Tag: Corrections

What Happens When You Put a Fox in Charge of the Hen House

An investigation by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) that the certification of prisons in the United Sates by the American Correctional Association (ACA) is ineffective and corrupt.

This should surprise no one, the ACA is the primary lobbying organization for the prison industry.

Also, the entire fact that I am unironically using the term, “Prison Industry,” is an indication of just how morally bankrupt the current state of affairs is. 

Our carceral state needs to be reformed:

The organization responsible for accrediting US prisons, jails, and detention centers runs a “corrupt” process that puts a “rubber stamp” on dangerous facilities while taking in millions from the private prison industry, according to a scathing report from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), shared exclusively with Mother Jones.

The report, the result of a nearly 19-month investigation by the senator’s office, examined the American Correctional Association (ACA), a nongovernmental organization that acts simultaneously as a professional association and an oversight body for prison and detention systems. Federal, state, and local governments pay the ACA to audit the facilities where they keep people incarcerated and issue its stamp of approval on their operations. Qualifying facilities must meet the standards ACA spells out in its published manuals, covering everything from fire code compliance to officer gun training. Private prisons and detention centers, meanwhile, are often required to get accredited by the ACA to access lucrative government contracts, according to Warren’s report—and when scrutinized, they point to their accreditation status as a defense. After all, the ACA’s website says, accreditation is awarded to the “best of the best.”

The problem, Warren’s report found, is that the “best of the best” includes virtually every facility that pays its accreditation fees. The ACA currently counts over 1,200 accredited facilities; since 2007, only four have been denied accreditation. The groups provides three months’ notice and preparation tools for audits, “essentially providing the answers to the test in advance,” as the report puts it. And the ACA’s seal of approval lasts three years, with facilities conducting “self-reporting” in the interim.

“A review of available evidence suggests that that accreditation has little to no correlation with detention facility conditions and practices, and therefore little to no value whatsoever,” the report states. “The result has been the rubber-stamping of dangerous facilities and the waste of millions of taxpayer dollars.” Warren recommends that the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security stop paying the ACA for accreditation and instead establish a “rigorous, independent, and transparent” oversight process.


“The ACA’s private prison accreditation system is riddled with conflicts of interest, lacks transparency, and is subject to zero accountability even though millions in taxpayer dollars…flow to the ACA and private prison companies,” Warren’s report states. “These problems put the health and wellbeing of incarcerated and detained individuals, the staff and employees who work in those facilities, and our communities at risk.” (In his letter, Gondles wrote that criticizing the ACA for problems at accredited facilities “misunderstands” the purpose of its accreditation program: “ACA accreditation does not mean that there will never be an incident of violence, or that there will never be noncompliance with a health-related, safety, or other ACA standard,” he said.)

The report’s description of a lax ACA auditing process lines up with what my colleague Shane Bauer observed in 2015 while working undercover as a guard in a prison run by CoreCivic, then known as the Corrections Corporation of America:

But why is the system so broken? Warren’s report suggests that it all comes down to money. In addition to being “the closest thing we have to a national regulatory body for prisons,” as Bauer put it, it’s also a professional association that lobbies Congress on criminal justice issues and serves as a “voice for corrections.” That dual role presents an “irreconcilable conflict of interest” when the time comes to evaluate conditions inside prisons and detention centers, Warren’s report argues.

For one thing, the ACA gets nearly half its revenue from accreditation fees paid by the very entities it audits, including top private prison companies, her investigation found. Over a five-year period from 2014 to 2018, the GEO Group spent $1,429,599 on ACA accreditations, while CoreCivic spent $867,580, according to the report. The Management and Training Corporation, a smaller competitor, paid $501,850. The companies pay the ACA tens of thousands more in conference costs, certification fees, training, and for other services. Meanwhile, current or former private prison employees sit on each of the ACA’s governing boards and committees. (“The fact that one representative of a private correctional company sits on ACA’s Executive committee and two such representatives sit on the ACA’s Board of Governors and Delegate Assembly could not even begin to suggest that ACA is somehow beholden to those private interests or that the decisions of ACA’s governing bodies are driven by persons with conflicts of interest,” Gondles wrote in his letter to Warren, adding that the organization was governed by volunteers.)

