Tag Archives: prisoners

DO PRISONERS HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIFE?


Sonni Quick

Recently I watched a Conservative/Catholic news station on TV.  There was an interview with the executor of a religious political group. I failed to write down the names. There was a video of a meeting he participated in with Trump. This man’s concern was if there was enough protection for the right to life beginning at conception. I understand people are very divided on this issue and each side has their own reasons. This is not about that debate. Although I see validity in each reasoning,  neither side is going to convince the other.
This is my question. Do people – after they are born, have the right to life as well? Who cares about these babies after they are born that were forced to be born, especially to people who don’t want them, don’t give them up for adoption, abuse and neglect them and life gets no better from there. Where are the right to lifers then? What have these people done beyond wanting the babies born? Which of these children have they helped love, feed and protect from harm? Words are cheap and have no value.
Let me carry this a little father. Do prison inmates also have a right to life? If a man who is deathly ill that needs a programmed regiment to stay alive have the right to have that regiment followed in prison, because if it isn’t he will die – and he does, in a very short period of time? Does Corizon, a prison medical corporation have the right to claim they aren’t responsible? It’s not their fault? Really? You will find this article further down.
There are many examples of prisoners who obviously also don’t have the right to life. Their lives don’t matter. Why? They were conceived. They were born. Many are imprisoned by being forced to take a plea. Many are imprisoned longer than they should because of mandatory minimums. Many are innocent, and many are guilty. Many are mentally ill, and many should never get out because they are dangerous, often made that way by inhumane treatment while they are locked up. Isn’t that criminal.
But no matter the reason, many are sick with a variety of diseases. Some were already sick when they were jailed or incarcerated. Some were made sick over time from years of extremely poor quality of food with the lack of good nutrition. Some people became mentally ill because of being of being in prison often from being isolated. Regardless, they don’t get the treatment and medication they need. Anything that costs money, and they can get away with not providing it, they don’t. The bottom line is the lack of caring by people who work in these institutions. Many people commit crimes of all kinds but don’t get caught. These people did get caught or were unfairly locked up, but they are all looked at with disdain and are not treated with compassion even if they are at death’s door, as if it serves them right if they died. 815 people have died in jails since Sandra Bland’s death in 2015. ( See the article below from Prison Legal News.)

My experience is with what Jamie, the man at the center of my writing, has been through with epilepsy. He knows what seizure medication works best in controlling his seizures and they won’t supply it. I tried to intervene and talked with the medical unit to no avail. One separate problem he had diagnosed concerning his heart – pericarditis – wasn’t being treated. When I questioned them about the medication he was supposed to take I was told, what problem? It had been taken out of his file completely. That’s an easy way to get rid of an illness – erase it.

Further down the newsletter are some examples of what the medical corporations get away with, as well as poor medical care in the jails and juvenile detention centers. It’s inexcusable. Where are the right to lifers now? These people started out as babies. Many babies born now will end up in foster care. 80% of prisoners were raised in foster care. That percentage is scary high. The right to life should apply to everyone. It is not just about unborn babies, it’s about human beings. More people need to be aware humans come at all ages. No one should be swept under the carpet.

This is an interview with a half dozen or so inmates talking about the conditions inside prisons. I’ve heard these same stories from inmates everywhere about brown watar coming from the faucets, undercooked food from dirty kitchens, diseases that are prison wide and untreated medical problems. It’s an interesting interview. Also, check out their facebook page


When I started the ITFO newsletter during 2016 it was for a couple reasons. It is important to me to help educate people on issues with the prisons they may not know about.  Sometimes, on the facebook page, JamieLifeInPrison I will get comments that show me the person didn’t understand what was going on. But maybe that person didn’t know anyone who went through the system and relied on what certain media outlets telling people what they wanted them to think. They would write comments like, ” If they don’t to get treated badly, they shouldn’t have committed a crime.” or “If they do the crime they have to do the time.” That means they are unaware of how unfair our justice system is toward non-whites. It doesn’t mean there are no whites inside, but the percentages of the population on the inside should mirror the percentages on the outside – unless they believed the propaganda that black people have a gene that makes them more likely to commit a crime, which is bizarre, unless you were racist and wanted to believe it..
We are learning now, through other things that are happening in our government that it takes people getting mad and standing up, to change the wrongs that are happening. The youth stood up during the Viet Nam war, but for the most part a large segment of society has not fought back against injustice. Now this government wants to make criminals out of protesters because they don’t want people to fight back.  This time, finally, people aren’t laying down and taking it.  Do you remember the movie years ago, I think it was called “Network”? Everyone opened their windows and yelled outside, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!”  That is how I feel. People in the prisons are being hurt, abused and starved. When the effects of that treatment causes medical problems, or if they entered the prison with illnesses and they get away with not giving them the proper care they deserve as human beings, it makes me angry. I have seen what that inhumanity has done.
I have family and friends who ask me why I spend so many hours of day doing something they think is pointless because what can one person do? But if you go through life with your head in the sand or maybe not doing something because it would take too much effort, I don’t call that living. I feel the only true legacy we leave behind is the effect we have on others. If it helps change someone’s life and they carry it forward then that part of you lives on.
Jamie Cummings has been a part of my life for over a decade.  We came into each other’s lives for a reason.  It hasn’t been one-sided. I have witnessed him growing from a boy to a man, helping to teach him things he didn’t have an opportunity to learn.  I teach him hope.  I teach him it is up to him to create the life he wants and not just let life slap him around. He knows I will be there for him when he gets out. Unfortunately, society is not forgiving of x-felons.  It is like the word ‘felon’ is tattoo’d on the forehead. Even if a sentence is completed they often have to keep paying.
I am doing my best to write a book worth reading, one that will bring benefit into his life – and mine.  Through the sales, and this is book one of 3, it has the possibility of helping him get the education he needs and possibly using the books to get through the doors where he can help others with his experience. There are books written by inmates about the crimes that put them in prison and even how bad they were during the years in prison, but that is not what this is about. It is about the human element and how those children raised in lower income neighbors have been pushed down the pipeline created for them with the end result already written for them, filling a prison bed. This book examines that pipeline from the first breath he takes.
Chapter one takes place sometime in a present year in prison to set the stage of where he ended up.  Chapter two goes back to his birth, which was traumatic because he was having an epileptic seizure coming out of the birth canal and wasn’t expected to live. Book one goes until age 22 when he is sent to prison.  The second book is more detail of prison until he reaches close to getting out. Book three is the process of getting out and what happens after.  Obviously it will take some time before all books are written.  I hope enough interest will be created for people to want to find out how he fares and what he accomplishes. He was first locked up before he turned 17.  He is now 34.  He will be almost 40 when he gets out, so book three will take him into at least his early 40’s.
I need your help.  I’m hoping you will share this with people on your own social media accounts.  I know many of you share blog posts from his blog at mynameisjamie.net.  I need very much to keep increasing my mailing list to reach people who are not already connected to me somehow. Anytime you share a newsletter or a blog post you have my sincere appreciation. When the book is done, those people on the list will be able to get the ebook version for free.

