When Should An Accident Be A Crime?

“Now it is time to forgive and comfort him.”  – 1 Corinthians 2:76 NLT

“Accidents will occur in the best-regulated families.” – Charles Dickens

      A few weeks ago, in Des Moines, Iowa, a police officer left his K-9 partner in the car on a hot day, went into the police station and forgot about him. When he remembered, he ran outside and found the dog dead.

      I was saddened by the article in the Des Moines Register. I knew that it would create a flurry of attention and it did. There was an investigation and the officer was suspended for a few days. There were, of course, those who cried out that there should have been criminal charges relating to cruelty to animals, but there were none. Nor do I feel there should have been.

      It was an accident, not callous disregard for the welfare of this animal who was more than an animal to the man. He was his partner. Justice would not have been served by bringing charges against the officer.

      In the same paper several weeks prior to that was another story about a young man who tied a dog in his backyard without water for several days. That dog also died and that young man was charged, although in this case it seemed appropriate since the man knowingly left the dog helpless and without water for three days.

      In the October 16th Des Moines Register, another tragic death was reported. This did not involve a dog but rather a 16-year-old boy named Corey Hamilton, Jr. A group of friends were playing with a gun that they believed to be empty. It was not. The bullet they did not see when they emptied the gun was in the chamber and when Dontavius Sharkey pointed the gun at Corey’s head and jokingly pulled the trigger, the life of one boy ended and the life of another was altered forever.

      Dontavius was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter and reckless discharge of a firearm. The district attorney wants to try him as an adult. Corey Hamilton’s mother doesn’t want him charged at all since she sees it for what it is: a horribly stupid game that resulted in the completely accidental death of a young boy’s best friend. Corey’s mother sees the truth in the fact that nothing further can be gained since Dontavius has already been sentenced to a lifetime of carrying with him the knowledge that a moment of careless play took the life of a young man and he was responsible.

      To the mother who sees no crime in the accident that has taken her son I say, “God bless you and thank you for seeing the real truth at the heart of is senseless tragedy.   And to the man who so callously and foolishly believes that there is some sort of justice to be served by not only prosecuting the unfortunate young man who pulled the trigger but trying him as an adult as well I say, “I pray that if you have children, they will never indulge in completely childish, irresponsible behavior that ends in a tragedy. However, if they do, I also pray that the decision on how to deal with them falls into the hands of someone with more common sense and compassion than you.”

      This young man’s life has been forever changed. Gone, for the foreseeable future, is his ability to smile, to be young and to experience the joys of youth. Gone forever is his friend, Corey.

      I do not know the prosecutor’s name nor do I care. He is a misguided individual who obviously needs a lesson in what constitutes crime and what constitutes tragedy. Crime is punished by the law. Tragedy has its own way of punishing people. Dontavius Sharkey is in the process of realizing that now.

      Stupid people should never be allowed hold positions of power – even little ones. This man gives the concept of justice a bad name and should find a new line of work.

“Crimes and the Punishments! Sometimes The Punishment Is The Crime.”

“Man is unjust but god is just, and finally justice triumphs.”                                                         –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Your own actions brought this upon you. The punishment is bitter, piercing to the heart.”                       –Jeremiah 4:19 NLT

      The vast majority of Americans are decent, law-abiding, hardworking people who mind their own business, live their own lives, pay their taxes (albeit grudgingly, perhaps) and trust those who have been given the responsibility of protecting them and their loved ones, hoping – if not always believe – that those individuals are applying wisdom, education, research, experience, fairness, compassion and balance4 to the process of passing, enforcing and adjudicating the laws deemed necessary to fulfill that responsibility.

      Today we are going to take a whirlwind tour of the great country of ours and see how all of that wisdom, education, research, experience, fairness, compassion and balance comes together in real-life scenarios.

      While it is entirely possible that there is justification and ration although behind each of the sentences given in the situations that I am going to highlight for you here, in some cases it will be difficult to find any.

      In fact, in a few instances, I am sure that you will agree that the crime truly was the punishment given.

      The first stop on our tour is in Michigan where we find John Skelton, who was recently sentenced to a term of 10-15 years in prison after pleading “No Contest” to a charge of ‘Unlawful imprisonment.’ in exchange for that plea, kidnapping charges (punishable by up to life in prison) were dismissed.

      Skelton was involved in a contentious divorce and – to punish his ex-wife – rather than returning his 3 sons (ages 5, 7, and 9) after Thanksgiving last November, he “gave” them to an “underground sanctuary group.”

      He doesn’t know where the group – or his sons – are, nor can they be found.

      He had said he wanted to deprive their mother of memories of her sons.

      From Michigan, we wander down to Oklahoma where Lindsay Dawn Fiddler, 27, was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Ms Fiddler had pleaded guilty to 2nd degree manslaughter charges and child neglect after her 10 day old daughter was found, dead, in a washing machine.

      Fiddler maintained throughout that she did not know how little Maggie got into the washing machine.

      Next we are going to visit a federal courtroom in Minnesota, where we find Omer Abdi Mohammed of St. Anthony. He recently pleaded guilty to one count of “conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, admitting he helped provide people as part of a conspiracy to murder, kidnap, and maim others in a foreign country.”

      At this writing, Omer was awaiting sentencing, but the maximum he can receive for his charges is 15 years in prison.

      Let’s slide way over to the east coast and visit Fairfax, Virginia where we encounter Carmela Dela Rosa. Ms Dela Rosa was angry at her Son-in-law who had gotten her daughter pregnant out of wedlock so she took it out on her 2 year old granddaughter, Angelyn Ogdoc.

      Prosecutors said she premeditatedly threw the little girl “like a piece of trash” off of a 45 foot high pedestrian bridge at a shopping mall.

      Little Angelyn died, of course, and for the premeditated, 1st degree murder of a 2 year old child, dela Rosa received 35 years in prison.

      But enough of these petty crimes. Let’s mosey on down to Texas, where we find Carl Wade Curry. Curry, the most dangerous, vile and despicable members of our first group was recently sentenced to 99 years in prison. For stealing cattle from a Mississippi rancher.

      The Recap:

–          3 boys, given away by their father and not seen for almost a year – 10-15 years

–          10 day old baby found dead in a washing machine – 15 years

–          Conspiracy to “murder, kidnap, and maim” – maximum 15 years

–          Throwing your 2 year old grand daughter to her death from a 45 foot high pedestrian bridge in a mall – 35 years

–          Cattle rustling – 99 years


      Well – It’s a big country, so let’s move on shall we?

      From Texas.  We’re going to head up to Ohio. But first, let’s stop off in Ft Carson Colorado, to see how PFC David Lawrence fared in military court not too long ago. Private Lawrence pleaded guilty to “premeditated murder for killing a Taliban prisoner who was sleeping in his jail cell.

      He got 12 ½ years in prison.

      I guess it’s no big deal, though, the man Private Lawrence killed in cold blood, as he slept, unarmed and locked up, was just a prisoner. And a terrorist to boot.

      Leaving Ft. Carson, we head to Lucas County, Ohio, where Sheriff James Telb and three other sheriff’s employees were indicted on criminal charges related to the death of a prisoner.

      Carlton Benton, 25, died on June 1, 2004.

      His death was believed to be the result of a beating and ‘Sleeper Hold’ administered by guards in his cell where he was left, unconscious, without medical attention. The sheriff and an internal affairs investigator were charged by the FBI with lying about what happened and covering it up. They were acquitted in December of 2010.

      Two guards, Jones Gray and Jay Schmeltz, faced charges stemming from the incident. They were convicted of civil rights charges and falsifying reports and were sentenced to 1 year and 1 day in federal prison. Gray received a 3 year sentence.

      Carlton Benton received a death sentence, but that too, was no big deal I guess. He was, after all, just a prisoner locked behind bars.

      While certainly not representative of the overwhelming majority of people in positions of power and authority, Gray and Schmelts are the first examples I am going to use of those who abuse their position, power, or authority and violate the public trust.

      In previous posts, I highlighted abuses by corrections officials and other officials in privately run institutions in this country. The next few stops on our tour will show that bad behavior is certainly not the exclusive domain of the private prison industry. Officers other officials and employers of state and federal institutions sometimes succumbing to greed or are guilty of abusive treatment towards those they are charged with guarding.

      Some certainly do raise an eyebrow and cause one to think that, in some cases at least, the bigger crime is, indeed, the punishment.

      We continue on to Fairton, New Jersey to the Federal Correctional Institution. (FCI)

      Brian Walters, the former chief Pharmacist for the FCI pleaded guilty in August of 2010 to charges of theft of government property. Said property was a narcotic pain reliever, which he stole from July 2008 to July 2009, along with needles and other supplies.

      Walters was sentence in December of 2010 to 3 years probation, $7014.44 in restitution, and $1000 fine.

      Down the Eastern seaboard a little, in Baltimore, Maryland, Alicia Simmons, 34, a former guard at a prison facility there, was sentenced to a total of 37 months in federal prison, followed by 36 months of supervised release.

      Simmons has ties to a group called “The Black Guerrilla Family” and had been accused of smuggling drugs, cell phones, and other contraband in to the prison where she worked as well as allowing gang members to fight and attempting to identify police informers.

      Back up the coast, in Providence, Rhode Island, independent Governor Chaffe signed into law a bill that would make possession of a cell phone by an inmate punishable by up to five more years in prison.

      Hmm…… smuggling drugs, cell phones, other contraband into prison, 37 months. Possession of the cell phone that was smuggled into prison, 5 years.

      As Ace Ventura would say, “Alrighty then!”, let’s head on over to the Trumbull Correctional Institution, located in Ohio, where we find Christopher Ellis.

      Ellis pleaded guilty on April 26, 2011 to charges of “possession of cocain and illegal conveyance of drugs of abuse onto grounds of a correctional facility.”

      His sentence? One year in prison.

      In the great state of Texas, Daniel Melgoza, a 54 year old former Jail Guard from San Antonio was sentenced in April of 2011 for an incident that occurred in December of 2004.

      Melgoza was charged with depriving a prisoner of his constitutional rights and obstruction of justice for kicking a prisoner in the head with pointed cowboy boots (are there any other kind?) and then writing false reports to cover it up.

      Melgoza received 27 months in prison.

      As long as we’re in Texas, let’s walk our pointed cowboy boots over to Beaumont where Joseph Christopher Roberts was stopped in April of 2007 for making an illegal u-turn. At that time, it was discovered that Mr. Roberts had outstanding traffic warrants and he was taken into custody.