Self-regulation is to regulation as self-importance is to importance.

A Correction

Yesterday, in writing about the poo flinging between Senator Marsha Blackburn and various personalities in Chinese media, I quoted something that I had believed was originally said by Clarence Carrow Darrow.

I was wrong.  The quote was made by American writer and humorist Harry Golden

Additionally, I got the quote wrong:

While Anglo-Saxons were still roaming the forests of Great Britain, painting their bodies blue and eating wild strawberries, the Jews already had diabetes.

My apologies for misinforming my reader(s).

Egregious Enough for Even the Supreme Court to Waive Qualified Immunity

Except, of course, for Clarence Thomas, of Course, who thinks that prison officers throwing aprisoner in a sh%$ filled cell, and then threw him naked into a cold cell, is OK, because even in comparison to likely rapist wannabee Brett Kavanaugh, Thomas is a deeply evil man.

The case is Taylor v. Rojas:

In their orders on Monday, the justices struck down a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that had blocked a Texas inmate’s lawsuit against prison officials. The inmate, Trent Taylor, was forced to spend six days naked in cells that contained feces from previous occupants and overflowing sewage. Taylor alleged that prison officials’ conduct violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment, but the 5th Circuit, invoking a doctrine known as qualified immunity, ruled that the officials could not be sued because it was not “clearly established” that their conduct violated Taylor’s constitutional rights. Taylor went to the Supreme Court in April, asking the justices to clarify what it means for a constitutional violation to be clearly established.

In a brief unsigned opinion on Monday, the Supreme Court invalidated the 5th Circuit’s decision, without calling for briefing on the merits or oral argument. The justices acknowledged that qualified immunity protects an official who makes a decision that, “even if constitutionally deficient, reasonably misapprehends the law governing the circumstances she confronted.” But in this case, the justices emphasized, “no reasonable correctional officer could have concluded that, under the extreme circumstances of this case, it was constitutionally permissible to house Taylor in such deplorably unsanitary conditions for such an extended period of time.” The court of appeals, the court noted, did not identify any emergency or other need for the prison officials to hold Taylor in these conditions, and the record in the case suggests that at least some of the officials were well aware of – but ignored – the conditions in the cells: One officer, putting him in a cell that was covered with feces, said to another officer that Taylor would “have a long weekend,” while a second officer, putting Taylor in a “frigidly cold” cell, expressed hope that Taylor would “f***ing freeze.” The justices sent the case back to the lower court to allow Taylor’s lawsuit to move forward.

Justice Clarence Thomas dissented from the court’s decision, although he did not file a separate opinion to explain his vote.

Thomas might very well be the worst Supreme Court Justice since Roger Taney.

Godwin My Ass. This is Nazi Sh%$

My guess is that this is a combination of greed and bigotry. The doctor and his accomplice want to sterilize brown women, and that they are getting over-reimbursed for what can be a routing procedure, there have been news reports of for-profit hysterectomy mills since at least the 1970s.

Still, it looks like we have a bunch of Josef Mengele wannabees here.

This is beyond horrifying:

Several legal advocacy groups on Monday filed a whistleblower complaint on behalf of a nurse at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention center documenting “jarring medical neglect” within the facility, including a refusal to test detainees for the novel coronavirus and an exorbitant rate of hysterectomies being performed on immigrant women.

The nurse, Dawn Wooten, was employed at the Irwin County Detention Center (ICDC) in Georgia, which is operated by LaSalle Corrections, a private prison company. The complaint was filed with the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by advocacy groups Project South, Georgia Detention Watch, Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, and South Georgia Immigrant Support Network.

Multiple women came forward to tell Project South about what they perceived to be the inordinate rate at which women in ICDC were subjected to hysterectomies – a surgical operation in which all or part of the uterus is removed. Additionally, many of the immigrant women who underwent the procedure were reportedly “confused” when asked to explain why they had the surgery, with one detainee likening their treatment to prisoners in concentration camps.