SOURCE LINK

It’s not just about Marijuana, anymore…We are in a war for the right to food and water


 

Above:  Old bottle of Paregoric. Circa 1940s. The large red X on the label indicates that it was classified as an “exempt narcotic”, sold without prescription even though it contains morphine. Until 1970, paregoric could be purchased in the United States at a pharmacy without a medical prescription, in accordance with federal law.  Credit: Wikipedia

 

While you are reading this article, listen to THIS VIDEO OF GATEWOOD GALBRAITH – It may change your life!

 

It’s not just about Marijuana, anymore…

Oddly enough, I never believed that it was.  I was filmed in an interview by a couple in Cincinnati in 2005 who asked me why I was in this ‘movement’.  My reply was that it was because I wanted to know the REAL truth about why Marijuana was illegal because it damn sure wasn’t because someone wanted to sell timber and Newspapers.  “This is just a very small part of a much bigger agenda”, I told her.  I wish I had a copy of that interview!

When the 2014 Farm Bill was passed many businesses started up because of the fact that Hemp was officially allowed to be grown and sold, under specific guidelines of course, but nonetheless grown and sold. 

When I first started out writing about Cannabis prohibition I wasn’t too overly concerned about Agenda 21 and the taking of our rights to farm, have and/or use any kind of plant, I thought they were just after the “narcotics”.  It didn’t take too long to figure out that this just wasn’t the case.  But there were very few people who understood the ramifications of Agenda 21 and it’s far reaching effects out there, and even fewer who wanted to hear about it because everyone was under the impression that the U.N. and our own Government was there to protect us and they “wouldn’t do something like that”.  I was a “conspiracy theorist”.

The public is kept pretty much in the dark about what is happening at the U.N., because there is so many branches, divisions, offices, lack of media news coverage and also just the fact that most people work and have kids and do not have the time to sit down and listen to the news everyday, and then research it out on the internet!  They are just now beginning to see the effects of what I believe was a “test case” when the U.N., effectively made it illegal to consume Cannabis.  A test case for what?  Their ability to be able to control and regulate every plant known to man, especially the ones that can be consumed by us for food and medicine, i.e., Cannabis and Hemp, and to watch what our reaction would be.  How hard was it going to be to regulate us and contain us?  Apparently, it wasn’t too hard.

First, a little background on the U.N. and Agenda 21 because that is where they have Cannabis/Marijuana (and the rest of our food and medicinal plants) wrapped up:

The “League of Nations“, founded in 1920, was the start of what would become the “United Nations” in 1941.  The U.N. is responsible for Agenda 21 (Agenda 2030).  The U.N. is also responsible for the UNODC (U.N. Office of Drug Control), and the DEA is an extension of that, used to enforce drug regulation and drug law in the U.S. 

Roosevelt suggested the name (United Nations) as an alternative to “Associated Powers”

The U.N. was set up as a guise and sold to the people as a way …

…to defend life, liberty, independence and religious freedom, and to preserve human rights and justice in their own lands as well as in other lands.

The United States is a signatory country to Agenda 21, but because Agenda 21 is a legally non-binding statement of intent and not a treaty, the United States Senate did not hold a formal debate or vote on it. It is therefore not considered to be law under Article Six of the United States Constitution. President George H. W. Bush was one of the 178 heads of government who signed the final text of the agreement at the Earth Summit in 1992.

Are we fighting a war that we just cannot win?

March 19, 1991: Plant Breeders’ Rights Extended in Newly Revised UPOV Convention

Revisions to the International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants strengthen the intellectual property rights of seed developers. The convention was created in 1961 and is one of several international conventions and treaties that operate under the umbrella of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The convention’s governing body is the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV). The newly revised UPOV agreement extends the term of plant breeders’ intellectual property protections for new varieties from 15 years to 20 years. It also prohibits farmers from saving seeds, though there is an optional clause that allows member countries to exempt farmers from this restriction under certain conditions. For example, the clause says the restrictions can be waived if member countries implement other mechanisms that provide equivalent protections for the “legitimate interests of the breeder.”

The top 10 seed companies account for $14,785 million – or two-thirds (67%) of the global proprietary seed market.  The world’s largest seed company, Monsanto, accounts for almost one-quarter (23%) of the global proprietary seed market.  The top 3 companies (Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta) together account for $10,282 million, or 47% of the worldwide proprietary seed market.

Obviously it is  not just about Cannabis, although that is the focus of the drug war because of its illegality causing so many hundreds of thousands or more innocent people to be hurt, imprisoned, even killed and executed over a “treaty” that the U.S. and other signatories used to start the biggest control scheme ever brought down on mainstream humanity, as a whole.  The war over the right to plants.

There is an interesting article about the “top ten” used to be legal drugs on a site called TOPTENZ.  But that is only the beginning of a long list of plants which have been controlled since the beginning of the 20th Century and especially after 1970.  Thank you, President Nixon!  The DEA is the enforcement agency for the UNODC. 

The Drug Enforcement Administration was created by President Richard Nixon through an Executive Order in July 1973 in order to establish a single unified command to combat “an all-out global war on the drug menace.”