      In an apparently unprovoked attack that was captured on videotape, while he was being processed in the Jefferson County Jail, Jail Officer Rodney George Cloe II punched him in the face several times and slammed his head in the booking counter.

      The incident  was witnessed by several other jail employees, who did nothing, and was placed in a holding cell without medical attention being given to the injuries which ultimately required stitches.

      Roberts was assaulted again later as he was being photographed and fingerprinted this time by Johnny Lynn Nickery, Jr. this incident was also videotaped and witnessed by other jail employees, who – once again – did nothing. In fact, they were all videotaped high – fiveing one another in apparent celebration.

      Both Nickery and Cole were convicted of misdemeanor official oppression in 2008. Nickery paid a $4,000 fine. Cole received  the same fine plus one year probation.

      Roberts filed a lawsuit naming the county and the 2 jail employees. A judge dropped the country from the suit and even though a jury deliberated only 6 hours before returning an award of $16 million dollars, it is doubtful Roberts will collect much from the 2 guards.

      Of course, one has to question the amount of the award just as much as one must question the leniency of the punishment.

      Meanwhile, over in Georgia’s Fulton County Jail (FCJ), incidents of prisoner abuse at the facility resulted in sentences for 3 guards late in 2010 on federal charges, resulting from those incidents.

      In one of those incidents, Richard Glasco was being “loud and unruly” in his cell. FCJ Guard Mitnee Markette Jones, Derontay Langford and Curtis Jerome Brown, Jr. Entered Glasco’s Cell to “subdue” him.

      They were Successful. An hour after the trio left Glasco’s cell, he was discovered “unresponsive and not breathing” on the floor of his cell. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

      The group of guards filed false reports in regards to the incident. All omitting one important fact – that they had entered the cell and had “physical altercation” with Glasco.

      Langford cooperated with the prosecutors in the case and received 4 months house arrest as part of his 3 years of probation. Brown was sentenced to 27 months  in federal prison for various charges including lying to a federal grand jury and lying to a FBI agent. Jones was sentenced to 15 months.

      Glasco remains dead.

      I cannot stress enough that the vast majority of corrections officers and employees are not viscous, sadistic, bullies. It is also true that their job is sometimes dangerous and there are numerous instances of assault against guards and employees by inmates. I do not intend to imply that this a a one way street.

      That said, however, we should all take issue with some of the sentences metered out  when a few individuals cross the line and become no better – and in some cases worse – than those they are guarding.

      We should never forget that the incarceration itself – the loss of liberty, loved ones, and the rights and privileges enjoyed by free individuals – is the punishment imposed by the court and mandated by law.

      Not the physical abuse a few misguided individuals may think it is their responsibility to hand out.

      Assault is Assault – and murder is murder – no matter who the perpetrator is or the location in which it occurs.

      That said, let’s head to Illinois where 25 year old Emmanuel Chapple was awaiting trial on robbery and sexual assault charges. While in the jail, Chapple committed “aggravated battery” against Jail Guard Craig Wakefield.  And since this was Chapple’s third “class 2 felony or more offense” he was therefore sentenced as a “Class X” felon.

      Chapple had been charged with aggravated battery for spitting on Officer Wakefield.

      For another case of inmate-on-guard assault, let’s jet over to California where, on January 3, 2011, the California court of Appeal for the 5th District upheld a 25 year–to–life sentence given to an inmate convicted of assaulting an officer while confined in a security housing unit – the SHU, the Hole. . . the place reserved for people who still don’t get it while incarcerated- at the California State Prison in Corcoran.

      Mane Dixon, 48, has a criminal history dating back to 1980. the severity of his sentence was due to his being convicted under California’s “Three strikes you’re out” law.

      Dixon is, as you will see, definitely one of the people prisons are intended for. His actions in the past would make him appear to be nothing more than a brutally vicious, violent animal who probably never should see the outside of a prison again, but it is how this “life sentence is arrived at that will raise an eyebrow or two.

      In 1980, Dixon was convicted of “numerous felonies including rape, sodomy, robbery, and burglary.” For all of that, Dixon received 100 years in prison.

      Oh! Excuse me….. I read that wrong. For all of that Dixon received 10 years in prison! (This portion of his life will appear again in a later article I have planned.)

      In 1987, While serving the sentence for these offenses, he was convicted of assault (in prison, of an inmate) and received a 6 year sentence added on to what he was serving.

      The year 2000 finds Dixon on parole. It also finds him on his way back to prison for violating his parole when he is convicted of “attempted forcible sodomy of a minor”, and resisting an officer. In 2005, while serving his sentence, he was convicted of battery by a prisoner on a non-confined person (a guard) and sentenced to 8 more years.

      Such a pleasant individual Mr. Dixon is.

      On October 15, 2006 while in the Security Housing Unit, Dixon threw his food tray at Prison Guard Richard Trait as the officer was attempting to retrieve the tray through the “food port” of Dixon’s cell. The tray struck Officer Trait “on his hands and forearms” and he bumped into the food cart as he jumped back from the cell door. Dixon also spat at Officer Trait and “swung a towel” into the food port.

– Rape, robbery, sodomy, burglary – 10 years

– Startling a guard – 25 to life

– Cattle rustling – 99 years

– Richard Glasco and Carlton Benton – they are still dead.

      And in New York, at the Erie County Correctional Facility, there was a fight over a bag of potato chips on April 21, 2011. Erie County Under-Sheriff mark Wipperman called the incident “an embarrassment”. The two people involved in the fight were guards at the facility. An inmate tried to break it up and required medical attention.

      I just couldn’t resist sharing that with you.

      To close out this article, I would like to spend a few moments on Deer Hunting.

      In a post on June 14, 2011, I mentioned a Florida man, Jeffrey Dickman, who was arrested in Boise, Idaho and sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for guiding a deer hunt without a license and for illegally shipping deer meat across state lines.

      From Eugene, Oregon, comes the story of a father and son who were convicted of leading the state’s largest deer poaching ring and were sentenced to jail. Due to overcrowding Rory Donoho and his 37 year old son Shane will spend 90 days under house arrest , monitored by ankle bracelets.

      It seems that lane county can’t afford to staff it’s entire jail. The space they do have is reserved for people convicted of violent crimes.

      How silly, that actually makes sense.

      I have, however, saved the best for last, and I am going to dub this “The Case of the Gun Totin’ Granny.” While most of the stories, for this article were pulled from “Prison Local News”, “USA Today”, “the Des Moines Registrar” and the “Arkansas Democrat Gazette”, the story of this dangers menace to society is base on a first-hand account from Alan, who shared a little bit of himself with you all not too long ago.

      After Alan’s arraignment in Federal court he was taken to be processed by the U.S. Marshall’s. This involved fingerprinting, photographing and the like and Alan, in a suit and tie, stood in stark contrast to a couple of other “guests” of the marshal’s who were dressed out in the bright orange jumpsuits of the Polaski County Jail.

      Also in the room was a woman in her 60’s looking very out of sorts, and of course she received curious glances from the rest of the people in the room.

When “Granny” was taken and placed before the camera, the U.S. Marshall taking her picture       asked politely, “Ma’am, may I ask what you’re here for?”

It seems that this woman was from the woods of Northern Arkansas and was an avid hunter, as are many women in this southern state. One day, while hunting, she spied a buck and shot him.

      Her shot alerted a game warden who happened to be in the area, and when she returned with her “boys” to retrieve the carcass, found the warden writing her a ticket. “What as all this about?” she wondered. She had a legal license, she had placed her deer tag on the carcass before she went to get the boys. What could possibly be wrong?

      According to the warden, she had shot the deer on federal land which abutted her land. She had hunted these woods for decades – no way was this federal land.

      Well, according to the surveyor hired to ascertain who’s land it was, it did, indeed, belong to the federal government and now a federal prosecutor was arresting our Gun Totin’ Granny for poaching on federal property.

      According to Alan, even the U.S. Marshall’s charged with fingerprinting her and taking her picture were shocked that this “Gun Totin’ Granny” was being prosecuted over a deer shot and killed 15 feet over her property line.

      God Bless America.

      And, until next time – God Bless You All.

Crimes and Their Punishments: 21st Century Slave Traders: “Removing the Chains of Fear”

“Not only do I pray for it on the score of human dignity, but I can clearly foresee that nothing but the rooting out of slavery can perpetuate the existence of our union, by consolidating it in a common bond of principle.”      Attributed to George Washington

“O Lord, I am Your servant, yes, I am Your servant, born into Your household; You have freed me from my chains.”     Psalm 116:16 NLT

            Although George Washington may have been able to “clearly foresee” the inevitable rooting out of slavery in this nation, we all know that no steps were taken to eliminate it until almost one hundred years later.

            Even then, the first step was taken with such trepidation that it amounted to no real step at all and was, in fact, more an act of political maneuvering than an act of moral righteousness.

            Abraham Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation” which was issued on September 22, 1862 to take effect in January 1, 1863 , actually only went so far as to free those slaves who were located in states that had seceded from the union.

            In fact, in August of that year – prior to deciding to issue that proclamation – Lincoln stated his policy in regards to slavery thusly: “If I could save the union without freeing any slave, I would do it; if I could do it by freeing all of the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would do that.”

            Ultimately, with the issuance of the “Emancipation Proclamation”, it was shown that his fear of losing the goodwill of the slave owners in the border states of Maryland, Delaware, Missouri and Kentucky took precedence over securing freedom for all of those enslaved at that time.

            It wasn’t until the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and then ratified by the states that all slavery was abolished.

            Of course, climbing out of the holds of the slave ships and breaking the chains of slavery would prove to be more complicated than just passing legislation.

            The flames of hatred, prejudice, and ignorance – all fanned by the winds of fear – have kept the issue of race burning since the ratification of the 13th Amendment, through the tumultuous – and often deadly – civil rights movements of the 1960’s, all the way to this very day, proving that, while it may be possible to control some human action through legislation, it is impossible to legislate the human heart – or the human mind – and as long as the winds of fear blow in this country, there will always be hatred, prejudice, and ignorance.

            Consider an item I ran across in “USA Today” several weeks ago. It seems that so much “progress” has been made in Louisiana’s Caldwell Parish that the school districts there no longer require federal supervision. A federal judge has ruled that the schools are “officially desegregated.”

            The same court has decided, however, that a closer look is needed at Richmond Parish schools.

            And, in a case dating back to the 1960’s, and also reported in USA Today, Alabama’s Pickens County public schools and the justice department have arrived at a settlement in their desegregation case.

            The fact that the disease of segregation still infects this country is disturbing in itself. The fact that the news that it still festers is deserving of no more space in the paper than might be used to announce a garage sale, is even more so.

