prison industrial complex

A Texas man is under arrest after gunning down a SWAT team member as the officer quietly tried to climb in through the apartment’s window during predawn hours.

Police State USAreports  that a resident fatally shot Detective Charles “Chuck” Dinwiddie as the officer climbed in through a ground level window as part of a “no knock” raid. The officers were there due to suspicion that residents were in possession of controlled substances.

Upon hearing a noise, resident Marvin Louis Guy, 50, opened fire on the unidentified officers, shooting three others as well, although only one fatally.

Guy is currently being held on capital murder charges in connection with Dinwiddie’s death, even though it’s unclear how Guy was supposed to know that the men crawling in through the window were police officers since they hadn’t identified themselves.

The evidence sheet lists a laptop, a safe, a pistol, and a glass pipe, but no drugs were found. Given the evidence, why did police deem it necessary to seek a “no knock” warrant and why did a judge sign off on it?

Very little is known about Mr. Guy, but Dinwiddie left behind two children, all because his SWAT team went creeping into a home where the residents didn’t even have any drugs. Is that the best use of law enforcement tax dollars?

Guy’s bond has been set at $3 million dollars.


Thank you lieutenantnorals!


Civil Rights Attorneys Sue Ferguson Over ‘Debtors Prisons’
Joseph Shapiro
In a new challenge to police practices in Ferguson, Mo., a group of civil rights lawyers is suing the city over the way people are jailed when they fail to pay fines for traffic tickets and other minor offenses.
The lawsuit, filed Sunday night on the eve of the six-month anniversary of the police shooting of Michael Brown, alleges that the city violates the Constitution by jailing people without adequately considering whether they were indigent and, as a result, unable to pay.
The suit is filed on behalf of 11 plaintiffs who say they were too poor to pay but were then jailed — sometimes for two weeks or more.

NPR got an advance look at the lawsuit, filed by lawyers from Equal Justice Under Law, ArchCity Defenders and the Saint Louis University School of Law. It charges that Ferguson officials “have built a municipal scheme designed to brutalize, to punish, and to profit.”
In 2013, Ferguson collected $2.6 million in court fines and fees, mainly on traffic violations and other low-level municipal offenses. That was the city’s second-largest source of income, or about 21 percent of its total budget.
The lawsuit challenges the practice of jailing people when they can’t afford to pay those fines. When tickets go unpaid, people are summoned to court and usually offered a new payment plan. If they fail to show up or make the new payments, the city issues an arrest warrant.
In 2013, Ferguson, a city with a population of 21,000, issued nearly 33,000 arrest warrants for unpaid traffic violations and other minor offenses. Many of those were for people who lived outside the city.
READ MORE (and prepare to be filled with rage…)

If you think Ferguson is the only city this kind of injustice is occurring in, think again. It’s probably happening in your own city, if you live State-side. The criminal justice system has been increasingly criminalizing poverty over the last 3 decades, and with the boom of the private prison system, it’s only going to get worse. The time for action is now. More than just protesting, we have to start attacking the laws and policy that allows these miscarriages of justice to occur. #staywoke #farfromover

What New Stats Show About The School To Prison Pipeline For Black Girls Is Worse Than Anyone Could Have Imagined 

Judging by the statistics, the national focus on the troubled plight of Black boys with initiatives like President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper may be missing a real crisis that’s hidden in plain sight: Black girls are treated even more harshly in American schools than Black boys when compared to their white counterparts—leading to them now being the fastest growing population in the juvenile justice system.

The numbers are jarring: Black girls across the country were suspended six times more often than white girls, compared to Black boys being suspended three times more often than white boys, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s analysis of the 2011-2012 school year.

Only 2 percent of white females were subjected to exclusionary suspensions, compared to 12 percent of Black girls.

Because males are suspended in greater numbers than females, the harsh treatment of Black boys tends to draw all the attention. But a new report by the African American Policy Forum and Columbia Law School called “Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced, and Underprotected” shines a spotlight on Black girls in public school, playing particular attention to what happens to them in the New York City and Boston school systems.