RELATED:  “Rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to purposes and principles of the United Nations.”

In 1970 the Controlled Substances Act served as the national implementing legislation for the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs   which was/is an international U.N. treaty  to prohibit production and supply of narcotic drugs and directs that they cannot be sold or used except under certain conditions as set forth by the U.N. for medical treatment .

Through this link CBD’s have officially been placed into Schedule I of the CSA, essentially meaning that as it stands right now, effective January 13, 2017, it is illegal to sell any CBD product as a cosmetic or health care product of any kind.  Final Rule : Establishment of a New Drug Code for Marihuana Extract (December 14, 2016)

There will be a battle over this because the people who have started businesses based on the 2014 Farm Bill were under the impression that they were a legal business.  And as far as I am concerned the DEA, up until this point let them believe that they were. The “Hoban Law Group”, a leading Law Firm in the industry of Cannabis has already promised to debate this in Court.

Hoban surmises, “The feeling is that this is an action beyond the DEA’s authority and we believe this is unlawful and we are taking a course of action for our clients. This Final Rule serves to threaten hundreds, if not thousands, of growing businesses, with massive economic and industry expansion opportunities, all of which conduct lawful business in reliance upon the Federal Government also acting pursuant to law, and as ordered by the Ninth Circuit in 2003 and 2004. We will see the Federal Government in court.”

Meanwhile, the DEA imposes a new rule and the CBD Manufacturers and Sales will have to  fight it out in court while the little people watch and wait and are scared to open the door to police because they have CBD products in the house.  They could be charged with a crime and sent thru Hell in a handbasket.  But this feeds the system too.  Through the police, jails, courts and lawyers and the medical system, which will feed everyone else from the construction people who will build the jails, hospitals and offices though to the sanitation workers who pick up their garbage and other refuse.  The flow of commerce and paper money, the “Law of Commerce”.  In fact, The Harrison Narcotics Tax Act of 1914 was the U.S. attempt to control and regulate narcotics through taxation and the Law of Commerce, in accordance with the 1912 Convention.  The Hague International Opium Convention in 1912 was the beginning to the U.N. control of “drugs” – and plants.

Congress has often used the Commerce Clause to justify exercising legislative power over the activities of states and their citizens

Who is ultimately responsible for the loss of our Human Rights?  Are we not all guilty because it has happened on our own watch, and our parents, and grandparents watch, and we just weren’t paying enough attention?  My Father was an avid watcher of the nightly news, on all two stations.  I was the remote control that he used to switch back and forth between them so that he could catch all of it, because he knew, even in the 1960’s that the media was only telling you what they wanted us to hear.

What could we have done differently?  Our Parents and Grandparents spent most of their lives fighting in WWI and WWII.  By the time they made it home from Iwo Jima they were not able to fight a war against their own government over plants and medicines.  They did not even realize that they needed to!  

What can we do in the future, or FOR the future?  For a start, the power of REPEAL should be utilized, all the way back to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs  in 1961, if not before.  Timothy Leary was successful in getting the 1937 Tax Act on Cannabis Repealed.  However, this did not happen until 1969 and by early 1970’s the CSA was born. 

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is the statute establishing federal U.S. drug policy under which the manufacture, importation, possession, use and distribution of certain substances is regulated. It was passed by the 91st United States Congress as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 and signed into law by President Richard Nixon.[1] The Act also served as the national implementing legislation for the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs.  The legislation created five Schedules (classifications), with varying qualifications for a substance to be included in each. Two federal agencies, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration, determine which substances are added to or removed from the various schedules…

During the last decade, opposition to Agenda 21 has increased within the United States at the local, state, and federal levels.[18] The Republican National Committee has adopted a resolution opposing Agenda 21, and the Republican Party platform stated that “We strongly reject the U.N. Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty.”

If things are to change around the world and in the U.S. on a peaceful basis, everyone is going to have to pay attention and get political!  I really do not know how to tell everyone to begin, especially those who work two jobs and still can’t afford a place to live for their families.  At the same time they are slaving to provide, they are going to have to pay attention and get political to change things. (?)  There is only 24 hours in a day, and that is what the U.N. is banking on.  That we just do not have enough time to figure the plan out and do anything about it, because we are all too tired from just trying to survive!  In a video by the late great Attorney Gatewood Galbraith (KY), he said;  “if you don’t get political, it will end up in the streets, and nobody wants to go there”…

The only other choice is just to ignore the “Law” around you and live as you can…until you get caught.  Then you end up property of the “correctional institute” of THEIR choice.

#GodBlessYouALL

Sk

 

 

For thought…

When chocolate was first discovered in the New World, the almighty Roman Catholic Church banned it as an addictive, mind- altering, sexually-stimulating drug. Well, it is. Now it is eaten by billions of people, even nuns and virgins, without people going rabid sexually.

If George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were alive today, they would both be facing a Mandatory Minimum Sentence of 5-40 years in Federal Prison for growing more than 100 Cannabis plants at their homes; Ben Franklin would be in prison simply because he was an opium addict, as would most of our Founding Fathers of America who used opium and hemp, had home alcohol stills, and illegally smuggled rum and moonshine to avoid taxes.

It would not stretch matters to say that the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 (P.L. 59-384, 34 Stat. 768), also known as the Wiley Act, stands as the most consequential regulatory statute in the history of the United States. The act not only gave unprecedented new regulatory powers to the federal government, it also empowered a bureau that evolved into today’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The legacy of the 1906 act includes federal regulatory authority over one-quarter of gross domestic product, and includes market gatekeeping power over human and animal drugs, foods and preservatives, medical devices, biologics and vaccines.

