Billions Behind Bars: Inside America’s Prison Industry


The biggest prison in the state of Idaho is also known as the toughest. The privately run Idaho Correctional Center – The ICC – was so violent, the employees and inmates began calling the place the “gladiator school.”

Published: Monday, 19 Sep 2011 by: Jennifer Dauble

People of color once again have become the new found commodity that fuel’s the growth for building new jails and prisons in the U.S. and lined the pockets of big businesses.   Post submission by Gail Noble

Billions Behind Bars: Inside America’s Prison Industry

With more than 2.3 million people locked up, the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world. One out of 100 American adults is behind bars – while a stunning one out of 32 is on probation, parole or in prison. This reliance on mass incarceration has created a thriving prison economy. The states and the federal government together spend roughly $74 billion a year on corrections, and nearly 800,000 people work in the industry. Continue reading

New York Times Editorial: Jurors Need To Know That They Can Say No

Retired Professor Julian Heicklen was recently indicted on federal charges of jury tampering for standing outside the US Courthouse in Manhattan distributing information on “jury nullification”. Jury nullification is when a jury reaches a verdict outside of a judge’s instructions on the law.  It has been used in the past to defy unjust policies such as the fugitive slave laws but has also been used by a jury in the South who refused to convict civil rights activist Medgar Evers. Paul Butler, a former federal prosecutor and Law Professor at George Washington University, wrote this piece in the New York Times, advocating for jury nullification.  Submission post by Charisse Domingo

Jurors Need to Know That They Can Say No

Published: December 20, 2011

New York Times

IF you are ever on a jury in a marijuana case, I recommend that you vote “not guilty” — even if you think the defendant actually smoked pot, or sold it to another consenting adult. As a juror, you have this power under the Bill of Rights; if you exercise it, you become part of a proud tradition of American jurors who helped make our laws fairer.

The information I have just provided — about a constitutional doctrine called “jury nullification” — is absolutely true. But if federal prosecutors in New York get their way, telling the truth to potential jurors could result in a six-month prison sentence.

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Los Angeles County Jails: Wrongful incarcerations occurred more than 1,480 times in the last five years.

A recent investigation by the LA Times reveals that the County Jails have a record of incarcerating hundreds of innocent people for days, weeks, and months at a time before realizing the error. How many people will slip through the cracks of this system and continue to be innocently imprisoned? – Post submission by Ernest Chavez

By Robert Faturechi and Jack Leonard, Los Angeles Times
December 28, 2011

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca said Tuesday that he will create a task force to minimize the wrongful jailings of people mistaken for someone else.

Baca’s move came in response to a Times investigation that found hundreds of people have been wrongly imprisoned in recent years, with some spending weeks behind bars before authorities realized their true identities. Continue reading

Mercury News: Public Defender Mary Greenwood in line for Santa Clara County judgeship

A County’s head of the Public Defender’s office may be the most important, yet least discussed decision-maker in a local criminal justice system. With Mary Greenwood potentially leaving to receive a judgeship, an important transition is going to be made by County Board of Supervisors for a position that will impact thousands of people for years to come. Seems like community input should be gathered for this important selection. — Post submission by Raj Jayadev

By Howard Mintz // (Published on 12.12.11)

Santa Clara County may be losing its top public defender but gaining a well-qualified new judge.

Mary Greenwood, the county’s chief public defender for the past six years, appears to be on the brink of an appointment to the Superior Court bench.

Gov. Jerry Brown’s staff has forwarded her name to a statewide judicial screening commission, which last week began circulating questionnaires on Greenwood in the local legal community, ordinarily a prelude to a judicial appointment. Continue reading

MSNBC.Com: Arizona sheriff violates civil rights of Latinos, Justice Department says

Homeland Security needs to be braking ties with all local law enforcement agencies, not just in Arizona.  SCOMM is the tool used for racial profiling not just in Joe Arpaio’s state. — Post submission by Gail Noble

By staff and wire service reports / Jim Gold contributed to this report.

Joe Arpaio of Phoenix, Ariz. is the most famous sheriff in America, known for his tough policies against illegal immigrants and the no-nonsense way he runs the county jail. Arpaio is now in trouble with the U.S. Justice Department, accused of violating Latinos’ constitutional rights. NBC’s George Lewis reports.