The police can go to downtown Harlem and pick up a kid with a joint in the streets. But they can’t go into the elegant apartments and get a stockbroker who’s sniffing cocaine.

Noam Chomsky

I’ve seen more drugs behind the brick walls of my private college than I have ever even heard of back home in my hood.


My sis Rell (Twitter: Awkward_Duck, Tumblr: swearimnotangry), did some investigative work today and found that Donald Sterling has ties to private prison investments, which led the two of us to an excellent discussion about the private prison industry.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. With contract mandates specifying 90% occupancy rates, private prisons feed directly into our problem with mass incarceration.

The private prison industry has become a lucrative business with some of our financial institutions heavily investing in them (Not to mention the music industry invests in them also, but I wont go there today). 

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) & GEO are the nations leading providers of correctional services. CCA has flourished as a business and has done so well ensuring that states maintain that 90% occupancy rate, that last year their Board of Directors authorized a $675 MILLION dividend to its shareholders. -_____-

I don’t even need to tell you who these prison beds are occupied by as I’m sure you all know the stats and demographics, but feel free to check out the links below.

Financial institutions that invest in private prisons:

CCA authorizes $675 million dividend to shareholders:

CCA being sued for widespread abuse in prisons:

Mother arrested after leaving kids in the car during job interview because she couldn’t afford childcare
March 27, 2014

Shanesha Taylor is a homeless, single mother of 2 children, who was arrested for child abuse this week. Taylor left her children, ages 6 and 2 years old, in her Dodge Durango while she attended a job interview in Scottsdale, Arizona.

A passerby found the children in the car, with the engine turned off and the windows cracked open. Once Taylor returned to the car, 45 minutes later, she informed the police officer that she did not have a babysitter for her children.

“She was upset. This is a sad situation all around. She said she was homeless. She needed the job. Obviously not getting the job. So it’s just a sad situation,” said Scottsdale Police Sergeant Mark Clark.

She was arrested and booked into jail for child abuse.

Her children are now in CPS custody.


Update from Prison Culture

An email from Amanda Bishop who has organized a fundraising drive for Shanesha offers the following additional information:

Shanesha has been in jail over a week. She will be out within the next few days when her bail is done by her family. I do not know if the family would like me sharing any information regarding the jail she is at.

She has plans to get a specific lawyer when she is out. Her children are with family

Ms. Bishop also responded to a question about where the funds raised would be directed:

“All money from this fundraiser is deposited into a bank account of Shaneshas mother. The money is currently being used to bail her out. The money collected afterwards will be used for the care of herself and her children.”

Here is a local report where Ms. Bishop is quoted about the case here.

There is currently no more information available. @lifeandmorelife and I would like to encourage everyone who wants to support Shanesha to please donate to the fundraiser for now. You can also continue to spread the word about this story through your networks. A newsreport about this story is here.

We have been in touch with some folks based in Arizona, are gathering more information, and will provide updates as they become available.

Update #1 (4:30 p.m. central)
Shanesha is still in jail at this point. I was able to learn that she has a hearing scheduled on Friday at 8:30 am. Perhaps, she’ll be able to make bail at that point. Please keep donating to the fundraiser.
This black lesbian activist declined a prestigious honor from The Queen of England. Here’s why.
“I’m honored and grateful, but I have to say no thank you.”

Last week, Queen Elizabeth II said she thought that gay marriage was absolutely “wonderful.” Meanwhile, Phyll Opoku-Gyimah — an LGBT activist in the U.K. best known for founding U.K. Black Pride — was one of 1,200 artists, activists, and other notables listed in the Queens New Year’s Honors List.

Opoku-Gyimah, who also served as a Rainbow List judge and Stonewall Trustee, was happy to be noticed. But it’s complicated.