           Of course, desegregation is not the hot topic that it was when many people were dying and Mississippi was, in fact, burning. Those very real flames were being fanned by the winds of fear of what desegregation represented.

            Those same winds of fear often prevent the leaders of this country from doing the right thing. More importantly, when those winds are manipulated and directed towards the public, those in policy-making positions are often empowered to do the wrong thing.

            While the winds that flow out of Africa develop into hurricanes as they cross the Atlantic Ocean, the winds of fear are man-made and often driven by the forces of politics and profit rather than the forces of nature.

            In the 1950’s federal mandatory prison sentences were used to combat narcotics (much as they would be again 30 years later), but common sense prevailed and all mandatory minimums were repealed in the 1970’s. Then-Congressman George H. W. Bush, doing the right thing, voted for the bill eliminating them stating: “contrary to what one might imagine, this bill will result in better justice and more appropriate sentences. …Federal judges are almost unanimously opposed to mandatory minimums because they remove a great deal of the court’s discretion… …as a result, we will probably have more equitable action by the courts, with actually more convictions where they are called for, and fewer disproportionate sentences.”

            Eighteen years later, Bush would reverse that position while running against George Dukakis for president. Continuing a “tough-on-crime” mantra begun by Reagan (with encouragement from the American Legislative Exchange Council, which we will look at momentarily), Bush would embrace newer, longer, more wide-reaching mandatory minimums than those he voted to repeal.

            Reagan manipulated the winds that fanned the flames until they were hot enough to forge the public’s fear of crime into chains that wrapped around this country and have squeezed more and more freedom from the American people since that time while making people believe that those chains were, in fact, a protective blanket.

            As those chains of fear have squeezed more freedom from the American people, they also have squeezed out profits for companies and individuals who have formed an unholy alliance that has grown in its size, scope, and power since its inception in the early 1970’s.

            That unholy alliance is, of course, the “American Legislative Exchange Council” – ‘ALEC’ – and the influence and power it wields today is enormous and the profits reaped by the incestuous relationships that abound within – and around – it are staggering.

            The ‘ blacksmiths’ who forged those chains of fear that are strangling this country first opened shop almost 40 years ago at a small meeting in Chicago in September of 1973. Those “blacksmiths” included then Illinois State Representative Harry Hyde, conservative activist Paul Weyrich, and Lou Barnett a veteran of Ronald Reagan’s 1968 presidential campaign.

            The American Legislative Exchange Council was born and – waving a banner for “limited government, free markets, and individual liberty” – has grown to include some 2,000 legislative members representing all 50 states. (I’m sorry, isn’t that what the United States Congress is for?).  Each individual member pays an annual membership fee of $50.00 and gets to meet with other members at 3 conferences per year held at various locations throughout the country. (Who wants to bet that it is expensed as ‘state business’?)

            In addition to meeting with other legislators, some 300 corporate foundations and private sector members pay from $3,000 to $10,000 each to attend – and participate in – these conferences and, as members, assist in the primary function of ALEC which is to write model legislation to be brought back to each of the 50 states.

            ‘ALEC’ has escaped public scrutiny, for some reason, for all of these years until recently. Lately, its practices – and, in some cases, its legitimate need to exist at all – have come into question.  Some of the more recent questions and public criticisms have come from sources such as National Public Radio, Bloomberg News, John Nichols of “The Nation”, William Cronon from the University of Wisconsin, and the Center for Media and Democracy.

            Examples of these concerns and criticisms include: the danger of using ‘ALEC’ to avoid state laws to disclose meetings with, and gifts from, public and private corporations; neither the model legislation that ‘ALEC’ pushes nor the list of elected officials who are members is made publicly available; their nonprofit status has been challenged on the grounds that ‘ALEC’ spends most of its resources lobbying, in violation of the rules governing nonprofit organizations; and the whole organization seems to strive towards a goal that is the advancement of an agenda that seems to be dictated at almost every turn by multi-national corporations.

            These are just some of the ever increasing criticisms and concerns that are coming to the fore, and – quite frankly – I am surprised that a group which is violating at least the spirit of some laws – if not the letter – has operated so openly, for so long, and grown so large and powerful without these – and other – concerns being raised long ago.

            As I showed earlier, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) was formed in 1983 and quickly became an active participant in ALEC’s policy making and legislation modeling. CCA has grown – and profited hugely – as a direct result of legislation passed that was drawn up initially behind ALEC’s closed doors before being introduced – and in many cases passed – in the individual members’ states.

            Thanks to The Center for Media and Democracy, there is a website you should all visit to truly appreciate the scope of ALEC’s intrusion into public affairs that have been conducted in private, with no public oversight, and no public participation, and no public notification.

            The site is www.alecexposed.org – from that website, one member of my massive research staff – God Bless You, Diane – obtained and forwarded to me examples of the ‘model legislation’ ALEC’s ‘ task forces’ and members drew up to be brought back and introduced in each of the 50 states.

            Of the more than 2 dozen examples that I requested (out of the more than 800 listed), many of them directly benefit private companies such as CCA and GEO (which claims to be no longer connected to ALEC).  Both companies were avid participants when much of the legislation that directly benefits them was written, and CCA still is a major participant and financial contributor. CCA also, at one point co-chaired the Criminal Justice Task Force which created the pieces of legislation I am going to discuss.

            Among the examples of legislation I requested for review are the following, with a brief description of how CCA, GEO, and similar Slave Traders of the 21st Century profit from that legislation:

  • GPS TRACKING OF OFFENDERS ACT – This Act enables state and local authorities to utilize GPS electronic monitoring as a means of tracking offenders and pre-trial defendants within a community. Adopted by the Criminal Justice Task Force at the annual meeting, August 2007 and approved by ALEC Board of Directors, September 2007.  Remember GEO’s purchase of Behavioral Interventions, Inc.? That purchase was $415 million dollars, so this is big business, and monitoring is what they do.
  • MINIMUM MANDATORY SENTENCING ACT – This Act establishes mandatory sentencing for drug offenses on the state level (many of which are being repealed, have been recently repealed, or are under consideration for being repealed).
    Private prison companies have benefited by creating massive overcrowding in the nation’s prison system, whereupon the private prison industry has stepped in to offer “solutions”, resulting in major increases in revenue and profits to CCA, GEO, and similar companies.
  • HOUSING OUT-OF-STATE PRISONERS IN A PRIVATE PRISON ACT – This Act would enable a private prison contractor to provide housing, care, and control of inmates of any state.  Obviously, this law would benefit the operators of private prisons such as CCA and GEO.

Other pieces of “model” legislation written by ALEC’s “task force” of legislators and the very private prison companies that they will financially benefit are:

  • Temporary Juvenile Detention Act
  • Private Correctional Facilities Act
  • Prison Industries Act
  • Electronic Home Detention Act
  • Resolution to enforce our immigration laws (which spawned the model legislation that has passed in Arizona, Utah, Alabama and Georgia).

All of these, and thousands of additional pieces of legislation were written by the very people whose pockets will be lined by their enactment. From ALEC’s website is the following statement: “Each year, close to 1,000 bills based at least in part on ALEC Model Legislation, are introduced in the states. Of these, an average of 20 percent become law.”

            Pardon me for my ignorance, but ALEC’s own Mission Statement calls for limited government. 1,000 pieces of legislation – 3 per day – is not limited at all, but any fisherman will tell you that the more hooks you have in the water, the better your chances of catching fish.

            It’s not just in the criminal arena that ALEC wraps its chains around this country either. There are currently eight “task forces” made up of legislators and private industry:

  • Civil Justice
  • Commerce, Insurance & Economic Development
  • Education
  • Energy, Environment and Agriculture
  • Health and Human Services
  • International Relations
  • Public Safety & Elections
  • Task & Fiscal Policy
  • Telecommunications & Information Technology.

This sounds like a list of cabinet offices in the U.S. Government, but is just a very private “back room” full of good old boys and cigar smoke – and it’s the American public’s eyes that are being blinded by the smoke.

But at least we are wrapped in our protective blanket, right?

            The simple fact is this: ALEC has flooded the states with legislation designed to benefit select businesses, or areas of business, while burdening the American people with the costs for implementation of these pieces of legislation, and it is all done in a way that is absolutely opposite of the principles on which this country was founded and the way it is supposed to function.

            The tentacles of ALEC reach far and have grown in number and strength through the years.

            Among ALEC ‘alumni’ are 14 past, or sitting, governors and 85 members of Congress. It would be a stretch of any imagination to think that these ‘graduates’ of ALEC are without connections to, or influence over, what transpires behind ALEC’s closed doors even now that they have “moved on” and are no longer official members. (Remember, this is an organization for state legislators.)

            It would be an even bigger stretch to think that the relationships those ‘alumni’ have struck with ALEC’s corporate members ended upon their “graduation”. Much of the ‘cross-pollination’ I have referred to repeatedly throughout this series can be directly traced back to relationships formed through ALEC, and I never even put a tiny scratch in the surface of the numbers of relationships that exist today.

            Bob Kasten and Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin, John Engler of Michigan, Terry Branstad of Iowa and John Kasich of Ohio were involved with ALEC during its formative years. All have “graduated” gone onto become Republican Governors or Members of Congress.

            John Kasich is now Governor of Ohio. If you recall, in my first of this series, I pointed out that he appointed Gary Mohr as the head of Ohio’s Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections.

            To further refresh your memory, Mohr is a former Consultant and Managing Director for CCA, and you may further remember that, conversely, CCA hired Kasish’s former congressional chief of staff, Donald Thibault, as a lobbyist last January.

            To complete this little refresher course, Mohr had proposed selling 5 of Ohio’s prisons to private prison companies through a bidding process and the proposal moves forward with CCA as a participant. Mohr put out a memorandum that he would not be involved in the process. (wink, wink)

            Now for the update: The Lake Erie Correctional Institution in Northeastern Ohio has become the first state prison in the nation to be sold to a private company. Of the 5 put up for sale, only this one will be sold, according to the state. The winning bid was $72.7 million dollars which is more than the $50 million needed from privatization efforts to balance the state’s prison budget.

            CCA won the bid, but that should come as no surprise because of the relationships between Kasich, Mohr, and CCA. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy the presumption that that relationship had nothing to do with CCA being successful in its bid, nor should anyone else of reasonable intelligence. They take over December 31st pending the outcome of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the move.

            While the trading of human flesh for profit is the primary focus of this series, ALEC itself cannot be discussed properly without pointing out that other industries, businesses, and individuals use their ALEC access to develop legislation favorable to their particular field.