 

 

 

#Hastags:

#EndDEA #EndProhibition #ReformUN #EndDeathPenalty  #REPEALtheCSA   #PlantsRights #VeteransRights #ChildrensRights #PrisonersRights #USMJParty

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paregoric 

 

https://usmarijuanaparty.net/history/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_United_Nations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/League_of_Nations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agenda_21

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_Six_of_the_United_States_Constitution

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_H._W._Bush

http://www.toptenz.net/top-10-drugs-that-used-to-be-legal.php

https://www.dea.gov/about/history.shtml

https://kentuckymarijuanaparty.com/2015/10/26/rights-and-freedoms-may-in-no-case-be-exercised-contrary-to-purposes-and-principles-of-the-united-nations-how-the-united-nations-is-stealing-our-unalienable-rights-to-grow/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controlled_Substances_Act

https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/fed_regs/rules/2016/fr1214.htm

http://m.marketwired.com/press-release/dea-hurts-growing-industry-exceeds-its-authority-regarding-scheduling-controlled-substances-2183399.htm

http://www.votehemp.com/2014_farm_bill_section_7606.html

 https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2016/12/20/899140/0/en/Earth-Science-Tech-Announces-the-Development-of-3-New-Advanced-Formulated-Cannabis-CBD-Nutraceuticals-and-2-Cannabis-CBD-Based-Pharmaceutical-Drugs-under-its-Cannabis-CBD-Patent-IP.html

http://thelawdictionary.org/commerce/

https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/commerce_clause

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leary_v._United_States

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Leary

http://www.goodmedicinebadbehavior.org/explore/history_of_prescription_drugs.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harrison_Narcotics_Tax_Act

https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/frontpage/the-1912-hague-international-opium-convention.html

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Iwo_Jima

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5moSy-Ooouk

 

"Gentlemen, in order to produce marked changes in behavior and attitude it is necessary to weaken, undermine or remove the support systems…"


(The following is an excerpt from a blog that I ran across on WordPress that I believe is certainly worth noticing, SK)

gitmo

“Gentlemen, in order to produce marked changes in behavior and attitude it is necessary to weaken, undermine or remove the support systems of the old patterns of behavior and the old attitudes.  Because most of these supports are the face to face confirmation of present behavior and attitudes, which are provided to those with whom close emotional ties exist, it is therefore essential to eradicate those emotional bonds.  This can be done either by removing the individual physically and preventing any communication with those whom he cares about or by proving to him, the prisoner, that those whom he respects are not worthy of it and indeed should be actively distrusted.”  -Dr. Edgar Schein, Sept. 18, 1962

Dr. Schein then presented to the assembled group a literary of suggestions and tactics designed to attain “behavioral modifications” desirable by prison officials to control the thinking patterns of its incarcerated populace and to curtail or reduce an appetite for cultural or political aspirations.  These 24 accumulous and widely implemented tactics & maneuvers are set out below:

1.  the physical removal of prisoners to areas sufficiently isolated to effectively break or seriously weaken close emotional ties.
2.  identify and segregate all natural leaders.
3.  use of cooperative prisoners as leaders.
4.  prohibition of group activities not in line with brainwashing objectives.
5.  spying on prisoners and reporting back private materials.
6.  manipulating prisoners into making written statements which are then shown to others.
7.  exploitation of opportunist and informers.
8.  convincing prisoners that they can trust no other prisoner.
9.  treating those who are willing to cooperate in a far more lenient way than those who are not.
10.  punishing those who show uncooperative attitudes.
11.  systematic withholding of mail and other correspondence.
12.  preventing contact with anyone non-sympathetic  to the method of treatment and regimen of the captive populace.
13.  disorganization of all group standards among prisoners.
14.  building a group conviction among the prisoners that they have been abandoned by, and totally isolated from their social order.
15.  undermining all emotional support.
16.  preventing prisoners from communicating with family and supporters regarding the conditions of their confinement,
17.  making available and permitting access to only those publications and books that contain materials which are neutral to, or supportive of the desired new attitude.
18.  placing individuals into new and ambiguous situations for which the standards and rules and policies are deliberately kept unclear and then putting pressure on the prisoner to conform to what is desired in order to win favor and a reprieve from the pressure.
19.  placing the prisoner whose will power has been severely weakened or eroded into a soft living environment with others who are further advanced in their brainwashing reform who’s job is to influence the teetering prisoner to give up and assimilate into the desired behavior.
20.  using techniques of character invalidation, i.e., humiliations, revilements, shouting, isolation; to promote sensory deprivation, to induce feelings of guilt, fear, and suggestibility.
21.  meeting all insincere attempts to conform with the desired thought patterns with renewed hostility.
22.  repeatedly pointing out to the prisoner that those prisoners whom he respects as a leader and example of strength is not living up to the values and militant principles that he espouses.  supplanting the thought that all other prisoners are hypocrites and liars.
23.  rewards for submission and subservient attitudes which embrace the brainwashing objectives by providing praise and emotional support to those who embrace the desired behavior(brainwashing) which reinforces the new attitudes.
24.  making sure that if a once militant prisoner is ever revealed as being a snitch or a homosexual, that all prisoners learn of his disgrace in order to create doubt and misgivings in the environment.  Creating false rumor, character assassination on a militant prisoner.

CONTINUE READING…

The message they are sending to striking workers is, we will only give you coverage if things turn ugly


Image result for china prison

Thousands of prisoners in over 24 states began a labor strike on September 9, the 45th anniversary of the Attica prison uprising, to demand better conditions and healthcare, the right to unionize and what one organizing group calls an “end to slavery in America.” But one would hardly know it watching major U.S. media, which has mostly ignored the largest prison labor strike in history. One week on, the New York Times, Washington Post, NBC News, ABC News, MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, and NPR have not covered the prison strikes at all.

In the same time period since the strike began, CNN has run stories on Clinton’s “body double,” the New York Times ran a piece on women getting buzzcuts and ABC News had an “exclusive trailer” for its parent corporation Disney’s upcoming film. There was certainly enough airtime and column inches to mention that workers had coordinated a national strike of unprecedented scale, but for these outlets the coverage has been nonexistent.

A handful of national outlets have covered the strike: The Nation, City Lab,Engadget, Money Watch, Buzzfeed, and as of Thursday, the Wall Street Journal, but every other major publication, network news and cable network has thus far been silent.

When we spoke by phone, Azzurra Crispino, media co-chair of Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, one of the strike organizers, was hesitant to be too hard on the press out of hope the strikes would lose coverage in the future. But after some prompting, the four-year prison abolitionist veteran listed a few measured grievances at the media. Her most consistent theme was that to the extent the strikes were being covered, the focus was on spectacle over substance, and in doing so the media was making nonviolent resistance all but impossible.

