parole hearing would be in 25 years.

Wilkerson is unlucky, but he’s hardly alone.

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California Reconsiders Draconian Three-Strikes Prison Sentences

American justice: 17 years behind bars for stealing cigarettes. The Los Angeles Times writes:

A Los Angeles County judge responsible for reconsidering the life prison terms of more than 1,000 offenders sentenced under the state’s three-strikes law began the process at a hearing Monday, reducing the punishments for five inmates convicted of relatively minor crimes.

Among those given shorter sentences was a 74-year-old who has served more than 15 years for possessing $10 worth of drugs and an 81-year-old behind bars for more than 17 years for stealing dozens of packs of cigarettes.

The hearing came three months after voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 36, which softened California’s tough three-strikes law and allowed many inmates sentenced for non-serious and nonviolent offenses to ask for shorter prison terms. In Los Angeles County, the hearings are expected to continue through at least much of this year.

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Why Police Officers Lie Under Oath

Police lie in court with impunity, yet juries almost always take their word over defendants’.  The New York Times writes:

In this era of mass incarceration, the police shouldn’t be trusted any more than any other witness, perhaps less so.

That may sound harsh, but numerous law enforcement officials have put the matter more bluntly. Peter Keane, a former San Francisco Police commissioner, wrote an article in The San Francisco Chronicle decrying a police culture that treats lying as the norm:

“Police officer perjury in court to justify illegal dope searches is commonplace. One of the dirty little not-so-secret secrets of the criminal justice system is undercover narcotics officers intentionally lying under oath…it is the routine way of doing business in courtrooms everywhere in America.”

The New York City Police Department is not exempt from this critique. In 2011, hundreds of drug cases were dismissed after several police officers were accused of mishandling evidence.

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Under The Law, Anyone Interesting Is A Felon

The criminal prosecution of activist programmer and Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz over his sharing of academic works from the archives of JSTOR likely lead to Swartz’s suicide. Via the New Yorker, law professor Tim Wu writes:

Most of the time prosecutors do chase actual wrongdoers, but today our criminal laws are so expansive that most people of any vigor and spirit can be found to violate them in some way. Basically, under American law, anyone interesting is a felon. The prosecutors, not the law, decide who deserves punishment.

Today, prosecutors feel they have license to treat leakers of information like crime lords or terrorists. In an age when our frontiers are digital, the criminal system threatens something intangible but incredibly valuable. It threatens youthful vigor, difference in outlook, the freedom to break some rules and not be condemned or ruined for the rest of your life. Swartz was a passionate eccentric who could have been one of the great innovators and creators of our future.

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Arkansas Town Enacts Martial Law, ID Checks Of Everyone In Public

The mayor explains that normal constitutional protections don’t apply, because, due to the high rate of property crime, anyone walking outdoors in his city is a criminal suspect. Via Russia Today:

In order to curb the rising crime rate in this town of barely 25,000, Mayor Mike Gaskill and Police Chief Todd Stovall endorsed a plan to send cops dressed in full-fledged SWAT gear and equipped with AR-15s into downtown Paragould starting in 2013. What’s more, Stovall says, is he intends to have the cops collecting identification from everyone and anyone.

“If you’re out walking, we’re going to stop you, ask why you’re out walking, check for your ID,” the Daily Press reports him saying during last week’s meeting. “We will be asking for picture identification. We will be ascertaining where the subject lives and what they are doing in the area. We will be keeping a record of those we contact.”

“To ask you for your ID, I have to have a reason,” he said.

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Quentin Tarantino: Drug War, Justice System Are Modern-Day Slavery

Not that anyone in Washington is likely to be listening, but bad boy film director Quentin Tarantino makes a very good point. Movieline reports on his interview with disinformation ally Strombo:
Quentin Tarantino says slavery continues in the United States.  The outspoken filmmaker — whose spaghetti southern Django Unchained unflinchingly depicts the brutality of slavery — stoked the debate on race Tuesday night when he appeared on the Canadian television talk show George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight to suggest that the United States' "war on drugs" and  its "mass incarcerations" of black men is "just slavery through and through." Tarantino didn't cite these figures, but he could have: According to the  New York Times, half of the 2.3 million Americans in prison or jail are black, an astonishing figure when compared to 2011 U.S. Censusinformation that indicates blacks comprise only 13.1 percent of the country's population. In other words, he's got a point, and this is a conversation our country should stop avoiding...
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Obama’s Only Presidential Pardon This Year Was The Thanksgiving Turkey

ThinkProgress points out that Cobbler the turkey was the only recipient of a presidential mercy in 2012:

Although the Constitution confers on the president the power to “grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States,” a recent ProPublica report found that Obama had exercised that power more rarely than any president in modern history. As law professor Mark Osler explains, the framers intended a much more robust presidential use of the pardon power:

The founding fathers did not intend for the pardon power to fall into such disuse. Alexander Hamilton, in Federalist 74, argued that “the criminal code of every country partakes so much of necessary severity, that without an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel.”

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