Tag Archives | Pennsylvania

Prison Sentences Based On Crimes That The Perp Is Likely To Commit In The Future

This is some scary Big Brother shit right here: Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system may soon allow judges to sentence convicts based on crimes they haven’t committed but are likely to in the future. The Marshall Project investigates:

Criminal sentencing has long been based on the present crime and, sometimes, the defendant’s past criminal record. In Pennsylvania, judges could soon consider a new dimension: the future.Pennsylvania is on the verge of becoming one of the first states in the country to base criminal sentences not only on what crimes people have been convicted of, but also on whether they are deemed likely to commit additional crimes. As early as next year, judges there could receive statistically derived tools known as risk assessments to help them decide how much prison time — if any — to assign.

Holmesburg Prison, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Credit: Marduk (CC). Note the similarity to Bentham's Panopticon.

Holmesburg Prison, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Credit: Marduk (CC). Note the similarity to Bentham’s Panopticon.


Risk assessments have existed in various forms for a century, but over the past two decades, they have spread through the American justice system, driven by advances in social science.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Shocking Documents Reveal Fracking Health Complaints Swept Under the Rug in Pennsylvania

Anti-frackers may be celebrating in New York State, where the ban on hydraulic fracturing was made permanent this week, but in Pennsylvania it’s a very different story. EcoWatch reports that a ream of official state documents show a pattern of sweeping health complaints under the rug:

Heavily-fracked Pennsylvania is a battle ground in the fight to protect affected families from the harms of the toxic drilling method. Last week after months of resisting our efforts, the state finally delivered more than 100 pages of documents to Food & Water Watch that were requested through a public Right-to-Know request. And what we received was shocking. The documents clearly demonstrate an ongoing pattern of alarming negligence and incompetence by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) in responding to scores of fracking-related health complaints from state residents.

Food & Water Watch requested, through a public Right-to-Know request, documents that clearly demonstrate an ongoing pattern of alarming negligence and incompetence by the Pennsylvania Dept.
Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Legend of the Green Man

the-green-manThe Green Man is an urban legend originating in Western Pennsylvania. If you wander around the streets late at night, the legend says that you may encounter a disfigured man with green skin. Today I Found Out explores the origins:

According to legend passed down by residents in Western Pennsylvania, you can spot a mysterious “Green Man” walking alongside the road late at night or in a local tunnel where his touch will disrupt a car’s electrical systems. His trademark disfigured face and glowing green skin are said to be the result of an electrical accident. One version of the story says he was struck by lightning, and another claims he worked on the railroad as a laborer until an electrical accident killed him.

While sometimes urban legends are based on nothing but complete fiction, occasionally there is a kernel of truth to the stories, albeit with more fantastical details added over the years.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Execution by Medical Neglect?

"Mumia03" by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mumia03.jpg#/media/File:Mumia03.jpg

“Mumia03” by Source. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia

Dave Lindorff writes at CounterPunch:

Mumia Abu-Jamal, the radical Philadelphia journalist convicted of killing a white Philadelphia police officer in a trial fraught with prosecutorial misconduct, witness coaching and judicial prejudice back in 1981, spent nearly three decades in solitary confinement in the deliberately designed hell of Pennsylvania’s supermax SCI Green prison before a panel of federal Appeals Court judges eventually ruled that he’d been unconstitutionally sentenced to death.

He, of course, received no apology for the state’s making him illegally and improperly spend all those years in solitary waiting to be wrongfully executed. Instead, with that ruling (after a few years of legal stalling by the Philadelphia district attorney’s office), he was simply switched over to a sentence of life without possibility of parole and moved to the SCI-Mahoney prison in central Pennsylvania.

Now, it appears the state, which lost its chance to execute him, may be trying to kill him another way, as word comes that this world-renowned political prisoner had to be rushed to the hospital this week, unconscious from an undiagnosed case of severe diabetes.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

When Squatchin’ Goes Wrong: Bigfoot Attacked My Winnebago!

Winnebago warrior and Bigfoot hunter John Reed of Lykens, PA. has filed a report with local police alleging that a Sasquatch broke the windows and lights out on his 1973 Winnebago. Says the police report posted to The Smoking Gun, "Prior to these incidences, the victim related that he saw a bigfoot (sic) in the area." Reed described Bigfoot as "very large, brown in color, and walks somewhat hunched over." Reed is a member of the Lykens Valley Bigfoot Hunters, and if his Facebook profile is any indication, a big fan of the Insane Clown Posse. I'm wondering if he's considered the possibility that the supposed Sasquatch might have just been a particularly disheveled Juggalo. Here's one Juggalo researcher on this competing theory:
Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Bans Doctors From Disclosing Fracking Dangers To Patients

Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling Tower 1This is truly like something from a George Orwell novel. Via The Atlantic:
Under a new law, doctors in Pennsylvania can access information about chemicals used in natural gas extraction -- but they won't be able to share it with their patients. A provision buried in a law passed last month is drawing scrutiny from the public health and environmental community, who argue that it will "gag" doctors who want to raise concerns related to oil and gas extraction with the people they treat and the general public. Pennsylvania is at the forefront in the debate over "fracking," the process by which a high-pressure mixture of chemicals, sand, and water are blasted into rock to tap into the gas. Recent discoveries of great reserves in the Marcellus Shale region of the state prompted a rush to development, as have advancements in fracking technologies. But with those changes have come a number of concerns from citizens about potential environmental and health impacts from natural gas drilling...
Continue Reading

First U.S. State Capital Ever To File for Bankruptcy: Harrisburg, PA

Harrisburg, PAAmerica (in this case, Pennsylvania), Fuck YA! AFP via Google reports:
Pennsylvania's state capital Harrisburg has declared bankruptcy, according to a court filing seen on Wednesday, raising the specter of a string of local defaults across the United States. The city — whose finances have been ravaged by the costs of upgrading a once-mothballed trash incinerator — filed late Tuesday to seek protection from creditors. The city reportedly owes around $310 million. According to the Bankruptcy Court filing, Harrisburg has between one and 49 creditors. It also reported a roughly equal amount of assets and liabilities, in the range of $100-500 million. The state of Pennsylvania had tried to force Harrisburg to sell off those assets in order to pay bondholders, but the city council reportedly voted by a margin of four to three on Tuesday to opt for bankruptcy. The result is a rare, but not unexpected, US municipal bankruptcy amid a faltering economy.
Continue Reading

Restaurant Bans Children Under Six

Starting July 16, McDain's, a Pittsburgh-area restaurant, will ban children under the age of 6 from its dining area. Restaurant owner Mike Vuick said the policy came in response to complaints he'd received from older customers about kids causing a ruckus. In an email to his clientele, Vuick wrote, "We feel that McDain's is a not a place for young children … and many, many times they have disturbed other customers." Via ABC News: [Story continues at ABC News]
Continue Reading