Tag Archives: prisons for profit

…Under (HB 315), a gang can be any three people who share a name, symbol or leader, or who have been identified as a gang by any state or the federal government…


 

The Kentucky House and Senate are poised to pass a bill this week that is both unnecessary and likely to be costly in terms of both money and human potential.

If it reaches him, Gov. Matt Bevin should veto House Bill 315, the so-called gang bill. It flies in the face of the evidence-based criminal justice reforms Bevin has pushed as governor.

Last June, Bevin appointed his non-partisan Criminal Justice Police Assessment Council, saying he wanted “a smarter, compassionate, evidence-based approach.Senate Bill 120, passed this session to improve employment opportunities for people leaving prison, was a result of CJPAC’s work.

HB 315 didn’t come from CJPAC, and that’s no surprise. There’s no evidence it would reduce gang activity but its broad and vague definitions and heavy-handed punishment provisions will mean that young people who have committed low-level, non-violent crimes could spend a long time in prison with little hope for the “second chance” Bevin so vigorously supports.

Sponsor Rep. Robert Benvenuti, R-Lexington, said HB 315 is based on a similar law in California, prompting Senate President Robert Stivers to ask when Kentucky modeled itself on California.

Good question.

Even more concerning, California’s STEP Act, passed in 1988 to “seek the eradication of criminal activity by street gangs,” hasn’t achieved that goal. A 2009 study of the measure reported the opposite: “harsher sentences for minor gang related crimes may actually increase gang commitment because individuals are forced to join gangs and strengthen their gang ties in order to survive in prison.”

Without question, HB 315 would increase our already staggeringly high prison population — over 23,000 state inmates and a $530 million annual budget. The Corrections Impact Statement on HB 315 estimated the cost at over $38 million over time.

Criminal gangs are real and responsible for crimes that deeply damage our communities. People should be punished for recruiting others into gangs, as they can be under existing Kentucky law.

In the almost 20 years since that legislation passed, there have been 22 convictions under it, including six in 2015 and none in 2016.

There will be more convictions under HB 315 because it casts a wide net in defining gangs and what it takes to tag an individual as a gang member.

Under it, a gang can be any three people who share a name, symbol or leader, or who have been identified as a gang by any state or the federal government. Their “pattern of criminal activity” could be crimes committed by one or more members at any time over five years.

The evidence a gang actually exists includes identification by an informant, a member’s parent or guardian or participation in photos or social-media interaction with gang members.

Think about it: many young people have hundreds of social-media contacts: long-ago classmates, friends of friends, former co-workers and team members. If one of them is identified as a gang member, then so can all his or her “friends.”

The results are catastrophic if the gang label sticks. Judges lose most discretion over sentencing. A Class B misdemeanor such as harassment — now subject to up to three months in jail or simply a fine — would carry a mandatory sentence of 76 to 90 days. Felony charges must be prosecuted for one level more serious when the gang element is present and those convicted must serve at least 85 percent of the sentence.

So, a Class C felony that carries one to five years in prison, with possibility of parole with 20 percent of time served becomes a Class B with five to 10 years and a minimum of 85 percent served before possibility of parole.

These mandatory prison terms not only fill up jails and prisons at enormous cost, they also discourage rehabilitation. Consider, a person sentenced to five years with the possibility of parole after a year, is motivated to participate in drug rehab or career-oriented classes.

But with a certain four-plus years inside, motivation shifts away from rehabilitation to survival. As noted in the California study, people join gangs to survive a long term in prison.

“Gang” is another in the long line of frightening terms invoked to bloat the criminal code, fill prisons and drain our treasuries while doing little to make us safer.

Bevin’s right in rejecting this trend. He should stay the course and veto this bad bill.

CONTINUE READING…

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

From Organizing America to Operation Chronic Problem, How Cannabis Prohibition Ruins Lives


 

 

My Bust

 

Katree Darriel Saunders is a 30 year old mother, cannabis activist, and an active member of her community. Katree was living in Las Vegas, NV when she was arrested during a DEA sting called Operation Chronic Problem on the charges of: Conspiracy to distribute marijuana and hashish. For 10 grams of hashish and 3.5 grams of marijuana Katree has had her life as she knew it ended. This dedicated mother lost her family and job for trying to help. Trying to help what turned out to be a lying, conniving, scheming, weasel of a DEA Agent posing as a medical cannabis patient desperate for relief. This is Katree Darriel Saunders story. Her loss, her pain, and what many consider a major injustice as well as a violation of her constitutional rights.