Yes, this sounds a lot like Nazi eugenics programs.

“When I met all these women who had had surgeries, I thought this was like an experimental concentration camp. It was like they’re experimenting with our bodies,” the detainee said.

According to Wooten, ICDC consistently used a particular gynecologist – outside the facility – who almost always opted to remove all or part of the uterus of his female detainee patients.

“Everybody he sees has a hysterectomy—just about everybody,” Wooten said, adding that, “everybody’s uterus cannot be that bad.”

“We’ve questioned among ourselves like goodness he’s taking everybody’s stuff out…That’s his specialty, he’s the uterus collector. I know that’s ugly…is he collecting these things or something…Everybody he sees, he’s taking all their uteruses out or he’s taken their tubes out. What in the world.”

(emphasis mine)

It’s clear that someone wanted to sterilize people because of the color of their skin.

The term for this is, “Good German”

Wooten – who is being represented in the matter by the Government Accountability Project – also confirmed that many of the detained women told her that they didn’t understand why they were being forced to have the procedure. She explained that some of the nurses who didn’t speak Spanish obtained consent from detainees “by simply googling Spanish.”

The complaint details several accounts from detainees, including one woman who was not properly anesthetized during the procedure and heard the aforementioned doctor tell the nurse he had mistakenly removed the wrong ovary, resulting in her losing all reproductive ability. Another said she was scheduled for the procedure but when she questioned why it was necessary, she was given at least three completely different answers.

The private prison company has denied any wrongdoing.

Mandy Rice-Davies applies.*

*Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?  Seriously, know your history.

If You Cannot Do Your Job with Slave Labor, You Are Doing Your Job Wrong

Clearly this is a matter of fact, but there is an underlying issue here that is being ignored, which is that California’s fire-fighting infrastructure is dependent on prison labor at $1.00/hour.

I understand how this is convenient, but it is also profoundly evil:

As a historic set of wildfires sweeps across California, sparked by lightning and stoked by record heat and drought resulting from climate change (Mercury News, 8/19/20; Scientific American, 4/3/20), many news outlets have drawn readers’ attention to an additional problem the state faces in fighting the fires: shortages of the prison labor that it normally relies on for firefighting crews.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection — known as Cal Fire — “has roughly half as many inmate fire crews than it originally had to work during the most dangerous part of wildfire season,” thanks to prison quarantines and Covid-related early-release programs, reported CNBC (8/21/20), and “rotating out firefighters isn’t an easy option because there’s already a significant shortage of workers available.” Insider (8/20/20) wrote that “the coronavirus pandemic is creating a shortage of inmate fire crews to battle the wildfires,” noting that California has “relied on incarcerated firefighters as its primary ‘hand crews’ since the 1940s.” The New York Times (8/22/20) declared that losing inmate labor “has been the difference between having the manpower to save homes from wildfires — or not,” and that “hiring firefighters to replace them, especially given the difficult work involved, would challenge a state already strapped for cash.”

It’s a gripping story, certainly, of a state unable to respond sufficiently to one disaster because of steps taken to ward off another. But the coverage all danced around a key problem with framing this as a labor shortage: There are plenty of workers available in a state with 2.5 million people currently unemployed — no doubt including many of the fire-trained inmate workers who were released early by Gov. Gavin Newsom in order to free them from the threat of getting sick in California’s Covid-ravaged prisons. The main difference: Unlike prison laborers, regular citizens have to be paid more than pittance wages.

There are far too many people and institutions profiting from the carceral state, and one of them is the state of California.

Of Course They Did

Securus, a phone company specializing in looting for prisoners and their families by over charging on phone calls, has now been revealed to have, for at least the second time in the past few months, recorded privileged conversations between detainees and their lawyers.

This is so f%$#ing illegal that a cop heard the calls and contacted the state attorney general:

Jail phone telco Securus provided recordings of protected attorney-client conversations to cops and prosecutors, it is claimed, just three months after it settled a near-identical lawsuit.