As she told the U.K.’s Diva magazine:

“If you’re a member of a minority – or multiple minorities – it’s important to be visible as a role model for others [and] for your successes to be seen. An honor is a very public statement that the establishment has decided that you, and what you do, are valued by the wider society. You’ve worked hard, and they’ve actually noticed.”

However, inclusion on the list comes with an MBE, which makes her known as a Member of the British Empire. And she has a problem with that:

“…Member of the British Empire? I don’t believe in empire. I don’t believe in, and actively resist, colonialism and its toxic and enduring legacy in the Commonwealth, where – among many other injustices – LGBTQI people are still being persecuted, tortured and even killed because of sodomy laws, including in Ghana, where I am from, that were put in place by British imperialists. I’m honored and grateful, but I have to say no thank you.”
What?!? Private prisons suing states for millions if they don't stay full
Low crime rates bad for business for white-owned private prisons; they demand states keep them full

The prison-industrial complex is so out of control that private prisons have the sheer audacity to order states to keep beds full or face their wrath with stiff financial penalties, according to reports. Private prisons in some states have language in their contracts that state if they fall below a certain percentage of capacity that the states must pay the private prisons millions of dollars, lest they face a lawsuit for millions more.

And guess what? The private prisons, which are holding cash-starved states hostage, are getting away with it, says advocacy group, In the Public Interest.

In the Public Interest has reviewed more than 60 contracts between private prison companies and state and local governments across the country, and found language mentioning “quotas” for prisoners in nearly two-thirds of those contracts reviewed. Those quotas can range from a mandatory occupancy of, for example, 70 percent occupancy in California to up to 100 percent in some prisons in Arizona.
The effects of unchecked criminalization: Teen charged with felony for science experiment

This is what the school-to-prison pipeline looks like. This is how black youth criminalized.

  1. She was doing a science experiment
  2. She’s being charged as an ADULT
  3. She’s being charged with a FELONY

If this all goes the way the prosecution wants, this young woman will be LEGALLY discriminated against for the rest of her life. No voting, housing discrimination,  employment discrimination (as if getting a job while black isn’t hard enough), etc. etc.


Lost In the Margins (1/26/16): There’s something foul happening in Florida right now (what’s new). Multiple prisons and “treatment facilities” are currently under federal investigation for abuse and negligence. One of key stories driving calls for further scrutiny is that of Darren Rainey. “A 50-year-old mentally ill inmate at the Dade Correctional Institution, Rainey was pulled into the locked shower by prison guards as punishment after defecating in his cell and refusing to clean it up, said the fellow inmate, who worked as an orderly. He was left there unattended for more than an hour as the narrow chamber filled with steam and water. When guards finally checked on prisoner 060954, he was on his back and dead. His skin was so burned that it had shriveled from his body, a condition referred to as slippage, according to a medical document involving the death.” Adding insult to basic intelligence, the medical examiner in the case (who took nearly three years to finalize his findings) is now ruling the death accidental. They also claimed that there were no visible burns, despite multiple reports (including the one that the correctional officers in charge filed) to the contrary. This is shaping up to be a cover-up of massive proportions, and sadly, it is all too common of the experience those suffering from mental illness face in the criminal “justice” system. Darren Rainey’s story has gotten very little press outside of Florida. Please help uplift his life and story. He deserved so much better than this. Rest in Power. #staywoke #farfromover

Michelle Alexander: White men get rich from legal pot, black men stay in prison
March 14, 2014

Ever since Colorado and Washington made the unprecedented move to legalize recreational pot last year, excitement and stories of unfettered success have billowed into the air. Colorado's marijuana tax revenue far exceeded expectations, bringing a whopping $185 million to the state and tourists are lining up to taste the budding culture (pun intended). Several other states are now looking to follow suit and legalize. 

