Archive for legal system

Committing Rape Qualifies You For Disability In Catholic Church

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Catholic Church rapeReverend Gil Gustafson

One thing you can't fault with the Catholic Church, they take care of their own -- even their own pedophiles. Don't believe me? Look at these clips from an article in The Raw Story:

According to an article in the Star Tribune, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis continued to pay the salary and health insurance premiums — as well as provide living expenses — for a pedophile priest who was convicted on child sex abuse charges over 30 years ago.

Join me in a head scratch over this one. Maybe with a little more factual information, I'll grasp this situation better.

Brian HerrityBrian Herrity

In 1983, the Reverend Gil Gustafson admitted to a Ramsey County District Court that he molested Brian Herrity for five years, beginning when the boy was 10 years old. He was fined $40 and sentenced to six months in jail and 10 years on probation. The vicar general in charge of clergy abuse cases, Rev. Kevin McDonough, believes that Gustafson abused between four and fifteen victims, including Herrity.

Wow. A self-confessed child sex offender who molested a child for five years, starting when the boy was 10 years old, is given a $40 dollar fine and half a year in jail. "Houston, we have a problem -- and it's in Minneapolis."

With such a light sentence, the message seems to be loud and clear -- to the courts in Minnesota and the Roman Catholic church -- pedophilia isn't a serious crime. Think I'm being smart-alecky? Remember I said the Rev was given a six month sentence?

After four-and-a-half months in jail, he was released into the care of the Church, and the archbishop at the time, John Roach, lobbied to have Gustafson reinstated.

“I want him back in a parish,” [arch-bishop] Roach wrote in 1990. “He has received and complied with far more treatment than anyone else, and it seems to me he has done it well.”

The Arch Bishop wants this criminal back? Why? Was he procuring boys for the prelate? Imagine, four months treatment and this predator was cured. That must be some great program they have there for sex offenders.

Well, that's the past and we must think of the present. We're taught to forgive and sometimes its hard, but okay. Maybe Reverend Gustafson's made his penance. Then again, maybe not. It seems no church wanted the disgraced clergyman, so get this:

According to the Star Tribune, in addition to the salary, insurance and living expenses given to him by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Gustafson also receives disability.

Salary, insurance, living expenses AND disability? This is astounding. It almost pays -- no, it does pay -- to become a priest and molest a child. You'll be taken care of for life.

The father of the boy rape victim put it perfectly:

Brian Herrity asked the paper, “since when is a crime a disability? If that’s the case, everyone in prison should be disabled.”

And that, fellow readers, is the state of the Catholic Church in Minnesota today. Proud?

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Education Over Incarceration -- It Works -- Even In Florida

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education over incarceration

Change is in the air and it's a good one. It's taking place in Florida -- well known for the hanging chad ballots and their totally out of whack justice system. This time it's a remarkable turnaround in the education system.

Florida’s Broward County Public Schools system is the sixth-largest district in the country. Like  many other large education systems, it was suffering from a racial gap when it came to graduation. Broward had an incomprehensibly low diploma rate of only 61 percent for black students compared to 81 percent for white students. To find out why, Robert Runcie, the superintendant of schools who once headed a management-consulting firm, went to the data. His goal was to close the racial achievement gap.

From The American Prospect:

“One of the first things I saw was a huge differential in minority students, black male students in particular, in terms of suspensions and arrests,” he says. Black students made up two-thirds of all suspensions during the 2011-2012 school year despite comprising only 40 percent of the student body. And while there were 15,000 serious incidents like assaults and drug possession reported that year, 85 percent of all 82,000 suspensions were for minor incidents—use of profanity, disruptions of class—and 71 percent of all 1,000-plus arrests were for misdemeanors. The last statistic, says Runcie, “was a huge red flag.”

So Runcie and the others on the school board decided to work with the teachers, the police and the campus security to reverse the schoolhouse to jailhouse routine and promote a more tolerant and discretionary system. Officers were given an opportunity to judge the severity of the infractions and in some cases, turn the case over to the school instead of the police and local justice systems.