            I came across this excerpt from a “Bloomberg News” article reporting on ALEC:

“Koch Industries, Inc. and Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM) are among companies that would benefit from almost identical energy legislation introduced in state capitols from Oregon to New Mexico to New Hampshire and that’s by design.

The energy companies helped write the legislation at a meeting organized by a group they finance: ‘The American Legislative Exchange Council’, a Washington-based policy institute known as ALEC.

The corporations, both ALEC members, took a seat at the legislative drafting table beside elected officials and policy analysts by paying between $3,000 and $10,000 yearly, according to documents obtained by Bloomberg News.”

            According to ALECexposed.org, in addition to CCA, GEO, KOCH Industries and Exxon Mobil, the list of past and present corporate members of ALEC includes: AT&T, Verizon, UPS, Bayer Corp., Glaxo Smith Kline, Coca Cola, Kraft Foods, Pfizer, State Farm Insurance, Wal-mart, and the American Bail Coalition.

            Comparing this list with the list of ALEC task forces, it is easy to see where each would fit – some in multiple categories – and have a vested interest in having a hand in developing legislation that would be favorable to their industry, in general, or their company, in particular.

            None of this would be possible were it not for the arrogant manner in which the American people have been manipulated and wrapped up in those chains of fear masquerading as a protective blanket.

            And nowhere is the arrogance of our elected officials and the alienation of the American people more obvious than in the action of ALEC and the comments of its current Chairman, Louisiana Representative Noble Ellington.

            In an interview with Terry Gross on a radio show produced by National Public Radio (NPR), Ellington got a little testy when Ms. Gross asked him why corporations got a seat at the table with ALEC but unions, teachers, and the general public don’t.

            His response: “I work for the taxpaying public, so don’t assume that they’re not (at the table) because they are. And we represent the public and we are the ones who decide. So the taxpaying public is there at the table because I am there.”

            The taxpaying public did not elect Mr. Ellington or any other member of any legislative body – federal or state – in this country to meet in private with multi-national corporations and draft legislation that directly benefits those same companies, their shareholders, their executives, or their friends.

            But they draft it anyway.

            The taxpaying public did not elect Mr. Ellington or any other member of any legislative body – federal or state – in this country to meet in private with those same companies and build personal relationships to further their own long-term interests and those of their close associates by ‘cross-pollinating’ and creating a revolving door through which passes the members of an exclusive club or collaborative cronies more concerned with feathering their own nests than furthering the causes of those who elected them in the first place.

            But they do it anyway.

            The taxpaying public also did not elect Mr. Ellington or any other member of any legislative body – federal or state – in this country to vote in their own self-interest in matters concerning term limits, line item vetoes, compensation packages, pensions, campaign reform, lobbying matters, ethics, super pacs, and other areas, as opposed to what is best for the taxpaying public they all took an oath to serve.

            But they vote against the best interests of the taxpaying public anyway. Over and over and over.

            “Those who do not move do not notice their chains.”

                                                Rosa Luxemburg

            The time has come for the American people to move in order that they might finally realize that their elected officials have wrapped them in chains and those chains are getting tighter and tighter, slowly squeezing the life – and the liberty – out of every American, not just those on the literal “wrong side of the fence.”

            The flames of fear used to forge those chains were fueled by individuals with a vision: a vision of America so consumed with a fear of crime – and criminals – that her citizens would be willing to pay any price to be protected.

            And the price that has been – and continues to be – paid is one of staggering proportions: The cost to the millions of members of the families of non-violent offenders incarcerated needlessly in this country; the cost to society to feed, clothe, house, and care for the world’s largest population of non-violent offenders; the cost to society when those same people are returned to society after 5, 10, 20 or more years languishing behind bars and are ostracized from the very opportunities they will require to become productive members of society; the cost to all Americans through the ever-increasing loss of personal freedoms; and – perhaps the highest cost of all – the loss of the ability of a nation of free people to have faith that the government that was established by, of, and for the people actually represents the majority’s true, best interests and not just those of the privileged groups, companies, and individuals who are rich enough, connected enough, contribute enough, or can promise a profitable enough future to those who were elected in good faith, with the hope of positive change, but are, like Eddie Murphy in the movie, “The Distinguished Gentleman”, quickly seduced by the privilege, power, prestige, and profit available to those who sell out to the highest bidder while pointing fingers, placing blame, and doing what they do because “I represent the people and I know what is best for them.”

            Are there violent people roaming the streets of our cities using guns, knives and other weapons to commit crimes?

            Is the business of illegal drugs a problem in this country?

            Is illegal immigration a problem in this country?

            Is child pornography finding its way into far too many homes in America?

            Are Ponzi schemes and other financial crimes a problem?

            Is Medicare and Medicaid fraud a problem?

            Are there individuals using computers to prey on our children?

            The answer to each and every one of these questions, of course, is an unequivocal and resounding “YES!”

            But now let me ask this: Is the passing of laws that financially benefit the very same companies, elected officials, and select individuals who participate in private meetings to craft these laws while creating the illusion that they are addressing these problems with your best interests in mind the wisest, safest, most cost effective and productive course of action with which to address these, and other, national issues?

            That answer, my friends, is an equally unequivocal and resounding “NO!”

            The selling of freedom that is crippling our criminal justice system is crippling other areas of American life as well.

            As ALEC develops legislation that affects the businesses of insurance, energy, finance, education, housing, and virtually every other facet of the taxpaying public’s daily existence, the rich and the privileged grow richer and more privileged.

            It is surely a problem of mammoth proportions, this unholy and unethical alliance of business and elected officials, but it is not a problem unique to this country.

            In Egypt, recently, a senior insider in the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak was convicted of corruption. Ahmed Ezz had apparently become a symbol of the intertwining of business and politics that many Egyptians despise as corrupt.

            If the American Legislative Exchange Council does not epitomize the intertwining of business and politics I simply cannot fathom what would.

            ALEC – and other similar, yes smaller groups (and yes, others do exist) – should not be tolerated by the taxpaying American public. ALEC, and any like it, should be illegal and any input that business wants to inject into proposed law, policies, and politics in general should be done in open hearings in state houses and congressional chambers in full view of the public and not at weekend retreats paid for by the public where the only people not in attendance are the very people whose lives will be affected by what is discussed.

            America should demand that her public servants remember that they are just that, and they should spend much more of their time meeting with, and acting on behalf of, the very people who elected them to serve in the first place.

            For starters, ALEC’s success at profiteering in the area of prison privatization needs to be reversed.

            The temptations associated with privatization are great and therefore I state again that the United States of America should follow the example of Israel and declare that private prisons are unconstitutional.

            Given the fact that the Supreme Court has given private individuals and corporations the power to openly indemnify elected officials to them, their pet projects, or core businesses by allowing them to contribute unlimited amounts to “super pacs” tells me that is not likely to happen.

            So I would propose the following: Under no circumstances should any individual who works in a prison or who writes, enforces, prosecutes, or adjudicates our nations laws profit from the incarceration of this nation’s citizens by owning all, or part of any company, or the stock belonging to any company that conducts business, for profit, with penal institution, detention center, or any other type of institution whose primary function is the housing, care, and control of any human being under the jurisdiction of any federal, state or local authority.

            Furthermore, it should be against the law for any union or any other group representing workers in those same institutions to lobby for longer sentences, mandatory minimums, or engage in any efforts to obtain job security by encouraging public officials to incarcerate more people for longer periods of time or for more reasons.

            It should also be illegal for any pension fund managed on behalf of any group that writes, enforces, prosecutes, or adjudicates this nations laws, or monitors those incarcerated to own stock in any company that profits from any part of the arrest, prosecution, and incarceration process.

            It is true that the citizens of this country should be afraid, but they should be afraid of ALEC and the arrogance and impunity with which our elected officials operate and cater to the whims of those wealthy enough to buy a few minutes of their time.

            In the case of Egypt, social media has been credited with being the impetus of change, so I suggest that Americans follow suit and use the resources at their fingertips and do the following:

            Demand from every governor, United States Congressman, state legislator, and current candidate for office a public answer to the following question:

“Are you now, have you ever been, or do you have future plans on being a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council?”

Then make sure that they know that if they answered ‘YES’, you will not vote for them.

            At the same time, Americans need to understand the unconscionable blow to the American electoral process with its finding in favor of “Super Pacs”. The taking of this incomprehensible step put the welfare of this country even more firmly in the hands of big business and the well-to-do, so while you are saying ‘no’ to ALEC, let the same people know that you will not vote for any candidate who has any relationship with a “Super Pac”, and when they say that they have no control over who spends money on their behalf, let them know with a loud “NO!” that you are not buying it anymore.

            The American people have the power. They just need to stop listening to the same rhetoric and “empty calorie” campaign speeches that influential dollars have paid someone to write and who specializes in bamboozling the American public.

            Due to the unbridled arrogance and misplaced loyalties of many of our elected officials, we are, right now, far removed from the Lord’s promise when He said:

            “You will be secure under a government that is just and fair.”

                                                                                             Isaiah 54:14 NLT

However, the Lord also stated that:

“Human pride will be brought down and human arrogance will be humbled.”

                                                                                             Isaiah 2:11a NLT

            However, before the arrogant can be humbled, and before anyone, anywhere in this country can feel secure under a government that is just and fair, we must heed the words of God when He says:

            “Remove the chains of slavery from your neck.”

                                                                                             Isaiah 52:2b NLT

            Americans must break the chains that are wrapped around their necks and have made them slaves to fear and insist on a new direction – a new way of conducting the business of the people of this, the greatest nation on earth – a new direction in dealing with the way laws are made and in dealing with those who break them.

            Those who are elected to conduct the business of the people should know that Americans are looking for individuals to serve the people and we must tell them that, in a servant we expect someone who is:






No-nonsense and


            Until next time, thank you for putting up with me, and may God bless each and every one of you.

“Crimes and Their Punishments: 21st Century Slave Traders: The Horrors in the Holds of the Ships”

“Crimes and Their Punishments: 21st Century Slave Traders: The Horrors in the Holds of the Ships”

“We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization.”     Franklin D. Roosevelt

“For the leaders of the people have misled them. They have led them down the path of destruction.”     Isaiah 9:16 NLT

            In 1619, 20 African slaves were sold to colonists at Jamestown, Virginia. After a Dutch frigate pulled into port, laying the foundation for an industry of chained flesh that would soon deliver hundreds of thousands of slaves to the colonies who all survived the brutal trip from Africa in the holds of the slave ships.

