Tag Archives | Prison-Industrial Complex

Seven Inmates Got 20 Combined Years In Solitary Confinement For Making A Music Video

Zero tolerance for music vids in prison.

CJCiaramella via BuzzFeed News:

Seven inmates in a South Carolina prison were punished with a combined total of nearly 20 years of solitary confinement — for making a rap music video and posting it on WorldStar.

The investigation into the rap video and the punishment were revealed in public records obtained by Dave Maass, an investigative researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Last year, the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) launched an investigation after the group of inmates released a rap video that made its way to WorldStarHipHop:

Records show five of the inmates received 180 days in “disciplinary detention,” while two others received punishments of 270 and 360 days, for “creating or assisting with a social media site.”

But additional punishments for “security threat group” (gang-related) materials, and possessing a contraband cell phone added up to a combined 7150 days, or 19.75 years, in solitary confinement for the inmates.

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The secret US prisons you’ve never heard of before

Investigative journalist Will Potter is the only reporter who has been inside a Communications Management Unit, or CMU, within a US prison. These units were opened secretly, and radically alter how prisoners are treated — even preventing them from hugging their children. Potter, a TED Fellow, shows us who is imprisoned here, and how the government is trying to keep them hidden. “The message was clear,” he says. “Don’t talk about this place.” Find sources for this talk at willpotter.com/cmu

Father Daniel Berrigan once said that “writing about prisoners is a little like writing about the dead.” I think what he meant is that we treat prisoners as ghosts. They’re unseen and unheard. It’s easy to simply ignore them and it’s even easier when the government goes to great lengths to keep them hidden.

As a journalist, I think these stories of what people in power do when no one is watching, are precisely the stories that we need to tell.… Read the rest

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Here’s how much Americans hate mandatory minimum sentences

77% of Americans say that “mandatory minimum prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders should be eliminated so that judges can make sentencing decisions on a case-by-case basis.”

Christopher Ingraham via The Washington Post:

Leading Senators appear to have reached agreement on a criminal justice reform package that will likely include some changes to how mandatory minimum sentences are applied to drug offenders.

But even if it gets passed, the changes will not completely eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders. And that’s likely to be a disappointment to the overwhelming majority of Americans — 77 percent — who say that “mandatory minimum prison sentences for non-violent drug offenders should be eliminated so that judges can make sentencing decisions on a case-by-case basis.”

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The Police: Our Enemies in Blue?

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 10.10.00 PMKristian Williams is not a big fan of the police. His book Our Enemies in Blue: Police and Power in America, published by the ridiculously badass AK Press breaks it down like this:

Let’s begin with the basics: violence is an inherent part of policing. The police represent the most direct means by which the state imposes its will on the citizenry. They are armed, trained, and authorized to use force. Like the possibility of arrest, the threat of violence is implicit in every police encounter. Violence, as well as the law, is what they represent.”

Kristian was kind enough to talk to me about why cops are bad.

Thanks for talking to me about your book “Our Enemies in Blue”. Your book is extremely critical of the police. What does the police department of the United States represent to you?

The police are specialists in coercive force.  Their distinguishing characteristic is the combination of surveillance and violence to make people do what people with power want them to do. … Read the rest

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When the President Goes to Prison

Jack (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0)

Jack (CC BY-ND-NC 2.0)

Andrew Cohen writes at the Brennan Center for Justice:

When President Barack Obama goes to Oklahoma Thursday and enters the medium-security federal prison FCI-El Reno he will be entering the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Prisons, part of the Justice Department, a bureaucratic fiefdom that is nearly as sprawling as the Department of Defense and in many ways as secret and unaccountable to the public and lawmakers as the CIA or the NSA. This even though 168,139 men and women (not counting 40,000 or so prisoners held in federal custody in private prisons) are incarcerated daily in a system staffed by approximately 40,000 federal employees.

When he walks through the doors of the prison, on his way to his inevitable photo opportunity with corrections officers and nonviolent drug offenders, the President will be entering the domain of officials in Washington who for decades have sanctioned the widespread use of solitary confinement, the systemic abuse and neglect of mentally ill prisoners, and deplorable shortages of properly trained corrections staff and medical professionals, to name just three of the systemic problems identified in recent reviews of the Bureau of Prisons.

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Corporate Capitalism Is the Foundation of Police Brutality and the Prison State

Thomas Hawk (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Thomas Hawk (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Chris Hedges explores corporate capitalism’s role in America’s prison state.

Chris Hedges via Common Dreams:

Our national conversation on race and crime is based on a fiction. It is the fiction that the organs of internal security, especially the judiciary and the police, can be adjusted, modernized or professionalized to make possible a post-racial America. We discuss issues of race while ignoring the economic, bureaucratic and political systems of exploitation—all of it legal and built into the ruling apparatus—that are the true engines of racism and white supremacy. No discussion of race is possible without a discussion of capitalism and class. And until that discussion takes place, despite all the proposed reforms to the criminal justice system, the state will continue to murder and imprison poor people of color with impunity.

More training, body cameras, community policing, the hiring of more minorities as police officers, a better probation service and more equitable fines will not blunt the indiscriminate use of lethal force or reduce the mass incarceration that destroys the lives of the poor.

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Chicago Police Put Antlers on Black Man and Posed for Pictures


Juan Thompson writes at the Intercept:

The photo shows two white Chicago Police officers posing with an unidentified black man [above]. The officers — Timothy McDermott and Jerome Finnigan — are holding rifles as the black man lies on the floor with a dazed look on his face and with antlers on his head as if he were a prized, big buck finally hunted down.

Finnegan is smiling and grabbing the right antler, while McDermott is holding up the man’s head as if it were his trophy.

The photo was taken in a police station on the West Side of Chicago sometime between 1999 and 2003. The Chicago Police Department successfully kept it hidden from the public until a judge refused to keep it under seal and the Chicago Sun-Times pulled a copy from a court filing. 

Finnigan is a notoriously dirty ex-cop who was a member of the police department’s elite Special Operations Section (SOS) until 2006, when he was charged with leading a gang of fellow officers who robbed suspects, illegally invaded homes and stole thousands of dollars in cash.

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The Last Mile: Inside San Quentin’s Tech Incubator

There’s a tech incubator popping up, but it’s not in Silicon Valley—it’s inside San Quentin State Prison. The Last Mile program teaches inmates entrepreneurship skills with the goal that each participant founds a socially conscious, tech-forward company. Award-winning filmmaker Ondi Timoner goes inside the innovative non-profit and follows inmates as they work to craft a business plan, pitch their ideas in front of venture capitalists, and then, transition back into society.

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