In most non-violent cases, such as drug use, truancy, spray painting graffiti, a school was just as well equipped to mete out punishment as the expensive and drawn out process of criminal justice.

Broward’s Collaborative Agreement on School Discipline was announced in early November. Instead of suspensions, students can now be referred to the PROMISE program, where they receive counseling for several days and then return to school. A host of non-violent misdemeanors no longer require an arrest, though officers can sometimes override that if they feel it is necessary. The school district’s Office of Minority Male Achievement reviews data to ensure that punishments for minor infractions and racial disparities are on the decline.

Since eliminating the Schoolhouse to Jailhouse program in Broward the program seems to be working. By providing alternatives like counseling, suspensions fell by 33 percent and the anticipated graduation rate increased by 25 percent. This is the kind of program that other schools and other cities should be using as a model, especially urban school districts where dropout rates are exceedingly high - as much as 50%.

The purpose of schools is to prepare kids for a better life -- not one behind bars and in low paying, unskilled jobs.

Finally, something other than good oranges and a great basketball team to report from The Sunshine State.

Say, don't forget to follow me on twitter: @Linzack.

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Open your eyes, voters-- U.S. Attorney: “We’re OK now but at some point that will cease to be true.”

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open your eyes smaller

Crackerjack move, Republicans, keep it up. Continue to reveal what true geniuses you are. See, by slashing federal jobs, by cutting resources needed to litigate important matters that affect all of us, you're allowing bad guys to skate. America first! Go GOP!

Then again, since when have Republicans worried about the commission of financial crimes (or war crimes, for that matter)? In fact, this situation, in and of itself, is a crime.

Via Bloomberg:

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said a federal hiring freeze is threatening his office’s ability to carry out its job of prosecuting financial and other crimes.

People are going to get away,” Bharara said today at a Practising Law Institute event in New York. “We’re OK now but at some point that will cease to be true.”

Other governmental departments and offices have faced financial constraints as a result of federal budget cuts known as sequestration. Bharara said he’s not able to replace prosecutors who leave through normal attrition.

When do voters open their eyes widely enough to notice that the GOP is and has been terrible for this country? Between...

  • limiting the ability to prosecute crimes,
  • limiting women's (and everyone else's) ability to get health care,
  • limiting Americans' ability to vote,
  • limiting the little guys' ability to fight corporations,
  • limiting immigrants' ability to make it here and contribute to the nation and its economy,
  • limiting the LGBT community's ability to acquire the same rights and protections as the straight community,
  • limiting children's ability to get a decent public education,
  • limiting families' ability to eat,
  • limiting workers' ability to join unions and collectively bargain for workplace rights,
  • limiting all our ability to generally attain equal rights and equal pay,
  • limiting the president's ability to simply get his cabinet and judicial nominees through...

...between all of that, self-serving, shortsighted Republicans have shown that they are intent on destroying everyone and everything except the things that benefit them directly.

Open. Your. Eyes. America! Vote Democratic in 2014.

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Tracing The Butterfly Effect After Walmart Killed Man's Wife

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Butterfly effect

We've all heard of the Butterfly Effect -- where something small or insignificant changes the course of events and over time is responsible for something catastrophic to happen. Well now multiply that to the millionth degree and file a wrongful death suit. You might just make a ton of money, or become the laughing stock of the world.

Ever go shopping and while carrying in the groceries the cheap plastic bag broke and your purchases fell to the ground? Aside for grumbling about the need for double bagging, you retrieved your items, grumbled a bit more as you picked them up.

Recently things got a little out of hand. Take the case of Nebraska resident William Freis. He suffered a tragic loss of his wife, Lynette. Via Gawker in an article titled, "Husband Says Defective Shopping Bag Caused Wife's Death."

Walmat plastic bag

In a wrongful death suit filed in February by Lynette's husband William, three defendants are blamed for setting in motion the chain of events that led to the Plattsmouth native's death: Wal-Mart Stores, for failing to train its employees in the art of double-bagging; Hilex Poly Co., for manufacturing a "defective" plastic bag; and Bunzi Distribution, for distributing a "defective" plastic bag.