“I’m a pacifist, I would like to see the strikes remain nonviolent,” Crispino told AlterNet. “Yet in terms of the mainstream press coverage when there’s blood on the ground the prisons have to fill out reports that guards were hurt so then they can’t deny strikes occurred,” she said in reference to the stonewalling of prison officials. The few reporters Crispino had spoken to said most prison spokespeople denied any strikes were taking place. “Between prisoners and TDCJ [Texas Department of Criminal Justice], who do you think reporters are going to believe?” she asked.

The power asymmetry and the media’s default position of siding with government officials over those seen as criminals creates just one more barrier to coverage. At its core, coverage of the prison strikes, as with any protest action, has an inherently perverse incentive structure that puts a premium on acts of violence and property damage and overlooks non-telegenic peaceful activity, such as hunger strikes and labor stoppages.

This dynamic was seen in the Standing Rock incident on September 3, when private security sicced dogs on Native American activists protesting an oil pipeline, and pictures of injured protesters went viral on social media. At the time, only Democracy Now, a relatively small left-wing news show, and AP and UPI filed original reports on the incident. Days after what the media called “clashes,” articles appeared with far greater frequency, including in major outlets like New York Times, CNN and NBC.

This warped incentive structure is even more pronounced in prisons, which are by definition cut off from society. The only time anyone bothers to notice prisons is when demonstrably violent action takes place.

“Which of the strikes are getting the most attention? Florida because they’re violent,” Crispino says, in reference to the September 7 uprising at Homes Correctional facility in the Florida panhandle. “They can’t deny in Florida because prisoners are setting things on fire and there’s been so much structural damage they can’t deny strikes are occurring.”

A similar dynamic is at work when prisoners are in solitary confinement or engage in body mutilation or destruction of property, often by flooding their cells or covering them with feces or blood. Similarly, Crispino contends, each time the media ignores peaceful activities, it tips the scales further in the direction of fires, property damage and rioting.

But this reason doesn’t fully explain the lack of mainstream coverage. A few outlets, as noted, have covered the strike to the extent they could, especially in the buildup to the protest, so it’s not as if there wasn’t enough information to compile a story.

One possible reason is that some of corporate media’s biggest advertisers use prison labor, so the disincentive to shine a light on the problem is high. AT&T, Bank of America, Chevron, Eli Lilly, GEICO, McDonald’s, and Walmart all use prison labor and all are sponsors of corporate media so much we can recite their commercials by heart. One corporation that uses prison labor, Verizon, even owns major media outlets Yahoo and Huffington Post.

Russia Today, a Moscow-funded media outlet, was the only cable news network to speak with Crispino, and to the best of her knowledge, the only one to cover the strikes. When Donald Trump appeared on RT last week, there was a frenzy of outrage by mainstream pundits, with some questioning why Trump would give credence to “Russian government-controlled propaganda.” RT’s position has always been that it covers stories the mainstream press doesn’t, and while some may see this as a cynical marketing ploy, in the case of the prison strikes it also happens to be true.

Another issue for IWOC is that all the coverage thus far, even in sympathetic outlets, has ignored their broader political aims, which is prison abolition, not reform.

“The IWOC is an abolitionist organization,” Crispino said. “Abolition is pretty much completely ignored. It’s interesting because people ask questions about that and they ask what would you do instead, but no one wants to hear that and they never write about it.” That the media is allergic to ideology, to having deeper discussions about our society’s core axioms and why the U.S. has 25% of the world’s prison population but 5% of the total population, is perhaps too knotty for a 800-word writeup but for those working in the trenches it can be frustrating.

As the strike enters its second week, perhaps major media outlets and cable news will take a cue from activist media and the Wall Street Journal (whose report is worth reading) and shine a light, if only briefly, on the largest prison strike in history. If not, Crispino feels other tactics will eventually become more commonplace.

“I almost want to say, the mainstream media is complicit if there’s violence. The message they are sending to striking workers is, we will only give you coverage if things turn ugly.”

Adam Johnson is a contributing analyst at FAIR and contributing writer for AlterNet. Follow him on Twitter @AdamJohnsonNYC.

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In NC prisons, synthetic marijuana has emerged as a deadly threat


K2, one of the commonly used brands of synthetic marijuana, is widespread in North Carolina’s prisons. Medical experts say it poses serious health risks.

K2, one of the commonly used brands of synthetic marijuana, is widespread in North Carolina’s prisons. Medical experts say it poses serious health risks.

By Ames Alexander

and Gavin Off

aalexander@charlotteobserver.com

goff@charlotteobserver.com

 

North Carolina prison officials are grappling with a growing threat – synthetic marijuana, which is suspected in the death of at least one inmate and the hospitalizations of dozens of others this year.

Known by brand names such as K2 and Spice, synthetic marijuana is readily available online. It’s marketed as a safe alternative to marijuana. But in reality, it’s addictive and can be far more dangerous than marijuana, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Using it can trigger seizures and suicidal thoughts, elevate blood pressure, and increase the risk of heart attacks.

I can smell it burning right now.

James McElreath, an inmate at Scotland Correctional Institution, speaking about the widespread use of synthetic marijuana in North Carolina’s prisons

Officials began seeing K2 in the North Carolina prisons about two years ago, according to prison spokesman Keith Acree.

“Since then, dozens of inmates have been out to local hospitals as a result of K2 use, some of them with hospital stays of more than a week,” Acree told the Observer.

Several inmates interviewed by the Observer said that K2 has become widespread in the prisons – and that most of it is brought in by correctional officers.

“I can smell it burning right now,” James McElreath, an inmate at Scotland Correctional Institution, said during a recent telephone interview.

State prison leaders have acknowledged that most contraband in maximum security facilities is smuggled in by staff members.

Among the recent emergencies tied to synthetic marijuana:

▪ In January, 10 inmates at Harnett Correctional Institution were hospitalized after suspected overdoses from synthetic marijuana.