            Men, women, and children – kept in holds that were often no more than four feet high – suffered the long transatlantic voyage lying down, chained in pairs, hands to feet, riding out the journey with the indignity, sickness, and death that accompanied each cargo of human misery.

            Many of the guards and overseers were exceptionally brutal and sadistic men who often displayed a liking for the opportunities to beat, abuse or sexually assault those they were charged with delivering to market.

            As long as the holds were full and demand was high, the sacrifice of a few was of no concern to the evil men hired to sail those ships and deliver the “goods” to port. There were no complaints because those who might complain couldn’t speak the language of those they would complain to, and – after all – who listens to the cries of those in chains?

            In the 21st century, Americans do listen to cries of “let’s get tough on crime” and accept the well-lobbied solution to the problem which is more prison sentences, for longer durations, without considering the effectiveness, cost, or the motivation of those behind the rallying cry.

            Ostensibly, those who are elected to lead this country are educated individuals, but it doesn’t take a college degree to know that you can’t lock up the deficiencies of a society. You can lock up that society’s citizens, though, but while the prisons fill up, creating a constant need for new ones, the root causes that created the criminal in the first place remain on the outside of the prison walls, creating still more need for still more prison beds.

            Ultimately, the only benefit derived from this approach is by those who profit financially from the unnecessary misery of hundreds of thousands of this country’s citizens.

            As CCA, GEO, other private companies, and their myriad lobbyists, lawyers, and legislators sail forward on their self-serving quest for higher revenues and larger dividends for their shareholders, they leave behind them a disturbing wake of undelivered promises, suffering, pain, misery, and even death that simply cannot be ignored.

            While this writer claims no degree in business, it would seem to be a safe bet that it simply is not possible to provide better rehabilitative programs, better health care services, better drug treatment programs, better vocational programs, higher trained personnel and greater security – all while providing a healthy bottom line and dividends for shareholders – all while doing it less expensively than a state or federal government run institution.

            The promise of “…the best of the business world with the strong oversight and consistent standards of our governments.” (from CCA’s website) have not been fulfilled by any stretch of the imagination.

            GEO’s website, thegeogroupinc.com, boasts that “our unique approach allows GEO to provide high quality and cost-effective service with state-of-the-art designs, innovative programs and ground breaking treatment approaches.”

            If you consider counseling sessions in a GEO Juvenile Facility in Coke County, TX being run by guards and a guard who raped a 14 year old girl nightly, promising “to kill your sister and your mom if you tell anybody” ground breaking, then I guess GEO has lived up to its claim.

            “LOCKED INSIDE A NIGHTMARE” is a story by CBS News from February 11, 2009 and is our first example of “The Horrors in the Holds of the Ships” operated by the slave traders of the 21st Century.

            Sara Lowe had trouble adjusting after her family moved to Texas from Nebraska where she grew up.

            Sara was 14 when she was arrested for attacking her mother after an argument escalated and she went out of control. Ultimately, she was sentenced to 6 months in Wackenhut Corrections Corporation’s (this was before the change to GEO Group) new Coke County Juvenile Justice Center. It was believed that Sara would receive intensive counseling by well-qualified staff. Sara’s mother, Gayle Lowe, said she was told “they would all have Bachelor’s Degrees in either Criminal Justice or Psychology… Child Psychology. It just sounded wonderful!”

            It was expensive too. The State of Texas paid $118.00 per day for each girl sent there and in addition to the “well-qualified” counselors, they were to receive educational instruction of the same quality.

            It seems the facility never lived up to its billing as Sara was promoted through three grades of high school in just six months, and even though it was an all-girl’s prison, it was staffed mostly by men.

            Sara eventually told her sister, Jenny, about the nightly visits, the rapes, and the death threats, by one of the guards.

            In 1998, the Lowe’s filed suit claiming “widespread systematic sexual assault” of the girls in the prison. Eleven more girls joined the suit and two Wackenhut employees eventually pled guilty to criminal charges of sexual assault. For the company’s part, the lawsuit was settled with the condition that Sara or her parents were to never discuss what happened in the prison.

            Sara Lowe shot and killed herself the day of the settlement.

            Her sister, Jenny, said Sara was upset because neither the company or its founder, George Wackenhut, would admit any responsibility. Wackenhut CEO, George Zoley, told CBS, “we have signed a confidentiality agreement regarding that lawsuit, and I’m really not allowed to speak about it any further.”

            When asked if he thought the company owed an apology to Sara, or any other inmate, Zoley responded, “Not that I’m aware of. I don’t know what you mean by that.”

            Also in 1998, Wackenhut opened the Jena Juvenile Justice Center for boys in Louisiana. In 1999, 17 year old Dale Ortega was sentenced to Jena for 6 months, where, the judge who sentenced him, Marie Doherty said, “…they were to have a first rate substance abuse treatment program with trained substance abuse counselors.”

            Instead, Ortega found that several employees were pushing drugs and sex in the cell blocks. He saw guards smoking marijuana with inmates and some guards had sex with inmates.

            In one year, the facility went through five wardens and turned over the entire staff three times. The U.S. Department of Justice investigated Jena and found that youths were subjected to “cruel and humiliating punishments.” The report also said that guards “routinely used excessive force” and that “the Jena Center is a dangerous place to be.”

            The Justice Department also found that Jena medical records showed 100 serious traumatic injuries in one 2 month period, an “unacceptably high number of traumatic injuries.”

            Investigators found that Jena, Louisiana, and Coke County, Texas, had the same problem – most guards had no experience.

            Dave Ortega also stated that, while he was working as a trustee in the Jena office, he was assigned to shred complaints that inmates had written about the guards.

            When the Louisiana Department of Corrections seized control of Jena, a state corrections investigator reported that a guard was caught erasing a videotape that allegedly showed inmate abuse.

            The judge who had sentenced Dave Ortega to Jena was shocked by the allegations in the report. The CBS report stated that he had released 7 inmates from Jena, placing them on probation instead. He decided Wackenhut was putting their lives at risk.

            “No matter what reason landed these young people at the facility, they are human beings,” Judge Doherty said.

            Admittedly, these first examples of “The Horrors in the Holds of the Ships” are over ten years old. Surely lessons were learned OR were they?

            In 2007, the Coke County Facility that failed Sara Lowe, and the other young women so miserably, closed. It had been changed to an all-boys center after the females were removed, but apparently problems remained. Inspectors had reported that feces and urine littered the common area, while the boys’ “education program” consisted of a daily crossword puzzle slipped into their cells. According to the report, the boys would sometimes go 72 hours without taking a shower, days without brushing their teeth, and were sometimes forced to defecate in something other than a toilet.

            During an inspection, Texas Youth Commission (TYC) Ombudsman Will Harrell observed an “over-reliance” on pepper spray, an insect infestation, gross understaffing, and bedding that hadn’t been washed in a month.

            “There is a greater sense of fear and intimidation in this facility than perhaps any other I have been to”, he wrote.

            Another inspection by Harris County’s TYC liaison noted that “one of the dorms lacked a bathroom so the kids had to relieve themselves on the floor or in a plastic bag (if they have one).”

            Curiously enough, this facility had twice been named “contract facility of the year” after rave reviews by TYC’s own inspectors.

            Remember the phrase I used in the previous article, “cross-pollination”? Two of those inspectors who gave the rave reviews were former GEO employees.

            After the ombudsman’s report became public, TYC had no choice but to send in new inspectors. After walking through the facility – the Dallas Morning News reported – they had to scrape human excrement off their shoes.

            It was at that point that all 197 young men were removed and placed elsewhere.

            All of this in spite of GEO’s website claim that “our team of over 17,000 professionals is dedicated to the safety and care of the individuals assigned to our custody.” Their website states further that “our knowledgeable are experts in… basic education… counseling, substance abuse treatment… and facilities maintenance to ensure that the high level of service our clients demand is adequately provided in each of our business units.”

            It was also related in the CBS story that in 1998 a riot at a then Wackenhut, New Mexico prison left 2 people dead. The story also stated that the company was stripped of a $12 million dollar contract in Texas where 12 guards were indicted for having sex with female inmates.

            CBS reported that CEO Zoley had this to say: “A correctional organization is subject to numerous allegations of this nature. That’s part of the business. People in prison are not Sunday school children.”

            Well, Mr. Zoley, while the last part of that statement may be true, just because they are not Sunday school children does not give those charged with their custody the right to abuse them or treat them like animals.

            Perhaps part of the problem is that it takes too long to find out about the abuses suffered by the human beings in their charge because private prisons are shielded from public scrutiny given that they are a private business and therefore are not subject to the same open records requirements as is a government-run institution.

            As an example, according to Lauren Reinlie of “Texans for Public Justice”, the Texas Depart of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) acknowledged that it does not collect basic statistics about private facilities, even those routinely gathered from state-run facilities. Among the records not kept were: staffing ratios, number of guards at each facility, and guard disciplinary data to name a few.

            Without information, how does TDCJ provide oversight to a group that receives over $200 million dollars a year in public funds and is responsible for the care and safety – indeed, the very lives – of over 16,000 human beings?

            To ensure that state government – as well as the public – received the same information from private institutions that it did from state-run institutions, Texas State Representative Solomin Ortiz, Jr. introduced a bill that would have – among other things – subjected private prisons to the same open records laws as public facilities; mandated public hearings before privatization of county jails; and made it illegal for a public servant, such as a sheriff, to be paid by a private prison corporation while drawing public salaries.

            The bill was successfully removed from consideration amidst intense lobbying by the well-connected individuals named in the first part of this series, although no one will publicly state that it was removed from consideration because of that lobbying.

            One of those lobbyists, GEO’s Michelle Wittenburg, who spoke with at least one of the lawmakers who pulled the bill, took the position that the bill singled out private prison companies to comply with open records laws when “other” private companies have no such mandate.

            Correct me if I am wrong, but “other” private companies – I would assume such as Coca Cola, Wal-mart, and General Motors – do not have human beings in chains and behind bars as their primary “product.” The position that a company operating prisons should be no more transparent than one that manufactures cars, soda pop, or sells garden hoses is a preposterous one to take and would be laughable were it not for one important fact – that position was accepted and the bill was killed.

            For a group of individuals elected to work in the best interests of the state they were elected in to agree with this position is as reprehensible and irresponsible as the behavior of some of the individuals locked up in the places whose secrecy these public officials have agreed to protect through their actions.

            Other attempts in Texas and elsewhere, to force openness in an “industry” that should have never been allowed to grow without openness and accountability, have failed as well.

            In spite of the success at limiting access to records and practices behind these private walls, reports of mismanagement, abuse, criminal activity, sexual assault and other atrocities still manage to be exposed causing a logical thinking person to ask, “If this is what we are hearing about, what are we not hearing about?”