In addition to $657,000 for medical and funeral expenses, William is also seeking an unspecified amount on behalf of his wife for her pain and suffering as well as the "loss of consortium."

That's the butterfly effect taking over your mind as it did with William Freis.  Here's a bit more detail.

The Nebraska woman was being rung up at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Bellevue on April 16th, 2010, when the cashier decided to place the two 42-ounce La Choy cans she purchased as well as a two-pound bag of rice in a single plastic bag.

While walking back to her car, Lynette's bag failed, causing one of the La Choy cans to fall on her right foot, resulting in a deep cut and the fracturing of her big toe.

She soon developed an infection that neither antibiotics nor two surgical procedures were able to cure, and ultimately passed away on March 12th, 2011.

Death is never funny. Well, once it was -- "Chuckles Bites The Dust" episode of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW. But this is real life or death and certainly the state of Nebraska is taking this all seriously:

The case was transferred this week to the U.S. District Court in Omaha at Walmart's request.

This woman's death is tragic, but has nothing to do with Wal-Mart, training in double bagging, or the plastic bag companies involved. That fact that this case has even come to court is ridiculous. Why are we wasting our time on frivolous law suits?

This calamity is worthy of our do-nothing congress, but not of local jurisprudence.

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Court docs: Enron convict Jeffrey Skilling reaches deal to be released early from prison

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Jeffrey Skilling

Remember former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling (aka inmate #29296-179)? I wish I didn't. He was supposed to spend 24 years in prison for the Enron mess, but under a deal he's reached, that could be cut by ten years, according to court documents. He had 15 years left to serve. But apparently, not any more.

He was convicted in December 2006 for fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and lying to auditors in the largest corporate fraud in history.

CNN:

"The agreement brings certainty and finality to a long painful process," said Skilling lawyer Daniel Petrocelli of O'Melveny & Myers. "Although the recommended sentence for Jeff would still be more than double any other Enron defendant, all of whom have long been out of prison, Jeff would at least have the chance of getting back a meaningful part of his life."

What, his life wasn't meaningful when he committed those many crimes? What about all the people who were affected by his fraudulent acts and lies? Will they get a meaningful part of their lives back? Their jobs? Their life savings?

More than 4,000 Enron employees lost their jobs, and many also lost their life savings, when the Texas-based energy company declared bankruptcy in 2001. Investors lost billions of dollars.

Part of the deal is that Skilling has to drop any further legal challenges to his conviction.

How about dropping off the edge of a cliff instead?

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Inmate Sexual Victimization Rises; Feds Stall On New Rules

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Back in June, I posted a piece titled Attorney General Holder misses prison rape prevention reform deadline. I had previously posted about the same thing here.

A couple of excerpts from my posts:

Holder’s inaction will result in more cases like that of Bryson Martel, who got AIDS after being repeatedly raped in prison.

Two women were repeatedly raped (Nicole Garza and Kimberly Yates), and those in power ignored those, too.

...........

Think about that. Imagine if this were your child. Or friend. Or anyone you care about, for that matter.

I’m having flashbacks of Abu Ghraib. Our system of justice should include guarantees of safety for juvenile offenders, and yet look at those statistics.

As I said back then, we cannot afford delays.

I'm sure though, after all this time, A.G. Holder is all over this. One could hardly imagine he'd put it off any longer, what with all the violence and ruined lives.

Or not (via Dan Froomkin):

A new study released Thursday by the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates that 88,500 adults held in U.S. prisons and jails are sexually abused annually, either by staff or fellow inmates. [...]

Overall, the survey paints a grim picture of a system of mass incarceration where all too many prisoners, stripped of their autonomy or ability to defend themselves, spend their sentences terrorized by sexual predators.

Defying some of the pop-cultural stereotypes, however, it turns out most of that predation is carried out by guards, rather than inmates...