The corporate giant controls all telecommunications between the outside world and prisoners in American jails that contract with it. It charges far above market rate, often more than 100 times, while doing so.

It has now been sued by three defense lawyers in Maine, who accuse the corporation of recording hundreds of conversations between them and their clients – something that is illegal in the US state. It then supplied those recordings to jail administrators and officers of the law, the attorneys allege.

Though police officers can request copies of convicts’ calls to investigate crimes, the cops aren’t supposed to get attorney-client-privileged conversations. In fact, these chats shouldn’t be recorded in the first place. Yet, it is claimed, Securus not only made and retained copies of these sensitive calls, it handed them to investigators and prosecutors.

“Securus failed to screen out attorney-client privileged calls, and then illegally intercepted these calls and distributed them to jail administrators who are often law enforcers,” the lawsuit [PDF] alleged. “In some cases the recordings have been shared with district attorneys.”


The recordings only came to light in May after a detective was listening to copies of recordings he had been provided, and recognized the voice of one of the lawyers, John Tebbetts, talking to his client. The detective alerted Maine’s Attorney General and the AG then informed the lawyers, providing them with copies of hundreds of calls made from jail and asked them to flag up any that were client-attorney protected so that they could be deleted. Tebbetts, plus Jeremy Pratt and Robert Ruffner, are the trio suing Securus this month.


Amazingly, this is not the first time Securus has been accused of this same sort of behavior. Just three months ago, in May this year, the company settled a similar class-action lawsuit this time covering jails in California.

That time, two former prisoners and a criminal defense attorney sued Securus after it recorded more than 14,000 legally protected conversations between inmates and their legal eagles. Those recordings only came to light after someone hacked the corp’s network and found some 70 million stored conversations, which were subsequently leaked to journalists.

Securus claimed the recordings were the result of a software glitch, rather than an intentional act, and stuck to that explanation as the case wound its way through the US legal system over four years.


Even though that lawsuit was started in 2016, Securus perhaps did not fix its apparent software bug because the recordings in this new lawsuit took place from September 2019 to May this year. As part of its settlement, Securus said it would create a new “private call” option for protected calls with attorneys and physicians and include additional warnings if the call is being recorded.

In a just world, the senior executives at Securus would spending their days in prison being forced to pay 100 times the actual cost of their phone calls.

It’s pretty clear that they simply do not give a sh%$ about the rights of defendants, or about being contemptible greed heads.

They are so evil that I expect them to speak at the Republican National Convention.

Nope, No Racism Here

Whites Only

At the Ramsey jail in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the jail was specifically excluding black officers from having any contact with infamous murderer cop Derek Chauvin.

I really could not imagine them doing this for a non-cop, or for a black cop:

Staff members working at the jail that held Derek Chauvin, the white officer charged with murder in the killing of George Floyd, say that only white employees were allowed to guard him when he was first brought to the facility last month.

Eight officers have filed complaints with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights, saying that the superintendent of the Ramsey County jail in St. Paul kept them from bringing Mr. Chauvin to his cell — or even being on the same floor as him — last month, solely because of their race.

The officers, half of whom are black and all of whom are people of color, said the orders from the superintendent, Steve Lydon, who is white, amounted to segregation and indicated that he thought they could not be trusted to do their jobs because they are not white.

After initially denying that officers’ contact with Mr. Chauvin had been determined by race, a spokesman for the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office acknowledged the move this weekend and said Mr. Lydon had been temporarily removed from the superintendent role as the sheriff investigates the officers’ claims.

Roy Magnuson, the spokesman, provided a statement that he said Mr. Lydon gave to investigators. In it, Mr. Lydon said he had decided to keep nonwhite employees away from Mr. Chauvin because he believed having people of color interact with him could have “heightened ongoing trauma.” He said he had only done so on short notice and for 45 minutes before realizing that he had made a mistake, after which he reversed the order and apologized. Officers said it had lasted longer — affecting one shift two days later — and that not enough had been done in response.