But the ramifications of this momentous shift are left unaddressed. When you flick on the TV to a segment about the flowering pot market in Colorado, you’ll find that the faces of the movement are primarily white and male. Meanwhile, many of the more than  210,000 people who were arrested for marijuana possession in Colorado between 1986 and 2010 according to a report from the Marijuana Arrest Research Project, remain behind bars. Thousands of black men and boys still sit in prisons for possession of the very plant that’s making those white guys on TV rich.

“In many ways the imagery doesn’t sit right,” said Michelle Alexander, associate professor of law at Ohio State University and author of  The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness in a  public conversation on March 6 with Asha Bandele of the  Drug Policy Alliance.  “Here are white men poised to run big marijuana businesses, dreaming of cashing in big—big money, big businesses selling weed—after 40 years of impoverished black kids getting prison time for selling weed, and their families and futures destroyed. Now, white men are planning to get rich doing precisely the same thing?”

Alexander said she is “thrilled” that Colorado and Washington have legalized pot and that Washington D.C. decriminalized possession of small amounts earlier this month. But she said she’s noticed “warning signs” of a troubling trend emerging in the pot legalization movement: Whites—men in particular—are the face of the movement, and the emerging pot industry. (A recent In These Times article titled “ The Unbearable Whiteness of Marijuana Legalization,” summarize this trend.)

Alexander said for 40 years poor communities of color have experienced the wrath of the war on drugs.

“Black men and boys” have been the target of the war on drugs’ racist policies—stopped, frisked and disturbed—“often before they’re old enough to vote,” she said. Those youths are arrested most often for nonviolent first offenses that would go ignored in middle-class white neighborhoods.

“We arrest these kids at young ages, saddle them with criminal records, throw them in cages, and then release them into a parallel social universe in which the very civil and human rights supposedly won in the Civil Rights movement no longer apply to them for the rest of their lives,” she said. “They can be discriminated against [when it comes to] employment, housing, access to education, public benefits. They’re locked into a permanent second-class status for life. And we’ve done this in precisely the communities that were most in need of our support.”

As Asha Bandele of DPA pointed out during the conversation, the U.S. has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners. Today, 2.2 million people are in prison or jail and 7.7 million are under the control of the criminal justice system, with African American boys and men—and now women—making up a disproportionate number of those imprisoned.

Alexander’s book was published four years ago and spent 75 weeks on the New York Timesbestseller list, helping to bring mass incarceration to the forefront of the national discussion.

Alexander said over the last four years, as she’s been traveling from state to state speaking to audiences from prisons to universities about her book, she’s witnessed an “awakening.” More and more people are talking about mass incarceration, racism and the war on drugs.

Full article
The FBI Faked an Entire Field of Forensic Science
For more stories like this, like Slate on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. The Washington Post published a story so horrifying this weekend that it would

“‘Of 28 examiners with the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit, 26 overstated forensic matches in ways that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent of the 268 trials reviewed so far.’ The shameful, horrifying errors were uncovered in a massive, three-year review by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Innocence Project. Following revelations published in recent years, the two groups are helping the government with the country’s largest ever post-conviction review of questioned forensic evidence.

Chillingly, as the Post continues, ‘the cases include those of 32 defendants sentenced to death.’ Of these defendants, 14 have already been executed or died in prison.”

Let this sink in for a minute.


16-year-old boy thrown into one of the most violent prisons in the country for three years before being released with no charges

Nov. 20 2013

Bronx resident Kalief Browder was walking home from a party when he was abruptly arrested by New York City police officers on May 14, 2010. A complete stranger said Browder had robbed him a few weeks earlier and, consequently, changed the 16-year-old’s life forever.

Browder was imprisoned for three years before the charges were dropped in June 2013, according to a WABC-TV Eyewitness News investigation.

At the time of the teen’s arrest, Browder’s family was unable to pay the $10,000 bail. He was placed in the infamously violent Rikers Island correctional facility, where he remained until earlier this year.

Now that he’s free, the young man is speaking up about his experience.