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Bringing Elias Home: 13-year-old Returns to Family After Immigration Detention

Submission Post and video by Charisse Domingo

After four months in immigration detention, 13 year old Elias comes home.  After facing charges, he was placed on an immigration hold, and unlike other Bay Area counties, San Mateo enforces detainer requests regardless of age.  But because of his mom’s advocacy and supported by community, Elias is coming home to spend Christmas with his family. 

A longer story on juvenile ICE holds is coming, but we wanted to share with you the moment that Patricia and Elias were reunited at the San Francisco Airport on Wednesday, December 21. 

MSNBC: Must-Watch Maddow Segment on New GOP Voting Restrictions Barring Elderly Women From the Polls

From progressive to regressive voting laws. What has his world (aka the right to democratic inclusion) come to. — Submission by Cesar Flores.

The poll tax that isn’t a poll tax is arriving around the country in the form of new GOP-instated voter restrictions–and the ACLU is filing suit.

The anticipated victims of these stringent ID requirements include the poor, the young who don’t drive, students, and minorities, and as Rachel Maddow noted in a devastating segment last night, the elderly. Maddow focused on two lovely elderly women who cannot vote now, including an 84-year-old who is a member of her town council–who has cast her vote in elections regularly for 63 years. Now, thanks to efforts by the one and only Scott Walker, she cannot exercise her rights in this upcoming race.

It’s a must-watch.

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Family Power Can Triumph Over Police Abuse

Powerful afternoon at De-Bug’s ACJP. The Custodio family shared their experiences, wisdom, and energy with a San Mateo Filipino family who are the victims of extreme police violence — repeated tasing and beating (including of an elder) of this family. And as these stories go, the police made-up and filed false charges against the family — the more excessive the police abuse the more unreasonable the charges. The Custodios — founding members of ACJP — shared their strength, as they had gone through a similar road, inspiring a community as the went (check out the video of their story made by one of our youth from 2007). Stay posted, big win coming out of San Mateo County in 2012. Family by family, family to family, true justice will be won…

California: Appeals Court Approves Cell Phone Search During Traffic Stop

Submission by Gail Noble:  Do you feel like your 4th Amendment is being violated if police searched your Blackberry/cell phone during a traffic stop without a warrant?  Check out California v. Nottoli, and you decide.

Reported by mulltiple sites, including (a privacy politics site)

Reid NottoliThe California Court of Appeal on September 26approved a police officer’s rifling through the cell phone belonging to someone who had just been pulled over for a traffic violation.

Reid Nottoli was pulled over on December 6, 2009 just before 2am as he was taking a female friend home. Santa Cruz County Deputy Sheriff Steven Ryan said Nottoli’s silver Acura TL had been speeding on Highway 1. After speaking with Nottoli on the side of the road, Ryan suspected the 25-year-old was under the influence of a stimulant drug. His license was also expired, so Ryan said he would impound the vehicle. Nottoli asked if his car could stay parked on the side of the road, which was not heavily traveled and out of the way. Ryan refused so that he could conduct an “inventory” search prior to the towing.

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San Francisco Bay Guardian: SF Supervisors Urge City To Defy Federal Immigration Holds

The Santa-Clara-fication spreads.  Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed a similar policy to Santa Clara urging the City to limit cooperation with federal immigration officials and not spend county resources to do ICE’s job.  Great job to the San Francisco Immigrant Rights Defense Committee for pushing this forward, and to Supervisor Eric Mar for sponsoring the resolution.  We need more and more of our jurisdictions to turn the tide against the criminalization of immigrants.  Post by Charisse Domingo


SF supervisors urge city to defy federal immigration holds

by Steven Jones

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors yesterday (Tues/13) approved a resolution calling for the city to adopt stronger policies for resisting federal efforts to deport undocumented immigrants who live here. It is the latest move to support the city’s Sanctuary City status and counter the federal Secure Communities (S-Com) program, a new database that allows the feds to circumvent local policies protecting local immigrants who have been arrested but not convicted of any crimes.

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