The discrimination complaints, which were first reported by The Star Tribune, were the latest instance in which correctional officials have been accused of giving preferential treatment to a white inmate. Some activists have for years argued that officers were too kind to Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., when they placed him in a bulletproof vest and bought him food from Burger King. Critics said that a black suspect in a similar crime would not have gotten the same treatment.

In this case, one of the officers said in his complaint that he had seen, on the jail’s cameras, a white lieutenant let Mr. Chauvin use her phone inside his cell, a violation of the facility’s policy. Mr. Magnuson said the Sheriff’s Office was opening an internal investigation into that claim.

Gee, what a surprise, racist supervisors in a law enforcement agency.  Hoocoodanode?

Not Enough Bullets

People being detained at a privately run detention center were told that they would not be given masks unless they signed away all rights to sue.

This is despicable:

Detainees at Otay Mesa Detention Center had been asking for more protection from the COVID-19 pandemic all week, when a shipment of surgical masks arrived at the facility on Friday.

The women of “A pod” would finally be able to ditch their own constructions made from rubber bands, panty liners and cut up shirts for proper masks.

But by that afternoon, the mood quickly changed from excitement to anger, according to Briseida Salazar, a 23-year-old in the unit, which houses immigration detainees.


The new surgical masks arrived Friday, but they initially came with conditions, according to Salazar.

Salazar’s account of what happened when the masks arrived is corroborated by a signed declaration from San Diego attorney Anna Hysell, whose client called her immediately after it happened, as well as messages from other attorneys who heard similar stories from their clients.

Before the masks were to be distributed, the unit manager handed the women contracts written in English, telling them they would have to sign in order to get masks.

Most of the women in the unit do not speak English, Salazar said. Having grown up in the United States, she is one of the few who do.

The document, as read over the phone to the Union-Tribune, included a section saying that detainees agree to “hold harmless” CoreCivic and its agents and employees “from any and all claims that I may have related directly to my wearing the face mask.”

When the unit manager began to verbally translate the document into Spanish, one of the bilingual detainees noticed that she skipped the “hold harmless” section in her translation. She pointed that out to the other detainees, and they became angry.


The unit manager reiterated that they would not be given masks without signing, Salazar said.

Every person behind this should have been drowned at birth.

I Can’t Even………

I always knew that Mike Bloomberg was a sanctimonious self-important piece of sh%$, but even I could imagine that his campaign would use prison labor to make phone calls.

Even if you don’t have a problem with the morality of using prison labor, and I do, the reckless stupidity of doing so in the Democratic Party primary, were even the most squishy Democrats want to signal virtue, positively buggers the mind.

From a non political perspective, giving prisoners a list of people with enough money, and the  profound lack of common sense required to donate to Mike Bloomberg, seems to be problematic as well:

Former New York City mayor and multibillionaire Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg used prison labor to make campaign calls. Through a third-party vendor, the Mike Bloomberg 2020 campaign contracted New Jersey-based call center company ProCom, which runs calls centers in New Jersey and Oklahoma. Two of the call centers in Oklahoma are operated out of state prisons. In at least one of the two prisons, incarcerated people were contracted to make calls on behalf of the Bloomberg campaign.

According to a source, who asked for anonymity for fear of retribution, people incarcerated at the Dr. Eddie Warrior Correctional Center, a minimum-security women’s prison with a capacity of more than 900, were making calls to California on behalf of Bloomberg. The people were required to end their calls by disclosing that the calls were paid for by the Bloomberg campaign. They did not disclose, however, that they were calling from behind bars.

This is the most Mike Bloomberg thing ever.

About F%$#ing Time

After years of corruption, brutality, and abuse, a movement to ban private prisons is growing:

Alex Friedmann, 50, was transferred to a Tennessee public prison in 1998 after having spent the previous six years incarcerated in a private facility. Everything was different: There were more blankets, the toilet paper wasn’t as cheap, and correctional officers were everywhere.

“First thing I noticed was there’s a heck of a lot more staff or boots on the ground in the public prisons,” he told Vox. “There was not such an emphasis on cutting costs.”