▪ In May, 14 prisoners at Hyde Correctional Institution were hospitalized. Again, K2 was suspected as the cause.

▪ In June, a 38-year-old inmate at Caledonia Correctional Institution was found dead in his cell. State prison officials said the victim, Charles Moss, may have been using K2.

Death of an artist

Fellow inmates believe synthetic marijuana also played a role in the recent death of David Wise, a 58-year-old prisoner at Scotland Correctional Institution, about 100 miles southeast of Charlotte.

Wise, an artist whose work had been displayed in galleries on the Outer Banks, had been serving time for drug offenses and assault by strangulation. He was scheduled to be released in 2018.

But on the afternoon of Aug. 2, a fellow prisoner found Wise unresponsive on his bunk. Inmate James K. Jones told the Observer that Wise had been smoking K2 with another prisoner about noon that day. A few hours later, Jones found Wise looking gray and lifeless.

“I thought he was dead,” Jones said.

Dozens of inmates have been out to local hospitals as a result of K2 use, some of them with hospital stays of more than a week.

Keith Acree, a spokesman for the North Carolina prisons, writing about the toll that synthetic marijuana is taking on the state’s inmates

Wise was taken to a local hospital, where he died two days later. Doctors found he had suffered a heart attack.

An autopsy concluded that Wise died as a result of heart disease. But medical examiners did not test for synthetic marijuana in Wise’s body. A spokesperson for the state Department of Health and Human Services said medical examiners don’t test for synthetic marijuana unless investigators ask them to do so.

Acree said prison officials initially thought that K2 might be a factor in Wise’s death, but “the medical information we were getting from doctors and the hospital did not support that.”

McElreath, the inmate at Scotland Correctional, said he’d also had seen Wise using K2.

“I told him that’s insanity,” McElreath said. “He’d say, ‘Hey man. I wish I could stop, but I’m a drug addict.’ ”

McElreath says he has seen inmates so impaired by K2 that they have attempted to jump from the second tier of a cellblock.

“I’ve seen them laying on the concrete floor swimming like they were on a lake,” McElreath said. “I’ve seen them freak out, crying, screaming for their Dad or Mom.”

‘On the lookout’

Prison officials say they are trying to educate inmates about the perils of synthetic marijuana. Prison leaders have incorporated information about K2 into inmate orientation, and have put up posters in inmate living areas warning of the dangers.

“Prison staff are constantly on the lookout for it,” Acree wrote.

Manufacturers make synthetic marijuana by spraying mind-altering chemicals on dried plant material. It’s often advertised as potpourri or herbal incense, but those who smoke it are generally looking to get high.

A 2015 report by the federal Centers for Disease Control found that the number of people nationwide who had died from synthetic marijuana had tripled over the previous year.

North Carolina legislators outlawed the manufacture, sale and distribution of synthetic marijuana in 2013.

State Rep. Craig Horn, a Weddington Republican who helped sponsor the legislation, says synthetic marijuana is less prevalent in stores than it used to be. But he acknowledged that it is still available online, and that some manufacturers are trying to skirt such laws by including a disingenuous warning on their packages: “Not for Human Consumption.”

If anything, Horn says, he has become more worried about synthetic marijuana.

“This stuff is getting more dangerous because it’s getting more potent,” he said. “The folks who make this stuff constantly push the envelope.”

Ames Alexander: 704-358-5060, @amesalex

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MotherJones.Com "My four months as a private prison guard", by Shane Bauer


Have you ever had a riot?” I ask a recruiter from a prison run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA).
“The last riot we had was two years ago,” he says over the phone.
“Yeah, but that was with the Puerto Ricans!” says a woman’s voice, cutting in. “We got rid of them.”
“When can you start?” the man asks.
I tell him I need to think it over.

I take a breath. Am I really going to become a prison guard? Now that it might actually happen, it feels scary and a bit extreme.

Read Why Our Reporter Worked at a Prison

From the editor: Why we sent a reporter to work as a private prison guard

I started applying for jobs in private prisons because I wanted to see the inner workings of an industry that holds 131,000 of the nation’s 1.6 million prisoners. As a journalist, it’s nearly impossible to get an unconstrained look inside our penal system. When prisons do let reporters in, it’s usually for carefully managed tours and monitored interviews with inmates. Private prisons are especially secretive. Their records often aren’t subject to public access laws; CCA has fought to defeat legislation that would make private prisons subject to the same disclosure rules as their public counterparts. And even if I could get uncensored information from private prison inmates, how would I verify their claims? I keep coming back to this question: Is there any other way to see what really happens inside a private prison?

 

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What Happened To Gynnya McMillen?


A week after Gynnya McMillen died at the Lincoln Valley Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, police have yet to release a cause of death. The 16-year-old girl was found unresponsive in her holding cell on Monday, January 11th.

McMillen had only been in the detention center for 24 hours following an altercation in her home.

“The child was the perpetrator in the incident and the parent did receive minor injuries,” said Kelly Cable, spokesman for the Shelbyville Police De­partment. “We contacted the court-designated worker. The juvenile was transported to Lincoln Village on a charge of assault fourth-degree – domestic violence with minor injury.”

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Trouble Behind Bars: When Jail Deaths Go Unnoticed


 
By: R.G. Dunlop October 5, 2015
Mugshot of Larry Trent taken after his July 5, 2013 arrest by Hazard Police. Trent was booked into Kentucky River Regional Jail for an outstanding bench warrant and on a charge of operating a motor vehicle under the influence.

HAZARD, Ky.—Larry Trent was just one of the 154 or more inmates who died in a Kentucky jail during the past 6½ years.

Arrested on July 5, 2013, in his car outside a Hazard doughnut shop, the 54-year-old Trent told police he drank “about four beers and mouthwash” before driving to the store with his 10-year-old grandson.

Booked into the Kentucky River Regional Jail, Trent couldn’t post bond, so he remained in custody. Four days later, he was dead, allegedly the victim of a fatal beating by two jail deputies.

Within 48 hours of Trent’s death, jail Administrator Tim Kilburn completed a required report for the state Department of Corrections and classified Trent’s death as a homicide. And a few weeks later, the two deputies were charged with manslaughter, accused of killing Trent by “striking, kicking and restraining” him.

