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‘…This might seem like an awfully touchy-feely way to train future corporate executives. But all manner of research supports the idea that mindfulness — paying attention to what’s happening in the present moment — is essential to becoming an effective … Continue reading

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Editorial: Time and money

Don’t know that I have ever seen a better summary and/arguement for reduction of sentencing as well as the consequences of harsh sentencing. I have posted this editorial because it is just plain good and needs to get wider coverage.

“…When Gov. Rick Scott vetoed legislation this year that would have reduced prison time for some nonviolent offenders, he explained that justice “is not served when a criminal is permitted to be released early from a sentence imposed by the courts.”

Whether or not justice is served by early release is debatable. But taxpayers are surely not well served by Florida’s continued, costly emphasis on incarceration.

A new study by the nonprofit Pew Center on the States compared incarceration rates in 35 states and determined that longer-than-average sentences and the incarceration of nonviolent offenders cost Florida taxpayers an additional $1.4 billion in correctional costs in 2009 alone.

Between 1990 and 2009, the average time prisoners spent behind bars in Florida increased by 166 percent; by far the steepest jump in time served among the 35 states studied.

For drug offenders in Florida, the average time served increased by 194 percent.

“Florida does stick out like a sore thumb,” Adam Gelb, director of Pew’s Public Safety Performance Project, told the Tampa Tribune. “Florida right now is surrounded by states that are typically more conservative on these issues that have taken dramatic steps to rein in their sentencing and corrections costs.”

What’s driving Florida’s soaring correctional budget is not so much rising crime rates as the inflexibility of state minimum-mandatory sentencing laws, punitive drug laws and a requirement that inmates serve at least 85 percent of their sentenced time before being eligible for release.

While lawmakers have been forced to cut billions of dollars from education, health care and other vital programs, they have been loath to tackle sentencing reform and community-based alternatives to incarceration for fear of being branded “soft on crime.”

Gov. Scott seems to believe that privatization is the answer to Florida’s soaring correctional costs. It is not. The answer, rather, is to reserve expensive cell space for only those dangerous inmates who really need to be locked away from society.

In short, too many inmates are doing needless time and costing Florida taxpayers too much money….”

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Judge estimates 30K secret spying orders approved yearly

This is indeed a scary proposition that there are 30,000 secret warrents issued by the courts that authorize the government to spy on its citizenry every year. The following quotes from the article give it some perspective.

“..

Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith writes in a new paper, highlighted by Ars Technica, that the 2006 total outstripped the entire output of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court since it was created in 1979, and the number is probably growing.

The secret orders are authorized by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, known as ECPA. Smith writes that the volume of such cases “is greater than the combined yearly total of all antitrust, employment discrimination, environmental, copyright, patent, trademark and securities cases filed in federal court.”….”

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Orleans sheriff faces class action suit for alleged prison abuse

Got to say that this is the most comprehensive explanation of what happens when there is no checks and balances. It also gives the best description of the power of the sheriff in most communities. He is the bridge between the Criminal Justice Complex and the political forces in the state. All too often, it is the sheriff that eventually moves on into the various state legislatures.

This enhances the power of the Criminal Justice Complex in that laws are passed the favor the growth of law enforcement and prisons often at the expense of human rights. Once a prison is built then they have to stay full for the most part because the economy of most communities becomes dependent on it. An excellent case was the closure of Jefferson CI in Jefferson County Florida this year.

The prison in Jefferson County was the only economic engine and its monthly payroll was bigger than the operating fund of the county. Consequently, the state found the money to keep the prison alive. At last count, there were only three counties that did not have a prison of the 67 counties in Florida.

There are always two side to every story but there is a point of validation in class action suit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center for human rights violations.  The marshal’s service stops using the Orleans jail as a holding facility because of inhuman conditions.

I do encourage anyone that has the slightest interest in understanding the Criminal Justice system of the US to read this because seldom is every pimple exposed to the light the Southern Poverty Law Center shown on a single institution. Makes you wonder who is asleep at the switch in the state and federal level that such a condition could go on for so long.

Not only was someone asleep at the switch but this kind of human rights abuse only breeds a deeper sense of resentment, anger and violence by those caught up in the system. A sense of violence that will find expression in crime on the street.

 

 

 

 

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For the first time, medicinal marjuana bills filed in both House and Senate

“…It’s the second year in a row that legislation has been filed to start Florida on the path that 16 other states and the District of Columbia have taken, starting with California in 1996. And this year represents the first time that a bill allowing marijuana as a medicinal has been filed in both the House and the Senate….”

 

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