But wait! That's not all! Via The Hill:

Based on those recommendations, DOJ was charged under the 2003 law with finalizing new rules by June 2010.

It didn't happen.

Instead, Attorney General Eric Holder said earlier this year that the agency has delayed the process over concerns from the prisons that the proposed guidelines would be too expensive to implement. [...]

A DOJ spokeswoman said earlier this month that the agency will issue proposed standards this fall — meaning the final rules likely won't take hold for months afterward.

Prison reform advocates don't like the delay, and they're pointing to Thursday's BJS report as reason the agency should quicken its pace.

"Every day that the Attorney General doesn’t finalize the national standards is another day of anguish among prisoner rape survivors, of preventable safety breaches in prisons and jails, and of significant spending of taxpayers’ money on medical treatment, investigations, and litigation that could have been avoided," Lovisa Stannow, executive director of Just Detention International, a prisoner-rights group, said Thursday in a statement.

Please follow the links above to read more.

Then reach for the Pepto Bismol.  You'll need it.

Via the Bureau of Justice Statistics:

Allen J. Beck, PhD, Paige M Harrison

August 26, 2010    NCJ 231169

Presents data from the National Inmate Survey (NIS), 2008-09, conducted in 167 state and federal prisons, 286 local jails, and 10 special correctional facilities (operated by U.S. Armed Forces, Indian tribes, or the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)) between October 2008 and December 2009, with a sample of 81,566 inmates ages 18 or older.   The report provides a listing of facilities ranked according to the prevalence of sexual victimization, as required under the Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (P.L. 108-79). The prevalence of victimization as reported by inmates during a personal interview is based on sexual activity in the 12 months prior to the interview or since admission to the facility, if less than 12 months. Included are estimates of nonconsensual sexual acts, abusive sexual contacts, inmate-on-inmate and staff sexual misconduct, and level of coercion. The report also presents findings on reported sexual victimization by selected characteristics of inmates, including demographic characteristics, sexual history and orientation, and criminal justice status. It includes details on victims’ experiences and the circumstances surrounding incidents of sexual victimization.

Highlights include the following:

  • An estimated 4.4% of prison inmates and 3.1% of jail inmates reported experiencing one or more incidents of sexual victimization by another inmate or facility staff in the past 12 months or since admission to the facility, if less than 12 months.
  • Female inmates in prison (4.7%) or jail (3.1%) were more than twice as likely as male inmates in prison (1.9%) or jail (1.3%) to report experiencing inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization.
  • Among inmates who reported inmate-on-inmate sexual victimization, 13% of male prison inmates and 19% of male jail inmates said they were victimized within the first 24 hours after admission, compared to 4% of female inmates in prison and jail.


Press Release.

Here, this may help. Take a swig and call me in the morning:

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LIVE VIDEO STREAM from Netroots Nation: Close Gitmo and Use our Legal System

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Live streaming video by Ustream

PANELISTS: Adam Serwer, Matthew Alexander, Marcy Wheeler, Rep. Jerry Nadler, Vincent Warren

****

All my previous posts on this subject matter can be found ; That link includes one specific to only Fayiz al-Kandari’s story here.

Here are audio and video interviews with Lt. Col. Wingard, one by David Shuster, one by Ana Marie Cox, and more. My guest commentary at BuzzFlash is here.

Lt. Col. Barry Wingard is a military attorney who represents Fayiz Al-Kandari in the Military Commission process and in no way represents the opinions of his home state. When not on active duty, Colonel Wingard is a public defender in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

If you are inclined to help rectify these injustices: Twitterers, use the hashtag #FreeFayiz. We have organized a team to get these stories out. If you are interested in helping Fayiz out, e-mail me at The Political Carnival, address in sidebar to the right; or tweet me at @GottaLaff.

If you’d like to see other ways you can take action, go here and scroll down to the end of the article.

Then read Jane Mayer’s book The Dark Side. You’ll have a much greater understanding of why I post endlessly about this, and why I’m all over the CIA deception issues, too.

More of Fayiz’s story here, at Answers.com.

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