The case is still pending, and a federal civil-rights investigation is ongoing. But Trent’s estate already has received a $2.375 million legal settlement — one of the largest in the state during the past 15 years.

The Department of Corrections doesn’t investigate jail deaths. “That would fall to law enforcement,” said department spokeswoman Lisa Lamb.

The department’s responsibilities do, however, include ensuring the safety of inmates and staff, as well as enforcing jail standards, such as those related to training. But DOC documents provided recently to the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting give no indication that the department found anything related to Trent’s death that merited its attention.

For example, the documents list Trent’s cause of death simply as an “altercation” in the jail. An internal DOC memo written after Kilburn’s report says little except that Trent “became combative” and that “use of force was necessary” to subdue him. And although the accused killers served as the jail staff trainers, department records don’t indicate a need for more or better training.

Trent’s is by no means the only in-custody death involving a jail inmate that raises questions about the aggressiveness and thoroughness of Department of Corrections’ oversight.

A months-long investigation by KyCIR found that at least several inmate deaths for which the cause is listed in DOC records as “natural, “unknown” or “autopsy pending” appear to have involved jail staff lapses, misconduct or indifference.

And the Department of Corrections’ own findings and follow-up in those cases were sketchy or nonexistent, despite evidence that the deaths were preventable.

Over the next five days, the “Trouble Behind Bars” series will show numerous Kentucky jail inmates have died or been injured because officials at all levels of government failed to ensure their health and safety.

The causes of more than 40 percent of all Kentucky jail deaths in the past 6½ years are listed ambiguously in department records, with the cause of death variously given as “unknown,” “natural” or “autopsy pending” — even though many of those deaths occurred years ago.

When KyCIR recently asked the department for more current, specific information about the unclear, years-old causes of death, DOC responded that it had none.

The department refused to say whether it followed up on jail deaths, and if not, why not.

“The Department of Corrections has been responding to your questions regarding county jails to the best of our ability for the past 10 months,” a DOC statement read. “We do not have anything further to add on this topic.”

In another case, the DOC list of deaths shows that Valerie Jones, a disabled veteran, died of “heart disease” after being jailed in LaRue County in September 2009. But a lawsuit filed by Jones’ family alleged that she was not properly treated for severe pain, and that she was left in her cell when she desperately needed medical attention.

More than five years later, DOC records still list the autopsy in her case as “pending.” The lawsuit was settled in 2011 for $92,859.

Danny Burden in the summer of 2012, less than a year before his death.

family photo

Danny Burden in the summer of 2012, less than a year before his death.

The death of Danny Burden isn’t listed at all in the department’s compilation of jail deaths. Burden was discovered unconscious in the Grant County jail in March 2013 and later died at an area hospital. A civil suit filed by his family and alleging neglect is pending. A state police inquiry found that Burden, a diabetic, badly needed insulin but did not receive it.

The Department of Corrections, however, found nothing to warrant concern — or action. The department would not comment on the omission of Burden’s death from their list of jail deaths.

A KyCIR examination of the Grant County jail, one of the state’s most troubled and the focus of a U.S. Justice Department investigation for more than a decade, shows lax government oversight and little action following Burden’s death and at least two others that seemingly could have been prevented by jail staff.

During the past 6½ years, a Kentucky jail inmate has died an average of about once every 15 days. But in-jail deaths generally are not of interest or concern to the public at large, said Louisville attorney Greg Belzley, who has filed several dozen lawsuits over the past 15 years alleging wrongdoing in connection with inmate deaths.

No lawsuit often means no accountability, Belzley said. When a jail inmate dies, “People may look it and say ‘s—, another one gone, thinning the herd,’” Belzley said. “There is no question that some deaths that aren’t litigated involve wrongdoing that never gets exposed.”

About three-fourths of the state’s jails have incurred at least one inmate death since 2009. Oldham County Jailer Mike Simpson said no one had died in his jail since the 1990s. And while he didn’t think that fatality could have been prevented, he said, “when something like that happens, we all have a little bit of ownership.”

Incomplete Accounting of Deaths

In Kentucky, the DOC’s incomplete death data show that at least 33 of the 154 deaths have been suicides. Suicide is the single-most frequent cause of deaths in jails across the country, and it has been for at least the past 15 years.

That’s at least partly because large numbers of people housed in jails have significant emotional problems, because jail staff often aren’t trained to deal with them, and because jail conditions can exacerbate or trigger those mental-health issues, said Preston Elrod, a professor in the School of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University.

Among the deaths reviewed by KyCIR were two suicides that occurred in 2010 at Grant County’s jail. The Justice Department has asserted in a document obtained by KyCIR that the two suicides there resulted from “serious breakdowns in jail medical care.”

Grant County Detention Center

R.G. Dunlop / KyCIR

Grant County Detention Center

Carl Lewis hanged himself in the jail on April 11, 2010. He had been placed in a cell by himself with a bed sheet, despite the fact that he was deemed a suicide risk and had what the Justice Department later called a “history of suicidal ideation.”

Justice Department documents show Lewis was given antidepressant medication in a quantity “that was likely too low to be effective.” He received no other mental-health treatment in jail, DOJ found.

The jail’s own inquiry into Lewis’ death, by contrast, concluded that “all operational procedures, medical procedures … were followed professionally and correct.” Nor did the state police or the Department of Corrections find any fault with the jail in connection with Lewis’ death, or that of the other Grant County jail suicide in 2010, involving Derrick Rose.

“Any time you have a fatality in a jail, there should be a very careful investigation and assessment of what went wrong, what happened,” said Elrod, the EKU professor. “Unfortunately, in so many instances, the only way you’re probably going to get closer to an understanding of what happened is if there’s a lawsuit where the parties become compelled to produce evidence.”

Judge Raises Questions

That’s what appeared to have happened in the case of Shannon Finn: minimal if any probing by the Department of Corrections, yet significant revelations come out in court.