After being released in 1999, Friedmann — now the associate director of the Human Rights Defense Center — began fighting for the abolishment of private prisons, and has spent the past two decades doing so. The arguments against them, according to Friedmann, are clear: Their for-profit model encourages the business to cut corners, affecting inmates’ safety and quality of living.

Increasingly, these criticisms of private, for-profit facilities have been reflected in policy and spending. Fueled in part by opposition from their constituents, lawmakers of states like California and Nevada have banned private prisons from operating. Businesses are also increasingly cutting ties with the industry following pushback from their customers.

The number of inmates in these facilities are also seeing a downward trend: In comparison to its peak in 2012 of about 136,220 people, the private prison population has decreased about 12 percent in the past five years as more facilities are closing. Given private prisons rely on facilities being full to remain economically viable, there is concern among executives that these falling numbers could eventually drive these businesses to their demise.

It cannot happen fast enough.

These ghouls are a plague on the entire justice system.


Private prison firm GEO has been disavowed by all of its banks, because their business has finally become too toxic even for the likes of JP Morgan Chase:

All of the existing banking partners to private prison leader GEO Group have now officially committed to ending ties with the private prison and immigrant detention industry. These banks are JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, SunTrust, BNP Paribas, Fifth Third Bancorp, Barclays, and PNC.

This exodus comes in the wake of demands by grassroots activists — many under the banner of the #FamiliesBelongTogether coalition — shareholders, policymakers, and investors. Major banks supporting the private prisons behind mass incarceration and immigrant detention have now committed to not renew $2.4B in credit lines and term loans to industry giants GEO Group and CoreCivic.

This shift represents an estimated shortfall of 87.4% of all future funding to the industry, which depends on these bank credit lines and loans to finance their day to day operations. Together, these banks commitments — alongside a federal judge’s block on the Trump administration’s plans to expand family detention this weekend, new policy initiatives such as California ending all contracts with private prisons, and Democratic primary candidates publicly raising the idea of a federal ban on for-profit incarceration — lead many to speculate a threat to the survival of the private prison industry all together.

One can only hope.  This is an industry that profits on misery and cruelty, and the sooner that these people need to work

As a note if you patronize the following banks, you might want to move your accounts:

Five banks have not yet made the commitment to stop extending their credit lines and term loans to CoreCivic: Regions (headquartered in Birmingham, AL), Citizens (Providence, Rhode Island), Pinnacle Bank (Nashville, TN), First Tennessee Bank (Memphis, TN), and Synovus Bank (Columbus, GA). In response to an inquiry, Pinnacle President and CEO Terry Turner said “while we don’t discuss details of client relationships, we base commercial credit decisions on several factors. In general we lend to businesses based in our markets that have strong leadership teams, sound credit histories and good operating leverage so they can create jobs and enhance the economic health of our markets.” Additionally, a spokesperson from Regions wrote “we recognize that people have differing views about the private sector’s involvement in prisons. This is a complex issue that government officials and policymakers are in the best position to address directly.”

I would note that private prisons are a new phenomenon, and they are hip deep in the creation of our carceral state:

As a brief historical recap: the American private prison industry is a relatively new phenomenon, with the first private prison opening in 1984. Given their business model depends on keeping a consistent and increasing number of people incarcerated, it’s been speculated and critiqued that this is why GEO Group and CoreCivic have spent $25M on lobbying over the past three decades to push for harsher criminal justice and immigration laws. A cycle emerges when one follows the money: everyday people put their money in banks, banks lend that money out to the private prison industry, the private prison industry uses that financing for their day to day work including lobbying, which successfully funnels more detainees into their facilities, and banks reap a payoff from their loans.

These companies need to be ended before their thirst for profits leads them to give IG Farben a run for their money.

Hoax Tweet of the Day

Let me reaffirm that this is a hoax, but it’s funny as hell:


In a major ethics violation, Kamala Harris’ iconic and memorable rainbow sequin coat she wore to San Francisco Pride was sewn together by truancy convicts in a California prison work camp, sources report. pic.twitter.com/MqliI2RD8D

— MSDNC (@MSDNCNews) August 4, 2019

Again, not true, but, as Stephen Colbert would say, there is a lot of truthiness there.

