Ready for a surprise? Money DOES equal access in Washington
Interesting new experiment that tested emails to members of Congress— one saying donors wanted meetings, another saying constituents want meetings:
"The results: Only 2.4 percent of the offices made the member of Congress or chief of staff available when they believed those attending were just constituents, but 12.5 percent did when they were told the attendees were political donors.
"Also, nearly one in five of the donor groups got access to a senior staffer, while just 5.5 percent of the constituent groups did. That means the donors had more than three times the access to top staffers than the constituents.”
"In 2006, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, which conducts Internet pornography investigations, produced a list of 5,200 Pentagon employees suspected of viewing child pornography and asked the Pentagon to review it. But the Pentagon checked only about two-thirds of the names, unearthing roughly 300 defense and intelligence employees who allegedly had viewed child pornography on their work or home computers.
The defense investigators failed to check an additional 1,700 names on the list, defense officials have revealed in correspondence with Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa.
Acknowledging the lapse, the Pentagon has told Grassley that child porn investigations were not a high priority at the time of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement investigation, and that it is now checking the additional names.”
This was revealed 3 years ago and no action has been taken since.
The government obviously doesn’t want to pursue this case because it will cause them too much embarrassment. DON’T allow them to bury this case.
TW: Rape, Sexual Assault
Alabama Looked The Other Way As Prison Staff Habitually Raped Women, Demanded Sexual Favors, DOJ Finds
For the past two decades, female inmates in Alabama’s Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women have been subjected to atrocious acts of sexual abuse – and the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) did nothing about it.
A Department of Justice report has found that the state’s rampant abuse violates the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, and calls on Gov. Robert Bentley (R) to make immediate changes or face a lawsuit.
“Tutwiler has a history of unabated staff-on-prisoner sexual abuse and harassment,” the report said. “The women at Tutwiler universally fear for their safety. They live in a sexualized environment with repeated and open sexual behavior…”
After interviewing “administrative staff, security staff, medical and mental health staff, facilities” and reviewing internal policies and instructional content, the DOJ concluded that the maximum-security facility grossly violates prisoners’ rights, by inflicting physical and mental harm. Staff members habitually rape and sodomize inmates, women are called derogatory names, and are often watched while they shower or dress. In many cases, women provide sexual favors in order to escape punishment. Staff members also withhold privileges and personal items, including clothing and hygiene products, unless the inmates perform sexual acts. For instance:
…Officer B solicits and receives oral sex from prisoners in exchange for gifts or new uniforms and underwear. He has a reputation for being aggressive and threatening, and one prisoner described him as a “sexual predator.” In 2012 and 2013, several women reported that he touches prisoners inappropriately, licks his lips at them, and watches them shower at the Tutwiler Annex.
Altogether, 36 percent of all staff members were involved in some form of sexual abuse, creating a “toxic environment.” Of 223 letters from prisoners, 25 percent of them described sexual misconduct, and 55 percent mentioned “vile and degrading language directed at prisoners.” Nevertheless inmates are hesitant to report the systemic abuse because of backlash for filing complaints. In cases when women did speak up, they “were placed in segregation with limited or no access to a telephone, visitors, or programs for an extended time period,” forced to undergo polygraph tests to determine if they were lying, and “verbally harassed” by staff members.
Given these findings, the DOJ confirmed that there was a lack of protocol for reprimanding staff members – which ultimately allowed for “substantial risk of harm” to thrive in Tutwiler. It also discovered that ADOC turned a blind eye to claims of abuse and harassment, enabling systemic mistreatment to continue. Last August, Prison Commissioner Kim Thomas argued that conditions at Tutwiler were improving, listing 58 strategies to remedy ongoing problems – including the construction of a 24-hour infirmary, the installation of surveillance cameras, and the recruitment of female staffers. He ultimately declared Tutwiler “a safer and healthier facility,” which was later contradicted by the DOJ report.
In light of its discoveries, the DOJ plans to expand its investigation of the prison. In the future it will explore additional rights violations, such as “inadequate conditions of confinement, constitutionally inadequate medical and mental health care, and discriminatory treatment on the basis of national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender nonconformity,” all of which may be the basis for a lawsuit if the state does not cooperate with DOJ on recommended reforms.
Unfortunately, these transgressions are not unique to Tutwiler. Inmates in three other Alabama prison are protesting against ADOC, in response to “not being paid for prison jobs, unsanitary conditions, overcrowding, sentencing and parole policies and other issues.” Another DOJ report found that sexual abuse in prisons nationwide rose 11 percent, between 2009 and 2011. Prisoners across the country are also denied health care and subjected to excessive force.