On March 17, 2009, Finn was arrested and booked into the Warren County Regional Jail for a probation violation. The following day, he began to shake, sweat and act erratically. He was put on a “detox protocol” and given medication for alcohol and drug withdrawal.

Three days later, a deputy found the 34-year-old Finn lying in a puddle of blood and yellow liquid in his isolation cell. Soon after, he was pronounced dead.

(Listen to the radio version of this story on 89.3 WFPL News)

The family filed a civil suit, and a jury exonerated jail staffers at trial. However, U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley concluded in a pretrial opinion that there was ample evidence of questionable conduct.

Among other things, McKinley noted that a jail deputy did not intervene after discovering Finn on his knees, shaking and mumbling. And a nurse neither contacted the jail’s medical director nor sent Finn to the emergency room, McKinley wrote.

Despite jail policy that characterized alcohol withdrawal as a medical emergency, deputies had received no training regarding its symptoms and dangers, according to the judge.

The department’s listing of jail deaths says only this about Finn: "Found unresponsive–KSP (Kentucky State Police) investigating."

Reporter R.G. Dunlop can be reached at rdunlop@kycir.org or (502) 814.6533.

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Obama commutes sentences for 46 nonviolent drug offenders


The White House announced Monday that President Obama had commuted the prison sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders, bringing the total number of commutations issued by the president to 89.

That’s far higher than his two predecessors. Former President Bush commuted the sentences of 11 people, and Former President Clinton did so for 61 people.

"These men and women were not hardened criminals, but the overwhelming majority had been sentenced to at least 20 years. Fourteen of them had been sentenced to life for nonviolent drug offenses, so their punishments didn’t fit the crime," Mr. Obama said in a video the White House released on Facebook. He noted that if they had been sentenced under today’s laws, nearly all would have served their time already.

"I believe that, at its heart, America is a nation of second chances, and I believe these folks deserve their second chance," the president added.

The White House also released a copy of a letter Mr. Obama wrote to Jerry Allen Bailey, one of the people whose sentences he is commuting. Bailey was sentenced to 360 months’ imprisonment and 10 years’ supervised release in April 1996 for conspiracy to violate narcotics laws.

"I am granting your application because you have demonstrated the potential to turn your life around," the president wrote. "Now it is up to you to make the most of this opportunity. It will not be easy, and you will confront many who doubt people with criminal records can change. Perhaps even you are unsure of how you will adjust to your new circumstances. But remember that you have the capacity to make good choices."

"I believe in your ability to prove the doubters wrong, and change your life for the better," he adds at the end.

Criminal justice reform has emerged as a rare issue uniting politicians on the right and left. The Corrections Act, introduced by Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, aims to shorten sentences for low-risk federal inmates while also reducing their chances of returning to prison.

A handful of liberals and conservatives — including Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Cory Booker of New Jersey — have introduced the Smarter Sentencing Act. Two 2016 Republican candidates, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, have also signed on to the bill, which would give judges more discretion in sentencing those convicted of nonviolent drug offenses.

Play Video

Hillary Clinton: Criminal justice system "unbalanced"

Paul and Booker have also introduced a bill crafted to complement other sentencing reform efforts, called the Redeem Act (the "Record Expungement Designed to Enhance Employment" Act) to reduce recidivism.

At the federal level, the Obama administration has attempted to reform the criminal justice system without the help of Congress. In 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a change in Justice Department policy to avoid draconian mandatory minimum sentencing rules. The department now charges low-level, non-violent drug offenders with offenses that don’t impose mandatory minimum sentences.

The White House also asked the Justice Department to develop criteria for identifying and recommending non-violent, low-level offenders for clemency if they might have been given less harsh sentences under today’s policies.

"The President’s decision to commute the sentences of 46 more individuals today is another sign of our commitment to correcting these inequities. We will continue to recommend to the President appropriate candidates for clemency, and we will continue to work with Congress on recalibrating our sentencing laws for non-violent drug offenders," Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates said in a statement after the president’s announcement.

Mr. Obama will discuss criminal justice reforms when he addresses the NAACP convention in Philadelphia on Tuesday. On Thursday, he will visit the El Reno federal prison and will take part in the taping of an HBO special on the criminal justice system, making him the first U.S. president to visit a federal prison.

CBS News Political Reporter Stephanie Condon contributed to this story.

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Prison operator sued in death of former marijuana provider


By Sanjay Talwani – MTN News

Connect

Lawsuit (MTN News photo)

 

Prison photo (MTN News photo)

 

HELENA –

The widow of a former medical marijuana provider who died while serving time is suing the operator of Montana’s only private prison.

A federal lawsuit says Corrections Corporations of America failed to give the inmate (Flor) needed medical care while at its Crossroads Correctional Center outside Shelby.

Flor died in August 2012 in a Las Vegas hospital on the way to a federal prison medical facility.

Before that, according to the lawsuit, he endured extreme pain while he awaited an assignment to a federal facility.

His lawyer, Brad Arndorfer, had tried to have him released from prison pending his appeal because of health reasons. And in prison, the lawsuit says, Flor and his family made multiple requests for medical care but did not receive any.

Flor was unable to adequately care for himself or feed himself, and his care was left to other inmates, the lawsuit claims.

Flor was 68 and a co-founder of Montana Cannabis, one of the state’s largest medical marijuana providers. It was shut down in 2011 by federal authorities along with similar operations around the state.

An inquiry to the attorney representing CCA in the case was returned with an email from a CCA spokesman.

Steven Owen, CCA’s managing director of communications, said in the email that CCA could not comment in a particular inmate’s case. But he said staff are firmly committed to the inmates’ health and safety.

He also said CCA meets or exceeds all of the standards of the U.S. Marshals Service, the Montana Department of Corrections, and the American Correctional Association.

"The facility and staff are subject to strong oversight by on-site monitors who regularly inspect and audit our processes for delivering care," he said in the email.

The suit was first filed on May 6 in state District Court in Yellowstone County. It has moved to U.S. District Court in Billings and was re-filed there Monday. CCA, based in Tennessee, has not yet filed a response.

Arndorfer filed the suit on behalf of Flor’s widow, Sherry Flor, and did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking comment.

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