Monday, November 13, 2006


American government surveillance didn't begin after 9/11. It started centuries earlier. Check out the new online documentary "Tracked in America: Stories from the History of U.S. Government Surveillance" at

"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." Albert Einstein

ON REENTRY, FORT PIERCE, FL — Since 2003, the reentry program at the Treasure Coast Public Defender's Office has helped more than 800 former inmates get a much-needed boost after release. The 19th Judicial Circuit, which covers Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee counties, was selected by state leaders to form a local council to give them feedback on the issue. Treasure Coast Public Defender Diamond Litty, who has served on the state task force for about eight months, said the area was selected because it already has produced success stories with its program. "We were picked mainly because we're on the cutting edge," Litty said. "And it works. This is one of the biggest factors in reducing recidivism that we have." More than 30,000 people were released from Florida's prisons last year, and more than 40 percent are predicted to return within three years, according to the state Ex-Offender Task Force. The task force is trying to find ways to promote employment opportunities for felons, Litty said. "These people need help," she said. "Often they've lost their homes, they've lost their jobs. We need to do something so they just don't fall back into a life of crime." Link here for more.

OKLAHOMA, (not the musical by Rogers & Hammerstein) has turned corrections into a swelling industry that we can’t afford to grow any bigger. We agree with state Sen. Richard Lerblanc, D-Hartshorne, that Oklahoma needs to invest more heavily in prevention and rehabilitation, than in building more prisons. Our goal should be to keep as many people out of prison as we can, rather than lock up as many as we can. Oklahoma should be spending its money working with at-risk youths and adults and providing rehabilitation services, not on expanding it prison industry, public or private. More on this here.

TEXAS AND MYSPACE Texas inmates they send letters, journalentries or blog postings to friends and families who create the pages and post their writings for them. Death row inmates being able to express themselves on the Internet isnot new as they've used isolated anti-death penalty Internet pages topublicize their cases. "The reality is that for many years death row inmates have had family and friends on their case, on the Internet, oftentimes to get pen pals and in some cases raise money for the defense," said Michelle Lyons,spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. From the Houston Chronicle.

Sharon Dolovich, professor at UCLA School of Law says CALIFORNIA'S PRISONS are bursting at the seams, but Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger' s latest strategy for easing the pressure has hit a snag. The nonpartisan Legislative Counsel, which provides legal advice to state lawmakers, has issued an opinion (concluding that the governor's plan to ship thousands of prisoners to private prisons out of state violates California's Constitution. This opinion buoyed the anti-privatization California Correctional Peace Officers Assn. (the state prison guards union), which has gone to court to try to stop the transfers.

TEXAS As Release Nears, These Inmates Are All Business: Street Smarts Are Put to Good Use in Texas Program, By Sylvia MorenoWashington Post Staff WriterFriday, "We are not so much in the business of creating entrepreneurs as leveraging their skills," said Catherine Rohr, founder of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, a nonprofit organization based in Houston. "After all, it was their entrepreneurial skills that landed them in prison." Rohr, a one-time venture capitalist in California and New York, was inspired after visiting a prison ministry program in the spring of 2004 that was started by former Watergate conspirator Charles W. Colson. She heard a graduate say that he left prison after eight years and started a general contracting business that made $1.7 million in sales in 18 months.

This Roundup assisted by info from PrisonMovement@yahoogroups; Carol Leonard says Prison Reform is NOT soft on crime)

JUDICIAL "ACTIVISM": Court-watchers believe the assault on independent judges has been fueled by a 2002 Supreme Court decision, Republican Party v. White, (First Amendment allows judges running for office to say in advance how they would rule on legal matters). Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who joined the 5-4 majority, said after she retired that she regretted her vote because it has grossly politicized the judiciary in the 47 states that elect at least some judges.
Ballot amendments to ban gay marriage in previous years have drawn out social conservatives who might not otherwise have voted boosting to President Bush's re election effort in key states such as Ohio.

Boston Globe notes recently that the ballot attack shows how fortunate Massachusetts is to have the system of appointed judges for 226 years: "Co-equal branch of government" does not mean the courts should be equally whipsawed by popular passions as campaigns for Congress or the presidency.

And From Kent Scheidegger at Crime and Consequences this:
Judicial Restraint: Judge Charles Pickering (USCA-5, Ret.) has a long letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal (subscription) on judicial restraint in answer to Justice O'Connor's earlier op-ed on judicial independence;
Maryland Senate Race. The Washington Post has this article on the Maryland Senate race, which involves crime issues to a greater extent than most federal races this year. Issues include the Maryland death penalty (with both candidates apparently oblivious to the real problem), the 100/1 crack/powder ratio, and the Patriot Act. Mr. Cardin committed a rather astonishing gaffe on the latter, claiming it predated his tenure in the House.

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