“I spent three New Year’s in there, three birthdays…,” Browder, now 20, said in a recent interview with WABC, adding that he was released with “no apology.”

In October, Browder filed a civil lawsuit against the Bronx District Attorney, City of New York, the New York City Police Department, the New York City Department of Corrections and a number of state-employed individuals.

The official complaint states Browder was “physically assaulted and beaten” by officers and other inmates during his time at Rikers Island. The document also maintains the accused was “placed in solitary confinement for more than 400 days” and was “deprived meals.” In addition, officers allegedly prevented him from pursuing his education. Browder attempted suicide at least six times.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Browder’s current lawyer Paul Prestia summarized his client’s experience as “inexplicable” and “unheard of.” Based off one man’s identification, Browder was charged with robbery in the second degree, he notes. It took three years to dismiss these charges, even though it was, in Prestia’s words, a “straightforward case to try.”

“The city needs to be held accountable for what happened,” Prestia said. “[Browder] had a right to a fair and speedy trail, and he wasn’t afforded any of that. He maintained his innocence the entire time, and essentially got a three year sentence for that.”

Still, when Browder was offered a plea deal in January, he refused to take it, because he did not want to plead guilty to the crime, WABC-TV notes. (Had Browder been tried in a timely fashion and pled guilty to the crime, Prestia told HuffPost, he might have spent less time in prison.)

Prestia adds that his client has suffered lingering mental health problems, and though he’s currently going to school for his GED, he’s “clearly way behind from where he would have been.”

“We need someone to be held accountable,” Prestia said. “This can’t just go unnoticed. To the extent that [Browder] can be financially compensated – although it’s not going to get those years back for him – it may give him a chance to succeed.”

The District Attorney’s office said it was unable to comment, as Browder’s allegations are currently the subject of ongoing litigation.

Incidentally, Browder’s claims about his experience at Rikers Island are consistent with findings from a recent report commissioned by the New York City Board of Correction. The report, obtained by The Associated Press, notes that the use of force by prison staff has more than tripled from 2004 to 2013, from seven incidents of force per 100 inmates, to almost 25. Additionally, the number of self-mutilation and suicide attempts by Rikers inmates have increased by 75 percent from 2007 to 2012. According to the report, 40 percent of the city jail’s 12,200 inmates are mentally ill, and many of these inmates are placed in solitary confinement “holes” as punishment.

For private business prison labor is like a pot of gold. No strikes. No union organizing. No health benefits, unemployment insurance, or workers’ compensation to pay. No language barriers, as in foreign countries. New leviathan prisons are being built on thousands of eerie acres of factories inside the walls. Prisoners do data entry for Chevron, make telephone reservations for TWA, raise hogs, shovel manure, and make circuit boards, limosines, waterbeds, and lingerie for Victoria’s Secret, all at a fraction of the cost of ‘free labor’.
—  Linda Evans and Eve Goldberg, “The Prison Industrial Complex and the Global Economy”

Jim Crow for kids: Schools prepare children for life behind bars
March 26, 2013

Gone are the days of children dreading a trip to the principal’s office or spending their lunch time in detention. Instead, children are now facing the possibility of being dragged out of their classrooms in handcuffs for conduct violations, such as a schoolyard brawl or being accused of stealing a student’s lunch money.

Increasingly, children of color and children with learning disabilities are being prepped for a life in the American injustice system as police officers have become as common of a figure at schools as the nurse. After the Newtown massacre in December, police presence in schools across the country jumped leaving the authorities to deal with school children just as they deal with criminals, in an arrangement commonly referred to as the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

Recent cases of criminalization include a 12-year-old junior high student who was handcuffed and arrested for doodling on her desk in New York City; a 13-year-old Florida boy arrested and charged with disrupting a school function after passing gas; and a 6-year-old child handcuffed and arrested for throwing a tantrum in Georgia.