Katree has been addicted off and on to prescription pain pills since the age of 15. In 2007, seeking pain relief from multiple car accidents, Katree Saunders became a medical cannabis patient. Knowing the harmful side effects of pharmaceuticals, plus their lack of effectiveness, Saunders chose medical cannabis. Not only did cannabis end Saunders pain, she was able to stop using prescription drugs all together. As a hardworking mother, Saunders put herself through college and became a positive and active member of her community.

Nevada’s laws prohibited the sale of cannabis in 2007, which forced Saunders to seek it through the black market, known for unsavory individuals who traffic anything from people to weapons to stolen merchandise. Once when Saunders sought cannabis from the black market she was sexually assaulted. This devastating incident convinced Saunders she had to do something. There had to be a way for her to legally and safely obtain her medication.

She contacted the state of Nevada and spoke with Jennifer Barlett, who referred her to Michael McAuliffe of Nevada’s Compassionate Care (NCC). It was there Saunders found her place. She began working with NCC and was helping others away from the black market.

Things were going well for Saunders in February of 2010. She volunteered for a political event called Organizing America where President Barack Obama spoke about healthcare reform. Saunders was chosen to be on stage. She sat in the front row behind the president as he gave his speech. Upon the close, Katree was able to shake hands with the President. While doing so, Saunders said ‘We needed to talk about medical patient’s rights.’ Then, according to Saunders, Obama looked at her and said ‘I’m not prosecuting.’

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Feeling confident and empowered after this Saunders then became active in helping patients obtain their medical cannabis cards from the Nevada state program. Unfortunately, while Saunders was working for NCC, she was set up by undercover DEA agents. They were conducting what was known as Operation Chronic Problem. A federal DEA agent posed as a sick patient asking for help obtaining medical cannabis.

Saunders, being a compassionate person, facilitated this lying individual’s request. Later she was indicted on distribution of a controlled substance. Saunders served four months in prison as well as a lengthy probation since she did not offer up the names of her medical patients.

While on pretrial Saunders was in another motor vehicle accident. This accident totaled her husband’s vehicle and left Saunders with a fractured foot as well as a back injury. She was placed on morphine, Xanax, and MARINOL®. The morphine began to make her heart hurt, so she opted to stop taking it in exchange for MARINOL®. MARINOL® is a synthetic version of a naturally occurring compound known as delta-9-THC. However, since Saunders was on probation, the state of Nevada told her that she could not take MARINOL® since they would not be able to determine if she was consuming cannabis or simply taking the medication.

The State of Nevada Probation Department obtained a court order preventing Saunder’s doctor from prescribing MARINOL® to her. Now, not only was Saunders in trouble for selling 3.5 grams of cannabis and 10 grams of hash, she also lost her job, family and right to medicate.

During her incarceration, her husband divorced her, took the kids and moved away. While in custody at the prison, Saunders says she was ‘sexually assaulted and harassed by US Marshals’.

During Saunders’ trial, her attorneys advised her not to mention anything about her encounter with President Obama. For the 4 months Katree Saunders was incarcerated, the state split her time between a private prison corporation (Corrections Corporation of America – CCA) and a state prison, and earned a minimum of $5,000 for hosting her. The state of Nevada spent an estimated $20,656 per inmate in 2012, and reported 267.9 million in costs. They also claimed to have 15 million dollars in prison related costs outside of the state budget. This is where states and private prison corporations make big dollars housing criminals. In the case of cannabis consumers, these corporations make out like bandits.

 

Imagine charging $21,000 a year to house someone who was busted selling or possessing cannabis. In Saunders case, that 13.5 grams of cannabis, with a street value of $150, cost taxpayers over $20,000 to put her through the system. That doesn’t include the cost of the actual arrest, which stands at $1,500 to $3,500 with booking, paperwork, police officers fees, donuts, etc.

Saunders fought hard to break away from prescription drugs, but in the end they were her only option. Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, has been making billions off victims. Purdue Pharma is involved in countless lawsuits and their officials have admitted to deceitful and immoral medical practices, yet they are still making money. These are the ones that presidential candidate Bernie Sanders speaks out about when he refers to the top one-tenth of 1%.