Meanwhile, in Nevada

Felon reanfranchisement is now the law in the Silver State:

Nevada’s governor has signed criminal justice reform bills that restore voting rights to convicted felons and streamlines the process for sealing low-level marijuana convictions.

Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak signed both the measures Wednesday as the legislative session continues on in its final days.

The voting rights legislation gives felony offenders the right to vote after being released from prison, instead of granting certain felons the right to vote two years after being released.

Sisolak says some 77,000 state residents will have their voting rights restored due to the legislation.

Felon disenfranchisement has always been an explicitly racist enterprise, and it needs to end.

As Napoleon Said, “Never Stop Your Enemy from Stepping on His Own Dick.”*

I am referring, of course, to the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing, which had Christine Blasey Ford (literally) schooling Senators on the neurology of human memory, Brett Kavanaugh raging in all of his entitled white frat boy glory, (he literally threatened Democratic Senators) and Lindsey Graham completely lost his sh%$ had a hysterical hissy fit for the ages.

Most tellingly, Ford, unlike Kavanaugh, specifically and explicitly stated that there should be an FBI investigation of the allegations, while Kavanaugh evaded the question.

Only one of them sounded like they had something to hide.

Disclosure: I did not watch the hearings, I checked out some live blogs and clips.

It was a complete sh%$ show for the Republicans.

*That is my translation from the original French of, “N’interrompez jamais un ennemi qui est en train de faire une erreur.”

Good News from the Last Place You Would Expect

No. Really.

A blow for human decency in corrections was just struck by Texas prison system, literally the last place one would expect, where they have lowered the cost of inmate calls by 77%:

The Texas prison system on Friday voted to drastically slash the cost of inmate calls home by more than 75 percent with a new phone contract more favorable to inmates and their families.

Now, instead of paying an average of 26 cents per minute, prisoners will pay 6 cents per minute – no matter the destination of the call. Also, the limit on phone calls was increased from 20 minutes to 30 minutes.

“That is just fabulous, thank you so much – it means so much,” said Jennifer Erschabek of the Texas Inmate Families Association. “I’m speechless.”

The shift, which drew accolades from lawmakers and activists alike, comes amid national conversations about the price of prison phone calls. Last year, a federal court struck down an Obama-era Federal Communications Commission rule that would have capped the costs at 11 cents per minute.

Though that was seen as a blow to the hard-fought efforts of inmate advocates nationwide, Friday’s contract approval represented a win for advocates in the Lone Star State.

“This should have done it a long time ago,” said state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston. “I’ve raised hell for years about how they were gouging inmates and their families.”

Currently, a 15-minute call usually costs around $3.90, officials said at the Texas Board of Criminal Justice meeting.

Starting Sept. 1 when the new contract takes effect, a typical 15-minute call will cost just 90 cents.

The idea that the Texas correctional system would do something this humane truly boggles the mind.

Of Course, It’s Alabama

It appears that the state of Alabama allows its Sheriffs to starve their inmates and keep the money saved for themselves..

This has risen to the level of a very public disgrace, and now the governor has put a stop to the practice, at least until the Sheriffs get a court injunction to continue to take taxpayer money in the service of cruelty:

Alabama’s governor has begun to cut off a gravy train for the state’s sheriffs: the unspent money for prisoners’ meals that the sheriffs have long been allowed to keep for themselves.

The practice, born of a bickered-over ambiguity in a state law, has let sheriffs pocket tax dollars that over the decades almost certainly ran into the millions. To curtail the practice, Gov. Kay Ivey ordered in a memorandum to the state comptroller that payments of certain funds related to jail food “no longer be made to the sheriffs personally.” Instead, the governor wrote, the money must be paid to county general funds or official accounts.

“Public funds should be used for public purposes,” Ms. Ivey, a Republican, said in a statement on Wednesday. “It’s that simple.”

Critics of the practice welcomed the governor’s action on Wednesday but said it resolved only part of the problem because it did not apply to every type of payment related to jail food.