More guns, officers aggravate injustice

In his recent gun control proposal, President Obama slipped in a call to staff schools with police officers, further exacerbating the school-to-prison pipeline that unequally marginalizes black and Latino children. According to a study by the Civil Rights Data Collection—one that covered 85 percent of the nation’s students and 72,000 schools—black students are three and a half times more likely to be arrested than their white peers. The study also showed that 70 percent of students arrested were either black or Latino. Running in sync with the National Rifle Association’s call to put armed guards in every school, Obama’s plan will only intensify the school-to-prison pipeline, endangering children of color across the country.

Students with disabilities are also the victims of these harsh policies. Officers already receive very little training on how to handle suspects with mental disabilities, but even less so when it comes to children. Even though 8.6 percent of children in public schools have been found to have some sort of disability, they make up 32 percent of the youth in detention centers.

In a prison system that author Michelle Alexander has called “The New Jim Crow,” mass incarceration has led to one in six Latino men living behind bars, people of color making up 60 percent of the prisoner population and more black people in prison than there were slaves before the Civil War began. These same principles used to lock up people of color for petty “crimes” have found a way into classrooms, preparing these children for the racist injustice system they are statistically likely to encounter later in life by forcing them into the prison system early.

Not only have more security guards and police officers resulted in more bogus misdemeanor arrests, but they drain the already scarce funding for schools. School districts have spent upwards of $51 million on school security, while other much more vital aspects of education go underfunded, especially in poor urban neighborhoods of color.

A child is not a criminal

School-to-prison pipelines have been under fire recently with the expansion of the police state into elementary and middle schools, especially in places notorious for racial discrimination. In October, Meridian, Mississippi was sued for operating a pipeline where students were denied basic constitutional rights once they were arrested and taken to juvenile court. About 86 percent of the students in the Lauderdale Country School District are black, and every single one of the students referred to the court for violations were students of color. Not only were these students arrested, but they were denied legal representation, detained without probable cause, and weren’t advised of their Miranda rights.

Texas isn’t far behind when it comes to criminalizing students for minor infractions, such as disrupting class. According to The Guardian, the state tallied more than 300,000 Class C misdemeanor arrests in 2010 because of zero-tolerance policies and increased police forces on school grounds.

But this extension of the New Jim Crow has been found to have been the worst and the largest in Florida. According to the Orlando Sentinel, 12,000 students were arrested 13,870 times in public schools last year. Black students made up 46 percent of the referrals, even though they make up only 21 percent of the Florida youth.

According to the Center for Behavioral Health Services and Criminal Justice Research, these arrests make for long-lasting psychological damage to the student. Incarcerated youth are more likely to exhibit symptoms of oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and anxiety issues. Detained students are also more likely to lose ground academically from juvenile detention. According to a study done on inner-city Chicago high school students, those arrested in the first two years of high school were six to eight times more likely to drop out than those who hadn’t been arrested.

Instead of focusing on education, school-to-prison pipeline policies are preparing America’s youth for a life in the injustice system. Scare tactics, zero tolerance policies, and police forces are quickly threatening the future of millions of young students. But this criminalization won’t end for them when they graduate high school because, as Alexander states, “mass incarceration in the United States has, in fact, emerged as a stunningly comprehensive and well-disguised system of racialized social control that functions in a manner strikingly similar to Jim Crow.”

- Graciela
The Boston Occupier
Larger graphic here

Academics have developed complicated theories and obscure jargon in an effort to describe what is now referred to as structural racism, yet the concept is fairly straightforward. One theorist, Iris Marion Young, relying on a famous “birdcage” metaphor, explains it this way: If one thinks about racism by examining only one wire of the cage, or one form of disadvantage, it is difficult to understand how and why the bird is trapped. Only a large number of wires arranged in a specific way, and connected with one another, serve to enclose the bird and ensure it cannot escape.

What is particularly important to keep in mind is that any given wire of the cage may or may not be specifically developed for the purpose of trapping the bird, yet it still operates (together with other wires) to restrict its freedom.

—  Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow