U.S. man jailed for years without trial dies by suicide

Rikers Island

The Associated Press
Published Monday, June 8, 2015 7:36PM EDT

NEW YORK — New York’s mayor on Monday lamented the suicide of a young man who spent three years as a teenager jailed without a trial for a crime he always denied committing.

Kalief Browder, who was 22 when he hanged himself at his mother’s Bronx home on Saturday, had been arrested as a 16-year-old in 2010 on suspicion of stealing a backpack.

He subsequently spent hundreds of days at the troubled Rikers Island jail facility, where he was kept in solitary confinement and was beaten by other inmates and guards, according to his lawyer. He was released in 2013 and was never tried.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said Browder’s story, first detailed last year by The New Yorker magazine, helped inspire his efforts to reform Rikers and the city’s criminal justice system.

"There is no reason he should have gone through this ordeal, and his tragic death is a reminder that we must continue to work each day to provide the mental health services so many New Yorkers need," de Blasio, a Democrat serving his first term as mayor, said in a statement.

Attorney Paul V. Prestia said on The Huffington Post’s livestreaming website, HuffPost Live, on Monday that Browder’s family is deeply saddened by his death.

"It’s shocking. I’m running out of adjectives. And it’s disheartening to be here today," he said. "The extent of the injustice here, it’s a travesty of injustice."

CONTINUE READING…

The prison system in the United States is a profit-making industry. Private corporations operate over 200 facilities nationwide and are traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Prison privatization in its current form began in 1984 as a result of the War on Drugs. While crime rates otherwise remained steady dating back to 1925, the number of arrests quickly exploded. While the War on Drugs initially had a small impact on incarceration, it was President Reagan’s Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 that kick started the prison boom.[1]

Photo of Correctional Officer's patch

CCA houses over 80,000 inmates in more than 60 facilities across the US.

From 1970 to 2005, the prison population rose 700 percent, while violent crime remained steady or declined.[2] Between 1990 and 2009, the populations of private prisons shot up 1,600 percent.[3] Today, the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world – 754 inmates per 100k residents as of 2008.[1] This is roughly 600% that of the rest of the civilized world, with England and Wales having 148, and Australia 126 inmates per 100k residents.[1] As of 2010, private corporations house over 99,000 inmates in 260 facilities nationwide.[4]

Corrections Corp. of America and other private contractors became members of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a non-profit 501(c)(3) association that advocates “tough on crime” legislation.[5] In their 2010 report to the Securities and Exchange Commission, Corrections Corp. of America discussed how drug policy reform threatens their business model:

The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts, leniency in conviction or parole standards and sentencing practices or through the decriminalization of certain activities that are currently proscribed by our criminal laws. For instance, any changes with respect to drugs and controlled substances or illegal immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted, and sentenced, thereby potentially reducing demand for correctional facilities to house them.[6]

To ensure those pieces of legislation aren’t passed, Corrections Corp. of America spent $970,000[7] and GEO Group spent $660,000[8] lobbying Congress in 2010 alone. In Corrections Corp. of America’s Feb 2011 press release, CEO Damon Hininger stated, “…we are pleased our populations have remained strong, in excess of the 80,000 inmate milestone we surpassed late in 2010.”[9] With the 3.2% increase in inmate population over the previous year, Corrections Corp. of America was able to make $511.26M profit, earning their CEO over $3,000,000 in compensation.[9][10]

Private prison proponents claim that private corporations are able to provide the same service more efficiently than the government. However, according to the Department of Justice’s “Emerging Issues on Privatized Prisons” report, private prisons offer at best a 1% cost savings over their government operated counterparts, while at the same time having 49% more assaults on staff and 65% more assaults on other inmates.[11]

Phoning in Profit

Corporations owning correctional facilities is not the only way that prisons and the War on Drugs have been used as a source of income. For instance, even in government-ran facilities, inmates and their families are regularly subject to price gouging by phone carriers.[12][14] While the average cost of a phone call in the United States is 3 cents per minute[15], inmates and their families end up paying between 16 cents and $5.00 per minute.[13] The profits are then split between the carrier and the government body who awarded the contract. In fact, it is not uncommon for the government body to receive a signing bonus from the carrier, like $17M in the case of Los Angeles County.[14] Unlike the public, the Federal Communications Commission has no safeguards against price gouging when it applies to those behind bars.

In the federal prison system, all able-bodied inmates who are not a security risk are forced to work for UNICOR or another prison job.[17] UNICOR, also known as Federal Prison Industries, is a government-created corporation that provides many products and services, including clothing, electronics, furniture, data entry and military hardware.[16][18] UNICOR enjoys a “mandatory source clause” that according to US laws & regulations, forces all federal agencies with the exception of the Department of Defense to purchase products offered by UNICOR instead of the private sector. However, despite the Department of Defense not being required to purchase its products, many defense contractors take advantage of the cheap labor offered by prisons.[18] For example, inmates make as little as 23 cents an hour manufacturing components used in Patriot missiles, which then sell for $5.9 million apiece. Prisoners also made helmets for the military, until 44,000 defective units were recalled due to their inability to stop bullets.[19] Despite its shortcomings, UNICOR generated $854.3M in sales for fiscal year 2008 – of which 4% went to inmate salaries.[16] Much of this money later ends up in the hands of the local government, as the inmates use their salary to pay for phone calls home. In New York, inmates refusing work assignments have been known to be placed in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day until work is resumed.[20] At the same time, it is illegal to import products made using prison labor into the United States.[21]

References

CONTINUE READING…

Indonesia executes 8 drug smugglers by firing squad

(CNN)Two Australians who’d been convicted of drug smuggling were executed Tuesday in Indonesia, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said at a press conference.

The Australians were among the eight drug smugglers put to death on Tuesday, the Reuters news agency has reported, citing local media. The prisoners faced a 12-man firing squad on Nusa Kambangan island in Central Java.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, appearing at a press conference, condemned the executions and said Australia would immediately withdraw its ambassador to Indonesia for consultations.

Abbott called the executions "cruel and unnecessary" because both men, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, had been "fully rehabilitated" during a decade in prison.

Abbott didn’t say what permanent actions, if any, would be taken against Indonesia. "This is a dark moment in the relationship, but I’m sure the relationship will be restored," he said.

The Indonesian government had announced that nine prisoners would be executed, but according to local reports, Filipina Mary Jane Veloso was spared, at least for now.

    Lawyers fighting to delay the death of Veloso, a domestic helper and mother of two, have said they’ve given up their bid after her second legal review was rejected on Monday. This came despite a last-minute personal appeal from Philippines President Benigno Aquino to Indonesian counterpart President Joko Widodo.

    The Australians executed were part of the so-called Bali Nine.

    Chan married his longtime girlfriend Febyanti Herewila in prison on Monday.

    The executions of Sukumaran and Chan come despite the fact that both this week received a court date of May 12 to hear an outstanding legal challenge.

    Lawyers for the men also say Indonesia’s Judicial Commission has yet to properly investigate claims of corruption during their original trial and sentencing. They say three of the men’s Indonesian lawyers had been summoned to attend the commission on May 7.

    It’s a day their families and friends hoped would never come, but it’s also one that Indonesia, despite years of protest and legal appeals, has insisted had to happen.

     

    What you need to know about Indonesia drug executions

     

    Under Indonesian law, the death penalty is carried out by a 12-man firing squad, although only three guns are loaded with live ammunition.

    Prisoners are given the choice of whether to stand or sit, and whether they want to wear a blindfold, hood or nothing. The shots — aimed at the heart — are fired from between 5 and 10 meters (16 to 33 feet), according to Amnesty International.

    On Tuesday, the prisoners’ families were heard wailing as they boarded a boat for what’s expected to be their final goodbyes. Reporters at the port in Cilacap described harrowing scenes on Twitter.

    "Myu’s sister Brintha collapsed in screams. Helen Chan was supported by 2 women. Truly heartbreaking. #Bali9," wrote Nine News reporter Jayne Azzopardi.

    CONTINUE READING….

    Ann Marie Miller: Is ex-MMJ Caregiver Mystery Woman With Burned-Off Fingerprints?

    By Michael Roberts Fri., Aug. 8 2014 at 10:50 AM

    ann.marie.miller.photos.jpg

    A bizarre story out of Ohio in which a woman burned off her fingerprints to hide her identity has a Colorado connection — one that appears to pertain to Ann Marie Miller, a onetime medical marijuana caregiver charged with assorted crimes who was featured in this space on several occasions.

    The name’s the same and many of the details are extremely similar in a story that’s strange and getting stranger.

    See also: Medical Marijuana: Ann Marie Miller Sues North Metro Drug Task Force, Sheriff Over MMJ Raid

    Our first post about Miller dates back to June 2010. Miller told us that she’d been working as an apartment manager at a complex in Adams County when she got into a dispute with the landlord over an alleged theft. A short time later, the landlord entered her apartment to investigate a water leak and found she had numerous marijuana plants.

    Miller said she was both a medical marijuana patient and a caregiver, but the landlord called the cops, who determined she had more plants than was legally allowable. She also complained that law enforcers trashed her place — a claim a police representative denied.

    A few days later, Miller told us she returned to her apartment to find she’d been locked out and her belongings placed in the parking lot — everything except her plants. So she and a friend broke a window in order to get her marijuana back — a decision that ended with her being charged with second-degree burglary and misdemeanor theft in addition to marijuana cultivation.

    The latter charge was listed as a felony even though a law change months later would have made her offense a misdemeanor.

    The following February, Miller filed lawsuits against police over the raid — complaints she created herself. She also decided to fight the felony marijuana charge even though she was offered a misdemeanor deal. The reason? She didn’t want a guilty plea on her record because she feared losing custody of a son born in October. According to her, she’d left the boy home alone when he was just a few weeks old in order to visit the emergency room. As a result, he was taken away from her in the wake of a neglect accusation.

    A month later, Miller said the marijuana charge against her had been dropped, leaving just the theft and child abuse allegations. But the latest developments call this assertion into question.

    The next chapter of the tale is shared by WZVN-TV in Fort Myers, Florida. The station reports that a woman identifying herself as Julia Wadsworth was arrested in Lima, Ohio, after trying to obtain a driver’s license using a bogus birth certificate. But when trying to confirm her identity during the booking process, police discovered she’d burned her fingerprints off.

    Voter registration records showed that a woman named Julia Wadsworth had previously been living in a mobile home in the community of Fort Myers Beach. There, she’d been the caregiver for an elderly resident. But since no one knew if Wadsworth was her real name — and because she otherwise declined to cooperate — the cops circulated a photo of the woman as a Jane Doe.

    Other pics were shared by the Lima News, an Ohio newspaper, including images from a court appearance when she was said to have been acting in a weird manner. Here’s one of those images, as shared on the WZVN broadcast:

    julia.wadsworth.screen.capture.jpg

    The photos inspired a call from a tipster, who said the woman was most likely Ann Marie Miller — and investigators have now said they believe that to be true.

    But is this Ann Marie Miller the one involved in the events detailed above? Well, the Lima News describes her as a “40-year-old disbarred attorney from Virginia” who’d been charged with assorted crimes, including tampering with a vehicle identification number, burglary, assault, stalking, disorderly conduct and threatening language over a public airway owing to a “love triangle” with a “male attorney” who “left her for a paralegal in their office.”

    However, the local sheriff also said Miller is wanted in Colorado for charges that include “burglary, two counts of possession of burglary tools, trespassing, criminal mischief and a felony marijuana cultivation charge.”

    We can’t confirm that the woman in these photos is the Ann Marie Miller with whom we spoke; all of our communication took place over the phone. But if she’s not, it’s a mighty large coincidence. Here’s the aforementioned WZVN report about “Julia Wadsworth.”

    CONTINUE READING….

    Schapelle Corby Newsletter

    Subject: Schapelle Corby Newsletter

    A few issues to report this month:

    1. Schapelle had another traumatic day this week when she was again paraded before the media in the parole office. She was clearly very distressed as she left. Pleas to the authorities and to Canberra has so far gone completely unanswered.

    2. The following was reported on the Facebook group last week. It is positive, but frustrating at the same time.

    INDONESIAN SUPREME COURT JUDGE: “SHE SHOULD HAVE BEEN ACQUITTED”

    In September 2013, Supreme Court Judge, Andi Ayyub Saleh, called for the immediate release of Schapelle Corby. He told reporters that "Corby is not only deserving of parole, but she should have been acquitted".

    He also referred to the AFP, as reported by the Indonesian News Agency, Tempo:

    Ayyub said the case possesses several anomalies, including the chronology of marijuana discovery in Corby’s bag. It was presumed as a mere police setup since Corby has never opened the bag since leaving Australia.”

    In preparing input for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, regarding the clemency application, Mr Ayyub Saleh was studying files relating to Schapelle Corby’s case, including material obtained by The Expendable Project.

    Tempo reported this here (Indonesian):

    http://www.tempo.co/read/news/2013/09/26/063516748/Hakim-Agung-Ayyub-Corby-Harusnya-Bebas

    However, this hugely significant development was not reported by any Australian mainstream media outlet. Not one.

    As usual, they were collectively pushing appalling smears against her family: blatant fabrications which were so flagrant that they had to be channelled through Schapelle Corby’s father, under the protection of “dead men can’t sue”.

    Hard relevant news, and centrally important comments by a Supreme Court Judge, examining the real case for the President, were not presented to the Australian public at all. They were censored.

    This is far from the only recent development in Indonesia.

    Gerry Georgatos is famed for his tireless and courageous campaigning for the Indonesian children who were held in Australian adult jails. During this process, he built a number of relationships within the Indonesian government.

    One such government official told him directly that:

    Schapelle Corby is probably innocent, many of us (in Indonesia) believe or know this but the fault for this is Australia. Why is it so easy to plant illegal drugs in luggage in your airports?”

    Whilst the doors in Indonesia appear to be open, the ranks amongst Australian politicians remain firmly closed.

    Regardless of how incontrovertible and how conclusive the new material is, they remain silent, protecting their own. Further information on this culture of prejudice and self-interest corruption is available via the newly published ‘Business As Usual’ report:

    http://www.expendable.tv/2014/04/background-briefing-business-as-usual.html

    3. And developing news from earlier today, via the following shocking article:

    AUSTRALIA BANS YOUTUBE VIDEOS AFTER GOOGLE REFUSES TO REMOVE THEM

    Take a look at this video: [youtube http://youtube.com/w/?v=q8mrDG5SMIM]. If you are under Australian jurisdiction, you will be presented with the image below. If you are anywhere else in the world, you will see it, and hear it, perfectly normally.

    Another example? Try this one: [youtube http://youtube.com/w/?v=VubG8o5ASGY]. There are a growing number like this, produced by The Expendable Project, which are censored from the Australian people, and ONLY from the Australian people.

    Google, the owners of YouTube, having refused to remove them, were forced to block them from Australian IP addresses courtesy of the Australian authorities.

    Why?

    What is it they don’t want the people to see?

    What is it that threatens the Australian establishment, and its media?

    What are they so scared of?

    They are afraid that the people of Australia might learn the truth: learn how corrupt they are, who they govern for, and what they are prepared to do to anyone who gets caught under the wheels of their greed.

    In a nutshell, they fear an innocent and courageous woman who DID get caught under those wheels.

    Her name is Schapelle Corby, and The Expendable Project has published hundreds of government cables, including dozens of items of ministerial correspondence, which exposes them, by their own hands. It proves exactly what they did to her to protect their own interests.

    It has also recorded and published dozens of interviews with whistleblowers and insiders, like the ones in those YouTube clips above, which are censored.

    SCHAPELLE CORBY
    For the nine years and four months that Schapelle Corby suffered in an Indonesian prison, the Australian government, the AFP, and others within the establishment, knew that she was innocent. But more, they actually suppressed the conclusive proof of this: they buried it and sought to bury her to protect themselves and the commercial interests of Sydney Airport, Macquarie Bank, and those who were funding their gravy train.

    The media went into overdrive to poison public perception, censoring and fabricating at every turn. They have vilified, lied directly, and abused her family and loved ones on a scale which beggars belief. This worked perfectly… at least until the material facts began to appear on the Expendable website.

    Much of this is explained in Max Igan’s must-watch video, which isn’t yet censored:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DmSREvTQhk

    THE GAGGING OF SCHAPELLE CORBY
    On 10th February 2014, Schapelle was released on parole. But she isn’t free. She has to stay in Bali until the end of 2017: trapped in her sister’s home, with the media stalking and hounding her outside, 24×7. It gets worse…

    She is gagged.

    If she speaks and exposes the truth, she will be sent back to prison for over three years. Even if her sister speaks, Schapelle will still be sent back to prison for those years.

    This is a clear breach of her human rights, but everyone is happy and relieved. The government, the media, and the corrupt Australian human-rights industry: all are happy, and silent.

    She has no-one to turn to

    The crimes referred to above remain hidden from the people: the nature of the government and those who control society remains hidden. Indeed, much of the public believe the misinformation they have been fed about Schapelle and her family, and are happy to repeat it online at every opportunity.

    The truth may remain buried, but it remains a serious and significant threat: hence the continued censorship by the media, and the current efforts of Australian authorities to censor YouTube and other networks.

    WHAT CAN YOU DO?
    The first and most important step is to learn the truth for yourself. See it with your own eyes. KNOW what they did. When you have watched Max’s introduction, take a look at the website.

    A good report to read is the following, which demonstrates the corruption in all its glory:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7MjwfM7HGBgb0luLTFld2RkNWs/edit?pli=1

    But take a look at some of the cables, in the reports:
    http://www.expendable.tv/p/expendable.html

    Or watch the full film on the front page:
    http://www.expendable.tv/

    Most importantly… please mirror and spread the material and information, to prevent it ever disappearing. Place the films on social networks across the world, to counter the censorship.

    You can download Max’s introduction from here:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_-17H7xsbB1Ri1hdWxnTWRub3M/edit?usp=sharing

    The Expendable Documentary can be downloaded from here:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_-17H7xsbB1Rm02c1hIaHoxd3c/edit?usp=sharing

    Schapelle Corby has been abused, vilified, smeared, and traumatized for almost ten years, but her remarkable courage has created a window of opportunity, not only to make sure that this never happens again, but to open eyes, and to change society for ever.

    Please help to achieve this by taking the truth to the world, and overcoming the censors.

    Finally, the YouTube video interviews demonstrated at the start of this post can be viewed, via a Chinese server, on the following web page:
    http://www.expendable.tv/2014/05/the-media-insider-interviews-stream.html

    4. Finally, please don’t forget that there is a Facebook page where you can leave messages for Schapelle herself. It is moderated to keep haters and trolls out, so she can access it without fear:

    https://www.facebook.com/SorrySchapelle

    Thank you for caring for her.

    J

    Kathryn

    1- 2

    US widens path to clemency for nonviolent federal drug offenders

     

    The new Justice Department clemency guidelines, which apply to inmates who have served 10 years of their sentence, are designed to alleviate racial disparities left over from tough drug laws.

    By Noelle Swan, Staff writer / April 23, 2014

     

    The US Justice Department Wednesday widened the path to clemency for nonviolent federal drug offenders with an initiative designed to alleviate longstanding sentencing disparities left over from tough drug laws that disproportionately affected black drug offenders.

    The new clemency guidelines apply to inmates who have served 10 or more years in prison and meet other criteria, with some analysts saying thousands of inmates could be affected.

    “The attorney general’s and the president’s actions here are trying to remedy an historic wrong that has detrimented many citizens of color,” says Harvard Law School Professor Ronald Sullivan, director of the Harvard Criminal Justice Institute.

    The move is consistent with the constitutional principle that punishment should be proportionate to the seriousness of the offense, says Sullivan, who chaired President Obama’s criminal justice policy group during the then-senator’s campaign for president. 

    Mr. Obama took his first steps to bring drug sentencing in line with the seriousness of the offense by signing the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, which revamped mandatory sentencing requirements for cocaine-related crime.

    Prior to the act’s passage, predominantly black drug offenders convicted of possessing crack cocaine received mandated sentences that were significantly harsher than those imposed on predominantly white drug offenders facing charges relating to the powdered form of the same drug. Punishments for possession of a given amount of crack were on a par with punishments for possession of 100 times that amount of powdered cocaine. Under the act, that ratio was reduced from 100:1 to 18:1 for newly convicted crack cocaine offenders.

    The new clemency guidelines aim to extend that equity to inmates convicted prior to 2010, but only if they meet several guidelines released by the Department of Justice on Wednesday. To qualify for consideration, inmates must have served 10 years of their sentence, have no other significant criminal record, have no significant ties to gangs or organized crime, and have demonstrated good behavior during their incarceration.

    No one knows exactly how many people will actually meet all of the criteria for consideration, but the number could easily reach the thousands, says American Civil Liberties Union Deputy Legal Director Vanita Gupta.

    “I think [the clemency expansion] marks a turn away from the old business as usual in the federal criminal justice system,” Ms. Gupta says. “That said, it is not going alone to reduce the prison population, which is right now at a crisis point where the federal prison system is 35 to 40 percent over capacity.”

    In July, Senator Dick Durbin (D) of Illinois Sen. Mike Lee (R) of Utah introduced the Smarter Sentencing Act, a bill that would shorten mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders and grant judges more discretion when doling out punishment. The latest version of the bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in January and a similar bill has been referred to committee in the House of Representatives.

    So far, the Smarter Sentencing Act has garnered considerable support from both sides of the aisle.

    However, John Malcolm, a legal fellow at The Heritage Foundation, suggests that the Obama administration’s announcement on Wednesday could jeopardize that support and effectively “poison the well” of congressional bipartisanship.

    “This is a very broad action, it’s very precipitously done. It is sort of thumbing his nose at Congress in the sense of trying to develop any sort of bipartisan solutions here,” Mr. Malcolm says.

    The ACLU’s Gupta sees it differently.

    Several states, including the predominantly red states Texas, South Carolina, and South Dakota, have taken steps to reduce the number of inmates in the state prison system.

    “I think the president is feeling empowered to do this in part because there has been tremendous conservative leadership on this in the states for several years now,” Gupta says.

    CONTINUE READING…

    We live in the only country in the world where a child can be sentenced to be in prison until they die

    Juwan being interrogated

    We live in the only country in the world where a child can be sentenced to be in prison until they die.

    What’s worse is that it’s not even rare — more than 2,500 people who were sentenced as kids will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

    Juwan is one of them. He was a skinny 16-year-old kid when he was arrested after he saw a companion kill a pizza deliveryman. The shooter was never convicted, but because Juwan was present and had a gun, he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

    Without the possibility of parole, Juwan will never have a second chance for rehabilitation.

    Just one year before Juwan was sentenced, the Supreme Court decided that mandatory juvenile life without parole was unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.

    The problem is — the decision left gaping loopholes and didn’t ban the sentence outright, meaning that Juwan and other children became victims of poor timing and inadequate policy implementation. While six states have moved to ban the practice, this barbaric punishment is still perfectly legal in 44 states.

    But the Department of Justice has the power to close some of these loopholes and set the standard on the federal level. By providing policy guidelines for U.S. attorneys, the DOJ can ensure that judges are empowered to use discretion and give appropriate sentences based on unique circumstances.

    Attorney General Eric Holder has already endorsed proposals that limit life without parole sentences for non-violent drug offenders. If he hears from thousands of us who support criminal justice reform, he can provide the tools needed to limit juvenile life without parole sentences.

    It’s time that we give kids like Juwan a second chance at life.

    PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK AND SIGN PETITION!

    We live in the only country in the world where a child can be sentenced to be in prison until they die

    Juwan being interrogated

    We live in the only country in the world where a child can be sentenced to be in prison until they die.

    What’s worse is that it’s not even rare — more than 2,500 people who were sentenced as kids will spend the rest of their lives in prison.

    Juwan is one of them. He was a skinny 16-year-old kid when he was arrested after he saw a companion kill a pizza deliveryman. The shooter was never convicted, but because Juwan was present and had a gun, he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

    Without the possibility of parole, Juwan will never have a second chance for rehabilitation.

    Just one year before Juwan was sentenced, the Supreme Court decided that mandatory juvenile life without parole was unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment.

    The problem is — the decision left gaping loopholes and didn’t ban the sentence outright, meaning that Juwan and other children became victims of poor timing and inadequate policy implementation. While six states have moved to ban the practice, this barbaric punishment is still perfectly legal in 44 states.

    But the Department of Justice has the power to close some of these loopholes and set the standard on the federal level. By providing policy guidelines for U.S. attorneys, the DOJ can ensure that judges are empowered to use discretion and give appropriate sentences based on unique circumstances.

    Attorney General Eric Holder has already endorsed proposals that limit life without parole sentences for non-violent drug offenders. If he hears from thousands of us who support criminal justice reform, he can provide the tools needed to limit juvenile life without parole sentences.

    It’s time that we give kids like Juwan a second chance at life.

    PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK AND SIGN PETITION!

    Marc Emery Prison Blog: How I Began My Plan to Overgrow the Government

    By Marc Emery – Thursday, February 27 2014

     

    CANNABIS CULTURE – Since the 20th anniversary of my activism in British Columbia is approaching on April 11th, I thought I would write a series of blogs about my early years, when there was no movement, no legal medical marijuana anywhere, books and magazines about cannabis were banned in Canada – in essence, there was nothing. Over the next few months I’ll tell you about great moments in my life where I contributed to the marijuana movement and helped changed several laws.

    My history is packed with well-documented campaigns and pivotal moments. It includes the day in August 1996 when Dennis Peron was was with me in Vancouver for a large rally in historic Gastown, occupying the intersection that, 25 years earlier, had been the scene of the "Grasstown Police Riot" (where cops attacked and injured dozens of peaceful pot advocates and innocent bystanders), and his pioneering medical cannabis building in San Francisco was raided. I encouraged him to make a phone speech rallying his supporters to not back down – the after-effect of which really pushed the California voters in favour of Proposition 215.

    Other significant events include my times with Jack Herer in the very early days (1991); selling banned marijuana books and magazines door-to-door in early 1994 to establish myself in Vancouver (after doing the same in Ontario years earlier, to challenge the laws prohibiting marijuana literature); producing the first issue of The Marijuana & Hemp Newsletter in 1994, which became Cannabis Canada magazine a year later, then Cannabis Culture in 1998; how I was inspired in November 1994 to "Overgrow the Government" by funding activism through seed sales; publishing my 1995 article "How To Open Your Own Hemp Store" that kickstarted a revolution across Canada (and continues to this day); underwriting the early days of the Marijuana Policy Project (1998); contributing to the success of the medical marijuana initiative in Washington DC (1998), Colorado and Arizona (2000); my role in making medical marijuana legal in Canada (1999); creating Pot TV, the first online cannabis video website in the world, with its construction beginning on January 1, 2000; going to the Canadian Supreme Court to legalize pot in December 2003 (and the ten years of court battles leading to that); and stories of how my many adversaries who once persecuted and prosecuted me became activist anti-prohibitionists, including Vancouver Mayors Philip Owen and Larry Campbell, Vancouver ‘GrowBusters’ chief Kash Heed, and Washington State District Attorney (and my prosecutor) John McKay.

    Some great history reviews lay ahead, in this, the 20th anniversary year of Cannabis Culture and the retail-activist revolution that is now growing everywhere. I should start with my early efforts in my hometown of London, Ontario.

     

    In 1990 I had a radio show at the University of Western Ontario’s CHRW-FM called "Radio Free Speech: Revolution Thru Rock N’ Rap" and I loved playing the Dead Kennedy’s and the spoken-word albums of lead singer Jello Biafra. When his 1990 spoken word album "I Blow Minds for a Living" came out, I decided to have a Jello Biafra spoken-word performance at Centennial Hall (Dufferin Ave by Victoria Park). We sold 450 tickets to cover the cost of Centennial Hall and Jello’s $3,000 fee. As part of the contract, he was obligated to go on CHRW with me for a special 3-hour show the next day (Saturday), which was a highlight of my 18-month London radio career before I was fired in 1991 for criticizing the station’s lame newscast.

    In this new album and at his Centennial Hall performance, Jello did as segment called "Grow More Pot", wherein, though not a pot smoker himself, he urged the audience to grow more pot based on his reading and recommending the (seminal) work of the then-ascendant hemp movement, "The Emperor Wears No Clothes". It was a book by Jack Herer – and it was banned in Canada!

    Nowhere in Canada was this book offered for sale (and remember, this was before Amazon.com and the internet existed!) and I found out that the federal government of Canada had prohibited all books and magazines that spoke honestly of marijuana. Since I had a bookstore in London, the City Lights Bookshop on Richmond Street (now owned and operated since July 1992 by then-employees Jim & Teresa), I decided I would get this book and challenge the ban by selling it at City Lights.

    After some cursory research, I found that everything to do with marijuana was illegal in Canada since an act of Parliament in 1987 had banned all books, magazines, pipes, bongs, video – all and anything to do with marijuana culture was prohibited under section 462.2 of the Canadian criminal code. Since 1987, over 500 shops selling bongs, pipes, High Times magazine, etc. had been shut down, and now in 1991 there were no longer any head shops (as they were called then), nor was High Times available on any newsstand in Canada! Penalties for a first-time conviction for selling books like "The Emperor" or magazines like High Times, or bongs and pipes, included a fine of up to $100,000 and/or up to six months in jail for a first offense, and up to $300,000 for a second offense!

     

    So I bought an ad in the daily London Free Press newspaper and announced that I would be selling the banned Jack Herer book to get arrested and go to court to challenge this law.

    I sold over 100 copies of "The Emperor", but got no charge by police, nor was I raided. As a historical note, I had already been arrested and charged in previous attempts to change laws regarding Ontario’s Sunday-shopping prohibition (1986), and the province’s ban on explicit rap music (1990), so this was a technique that I had had good success with, up until this time. So I decided to go a little further and smuggled in hundreds of copies of every available marijuana grow guide, dozens of copies of back-issues of High Times, every copy of The Freak Brothers comics, all in huge quantities.

    When we bought an ad in the London Free Press announcing this massive sale of over fifty different books and magazines – more than one thousand individual copies – I had over 150 people lined up outside the doors of City Lights at the 10:00am opening. Still, no police raid or arrest.

    So I brought Jack Herer to town, to autograph copies of the book, and bought more ads flouting the law. Still… no arrest or charge. Then I flew in Ed Rosenthal to autograph copies of his books; Steve Hager (editor of High Times) for a special celebration dinner at the City-owned London Art Gallery, where over 100 people paid to attend; Paul Mavrides, writer and artist of the Freak Brothers, to autograph his comics.

     

    I even gave away 300 copies of High Times to 300 people in front of the London police headquarters in February 1992 (since they law said ‘distributing’ any book or magazine was illegal, not just the selling of them) to force the London police to charge me. But they didn’t! So while I may not have had my day in court then to make marijuana literature legal, by having the law overturned, I did succeed at bringing important cannabis and hemp information into Canada when we had nothing available at all.

    In 1994 I moved to Vancouver, and continued selling banned books and magazines on what became a huge scale. It was the cornerstone to getting established in my new West Coast base of operations; by June 1995, I was distributing 2,000 copies of High Times every month.

    In the autumn of 1994, my friend Umberto Iorfida of Canada NORML was charged by Toronto police for handing out pamphlets to students at a high school where undercover narcs had entrapped teens by asking for marijuana. I undertook to finance his defense, and in July 1995, with lawyer Alan Young, Umberto and I got the aspect of the 462.2 law regarding media (books, magazines, video) struck down by Judge Ellen McDonald, in the Ontario Superior Court. This law, by the way, is still in the criminal code, because it was not overturned in the Canadian Supreme Court, but since the Ontario Crown did not appeal the Superior Court decision, the decision stands as law in Ontario.

    That having been said, over the years, I have traveled to places that tried to ban my Cannabis Culture Magazine or High Times, like in Timmins, Ontario in 1999. The police went to convenience stores and told them that selling those magazines was illegal, and they’d have to stop. So I bought a half-page ad in the Timmins newspaper and went there to hand out 300 copies of my publication, Cannabis Culture Magazine, for several hours in front of the Timmins police station, daring them to try to charge me under 462.2. We ended up having an hours-long smoke-fest and street party in front of the police station. Media from all over Ontario covered that event, and Timmins police never tried that again.

    In my peaceful civil disobedience regarding marijuana laws, I have been arrested 28 times in Canada, and jailed 22 times, in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, and this one very long stint in federal prison in these United States (where, as most people know, I did not travel to or spend any time as a seed seller).

    I regard all of this as punishment for my political activities, as all of them were acts done under clearly-political auspices, and most – if not all – are unique in North America, Canada, or the USA. For example, I have been arrested and convicted in Vancouver of giving away one gram of hash (the witness was brought 2,000 miles from the United States to testify against me for one gram I gave him, for free, at my Cannabis Cafe in 1997); arrested and convicted for promoting vaporizers, a charge I can hardly believe exists; arrested and convicted for selling seeds (to my knowledge, no other Canadian has ever been convicted of selling just seeds); and arrested and convicted (and sentenced to three months in prison!) for passing one joint in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, at a rally after my speech at University of Saskatchewan in 2004 (although no joint or pot was ever produced to prove their charge, merely a 22-year-old witness’ claim, upon police inquiry, that I passed him a joint).

     

    I was arrested and jailed six times on my 2003 Summer of Legalization Tour across Canada, which was a campaign to demonstrate that the marijuana prohibition laws were of no force and effect due to a court ruling in Ontario (click here to see archive coverage on Pot TV and Cannabis Culture). To challenge the law nationwife, I promoted a tour where I smoked a bong or one-ounce joint in front of police station headquarters in every major city in Canada – eighteen stops in nine provinces – and on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in front of a huge RCMP phalanx. In those six arrests in Alberta (Calgary and Edmonton), Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland, and New Brunswick, I was charged, but my charges – and charges against many Canadians – were later dropped when the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled in October 2003 that there was, in fact, no valid marijuana possession law in effect in Canada from 2001 to 2003 (it was reinstated by that court at the time, unfortunately).

    I was not arrested during the other 12 stops that tour, in cities in British Columbia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. I was also not arrested when I led a march in 2002 in Montreal at the Quebec Cannabis Cup after Montreal police arrested the organizer. I quickly responded with a bellicose protest immediately, took over the streets en route, and had a very confrontational conflict with riot-clad Montreal cops at the police station. I was also not arrested in my numerous attempts to get charged for selling banned marijuana literature in London, Ontario or Vancouver.

    So whereas I have been arrested 28 times, jailed 22 times, and convicted on about ten of those arrests since 1990 to 2010, I have also attempted to get arrested – or risked getting arrested – well over 45 times, all related to fighting against marijuana prohibition or promoting cannabis culture.

    And you ain’t heard nothin’ yet!

    If you’re interested in seeing more about Marc’s earliest freedom activist causes and campaigns, watch the 1992 documentary "Messing Up The System" by the late Chris Doty (one hour), the 2006 CBC documentary "Prince of Pot: The US vs. Marc Emery" by Nick Wilson (one hour), and the thorough multi-part 2010 documentary "The Principle of Pot" by Paul McKeever (four hours).

    CONTINUE READING ON CANNABIS CULTURE…

    BREAKING: Death Sentence for a $96 ticket (NJWEEDMAN)

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fQwkMeHGUX8&w=448&h=252&hd=1]
    NJ WEEDMAN reads a letter from a prisoner who turns in jail for a wrongful death.

    Published on Feb 10, 2014

    special thanks to http://njweedman.com/ for bringing us this story.
    In this video Luke Rudkowski interviews Ed Forchion the NJ Weed Man after he was recently released from jail and was given a shocking letter from a fellow inmate.

    The letter details gross misconduct and neglect on behave of correctional officers which some are saying resulted in the murder of a fellow inmate.

    The inmate who released the story to the public was put into solitary confinement for writing this letter.

     
    Show your support by writing the whistle blower inmate at
    Sean C. Turzanski # 90248
    Burlington County Jail
    54 Grant St.
    Mt. Holly NJ 08060

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