Even so, the move is sure to infuriate sheriffs in at least some of Alabama’s 67 counties, and the governor’s order may be tested in the courts. Economic disclosure forms filed by sheriffs suggest that many do not take the leftover money, sometimes because of local laws. But some do: Records show that the sheriff in Etowah County, in northeast Alabama, for example, has taken more than $670,000 in recent years.

Right now politicians in Mississippi, Florida, and Texas are thinking, “Yes!  For once it’s not us held up for ridicule!”


The good folks at the Nation looked at a work of fiction by Matt Taibbi, and promptly concluded that it was an admission of actual wrongdoing, and wrote it up.

It appears that they have been disabused of this notion:

I have reached an amicable settlement with the Nation, an organization whose work I have held in high regard. I wish them success in their future endeavors. I am happy this matter could be resolved. pic.twitter.com/q9SGuG8CtC

— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) February 14, 2018

About f%$#ing time.

A Correction

Today I opened up my email, and I had a demand letter from GIP Development SARL, a firm that IP licensing and regulation management.

I will not be reposting this email, as it was listed as confidential, but they had a complaint about a post of mine regarding vulture funds targeting Argentine bonds.

I made an error, and have corrected my post.

In researching the vulture funds, I conflated two different, but similarly named financial firms that turned up in my google search.

Dr. Dirk Markus has no connection to Aurelius Capital Management LP, the vulture fund in question. 

He is  the CEO of Aurelius Equity Opportunities, which is a completely unrelated financial firm, and is not involved with the attempted looting of Argentina in any way.

My apologies for calling for his arrest and extradition to Buenos Aires.

As an aside, this is the first time that I have gotten anything this close to a cease and desist letter from a lawyer, and on some deep and perverse level it makes me feel important.

Gawd, I am so unbelievably lame.

Truth is Antithetical Modern Corrections

The New York Times has a story on how jails and prisons across the country are banning the book The New Jim Crow, the article is titles, “Why Are American Prisons So Afraid of This Book?

The answer to this question is simple:  They don’t want inmates to understand the subtext of their detention, because for jailers, ignorance is bliss:

In the eight years since its publication, “The New Jim Crow,” a book by Michelle Alexander that explores the phenomenon of mass incarceration, has sold well over a million copies, been compared to the work of W.E.B. Du Bois, been cited in the legal decisions to end stop-and-frisk and sentencing laws, and been quoted passionately on stage at the Academy Awards.

But for the more than 130,000 adults in prison in North Carolina and Florida, the book is strictly off-limits.

And prisoners around the country often have trouble obtaining copies of the book, which points to the vast racial disparities in sentencing policy, and the way that mass incarceration has ravaged the African-American population.

This month, after protests, New Jersey revoked a ban some of its prisons had placed on the book, while New York quickly scrapped a program that would have limited its inmates’ ability to receive books at all.

Ms. Alexander, a civil rights lawyer and former clerk on the Supreme Court, said the barriers to reading the book are no accident.

“Some prison officials are determined to keep the people they lock in cages as ignorant as possible about the racial, social and political forces that have made the United States the most punitive nation on earth,” she said. “Perhaps they worry the truth might actually set the captives free.”

A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Corrections confirmed that the book had been banned but would not elaborate. A form from the prison system’s literature review committee obtained by The New York Times indicates that the book was rejected because it presented a security threat and was filled with what the document called “racial overtures.”


The central thesis of “The New Jim Crow” is that the mass incarceration of black people is an extension of the American tradition of racial discrimination.

It zeroes in on how the “law and order” rhetoric of the 1950s and 1960s led to the war on drugs and harsh law enforcement and sentencing policies, which disproportionately affect black people.

“It is no longer socially permissible to use race, explicitly, as a justification for discrimination, exclusion, and social contempt,” she writes in the introduction. “So we don’t. Rather than rely on race we use our criminal justice system to label people of color ‘criminals’ and then engage in all the practices we supposedly left behind.”

Jailers don’t like to be called racist stooges.

They certainly do not want the recipients of their tender mercies of this fact.

So they just ban the book.

Rinse, lather, repeat.