It’s tough to figure out who’s getting rich from the gusher of political spending — even more so when the client writing the checks is a dark money nonprofit.
(This piece was also cross-posted in The Daily Beast.)
Someone’s getting rich off elections.
The Minnesota Law Enforcement Coalition’s opposition to marijuana legalization is another case of the drug war run amok.
The coalition, which includes Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, Minnesota Sheriffs Association, Minnesota County Attorneys Association, and Minnesota State Association of Narcotics Investigators, have been as unhelpful as possible with efforts to legalize medical marijuana.
Should the drug become legal, law enforcement stands to lose millions of dollars.
State Rep. Carly Melin has led the charge in her state to legalize medical marijuana, but has found resistance and stonewalling when it comes to the state’s law enforcement
“It’s like negotiating with a brick wall. All along I have said that I am willing to amend the bill. But they won’t move at all,” said Melin, reports Politicsinminnesota.com.
So why such staunch opposition?
Drug enforcement stands to lose a lot of funding should marijuana become legal. Federal funding through the Department of Justice gives police task forces money specifically aimed to target drug crimes from a fund called the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant. The grant doles out $300 million to $500 million annually to police stations around the country.
“In 2012, 23 such task forces in Minnesota received a total of approximately $4.2 million from Byrne grants. The money is spent on everything from military-grade hardware to officer overtime,” PoliticsinMinnesota.com reports.
Legalize marijuana and Minnesota no longer has need, or access, to this federal pot of money.
Look no further than Washington state to see the effects of this. Since recreational marijuana has been legal in Washington, police forces have been forced to cut their budgets, in some places by 15 percent, as there is no longer a need, or a revenue stream, for drug-related crime fighting.
But when it comes to the economics of fighting drugs, law enforcement remains silent.
“I don’t think it’s part of the debate because they wouldn’t publicly admit that it’s even an issue,” Melin said. “Nobody wants to question the motives or honesty of law enforcement.”
In recent years, police have done a better job securing money than fighting crime, argues Norm Stamper, a former Seattle chief of police turned drug reform advocate who now serves on the board of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
“The agencies that are successful have to demonstrate a commitment to drug enforcement. The nature of that enforcement is much less important,” Stamper told PoliticsinMinnesota.com.
“Those who develop a dependency on federal funds such as Byrne grants are likely going to oppose any kind of initiative to legalize anything that’s been a cash cow for them.”
Not only are police forces benefiting from federal grant money, but in 2012, Minnesota police seized an estimated $8.3 million worth of assets under the state’s forfeiture law. 47 percent of those forfeitures were drug related; most of the others were from drunk driving.
Items like helicopters that are seized from drug dealers can be turned into police department assets.
“I have since come to view seized assets with a very jaundiced eye,” Stamper said. “I think there is a really twisted set of priorities that cause too many in law enforcement to go after the money and that becomes the mission, rather than public safety.”
The rise of militarized police forces has been documented in many books and articles, most of which conclude America’s war on drugs is to blame for trend.
“Since the 1960s, in response to a range of perceived threats, law-enforcement agencies across the U.S., at every level of government, have been blurring the line between police officer and soldier,” Radley Balko of the Washington Post, and author of “Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces,” writes in the Wall Street Journal:
“Driven by martial rhetoric and the availability of military-style equipment—from bayonets and M-16 rifles to armored personnel carriers—American police forces have often adopted a mind-set previously reserved for the battlefield. The war on drugs and, more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop—armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers, and a growing threat to familiar American liberties.”
The drug war has caused Americans to excuse the erosion of civil liberties and a rise in military-like tactics, with everyday Americans getting caught in the crossfire.
But with more Americans than ever warming up to the idea of legalized marijuana, the drug fighting industry is grasping for dear life.- See more at: http://rare.us/story/minnesota-cops-dont-want-to-legalize-medical-marijuana-for-fear-they-could-lose-millions/#sthash.xpVMRSHc.dpuf
I have a tilted uterus and during my last pregnancy, I lost 6 liters of blood. I almost died. I can’t have this baby. Why don’t they understand that?
Weeping client talking to me today. They tried to goad her companion into a fist fight so they could call the police and have him arrested, therefore she couldn’t have the procedure.
She was crying and screaming for them to leave her alone. They wouldn’t, and her companion got angry.
I told her that I have no idea why they can’t understand it. My guess is, that they don’t care about you or your partner, only the fetus that could kill you.
She was very upset, so I let her and her companion wait in my car. She thanked me and said “I’m glad you are here. He would have hit that guy if you all had not walked with us”.
She walked into the clinic tear free, but still with anti’s trailing behind her shouting. The escort presence gave her space and a buffer from the harassment.
That is why I escort. That is why I do it.