            Some of the more notable examples include:

An ACLU lawsuit filed last year against a CCA facility in Idaho, asks for class action status and seeks $155 million dollars in damages. The ACLU charges that the prison is so violent it is known as a “gladiator school” among inmates. According to the ACLU, guards deliberately exposed inmates to beatings from other prisoners as a “management tool”. The lawsuit went on to charge that guards denied medical care as a way to save money and hide the extent of the injuries. A video surfaced last November that showed prison guards watching one inmate beat up another. The inmate was beaten unconscious with no action taken by the guards. The FBI stepped in to investigate at the beginning of December. CCA, rather than taking responsibility for the actions of its employees, condemned the release of the video as “an unnecessary security risk to our staff, the inmates entrusted to our care, and – ultimately – to the public.”

During hearings in Maine to discuss the idea of private prisons, Shenna Bellows – Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union – criticized the track record of the private prison companies, cautioning that, “private prison companies in other states have been found guilty of illegal corruption schemes, paying kickbacks to judges and elected officials to secure contracts for the transport of more prisoners to their facilities.” Addressing the issue of violence at privately run prisons, Bellows cited a 2004 report by the “Federal Probation Journal” stating that private prisons had an almost 50 percent higher record of inmate-on-staff assaults compared to similar public prisons. She also discussed the previously mentioned incidents in Idaho as well as suits against a GEO Group for violations at a Mississippi Juvenile Facility which GEO took over just last August. At that facility, which is the nation’s largest juvenile facility, a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of 13 inmates. According to National Public Radio (NPR), the lawsuit alleges contraband brought in by guards; sex between guards and inmates; inadequate medical care; and prison violence that led to brain damage in one instance.

In Texas, in 2009, the 13th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the largest civil judgment in the private prison industry’s history. A $42 million dollar wrongful death judgment was awarded against GEO for the 2001 killing of prisoner Gregorio de la Rosa, Jr. in its Willacy County facility. The court summarizes the incident thusly: “This case involves the horrific and gruesome death of Gregorio de la Rosa, Jr. Gregorio, an honorably discharged former National Guardsman, was serving a 6 month sentence at a prison operated by Wackenhut Corrections Corp (now GEO Group) for possession of less than 1/4 gram of cocaine. A few days before his expected release, Gregorio was beaten to death by two other prisoners, using a lock tied to a sock, while Wackenhut’s officers stood by and watched and Wackenhut’s warden smirked and laughed.” The court also “scolded” Wackenhut for withholding or destroying evidence, including a surveillance camera recording of the beating. The court opined, “We find that Wackenhut’s conduct was clearly reprehensible and, frankly, constitutes a disgusting display of disrespect for the welfare of  others and for the state’s civil justice system.”

In Arizona, the mother of Linda Haas has filed suit for $40 million dollars against the State of Arizona; Dominion – an Edmunds, Oklahoma company that spec-built a prison in Kingman, Arizona described as being “grossly unsecure”; and Management Training Corporation (MTC), another private prison company. Linda Haas and her husband were murdered by fugitives who escaped from the facility. The inmates – convicted murderers – were also involved in a Colorado shootout, hijackings, kidnapping, and robberies in Arizona and New Mexico, and a robbery in Arkansas.

            Privatization takes many forms within the corrections industry. Often, there is just one aspect of a facility that is privatized, as in the case of PA-based “Wexford Health Services”, which bills itself as “the nation’s leading innovative correctional health care company.” Wexford provided health care service for the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility (CNMCF).

            After his December 2005 arrest and incarceration, Michael Crespin complained of abdominal pains. He was taken to the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) where he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery. Upon his arrival at CNMCF in March of 2006, Wexford personnel were advised of his condition and alerted to the fact that he had a colostomy bag and had prescriptions for medications as well as chemotherapy, which was to be provided through UNMH. Despite Crespin’s requests, and those of his treating physician at UNMH, Wexford employees lost track of his cancer treatment.

            According to his subsequent federal lawsuit, Crespin “missed approximately 14 to 16, or more, medical appointments at UNMH.” The treating physician and staff repeatedly called Wexford staff and CNMCF’s warden to inform them “of the critical nature of these appointments to (Crespin’s) health and that continuing his regular treatments was literally a life or death matter.” The lawsuit further stated that a nurse practitioner from UNMH, Holly C. Rice, spoke to Wexford physician Harvey I. Featherstone in early August 2006 to advise him that “stopping (Crespin’s) treatments would result in his untimely death.”

            It was only after investigative reporters started looking into Crespin’s case and “multiple other and serious instances of Wexford’s deliberate indifference in providing medical services” that the treatment plan recommended by UNMH was followed.

            Sadly, it was too late. Crespin, 50, died on July 2, 2008. The lawsuit he had started was continued by his family and settled under confidential terms in November 2010.

            Not to be outdone by CCA, GEO/Wackenhut, MTC, or Wexford, enter Cornell companies which, prior to being purchased by GEO Group for $730 million dollars in August 2010, was based in Houston, Texas. Prior to that purchase, Cornell had its own set of problems at operations in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and Texas. In 2001, Cornell struck a deal with the Arkansas Division of Youth Service to manage a facility in Alexander, Arkansas for $42 million dollars. That contract was timely for Cornell shareholders as Cornell was in the process of closing a Pennsylvania Youth Camp after it was discovered that at least 11 kids had been sexually assaulted by guards.

            A year after taking over the Alexander facility, investigations were conducted by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Education. Some of the items for concern that the investigators cited were: under qualified staff; poor monitoring of kids in suicide watch; a lack of textbooks.

            Three years later, 17 year old La Keisha Brown dropped dead from blood clots in her lung. State investigators found that her pleas for treatment were ignored by medical staff.

            During the investigation into her death, other troublesome discoveries were made: falsification of records and the inappropriate use of forced injections of Thorazine and Benadryl as chemical restraints.

            The State of Arkansas resumed control of the Alexandria Facility in 2006.

“Fear the Lord and judge with integrity, for the Lord our God does not tolerate perverted justice, partiality, or the taking of bribes.”     2 Chronicles 19:7

            Perhaps the most telling of these tales of “The Horrors in the Holds of the Ships” belonging to our modern day slave traders occurred in Pennsylvania where, in 2010, two former Pennsylvania Juvenile Court Judges were convicted in what became known as the “Cash for Kids” scandal after accepting over $2.6 million dollars in kickbacks from the owners of a privately run juvenile detention center in exchange for harsh sentences that kept the center’s beds filled. Their actions resulted in the dismissal of over 4,000 juvenile cases they had participated in.

“As David said, “Let their bountiful table become a snare, a trap that makes them think all is well. Let their blessings cause them to stumble, and let them get what they deserve.”
Romans 11:9 NLT

            That these same types of horrors can be – and are – found in government-run facilities is without question, but studies have shown that, in addition to inmate-on-staff violence being 50 percent more likely, inmate-on-inmate violence is 65 percent more likely to occur in private facilities.

            The need for profits requires more than running an efficient operation. It requires cutting costs and – in the process – cutting staff, cutting services, and cutting quality of care.

            This is not rocket science, this is the business of slave trading in the 21st century.

            To reiterate what Israeli Supreme Court President, Dorit Beinisch, put so succinctly:

“Thus, when the power to incarcerate is transferred to a private corporation whose purpose is making money, the act of depriving a person of his liberty loses much of its legitimacy.

Because of this loss of legitimacy, the violation of the prisoner’s right to liberty goes beyond the violation entailed in the incarceration itself.”

“Crimes and Their Punishments: 21st Century Slave Traders”

“Men fight for freedom; then they begin to accumulate laws to take it away from themselves.”                                      Thomas Jefferson

“It could probably be shown, by facts and figures, that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”                   Mark Twain

“You rulers make decisions based on bribes.”           Micah 3:11a NLT

    Slave traders in the 18th and 19th centuries used ships to move their cargos of human misery from Africa.

    Enduring weeks in cramped, filthy cargo holds that smelled of human waste, sickness, and death, hundreds of chained human beings were crammed into as little space as possible in conditions that would ensure that as many as one third of them would never survive the journey.

    Those who were fortunate – or unfortunate – enough to survive the inhuman treatment or the grueling trip would ultimately be sold, their usefulness to the ones who traded in their flesh ended.

    Those who profit from human misery today do not face the transportation problems of those from centuries past. The modes of transportation today are planes, buses, vans, and cars, and while almost all survive the journey from city to city and state to state, that journey is still made in chains and the bodies chained are still the commodity they once were, and I say commodity because since the 1980’s prisoners have become exactly that.

    The push towards prison privatization has helped to create a huge  prison industrial complex in this country, as well as in other parts of the world.

     Due in part to the influence of these private companies and their powerful lobbyists, millions of dollars in campaign contributions, and extremely close – almost incestuous – relationships with state and federal governments and various bureaucracies, prison budgets have grown exponentially since the early 1980’s, and continue to do so today, even as these same private companies claim to be able to save money for the governments they have contracts with.

     According to the “PEW Center for the states,” state prison budgets since the mid-1980’s have risen from $10 Billion to $52 Billion as state prison populations have grown from under 500,000 to about 2.8 Million today. According to the Spring 2011 issue of FAMMGRAM (a publication put out by “Families Against Mandatory Minimums”), the Federal prison population has increased at least 3 times the rate of State prisons since 1995 and costs the taxpayers over $5 Billion per year!

    Since the concept took root, the US has grown to be the largest private prison – and related service – market in the world. England, Scotland, and Wales comprise the 2nd largest market, but the concept of privatization has spread – or tried to spread – to other parts of the world as well.

     In 2004, the Israeli Knesset passed a law to allow privatization of prisons in Israel. However, in 2009, 4 years after a petition was filed by the Civil Rights Department in the Law Academic College of Ramat Gan,  an expanded panel of 9 judges of the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that privately run prisons are unconstitutional.

Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch wrote, “Israel’s basic legal principles hold that the right to use force in general, and the right to enforce criminal law by putting people behind bars in particular, is one of the most fundamental and one of the most invasive powers in the state’s jurisdiction. Thus, when the power to incarcerate is transferred to a private corporation whose purpose is making money, the act of depriving a person of his liberty loses much of its legitimacy. Because of this loss of legitimacy, the violation of the prisoner’s right to liberty goes beyond the violation entailed in the incarceration itself.”

     In this country, Illinois in 1990 (Private Correctional Facility Moratorium Act) and New York in 2000, enacted laws that ban the privatization of prisons, correctional facilities and any services related to their operation.

     The growth of privatization in this country has been spearheaded by two companies: Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) was founded in 1983 by Thomas Beasley, a former chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party (which, of course, gave him an instant “in” with Republican Legislators all over the country); and GEO Group, based in Boca Raton, Florida, was founded in 1984 as Wackenhut Corrections Corp, a subsidiary of Wackenhut Security. Somewhere along the line it was changed to GEO Group, probably to distance itself from Wackenhut’s respectable core business of Armored Car, Home and Private Security Services.

     Their combined companies house over 170,000 prisoners in over 175 facilities nationwide. To put things in perspective, 170,000 inmates would have been almost half of the total state prison population of 350,000 in 1983, although that figure represented only about 6% of the total 2.8 Million incarcerated today. But it is enough to earn CCA alone over $155 Million in profit last year on $1.6 Billion in revenue.

     As prison populations continue to rise, and the costs to house them as well, we are likely to see even more of a shift to privatization, but are the costs – or the savings – really the main factor in making the determination to “go private”?

                     OR is it just good old American greed?

     There are studies that show that privatization saves money. Ostensibly these are well documented, independent studies and it should follow that these studies would speak for themselves in helping legislative bodies make decisions.

     If that is the case, why is so much money spent on lobbyists, and on campaign contributions, by companies such as CCA and GEO?

     There is so much money moving in so many different directions that it is all but impossible to wrap it all up in a neat bundle to present to you here. But I will give you some disturbing examples of what is happening on a daily basis around this country:

  • Since 2001, the Florida GOP has received over $1.5 Million from CCA, GEO, and their affiliates, almost $1 Million of that coming in the 2010 state election cycle alone. It should be noted that since that time Florida passed its $69.7 Billion Budget. As a result of that budget passing on May 7, 16 prisons in the Southern third of the state will be privatized, thereby quadrupling the number of prisons run by private firms in the 3rd largest prison system in the country.

Almost $800,000 of those contributions came from GEO and, if you recall, they are headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida – which happens to be in the Southern third of the state.

  • In Texas, private prison companies and their PAC’s have given over $130,000 to candidates since 2006.
  • In Arizona, CCA gave $10,000 to the “Yes on 100” campaign, a state sales tax initiative heavily promoted by the governor.
    • By coincidence, the state has since reopened the contract process for 5,000 prison beds despite a 2010 internal state audit that found that private prisons cost taxpayers more money per inmate than public operations.
  • In New Mexico, GEO and CCA have contributed over $38,000 to the campaigns of New Mexico Republicans in recent years, including $25,000 to the campaign of the current Governor, Susana Martinez. 
  • In Tennessee – home to CCA – nearly $60,000 was donated to local and state parties in 2010 alone. Over $179,000 has been donated since 2006.
  • CCA alone has spent $14.8 Million dollars lobbying various Federal agencies from 2003 to 2010 including The Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Bureau of Prisons.
  • Georgia, which is the 3rd state to pass an anti-immigration bill similar to the one passed by Arizona, also appears to have profited from private prison largesse: State Senator Donald Balfour received $7,750 in campaign contributions between 2006 and 2010;  Governor Deal received $5,000 in 2010 and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle has received at least $7,000 from CCA since 2006; Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers has received $3,500 from CCA since 2008.

     These examples in no way make up a complete picture of the money being spent to further the cause of privatization. Indeed, this is just a small number of the contributions made and examples can be found in every state.

     Of course, direct campaign contributions and lobbyist’s money are not the only ways people in a position to influence prison populations – and oversight – profit from all of this. Outright ownership of stock in CCA, GEO and many other companies owned by – or providing services to – the private prison industry is another way, and if there are laws regulating ownership, it must be emphasized that it is next to impossible to enforce them. Especially when a multitude of seemingly innocuous other public companies have a stake in all of this, too.

     Take, for instance, GEO’s purchase this year of Behavioral Interventions, Inc. BI uses technology to monitor 60,000 non-incarcerated individuals for 900 agencies nationwide and GEO recently paid $415 Million dollars for the company. However, if you own stock in Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo, Barclays, or JPMorgan Chase, you helped finance the acquisition.

     Apart from campaign contributions, lobbyist’s money, and stock ownership there is also the myriad relationships between government and business that should be questioned.

     The single most self-serving relationship would have to be that created by the “American Legislative Exchange Council”, or ‘ALEC’. Consisting of 2000 state legislators and 250 private and corporate citizens, including employees of CCA. ALEC is based in Washington, DC, and is actually engaged in criminal justice discussions in the U.S. Congress as well as in state legislatures. ALEC is a public policy organization that promoted tough-on-crime legislation and principles such as privatization.

      It was during an ALEC meeting that CCA employees and a legislator named Russell Pearce crafted a model legislation that later became almost word for word, Arizona’s controversial Anti-Immigration Bill SB1070.

     ALEC’s current push around the country is centered around illegal immigrant bills such as Arizona’s (and now Utah and Georgia) as well as sex offender legislation, focusing on two groups that are unpopular with the media and the public in general.

     According to one source, 40% of CCA’s business is done with the Federal Government. Much of it in immigrant detention which is the area where CCA obtained its first Federal Government contract in 1983.

     Why does this country prefer to pay to keep an illegal immigrant locked up for 20 years for drug smuggling, or some other crime, and then deport them rather than just deport them upon conviction under the threat of serving their sentence should they return?

     At $60 per day per person could CCA have influenced that decision? (The Federal Government pays over $60 per day for CCA to house detainee’s at the Stewart Detention Center, the largest immigration detention center in the country, located in Georgia, among others located across the country.)

     According to reports obtained by national public radio, CCA believes that immigration detention is “the next big growth market for privatization”.

     The simple fact that ‘ALEC’ exists at all is disturbing – if not outright frightening – in and of itself. It seems to function as a government within our government that has no public oversight or accountability.

     Public officials meeting in private with corporate entities to discuss public policy matters and make recommendations to legislative bodies on state and national levels which will financially benefit some – or all – of the participants in those discussions, with no public discourse or record of the proceedings does not follow this writer’s understanding of the principles of this great country. Indeed, ‘ALEC’ deserves further in-depth scrutiny by the very public on whose behalf they are supposedly working.

     To this writer ‘ALEC’ could more accurately be described as a cancer that needs to be eradicated from the government body before it spreads to the very heart of this country.

     Consider that ‘ALEC’s’ corporate funders include CCA and used to include GEO Group. A past co-chair of the “Criminal Justice Task Force” – a group within their group – was Brad Wiggins, who is a highly placed CCA employee. As for GEO’s involvement, outgoing COO Wayne Clabrese, on November 11, 2010, told a large community gathering that GEO had withdrawn from ALEC years earlier because of the obvious conflict of interest involved in creating legislation that insured an increased supply of prisoners.

     Certainly, when one looks at the countless other individual relationships and “cross pollination” (the author’s term) between CCA/GEO and state and federal governments enough red flags should go up and warning bells go off to alarm even the most skeptical of individuals.

     In Texas, for instance, well-known and well-connected individuals are employed by CCA and GEO to further the cause of prison privatization.

     Following is a list of lobbyists employed by GEO Group in 2007:

  • Ray Allen who , in 2003, was Chairman of the Texas House Corrections Committee. At the same time, he was lobbying for a private prison company outside Texas. His salary with GEO – $100,000 per year, and he was quoted in the Dallas Morning News as saying he was “tired of being broke” when he resigned in the middle of his 7th term, in 2006 to take the job.
  • In 2007, then House Speaker Tom Craddick was lobbied on behalf of GEO by Bill Miller – who once served on Craddick’s Transition Team and as a consultant – and also by Michelle Wittenburg who served as the Speaker’s General Counsel. Both were paid $50,000 for their efforts.
  • The highest paid lobbyist for GEO in 2007 was Lionel “Leo” Aguirre who was both a state and federal lobbyist and was paid a salary of $250,000. Aguirre was a former Executive with the Texas State Comptroller’s Office, and is the widower of Lena Guerrero, who served 3 terms in the State House and was also the first Latina Chair of the Texas Railroad Commission in 1992.

     In addition to its lobbyists in Texas, GEO’s local attorneys also have close ties to state government:

  • In 2007, Carlos Zaffirini, husband of State Senator Judith Zaffirini, was a lawyer for the GEO Group and lobbied on their behalf before the Webb County Commissioner’s Court.
  • GEO also used the Brownsville, Texas law firm of State Representative Rene Oliveira as its local defense counsel. The senator’s cousin, David Oliveira – a partner in the firm – has represented GEO in a lawsuit against them alleging misconduct that one court described as “reprehensible”.

     GEO is not the only one well-represented in Texas; CCA hired Mike Toomey to lobby for them. Toomey, one of three consultants for “Texas Lobby Group”, is a former three term Texas House of Representatives Member. In his biography, Toomey bills himself as the “only individual in Texas history to be Chief of Staff for two Texas Governors”.

     In Florida, GEO employs 16 lobbyists. Additionally, the following items should serve to further provide evidence of the extent of “cross-pollination” employed by these companies:

  • GEO donated $25,000 to Governor Rick Scott’s inaugural celebration in January.
  • Donna Arduin was a top transition budget advisor to Scott. She is also a former trustee of a GEO Real Estate Company – “Correctional Properties Trust”.
  • Jorge Dominicis is head of GEO Care, GEO’s Correctional Health Care Subsidiary. Does Dominicis have a strong background in the health-care industry? Not exactly, but he does know his way around the Florida State House in Tallahassee – for years he was well-known as a lobbyist for the sugar industry.

     In Arizona, where CCA’s influence has already been demonstrated, it is perhaps easier to understand that influence when one considers the following facts:

  • The Governor’s Deputy Chief of Staff is Paul Senseman, who is a former lobbyist for CCA. Senseman’s wife is a current lobbyist for CCA.
  • Chuck Coughlin is one of the governor’s policy advisor’s as well as her campaign chairman. Coughlin’s company, “High Ground Public Affairs Consultants”, currently lobbies for CCA.

     “Cross-pollination” is not limited to the south, however, as evidenced by some recent job changes in Ohio Governor John Kasich appointed Gary Mohr to head the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections. Mohr is a former consultant and managing director for CCA. Conversely, CCA hired Kasich’s former Congressional Chief of Staff, Donald Thibaut, as a lobbyist in January.

     As this article is being written, Ohio is in the process of selling 5 prisons to private companies through a bidding process. CCA is one of the three (GEO and a company from Utah, MTC are the others). Mohr has stated in a memorandum that he will not be involved in the process.

            Excuse me – may I raise my eyebrows here?

    State-level government does not have an exclusive on “cross-pollination” where prison privatization is concerned of course. On the federal level, Stacia Hylton was recently appointed heard of the U.S. Marshal’s Service. Until 2010, Hylton was the Federal Detention Trustee.

     During Hylton’s tenure, the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee awarded several contracts to GEO. In between the Office of the Federal Detention Trustee and her recent appointment to head the U.S. Marshal’s  Service, Hylton worked as a consultant for GEO, and now as head of the Marshal’s Services will house federal detainees in privately owned institutions.

    Some, coincidentally, are owned by GEO.

    CCA, on the other hand, dipped into the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) talent pool, first in 1992 when J. Michael Quinlan resigned as its director and went to work for CCA, and again in 2011 when, in June, CCA announced the hiring of Harley Lappin as its new Executive VP and Chief Corrections Officer. Lappin had served as Director of the BOP from 2003 until May 7 of this year when his resignation took effect. As Director of the BOP, Lappin would have overseen government contracts with CCA worth 10’s of millions of dollars. CCA spends approximately $1 million dollars annually lobbying at the federal level alone.

“There is a time when we must firmly choose the course we will follow, or the relentless drift of events will make the decision for us.”        Herbert V. Prochnow

     The time is rapidly approaching when the citizens of this country are going to have to quote a phrase from my Mother and say “Enough is Enough!”

     The reasons will be clearer when I continue telling you about the Slave Traders of the 21st Century.

“Crimes and Their Punishments: the Goose, the Gander and the Little Old Lady”

‘All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’                                George Orwell

 ‘ I have observed something else under the sun: the fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle.  The wise sometimes go hungry and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives’            Ecclesiastes 9:11 NLT

    Life is not equal, nor fair, but right should be right and wrong should be wrong and is shouldn’t matter whether it is a Federal wrong or a state wrong.  Right?

   Wrong.  Not all state crimes are federal crimes and vice versa, but where they are similar, the sentences meted out certainly are most assuredly not.

    As I stated in an earlier posting, I was robbed and beaten a couple of years ago and – in the ensuing court case against my assailant – was required to disclose my federal arrest for possession of child pornography to both the state’s attorney as well as the assailant’s attorney.

    At one point, the state’s attorney told me that had my charges been state charges instead of federal I would have never gotten a prison sentence – I would have been given probation.

   Unfortunately for me – and my family – it was a federal charge and probation is almost never an option.

    Take the case of our ‘Goose’.

   In a 24 May 2009 story found on www.signonsandiego.com, a federal judge sentenced a 68-year old Vietnam War hero to 37 months in a federal prison for possession of child pornography.  This was less than the prosecutor was asking and more than the probation his lawyers sought.

   The man was Wade Sanders and he was decorated with the Silver Star, Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, and other Navy Commendations during his service in Vietnam.  He had much support throughout his ordeal including a character reference from Sen. John Kerry.

   A therapist who had been treating him testified he was not a danger to children, and several mental health experts who examined him concluded he was not a pedophile.

   When his seized computers were analyzed, they showed that he frequently viewed ALL kinds of pornography.

Now let’s ganger at the Gander. . .

   From a recent issue of “Prison Legal News” we learn that in California on 28 Jan 2011, former Riverside County Probation Officer Elizabeth Z. Nolan pleaded guilty to a felony charge of unlawful intercourse with a minor.

   As part of a plea agreement, 16 other counts – including oral copulation with an minor and rape by force or fear – were dropped.

   Nolan was accused of having sex with a juvenile offender over a period of several months; at the time her husband was a Riverside County Prosecutor.

    She was sentenced to ONE year in jail in February 2011.


   Our Goose gets 3 years and 1 month for pictures, while the Gander gets 1 year for unlawful intercourse with a minor (and with 16 additional counts dropped).

   Hmmmm. . . . .

   It is not uncommon in the federal system for people convicted of crimes involving pictures to receive 6-10 -12-15 or more YEARS in federal prison. I’m not talking about those who profit from producing and distributing child pornography.

   I am not – in anyway, shape or form – excusing my behavior or anyone else’s who views this material, but we DO need to stop and put things in perspective.

   My own sentence was 51 months – one of the shorter sentences among the men with similar charges I have met here.  Almost 5 years.

   On June 17, 2010 in a Dutch court, five Somali men were convicted of attempting to highjack a cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden in 2009.  “Piracy is a serious crime that must be powerfully resisted” said Judge Jan Willem Klein Wolterink.

   He sentenced each of them to 5 years in prison.

   It is not uncommon for people convicted on the state level of actual ‘hands-on’ crimes against children to receive lesser sentences than those meted out on the federal level for cases involving only pictures.  Nor it is unusual – with increased levels of “good time credit” on the state level and the possibility of parole, which the federal government abolished in 1984 – for someone who actually molests or otherwise harms a child to serve 1/3 or even 1/4 of the prison time as that of a federal inmate serving time for possession of pictures only.

   The same is also true in drug cases.  Federal laws are stricter, with more mandatory minimums than most states. Yet even the states take up more bed space – and money – incarcerating non-violent offenders when violent offenders are allowed to roam the streets.

   Most of the laws passed have been brought into existence with much fanfare on behalf of the legislator sponsoring the bill. This “tough on crime” stance can then be parlayed into votes come election time.

    Actually, if you want to fight crime, it is necessary to fight 2 of its main causes – poverty and lack of education – am putting more people in prison for greater periods of time accomplished neither while draining valuable resources that could be used for both.

   Is the American public any safer or are we just wasting money we don’t have?  Is the average man, woman, or child really at increased risk in this day and age or has the media just used the saturation and sensationalization of isolated cases as a means to capture its audience and foment fear?

   None of country’s prison policies make much sense, but those policies do make a lot of $$$$ !

   The truth is that so many billions of dollars are at stake here that it is all about profits and votes.

   There has been much written about the prison – industrial complex that has risen from almost nothing in 1980 to the behemoth it is today.

   Although what I am capable of doing here is no more than scratching the surface, I will put together some statistics for next time which may cause someone to delve further into the whole problem on their own.

   Perhaps it will be easier to understand how any talk of shrinking the prison systems raises the protective nature in people – not to protect you, but to protect their jobs, profits and stock portfolios.

   Interesting stuff, indeed.

   But wait!!

   What about the “little old lady”?

   According to USA Today, back in December 2009, a school bus stopped to discharge a 5-year old Karla Campos in Marietta, Georgia.  The child was struck and killed by a car driven by an elderly woman who – apparently – panicked when she saw the bus and little girl and plunged her foot down on the gas pedal thinking it was the brake.

   The purpose of the article in the USA Today was to announce that Edith Main Anderson, age 87, had been released from prison after serving 76 days of her 3-year sentence.

   What in the world are we doing?????

“Crimes and Their Punishments”

       “The contagion of crime is like that of the plague.  Criminals collected together corrupt each other.  They are worse than ever when, at the termination of their punishment, they return to society.”                      Napoleon Bonaparte


        “To reject the law is to praise the wicked; to obey the law is to fight them.”                                                              Proverbs 28:4 NLT

    I have given thought to the idea of a series with this title for some time now.  My thoughts centered on the notion that I would try to accomplish several different purposes as it progressed.

    The first purpose would be to demonstrate, through various collected newspaper clippings and magazine articles, a disparity in sentencing for crimes in this country that is just too pronounced to ignore.

     The second would be to raise awareness as to alternatives to incarceration that are available now and would be more effective, less costly, and less destructive to the family as a whole than incarceration, for it is important to note that the collateral damage to families that is a component of incarceration is beyond calculation.

    This last purpose would be to establish how incarceration has – in the last 30 years – evolved into nothing other than legal slave-trading in the 21st century, and how – while the cost to the taxpayer to support these intentionally draconian, and lobbied, prison terms continue to skyrocket – individuals and secret companies continue to pocket astronomical profits in ways that should be considered unethical at best, and illegal at worst.

    Let me first say that I am not an advocate of lawlessness nor am I a coddler of criminals.  I believe we must be a nation of laws, that people should be expected to abide by those laws and – if they choose not to – there must be consequences.

    Individuals must stand up and take responsibility for their own actions.  A growing part of the societal problem we face is that we have allowed ourselves to always seek excuses for our behavior, or sought out someone else to blame.

    While supportive of me and certainly well intentioned – to say nothing or appreciated – the reader’s recent comments that I was too hard on myself and that the internet – as the devils playground – was to blame are way off mark. 

    In fact, this entire world is the devil’s playground, but simply because that is the case doesn’t mean that we have to succumb to all of the temptations placed before us.

   The simple fact of the matter is that it was a lack of character and a life of living contrary to God’s basic laws of morality, decency, and respect that enabled me, over time, to descend lower and lower morality to the point where I was willing to romp in the devil’s playground. 

     Once someone has broken the laws of this nation, what should be done with them?  That is one of the questions we will look at.  Mind you, this is not a series about “sex offenses” exclusively, although they will certainly be included.

     Rather, I hope that what is ultimately written – and read – here will help people see how ridiculously ineffective, immoral, immature, wasteful and self-serving our approach to problem solving is.

     Perhaps some younger, sharper, more focused minds than mine will grasp a thread of truth from my ramblings and gather enough of that thread to weave a tapestry of insight into the fact that not only is the ruling class of this generation leaving them with the enormous burden of an incomprehensible and inexcusable government debt, but we are also locking people away for such lengths of time as to make them – upon their release – their problem as loser. 

     It is not only unfair, it is not necessary, and the unequal treatment of criminals can only serve to point out that something is certainly wrong and in need of repair.

    Next time, we will begin by looking at disparity in sentencing and we will look at specific cases.

     As an example, I will leave you with these two cases to ponder- one state, one federal.

     Perhaps someone out there can tell me the thought process behind it all.


The State Case

On February 14, 2011, Beverly Hill, defense attorney Michael H. Inman pleaded no contest (same as guilty) to a felony charge of trying to smuggle 14.25 grams (1/2 ounce) of heroin into a Los Angeles County Jail where he was visiting two incarcerated clients. 

The Federal Case

In Boise, Idaho a Florida man – Jeffrey Dickman pleaded guilty to a charge of guiding a deer hunt in Southeaster Idaho without a license and illegally shipping deer meat across state lines.

Their Sentences:

-The Heroin smuggler was sentenced to 120 days in jail and 3 years probation.  He could get out in 60 days.

-The deer meat smuggler was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison.  (Supervised release unspecified) He will have to serve 15 months.

Hmmm. . .