In 1993 the DEA allowed pharmaceutical companies to produce 3520 kilos of a drug known as oxycodone. Twenty-two years later they are manufacturing 137.5 thousand kilos of the same drug. That is an increase of 39 times in the manufacturing of this controlled substance. Since President Nixon founded the DEA in 1973, they have done nothing but prosecute those who attempt to possess, grow, or in any way affiliate themselves with cannabis.

Medical cannabis helps millions of people across the United States and world to find relief from pain and suffering. Cannabis helped Saunders break her addiction and take back control of her life. Cannabis is a safe treatment alternative for many illnesses, as well as the management of symptoms associated with a broad array of medical complications. Prescription drug addiction, of course, is a problem that is not only plaguing the United States, but the whole world.

Saunders’ battle with a prescription drug addiction from a young age illustrates the carelessness of the medical industry in allowing doctors to over-prescribe dangerous medications. It has also enabled them to receive substantial kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies in the process.

According to ABC News, America consumes over 90% of the world’s hydrocodone and 80 percent of the planet’s opioids. The United States of America makes up only 4.6 percent of the planet’s population. This opioid problem has destroyed mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters. Children and soldiers suffer horrendously because of our country’s support for the pharmaceutical industry. Children suffer by being denied medication that could in fact actually help them, and at times even cure them. Children also suffer by losing parents who are consumed by prescription drug addiction. Soldiers who protect our freedom, often with their own lives, suffer from illnesses such as PTSD. They are sometimes denied a natural treatment, such as cannabis, to help with their symptoms.

The Doctors Enforcement Agency

The DEA licenses more than 600,000 surgeons, doctors, and podiatrists to administer prescriptions for narcotic pain relievers. According to NORML (National Reform of Marijuana Laws), in 2011 there were an estimated 1.5 million registered medical cannabis patients living in the United States of America. The sad side of this is that the laws pertaining to medical cannabis forced so many to seek their medication on the black market.

The public seems to believe that we think cannabis is the new cure-all, and other medications should be eliminated. This is not true. Common sense will tell you that there are many medical advancements today which have led us to the most sophisticated and advanced techniques and cures. During this evolution we have managed to de-evolve at the same time, through the abuse of prescription drugs, as much the fault of patients as it is the doctors doing the prescribing. Some individuals get prescription pain pills in large quantities because the doctors will prescribe them. Some individuals do not even take their medication. Instead they sell them on the street. When doctors prescribe as much as 100 to 300 pills at a time, with an average price of $10 a pill, some people can make an extra $3,000 a month.

Prohibition Has Failed and it’s Hurting America

The prohibition of cannabis that began in the late 1930s has devastated countless numbers of American lives and destroyed families across the country. The FDA will approve OxyContin for 6-year-olds but will not support cannabis oil. This is an absurd violation of human rights. The United States of America has held the patent for medical cannabis since 2003. This means that they knowingly have information that solidifies and validates medical cannabis as an effective treatment. This also means that the DEA and FDA know, and have evidence, that cannabis is medicine.

For the past 12 years the DEA has left cannabis as a schedule 1 narcotic. This puts it in the same class as heroin and cocaine, that it has no medicinal value. They have lied to the American people kept the public sick, and now some laugh at us while the cannabis community is trying to change laws to better the world around us.

The Dogs of the Feds

The DEA regularly raids medicinal cannabis facilities and Indian tribal lands. They arrest, abuse, neglect and destroy the lives of countless cannabis consumers. Medical patients and recreational consumers alike suffer the wrath of the DEA everyday. There are no public benefits from cannabis prohibition! The medicinal aspects combined with potential taxes are unquestionably positive. The simple implementation of taxation on cannabis will help to eliminate the black market. This puts a lot of politicians, local sheriffs, and other individuals out of extra income they have enjoyed for years.

Katree Saunders felt the wrath of the DEA during Operation Chronic Pain and now you know her story. From being hooked on prescription drugs at 15, to meeting the President of the United States, to prison, to an avid cannabis activist, Saunders’ struggle is all too familiar to many Americans, except for meeting Mr. Barack Obama.

Help support America by being a seed. One seed can tip the scales of injustice. Are you that seed?